October 1, 2014

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Canada tops all: Lack of of political interest in conserving virgin forests among Canada’s federal and provincial governments is a foundational cause of Canada’s leading the world in forest degradation

Jim comment: Them damned aggressive, imperialistic Ruskies are interfering in Canada everywhere you look. They played a key role in the Franklin expedition search and discovery thereby undercutting Stephen Harper’s pompous posturing. Now it has come to light that the conservation group WWF-Russia and Transparent World, a Moscow-based non-profit that helps other groups use space imagery for research and education, has provided some of the evidence revealing Canada leads the world in forest degradation. No wonder Stephen Harper and John Baird spew their anti-Russian hate propaganda every chance they get.

Items: However, despite all the media attention on deforestation in the Amazon forest and the forests of Indonesia, it is Canada that has been leading the world in forest loss since 2000, accounting for 21 per cent of global forest loss. By contrast, the much-better known deforestation in Indonesia has accounted for only four per cent. - Stephen Leahy, the senior science and environment correspondent at Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS) based in Rome and Montevideo.

Canada’s degradation of pristine, intact forests leads world
Emily Chung CBC News Canada September 5, 2014

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The world’s precious few remaining large forests are fragmenting at an alarming rate, and the degradation in Canada leads the world, a new analysis shows.

The degradation of such pristine “intact” forests threatens species such as Canada’s woodland caribou and Asia’s tigers that rely on huge unbroken expanses of natural ecosystems in order to survive, said Nigel Sizer, global director of forest programs with the World Resources Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based research institute focused on resource sustainability.

This week, the group, along with its collaborators, released a new global map of intact forest landscapes, along with an analysis of how those landscapes have changed since the year 2000. The maps are available as part of the institute’s Global Forest Watch online forest monitoring and alert system.

The satellite mapping analysis led by Peter Potapov, an associate professor of geographical sciences at the University of Maryland, showed that over 104 million hectares of the world’s remaining intact forests — an area about the size of Ontario — were degraded between 2000 and 2013. Such forests are considered degraded when they are broken up or fragmented into smaller pieces that are no longer the same kind of ecosystem. Sizer called the amount of degradation a “shocking number.”

“What is lost is the intactness… This is a process which results in biodiversity loss — particularly, far-ranging species will no longer be able to survive,” said Christoph Thies, senior forest campaigner for Greenpeace International, which contributed to the research through its Greenpeace GIS (geographic information systems) Laboratory.

The research partnership also included the conservation group WWF-Russia and Transparent World, a Moscow-based non-profit that helps other groups use space imagery for research and education. In this case, free public satellite images provided by the U.S. Geological Survey Landsat program in partnership with NASA were analyzed.

The area degraded during the study period represents about eight per cent of remaining intact forests.

“These intact forest landscapes are some of the most important landscapes on Earth,” Sizer said at an online news conference.

In addition to playing a critical role in maintaining biodiversity, such forests also regulate air and water cycles and store carbon to slow and prevent climate change, Sizer said. That means their degradation could disrupt those functions, intensifying problems such as climate change.

The researchers also said that it is very difficult to restore intact forests that have been degraded. Potapov estimated it would take 30 years for such forests to be restored in the tropics and more than 100 in boreal regions, such as Canada’s north.

Canada tops the world In forest degradation thanks to climate change, logging and energy development
Katie Valentine Think Progress USA September 5, 2014

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Canada leads the world in forest degradation, according to a new mapping project.

The project, put together by World Resources Institute, Greenpeace and multiple other groups, uses interactive maps to display forest degradation and destruction around the world between 2000 and 2013. According to WRI, more than 104 million hectares (about 401,546 square miles) — a chunk of land the group notes is three times the size of Germany — of the world’s remaining large, undisturbed forests, or Intact Forest Landscapes, were degraded in the last 13 years. The Northern boreal region of Canada, Russia and Alaska had some of the largest area of degraded forests, with the Amazon having the second-largest and the Congo basin the third.

In Canada’s tar sands region, forest fires and industrial development have destroyed or degraded almost two million acres of boreal forest since 2000, according to Peter Lee, Director of Global Forest Watch Canada. Lee told ThinkProgress in an email that Canada’s main driver of forest destruction is an “increased frequency and extent of forest fires” driven by climate change. These fires are likely converting areas that were once heavily forested into shrublands. Logging and road-building are the second-biggest causes of forest destruction and degradation, Lee said, and “massive increases in the pace and scale of energy developments, especially non-conventional oil and gas developments in northern Alberta’s tar sands region and also in north-eastern British Columbia with the shale plays,” is the third.

In order to mine for tar sands in Canada’s boreal region, swaths of boreal forest are cut down, and according to the Sierra Club, none of the land altered to make way for tar sands mining has been “certified as reclaimed” by Alberta, Canada’s government. Canada’s boreal forests serve as key breeding habitat for 292 species of protected birds, according to a June report, and tar sands development has resulted in the death of thousands of these birds.

In the end, though, the main reason Canada is the top country in terms of forest degradation is that it still has so many intact forests, Lee said. According to WRI, nearly 95 percent of the planet’s remaining large, Intact Forest Landscapes are found in boreal and tropical regions. There’s also a “lack of of political interest in conserving virgin forests” among Canada’s federal and provincial governments, Lee said.

Below: Stephen Leahy is the senior science and environment correspondent at Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS) based in Rome and Montevideo. This article was first published on IPS, and edited by Phil Harris.

Canada is now the world’s leading ‘deforestation nation’
Stephen Leahy IPS/rabble.ca International/Canada October 1, 2014

UXBRIDGE, Canada (IPS) – The world’s last remaining forest wilderness is rapidly being lost — and much of this is taking place in Canada, not in Brazil or Indonesia where deforestation has so far made the headlines.

A new satellite study reveals that since 2000 more than 104 million hectares of forests — an area three times the size of Germany — have been destroyed or degraded.

“Every four seconds, an area of the size of a football (soccer) field is lost,” said Christoph Thies of Greenpeace International.
The extent of this forest loss, which is clearly visible in satellite images taken in 2000 and 2013, is “absolutely appalling” and has a global impact, Thies told IPS, because forests play a crucial in regulating the climate.

The current level of deforestation is putting more CO2 into the atmosphere than all the world’s cars, trucks, ships and planes together, he said, adding that “governments must take urgent action” to protect intact forests by creating more protected areas, strengthening the rights of forest communities and other measures, including convincing lumber, furniture manufacturers and others to refuse to use products from virgin forests.

The new study found that half of forest loss from deforestation and degradation occurred in just three countries: Canada, Russia and Brazil. These countries are also home to about 65 per cent of world’s remaining forest wilderness.

However, despite all the media attention on deforestation in the Amazon forest and the forests of Indonesia, it is Canada that has been leading the world in forest loss since 2000, accounting for 21 per cent of global forest loss. By contrast, the much-better known deforestation in Indonesia has accounted for only four per cent.

Massive increases in oil sands and shale gas developments, as well as logging and road building, are the major cause of Canada’s forest loss, said Peter Lee of Global Forest Watch Canada, an independent Canadian NGO.

A big increase in forest fires is another cause of forest loss. Climate change has rapidly warmed northern Canada, drying out the boreal forests and bogs and making them more vulnerable to fires.

In Canada’s northern Alberta’s oil sands region, more than 12.5 million hectares of forest have been crisscrossed by roads, pipelines, power transmission lines and other infrastructure, Lee told IPS.

Canada’s oil sands and shale gas developments are expected to double and possibly triple in the next decade and “there’s little interest at the federal or provincial political level in conserving intact forest landscapes,” Lee added.

Related: Stopping global deforestation will take more than more words
Peter Kanowski The Conversation Australia September 30, 2014

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At the recent UN Climate Summit in New York there was little in the way of new climate policy announcements, but 27 countries did sign a new forest agreement — the New York Declaration on Forests.

Some 27 national governments, 34 major companies, and 61 NGOs vowed to halve deforestation by 2020, and end it by 2030. Signatories included some countries with high rates of deforestation — Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia and Peru— but not Brazil, or some of the African countries now experiencing significant forest loss and degradation.

The declaration is just the latest in international forest agreements that began in 1992. So, could the declaration succeed where past agreements have failed?

Conserving and enhancing forest carbon stocks remain, as the 2006 Stern Review identified, “low-cost early action” for climate change mitigation.

That conclusion, among others, helped catalyse agreement at the 2007 Bali UN Climate Change Conference on the REDD mechanism, for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation.

REDD was soon expanded to REDD+, to include forest management and restoration to enhance carbon stocks, and was one of the few points of agreement at the otherwise anti-climatic 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference.

However, in the absence of a more general international agreement to address climate change and provide the framework and funds for REDD+ on more than a pilot scale, REDD+ initiatives have remained embryonic and inconsequential for addressing climate change or delivering economic benefits for forest conservation, management or restoration.

While REDD+ has progressed further than most other elements of the international climate change regime, the languishing state of REDD+ has become something of a metaphor for the overall state of global inaction on climate change.

Posted at: October 1, 2014 - 12:18 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

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Harper prepares Canada for another war even as most Canadians (and even some Conservative MPs) are questioning whether Canada needs to be involved in combat at all

Canada could be playing a role in organizing international relief support for a country [Iraq] that fell into chaos after two American invasions. Instead, by this time next week, the country will be once again on a war footing. - Duncan Cameron

Harper prepares Canada for another war
Duncan Cameron rabble.ca Canada September 30, 2014

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Following a cabinet meeting later this week, Stephen Harper will announce Canada taking an active combat role in the American-led coalition currently bombing the Islamic State (IS) group-held territory in Syria and Iraq. Until now, the Canadian military role has been limited to providing advisory personnel to Iraq Kurdish forces. In addition, Canada has been supplying humanitarian aid.

Harper is expected to announce that CF-18 fighters and refuelling aircraft will join the American bombing team.

No one should underestimate the importance of the decision to join the American war party. The air attacks on IS positions have not been authorized by the UN Security Council. Obama has only asked the Council to prohibit member states from dealing with IS. Military action has not been sanctioned by NATO.

Firing Tomahawk missiles from aircraft carriers, bombing from the air, and sending drones against suspected IS camps, the U.S. attacks on Syrian territory raise a whole set of questions about U.S. intentions.

After arming rebel forces to fight the incumbent Syrian regime, the U.S. is now attacking foes of the regime. The rationale is that the U.S. supports only “moderate” rebels. It remains to be seen how long moderates will remain moderate as U.S. bombs destroy Syrian infrastructure and kill civilians.

The U.S. is once again bombing a Muslim country. High-ranking military officials acknowledge that IS cannot be defeated from the air. Getting rid of the occupiers will require the familiar “boots on the ground.”

As if 10 years in Afghanistan were not enough, the Conservatives want Canadians to support another war alongside the U.S. Once Canada joins the combat, naturally it will be expected to go along with the next stage of military operations decided in Washington. Sending Canadian troops along with American and other coalition combat troops to Iraq to take on IS is the next logical step, unless it is expected that IS will dissolve of its own accord.

What the Americans have in mind for the corrupt Assad Syrian regime is anyone’s guess. Reports suggest that the U.S. action against IS is a prelude to a long-awaited action against Syria itself. A coalition army fighting in Iraq would presumably undertake hot pursuit of IS into Syria.

At the very least, by bombing his enemies, the U.S. introduces military force into the bargaining over a “fin de regime” for the dictator.
The U.S.-led Global War on Terrorism continues with no end in sight, and without notable success. Perpetuating the domestic threats posed by Islamist radicals helps enlist supporters.

Conservative Foreign Minister John Baird told the House of Commons Monday that Canada was threatened by IS. The George W. Bush mantra after 9/11, “you are either with us or against us,” lives on.

The traditional foreign policy option — work diplomatically to isolate IS through action to eliminate its outside support — is being ignored by Harper.

American military intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya has led to expansion of civil war. Promoting democratic regimes, peace and stability has been talked about but not pursued with the same vigour as securing oil reserves.

Canada joined up for the Afghan and Libyan wars, and Harper wants the Canadian military to fight again.

With both eyes on the election slated for October 2015, the prime minister will allow a parliamentary debate on the combat mission, hoping to make the opposition parties uncomfortable. The Liberals are unlikely to break with American policy, disenchanting the once mighty peace wing of the party.

The NDP get an opportunity to show that there are no substantive differences between the Liberals and the Conservatives, which will require taking the heat from the media and conventional opinion.

Stephen Harper’s Iraq airstrikes plan questioned by some Tories
Althia Ra Huffington Post Canada October 1, 2014

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper is set to recommend to his caucus Wednesday that Canada take part in airstrikes in Iraq, but not all Conservative MPs are onside with the plan.

Speaking in the House of Commons Tuesday, Harper described the war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as “necessary” and the international response as “noble actions.”

“When we think something is necessary and noble, we do not sit back and say only other people should do it,” Harper said. “The Canadian way is we do our part.”

The Prime Minister did not announce what assistance Canada would provide – he only pledged to bring a combat mission to the Commons for a vote. Several sources reported, however, that the government’s contribution, at this stage, would involve a contingent of CF-18 fighters and a tanker aircraft for in-air refuelling. A final decision is expected to be made by week’s end with a vote as late as next week.

Cabinet discussed the matter Tuesday and Harper met with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson who was in Ottawa, in part, to build the international coalition against ISIL. Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Britain and France are, or soon will be, dropping bombs on the terrorist group in Iraq.

Edmonton Conservative MP Laurie Hawn told reporters he believes there is “absolutely” unanimity in the Tory caucus for a combat role, such as airstrikes.

“The air force is the obvious player, and I think that’s the lowest risk option with the highest impact,” Hawn, a former air force commander, told reporters.

“Somebody needs to put boots on the ground. Personally I don’t think that should be us,” he added.

“This is not our operation. Whatever we do is going to be in support of what’s going on in the region.”

Some Conservative MPs, however, are questioning whether Canada needs to be involved in combat at all.

Posted at: October 1, 2014 - 11:23 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

The Toronto G20 Summit of June 26-27, 2010: 18 disturbing facts all Canadians should know & EU includes clause that could lead to an eventual suspension of the Canada-European Union free trade deal over human rights issues

Toronto G20, 4 years later: 18 disturbing facts all Canadians should know
cdnpoli.tumblr.com Canada June 2014

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The Toronto G20 Summit of June 26-27, 2010, hosted by Stephen Harper, was an incredibly expensive undertaking that resulted in massive human rights violations against members of the public at the hands of the police. Despite this, politicians refuse to call a full public inquiry and hold police—as well as themselves—to account … something to think about on the 4th anniversary of the Toronto G20, and as we approach this year’s Canada Day celebrations.

Related: Clause linking human rights to trade included in the Canada-European Union free trade deal.

EU wins political-deal clause that could suspend trade deal
Anca Gurzu Embassy Canada October 1, 2014

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BRUSSELS—A clause that could lead to an eventual suspension of the Canada-European Union free trade deal over human rights issues has found its way into a recently announced political agreement between the two sides—despite Canada’s initial objection, Embassy has learned.

Several European Union officials in Brussels, the EU nerve centre, have confirmed the clause is included in the so-called Strategic Partnership Agreement, a deal that outlines an overarching framework for Canada-EU co-operation on various global issues, including security, energy, research and innovation as well as the Arctic.

Foreign Minister John Baird celebrated the end of negotiations towards the political deal during EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton’s visit to Ottawa on Sept. 8. The two sides had been negotiating the SPA since 2011 at the EU’s request, largely in parallel to, but separate from, the more high-profile trade deal, called the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA.

Embassy reported in May 2013 about Canadian concerns over proposed text in the SPA that would link trade to human rights protection and nuclear non-proliferation, and which would allow the EU to suspend CETA if it found Canada wasn’t living up to human rights or non-proliferation standards. Canada could do the same to the EU.

Liberal Senator Joan Fraser mused in the Senate in April 2013 that the Europeans could use the clause to “attack Canada on grounds from the oil sands to the seal hunt to I know not what.” An EU official in June 2013 said the Canadian concern was that the EU would single out Canada for First Nations issues or the seal hunt, but in fact it would take much more than that to suspend the deal.

The EU has been using this model in its political framework agreements with countries less developed than the 28 member states as a way to condition trade and development assistance to a country’s performance in maintaining international human rights and non-proliferation commitments.

The EU has argued this formula must be maintained with Canada as well in order to be consistent and to avoid setting a precedent that would jeopardize talks with other countries in the future.

It insisted both publicly and behind the scenes on this approach, aiming to reassure Canadians about the unlikelihood of the clause ever being invoked.

But Canada’s opposition continued. A lack of compromise on the matter helped put the deal’s conclusion nearly two years behind schedule. The goal was to wrap the agreement up in 2012, according to comments in front of the House foreign affairs committee by Canada’s SPA chief negotiator at the time, Alexandra Bugailiskis, in February 2012. By May 2013, the major sticking point hovered around this controversial clause.

Although the EU and Canada cheered the deal’s conclusion in September, both parties remained mum on how they managed to resolve this conflict.

The text of the agreement has not been released yet, unlike that of its sister deal, which was officially published on Sept. 26. The political and trade deals must go through a process of legal revisions, translation and approval in the Canadian and European parliaments.

Nevertheless, officials confirmed the EU managed to convince Canada to keep the two issues linked.

“We were patient and persistent and came up with this rather convoluted process, which we feel is a common approach in its spirit and its effect,” an EU official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“But the main point is that, going forward, the idea of linking human rights and non-proliferation to actions on these in both SPA and CETA is possible as a decision of the EU and that’s essentially what we need.”

Posted at: October 1, 2014 - 10:33 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

September 30, 2014

How American intelligence works in the twenty-first century

Entering the intelligence labyrinth
Tom Engelhardt TomDispatch USA September 30, 2014

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[... My new book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World (with an introduction by Glenn Greenwald), is now available everywhere. ...

About Shadow Government, Adam Hochschild, author most recently of To End All Wars, had this to say: “Tom Engelhardt is an iconoclast, but he also is the latest exemplar of a great American tradition. Like George Seldes and I.F. Stone before him, he has bypassed conventionally minded newspapers and magazines, and with his remarkable website and in books like this, found a way of addressing readers directly about the issues central to our time. Again and again, he goes to the heart of the matter, drawing on his awesomely wide reading, his knowledge of history, and his acute political radar system that uncovers small but deeply revealing nuggets of news and often makes me feel, enviously: how could I have missed that?” And then there’s the book’s stunning cover photo (as well as the ones inside) by Trevor Paglen whose shots of the headquarters of our various intelligence services make you feel as if you’ve landed on another planet, which in a way you have. Tom]

Failure Is Success
How American Intelligence Works in the Twenty-First Century

By Tom Engelhardt

What are the odds? You put about $68 billion annually into a maze of 17 major intelligence outfits. You build them glorious headquarters. You create a global surveillance state for the ages. You listen in on your citizenry and gather their communications in staggering quantities. Your employees even morph into avatars and enter video-game landscapes, lest any Americans betray a penchant for evil deeds while in entertainment mode. You collect information on visits to porn sites just in case, one day, blackmail might be useful. You pass around naked photos of them just for… well, the salacious hell of it. Your employees even use aspects of the system you’ve created to stalk former lovers and, within your arcane world, that act of “spycraft” gains its own name: LOVEINT.

You listen in on foreign leaders and politicians across the planet. You bring on board hundreds of thousands of crony corporate employees, creating the sinews of an intelligence-corporate complex of the first order. You break into the “backdoors” of the data centers of major Internet outfits to collect user accounts. You create new outfits within outfits, including an ever-expanding secret military and intelligence crew embedded inside the military itself (and not counted among those 17 agencies). Your leaders lie to Congress and the American people without, as far as we can tell, a flicker of self-doubt. Your acts are subject to secret courts, which only hear your versions of events and regularly rubberstamp them — and whose judgments and substantial body of lawmaking are far too secret for Americans to know about.

You have put extraordinary effort into ensuring that information about your world and the millions of documents you produce doesn’t make it into our world. You even have the legal ability to gag American organizations and citizens who might speak out on subjects that would displease you (and they can’t say that their mouths have been shut). You undoubtedly spy on Congress. You hack into congressional computer systems. And if whistleblowers inside your world try to tell the American public anything unauthorized about what you’re doing, you prosecute them under the Espionage Act, as if they were spies for a foreign power (which, in a sense, they are, since you treat the American people as if they were a foreign population). You do everything to wreck their lives and — should one escape your grasp — you hunt him implacably to the ends of the Earth.

As for your top officials, when their moment is past, the revolving door is theirs to spin through into a lucrative mirror life in the intelligence-corporate complex.

Think of the world of the “U.S. Intelligence Community,” or IC, as a near-perfect closed system and rare success story in twenty-first-century Washington. In a capital riven by fierce political disagreements, just about everyone agrees on the absolute, total, and ultimate importance of that “community” and whatever its top officials might decide in order to keep this country safe and secure.

Yes, everything you’ve done has been in the name of national security and the safety of Americans. And as we’ve discovered, there is never enough security, not at least when it comes to one thing: the fiendish ability of “terrorists” to threaten this country. Admittedly, terrorist attacks would rank above shark attacks, but not much else on a list of post-9/11 American dangers. And for this, you take profuse credit — for, that is, the fact that there has never been a “second 9/11.” In addition, you take credit for breaking up all sorts of terror plans and plots aimed at this country, including an amazing 54 of them reportedly foiled using the phone and email “metadata” of Americans gathered by the NSA. As it happens, a distinguished panel appointed by President Obama, with security clearances that allowed them to examine these spectacular claims in detail, found that not a single one had merit.

Whatever the case, while taxpayer dollars flowed into your coffers, no one considered it a problem that the country lacked 17 overlapping outfits bent on preventing approximately 400,000 deaths by firearms in the same years; nor 17 interlocked agencies dedicated to safety on our roads, where more than 450,000 Americans have died since 9/11. (An American, it has been calculated, is 1,904 times more likely to die in a car accident than in a terrorist attack.) Almost all the money and effort have instead been focused on the microscopic number of terrorist plots — some spurred on by FBI plants — that have occurred on American soil in that period. On the conviction that Americans must be shielded from them above all else and on the fear that 9/11 bred in this country, you’ve built an intelligence structure unlike any other on the planet when it comes to size, reach, and labyrinthine complexity.

It’s quite an achievement, especially when you consider its one downside: it has a terrible record of getting anything right in a timely way. Never have so many had access to so much information about our world and yet been so unprepared for whatever happens in it.

Posted at: September 30, 2014 - 12:12 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

Weaving tangled webs: Europeans say U.S. never briefed them on plot by the ‘Khorasan Group’ & Iran offers to be West’s natural ally

Fuck the EU! - Assistant US Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, in a phone conversation with a US ambassador which focused on the future of Ukraine. (After the call was subsequently leaked, Nuland declined to comment on ‘private diplomatic conversations’.)

Both men work for the intelligence services of NATO countries that have offered military and humanitarian aid, as well as intelligence support, in the fight against the Islamic State but aren’t participating in airstrikes on the group in Syria or Iraq at this time. - Mitchell Prothero reporting

Europeans say U.S. never briefed them on plot by al Qaida group
Mitchell Prothero McClatchy USA September 26, 2014

Right: This citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network, ENN, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows rebels from al-Qaida affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the Nusra Front, waving their brigade flag as they step on the top of a Syrian air force helicopter, at Taftanaz air base that was captured by the rebels, in Idlib province, northern Syria, Jan. 11, 2013. Photo: AP/Edlib News Network ENN, File

IRBIL, Iraq — European counterterrorism specialists say their American counterparts never mentioned an imminent plot by al Qaida operatives in Syria to attack Western targets and didn’t brief them on the group that’s supposedly behind the plan, a previously unknown terrorist unit that American officials have dubbed the Khorasan group.

The interviews with the specialists, from two European NATO allies with close intelligence ties to the United States, raise questions about why the United States used its first series of airstrikes on the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, in Syria to also attack eight installations belonging to the Nusra Front, an al Qaida affiliate that anti-government rebel groups consider an important ally in their fight to topple the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

U.S. officials didn’t use the word Nusra to identify the targets, instead saying the strikes in Idlib province, far from Islamic State-controlled territory, were aimed at the Khorasan group. But activists and other rebels in Syria identified the positions hit as belonging to Nusra and said 50 Nusra fighters were killed.

U.S. officials said the Khorasan group was composed of senior al Qaida operatives who’d been dispatched to Syria to plot attacks against the West. The officials said the strikes were intended to break up a plan for an imminent attack.

The White House declined Friday to expand on that description or say with whom the intelligence about the group had been shared.

“We, along with our foreign partners, have been watching this group over the past two years since many of its members arrived in Syria from Pakistan and Afghanistan, and we took action when their plotting reached an advanced stage,” said Caitlyn Hayden, the spokeswoman for the National Security Council. “I’m not going to be able to discuss with whom intelligence was shared in this case.”

The European specialists, who meet regularly with U.S. officials on terrorism issues – particularly air travel and potential terrorist operations involving Western passport holders – said they were never specifically warned about such a group or such a plot. Such an omission, the specialists said, seemed unlikely if the plot were truly imminent.

“We obviously have had big concerns about the terror threat linked to the Syrian civil war from both ISIS and the other jihadist groups. We have had many briefings on Daash with other European allies because of the concern that some of our citizens will return from fighting abroad and conduct attacks here,” said one of the specialists, referring to the Islamic State by its Arabic nickname. “But we have not heard of this Khorasan group before.”

The second specialist, who works in military intelligence for a northern European country with very large numbers of its citizens fighting alongside the Islamic State, said he’d been passed some intelligence from “our larger allies” about concerns that al Qaida was planning operations from within Syria and was working to recruit passport holders from Europe and the United States. But he said he, too, had never seen or heard the name Khorasan.

One former U.S. official, cautioning that he had no direct knowledge about the current situation, said he found it odd that information about such a plot hadn’t been relayed to European allies, especially if the plot had advanced to the stage, as U.S. officials have suggested, of building an explosive device and finding someone to carry it.

“I’d be surprised if the Obama administration did not tell its European partners about a plot it considered imminent and possibly involved European citizens or points of transit,” said former State Department official Will McCants, who’s the director of the Brookings Institution’s Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World. “If our NATO partners were not notified, then how imminent could the plot be?”

Faysal Itani, a Syria specialist with the Washington-based Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, said U.S. officials had told him several months ago that “a bunch of guys had shown up from Af/Pak just to plan attacks,” referring to Afghanistan and Pakistan. But he said there were few details and no name for this contingent at the time.

“I wasn’t aware of anything called Khorasan,” Itani said.

He said U.S. officials might have wanted to shy away from using the Nusra name so as “to preserve a bit of room for maneuvering” with Syrian rebels, who view Nusra members as comrades against Assad, not as a global terrorist threat. In the wake of the attacks, rebel commanders sharply denounced the U.S. raids for including Nusra positions.

Related? Iran offers to be West’s natural ally
M K Bhadrakumar Indian Punchline India September 26, 2014

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The overwhelming majority with which the House of Commons in London passed a few hours earlier the resolution endorsing the government’s proposal to join the US-led military strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq catapults Prime Minister David Cameron to a pivotal role in President Barack Obama’s strategy. With Britain by its side, US doesn’t need the ramshackle “coalition of the willing”, while without Britain, even six Saudi Arabias within that coalition wouldn’t have meant much.

Cameron has begun preparing himself already. His meeting on Wednesday in New York with the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani (just before the House of Commons vote) was symbolic insofar as it has been the first such meeting since the 1979 Islamic revolution, but London wouldn’t have made such a historic move except with the foreknowledge that Iran’s integration with the international community is imminent.

Indeed, the facade of the P5+Germany process has been torn asunder and Washington and select European allies are directly negotiating with Tehran, marginalizing any role for Russia. The US-Iranian consultations have intensified and the Iranian statements also point in the direction of a real possibility of a nuclear deal emerging by the end-November deadline.

As I wrote earlier, the two tracks — Iran’s role in the US-led fight against the Islamic State and the nucelar talks — are running neck-and-neck. All pretensions to the contrary — that the two tracks are not interlinked — have been cast aside.

In an extraordinary speech at the UN General Assembly on Thursday (the day after the Cameron-Rouhani meeting), the Iranian president came out openly that a nuclear deal will open up infinite possibilities of cooperation between the West and Iran across the board. Rouhani’s plea was two-fold: a) West should realize that Iran is its only “natural ally” in the Middle East; and, b) If the nuclear problem can be resolved, that enables Iran to work with the West in creating a New Middle East.

Most certainly, Washington and London would regard this as the nearest that Iran has come to signal that it is willing to help in a political transition in Syria just as it helped the transition in Iraq, which has met with Obama’s full satisfaction.

Posted at: September 30, 2014 - 11:29 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

Canada and the Western Axis’ long war: Suffering operational fatigue, Canada’s CF-18 fleet needs to be replaced & Harper government to funnel money into upgrades to keep CF-18 fighter jets flying


CF-18 Hornet. Acquired by Canada in the early 1980s, this fighter jet is still the backbone of Canadian military aviation. Tail No. 720 of the Bagotville Air Defence Museum’s collection has been fully restored. Photo: © Richard Girouard 2010

Intro: CF-188 Hornet (Fighter Aircraft)
Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Canada Date modified May 6, 2014


CF-188 Hornet

A versatile, world-class fighter aircraft, the supersonic CF-188 Hornet, or CF-18 as it is popularly known, can engage both ground and aerial targets. Its twin engines generate enough thrust to lift 24 full-size pick-up trucks off the ground.

As the Royal Canadian Air Force’s frontline multi-role fighter, the modernized CF-18 is used for air defence, air superiority, tactical support, training, aerobatic demonstration, and aerospace testing and evaluation.

The CF-18 has recently been put through a two-phase modernization program, a comprehensive mid-life upgrade to ensure that the Canadian Forces have a modern and interoperable fighter fleet until at least the 2020 timeframe.

Phase I of the Incremental Modernization Project was completed in 2006. This first phase of the CF-18 modernization project included among others, the procurement and installation of a new radar, jam-resistant radios, mission computers and embedded global positioning systems.

Phase II of the Incremental Modernization Project, which was finished in 2010, included the installation and integration of a tactical data link system, helmet cueing system, colour displays, upgraded countermeasures dispensers, and a triple-deck cockpit video recorder, among outfitting the CF-18s with other technologically advanced equipment.

In addition to the two modernization phases for CF-18 aircraft, other CF-18 projects are either completed or ongoing to align the CF-18 aircraft with a fully integrated air capability thus increasing Air Force interoperability with our allies as well as our ability to respond to threats to North America.

Because of its superior power and speed, and its exceptional tracking capabilities, the CF-18 has had great success in many military operations in Canada and around the world.

Canada’s first operational deployment of the CF-18 took place during the Gulf War, when Canada sent 24 CF-18s to Qatar to participate in the American-led Desert Shield and Desert Storm campaigns. Similarly, Canada deployed 18 CF-18s to Italy to take part in the Kosovo campaign in 1999.

Since the September 11 terrorist attacks, Canada’s fighter force is committed to protecting North America from future threats. As part of Operation Noble Eagle, NORAD’s mission to safeguard North American skies, CF-18s maintain a constant state of alert, ready to respond immediately to potential threats to continental security.

CF-18s were heard over the skies of British Columbia, where they provided around the clock support to the 2010 Olympic Games. In 2011, they played a vital role during Op Mobile, as part of a NATO-led effort to enforce an arms embargo and no-fly zone to protect civilians in Libya in support of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973. Seven CF-18s made up Task Force Libeccio, conducting 946 sorties, ten percent of NATO strike sorties, and dropping 696 bombs of various types to engage military assets threatening the civilian population.

Due to the modernisation of the fleet completed in 2010, our CF-18s will remain viable into the early part of the next decade when Canada’s next generation fighter capability becomes operational.

Item: The U.S. wants us to do more in Iraq. What if we can’t?
Stewart Webb and Scott Nicholas Romaniuk iPolitics Canada September 29, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded links.

Lost in the heated debate over Canada’s contribution to the campaign against Islamic State — how long our people will be there, what they’ll do and whether the federal government will put the mission to a vote — is a nagging question we really ought to answer first:

What if we can’t do what we’re being asked to do?

To date, Canada has sent 69 members of the Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR) to Iraq in a training support role for the Iraqi army and Kurdish Peshmerga forces. This mission is limited to training Iraqis on how to call in close air support and exploit the coalition forces’ strategic advantage in the air.

During a Q&A session with the Wall Street Journal last week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told us that the U.S. has asked Canada to contribute more. The prime minister has promised a debate in the Commons before any decision on a possible combat mission is made. The New Democratic Party has attacked the government already for deploying CSOR without a debate.

The Americans apparently want Canada to conduct airstrikes, assist in gathering surveillance and provide refuelling services — much like what we did during NATO’s Libya campaign. Canada carried a heavy and disproportionate operational burden of that campaign; the six CF-18s we sent performed 946 sorties, about 10 percent of the NATO total.

That caused some excessive wear-and-tear on our aging CF-18s. These fighter jets are nearing the end of their life cycle. Canada raised its budgeted flying limits for the CF-18 fleet from 13,200 to 15,049 hours per aircraft — about 15 per cent.

So it’s unlikely the CF-18 fleet could handle another extensive deployment. The aircraft we’ve sent to Eastern Europe are limited to training exercises. The U.S. Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force have bought new F/A-18s as a stop-gap measure. Canada’s procurement process for a CF-18 replacement is still spinning its wheels.

The fact that the U.S. conducted targeted airstrikes against a little-known al Qaida cell consisting of 50 veteran militants suggests the coalition will be conducting a wider offensive in Syria and Iraq. British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has suggested that the air war in Iraq will continue for three to four years.

The Harper government will soon outline its proposal for Canada’s next step against Islamic State. Canada isn’t the only country suffering from deployment fatigue — so is the U.S., along with many other Western nations. But our problem here is operational fatigue; the CF-18 fleet needs to be replaced.

This would be a bad time for us to bite off more than we can chew.

Related: Canada to funnel money into upgrades to keep CF-18 fighter jets flying
Steven Chase Globe and Mail Canada September 30, 2014

Visit this page for its related links and videos.

OTTAWA — The Canadian government will pay for maintenance and upgrades to extend the life of the country’s aging CF-18 fighters so they last until about 2025, sources say – a strong sign that Ottawa is far from ready to pick a new warplane.

The federal government will also make the next required payment to keep alive its partnership in the Joint Strike Fighter program producing the controversial F-35 fighter-bomber, the sources say. The contribution, in the $25-million to $30-million range, means Canada will still be able to buy the plane at a slight discount if it chooses and, in the meantime, Canadian companies remain eligible to bid on supply contracts for the project.

Taken together, these measures suggest Stephen Harper’s government is hedging its bets in the face of a difficult decision. The CF-18 life extension shows the Conservatives are preparing for the possibility that it could take years to select and acquire a new fighter. Remaining in the F-35 consortium indicates Ottawa refuses to close the door on purchasing the warplane despite controversy about its cost and effectiveness.

The developments come as the Conservative cabinet is discussing this week a request to join U.S.-led air strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq – and CF-18s and refuelling planes would be a part of that mission.

The last multibillion-dollar life extension project undertaken by the Canadian military prolonged the life of 80 CF-18 jets until 2020. As of May, 2014, data showed 77 fighters were still in operation.

The new life-extension upgrades – to move the planes’ best-before date to roughly 2025 – will cost tens of millions and possibly more than $100-million, sources say.

Canada’s CF-18 warplanes are currently conducting air policing over the Baltic states, a NATO effort to ward off Russian aggression.

The Globe and Mail reported in May the average age of the CF-18 jet fighters was 27 1/2 years old, which means an operating life dating back to the fall of 1986, when Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev held Cold War talks in Iceland. Data in May showed 27 – or more than one-third of the jets – had logged more than 6,000 flying hours and one has exceeded 7,000 hours.

It’s looking increasingly unlikely that the government will choose a new jet fighter before the 2015 election.

The government, which took a serious credibility hit over its poor management of the fighter-procurement process last time, has little to gain from a swift pick.

The Conservatives’ majority in the Commons means a combat deployment vote would easily pass.

While he wouldn’t discuss cabinet’s plans, the Foreign Affairs Minister made it clear that the government is ready to increase its contribution to the coalition.

“This fanatical terrorist organization is a direct threat to people in the region, to our allies and to Canada. We think it is important to play a constructive role,” Mr. Baird said.

Posted at: September 30, 2014 - 10:43 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

What the US did to Cambodia was an epic crime & War, circus and injustice down under

Henry Kissinger’s assertion that the Richard Nixon administration’s secret bombing of Cambodia killed fewer people than drone strikes under President Barack Obama is laughable. The former US secretary of state should have stood trial with Khieu Samphan and other Khmer Rouge leaders. What the US did to Cambodia was an epic crime. Daniel Pye is a British journalist based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. John Pilger is an Australian-born, London-based journalist, filmmaker and author. For his foreign and war reporting, ranging from Vietnam and Cambodia to the Middle East, he has twice won Britain’s highest award for journalism. For his documentary films, he won a British Academy Award and an American Emmy. In 2009, he was awarded Australia’s human rights prize, the Sydney Peace Prize.

Q&A with journalist John Pilger: ‘What the US did to Cambodia was an epic crime’
Daniel Pye The Phnom Penh Post Cambodia September 27, 2013

Since his early days as a correspondent covering the wars in Southeast Asia in the 1960s and 1970s, documentary filmmaker and journalist John Pilger has been an ardent critic of Western foreign policy. Following in the footsteps of Martha Gellhorn, Pilger set out to cover the Vietnam War from the perspective of those most affected by it – the Vietnamese people and US draftees. In 1979, he filmed Year Zero: the Silent Death of Cambodia, which depicted the humanitarian catastrophe following the ousting of the Khmer Rouge from Phnom Penh. He would go on to make three more films about Cambodia and become an outspoken critic of the United States’ intervention in the country and the West’s support of Pol Pot.

This week, he spoke to Post Weekend’s Daniel Pye about covering the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge, Henry Kissinger’s recent comments downplaying the US bombing of Cambodia and new plans to send Australian refugees to the Kingdom.

You visited the country in 1979 with filmmaker David Munro and photographer Eric Piper. What drew you to Cambodia and what was it like reporting in the aftermath of the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge?

I had reported, written about and filmed Vietnam since the 1960s; I suppose part of my heart lay in Indochina and its struggle for peace and independence – a struggle in which Vietnam may have lost more than four million people and Cambodia certainly lost well over two million, if you include the bombing and civil war that paved the way for Pol Pot. So, yes, I had kept a close eye on developments in Cambodia. What was evident then, and is clear now, was that Pol Pot would not have been able to seize power had it not been for the US bombing campaign. CIA assessments, the work of scholars like Ben Kiernan and the reporting of Richard Dudman from inside Pol Pot’s Democratic Kampuchea, together with numerous other credible sources, reach that conclusion. My own interviews with refugees and former Khmer Rouge left little doubt. In 1979, my colleagues and I were determined to see for ourselves, which wasn’t easy. We teamed up with a French group of doctors bringing aid as that critical year’s monsoon got under way. It’s almost impossible to describe the devastation and trauma we found. Incredibly, the United States and its Western allies imposed a crippling embargo on the country, then led by the government of Heng Samrin. This was blatant revenge on Vietnam, whose liberating troops had come from the wrong side of the Cold War. While the West stood by – concentrating its aid in the refugee camps in Thailand and supporting Pol Pot’s defunct regime in the UN – much of the emergency aid to reach Cambodia came from the devastated southern provinces of Vietnam.

Can you describe the humanitarian situation you witnessed and the response from the West to the suffering of the Khmer people?

The need of people was overwhelming. On my first day in Phnom Penh, I saw terribly malnourished children, including those who had walked in from the countryside. For many, life was a nightmare. People were drifting back to what had been a ghost city, and their distress was obvious. In an abandoned petrol garage, a woman and a group of stricken children were cooking leaves in a pot, the fire crackling with banknotes – worthless money – that had poured from the National Bank of Cambodia which the retreating Khmer Rouge had blown up. One of the first emergency aid flights into Phnom Penh arrived while I was there. The DC-8 was filled with medical supplies and powdered milk, organized by Oxfam, then the only major Western NGO prepared to break the Western embargo. And this was the “International Year of the Child”.

In an interview last week with NPR, Henry Kissinger said that the Nixon administration’s secret bombing of Cambodia had killed fewer people than drone strikes under President Obama. How would you respond to his comments?

There is plenty of evidence that makes Kissinger’s version [of events] laughable. The credible Finnish Government Commission of Inquiry described – rightly in my view – a “decade of genocide” with three phases. The first phase was 1969 to ‘75, the years of the American bombing, during which it is estimated that 600,000 Khmer died while two million became refugees. Michael Vickery’s study gives a “war loss” of 500,000 for this period. There are other estimates, some lower, some higher. What is beyond doubt is that Kissinger and Nixon unleashed an unprecedented aerial savagery – much of it kept secret from the US Congress and people – on a defenceless people. Kissinger should have stood trial with Khieu Samphan and the other Khmer Rouge leaders. What the US did to Cambodia was an epic crime.

Related: Stephen Harper and Tony Abbott deserve each other. Christopher Hume wrote June 15, 2014: “What a pair they made, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Canada’s own Stephen Harper — Gollum and Mr. Potato Head — publicly thanking each other for their honesty in Ottawa last week.”

War, circus and injustice down under
John Pilger Sri Lanka Guardian Sri Lanka September 24, 2014

( September 24, 2014, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) There are times when farce and living caricature almost consume the cynicism and mendacity in the daily life of Australia’s rulers. Across the front pages is a photograph of a resolute Tony Abbott with indigenous children in Arnhem Land, in the remote north. “Domestic policy one day,” says the caption, “focus on war the next.”

Reminiscent of a vintage anthropologist, the prime minister grasps the head of an indigenous child trying to shake his hand. He beams, as if incredulous at the success of his twin stunts: “running the nation” from a bushland tent on the Gove Peninsula while “taking the nation to war.” Like any “reality” show, he is surrounded by cameras and manic attendants, who alert the nation to his principled and decisive acts.

But wait; the leader of all Australians must fly south to farewell the SAS, off on its latest heroic mission since its triumph in the civilian bloodfest of Afghanistan. “Pursuing sheer evil” sounds familiar; of course, an historic mercenary role is unmentionable, this time backing the latest US-installed sectarian regime in Baghdad and rebranded, ex-Kurdish “terrorists,” now guarding Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Marathon Oil, Hunt Oil et al.

No parliamentary debate is allowed; no fabricated invitation from foreigners in distress is necessary, as it was in Vietnam. Speed is the essence. What with US intelligence insisting there is no threat from Islamic State to America and presumably Australia, truth may deter the mission if time is lost. If this week’s police and media show of “antiterror” arrests in “the plot against Sydney” fails to arouse the suspicions of the nation, nothing will. That the unpopular Abbott’s reckless war-making is likely to be self-fulfilling, making Australians less safe, ought to be in headlines, too. Remember the blowback of Bush’s and Blair’s wars.

But what of the beheadings? During the 21 months between James Foley’s abduction and his beheading, 113 people were reportedly beheaded by Saudi Arabia, one of Barack Obama’s and Tony Abbott’s closest allies in their current “moral” and “idealistic” enterprise. Indeed, Abbott’s war will no doubt rate a plaque in the Australian War Memorial alongside all the other colonial invasions acknowledged in that great emporium of white nationalism – except, of course, the colonial invasion of Australia during which the beheading of the indigenous Australian defenders was not considered sheer evil.

This returns us to the show in Arnhem Land. Abbott says the reason he and the media are camped there is that he can consult with indigenous “leaders” and “gain a better understanding of the needs of people living and working in these areas”.

Australia is awash with knowledge of the “needs” of its first people. Every week, it seems, yet another study adds to the torrent of information about the imposed impoverishment of, and vicious discrimination against, indigenous people: apartheid in all but name. The facts, which can no longer be spun, ought to be engraved in the national consciousness, if not the prime minister’s. Australia has a rate of indigenous incarceration higher than that of apartheid South Africa; deaths in custody occur as if to a terrible drumbeat; preventable Dickensian diseases are rampant, including among those who live in the midst of a mining boom that has made profits of a billion dollars a week. Rheumatic heart disease kills indigenous people in their 30s and 40s, and their children go deaf and suffer trachoma, which causes blindness.

When, as shadow indigenous health minister in 2009, Abbott was reminded by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on indigenous people that the Howard government’s fraudulent “intervention” was racist, he told Professor James Anaya to “get a life” and “stop listening to the old victim brigade.” The distinguished Anaya had just been to Utopia, a vast region in the Northern Territory, where I filmed the evidence of the racism and forced deprivation that had so shocked him and millions of viewers around the world. “Malnutrition,” a GP in central Australia told me, “is common.”

Today, as Abbott poses for the camera with children in Arnhem Land, the children of Utopia are being denied access to safe and clean drinking water. For 10 weeks, communities have had no running water. A new bore would cost just $35,000. Scabies and more trachoma are the result. (For perspective, consider that the Labor government’s last Indigenous Affairs minister, Jenny Macklin, spent $331,144 refurbishing her office in Canberra).

In 2012, Olga Havnen, a senior Northern Territory government official, revealed that more than $80 million was spent on the surveillance of families and the removal of children compared with just $500,000 on supporting the same impoverished families. Her warning of a second Stolen Generation led to her sacking. This week in Sydney, Amnesty and a group known as Grandmothers Against Removals presented further evidence that the number of indigenous children being taken from their families, often violently, is greater than at any time in Australia’s colonial history.

That Australia has a prime minister who described this country as “unsettled” until the British came indicates the urgency of true reform – the end of paternalism and the enactment of a treaty negotiated between equals. For until we, who came later, give back to the first Australians their nationhood, we can never claim our own.


Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, left, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper laugh as they address the media in Ottawa last June. Photo: Cole Burston/AFP/Getty Images

Posted at: September 30, 2014 - 9:37 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

September 29, 2014

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The criminalization of the United Nations: “The Terrorists R Us” or Western Axis rot

As the saying goes, “a fish rots from the head.”

Obama’s September 24 speech at the UN is the most absurd thing I have heard in my entire life. It is absolutely amazing that the president of the United States would stand before the entire world and tell what everyone knows are blatant lies while simultaneously demonstrating Washington’s double standards and belief that Washington alone, because the US is exceptional and indispensable, has the right to violate all law. It is even more amazing that every person present did not get up and walk out of the assembly. The diplomats of the world actually sat there and listened to blatant lies from the world’s worst terrorist. They even clapped their approval. - Paul Craig Roberts, a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. See “Obama’s house of cards”

“The Terrorists R Us.” The Islamic State “big lie”
Prof. Michel Chossudovsky Global Research Canada September 25, 2014

Under the auspices of the United Nations Security Council, with president Obama chairing the Council session, the United States has called upon the international community to adopt strong measures, at national and international levels, to curtail the recruitment of Islamic State fighters.

What is not mentioned in the media reports is that the heads of State and heads of government who have endorsed America’s campaign against the Islamic State, advised by their respective secret services, are fully aware that US intelligence is the unspoken architect of the Islamic State, which is part of a vast network of US supported “jihadist” terrorist entities. Countries are either coerced into supporting the US sponsored resolution or they are complicit in the US terror agenda.

Lest we forget, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, have been financing and training the ISIL terrorists on behalf of the United States. Israel is harboring the Islamic State (ISIL) in the Golan Heights, NATO in liaison with the Turkish high command has since March 2011 been involved in coordinating the recruitment of the jihadist fighters dispatched to Syria. Moreover, the ISIL brigades in both Syria and Iraq are integrated by Western special forces and military advisers.

All this is known and documented, yet not a single head of state or head of government has had the courage to point to the absurdity of the US sponsored United Nations Security Council resolution, which was adopted unanimously on September 24.

“Absurdity” is an understatement. What we are witnessing is a criminal undertaking under UN auspices.

While international diplomacy is often based on deception, US foreign policy lies are no longer credible. What we are witnessing is a total breakdown of established diplomatic practice. The “Forbidden Truth” is that the Islamic State is an instrument of Washington, a US ” intelligence asset”. ISIL is not an independent entity, nor is it an “outside enemy” which threatens global security, as conveyed by the Western media.

While everybody knows this, the big lie prevails. The Lie becomes the Truth.

The United Nations Security Council resolution calls upon member states to “suppress the recruiting, organizing, transporting, equipping” and financing of foreign terrorist fighters,” Specifically, the resolution points to the “the particular and urgent need to implement this resolution with respect to those foreign terrorist fighters who are associated with ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant], ANF [Al-Nusrah Front] and other cells, affiliates, splinter groups or derivatives of Al-Qaida…” But are these not precisely the “opposition freedom fighters” trained and recruited by the Western military alliance in their quest to unseat the government of Bashar Al Assad?

The ISIL are the foot soldiers of the Western military alliance. Their unspoken mandate is to wreck havoc and destruction in Syria and Iraq, acting on behalf of their US sponsors. The endgame is to transform countries into territories.

Related: The history of ISIS beheadings: Part of the “training manual” of US sponsored Syria “pro-democracy” terrorists
Julie Lévesque Global Research Canada September 19, 2014

The recent beheadings of three Westerners, Foley, Sotloff and Haines, at the hands of the Islamic State (ISIS) has sparked a wave of indignation and strong condemnation by Western heads of state.

For anyone aware of what has been truly going on in Syria from the outset of the war in March 2011, there is something unusual in these strong statements, which are now the object of a wave of “humanitarian bombings” under a counter-terrorism mandate directed against the Islamic State.

Lest we forget, from the outset of the war on Syria in March 2011, the US and its allies supported so-called “Freedom fighters” largely composed of the Al Nusrah and ISIS brigades. Trained in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, these pro-democracy terrorists were routinely involved in atrocities including beheadings directed against Syrian civilians.

Double standards? In the course of the last three years, no Western leader made any statements in regards to these atrocities committed by “Muslim extremists”. They passed virtually unnoticed. No concern was expressed by the international community in this regard. With some exceptions, these beheadings were barely the object of media coverage.

Is it because the “freedom fighters” integrated by ISIS and Al Nusrah forces were beheading Syrian civilians rather than Westerners. Was it because the victims of these atrocities were opposed to the bloody “pro-democracy revolution” sponsored by US-NATO against the government of Bashar Al Assad?

Why are Western leaders only appalled now? Is it because now Westerners rather than Syrians are being decapitated?

These recent beheadings of American and British nationals, whether authentic or not, are obviously exploited to pave the way for a military intervention in Syria. This is a basic propaganda technique used time and time again to gather support for war and the mainstream media is there to convey this propaganda.

The mainstream media’s role is not to inform people but to appeal to their emotions and manipulate them into approving what they would otherwise refuse.

Westerners don’t want to go to war in the Middle East again? Show them one of their fellow countrymen getting his head cut off by a “Muslim” and they will change their mind. And you don’t even need to show anything, just say that people in high office have seen the horrific act and have their media mouthpieces repeat what they have said. It works every time.

It is quite obvious that the decapitations of hundreds of Syrian civilians by Western-backed forces would completely destroy the propaganda and prove that Assad was telling the truth when he said he was fighting a foreign terrorist invasion. That’s why this report [the Human Rights Watch report from October 2013] was not much talked about and the narrative stayed the same in the Western media.

But all other subsequent attempts to justify a military invasion in Syria failed and now we are faced with the most absurd scenario: the West pretends it must intervene against its own deadly creation: ISIS

The recent ISIS beheadings are just another pretext to intervene militarily in Syria. The hundreds of decapitations of Syrian nationals which have been committed by the Western proxy soldiers for years prove that this is just another PSYOP to gather support for another war in the Middle East.

Below you will find longer excerpts of the Human Rights Watch report mentioned above.

Washington’s secret agendas
Paul Craig Robers CounterPunch USA September 29, 2014

One might think that by now even Americans would have caught on to the constant stream of false alarms that Washington sounds in order to deceive the people into supporting its hidden agendas.

The public fell for the lie that the Taliban in Afghanistan are terrorists allied with al Qaeda. Americans fought a war for 13 years that enriched Dick Cheney’s firm, Halliburton, and other private interests only to end in another Washington failure.

The public fell for the lie that Saddam Hussein in Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” that were a threat to America and that if the US did not invade Iraq Americans risked a “mushroom cloud going up over an American city.” With the rise of ISIS, this long war apparently is far from over. Billions of dollars more in profits will pour into the coffers of the US military security complex as Washington fights those who are redrawing the false Middle East boundaries created by the British and French after WW I when the British and French seized territories of the former Ottoman Empire.

The American public fell for the lies told about Gaddafi in Libya. The formerly stable and prosperous country is now in chaos.

The American public fell for the lie that Iran has, or is building, nuclear weapons. Sanctioned and reviled by the West, Iran has shifted toward an Eastern orientation, thereby removing a principal oil producer from Western influence.

The public fell for the lie that Assad of Syria used “chemical weapons against his own people.” The jihadists that Washington sent to overthrow Assad have turned out to be, according to Washington’s propaganda, a threat to America.

The greatest threat to the world is Washington’s insistence on its hegemony. The ideology of a handful of neoconservatives is the basis for this insistence. We face the situation in which a handful of American neoconservative psychopaths claim to determine the fate of countries.

Many still believe Washington’s lies, but increasingly the world sees Washington as the greatest threat to peace and life on earth. The claim that America is “exceptional and indispensable” is used to justify Washington’s right to dictate to other countries.

The casualties of Washington’s bombings are invariably civilians, and the deaths will produce more recruits for ISIS. Already there are calls for Washington to reintroduce “boots on the ground” in Iraq. Otherwise, Western civilization is doomed, and our heads will be cut off. The newly created propaganda of a “Russian threat” requires more NATO spending and more military bases on Russia’s borders. A “quick reaction force” is being created to respond to a nonexistent threat of a Russian invasion of the Baltics, Poland, and Europe.

Usually it takes the American public a year, or two, three, or four to realize that it has been deceived by lies and propaganda, but by that time the public has swallowed a new set of lies and propaganda and is all concerned about the latest “threat.” The American public seems incapable of understanding that just as the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth, threat was a hoax, so is the sixth threat, and so will be the seventh, eighth, and ninth.

Posted at: September 29, 2014 - 3:18 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

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Will Mike Duffy Call the Next Election?

Federal Election 2015: Will Duffy Trial Force Harper To Pull Plug?
Jennifer Ditchburn, The Canadian Press Huffington Post Sept. 24, 2014

OTTAWA – In exchange for a $25 donation, the Conservative party recently offered its supporters a Stephen Harper calendar “to help count down to election day.” But will they be counting down to Oct. 19, 2015, or some Monday in the spring?

When the prime minister will drop the writ is what passes as water-cooler talk around Parliament Hill and across government — even some Conservatives are wondering whether Harper will abide by the date he himself brought in to law.

Tuesday’s news that the trial of former Conservative Sen. Mike Duffy will unfold in April and June sent the guessing machine back into overdrive. Would Harper want to pull the plug early to avoid the potential damage from the proceedings?

“The analysis that any prime minister will do is, ‘Do I have a better chance of winning in April than in May or June or October, and what are the downsides if I break the spirit of my own law, is that going to be held against me?”‘ said Eddie Goldenberg, Chretien’s former chief of staff.

“I think it probably would be, because he’s got a majority.”

Will Mike Duffy Call the Next Election?
The Mound of Sound The Disaffected Lib September, 2014

Sure, it sounds far fetched, but the opposition parties had better be prepared for Harper to call a snap election.

From Harper’s perspective the Duffy trial is a matter of optics and, for SJH, none of the possibilities is good, not good at all. Harper is already damaged goods and, even if he escapes efforts to compel him to testify, what remains of his reputation will become a political pinata in the course of the trial.

My take on it is that Harper will do a Mulroney. He’ll see the writing on the wall and bail out, leaving his successor to go up in flames.

Posted at: September 29, 2014 - 11:45 am -- Posted by: Cameron Smith -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

Stephen Harper’s terrible horrible no good very bad week: Will Canada soon, at long last, be rid of the turbulent pol?

Harper has done this much for the country. He has shown us that even in an age as shallow as this one, marketing has it limits. Harper’s UN speech was in the same category as the contest to name his new cat. If he thinks that talking peace and motherhood will allow him to send Canadians to fight and die in Iraq without debate, if he thinks he can foist weeping losers on the public in important positions, if he thinks he can replace inconvenient facts with made-up versions, he has forgotten it is no longer 2006. Back then, Harper was still skulking in the wings. Now, he has been on stage so long that even his own people are squirming in their seats and looking for the nearest exit. - Michael Harris, author of the forthcoming book (October) Party of One: Stephen Harper and Canada’s Radical Makeover. Mr. Harris’ previous investigations include the collapse of the Atlantic cod fishery in Lament for an Ocean, the Donald Marshall case in Justice Denied and the abuse at the Mount Cashel orphanage in Unholy Orders. He has received numerous awards including the Centre for Investigative Journalism Award, but he says he considers this his most important work. “The difference with this book is this is the whole country and what we are. And I really believe that the country is in a fight for its soul. And when you’re in a fight for your soul, you have to stand up.”

Stephen Harper and the terrible horrible no good very bad week
Michael Harris iPolitics Canada September 28, 2014

This page contains an embedded link.

It is hard to say what was the worst part of Stephen Harper’s horrible week.

Was it his appearance at the United Nations, where his speech was delivered with all the sincerity of a Walmart greeter to a near empty house?

Was it Paul Calandra’s risible performance in the House of Commons, a silly, remorseless apology that only laid bare the bottomless narcissism of this disgraceful MP? It also showed another important thing — Stephen Harper’s preference for choosing sycophantic boors as his parliamentary secretaries.

Maybe it was published rumblings on Bourque Newswatch of Harper’s imminent exit from politics, a story based on anonymous sources in the Conservative Party of Canada from across Canada. While some might want to dismiss Bourque, it was an earlier series of stories on the same site correctly reported the looming corruption scandal at SNC-Lavalin.

And then there was that Global News story about Iraq Redux. Harper told a group of American businessmen that the U.S. had asked Canada for more help. Former iPolitics standout Laura Stone reported that it was the other way around, citing State Department sources. Oops. Not only was Harper caught in a bald-faced fib, but also called out for his utter contempt of Parliament for telling Goldman Sachs investors more than he’ll tell his fellow MPs.

For me, Harper’s worst moment of the week came at the UN, an organization as high on his list of favourites as the Sierra Club and the Suzuki Foundation. He loathes the place. Not only did he get Canada voted off the Security Council island, he sends John Baird there on a regular basis to exhibit the fine art of poisoning rational debate – Canada’s new contribution to diplomacy.

Harper has got to realize that you can’t score points talking up peace and maternal health. Everyone in the world knows he is itching to get deeper into the war in Iraq to bolster his international tough guy cred.

You can’t win applause at the UN when you have consistently made clear that the will of the majority of member states means nothing to you. The world’s top diplomats are beyond being taken in by blue sweaters, Beatle songs, and phoney speeches. Day in the Life of videos, cat photographs, and patriotic selfies now work only with dear friends and relatives … and if you believe Bourque, not even them.

The prime minister long ago used up any “benefit of the doubt” account he might once have had on foreign affairs. His analysis a decade ago would have had Canada front and centre in the last Iraq debacle — which anyone who takes a second to think about it knows set the stage for this latest ISIS fiasco.

The old thesis is back. One can bomb one’s way to peace in the Middle East without telling the folks back home what’s going on. You know, like Viet Nam. Only undemocratic war mongers believe that. And for that matter, only war mongers celebrate the beginning of the First World War, the way Harper did.

And then there is Libya. Harper joined that mission without even knowing who Canada was helping as a member of the coalition. The million dollar “fly over” to celebrate victory in Libya was a tad premature; a few months after victory was declared, the U.S. Ambassador was murdered. Chaos has raged in that country ever since. When Harper did have a chance to stand up for democracy against a military junta in Egypt, he backed the junta with his silence.

Harper’s UN speech was a sham. But Paul Calandra’s humiliating performance in the House of Commons actually told us something true about Stephen Harper.

Unlike British PM David Cameron, who called the House of Commons back to an emergency session to debate the latest Iraq War, Canada’s PM doesn’t even intend to answer questions about these weighty matters of international life and death. Instead, he sends in the clowns. The megalomania is getting embarrassing.

Change coming in next House, so far 34 MPs not running for re-election
Abbas Rana The Hill Times Canada September 29, 2014

More than one-third of Alberta Conservative MPs and at least 21 Conservatives have so far either announced they won’t be running for re-election or have already resigned, but Tories deny they’re leaving because they could lose the next federal election and say it’s time to go.

About 10 per cent of the 308 MPs are not running again. As of last week, a total of 34 MPs from all parties had announced they won’t be running again and more are expected to make similar announcements in the coming weeks and months. The 33 MPs include 21 Conservatives, four NDP, four Liberals, one Bloc Québécois, and three Independents. A total of 22 MPs of 161 MPs represents 13 per cent of the Conservative national caucus.

In interviews last week, MPs who are quitting federal politics told The Hill Times that they’re doing it for personal reasons.

But opposition MPs claimed it was “incredibly surprising” that so many Conservatives won’t be running in the next election, including the 21 most recent departures and announcements, combined with the departures of Lee Richardson, Ted Menzies, and Brian Jean who were all part of the Stephen Harper (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) first majority government elected in 2011.

Toronto Star syndicated national affairs columnist Tim Harper in a column on Sept. 21 wrote: “It’s tempting to conclude that MPs are voting with their feet, checking out for better opportunities with an eye to potential job loss next year, although no departing MP has even publicly hinted at that as a reason,” Mr. Harper wrote in a column last week. “Even if many of them represent ridings that would still be believed to be safe Conservative seats, their departure does augur change and there is little doubt that a year from an election, there is an air of change in Ottawa.”

NDP MP Nathan Cullen (Skeena-Bulkley Valley, B.C.) called the number of Conservatives departures a “loss of faith” in Prime Minister Harper’s leadership.

“Well, it’s incredibly surprising for a government to lose that many members. There’s a loss of faith in the Prime Minister’s leadership and that certain issues, particularly if you’re coming from Alberta, have not only not been resolved, they’ve gotten much worse, like pipelines and energy in general,” Mr. Cullen said, referring to the Harper government’s conditional approval of the controversial Northern Gateway Pipeline project that was approved by the government before the summer recess.

Related: Dianne Watts, you seemed so smart
Rafe Mair TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada September 29, 2014

I thought that Dianne Watts, the about to be ex-mayor of Surrey, was a smart person.

Her decision to seek a federal seat for the Tories in next year’s election puts paid to that idea.

That Watts is a very capable person is beyond question. She probably has as good a political resume as one could possibly find. At one time rated the number four mayor in the entire world, she has a reputation for sound government, which by all accounts, is much deserved.

I question her smartness, not her capability.

I have written about this before, but I’m afraid I can’t quit until we, the somnolent public, finally understand how undemocratically our government is run.

I must tell you that I was just as naive as Watts seems to be when I ran for the legislature in 1975. I had no real idea of what I was getting into, and honestly thought that if elected, I was going to Victoria to reason together with my fellow MLAs and come up with good government.

I was very fortunate in that I went immediately into cabinet and stayed there. I never had to suffer the agonies of a government backbencher. Being in cabinet, however, gave me a pretty good perch from which to observe that backbenchers had no real part in the governing process. They could, of course, speak out in caucus meetings, however were reluctant to do so because they very much wanted to be promoted out of the backbench and knew that pleasing the premier was the only way to get that job done. You don’t please premiers or prime ministers by questioning their policies.

Backbenchers had very little to do, and much of what they did do involved make-work projects given to them to keep “idle hands from doing the devil’s work.”

They, as I would have done, pretended to all who would listen that they were an integral part of the governing process, whereas of course, they were not. For example, they often didn’t see legislation until a few minutes before it was tabled in the house. Policy was made in cabinet behind closed doors. It is the same in the federal government.

I have no doubt that Dianne Watts will be elected. That means that she will become, in all likelihood, a Tory backbencher.

She very well may have a signal from the prime minister that she will go directly into cabinet. The problem is, for that to happen the Tories must be elected and Stephen Harper must keep his word. Neither of these two things are slam dunks.

The polls do not indicate the Tories will form the next government, although, of course, an election is still a long way off and things may change.

On the second point, Harper is in no way bound to keep private promises of this sort and if re-elected he will have a whole new batch of new people to whom he owes political debts for that re-election. Dianne Watts will not be the only one who’s been promised a cabinet seat.

It is very difficult for the prime minister to bring a rookie into cabinet. It is even more difficult to bring a rookie into cabinet and give her a job that means anything.

The reality is, Watts is probably facing four years on the backbench.

Which means her constituents will gain nothing from her being in Parliament.

Posted at: September 29, 2014 - 10:43 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post