July 30, 2014

Our fragmenting world. Spanish PM Rajoy meets Catalonia leader Mas in Madrid over independence vote: Political space for a deal is shrinking rapidly

Es van superar? (Ens hauran de supera: Catalan for We shall overcome. The question is, can the Catalans overcome?)

Spanish PM Rajoy meets Catalonia leader Mas in Madrid over independence vote
Xinhua News Agency/GlobalPost China July 30, 2014

MADRID, July 30 (Xinhua) — Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and the leader of the Catalan Regional Government (Generalitat) Artur Mas held what appears to have been a fruitless meeting in Madrid on Wednesday over the issue of independence for the Catalan region in the north-east of Spain.

Although they have spoken in private on a couple of occasions, Rajoy and Mas had not met publicly since September 20, 2012, when they failed to reach agreement over a fiscal pact for Catalonia. Relations between Madrid and Catalonia have deteriorated since then to such an extent that Mas’ government has called a referendum over the issue of Catalan independence for November 9.

The meeting began with a cold handshake between the stairs at the Rajoy’s residence in the Palacio de la Moncloa in Madrid and Rajoy pointedly failed to walk down the steps to greet Mas as he had done to the new leader of the Socialist Party, Pedro Sanchez earlier this week.

Photos showed Rajoy and Mas looking in opposite directions as they shook hands for the cameras and viewpoints were no closer to coinciding in the meeting which followed, with Rajoy insisting the referendum: “cannot be held,” because it is “illegal.”

Mas later told the press that he would not back down: “in terms of the vote (on independence), my plans haven’t changed.”

Spain and Catalonia fail to narrow divide over breakaway quest
Tobias Buck in Madrid Financial Times UK July 30, 2014

The leaders of Spain and Catalonia launched a last-ditch attempt on Wednesday to halt an escalating confrontation over the north-east region’s political future.

The talks failed once again, however, to find common ground on the core of the conflict – a Catalan plan to hold an independence referendum later this year.

The keenly awaited meeting between Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, and Artur Mas, the Catalan government president, was billed as one of the last opportunities to discuss a political settlement.

Posted at: July 30, 2014 - 3:47 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

Fog of war: Thugs brought the current Ukraine government to power. Are thugs running that government? Shocking analysis of the ‘shooting down’ of Malaysian MH17


Photo: Airliners.net. The Ukrainian Air Force operates approximately 36 Sukhoi Su-25 fighter jets. Five or six have been shot down by separatist forces and at least one is reported damaged by separatist fire but did not crash.

Below: Peter Haisenko is a pilot for Condor. Condor Flugdienst GmbH, usually shortened to Condor, is an airline based in Frankfurt, Germany, operating scheduled leisure flights to the Mediterranean, Asia, Africa, North America, South America and the Caribbean. Condor is Germany’s third largest commercial airline based on fleet size and passengers flown. AnderweltOnline.com is the website of a German journal of critical opinion and journalistic education and investigation. The photos in the article are from the internet. (They have since disappeared from Google Images.)

Original: Schockierende Analyse zum Abschuss der Malaysian MH 017
Peter Haisenko AnderweltOnline Deutschland Juli 26, 2014

Es will kein Licht ins Dunkel um das Unglück der Malaysian MH 017 kommen. Die Flugschreiber sind in England und werden ausgewertet. Was kann dabei herauskommen? Möglicherweise mehr, als man annehmen möchte. Vor allem der Voicerecorder dürfte interessant sein, wenn man das Bild eines Cockpit-Fragments betrachtet. Als Fachmann für Luftfahrt habe ich mir die Bilder der Wrackteile vorgenommen, die im Internet kursieren.

Als erstes war ich erstaunt, wie wenige Fotos von den Wrackteilen mit Google zu finden sind. Alle sind in niedriger Auflösung, bis auf eines: Das Fragment des Cockpits unterhalb des Fensters auf der Kapitänsseite. Dieses Bild ist allerdings schockierend. In Washington hört man mittlerweile Stimmen, die bezüglich MH 017 von einem „möglicherweise tragischen Irrtum/Unfall“ sprechen. Angesichts dieses Bilds wundert mich das nicht.

English translation: Shocking analysis of the ‘shooting down’ of Malaysian MH17
Peter Haisenko AnderweltOnline Germany July 30, 2014

Peter Haisenko in the cockpit of a Condor DC 10.

The tragedy of Malaysian MH 017 continues to elude any light of clarity being cast over it. The flight recorders are in England and are evaluated. What can come of it? Maybe more than you would assume. Especially the voice recorder will be interesting when you look at the picture of a cockpit fragment. As an expert in aviation I closely looked at the images of the wreckage that are circulating on the Internet.

First, I was amazed at how few photos can be found from the wreckage with Google. All are in low resolution, except one: The fragment of the cockpit below the window on the pilots side. This image, however, is shocking. In Washington, you can now hear views expresssed of a “potentially tragic error / accident” regarding MH 017. Given this particular cockpit image it does not surprise me at all.

Entry and exit impact holes of projectiles in the cockpit area

I recommend to click on the little picture to the right. You can download this photo as a PDF in good resolution. This is necessary, because that will allow you understand what I am describing here. The facts speak clear and loud and are beyond the realm of speculation: The cockpit shows traces of shelling! You can see the entry and exit holes. The edge of a portion of the holes is bent inwards. These are the smaller holes, round and clean, showing the entry points most likeley that of a 30 millimeter caliber projectile. The edge of the other, the larger and slightly frayed exit holes showing shreds of metal pointing produced by the same caliber projectiles. Moreover, it is evident that at these exit holes of the outer layer of the double aluminum reinforced structure are shredded or bent – outwardly! Furthermore, minor cuts can be seen, all bent outward, which indicate that shrapnel had forcefull exited through the outer skin from the inside of the cockpit. The open rivets are are also bent outward.

In sifting through the available images one thing stands out: All wreckage of the sections behind the cockpit are largely intact, except for the fact that only fragments of the aircraft remained . Only the cockpit part shows these peculiar marks of destruction. This leaves the examiner with an important clue. This aircraft was not hit by a missile in the central portion. The destruction is limited to the cockpit area. Now you have to factor in that this part is constructed of specially reinforced material. This is on account of the nose of any aircraft having to withstand the impact of a large bird at high speeds. You can see in the photo, that in this area significantly stronger aluminum alloys were being installed than in the remainder of the outer skin of the fuselage. One remembers the crash of Pan Am over Lockerbie. It was a large segment of the cockpit that due to the special architecture survived the crash in one piece. In the case of flight MH 017 it becomes abundantly clear that there also an explosion took place inside the aircraft.

Tank destroying mix of ammunititon

So what could have happened? Russia recently published radar recordings, that confirm at least one Ukrainian SU 25 in close proximity to MH 017. This corresponds with the statement of the now missing Spanish controller ‘Carlos’ that has seen two Ukrainian fighter aircraft in the immediate vicinity of MH 017. If we now consider the armament of a typical SU 25 we learn this: It is equipped with a double-barreled 30-mm gun, type GSh-302 / AO-17A, equipped with: a 250 round magazine of anti-tank incendiary shells and splinter-explosive shells (dum-dum), arranged in alternating order. The cockpit of the MH 017 has evidently been fired at from both sides: the entry and exit holes are found on the same fragment of it’s cockpit segment!

Now just consider what happens when a series of anti-tank incendiary shells and splinter-explosive shells hit the cockpit. These are after all designed to destroy a modern tank. The anti-tank incendiary shells partially traversed the cockpit and exited on the other side in a slightly deformed shape. (Aviation forensic experts could possibly find them on the ground presumably controlled by the Kiev Ukrainian military; the translator). After all, their impact is designed to penetrate the solid armor of a tank. Also, the splinter-explosive shells will, due to their numerous impacts too cause massive explosions inside the cockpit, since they are designed to do this. Given the rapid firing sequence of the GSh-302 cannon, it will cause a rapid succession of explosions within the cockpit area in a very short time. Remeber each of these is sufficient to destroy a tank.

What “mistake” was actually being committed – and by whom?

Because the interior of a commercial aircraft is a hermetically sealed pressurized chamber, the explosions will, in split second, increase the pressure inside the cabin to extreme levels or breaking point. An aircraft is not equipped for this, it will burst like a balloon. This explains a coherent scenario. The largely intact fragments of the rear sections broke in mid air at the weaker points of contstruction most likely under extreme internal air pressure. The images of the widely scattered field of debris and the brutally damaged segment of cockpit fit like hand in glove. Furthermore, a wing segment shows traces of a grazing shot, which in direct extension leads to the cockpit. Interestingly, I found that both the high-resolution photo of the fragment of bullet riddled cockpit as well as the segment of grazed wing have in the meantime disappeared from Google Images. One can find virtually no more pictures of the wreckage, except the well known smoking ruins.

If you listen to the voices from Washington now who speak of a “potentially tragic error / accident”, all that remains is the question of what might have been the nature of this “mistake” perpetrated here. I am not given to hover long in the realm of speculation, but would like to invite others to consider the following : The MH 017 looked similar in it’s tricolor design to that that of the Russian President’s plane. The plane with Presdient Putin on board was at the same time ”near” Malaysia MH 017. In aviation circles “close” would be considered to be anywhere between 150 to 200 miles. Also, in this context we might consider the deposition of Ms. Tymoshenko, who wanted to shoot Presdient Putin with a Kalashnikov.

But that this remains pure speculation. The shelling of the cockpit of air Malaysia MH 017, however, is definitely not.

Related: Ukrainian Su-25 fighter detected in close approach to MH17 before crash – Moscow
RT Russia July 21, 2014

Visit this page for its satellite images and its embedded video.

The Russian military detected a Ukrainian SU-25 fighter jet gaining height towards the MH17 Boeing on the day of the catastrophe. Kiev must explain why the military jet was tracking the passenger airplane, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

A Ukraine Air Force military jet was detected gaining height, it’s distance from the Malaysian Boeing was 3 to 5km,” said the head of the Main Operations Directorate of the HQ of Russia’s military forces, Lieutenant-General Andrey Kartopolov speaking at a media conference in Moscow on Monday.

“[We] would like to get an explanation as to why the military jet was flying along a civil aviation corridor at almost the same time and at the same level as a passenger plane,” he stated.

“The SU-25 fighter jet can gain an altitude of 10km, according to its specification,” he added. “It’s equipped with air-to-air R-60 missiles that can hit a target at a distance up to 12km, up to 5km for sure.”

The presence of the Ukrainian military jet can be confirmed by video shots made by the Rostov monitoring center, Kartopolov stated.

At the moment of the MH17 crash an American satellite was flying over the area of eastern Ukraine, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry. It urged the US to publish the space photos and data captured by it.

In addition, MH17 crashed within the operating zone of the Ukrainian army’s self-propelled, medium-range surface-to-air ‘Buk’ missile systems, the Russian general said.

“We have space images of certain places where the Ukraine’s air defense was located in the southeast of the country,” Kartapolov noted.

Kartapolov also pointed to the fact that on the day of the plane crash Ukraine’s military increased activity on the part of Ukraine’s Kupol-M1 9S18 radars, which are part of the Buk system.

“..there were 7 radars operating on July 15, 8 radars operating on July 16, and 9 radars operating on July 17 in the area. Then, starting with July 18, the intensity of radar activities radically decreased, and now there are no more than two or three radars operating a day. The reason behind this is yet to be found.”

In response to Moscow’s evidence, Kiev said on Monday it had proof the missile that brought down a Malaysian airliner last week came from Russia.

“There is evidence that the missile which struck the plane was fired by terrorists, who received arms and specialists from the Russian Federation,” spokesman for Ukraine’s Security Council Andrey Lysenko told a news conference. “To disown this tragedy, [Russia] are drawing a lot of pictures and maps. We will explore any photos and other plans produced by the Russian side.”

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Monday that Kiev has “strong evidence” of the causes of the MH17 crash.

“We know exactly the place [the surface-to-air missile was] launched, we know exactly the place where it hit the civilian plane and the place where the plane crashed.”

Kiev is ready to hand the information to the international investigation commission, according to the presidential press-service.

Posted at: July 30, 2014 - 3:14 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

Collective punishment in Gaza: Israel’s punishing Palestinians for existing has a long history & Harper and Baird continue to parrot Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s talking points

Rashid Khalidi is the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University and the editor of the Journal of Palestine Studies, and was an adviser to the Palestinian delegation at the Madrid-Washington Palestinian-Israeli negotiations of 1991-93. His most recent book is Brokers of Deceit.

Collective punishment in Gaza
Rashid Khalidi The New Yorker USA July 29, 2014


Photo: Paolo Pellegrin/Magnum

Three days after the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched the current war in Gaza, he held a press conference in Tel Aviv during which he said, in Hebrew, according to the Times of Israel, “I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.”

It’s worth listening carefully when Netanyahu speaks to the Israeli people. What is going on in Palestine today is not really about Hamas. It is not about rockets. It is not about “human shields” or terrorism or tunnels. It is about Israel’s permanent control over Palestinian land and Palestinian lives. That is what Netanyahu is really saying, and that is what he now admits he has “always” talked about. It is about an unswerving, decades-long Israeli policy of denying Palestine self-determination, freedom, and sovereignty.

What Israel is doing in Gaza now is collective punishment. It is punishment for Gaza’s refusal to be a docile ghetto. It is punishment for the gall of Palestinians in unifying, and of Hamas and other factions in responding to Israel’s siege and its provocations with resistance, armed or otherwise, after Israel repeatedly reacted to unarmed protest with crushing force. Despite years of ceasefires and truces, the siege of Gaza has never been lifted.

As Netanyahu’s own words show, however, Israel will accept nothing short of the acquiescence of Palestinians to their own subordination. It will accept only a Palestinian “state” that is stripped of all the attributes of a real state: control over security, borders, airspace, maritime limits, contiguity, and, therefore, sovereignty. The twenty-three-year charade of the “peace process” has shown that this is all Israel is offering, with the full approval of Washington. Whenever the Palestinians have resisted that pathetic fate (as any nation would), Israel has punished them for their insolence. This is not new.

In the past seven or more years, Israel has besieged, tormented, and regularly attacked the Gaza Strip. The pretexts change: they elected Hamas; they refused to be docile; they refused to recognize Israel; they fired rockets; they built tunnels to circumvent the siege; and on and on. But each pretext is a red herring, because the truth of ghettos—what happens when you imprison 1.8 million people in a hundred and forty square miles, about a third of the area of New York City, with no control of borders, almost no access to the sea for fishermen (three out of the twenty kilometres allowed by the Oslo accords), no real way in or out, and with drones buzzing overhead night and day—is that, eventually, the ghetto will fight back. It was true in Soweto and Belfast, and it is true in Gaza. We might not like Hamas or some of its methods, but that is not the same as accepting the proposition that Palestinians should supinely accept the denial of their right to exist as a free people in their ancestral homeland.

This is precisely why the United States’ support of current Israeli policy is folly. Peace was achieved in Northern Ireland and in South Africa because the United States and the world realized that they had to put pressure on the stronger party, holding it accountable and ending its impunity. Northern Ireland and South Africa are far from perfect examples, but it is worth remembering that, to achieve a just outcome, it was necessary for the United States to deal with groups like the Irish Republican Army and the African National Congress, which engaged in guerrilla war and even terrorism. That was the only way to embark on a road toward true peace and reconciliation. The case of Palestine is not fundamentally different.

Instead, the United States puts its thumb on the scales in favor of the stronger party. In this surreal, upside-down vision of the world, it almost seems as if it is the Israelis who are occupied by the Palestinians, and not the other way around. In this skewed universe, the inmates of an open-air prison are besieging a nuclear-armed power with one of the most sophisticated militaries in the world.

If we are to move away from this unreality, the U.S. must either reverse its policies or abandon its claim of being an “honest broker.” If the U.S. government wants to fund and arm Israel and parrot its talking points that fly in the face of reason and international law, so be it. But it should not claim the moral high ground and intone solemnly about peace. And it should certainly not insult Palestinians by saying that it cares about them or their children, who are dying in Gaza today.

Related: To the shame of Canadians, Harper and Baird continue to parrot Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s talking points. Mohamed Omar is an associate editor at Huffington Post Canada. He is Palestinian-Canadian.

Why aren’t Harper and Baird angry about dead babies in Gaza?
Mohamed Omar Huffington Post Canada July 29, 2014


Visit this page for its embedded links, 47-picture photo gallery and its video.

Should the government of Canada denounce the intentional and accidental slaughter of babies and other civilians caught in the crossfire between two military forces?

It’s a question as redundant as “does Red Lobster serve Lobster?”

Yes. Of course the government, or any other organization run by rational and peace-loving people, should condemn such violence. The killing of civilians has always and will always be a reprehensible act.

And yet Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird remain silent on the mounting civilian death toll in Gaza.

The government of Canada, along with this fine country’s media, needs to establish the crucial distinction between criticizing the State of Israel and the actions of the State of Israel.

Saying the State of Israel is being too violent and reckless in its retaliation against Hamas is not saying the State of Israel has no right to protect itself. Harper, Baird — as well as Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair — can and should say the former. So far, they have not.

If the Conservative leadership is worried that some might remember their criticism of Israel’s military actions, they can rest assured that everyone will remember them as human beings who spoke out about the suffering of helpless [civilians] in Gaza.

Harper and Baird lamented the death of children in Syria while criticizing the actions of both the rebels and the government. They can do the same for Gaza.

Posted at: July 30, 2014 - 9:52 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

July 29, 2014

Thoughts on one subgenre of chaos theory and shock doctrines: Our era of thugs. Where this all ends is anyone’s conjecture, but as of now things don’t look very rosy

Jim comment: Western Axis thugs led the Maidan Nezalezhnosti coups. Is Russia using its own thugs in Novorossiya? I don’t know. Chan Akya thinks so. But I do agree with Akya’s basic premise: At some stage in recent history, governments started to outsource operational aspects of geopolitical strategy to gangs of robbers, murderers and nutcases and are increasingly abrogating greater responsibilities to them. It is a very dangerous practice, and where this all ends is anyone’s conjecture.

An era of thugs
Chan Akya Asia Times Online Hong Kong July 28, 2014

Thug – a word adapted into the English language from its origins in the Indian subcontinent; defined either as a member of a professional clan of robbers and murderers or as a ruffian. The Oxford English Dictionary quite chillingly states in that usual equanimity that lexicographers somehow adopt that the correct term of “thug” in the local language was “phansi-gar” wherein the word phansi means to strangle or hang; and gar is the person who carries out that action.

If an alien were to have landed on Earth in 2004 and observed humanity for the subsequent 10 years, he/she (or it) would be grappling for a word that describes all of the following events until somehow stumbling to that definition in the OED or similar. In reverse chronological order, some such events over the past week alone: …

When and how did modern governments decide to outsource all operational aspects of geopolitical strategy to marauding gangs of robbers and murderers? If a memo had been sent explaining this new initiative, I certainly did not receive it.

In pretty much every event I mentioned above, there is a state actor who is attempting to hide behind the façade of “plausible deniability”, that is, the ability to wash one”s hands of a matter when things go out of control. Think of the following: …

Inevitably, our alien would start framing all the above outcomes in a multi-player version of the prisoner’s dilemma wherein every player defaults to his version of the safe option, driving overall group outcomes continually lower. The opposite trajectory, as represented by Pareto optimality, is never even contemplated let alone executed by players.

This is why the transfer of operational responsibilities by and from nation-states to groups of individuals with narrower motives ends up being far more dangerous for the human race. Instead of seizing back power from these thugs, nation-states are increasingly abrogating greater responsibilities to them. Where this all ends is anyone’s conjecture, but as of now things don’t look very rosy.

Note: Pareto efficiency, or Pareto optimality, is a state of allocation of resources in which it is impossible to make any one individual better off without making at least one individual worse off.

Posted at: July 29, 2014 - 2:46 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

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What you need to know about Israel’s talking points regarding Gaza and more

The only way to make sense of Israel’s senseless war[s] in Gaza is through understanding the historical context. Establishing the state of Israel in May 1948 involved a monumental injustice to the Palestinians. British officials bitterly resented American partisanship on behalf of the infant state. On 2 June 1948, Sir John Troutbeck wrote to the foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, that the Americans were responsible for the creation of a gangster state headed by “an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders”. I used to think that this judgment was too harsh but Israel’s vicious assault on the people of Gaza, and the Bush administration’s complicity in this assault, have reopened the question. - Avi Shlaim writing in 2009. Oxford professor of international relations Avi Shlaim served in the Israeli army and has never questioned the state’s legitimacy. But its merciless assault on Gaza has led him to devastating conclusions.

Below: Noura Erakat, a human rights attorney and activist, is an Abraham L. Freedman Fellow at Temple University, Beasley School of Law, and a contributing editor of Jadaliyya. Israel claims that it is merely exercising its right to self-defense and that Gaza is no longer occupied. Here’s what you need to know about these talking points and more. For one, under international law, an occupying power cannot simultaneously occupy a territory, thus usurping the self-governing powers that would otherwise belong to its citizens, and declare war upon them.

Five Israeli talking points on Gaza—debunked
Noura Erakat The Nation USA July 25, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded links.

Israel has killed almost 800 Palestinians [the death toll is now above 1100] in the past twenty-one days in the Gaza Strip alone; its onslaught continues. The UN estimates that more than 74 percent of those killed are civilians. That is to be expected in a population of 1.8 million where the number of Hamas members is approximately 15,000. Israel does not deny that it killed those Palestinians using modern aerial technology and precise weaponry courtesy of the world’s only superpower. In fact, it does not even deny that they are civilians.

Israel’s propaganda machine, however, insists that these Palestinians wanted to die (“culture of martyrdom”), staged their own death (“telegenically dead”) or were the tragic victims of Hamas’s use of civilian infrastructure for military purposes (“human shielding”). In all instances, the military power is blaming the victims for their own deaths, accusing them of devaluing life and attributing this disregard to cultural bankruptcy. In effect, Israel—along with uncritical mainstream media that unquestionably accept this discourse—dehumanizes Palestinians, deprives them even of their victimhood and legitimizes egregious human rights and legal violations.

This is not the first time. The gruesome images of decapitated children’s bodies and stolen innocence on Gaza’s shores are a dreadful repeat of Israel’s assault on Gaza in November 2012 and winter 2008–09. Not only are the military tactics the same but so too are the public relations efforts and the faulty legal arguments that underpin the attacks. Mainstream media news anchors are inexplicably accepting these arguments as fact.

Below I address five of Israel’s recurring talking points. I hope this proves useful to newsmakers.

Posted at: July 29, 2014 - 2:03 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

July 28, 2014

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In the interstices of the unamusedly ludicrous: Are movements against the logic of capital gaining strength within the heart of the system itself—the United States and Canada? & How a people, its chiefs and a chief justice have bravely ennobled the Canadian spirit

Anacristina Rossi is the author of the ecological novel La Loca de Gandoca (The Madwoman of Gandoca), derived from her own experience to protect a Costa Rican preserve. This article was adapted by the translators, Carol Polsgrove and Paloma Fernández Sánchez, from a longer essay published in the Revista de Ciencias Sociales of the University of Costa Rica.

Cracks in the concrete of capitalism
Anacristina Rossi CounterPunch USA July 28, 2014

In a Monthly Review article several years ago, “What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About Capitalism,” John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff put forward a point of view sometimes heard on the Left: that we cannot save the earth from becoming inhospitable to human life without abandoning capitalism. There is no such thing as “green capitalism,” they maintained, since the very logic of capitalism requires increased production.

In light of the dawning global awareness of climate change, we need to ask ourselves, “What, then, can weaken the power of the capitalist system?”

Bellamy and Magdoff themselves give us the clue. In Marxist and dialectical form, they show what in the present contains the seeds of future. They say we need to listen to what is growing in the interstices of society because that is where the germs of a new society are being born, “just as the bourgeoisie itself arose in the ‘pores’ of feudal society. “

These movements in the interstices are all around, they tell us. They are the Bolivian indigenous groups that are proposing an ethical relation with the Earth, the Pacha Mama; the Vía Campesina (the Peasants’ way); Brazil’s Movimiento de los Trabajadores sin Tierra (Movement of Workers without Land). They are the ecologist and anti-globalization movements around the world. All these groups want new relations among people and with nature. All oppose the logic of capital.

Curiously, Bellamy and Magdoff only value interstices outside their country and place no importance on something that may be key to the future. That something is movements appearing in the interstices of the United States and Canada.

These are not just ecological movements, although without exception, they do propose a harmonious relationship with nature: intentional communities, eco-villages, movements of urban and organic agriculture, movements to recover public lands for communities, permaculture movements, nonviolent communication, collective and alternative commercial projects, voluntary simplicity movements, and many others. As Detroit activist Grace Lee Boggs put it in an interview with Amy Goodman, the community gardens of Detroit are “the symbol of a new kind of society, of people who grow their own food, of people who try and help each other,” a society in which “we begin to think,not so much of getting jobs and advancing our own fortunes, but how we depend on each other.“

In short, there are life choices that reject what Bellamy and Magdoff call the logic of capital.

What is new in the North American movements is that, in the very heart of developed capitalism, in its ideological bastions, their strength and numbers are growing. That points to a great dissatisfaction with the system and an important questioning of capitalism from within, and not, as up till now, from the periphery.

Related: How a people, its chiefs and a chief justice have bravely ennobled the Canadian spirit.

To the Tsilhqot’in, with gloves
Ian Gill TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada July 26, 2014

Years ago, I came into possession of a pair of deerskin gloves through a transaction that involved two parties who brought different things to the table: me (the money), and an elderly aboriginal woman (the gloves). The exchange was, I believe, a fair one. She set the price, I paid it; she got the money, I got the gloves, which have remained among my most prized possessions.

The transaction was conducted with free and informed consent, a rare thing in this country when it comes to dealings between white settlers and Indigenous peoples.

Ours was admittedly a very small deal, but where it took place recently has become a very big deal in Canada. At the time, I was in Xeni Gwet’in, or the Nemiah Valley, in the heart of a large swath of territory claimed as their own by the Tsilhqot’in Nation — the People of the Blue Water. (The Xeni Gwet’in are one of six communities that comprise the Tsilhqot’in national government.)

Xeni Gwet’in Chief Annie Williams served as translator and witness to the purchase of the gloves, but mostly she was helping me understand why the Xeni Gwet’in had, in 1989, unilaterally declared their territory to be an “Aboriginal Wilderness Preserve.”

There was no legal force behind the declaration at the time, but the Tsilhqot’in people had a history of bucking convention that stretched back to one of the great moments of resistance in B.C. history, the so-called Chilcotin War of 1864. Then, an attempt to build a road from Bute Inlet up to the Cariboo goldfields was brought to an abrupt and bloody end when several members of the road crew were killed; in retribution, six Tsilhqot’in men were arrested, tried and eventually hanged, even though they were later proven not to have taken part in the original war party.

The upshot was the road never got built. Until the 1980s, when an explosion of logging and logging roads spread across the Chilcotin Plateau, the Nemiah Valley remained one of the remotest and most spectacular (undeclared) wilderness areas in all of Canada. Then, a few years after the Haida Nation out on the coast made its stand against B.C.’s logging companies, the Xeni Gwet’in made theirs.

The court process in defence of the Tsilhqot’in’s rights and title — a long, ugly, unseemly and expensive battle, as they always are — ended a few weeks ago when the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed Aboriginal title a quarter of a century after the Tslihqot’in called the question.

Make no mistake, this is a spectacular victory for the Tsilhqot’in and an emphatic rebuke to the swindlers who have ruled and attempted to ruin this province since they first clapped eyes on the place. Finally, a rare serving of natural justice, and from the darkness of modern times, some news that offers a glimmer of hope for a better world.

But while pausing to savour what has just been won, it’s hard not to worry that the barbarians are still at the gate, and may be all the more dangerous for being wounded.

To go back to Xeni Gwet’in for a moment, I bought those gloves when on assignment for CBC television visiting the Nemiah Valley to report a documentary series called The Battle for the Chilcotin. It was the first of many docs I was privileged to do for CBC that focused on the struggle of B.C. First Nations — the Cheslatta, flooded from their lands; the Haisla, trying to save the Kitlope from logging; the Ingenika and Fort Ware people, flooded from their lands; the Nuu-chah-nulth, fighting for their place in the battle over Clayoquot Sound, and many more.

Those halcyon days, when CBC journalists were allowed to tell Canadian stories to Canadians, when we even dared to air the complaints of Aboriginal people at the downstream consequences of our having built an unnatural economy from the unchecked extraction of “natural” resources — those exuberant, story-telling days have given way to a harrowing hollowing out of our public broadcaster to the point that, to cut costs, we are witnessing the imminent demise of in-house documentary production. Whose vision of Canada does that serve?

And it’s not just the CBC. Where to look, across Canada’s increasingly barren media landscape, for an articulation — without fear or favour — of what the Tsilhqot’in case means for Canada? We need good journalism because as the Tsilhqot’in case so aptly underlines, governments and industries can’t be trusted to tell the truth. But what we get instead is mere reaction. …

Alone among our public institutions, the Supreme Court has managed to sustain a vision of a Canada that remains recognizable to Canadians, including our very first Canadians, and much of the credit for that can be laid at the feet of Madam Justice Beverley McLachlin herself.

It is one of the happier accidents of history that it was in 1989, the year the Tsilhqot’in launched their case in the B.C. Supreme Court, that Beverley McLachlin was promoted from being Chief Justice of that court in order to take up an appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada. She has served that court ever since, the past 14 years as its Chief Justice, and it was she who wrote the 8-0 judgement in favour of the Tsilhqot’in.

You can put it down to mere coincidence, but I believe there is an almost dreamlike serendipity in the fact that the most powerful judgment ever written in favour of Aboriginal rights in Canada — possibly the most powerful such judgment anywhere in the world — was written by arguably the only national leader in Canada whose stature has risen, not fallen, in the 25 fractious and dispiriting years we have just lived through.

Madame Justice Beverley McLachlin is not just a great judge at law, she is the greatest living judge of our national character, and its greatest defender. Masterfully, she has time and time again found a moral centre, all be they couched, as of course she must, in legal arguments that have confounded the worst excesses of a polity that has long since lost any sense of what Canada stands for. For two and a half decades now, she has exhibited a legal dexterity, an intellectual agility, purposeful leadership and enormous personal courage in taking on cases of such weight and complexity that any single one of them would defeat most of us to even understand, let alone render judgment on.

Just the other day I heard U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer describe someone with a rare clarity of thought as having a “moonlight mind,” and he could well have been describing Canada’s Chief Justice. In recent months, her court has clarified many important issues for Canadians. On labour rights, the Court found for the union after a Walmart in Quebec closed its doors when workers dared to organize; on privacy rights, the court said police need a warrant to access our information stored with Internet service providers; on prostitution, it has stood up for sex-trade workers; on criminal justice, it has curbed the Tories’ over-reach for mandatory minimum sentences; regarding its own composition, the court outright refused to be saddled with Stephen Harper’s unqualified choice for the bench, Justice Marc Nadon. This has been every bit the doing of Beverley McLachlin, the most trusted voice in the land. And now this. In crafting the Tsilhqot’in decision, she ends a journey that she and Roger William set out on 25 years ago. They took very different paths to arrive at the same place. Between them, they have given a face and a voice, and finally, the force of law to help Canadians come to terms with the fact that we are all People of the Blue Water now. Indeed, we always have been.

Posted at: July 28, 2014 - 12:12 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

Downed flight MH17: Kiev military advance scuttles international team’s attempt to reach crash site; Western Axis spraying accusations wildly; death toll in separatist regions climbing rapidly


To date in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts at least 1,129 people have been killed, at least 3,442 people have been wounded and more than 100,000 people have been displaced. Map: Wikipedia

Intro: Feasting in the shadow of tragedy.

Malaysia mourns MH17 and MH370, even as it celebrates end of Ramadan
Satish Cheney in Kuala Lumpur South China Morning Post Hong Kong July 28, 2014

Fireworks danced across the sky in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday night, ahead of yesterday’s Hari Raya Puasa holiday marking the end of Ramadan.

But Malaysia’s festivities for Islam’s most important holiday, known elsewhere as Eid ul-Fitr, were shrouded by a dark mood, as the country reeled from the aviation disasters of flights MH370 and MH17.

“Mummy, this year’s Raya and the upcoming ones will not be Raya,” tweeted 15-year-old Diyana Yazeera, whose mother, Dora Shahila Kassim, was chief stewardess on MH17. She perished with 297 others when the Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down over Ukraine.

“I’m not gonna celebrate it without you,” wrote Yazeera.

The air tragedies have cast a long shadow, leaving Malaysians struggling to make sense of the twin disasters.

Not a trace has been found of Malaysia Airlines flight 370, from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, which vanished in March with 239 passengers. Two weeks ago, flight 17 was downed, allegedly by Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Over the weekend, Kuala Lumpur roads were jammed as tens of thousands of Malaysians rushed to their hometowns to be with their parents and relatives for the religious holiday.

But for many, thoughts turned to the relatives of those lost in the air disasters.

Items: Putin: West should demand Kiev obey ceasefire during plane crash probe
RT Russia July 22, 2014

Russian President Vladimir Putin believes it is necessary to call on Kiev to observe the ceasefire, which should last while investigations into the MH17 crash are ongoing.

Putin said that Ukrainian troops attacked self-defense units near Donetsk almost at the same time anti-government forces were handing over the black boxes from the MH17 crash to international experts.

“Tanks broke through to the railway station,” Putin said at the Russian Security Council session on Tuesday. “It was shelled. The international experts there could not even look out of the windows.”

The Russian president said Moscow will do everything it can to facilitate the crash investigation, including trying to influence the anti-government forces in eastern Ukraine.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17: Fighting intensifies near crash site
Associated Press/CBC News USA/Canada July 27, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded and related links, slideshows and videos.

Ukrainian armed forces mounted a major onslaught against pro-Russian separatist fighters Sunday in an attempt to gain control over the area where a Malaysia Airlines plane was downed earlier this month.

The U.S. State Department, meanwhile, released satellite images that it says back up its claims that rockets have been fired from Russia into eastern Ukraine and heavy artillery for separatists has also crossed the border.

A four-page document released by the State Department seems to show blast marks from where rockets were launched and craters where they landed. Officials said the images, sourced from the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, show heavy weapons fired between July 21 and July 26 — after the July 17 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

Kiev says rocket blast downed MH17, Dutch probe says info ‘premature’
RT Russia July 28, 2014


Flight recorders of B-777 airliner that has crashed in Ukraine being transferred to Malaysian experts Photo: Mikhail Voskresenskiy/RIA Novosti

Ukraine says analysis of the black box flight recorders from the downed Malaysia Airlines plane shows it was destroyed by shrapnel from a rocket blast. Dutch investigators, however, say they have not shared data with Kiev, calling the claim “premature.”

The Ukrainian Security Council on Monday said that passenger flight MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine due to “massive explosive decompression.”

The spokesman for the Council, Andrey Lysenko, told a news conference in Kiev the information came from experts analyzing the recorders from the plane that came down in territory held by anti-government forces in eastern Ukraine on July 17, killing all 298 passengers on board.

However, the Dutch Safety Board (DSB), which is heading the investigation into the crash, was puzzled by statements coming from Kiev. According to DSB spokeswoman Sara Vernooij, the “premature” release of details of MH17 black boxes is “not in the best interest of the investigation.”

Speaking to The Independent, Vernooij refused to confirm the claims or comment on the nature of the source used by Lysenko, saying that the board was not going to release anything until the crashed plane’s black boxes are analyzed in full.

“We want to analyze [and] combine information of several sources before we bring out anything, so we can give a coherent view on the whole investigation. Bringing out fragmented pieces of information is not on behalf of the investigation,” Vernooij was quoted as saying.

The DSB is expected to release its initial findings on the MH17 crash on August 1.

Police team turns back from Ukraine crash site
Associated Press/CBC News USA/Canada July 28, 2014

Heavy fighting raged Monday around the Malaysia Airlines debris field, once again preventing an international police team charged with securing the site from even getting there.

Government troops have stepped up their push to win back territory from pro-Russian separatists in fighting that the United Nations said Monday has killed more than 1,100 people in four months.

The international delegation of Australian and Dutch police and forensic experts stopped Monday in Shakhtarsk, a town around 30 kilometres from the fields where the Boeing 777 was brought down.

CBC correspondent Susan Ormiston said she could hear heavy bombardment in the area.

“After about 30 minutes we spotted the convoy racing back, likely making the assessment that it was too dangerous to continue to the crash site,” she said.

Sounds of regular shelling could be heard from Shakhtarsk and residents were seen fleeing town in cars.

Associated Press reporters saw a highrise apartment block in Shakhtarsk being hit by at least two rounds of artillery.

The mandate of the police team is to secure the currently rebel-controlled area so that comprehensive investigations can begin and any remaining bodies can be recovered.

The second cancelled site visit over two days has strained tempers among the observation team.

“There a job to be done,” said Alexander Hug, the deputy head of a monitoring team from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. “We are sick and tired of being interrupted by gunfights, despite the fact that we have agreed that there should be a ceasefire.”

While Russia and Ukraine trade accusations, the death toll has been mounting swiftly.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a report out Monday that at least 1,129 people have been killed between mid-April, when fighting began, and July 26. The report said at least 3,442 people had been wounded and more than 100,000 people had left their homes. A UN report from mid-June put the death toll at 356.

MH17 crash: Dutch and Australian forensic teams fail in fresh attempt to reach debris site
Natasha Culzac The Independent UK July 28, 2014

This page contains a 113 picture photo gallery.

Plans by Australian and Dutch authorities to reach the crash site of downed flight MH17 have once again been scuppered after heavy fighting rendered it too dangerous.

International experts had hoped to secure the area and search for the remaining unrecovered bodies after an effort to do so yesterday also failed.

Meanwhile, aviation chiefs are preparing to convene tomorrow to discuss potential issues resulting from the Malaysia Airlines crash, most notably the threat to passenger planes from war torn regions being flown over.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), International Air Transport Association (Iata) and Airports Council International will meet in Montreal, Canada.

Their assembly comes as Dubai-based carrier Emirates confirms is to stop flying over beleaguered Iraq, amid concerns that Islamist militants could fire missiles to passing planes.

“This is a political animal but… the fact of the matter is MH17 changed everything, and that was very nearly in European airspace,” Sir Tim Clark, Emirates Chief Executive told The Times.

“We cannot continue to say, ‘Well it’s a political thing’. We have to do something. We have to take the bull by the horns.”

Noted: Conspiracy theory: MH17 actually the lost MH370, Ukraine wreckage ‘not MH17′
Reissa Su International Business Times Australia July 26, 2014

The recent and tragic crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 that killed 298 people may have filled the news along with the other aircraft fatalities of TransAsia and Air Algerie but no one has forgotten about the mysterious disappearance of MH370.The recent and tragic crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 that killed 298 people may have filled the news along with the other aircraft fatalities of TransAsia and Air Algerie but no one has forgotten about the mysterious disappearance of MH370.

Several conspiracy theories have already surfaced in social media. Although some were impossible and outrageous, others have become so believable that they have been shared countless times on social media feeds.

As the wreckage of MH370 remains undiscovered, more and more conspiracy theories have gone viral in social media. Only time can tell which one of them is the closest thing to the truth.

Posted at: July 28, 2014 - 11:26 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

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At 11:10 hours on July 28, 1914 — 100 years ago today—Austria-Hungary dispatched a telegraph message to Serbia. Lest we forget. There never was, and never will be, a Great War

Terence Corcoran wrote in the Financial Post, July 26, 2014:

At 11:10 a.m. on July 28, 1914 — 100 years ago [today]—Austria-Hungary dispatched a telegraph message to Serbia. After a month of absurdist international diplomacy and internal bickering following the assassination of the empire’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, the Imperial and Royal Government said it had no choice but to resort to the force of arms. “Austria Hungary consequently considers herself henceforth in a state of war with Serbia.”

Within days, Russia ordered general mobilization (July 31), Germany declared war on Russia (August 1), Germany declared war on France and France on Germany (August 3) and Britain declared war on Germany (August 4).

Essential reading on the First World War
Terence Corcoran Financial Post Canada July 25, 2014

Thousands of books have been published on the First World War over the years, but the best of them may well have been written in the last decade, even the last year. Not all make for easy reading. Most readers might give up on the endless documenting of the insanity of the kings, prime ministers, politicians, bureaucrats and military lunatics who started the war and dragged Europe and most of the world through four years of hell. They killed millions through gross incompetence and negligence, devastated the world economy, and set the stage for economic ideas and policies that were equally destructive.

No one but the obsessed could read every word of the few books noted below. I certainly didn’t. But each, listed in no particular order, contains the story, in whole or in bits and pieces, of a war that is about much more than anything any human being could possibly imagine or conjure in his worst nightmares.

Below: On June 28, 1914 The Archduke Franz Ferdinand of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was assassinated by a young Serbian and vaulted Europe into a war from which it would never recover. This blog attempts to counter the mainstream inclination to cast The Great War as grounds for heroism, patriotism and military bravado — rather than four years of violence, trauma and irretrievable loss.

One hundred years later, how ‘great’ was The Great War?
Mel Watkins rabble.ca blogs Canada July 17, 2014

The First World War could not properly be called that until there was a Second, though a few, either from remarkable prescience or deep cynicism, so labelled it within a short time after its end. In the interim it was widely known, in English language countries, as the Great War, though sometimes the World War. It was the Great War when I was a child in the 1930s and had an uncle who had been there.

Which begs some questions.

I’m not sure why it is was called “Great” but one guess would be it was because of the humungous number killed, on both sides, soldiers and civilians, and another the scale of the struggle spatially.

It was certainly a great catastrophe with great suffering. It put paid to the complacent belief, before the War, in that greatest of things, Progress.

Great though the First World War was, it would be even Greater if it, and the Second World War, are seen as one war, with the first preparing the way for the second. It would then be the Second Thirty Years War of European countries, the First being that of 1608-1648.

The First World War was not the worst of them all — we don’t have boasting rights in that regard — but that tells us more about other even worse wars than about the First World War itself. Suffering isn’t proportional, it’s absolute, and the First World War was absolutely horrendous.

So were its consequences. The First World War triggered the Bolshevik Revolution and gave us communism. It gave us Hitler who fought in the trenches, who then gave us the most terrible fascism. It gave us the vengeful reparations imposed by the Allies on Germany which fed German grievances and further paved the road to the Second World War. It gave us American ascendancy which, with communism, gave us the Cold War. But I must stop before our future is foretold.

Posted at: July 28, 2014 - 9:57 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

July 27, 2014

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Tracking the decline of our civilization—fewer and fewer natural philosophers; more and more data crunchers (scientists)

Introduced in 1833, the term “scientist” had grubby connotations. Natural philosophers thought deeply and wrote elegantly, scientists were data crunchers. Jonathan Rose is William R Kenan Professor of History at Drew University.

Diffusers of useful knowledge
Jonathan Rose Li†erary Review UK July 2014

Visions of Science: Books and Readers at the Dawn of the Victorian Age
By James A Secord (Oxford University Press 306pp

For a moment in time, just before Victoria became queen, popular science seemed to offer answers to everything. Around 1830, revolutionary information technology – steam-powered presses and paper-making machines – made possible the dissemination of ‘useful knowledge’ to a mass public. At that point professional scientists scarcely existed as a class, but there were genteel amateur researchers who, with literary panache, wrote for a fascinated lay audience.

The term ‘scientist’ was invented only in 1833, by the polymath William Whewell, who gave it a faintly pejorative odour, drawing analogies to ‘journalist’, ‘sciolist’, ‘atheist’, and ‘tobacconist’. ‘Better die … than bestialise our tongue by such barbarisms,’ scowled the geologist Adam Sedgwick. ‘To anyone who respects the English language,’ said T H Huxley, ‘I think “Scientist” must be about as pleasing a word as “Electrocution”.’ These men preferred to call themselves ‘natural philosophers’ and there was a real distinction. Scientists were narrowly focused utilitarian data-grubbers; natural philosophers thought deeply and wrote elegantly about the moral, cosmological and metaphysical implications of their work.

Today the role of natural philosopher has passed largely to academics like James Secord – professor of history and philosophy of science at Cambridge and director of the Darwin Correspondence Project. Secord has devoted his career to studying what published scientists usually don’t study: their readers. His prizewinning book Victorian Sensation (2000) tracked the response to Robert Chambers’s Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation (1844), which postulated a vast evolutionary progress from the beginnings of the cosmos to the dawn of man. It was more journalism than hard science, but Charles Darwin acknowledged that it prepared the Victorian public for the shock of On the Origin of Species.

Visions of Science offers vignettes of other pre-Darwin scientific writers who generated considerable buzz in their day …

Charles Babbage, in designing his ‘difference engine’, anticipated all the basic principles of the modern computer – including ‘garbage in, garbage out’. In Reflections on the Decline of Science in England (1830) he accused his fellow scientists of routinely suppressing, concocting or cooking data. Such corruption (he confidently insisted) could be cleaned up if the government generously subsidised scientific research. That may seem naive today, when we are all too aware that scientists often fudge results to keep the research money flowing. Yet in the era of the First Reform Act, everything appeared to be reformable. Babbage even stood for parliament in Finsbury, on a platform of freedom of information for all. But he split the scientific radical vote with Thomas Wakley, founder of The Lancet, and the Tory swept home.

After his sketches of these forgotten bestsellers, Secord concludes with the literary bomb that blew them all up. In Sartor Resartus Thomas Carlyle fiercely deconstructed everything the popular scientists stood for. Where they were cool, rational, optimistic and supremely organised, he was frenzied, mystical, apocalyptic and deliberately nonsensical. They assumed that big data represented reality; he saw that it might be all pretence, fabrication, image – in a word, ‘clothes’. A century and a half before Microsoft’s emergence, Carlyle grasped the horror of universal digitisation: ‘Shall your Science proceed in the small chink-lighted, or even oil-lighted, underground workshop of Logic alone; and man’s mind become an Arithmetical Mill?’ That was a dig at the clockwork utilitarianism of both John Stuart Mill and Babbage: the latter called his central processing unit a ‘mill’.

The scientific populists sincerely aimed to democratise information. But when the movement was institutionalised in the form of mechanics’ institutes and the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, did it aim at anything more than making workers more productive? Babbage never completed his difference engine, in part because he treated human beings – including the artisans who were supposed to execute his designs – as programmable machines. And he was certain that Homo sapiens was not the highest form of intelligence in the universe. On another planet somewhere, he suggested, the Divine Programmer must have created Humanity 2.0.

James Secord always excellently recreates the milieu of the past. He is not so much concerned with drawing parallels with the present, but any reader will see them. From every lip today we hear demands for ‘education that will prepare young people for a competitive global economy’ – and not much else. The ministry that manages British universities – the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills – tellingly omits the word ‘education’ from its title. In America massive open online courses (MOOCs) promise to enable a single instructor to reach thousands of students through digital technology. MOOCs don’t allow much room for classroom discussion, answering questions, close reading of complex texts, or any real individualised instruction, but they can achieve economies by eliminating faculty. And they are exactly what Charles Babbage had in mind.

Posted at: July 27, 2014 - 12:29 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

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July 28, 1914, the paths of glory led but to the grave & Making sense of today’s messy world


Map of military alliances of Europe in 1914. The war drew in all the world’s economic great powers, which were assembled in two opposing alliances: the Allies (based on the Triple Entente of the United Kingdom, France and the Russian Empire) and the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary. Although Italy had also been a member of the Triple Alliance alongside Germany and Austria-Hungary, it did not join the Central Powers, as Austria-Hungary had taken the offensive against the terms of the alliance. These alliances were reorganised and expanded as more nations entered the war: Italy, Japan and the United States joined the Allies, and the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria the Central Powers. Ultimately, more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, were mobilised in one of the largest wars in history. Credit Wikipedia World War I

The 100th anniversary of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of the Second World War represent a unique opportunity for Canadians to reflect on our country’s long and proud military history. Throughout this period, the Government of Canada, in collaboration with partners in Canada and abroad, will carry out a variety of commemorative initiatives marking the tremendous sacrifices and accomplishments of all those who served during these Great Wars. … The First World War (1914–1918) and the Second World War (1939–1945) are among the most important chapters in world history. Both of these 20th century global conflicts touched the lives of countless families and communities across Canada and Newfoundland. Sadly, more than 110,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders lost their lives during the two World Wars. The 100th and 75th anniversaries of these great wars will provide all Canadians with opportunities to celebrate their proud heritage and, more importantly, to honour those who served and continue to serve our country to uphold the values of peace, freedom and democracy.

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow’r,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave,
Awaits alike th’inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

- From “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” by Tomas Gray, first published in 1751

Jim comment: Tomorrow July 28, 2014 (100 years to the day after the start of WWI hostilities) I will be watching again Stanley Kubrick’s brilliant, sensitive film set during WWI, Paths of Glory, (1957). Kubrick’s film presaged the moral ambiguities of my generation’s war in Southeast Asia.

Related audio: Chaos and conflict: An analysis of our messy contemporary world.

Making sense of a messy world
“Sunday Edition” CBC Radio One Canada July 27, 2014


Smoke from an Israeli strike rises over the Gaza Strip. Photo: Hatem Moussa/AP

Paul Rogers on Ukraine, Gaza and Other Geopolitical Hotspots – For the past couple of weeks, the western world’s attention has been tightly focused on two international crises … Gaza and Ukraine.

That’s not surprising, given the fallout from the downing of a Malaysian jetliner and the ground war and humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza, while Hamas fires rockets into Israel.

These are traumatic stories that have unsettled people all over the world. Meanwhile, though, events equally or even more dire are occurring in some of the world’s most troubled countries, without nearly as much attention from western media.

The Jihadist organization ISIS, which dominated the headlines only a few weeks ago, continues its campaign in Iraq and Syria. The civil war in Syria rages on with intensifying violence and some 170,000 people dead. Feuding militias in Libya are engaged in pitched battles. And in Nigeria, there have been many bombings. The young women kidnapped by Boko Haram remain in captivity after more than one hundred days.

It’s a bewildering amount of chaos and conflict to deal with. The world seems to be engaged with what Paul Rogers describes as “Lid-ism” – just trying to keep a lid on things without addressing the underlying causes.

Paul Rogers is a Professor of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford and is one of Europe’s most astute observers of geopolitics. He talks to guest host Laura Lynch about how to make sense of a changed world and the dangers that lie ahead.

You can listen to the interview (19:25) from a pop-up link on this page.

Posted at: July 27, 2014 - 12:22 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post