August 20, 2014


Freedom!? Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion: Local consent not required. Federal law trumps City of Burnaby’s by-laws and project opposition says National Energy Board

Intro: … So he improvised. Over the intensely rhythmic strum of his own acoustic, Havens composed a festival-inspired song called “Freedom” on the spot (building on a snatch of the traditional “Motherless Child”). The tune was immortalized in the Woodstock film, and Havens has been performing it ever since. “I feel that it doesn’t belong to me anyway,” he said in 2002. “It belongs to everything that made it come out.” The accomplishment Havens was most proud of, however, was co-founding the award-winning, multi-cultural, children-run organization called the National Guard. With chapters across the country, it teaches kids to take charge of their own communities, assesses local ecological needs and provides hands-on participation. When asked how we can become more engaged, Havens told us, “Start on a local level. What’s wrong in your own community? What can be repaired and improved? Solving problems on a local level first can lead to a national network of growth and change.” … -From “Farewell, Richie Havens” by Lydia Hutchinson, April 23, 2013

Below: Will Horter is executive director of the Dogwood Initiative. Dogwood Initiative brings together everyday British Columbians to reclaim decision-making power over their air, land and water. This article was originally published in the Toronto Star, July 27, 2014.

“The West wants out” of Ottawa’s energy superpower plan
Will Horter DeSmog Canada Canada July 29, 2014

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Earthquakes happen rarely in Canadian politics, but the fault lines are shifting again on the West Coast. As the next federal election draws closer, conditions below the surface should remind political observers of another seismic event a generation ago.

Back in the early 1990s, Stephen Harper and the insurgent Reform Party forced a tectonic shift, unleashing a powerful wave of western alienation that has realigned Canadian politics to this day. Their slogan was: “The West wants in.”

You could sum up the feeling in British Columbia lately as, “The West wants out.” Today you could get in your car in Kenora and drive clear across the Prairies to the coast without ever leaving a blue Conservative riding. But the road through the Rocky Mountains could become tricky indeed if Harper’s party doesn’t change course.

The central question for British Columbians, as it was for Albertans in the 1980s and ’90s, is this: who gets to decide what’s in our best interest — Ottawa or the people who live here?

As pundits debate the technical merits of crude oil and coal export proposals through B.C., they miss the deeper sense of alienation that’s taking hold. British Columbians and especially First Nations are growing increasingly resentful of decisions they feel have been imposed on them from the outside.

A poll this year by the Manning Centre (led by Harper’s former boss, Preston Manning) found fully 68 per cent of people in B.C. feel the country is going in the wrong direction. Asked why the number was so high, the former Reform Party leader said “pipelines.”

People in B.C. don’t want out of Canada, but they want out of the Harper government’s national energy plan, such as it is. Becoming a fossil-fuel export “superpower,” in Harper’s words, holds little appeal for communities caught between Alberta’s oilsands and the refineries in Asia.

Items: [Liberal Party leader Justin] Trudeau is an enthusiastic supporter of Keystone but is adamantly opposed to Northern Gateway. He’s willing to consider the proposed Kinder Morgan trans-mountain pipeline to Burnaby, B.C., provided it passes environmental muster and gets buy-in from effected communities. - See “Trudeau blasts Harper for bungling pipelines needed by Alberta, PM’s home turf”, August 19, 2014

UPDATED: Kinder Morgan pipeline study allowed on Burnaby Mountain, rules NEB
The Canadian Press/CBC News Canada Last updated August 20, 2014

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The National Energy Board has sided with Kinder Morgan in a dispute with the City of Burnaby over access to Burnaby Mountain.

The company can proceed with necessary studies of its preferred pipeline route through the mountain without the city’s consent.

In a decision released Tuesday, the National Energy Board confirmed that under federal legislation the company doesn’t need permission to access the land that is home to Simon Fraser University and a vast nature preserve.

“It would not be logical that the Board be required to recommend approval or denial of a project without all necessary information before it,” the board said in a decision posted online. “This would not be in the public interest.”

Kinder Morgan wants Burnaby’s blessing to begin surveying, even though it says it doesn’t need it now. It’s expecting an application made to the municipality to be approved in light of the NEB ruling.

Project leader Carey Johannesson told the CBC he thinks the ruling is pretty clear.

“[The ruling] doesn’t mean that we’re not going to be trying to work with Burnaby, but it does just clarify things for us,” said Johannesson.

“We could essentially start anytime we want to…Our expectation is that with some of the things that are easier to do we could probably get started this week.”

However, Burnaby’s mayor’s office issued a statement vowing to block the company’s access to parkland and conservation areas.

“We launched our Constitutional challenge because we absolutely believe that our bylaws trump the act in this case. We continue to believe this to be true and nothing the board said today changes that fact.” said Mayor Derek Corrigan in the statement.

“We will, therefore, continue to enforce our bylaws, ensuring that Kinder Morgan does not access Burnaby parkland and the Brunette Conservation area on which they want to perform deleterious actions that would contravene the laws put in place by our City and citizens to protect our parkland.”

The city’s legal council Greg McDade told the CBC, “The situation as it stands is that the company has permission in effect from the NEB, under its legislation, to access the site. But it doesn’t have permission to overrule Burnaby’s by-laws and Burnaby’s by-laws may prohibit some of the activities they were intending to do.”

Kinder Morgan would prefer to bore its pipeline through the mountain, rather than follow the current pipeline route through residential and business areas.

The federal National Energy Board Act stipulates that a company may enter into the land of any person that lies on the intended route to survey or otherwise ascertain whether the land is suitable, the board found.

The company does not require an order from the national regulator for temporary access, it said.

“There is no requirement … for companies to reach agreement with landowners, the Crown, or otherwise, before exercising the right to access land,” the board said.

It does note that the company could have made a formal request to the city sooner than it did.

“Throughout its submissions … Burnaby mischaracterizes the nature of Trans Mountains’ request,” the board found.

Kinder Morgan doesn’t need Burnaby’s permission to access land: NEB
Wanda Chow Burnaby NewsLeader Burnaby British Columbia Canada August 19, 2014

Kinder Morgan asked the NEB for confirmation that the NEB Act allows pipeline companies to access land, even without the owner’s permission, to undertake such work.

Burnaby city hall argued against that interpretation, even launching a constitutional challenge claiming the NEB did not have the power to override municipal bylaws.

But the NEB rejected Burnaby’s arguments on both counts.

“The Board considers it telling that the legal basis so described lacks any reference to a violation of the Constitution,” the NEB decision said in dismissing the constitutional challenge.

As for the land access issue, the NEB said, “Trans Mountain has the power to enter into and on Burnaby land without Burnaby’s agreement … Trans Mountain does not require a Board order for temporary access, nor has it requested a Board order.”

Carey Johannesson, Trans Mountain’s project lead for land and right-of-way, said it’s good news for the company but it still wants to work with Burnaby. It has applied to the city for permission and has answered its questions.

“It doesn’t just apply to Burnaby, it’s just a general right that any pipeline company gets under Section 73 [of the NEB Act] when it’s trying to fix the route of a pipeline that’s under NEB jurisdiction,” Johannesson said.

He said the company plans to contact the city and inform them of the ruling and that it intends to move forward with its surveying work and will let them know when it will happen.

“Our plan is to still see if we can work with the city. We’ve had a relationship with Burnaby on this pipeline for over 60 years. With the new pipeline it’s going to continue for a lot longer. So it’s in nobody’s best interests to not have a good working relationship.”

NEB spokesperson Sarah Kiley said Burnaby could file a motion asking the NEB to reconsider either decision but otherwise it’s up to the company and city to decide how to proceed.

“Should Trans Mountain go ahead with this they are required to compensate the city for any damages that they cause,” Kiley noted.

Related: City of Burnaby Parks and Conservation Areas

The City uses a strong policy framework, from the Official Community Plan to protect the natural heritage of the City. Protection focuses on five key ecological areas or park lands: ocean, mountains, lakes & streams, forest and river. The majority of these areas are also designated as part of the Official Community Plan and Regional Growth Strategy as conservation and recreational lands. They are dedicated by public referendum to assure their long-term protection and status as part of the City and region’s natural assets.

Provision has also been made within several of these parks for many diverse recreational and cultural opportunities. Facilities in these parks are designed to respect and maintain the protection of the natural environment and special natural setting.

Burnaby’s Burrard Inlet foreshore was envisioned in as early as the 1920s to become one of the City’s great protected natural areas. All lands and access rights are acquired and developed to protect and enhance the marine ecosystem and provide waterfront access opportunities, including a continuous urban trail and greenway for Burnaby citizens. At Barnet Marine Park the City has acquired ownership of significant “waterlot” areas, lands that extends into the marine area of Burrard Inlet, which have been dedicated as park to protect the marine ecosystem. The upland park and conservation areas next to Burrard Inlet encompass over 67 hectares (165 acres) of lands protecting and enhancing the watershed and ecosystems of this unique and valuable marine environment. These park areas also provide an important buffer between railway and industrial activities for adjacent residential neighbourhoods. Industrial activity is limited to the Canadian Pacific Railway corridor with port access and development contained within the designated significant petroleum and refinery facilities. The remainder of the foreshore area has been designated in the OCP and the Metro Vancouver Port Plan to be conserved for its ecological values.

Left: The Brunette River was named for the brown colour of its water, the result of peat rich soils in its watershed. The river has a great heritage, from winter homes of the Kwantlen Nation and early farm settlements to industrial warehouses and busy sawmills. The proliferation of industry and urbanisation fed large amounts of pollutants into the river. Like many other streams and rivers, the natural habitat was nearly destroyed.

In recent years volunteers have worked tirelessly to bring back fish and wildlife populations to the Brunette River. Today there’s a 4 km out-and-back nature walk that parallels the river and crosses several feeder streams. The trail is open to recreational hikers, dog walkers, joggers, and bikers.

Right: Burnaby’s Central Valley is a unique urban ecosystem. It includes a complex system of wetlands, bog, forest, streams and lakes. The first park plan for this area was established in 1927. Although a large percentage of this area has been preserved in its natural form, many have been recently reclaimed from urban redevelopment and rejuvenated through an ongoing civic parkland assembly and ecosystem restoration program.

This area occupies the central area of the City and includes the Still Creek, Deer Lake, Burnaby Lake Regional Nature Park, Brunette River conservation lands and the Cariboo Conservation Area. Collectively, these lands occupy about 695 hectares (1,717 acres), including 196 hectares (484 acres) of lake area. The area is home to a complex ecosystem including many rare species and is vital to the migration of many bird species that travel the ‘Pacific Flyway’.

Burnaby Mountain forms the City’s most prominent geological feature and landmark with its beautifully forested slopes rising to an elevation of 370 metres (1,214 feet ) above sea level. This park was originally established in 1930 and dominates the northeast quadrant of Burnaby. The City has almost completed a land acquisition program to consolidate ownership of the 700 hectares (1,729 acres) within the designated park boundaries. The mountain also forms the headwaters to several watersheds, draining to both the environmentally sensitive Burrard Inlet and the Central Valley watersheds. The UniverCity development adjacent to Simon Fraser University provided the opportunity to protect additional environmentally significant lands associated with Naheeno Park and conservation lands related the escarpment and local streams. The Conservation Area also includes defined development restrictions for the two industrial sites designated for petroleum storage and distribution uses. Continued civic acquisition of the few remaining private and government holdings will complete the assembly program.

Posted at: August 20, 2014 - 11:05 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post


Under occupation: They couldn’t seem any more different superficially, but there are striking similarities between Palestine and Ferguson, Missouri & Watchdog groups slam Ferguson police ‘harassment’ of reporters

For a week next month, St. Louis County Police Chief Timothy Fitch, along with law enforcement officials from across the United States, will visit Israel to learn how Israel’s police, intelligence and security forces prevent terror attacks. The weeklong program is part of the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) National Counter-Terrorism Seminar which will include visiting the cities of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Tiberias.

The ADL delegation consists of law enforcement leaders from the largest police departments in the United States as well as from the nation’s capital and from federal agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Over the course of a week, participants will be briefed by senior members of the Israel National Police as well as officials from the Israel Defense Forces and Intelligence /Security organizations.

I am confident that this will be a unique learning experience offered nowhere else in the world. I consider it a great honor that I was chosen to attend.” - Chief Fitch, quoted in the same press release

The shortest distance between Palestine and Ferguson
Jaime Omar Yassin CounterPunch USA August 15-17, 2014

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The superficially coincidental images coming from both Gaza and Ferguson this month have created some surprising and sudden currents of solidarity. Many have looked on with amazement, for example, as Gazans offer tips via twitter to those who have been involved in the uprising and faced the absurd and excessively militarized response to it by Ferguson police. And participants in “peaceful” vigils and more militant confrontations in Ferguson have invoked Gaza by now a dozens times.

Few have looked at images coming out of Ferguson and not been tempted to draw the same allusions between the 2/3 Black suburb policed by a nearly all-white police force, and Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. It would be difficult not to draw that comparison at the moment given the spectacle of the massive armory gifted to the FPD by the federal government in the name of stopping “terror”–which has so often been given a Palestinian face in the US–and the revelation that the former police chief of Ferguson studied “counter-terror” measures in Israel in 2011. Ironically, it seems Black Americans are now the target of anti-terror funding and training, which was ostensibly meant to target those from the Muslim and Arab world.

While there is nothing happening within the US anything like the now-cyclical Israeli slaughter of thousands of Gazans, the reality is that life for Black Americans in places like Ferguson does not vary in much from blockaded Gaza, and West Bank Bantustans in off-attack times . The similarities are not just coincidental in terms of the timing of the events–they are in fact, concurrent and historical.

Ferguson is a majority Black, segregated community, run almost entirely by white people. Almost all of its political representatives, and all but 3 of it’s 53 person police force, are white. Such areas, populated by the disenfranchised, are growing throughout the US, as the white and associated enfranchised classes move back to the cities and to ex-urbs or new white suburbs, leaving geographically isolated and service-poor communities behind. The result has been, as is on display in Ferguson, an easy to lock-down community full of people the mainstream has forgotten–policed by an authority trained from birth to distrust and marginalize Black people with the full backing of the Federal government. Unbelievably, the FAA declared a no-fly zone over Ferguson and FPD mounted roadblocks at its city limits as it began its peace-keeping operation of its own citizens–chillingly reminiscent of the media-blockade conducted during Cast Lead and during other Israeli operations.

While the struggle in Palestine is often painted in ideological, ethnic and religious terms, it too is becoming not so different than those in the US, wedded as much to economic concerns as white supremacist structures. As Haaretz recently reported, the larger settlements of the West Bank—which have grown astronomically since the signing of the Oslo Agreement with the Palestinian Authority—are now in the midst of a housing bubble that is outstripping prices in Tel Aviv and its suburbs. Young urban professionals, with no interest in ideology or perhaps even in Zionism, flock to these well-financed and subsidized cities, where the attendant express highways spirit them quickly back and forth from Tel Aviv. Israel’s military industrial complex gives them security from the tenants of the land they’ve stolen.

As these suburbs, grow, perhaps, and as the twisted “peace process” between the compliant Palestinian Authority and Israel evolves, we may in decades to come see a Palestine—or what is left of it—not unlike the US’s black underclass cities and towns. Perhaps it may yet become a broken and discontiguous economic-ethnic series of hamlets—segregated underemployed communities of service workers kept under lock and key by a less visible series of cages and walls, no less violent than military occupation. Given the current state of negotiations, with Israel shaping a Palestinian Authority take-over of the rubble of Gaza, perhaps one tiny wall separating these two territories will be lifted, and Gaza allowed to enjoy the slightly less onerous open-air prison system of the West Bank.

Related: Watchdog groups slam Ferguson police ‘harassment’ of reporters
RT Russia August 20, 2014

Police officers arrest a demonstrator on August 19, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Photo: Joe Raedle/AFP

As tensions continue to simmer following nine days of street protests in Ferguson, Missouri, where a teenager was shot dead by a police officer, two watchdog groups have slammed the heavy-handed police tactics.

To compound the physical and mental strain of reporting on the weeks-long protests in Ferguson, where the public is desperate for justice after a white police officer shot black teenager Michael Brown to death, journalists themselves are finding themselves the target of police tear gas, rubber bullets and flash bang grenades.

However, Robert Mahoney, Deputy Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), said the police tactics would not prevent reporters from doing their jobs.

“Ferguson is an international story and journalists are going to cover it. They have a right to do so without fearing for their safety or liberty,” Mahoney said. “The harassment and detention of reporters must stop. From senior commanders on down, the word must go out to security forces to let journalists do their job.”

CPJ also released a guide for journalists on how to stay safe while covering events in Ferguson.

Jasmine Heiss, an observer with Amnesty International, expressed concern over reports that journalists were being tear-gassed while performing their jobs.

“Just last night I’ve heard several journalists and community say that either gas was thrown at them while they were reporting, or, in the case of the community members that gas was thrown into residential neighborhoods while they were walking,” Heiss told RT.

“Increasingly repressive tactics [are] being used to curtail free speech,” she added.

Six journalists were detained by police while covering the protests on Monday and early Tuesday, compelling the American Society of News Editors to describe the incidences as a “top-down effort to restrict the fundamental First Amendment rights of the public and the press.”

According to CNN, 11 journalists have been arrested in the course of the protests, which have thrown a glaring spotlight on US race relations, not to mention military-style police equipment and tactics now being deployed on the streets of America.

Police were caught on video firing a tear gas canister that exploded directly in front of an Al Jazeera America crew, causing the reporters to discard their camera equipment and flee the fumes.

In another heated encounter, a police officer is actually caught on video telling journalists, “I’m going to f***ing kill you!”

Posted at: August 20, 2014 - 9:39 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

Vanished—MH370 and MH17: A commentary on the ‘Thought Police’ and the simulacra

First, passenger airliner MH370 vanished, then it disappeared from the news cycle. Its fleet “sister” aircraft, MH17, was then shot down – and also quickly disappeared from the front pages – complete with black boxes, data recorders and the rest. MH370′s fate may remain unknown; MH17′s is much more prosaic – but will civil society accept that it, too, remain a mystery?

The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth—it is the truth which conceals that there is none. The simulacrum is true. - Jean Baudrillard, author of the 1981 philosophical treatise, Simulacra and Simulation. The 164-page discourse (French title, Simulacres et Simulation) interrogates the relationship among reality, symbols, and society.

MH370 vanished as in a video game. MH17 was hit as in a video game. Now their respective narratives are being vanished. - Pepe Escobar

Vanishing point …
Pepe Escobar Asia Times Online Hong Kong August 15, 2014

First, passenger airliner MH370 vanished from Planet Earth. Then MH370 vanished from the news cycle. First, MH17 was shot down by “Putin’s missile” – as Planet Earth was told. Then MH17 vanished from the news cycle.

Where’s Baudrillard when we need him? Had he been alive, the dervish of simulacra would have already deconstructed these two Malaysian planes as mirror images; from absolute vanishing to maximum exposure, then vanished again. They might as well have been abducted – and shot – by aliens. Now you seem them, now you don’t.

Black boxes, data recorders – everything MH17 is now floating in a black void. The British are taking forever to analyze the data – and if they have already done so, they are not talking. It’s as if they were singing, I see a black box / and I want it painted black … void.

The Pentagon, with 20-20 vision over Ukraine, knows what happened. Russian intelligence not only knows what happened but offered a tantalizing glimpse of it in an official presentation, dismissed by the “West”. The best technical analyses point not to “Putin’s missile” – a BUK – but to a combination of R-60 air-to-air missile and the auto-cannon of an Su-25.

A reader led me to this fair assessment by former USAF and Boeing engineer Raymond Blohm: “With proper vectoring, a Su-25 need not be quite as fast as a Boeing 777 in cruise. It just has to get to a missile-firing position. Since the 777 was not maneuvering, it would be simple to pre-calculate when to get in a certain spot in the sky below the 777. From there, it’s the missile that has the speed and altitude capability to hit the 777. (The R-60 is a very capable missile.) After the missile takes out an engine, both the 777′s max speed and its max altitude are well within the Su-25 fighter’s speed & altitude capabilities. Then, the Su-25 can show off its cannon power.”

Follow the engine wreckage. Follow the cockpit wreckage. Follow the motive. One cannot even imagine the tectonic geopolitical plates clashing were the Kiev regime to be deemed responsible. It would be the vanishing point for the whole – warped – notion of the Empire of Chaos’s “indispensable” exceptionalism.

Posted at: August 20, 2014 - 9:04 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

August 19, 2014

Russia plays chess, a game of strategy. America plays bluff poker. Clearly, we all live in very dangerous times

Jim comment: Putin’s Russia reminds me of Eisenhower’s America. That, Eisenhower’s America, was the nation of my childhood. That country, 1950′s America, did not end until the Cuban Missile Crisis, October 1962. I was 19 at the time, in the service of my country. By March, 1965, I was in a war.

Below: Adrian Salbuchi is a political analyst, author, speaker and radio/TV commentator in Argentina.

‘They want their war and they want it now!’
Adrian Salbuchi RT Russia August 19, 2014

If you are playing a game of chess, and the next moves you are considering all inexorably lead to your king falling into checkmate, then you have only two options: you either topple your king and graciously accept defeat, or…

You can kick over the chessboard, refuse to accept defeat, and let all hell break loose…!

Is that what the “four horsemen of the Apocalypse,” namely the elites running the US, UK, EU and Israel against their own peoples’ interests, are thinking of doing?

All parents know that if you allow a young brat to do as he pleases by giving in to his yelling and kicking and sobbing every time he does not get his way it will become increasingly hard to get the little monster to mature and behave in an adult and responsible manner.

This could very well be a metaphor for the way the Western powers have been behaving and acting in recent years, especially since 9/11, which for a while gave them a blank check to run amok throughout the Middle East and beyond.

Since then, their focus has been all about fighting Israel’s wars, as clearly defined a few years ago by the infamous neocon think-tank Project for a New American Century, and the 1996 strategic initiative penned by a team of neocon academics and former Bushite Pentagon officers led by Richard Perle, that included Douglas Feith, Robert Loewenberg, David and Mayrav Wurmser, entitled, “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.”

That document was not even prepared for the US government, but rather for the then-former – and today again in power – prime minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu. The paper had as its focal point the destruction of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, at that time Israel’s #1 enemy.

But things changed dramatically about two years ago when Russia and China began standing fast, voicing the world’s increasing weariness with the warmongering of these “horsemen.” Indeed, a red line had to finally be drawn that no one dare cross, only this time it wouldn’t be against Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya, but against the US and its allies.

That is what happened a year ago when Russian President Vladimir Putin finally drew his red line on the US/UK/EU/Israel in Syria. Putin did not blink, but Obama did, and he’s been feeling the heat ever since.

Clearly, Mr. Putin and his team have won many moves on the global grand chessboard in recent times, repeatedly neutralizing Western endeavors to fabricate any excuse to go to full war against Iran and Syria, and even (partial?) war with Russia (and China).

Sure, they still have the false flag option, and a big one might be on their drawing board right now, but that too is fast becoming harder and harder to sell, and their shelf lives are getting shorter and shorter too.

If last year Russia drew a red on Syria that the US/UK/NATO/Israel dared not cross, this year they have done the same thing in the Ukraine, which is far, far closer to their home.

But these are not isolated events and crises. They are part of a far greater game that is being played out globally which includes the NATO “missile shield” in Poland, clearly aimed at Russia and its allies.

In July, for example, the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – held a summit in Brazil during which they made a very concrete decision to start building a new, alternative global financial architecture founding strong multilateral financial institutions that are not aligned to the global mega-banksters.

That represents a huge challenge and threat to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and a veritable dagger pointed at the weakened and easy-to-unbalance Western financial system.

Meanwhile, in the current global economic climate, US, UK and European economic sanctions against Russia are having little effect and looking rather bland, even ridiculous.

Clearly, we all live in very dangerous times.

Posted at: August 19, 2014 - 3:51 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post


Eye on Scotland: Anti-Israel protests force Edinburgh Fringe play to close; US corporations boycott Glasgow over Gaza support & Battle for independence votes intensifies as Yes camp gains ground. “We have the chance to take power out of the hands of the Westminster elite and into the hands of the people of Scotland”

Below: The City is a hip-hop musical written entirely in rap and hip-hop songs. The hip-hop opera was being staged by Incubator Theatre.

Edinburgh Fringe warned it faces annual disruption following cancellation of Israeli show
Phil Miller Herald Scotland Scotland August 19, 2014

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe has been warned it will face annual disruption from campaigners following the cancellation of an Israeli show after noisy protests.

One leading venue director said that the Fringe has to be “very careful” that its reputation as an “open access” festival is rigorously maintained after protestors were successful in shutting down the show.

The City by Incubator Theatre, an Israeli company partly funded by the government of Israel, was forced to leave its venue at the Underbelly after protests and eventually cancelled its entire Fringe run after failing to find a new venue.

The protests came after a letter, signed by 50 arts figures including the Makar Liz Lochhead, urged that Underbelly cut the show from its Fringe programme following Israel’s actions in Gaza.

At the Annual General Meeting of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, held at the city’s Balmoral Hotel, questions were asked of the Fringe and how it handled the affair.

Charlie Wood, director of the Underbelly, said: “We have to be very aware that in an open access festival, it doesn’t mean that we let people do what we want.

“Anyone should be able to perform, even if someone else says they can’t, that is what open access means.

“Because, frankly, next year there will be an issue with Russia, or an issue with somewhere else, even the UK: we are doing pretty awful things worldwide.

“So we need to be very, very careful and make sure that open access means all groups can perform and we support them to do so.”

US corporations boycott Glasgow over Gaza support
RT Russia August 19, 2014

Hundreds of US businesspeople have scrapped plans to visit Glasgow, following the Scottish city’s decision to fly the Palestinian flag following Israeli military operations in Gaza.

The visitors represented major US corporations such as Wal-Mart, ExxonMobil and Coca-Cola, and were due to visit the Glasgow as a reward for investing millions into its economy.

The delegation of 600 CEOs and business leaders was organized by the vice president of a leading Fortune 500 company, Richard Cassini.

However, following Glasgow City Council’s decision to fly the flag over its city chambers as a sign of solidarity with Gaza, Cassini wrote to Glasgow’s Lord Provost, Sadie Docherty, canceling the planned event.

“We were scheduling six days in Glasgow, three for business and three for leisure time,” Cassin wrote. “Having read your statement endorsing Hamas and its leadership due to the number of Muslims in your city, I have decided to cancel all plans for our trip. We are a Fortune 500 Company, so costs were really not a serious consideration, location was,” he said.

“Hopefully, the Muslim population that you so sincerely endorse will have the spending power of the very people you have chased away so well.”

The council sparked controversy when it decided to raise the Palestinian flag in the wake of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza, which began in July.

In a letter to the Mayor of Bethlehem, Israel, Docherty offered her “heartfelt sympathy” to the people of Gaza.

“Glasgow is home to many friends of Palestine and this is a deeply distressing time for them. They represent a variety of ethnicities, political persuasions, faiths and none. However, they are united by a common desire to support the Palestinian people,” she said.

Photo: STV Glasgow

The council’s decision was met with criticism from a number of Jewish representative groups, including the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council, who referred to the act as “the worst kind of gesture politics”.

It “does nothing to alleviate the suffering on either side of the conflict,” they added.

Cassini insisted his decision to abandon the business leaders’ trip to Glasgow would not be reversed.

Related: Battle for votes intensifies as Yes camp gains ground
Magnus Gardham Herald Scotland Scotland August 18, 2014

The referendum battle enters a dramatic final month today as Alex Salmond launches a last push for votes buoyed by polls showing the Yes campaign gaining ground.

The First Minister will take his Scottish Government cabinet to Arbroath where he will use the symbolic venue to issue a “Declaration of Opportunity,” casting independence as a once-in- a-lifetime chance to “build a more ­prosperous and fairer Scotland”.

The visit, amid a flurry of campaign activity by both sides, comes after two weekend polls suggested the Yes campaign has made headway over the past month.

An ICM survey showed the No campaign’s lead drop to 10 points, when undecided voters were excluded, while a Panelbase poll for Yes Scotland put the gap at just four points, discounting the don’t-knows.

In another boost for the Yes camp, distinguished historian Sir Tom Devine yesterday revealed his support for independence.

Today Mr Salmond will seek to put the future of Scotland’s devolved health service at the heart of his case for a Yes vote.

In a move described as desperate by the No campaign, he will repeat his fiercely disputed claim that NHS Scotland’s budget is under threat from knock-on effects of privatisation in the English health service. Douglas Alexander, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, said yesterday voters “will not be fooled” by Mr Salmond’s remarks about the health service.

Mr Salmond will view a copy of the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath, a statement by Scots nobles of their freedom from English rule, during his visit to the town’s abbey today. Looking ahead to September 18, he will say: “Those of us lucky enough to cast our votes on that day are truly a privileged generation: perhaps the most privileged in this nation’s history.

“The opportunity we have isn’t unique, but it is very precious. We have the chance to take power out of the hands of the Westminster elite and into the hands of the people of Scotland.”

Both sides are poised to step up their efforts in the days ahead.

Posted at: August 19, 2014 - 12:30 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post


Considering the future of food and hunger

Is producing more food to feed the world beside the point?
Nathanael Johnson Grist USA August 18, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded links, map and chart.

Imagine you are a small farmer in a poor country, growing corn and a small mix of other crops to support your family. One year a drought destroys most of your harvest, and suddenly you — along with everyone else in the region — face the threat of going hungry.

You were able to salvage a fraction of the corn you hoped to harvest. The question is, what do you do with it?

You could keep it to feed your family. But processing corn takes an incredible amount of time and labor. And you can’t live on corn alone: You’ll need some money to buy other foods, and for the inevitable expenses (tool repairs, medicine for a child, etc.).

If you decide to sell some of your corn, where do you sell it? Prices are low in your region: Because of the drought, people can’t afford to pay what they normally do. But prices are higher to the north, where there was more rain and no threat of famine. The logical thing to do would be to keep some corn for your family and sell the rest for the best price you can get. But this logic means that, when there’s threat of famine, food tends to flow away from where it’s needed most, into more affluent areas. Hunger creates a demand for food, but wealth creates an even stronger demand.

When I started this hungry-hungry-humans project (you can find the previous stories here), people began preemptively warning me that I was probably headed in the wrong direction. They feared that I would start by asking: How are we gonna feed 10 billion people without wrecking the planet? And then answer it by saying, well technology X can increase farm yields by this much, and technology Y can bump it up a little more …

Instead of focusing on agricultural productivity, these people said, we should be working on access to food. We currently have plenty of food, and yet we still have hunger, even in the U.S. So how will increasing yields further help?

As Gordon Conway points out, in his book One Billion Hungry: Can We Feed the World?: “If we were to add up all of the world’s production of food and then divide it equally among the world’s population, each man, woman, and child would receive a daily average of over 2,800 calories — enough for a healthy lifestyle.”

And Amartya Sen, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, has demonstrated that famines stem primarily from poverty, not a widespread food shortage.

So people are absolutely right to say that — if you are concerned about hunger — farm yields are less important than politics and poverty. But it’s not an either-or proposition: A large body of evidence suggests that improving agriculture is a powerful way to reduce poverty.

This leads us to several other questions. In subsequent posts I’ll be asking, what type of agriculture investments best combat poverty? Or should the money be going to something entirely different, like education or healthcare? And some of you may be asking, what does poverty have to do with the environment? Couldn’t the effort to help the poor produce more food exacerbate the fundamental problem of overpopulation? I’ll be trying to take all that on.

Related: Teaching a humongous foundation to listen to small farmers
Nathanael Johnson Grist USA August 11, 2014

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As part of my attempt to understand the contradictory information I’ve heard about the future of food and hunger, I sat down for a sort of exit interview with Sam Dryden, who recently left his position as head of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s agricultural development program. (He’s still an adviser.)

Dryden didn’t want the job initially. When he first got the call from Bill Gates, he knew him only as the fellow on the unpopular side of a famous antitrust fight.

“We spent an afternoon together,” Dryden said, “and it changed my mind. I told him I had no idea how to do this job, and there were other people who could do it better. He said, no, he didn’t think anyone had ever had this job before. And he knew I had this condition, and we knew it had about a five-year window. He said he had looked into it and, while it didn’t have a happy ending, it had some productive years and we ought to use them.”

Dryden has a Parkinson’s-like disease called multiple system atrophy, and there is no cure. Every one of us has a limited time here to actually accomplish something, but given Dryden’s prognosis, he more or less knows the schedule.

What gives Dryden a unique vantage on the debate over meeting the world’s food needs is that he’s not ideological — he’s been willing to listen to people on all sides. His life has allowed him to look at the issue through the eyes of both a subsistence farmer and an agribusiness executive. I wanted to learn what conclusions he’d reached after five years trying to figure out how to address the problems of poverty, hunger, and environmental degradation.

When the Gates Foundation brought him on, many critics — including Grist — saw it as a sign that this philanthropy would be trying to spread industrial agriculture in Africa and Asia. Dryden, after all, spent most of his career in corporate agribusiness: He worked for the chemical giant Union Carbide, then led a biotech company it spun off called Agri-Genetics. Later, he started a company to invest in biotechnology that Monsanto purchased.

But Dryden didn’t end up pushing the Gates Foundation toward purely technological solutions. Instead, he embraced the foundation’s critics, and reached out to people like Wendell Berry, Wes Jackson, Michael Pollan, and Prince Charles to exchange ideas and form partnerships.

“I always say — with a program this large — if there weren’t things wrong with it, it would be a really unusual situation,” Dryden said. “I don’t think any of us have that divine knowledge. So having people that are knowledgeable and who are willing to look at the program and give criticism is really important. So long as it’s not from a dogmatic perspective.”

The Gates Foundation had spent well over a billion dollars on agriculture alone when it hired Dryden — for comparison, the yearly budget for U.S. aid to reduce chronic hunger is $1 billion. And the spending increased during Dryden’s tenure. In the last five years, the Gates Foundation has invested more than any other charity, and more than most nations, to lift small farmers out of poverty.

As the Guardian’s John Vidal put it, “No government minister, banker, civil servant or corporation wields such influence or has so few political restrictions. If Dryden and his team says ‘get out of Malawi’, or ‘invest in cassava or drought-resistant crops, or a miraculous new vegetable’, then people may live better or die. If he pushes organic farming or agro-ecology or GM or any particular farming technology, the whole human development of a country may be changed.”

Dryden protests that it’s not really about him: he has been just one element in a large organization. All the same, Gates hired him expressly to develop a new strategy, and it’s clear that he brought new ideas and directions to the foundation.

When I asked people how the foundation had changed course under Dryden, most insiders clammed up, or asked to go off the record. The Gates Foundation is so powerful that anyone working in the same space is careful to avoid conflict, because they’ll almost surely want its cooperation at some point. One of these people, who is intimately familiar with this field, wrote in an email:

“Sam Dryden, like others in the best tradition of philanthropy, steadied his vision by drawing upon what he learned growing up in rural Kentucky and in the seeds business long before he was entirely surrounded by people peddling whatever could get them grant money. Using that experience he sought to re-focus the Gates Foundation away from what technology could beam down upon the small farmer, and instead towards trying to understand what the small farmer was actually looking for and whom she trusted to supply that to her.”

And Dryden was partially successful — but, this person added, “it is hard not to be overwhelmed at Gates by the sheer volume of the money, and the cacophony of 1,200 staff all specialized in different approaches trying to persuade each other and ultimately Bill himself that their fix is the right one.”

Persuading people in the middle of cacophony is a skill Dryden seems to know something about. He’s attuned to the way labels and language can get you boxed in. As I spoke with him, he kept saying things that critics of the Gates Foundation on the left have been saying in their critiques. …

A lot of the confusion about Dryden comes from the expectation that his thinking aligns with the needs of agribusiness. But as he told me his story, it became clear that he grew up in a way that has a lot more in common with subsistence farmers in Asia than with modern American farmers.

What follows is a small piece of our conversation, about his life and his vision for agricultural development. It has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Posted at: August 19, 2014 - 11:43 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

Nuts! Extreme weather? Hail and frost and rain-and-wind-driven disease have choked the global supply of hazelnuts

Jim comment: I used to vist family in Portland, Oregon regularly. I always timed my visits for late September. The house was at the corner of SE 13th Ave. and SE Marion St. Back in those days, Marion St. was lined with filbert trees. We would gather the fallen nuts and feast. (Although the nuts found on grocery store shelves typically are roasted—the flavour takes on a more mellow, sweeter character when they are roasted—these nuts also can be eaten and enjoyed raw. We did both, eat and enjoy.)

Intro: Hazelnut
Wikipedia Last modified August 15, 2014

A hazelnut is the nut of the hazel and is also known as cobnut or filbert nut according to species. A cob is roughly spherical to oval, about 15–25 mm long and 10–15 mm in diameter, with an outer fibrous husk surrounding a smooth shell. A filbert is more elongated, being about twice as long as it is round. The nut falls out of the husk when ripe, about seven to eight months after pollination. The kernel of the seed is edible and used raw or roasted, or ground into a paste. Hazelnuts are also used for livestock feed, as are chestnuts and acorns. The seed has a thin, dark brown skin, which is sometimes removed before cooking.

Hazelnuts are produced in commercial quantities in Turkey, Azerbaijan, Italy, Greece, Georgia, in the south of the Spanish region of Catalonia, in the UK county of Kent and in the American states of Oregon and Washington. Turkey is the largest producer of hazelnuts in the world with approximately 75% of worldwide production.[1]

Hazelnuts are used in confectionery to make praline, and also used in combination with chocolate for chocolate truffles and products such as Nutella and Frangelico liqueur. Hazelnut oil, pressed from hazelnuts, is strongly flavoured and used as a cooking oil.

Hazelnuts are rich in protein and unsaturated fat. Moreover, they contain significant amounts of thiamine and vitamin B6, as well as smaller amounts of other B vitamins.

The harvesting of hazelnuts is done either by hand or by manual or mechanical raking of fallen nuts. Common hazel is widely cultivated for its nuts, including in commercial orchards in Europe, Turkey, Iran and the Caucasus. The name “hazelnut” applies to the nuts of any of the species of the genus Corylus. …

The top producer of hazelnuts, by a large margin, is Turkey, specifically Giresun Province and Ordu . Turkish hazelnut production of 625,000 tonnes accounts for approximately 75% of worldwide production.[1] …

In North America: in the United States, hazelnut production is concentrated in Oregon; they are also grown extensively just to the north, in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, Canada. In 1996, the in-shell production in Oregon was about 19,900 tons (18,000 tonnes), compared to 100 tons (91 tonnes) in Washington. …

Hazelnuts are harvested annually in midautumn. As autumn comes to a close, the trees drop their nuts and leaves. Most commercial growers wait for the nuts to drop on their own, rather than use equipment to shake them from the tree.

Four primary pieces of equipment are used in commercial harvesting: the sweeper, the harvester, the nut cart and the forklift. The sweeper moves the nuts into the center of the rows, the harvester lifts and separates the nuts from any debris (i.e. twigs and leaves), the nut cart holds the nuts picked up by the harvester, and the forklift brings a tote to offload the nuts from the nut cart and then stacks the totes to be shipped to the processor (nut dryer). …

Below: Since its launch in 2003, Nutrition Data has grown into one of the most authoritative and useful sources of nutritional analysis on the Web. In July 2006, Nutrition Data was acquired by CondéNet, a digital publisher under the Condé Nast Publications umbrella dedicated to editorial excellence. Nutrition Data’s continuing goal is to provide the most accurate and comprehensive nutrition analysis available, and to make it accessible and understandable to all.

Nutrition facts and analysis for nuts, hazelnuts or filberts
Nutrition Data USA n.d.

Serving size: 1 cup, chopped (115 grams)

Eastern Filbert Blight
Ministry of Agriculture British Columbia Canada Updated March 2014

Eastern filbert blight (EFB) on hazelnut is caused by the fungus Anisogramma anomala. Vigour and productivity decline significantly when trees are infected with this fungus, resulting in an economically unproductive orchard. EFB has become a common and serious disease in hazelnut orchards throughout the Pacific North-western United States. In British Columbia, EFB was first detected on hazelnut in 2001 at a few non-commercial sites in Abbotsford. In 2005, the disease was found in orchards in Langley and, most recently and of greatest concern, it was detected in a commercial orchard in Yarrow in 2008. It is apparent that EFB has now become established in the southern part of B.C. and will continue to spread throughout commercial hazelnut production areas. To help prevent further spread and protect commercial hazelnut production areas, it is critical that all orchards are inspected for the disease and that prevention measures are implemented.

In spring, spores are released from mature cankers of infected hazelnut trees. Spores are spread by rain and splashing water droplets driven by wind. Young and developing shoots, during bud-break to shoot elongation, are highly susceptible to new infection. Newly infected trees do not show any symptoms for 12-15 months (latent period). The second summer following infection, the fungus begins to produce dark-brown to black spore-producing structures called “stroma” within cankers on infected stems (an important diagnostic feature in field and laboratory). The mature stroma begin releasing spores the following spring. The fungus continues to produce new stroma and releases spores as the canker expands each year.

Items: Price of Nutella could rise after poor weather devastated hazelnut crops
Kashmira Gander The Independent UK August 14, 2014

Around 70 per cent of the world’s hazelnut crop is grown near Turkey’s Black Sea coast, but this year’s harvest is likely to be heavily hit after hail storms and frost in late March devastated hazel flowers at an important time in their growing cycle. The price of the nut has subsequently already skyrocketed by more than 60 per cent.

Already faced with the rising price of cocoa, chocolatiers must now contend with the cost of the nuts reaching $10,500 (£6,300) per tonne, compared with $6,500 (£3,900) per tonne in February, according to Michael Stevens, a trader at Edinburgh-based Freeworld Trading, the Guardian reported.

Stevens added that some buyers are living hand to mouth, as contracts pre-dating the frost cannot be fulfilled.

While the extent of the damage is unclear, the Turkish hazelnut industry predicts it will only manage to harvest 540,000 tonnes of its 800,000 tonnes target.

However, while the weather in Turkey has coincided with a drought in California which has sent almonds prices to a nine-year high, cocoa is more expensive due to a changing market. The product is at a three-year high as customers in China and India appear to have developed a sweet tooth.

Below: Ltd. is a leading provider of innovative information products and services for the global agriculture and food industries. can be accessed through our internationally recognized agriculture information portal, which has business services and resources for more than 25,000 agribusiness professionals and livestock and crop producers who use it each day. operates across North America with offices in Ames, Iowa; Clinton, North Carolina; Fresno, California; and Guelph and London, Ontario, Canada.

Hazelnut crop expected to drop due to poor weather
Amanda Brodhagen North America August 15, 2014

A bad growing season in Turkey is causing havoc among hazelnut producers and consumers alike. Turkey is considered a top producer of hazelnuts. In fact, about 70 percent (three-quarters) of the world’s hazelnut supply is grown near Turkey’s Black Sea coast.

The harvest is expected to begin in the next few weeks, but a series of hail storms and frost in late March has left questions about how much of the crop is viable. And the uncertainty of supply has forced hazelnut prices to increase by more than 60 percent.

While the damage of the hazelnut crop is not yet fully known, early indications suggest that about 300,000 tonnes could be lost. Growers say that based on the bud count (hazelnuts are grown on trees), the crop is expected to be about 520,000 metric tons, while in a good year harvests can surpass the 800,000 metric tons mark.

Ferrero, which makes Nutella chocolate spread, is the largest global purchaser of hazelnuts. Interestingly, the nut shortage prompted the company to buy the Turkish hazelnut company Oltan, one of the largest producers and marketers of the nut. Hazelnuts are a key ingredient in Nutella and other Ferrero products, including Ferrero Rocher chocolates.

Oltan has annual revenues of more than $500 million and operates five production plants, which export to the European Union and other major markets. The deal occurred in July 2014, which upset competitors. Ferrero already consumes 25 percent of the world’s supply. Other countries, in particular Ontario, Canada, are experimenting with growing hazelnuts in order to fill future market demands for Ferrero Rocher.

Hazelnut growers target pathogens, pests
Mateusz Perkowski Capital Press Ag Weekly USA August 9, 2014

Various aspects of food safety in the hazelnut industry and other topices were discussed during a recent tour organized by the Nut Growers Society.

Heavily shaded hazelnut orchards may discourage salmonella from lingering on the ground, but the conclusions for growers remain uncertain, according to an orchard researcher.

Ground temperatures in heavily shaded hazelnut orchards appear to fall below the temperature range in which salmonella thrives, compared to orchards with less shade cover, said Bruce Lampinen, a tree nut specialist with the University of California Cooperative Extension.

Lampinen presented his findings during a recent summer tour of the hazelnut industry in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, which was organized by the Nut Growers Society.

The results in Oregon hazelnut orchards were greatly different than in California almond and walnut orchards, where heavy shade cover seems to improve conditions for salmonella, he said.

Recording a farm’s food safety measures is generally encouraged if growers want to be certified for “good agricultural practices” by third-party auditors, which is increasingly demanded by food companies, he said.

“If things aren’t documented, it didn’t happen,” Kaufman said.

It’s better to maintain a food safety program at all times, rather than springing into action when expecting a visit from an auditor, he said.

Inspectors from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration now have the authority to come onto farms to review food safety practices unannounced, he said.

“This is something that is definitely coming and will become a part of the culture of farming,” Kaufman said.

Turkish hazelnut shortage may boost Oregon growers
Elliot Njus The Oregonian USA August 18, 2014

Tom Peter is a hazel nut farmer near Canby. He and his family farm about 250 acres. This year’s crop is beginning to fall as harvest in mid September approaches. Photo: Mike Zacchino/ Visit this page for its embedded links.

A frost that damaged the hazelnut crop in Turkey might be a boon to growers in Oregon — at least in the short term — even as it hits Nutella-lovers’ pocketbooks.

The extent of the damage isn’t clear yet, but because Turkey supplies 70 percent of the world’s supply, big hazelnut buyers — including the biggest, Nutella maker Ferrero — are scrambling to shore up their reserves.

And they’ll probably look to Oregon, which produced $121 million worth of filberts last year. The state is the biggest (and basically the only) U.S. grower of hazelnuts, producing 99 percent of the country’s crop.

“I think we’ll start getting calls from manufacturers here domestically that we otherwise wouldn’t get,” said Jeff Fox, chief executive of Hazelnut Growers of Oregon, a growers cooperative. “The trick is, we have to be willing to supply it.”

This year’s crop estimates are due out later this month, but Michael Klein of the industry-funded Oregon Hazelnut Marketing Board said Oregon growers expect a “fairly good” crop this year.

The hazelnut industry here has already been ramping up to meet growing demand, particularly for hazelnut spreads like Nutella and export to China, where hazelnuts are popular during the Chinese New Year celebration. Over the last seven years, Klein said, the acreage devoted to growing hazelnuts in Oregon has grown by 50 percent.

Oregon growers have typically had trouble tapping into the domestic market for shelled hazelnuts, many of which are headed to food processors, Fox said. But a tough year for their Turkish competitors might offer a foothold if more growers choose to shell their hazelnuts and sell them that way.

The looming shortage has reportedly already caused a 60 percent spike in prices. Food bloggers are already speculating Nutella could raise its prices accordingly.

The spike in prices could be a short-term boost for Oregon growers who have a normal or better-than-average season, Klein said.

But Oregon is still only responsible for about 7 percent of the world’s supply. Ultimately, growers fear, the shock could turn buyers off of hazelnuts altogether.

Nutella price could soar amid worldwide hazelnut shortage
CBC News Canada Last updated August 19, 2014

If you’re about to pull a slice of bread out of the toaster and slather on some sweetness, you might want to ease up on the Nutella.

A spike in the price of hazelnuts due to bad weather and disease means the cost of the spread could be about to skyrocket.

Hazelnuts are more popular than ever — high in protein, fibre, vitamins and folate — and many people say they taste delicious when combined with chocolate in a breakfast spread.

But the cost of hazelnuts has soared by more than 60 per cent over the past year, after crop-killing hail storms and frost hit the world’s biggest hazelnut producer, Turkey, which controls 70 per cent of the global market.

Even Canada’s tiny home-grown supply is in jeopardy, devastated by a disease known as the Eastern Filbert Blight.

With the industry in crisis, Peter Andres, head of the B.C. Hazelnut Growers’ Association, thinks the price of hazelnuts could now double.

“I don’t think the public has any idea right now, in fact, I probably don’t even have an idea. I know the price is going to go up.”

“All of the orchards are threatened, they’re all dying,” said Andres, who is trying to encourage young farmers to take up the hazelnut torch by planting new disease-free trees.

Most of B.C.’s hazelnuts are consumed locally, but Andres says he’s been approached in the past by Ferrero — the company that makes both Nutella and Ferrero Rocher chocolates.

The Italian company that buys about 25 per cent of the world’s hazelnuts could be insulated from the shortage because they own Turkey’s largest hazelnut processor.

Nevertheless, Andres says, the firm, which has a plant in Brantford, Ont., is interested in securing stable, local supplies.

Baba Shah, president of the Shah Trading Company, is also concerned. The company is a premium nut roaster, importer and wholesaler based out of Montreal and Toronto.

Shah says he believes the price of Nutella will go up, but he also thinks discerning Canadians may feel the hazelnut pinch in other ways.

“They’re used more in mixed nuts. So the ratio proportion of hazelnuts used in the mixed nut formula…people will reduce it,” he predicted.

To make matters worse, Shah says California drought has pushed the price of almonds through the roof and it may be time to stockpile.

Posted at: August 19, 2014 - 10:30 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

August 18, 2014


We in North America need to acknowledge that there are many Fergusons, occupied by state power in sometimes invisible but always suppressive ways. In Canada, the main targets are Aboriginals; in the USA, Afro-Americans. And, across the continent, the disadvantaged or dissenting—whatever the cause or skin-color

The militarization of U.S. police: Finally dragged into the light by the horrors of Ferguson
Glenn Greenwald The Intercep USA August 14, 2014

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images. Visit this page for its embedded links.

The intensive militarization of America’s police forces is a serious menace about which a small number of people have been loudly warning for years, with little attention or traction. In a 2007 paper on “the blurring distinctions between the police and military institutions and between war and law enforcement,” the criminal justice professor Peter Kraska defined “police militarization” as “the process whereby civilian police increasingly draw from, and pattern themselves around, the tenets of militarism and the military model.”

The harrowing events of the last week in Ferguson, Missouri – the fatal police shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager, Mike Brown, and the blatantly excessive and thuggish response to ensuing community protests from a police force that resembles an occupying army – have shocked the U.S. media class and millions of Americans. But none of this is aberrational.

It is the destructive by-product of several decades of deliberate militarization of American policing, a trend that received a sustained (and ongoing) steroid injection in the form of a still-flowing, post-9/11 federal funding bonanza, all justified in the name of “homeland security.” This has resulted in a domestic police force that looks, thinks, and acts more like an invading and occupying military than a community-based force to protect the public.

As is true for most issues of excessive and abusive policing, police militarization is overwhelmingly and disproportionately directed at minorities and poor communities, ensuring that the problem largely festers in the dark. Americans are now so accustomed to seeing police officers decked in camouflage and Robocop-style costumes, riding in armored vehicles and carrying automatic weapons first introduced during the U.S. occupation of Baghdad, that it has become normalized. But those who bear the brunt of this transformation are those who lack loud megaphones; their complaints of the inevitable and severe abuse that results have largely been met with indifference.

If anything positive can come from the Ferguson travesties, it is that the completely out-of-control orgy of domestic police militarization receives long-overdue attention and reining in.

Last night, two reporters, The Washington Post‘s Wesley Lowery and The Huffington Post‘s Ryan Reilly, were arrested and assaulted while working from a McDonald’s in Ferguson. The arrests were arbitrary and abusive, and received substantial attention — only because of their prominent platforms, not, as they both quickly pointed out upon being released, because there was anything unusual about this police behavior.

Police militarization is increasingly aimed at stifling journalism as well. Like the arrests of Lowery and Reilly last night, Democracy Now‘s Amy Goodman and two of her colleagues were arrested while covering the 2008 St. Paul protests. As Trevor Timm of the Freedom of the Press Foundation (on whose board I sit) explained yesterday, militarization tactics “don’t just affect protesters, but also affect those who cover the protest. It creates an environment where police think they can disregard the law and tell reporters to stop filming, despite their legal right to do so, or fire tear gas directly at them to prevent them from doing their job. And if the rights of journalists are being trampled on, you can almost guarantee it’s even worse for those who don’t have such a platform to protect themselves.”

Related: How the mainstream media is trying to get us to forget about Mike Brown
Michael Stewart blogs Canada August 17, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded links.

Two days after 18-year old Mike Brown was shot eight times by a Ferguson County police officer, comedic actor Robin Williams hanged himself. As a relatively middle-class white person of a certain vintage, I saw my social media feed shift from displaying the odd note about the latest mainstream example that we live in a racist, white supremacist police state (a fact visible at all times to low-income people, persons of colour and colonized peoples) to all Williams, all the time. Even Barack Obama issued a statement a matter of hours after Williams died and didn’t release anything about Brown until three days after his murder.

Depression is a terrible thing to die from and even worse to live with. But the public response to these deaths represent a common trope in mainstream discourse that arises whenever we are confronted with the unsettling reality that our way of life is underwritten by a narrative of oppression, injustice and blood: it’s probably best, they insist, if we forget all about it.
Robin Williams, who once unproblematically played a character whose dead (white) daughter appears to him in the form of a Japanese stewardess because of an erotic fantasy he once mentioned offhand to her, suffered from depression and substance addiction — two points that uphold the tragedy of his narrative.

We don’t know much about Mike Brown, but we do know young black men in America have higher incidences of depression relating to trauma than any other demographic. We know that suicides account for more deaths in St. Louis County than homicides and motor vehicle rates combined. We also know that the mere fact of blackness has prescribed modes of feeling thrust upon its bearers: you are angry, you are unpredictable, you are dangerous, you are black. Mike Brown doesn’t need to have experienced any of these realities first hand, but we know they made up his daily life in Ferguson, Missouri. But some depressions count more than others.
The rash of Williams-related tributes that continue to flood Facebook and Twitter resembled a collective gasp of relief for white North America, despite their doubtless sincerity, offering a worthy distraction from the horror of Mike Brown’s murder and the state’s full military response to a community’s anger. Images of Williams laughing or smiling emphasized the meaningfulness of his passing — despite the fact that he was a depressive who spent four decades in front of a camera plying his craft of faking exactly that. A Vancouver morning radio show assured distraught fans that they could comfort themselves this Christmas when Williams’ last film will be released: A Night in the Museum 3. As if we needed any more explanation as to why wealth, fame and prestige might not be enough to finally achieve The Good Life.

But somehow, Mike Brown’s story grew. It grew partly because of the preposterous images of St. Louis County police officers in what has been described as military gear but would be more at home in a dystopic science-fiction film like The Hunger Games or Children of Men. Again, much of the discourse has taken a “making sense” tack: why did the police officer (now revealed to be Darren Wilson) feel compelled to shoot Brown? how can authorities bring order to Ferguson? what will finally placate the demands of the protestors? Residents of Ferguson and their allies who have been demonstrating for a week now don’t need answers to these questions because they know them in their bones: Brown was murdered by an instrument of legitimated state violence bent on keeping a racialized population poor and subdued. And they’re sick of it.

The question is often asked of incidents like Mike Brown’s murder (because they are legion) what can we (white folk) do? First, we can refuse to participate in discourses that seek to minimize or deflect from what is happening in St. Louis County. When someone mentions looting, you correct them. When someone speaks of rioting, you tell them they are mistaken. When a celebrity you admire passes, take a moment, but don’t allow the media to manipulate you.

Second, and this is probably the more important thing, recognize that there are Mike Browns that are still alive. In Canada, they are more likely to be Aboriginal than African American. Acknowledge that there are many Fergusons, occupied by state power in sometimes invisible but always suppressive ways. The insidious thing about the neoliberal state is that its instruments only appear when they are needed. We don’t have tanks patrolling the streets — until state and corporate power is threatened. Make those moments — from Elsipogtog to the G20 in Toronto — unacceptable in this country and they will be less acceptable in Ferguson.

Posted at: August 18, 2014 - 2:42 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

NATO – a security threat to all & The militarization of globalism

It is time to push the reset button on NATO and start all over. We might even save ourselves if we do it, something I consider a substantial motivation. And I also feel a special obligation to take on this task because I am an American. Make no mistake about it. When we are talking NATO, we are really talking about the Pentagon and Washington. That is where the military power and the folks paying most of the bills are, and paying with borrowed money. - Jim W. Dean

In the present world match-up I think Putin and Li far more reticent about aggression, and far more aware of (and partly responsible for) the multipolar power system rendering US unilateralism dangerous and archaic. - Norman Pollack

NATO – a security threat to all
Jim W. Dean Veterans Today USA August 17, 2014

These are difficult times to be a geopolitical writer. Frankly, in moments of writers block now I find myself in an Alice in Wonderland world, confused as to whether I am writing on fact or fiction because the current world situation has entered the surreal.

In a discussion with Gordon Duff this week, we even described it like being a Fellini film.

I have been wanting to write this piece on how NATO has morphed from a defense alliance into an offensive one. The focus was not the obvious one of NATO moving east to the Soviet border with bases, and all the intelligence apparatus and forward weapons deployment that goes with that… but the resulting threat to the people of the NATO countries themselves. It is a delicate thing getting too far out in front of a story.

Internet writers today will often hype a story to pull more readership. They do it because it works… in the short run. But once the readers catch on, such writers are toast as they are branded hype-meisters, and all their writing is regarded with suspicion after that. Hence I have been waiting about two weeks to write this, time to pull more material together.

To charge NATO with formally endangering those it is pledged to serve and protect is a serious accusation. I would not do it if they were not guilty as Hades, and they are. It is an abject betrayal, another confirmation of the threat brought to us by the horrendous quality of Western leadership.

What the US is really threatening in Ukraine
Henry Kamens New Eastern Outlook Russia August 17, 2014

The US has warned Moscow to be “very careful” in its judgments after Vladimir Putin put the armed forces in western Russia on alert in response to mounting tension in Ukraine. This comment is obviously a threat, but of what?

The US is supporting what it hypocritically calls an “anti-terror” operation in the East of Ukraine, despite the fact it inserted snipers to fire indiscriminately on crowds in Maidan Square to achieve its objectives there. In order to keep this going, NATO assets and US funding is already being overstretched in Syria, the US and the “chocolate soldiers” of the newly-installed Ukrainian government are practically picking kids off the streets of the West of the country, giving them a month’s training and then sending them to the front line as cannon fodder.

So what greater action is being threatened now?

Whenever the US gets involved in a war someone raises the spectre of Vietnam. Most US politicians of today come from a generation which fought in or protested against the Vietnam War. Young men, mostly conscripts, were sent to serve their country in a faraway place by fighting for a cause few of them understood or believed in, at great human, moral and financial cost. Those troops went home to public vilification, some as basket cases.

This historic sore explains a number of recent US actions. Having won the Gulf War the US did not topple Saddam, though it is happy to remove other rulers, because it has bitter memories of spending countless millions propping up rulers it installed to pursue its interests, such as Thieu in South Vietnam and Marcos in the Philippines. Similarly, the US rarely acts alone now, ensuring that its interventions are all NATO operations involving multiple partners. Though these actions further US policy, it does not want to carry the can if the public turn against that policy, and therefore seeks to spread the responsibility so wide it diffuses it altogether.

All this is having an effect on Ukraine. Despite the attempts to ramp up the conflict there as “freedom fighters” versus “oppressors”, as most Americans don’t know much about the place; they could care less. Whether they support sending in troops comes down to their attitude towards their own government, rather than any appreciation of the issues in the country itself.

So the US is not necessarily threatening direct military action, as the cost/benefit analysis doesn’t look good. What it is threatening is the political equivalent of “slash and burn”. It is trying to make sure that if Russia divides Ukraine this will be a pyrrhic victory, as the rump remaining will be such a revolting and belligerent neighbour it will be far worse for Russia than a Yanukovich government which joined the EU would have been.

The links between the new Ukrainian government and neo-Nazi groups are well documented. It is no accident that no one has been called to account for daubing swastikas on Jewish people’s walls in the wake of the enforced removal of Yanukovich. These neo-Nazis were not initially involved in the “popular protests” which toppled that regime, largely because most Ukrainians did not take them seriously, but were inserted later on to provide the necessary muscle and ideological commitment to throw the elected President out for a second time.

But is this muscle working? In one way yes, in one way no, and the no is an important one.

Sergei Glazyev, Advisor to the Russian President, has highlighted the activities of the neo-Nazis in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, where they are acting under the orders of Kiev, “Schools and infrastructure have been destroyed and the people of the region can expect selfdom, as can be inferred not only by the official mouthpieces, ideologists such as Liaskho but Poroshenko himself, whose position is not significantly different,” he said.

He continued by describing the merciless exploitation of the local population, who are being forced to leave unless they are tied to work in the factories and mines. The heavy shelling hardly encourages anyone to stay, of course. But he then added a telling detail: many refugees from Ukraine are migrating to Russia.

Maria Zakharova, deputy head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s press department, has said that at least 400 soldiers, both conscripts and professionals, have so far crossed into Russia to seek asylum. These deserters stated that they do not want to participate in war crimes in their own country by targeting ethnic Russians living in Eastern Ukraine, their own countrymen, not the terrorists Kiev and the Western media told them they were fighting.

People fighting for “freedom” against “oppression” may not be competent or well-motivated but they do not contemplate deserting to the enemy. These desertions, and 400 is not an insignificant number, are a serious threat to the success of the US operation, as the more people see their comrades changing sides the more they will starting thinking the same way themselves. It will be much more difficult to justify war by saying it is about “freedom” when your own soldiers, recruited on this basis, are freely joining the “oppressors” in significant numbers.

So the US government is giving Russia an ultimatum. If it lets the US pursue its plans, all the crimes of the Nazis will stop and a democratic Ukraine, which respects human rights and which Russia can do business with, will result. If not, the US will simply leave the neo-Nazis to continue pursuing such tactics in Donbas, and everywhere else, for evermore. Paradoxically, it is asking Russia to decide what sort of government it wants to see in Ukraine, after starting the war to prevent Russia interfering in Ukraine’s affairs.

One of the reasons for the desertions is that the Ukrainian population, quite rightly tired of war and being manipulated by powers who do not listen to their concerns, are not enthusiastic about the new government’s policy of mobilising the entire population against Russia. However, consider the dynamics: in December 2013 there were 2,000 members of neo-Nazi groups active in Kiev. By February there were 20,000. By May the number of neo-Nazis and new army conscripts, brought in to support their actions, had reached 50,000. By next month there will be 200,000 Nazi-led regular and irregular troops conducting combat operations, as there are plans to call up all people of military age.

If the Ukrainian Army were conducting these military actions in defence of their country this would be justified. But that is not what is happening on the ground. Apparently fearful of the army’s loyalty, the neo-Nazi groups were brought in over its head, first by the US and then the new Ukrainian government, to act as the advanced guard. They are the ones conducting operations, and the new troops are supporting their actions, not treating them as illegal irregulars as their army service oaths require them to do.

Ukraine has a large army, but a largely inactive one. Most of it is not actually being used in the conflict: only these armed Nazis, and the new green recruits supporting them, are being used to defend the country against a foreign power. Kharkov’s industries are working at full capacity restoring tanks and armour, and bringing tanks out of storage, resurrecting and modernising them is not difficult. Likewise aviation is being brought out of storage in Odessa. But it is not being put at the service of the Ukrainian army but irregular neo-Nazi groups, who ordinarily would have no claim on state equipment.

As the neo-Nazis are leading the process, they are not going to take orders from the Ukrainian government or even the US which put them in this position. They will pursue their own ideological conflict on their own volition. Ukraine is helping them because it suits Ukraine’s purposes, for now. But does anyone seriously think that if Poroshenko ordered them to withdraw, or stop committing atrocities, they would take any notice?

The US is trying to blame all this on Russia. The neo-Nazis were inserted to counter Russian ambitions in Ukraine, as the US portrayed them. They are still being supported, in spite of the desertions, to show Russia that unless it backs down it will inflict them on Ukraine forever, no matter what. This is a genuine threat to Russia too, as it is dealing with its own terrorist threats in Chechnya, Daghestan and other parts of its vast territory and does not want another player to join a network of interconnected anti-Russian terror groups, with the resources of a national army at its disposal.

Related: Militarization of globalism
Norman Pollack CounterPunch USA August 18, 2014

In a jaundiced US national foreign-policy perspective, Obama, befitting America’s steadily moving shift politically, ideologically, culturally, sharply rightward, is somehow viewed as weak, vacillating, lacking sufficient will to stand up to Aggression (capitalized because seen as all-pervasive, coming from every quarter: militant Islam, Russia, China, even Gazans), and thereby presumably a Leftist, when in fact he occupies the exact, predictable position marking an extension in US hegemonic claims to unilateral global supremacy effected through war, intervention, trade agreements, military alliance systems, market penetration, international financial and banking pressures and manipulations, that we have seen since the close of World War 2. Lack of toughness? Hardly. Departure from the Cold War? No, further continuities, only slightly more cosmopolitan in the use of proxy forces, drone assassination, rendition, the while speaking words of peace and social justice, i.e., the cover of liberal humanitarianism as screws are tightened both on regional spheres of influence and Third World aspirations toward modernization.

Yet for much of an imperialist-thirsty America, not enough: Support Kiev, encourage serious rearming of Japan, hasten Israel’s destruction of Gaza, push regime change in Syria and wherever—and this, merely in today’s news, for the long-range picture is more decisive in the elucidation and practice of American power. Presently, under Obama, the US is on a collision course with the world, his nearest comparison in point of militarizing an acceptable definition of US-inspired (read: directed, supervised, administered) globalism would be three-fifths John F. Kennedy, two-fifths Ronald Reagan, that superb bipartisan mix of main-force over-the-top militarism and the nitty-gritty suppression of indigenous movements of social change. World dominance with respect to major power systems, localism in the eradication of national liberation struggles, a petrifaction of world order, grounded on American military foundations premised in turn on the expansion of US capitalism as principal architect of the international political economy—what in a franker day, we called Counterrevolution, now muddied by not only liberal humanitarianism but also counterterrorism. The Islamic Assault is manna from heaven for America’s global extension of power, as is liberal humanitarianism for sanitizing both imperialism and the encirclement of Russia and China.

Obama means business (ignore the pun) facing off against Russia and China through respective regional alliance systems and largely exclusive trading frameworks (and for the former a sanctions regime) while domestically continuing the trend of deregulation to the advantage of corporate/banking concentration and a consequently stronger business voice in formulating the aims of foreign policy. Domestic policy, in business’s favor, is already a foregone conclusion. Here liberalism bears special scrutiny, as ideological camouflage for the war-provoking tendencies in US foreign policy, Woodrow Wilson the prime exemplar of its use in market expansion (liberalism an energizing factor in world trade, as against the Republican isolationists nakedly imperialist ensconced behind a high protective tariff), an historical course anything but harmless when it is realized that market expansion is not an abstract pursuit but always supposes a strong military presence whether brought into play or held in the background. Obama while not aware of the historical background weds Wilsonian internationalism with Theodore Roosevelt’s Battleship Navy (suitably brought up-to-date with carrier groups, long-range aircraft, extensive paramilitary operations, and, of course, a stunning nuclear stockpile). Liberalism in America, even in the late-19th century Open Door, was never really liberalism, its military undergarment always showing.

To be more specific, liberalism has been true to itself in its fashion, primarily antiradical in its genesis and practice, and primarily to soften the rough edges of capitalism while not undermining its essential structure or impeding the wealth-concentration process of class differentiation. To be not-reactionary counts for something in waging a battle on behalf of the status quo, chiefly, through enlivening sources of false consciousness, particularly in foreign policy where identifying expansion with democracy (our famous Turner Thesis was the ideological prop for joining the two internally) sends an electric charge through the body politic through patriotism, a cult of strength, and the use of force. In this regard, liberalism was and remains blood-soaked transferring the psychodynamics of patriotism, strength, and force to capitalism itself, the two becoming the same (the basic synthesis, liberalism/capitalism, at the core of Exceptionalism, both as ideology and militarized implementation), and for Obama the launching pad for further political-commercial expansion.

Posted at: August 18, 2014 - 11:35 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

‘Some progress reached’: Berlin talks yield no quick fix for Ukraine crisis & Russia believes Western Axis has more influence than Kiev on oligarchs’ armies in Ukraine

Foreign ministers Pavlo Klimkin of Ukraine, Laurent Fabius of France, Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany and Sergei Lavrov of Russia (L-R) walk in a park ahead of their talks in Berlin, August 17, 2014. Photo: Thomas Peter/Reuters

‘Some progress reached’: Berlin talks yield no quick fix for Ukraine crisis
RT Russia August 17, 2014

The second round of talks in Berlin over the Ukrainian crisis has brought no immediate results. However, the foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France said “some progress” had been made on important issues.

The high-level meeting lasted over five hours with the ministers leaving the building late in the evening. The meeting of foreign ministers included Pavlo Klimkin of Ukraine, Russia’s Sergey Lavrov, Germany’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Laurent Fabius from France.

The German FM made an immediate statement to the press following the talks, saying that the negotiations will continue next week, emphasizing that the ministers will use any possibility to ease the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and avoid further victims.

Four Foreign ministers’ talks in Berlin are over
ITAR-TASS News Agency Russia August 18, 2014

BERLIN, August 18, /ITAR-TASS/. The talks among the Foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine, the Federal Republic of Germany, and France here are over. German Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is expected to make a statement shortly.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told that progress on some points has been made at the Berlin meeting on Ukraine; the Ministers will report results to their Heads of State.

“The discussion was essential,” he said. “I thank the Ministers of Russia, Ukraine, and France for accepting the invitation. The discussion was lengthy and frank”.

“We discussed how we can find ways towards a suspension of military actions,” Steinmeier added.

“Besides, humanitarian support to the civilian population was also a subject of discussion,” the Minister said.
“It was a difficult discussion. However, I think, we have achieved progress on some points,” he said.

The Ministers will now report results in their capitals, Steinmeier emphasized.

“In the course of Monday and Tuesday, a decision is to be made as to form in which today’s discussion can be carried on,” the German Minister said.

“We are aiming to achieve a cessation of fire and avoid new casualties,” he added.

Related: West has more influence than Kiev on oligarchs’ armies in Ukraine – Lavrov
RT Russia August 18, 2014

Moscow believes the West has more influence on various paramilitary forces in Ukraine – sponsored by local oligarchs – than Kiev does, Russian FM said citing the latest bickering between Right Sector and the Interior Ministry.

“The authorities in Kiev are not in control of the numerous paramilitary forces, including Right Sector, which, we estimate, comprises a large portion of the National Guard. The demarche of Right Sector towards the Ukrainian Interior Minister speaks for itself,” Sergey Lavrov said, adding that existence of armed groups sponsored by Ukrainian oligarchs, such as the Azov and Dnepr battalions, poses a great security threat.

“We work with our Western partners in Europe and the United States who can really influence those paramilitary units that don’t answer to the central government in Kiev. We know the West has such influence,” he added.

Lavrov was referring to the weekend ultimatum of the far-right group, which threatened to pull out its troops from eastern Ukraine and march on Kiev unless President Petro Poroshenko fires several police officials, including a deputy interior minister. The group later reduced its demands, saying that the release of its activists previously arrested by the police was sufficient.

The comments from the top Russian diplomat came as he reported on the progress achieved during the Sunday meeting with his counterparts from Ukraine, Germany and France. The roundtable produced no concrete agreements, but the parties involved said some progress was made on the issues of humanitarian aid and border control.

Speaking to journalists on Monday, Lavrov said Moscow would welcome the observer mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) deploying drones to control the Russian-Ukrainian border from the Ukrainian side.

Lavrov said Russia is working with the OSCE on giving more transparency in the border region, which is important, considering how often Kiev voices false reports on alleged violation of the border from the Russian side. He cited the latest claim by Kiev on Friday, when the Ukrainian military said it had destroyed a column of Russian armor after an incursion into Ukraine.

“What really happened was a Ukrainian column moved in the Lugansk Region, obviously to intercept the rout of a potential humanitarian aid delivery. That column was destroyed by the militia,” he said. “If such episodes are presented as glorious successes of the Ukrainian army, then please don’t accuse us of anything.”

Russia has sent a convoy of humanitarian aid meant for war-torn eastern Ukraine. The trucks have not been allowed entry by the Ukrainian side, which voiced suspicions about the nature of the cargo and demanded that the delivery be conducted by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Lavrov noted that the media hype over the mission, which was apparent in the West in its early days, evaporated as soon as it became clear that the column actually carries humanitarian aid and is not some kind of a trick used by Russia to invade Ukraine, as Kiev initially claimed.

The minister also criticized Kiev’s request for NATO’s aid against the militia in eastern Ukraine, saying that it “goes against all the agreements we had reached on stopping the hostilities and initiating negotiations.”

“As long as the authorities in Kiev bet on the use of force and consider a military victory over their own people a necessary condition for keeping themselves in power, I don’t think any good will come from what we are trying to achieve,” he said.

Posted at: August 18, 2014 - 11:15 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post