April 19, 2014

Weekly Headlines

Click on a headline below to go to that news item

Friday, April 18, 2014

Living

Solving the climate crisis: Is an eco-future possible? Climate change meets high tech

Agriculture

In the face of increasing global food insecurity, redefining local—dispaches from Oklahoma, British Columbia and Ontario

Local News

A new book open the door to our islands’ food network: Food Artisans of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands

Thursday, April 17, 2014

World News

Killing of environmental activists rises globally

National News

Canadian economy will lose billions to climate change: TD report

National News

Ukraine and the grand Eurasian energy chessboard: Harper sends fighter jets to Poland, CAF officers to Brussels to help defend Western Axis energy/financial interests, vows ‘additional measures’

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Commentary

The African theater: Keeping its citizens in the dark, the USA hurtles into darkness

World News

How Egypt’s rebel movement helped pave the way for a Sisi presidency & The economics of Egypt’s coup

Foreign aid to Syria: A number of different nations supplying weapons to the war effort—both government forces and rebels benefiting

World News

East Ukraine: People manning barricades; some Kiev troops refusing to crackdown; NATO sabre rattling

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The overriding goal of US policy in Ukraine is to stop the further economic integration of Asia and Europe. Without doubt, Putin’s May 20 visit to China will be a defining moment in world politics

Commentary

Are the complexities of Ukraine, and its peoples’ interests, being ignored? Commentary and news dispatches

National News

At the urging of NATO, or Israel, or both? Maybe it is just Harper’s sense of himself as a prophet against ‘evil’. Harper government working on plans for military mission in Syria: Might a possible invasion be added to its existing aid to rebel fighters and media propaganda personnel?

Living

An eerie wonder: The stuff of folklore and science—”and the moon became as blood”

Monday, April 14, 2014

Social Ideas

Forces of divergence: We may well find that the 21st century will be a century of greater inequality, and therefore greater social discord, than the 19th century

Commentary

Hurtling into darkness, Washington is humanity’s worst enemy & The Vietnam holocaust coverup—innumerable atrocities, more than 3 million killed & AFRICOM goes to war on the sly

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Commentary

It’s not Russia that is destabilizing Ukraine: Why US fracking companies are licking their lips over Ukraine; President Vladimir Putin’s letter to leaders of European countries – Full text & A Norwegian template worthy of consideration

Commentary

Canada’s transformation under neoliberalism: The last three decades have witnessed a far-reaching transformation of the Canadian economy, politics and culture & Kitimat plebiscite result a rejection of Harper government’s neoliberal energy policy. Time to consider a province-wide vote?

Posted at: April 19, 2014 - 12:01 am -- Posted by: SSNews -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

April 18, 2014

Solving the climate crisis: Is an eco-future possible? Climate change meets high tech

But first we must change our value system. As Robert Hunziker says, “perception of risks that cohere to self-defining values, has proven to be a serious stumbling block for acceptance of the risks of climate change, as value systems shape political conflict.” One recent example: A bill that would allow regulated electric utilities to impose a surcharge on customers who install rooftop solar panels or small wind turbines passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Monday. The representatives said utilities need the new surcharge to prevent customers who can’t afford the installation costs of distributed generation from subsidizing customers who have the systems installed.

UK economist Sir Nicholas Stern said: “All political leaders should recognise that a powerful case has been presented for accelerating action against climate change by building cleaner and more efficient economies.” Dr Stephan Singer, WWF director of global energy policy, added: “Renewable energy can no longer be considered a niche market. Renewables must – and should – eventually take the full share of the global energy market within the next few decades.” - Robin McKie and Toby Helm reporting

Singularly, technology has the potential to save the day for the planet, but the fact remains that time is the enemy. Already, the world’s scientists are seeing the early signs of a deadly outcome for life if fossil fuels are not replaced by renewable sources of energy on a massive scale, starting immediately. - Robert Hunziker

UN urges huge increase in green energy to avert climate disaster
Robin McKie and Toby Helm The Observer April 12, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded links and chart.

David Cameron’s commitment to the green agenda will come under the fiercest scrutiny yet this week when top climate-change experts will warn that only greater use of renewable energy – including windfarms – can prevent a global catastrophe.

A report by the world’s leading authorities will expose a growing gulf between a Tory party intent on halting construction of more onshore windfarms and the world’s leading scientists, who see them as one of the cheapest ways to provide energy while at the same time saving the environment.

Mitigation of Climate Change, by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a panel of 200 scientists, will make it clear that by far the most realistic option for the future is to triple or even quadruple the use of renewable power plants. Only through such decisive action will carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere be kept below the critical level of 480 parts per million (ppm), before the middle of the century. If levels go beyond this figure, the chances of curtailing global mayhem are poor, they will say.

The report – the third in a series by the IPCC designed to highlight the climate crisis now facing the planet – is intended as an urgent wake-up call to nations to commit around 1-2% of GDP in order to replace power plants that burn fossil fuels, the major cause of global warming, with renewable sources.

Its conclusions represent a huge challenge for Cameron and the Conservative party – which is now laying plans to block the construction of new onshore windfarms in Britain, the country’s only realistic, reasonably priced renewable energy option other than solar power, which has limited potential in the UK.

Climate experts say this failure to act cannot be allowed to continue. UN members must agree to a climate pact that will come into force in 2020. Any later and the costs of mitigating climate change will soar exponentially because there will then be so much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Oklahoma moves to discourage solar power
Steve Benen MSNBC USA April 17, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded links.

In the final installment of a multi-part report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change explained that the climate crisis is intensifying quickly, creating a critical situation. We’re approach a point of no return, requiring significant action over the next 15 years.

What kind of action? There’s no easy fix, but the IPCC was encouraged by new measures that can reduce emissions without drastic lifestyle changes, including sharp reductions in the costs of solar and wind power.

Just two days after the IPCC’s findings were made public, Oklahoma moved to make renewable energy more expensive, on purpose.

Just so we’re clear, the climate crisis is getting worse; we’ll have to act quickly to prevent a catastrophe; the use of renewable energy is an important part of the solution; and Oklahoma is poised to discourage consumers from using energy technologies that reduce emissions.

Sigh.

Away from Oklahoma, however, the White House is moving today in a more progressive direction.

The Washington Post reported overnight that President Obama will today push the private sector to expand its use of solar power.

The new initiative comes as the White House is hosting a Solar Summit aimed at highlighting successful efforts on the local level to speed the deployment of solar energy.

Although some large solar plants are coming online and it is the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in the United States, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, it accounts for roughly 1 percent of the nation’s electricity generation.

“Now is the time for solar,” said Anya Schoolman, executive director of the Community Power Network, a Washington-based nonprofit group that helps communities build renewable energy projects. She will be honored at the summit Thursday.

“The costs are affordable, in reach of middle America and above. We know how to do it now, we know how to scale it, and we kind of just need people to let it go and encourage it,” she said.

Outside of Oklahoma, that is.

That said, President Obama and members of his administration have often said that they intend to implement an “all of the above” strategy when it comes to domestic energy policy. To that end, the White House has supported increasing natural gas production even as it has also poured money into solar and wind power development projects. A February 2014 announcement suggests that nuclear power will soon come to play a larger role in that strategy.

UN Panel: Renewables, not nukes
Harvey Wasserman CounterPunch USA April 18-20, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded links.

The authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has left zero doubt that we humans are wrecking our climate.

It also effectively says the problem can be solved, and that renewable energy is the way to do it, and that nuclear power is not.

The United Nations’ IPCC is the world’s most respected authority on climate.

This IPCC report was four years in the making. It embraces several hundred climate scientists and more than a thousand computerized scenarios of what might be happening to global weather patterns.

The panel’s work has definitively discredited the corporate contention that human-made carbon emissions are not affecting climate change. To avoid total catastrophe, says the IPCC, we must reduce the industrial spew of global warming gasses by 40-70 percent of 2010 levels.

Though the warning is dire, the report offers three pieces of good news.

First, we have about 15 years to slash these emissions.

Second, renewable technologies are available to do the job.

And third, the cost is manageable.

Though 2030 might seem a tight deadline for a definitive transition to Solartopia, green power technologies have become far simpler and quicker to install than their competitors, especially atomic reactors. They are also far cheaper, and we have the capital to do it.

The fossil fuel industry has long scorned the idea that its emissions are disrupting our Earth’s weather.

The oil companies and atomic reactor backers have dismissed the ability of renewables to provide humankind’s energy needs.

But the IPCC confirms that green technologies, including efficiency and conservation, can in fact handle the job—at a manageable price.

Climate change meets high tech
Robert Hunziker CounterPunch USA April 18-20, 2014

Human-caused climate change may already be out of control, as suggested in recent reports by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), confirming that a “tipping point” may already have arrived (1) with warming of the Arctic and (2) with excessive levels of CO2 causing acidification in the ocean, thereby threatening the existence of both human and marine life.

Likewise, it is common knowledge that fossil fuel emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) cause these problems. This, therefore, prompts the question of what can be done about the cause of global warming. If nothing, then the nascent extinction event we are already experiencing may change the course of human history in a most calamitous manner.

Fortuitously, technology holds considerable promise to alleviate the climate change/global-warming problem. This article examines the status of a few key developments, among many, of current science and cutting-edge technologies with a point of view that the more exposure, the better the chance of successful advancement.

Nevertheless, timing remains an overriding concern because of the rapid unfolding of catastrophic climate change, as most technological breakthroughs take years-to-decades to fully develop. As well, political and economic considerations serve to slow the process. Furthermore, cultural cognition, i.e., perception of risks that cohere to self-defining values, has proven to be a serious stumbling block for acceptance of the risks of climate change, as value systems shape political conflict.

Nevertheless, serious scientists believe time is of essence more so than ever before. There are simply too many examples of real life, real time climate change threats to ignore the problem. …

Posted at: April 18, 2014 - 2:05 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

In the face of increasing global food insecurity, redefining local—dispaches from Oklahoma, British Columbia and Ontario

The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. - Psalm 24:1 (KJV). (NIV translation: The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;

Climate change could make a hungry world much hungrier
Ned Resnikoff MSNBC USA April 1, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded links, chart and video report.

Climate change isn’t a problem; it’s many problems. Or rather, it’s a “threat multiplier,” according to Heather Coleman, Oxfam America’s climate change policy manager. What that means is that geopolitical threats like political instability, inequality and disease could become several times more dangerous as the planet gets hotter and the tides rise.

“It’s not just environmental harms that it’s multiplying in terms of threats, but it’s also building off of other threats,” Coleman told msnbc.

The latest assessment from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released on Monday, offers a rare, comprehensive survey of those threats. Its findings include a grim picture of subject areas as diverse as future economic growth, gender equality and urban quality of life. Yet some of the report’s most dramatic findings concern what is arguably humanity’s most basic need. The next few decades of climate change, the IPCC finds, could make a hungry planet significantly hungrier.

“Basically, it’s categorical that climate change is going to lead to significant declines in global yields of staple crops,” such as maize and rice, said Coleman. She described the latest reports projections regarding hunger and food security as “much worse than what the IPCC had previously estimated.”

“All aspects of food security are potentially affected by climate change, including food access, utilization, and price stability,” according to the report. In other words, rising temperatures could make food scarcer, more expensive, and harder to safely keep in storage. Some staple crops may even become less nutritious or filling: “Cereals grown in elevated CO2,” according to the report, “show a decrease in protein.”

The IPCC report is not prophecy, and its authors acknowledge the difficulty in predicting exactly how climate change will alter something as complex as the global food infrastructure. Even without taking increased atmospheric levels of CO2 into account, the most exact prediction they can make regarding global food prices is that climate change could force an increase of between 3% and 85% by 2050. In some parts of the globe, rising temperatures may even modestly increase crop yields, offsetting in some small way the overall disruption to the global food supply. Yet one thing seems absolutely certain: Global warming’s overall effect on hunger will be to make it worse.

Related: Redefining local
The Carbon Pilgrim USA April 15, 2014

What does “local” mean when you live on a remote farm or ranch?

It’s an important question because going “local” has significant benefits: it gives us access to fresh, healthy food; it reduces our carbon footprint and lessens our dependence on fossil fuels; it keeps money circulating in the local economy where its multiplier effect can be large; it builds a sense of community among all participants; and it pokes globalization in the eye.

Good stuff, but when we talk about “local” we almost always mean from the perspective of a city resident, i.e., those products grown or made closest to a customer. Farmer’s markets are a good example. “Local” in their case means a radius around a point (the market) located in a city or suburb. This means participation is limited to those farms and ranches who can afford the time and money to drive into town every weekend. In other words, from the perspective of a city resident, anybody selling produce at a farmer’s market is “local.”

However, if you live on a remote farm or ranch, especially out West where the distances to potential markets can be staggering, “local” looks very different – especially with the high price of diesel. Without a Santa Fe or Denver or Portland nearby, how can an organic farmer or grassfed beef rancher participate in the burgeoning local food movement and reap its benefits?

Fortunately, the Oklahoma Food Cooperative has come up with an ingenious solution: redefine “local” to include the entire state – with significant help from the Internet. They do this in two ways: first, it is a producer and consumer cooperative, i.e., rural farmers and ranchers and urban consumers gathered under one umbrella. Second, the buying and selling between the two groups takes place in a virtual marketplace, which is where the Internet comes in.

Here’s how it works:

This last point [all participating farmers and ranchers get roughly 90 cents of every dollar spent on their products] is huge. In the industrial agricultural model, producers typically get 20 cents of every food dollar. The rest goes to ‘middle men,’ including packers, truckers, grocery stores, and other corporate interests. In the Oklahoma Food Cooperative model there are no middle men, other than the Cooperative itself. Producers come out ahead because they are now ‘price givers’ instead of ‘price-takers.’ …

One downside to the Cooperative’s model is less face-to-face interaction between producers and customers. In both the CSA and Farmer’s Market models, the meet-and-greet relationship between grower and eater is an important part of doing business. By contrast, by working through the Internet, people don’t get much face time.

For remote farmers and ranchers, however, this downside is offset by a big upside: they get to participate in a “local” food economy. By offering products for sale via the Internet at a one-stop shop provided by the Cooperative, as the Gosneys discovered, “local” is extended to the state line. Suddenly, “remote” doesn’t seem so remote anymore!

The story of John’s Farm

John’s Farm, owned by John and Kris (Ratzlaff) Gosney, located in Major County, Oklahoma represents grass-pastured, grass-finished, animal welfare approved, certified organic beef and certified organic wheat. The first several generations of our families farmed free of chemicals and other commercial inputs but when these inputs became available and promised to improve the economics of farming the next generations utilized herbicides, pesticides, and other inputs in hopes of improving production. When we began farming our operation, like that of our parents, included harsh inputs.

In 1996 our operation began to change. A neighbor asked John to take over his land with one stipulation – continue to farm it organically as it has been since the Land Run. At first we were reluctant to take on an organic farm; John put a pencil to paper and decided using less commercial inputs might improve the bottom line which motivated him to agree to farm organically for the neighbor.

After two years of self study and hands-on organic farming John believed he was being called to be an organic farmer; the economics became less important and the methods of sustainability became a priority. In some ways we moved back-to-the-future; we planted native grasses in our pastures, built ponds, put more effort into helping the soil become naturally healthy and work diligently to provide an environment for cattle where they could be free to roam and partake of a grass diet of which they were intended.

What we considered a rare challenge in 1996 is now the norm on our farm. Harsh inputs are in-the-past. Lady bugs and earth worms are abundant and welcome. In many respects we are farming as our ancestors – dependent on weather to enhance growing opportunities and allowing healthy soil to produce healthy plant and animal life.

Instead of measuring the success of our crop by greater production and fewer weeds we measure success by the plants ability to survive in a drought and combat insects. Instead of measuring the success of our cattle by how quickly they can be fattened for market we measure our success by the Omega 6 / Omega 3 ratio and CLA [conjugated linoleic acid] content.

We are honored and humbled to continue our family’s farming tradition; we are pleased to have the opportunity to sustain our farm for the generations that will follow us. This year one of our family farms celebrates its 120th Birthday! We believe our great-grandfather who staked a claim on this farm in the Oklahoma Land Run of 1893 would be pleased to know there are nine species of native grasses nourishing the cattle living there.

Sustainable systems, environmentally friendly conditions, animal welfare, organic standards, flourishing pastures, preserving the earth, healthy plants and animals, stewards of the land, rewarding relationships, and strong family bonds – this is the definition of John’s Farm.

Jim comment: Food products from grass-fed ruminants (e.g. mutton and beef) are good sources of CLA, and contain much more of it than those from grain-fed animals. In fact, meat and dairy products from grass-fed animals can produce 300-500% more CLA than those of cattle fed the usual diet of 50% hay and silage, and 50% grain. But hey, this is our corporatist/consumer society. So we have industrial farming and a thriving CLA supplement industry. CLA supplements are marketed to operators of factory farms, the form of intensive farming that refers to the unnatural industrialized production of livestock, including cattle, poultry and fish in confinement at high stocking density — a practice typical in industrial farming by agribusinesses. CLA is marketed in dietary supplement form to humans for its supposed anticancer benefit (for which there is no evidence) and as a bodybuilding aid. CLA seems to benefit factory-farmed animals (small mercy), but there is a lack of good evidence of human health benefits, despite the many claims made for it. Such shit is valuable to investors only. At least you can use free-range-reared animal shit as a soil amendment to benefit the all.

Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?

He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

- Psalm 24:3-5 (KJV)

Generally, the closer a food is to its home, the better. When you can access locally grown, in-season food, take full advantage. Local food is more flavourful and of superior quality to the industrial food in supermarkets (compare for yourself) and multiple economic benefits flow from buying a ‘homegrown’ product. The best way to protect our farmland is to have it producing. If more people bought locally it would “put millions and millions of dollars into our local [farm] economy,” and help farmers stay in business says Trevor Bird, chef and owner of Fable, a Vancouver restaurant that features locally produced food.

Growing the local bounty: Reports from farmlands in flux, Ontario and BC
TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada

This series (17 articles) was published during 2010. You can link to each report individually from this page or download the entire series in a PDF.

Reporters Colleen Kimmett, Jeff Nield and Justin Langille journey through the greenbelts outside Vancouver and Toronto to gauge the health of local food systems and find out from growers, processors and distributors what’s working to make local food truly sustainable.

Growing the Local Bounty is a project of the non-profit Tyee Solutions Society, and is supported by the Metcalf Foundation, Tides Canada Foundation and Vancity. Support for this project does not necessarily imply our funders’ endorsement of the findings or contents of these reports.

If your media outlet or organization would like to republish any or all of these articles, please contact Chris Wood here.

To download a PDF of the entire series, click here.

B.C. ramps up buy-local food campaign
Barbara Yaffe Vancouver Sun British Columbia Canada February 11, 2014

Did you know fennel and chervil are produced on farms near the Lower Mainland? Or that cabbage, carrots and kale come to us courtesy of the Kootenays?

Well, it’s time you did, say the provincial government and a coalition of B.C. producers and processors.

The two teamed up last week to announce a “We Heart Local” campaign, with government kicking in $2 million to help the industry promote its offerings.

The campaign aims to raise awareness by launching a website and mobile app to put consumers directly in touch with restaurants and shops where they can buy local.

The ultimate objective: Boosting the agri-food sector’s revenues to $14 billion by 2017, up from $11 billion in 2011.

“Our goal,” says Rhonda Driediger, chair of B.C.’s agricultural council, “is to drive the consumer movement toward supporting and buying local food in B.C.”

The agri-food business is huge in this province, often under-estimated because of all the focus on B.C.’s natural resource industries.

We are conditioned to think of the Prairies as Canada’s bread basket, and of Ontario as the place where the big food processors are located.

But B.C. has no fewer than 20,000 farms, producing 200 primary agricultural products. Its fisheries yield 100 different species of fish and seafood.

Throw in poultry, the dairy industry, greenhouses, livestock, and all the processing, packaging, transportation, warehousing and wholesaling and retailing associated with the primary products, and you have employment for 300,000 — more than 13 per cent of B.C.’s labour force.

All the activity accounts for nearly 19 per cent of provincial GDP.

But, it seems, there’s trouble in paradise.

NDP aims to increase support for B.C.’s local food producers
Mark Hume Globe and Mail Canada April 1, 2014

Visit this page for its related links.

Amid growing opposition to government legislation that critics say will weaken protection for B.C.’s Agricultural Land Reserve, the NDP has announced a private member’s bill intended to support farmers.

Opposition Leader Adrian Dix said Tuesday he is hoping the government will embrace his bill, the British Columbia Local Food Act, which the NDP will introduce Wednesday.

“I think this is an idea whose time has come,” Mr. Dix said at a press conference when he was reminded governments rarely pass private member’s bills. “I’m very optimistic [because of] the public voice on this question. The public is way ahead of the politicians here. This bill helps the politicians in the legislature … catch up to where the public is at.”

The bill, introduced by the opposition, would encourage government institutions to buy locally produced food. The primary focus would be on the health and education sectors, but Mr. Dix said the procurement strategy could apply more broadly than just to hospitals and schools.

He said if the government emphasizes buying local produce it could provide a real economic boost to B.C. farmers.

Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Minister Steve Thomson said he couldn’t comment on the likelihood of the bill passing until he’d seen it, but noted that his government already promotes the purchase of local goods.

“We’ve got a very strong focus on local food production and on the buy-local program,” he said. “We know authorities focus on buying local and so we agree that the local food industry is important to support – that’s why we’ve supported and help build the farmers’ market program in B.C.”

Mr. Thomas said directing health authorities and others to buy local might be too restrictive an approach.

“The program we have in place offers some flexibility and freedom to promote the products as [organizations] see best,” he said.

The NDP proposal comes while the House is debating controversial changes introduced by the government last week that will establish two categories for farmland in B.C. Under the Agricultural Land Commission Amendment Act, the first category includes farm land in Vancouver Island, the South Coast and Okanagan, and the second covers land in the Interior, Kootenays and North.

Joanne Bays, national manager of Farm to Cafeteria Canada, said five provinces in Canada already have government policies to encourage the purchase of local farm produce and she hopes B.C. will join the trend.

Ms. Bays was critical of the B.C. government’s move to make it easier to take land out of the ALR in the north.

“I don’t agree that we should be carving up [the ALR] and saying the northern part is lesser than the southern part. Climate change is going to make that the new bread basket of Canada and we should be looking at keeping it,” she said.

Richard Bullock, chair of the Agricultural Land Commission, raised similar concerns recently in a posting on the ALC website. He states that in the future, some farming operations may want to move north and it is important to ensure there is land there for them.

Vicky Husband, a spokesperson for Commons BC, applauded the NDP private member’s bill, saying it will financially help farmers.

But she remains deeply concerned about the government’s changes to the ALR, saying it could push the price of farmland up beyond the reach of young farmers.

“It’s going to cause land speculation for sure,” she said of the government’s policy.

Brent Mansfield, of the BC Food Systems Network, said the public is upset about the government’s proposed changes to the ALR.

“The outrage is significant,” he said.

Bill Bennett: My constituents wanted farmland changes
Bill Tielman TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada April 15, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded links.

Not every column critical of BC Liberal government policy gets a direct online response from the minister responsible — or sees that comment later removed from the minister’s personal Facebook page.

Nor does a prominent BC Liberal supporter usually openly attack that policy online.

Receiving a colourfully-worded call from the minister on a Sunday night, however, is most unusual of all!

But that’s what happened after I wrote about cabinet Minister Bill Bennett’s controversial plans to radically change the Agricultural Land Reserve in last week’s Tyee column.

The straight-shooting Bennett, who introduced legislative changes to make it easier to remove property from the Agricultural Land Reserve in the Interior, the North and the Kootenays as part of the government’s “core review” of operations, didn’t like the column.

Reader Jan Halvorson posted a link to that column on Bennett’s Facebook page, asking his views about “increasing population while decreasing ALR.”

Bennett told me Sunday the post later disappeared because “it probably means that I got rid of somebody” — meaning he unfriended them.

Regardless, Bennett was clear that he decided to change the ALR because he has been “listening to his constituents for 13 fucking years!”

Bennett may be particularly sensitive because he also got blasted on Facebook by Bill Eggert, owner and winemaker of award-winning Fairview Cellars winery near Oliver, B.C.

Eggert not only knows the Agricultural Land Reserve, he’s a BC Liberal supporter — and not happy with the government’s changes.

Eggert wrote: “Love you Bill, but damn it, I can’t be onside on this one. Farmland is farmland Bill… I worry how this will fall out with the party.

“No one has done well that went after the ALR. I have no illusions. I know why this is happening. I get very nervous when cabinet ministers with a legal background are discussing the merits of farmland.

“This issue is the Achilles heel of this party. You don’t have a good record. I won’t drag up the past, but you know what I’m talking about,” Eggert concluded ominously.

Bennett continued on Facebook: “The irony of this debate is that the changes to the legislation will not help nor hinder use of ‘agricultural land.’ It will only help where the land is in the ALR and is not ‘agricultural land.’ Those who do not believe need only drive thru the EK with an ALR map in hand. It would be a conspiracy-busting experience.”

Eggert fired back: “Many have stood in front of the ALC [Agricultural Land Commission, which governs the ALR] to say this land or that was not agricultural land. Leave it up to the ALC to decide. This is not your job Bill. Leave it at arm’s length.”

Posted at: April 18, 2014 - 1:59 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

A new book open the door to our islands’ food network: Food Artisans of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands

Don Genova is a Vancouver Island–based, award-winning freelance journalist specializing in food and travel. He also teaches cooking classes and courses on food and travel writing and sustainable gastronomy. His stories on radio and television, in print, and on the web share the fascinating backgrounds of farmers and food artisans passionate about what they raise, grow, and produce. His latest radio column with CBC Radio Victoria is called “Food Matters” and delves into the world of sustainable eating in British Columbia. Genova earned a master’s in food culture from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy in 2007. He also holds a bachelor of environmental science from the University of Waterloo and is an honours graduate of the Humber College Radio Broadcasting Program. Don’s website can be found at dongenova.com.

Food Artisans of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands by Don Genova. Published by TouchWood Editions (Victoria, British Columbia), Spring 2014, 192 pages. ISBN 9781771510707 (also available as an ebook).

In Food Artisans of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, well-known and loved food writer Don Genova compiles a guide of the best food producers of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Using his first-hand experience as host of CBC Radio Victoria’s weekly column “Food Matters,” and based on interviews he conducted as a food writer for various publications, Genova introduces readers to the many talented and passionate people and companies throughout the region—all of whom are working to promote a growing food culture. Meet the local food artisans and learn about their history, discover favourite offerings by the producers, and get a sense of how well you can eat if you buy local.

The book also includes suggested daytrips and readings, sustainability definitions, and an index. Open the door to the islands’ food network, and discover high-quality food products made with love and care in this region. Food Artisans of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands is your guide to the best of the islands’ food and produce.

Posted at: April 18, 2014 - 1:52 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

April 17, 2014

Killing of environmental activists rises globally

Killing of environmental activists rises globally
Denis D. Gray Associated Press, The Big Story USA April 14, 2014


In this file photo taken, Feb. 6, 2012, and released by The Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), Cambodian environmental activist Chut Wutty, left, stands next to a log in a jungle in Kampong Thom province north of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Wutty, who fought against massive illegal deforestation, was shot by a military policeman in April 2012 as he probed logging operations in one of the country’s last great forests. Photo: The Cambodian Center for Human Rights/AP

BANGKOK (AP) — As head of his village, Prajob Naowa-opas battled to save his community in central Thailand from the illegal dumping of toxic waste by filing petitions and leading villagers to block trucks carrying the stuff — until a gunman in broad daylight fired four shots into him.

A year later, his three alleged killers, including a senior government official, are on trial for murder. The dumping has been halted and villagers are erecting a statue to their slain hero.

But the prosecution of Prajob’s murder is a rare exception. A survey released Tuesday — the first comprehensive one of its kind – says that only 10 killers of 908 environmental activists slain around the world over the past decade have been convicted.

The report by the London-based Global Witness, a group that seeks to shed light on the links between environmental exploitation and human rights abuses, says murders of those protecting land rights and the environment have soared dramatically. It noted that its toll of victims in 35 countries is probably far higher since field investigations in a number of African and Asian nations are difficult or impossible.

“Many of those facing threats are ordinary people opposing land grabs, mining operations and the industrial timber trade, often forced from their homes and severely threatened by environmental devastation,” the report said. Others have been killed over hydro-electric dams, pollution and wildlife conservation.

The rising deaths, along with non-lethal violence, are attributed to intensifying competition for shrinking resources in a global economy and abetted by authorities and security forces in some countries connected to powerful individuals, companies and others behind the killings.

Three times as many people died in 2012 than the 10 years previously, with the death rate rising in the past four years to an average of two activists a week, according to the non-governmental group. Deaths in 2013 are likely to be higher than the 95 documented to date.

Below is the press release (2-page PDF) for report. Global Witness investigates and campaigns to prevent natural resource related conflict and corruption and associated environmental and human rights abuses.

Sharp rise in environmental and land killings as pressure on planet’s resources increases
Press release Global Witness UK April 15, 2014

Killings of people protecting the environment and rights to land increased sharply between 2002 and 2013 as competition for natural resources intensifies, a new report from Global Witness reveals. In the most comprehensive global analysis of the problem on record, the campaign group has found that at least 908 people are known to have died in this time. Disputes over industrial logging, mining and land rights the key drivers, and Latin America and Asia-Pacific particularly hard hit.

Released in the year of the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Brazilian rubber tapper and environmental activist Chico Mendes, Deadly Environment highlights a severe shortage of information or monitoring of this problem. This means the total is likely to be higher than the report documents, but even the known scale of violence is on a par with the more high profile incidence of journalists killed in the same period(1). This lack of attention to crimes against environment and land defenders is feeding endemic levels of impunity, with just over one per cent of the perpetrators known to have been convicted.

The key findings in Deadly Environment are as follows: …

Posted at: April 17, 2014 - 2:42 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

Canadian economy will lose billions to climate change: TD report

By 2050, as much as $43 billion could be sapped from the Canadian economy because of natural disasters. The TD report references estimates that every dollar invested in climate change prevention — severe weather resistant buildings, for example — will yield anywhere from $9-$38 worth of avoided costs in the future.

Canadian economy will lose billions to climate change: Report
Kim Nursall Toronto Star Ontario Canada April 14, 2014

A new report on the financial implications of climate change notes that while natural catastrophes are estimated to cost Canadians $21-$43 billion per year by 2050, popular economic measures like GDP fail to capture the escalation, discouraging preventative investment.

The TD report follows a recent and alarming warning by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that governments are ill-prepared for a warming world. If action is not immediately taken, the UN report projected risks could become unmanageable.

Monday’s report detailed the Canadian perspective on increasingly frequent natural catastrophes — the average number per year has doubled over the past three decades — and how by 2020 they will sap an estimated $5 billion from the economy.

“The reality is that the frequency of weather events has increased,” said lead author and TD economist Craig Alexander. “Storms that used to occur every forty years are now occurring every six years. And because of the composition of Canadian economy and society, we’re ending up with more damaging events.”

Although increased frequency is one reason that natural disasters are leading to higher costs, Alexander explained that as Canada’s economy becomes more prosperous, and more and more people move to cities, there’s that much more to lose if a severe weather event strikes.

“If you are more prosperous, it means you have more assets that are valuable to lose, like more expensive cars or houses,” he said.

The changing face of Canadian industry is also partially responsible for rising costs, Alexander said, as with maturation the focus shifts to providing services and those tend to be concentrated in urban centres.

The location of increasingly dense Canadian municipalities also plays a role.

“Many Canadian cities are located in places that are vulnerable to severe weather events. So, for example, we have cities near river mouths and coasts, like Vancouver and Montreal,” said Alexander. “We saw a lot of damage to the city of Calgary due to flooding of the river that runs through Calgary. You also have cities in the prairies that are vulnerable to drought.”

In light of the exponential costs the Canadian economy could face, the TD report notes that financial indicators and markets may not accurately reflect the disruption caused by frequent disasters.

Posted at: April 17, 2014 - 2:35 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

Ukraine and the grand Eurasian energy chessboard: Harper sends fighter jets to Poland, CAF officers to Brussels to help defend Western Axis energy/financial interests, vows ‘additional measures’

Eurasia is the combined continental landmass of Europe and Asia. The division between Europe and Asia as two different continents is an historical and cultural construct, with no clear physical separation between them; thus, in some parts of the world, Eurasia is considered the largest of five or six continents. (See How many continents are there?) Eurasia covers around 52,990,000 square kilometres (20,460,000 sq mi), or around 36.2% of the Earth’s total land area. The landmass contains around 4.6 billion people, equating to 72.5% of the human population.

The Obama administration may – and “may” is the operative word here – have realized the US government has lost the battle to control Pipelineistan from Asia to Europe, despite all the efforts of the Dick Cheney regime. What energy experts call the Asian Energy Security Grid is progressively evolving – as well as its myriad links to Europe. So what’s left for the Obama administration is this spanner in the works [Ukraine] – still trying to scotch the full economic integration of Eurasia. … Still the Kremlin won’t be dragged into a military quagmire. It’s fair to argue Putin has identified the Big Picture in the whole chessboard, which spells out an increasing Russia-China strategic partnership as crucial as an energy-manufacturing synergy with Europe; and most of all the titanic fear of US financial elites of the inevitable, ongoing process centered on the BRICS-conducted (and spreading to key Group of 20 members) drive to bypass the petrodollar. - Brazilian reporter Pepe Escobar, April 17, 2014

America’s diplomats and generals aren’t alone in watching the unfolding conflict between Russia and neighboring Ukraine. The U.S. agriculture sector is following the faraway events closely for reasons of both opportunity and risk. From rising global commodity prices to potential supply disruptions, there’s a lot at stake in the conflict for American farmers and producers. - Kevin G. Hall, Far off? Russia-Ukraine clash echoes through U.S. farm belt, McClatchy Washington Bureau, April 16, 2014


People walk past an Ukrainian Army combat vehicle parked near a railway in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 16, 2014. The central government has so far been unable to rein in the insurgents, who it says are being stirred up by paid operatives from Russia and have seized numerous government facilities in at least nine eastern cities to press their demands for broader autonomy and closer ties with Russia. Photo: Evgeniy Maloletka/Associated Press

Items: Ottawa situation report: Harper does the chicken hawk
Duncan Cameron rabble.ca Canada March 25, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded links.

Embassies around the world routinely prepare situation reports or sitreps: assessments of host governments and their leaders. Foreign offices request these reports be updated prior to bilateral consultations or international meetings. In advance of the emergency G7 meeting held in Holland on Monday March 24, an Ottawa embassy sitrep was circulated among European Union foreign ministries. This portrait of PM Harper and Canadian foreign policy under his direction is reproduced below.

It will be recalled that Canada was admitted to what became the G7 at the behest of U.S. president Gerald Ford. The U.S. was concerned about being isolated within the G5 group first brought together in 1975 by French president Giscard d’Estaing to address persistent economic differences among Japan, France, the U.K., West Germany (as it was then) and the U.S.

In 1976 Canada was added….

In advance of the emergency G7 meeting March 24, 2014, Prime Minister Harper visited Ukraine. He has been making a number of extra-ordinary statements which if taken seriously would imply putting Europe and the U.S. on a war footing against Russia. Harper wants to reverse the Russian takeover of Crimea, see national (sic) security issues take precedence over commercial relations, expel Russia from the G8, and “stand with the people of Ukraine” (apparently this does not include Canada offering major financial aid to Ukraine).

Canada has talked about the need to beef up Ukrainian defence capacity and argued that the takeover of the Crimea peninsula is an act of military aggression that must be answered by the West, which Harper has taken to calling “the free world.”

In informal conversations with EU embassies, the subject of dropping or downgrading the G7 comes up more and more frequently. At the world level, a new G4 format would allow the U.S. the EU, China and Japan to address important global economic issues, and forestall looming security issues between Japan and China. Such a gathering would also help restrain the U.S. after its announced “pivot” towards Asia.

Canada would be left in the G20 where it would have a status more appropriate to its current diplomatic weight, i.e. downgraded to reflect how its foreign policy is now subservient to domestic electoral considerations.

The already annoying tendency for Canada to simply echo U.S. concerns has become more pronounced since Harper took office in 2006. His recent attitude mirrors closely the position taken by the notorious U.S. neoconservatives (or chicken hawks) who provoked the second Iraq war and the invasion of Afghanistan, major foreign policy reversals for the U.S.

Amazingly, Harper has not managed to establish a solid working relationship with the U.S. president, preferring to support Republican Party initiatives on a host of issues tied to energy and climate change denial. While it is rare for a Canadian PM not to establish a good relationship with a U.S. president, it is unprecedented for a Canadian government to line up with the U.S. opponents of the president.

In the case of the Ukrainian crisis, Harper has been sounding like an advance man for U.S. Republicans who already control the U.S. House of Representatives and are predicted to take control of the U.S. Senate following mid-term elections this coming November.

A case can be made for allowing the U.S. and Canada to address their domestic constituencies through the G7 meeting, and seeing if both countries can be persuaded to provide major aid as part of a package for Ukraine. The EU has no intention of matching the amount of money ($15 billion) that Russia put on the table before the crisis, but something must be done to keep Ukraine afloat and encourage its democratic development.

Major street demonstrations in Madrid this past weekend are an indication of trouble to come from the austerity program being applied in EU countries. Ukrainians are proud people with strong democratic impulses; leaving them dependent on U.S.” leadership” in this difficult time should be unthinkable for the EU.

Russia-EU relations are best addressed directly rather than in the presence of the U.S. and/or Canada. European interests dictate that there can be no return to a Europe divided between East and West. Russia must be seen as a European partner of the EU, one that may eventually have associate status and even full membership in a long-term perspective.

On no account can a regional conflict, however significant, be allowed to generate great power hostility. The EU was founded to prevent the escalation of regional conflicts into all-out war.

Below: Jim Miles is a Canadian educator. His original interest in global affairs came from the environmental perspective, with the realization that ultimately it is the corporate-military agenda that determines the human impact on the environment and on human cultures around the globe. Miles’ work has been published globally on a wide range of websites and in print. In the following he comments on Ukraine and Canada’s chicken hawks, particularly the cry of Stephen Harper..

Canada rants against Russia: Harper on Ukraine
Jim Miles Foreign Policy Journal USA April 15, 2014

It is aggravating to see our little banty Rooster chicken-hawk Stephen Harper strut his stuff while he spouts the false corporatist philosophy about freedom and democracy in the Ukraine.

What it is really about – as I have already mentioned several times – is US hegemonic control of global finances and corporate control of a country’s resources in order to harvest the wealth for the empire’s centre.

Cargill has a deal already signed that would position them to control large tracts of land for agricultural purposes – but you can be assured it is not for the benefit of the Ukrainian people.

Chevron has been awarded a large fracking contract, another step in corporate control of global energy resources and a partial means to counteract Russia’s large share of gas and oil wealth vis a vis Europe. Behind Victoria “F**ck the EU” Naland as she spoke at the National Press Club in Washington about the Ukraine was a large Chevron logo.

Another aspect is the rejected EU trade deal, that would have placed the Ukraine under the same ‘austerity’ crap that the IMF/EU have demanded of other EU countries, once again extracting wealth, in this case primarily financial. Russia offered a trade deal that did not demand the austerity measures considered normal by the IMF and its coterie of financial predators and, immediately after that was accepted by the Ukrainian government, the US supported neonazi skinheads in Kiev made their coup – against a democratically elected government.

Yeah, yeah, sure sure it would be nice to have a referendum concerning a federated constitutional setup for the Ukraine, but that is not what the corporate west really wants. What is desired is full financial-political control of the Ukraine in order to advance the US/NATO military right up to Russia’s borders and then to start agitating inside Russia in order to tear apart that country.

As for Banty Rooster’s language about “provocateurs sent by the Putin regime” it is essentially propagandistic bullshit. …

And while it is aggravating to see Harper strut his stuff, it is equally aggravating to see that apparently everyone else is swallowing the wests corporate-militaristic line as well, both Liberals and New Democrats. I wonder whether it has to do with posturing for the Ukrainian vote, or whether it has to do with ignorance of the realities of the situation (seen by most outside of the increasingly smaller sphere of US political-financial influence), or whether some are simply afraid to speak up against the status quo that keeps them in comfort at the expense of most of the rest of the world.

Truly Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine” is being applied in full force in the Ukraine, as the corporate state is lined up ready to take its treasure from yet another country devastated by the caprices of the Washington consensus (WTO/World Bank/IMF/NATO et al).

Mr. Harper, cut the bullshit. Get yourself your commander in chief uniform and then you can directly lead the Canadian military into action in the Ukraine against Putin and his provocateurs. You have bragged about the abilities of the Canadian military before, now is time to put it into action.

Your wimpy little sanctions will only speed up the demise of the current financial house of cards built on hugely over leveraged debt, backed by the US military and its revolving door of corporate interests. Quit clucking and let’s see some real action, some real leadership – enough false bravado. Then you can stand on your pedestal, hand in lapel, laurel wreath upon your head, and be proud to be a part of the corporate-military elite that rule the world.

Canada absent in NATO moves on Ukraine
Murray Brewster The Canadian Press/Cambridge Times Canada April 16, 2014

OTTAWA – NATO has laid out plans to beef up its presence in eastern Europe, and Canada is noticeably absent from the list of countries that have acknowledged they’ll send military forces.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the alliance’s secretary general, said Wednesday it will deploy additional air, sea and land forces to former East Bloc countries in response to the worsening crisis in Ukraine.

The United States, Britain, Denmark, Poland, Portugal and Germany are all planning to contribute fighter jets to increase air patrols over the Baltic region. France and the Czech Republic have also offered aircraft, but they might be employed in missions over Poland.

“We do have the necessary capacity to implement these measures that have been recommended by our military authorities,” Rasmussen said in Brussels.

“We already know that some Allies will come forward with concrete contributions and I’m sure that more will follow.”

Canada to send 6 CF-18s for NATO operation in Eastern Europe
Hannah Thibedeau CBC News Canada April 17, 2014

Visit this page for its related links.

Canada is sending six CF-18s and military personnel to assist NATO in operations in Eastern Europe.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the measures Thursday morning. The move comes following a request from NATO amid increasing tensions in Eastern Ukraine.

Harper said the military assets will be used on enhanced operations in Eastern Europe.

“This is in response to the situation that’s developing there, and frankly, more generally to the concern that we have on what really is expansionism and militarism on the part of Russia under the presidency of Mr. Putin,” Harper said during a photo op with senior military officials.

“I believe this to be a long-term serious threat to global peace and security and we’re always prepared to work with our allies in NATO and elsewhere to try and bring whatever stability we can to the situation.”

The fighter jets will be based at Lask, Poland.

Sources tell CBC News that this is “incremental posturing,” meaning there will be a small number of support staff to fly and maintain the planes.

Canada will also provide a contingent of approximately 20 Canadian Armed Forces officers to NATO headquarters in Brussels. These officers will be a part of security planning.

There is no word on when the assets are to be deployed.

Harper was meeting with the chief of Canada’s defence staff, Gen. Tom Lawson, and other military leaders in Ottawa.

Earlier this week, Harper sat down with Marcin Bosacki, the Polish ambassador to Canada​, and envoys from Ukraine, Georgia, Latvia, Estonia and the Czech Republic and condemned Russian “provocateurs” for fomenting untrest in eastern Ukraine. Harper called the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin “aggressive, militaristic and imperialistic” and a grave threat to world peace.

Harper said the situation in Ukraine is getting worse.

“You can certainly be sure that Canada will take additional measures. We’ve already imposed a number of sanctions, and we will clearly be taking further action,” he said.

Related: The interim president of Ukraine, Aleksandr Turchinov, wants to beat the Russians into intervening and provoke war between NATO and Russia, as it’s the only reason he can hold power, foreign affairs analyst Daniel Patrick Welch told RT Wednesday.

Vladimir Putin admits for first time Russian troops took over Crimea, refuses to rule out intervention in Donetsk
Yuras Karmanau, Vladimir Isachenkov Associated Press/National Post USA/Canada April 17, 2014

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday rejected claims that Russian special forces are fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine, but recognized for the first time that the troops in unmarked uniforms who had overtaken Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula before its annexation by Moscow were Russian soldiers.

Putin expressed hope for a political and diplomatic solution of the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War, saying he hopes that he won’t have to send Russian troops into eastern Ukraine, which has been engulfed by violent protests against the new authorities in Kyiv.

Putin poured scorn at the West, accusing it of trying to weaken and isolate Russia and made it starkly clear that he doesn’t fear further Western sanctions.

From other sources: Putin criticized Ukraine’s coup-appointed government for using tanks and jets against its own people, during a live Q&A session. Branding Kiev’s approach as a “crime,” Putin said they must open dialogue with eastern Ukraine. “Have they lost their minds?!” said Putin during his annual question and answer session. “They are deploying tanks, armored vehicles and weaponry! Against whom? Are they nuts?!” NATO’s reinforcement of its presence in eastern Europe was also touched upon during Putin’s Q&A session. The head of the Russian news agency Rossiya Segodnya, Dmitry Kiselev, said that Putin felt like NATO was “suffocating him” and described the organization as “a cancerous tumor.” In spite of the fact the interim Kiev government is illegitimate, Russia is still prepared to open dialogue with them, said Putin.

Below: Joie de vivre and fine wines won out as the Roving Eye and Roving Son spurned NATO’s anti-Russian paranoia in Brussels in favor of breaking out to Provence. The road passed through towns strong in culture and artisan delights yet paved with malaise, revealing why – at a time China and Russia are forging ahead with mega-deals – locals in NATO’s southern territory view its economic march with Van Goghian apprehension.

Breaking bad in southern NATOstan
Pepe Escobar Asia Times Online Hong Kong April 14, 2014

ON THE ROAD IN PROVENCE – To quote Lenin, what is to be done? Back to Brussels and Berlin? A close encounter with dreary Northern NATOstan, consumed by its paranoid anti-Russia obsession and enslaved by the infinitely expandable Pentagon euro-scam? Perhaps a jaunt to Syria war junkie Erdogastan?

Talk about a no contest. Joie de vivre settled it; thus The Roving Eye hooked up with Nick, The Roving Son, in Catalonia, and armed with La Piccolina – Nick’s vintage, go-go ’80s Peugeot caravan powered by a Citroen engine – we hit the road in Provence, prime southern NATOstan real estate. Instead of breaking crystal meth, non-stop breaking of fine infidel liquids and choice Provencal gastronomy.

Then the dreaded moment reared its ugly head – at Sanary-sur-Mer, where Huxley wrote Brave New World at his Villa Huley and Thomas Mann held court in the Chemin de la Colline. Brecht in fact might have sung anti-Hitler songs out of a table at Le Nautique; so after debating with Nick the comparative merits of Beneteau sailing boats, I finally decided to stop with all that Brechtian distancing and walked to the nearby kiosk to buy the papers, order a cafe au lait, and turn on the mobile.

Not impressed is an understatement. One week off the grid, and the same sarabande of paranoia, frenetic pivoting and monochromatic exceptionalism. Yet, there it was, like a pearl at the bottom of the turquoise Mediterranean, buried in the info-avalanche: the definitive news of the week, perhaps the year, perhaps the decade.

Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller had met with China National Petroleum Corporation chairman Zhou Jiping in Beijing on Wednesday. They were on their way to sign the 30-year, mega-contract deal to supply China with Siberian natural gas “as soon as possible”. Probably on May 20, when Putin goes to Beijing.

Now this is the genuine article. Pipelineistan meets the strategic partnership Russia-China, as solidified in the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, with the tantalizing prospect of pricing/payment bypassing the petrodollar, otherwise known as the “thermonuclear option”. Ukraine, compared to this, is a mere sideshow.

It was on the road from the Mediterranean back to Arles via Aix-en-Provence that it hit me like an Obama drone. This whole trip was after all about the sublime chevre wrapped up in chestnut leaves in Banon, those “rose petal” bottles of wine; in Bandol, artisan producers and season mountain folks spelling out their fears in village markets and unpretentious chateaux. This was all about economic NATO.

The Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement is a top priority of the Obama administration. Tariffs are already almost negligible across most products between the US and the European Union. So a deal is essentially about a power grab over continental markets by Big American Agro-Business (as in an invasion of genetically modified products), as well as American media giants. Call it a nice add-on to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – which in a nutshell means an American takeover of the heavily protected Japanese economy.

Southern NATOstan does offer glimpses of a European post-historical paradise – a Kantian rose garden protected from a nasty Hobbesian world by the “benign” Empire (the new denomination of choice, coined by – who else – neo-cons of the Robert Kagan variety). Yet the main emotion enveloping southern NATOstan, as I witnessed since the start of 2014 successively in Italy, Spain and France, is fear. Fear of The Other – as in the poor interloper, black or brown; fear of perennial unemployment; fear for the end of middle-class privileges until recently taken for granted; and fear of economic NATO – as virtually no average European trusts those hordes of Brussels bureaucrats.

For nine months now, the European Commission has been negotiating a so-called Trade and Investment Partnership. The “transparency” surrounding what will be the largest free-trade agreement ever, encompassing more than 800 million consumers, would put North Korea’s King Jong-eun to shame.

The whole secret blah blah blah revolves around the euphemistic “non-tariff obstacles” – as in a web of ethical, environmental, juridical and sanitary norms that protect consumers, not giant multinationals. What the behemoths aim for, on the other hand, is a very profitable free-for-all – implying, just as an example, the indiscriminate use of ractopamine, an energy-booster for pork that is even outlawed in Russia and China.

So why is the Obama administration suddenly so enamored of a free-trade agreement with Europe? Because US Big Business has finally found out that the Holy Grail of an economic pivoting to China won’t be so holy after all; the whole thing will be conducted under Chinese terms, as in major Chinese brands progressively upgrading to control most of the Chinese market.

Thus Plan B as a transatlantic market submitting 40% of international trade to the same big business-friendly norms. Obama has been heavily spinning the agreement will create “millions of well-paid American jobs”. That’s highly debatable, to say the least. But make no mistake about the American drive; Obama himself is personally implicated.

As for the Europeans, it’s more like rats scurrying in a secret casino. As much as the National Security Agency monitors every phone call in Brussels, average Europeans remain clueless about what they will be slapped with. Public debate over the agreement is for all practical purposes verboten for European civil society.

European Commission negotiators meet only with lobbyists and multinational CEOs. In case of “price volatility” down the road, European farmers will be the big losers, not Americans, now protected by a new Farm Bill. No wonder the direct and indirect message I received from virtually everyone in the Provencal countryside is that “Brussels is selling us out”; in the end, what will disappear, in a death by a thousand cuts manner, is top-quality agriculture, scores of artisan producers with a savoir-faire accumulated over centuries.

Below: In a sane, non-Hobbesian environment, a neutral Ukraine would only gain by positioning itself as a privileged crossroads between the European Union and the proposed Eurasian Union, as well as a key node of the Chinese New Silk Road – not to mention of vital link in a common market from Lisbon to Vladivostok. Instead, the present disaster is a big spanner in the works – a spanner that suits only one player: the US government. While a tentative new world order slouches towards all points Global South to be born, Robocop NATO dreams of war.

Ukraine and the grand chessboard
Pepe Escobar Asia Times Online Hong Kong April 17, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded links.

Ukraine is for all practical purposes broke. The Kremlin’s consistent position for the past three months has been to encourage the European Union to find a solution to Ukraine’s dire economic mess. Brussels did nothing. It was betting on regime change to the benefit of Germany’s heavyweight puppet Vladimir Klitschko, aka Klitsch The Boxer.

Regime change did happen, but orchestrated by the Khaganate of Nulands – a neo-con cell of the State Department and its assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nulands. And now the presidential option is between – what else – two US puppets, choco-billionaire Petro Poroshenko and “Saint Yulia” Timoshenko, Ukraine’s former prime minister, ex-convict and prospective president. The EU is left to pick up the (unpayable) bill. Enter the International Monetary Fund – via a nasty, upcoming “structural adjustment” that will send Ukrainians to a hellhole even grimmer than the one they are already familiar with.

Once again, for all the hysteria propagated by the US Ministry of Truth and its franchises across the Western corporate media, the Kremlin does not need to “invade” anything. If Gazprom does not get paid all it needs to do is to shut down the Ukrainian stretch of Pipelineistan. Kiev will then have no option but to use part of the gas supply destined for some EU countries so Ukrainians won’t run out of fuel to keep themselves and the country’s industries alive. And the EU – whose “energy policy” overall is already a joke – will find itself with yet another self-inflicted problem.

The EU will be mired in a perennial lose-lose situation if Brussels does not talk seriously with Moscow. There’s only one explanation for the refusal: hardcore Washington pressure, mounted via the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Again, to counterpunch the current hysteria – the EU remains Gazprom’s top client, with 61% of its overall exports. It’s a complex relationship based on interdependence. The capitalization of Nord Stream, Blue Stream and the to-be-completed South Stream includes German, Dutch, French and Italian companies.

So yes, Gazprom does need the EU market. But up to a point, considering the mega-deal of Siberian gas delivery to China which most probably will be signed next month in Beijing when Russian President Vladimir Putin visits President Xi Jinping.

The Obama administration may – and “may” is the operative word here – have realized the US government has lost the battle to control Pipelineistan from Asia to Europe, despite all the efforts of the Dick Cheney regime. What energy experts call the Asian Energy Security Grid is progressively evolving – as well as its myriad links to Europe.

Putin says oil wars with Russia will make West bleed
RT Russia April 17, 2014

Opportunities for the West to hurt the Russian economy are limited, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday. Europe cannot stop buying Russian gas without inflicting pain on itself, and if the US tries to lower oil prices, the dollar will suffer.

If the West tries to damage Russia’s influence in the world energy market, efforts will likely backfire, the Russian President said during his twelfth annual televised question and answer session.

To really influence the world oil market a country would need to increase production and cut prices, which currently only Saudi Arabia could afford, Putin said.

The president added he didn’t expect Saudi Arabia, which has “very kind relations” with Russia, will choose to cut prices, that could also damage its own economy.

If world oil production increases, the price could go down to about $85 per barrel. “For us the price fall from $90 to $85 per barrel isn’t critical,” Putin said, adding that for Saudi Arabia it would be more sensitive.

Also the President said that being an OPEC member, Saudi Arabia would need to coordinate its action with the organization, which “is very complicated.”

Meanwhile, Russia supplies about a third of Europe’s energy needs, said Putin. Finland, for example, is close to Russia economically, as it receives 70 percent of its gas from Russia.

“Can Europe stop buying Russian gas? I think it’s impossible…Will they make themselves bleed? That’s hard to imagine,” the Russian president said.

Since oil is sold internationally on global markets cutting the price would mean lower dollar circulation, diminishing its value in the global currency market.

“If prices decrease in the global market, the emerging shale industry will die,” Putin said.

The US shale industry has boosted domestic production, helping the US become independent and situating it to overtake Russia as a producer.

Russia’s economy largely relies on energy. In 2013 more than 50 percent of the national budget was funded by gas and oil revenues. The main revenue comes from oil, as last year, oil revenues reached $191 billion, and gas $28 billion.

“Oil and gas revenues are a big contribution to the Russian budget, a big part for us when we decide on our government programs, and of course, meeting our social obligations,” the president said.

Posted at: April 17, 2014 - 11:16 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

April 16, 2014

The African theater: Keeping its citizens in the dark, the USA hurtles into darkness

Intro: Heart of Darkness is experience … pushed a little (and only very little) beyond the actual facts of the case. - Joseph Conrad. Heart of Darkness (included in Youth: A Narrative, and Two Other Stories published 1902) is a novella by Joseph Conrad. The story and its themes were loosely adapted for the film Apocalypse Now (1979). Heart of Darkness is a short novel by Polish novelist Joseph Conrad, written as a frame narrative, about Charles Marlow’s life as an ivory transporter down the Congo River in Central Africa. The story is a complex exploration of the attitudes people hold on what constitutes a barbarian versus a civilized society and the attitudes on colonialism and racism that were part and parcel of European imperialism. Originally published (1899) as a three-part serial story, in Blackwood’s Magazine, the novella Heart of Darkness has been variously published and translated into many languages. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Heart of Darkness as the sixty-seventh of the hundred best novels in English of the twentieth century.

To tear treasure out of the bowels of the land was their desire, with no more moral purpose at the back of it than there is in burglars breaking into a safe. - Joseph Conrad, from Part 1 of Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Important quotations explained
Spark Notes USA n.d.

“It was unearthly, and the men were—No, they were not inhuman. Well, you know, that was the worst of it—the suspicion of their not being inhuman. It would come slowly to one. They howled and leaped, and spun, and made horrid faces; but what thrilled you was just the thought of their humanity—like yours—the thought of your remote kinship with this wild and passionate uproar. Ugly. Yes, it was ugly enough; but if you were man enough you would admit to yourself that there was in you just the faintest trace of a response to the terrible frankness of that noise, a dim suspicion of there being a meaning in it which you—you so remote from the night of first ages—could comprehend. And why not?”

As Marlow journeys up the river toward the Inner Station in the first section of Part 2, he catches occasional glimpses of native villages along the riverbanks. More often, though, he simply hears things: drums, chants, howls. These engage his imagination, and the fact that they do so troubles him, because it suggests, as he says, a “kinship” with these men, whom he has so far been able to classify as “inhuman.” This moment is one of several in the text in which Marlow seems to admit the limits of his own perception. These moments allow for a reading of Heart of Darkness that is much more critical of colonialism and much more ironic about the stereotypes it engenders. Nevertheless, it is important to notice that Marlow still casts Africans as a primitive version of himself rather than as potential equals.

Item: The US’s invasion of Africa that nobody knows about
John Glaser Antiwar.com USA April 15, 2014


U.S. Army Spc. Tyler Meehan observes Kenyan trainees. Visit this page for its embedded links.

The U.S. is assembling the rudiments of imperial infrastructure throughout Africa, and hardly anybody knows about it. Hardly anybody knows about it because the government and military refuse to divulge much of U.S. foreign policy towards Africa. You see, U.S. foreign policy is really none of our business.

The Obama administration has been slowly – and very quietly – peppering the U.S. military throughout the continent and putting hundreds of millions of dollars into the pockets of government contractors to build the necessary infrastructure for a permanent U.S. military presence.

Washington has been increasing its support for African regimes, many with records of human rights violations, and boosting efforts to train African militaries to keep them dependent on the Pentagon. The U.S. is training and equipping militaries in countries including Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia – not to mention operations in Libya, Somalia, Uganda, Kenya, Djibouti, et al.

Reporter Nick Turse has been at the forefront of reporting on America’s gradual infiltration of Africa. He writes this week about, among other things, the difference between what military officials say about Africa policy when asked by reporters and what they tell U.S. contractors looking to do business for taxpayer money. To journalists, the Pentagon maintains that we’re hardly doing anything in Africa beyond “humanitarian assistance.” To the military industrial complex, they say America is “at war” in Africa and is looking for a “permanent footprint” throughout the continent.

Meanwhile, CNN is preoccupied with its 500th hour straight of the missing Malaysian airline coverage. Fox is busy with its perennial Benghazi conspiracy theories and antagonistic coverage of Russian policy in Ukraine. And MSNBC doesn’t dare cover anything but Obama’s benevolent domestic social policies. In the newspapers, one can find the occasional report of U.S. missions in Africa, but they hardly question the wisdom or legitimacy of such interventions (and hardly anyone reads the newspapers anyhow).

Mix this deficient news media environment with the Pentagon’s utter refusal to answer straight questions about U.S. interventionism in Africa, and you have a public that is completely uninformed about a growing chunk of U.S. foreign policy that will soon (as it already has) render dangerous unintended consequences.

Related: Hurtling into darkness, Washington is humanity’s worst enemy & The Vietnam holocaust coverup—innumerable atrocities, more than 3 million killed & AFRICOM goes to war on the sly
Salt Spring News British Columbia Canada April 14, 2014

Four links.

Posted at: April 16, 2014 - 3:59 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

How Egypt’s rebel movement helped pave the way for a Sisi presidency & The economics of Egypt’s coup

Below: For the first time, one of the five founders of the Tamarod, the movement that led the protests that ousted the Muslim Brotherhood last year, admits his movement was taking orders from the army. “We were naive, we were not responsible.”

How Egypt’s rebel movement helped pave the way for a Sisi presidency
Sheera Frenkel and Maged Atef Buzzfeed USA April 15, 2014

CAIRO — On the night of July 3, 2013, Moheb Doss stood looking at his television set in disbelief as a statement was read in his name on national television.

The words coming out of the presenter’s mouth bore no resemblance to the carefully drafted statement that Doss, one of the five co-founders of the Tamarod, or Rebel, movement had helped draft hours earlier. It was a statement to mark the moment of Tamarod’s victory, as the protests the group launched on June 30 led to the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood government just five days later. It was a statement, Doss said, that the group hoped would have a stabilizing effect on the Egyptian public, as it called for a peaceful transition toward a democratic path.

Instead, the presenter quoted Tamarod as calling for the army to step in and protect the people from “brute aggression” by terrorists during potentially turbulent days. The statement supported the army’s forcible removal and arrest of Brotherhood leader and then-President Mohamed Morsi, and dismissed charges that what was happening was a coup.

“What we drafted was a revolutionary statement. It was about peace, and going forward on a democratic path,” Doss told BuzzFeed. “What was read was a statement that could have been written by the army.”

For five days, millions of Egyptians had taken to the streets and demanded an end to the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood. Their numbers surpassed even the wildest expectations of Tamarod, a then-largely unknown group that organized the protests. The five founders became instant celebrities, and on the night of July 3, the moment it appeared their victory was imminent, all of Egypt’s television stations had turned to them for a statement on what would happen next.

“What state TV read was as if it had been written by the army, it threatened the Brotherhood, told them they would use force if necessary,” Doss said. “I was shocked. I understood then that the movement had completely gotten away from us.”

It was, he realized later, the end of a process that began weeks earlier, in which the army and security officials slowly but steadily began exerting an influence over Tamarod, seizing upon the group’s reputation as a grassroots revolutionary movement to carry out their own schemes for Egypt.

“What they did, they did in our names because we let them,” said Doss, who admits he turned a blind eye for too long to what was happening behind the scenes at Tamarod. “The leaders of Tamarod let themselves be directed by others. They took orders from others.”

While the Tamarod movement has, in the past, been linked to Egypt’s interior ministry and its members have admitted in off-record interviews to taking phone calls from the army, never before has a member of Tamarod said that they were under the direct guidance of Egyptian army and intelligence officials. The accusations confirm the suspicions of many in Egypt that the group could not have enjoyed such widespread success without being helped along by senior Egyptian officials.

Related: Below: Shortages, power outages, privatization and inflation. The military’s stranglehold on Egypt tightens, leaving ordinary Egyptians paying the price. Egypt is forming an economic dependence on funds from Saudi Arabia and the UAE that spells economic disaster for the vast majority of ordinary Egyptians.

The economics of Egypt’s coup
Eric Wahlberg CounterPunch USA April 15, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded links.

As Egypt inches towards the first anniversary of the July 3 coup, the economy continues to flounder. The military-backed reverting to Mubarak-era policies has been buttressed only by lavish handouts from the Gulf Security Council (GCC) states and vague promises of future investment by western business, namely Coca Cola.

Despite loud media support for the military government, ongoing gas shortages and power outages, plus Egyptian Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi’s minimum wage law, which excluded the neediest 75% of the labor force, sparked a wave of wildcat strikes that forced his government to resign on February 24.

This was the scenario as Egyptian officials came cap in hand to the Arab Summit held in Kuwait in late March. There was little cause for cheer at the meet, with the GCC crowd fighting among themselves, Syria’s membership suspended, and the rest of the members seen as economic basket cases.

In any case, the Arab League is increasingly irrelevant, dominated now by the Saudis and Gulf states, which are caught in a web of contradictions, both condemning the Muslim Brotherhoods throughout the region as terrorists, and at the same time supporting the al-Qaeda-type terrorists intent on toppling the Syrian dictator.

The GCC oil sheikhs ‘paid’ $15bn in aid for the July 2013 coup in Egypt, but the handouts were quickly used up on buttressing the Egyptian pound and on a dismal $4.9bn stimulus package. The Egyptian pound has continued its slide, economic growth has stalled (at best its 1% in the first quarter of 2014), the budget deficit stands at14% of GDP, unemployment is 13.4%, inflation is 10%, while public debt and foreign debt are accelerating. GCC aid is not just monetary, and includes fuel and natural gas, which Egypt was cavalierly exporting until last year.

A Bank of America report in February described a presidential bid by Field Marshal Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as “market-friendly in the near term”, but warned that Sisi’s holdover of officials and discredited policies from the Mubarak era did not bode well in the long term, suggesting it was “a watered down version of the pre-revolution regime”. Addressing the nation on TV, in early March Sisi lamented, “Our economic conditions are so, so difficult.” He pointed to fuel and other subsidies which cost the government $15bn a year, account for 30% of the government budget and 9% of GDP, but gave no clear prescription.

Investors want to have their cake and eat it: no more corrupt Mubarakite officials, and at the same time no more challenges to corrupt investment deals (which often strip a state company of its assets and lay off workers, spiriting any profits abroad).

The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) government tried to square the circle. It allowed the illegal privatisations to be challenged, turned back the massive corruption, and encouraged a new class of small and more devout businessmen to build a new Egypt, emulating the Turkish miracle which unfolded under the Islamists there. Egypt is ripe for such a development, but the paranoia of the secular elite and their unwillingness to make room for a less corrupt, more dynamic, more home-grown, non-Cairene strata of entrepreneurs means that the only way forward for Egypt has been crushed “in the near term”.

Of course, it will be ordinary Egyptians who face the music—losing subsidies and jobs, watching their modest new minimum wage be eaten up in inflation, as a neo-Mubarak investor-friendly climate is fashioned.

Posted at: April 16, 2014 - 3:55 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

Foreign aid to Syria: A number of different nations supplying weapons to the war effort—both government forces and rebels benefiting

American anti-tank waepons appear in Syrian rebel hands
Charles Lister Huffington Post USA/Canada April 9, 2014


Visit this page for its embedded links.

In three videos (one, two, three) published on YouTube on 1 and 5 April, members of moderate Syrian rebel group Harakat Hazm were shown operating American-manufactured BGM-71 TOW anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). All three videos — two show missiles being fired and the third shows several missiles on the back of a pick-up truck — were filmed in and around the town of Heesh in the northern governorate of Idlib. This marked the first time such weapons have been seen in Syria since the eruption of conflict in the country three years ago.

At first glance, this appears to be an extremely significant development. However, some level of care must be taken at this stage in terms of drawing conclusions as to what this means. More videos showing BGM-71 TOWs being used in Syria — and preferably in the hands of additional rebel groups or in other areas of the country — will be necessary for this to represent a potential state-based program of providing valuable weaponry to moderate rebels. However, for now, this possibility appears more likely than not and the arrival in some form or another of such new weapons seems worthy of some investigation.

***

Initially developed in 1963 by the Hughes Aircraft Company and then adopted by Raytheon in 1997, the BGM-71 TOW has been widely exported to more than 40 current and previous US allies. Within the Middle East and North Africa region, TOWs are currently thought to be stocked or to have been stocked by Israel, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Morocco, Lebanon, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, and Turkey.

Intriguingly, Iran was also sent several thousand BGM-71 TOWs during the Iran-Contra Affair in the mid-1980s, some of which may have been shared with Hezbollah – as purportedly evidenced by the group’s apparent use of TOW missiles in the 2006 conflict with Israel. However, the missiles seen being used by Harakat Hazm rebels in Syria are very unlikely to have been acquired/captured from Hezbollah or other pro-Assad forces for three reasons. Firstly, there has been no evidence of pro-government forces using TOW missiles throughout the conflict in Syria. Secondly, Iran is currently more reliant on its domestically produced copy of the BGM-71 TOW, known as the Toophan – specific characteristics of which are distinctly different to the systems just seen in Syria. And thirdly, the good condition of the missiles and launchers seen in the Syria videos would suggest they do not date back to the 1980s.

In the videos, the visible presence of a guidance wire between the missile and the launcher is evidence that the systems being used in Syria are not the more modern wireless ones developed and sold by Raytheon since the early 2000s. Importantly, under the common terms of US military sales to foreign states, governments are contractually obliged to seek US approval before transferring US-made weapons to a third party. So technically, if these BGM-71 TOWs were provided to Harakat Hazm by an opposition supporting state, the US and the Obama administration should have known about it and would have to have given the transfer their blessing. Considering that White House and State Department officials have in recent weeks been suggesting the possibility of imminently expanding US military assistance to the Syrian opposition, could these BGM-71 TOWs be related?

This raises the as yet unanswerable question of where these missiles have come from? In this context, it is worth looking at exactly what Harakat Hazm represents within the wider Syrian opposition dynamic.

Rebel videos show first U.S.-made rockets in Syria
Peter Apps Thomson Reuters Canada/UK April 15, 2013

LONDON (Reuters) – Online videos show Syrian rebels using what appear to be U.S. anti-tank rockets, weapons experts say, the first significant American-built armaments in the country’s civil war.

They would signal a further internationalization of the conflict, with new rockets suspected from Russia and drones from Iran also spotted in the forces of President Bashar al-Assad.

None of that equipment, however, is seen as enough to turn the tide of battle in a now broadly stalemated war, with Assad dominant in Syria’s central cities and along the Mediterranean coast and the rebels in the interior north and east.

It was not possible to independently verify the authenticity of the videos or the supplier of the BGM-71 TOW anti-tank rockets shown in the videos. Some analysts suggested they might have been provided by another state such as Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally, probably with Washington’s acquiescence.

U.S. officials declined to discuss the rockets, which appeared in Syria around the same time Reuters reported that Washington had decided to proceed with plans to increase aid, including delivery of lower-level weaponry.

U.S. officials say privately there remain clear limits to American backing for the insurgency, given the widely dominant role played by Islamist militants. A proposal to supply MANPAD surface-to-air missiles was considered but rejected.

Chinese-built HJ-8 anti-tank guided missiles remain a relatively common part of the rebel arsenal, according to Syria arms experts. HJ-8s first popped up largely in the hands of Islamist groups early last year, possibly coming from Qatar.

More recent shipments have been noticed in the hands of relatively secular insurgent factions and are believed by analysts to have been supplied by Saudi Arabia instead.

Use of Chinese MANPAD anti-aircraft missiles by Islamist militants has dwindled in recent months, monitors say. Such missiles arrived last year, again believed to have come from Qatar, a development that particularly worried Western states.

“I suspect there’s been two waves of Chinese weapons, the first from Qatar and the second from Saudi Arabia going to different groups,” said “Brown Moses” blogger Higgins.

Gulf states have also been alarmed by growing signs of support from Iran for Assad’s military. The latest new piece of Iranian equipment to appear on the battlefield, an unmanned Shahed 129 drone photographed over Damascus, is said by Tehran to carry weapons as well as conduct surveillance.

Higgins said the other most significant development in Syrian conflict firepower this year had been the government’s growing use of Russian-made BM-27 and BM-30 rocket launchers to deliver cluster munitions. While the former had long been known to be part of Assad’s armories, the latter was not.

Posted at: April 16, 2014 - 3:32 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post