Wednesday, June 29, 2011

From 'Hotter Than Hell' to 'Army 2040'


Back in 2006, Environment Canada climatologist Mark Tushingham wrote a science fiction book in his spare time - Hotter Than Hell - about "a not-too-distant future world of global warming" where global war breaks out over crippling water and fuel shortages.

You may recall that Environment Minister of the day Rona Ambrose shut down his appearance to discuss the book at a National Press Club luncheon on the same day the Harper government announced it would "cut 80% of programs aimed at curbing global warming at Environment Canada while budgets in other government departments aimed at climate change will be slashed by 40%."

Perhaps Tushingham's mistake was working for Environment Canada instead of the Department of National Defence.

The previous year the DND hired science fiction writer Karl Schroeder to write "Crisis in Zefra", described as "a fictional narrative" set in Africa in 2025 about "Canadian peacekeepers trying to ready the city for its first democratic vote while fighting an insurgency" amidst "ongoing water and oil wars".
The now eerily familiar Three Block War story. Written in 2005, you say? Why?
"In 1997 the Canadian Army formed the Directorate of Land Strategic Concepts in Kingston, Ontario. Assigned the mission of conceiving Canada's Army of the future, the directorate's mandate was ideally suited for the creation of a new fictional story predicting how Canada's army might live and fight during the mid 21st century."
The aim of Crisis in Zefra, according to DND's Lt.-Col. Mike Rostek, who leads a team of military and civilian scientists from the Directorate of Land Concepts and Designs in "futures research", was to "illustrate emerging concepts and technologies that could become part of Canada's Army of the Future."

He said another sci-fi book about what Canadian soldiers may face in 2040 called Zefra II was expected in 2010 but I couldn't find it.
Although I did find it mentioned in this 2009 DND Powerpoint presentation on “Army of Tomorrow”; Future Army 2040”, which also included this weird graphic on efforts to create a Joint, Interagency, Multinational and Public (JIMP) capability, described here by Rostek as a sort of  outreach "whole-of-government" "comprehensive approach to operations" at DND:



Fast forward to yesterday's news that the indefatigable Mike DeSouza used an Access to Info request to uncover more recent research from Lt.-Col. Mike Rostek's future-predicting team : Army 2040: First Look.
DeSouza : Oil, water shortages, climate change could provoke wars: report
Critical energy and water shortages combined with climate change could provoke wars within the next 15 years, warns a newly-released analysis by the Department of National Defence.

Global reserves of crude oil could become problematic by 2025

...up to 60 countries could fall into a category of water scarcity or stress by 2050, making the natural resource "a key source of power" or a "basis for future conflict."
there "can be no further debate that global climate change is occurring."
 Crop failures resulting in mass migrations and starvation, along with rising sea levels from melting ice caps and other factors, would be among the impacts. 
Another section of the report said that melting ice in the North and the potential reserves equivalent to as much as 22 per cent of the world's fossil fuels, could also create new challenges for Canada in the Arctic.
“there can be little doubt that unrestricted access to reliable energy supplies is a global strategic issue, one for which, recently, numerous nations have been willing to fight, and have indeed done so"
It also said that human creativity could help avert potential disasters in the future.
Well, duh - as others have already responded.

But this is not really new news, as Rostek has been giving lectures on it for at least a couple of years.
Back in 2006, Vanguard wrote about the Army 2040: First Look project, noting it presents four of what the DND calls Alternative Futures. Two are extreme; the other two are combinations of the first two.
"On the one extreme is a global quagmire featuring a reactive approach to the environment and unsustainable energy supplies marked by increased global competition for scarce energy resources in which the Arctic is a critical region of contention; on the other is a high octane green world characterized by a proactive approach to the environment and sustainable energy where Canada is a world leader in developing alternative energy sources."
Huh. So the DND was all over this - doing what was once called "thinking ahead" - back in 2006 at the very same time Harper was shushing up Tushingham and his sci-fi novel about war resulting from the effects of global warming.

While DeSouza does not mention either anthropocentric climate change or the phrase 'global warming' in his article, the DND report does both.
You can read the original draft of Army 2040 : First Look, Parts 1, 2, 3, & 4 for yourself . 
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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What does it cost to change the world?


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What do MasterCard, Visa, Bank of America, Paypal and Western Union all have in common? They help you pay for what you want? Well, yes... that is unless you want to help WikiLeaks make the world a better place. To see the shocking details, please go to wikileaks.org/​support.html.

Original from WikiLeaks on Vimeo.

Couldn't get Vimeo to load so here it is on YouTube.
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h/t West End Bob
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Sunday, June 26, 2011

G20 : Caught in the Act



An interview with Andre Marin, Ontario Ombudsman and author of the G20 report "Caught in the Act", sheds a little light on the blackout surrounding who was responsible for ordering kettling at the G20 a year ago.

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, as we have previously heard, had not heard of the term kettling before he saw it taking place before his very eyes on TV at the G20. A whole year later he still claims not to know who ordered it.

Paul Jay reads from Marin's report :
"The former RCMP official who was in charge of ISU security at the time advised us that by June 24, which is, what, two days before, the Toronto Police Services representative on the ISU steering committee had left the ISU building, and that by noon on Saturday, June 26, when all hell's breaking loose, communications between the ISU and the Toronto Police had broken down. By 4 p.m., the Toronto Police Services had completely gone off the ISU radar.
These guys had months to prepare, like, an unlimited budget, like, a billion dollar budget, and it seems like what they told you is that the communication had broken so down that the RCMP had no control over the events that were going on in Toronto."
And where was Blair during all this? At the Intercontinental Hotel meeting President Obama.
Now that's what I call an alibi.

According to Marin, the ISU responsibilities were divided up between: "the RCMP responsible for security within the fence; the Toronto Police responsible for the security outside the fence."

On CBC's As It Happens last night, Blair made this statement about his relationship to the RCMP-led Integrated Security Unit :

"Quite frankly I was not involved in much of the planning. I was aware of some of the things that were being planned, I was being briefed, but I was not the Operational Commander, I was not on the Unified Command Team or in the steering committee."
Well that's handy, isn't it?
Blair's in charge of the streets but is not inside the ISU command loop.
Then while he's off receiving his thank-you-masked-mans from Obama, someone uses the power vacuum at ISU to suck people at Queen and Spadina up as extras in a police crowd control exercise under martial law.

Blair declined to appear before Marin's investigation and does not support the idea of a public inquiry.
One year later, although the Toronto Police have pledged not to use illegal kettling again, the extraordinary powers of the "Queens breach" and the Public Works Protection Act remain in effect.
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Extra reading : When police stick to phony script : the Miami Model from Catherine Porter in the Star
h/t Nadine Lumley in comments
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Friday, June 24, 2011

Chief Blair had never heard of kettling before he saw it done at G20

Yes, you read that right.

I'm sitting here right now on the anniversary of the G20 listening to Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair tell Carol Off on CBC's As It Happens that he had never even heard of kettling before he saw it being done at the G20 on TV .
He had to look it up the next day, he explained, where he learned it was a police tactic used in the UK - unlike here, he went on, where we don't box people in without giving them an egress.

So where was he, asked Carol Orff, between 5:30 and 8:30 when the order was given at 5:30 to kettle some 300 peaceful people in the rain for hours and then charge them all with conspiracy?
Well he was over at the Intercontinental Hotel - "by invitation" - meeting President Obama, who shook his hand and personally thanked him for the great job he had done on security. When he left the hotel it was raining, he said, and it was after that he saw the kettling on TV and made the call to shut it down, saying it was all over.
Off asked him who gave the kettling order; he said he didn't know.

Unbelievable.
So if Bill Blair was just a figurehead with no idea what commands were given on the ground and still doesn't know, who gave the order?
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[Edited to add the hotel name and times given by Off]
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The rules for censoring the Afghan detainee docs

On Wednesday, Airshow and Baird announced their success in killing off any further investigation into the abuse of  those Afghans it pleased them to refer to as "Taliban detainees" - the farmers and taxi drivers  handed off to the CIA-funded NDS on political orders from the Canadian government.

The release of a small percentage of heavily redacted docs reviewed by the three judges of the Panel of Arbiters completely vindicated the Canadian Forces, they read nervously from their notes. As if anyone other than them had insinuated allegations about "the troops" into what was their responsibility to comply with international law on the treatment of prisoners of a country we invaded.

Reading the panel's many restrictions on unredacting the documents, you might wonder how Speaker Milliken's order to release the docs to Parliament 18 months ago got watered down to whatever survived the following censorship :

REPORT BY THE PANEL OF ARBITERS ON ITS WORK AND METHODOLOGY FOR DETERMINING WHAT REDACTED INFORMATION CAN BE DISCLOSED , excerpted
The Panel of Arbiters can determine, at the request of the government, that certain information should not be disclosed due to the solicitor-client privilege.

The Panel of Arbiters, after consultation with the Clerk of the Privy Council, can also determine, at the request of the government, that information constituting Cabinet confidences should not be disclosed.
Also not to be released :
... information relating to the characteristics, capabilities, performance, potential deployment, functions or role of any defence establishment, military force or unit; and information obtained or prepared for the purpose of intelligence relating to the defence of Canada or an allied state.

 ... communications and documents obtained in confidence from third parties, generally allied states, should not be disclosed without the prior consent of the providing third party.

... information not widely known or accessible, where the authenticity of the information is neither confirmed nor denied, and where the information was inadvertently disclosed.

Government officials expressed serious concern about the disclosure of intergovernmental communications. They told us that all diplomatic communication is undertaken with the expectation of confidentiality and that disclosure of confidential communications would cause serious harm, regardless of the substance of the communication, and whether the “speaker” is Canada or a foreign government.

Certain documents referred by the Committee contain Canadian criticism of, or candid negative commentary about, Afghan institutions or officials. Some documents also contain Canadian reporting about criticism by one Afghan institution or official of another.

If the assessment appears to be merely speculation by a non-senior Canadian official, we generally either leave it redacted or summarize it at a very high level, making it clear in doing so that the assessment is the view of the individual, and not the government of Canada.
We exercise our judgment in each case to decide whether the information at issue is truly critical, and therefore would be harmful if released.

Generally speaking, we do not disclose any information or communications flowing from Canada to the ICRC [Red Cross]. We do not disclose any information, even in summary form, about or from the ICRC that is directly attributed to the ICRC or that it can be inferred comes from the ICRC.

...where information is not attributed to the ICRC, that the ICRC is the source of this information. Where that is the case, we leave the information redacted.

... information from third parties, such as foreign governments or intergovernmental organizations like NATO or NATO’s International Security Assistance Force. ... our approach is to not disclose or summarize third party information.

... the names of Afghan officials, including senior Afghan officials. Our approach is not to disclose these names except where the information, including the name, has already been widely disclosed.

... our approach is not to disclose or summarize information about Special Forces activities

...the use of gunshot residue (“GSR”) testing in Afghanistan ...disclose information indocuments relating to the use of the test and results obtained ... leave redacted other information to avoid compromising national defence.

... solicitor-client privilege is close to absolute ... extends to communications between government officials and government lawyers just as it does to any other lawyer-client communications. Unless it is waived by the client, solicitor-client privilege generally lasts forever.

Cabinet confidentiality may extend beyond Cabinet documents per se ; it may, for example, apply to communications between or involving Ministers.
So what was left to disclose on Wednesday after all the above censorship?
Just enough to shut it downApparently.
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Canada single-handedly blocks asbestos from Rotterdam hazards list


"Yes, I can confirm they intervened in the chemicals contact group meeting this afternoon and opposed listing,'' Michael Stanley-Jones of the UN Environment Program said.

Vietnam, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan also initially opposed the listing. However, Stanley-Jones said one-by-one they switched positions after India announced it would support the listing.

That left Canada as the lone voice against the listing.

"All had consented when Canada announced its position opposing listing,'' Stanley-Jones said.





Dangers in the Dust : Canada's Controversial Role
"No country has defended chrysotile as vigorously, and for as long, as Canada. When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a rule banning asbestos in 1989, the government of Canada participated in an industry lawsuit that overturned the rule. When France banned asbestos a decade later, Canada teamed up with Brazil in an unsuccessful World Trade Organization challenge. And when a United Nations chemical review committee recommended in 2008 that chrysotile be listed under Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention — a treaty that requires exporters of hazardous substances to use clear labeling and warn importers of any restrictions or bans — Canada, India, and a few other nations kept the recommendation from winning the unanimous support it needed to pass."


Not even an outright ban on chrysotile asbestos, just a treaty requiring safety labelling.

Toronto Star : Canada's booming asbestos market (2009)
"Last June, CBC-TV filmed the interior of an Eagle plant [in India] in which asbestos was exposed to the open air, everything the officially condoned “wet” process is meant to avoid. Pandya isn’t particularly fussed by the revelations that the operation does not comply with safety norms. That facility, run by his son, still uses the dry method, he says, and still purchases asbestos from LAB Chrysotile. The conduit? “I know Mr. Matta very well."
Mr. Matta is the exclusive agent in India for LAB Chrysotile Inc., which operates one of Canada’s two remaining asbestos operations, in Thetford Mines, Que.
Here on Jon Stewart, Bernard Colombe, president of Mine Jeffrey, explains that Indians have a natural immunity to forms of 'pollution' like asbestos.

And I still want to know - why did Sebastien Togneri, aide to Minister of Asbestos Christian Paradis, block access-to-information requests "involving the backgrounds of members of a government panel examining asbestos"?
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The G8 ShamWow Legacy Porkbarreling Fund

Of the $83-million Border Infrastructure Fund for "investments in infrastructure to reduce border congestion" approved by parliament in 2009 for the G8 summit, $50-million of it was somehow diverted into ShamWow Tony Clement's riding, 300 kilometres away from the border.

The Harper government had "misinformed" Parliament about the fund, said outgoing Auditor General Sheila Fraser in her G8 draft report in April, a word since expunged from the final report under the new acting AG.
It was simply the most efficient way to get funding to Tony's riding for the G8 leaders to spend 48 hours in, Steve explained last week.

However, many of the 32 projects jointly chosen by ShamWow Tony, the mayor of Huntsville, and the manager of the Deerhurst Resort were nowhere near the G8 site either :

— $274,000 on public toilets 20 kilometres from the summit site in Huntsville.

— $100,000 on a gazebo an hour's drive away.

— $1.1 million for sidewalk and tree upgrades 100 kilometres away.

— $194,000 for a park 100 kilometres away.

— $745,000 on downtown improvements for three towns nearly 70 kilometres away.

$1.8M in public funds was also spent upgrading the watermains and repaving the driveway to the 760-acre Deerhurst Resort : That's How You get a Road Done, while an additional amount went to installing an 8 km wire fence around the resort for G8 security.

All of which must have been good selling points when it was put on the market two weeks after the summit.
"We picked it up for $26-million," said new owner and Israeli entrepreneur Gil Blutrich of Skyline International Development, after noting the previous owners spent $40-million upgrading the resort for the summit.

Meanwhile, wearing his other hat as Treasury Board president, ShamWowTony is in charge of cutting $4-billion per year in federal spending. On Monday 92 federal auditor positions across Canada were eliminated and the department of Audit Services Canada was scrapped entirely. The reason given was that the auditing done by these government watchdogs in charge of ensuring taxpayers’ dollars are properly spent could be done more cheaply by a private sector company, should the government decide to, you know, hire one.

The RCMP are apparently considering whether to launch an investigation into what acting Auditor General John Wiersema called a "very unusual and troubling" complete absence of documentation for the Border Infrastructure Fund Greasing ShamWowTony's Riding Fund. Sure they are.
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Sunday, June 19, 2011

You go, girl!



End the siege of Gaza. Support the Canadian boat.

From The Star :
"32 Canadians are expected to join the international flotilla comprising 10 boats and approximately 1,000 activists taking medical, school and construction supplies to Gaza.
The supplies are the practical facet of the convoy — organizers have said it’s a symbolic journey to draw the world’s attention to Gaza.
The Canadian vessel has been named Tahrir — after Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt where the uprising began against ousted president Hosni Mubarak."
Peace activist and former Iraq hostage James Loney says : "Prime Minister Stephen Harper has a responsibility to protect Canadian citizens who are unarmed and on a peaceful mission."

Steve doesn't actually have much of a record backing Canadian citizens who are unarmed and on a peaceful mission over attacks from Israel, or even asking any awkward questions about it.

In July 2006, a UN observer post in Lebanon contacted Israeli troops 10 times in six hours to stop shelling them. The Israeli officer promised after each call to have the bombing stopped but finally a direct hit took out the post, killing four UN observers including Canadian Forces Major Paeta Hess-von Kruedener.
The UN's Kofi Annan called the attack "deliberate"; Steve called it "measured".

Alice Walker : "This is the Freedom Ride of this era - to get on this boat, make it to Gaza, to join our stories to their stories, to know that these oppressions can be ended."
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Thursday, June 16, 2011

CCC : a Crown corporation arms dealer


 "There is no better trade show for defence equipment than a military mission."  

~ Marc Whittingham, CEO of the Canadian Commercial Corporation, the crown corporation that acts as Canada's global military sales agency.

But just in case demonstrations of Canadian military equipment against the 90% civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq are insufficiently compelling, the publicly funded CCC also rents a trailer with Export Development Canada at the big yearly CANSEC arms dealer trade show, which is where Embassy Mag caught up with its enthusiastically entrepreneurial CEO.


 CCC sees 'untapped market' for Canadian arms
"You wouldn't know it from the lack of news coverage, but the Canadian Commercial Corporation has been transformed from a low-profile Canadian intermediary agency to a major player in promoting Canadian global arms sales.
The Crown corporation, often referred to simply as CCC, is best known for its primary job, selling Canadian military technology to the US Department of Defense under the 1956 US Defence Production Sharing Agreement, which today works out to about $1.4-billion worth of product flowing south. 
But in the last few years, as the US defence industry began cooling after years of growth, CCC began talking to foreign governments about whether it was feasible for them to fill what was seen as a yawning gap by emulating some of the actions of the US defence department's Foreign Military Sales program.
The answer was a resounding "yes," and CCC realized it was sitting on a lucrative market. Now, Canadian defence contractors say they are increasingly turning to CCC to help them sell their technology to foreign militaries, and CCC is looking at $10.3 billion in contracts for 2010-11."
Apparently the yearly US Foreign Military Sales in arms is $35 billion, but world demand on them is $50 billion so a combination of $15.6 million per year of tax dollars plus CCC's sales commissions filled that "yawning gap" in making the world a better place for arms dealers.

According to CCC's 2010 annual report : "CCC charges fees for service only on its non-DPSA transactions, as its DPSA transactions are funded through parliamentary appropriations" - meaning that you and I are underwriting their fees on contracts with the US military, contracts which account for 80% of their business.
The CCC Corporate Plan 2010/2011 to 2014/2015 notes the "CCC manages between $1 billion and $1.7 billion annually with the U.S. DoD."

CCC CEO Whittingham, formerly the Assistant Deputy Minister of Public Affairs at Public Safety Canada, explains CCC's new direction :
"We are Canada's global defence sales agency. And so we then moved from being an organization that was largely reactive to Canadian industry ­and we would have done, and have done certain deals in defence ­but we didn't have a proactive strategy ourselves, internally, that said we need a business development capability ... we have a business line dedicated to that now. We are small and nimble, and we are able to charge a smaller fee, obviously, for being a Canadian government element within a transaction."
Obviously.
We have a vice-president of business development and sales, a director of global defence sales. Our board of directors is very enthusiastic about it."
Among them - Andrew Saxton Sr, father of North Van Con MP Andrew Saxton Jr.

Back to the CCC Corporate Plan :
"CCC, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) and Export Development Canada (EDC) make up Canada’s International Trade Portfolio. In conducting its business, CCC utilizes DFAIT’s Trade Commissioner Service (TCS), which has a well-established international footprint with representation in over 150 embassies, consulates, high commissions and trade offices worldwide.
The Corporation’s mandate... directs CCC to play an integral role in helping the government of Canada achieve its overall goals.

The Corporation’s two business lines are structured to support Canadian companies contracting into the defence sector, primarily with the United States, and into emerging and developing country markets.
CCC’s commercial trading transactions over the next five years will [show] a 90% increase from the last five years. The Corporation’s fees will increase from $7.6 million in 2008-09 to $11.0 million in 2009-10, and to $20.4 million by 2014-15.
Strategic goals :
  • Serve as a foreign policy instrument for the government of Canada
  • Contribute to the development of public policy & programs that support Canadian exporters. 
The Defence Market 
According to the Stockholm International Peace Institute, global military expenditure in 2008 was estimated to be $1.46 trillion USD. This represented a 45% increase from 1999.
Major spending was mainly due to : foreign policy objectives, including the War on Terror; real or perceived threats; armed conflict; and policies contributing to multilateral peacekeeping operations.
From time to time the CCC website site presents a success story, like a $2B DND and Bombadier joint-procurement deal to provide the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Saudi Air Force with a "program for Aviation and Technical Training".

And above a truly lovely photo of a sunny backlit forest :   Corporate Social Responsibility
"At CCC, we commit to operating in an environmentally, socially, and ethically responsible manner, and to respect Canada's international commitments..."
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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

'The War You Don't See'



A powerful doc from war correspondent and investigative journalist/author John Pilger showing media complicity in the promotion of war and the difference in reportage from embedded vs independent journos.
Remarkable footage of TV journalists admitting their shame in having promoted the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The public is a threat that needs to be countered."
It has just been banned from its American premiere.

This is the original English version but with Spanish subtitles from Cuba - h/t Toe at Bread and Roses.

Pilger : "We journalists... have to be brave enough to defy those who seek our collusion in selling their latest bloody adventure in someone else's country... That means always challenging the official story, however patriotic that story may appear, however seductive and insidious it is. For propaganda relies on us in the media to aim its deceptions not at a far away country but at you at home... In this age of endless imperial war, the lives of countless men, women and children depend on the truth or their blood is on us... Those whose job it is to keep the record straight ought to be the voice of people, not power."
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Monday, June 13, 2011

Canada's 'responsibility to protect' US oil bidness

"He simply will not last very long," Harper said of Gaddafi back in March, as Canada prepared to drop $27-million of smart money smart bombs on Libya in order to oust him.
As of now Gaddafi controls most of the country including the capital.

On Tuesday Parliament will debate Steve's resolution to support NATO's proposal for another three month extension, supported last time by all opposition parties.
One will recall that Steve does not like to miss a parade :
"I noted that there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein operates programs to produce weapons of mass destruction. Experience confirms this. British, Canadian and American intelligence leaves no doubt on the matter.
In my judgment Canada will eventually join with the allied coalition if war on Iraq comes to pass. The government will join, notwithstanding its failure to prepare, its neglect in co-operating with its allies, or its inability to contribute. ...  It will not join as a leader but unnoticed at the back of the parade."
As we wait for this war's versions of uranium yellowcake and "he gasses his own people" to go into spin overdrive, perhaps our opposition politicians - so eager to be onboard this latest 'coalition of the willing to protect the people of Libya while ignoring the similar plight of the peoples of Bahrain, Yemen, and Syria' - could take a moment to read Glenn Greenwald's perusal of the WikiLeaks cables info found in a Washington Post article :

In a pure coincidence, Gaddafi impeded U.S. oil interests before the war
"The relationship between Gaddafi and the U.S. oil industry as a whole was odd. In 2004, President George W. Bush unexpectedly lifted economic sanctions on Libya in return for its renunciation of nuclear weapons and terrorism. There was a burst of optimism among American oil executives eager to return to the Libyan oil fields they had been forced to abandon two decades earlier. . . .


Yet even before armed conflict drove the U.S. companies out of Libya this year, their relations with Gaddafi had soured. The Libyan leader demanded tough contract terms. ...

Libya has some of the biggest and most proven oil reserves -- 43.6 billion barrels -- outside Saudi Arabia, and some of the best drilling prospects. . . .

By the time Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited in 2008, U.S. joint ventures accounted for 510,000 of Libya's 1.7 million barrels a day of production, a State Department cable said. . . .
 But all was not well. By November 2007, a State Department cable noted "growing evidence of Libyan resource nationalism. ... Libya's oil production has foundered, sagging to about 1.5 million barrels a day by early this year before unrest broke out.

Yet when representatives of the rebel coalition in Benghazi spoke to the U.S.-Libya Business Council in Washington four weeks ago, representatives from ConocoPhillips and other oil firms attended, according to Richard Mintz, a public relations expert at the Harbour Group, which represents the Benghazi coalition."
End of Greenwald.

So let's hear a rebel yell for the Harbour Group, the Washington public relations firm whose leadership includes former staff director for Hillary Clinton Richard Mintz, and for the Benghazi coalition, represented by former Libyan Ambassador Ali Aujali, seen here with Paul Wolfowitz in his April speech to the American Enterprise Institute.

In another pure coincidence, neocon Wolfowitz and his AEI buddies at PNAC, the Project for the New American Century, were the original architects of the war on Iraq, arguing for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein back in 1998.  Later Wolfowitz and AEI were supposedly hoodwinked by Iraq's Ahmed Chalabi and Curveball into thinking the Iraqis would greet their US liberators with roses.  Nudge, nudge, wink, hoodwink.

Speaking of Hillary and Iraq :
"Hillary Clinton hosted a meeting of top executives from Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Halliburton, GE, Chevron, Lockheed Martin, Citigroup, Occidental Petroleum, etc. etc. to plot how to exploit "economic opportunities in the new Iraq." 
And so it goes ...
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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Arab Spring activists applaud Brigette DePape from Cairo



Canadian journalists blew off Senate page Brigette DePape's silent 20-second Stop Harper protest during the Throne Speech as a "stunt" undeserving of even its requisite 15 minutes of fame. Five days later  those ... same ... journos ...  are ... still ... writing ... about her in the national press.

Having pretty well exhausted the 'disrespectful to Parliament' angle on the first couple of days, some of them have now moved on to characterizing her call for "a Canadian version of the Arab Spring, an Arab Spring for Canada" as 'disrespectful to the Arab Spring'.
Apparently she shouldn't have mentioned the Arab Spring without first setting herself on fire or something. Way to reach, guys.

So above, just for them, are some Arab Spring activists in Egypt applauding Brigette DePape from Cairo.
"If you are inspired by our Arab revolutions, do as we did. You need one; I know you need one. It's not just an Arab Spring; it's a World Spring."
Update : SunMedia still whining about Brigette on Day 8 of her 15 minutes of fame.
Natty Post on Day 9 : "Her 15 minutes are up."

Brigette Speaks at Anti Harper Rally in Ottawa
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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

WikiLeaks : US bid to "shore up" Harper from the day he was elected

An embassy cable written by US Ambassador David Wilkins the day the Cons were first elected in 2006 suggests Harper would be useful in advancing the US agenda for Canada and that giving him " a success story" like the softwood lumber deal would "shore up" his ability to stay in office without appearing to "sell out to the Americans".
It's pretty well a quid pro quo blueprint for every Canada-US initiative Harper has dutifully followed ever since.
Excerpted :
The election of a new government, after thirteen years of Liberal rule, presents opportunities for advancing U.S. interests in such areas as law enforcement and continental security, and in developing Canada as a more useful partner in the Hemisphere and around the globe.
Significantly, the socially liberal core values of the opposition are more in line with most Canadians than the minority Conservatives, weakening their mandate even further. Given a relatively weak mandate and tenuous hold on power, Harper will move deliberately but cautiously to get a few successes under his belt before doing anything even remotely bold.
Relations with the U.S. will be tricky for Harper, who along with many members of his caucus has an ideological and cultural affinity for America. But as he has done already with many of his core social and fiscal values, he will simply have to sideline this affinity in order to not be painted as "selling out to the Americans" to a skeptical Canadian public. I know Harper will be warm and cordial in his dealings with the U.S., but he also has to demonstrate that he has the ability to advance Canada's interests with Washington, and he may feel compelled to step back from gestures that could be construed as a close embrace.
That said, I see a real opportunity for us to advance our agenda with the new government. I recommend early on that we look for an opportunity to give Harper a bilateral success story by resolving an irritant such as the Devil's Lake filter system or entering into good faith negotiations to reach a solution on softwood lumber. Early success on a bilateral issue will bolster Harper and allow him to take a more pro-American position publicly without as much political risk.
Another area where the new government will seek engagement will undoubtedly be border security. Finding a few high-profile SPP-type deliverables to improve cross border movement of goods and services would help our image here as well as shore up Harper's credentials. Laying this groundwork would then open the way for progress on cross-border law enforcement initiatives of interest to us, such as enhanced information-sharing, joint maritime operations, and more robust counter-narcotics efforts.
Enhanced info sharing on Canadians, the shiprider program, the imported war on drugs.
On other issues, Harper is committed to increasing spending on the armed forces and will do so, making the Canadian Armed Forces a more capable and deployable force; we have little to contribute to this debate and should stay out of it. He has also suggested that the missile defense decision could be re-examined.

With regards to our transformational agenda, there will be numerous opportunities for engagement. However, I suggest quietly working such cooperation with the new government through official, non-public channels, and that we focus on a handful of priority areas -- keeping Canada in the game in Afghanistan as the mission turns more difficult and possibly more bloody; continuing to work together to keep the pressure on Iran; increasing support to the new government in Haiti, possibly even taking on more of a leadership role there.
And right about now I'm guessing you're remembering some of Harper's more bizarre outbursts on Iran, his caginess about withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, and Canada's new "leadership role in Haiti" where DFAIT is buying up property to house an infusion of Canadian officials.
Back to Wilkins' cable :
"We're going to be recommending senior level visits and consultations on foreign policy issues to help bring Harper and his new, generally inexperienced team into the fold as more useful partners.
I look forward to helping connect the dots with the new government so we can effectively advance our agenda."
Afghanistan, Iran, Haiti, enhanced information sharing, war on drugs, joint maritime operations, security perimeter ... There's also a section on Canada "engaging more actively in other hemispheric trouble spots such as Venezuela, Colombia, and Cuba."

Has Canada done anything independent of this cable under Harper?


David Emerson, who crossed the floor to the Cons to implement the soft wood lumber deal a week after he was elected as a Liberal in Vancouver, is mentioned in a second Wilkins cable just after the deal was signed with USTR Ambassador Susan Schwab eight months later.
Here they are quoted discussing International Traffic in Arms Regulations, a US law which proscribes Canadian dual nationals from some countries from work on the arms deals that comprise 40% of Canadian defense procurement from the US, and the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative  :
"It would be better, she continued, if we could look at issues as if there were a common border surrounding Canada and the U.S., rather than as an issue caused by the Canadian-U.S. border. Emerson agreed. He said that policies such as the WHTI are a "running sore" in the bilateral relationship and are inconsistent with policies to integrate the Canadian and U.S. economies to the maximum extent possible."
So, again, Steve, we ask : How's that US security perimeter deal with Barry coming along?
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Monday, June 06, 2011

Stop Harper action interrupted by long dull dreary throne speech

In subsequent interviews to her brilliant Stop Harper protest during the Speech from the Throne, the now-former Senate page Brigette DePape repeatedly mentioned climate change and inaction on the environment as a motivating factor for her own action. Notable because the Throne Speech mentions neither.

Yesterday SunMedia's David Akin joined the alarming number of politicians and their media fluffers - who are apparently aghast and appalled that a woman would stand silently holding up a piece of cardboard for twenty seconds - with this long dull dreary post :
Memo to Brigette : There are no shortcuts in politics. It takes long, dull, dreary work.

According to Akin, working the inside political corridors completely precludes ever protesting against that same self-serving self-perpetuating hegemony and Brigette DePape broke that most solemn of all Fight Club rules. Oh, boo.
He also apparently did not hear Brigette's interviews on CBC and CTV in which she said she didn't think just holding up a sign would affect anything all by itself but hoped to inspire others to action because politics and democracy is not just about elections.

Seriously, Akin, how the fuck long do you think it will take to get the environment mentioned in a Harper majority Thone Speech the "long dull dreary" way?

Antonia Zerbisias on climate change : Time for a Climate of Change (italics mine)
"Well-known American environmentalist and activist Bill McKibben founded the grass-roots group 350.org, which attempts to get people all over the world agitating for laws, regulations and policy aimed at reducing GHG (greenhouse gas emissions) reductions.

“We need to do (civil disobedience) on a mass scale," McKibben, author of many books including Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet, tells me. “We need to do it in a way that makes one thing clear to all onlookers: in this fight, we are the conservatives. The radicals are the people who want to alter the composition of the atmosphere.”

“Non-violent civil disobedience is justified when there is a history of long-standing harm or violation of people's fundamental rights; when legal and policy means have failed to reduce the harms and violations; and when there is little time remaining to address the problems,” University of New England professor John Lemons and Penn State’s Donald Brown wrote in last month’s Journal of Science and Environmental Politics."

“Simply put, people do not have the right to harm others who have not given their consent to be harmed "
All the important social movements of the last century - rights for minorities, women, LGBT, children, POWs, FN, workers, differently abled, the environment - all of them were or continue to be actively suppressed by our governments, who only jump into the front of the parade after a whole lot of outside protest.

From CathiefromCanada : About Protest - the proof that protest works

Post title shamelessly ripped from a great post by Your Heart's on the Left : Harper stunt interrupts Canadian statement delivered by DePape
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Friday, June 03, 2011

Gutsy Senate page's "Stop Harper" protest

                                                                                                 Photo : Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press

Senate page Brigette Marcelle DePape, 21, stood silently holding up a Stop Harper stop sign for 20 seconds during the Speech from the Throne today before being ejected from the Senate Chamber and fired.

Here she explains the reasons for her gutsy protest to CBC's Evan Solomon :



Shorter Solomon : Why didn't you choose some other venue for your protest that nobody would have paid any attention to?

Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett called the protest by a security-cleared employee "an abuse of parliamentary privilege."  "There's lots of room for that out on the lawn, or whatever," she said.

Lots more stuffy tut tutting all round in the media and from other MPs, including Elizabeth May, about "respecting our heritage" and "protesting appropriately".

They can all just stuff it. Because Brigitte's 20-second silent protest doesn't even begin to approach the level of contempt both Harper and our chamber of sober second thought has been dishing out to Canada lately.

Saturday Update : Boris nails it.
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Thursday, June 02, 2011

Kinder Morgan would like to dredge the Second Narrows


so that Suezmax oil tankers carrying four times as much crude as spilled from the Exxon Valdez will be able to access the Vancouver Harbour Westport tanker terminal on the southeastern shore of Burrard Inlet.

"Metro Vancouver supportive of expansion" reads the Kinder Morgan power point slide.

Note the word "rearguard" on the map.
Apparently the Northern Gateway Enbridge pipeline from Edmonton to Kitimat is just taking too darn long so why not get started on shipping tar sludge to China via Vancouver Harbour first and then reroute to Kitimat later "as needed".

The Tyee has the story.
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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Ethical oil in Syria explained


Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced on May 24 that Canada would be banning all further arms exports to Syria, as well as banning 25 senior members of the Syrian government from visiting Canada, should they have any desire to visit the country that is its third largest direct investor.

Baird's statement was made in response to reports that more than 1,000 demonstrators in Syria have been killed on the orders of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, pictured here on the left touring Suncor's $1.2 billion Ebla Natural Gas Plant in Syria a year ago.

Senior Suncor VP Mark Little explains in the Suncor 2010 Report on Sustainability :
"The fact is that, on a per-barrel basis, it’s much more expensive to produce a barrel of oil synthetic crude oil from oil sands than to produce a barrel of conventional oil or gas in either Syria or Libya. In Syria, now that we are producing natural gas, the operation will generate positive cash flow for the company. In Libya we have significantly reduced the funding that the country requires, and as we learn more about specific opportunities, we have realized that they come in relatively small investments with strong returns. So these foreign operations can help provide the near-term cash flow and return on capital needed to invest in long-term growth in the oil sands."
Suncor CEO Rick George in early May : "So what I would say is I think it's in everybody's interest...that we keep that facility up and running."

So there ya go. Our home-grown "ethical oil", as lauded by Environment Minister Peter Kent and Ezra Levant in his book of the same name, is financed in part by making a quick buck in the "blood oil" states of Libya and Syria.
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Update : Re link above to "third largest direct investor"
On Aug. 11, 2011, the Government of Canada Canada-Syria Relations webpage was changed to delete the following sentence but a Google cache of the original page can be found here.
"Canada is now the 3rd largest foreign direct investor in Syria due to a $1.2 billion Suncor/Petro Canada gas project."

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