October 24, 2014

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Ebola outbreak: Where’s the conspiracy? With the Western Axis (particularly the U.S.) or with the scientists and other contrarians?

With the Ebola virus now having been confirmed on U.S. soil, speculation as to how it got here and how many others may have contracted it is mounting. The traditional thinking here is that the virus made its way to the United States simply by one infected individual coming into contact with another, and so on. But, a growing chorus of contrarian researchers suggests another possibility – the Ebola virus may have been weaponized by a government or rogue terror cell and it has been deployed as a bio weapon. … That a major government supplier of emergency equipment has come out in the open to claim that their sources had foreknowledge of an emergency Disaster Response mobilization to occur in the United States in October of this year is an astonishing development considering what has transpired in the last 72 hours. - Mac Slavo, October 1, 2014

The US Department of Defense (DoD) [is] funding Ebola trials on humans, trials which started just weeks before the Ebola outbreak in Guinea and Sierra Leone. The reports continue and state that the DoD gave a contract worth $140 million dollars to Tekmira, a Canadian pharmaceutical company, to conduct Ebola research. - Dr. Cyril Broderick. Dr. Broderick, a Liberian scientist and a former professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Liberia’s College of Agriculture and Forestry, says the West—particularly the U.S.—is responsible for the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The United States has withheld assurances from Germany that the Ebola virus – among other related diseases – would not be weaponized in the event of Germany exporting it to the US Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases. German MFA Deputy Head of Division for Export Control Markus Klinger provided a paper to the US consulate’s Economics Office (Econoff), “seeking additional assurances related to a proposed export of extremely dangerous pathogens.” - RT reporting, October 20, 2014

Items: U.S. is responsible for the ebola outbreak in West Africa: Liberian scientist
Timothy Alexander Guzman Silent Crow News USA October 17, 2014

Dr. Cyril Broderick, A Liberian scientist and a former professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Liberia’s College of Agriculture and Forestry says the West, particularly the U.S. is responsible for the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Dr. Broderick claims the following in an exclusive article published in the Daily Observer based in Monrovia, Liberia. He wrote the following:

The US Department of Defense (DoD) funding Ebola trials on humans, trials which started just weeks before the Ebola outbreak in Guinea and Sierra Leone. The reports continue and state that the DoD gave a contract worth $140 million dollars to Tekmira, a Canadian pharmaceutical company, to conduct Ebola research. This research work involved injecting and infusing healthy humans with the deadly Ebola virus. Hence, the DoD is listed as a collaborator in a “First in Human” Ebola clinical trial (NCT02041715, which started in January 2014 shortly before an Ebola epidemic was declared in West Africa in March.

Can it be possible that the United States Department of Defense (DOD) and other Western countries are directly responsible for infecting Africans with the Ebola virus? Dr. Broderick claims that the U.S. government has a research laboratory located in a town called Kenema in Sierra Leone that studies what he calls “viral fever bioterrorism”, It is also the town where he acknowledges that is the “epicentre of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.” Is it a fact? Is Dr. Broderick a conspiracy theorist? He says that “there is urgent need for affirmative action in protecting the less affluent of poorer countries, especially African citizens, whose countries are not as scientifically and industrially endowed as the United States and most Western countries, sources of most viral or bacterial GMOs that are strategically designed as biological weapons.” He also asks an important question when he says “It is most disturbing that the U. S. Government has been operating a viral hemorrhagic fever bioterrorism research laboratory in Sierra Leone. Are there others?”

Well, Mr. Broderick’s claims seems to be the truth. After all, the U.S. government has been experimenting with deadly diseases on human beings for a long time because history tells us so. One example is Guatemala. Between 1946 and 1948, the United States government under President Harry S. Truman in collaboration with Guatemalan President Juan José Arévalo and his health officials deliberately infected more than 1500 soldiers, prostitutes, prisoners and even mental patients with syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea and chancroid (a bacterial sexual infection) out of more than 5500 Guatemalan people who participated in the experiments. The worst part of it is that none of the test subjects infected with the diseases ever gave informed consent. The Boston Globe published the discovery made by medical historian and professor at Wellesley College, Susan M. Reverby in 2010 called ‘Wellesley professor unearths a horror: Syphilis experiments in Guatemala.’ It stated how she came across her discovery:

The U.S. government admitted to its wrongdoing, 62 years too late. What Dr. Broderick wrote is not conspiratorial in any sense. The U.S. government has been involved in bioterrorism; Guatemala is a case in point. Dr. Broderick summarized what average people can do to prevent governments, especially those from the West from creating and exposing populations from diseases they experiment with in laboratories:

The challenge is global, and we request assistance from everywhere, including China, Japan, Australia, India, Germany, Italy, and even kind-hearted people in the U.S., France, the U.K., Russia, Korea, Saudi Arabia, and anywhere else whose desire is to help. The situation is bleaker than we on the outside can imagine, and we must provide assistance however we can. To ensure a future that has less of this kind of drama, it is important that we now demand that our leaders and governments be honest, transparent, fair, and productively engaged. They must answer to the people. Please stand up to stop Ebola testing and the spread of this dastardly disease.

Well said Dr. Broderick, I couldn’t agree with you more! After Guatemala’s ordeal with the U.S. government who deliberately infected people with syphilis, West African nations should be extremely skeptical about the U.S. government’s actions combating Ebola. Professor Francis Boyle of the University of Illinois, College of Law questions the Obama administration’s actions in West Africa. RIA Novosti recently interviewed Boyle and he said the following:

US government agencies have a long history of carrying out allegedly defensive biological warfare research at labs in Liberia and Sierra Leone. This includes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is now the point agency for managing the Ebola spill-over into the US,” Prof. Francis Boyle said.

Why has the Obama administration dispatched troops to Liberia when they have no training to provide medical treatment to dying Africans? How did Zaire/Ebola get to West Africa from about 3,500km away from where it was first identified in 1976?”

Below: Paul Craig Roberts, a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, has been reporting shocking cases of prosecutorial abuse for two decades. A new edition of his book, The Tyranny of Good Intentions, co-authored with Lawrence Stratton, a documented account of how Americans lost the protection of law, has been released by Random House.

Obama fights ebola with a Czar and soldiers
Paul Craig Roberts LewRockwell.com USA October 20, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded links.

UPDATE 10/18/14: A group of 30 doctors and scientists have published their findings on the website of the New England Journal of Medicine that the ebola ravaging West Africa is a new strain of the disease and was not imported from Central Africa. The doctors and scientists’ conclusion is consistent with Dr. Cyril Broderick’s report in the update below that the strain originated in US government biowarfare labs and was injected into humans in Department of Defense field trials that began just weeks prior to the ebola breakout. The US government has a history of using unsuspecting humans for tests. Blacks in Alabama and Guatemalan soldiers and prisoners were infected with syphilis and gonorrhea in order to study the effects of the diseases and to experiment with cures.

Another interesting piece of information is that apparently someone had advance notice that there would be an ebola outbreak. The New York Daily News reports that Phoenix Air has a jet plane specifically outfitted to transport ebola patients and that the company’s vice president said it required 30 months to get the plane equipped and ready. The ebola outbreak began six or seven months ago. The airplane took two and one-half years to create.

UPDATE HERE

The public continues to be reassured that ebola is not a problem for the US, but CNN reports that Obama has appointed an Ebola Czar. The Czar is not a medical person but an insider lawyer who served as chief of staff to Vice President Biden.

Little wonder ebola conspiracy theories are spreading faster than ebola. And as far as any of us know, the conspiracies could be true.

University of Illinois law professor Francis Boyle, an expert of the perfidies of the US government, reminds us that Sierra Leone and Liberia, the countries most affected by the ebola outbreak, are two West African countries that host US biological warfare laboratories. Professor Boyle asks how the disease, which is mainly associated with equatorial Congo reached West Africa thousands of kilometers away.

Washington’s response is itself peculiar. The Obama regime sent 4,000 US soldiers to West Africa to fight ebola. Soldiers don’t have training or equipment with which to combat ebola. Why expose 4,000 Americans to an epidemic? This seemingly pointless decision has raised suspicions that Washington is exposing troops to ebola so that vaccines or treatments can be tested on the troops.

Other commentators have noticed that West Africa is an area of Chinese investments. They wonder if Washington is using the cover of ebola to occupy the countries or even set the disease loose in order to drive out the Chinese. The new US Africa Command was formed to counteract Chinese economic penetration in Africa.

Related: US Army withheld promise from Germany that Ebola virus wouldn’t be weaponized
RT Russia October 20, 2014


Bystanders read headlines saying “Ebola 1: USA 0″ at the Daily Talk, a street side chalkboard newspaper, in Monrovia. Photo: James Giahyue/Reuters. Visit this page for its embedded link.

The United States has withheld assurances from Germany that the Ebola virus – among other related diseases – would not be weaponized in the event of Germany exporting it to the US Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases.

German MFA Deputy Head of Division for Export Control Markus Klinger provided a paper to the US consulate’s Economics Office (Econoff), “seeking additional assurances related to a proposed export of extremely dangerous pathogens.”

Germany subsequently made two follow-up requests and clarifications to the Army, according to the unclassified Wikileaks cable.

“This matter concerns the complete genome of viruses such as the Zaire Ebola virus, the Lake Victoria Marburg virus, the Machupo virus and the Lassa virus, which are absolutely among the most dangerous pathogens in the world,” the request notes.

The Zaire Ebola virus was the same strain of Ebola virus which has been rampaging through West Africa in recent months.

“The delivery would place the recipient in the position of being able to create replicating recombinant infectious species of these viruses,” the cable notes.

However, it also points out that Germany has in place an “exceptionally restrictive policy,” adding that approval would not be granted to the export until US assurance was provided.

“A decision about the export has not yet been made. Given the foregoing, we would appreciate confirmation that the end use certificate really is from the Department of the Army and of the accuracy of the data contained therein,” the document stated.

There is no follow-up document available to confirm whether the US Army eventually provided Germany with the necessary guarantees.

Bioweapons were outlawed in the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972 and was signed and ratified by 179 signatories, including Germany, the US and Russia.

It dictates that signatories, “under all circumstances the use of bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons is effectively prohibited by the Convention” and “the determination of States parties to condemn any use of biological agents or toxins other than for peaceful purposes, by anyone at any time.”

The entry of Ebola into the US has hallmarks of a planned happening
Paul Craig Roberts Institute for Political Economy USA October 21, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded links.

More information is available that suggests the the government had advance information that ebola was coming to the US and that the government expects a much larger outbreak of the disease in the US than it admits.

Don’t you find it strange that while the government itself was gearing up for an October disaster, the public wasn’t told a thing about any of this?

Posted at: October 24, 2014 - 1:09 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

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Footprints in the sand: Warriors, the dead and the ‘only wounded’

David Wood, a journalist since 1970, is the senior military correspondent for The Huffington Post. His series on severely wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting.

Combat casualties and war talk
David Wood Huffington Post USA October 16, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded link and video,”How serious a threat is ISIS?”.

The crowds of summertime tourists are mostly gone from Arlington National Cemetery now, and on a rainy weekday morning the yellowing leaves drift down silently to the manicured grass, and the rows of glistening white headstones wind over rolling hills into the distance and the silence seems immense and respectful. I had come to visit an old friend, a Marine sergeant who was killed in Afghanistan just over five years ago.

Across the way there in this national memorial park, cemetery workers are quietly preparing for the burial of the most recent American to die in battle, a Special Forces sergeant first class named Andrew Tarrant Weathers. He was severely wounded by rifle fire in a battle with insurgents in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, Sept. 28 and medevacked to Germany. He died of his wounds two days later at the U.S. military hospital at Landstuhl. Andrew was 30. His parents, Michael and Jere Weathers, are coming from Pollock, Louisiana.

Through the trees a distance away, a separate funeral service is about to begin. Six dappled gray horses stand in harness, linked to a caisson bearing a gleaming casket. A soldier passes among the horses with a bucket of feed, and they all wait patiently in light rain.

Yet even here in this serene place, the clangor of Washington, D.C., intrudes faintly from a mile or so across the Potomac. Half a world further away, American jets and drones are killing Islamic State “units,” as Central Command primly puts it, and there are rising demands that more be done.

Just this morning, as I walked down the cemetery’s Eisenhower Drive toward section 60, where many of the Iraq and Afghanistan war dead are buried, my cellphone pinged with a message from the office of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). “Everyone wants the president’s strategy to succeed, but right now we are not reversing ISIL’s momentum. That has to change,” it read. “It’s why the Speaker and many others continue to call on the president to outline and implement a broader strategy for winning this fight….”

Mr. Boehner has shied away from saying plainly that the ISIS threat requires that American ground troops be sent into the fight. But others aren’t so reticent. Boehner’s lieutenant, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), declared on Face the Nation recently that “If we engage in a conflict that we know this is a threat to America, we should make it so one-sided that it gets over very quickly… special forces and others are probably going to have to be on the ground.”

Easy talk about “boots on the ground” grates on the senses. It seems an awfully cavalier way to talk about the American battle dead buried at Arlington and in cemeteries across the country. Of those I have known, in Iraq and Afghanistan and in other conflicts, each one was proud of being “boots on the ground,” serving his or her country, proud of what they were accomplishing. Weary, perhaps, but resolute in their determination to see the job done. None, needless to say, wanted to die this way. But they were willing, trusting that the decision to send them was a thoughtful, considered judgment necessary for the good of the country.

Footprints in the sand
David Wood Huffington Post USA October 23, 2014

Fifty-one thousand American troops have come home from Iraq or Afghanistan diagnosed with brain injury. What’s become of them?

Many have worked with military or VA specialists to learn to overcome or compensate for deficits in memory, speech, organizational skills, reading, finger dexterity — everyday skills we take for granted. Tens of thousands of other Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans were never diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and may be struggling without knowing why. The VA’s shortage of therapists and difficulty reaching rural veterans means even those diagnosed may not get all the help they need.

But even those who were diagnosed and treated find that at some point, therapy has done all it can do. More sessions won’t necessarily help. “If you’ve gone through physical and occupational therapy, you reach a plateau,” said Adam Anicich, who was injured by an exploding mortar shell in Iraq in 2006. “You don’t get better.”

From that point on, veterans say, their lives become a matter of coping: working harder to get and keep a job, to sustain and repair relationships, confronting small daily challenges. Many feel slow to pick the right words, slow to put names to faces, have difficulty remembering where they parked or whether they turned off the coffee pot. Some find it harder than before to master their anger at a boss or coworker.

In a sense, they become unseen. Out of uniform and not visibly wounded, many avoid social situations because they feel they can’t keep up. Or they don’t want to talk about painful war experiences. And while some credit the VA with caring and effective treatment, once they’re finished it’s not clear what more the VA can do, even if it had the resources. Little is known about the lingering effects of brain injury once veterans finish therapy and are out on their own.

Posted at: October 24, 2014 - 11:01 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

Canada: The climate of fear following this week’s attacks is bad for deciding the balance between civil liberties and security & Harper’s pro-US/Israeli agenda has turned Canada into a divided society

In recent weeks, I’ve been saying that our laws and police powers need to be strengthened in the area of surveillance, detention and arrest. They need to be much strengthened, and I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that work which is already underway will be expedited. - Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaking in the House of Commons, October 23, 2014. (Before addressing Canadians about the Ottawa shooting October 22, Stephen Harper first spoke with US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.)

Harper vows to fast-track boost to spy, policing powers after shooting
Steven Chase Globe and Mail Canada October 23, 2014, updated October 24, 2014

Visit †his page for its related links.

Stephen Harper is vowing a speedy passage of legislation that would boost the powers of Canada’s spy agency and police forces after a gunman’s attack in Ottawa.

“Our laws and police powers need to be strengthened in the area of surveillance, detention and arrest,” the Prime Minister told the House of Commons. “They need to be much strengthened. I assure members that work which is already under way will be expedited.”

Mr. Harper used “terrorism” or “terrorist” five times in his address, calling the assault on the War Memorial and Parliament a “terrorist attack,” and saying there are increasing numbers of places “where the planet is descending into savagery” as he emphasized the need to give security and police forces new powers.

“Make no mistake, even as the brave men and women of our Armed Forces are taking this fight to the terrorists on their own territory, we are equally resolved to fight it here,” the Prime Minister said, referring to the Canadian fighter jets and surveillance planes recently deployed to a combat mission in Iraq.

Justice Minister Peter MacKay told reporters the government is trying to find the right balance between civil liberties and protecting national security.

“We’re examining all of those sections of the Criminal Code and all measures under the law that will allow us to, in some instances, take pre-emptive measures,” he said.

Police themselves are asking for more powers.

Ottawa police chief Charles Bordeleau said on Thursday that authorities need additional tools to catch extremists.

“I think we’re seeing a gap evolve in law enforcement’s ability to maintain control over these individuals that are being radicalized.”

Canada needs to watch gov’t in wake of attacks: Security expert
Jeremy J. Nuttall TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada October 23, 2014

Visit †his page for its related links.

A security expert says Canadians should be on guard when it comes to their own government after Wednesday’s attack in Ottawa, which left a soldier and a gunman dead, two days after another assault with a car killed a soldier in Quebec.

Wednesday’s attack came on a day when proposed legislation giving Canadian authorities new powers to track terrorists was expected to be tabled in the House of Commons.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was not 20 minutes into his speech after Parliament reopened on Thursday morning before mentioning that organizations like the Canadian Security Intelligence Service will soon enjoy expanded powers, including surveillance.

Roland Paris, an associate professor at the University of Ottawa with expertise in international security and governance, said he won’t speculate on what the new powers will be, but Canadians should scrutinize any forthcoming changes.

“We always need to be concerned about the risk of unnecessary intrusion into the private lives of individual Canadians,” Paris said. “We have legal regimes to limit the powers of police and security services. They’re there for a reason — to protect the values of the society that we cherish.”

Deciding what kind of measures should be taken to track terrorists is not something the country should do as it soothes its shaky nerves after the attack, he said.A security expert says Canadians should be on guard when it comes to their own government after Wednesday’s attack in Ottawa, which left a soldier and a gunman dead, two days after another assault with a car killed a soldier in Quebec.

Wednesday’s attack came on a day when proposed legislation giving Canadian authorities new powers to track terrorists was expected to be tabled in the House of Commons.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was not 20 minutes into his speech after Parliament reopened on Thursday morning before mentioning that organizations like the Canadian Security Intelligence Service will soon enjoy expanded powers, including surveillance.

Roland Paris, an associate professor at the University of Ottawa with expertise in international security and governance, said he won’t speculate on what the new powers will be, but Canadians should scrutinize any forthcoming changes.

“We always need to be concerned about the risk of unnecessary intrusion into the private lives of individual Canadians,” Paris said. “We have legal regimes to limit the powers of police and security services. They’re there for a reason — to protect the values of the society that we cherish.”

Deciding what kind of measures should be taken to track terrorists is not something the country should do as it soothes its shaky nerves after the attack, he said.

Keeping so-called lone wolfs and organized terror groups apart from those with no relation to either is something that concerns Clayton Thomas-Muller.

Thomas-Muller became a news story himself when it came to light that he was being monitored by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for his work with environmental and Indigenous groups.

The story came to light through a freedom of information request and detailed how authorities kept tabs on the activist since 2010.

Thomas-Muller warned the Conservative government will use the attack as an excuse to abuse power and monitor groups which oppose its decisions.

“The Harper government has a very clear agenda which is really aimed at further disrupting Canadian democracy for its own purposes,” he said.

A month ago, a FOI request by the Toronto Star revealed a list of demonstrations that Canadian authorities had been monitoring. Among them were environmental groups and those opposed to pipeline plans.

A warping of powers to target such groups is within the realm of possibility, said David Christopher of OpenMedia.ca, an Internet rights advocacy group.

Related: Harper demands expedited review of police powers for terror suspects.

Harper government wants to make terror arrests easier
Louise Elliott CBC News Canada October 24, 2014


Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, centre, CSIS director Michel Coulombe, left, and RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson arrive to testify at a parliamentary committee earlier this month. The Harper government is considering making it easier for police to arrest and detain suspects in light of Wednesday’s shooting in Ottawa. Photo: Chris Wattie/Reuters. Visit this page for its related links.

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney is giving more indications of how the government intends to strengthen Canada’s security laws in the wake of Wednesday’s attack in Ottawa on Parliament Hill.

The minister told Radio-Canada on Friday that the government is eyeing the thresholds established in Canadian law for the preventive arrests of people thought to be contemplating attacks that may be linked to terrorism. Officials are considering how to make it easier to press charges against so-called lone-wolf attackers.

“The challenges are the thresholds — the thresholds that will allow either preventive arrest, or charges that lead to sentences, or more simple operations,” Blaney said in French. “So what the prime minister has asked is for us to review in an accelerated manner the different mechanisms that are offered to police to ensure everyone’s security.”

In a subsequent interview with CBC News, he said the measures recently introduced in anti-terrorism legislation don’t go far enough.

“When we tabled the Combating Terrorism Act, we activated some capability for our law enforcement to do some [preventive arrests]” he told the program “Power & Politics” in an interview to air Friday.

“What we are realizing now is there are some thresholds that would need adjustment so that it is more practical and more functional to intervene.”

In Brampton, Ont., Friday, Justice Minister Peter MacKay said the government would go beyond an originally planned bill that would have strengthened the powers of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and is looking in particular at trying to pre-empt terrorist activity, Reuters reported.

A senior government source told CBC News the government is considering a single bill that would introduce changes to the legislation governing both security officials and police.

It’s not clear when new legislation would be introduced, or when the government might move to boost these police powers.

Liberal MP David McGuinty says he’ll wait to see what the government proposes. But he cautioned the government not to move too quickly or too drastically.

“Before we proceed with too much speed here in terms of vesting new powers, I think we have an obligation to examine what we have in place, and secondly I think we need to really ask some tough and probative questions,” he said.

In a news conference yesterday, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson noted the police currently cannot charge anyone who has yet to commit a crime, and suggested there needs to be a change.

Noted: As Canadians struggle to express their outrage at the killings of two Canadian soldiers this week, debates about symbols, like poppies and uniforms, are raging.

White poppy campaign’s push for peace angers some
Michelle Lalonde MontreaL Gazette/Canada.com Canada October 23, 2014

Some callers to radio call-in shows urged listeners to wear poppies in advance of the annual Remembrance Day poppy campaign to show support for soldiers everywhere in the wake of these attacks.

Others are trying to start a campaign to get Canadians to wear two poppies this year, to symbolize condolences to the families of the soldier run over in St-Jean sur Richelieu Monday and the member of the Honour Guard shot at the War Memorial on Parliament Hill Wednesday.

Still others will be wearing white poppies this weekend, as part of a long-planned event designed to demonstrate opposition to Canada’s military involvement in Iraq.

Below: Nelofer Pazira is an award-winning Afghan-Canadian director, actress, journalist and author. She grew up in Kabul, Afghanistan, where she lived through ten years of Soviet occupation before escaping with her family to Pakistan. From there, they immigrated to New Brunswick, Canada, more than twenty years ago.

Ottawa shooting: Harper’s pro-US agenda has turned Canada into a target – and divided society
Nelofer Pazira The Independent UK October 22, 2014

The safest country in the world is no longer a safe place and many Canadians will be asking today whether this is because the Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper pushed Canada into joining the US-led war in the Middle East.

A multicultural society which prided itself on tolerance became divided when the Conservative government put a number of Muslims on a “watch list” in addition to announcing three weeks ago that it would send 600 special forces members along with fighter jets to support the US effort in their fight against Isis in Iraq. Two Canadian soldiers were hit by a car on Monday near Montreal – one of them died later. The attacker was shot dead and identified as a Muslim convert influenced by “radical Islamists”.

Canada has a large Muslim population – more than 2 per cent are Canadian citizens – but the word “radicalised” only came into use recently when the Harper government revealed it believed that about 30 young Canadians had gone to support Isis.

Then at 10am Canadian time yesterday a gunman fired shots at the War Memorial near the Parliament Hill in Ottawa and first reports suggested a Canadian soldier on honour guard was killed. The gunman entered the parliament building with a rifle where some 30 shots were heard. Harper was evacuated to safety and the parliament building was under police guard for hours afterwards. On Wednesdays, parliament is a busy place with all parties holding their caucus meetings; the building is often packed with tourists.

One parliamentary worker described the armed man as having an Arab appearance with long hair and a beard. Canadian Muslims will be among the first to express their concern if this proves true.

The Montreal attacker was identified as Martin Couture-Rouleau, aged 25, of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu outside the city.

Canada refused to join the UK-US war in Iraq in 2003. As a bargain, then Canadian Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien offered to send troops to Afghanistan. Initially, Canadians were not told their soldiers were on a combat mission. Only when their bodies began to return home did it become clear that Canada was at war in a Muslim country. Canadians eventually forced Harper to withdraw their soldiers from Afghanistan.

But now he is sending them back to the Middle East. Canadians have been against joining wars on the basis that, historically, their country only sent peacekeepers abroad. However, Harper’s pro-American policies appear to have turned Canada – and indeed the seat of political power in the capital Ottawa – into a target. Now Canadians will not only be worried about travelling to Europe, America or the Middle East – but wondering if they’re even safe inside their own homes.

So what happens next? Will Canada’s Muslim community – which has existed for more than 100 years – now have to “re-prove” it is loyal to a country which is fighting in the Muslim world? There have been plenty of “plots” uncovered in the past – in one of which Muslim extremists were apparently threatening to kill MPs. Since 9/11, many Muslims in the country have offered to work in government security in order to prevent incidents like those this week. How long this co-operation will continue now that Canada is in action in Iraq is another question

Posted at: October 24, 2014 - 10:39 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

October 23, 2014

Concerning politics, religion and terror in Canada

Understanding Harper’s evangelical mission
Andrew Nikiforuk TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada March 26, 2012

Visit this page for its embedded links and its sidebar “What Harper’s church teaches”.

From where does the government’s extreme animus towards journalists, environmental groups, First Nations and science (and I’ve put together but a partial list of victims here) arise? The moment demands we take a close look at Stephen Harper’s evangelical beliefs.

Unknown to most Canadians, the prime minister belongs to the Christian and Missionary Alliance, an evangelical Protestant church with two million members. Alberta, a petro state, is one of its great strongholds on the continent. The church believes that the free market is divinely inspired and that non-believers are “lost.”

Now let’s be clear: I am a Christian and a social conservative and a long time advocate of rural landowners and an unabashed conservationist. I have spent many pleasant hours in a variety of evangelical churches and fundamentalist communities. Faith is not the concern here.

But transparency and full disclosure has become the issue of paramount importance. To date, Harper has refused to answer media questions about his beliefs or which groups inform them. …

Readers looking for a thoughtful analysis on Harper and the rise of libertarian religious tribalism in Canada should pick up Marci McDonald’s The Armageddon Factor.

Another touchstone might be G.K. Chesterton, a radical Catholic, who regularly questioned the wealth and power of big government and business decades ago.

He would have advised us to get to the bottom of whether our prime minister is pretending to be just a wonkish politician while pursuing an extreme Republican evangelical agenda.

“The old hypocrite was a man whose aims were really worldly and practical, while he pretended that they were religious,” the radical Catholic once observed. “The new hypocrite is one whose aims are really religious, while he pretends that they are worldly and practical.”

Canada needs to have an open conversation about the virtues of democracy over theocracy.

Police-state rhetoric and the Ottawa attack
Murray Dobbin CounterPunch USA October 23, 2014

The more frightening interpretation of Harper’s mentality relates to his determined expansion of the security and surveillance state in Canada. His efforts to equate environmentalists with terrorism and treason, his abuse of power in targeting of dissent from any quarter, his relentless attack on the institutions of democracy suggest that he may just welcome the political aftermath: a population more willing to give up its civil liberties, more prone to stay home rather than demonstrate and a Parliament more willing to increase funding and authority to security agencies.

Posted at: October 23, 2014 - 11:27 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

Will this week’s attacks turn Canada into a garrison state?

Language can work to erase identities for one purpose and remake them for another purpose, and we’re seeing that now. Terms like terrorism—which really doesn’t identify anybody—is a specter that is simply out there. And that allows the government at this point to institute all kinds of actions that strip you of your rights. As long as that thing is out there you can have laws—the Patriot Act, for instance is very similar to what we had which was called the War Measures Act. - Roy Miki in conversation with Judith Ince, 2004. Ripped from their farm in the Fraser Valley, Miki’s family felt the full force of the War Measures Act a few months after Japan attacked Pearl Harbour on Dec. 7, 1941. Roy Miki studied the official language that stripped his Japanese Canadian family of rights. He sees lessons for today. See “Terrorism: Today’s ‘Yellow Peril’?”, December 16, 2004

… we have to be extremely alert to governments that know a crisis is a terrible thing to waste. - Crawford Kilian

After a long day focused on these gripping events in the nation’s capital, I have to wonder if this direct experience of fear and trauma will force us to examine our own addiction to violence as the solution to conflict. Yesterday provides us with an opportunity to reflect on our insidious contribution to the climate of hate, and the chance to disengage from our increasingly militarized culture. - Matthew Behrens


Photo: Adrian Wyld/AP/CP

ISIS threat: Let’s refuse to be scared
Crawford Kilian TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada October 1, 2014

Yesterday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper warned of a “terrorist caliphate” threatening Iraqi minorities with genocide, and said that a Canadian response to this threat would be “noble.”

The nature of our noble response is still uncertain, but it seems clear that we’re going into yet another round of wars justified by our adversaries being terrorists. It’s all getting a bit tired.

Terrorism has been around since the 19th century, when it was mostly a domestic problem: Russians blowing up tsars, Serb nationalists shooting Austrian archdukes, and so on. It’s never really gone away, but it wasn’t until the 9/11 attacks that terrorism supposedly changed from a tactic to a full-blown way of life.

We have George W. Bush to thank for that reframing. Before then, terrorism had been a nuisance, a way for losers to get attention. Whether they were in the Front de libération du Québec or the Ku Klux Klan, they were by definition weaklings; they couldn’t persuade others to join their cause, and they couldn’t overpower their own governments. All they could do was blow stuff up or kill unarmed hostages, and wait for the government to hit back. Government overreaction, they hoped, would delegitimize its authority and drive more people into supporting the terrorists’ cause.

Sometimes it worked. But it worked best when governments themselves adopted state terror as a tactic. In the aftermath of the First World War, both winners and losers resorted to it: Lenin’s Red Terror was matched by White Terror campaigns in countries like Russia and Finland, by the anti-Bolshevik Palmer Raids in the U.S., and the police assaults on Canadian workers in the Winnipeg General Strike.

When the state adopts terror, it’s an admission of weakness also: it lacks the legal authority or political power to deal with what it perceives as a threat, but it refuses to let the law stand in its way. If the threat (or the state) is frightening enough, the public either supports state terror or is itself terrorized into silence.

Don’t overreact, don’t degrade our democracy
Crawford Kilian TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada October 23, 2014


Illustration by Greg Perry.

The Oct. 22 attack on the Cenotaph and Parliament was as personal as a punch in the nose, and a direct attack on Canadian democracy. The challenge now is not to let Canadian democracy cooperate in its own demise.

On Sept. 11, 2001, a handful of fanatics paralyzed the greatest country in history. We have been living with the consequences ever since: the advanced nations have turned themselves into surveillance states, and innocent people have been handed over to torture (in the case of Maher Arar, outsourced to Syria, where our current troubles originate). Our old-fashioned anti-Semitism has transitioned into an equally shameful hatred of Muslims.

One journalist tweeted that this was our “loss of innocence,” as if the FLQ, Air India 182, and many other incidents didn’t count. We’ve dealt with terror, state-inspired or otherwise, since the War of 1812.

Yet the more secure we have become, the less secure we feel. We were caught up in the wake of 9-11, though Jean Chretien saved us at least from the murderous folly of Iraq. Afghanistan was bad enough. Yet behind the scenes the surveillance state was strengthening its grip, following our every email in hopes of spotting a “security threat.”

For our present government, this is an opportunity beyond hoping for: a chance to stampede Canada as George W. Bush did the U.S. in 2001, to turn us into a garrison state where we all cower in our homes while the government protects us from harm with the media as cheerleaders. Now the opposition parties will have to fall in line or face erasure by a terrorized electorate. Further debate will be only on how savage the response should be.

Police-state rhetoric and the Ottawa attack
Murray Dobbin CounterPunch USA October 23, 2014

Powell River, British Columbia.

I expect that the reaction of most Canadians to the deadly attack on Parliament Hill (the home of our Parliament Buildings which house both the Senate and the Commons) was similar to mine: a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, a reaction that was not political but just human. My next reaction was: it has finally happened, as if I knew it had to in these days of the ‘war on terror.’ Given Canada’s recent role in the Middle East it is a miracle it hasn’t happened before.

All sorts of clichés seem to come to mind in moments like this – a “loss of innocence” being one of them. And to some extent this is accurate. Those who have visited Ottawa and the Parliament Buildings will remember by how quiet and benign is the sensibility of the place – with a huge stretch of lawn separating the street from the magnificent stone edifice, dominated by a soaring tower. It is almost bucolic. People regularly picnic on the lawn and play Frisbee. They also engage in demonstrations against the government of the day, or for some policy they care passionately about. There has been a deliberate attempt over the decades to make people feel that this really is their place (even if in terms of progressive public policy it rarely has been).

But the loss of innocence this is only partly accurate because it is now increasingly a myth and the “ownership” of the place even more of a delusion. While not exclusively the fault of the current prime minister, Conservative Stephen Harper, many will put the largest part of the blame on his efforts to transform Canada from a moderate, middle power with a history of virtually inventing UN peacekeeping, into a shrill, warmongering nation ever ready to rattle its (insignificant) sabre at any opportunity. It’s not who we feel we are, but it’s what have become in the world

We may never know whether this attack has anything to do with ISIS and Canada’s decision to join the bombing campaign (six fighter bombers for six months) and send military advisors to Iraq. But just last week another Islamist convert ran over and killed a Canadian soldier in Montreal (injuring a second soldier) – and he did so explicitly as revenge for Canada’s role in fighting ISIS. The demonic nature of Islamist terror is that the now-dead terrorists didn’t have to have any actual connection with ISIS. All they had to do was “believe,” listen to and read the ISIS propaganda and take matters into his own hands. These are sleeper agents that the mother ship doesn’t even know exist.

Stephen Harper is a man with undeniable psychopathic tendencies and as such he is very likely the biggest risk-taker in Canadian political history. This plays itself out at every level and his recklessness, while it too often pays off, can also have severe blow-back. A few commentators have pointed to Harper’s recklessness and rhetorically asked just why no one in his government seemed to take seriously the ISIS threat to take the fight to Canada. According to a report in the National Post, on September 21st, ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani “…urged ISIS supporters to kill Canadians, Americans, Australians, French and other Europeans…Rely upon Allah …Do not ask for anyone’s advice and do not seek anyone’s verdict.”

Harper, in what has become a standard adolescent response to events in the Middle East, bravely declared he would not be “cowed by threats while innocent children, women, men and religious minorities live in fear of these terrorists.” In a to-hell-with-the-consequences determination and despite a laughably minuscule force, off we went to war yet again. And all for domestic political consumption. To their credit the opposition parties in Parliament, the NDP and the Liberals, voted against the mission for most of the right reasons: what was the mission, what were the expectations of success, how was success even being defined, and why six months when virtually all analysts suggest the ISIS threat will be with us for a very long time. Not one of these questions was answered and instead the questioners were treated to the usual contempt from our narcissistic prime minister.

Reflections on a violent day in Ottawa
Matthew Behrens rabble.ca Canada October 23, 2014

I often find it hard to feel empathy for Prime Minister Stephen Harper. But when I saw the grim picture of him talking on the phone following the end of his confinement in the locked down House of Commons yesterday, I sensed in him a vulnerability he rarely exhibits. Harper, like his fellow MPs, Parliamentary staff, media, visitors and children in the downstairs daycare, had likely hunkered down behind locked doors, no doubt traumatized by uncertainty when an armed gunman entered the building. Because no one knew who the gunman was after, all were potential targets. For half a day, everyone on lockdown no doubt felt the fear, despair, sadness and fragile sense of mortality that people in Iraq and Syria have experienced daily for decades, an extra punch of which they will soon receive at the hands of Canadian CF-18 bombers.

It’s the kind of trauma not to be wished upon anyone, and I hope all affected will get the kind of counselling and therapeutic support necessary to deal with what may emerge as multiple cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), otherwise known as the condition that you get denied proper treatment for when you are a returning Canadian military veteran.

Like those in Afghanistan who suffered 13 years of Canadian bombardment (upwards of a billion Canadian bullets fired), night raids, transfers to torture, and the daily indignities of life under military occupation, those Parliamentarians with the power to declare war — and send somebody else overseas to fight it for them — felt, in a relatively limited fashion, what it’s like for millions of the world’s war-weary populations. The image of a cowering John Baird or Jason Kenney hiding in a barricaded office must have proven a stark contrast to the swaggering, macho manner in which these men urged Canada to declare war on ISIS, further fuelling the flames of fear and hatred against Muslims.

Rather than viewing yesterday’s tragic events as a wake-up call to seriously examine Canada’s negative role on the world stage and the inevitable “climate of hate” to which we are contributing, we can expect nothing less than a ride on the Platitude Express, which embarked within minutes of the first bullets being fired.

The events of yesterday will likely also have a congealing impact on Parliamentarians who, understandably, shared a trauma together. Wednesday was supposed to be the Harper government’s opportunity to unleash a new round of legislative measures designed to give CSIS and the RCMP even more freedom to trade information with torturers, monitor people overseas, take part in extraordinary rendition programs, and be completely immune from prosecution and oversight by the creation of a special class privilege that would assert the right of CSIS agents and informers not to be questioned about their activities in any court of law, public or secret.

But after yesterday, what opposition leader who wants to appear prime ministerial will feel comfortable saying no to such an agenda? The Conservatives will no doubt frame the issue with the familiar refrain, “you’re either with the terrorists or against them.”

Perhaps the most immediate impact will be felt in certain communities targeted for racial and religious profiling. While Canadian soldiers have been told to stay indoors and not show themselves in public, individuals of South Asian or Middle Eastern heritage, and certainly anyone who may be a Muslim or perceived as one, may have second thoughts about being out in public. These communities will be the subject of demands from the media and some “community leaders” to “out” radicalized young people, to call in “suspicious” behavior (undefined), and to report their neighbours to CSIS or the Mounties. They will find greater difficulty travelling, and they will learn first-hand about something called the Passenger Protect Program (or no-fly list).

This is especially so since, while we do not know much about the shooter, media have been quick to point out that although he was a Canadian, he was of “Algerian” heritage, and a recent convert to Islam. Both are completely irrelevant factors, but so commonly part of the daily anti-terror discourse that no second thought is given to the consequences of bringing it up.

Related commentary from the USA: Canada, at war for 13 years, shocked that ‘a terrorist’ attacked its soldiers
Glenn Greenwald The Intercept USA October 22, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded links.

TORONTO – In Quebec on Monday, two Canadian soldiers were hit by a car driven by Martin Couture-Rouleau, a 25-year-old Canadian who, as The Globe and Mail reported, “converted to Islam recently and called himself Ahmad Rouleau.” One of the soldiers died, as did Couture-Rouleau when he was shot by police upon apprehension after allegedly brandishing a large knife. Police speculated that the incident was deliberate, alleging the driver waited for two hours before hitting the soldiers, one of whom was wearing a uniform. The incident took place in the parking lot of a shopping mall 30 miles southeast of Montreal, “a few kilometres from the Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean, the military academy operated by the Department of National Defence.”

The right-wing Canadian government wasted no time in seizing on the incident to promote its fear-mongering agenda over terrorism, which includes pending legislation to vest its intelligence agency, CSIS, with more spying and secrecy powers in the name of fighting ISIS. A government spokesperson asserted “clear indications” that the driver “had become radicalized.”

In a “clearly prearranged exchange,” a conservative MP, during parliamentary question time, asked Prime Minister Stephen Harper (pictured above) whether this was considered a “terrorist attack”; in reply, the prime minister gravely opined that the incident was “obviously extremely troubling.” Canada’s Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney pronounced the incident “clearly linked to terrorist ideology,” while newspapers predictably followed suit, calling it a “suspected terrorist attack” and “homegrown terrorism.” CSIS spokesperson Tahera Mufti said “the event was the violent expression of an extremist ideology promoted by terrorist groups with global followings” and added: “That something like this would happen in a peaceable Canadian community like Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu shows the long reach of these ideologies.”

In sum, the national mood and discourse in Canada is virtually identical to what prevails in every Western country whenever an incident like this happens: shock and bewilderment that someone would want to bring violence to such a good and innocent country (“a peaceable Canadian community like Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu”), followed by claims that the incident shows how primitive and savage is the “terrorist ideology” of extremist Muslims, followed by rage and demand for still more actions of militarism and freedom-deprivation. There are two points worth making about this:

First, Canada has spent the last 13 years proclaiming itself a nation at war. It actively participated in the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and was an enthusiastic partner in some of the most extremist War on Terror abuses perpetrated by the U.S. Earlier this month, the Prime Minister revealed, with the support of a large majority of Canadians, that “Canada is poised to go to war in Iraq, as [he] announced plans in Parliament [] to send CF-18 fighter jets for up to six months to battle Islamic extremists.” Just yesterday, Canadian Defence Minister Rob Nicholson flamboyantly appeared at the airfield in Alberta from which the fighter jets left for Iraq and stood tall as he issued the standard Churchillian war rhetoric about the noble fight against evil.

It is always stunning when a country that has brought violence and military force to numerous countries acts shocked and bewildered when someone brings a tiny fraction of that violence back to that country. Regardless of one’s views on the justifiability of Canada’s lengthy military actions, it’s not the slightest bit surprising or difficult to understand why people who identify with those on the other end of Canadian bombs and bullets would decide to attack the military responsible for that violence.

That’s the nature of war. A country doesn’t get to run around for years wallowing in war glory, invading, rendering and bombing others, without the risk of having violence brought back to it. Rather than being baffling or shocking, that reaction is completely natural and predictable. The only surprising thing about any of it is that it doesn’t happen more often.

The issue here is not justification (very few people would view attacks on soldiers in a shopping mall parking lot to be justified). The issue is causation. Every time one of these attacks occurs — from 9/11 on down — Western governments pretend that it was just some sort of unprovoked, utterly “senseless” act of violence caused by primitive, irrational, savage religious extremism inexplicably aimed at a country innocently minding its own business. They even invent fairy tales to feed to the population to explain why it happens: they hate us for our freedoms.

Blowback: Attack on Canadian Parliament leaves Ottawa stunned
Jason Ditz Antiwar.com USA October 22, 2013

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An attack on Parliament Hill in the Canadian capital city of Ottawa left the city, and indeed the world, stunned, as a gunmen killed a Canadian soldier at the war memorial before being gunned down himself.

Ottawa, a city of almost 900,000 people, has seen only five murders all year, and terror attacks in Canada are virtually unheard of. Yet Canada’s foreign policy, and particularly its role in NATO’s overseas operations have meant resentment was building, and this sort of blowback was only a matter of time.

There doesn’t seem to be any real dispute that the attack was ideological in nature, and Canadian Premier Stephen Harper says the shooter, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, was known to Canadian authorities already, and designated a “high-risk traveler” who could not travel abroad.

That must inevitably draw comparison to Monday’s hit-and-run attack in Quebec by Martin Couture-Rouleau, who ran over a pair of Canadian soldiers and sped off. He was also being tracked as a potentially “radicalized” citizen of Canada.

The incidents both come as Canada’s parliament is moving forward with more draconian anti-terror laws, aiming to dramatically increase the power of security agencies.

Unfortunately for Canadians, the very same policies that are triggering this blowback are likely to only get worse in the wake of the attacks, as officials are already talking up granting even more power to the CSIS spy agency.

Noted: The Ottawa incident sent NORAD into an alert posture, with more warplanes flying across North America on the prospect of having to respond to such an attack.

(CNN) — In response to the ongoing situation at Canada’s Parliament, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, has increased its alert posture, CNN has learned. That means that it has increased the number of planes on a higher alert status ready to respond if needed. NORAD and Canadian law enforcement and Canadian authorities are in contact, an official told CNN.

Posted at: October 23, 2014 - 11:21 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

Stehen Harper on shootings: “We will not be intimidated. [We will] strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts to work with our allies around the world….”

Long a target of extremist threats, Canada has for decades avoided foreign-linked terrorist killings on its soil. But the deaths of two soldiers in the past three days in separate attacks has fueled fears of an uptick of such violence. - Alistair Macdonald and Rita Trichur, “Domestic Terror Threat Becomes Real for Canada”, The Wall Street Journal. (Full story behind a pay wall.)

Before addressing Canadians, Prime Minister Stephen Harper first spoke with US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Text of Stephen Harper’s address on shootings
The Canadian Press/National Newswatch Canada October 22, 2014

“Fellow Canadians, in the days to come, we will learn more about the terrorist and any accomplices he may have had.

“But this week’s events are a grim reminder that Canada is not immune to the types of attacks we have seen elsewhere around the world.

“We are also reminded that attacks on our security personnel and our institutions of governance are, by their very nature, attacks on our country.

“On our values, on our society, on us, Canadians, as a free and democratic people who embrace human dignity for all.

“But let there be no misunderstanding.

“We will not be intimidated.

“Canada will never be intimidated.

“In fact, this will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts and those of our national security agencies to take all necessary steps to identify and counter threats, and keep Canada safe here at home.

“Just as it will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts to work with our allies around the world and fight against the terrorist organizations who brutalize those in other countries with the hope of bringing their savagery to our shores.

“They will have no safe haven.

“While today has been, without question, a difficult day, I have every confidence that Canadians will pull together with the kind of firm solidarity that has seen our country through many challenges.

“Together, we will remain vigilant against those at home or abroad who wish to harm us.

Related: Obama on Ottawa shooting:’We’re all shaken by it’
Associated Press/CP/National Newswatch USA/Canada October 22, 2014

WASHINGTON – U.S. President Barack Obama has condemned the fatal shooting in Ottawa as “outrageous.”

He says ”We’re all shaken by it.”

Obama says the motive for the attack remains unknown.

But he says as more becomes known, that information will be factored into U.S. security considerations.

Obama says he spoke by telephone today with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and offered him condolences on behalf of the American people.

Posted at: October 23, 2014 - 9:08 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

October 22, 2014

Charles Glass on the ‘improving’ situation in Syria

Louis Proyect’s home page includes links to his essays on Marxism, Trotksyism and the American left. He is the moderator of the Marxism mailing list. His articles have appeared in many international publications. He is also a member of the NY Film Critics Online, Proyect’s subject here, Charles Glass, is an author, journalist, and broadcaster specializing in the Middle East. Glass has dual US/UK citizenship and lives variously in France, Italy, Britain and Lebanon. Since August 2013, he has been the Middle East analyst for NBC News. Charles Glass is an interesting man. His Wikipedia entry is here (last modified on October 14, 2014).

Charles Glass on the “improving” situation in Syria
Louis Proyect Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist USA October 22, 2014

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The latest issue of the New York Review of Books has an article by Charles Glass titled “In the Syria We Don’t Know” that has been making the rounds on the Internet. I have seen links to it from Vijay Prashad on Twitter, on the Greenleft mailing list in Australia, and just this morning on ZNet. Apparently, those who link to it must have taken heart in Glass’s assurance that the Baathists were getting the upper hand:
As Bashar’s prospects improve with each American sortie against his enemies in the east of the country, Damascus and the populous towns to the north have been enjoying a respite of sorts from war. The Syrian Ministry of Education reported that, of the 22,000 schools in the country, more than 17,000 of them reopened on time in the middle of September. Needless to say, almost all of the functioning schools are in government-held areas. The souks in the old city of Damascus, unlike their more extensive and now destroyed counterparts in Aleppo, are open. Shops selling meat, vegetables, spices, and other basic items to the local population are doing well, although the tourist boutiques in and around the famous Souk Hamadieh have no customers apart from UN workers and a few remaining diplomats. At night, restaurants in most neighborhoods are, if not full, nearly so. Everything from wine to grilled chicken is plentiful, albeit at prices higher than before the war. Traffic remains heavy, although somewhat less obstructed since June when the government felt confident enough to remove many of its checkpoints. Electricity is intermittent, and those who can afford private generators use them in the off-hours.

So, any normal person—especially those who prefer RT.com to Aljazeera—would conclude that it was best for Assad to stay the course, no matter how many barrel bombs it takes to level Aleppo and other cities to the ground just as long as there is meat, vegetables, and spices for sale in Damascus.

I took note of Glass in an article titled “The Betrayal of the Intellectuals on Syria” that was rejected by the publishers of Critical Muslim because they feared it would run afoul of British libel laws. I post the relevant section below:

Arguably, the New York Review of Books and its counterpart the London Review of Books have served as latter day equivalents of Action Française, serving propaganda for a vicious dictatorship that has little connection to its self-flattering image as a beacon of human rights.

Even when the title of an NY Review article foreshadows a condemnation of the Ba‘athists, the content remains consistent with the “plague on both your houses” narrative that pervades this intellectual milieu. In a December 5th 2013 article titled “Syria: On the Way to Genocide?”, Charles Glass ends up echoing the talking points of more openly Ba‘athist elements:

The introduction of chemical weapons, which have been alleged to have been used not only by the government but by the rebels as well, was only the most dramatic escalation by combatants who seek nothing short of the annihilation of the other side.

As is so often the case, the use of the passive voice allows the writer to condemn the rebels without any evidence. “Alleged to have been” leads to the obvious question as to who is responsible for the allegation. Was it Vladimir Putin? Assad’s propaganda nun Mother Agnes Mariam? Inquiring minds would like to know.

On August 20th 2012 Glass penned another article for the Review titled “Aleppo: How Syria Is Being Destroyed” that portrayed the rebels as a wanton mob invading the civilized city. He wrote:

While the urban unemployed had good reason to support a revolution that might improve their chances in life, the thousands who had jobs at the beginning of the revolution and lost them when the Free Army burned their workplaces are understandably resentful. There are stories of workers taking up arms to protect their factories and risking their lives to save their employers from kidnappers.

Since Charles Glass is a Middle East analyst for NBC News, it is not surprising that he can allude to ‘stories’ of workers taking up arms against the rebels to protect the bosses. NBC is a subsidiary of General Electric, and naturally its analyst will find arguments for preserving Ba‘athist rule. You can do business with al-Assad, but the plebian rebels might be as difficult to deal with as the Libyan militias.

Posted at: October 22, 2014 - 12:21 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

From within a culture of fear, surveillance, war and exploitation, commentary on Canada’s current foreign and domestic policies

Neoliberal authoritarianism has changed the language of politics and everyday life through a poisonous public pedagogy that turns reason on its head and normalizes a culture of fear, war and exploitation. - Henry A. Giroux, “Beyond Orwellian Nightmares and Neoliberal Authoritarianism”, October 15, 2014

Harper’s foreign policy confirms Orwell’s insights
Murray Dobbin TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada October 20, 2014

It’s getting difficult to remember a time when the Canadian Parliament actually tried to make principled decisions regarding foreign policy and our place in the community of nations. But we should try. Perhaps a first step in returning to such a time was the decision of the NDP and Liberal Party to oppose Stephen Harper’s most recent ill-considered and cynical march to war with his decision to join the bombing of Iraq.

Harper’s amoral political calculations about who and when to bomb people has little to do with any genuine consideration of the geopolitical situation or what role Canada might usefully play — or even in what Canada’s “interests” are. So long as he is prime minister it will be the same: every calculation will be made with the single-minded goal of staying in power long enough to dismantle the post-war activist state. The nurturing of his core constituency includes appeals to a thinly disguised pseudo-crusade against Islamic infidels, a phony appeal to national security (preceded by fear-mongering) and in the case of Ukraine, a crude appeal to ethnic votes.

Reinforcing this legacy is a mainstream media that lets him get away with it, and in particular, refuses to do its homework while the bombing — or posturing — is taking place and then refuses to expose the negative consequences of the reckless adventures. The result is what cultural critic Henry Giroux calls “the fog of historical and social amnesia.”

The three most obvious examples are Harper’s extremist policy in support of Israel, his joining with France and the U.S. in the catastrophic destruction of the Libyan state and his infantile posturing on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. And now we have Harper’s mini-crusade (six fighter bombers for six months) against ISIS or the Islamic State. With rare exceptions the media has gone along with him at every turn, treating Canadians as children incapable of navigating the nuances of foreign policy.

Below: Matthew Behrens is a freelance writer and social justice advocate who co-ordinates the Homes not Bombs non-violent direct action network. He has worked closely with the targets of Canadian and U.S. ‘national security’ profiling for many years. His column was completed before the unfortunate event in Quebec Monday that took the life of a Canadian soldier and before the events in Ottawa today began unfolding.

Demonizing those Canada calls ‘radicalized’
Matthew Behrens rabble.ca Canada October 22, 2014

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Scare headlines about young people becoming “radicalized,” going overseas, being transformed into robotic Super Muslims, graduating from Beheading School, and being returned to Canada ready to strike at the heart of our values, freedoms, and traditions have filled the media in the past few months, leading to an upcoming Canadian campaign of bombing Iraq and repressive new legislation to be introduced this week in Parliament.

Given the Fourth Estate’s role as stenographer to power, it is unsurprising that the many articles asking “why” young people are attracted to overseas adventures are all playing into the same “blame Islam” game that results in horrible “jihad” headlines, increased fear, and suspicion of anyone who does not look like the CBC’s Peter Whitemansbridge.

Like similar moral panics that have framed particular groups as the new internal enemy, young people both idealist and alienated now fit the focus of terror suspect, especially if they are Muslim and plan to travel overseas to visit relatives, learn Arabic, or just backpack around. Yet despite all the hyped-up chatter, no one has produced any evidence to show a threat exists to Canada and Canadians from the small number who have joined up in battling the Assad regime in Syria or worked with ISIS. We are told that some 80-130 individuals have gone overseas to be associated with terrorism, but this is always qualified by telling us not everyone is picking up a gun: some are fundraising, some are doing propaganda, some are just helping out with who knows what, from taking out the trash to helping the elderly cross the street. Regardless of what they are doing, Canada’s terrorism laws are so broad that anyone associated in any way with a particular group will be tarred as a national security threat.

CSIS, Canada’s spy agency, says it knows who has gone overseas and is monitoring them upon their return. RCMP head Bob Paulson was pretty clear when he told Parliament earlier this month: “It’s nothing that I think Canadians need to be alarmed about.” Sir Richard Dearlove, former M16 head, said the returning rebel threat was “exaggerated” and former M16 officer Richard Barrett said “the threat of the returning fighter is a small one.” Chief Canadian Forces warlord Tom Lawson told the media that there was “no indication of direct threats” to members of his military.

The disconnect between rhetoric and reality creates a void that gets filled by the “radicalization” experts, many of whom contribute to the demonization of young people who may, with the best of idealistic intentions, feel great sadness at seeing war, mass murder, and utter despair, and want to do something about it. This doesn’t justify the violent actions some may allegedly take part in, nor the rhetoric of fear they may spout while overseas. But Harper and company have done a good job making them out to be the worst possible incarnations of human flesh imaginable.

The solutions to “radicalization” have long been studied and discussed at a variety of gatherings. In 2009, the Canadian War Department’s Adversarial Intent Section held a workshop titled “Radicalization in the National Economic Climate,” trying to determine possible links between the global recession and extremist responses. Invited to the Toronto gathering were Canadian spy agency CSIS, the Mounties, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and assorted academics from the terrorism industry who weighed in on the possibilities, but most attendees found no direct link between extremism and the global recession.

However, the University of Toronto’s Robert Brym, among others, chimed in that immigrant groups are most likely to radicalize and concluded that one solution was stepped-up monitoring of “groups and places that may pose a threat,” including “locations where Halal products are sold.” Notably, most national grocery chains now sell Halal products, and one can purchase hummus (which sounds disturbingly like a group the Canadian government has listed as terrorist, Hamas) pretty much everywhere.

Brym also recommended increased surveillance of “friendship groups formed around retail facilities frequented by Muslims” (though the equation between Muslims and immigrants is often a false one, given the faith has been practiced in this country for a century).
In the same way one or more black youth standing on a street corner is viewed as a riot in the making by many police forces, Muslims going shopping (and those “inspired” by Muslims at the retail level) may now pose the greatest threat to Canadians’ national security since the CSIS theory that Muslim dreams could provoke radicalization.

Historically, the RCMP Security Service (SS) focused on certain cultural and religious attributes as signs of disloyalty, subversion, and traitorous intent: hence, their long-standing surveillance of groups like the Prairies-based, all-female Ukrainian Mandolin Orchestra. The RCMP SS legacy group, CSIS, frequently begin their national security investigations with such wholly irrelevant details as how often someone prays, if they know women who wear hijab, and what their imam thinks of drone strikes that kill children in Pakistan.

So will Loblaws and Metro stores soon be home to CSIS secret shoppers, monitoring who is picking up Sufra Halal chicken nuggets in the frozen section, or tossing The Queen’s Khorasan bread into their recycled grocery bags? (Such bread MAY be suspect since it shares the same name as the non-existent “Khorasan group” that the U.S. created as an excuse to begin its bombing campaign of Syria and Iraq. This correspondent, for one, regularly buys Khorasan and recommends it as a healthy, hearty way to breakfast, despite the possibility it may be viewed, upon heating, as terrorism toast.)

The idiocy of CSIS, the RCMP, and their friends in the press would be laughable if it were not so dangerous: as documented by a number of judicial inquiries and court decisions, their uninformed, lazy, and biased worldview leads to vicious campaigns of racial and religious profiling, community harassment, fear, perpetuation of an informant culture, and complicity in torture, all of which will increase given the current media-hyped scare over “extremist travellers” and “jihadi brides,” among other turns of phrase that continue to demonize and put at risk all adherents of Islam.

While the CSIS and Mounties have their knickers in a knot about overseas travellers to the Middle East, they are absolutely silent on those who join another organization that commits well-documented war crimes on a regular basis: the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). During the summer of 2014, when Israeli war crimes were perpetrated against the people of Gaza, Canadian Netta Gelb of Richmond Hill was serving with the IDF. Her dad complained to Postmedia, “I just want her to get through this in one piece…There was really not much we could do to stop (her). It’s very difficult to explain it to people — how could she make that decision and go off and do it. At that age, you really can’t tell them anything.”

There are some 30 Canadian young people in the Israeli army from Ontario alone (part of the larger group of some 5,500 “lone soldiers”). During that summer bombardment, the Ottawa Citizen noted Palestinian children were traumatized by what was described by Al-Aqsa University professor Derdah al-Sha’er as “the violent and bloody scenes of war — the destruction of homes in airstrikes, body parts and corpses covered in blood and dust being pulled from the rubble, night bombings while there’s no electricity.” Yet if one were to have gone and fought against the IDF, they would now be a candidate for statelessness, their Canadian citizenship revoked.

Some 30,000 Canadians served in the U.S. military during the war against Vietnam, when U.S. forces committed mass atrocities including beheadings that left heads on sticks at the entrances to many villages. Canadians are now serving with Ukrainian paramilitaries (and associating with neo-Nazis). At the same time, anti-choice protesters cross the border to work with terrorist groups in the U.S. that bomb women’s reproductive health centres. But none of these have been cause for parliamentary hearings and scare headlines.

That many young people are alienated and disconnected is unsurprising given they live in a country where, even by the Canadian Senate’s own reckoning (as documented in their 2008 report, “Children, The Silenced Citizens”), Canada and its institutions fail children when it comes to guaranteeing their most basic rights. It is clear to young people that our society has little use for them: they are exploited, ill-treated, terrorized, given little hope for the future, stressed out, threatened, bullied, blamed for government decisions because they see no point in voting, and then expected to perform well in school and be model citizens. Services for those with mental health issues are stretched to the max and, when utilized, often useless.

We invest in warfare, not child care. When they react with “bad behaviour,” zero tolerance legislation slaps them down and criminalizes them without asking WHY they are acting out. The helicopter-parent generation offers them little independence or association with friends of their own choosing. Hanging out with larger groups is seen as trouble in the making. “No more than three students in the store” signs proliferate throughout the land. Is it any wonder they might be looking for a sense of belonging, a purpose, a place where they feel they will be respected? Perhaps they might get that in drama club, perhaps in a gang, perhaps by taking the ultimate adventure in going overseas and fighting against agents of tyranny. We call them naïve when they do: don’t they know about the ideology of ISIS? Don’t they understand the politics of the region? Perhaps not, but the same question could equally be asked of their parents and the politicians they vote for.

The Harper government’s solution to these “problem kids” is to criminalize them, strip them of their citizenship. Because there is no such thing as a root cause in Harper’s world, there is no sense trying to delve into the issue: they are just evil, evil, evil, and the solution to our problems is more thought control and surveillance.

Posted at: October 22, 2014 - 11:26 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

Odor of cordite permeates Centre Block of Canadian Parliament buildings; soldier standing guard at the National War Memorial shot; shots fired near Chateau Laurier hotel, Rideau Centre shopping mall; large area of Canadian capital under lockdown

The Centre Block (in French: Édifice du centre) is the main building of the Canadian parliamentary complex on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Ontario, containing the House of Commons and Senate chambers, as well as the offices of a number of members of parliament, senators, and senior administration for both legislative houses. It is also the location of several ceremonial spaces, such as the Hall of Honour, the Memorial Chamber, and Confederation Hall. … - From its Wikipedia entry. The Château Laurier (opened 1912) is a 660,000-square-foot hotel with 429 guest rooms in downtown Ottawa, Ontario, located near the intersection of Rideau Street and Sussex Drive and designed in the French Gothic Châteauesque style to complement the adjacent Parliament buildings. The Rideau Centre complex (opened 1983) includes approximately 180 retailers, the 487-room Westin Hotel, a rooftop park and the Ottawa Convention Centre.

Jim comment:

It appears the war has come home for Canadians. A gunman has been killed in Ottawa after three separate shootings in the nation’s capital forced Parliament Hill into lockdown and gripped the city with fear. There are conflicting reports about the number of shooters involved. (09:41 hours PDT) The situation is fluid.

Live coverage on Canadian national media.

(Monday, 25-year-old Martin Couture-Rouleau ran over two Canadian soldiers and sped off, before being forced off the road by police in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, just southeast of Montreal. Couture-Rouleau was shot dead by police. One of the soldiers later died of his injuries. The incident has been termed a terrorist attack.)

Related: Harper’s political motives on terror case questioned
Mark Kennedy Ottawa Citizen Canada October 21, 2014

On a day when the House of Commons grieved the killing of a Canadian soldier by a possible terrorist, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s own political motivations in handling the crisis also came to the fore.

In the Commons Tuesday, Harper told MPs that the government’s “thoughts and prayers” are with the family of Patrice Vincent, a 53-year-old warrant officer with the Canadian Armed Forces who died after being struck by a vehicle the previous day in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que.

One other soldier remains in hospital and the perpetrator of the attack, Martin Couture Rouleau, was shot by police after a car chase.

“This was a despicable act of violence that strikes against not just this soldier and his colleagues but frankly against our very values as a civilized democracy,” Harper told the Commons.

Earlier in the day, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said the attack had been “clearly linked to terrorist ideology.”

The Official Opposition pushed for more information.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair indicated he was still concerned by how the previous day — long before Quebec police spoke about the incident — Harper’s office had planted a question with a backbench MP who asked the prime minister in the Commons for information about unconfirmed reports of a “possible terror attack” against the soldiers.

Harper had said he found the reports “extremely troubling.”

Mulcair said Tuesday he hopes Harper isn’t using the issue for his own political benefit, to bolster his leadership credentials in a time of crisis.

“I certainly hope that that’s not what the prime minister of Canada is doing — latching on to this kind of crisis to help himself. I know that Canadians deserve better than just that. They deserve full answers.”

He noted that Harper continued to use strong language Tuesday about the threat to civilization and called upon the prime minister to provide information to Canadians to back his statement.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau was cautious when asked if he thinks Harper is trying to use the crisis for his own political benefit.

“I think that’s a question that certainly members of the press gallery and Canadians can ask. But as an opposition politician, I’m very much focused on demonstrating that this should be beyond politics.”

Earlier this month, the majority government passed a motion to send Canada into an aerial combat mission to Iraq for six months to battle ISIL. Both the NDP and Liberals opposed the mission.

On Tuesday, new public opinion research released by Abacus Data show that Harper’s decision to join the war is supported by a majority of Canadians.

Abacus chairman Bruce Anderson said the poll suggests that Harper “is taking a course that people feel comfortable with, though not necessarily enthusiastic about.”

Anderson said he thinks the Tories, with an eye on the next election, are trying to draw public attention to what they will argue is a “judgment gap” between Harper and Trudeau on foreign affairs.

“I see it as a comprehensive effort to take some of the partisanship off the Stephen Harper image, position him more as a national and international leadership voice.”

Posted at: October 22, 2014 - 9:47 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

October 21, 2014

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Ebola, IS, threat of homegrown terrorism…. Deary me, so much to be afraid of these days


Image credit: Robert Hanson. To see some more of his creations go here, The art of Robert Hanson.

Opposition group: ISIS militants training to fly warplanes in Syria
Raja Razek, Laura Smith-Spark and Jason Hanna CNN USA October 18, 2014

Near Suruc, Turkey (CNN) — Could ISIS fighters be training as warplane pilots capable of turning their weapons on coalition aircraft?
That’s the worrying prospect suggested by an unverified report from the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that ISIS has three warplanes in its possession in northern Syria.

The Syrian opposition group also claims, citing reliable sources in Syria, that former Iraqi military officers are training members of the Sunni extremist militant group to fly them.

The planes are at the Al-Jarrah military airport east of the contested city of Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

U.S. fighter jocks pray the ‘ISIS Air Force’ rumors are true
Dave Majumdar The Daily Beast USA October 21, 2014


Syrian rebels say ISIS now has a few aircraft. American pilots can’t wait to shoot the things down.

The ISIS terrorist group may have acquired a few old Soviet-built MiG fighters, according to a Syrian opposition group. But even if ISIS does have jet fighters, there is little chance that the group can do any real damage with those antiques beyond their value as propaganda tools, U.S. military pilots say.

“If ISIS is flying, or is thinking about flying, it will not be doing so for very long,” one Air Force official said.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights—an opposition group based in London—ISIS has managed to acquire three Soviet-built Mikoyan MiG-21 Fishbed and MiG-23 Flogger fighters. The aircraft are allegedly being flown by former Iraqi air force pilots, who are also training wannabe ISIS aviators to fly the jets.

Additionally, ISIS appears to have a number of Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatross aircraft, traditionally used for advanced training and light attack. The terrorist group has produced at least one propaganda video purported to show the Czech-built jets in the air. But even if ISIS does have a rudimentary air force, it is basically useless in any true military sense, according to U.S. officials and American military pilots.

“I’d sell my first born to engage all three… by myself,” one highly experienced U.S. Marine Corps fighter pilot joked. Another Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle pilot said, “Send me in, coach! There’s no way they get those airborne!”

“We’re not talking about aircraft that are extremely effective at delivering ordinance both in terms of equipment and training,” said one U.S. Air Force official. “It’s simply not worth it beyond an easily discreditable propaganda ploy.”

The MiG-21 does not carry a huge amount of weaponry and was originally designed to fight other aircraft. Meanwhile, the MiG-23 is a much bigger and more complex jet that requires a professional pilot to operate properly.

Even if ISIS has such pilots—and that isn’t terribly likely—they might not last long. Though both the MiG-21 and MiG-23 are supersonic fighters, they are dated and would likely be easy prey to any modern American fighter.

Additionally, many U.S. officials questioned how well ISIS’s MiGs work. The jets may not have functional on-board systems like radars and weapons—nor does ISIS have access to the sophisticated ground control network the Soviets and their Syrian government clients used.

Many U.S. pilots were gleeful at the prospects of bagging a MiG.

However, a former, very experienced Air Force pilot who has flown both the MiG-21 and MiG-23 said that one should not underestimate the elderly Soviet jets. “Either of the MiG types must be honored, especially in the hands of a competent pilot,” the retired pilot said. “Are modern jets more capable? Of course they are.”

Posted at: October 21, 2014 - 12:09 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post