Saturday, February 01, 2014

CIA Collaborator Regret: Poland and Lithuania's Haunted Conscience over Black Sites

Poland and Lithuania Haunted by Their Involvement in Hosting CIA Torture Prisons

by Andy Worthington

[Note: For complete article features and links, please see original here. - ape]

In the long search for accountability for the torturers of the Bush administration, which has largely been shut down by President Obama, lawyers and human rights activists have either had to try shaming the US through the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, or have had to focus on other countries, particularly those that hosted secret CIA torture prisons, or had explicit involvement in extraordinary rendition.

Successes have been rare, but hugely important — the conviction of CIA officials and operatives in Italy, for the blatant daylight kidnap of Abu Omar, a cleric, on a street in Milan in February 2003, and the court victory in Macedonia of Khaled El-Masri, a German citizen kidnapped in Macedonia, where he had gone on a holiday, and sent to a CIA “black site” in 2003 until the US realized that his was a case of mistaken identity. In the UK, the whiff of complicity in torture at the highest levels of the Blair government led to pay-offs for the British nationals and residents sent to Guantánamo.

Court cases were also launched in Spain, although they were suppressed, in part because of US involvement (under President Obama), and currently there are efforts to hold the US accountable before the the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights for its use of Djibouti in a number of cases involving “extraordinary rendition” and “black sites.”

Perhaps the most enduring of the ongoing investigations is in Poland, one of three European countries that hosted CIA “black sites,” the others being Romania and Lithuania. A long-running prosecutor-led investigation in Poland has led to three “high-value detainees” at the Polish site, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, Abu Zubaydah and Walid bin Attash — being granted victim status, and the prison’s existence continues to nag at the consciences of those in Poland who are appalled that a torture site on Polish soil — at Stare Kiejkuty, in the north east of the country — was used from December 2002 to September 2003, and was the place where Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times.

In December, the determination of those seeking accountability paid off when the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg held a hearing to examine the role of the Polish authorities in the extraordinary rendition, secret detention and torture of Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. A ruling on that is expected sometime this year.

New information about the “black site” in Poland

Reporters too keep digging away at the story, and the latest is Adam Goldman of the Washington Post. In “The hidden history of the CIA’s prison in Poland,” published on January 23, Goldman reported that former CIA officials, speaking anonymously, had told him that, early in 2003, the US had paid the Polish government $15 million for the use of Stare Kiejkuty, which “had been flown from Germany via diplomatic pouch,” was packed in “a pair of large cardboard boxes,” and was picked up from the US Embassy in Warsaw by two CIA officials, who then took the boxes to the headquarters of the Polish intelligence service (Agencja Wywiadu), where, as Goldman reported, they “were met by Col. ­Andrzej Derlatka, deputy chief of the intelligence service, and two of his associates.”

Goldman proceeded to recap how Poland became the location for a “black site,” explaining how, after the capture in Faisalabad, Pakistan of Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, better known as Abu Zubaydah (or Zubaida), on March 28, 2002, the CIA “needed a place to stash its first ‘high-value’ detainee.” Goldman also described Zubaydah as “a man who was thought to be closely tied to the al-Qaeda leadership and might know of follow-on plots,” but this is being generous to the CIA and the Bush administration, as there were certainly some within America’s intelligence apparatus who knew this not to be true.

Nevertheless, the US sought a place where Zubaydah could be interrogated away from prying eyes — a torture prison far from the US mainland, in other words. Goldman wrote that Cambodia and Thailand “offered to help,” but Cambodia “turned out to be the less desirable of the two.” Agency officers told their bosses that the proposed site was “infested with snakes,” so Thailand was chosen instead. Months later, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, suspected of involvement in the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000, was taken to the site about outside Bangkok.

With more “high-value detainees” expected, a former senior agency official told Goldman that a more suitable location was required. “It was just a chicken coop we remodeled,” the official said. When the CIA “reached out to foreign intelligence services,” Poland responded. The Polish intelligence service, Goldman wrote, “had a training base with a villa that the CIA could use in Stare Kiejkuty, a three-hour drive north of Warsaw.” He added, “Polish officials asked whether the CIA could make some improvements to the facility. The CIA obliged, paying nearly $300,000 to outfit it with security cameras.”

Even so, the building was “not spacious.” It was a two-storey villa, but it could only hold a handful of prisoners. To create more space, a “large shed behind the house” was also “converted into a cell.” The agency official told Goldman, “It was pretty spartan,” and also explained that there was an additional room where cooperative prisoners “could ride a stationary bike or use a treadmill.”

Al-Nashiri and Zubaydah were flown to the Polish site, code-named “Quartz,” on December 5, 2002. Five days later, Goldman wrote, “an e-mail went out to agency employees that the interrogation program was up and running, and under the supervision of the Special Missions Department of the Counterterrorism Center (CTC). Officials then began shutting down the prison in Thailand, eliminating all traces of the CIA presence.”

Goldman also noted that former CIA officials told him that Mike Sealy, a senior intelligence officer, was appointed to run the site. He was described as a ‘program manager’ and was briefed on the torture program developed by the CIA and approved by Jay S. Bybee of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in the “torture memos” written by John Yoo.

With the usual careful language of the mainstream media, Goldman refused to describe the torture program honestly, instead calling it “an escalating series of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques” that were formulated at the CIA and approved by Justice Department lawyers,” which “included slapping, sleep deprivation and waterboarding, a technique that involved pouring water over the shrouded face of the detainee and creating the sensation of drowning” — more accurate, as ever, would be to describe it as a form of control drowning that the torturers of the Spanish Inquisition had the honesty to describe as “tortura del agua.”

Sealy apparently “oversaw about half a dozen or so special protective officers whom the CIA had sent to provide security,” although “the number of analysts and officers varied.” Goldman added that Polish officials “could visit a common area where lunch was served, but they didn’t have access to the detainees.”

Describing “problems in the implementation of the interrogation protocols,” Goldman write that CIA officials “clashed over the importance of Nashiri’s alleged role in the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000.” A former official said, “He was an idiot. He couldn’t read or comprehend a comic book,” rather undermining the case being made at Guantánamo by prosecutors in his trial by military commission. As Goldman explained, however, other CTC officials thought otherwise — that he “was a key al-Qaeda figure and was withholding information.”

Two former US intelligence officials told Goldman that there was “a tense meeting in December 2002,” at which senior CIA officials “decided that they needed to get tougher with him,” and sent in Albert El-Gamil, “a CIA linguist who had once worked for the FBI in New York.” El-Gamil, as Goldman explained, “was of Egyptian descent and spoke Arabic fluently, but he was not a trained interrogator,” and it was he who, notoriously, “subjected Nashiri to a mock execution” and put a drill to his head while he was blindfolded, events recorded in the CIA Inspector General’s 2004 report into prisoner abuse.

Goldman noted that senior CIA officials only found out about these abusive episodes in January 2003, via a security guard. Sealy and El-Gamil were then taken out of Poland and dismissed from the program, leaving the CIA soon after, according to several officials.

In his article, Goldman also reported what happened to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed after his capture in Rawalpindi, Pakistan in March 2003. After being flown to Poland, he apparently “proved difficult to break, even when water­boarded,” according to several former CIA officials who spoke to Goldman, who also reported that KSM “would count off the seconds, between 20 and 40, knowing that the simulated drowning always ended within a certain period.”

One official told Goldman that, on one occasion, KSM “fell asleep on the waterboard between sessions,” while other officials “stated that he finally crumbled after extended sleep deprivation,” which sounds likely, as prolonged sleep deprivation is horrendous, although how useful his information was remains questionable.

Goldman also reported that KSM’s ego allowed his interrogators to secure information, which may well be true — although it may be that it would have been even easier getting him to talk without the torture, through proper, detailed rapport-building. As Goldman described it, “He liked to lecture the CIA officers, who would then steer the conversations in ways that benefited them,” and he also “liked to joust with his inquisitors.”

Goldman’s sources also told him that Abu Zubaydah “provided important information to his interrogators,” He apparently “identified people in photographs and gave what one official called ‘hundreds of data points,’” although, again, how reliable that was is open to question. Abu Zubaydah’s identifications of people from photographs litter the classified military files from Guantánamo, which were released by Wikileaks in 2011, but they are, in general, both vague and unreliable. As the Washington Post explained in March 2009, “not a single significant plot was foiled as a result of Abu [Zubaydah]‘s tortured confessions.” The Post added that, according to former senior government officials, “Nearly all of the leads attained through the harsh measures quickly evaporated, while most of the useful information from Abu [Zubaydah] — chiefly names of al-Qaeda members and associates — was obtained before waterboarding was introduced,”

Officials also told Goldman that Abu Zubaydah “was even willing to help get new detainees to talk,” and a former official said that he stated, “Allah knows I am only human and knows that I will be forgiven.”

Goldman also noted that former officials involved in the torture program — Jose Rodriguez, the CIA’s former deputy director of operations, have said that it produced “dramatic positive results,” although he noted that the Senate Intelligence Committee “intends to challenge such assertions” when — if — its 6,000-page report on the torture program, which was completed over a year ago, but has not yet seen the light of day, even in a severely redacted form, is made public. He quoted Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the chair of the committee chairman, stating that the report provides “a detailed, factual description of how interrogation techniques were used, the conditions under which detainees were held, and the intelligence that was — or wasn’t — gained from the program.”

According to Goldman, the committee “intends to release portions” of its report in the not too distant future.

Goldman’s article concluded with him noting that the CIA eventually had to leave Poland, “fearing that maintaining one location for too long risked exposure” — a sure sign that senior officials knew that what they were doing was wrong, however much John Yoo and Jay Bybee had tried to pretend it wasn’t. When it closed in September 2003, Goldman reported that the CIA “scattered detainees to Romania, Morocco and, later, Lithuania,” and added, “Looking for a long-term solution, the CIA paid the Moroccans $20 million to build a prison it never used that was code-named ‘Bombay.’” Curiously, he fails to mention “Strawberry Fields,” the facility within Guantánamo (exposed in 2010 by Matt Apuzzo and Goldman, when he was working for the Associated Press), where at least some of the “high-value detainees” were sent from September 2003 to March 2004, when they were flown out again. This was because the Bush administration had realized that, via Rasul v. Bush (the prisoners’ habeas corpus case decided in June 2004), the Supreme Court was going to allow lawyers in to the prison.

He added that the “black sites” in Romania and Lithuania were closed before Porter J. Goss stepped down as CIA director in May 2006, with some prisoners “sent to a Moroccan jail that had been previously used,” while others “were sent to a new CIA prison in Kabul called ‘Fernando,’” which had replaced the notorious “Salt Pit,” and also notes that it was from these locations that the 14 “high-value detainees” were flown to Guantánamo in September 2006.

Senior Polish ex-intelligence official calls for transparency on “black site”

Adam Goldman’s article prompted Marek Siwiec, the head of Poland’s National Security Bureau from 1997 to 2004, including the years when the “black site” was open, to call for a “Commission of Public Trust” to be established to “expose what happened in Poland,” as Reuters described it.

Siwiec, who is now with the European Parliament, told Reuters, “The poor truth is better than a perfect lie. At this moment we have a number of poor lies and this creates a situation that I think should be changed. We have the position of common sense, the majority of people, who say: ‘Of course there was something, whatever it was.’”

He made it clear that he “had not been informed of any decision to let the CIA run a jail in Poland at that time, when he was a security adviser to then-president Aleksander Kwasniewski,” but as Reuters explained, “his call for a full investigation is the closest any senior Polish intelligence official, past or present, has come to acknowledging Poland has a case to answer on the matter.” He added that a commission “could unearth the truth, find out why it happened without apportioning blame to individuals, and of course the conclusions should be: Never again.”

As Reuters explained, “If any state officially acknowledges a role — and activists say Poland is the most likely to do so — that could lead to prosecutions of officials and to governments being forced to reveal details of sensitive dealings with US intelligence.”

Siwiec is one of several Polish officials, including then-president Kwasniewski, who were identified by Dick Marty in his 2007 Council of Europe report as officials who, as Reuters put it, “may be held accountable for knowing about or authorizing a CIA jail,” although they have all denied the allegations. Siwiec, in fact, sued Marty for claiming he had known about the “black site,” and the lawsuit was only dropped when Marty claimed parliamentary immunity.

As Reuters explained, the situation is difficult because, under Polish and international laws regarding torture and illegal detention, “anybody who knew about or authorised a CIA jail in Poland could be prosecuted — a factor that may discourage people who were involved from discussing candidly what happened.”

That, of course, is a problem that is not unique to Poland, of course, and which adds to the difficulties of securing accountability for America’s torture program in any country that may have been at all implicated (even to the extent of intelligence sharing, or turning a blind eye while rendition flights passed through their airspace or used their airports). However, when speaking about Adam Goldman’s article, Marek Siwiec called the information “credible,” but made a point of adding that Poland “should not leave to others to reveal what happened on its soil.”

Lithuanian court allows investigation on behalf of “high-value detainee”

Mustafa al-Hawsawi.In further good news, a court in Lithuania has given another “high-value detainee,” Mustafa al-Hawsawi (one of the 14 sent to Guantánamo in September 2006), the right to “an investigation into his alleged torture in a secret CIA detention centre in the country,” as Amnesty International described it in a news release. Al-Hawsawi was seized in Pakistan in 2003, and has stated that he was rendered to a CIA torture prison in the village of Antaviliai, in Lithuania, for some time between September 2004 and September 2006.

Amnesty International described the decision as “a breakthrough for justice,” after years of stonewalling by Lithuania, and Julia Hall, AI’s expert on counter-terrorism and human rights, stated, “The court’s decision in the case of Mustafa al-Hawsawi is a real victory in the pursuit of accountability for Lithuania’s alleged complicity in the CIA rendition and secret detention programmes. The Lithuanian court has set an example for all of Europe and the USA by upholding the rule of law and recognizing that victims of torture and enforced disappearance at the hands of the CIA and European agents have an absolute right to a thorough investigation.”

She added, “The Lithuanian government and Prosecutor General must now open a full and effective investigation into Mustafa al-Hawsawi’s claims and ensure that any other individuals who have alleged that they were held in secret CIA detention there are afforded the same right.”

The Regional Court in Vilnius ruled that Mustafa al-Hawsawi’s claims “involved violations under the Lithuanian Constitution and international agreements and that he had a right to a full investigation,” adding that the previous refusal to investigate, made by the Prosecutor General in October 2013, had been “groundless.” A lower court had upheld that decision, but this new ruling paves the way for a new investigation.

Amnesty International also noted that the Prosecutor General had refused to initiate an investigation into the case of Abu Zubaydah, who was held in Lithuania after Poland, and stated that any new investigation in Lithuania should include him too.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer and film-maker. He is the co-founder of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here – or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the four-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

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Dieudonne, Soral, France, and the New Resistance

State Repression in France Only Makes the Resistance Grow Stronger

by The Saker - Dissident Voice

Last November I wrote a piece entitled “Is a new revolution quietly brewing in France?” in which I described the struggle which was taking place between the French people and the Zionist plutocracy which has ruled France over the past decades (roughly since 1969) and today I am returning to this topic as events have rapidly accelerated and taken a sharp turn for the worse. A number of most interesting things have happened and the French “Resistance” (I will use this collective designator when speaking of the entire Dieudonné/Soral movement) is now being attacked on three levels.

Intellectual Level

This is, by far, the most interesting “counter-attack”. A well-known French commentator, Eric Naulleau, agreed to a “written debate” with Alain Soral, in which both sides would discuss their differences and the transcript would be published in a book entitled Dialogues Désaccordés (which can roughly be translated as “detuned dialogs” or “dialogs out of tune” or even “disagreeing dialogs”). To explain the importance of this publication I have to say a few words about Naulleau himself.

Everybody in France knows Eric Naulleau as one of the two partners of a “journalistic tag team” called “Naulleau and Zemmour” in which one of the partners — Eric Naulleau — is a Left-leaning progressive and the other — Eric Zemmour — is a Right-leaning conservative. Together they formed a formidable and, sometimes, feared team of very sharp and outspoken critics and commentators which was featured on various shows on French TV. Zemmour, in particular, is an extremely intelligent and very charming person whose wonderful sense of humor combined with a outspoken attitude often got him in trouble. He is one of the few French Jews who actually got sued by the notorious LICRA (rabid Zionist organization formed by Trotskists to attack those opposing them) for daring to say “French people with an immigrant background were profiled because most traffickers are blacks and Arabs… it’s a fact” on TV. Together, Naulleaua and Zemmour are known for being formidable debaters and very tough and even blunt critics who can take on pretty much anybody.

Naulleau explained that, according to him, it made no sense at all to ban Soral from the mass media because that still gave the option for Soral to record his show on the Internet were they would be viewed by millions of people (that is not an exaggeration, by the way, Soral’s videos do score more views that some national TV channels!). Naulleau explained that in his videos Soral was always alone, free to say whatever he wanted, without anybody contradicting or challenging him and that his goal was precisely that — to unmask, challenge and defeat Soral in an open debate in which he would show all the fallacies and mistakes of Soral’s theses. To say that Naulleau failed in his goal would be an understatement. Soral absolutely crushed every single one of Naulleau’s arguments to the point where I personally felt sorry for Naulleau (whom I like a lot as a person).

Worse, not only did Soral absolutely obliterate Naulleau, he also made a prediction and said: “you will see the shitstorm which will hit you for agreeing to make this book with me!” And that is the crux of the disagreement between Soral and Naulleau: do the Zionists control the French media yes or not? Can they blacklist somebody or not? Is there a shadow “Zionist censorship” in France or is public speech still free? Soral’s thesis is that France is in the iron grip of a “behind the scenes” Zionist mafia which is exactly Naulleau vehemently denies. The problem for Naulleau is that he proved Soral to be right.

The French media immediately attacked Naulleau for “providing Soral with a platform to spew his hateful theories” to which Naulleu logically replied that Soral was already doing so on the Internet and that, besides, he — Naulleau — did not believe in censorship but in a strong and free debate. Naulleau also got attacked for not saying this or not saying that — in reality for getting so totally defeated by Soral in the debate. The book, by the way, became an instant bestseller with, indeed, made it possible for even more French people to think through Soral’s arguments and make up their own mind. So, ironically, and even though Naulleau clearly wanted to challenge Soral, he did him a huge favor by allowing him to break the media blockade around his name; Soral is never ever invited on a talk show — and by allowing the ideas of Soral to come right back into the public debate via this book, Naulleau de facto helped Soral.

Some have even speculated that Naulleau might be a secret sympathizer of Soral and that he did all of this deliberately. I don’t believe that at all — Naulleau is sincere, and Naulleau is also naive: he is now only slowly coming to grips with the fact that Soral’s core thesis — that the Zionists completely control the French media — is a fact and that Soral’s prediction about Naulleau getting in trouble for this book was spot on. Right now, Naulleau and his friend Zemmour still have a show on a small local TV station, but clearly Naulleau has now deeply alienated the French plutocracy. As far as I know, nobody has dared to speak in Naulleau’s defense. The funniest thing of all is that even though both Soral and Naulleau are officially coauthors of this book and even though Naulleau attempts to deny that Soral is blacklisted, only Naulleau got interviewed on the French talkshows, never Soral. Not once. What better way could there be to prove Soral right?

“Personalities lynch mob” level

While Naulleau was trying to defend himself against attacks from all sides for daring to coauthor a book with Soral, something absolutely unprecedented took place: day after day after day, media personalities were shown on TV trashing Dieudonne and his “quenelle” gesture. This really looked like a “virtual lynching” or a Stalinist trial — politicians, journalists, comedians, commentators, actors — you name it; all took turns to ridicule, insult, denounce and otherwise express their hatred for Dieudonne. This truly became an Orwellian “two minutes of hate” in which Dieudonne was designated as the target of an absolutely vicious hate campaign.

Bedos as “Dieudo Hitler Bin Laden”

A mediocre comedian named Nicolas Bedos was even given 12 minutes of uninterrupted air time to compare Dieudonne to both Hitler and Osama Bin Laden and his shows to a Gestapo interrogation room. It was surreal, really. If an extraterrestrial had just tuned in and watch this display of vicious hatred he would have imagined that Dieudonne was a second Hitler about to invade France with a huge army of bloodthirsty Nazis. For me, it was clear that the reason why all these different personalities were standing in line for the chance to outdo each other in taking a shot at Dieudonne was to prove their loyalty to the Zionist “deep-state”. This was as transparent as it was sickening. And again, it proved that Soral was right and that, if anything, he was under-standing the degree of control of the Zionist plutocracy over France.

State level

Finally, from more or less covert, the persecution of Dieudonne and Soral by the French state became completely overt. I already mentioned how in early January the French Minister of the Interior, Manuel Valls, used his powers to ban the latest show of Dieudonne (see here and here). Over the last weeks, this repression has reached a new level with even more lawsuits against Soral (12 simultaneous lawsuits, see Google-translated list here) and administrative harassments (evening “visits” by bailiffs, abusive arrests, threats, police search of his small theatre in Paris) against Dieudonne.

All these events taken together — and it is really not hard at all to connect the dots — for a very clear picture: the power of the state is used to persecute, harass, and repress Dieudonne and Soral. 

And that, of course, just goes even further in proving that Soral is right in his central thesis about France being run by a shadow occupation “deep government” whose loyalties are not to the French people but to the Zionist plutocracy and Israel.

The reaction against this state of affairs is also becoming stronger, and the amount of people supporting Dieudonne and Soral has literally skyrocketed. The reason for that is not only that a lot of French people share the same views as Soral and Dieudonne but also a deep running French cultural tradition of admiring rebels and disliking the state. Add to this that Hollande is the most hated President in French history and that the French economy is doing down the tubes triggering untold suffering and rage in the people suffering form the crisis, and you get a very explosive mix: the so-called “Day of Rage”.

Check out these videos before they are removed form YouTube, like this one):

Anybody who knows France well will tell you that this is very serious stuff because unlike other demonstrations which typically oppose a law, or a policy or a specific event, these demonstrators clearly are rejecting the legitimacy of the entire political system: they want regime change.

So far, the French media has tried to minimize the coverage of this event and the French elites are trying hard to pretend like this is some small, fringe, extremist group, which is utter nonsense. France is bubbling with rage.

Zionist panic:

The Zionists are actually aware of that, and they are now in the panic mode. Just take a look at the headlines of this Israeli-French website:

On the top right, you can see the Israeli founder of this website: Jonathan-Simon Sellem and on the top left you see Arno Klarsfeld, a well-known “French” (Israeli/German/French) lawyer and rabid Zionist. Here is what they are quoted saying:

Jonathan-Simon Sellem: Dieudonne, you will never be a martyr. You will not a hero. Your name will be cursed in history, by history.
Arno Klarsfeld: They is a crucial moment in history: Jews are already beginning to leave France.

Clearly, these two gentlemen see Dieudonne as some modern mix of Agag, Hamman, Titus, Hitler, and Bin Laden: a terrifying, bloodthirsty and infinitely dangerous and evil man who threatens the survival of the Jewish race (nevermind that Jews are not a race).

Could that be a little bit of an over-reaction?

What are these folks so terrified of?

I think that the answer is obvious: what they are so terrified of is not that Dieudonne and Soral will reopen Auschwitz somewhere near Paris or that French Jews will be expelled from France. They know that this is paranoia (which Gilad Atzmon calls “Pre-Traumatic Stree Disorder”) and absolute crap: French Jews are safe, happy, and welcome in France, and nobody is seriously out there to do them any harm. No, what this small clique of Zionist Jews (representing a tiny fraction of the much more diverse French Jewry) which really fears that the truth about them and their power over the French deep-state will come out. And this is not only about Jews.

There is a non-Jewish plutocracy formed around the Jewish core of French bankers and financiers which is also completely in bed with the Zionists and whose future depends on maintaining the Zionist control over France: politicians, of course, but also actors, journalists, academics, etc. — a full constellation of Shabbos Goyim willing to do Israel’s Sayanim‘s dirty job for them. It is this entire elite and the system which it built which is threatened by Soral and Dieudonne and by what the movement “Equality and Reconciliation” stands for: a union of all the French people (native or immigrants) which together are determined to resist the Zionist oppression of France and who, just as in WWII, will resist the occupier until the Liberation.

When and how could such a “Liberation” occur?

I don’t know. These events are very complex and multi-dimensional and it is, I believe, impossible to predict what could happen. What I am sure of, is that this movement, this Resistance, will not be crushed, nor will it somehow magically disappear. To paraphrase the Communist Manifesto, the French people “have nothing to lose but their chains”: their country is ruined and they are ruled by an evil foreign occupier. In terms of dynamics, every move which is made against Soral and Dieudonne only makes things worse for the occupation regime — the harder the strike, the harder the blowback.

The legitimacy of the regime, in particular, is greatly affected by such absolutely ridiculous actions like the “overkill” of a Minister of Internal Affairs using the highest court in the country (the State Council) in an emergency session to ban a single comedian’s stand up show.

Sure, for the time being most people in France comply, obey, or look the other way. But everybody knows, everybody understands and very few believe in the official lies, especially in the younger generation.

This all reminds me of the Soviet Union in the 1980s where externally nothing much was happening and where the system itself look ugly but safe. Russians were making anti-Brezhnev jokes at private parties while the KGB from time to time arrested dissidents. But nobody — not even the KGB officers — had any respect for the system, the regime, the official ideology and its propaganda. Everybody did what they were told, but nobody believed in what they were doing. That is the exact situation not only for the French cops who are constantly used to ban, harass, and arrest Dieudo and his supporters but also of an increasing percentage of the general public.

Right now the pressure on the dam is getting stronger and stronger, and the cracks more and more visible. So far, the elites have had enough fingers to stick into the cracks, but this is clearly a futile attempt to delay the inevitable. And when the French dam will burst, it will impact on only France, but also a good segment of western Europe. So while the pro-US Ukrainian nationalists want to subordinate their country to the EU, the EU is threatened with an inevitable and violent explosion. But, like on the sinking Titanic, the media’s “orchestra” will be playing its music until the last second.

The Saker is a former military analyst who lived most of his life in Europe and who now lives in the USA. This article originally appeared at The Vineyard of the Saker. Read other articles by The Saker.

Stopping Site C: Food for the Future - the Family Day Rally for Farmland

Food for the Future - the Family Day Rally for Farmland

by PVEA/Sierra Club BC

Ken and Arlene Boon will be forced off their productive family farm if the proposed Site C dam on the Peace River goes ahead. Site C would permanently flood 7,841 hectares of some of B.C.’s best farmland, marking the single largest deletion in history of land from B.C.’s Agricultural Land Reserve!

Agronomists say the Peace Valley could produce fruit and vegetables for a million British Columbians, yet the B.C. government is about to sacrifice the only prime farmland north of Quesnel for an $8 billion dam whose power is not needed for domestic consumption.

Please join us for Food for the Future
the Family Day Rally for Farmland
Feb 10 at 12:00 noon on the Legislature lawn. 
Stand with Ken Boon and other B.C. farmers!

Site C is only one of the threats to farmland and food security currently on the horizon. The B.C. government is considering a proposal to erode the Agricultural Land Reserve and Commission.

If passed, this proposal would strip protections from farmland and pave the way for oil, gas and mining expansion at the expense of food security for British Columbians.

For the farmland,

Friday, January 31, 2014

Wall Street Gets In On BC Fish Farm Expansion Plans

It is clear where this is going

by Alexandra Morton

On the heals of the Harper government giving the Norwegian salmon feedlot industry the greenlight to expand in BC, the industry was listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The wisdom of Justice Bruce Cohen tossed aside, BC is now a third-world region - just another place for Norway to raise "their" fish. This is a death sentence to the wild salmon of British Columbia. If we serious about preserving our way of life, democracy and our country we need to adapt to meet this challenge. If we don't, it is clear where we are going - think Chile - massive salmon feedlots, disease outbreaks and a new social order wherever this industry bites down.


In early January, we learned the Harper government quietly invited the Norwegian salmon farming industry to expand in BC. He did this despite specific warnings to the opposite by his own federal Commission. He did this ignoring his constitutional responsibility to consult with First Nations. See press release by Living Oceans.

A few days later on January 28, 2014, Marine Harvest (the biggest of the three Norwegian operators using BC to grow "their" fish) was listed on the New York Stock Exchange. They rang the Opening Bell. Their press release states they plan to lead the blue revolution similar to 5000 years ago when we went from hunting to farming. They fail to mention salmon farming requires aggressive wild fisheries. Truth is a scarce commodity in this deal.

Marine Harvest - listed as a protein company to woo American investors,

"We want to grow even faster" says Marine Harvest Chief Executive Alf-Helge Aarskog.

This is a very dangerous situation for BC's wild salmon. Wild salmon do not survive exposure to salmon feedlots. DFO shrunken, bent and abused - is no longer capable of defending wild salmon. British Columbians have made it clear they distrust this industry, but Harper is not listening to the people he rules.

I use quotes when I write "their" fish because under the Constitution of Canada no one is allowed to "own" a salmon in the marine waters of Canada. The Fraser Institute suggests a change to the Consitution of Canada to accomodate this industry:

"An appropriate set of private property rights for fish farmers would markedly raise efficiency in the production of seafood, while helping to eliminate whatever negative externalities may be associated with their operation." 

These "negative externalities" would only be eliminated on paper, in fact they threaten the coast of British Columbia, Washington State and Alaska.

Fraser Institute Report

See Marine Harvest ring the Opening Bell - New York Stock Exchange Jan. 28. 2014. Tycoon John Fredricksen, (the richest man in Norway until he changed citizenship) and his daughter clap.

"Link Arms"

Chief Robert Chamberlin, traveled to Norway several times to introduce shareholder resolutions at Marine Harvest AGMs. He spent years in the circular government labyrinths, designed to absorb the energy of such a man, trying to find solutions to the invasion of this industry into his territory. He is instructed by his people to protect the wild seafood resources they depend on. And yet Chamberlin was not consulted about the expansion of this industry in his territory.

Chief Chamberlin, a patient man, has taken an unprecedented step inviting us to "link arms" in resisting this unjustifiable expansion.

Moving very quickly, the applications to expand salmon farming in BC are appearing in local newspapers. The one shown below is among the Discovery Islands, where Justice Bruce Cohen specifically warned the industry should be phased out.

#19 - On September 30, 2020, the minister of fisheries and oceans should prohibit net-pen salmon farming in the Discovery Islands (fish health sub-zone 3-2) unless he or she is satisfied that such farms pose at most a minimal risk of serious harm to the health of migrating Fraser River sockeye salmon. The minister’s decision should summarize the information relied on and include detailed reasons. The decision should be published on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ website. - Cohen Commission Recommendation #19

The Cohen Commission Recommendations have been removed from the internet, but Watershed Watch has posted them for us, with a calendar of missed opportunities to preserve wild salmon in BC.

The Licences

To make matters worse for wild salmon, the federal government licences grant the salmon farmers the power to make the decision whether they use Atlantic salmon infected with viruses. Under Canada's Fisheries Act, Section 56 the Minister of Fisheries is not permitted to this, but the new federal Aquaculture Licence attempts to override Canada's Fisheries Act. This is nothing short of a complete betrayal of government's contract with the people to protect wild salmon. I am challenging these licences in court with Ecojustice - thank you Ecojustice.

Moving Forward

We are losing ground. The Norwegian salmon feedlot industry has won the backing of the Harper government. Common sense and the law have been set aside.

We have to do something different, we have to adapt.

I would like to suggest a change in our relationship.

I want to acknowledge and thank the hundreds of you who have approached me on the street, written and called me. Your supportive words and donations have given me the opportunity to take this fight through the courts, the scientific literature and onto the streets.

But in the face of the current situation, I can only say I am not the David you hoped I would be against this Goliath.

I can, however, be your guide. I have studied the salmon farming industry since it was born in my community in 1988. I know it inside and out. I have first-hand experience with the players, politics, science, local biology, legislation and law.

You are the most powerful force on earth. If you make time in your life to fight for wild salmon, there will be wild salmon for our children. You will not suffer the emotional damage of being a victim and I will be here alongside you to make sure your time is not wasted.

This is not a one-off engagement. We will need to be relentless, like the industry itself. I will let you know what I think is the powerful thing you can do for wild salmon. And I will listen to your ideas.

Here is what needs to be done today:

  • 1 - Click on the petition below and share it with all your facebook and other friends and family

Each fish farm in BC needs a provincial licence in addition to the federal licence. The Premier of BC has the power to revoke fish farm Licences of Occupation, with no compensation, if it is in the public interest. There are more than 80,000 on this petition, but we are not enough for the Premier of BC to respond. There is some number of signatures that will get a response. People from around the world are welcome to sign this.


  • 2 - Contact the sushi restaurants in your community

Express how you feel about them paying money to the companies who are farming salmon in BC marine waters. Choose to eat at restaurants that only serve wild salmon.

  • 3 - Donate the funds I need to communicate to people far and wide about the impact of this industry on our oceans and our health.

The salmon farmers in BC are huge Norwegian companies with media strategists and marketing campaigns. We cannot protect BC without the funds to make people aware of what is going on here. In the ad below they actually tell people they are saving wild salmon! We have to step onto this stage.


  • 4 - Share this film, hold showings in your homes, send it to everyone you know and then ask them to follow steps 1, 2, 3 and 4

Wild salmon are not saved by salmon farming. Quotas are not based on the number of farmed salmon raised and the weight of scientific evidence suggests salmon farms cause considerable harm to wild salmon.

To be continued...

Mexico's Growing Vigilante Movement

Mexico's Vigilante Groups Are a Force to Reckon with for Drug Cartels and Army


The Mexican Federal Government negotiated a deal with the "Autodefensas", or community militias, as they fight to loosen the drug cartel's monopoly on power and violence in the Mexican state of Michoacan.

In Michoacán, Mexico, the federal government reported on Monday, January 27, that it had reached an agreement to incorporate the local community militias called "Autodefensas" or "self defenses" into quasi-military units called defense corps.The militias have fought for over a year to seize control of the state from the hands of a violent criminal gang called "La Caballeros Templarios" or "Templar Knights" that has held power for the last 4 years. The gang has been reported to make as much as $74.6 million a year through drug trafficking and extortion rings.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ten Steps Guiding the Activist Young

Ten Principles to Guide the Young Activist

by Ramzy Baroud - Dissident Voice

In a recent radio interview with a National Public Radio affiliate in Juneau, Alaska, I was asked if I had advice for a 16-year-old Palestinian student, Haitham. He had just arrived in the US as part of a school exchange program, and, admirably began reaching out to his peers in his and other schools to teach them about Palestine, its people and its ongoing struggle for freedom and rights.

There was not enough time to convey much to Haitham, whose voice expressed the personality of a gentle, smart and driven young man. And since I have been asked that question on more than one occasion, mostly coming from young people in Palestine, here are a few thoughts that are an outcome of my own experiences, and nothing else.

Beat your ego to a pulp. “Ego” is Latin for “I”, but its implications are common to every language. If an activist doesn’t learn to control his ego, he is likely to suffer numerous consequences, and perhaps ultimately fail in his mission. An activist, especially one who represents causes deemed ‘controversial’, will find himself under repeated attacks and unwarranted accusations targeting his ‘self’ not his ideas. And while there are those who will try to thrash your confidence, there are also those who will hail your perceived success and heroism even. Both are dangerous to the ego, for they could upset the balance necessary to keep us focused and involved as members of a larger community, and moral in our behavior and conduct.

Define and internalize your message. It is easy to get pulled into all sorts of directions that may separate you from your original mission. To ensure that you will always find your way back, you must be clear on what you stand for and why. Thus it is essential that you define your cause, first and foremost to yourself before you present it to others. Internalize it as an enduring part of your character before you stand in front of a crowd, hold a microphone, or carry a banner. If you are not fully convinced of your message, you will not be able to influence others.

Be guided by universal values and human rights. Even if your message pertains to a local cause, find the universal aspect of your drive to bring about change, and embrace it. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” said Martin Luther King Jr. If you adhere to this notion alone, you know that you will remain true, not just to your cause, but to the underlying values that give it meaning. Universal human rights can always serve as a gage by which you can assess matters within a larger moral framework.

Find a frame of reference – relate to your audience. The onus is not on your audience to relate to you as much as it is on you to relate to their frame of reference: their history, their political reality and other dynamics that operate within and control their society. Only then, can you tailor your words and expectations – but never the morality of your message – in ways that they may understand, relate to, and act upon.

Humanize –But don’t sanctify your subject. It doesn’t matter how worthy a cause is, if it is too distant or disconnected from people. It is essential that you allow your audience the chance to relate to your cause as that of people, with names and stories, beautiful, inspiring, but also disheartening and complex. But it is important that you don’t provide a sanctified, thus unrealistic narrative either, for your audience will disown you and question your credibility. Humanize your subject, but remain truthful in your presentation.

Be educated, strive for intellect and be wary of ideology. Education will give you access to otherwise inaccessible platforms. It will empower you and your message with the articulation you need to widen your circle of support. But you are also an intellectual. The right education could further develop your intellect. And when it is done with sincerity, both education and intellect will feed on one another. While there is no harm in adhering to an ideology that you may perceive to hold the answers to the dilemmas with which you contend, be wary of becoming an ideologue, a slave to stubborn dogmas. That will stifle your intellect and will make your education a mere platform to serve unworthy, elitist causes.

Keep an open mind. No matter how powerful your argument may seem, how high your education and how insurmountable your intellect is, remain humble and open-minded. If you close your mind, it will cease to grow. Your ideas will eventually become outdated, and your ability to imagine a world beyond your own will wither and die under the weight of your own sense of self-importance.

Have an action plan. It is not enough that you want to change the world. Sure, do that, but you must have a clear notion of what that actually means, and how you wish to bring it about. Such a roadmap can always help you reexamine your work and reassess your actions, and, if ever necessary, alter or entirely change your direction.

Don’t get swayed by success. The fight for justice is unending, as is the struggle against racism, and inequality. So ‘success’ in this context, by definition, is relative. While you must acknowledge, even celebrate achievements along the way, let ‘success’ be a milestone towards another goal, and not an end in itself. This way you can always keep moving forward, with a vision that passes the immediate goal, on to a greater one, where the ‘rendezvous of victory’ is an idea, so coveted, yet unattainable.

Live a balanced life. Only by living life you contribute to it. Don’t estrange yourself from your surroundings. Learn from the mistakes others make, and from your own. Don’t be afraid or feel guilty if you try to find balance in your life. Enjoy a sustainable life, but without excess. The fight is long, at times arduous, but you are here, along with millions of others, for the long haul.

They say people who live for a higher cause are happier than those who don’t. May you always find your happiness in alleviating the pain of others by standing up for what is right and honorable.

Ramzy Baroud is an author and a journalist. His latest volume is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle (Pluto Press, London). He can be reached at Read other articles by Ramzy.

The Frackers Coming to Your Doorstep

No Pipe Dream: Is Fracking About to Arrive on Your Doorstep?

by Ellen Cantarow  - TomDispatch

For the past several years, I’ve been writing about what happens when big oil and gas corporations drill where people live. “Fracking” -- high-volume hydraulic fracturing, which extracts oil and methane from deep shale -- has become my beat. My interviewees live in Pennsylvania’s shale-gas fields; among Wisconsin’s hills, where corporations have been mining silica, an essential fracking ingredient; and in New York, where one of the most powerful grassroots movements in the state’s long history of dissent has become ground zero for anti-fracking activism across the country. 

Some of the people I’ve met have become friends. We email, talk by phone, and visit. But until recently I’d always felt at a remove from the dangers they face: contaminated water wells, poisoned air, sick and dying animals, industry-related illnesses. Under Massachusetts, where I live, lie no methane- or oil-rich shale deposits, so there’s no drilling.

But this past September, I learned that Spectra Energy, one of the largest natural gas infrastructure companies in North America, had proposed changes in a pipeline it owns, the Algonquin, which runs from Texas into my hometown, Boston. The expanded Algonquin would carry unconventional gas -- gas extracted from deep rock formations like shale -- into Massachusetts from the great Marcellus formation that sprawls along the Appalachian basin from West Virginia to New York. Suddenly, I’m in the crosshairs of the fracking industry, too.

We all are.

Tomgram: Ellen Cantarow, The Frontlines of Fracking

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: Thanks go to all of you who sent in donations -- which really do help keep TomDispatch afloat -- in return for a signed, personalized copy of Greg Grandin’s spectacular new book, The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World. Believe me, it lives up to the publicity and glowing reviews it’s been getting! One thing: we’re still waiting for our copies to arrive. The offer remains open through the weekend. (Check out our donation page for the details.) Be patient. Grandin will sign them and we’ll have them off to you by late next week. Tom]

What kind of world is this? In China, an almost 1,350 square mile freshwater lake -- that’s more than four times the size of New York City -- recently dried up due to an ongoing drought. In the high Sierra of America’s West, bears have forgone hibernating as a result of (what were once, at least) unseasonably warm conditions. Across the continent in Maine, increasing ocean acidity is thought to be behind the spread of coastal “dead mud” which may have “disastrous implications for clammers, lobstermen, oyster farmers, and others whose livelihoods depend on healthy coastal ecosystems.” Meanwhile, across the globe in Australia, blistering heat chased koalas from the trees and sent many to the hospital, possibly baked 100,000 bats to death, and is threatening cattle and crops.

In a world wracked by increasing climate chaos, the seemingly appropriate response would be immediate remediation and mitigation efforts. Instead, this world being what it is, we have just the opposite. In the U.S., this means increased coal consumption and a resulting rise in carbon emissions for the first time in years. It means that, despite so much recent damage from “wild weather” flooding all over the country, the Federal Emergency Management Agency often relies on inaccurate flood maps, leaving property owners in jeopardy. It also means the administration of embattled New Jersey Governor Chris Christie pushing to, as the New York Times put it, “thread a 22-mile-long [gas] pipeline through the heart of the Pinelands, a 1.1-million-acre protected expanse of scrub pines, gnarly oaks, and yellow-brown river deltas.”

New Jersey is far from alone when it comes to pipeline peril. Today, TomDispatch regular Ellen Cantarow takes us to the frontlines of fracking. Once, this would have meant a trip to the ancient undulating hills of Wisconsin, which are being despoiled for the silica used in hydraulic fracturing, or the increasingly toxic towns of rural Pennsylvania where such silica and water, as well as a noxious chemical stew, are all forced at high pressure into deep underground deposits of shale. With a gas pipeline snaking toward her hometown, Cantarow points out that the frontline of increasing fossil-fuel use and abuse is everywhere. You don’t need to go looking for a frack fight, anymore. It’s coming looking for you. Nick Turse 

No Pipe Dream: Is Fracking About to Arrive on Your Doorstep?

by Ellen Cantarow

Gas fracked from shale formations goes by several names (“unconventional gas,” “natural gas,” “shale gas”), but whatever it’s called, it’s mainly methane. Though we may not know it, fracked gas increasingly fuels our stoves and furnaces. It also helps to fuel the floods, hurricanes, droughts, wildfires, and ever-hotter summers that are engulfing the planet. The industry’s global-warming footprint is actually greater than that of coal. (A Cornell University study that established this in 2011 has been reconfirmed since.) Methane is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide (CO2) and an ecological nightmare due to its potential for dangerous leaks.

According to former Mobil Oil executive Lou Allstadt, the greatest danger of fracking is the methane it adds to the atmosphere through leaks from wells, pipelines, and other associated infrastructure. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has found leakage rates of 2.3% to 17% of annual production at gas and oil fields in California, Colorado, and Utah. Moreover, no technology can guarantee long-term safety decades into the future when it comes to well casings (there are hundreds of thousands of frack wells in the U.S. to date) or in the millions of miles of pipelines that crisscross this country.

The energy industry boasts that fracking is a “bridge” to renewable energies, but a 2012 Massachusetts Institute of Technology study found that shale gas development could end up crowding out alternative energies. That's because as fracking spreads, it drives natural gas prices down, spurring greater consumer use, and so more fracking. In a country deficient in regulations and high in corporate pressures on government, this cascade effect creates enormous disincentives for investment in large alternative energy programs.

The sorry state of U.S. renewable energy development proves the case. As the fracking industry has surged, the country continues to lag far behind Germany and Denmark, the world’s renewable-energy leaders. A quarter-century after the world’s leading climate change scientist, James Hansen, first warned Congress about global warming, Americans have only bad options: coal, shale gas, oil, or nuclear power.

Living in Gasland

There’s been a great deal of reporting about “the drilling part” of fracking -- the moment when drills penetrate shale and millions of gallons of chemical-and-sand-laced water are pumped down at high pressure to fracture the rock. Not so much has been written about all that follows. It’s the “everything else” that has turned a drilling technology into a land-and-water-devouring industry so vast that it’s arguably one of the most pervasive extractive adventures in history.

According to Cornell University’s Anthony Ingraffea, the co-author of a study that established the global warming footprint of the industry, fracking “involves much more than drill-the-well-frack-the-well-connect-the-pipeline-and-go-away.” Almost all other industries "occur in a zoned industrial area, inside of buildings, separated from home and farm, separated from schools." By contrast, the industry spawned by fracking "permits the oil and gas industries to establish [their infrastructures] next to where we live. They are imposing on us the requirement to locate our homes, hospitals, and schools inside their industrial space."

Wells, flanked by batteries of vats, tanks, and diesel trucks, often stand less than a mile from homes. So do compressor stations that condense gas for its long journey through pipelines, and which are known to emit carcinogens and neurotoxins. Radioactive waste (spewed up in fracking flow-back and drill cuttings) gets dumped on roads and in ordinary waste sites. Liquified natural gas (LNG) terminals that move this energy source for export are a constant danger due to explosions, fires, spills, and leaks. Every part of the fracking colossus, it seems, has its rap sheet of potential environmental and public health harms.

Of all these, pipelines are the industry’s most ubiquitous feature. U.S. Energy Information Administration maps show landscapes so densely veined by pipelines that they look like smashed windshields. There are more than 350,000 miles of gas pipelines in the U.S. These are for the transmission of gas from region to region. Not included are more than two million miles of distribution and service pipelines, which run through thousands of cities and towns with new branches under constant construction. All these pipelines mean countless Americans -- even those living far from gas fields, compressor stations, and terminals -- find themselves on the frontlines of fracking.

Danger Zone

The letter arrived in the spring of 2011. It offered Leona Briggs $10,400 to give a group of companies the right to run a pipeline with an all-American name -- the Constitution -- through her land. For 50 years Briggs has lived in the town of Davenport, just south of the Susquehanna River in New York’s Western Catskills. Maybe she seemed like an easy mark. After all, her house’s clapboard exterior needs a paint job and she’s living on a meager Social Security check every month. But she refused.

She treasures her land, her apple trees, the wildlife that surrounds her. She points toward a tree, a home to an American kestrel. “There was a whole nest of them in this pine tree out here.” Her voice trembles with emotion. “My son was born here, my daughter was raised here, my granddaughter was raised here. It’s home. And they’re gonna take it from us?”

Company representatives began bullying her, she says. If she didn’t accept, they claimed, they’d reduce the price to $7,100. And if she kept on being stubborn, they’d finally take what they needed by eminent domain. But Briggs didn’t budge. “It’s not a money thing. This is our home. I’m sixty-five years old. And if that pipeline goes through I can’t live here.”

The Constitution Pipeline would carry shale gas more than 120 miles from Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna County through New York’s Schoharie County. This would be the first interstate transmission pipeline in the region, and at 30 inches in diameter, a big one. Four corporations -- Williams, a Tulsa-based energy infrastructure company, Cabot Oil & Gas, Piedmont Natural Gas, and WGL Holdings -- are the partners. Williams claims the pipeline “is not designed to facilitate natural gas drilling in New York.” But it would connect with two others -- the Iroquois, running from the Long Island shore to Canada, and the Tennessee, extending from the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast into Pennsylvania’s frack fields. This link-up, opponents believe, means that the Constitution would be able to export fracked gas from New York, the only Marcellus state to have resisted drilling so far.

In 2010, a high-pressure pipeline owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Company exploded in San Bruno, California, killing eight people and destroying 38 homes. It was the same size as the proposed Constitution pipeline. What makes that distant tragedy personal to Briggs is her memory of two local pipeline explosions. In the town of Blenheim, 22 miles east of her home, 10 houses were destroyed in 1990 in what a news report called “a cauldron of fire.” Another pipeline erupted in 2004 right in the village of Davenport. From her front porch, Briggs could see the flames that destroyed a house and forced the evacuation of neighbors within a half-mile radius. “That was an 8-inch pipe,” she says. “What would a 30-inch gas line do out here?”

Carl Weimer, executive director of Pipeline Safety Trust, a non-profit watchdog organization, says that, on average, there is “a significant incident -- somewhere -- about every other day. And someone ends up in the hospital or dead about every nine or ten days.” This begs the question: are pipelines carrying shale gas different in their explosive potential than other pipelines?

“There isn’t any database that allows you to get at that,” says Richard Kuprewicz, a pipeline safety expert and consultant of 40 years’ experience. “If it’s a steel pipeline and it has enough gas in it under enough pressure, it can leak or rupture.” Many pipelines, says Kuprewicz, aren’t bound by any safety regulations, and even when they are, enforcement can often be lax. Where regulations exist, he continues, corporate compliance is uneven. “Some companies comply with and exceed regulations, others don’t. If I want to find out about what’s going on, I may [have to] get additional information via subpoena.”

In 2013 alone, Williams, one of the partners in the Constitution pipeline, had five incidents, including two major explosions in New Jersey and Louisiana. These were just the latest in what an online publication, Natural Gas Watch, calls “a lengthy record of pipeline safety violations.” As for Cabot, its name has become synonymous with water contamination in Dimock, Pennsylvania. Even that state’s Department of Environmental Protection, historically joined at the hip to gas companies, imposed sanctions on Cabot in 2010. (The corporation later settled with 32 of 36 Dimock families who claimed contamination of their water supplies.)

About 40 miles northeast of Davenport lies the town of Schoharie, where James and Margaret Bixby live on a well-tended, 150-year-old farm. The day I visited, their 19-acre pond glimmered in the early fall sunlight. As we talked, Bixby listed all the wildlife in the area: bear, raccoon, beavers, muskrats, wood ducks, mallards, mergansers, cranes, skunks, and Canadian geese. He began telling me about the last of these. “Pretty soon they’re going to come in by the hundreds, migrating north. A dozen will stay, hatching their young. We have wild turkeys, just about everything. I don’t care to live no place else.”

The Bixbys were offered more money than Briggs -- more than $62,000 -- for a pipeline right of way and they, too, turned it down. He and his wife are holding fast and so, he says, are 60 neighbors. “They don’t want it to bust up this little valley.” Pointing, he added, “There’s gonna be a path up our woods there as far as you can see, [and] there’s gonna be another one over there. That’s nothing nice to look at.”

Driving around New York and Pennsylvania you’ll spot odd, denuded stretches running down hillsides like ski jumps. On the crests of the hills, the remains of tree lines look like Mohawk haircuts on either side of shaved pipeline slopes. This is only the most obvious sign of pipeline environmental degradation. The Constitution pipeline would also impact 37 Catskills trout streams, endangering aquatic life. According to Kate Hudson, Watershed Program Director at Riverkeeper, one of the state’s most venerable environmental watchdog organizations, the pipeline would “cross hundreds of streams and wetlands by literally digging a hole through them… Any project that jeopardizes multiple water resources in two states is clearly against the public's interest.”

Holding the Line

Longtime residents aren’t alone in opposing the building of the Constitution pipeline. This tranquil region has been attracting retirees like Bob Stack, a former electrical engineer. In 2004, he and his wife, Anne, bought 97 acres near Leona Briggs’s home. Their dream: to build a straw bale house, a sustainable structure that uses straw for insulation. No sooner had engineers visited the land to start planning than the couple got a letter from Constitution Pipeline LLC. “We were absolutely clueless. We knew nothing about fracking or about pipelines. Fracking was about as remote from us as oil in Iraq or someplace else,” says Anne. “We just looked at each other and said, ‘What an outrage!’” The Stacks, who moved east from Nevada, are now living in limbo.

“Once you have this pulsing fossil fuel energy coming through, it will… industrialize the Susquehanna River valley,” says Anne Marie Garti, who in June 2012 co-founded a local activist group, Stop the Pipeline. (“The unConstitutional Pipeline” reads the organization’s website banner.) “They’re going to start building factories. There’s an interstate, a railroad, there’s cheap labor, and there’s a river to dump the toxins in.”

Garti, a small, quietly assertive former interactive computer software designer, is now a lawyer; her aim: helping people like Briggs and the Bixbys. She grew up in the town of Delhi, near Briggs’s home. In 2008, she found herself among a small group of activists who convinced New York’s then-Governor David Paterson to impose a moratorium on fracking. Under the measure’s shelter a powerful grassroots anti-fracking movement grew, using zoning ordinances to ban drilling in municipalities.

Mark Pezzati, a graphic designer, helped get his town, Andes, in New York’s Delaware County to enact a fracking ban. “Pipeline news wasn’t high on the radar [then]," he says. "Most people were concerned about drilling.” In 2010, Pezzati was shocked to discover that a pipeline called the Millennium had penetrated his state.

It turned out that local land use laws govern only drilling. Under the 1938 Natural Gas Act, pipelines and compressor stations represent interstate commerce. “Suddenly there was this frantic flurry of emails, where people were saying, ‘We’ve got to meet and make people aware.’” (The meeting took place and 200 people flocked to listen to Garti.) “As time went on,” adds Pezzati, “it became apparent that you really can’t frack without a pipeline. There’s no point in drilling if there’s nowhere for the gas to go. So a light bulb went on. If you could stop pipelines you could stop fracking.”

That was when Pezzati and his friends, used to arguing for bans at town board meetings, came up against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which, among other responsibilities, regulates interstate natural gas transmission. It tilts to corporations, and even Garti found the bureaucratic hurdles it posed daunting. "I have some experience and training in environmental law and it took me a month to figure out the intricacies of FERC's process," she told me.

Because FERC refused to disclose the names of landowners in the pipeline’s path, Garti, Pezzati and about a dozen other volunteers had to pore over county tax databases, matching names and addresses to the proposed route. “First we sent letters, then we did door-to-door outreach,” says Garti. Her basic message to landowners along the right of way: “Just say no.”

“People are kind of impressed that you came all the way to their house,” Pezzati points out. “There’s not that many landowners in favor.”

Garti attributes local resentment against the pipeline corporations and their threats to exercise eminent domain to a “fierce” regional “independence” dating back to the anti-rent struggles of tenant farmers against wealthy landlords in the nineteenth century. “People don’t like the idea of somebody coming on their land and taking it from them.”

The activists drafted a letter refusing entry to corporate representatives and circulated it to local landowners. By October 2012, Stop the Pipeline was able to marshal a crowd of 800 for a public hearing called by FERC -- “a big crowd for a sparsely populated rural area,” Garti recalls. The vast majority opposed the pipeline’s construction. By January 2013, 1,000 people had sent in statements of opposition.

The organization has created a website with instructions about FERC procedures and handouts for local organizing, as well as a list of organizations opposing the pipeline. These include the Clean Air Council and Trout Unlimited. Among state and federal agencies expressing concerns to FERC have been the Army Corps of Engineers and New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation, known in earlier fracking battles for its collusion with the gas industry.

“Just like we have a fracking story that’s different in New York State, we have a pipeline story that’s different,” says Garti. “The force of the opposition to pipelines is in New York State. And we have a shot at winning this thing.”

Coming Home

Having covered the environmental degradation of Pennsylvania’s shale gas fields, the wastelands that were Wisconsin’s silica-rich hills, and tiny New York towns where grassroots fracking battles are ongoing, I now have a sense of what it means to be in the crosshairs of the fracking industry. But it was nothing compared to how I felt when I learned Spectra Energy had its sights set on my hometown, Boston.

Fracking isn’t just about drilling and wells and extracting a difficult energy source at a painful cost to the environment. Corporations like Spectra have designs on spreading their pipelines through state after state, through thousands of backyards and farm fields and forests and watersheds. That means thousands of miles of pipe that may leave ravaged landscapes, produce methane leaks, and even, perhaps, lead to catastrophic explosions -- and odds are those pipelines are coming to a town near you.

Spectra’s website explains that the Algonquin pipeline “will provide the Northeast with a unique opportunity to secure a… domestically produced source of energy to support its current demand, as well as its future growth.“ Translation: Spectra aims to expand fracking as long as that’s possible. And a glance at any industry source like Oil & Gas Journal shows other corporations hotly pursuing the same goal. (A new New-York-based group, Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion, is the center of opposition to this project.)

It remains to be seen whether the people of Massachusetts will undertake the same type of grassroots efforts, exhibit the same fortitude as Bob and Anne Stack and Leona Briggs, or demonstrate the same organizing acumen as Anne Marie Garti and Mark Pezzati. But Massachusetts citizens had better get organized if they want to stop Spectra Energy and halt its plans to run the Algonquin all the way from Texas northward to Boston and beyond. Fracking is on its way to my doorstep -- and yours. Who’s going to hold the line in your town?

Tom Dispatch regular Ellen Cantarow reported on Israel and the West Bank from 1979 to 2009 for the Village Voice, Mother Jones, Inquiry, and Grand Street, among other publications. For the past four years she has been writing about the toll the oil and gas industries are taking on the environment.

Copyright 2014 Ellen Cantarow

Trans-Pacific Partnership Day of Action Friday J31

Trans-Pacific Partnership protests across North America; more than 50 communities will say No More NAFTAs!

by J31

On Friday, January 31, activists across North America and beyond will rally and march against the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, negotiations for which continue in secrecy in mid-February.

More than 50 communities will participate in the Intercontinental Day of Action against the TPP and Corporate Globalization. The action coincides with an important conference this week in Mexico City on the catastrophic impacts of NAFTA on the Mexican people and the need for a radically new trade model for the continent. TPP protests in Canada will also challenge the Harper government’s corporate trade agenda and deals with the European Union, China, Honduras, and other countries.

WHO: Fair trade activists, labour unions, and migrant justice, environmental, Internet freedom and access to medicines advocates, as well as many others. See for a list of 70+ organizational sponsors.

WHEN: Friday, January 31, 2014

WHERE: Across Canada, Mexico, United States, and Australia

WHY: This year marks the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Despite growing inequality, a worsening climate crisis, and chronic unemployment linked to unfettered free trade and corporate globalization, a pending 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will expand this failed regime across this hemisphere and the Pacific Ocean. Leaked texts prove the TPP is another corporate bill of rights that threatens to:

  •   Destroy livelihoods and accelerate the global race to the bottom in wages and working conditions
  •   Further commodify agriculture, trample food sovereignty, hurt small farmers and contribute to forced migration
  •  Enable new corporate attacks on democratically-enacted environmental and consumer protections
  •  Undermine global economic stability by prohibiting effective regulation of financial markets
  •  Reduce access to life-saving generic medications, increase the costs of prescriptions, and restrict freedom on the Internet

STATEMENT: “We’re here to acknowledge the harm that NAFTA has already caused North American communities, and to resist the new threats that the TPP poses,” says Stuart Trew, trade campaigner with The Council of Canadians, one of more than 70 organizations participating in the day of action. “In the past, people coming together like this across geographic borders have defeated similar corporate power grabs including the TPP-like Free Trade Area of the Americas. There’s no reason we can’t do it again.”



January 30, 2014

For more info about the day of action, email

A list of events and actions happening across North America is available here and included below:

TPP Day of Action

North America & Beyond * January 31, 2014





Time: 11:00am * Friday, January 31

Location: MP Parm Gill's Constituency Office * 180 Sandalwood Parkway E




Public Meeting on TPP and CETA

Time: 10:00am * Saturday, January 25

Location: Langford Schoolhouse * 1694 Colborne Street E.



Calgary TPP Awareness

Time: 4:00pm * Friday, January 31

Location: Calgary City Hall * 800 Macleod Trail Southeast



West Kootenay Rally Against the TPP

Time: 1:00pm * Friday, January 31

Location: Alex Atamanenko's Office * 337 Columbia Ave



Comox Valley Day of Action Against TPP & Corporatism

Time: 12:30pm * Friday, January 31

Location: Comox Valley Echo * England Avenue between 4th & 5th Streets




Rally and Silent March vs TPP and Corporate Globalization

Time: 6:00pm * Tuesday, January 28

Location: Gage Park (then march to Volunteer Hamilton)



Kitchener-Waterloo March against NAFTA & TPP

TIme: 5:00pm * Friday, January 31

Location: Victoria Park Clock Tower * Joseph Street




Walk of Solidarity with Local Workers

Time: 12:00pm * Saturday, February 1

Location: Tolpuddle * 380 Adelaide St (then at East Village Coffeehouse * 254 Dundas St)



Rally against the TPP and Corporate Globalization

Time: 12:00pm * Friday, January 31

Location: Bldg Guy Favreau

Contact: or


Nanaimo Rally against the TPP

Time: 4:00pm * Friday, January 31

Location: Maffeo Sutton Park Flags * Terminal Ave & Comox Rd




Rally and March vs TPP

Time: 1:00pm * Friday, January 31

Location: Red Deer City Hall




"Fire in the Blood" Screening & TPP Discussion

Time: 4:30pm * Friday, January 31

Location: U of Saskathewan ISSAC Office * Lower Place Riel




Silent March vs NAFTA and TPP

Time: 12:30pm * Friday, January 31

Location: Mexican Consulate * 11 King St W (marching to U.S. Consulate)

Contact: or



Chips and Salsa vs the TPP

Time: 6:30pm * Friday, January 31

Location: Calvary Baptist Church Hall * 1803 East 1st Avenue




Clowns against Free Trade Scams

Time: 12:00pm * Friday, January 31

Location: Douglas St





January 31st March against NAFTA & the TPP


***United States***


Tell Rep. Charlie Dent No Fast Track for the TPP!

Time: 12:00pm * Friday, January 31

Location: Rep. Dent's Office * 3900 Hamilton Blvd



Rally & Speak Out against Fast Track for the TPP

Time: 5:30pm * Friday, January 31

Location: South Gate of the Texas State Capital * 11th and Congress




Legacy of NAFTA Panel Discussion & Rally

Time: 1:00pm * Friday, January 31

Location: Fairhaven Auditorium, Western Washington University * S College Dr




Belloit College Call-In against the TPP

Time: 11:30am & 5:00pm * Friday, January 31

Location: Beloit College Commons (Cafeteria) * 700 College St




Sound the Alarm against the TPP

Time: 4:15pm * Friday, January 31

Location: Brandis Square * Corner of Wall & Newport Ave (then library and back)



Inter-Continental Rally and March against the TPP

Time: 1:00pm * Friday, January 31

Location: State House * 24 Beacon S




Stop the Fast Track to Corporate Rule!

Time: 12:00pm * Saturday, February 1

Location: Jonquil Park * Lincoln & Sheffield




Stop the TPP Press Conference, Rally & March

Time: 11:30am * Friday, January 31

Location: Klyde Warren Park * N. Olive & Woodall Rodgers Frontage Rd




Denver Rallies against the TPP

Time: 4:30pm * Friday, January 31

Location: Civic Center Park * 50 West Colfax



Gasland II Screening with Discussion of TPP & Fracking

Time: 6:30pm * Friday, January 31

Location: Fallsington Friends Meeting * 9300 New Falls Road




No to Fast Track Demo & Press Conference

Time: 12:00pm * Friday, January 31

Location: Outside Rep. Costa's Office * 855 M Street



Rep. Delaney -- Say NO to Fast Track!

Time: 12:00pm * Friday, January 31

Location: 9801 Washingtonian Boulevard



Greenfield TPP Demonstration

Time: 12:00pm * Friday, January 31

Location: Greenfield Common * Main St



CT Fights Back against TPP

Time: 4:30pm * Friday, January 31

Location: Corner of Asylum & Broad




Free Thinkers Barbeque against the TPP

Time: 12:00pm * Saturday, February 1

Location: Memorial Park * 6501 Memorial Drive




Day of Action against the TPP & Corporate Globalization

When: 4:00pm * Friday, January 31

Location: Hemming Plaza * 135 Monroe Street West




Public Forum Exposing and Stopping the TPP

Time: 7:00pm * Thursday, January 30

Location: Jersey City Hall (Council Chambers) * 280 Grove Street




Death by TPP Funeral Procession

Time: 2:00pm * Friday, January 31

Location: Meet at Mirage Valet * Las Vegas Strip




Tell Michelle Obama to #StopTPPFastTrack

Time: 4:00pm * Wednesday, January 29

Location: Wilshire Blvd at Freemont Place




Time: 2:00pm * Friday, January 31

Location: Sen. Klobuchar's Office * 1200 Washington Ave. South




March & Rally: Rep. Crowley - Say NO to Fast Track

Time: 10:00am * Friday, January 31

Location: Rep. Crowley's Queens Office * 82-11 37th Ave




Day of Action against the TPP & Corporate Globalization

Time: 6:00pm * Friday, January 31

Location: 400 S. Orange Ave




Rally to Stop the TPP / No More NAFTAs!

Time: 12:00pm * Friday, January 31

Location: PSU Park Blocks (in front of Smith Center)




Dutchess County Says NO TPP

Time: 4:00pm * Friday, January 31

Location: In Front of County Legislature * 22 Market St



Citizen Indictment of TPP Fast-Tracker Sen. Hatch

Time: 2:30pm * Friday, January 31

Location: Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building * 125 S. State Street




San Diego Rally 4 Congress to Vote NO on Fast Track for TPP

Time: 11:30am * Friday, January 31

Location: San Diego Federal Building * 880 Front St




Stop TPP & Fast Track Freeway Light Brigade

Time: 4:00pm * Friday, January 31

Location: Clairemont Drive overpass of I-5




Rally and March against the TPP and Corporate Globalization

When: 4:30pm * Friday, January 31

Location: Federal Building * 90 7th Street




Teach-in against the TPP

Time: 5:30pm * Friday, January 31

Location: 412 Hickory Circle



No MORE NAFTAS - Stop the TPP Action

When: 12:00pm * Friday, January 31

Location: Westlake Center * 400 Pine St



Springfield Rally against the TPP & Fast Track

Time: 12:00pm * Friday, January 31

Location: Outside Rep. Neal's Office * 300 State St



Penn State against the TPP

Time: 12:00pm * Friday, January 31

Location: 430 East Foster Avenue



Delaware Rally against the TPP

Time: 3:30pm * Friday, January 31

Location: Congressman John Carney's Office * 233 N King St, Ste 200




TPP Forum

Time: 1:00pm * Saturday, February 1

Location: Silverside Church * 2800 Silverside Rd Contact: