Saturday, March 25, 2017

Too Much, Too Late: Are Pipeline, Tar Sands, and Global Coal Mega-Projects on the Way to Extinction?

Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)

by Joshua Frank - CounterPunch

March 24, 2017

Environmentalists don’t have much to be happy about these days. The Earth is warming fast, species are dying everywhere and our forests and oceans are being destroyed. At times there seems to be no turning back, and perhaps there isn’t. Humans’ collective toll on the planet, with industrialization and greed as the driving forces, may be irreparable.

Deepwater Horizon, Gulf of Mexico 2010

Even so, that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the few victories that do occasionally come our way.

On Friday, Donald Trump’s State Department officially approved the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. While President Obama already okayed the southern portion of KXL, it was predicted Trump would green light its northern expansion. If completed, the pipeline could carry oil from Canada’s tar sands in Alberta down to Gulf Coast of Texas.

Certainly, this isn’t good news, but what is great news is the whole venture may not be profitable enough to move forward, despite Trump’s glowing stamp of approval.

In early March, Royal Dutch Shell announced they were pulling out and going to sell their tar sands’ assets. Why? Tar sands aren’t likely to be profitable in the future. Continued low oil prices, coupled with stronger climate policies around the world, are forcing Shell and others to reconsider their investments.

According to Environmental Defense, a total of seven multinational oil companies are either scaling back their operations in Alberta’s tar sands or yanking their operations out altogether. These companies include: ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Statoil, Koch Industries, Marathon Oil, Imperial Oil and now Shell.

ExxonMobil decided to not develop their 3.6 billion barrel tar sand reserve. Imperial stated it was going to “write-down” its 2.8 billion stake, citing low oil prices. Koch ended its plans to excavate the proposed Muskwa tar sands project. Marathon cut tar sands from its portfolio because of its high cost. ConocoPhillips said low energy prices make their 2 billion barrel venture too risky and Statoil sold its tar sand interests at a loss.

All in all, it looks like the investment dollars for tar sands exploitation is drying up quickly, and when the money evaporates so does the oil. Of course, this doesn’t bode well for Keystone’s proponents. Expensive, dirty tar sand oil won’t be running across the heartland of the United States if there’s no money to be made.

If this wasn’t enough good news, a joint report put out this week by CoalSwarm, the Sierra Club and Greenpeace found a 62 percent decline in new coal plant construction around the globe. To top it off, there’s been an 80 percent drop off of new coal plant permits in China alone. Coal plant construction around the world is in freefall and their may be no turning back.

“This has been a messy year, and an unusual one,” says Ted Nace, director of CoalSwarm.

“It’s not normal to see construction frozen at scores of locations, but central authorities in China and bankers in India have come to recognize overbuilding of coal plants is a major waste of resources. However abrupt, the shift from fossil fuels to clean sources in the power sector is a positive one for health, climate security, and jobs. And by all indications, the shift is unstoppable.”

While Trump claims that he’s set to bring back the US’s barely breathing coal industry and black lung with it, global economics and common sense see otherwise. Since 2010, a total of 251 coal plants in the US have announced retirement and are closing in the near future or have already. Sorry Donny.

Dirty coal and now tar sands may soon be dead — or rather, buried in the ground where it should have all stayed in the first place.
JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, co-edited with Jeffrey St. Clair and published by AK Press. He can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter @joshua__frank.
More articles by:Joshua Frank

Friday, March 24, 2017

Finding the Horse: Why Fight It

The Cold, Hard Facts Of Life – A Reappraisal

by David Edwards - Medialens

January 24, 2017

The alarm clock rings. I set it myself but it feels like it's linked to some centralised system ordering the nation's workforce awake. I swing my feet out into an unwelcoming, cold room; put on my clothes, including grey socks, grey suit, black shoes, and the white shirt I ironed the night before.

As usual, I leave the top button undone and attempt to hide my disobedience beneath a colourful, strangling tie. I have a sense that I'm able to breathe in the space between the open top button and the loose knot of the tie, that some small freedom resides there.

I crawl out onto an icy, pitch-black street to join a steadily growing stream of commuters flowing like rainwater down the gutters and into the London Tube.

I'm aware of an internal resistance, like a hand pressing on my chest, against which I have to push. I travel one and a quarter hours, with a single change at Tottenham Court Road, journeying from the South to the West of London.

At White City, I walk past the BBC TV Centre and spend the day at a desk answering hundreds of calls placing orders for computer accessories that I input into a PC for rapid delivery. There are fifteen of us in the open-plan office. When a call goes unanswered for 10 seconds, a blue light flashes on the ceiling; after 15 seconds, a red light flashes. Thereafter, staff from the marketing and accounts departments are expected to rush in and hit the phones. Every call I take is logged: time, duration, revenue earned, returns subtracted.

I hate the job. In fact, I instantly disliked the job so intensely that I felt relief in knowing that I would only last a few days. In the event, I will work there for almost two years.

I'm doing the job because I've been persuaded that I can't do what I want in life (I certainly don't want to be there!). I believe that I have to do what I hate within a friendly but subtly intimidating, firmly controlling hierarchy. I've been told that my CV has to be fed on a strict diet of continuous, full-time work. I have to suffer it, swallow it, take it. I have to start at the bottom and work my way up. I have to pay the bills. These are the cold, hard facts of life. The only other option is to be stuck in mindless, low-paying work for the rest of my life.

But it turns out that when you set off down the path signposted, 'The Life I Hate,' you end up experiencing variations on the theme. 'The Life I Hate' doesn't typically turn into 'The Life I Love'. It turns into 'The Life I Hate' plus extra responsibility, workload and stress within the same authoritarian structure. And yes, more money and status.

There's another problem - the further you journey down the path of 'The Life I Hate', the further the path journeys into you. You become the path. If you force yourself to do what you hate, you have to become insensitive to your feelings. You have to become as cold, hard and tough as the life you're leading. So you become adept at tuning out on early morning commutes across London to sit in grim business meetings, and hopeless at knowing what it is you would really love to do; hopeless at detecting and following that feeling, at enjoying your life.

Because tuning out is so vital, corporate executives tolerate enough truth to satisfy their consciences, but not enough to challenge their way of life. If you read the Guardian and watch the BBC, you can continue working for the Government, Big Pharma, Big Oil. If you read Noam Chomsky, say - if you really read him and take the issues seriously - you can't. Well you can, but you will be tugging your heart in opposite directions. At one point, while working as a marketing manager, I decided to stop reading radical politics and philosophy – I literally threw my books away. The internal conflict was too painful, making me feel much worse about the work. But I continued leafing through the Guardian and watching the BBC, no problem.

Finding The Horses

Somerset Maugham described the lives of 'most people':

'They are like tram-cars travelling for ever on the self-same rails. They go backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards, inevitably, till they can go no longer and then are sold as scrap-iron.' (W. Somerset Maugham, The Lotus Eater, Collected Short Stories, Volume Four, Pan, 1976, p.180)

Joseph Campbell played a big part in sending me off the rails:

'My answer is, "Follow your bliss." There's something inside you that knows when you're in the centre, that knows when you're on the beam or off the beam. And if you get off the beam to earn money, you've lost your life. And if you stay in the centre and don't get any money, you still have your bliss.' (Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers, 'The Power of Myth', Doubleday, 1988, p.229)

If 'bliss' sounds a bit soppy, Campbell clarified:

'The way to find about your happiness is to keep your mind on those moments when you feel most happy, when you really are happy - not excited, not just thrilled, but deeply happy. This requires a little bit of self-analysis. What is it that makes you happy?' (p.155)

But what about money, the mortgage, eating? What about the cold, hard facts of life? Campbell's advice: forget it, just do the thing you love – don't give it a second thought. Things tend to work out when you do what you love, because you're a lot better at it than you are at money-motivated tasks.

Alas, many people, particularly those of us who hauled ourselves up the school, college and career ladder, are not attuned to our bliss. It's a melancholy sight when people stuck in work they hate, reply with a hopeless shrug: 'But I don't know what my bliss is.'

Consider British spiritual teacher Russel Williams - now an extraordinary, vibrant 95-year-old - who qualified as an electrician during the Second World War, and who had the option to start up an electrical business:

'That was the plan... And I realised that if I followed this path – starting up this business – it wouldn't make me happy.' (Russel Williams, 'Not I, Not Other Than I,' O-Books, e-edition, Steve Taylor ed., 2015, pp.136-7)

Contemplating several possibilities, all of them felt like, 'The Life I Hate':

'The only thing left was to walk away – literally – and hope that something would show me where I was supposed to be going. So I left, with just a few shillings in my pocket. It was the summer of 1945. I started walking, and carried on, walking and walking. I lost track of time. It could have been weeks or months.' (pp.137-8)

Crossing a moor one day, Williams met a showman with a broken-down bus. They struck up a conversation and the man asked him:

'Do you know anything about horses?' (p.138)

Williams ended up grooming, feeding and watering horses for a circus. But this became much more than just a job:

'I grew to love the animals. I felt a strong connection with them. It was impossible not to, living with them 24 hours a day.' (pp.140-1)

He was determined to understand the horses fully, wholly, through careful observation:

'So I set my mind to watching and observing every detail, every moment of the day, for days on end.
'After about three months, as I became more concentrated on the horses, I noticed that I wasn't thinking anymore. My mind had gone quiet. I realised that knowing and thinking are two different things, and that you could know without thinking... I had a strong feeling that I was finally going in the right direction, that this was my path...' (p.141)

Williams later realised that the task he had set himself was actually a form of mindfulness meditation:

'In effect, I was meditating about 20 hours a day, 7 days a week for three years, completely absorbed in caring for the horses. It was a life of continual service, with no thought for myself.' (pp.141-2)

At the end of this time, Williams describes a profound shift in awareness, in fact an enlightenment experience, that has never left him. He has been president of the Buddhist Society of Manchester since 1974, but does not consider himself a Buddhist.

My own experience of walking away from 'The Life I Hate' was easier on the shoe-leather. I walked the short distance from the office to my flat one summer lunchtime and never went back. I had decided to follow Campbell's advice, with no idea of what work I could do that might replace corporate work, and no idea how I would feed myself when my few savings ran out. But I had decided I would no longer do what I hated for money and would instead do what I loved, for nothing.

In my case, that meant writing political essays, philosophical essays, stories, observations, jokes – hundreds of pages of them. By the next spring, I was supporting myself by teaching English to foreign students three hours a day. Compared to my full-time office life, it was like floating on a cloud. Best of all, I only had to work half-time, and could spend the rest of the day just reading and writing.

The important thing, I think, is not so much to follow but to locate your bliss. In truth, once you've found it, there is nowhere to go - it's inside you. Simply slowing down, working part-time, helps us get away from the more maddening, exhausting aspects of work that swamp any attempt at introspection. This allows us to become more mindful, which actually means more mindempty, less bogged down in thought.

As Williams found in observing his horses, when we pay close attention to something other than thought, thoughts subside. When that happens, we make an astonishing discovery: inside us, lies a source of great peace, kindness and joy that is ordinarily obscured by clouds of thinking. This is what Buddhists call our 'Buddha nature'. It is that simple. And that difficult, because the whole world is ceaselessly insisting, with great certainty, that our bliss is out there: in him, her, this far-flung country, that exotic job, this salary, that mewling infant... We have always looked out there; it has never occurred to us to look inside.

We are distracted from, unaware of, the happiness that is forever blazing away inside. Certainly it is a mighty force, but then the world is a planet-sized distraction preventing us from noticing.

The Great Escape

I thought I had to tramp the Tube, hack my way through endless business meetings, to somehow end up in a better place. And yet I found a better place by simply walking away. So what about the cold, hard facts: earnings, pension, financial security?

If following your bliss is your highest value, financial security cannot be a key concern. You can't do what you love because you love it and because you've identified a little 'niche market'. Yes, one might conceivably live a more difficult life in some ways and even die earlier as a result. But then, in my corporate career, I was not fully alive, either. The time I spent in those offices was a threadbare, hair-shirted, hovel of an existence. I sacrificed hundreds of weeks, years of my life, to financial security, the CV. In the 25 years since I hung up my business uniform, I have avoided numberless miserable, stressful and, above all, achingly boring moments.

By contrast to these real savings, the thousands of pounds my early 'retirement' cost me are insignificant causes of dubious benefit. I've never really noticed the absence of that money; I've never needed it. But I needed the freedom to do what I want. And what a treasure that is: to be free to do what you want on any given day. To do what you really love to do when you want to do it. And to not do it, if you don't want to.

The world does not end when we follow our bliss, quite the reverse. The destruction of the environment is driven by wage slaves who can never have enough because they're trying to find the life they love by travelling deeper into the life they hate. When more self-betrayal makes us feel even emptier, we keep stuffing that emptiness, turning the world into a version of the wasteland we feel inside. When we sacrifice our bliss, our present moment, for some supposedly Higher Cause, our heart dies, the rainforests die, the climate dies, people die. The conformist grey of our suit, the unaliveness we feel as we trudge to work, spreads, suffocates and kills.

The great escape begins with slowing down, leaping barbed-wire thoughts, tunnelling attention into the body, and finding a centre of comfort, of bliss, there. As Williams says with wonderful simplicity:

'The main thing is to be aware of being comfortable within. If you can do that, you can observe things which come in and produce a little discomfort, and examine why they produce the discomfort. You can quietly observe them and then return to the comfort.' (p.218)

David Edwards is co-editor of

Trump Right, They Are Laughing at US

The West is becoming Irrelevant: The World is Laughing

by Andre Vltchek - Dissident Voice

March 23rd, 2017

I was recently told by an Asian friend of mine who is working in Paris:

Lately I stopped following almost all that is happening politically in the United States, in the UK and even here in France.
It all feels suddenly so irrelevant, a waste of time.

Statements like this would be unimaginable only one decade ago. In the past, what came from Washington and (to a smaller extent) from London was monitored with great attentiveness and fear all over the world.

But all of a sudden, things have begun to change, rapidly. Despite the extremely violent nature of the Western-designed-and-manufactured global regime, which has been over-imposed on so many parts of the world for decades and centuries, increasing amounts of people in Asia, Latin America and Africa stopped worrying and went leisurely to the ‘barricades’, beginning to rebel against the perverseness of the ‘world order’.

Did it all really happen ‘all of a sudden’?

Or were there various catalysts at work for already quite a substantial period of time?

It is a well-known fact that any deep-seated, chronic anxiety cannot disappear in just a short moment. People who are enslaved, humiliated, scared into obedience, people who are forced to feel uncertain and constantly frightened, cannot reverse their state of mind without some important external factor or set of factors.

It became obvious to me, as I have been working continuously on all continents and in almost all conflict zones of our Planet, that the renewed pride and courage which is now inspiring millions of oppressed human beings, actually came from the decisive and determined stand of just several brave and determined nations, big and small.

The myth about the omnipotence of the Empire has received a few significant blows.

The fable of invincibility has not completely disappeared yet, but at least it has got fractured and gravely injured.

The gate of the terrible prison began cracking. It has not collapsed, but the fractures were wide enough for at least some sunlight to enter the dark and dreadful cavities inhabited by billions of unfortunate and shattered beings.

Some victims stood up immediately; not many but at least some did. Others raised their heads in feeble hope, still lying down on the dirty ground, still chained, and still shaking. That weak light alone entering the dungeon was actually much brighter than what most people ever experienced in their entire life. It has been strong enough to provoke wonderful, brilliant sparks of hope.


Except for some temporary setbacks (like in Brazil and Argentina), the anti-imperialist coalition is now steadier than ever; it is determined and constantly expanding.

And it is clearly winning!

It is truly a ‘rainbow coalition’ of countries, big and small, ‘red’ and ‘pink’, even ‘green’.

The only unifying factor is the shared determination not to be controlled by Western imperialism and neo-colonialism.

For decades, Cuba stood against the Empire, even after the Soviet block was broken to bits, even when all mutual agreements ceased to be honored by the criminal Yeltsin administration. The Cuban people never surrendered. It is because most of them always believed, from the bottom of their hearts, in socialism and internationalism. And also because they have been convinced that the Western Empire is a morally corrupt and illegitimate entity and therefore has to be resisted.

A small and relatively poor country – Cuba – demonstrated to the entire world that while the Empire is mighty, sadistic and brutal, it is not omnipotent, and it is possible to defy it. There is no reason why one should not dare, or one should not dream about a much better world, why one shouldn’t fight for true freedom, attempting to win.

Cuba inspired the world. Its daring Revolution took place just a few miles from the shores of the United States. Soon after, its teachers and doctors went to all parts of the earth, spreading optimism, solidarity and kindness. Its heroic revolutionaries went to fight against the most dreadful forms of colonialism, which were torturing people in such places as Congo, Angola and Namibia.

After Obama’s attempts to water down the determination of the Cuban citizens, many enemies began to predict, cynically: “Now Cuba will compromise and sell its Revolution.”

It never did! I traveled to the Island last year, driving through the countryside, and speaking to people in Havana, Guantanamo and Santiago de Cuba. Almost no one was ready to compromise. A greatly educated nation, Cuba saw through the Empire’s tricks and deceptions.

Now almost nobody speaks about the “Cuban compromise”, anymore, simply because there isn’t any on the table.

China, one of the oldest and greatest civilizations on Earth, went through the terrible period of ‘humiliation’. Divided, occupied and plundered by the West, it has never forgotten nor forgiven.

Now the Chinese Communist state and its mixed economy are helping countries in virtually all parts of the world, from Oceania and Latin America, to the Middle East and especially Africa, to survive and to finally stand on their own feet. Despite all the vitriolic propaganda regurgitated by the West (those people in Europe or North America who know close to zero about Africa or China, habitually passing ‘confident’ and highly cynical ‘judgments’ about China’s involvement in the poor world; judgments based exclusively on the lies and fabrications produced by the Western media), China has been gaining great respect and trust in virtually all corners of the globe.

The Chinese people and their government are now standing firmly against Western imperialism. They will not allow any recurrence of the disgraceful and dreary past.

The West is provoking this mighty and optimistic nation, pushing it into a terrible confrontation. China doesn’t want any military conflict. It is the most peaceful, the most non-confrontational large nation on Earth. But it is becoming clear that if pushed against the wall, this time it will not compromise: it will fight.

In the last years I have spoken to many Chinese people, as I traveled to all corners of the country, and I’m convinced that by now the nation is ready to meet strength with strength.

Such determination gives hope to many other countries on our Planet. The message is clear: the West cannot do whatever it wants, anymore. If it tries, it will be stopped. By reason or by force!

Russia is ready again, too. It is standing next to China, enormous and indignant.

Go to Novosibirsk or Tomsk, to Khabarovsk, Vladivostok or Petropavlovsk in Kamchatka. Talk to Russian people and you will soon understand: almost nobody there believes or respects the West anymore. Throughout history, Russia was attacked and ransacked from the West. Millions, tens of millions of its people were murdered, literally exterminated. And now, the nation is facing what some consider to be yet another imminent attack.

Like the Chinese people, Russians are unwilling to compromise anymore. The old Russian forecast is once again alive, that very one professed by Alexander Nevsky:

Go tell all in foreign lands that Russia lives! Those who come to us in peace will be welcome as a guest. But those who come to us sword in hand will die by the sword! On that Russia stands and forever will we stand!

In Russia, as in China, and as in so many other nations that were devastated by the Western plunderers, nothing is forgotten and no one is forgotten. It only appeared for a while that the memory had fainted. It never does. You cannot burn down an entire land, ruin the cities, burn the fields, and still pose as one with the moral mandate. Or as we say in Chile: “Justice takes time, but it always comes!”

And the world is watching. It is suddenly clearly registering this determined and brave epic stand of morally strong nations. Many of those who are watching are deeply impressed with what they are seeing. Perhaps not in London or in Paris, but go and ask those in Johannesburg or Beirut, or even in Calcutta, Cairo or Buenos Aires. Perhaps you suspect what answers you’d receive there!

Throughout modern history, not once has Iran invaded a foreign country. Yet its secular, progressive and democratic government (under the leadership of Mohammad Mosaddegh) was overthrown in 1953, in a CIA-backed coup. What followed was the monstrosity of the ‘pro-Western Shah’, and then a horrendous war, an invasion by Iraq, which was also fully backed by the West and which took hundreds of thousands of human lives. Since then, Iran has been suffering from targeted killings of its scientists (by the West and Israel), as well as terrorist attacks also backed from abroad.

Instead of falling on its knees and begging for mercy, Iran defied the West. On several occasions and when provoked, it sent its battleships to the neutral waters near the US coast, and it pledged to defend its land, in case it was to be attacked.

Iran also showed great solidarity towards Latin America, working closely with virtually all of the revolutionary governments there. It stood firmly by Venezuela in a time of great crises, building social housing in Caracas and supporting the Process by all other means.

In Latin America, no one will ever forget how former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to Caracas to attend the funeral of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, his dear friend. During the memorial, the aged mother of Chavez suddenly approached Ahmadinejad, in tears. Breaking all religious protocol of a Shi’a country that he was representing, the Iranian President embraced her, and held her against his heart, until she calmed down.

This moment was expressing one simple and powerful reality: all of us, the internationalists and anti-imperialists, are fighting for the survival of humanity and this planet. There is more that unites us than what is tearing us apart. Once we win, and we will win, the world will be able to find a common language. The West wants to divide us, by spreading hostilities and distrust, all through ‘false news’ and fabrications. But we understand its game. We will not break our ranks anymore.

The West is clearly losing. It knows it. It is in panic.

Its nihilism, its propaganda and indoctrination tactics will soon be defeated.

I wrote a lot about the DPRK and how it joined the list of the ‘most hated nations on Earth’. It is a well known fact that North Korea was, for years and decades, much richer and more democratic than South Korea (ROK). But it embarked on one tremendous humanist ‘project’, and together with Cuba, the Soviet Union and to some extent China, it liberated almost the entire African continent, at great cost and sacrifice. And not only that: it sent its top educators and doctors to all corners of the most devastated continent on Earth. Its pilots also flew Egyptian MIGs against Israel, during the 1967 war. These facts have been silenced by Western propaganda, but they clearly explain why the DPRK has been ostracized, pushed to the corner, hit by senseless embargos, and forced to react the way it has been reacting for at least the last two decades.

North Korea has never surrendered either, and it never will.

Neither has Venezuela, for many years the great sentinel and engine of the Bolivarian Revolution, as well as of Latin Internationalism and solidarity. Surviving coups, embargos, plots and propaganda campaigns, surviving attacks, even terror, of the foreign-backed ‘opposition’, Venezuela has been injured but it is alive. Just a few days ago I spoke to an Italian Parliamentary delegation, consisting of the“5-Star-Movement” MPs, which recently returned from Caracas. Their conclusion was simple: “The worst is over”.

The world knows it! Venezuela, DPRK, Cuba – they never fell. No matter how many knives penetrated their bodies, despite so much pain caused by the sanctions, coup attempts and direct acts of terrorism administered by the West and its monstrous Empire.

It is becoming clear and obvious: the West is helpless against determination, true courage and patriotic love. It is powerless when confronted with humanist ideologies, and with true loyalty!

And the world keeps watching, drawing its conclusions.

I wrote about Syria, comparing Aleppo to the 20th Century Stalingrad. This is where racism, terrorism, and the lowest forms of Western imperialism (and shameful acts of the regional lackeys) were decisively stopped. The price was terrible, but the message to the world extremely clear: The people who love their country with their entire hearts can fight and win against all odds, especially if by their side stand truly great and reliable friends and comrades!

One day the world will thank the Syrian people, profusely and properly. One day, everything will be understood. One day, perhaps soon.


This is one of the greatest moments in human history, perhaps the greatest.

It has arrived without big salvos announcing monumental revolutions.

Everything is happening fast, in an organized and determined manner.

The greatest minds of Russia, China, Latin America and the rest of the world, are feverishly, day and night, trying to determine what really brought our world, our civilization, to this ludicrous downfall.

The simplified and stripped-down answer is this: Western imperialism (military, economic and ‘intellectual’/ ’cultural’), colonialism and neo-colonialism, as well as that dreadful by-product of all the above combined – a set of unchecked and savage form of capitalism.

Simultaneously, new forms of government, of economy and social systems are being, once again, planned.

The military strategists of the countries that are refusing to kneel in front of the barbaric terror of the West, responsible for hundreds of millions of murders and billions of ruined lives, are planning how to defend their countries and the world.

Once again, the world is at work! It is building trenches, educating people, preparing them for the final showdown with the culture that has been tormenting our Planet for centuries.

It is the moment of great hope and renewed enthusiasm.

Of course, if seen from Western capitals, everything is bleak and depressing. There is no ‘hope’ at all.

I agree fully: there is no hope ‘for them’.

The logic, the ‘philosophy’ with which the Europeans and the North Americans have become accustomed to analyze the world, has arrived at a dead end.

Yes, it is ‘the end of philosophy’, or as they say, ‘the end of history’. I fully agree: it is the end of their philosophy and of their history.

That’s why, reading about their elections or statements produced by their politicians, is nothing less than a waste of time. The world realizes it, more and more.

Their ‘new tricks’ are actually very old. Their entire system is outdated. It should have been retired at least one hundred years ago. It survived only because of its savagery and cruelty. It will go soon, anyway.

These days, encountering people inhabiting the West is like encountering those zombies who were living in Nazi Germany during WWII. After the war was over, they were street walking for years, at least many of them, repeating the same refrains: “We didn’t know!” “We never realized”. The Nazi propaganda and the one, which has been used in the West and in the colonies (as Noam Chomsky and I defined in our book “On Western Terrorism”), are based on precisely the same roots, foundations and methods. Both are extremely effective when it comes to the total brainwashing of the population.

To follow up the last chapter of the imperialist and turbo capitalist morass of the West is embarrassing and useless.

Both Europe and the United States are suffering from a series of devastating mental illnesses, as was defined by the great Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung, right after WWII.

Getting too much involved in pathological behavior, constantly studying and analyzing it, could only break and deeply depress any healthy person’s mind.

There is nothing more to understand. Hundreds of millions of victims in all parts of the world are speaking for themselves.

The only rational issue here is this: how to stop this horror as soon as possible? How to allow humanity to return to its natural development and evolution patterns?

I don’t believe in ‘punishments’ and ‘trials’ and other vehicles of intimidation and of spreading fear. I don’t care whether the West will ‘pay’ for all that it has done to the world. I only want it to be stopped, once and for all.

I work very hard for it to be stopped.

So are others.

And the world is watching, and all of a sudden enjoying what it sees.

Suddenly more and more people are daring to laugh at the global regime. Of course not in Paris, London or New York (here they are scared and obedient, even more than before). But outside, yes!

People on all continents want to see and hear about what ‘others do’, what ‘we do’, not what the Empire and its mental conditions are producing.

They are laughing and waiting impatiently for what a new day, a new year will bring. They are waiting for the true new beginning to arrive.

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are the revolutionary novel Aurora and two bestselling works of political non-fiction: Exposing Lies Of The Empire and Fighting Against Western Imperialism. View his other books here. Watch his Rwanda Gambit, a documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo. He continues to work around the world and can be reached through his website and Twitter. Read other articles by Andre.

Will No-one Rid Haiti of That Troublesome Priest!? Aristide Assassination Plotters Fail

Were Haitian Police Behind Assassination Attempt on Aristide?


March 24, 2017

Haiti's former president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, survived an assassination attempt last Friday when gunmen opened fire on Aristide's motorcade. Two bystanders were injured, but Aristide himself escaped unhurt. Jean-Bertrand Aristide served as an immensely popular president for six months in 1991, and then again from 2001 to 2004, and was ousted both times in a coup.

Jeb Sprague-Silgado says the firing on the former president's motorcade took place in the context of mass voter disenfranchisement and an attempt to rearrange the country politically away from left forces

New evidence has emerged recently in relation to the 2004 coup against Aristide. According to a report in the newspaper, Haiti Liberté, U.S. DEA agents kidnapped paramilitary leader Guy Philippe, and he was also arrested by Haitian law enforcement last month. Philippe himself was instrumental in organizing the capture of Aristide in 2004 at the behest of U.S. agents in Haiti. Philippe says that he was captured so he would not be able to testify about U.S. responsibility for the coup against Aristide. Joining us today to talk about these recent developments in Haiti is Jeb Sprague-Silgado. Jeb is the author of “Para-militarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti”. He also teaches sociology at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Kiss and Tell? Bad Vibrations from Spying Sex Toys

Great: Now your sex toys are used to spy on you and sell your private habits, too

by Rick Falkvinge - Falkvinge on Liberty

March 23, 2017

The makers of an Internet-connected sex toy have settled to pay a small amount to some 300,000 owners of a vibrator which was used to spy on their sex habits, which the manufacturer collected as individually identifiable data.

Additionally, the bluetooth-controlled sex toy device was utterly insecure, allowing remote anonymous administration. In the mess of IoT devices spying on us, we now need to add the bedroom.

In Las Vegas in 2016, at Defcon, hackers g0ldfisk and followr originally disclosed the We-Vibe vibrator vulnerability, observing that anybody in bluetooth range could take control of the device. As the duo noted during their presentation, such an intrusion would amount to sexual assault – meaning we can now add sexual assault to the list of possible consequences of unsecured IoT devices.

This vulnerability – along with a shockingly audacious and undisclosed data collection about its users’ sexual habits, like temperature and sexual intensity, collected insecurely as identifiable data connected to their e-mail addresses – has led up to the class action lawsuit, which has been settled now.

The manufacturer, We-Vibe, will pay four million Canadian dollars – expecting this to result in maybe C$500 for a violated individual at best.

The lawyers for the anonymous plaintiffs contended that the app, “incredibly,” collected users’ email addresses, allowing the company “to link the usage information to specific customer accounts.”US NPR

This is just the start of devices made by engineering morons who may understand their original field – sex toys – but have absolutely no clue about Internet-level security. They are not alone: corporations as large as the biggest banks enjoyed the comfort of having a private network up until just recently, and have had to wake up in a hurry to the fact that all input must be regarded as hostile until proven friendly.

The engineering principle of “your code is the last piece of code standing” was something that woke Microsoft up as late as fifteen years ago, and they were late in the IT game, but that’s nothing compared to non-IT players wanting in on the Internet of Things and the Fun Profitable Apps who still haven’t learned.

We can add sexual assault to the list of possible consequences of insecure IoT devices.

Maybe the most egregious thing about all this is that the vibrator maker continues to collect the private data, just with a “clarified” privacy policy, where two things immediately stand out.

  • First, the collection of sex habit data is opt-out, meaning that your sex life will be spied on unless you take active action to not have it be so (having this “opt-out” is strictly illegal in several parts of the world, and for good reason). 
  • Second, they reserve the right to sell such data to anyone they like, but dress it in language suggesting the opposite: “We will never sell your usage data to a third party … except for as specified in our policy”. That last part makes the first part completely useless; what this means is “we will sell your usage data to a third party as specified”.

Maybe the most egregious thing about this story is that the vibrator maker continues to collect the private data, just with an obscure-and-opt-out privacy policy saying so.

Your privacy indeed remains your own responsibility.

Rick Falkvinge is the founder of the first Pirate Party and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. He works as Head of Privacy at the no-log VPN provider Private Internet Access; with his other 40 hours, he's developing an enterprise grade bitcoin wallet and HR system for activism. 

Putin and the Threat Europe Presents America's Plan for Global Dominance

Will Washington Risk WW3 to Block an Emerging EU-Russia Superstate

by Mike Whitney - CounterPunch

March 23, 2017

“Russia is an inalienable and organic part of Greater Europe and European civilization. Our citizens think of themselves as Europeans…That’s why Russia proposes moving towards the creation of a common economic space from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, a community referred to by Russian experts as ‘the Union of Europe’ which will strengthen Russia’s potential in its economic pivot toward the ‘new Asia.’”
— Russian President Vladimir Putin, “Russia and the changing world”, 
February 2012

The relentless demonization of Vladimir Putin is just one part of Washington’s multi-pronged strategy to roll-back Russian power in Central Asia and extinguish Putin’s dream of a “Greater Europe”. Along with the attempt to smear the Russian president as a “KGB thug” and “dictator”, the media has also alleged that Moscow intervened in the US presidential elections and that Russia is a serial aggressor that poses a growing threat to European and US national security.

The media onslaught, which has greatly intensified since the election of Donald Trump in November 2016, has been accompanied by harsh economic sanctions, asymmetrical attacks on Russia’s markets and currency, the arming and training of Russian adversaries in Ukraine and Syria, the calculated suppression of oil prices, and a heavy-handed effort to sabotage Russia’s business relations in Europe. In short, Washington is doing everything in its power to prevent Russia and Europe from merging into the world’s biggest free trade zone that will be the center of global growth and prosperity for the next century.

This is why the US State Department joined with the CIA to topple the elected government of Ukraine in 2014. Washington hoped that by annexing a vital landbridge between the EU and Asia, US powerbrokers could control critical pipeline corridors that are drawing the two continents closer together into an alliance that will exclude the United States.

The prospect of Russia meeting more of the EU’s growing energy needs, while China’s high-speed railway system delivers more low-cost manufactured goods, suggests that the world’s center of economic gravity is shifting fast increasing the probability that the US will continue on its path of irreversible decline. And when the US dollar is inevitably jettisoned as the primary means of exchange between trade partners in the emerging Asia-EU free trade zone, then the recycling of wealth into US debt will drop off precipitously sending US markets plunging while the economy slips into a deep slump.

Preventing Putin from “creating a harmonious community of economies from Lisbon to Vladivostok” is no minor hurtle for the United States. It’s a matter of life and death.

Remember the Wolfowitz Doctrine:

“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.”

Washington’s relations with Russia will always be fractious because Russia poses a perennial threat to US ambitions to rule the world. Geography is fate, and Russia’s geography contains massive oil and gas reserves that Europe needs to heat its homes and fuel its businesses. The symbiotic relationship between supplier and end-user will eventually lead to the lifting of trade barriers, the lowering of tariffs, and the smooth melding together of national economies into a region-wide common market. This may be Washington’s biggest nightmare, but it’s also Putin’s top strategic priority. Here’s what he said:

“We must consider more extensive cooperation in the energy sphere, up to and including the formation of a common European energy complex. The Nord Stream gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea and the South Stream pipeline under the Black Sea are important steps in that direction. These projects have the support of many governments and involve major European energy companies. Once the pipelines start operating at full capacity, Europe will have a reliable and flexible gas-supply system that does not depend on the political whims of any nation. This will strengthen the continent’s energy security not only in form but in substance. This is particularly relevant in the light of the decision of some European states to reduce or renounce nuclear energy.”

If Europe wants a reliable partner that can meet its energy needs, then Russia fits the bill. Unfortunately, the US has repeatedly tried to sabotage both pipelines in order to undermine EU-Russia relations. Washington would prefer that Europe either dramatically curtail its use of natural gas or find other more expensive alternatives that don’t involve Russia. In other words, Europe’s material needs are being sacrificed for Washington’s geopolitical objectives, the primary goal of which is to prevent the forming of Greater Europe.

Washington’s war against Russia is becoming increasingly militarized. Recently the Pentagon deployed more combat troops to Syria and Kuwait suggesting that US warplanners intend to shift from the current strategy of arming jihadist militias (to topple the government of Syrian President Bashar al Assad), to a more direct use of martial force to seize-and-hold territory in East Syria. There are signs of an uptick in the violence in Ukraine too, as President Trump appears only-too-eager to use a more iron-fisted approach in settling regional disputes than his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Also, NATO has deployed troops and weaponry to Russia’s western flank while the US has spread its military bases across Central Asia. NATO has continued to push eastward ever since the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989. The steady buildup of hostile armies on Russia’s western perimeter has been a source of growing concern in Moscow and for good reason. Russians know their history.

At the same time the US is building a ground-based missile defense system in Romania (Star Wars) that integrates the US nuclear arsenal at a site that is just 900 miles from Moscow. The US missile system which was “certified for operation” in May 2016, cancels-out Russia’s nuclear deterrents and destroys the strategic balance of power in Europe. Putin has responded by ordering appropriate countermeasures. Here are Putin’s comments on the subject:

“It seems that NATO countries, and especially the United States, have developed a peculiar understanding of security which is fundamentally different from our own. The Americans are obsessed with the idea of ‘absolute invulnerability’ for themselves… But absolute invulnerability for one nation means absolute vulnerability for everybody else. We cannot agree to this.”

In the last week, the Trump administration announced that it will deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to South Korea citing a need to respond to provocations by North Korea. In truth, Washington is using the North as a pretext for its plan to hem in Russia and China at “axial ends” of the Eurasian heartland as a means of containing the vast landmass that Sir Halford Mackinder called the “pivot area… stretching from the Persian Gulf to China’s Yangtze River.”

Washington hopes that by controlling critical sea lanes, encircling the region with military bases, and aggressively inserting itself where necessary, it can prevent the emergence of an economic colossus that will diminish the United States role as global superpower. America’s future rests on its ability to derail economic integration at the center of the world and prevail in the Great Game where others have failed. Here’s an excerpt from an article by Alfred W. McCoy titled The Geopolitics of American Global Decline” which helps to shed light on the struggle that is now taking place for control over the so called “world island”:

Following World War II the US became “the first power in history to control the strategic axial points “at both ends of Eurasia” … With fears of Chinese and Russian expansion serving as the “catalyst for collaboration,” the U.S. won imperial bastions in both Western Europe and Japan. With these axial points as anchors, Washington then built an arc of military bases that followed Britain’s maritime template and were visibly meant to encircle the world island….

“Having seized the axial ends of the world island from Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in 1945, for the next 70 years the United States relied on ever-thickening layers of military power to contain China and Russia inside that Eurasian heartland. Stripped of its ideological foliage, Washington’s grand strategy of Cold War-era anticommunist “containment” was little more than a process of imperial succession. …

By the Cold War’s end in 1990, the encirclement of communist China and Russia required 700 overseas bases, an air force of 1,763 jet fighters, a vast nuclear arsenal, more than 1,000 ballistic missiles, and a navy of 600 ships, including 15 nuclear carrier battle groups — all linked by the world’s only global system of communications satellites….(“The Geopolitics of Global Decline”, Alfred W. McCoy)

For the last 70 years the imperial strategy has worked without a hitch, but now Russia’s resurgence and China’s explosive growth are threatening to break free from Washington’s stranglehold. The Asian allies have begun to crisscross Central Asia and Europe with pipelines and high-speed rail that will gather together the far-flung statelets scattered across the steppe, draw them into a Eurasian Economic Union, and link them to an expansive and thriving superstate, the epicenter of global commerce and industry. Grand Chessboard brain-trust Zbigniew Brzezinski summed up the importance of Central Asia in his 1997 classic stating:

“Eurasia is the globe’s largest continent and is geopolitically axial. A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world’s three most advanced and economically productive regions. ….About 75 per cent of the world’s people live in Eurasia, and most of the world’s physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. Eurasia accounts for 60 per cent of the world’s GNP and about three-fourths of the world’s known energy resources.” (The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives, Zbigniew Brzezinski, p.31)

A new global empire is gradually emerging in Central Asia, and while the transformative impact of economic integration has not yet been realized, US efforts to block the embryonic alliance are getting weaker and more desperate all the time. The hyperbolic propaganda about the alleged “Russia hacking” of the presidential election is just one example of this, while the arming of Nazi militants in Kiev is another.

The bottom line is that both Russia and China are using markets, development and raw ingenuity to beat Washington, while Washington relies almost exclusively on deception, covert activity and hard power. In other words, the former communists are beating the capitalists at their own game. Here’s more from McCoy:

“China is reaching deep within the world island in an attempt to thoroughly reshape the geopolitical fundamentals of global power. It is using a subtle strategy that has so far eluded Washington’s power elites….

The initial step has involved a breathtaking project to put in place an infrastructure for the continent’s economic integration. By laying down an elaborate and enormously expensive network of high-speed, high-volume railroads as well as oil and natural gas pipelines across the vast breadth of Eurasia, China may realize Mackinder’s vision in a new way. For the first time in history, the rapid transcontinental movement of critical cargo — oil, minerals, and manufactured goods — will be possible on a massive scale, thereby potentially unifying that vast landmass into a single economic zone stretching 6,500 miles from Shanghai to Madrid. In this way, the leadership in Beijing hopes to shift the locus of geopolitical power away from the maritime periphery and deep into the continent’s heartland….” (Tomgram: Alfred McCoy, Washington’s Great Game and Why It’s Failing”, TomDispatch)

Washington is not going to let the Russo-China plan go forward without a fight. If economic sanctions, covert activity and financial sabotage don’t work, then US powerbrokers will implement more lethal strategies. The recent deployment of troops to the Middle East suggests that policymakers believe that a direct military confrontation might be the best available option, after all, a shooting war with Russia in Syria or Ukraine would not necessarily escalate into a full-blown nuclear conflagration. No one wants that. But if the fighting can be contained within Syria’s borders, then it would be a practical way to rally the EU allies, torpedo Russia’s “economic integration” plan, and draw Moscow into a long, resource-draining quagmire. Is that what US war-planners have in mind?

It’s a risky plan, but one that Washington would eagerly pursue if it helped to reinforce America’s global supremacy.
MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at
More articles by:Mike Whitney

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

American Made: Famine in Yemen

Reality and the U.S.-Made Famine in Yemen 

by Kathy Kelly - CounterPunch

March 22, 2017

This week at the VCNV office in Chicago, my colleague Sabia Rigby prepared a presentation for a local high school. She’ll team up with a young friend of ours, himself a refugee from Iraq, to talk about refugee crises driven by war. Sabia recently returned from Kabul where she helped document the young Afghan Peace Volunteers’ efforts to help bring warmth, food and education to internally displaced families living in makeshift camps, having fled the Afghan War when it raged near their former homes.
Photo by Gerry and Bonni | CC BY 2.0 

Last year Sabia had been visiting with refugees in “the Calais Jungle,” who were fleeing the Middle East and several African countries for Britain. Thwarted from crossing the English Channel, a large mass of people were stopped in this refugee camp in Calais, France, from which French authorities eventually evacuated them, defying their careful solidarity and burning their camp to the ground.

As part of her high school talk, Sabia prepared a handout to show where refugees are the most welcomed. One detail astonished her.

In FY 2016, the U.S. admitted 84,995 refugees, but Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world took in 117,000 new refugees and migrants in 2016, and hosts more than 255,000 refugees from Somalia. Yemen is now beginning to host the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. What’s more, the country is regularly targeted by Saudi and U.S. airstrikes.

Since we are also planning a week of fast and action related to the tragic circumstances Yemen faces, we were astounded when we realized Yemen is a path of escape for Somalis fleeing the Horn of Africa, refugees of one conflict, stranded in their flight, and trapped in a country where deadly conflict is precipitating into deadlier famine.

After years of U.S. support for dictator Ali Adullah Saleh, civil war has wracked Yemen since 2014. Its neighbor Saudi Arabia, itself among the region’s cruelest dictatorships and a staunch U.S. ally, became nervous in 2015 about the outcome and, with support from nine regional allies, began subjecting the country to a punishing barrage of airstrikes, and also imposed a blockade that ended the inflow of food and supplies to Yemen through a major port. This was accomplished with massive, ongoing weapons shipments from the U.S., which has also waged independent airstrikes that have killed dozens of civilians, including women and children.

Pummeled by airstrikes and fighting, facing economic collapse and on the brink of famine, how could this tiny, impoverished country absorb thousands upon thousands of desperate migrants?

Yemen imports 90% of its food. Because of the blockade, food and fuel prices are rising and scarcity is at crisis levels.

UNICEF estimates that more than 460,000 children in Yemen face severe malnutrition, and 3.3 million children and pregnant or lactating women suffer acute malnutrition. More than 10,000 people have been killed, including 1,564 children, and millions have been displaced from their homes, but worse is the groundwork laid for the far greater devastation of famine. Iona Craig, in the IRIN publication, recently wrote:

In the middle of a vast expanse of grey scrubland, a rapidly growing population of more than 120 families huddle under parched trees. Escaping the latest wave of conflict on Yemen’s Red Sea coast, they walked two days to get to this camp southwest of Taiz city.

But on arrival, the scores of women and children found nothing. No support from aid agencies. No food. No water. No shelter. The elderly talk of eating the trees to survive, while children beg for water from local farmers. A mother cradles her clearly malnourished baby in her arms.

Now comes word that on March 16th, forty-two Somali people were killed in sustained gunfire from the air as they set forth in a boat attempting to flee Yemen.

“I took cover in the belly of the ship,” said Ibrahim Ali Zeyad, a Somali who survived the attack.

“People were falling left and right. Everyone kept screaming, ‘We are Somali! We are Somali!’”

But the shooting continued for what felt like half an hour.

The attack on Yemen traps both Yemenis and fleeing Somalis in the worst of four developing crises which collectively amount, one U.N. official warns, to the worst humanitarian crisis in the history of the U.N. As of this writing, no one has taken responsibility for the strike, but survivors say they were attacked by a helicopter gunship. The boat was carrying 140 people as it headed north off the coast of Yemen.

Meanwhile, US weapons makers, including General Dynamics, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin, profit massively from weapon sales to Saudi Arabia. In December, 2017, Medea Benjamin wrote: “Despite the repressive nature of the Saudi regime, U.S. governments have not only supported the Saudis on the diplomatic front, but militarily. Under the Obama administration, this has translated into massive weapons sales of $115 billion.”

At this critical juncture, all member states of the UN must call for an end to the blockade and airstrikes, a silencing of all guns, and a negotiated settlement to the war in Yemen. The worst malefactors, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, must abandon cynical maneuvering against rivals like Iran, in the face of such an unspeakable human cost as Yemen is being made to pay.

U.S. people bear responsibility to demand a radical departure from U.S. policy which exacerbates the deadly tragedy faced by people living in Yemen.

Choosing a path of clear opposition to U.S. policies toward Yemen, U.S. citizens should demand elected representatives stop all drone attacks and military “special operations” within Yemen, end all U.S. weapon sales and military aid to Saudi Arabia, and provide compensation to those who suffered losses caused by U.S. attacks.

Our group of activists long functioned under the name “Voices in the Wilderness,” a campaign to defy U.S. economic warfare against Iraq, a form of war through imposition of economic sanctions which directly contributed to the deaths of over 500,000 children. Lost in a culture of hostile unreality and unbearable silence concerning economic warfare, we were evoking, perhaps unconsciously, the plight of refugees seeking survival. We didn’t succeed in lifting the brutal economic sanctions against Iraq, but we surely learned harsh realities about how callous and reckless U.S. policy makers could be.

We must ground ourselves in reality and in solidarity with the greater part of the world’s people. As our neighbors around the world flee in desperation across borders or within the confines of their own countries, we must continually educate ourselves about the reality of what our nation’s actions mean to the world’s poor. Building toward a time when our voices may unite and be heard, we must raise them now in crying out for the people of Yemen.
KATHY KELLY co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence and has worked closely with the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. She is the author of Other Lands Have Dreams published by CounterPunch / AK Press. She can be reached at:
More articles by:Kathy Kelly

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Don't Cry for Crimea, Chrystia: Freeland's Disingenuous Narrative

'What About Crimea?' Is Latest Narrative by Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister

by Roger Annis - New Cold War

March 17, 2017
(updated March 18 in bolded text)

A news compilation on New Cold on March 8, 2017 reported the controversy that has broken out in Canada surrounding the family history of Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland. Her maternal grandfather edited two pro-German newspapers in Poland and Austria during World War Two. He and his family settled in Canada after the war.

Map of Crimea, dotted line is border with Ukraine

‘Yes, but what about Crimea?’ is Canadian foreign minister’s latest narrative for handling queries into her family history

The minister told a March 6 press conference in Ottawa that inquiries into her family history constitute a ‘Russia disinformation’ campaign directed at her and the Canadian government. The minister as well as sympathetic journalists state that the ‘disinformation’ has been aided and abetted by unnamed ‘pro-Russia’ websites.

The Globe and Mail has published an article on March 16, 2017 in which Minister Freeland hits back at critics questioning her responses to the family history. The article is titled ‘Freeland condemns Russian aggression in Crimea, prompting Kremlin counterattack’. It provides a long list of alleged human rights violations in Crimea as listed by the minister in a statement, whose date happens to coincide with the three-year anniversary of the referendum vote in Crimea on March 16, 2014 to secede from Ukraine and rejoin the Russian Federation.

The referendum vote passed by a very high margin and subsequent polling has shown very high satisfaction rates with the decision among Crimeans of Russian and Ukrainian descent. Though little direct polling of Crimean Tatars has been conducted, one end-2014 poll found majority satisfaction among them.

A more recent survey among Crimean Tatars conducted by Russia’s Federal Agency for Nationalities during December 2016 and January 2017 showed that 61% of Tatars in Crimea don’t approve the policies of Kyiv and 71 per cent oppose the blockade of Crimea by Ukraine. Only 13 per cent support the government in Kyiv. Seventy five per cent of respondents reported being satisfied with their lives.

Globe reporter Robert Fife presents Minister Freeland’s latest list of rights violations in Crimea, writing:

Russian authorities have raided homes and mosques, exiled community leaders, banned rallies, and closed down Tatar media outlets as well as the informal Tatar legislature.

At least 15 Tatars and pro-Ukraine activists have been kidnapped or gone missing. One of them was found dead from possible torture and another allegedly hanged himself in a desolate barn.

Few of the accusations listed by the minister and the reporter can be verified because they are unsourced. But two accusations can be examined, and they are false.

In the case of “closed down media outlets”, the accusation is likely referring to the closure of the Tatar-language ATR television and radio network in April 2015. That was a political decision by the anti-Russia owner of the network. He chose not to renew his broadcast license and he then turned that into a ‘censorship’ scandal. That story is told in an article by this writer in my article dated April 7, 2015.

The other verifiable accusation concerns this claim by the Globe reporter: “An estimated 20,000 Tatars have left Crimea since Russia annexed the Black Sea peninsula.”

In September 2015, Vice Prime Minister of the Republic of Crimea Ruslan Balbec released statistics about the departure and subsequent return to the Crimean Peninsula of the Crimean Tatar population. According to him, between 600 and 800 Crimean Tatars left Crimea after the 2014 decision to rejoin the Russian Federation. This included Crimean Tatar students at Ukrainian universities who wanted to finish their education programmes. By the spring of 2015, reported Balbec, about half of those who left had returned and more were on the way.

The figure of ‘20,000’ Tatar exiles in Ukraine was recently repeated by Mustafa Dzhemilev (weblink to Russian-language media report here). He is a Crimean Tatar and appointed member of the Verkhovna Rada in Kyiv on the slate of President Petro Poroshenko’s political machine.[1] A much lower figure is cited by Eskender Bilyalov, a member of the Russian presidential council on inter-ethnic relations and head of the Crimean Tatar organization ‘Inkishaf’.

As reported in the on March 15, 2017, Bilyalov told the all-Russia, Tatar-language television channel Millet (launched in 2015, broadcasting to all of Russia from Crimea) that the figure of 20,000 Crimean Tatars leaving for Ukraine after the reunification of the peninsula with Russia is a lie. “When they say that some 20,000 Crimean Tatars left for Ukraine, they are manipulating facts. At most, 3,000 to 4,000 left, and half of those were students who had to finish their studies [in Ukrainian universities which they had entered prior to 2014].”

Balbec’s or Bilyalov’s statistics would not surprise anyone who, unlike the Globe and Mail, has traveled to Crimea and Ukraine since the 2014 decision and listened with an open mind to the views of people living there.

Ukraine-controlled Crimea was officially unilingual, even though the majority of the population of 2.3 million are of Russian language and origin while some 275,000 (12 per cent) are of Tatar language and origin. Today’s Republic of Crimea recognizes three official languages–Russian, Ukrainian and Tatar. The government provides resources for schools and social services in the official languages. In the days of Ukraine-controlled Crimea, the number of Ukrainian language schools could be counted on one hand, while Tatar language schooling was barely on the radar.

Soon after the reunification with Russia, the Russian government in the person of President Vladimir Putin issued a sweeping decree reaffirming and expanding the official apology issued in Soviet times for the World War Two-era deportation of Crimea Tatars. The 2014 decree reaffirmed the right of return of Crimean Tatars to their shared homeland. Putin announced at the time, “I have signed a decree to rehabilitate the Crimean Tatar population, the Armenian population, Germans, Greeks – all those who suffered (in Crimea) during Stalin’s repressions.”

The announcement was made to a meeting of Russia’s State Council and was shown live on state television. Putin called for measures to encourage the “national, cultural and spiritual renaissance” of the minority groups. The decree aims, “to restore historical justice and remove the consequences of the illegal deportation (of the groups) and the violations of their rights”.

Construction of bridge to Crimea as viewed from Russian mainland 
(Andrew Osborn, Reuters)

Ukraine’s economy collapsed following the February 2014 coup that overthrew the elected president Victor Yanukovych, so resources and employment prospects for newly settled people are few and far between.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced from their homes in eastern Ukraine by the civil war launched there by the Kyiv regime in 2014. Unlike those who relocated to Russia, most of those who relocated in Ukraine are living in harsh conditions, including facing social stigmas from sections of the Ukrainian population that want them to ‘go home’. In today’s ultra-nationalist Ukraine, people from the ethnically Russian east of the country are often not welcome. Derogatory terms such as ‘sovok’ (derived from the word ‘soviet’) are thrown at them.

All this is not to say that life in Crimea today is idyllic. The peninsula is blockaded by Ukraine (a fact entirely unmentioned by anti-Russia Western media reporting). To counter that, a road, rail and energy bridge from Russia to Crimea is being constructed across the Kerch Straight, but it will not be completed until early 2019. More importantly, harmful, are the Western economic sanctions directed against Crimea and its people. So there are shortages of goods, sometimes there are electricity cuts, and economic activity is hampered.

Tatars have complained that restoration of property rights and promised expansion of cultural and political rights are not happening fast enough. For example, when the scandal over the ATR network erupted in March-April 2015, the Tatar ‘Milli Firqa’ political organization reminded the Crimean government that soon after the referendum, it had urged the creation of a publicly-owned, Tatar-language media network. Milli Firqua said the ATR ‘scandal’ would be moot if the government had acted on its recommendation.

But on the positive side, tourism, for one, is recovering, including from tourists and other visitors from Ukraine. Many Ukrainian visitors are in Crimea to avoid Ukraine’s compulsory military conscription, which was re-introduced in 2014 by the post-coup governing regime.[2] The gains in tourism visits are welcome because the withdrawal of Western credit card companies in 2014 caused several years of hardship for the industry.

Compared to the economic and violent, war-wracked disaster that Ukraine has become, including the prominent role that extreme-right paramilitaries and political movements play in government decisions there (another fact scrubbed out of Western media reporting), life prospects in Crimea look quite good.

But don’t look in the Globe and Mail or in Minister Freeland’s press releases for that sort of news.

A resolution of the conflict over Crimea is available. It is called the United Nations Charter, article one of which, titled ‘Purpose and Principles’, reads, “To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace…”

By any reasonable measure, the March 16, 2014 referendum vote in Crimea was an act of political self-determination, duly conducted by the constitutional government of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (as the peninsula was titled under Ukraine). The overwhelming vote in favour of reunification with Russia was entirely consistent with Crimea’s history and the Western world should respect the result.

As to the the civil war in eastern Ukraine, here, too, an easy remedy is available, in the form of the Minsk-2 ceasefire agreement (text here). What is galling about the fate of this agreement is that even though the governing regime in Kyiv signed onto it, even though the governments of France and Germany signed on as guarantors, and even though it was endorsed by no less than the UN Security Council (on Feb 17, 2015), Kyiv has flaunted the agreement with impunity. It has pummeled the autonomous republics of Donetsk and Lugansk with artillery and has constantly threatened to re-launch an invasion.

At the outset of the conflict, Kyiv cut social security payments–including the pensions that people had worked all their lives to earn–to residents of the areas of Donbass outside of its control and it has made travel difficult and dangerous across the conflict line of demarcation in Donetsk and Lugansk. Most recently, Kyiv has rendered official a transport blockade initially mounted by right-wing, Ukrainian paramilitaries. This is another sign of the inordinate influence of the right-wing extremists in Ukraine, yet Western media insists such influence is marginal.

Instead of counseling peace and reconciliation in Ukraine and peace with Crimea, successive Canadian governments have poured fuel onto the combustible mix that is Ukraine. Canadians should demand an end to Canada’s and NATO’s military intervention in Ukraine and eastern Europe. We should demand an end to provocative and inflammatory sanctions against Russia.

Wars in the Middle East; rising U.S. militarism directed against Russia, North Korea and China; the renewed U.S. nuclear arms race; global warming; threatened famine in Africa; rising social inequalities—this and more present the world with more than enough problems to solve without adding more.


[1] Mustafa Dzhemilev has been a spokesman for nearly three decades of the Tatar Crimean Mejlis, a political advocacy project for Crimean Tatars that was launched in the early 1990s at the time of the breakup of the Soviet Union. By the time of the 2014 secession from Ukraine, the Mejlis role had been supplanted by newer and more representative Tatar organizations. The remnants of the Mejlis supported the transport and electricity blockade of Crimea that was mounted by Ukrainian extremists in the autumn of 2015 and then endorsed by the Kyiv regime. 

[2] An interesting article published on March 4, 2017 examines prospects for a tourism project that would showcase Russia’s Republic of Tatarstan (located some 500 km east of Moscow). The article also looks briefly at tourism prospects in Crimea. An article on April 29, 2016 reported on a conference in Crimea discussing tourism potential for the Russian republic.

Roger Annis is an editor at New Cold He can be reached at the website email address or at
Related news:
Crimean Tatars call on UN General Assembly to recognize Crimea as part of Russia, published on TASS, Feb 9, 2017

Russian foreign minister invited those concerned about human rights in Crimea to visit the peninsula, TASS, Dec 6, 2016

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Dave Thomas, Tim Shorrock, Christina Nikolic March 22, 2017

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook -

March 22, 2017 

Almost as famous in Canada for the billions of government dollars cycled through its operations as it is for the seminal snow vehicle, the Ski-doo, Bombardier Inc. is currently earning international recognition too; though infamy might be the more accurate descriptor of reaction to the aerospace giant's involvement in the A1 rail project promising to dissect centuries-old villages, disrupting the lives and destroying the livelihoods of people who will likely never be allowed to use the high-speed double-decker train carriages rocketing through their communities.

What's worse though is, despite the A1's probable illegality under international law, Bombardier's participation in the project chugs along with the full support of the Canadian state.

Listen. Hear.

Dave Thomas is an associate professor in the department of politics and international relations at Mount Allison University on Mi’kmaq territory, whose teaching and research interests focus on the role Canadian actors abroad play in international political economy, and the study of critical pedagogy.

His recent article in Briarpatch Magazine, 'Bombardier and Israel: A corporation’s complicity in Palestinian dispossession' examines this country's part in the contentious AI High-Speed rail project cutting through Palestine's West Bank.

Dave Thomas in the first half.

And; in what may prove a preview of things to come on this side of the Pacific, last week South Korea's president was removed from office in a political influence corruption scandal, the investigation of which this week reached into the boardrooms of some the country's biggest companies.

Park Geun-hye, daughter of South Korea's assassinated former military dictator, Park Chung-hee was impeached in December, but until last week enjoyed presidential immunity. The case has ignited a furore in the South, even as tensions escalate between North Korea and the Combined Forces Command, currently holding the biggest ever of its annual Foal Eagle "war games" exercises.

Tim Shorrock is a Washington, D.C.-based journalist, musician, and author of the book, 'Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing.' His articles appear at his website,, and in the Washington Post. Tim grew up in Asia, and spent much of the 1980's in Japan, reporting on the financial intrigues of the then-biggest of the Asian Tiger economies.

Tim Shorrock in the second half.

And; passionate educator, horticultural innovator, and intrepid green business entrepreneur, Christina Nikolic will be here with the Left Coast News and Events update at the bottom of the hour. But first, Dave Thomas and "a [Canadian] corporation’s complicity in Palestinian dispossession."

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Wednesday, 1-2pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at:  He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, Check out the GR blog at:

G-Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Bombardier Fast Tracking Palestinian Dispossession

Bombardier and Israel: A corporation’s complicity in Palestinian dispossession

by Dave Thomas - Briarpatch Magazine

February 13, 2017

In two small Palestinian villages in the West Bank – Beit Iksa and Beit Sourik – residents have struggled against Israeli occupation and annexation of their land for many years.

illustration Amanda Priebe

While the Israeli state has historically confiscated land around these villages to build illegal settlements and the separation wall, the most recent land seizures are for a different purpose – the construction of a high-speed rail line connecting Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, promising to move travellers over the 56 kilometres between the cities in 28 minutes flat.

The route passes through the occupied West Bank in two places and crosses the Green Line – the demarcation line between Israel and its neighbours that was negotiated after the 1948 Arab–Israeli war and held until 1967.

The Beit Sourik Village Council emphatically states:

“We, the people of Beit Surik, do not want the train line to be built on our land. We see as fundamentally important that the people of the world support our right to decide on the use of our own land and help us change the route of this train line.” 

Despite these demands from Palestinians, the proposed train route has remained unchanged, and construction is proceeding as planned.

If you have not heard of these villages, or the A1 rail line in question, you are not alone. Mainstream media in Canada tends to mute dissenting Palestinian voices from villages like Beit Iksa and Beit Sourik, despite the gravity of the situation they face. But the decidedly Canadian connection to this case cannot be ignored. Within one of the most deeply contested geographic spaces on the planet, aerospace giant Bombardier, with the support of the Canadian state, is supplying Israel with the trains that will run on the high-speed line upon completion.

In the face of mounting evidence of the illegality of this project under international law, a long history of dispossession and colonialism for Palestinians, and the growing Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, Bombardier has established a long-term presence in Israel.

A leg up for Bombardier

Bombardier is one of the world’s largest global transportation companies, with revenues of $18.2 billion in the 2015 fiscal year. Headquartered in Montreal, and with shares traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange, Bombardier is a global giant in its two core business divisions: aerospace and rail transportation. It employs almost 71,000 people in more than 28 countries.

The Canadian state has played an important role in encouraging and supporting the success of Bombardier over the decades. Bombardier itself boasts that the government, through the Technology Partnerships Canada program, has invested $142 million in the company’s research and development. Export Development Canada (EDC), Canada’s export credit agency, has also invested heavily in Bombardier, helping it to secure lucrative contracts abroad and providing financing to foreign companies to purchase products and services from Bombardier. The Canada Account, which finances transactions that EDC deems too risky but are still considered to be in the national interest, has dispensed financing at least five times in the past 15 years to support the sale of Bombardier aircraft.

Canadians are also both helping to finance, and profiting from, the work of Bombardier. Many Canadians own Bombardier shares, either through private investments or managed pension funds. As of March 2016, the Canada Pension Plan owned $11 million in Bombardier shares.

Bombardier in Israel

Bombardier began its relationship with the Israeli state and Israel Railways Corporation Ltd. – the state-owned rail corporation that provides passenger and cargo transport – in the late 1990s. Shortly after the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement was signed in 1996, executives from Bombardier accompanied dozens of other corporate representatives, Canadian politicians, and Jewish lobby groups on a trade mission to Israel. A second trade mission organized by the Canadian government followed in February 1999, which included two senior sales executives from Bombardier.

The efforts of the Canadian state and Bombardier to enter the Israeli rail market began to bear fruit very quickly. In the summer of 1999, the company received its first contract with Israel Railways to deliver four double-deck train sets. In the intervening years, Bombardier emerged as a major supplier of double-decker coaches for the transit system in and around Tel Aviv. The company has secured several contracts with Israel Railways since 1999, including the most recent deal in 2015, worth $340 million, to supply 62 electric locomotives, with an option for another 32 locomotives in the future.

A1 and international law

Initially scheduled for completion by 2008, the A1 rail line is now planned to officially open in 2018. The train route crosses into the occupied territory of the West Bank in two spots: first, the path dips into the West Bank in order to create the most direct route between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and second, it crosses the Green Line to accommodate Israeli citizens who opposed its construction close to their homes. In total, the rail line runs for roughly six kilometres across the Green Line into occupied territory, though most Palestinians living in the occupied territories won’t be able to use the train given Palestinians’ restricted mobility rights in the areas at the ends of the line.

The fact that the train crosses into occupied territory raises significant legal concerns regarding the construction of the A1, most importantly regarding Israel’s commitments under the Fourth Geneva Convention, which was adopted in 1949 and signed by 196 states. The convention outlines humanitarian protections for civilians in a war zone, including the rights of people under occupation. Of these, the most relevant sections for this case are articles 47 and 53.

Article 47 notes that people under occupation cannot be deprived of their rights under the convention due to the annexation of land by the occupying power. Article 53 prohibits the destruction of property by the occupying power, “except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.” The annexation and subsequent destruction of land to build the A1 rail line in occupied territory arguably constitutes a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

In addition to Israel’s responsibilities as an occupying power under the convention, the United Nations’ Charter, General Assembly Resolution 2625, Security Council Resolution 242, and the International Court of Justice (ICJ)’s 2004 Advisory Opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, all prohibit the acquisition of territory by force and uphold the self-determination of peoples. But the problem with international law is that it is rarely enforced against powerful actors, especially in this case, where the most powerful state in the world, the U.S., backs Israel.

It should be noted that the Israeli state takes the position that the rules and principles of the Fourth Geneva Convention, along with other aspects of international humanitarian law and human rights law, should not apply to the occupied Palestinian territories. This view is founded on the idea that the territories in question were not previously recognized as part of a sovereign state. This position was contested most clearly by the 2004 advisory opinion of the ICJ, when it ruled on the illegality of Israel’s separation wall.

A report written by a Palestinian organization, the BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, summarizes the legal concerns with the rail line as follows:

“In blatant violation of its obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law, Israel as the occupying power has, without military necessity, expropriated privately owned Palestinian land with the aim of constructing permanent infrastructure, ostensibly to serve the needs of its own civilian population.”

The new A1 infrastructure is situated within historical and contemporary processes of dispossession in the region. After a long process of building the Zionist movement, the colonial project reached a critical point with what Palestinians refer to as the Nakba (“catastrophe”), when over 700,000 Palestinian Arabs were expelled from (or fled) the land in 1948–1949, during the formation of the Israeli state.

After the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel began its occupation of several other territories in the region, including the West Bank. Since then, the Israeli state has gradually expropriated an increasing amount of the West Bank land to build settlements, checkpoints, and the separation wall. Abu Shadi, the head of the local council of Beit Iksa, says,

“[T]he checkpoint, the fence, settlement expansion on our lands, settler attacks, soldiers in the valley. The train is just one part of it all.”

Although the total distance of the rail line running through occupied territory is minimal – roughly six kilometres – Palestinians in the area assert that it will cause damages and obstruct their self-determination. In a letter calling for international support and intervention in 2010, the Village Council of Beit Sourik argues,

“This train line would bring inconvenience and suffering to the village in terms of the lost land and in noise pollution, without any benefits, as the train is to connect areas that village residents, with West Bank ID cards, are not allowed to enter.” 

Beyond the immediate and direct consequences of the rail line for Palestinians in the region, there is an equally important matter of principle regarding the annexation of these small pieces of land. Each small incursion and seizure contributes to a much larger picture of dispossession.

Up against BDS

Bombardier is quick to dismiss any suggestion that its work in Israel is problematic. Asked by a reporter for Mamon, a sister publication of Ynetnews, about the significance of the railway going beyond the Green Line into occupied territory, Dr. Lutz Bertling, former head of Bombardier’s transportation division, replied,

“This is not a problem. What do we provide? Railway systems to all residents, no matter their nationality. There is no apartheid in Israel. Eventually, everyone stands to gain from a good and effective railway, in any area it passes through. As far as we’re concerned there is a green light to participate in all bids in Israel, even in upcoming bids over the Jerusalem light rail. It’s not in our DNA to deal with political issues.”

Bombardier elides any notion that its work in Israel might have political, legal, or ethical complications, but of course, its operations are political. In fact, it is firmly nested within the context of the growing BDS movement directed at the state of Israel. BDS, in its own words, “works to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law.” The movement was launched in 2005 by roughly 170 Palestinian civil society organizations as a non-violent mechanism to put pressure on the state of Israel. It is a call for assistance from the international community to boycott Israel’s economic projects, and the academic, cultural, and sporting institutions that are complicit in the violation of Palestinian human rights; to withdraw investments in Israeli companies and international companies involved in Israel; and to pressure all governments and international governance bodies to end governance, military, and trade co-operation with Israel until Israel complies with international law.

In 2010, the Palestinian BDS National Committee unequivocally stated that the A1 rail project violates international and human rights laws. It urged “private businesses to immediately withdraw from the project.” Activists in Germany and Italy picked up the call: the Italian coalition Stop That Train campaigned against the participation of their national firms that were involved with the project.

Although the Italian firm Pizzarotti has continued its work on the project, a subsidiary of German state-owned firm Deutsche Bahn withdrew from the A1 rail line in 2011. Former German transport minister Peter Ramsauer announced at the time, “this Israeli railway project which runs through occupied territory is problematic from a foreign policy standpoint and is potentially against international law.”

For its part, Bombardier is just now beginning to encounter civil society opposition in Canada to its participation in the A1 line. In late 2015, Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) Canada, a national Jewish organization that calls on the Israeli government to comply with international law, posted a letter to Bombardier on its website publicly criticizing the company’s president for his blasé response. It read,

“I am disturbed to have read that Dr. Lutz Bertling of Bombardier stated that he has no problem with Israeli trains going beyond the Green Line, the internationally-recognized [sic] border of Israel.”

Fortunately for Bombardier, Canadian governments appear openly hostile to the BDS movement. In January 2015, John Baird, Conservative foreign affairs minister at the time, issued a press release after his meeting with his Israeli counterpart, which read:

“Canada will fight any efforts internationally to delegitimize the State of Israel, including the disturbing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement.”

The Liberals do not appear to have altered the Canadian government’s position on BDS. In February 2016, almost all Liberal MPs voted in favour of a Conservative motion condemning the BDS movement against Israel.

Shared complicity and the way forward

The legal and ethical implications of Bombardier’s involvement in Palestinian territories extend beyond the scope of Bombardier itself, falling upon both the Canadian government and Canadian citizens at large. Global Affairs Canada’s position that the Fourth Geneva Convention applies to the occupied Palestinian territories is inconsistent with Bombardier’s work in supplying trains for the A1 high-speed line.

The various ways in which Canadians finance, and profit from, the activities of Bombardier overseas should provide reason for further scrutiny of this case.

In an interview with The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald, BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti noted,

“Many people are realizing that Israel is a regime of occupation, settler colonialism, and apartheid and are therefore taking action to hold it to account to international law. Israel is realizing that companies are abandoning their projects in Israel that violate international law, pension funds are doing the same, major artists are refusing to play Tel Aviv.”

As the BDS movement grows internationally, Canadians can and should play an important role in challenging the Canadian state and corporations like Bombardier. National organizations, such as Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, IJV Canada, and the Canadian BDS Coalition, along with many other, more localized movements across the country, are already mobilizing Canadians to join the BDS movement.

This activism is crucial in light of the Canadian government’s unwavering support for the Israeli state. According to Palestinian-Canadian activist and artist Rafeef Ziadah,

“Unlike the endless rounds of negotiations, BDS does not rely on the delusional belief in the goodwill of Western governments… As Israel’s actions continue unabated, the task of building a capacity for pressure is more urgent than ever.” 

The Bombardier case must be leveraged to interrogate the Canadian connections to this particular project, while also drawing our attention to what activists are doing to address the broader problems in the region.

Dave Thomas is an associate professor in the department of politics and international relations at Mount Allison University on Mi’kmaq territory. His teaching and research interests focus on the role of Canadian actors abroad, and on international political economy.