Thursday, December 16, 2010

A smiling Daniel Ellsberg is led off to jail

The famous Vietnam war whistle blower, now age 79, was arrested in the snow today after chaining himself to the White House fence to protest efforts to prosecute WikiLeaks Julian Assange and Bradley Manning as terrorists.
"I have no doubt if I put out the Pentagon Papers in every detail, same as before, I would now be called a terrorist," said Ellsberg, whose leaks 39 years ago helped to turn public opinion against the Vietnam war.
About 135 demonstrators were arrested at the protest organized by Veterans For Peace, including journalist Chris Hedges.
Against this man's heart, your cynicism is as nothing.
Peace now.

Adventures in Con Leakage to lobbyists - Part 3.

On Tuesday the Procedures and House Affairs Committee heard from Russell Ullyatt, the former Con MP Kelly Block staffer who leaked a draft copy of the Finance Committee report to Con-connected lobbyists before MPs had seen it.

Today we got Con MP Kelly Block herself before the PROC committee, already ably live-blogged by Kady so I'm not going to blow-by-blow it, except to note that the meeting immediately descends into the committee Cons - Scott Reid, Tom Lukiwski, Ted Menzies, and the Chair Joe Preston - circling the wagons around Block to prevent her from answering any of the questions raised by Ullyatt's previous testimony. How they think this helps her personal credibility as an MP at all I have no idea.

This committee, like most of them, is composed of 50% Con MPs including a Con chair.
If the chair doesn't like a particular line of questioning, he disallows the witness from answering and that's the end of it.

Today Chair Joe Preston refused to hear any questions following on from Ullyatt's testimony on Tuesday, while the Con MPs used up their allotted time praising the apparently sainted Block for appearing before committee at all and hey isn't her son coming back from Australia today? and what are her plans for Christmas? OK, I made that last one up - only the last one.

Blocked line of questioning from opp members :
What about the printer with its pallets of boxes of mailouts stacked outside Block's office that were presumably part of Ullyatt's private direct mail business? Was it run out of her office? What was in them? More leaks? Didn't she ask him about them some time over the past two years he was in her employ?

NDP Mulcair elicits from Block that Ullyatt was recommended to her employ by Con MP Rob Clark. Ah. As already noted, when Ullyatt was Clark's campaign manager before coming to Block, RCMP in uniform were discovered using RCMP vehicles to deliver Clark campaign signs, causing a wee stir in the media about blurring use of gov resources for Party partisan reasons. You can guess where Mulcair is going with this and so does the chair who immediately shuts him down.

Much of the two hour meeting with Block posted on the committee agenda was taken up with opp members registering their outrage that Block mentioned she was only staying for one hour. Whose idea was that? Because it's going to take more than a couple of five minute attempts each by opp members to get any relevant questions past the chair.

My guess : As no one knew the two hour session was being cut to one hour before Block mentioned it after being escorted into the meeting by House Leader and veteran defender-of-witnesses-from-committees John Baird, I'm guessing we can draw our own conclusions where that particular one hour directive shutting down hour two with the committee came from.

Anyway Block declines to stay, down comes the gavel and she's whisked away by a posse - the meeting and the committee adjourned till next year - leaving us none the wiser about anything from her testimony.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Time Magazine's 2010 Person of the Year

Oh sorry - that is just Time's readers' poll.

Here ya go .
"A Time poll showed readers favoured naming WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange this year but the magazine's editors and correspondents chose Zuckerberg.
The conservative Tea Party political movement was Time's second choice, followed by Assange, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the 33 trapped Chilean miners."
So. Facebook, then the Tea Party, then WikiLeaks, then Afghan President Karzai. In that order. Please adjust your headsets accordingly.

Inside the Procedure and House Affairs Committee : Ullyatt

Further adventures in Con Leakage to lobbyists.

Russell Ullyatt, Con MP Kelly Block's staffer who leaked a pre-budget finance committee draft report to five Con-connected tax industry lobbyists before MPs had seen it, was grilled at the Procedure and House Affairs Committee today.

Mr. Ullyatt could not be more contrite. Mr. Ullyatt cannot say enough wonderful things about his totally blameless former employer Kelly Block, who he worked for for two years before leaking docs out of her office to exactly the same five lobbyists to whom he was applying for jobs. Mr. Ullyatt has a longer list of people he is apologizing to than Academy Awards winners have people to thank. Mr. Ullyatt is breaking my heart here.

First question is from Lib MP Ratansi - not usually my favorite committee interrogator but she has it totally pegged : "Who coached you for your appearance here today?"

Ullyatt responds well you know his family, his friends, but not the Cons - oh no, not the Cons.

Ratansi circles around, comes back at him. Um ok yes actually he did retain Con Party lawyer Paul Lepsoe of Con in-and-out court case fame to coach him today. Busted.

Ratansi also points out that eight hours elapsed between first and last leak, which pretty well blows the momentary lapse of judgement part of his heartbreaking apology all to shit.

And holy crap I'll bet Lepsoe wishes he had been allowed to sit next to Ullyatt in committee and stop him from scoring on his own goal by offering up the entirely unsolicited info that he asked one of the lobbyists he leaked the docs to - Egan, CEO of the Canadian Gas Association -if Egan had any specific questions he would like Block to put to Egan during Egan's appearance before the Finance committee. Oh dear.

NDP MP Mulcair wants to know about the "slats and pallets, with boxes piled high and a very elaborate printing machine" he has seen sitting outside Block's office when he walks by. Would that would be Ullyatt's on-the-side business R. U. Thinking, "Canada’s only completely political mail provider," that has sent out "over 5 million mailouts in the last two years"? Yes, it would. How long did he work for Block again? Two years. Does Block know about his on-the-side biz? Um.................yes. But Ullyatt assures the committee he didn't operate his private business out of her office which would, incidentally, be totally illegal. [slats of mailouts out side her office? what slats?] No, he operated it out of his garage. Oh dear again.

Rather handy, isn't it, that the upshot of yet another low level staffer being busted is that the final committee report will now be shelved, leaving opposition parties and the over 400 witnesses who have appeared before finance committee without any input at all into next federal budget, so now the whole show belongs entirely to Flaherty. The problem is that it was the draft committee report that was leaked and drafts reveal all the horse-trading the opposition parties do in camera - and none of them wants that aired in public. This is just total bullshit on your part, opposition parties.

Next up - Ullyatt's five "friends" as he refers to them at least 50 times - the lobbyists who received Ullyatt's clearly marked Confidential report.

Lynne Hamilton, former Mike Harris alumnus and media co-ordinator for Walkerton water tragedy, now a VP at GCI Group and author of the "I heart you" response to Ullyatt upon receiving the leaked doc, says she never read it. Moreover she points out that as a former Senior Special Assistant to Secretary of State Helena Guergis, Ullyart can not be hired as a lobbyist by her company anyway.

Andy Gibbons, former legislative assistant to Con MP Leon Benoit and now at Hill and Knowlton, said Ullyatt knew he was following the finance committee but he did not solicit the report. Gibbons sent a paragraph of the leaked report on to his client Merck Frosst and someone else at Hill and Knowlton.

Clarke Cross, former Legislative Assistant to Con/Alliance MPs James Lunney and Leon Benoit, and now senior consultant with Tactix Government Relations and Public Affairs Group, forwarded "a summation of two points" from the report on to "one person at the University of Calgary". Huh.

Howard Mains, formerly with the Mulroney government and now Co-President of Tactix, never read Ullyatt's email and is hearing the contents of the email for the first time just now apparently.

Tim Egan, CEO of the Canadian Gas Association and founding director of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project, the Tim Ball and Tom Harris climate change skeptics group, also never read Ullyatt's email because it caught in his spam filter.

Testimony from these lobbyists, btw, marks the single greatest number of times I have ever heard the term 'pro-active' used to describe the failure to anticipate an oncoming shitstorm.
Pro-active. For those days when "going forward" just isn't strong enough.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Avi Lewis : The Canada-Israel special relationship

Avi Lewis : "There's no wave of anti-Semitism in Canada?"

Scott Reid : "No, no, no, no, absolutely not. It's funny I've heard people who have criticized us saying that we think this but there is absolutely no spike in the kinds of anti-Semitic incidents that I think appall us."

Con MP Scott Reid is Chair of Steering Committee of the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism and vice-chair of the CPCCA's inquiry panel on domestic anti-Semitism.

Thanks, Scott. Good to know. It seems the US Anti-Defamation League agrees with you on that.

Perhaps the misconception about the rise of, you know, actual recorded incidents of anti-Semitism in Canada has arisen from the original CPCCA mission statement put out by yourself and Lib MP Mario Silva in June last year :

"Recorded incidents of antisemitism have been on the rise both locally and globally."

Last week the phrase "rising tide of anti-Semitism" was used in the Ontario legislature to hysterically condemn a two year old MA thesis written by Jenny Peto, a Jewish Palestinian solidarity activist and one of the people interviewed in the vid above. Really reaching here, guys.

Meanwhile the World Zionist Organization is launching a new hasbara program targetting students and Canada was represented there :

"Dozens of students from 14 countries around the world joined together this weekend at a seminar in Paris that launched the World Zionist Organization’s new Global Network for Countering Anti-Semitism.

The students and others like them will be the soldiers on the ground who will report to the WZO about anti-Semitism in their countries and receive advice about how to tackle future incidents. To that end, the WZO launched a media room that will be in touch with activists around the world in several languages.

The global network’s media room will be ... in contact with students acting as antennas on campuses around the world. For instance, if there is a problem on a particular campus, the WZO can contact the university and ask for security or bring in other activists from close by to help counteract the problem.

Media room director Eitan Behar : "With the right work of all our activists around the world and if we are unified, we can win the battle that is going on around the world for Israel’s image."

Because clearly that's what all this is about : Israel's image.

What is less clear is why Canada is so determined to identify with it.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

WikiRebels - The Documentary

The rough cut advance of a new documentary on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, released today in English by the Swedish broadcaster SVT for the press and available on their site til Monday., the WikiLeaks breakaway group also profiled in the doc, goes online on Monday.

h/t WL Central


Friday, December 10, 2010

The Health Canada Crime Fighters Ashtray

The Health Canada Crime Fighters Commemorative Ashtray, marking Health Canada's brave decision to suddenly ditch their expanded label warning program on cigarette packages in favour of fighting contraband tobacco, presumably on behalf of tobacco companies.

Perrin Beatty, registered tobacco lobbyist and President of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, argues that Health Canada's priority should be people selling ciggies off the backs of trucks at the side of the road, not health labels :

"There is a significant share of the market that it is being fuelled by organized crime," he said. "Do we want to make it easier for organized criminals by eliminating the ability of other people to offer brands in competition?"

Health Canada and tobacco lobbyists - fighting crime together.

Ezra Levant, author of Ethical Oil and registered tobacco lobbyist for Rothmans, Benson & Hedges in 2009, told CBC he has since de-registered : "I am no longer a lobbyist. I no longer have any interest in the file."

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Son of SPP : The Sequel

Well, it's back. The 'one security perimeter' deep integration SPP/FTAA zombie, now with new and improved emphasis on security.

You're shocked, I'm sure.
Like it ever really died.
The re-animators just learned not to dig it up and parade it around in parliament too often.

"Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Competitiveness"
"A Declaration by the President of the United States of America and the Prime Minister of Canada."

"We share responsibility for the safety, security and resilience of Canada and the United States and we intend to address threats at the earliest point possible, including outside the perimeter of our two countries"
reads a draft agreement yet to be signed by Harper and President Barack Obama.
" In what could be the biggest challenge to Canadian sovereignty since free trade in the 1980s, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is secretly cooking up a deal with the Obama administration that would give Washington a much bigger say in Canada’s border security, immigration controls and information-sharing with American law-enforcement agencies."
Naturally there's a working group to handle the implementation -isn't there's always some extra-parliamentary working group to handle the implementation? This one - "Beyond the Border Working Group" - is staffed by officials from the Privy Council in Ottawa and National Security Staff in the White House.
The US is also currently negotiating a similar deal with Mexico called New Border Vision, and the foreign ministers from all three countries are meeting in Ottawa in four days.

Chris Sands of the Hudson Institute - and author of Negotiating North America, the closest thing we have to a manual on implementing deep integration security - says it's all about "trying to boost security by exchanging more information, rather than fortifying the border" :
"But it's taken us [Canada and the US] a while to see the world in the same way"
Sands is not always this diplomatic. Two years ago he addressed a security conference in Ottawa.
"... homeland security is the gatekeeper with its finger on the jugular affecting your ability to move back and forth across the border, the market access upon which the Canadian economy depends.

In exchange for continued visa-free access to the United States, American officials are pressuring the federal government to supply them with more information on Canadians. Not only about (routine) individuals but also about people that you may be looking at for reasons, but there's no indictment and there's no charge."
Sands then recounted a conversation he had with Stewart Baker, the assistant secretary of policy at the Department of Homeland Security :

"Canadians have "had a better deal than anybody else in terms of access to the United States and for that they've paid nothing." Now "we want to give you less access, but we want you to pay more and, by the way, we're standardizing this (with other visa-free countries) so you're not special anymore."
Well certainly that's an assessment Harper would have no trouble with.
Stuart Trew at Council of Canadians, yesterday :

"Canada has armed and secured itself to the teeth to satisfy the U.S. but no new perimeter plan can bring the U.S. economy back to life. That’s the real reason trade is down across the border."

John Manley, former Liberal deputy prime minister and now president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, yesterday :
"The real question will be what do we get at the border in exchange for greater co-ordination on security."
Back in 2005 when he was Canada Chair of the deep integration project, 2005 Independent Task Force on the Future of North America, Manley wrote :

"The Task Force's central recommendation is establishment by 2010 of a North American economic and security community, the boundaries of which would be defined by a common external tariff and an outer security perimeter."

.Are we going to let them get away with it this time?



Amazon selling WikiLeaks cables

[updated below]

While Amazon may have kicked WikiLeaks off its server because, in their own words :
"... it is not credible that the extraordinary volume of 250,000 classified documents that WikiLeaks is publishing could have been carefully redacted in such a way as to ensure that they weren't putting innocent people in jeopardy"
they are nonetheless quite happy to sell those same docs [update : analyzed] for your Kindle :

"WikiLeaks documents expose US foreign policy conspiracies. All cables with tags from 1- 5000"

And while you're there, you may as well also not pick up this handsome WikiLeaks Freedom T-Shirt they are offering through their convenient Mastercard, VISA, or PayPal payment plan.
PandaLabs and The Guardian have the details on the "anti anti-WikiLeaks" Operation Payback cyber attacks on MasterCard, Visa, the Swedish prosecution authority, Joe Lieberman, Sarah Palin, PayPal, Twitter, PostFinance, Amazon and by "Anonymous".
Unsubstantiated Anonymous Rumours From 'Sources' Dept.
Crikey reports Julian Assange rape accuser Anna Ardin may have ceased co-operating with the Swedish prosecution and moved to the West Bank. Her blog is active again :

"mastercard, visa och paypal - skärp er, nu!"

which Google helpfully translates as : "mc, visa and paypal - belt you now!"

Or it's a psy ops. Or just bs. Getting harder and harder to tell. Going to get even harder.

1oam LOLsy Update : Since I first posted the above screenshot from Amazon with its offer of "All cables from 1-5000" and its one customer review at 3am, I see 120 more "customer reviews" have weighed in.

A sampling :

" I can't understand this. First Amazon kicks Wikileaks from their servers - because of these documents. Now they are trying to make money with them. Instead of buying this eBook, you should better spend Money for Wikileaks!"

"I bought this thinking that my bank accounts would be frozen, and I would be falsely charged with two counts of rape, but sadly neither were included in the price of this package."

"Is this a practical joke?"

"Amazon, this is incredible: 1. You ban WikiLeaks data from your server 2. and SELL the same information."

And so on and so on.

If you click the link above to Amazon now, you will find my original screenshot replaced with a brand new amended one which prominently reads :
And in case you missed that, a little lower down : "This book contains commentary and analysis regarding recent WikiLeaks disclosures, not the original material disclosed via the WikiLeaks website."


Well alrighty then.

h/t cosmicsync in comments
2pm Update : Amazon link to above Kindle book now 404'd

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

State Dept. WikiLeakage

Press Statement
Philip J. Crowley Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs
Washington, DC
December 7, 2010

"The United States is pleased to announce that it will host UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day event in 2011, from May 1 - May 3 in Washington, D.C. UNESCO is the only UN agency with the mandate to promote freedom of expression and its corollary, freedom of the press.

The theme for next year’s commemoration will be 21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers. The United States places technology and innovation at the forefront of its diplomatic and development efforts. New media has empowered citizens around the world to report on their circumstances, express opinions on world events, and exchange information in environments sometimes hostile to such exercises of individuals’ right to freedom of expression.

At the same time, we are concerned about the determination of some governments to censor and silence individuals, and to restrict the free flow of information. We mark events such as World Press Freedom Day in the context of our enduring commitment to support and expand press freedom and the free flow of information in this digital age.

Highlighting the many events surrounding the celebration will be the awarding of the UNESCO Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize at the National Press Club on May 3rd. This prize, determined by an independent jury of international journalists, honors a person, organization or institution that has notably contributed to the defense and/or promotion of press freedom, especially where risks have been undertaken."

Same dude, same day ....

ABC News :

"State Department spokesman P J Crowley said the WikiLeaks was inviting terrorist attacks by releasing the cable that mention some of the key infrastructures projects across the globe identified by the US as vital for its national security interest. Without discussing any particular cable, the release of this kind of information gives a group like al Qaeda a targeting list. This is why we have condemned WikiLeaks for what it has done."

So. No UNESCO prize likely to be forthcoming for Wikileaks for "promotion of press freedom, especially where risks have been undertaken."

Because prior to these leaks, no one could possibly have guessed where the Canadian border crossings are or that an Israeli weapons manufacturer that makes components for US cluster bombs would be considered by the US to be "vital for its national security interest".

h/t Glenn Greenwald for the State Dept link.


Assange : Don't shoot the messenger

Julian Assange "arrested on a European Arrest Warrant by appointment at a London police station at 9.30am." Denied bail and refusing to be deported to Sweden to face the as yet unspecified rape charges. Ken Loach and John Pilger were on hand in the courtroom to act as sureties if needed. Excellent interview with Pilger on Oz Late Night Radio re "the latest twists and turns in the Wikileaks case" here.

The following article by Assange appeared in The Australian this morning :

Don't shoot messenger for revealing uncomfortable truths
WIKILEAKS deserves protection, not threats and attacks.
IN 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide's The News, wrote: "In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win."

His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch's expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.

Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public.
I grew up in a Queensland country town where people spoke their minds bluntly. They distrusted big government as something that could be corrupted if not watched carefully. The dark days of corruption in the Queensland government before the Fitzgerald inquiry are testimony to what happens when the politicians gag the media from reporting the truth.

These things have stayed with me. WikiLeaks was created around these core values. The idea, conceived in Australia, was to use internet technologies in new ways to report the truth.

WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism. We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true.
Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on. That way you can judge for yourself: Is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?

Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption.

People have said I am anti-war: for the record, I am not. Sometimes nations need to go to war, and there are just wars. But there is nothing more wrong than a government lying to its people about those wars, then asking these same citizens to put their lives and their taxes on the line for those lies. If a war is justified, then tell the truth and the people will decide whether to support it.

If you have read any of the Afghan or Iraq war logs, any of the US embassy cables or any of the stories about the things WikiLeaks has reported, consider how important it is for all media to be able to report these things freely.

WikiLeaks is not the only publisher of the US embassy cables. Other media outlets, including Britain's The Guardian, The New York Times, El Pais in Spain and Der Spiegel in Germany have published the same redacted cables.
Yet it is WikiLeaks, as the co-ordinator of these other groups, that has copped the most vicious attacks and accusations from the US government and its acolytes.

continued ...
Best source of updates and news : WL Central
Update : VISA became today the fifth financial institution to suspend payments to WikiLeaks, after Moneybookers, PayPal, Mastercard, and PostFinance.
"Charles Arthur, the Guardian's technology editor, points out that while MasterCard and Visa have cut WikiLeaks off you can still use those cards to donate to overtly racist organisations such as the Knights Party, which is supported by the Ku Klux Klan.

The Ku Klux Klan website directs users to a site called Christian Concepts.
It takes Visa and MasterCard donations for users willing to state that they are 'white and not of racially mixed descent. I am not married to a non-white. I do not date non-whites nor do I have non-white dependents. I believe in the ideals of western Christian civilisation and profess my belief in Jesus Christ as the son of God."
Well done, MC and VISA.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Harper commemorates Montreal Massacre by axing gun tracing

Steve today : Montreal massacre was heinous crime

"That these women were gunned down for no other reason than their gender is as incomprehensible now as it was in 1989. While we cannot, and probably never will, be able to make sense of the events of that day, we can work to ensure that it never happens again.

Let us pay tribute to their memory in the best way that we can: by working to eliminate violence against women while making our communities safer for all Canadians."
Steve, one week ago : Gun tracing regulations delayed third time

"The Harper government has once again delayed implementation of regulations that police say they need to quickly trace guns used in crimes.
The government quietly posted a notice last Tuesday — one day before the firearms marking regulations were to have come into force — disclosing that implementation has been postponed until Dec. 1, 2012.

"The regulations are supposed to bring Canada into compliance with international protocols requiring import marks on all firearms."

This is the third time the Harper government has delayed regulations requiring gun manufacturers to note the origin and year a gun is imported into Canada to make them easier to trace - regulations which were supposed to go into effect in 2006.

This is not the long gun registry so you would think the lawn order™ Cons would support a registry to trace guns used in crimes.
But as 900 ft Jesus points out : How do you please your rabid base when two rabid base issues conflict?

The Canadian Shooting Sports Association (read : NRA) has apparently been "working tirelessly" to delay gun marking, along with regs for the use of firearms at gun shows :
"They are both now delayed until December of 2012 which gives us more time to resolve the negative impacts these regulations will have and, since there is the strong possibility of an election within the next 12 months, have them rescinded with a majority government.”
A spokesman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said the regulations have been postponed "to allow time for consultation to develop a workable regulatory package."

Because four whole years with a Federal Firearms Advisory Committee entirely reconstituted to only include gun buffs is not enough.

"Once upon a time, the Firearms Advisory Committee included experts from all sides of the gun debate. Former member Marilou McPhedran, principal of Global College at the University of Winnipeg and a lawyer specializing in women’s, children’s and disabled rights, says it was "evident that some members had ties to the U.S. National Rifle Association,” but meetings were substantive.

“When Stephen Harper came to power in 2006, a dramatic shift occurred,” says McPhedran. “I received a vague letter hinting at no more meetings, and I was never invited to another one."

Nor were reps from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, Canadian Police Association and the Centre for Suicide Prevention.

First Mourn Then Organize: 21 years since the Montreal Massacre

Sunday, December 05, 2010

WikiLeaks links

"If Wikileaks was the 9/11 of diplomacy, we can soon expect the US government to retaliate by invading Wikipedia."
~ seen at TweetChat#wikileaks

" ... journalism’s stock-in-trade is disclosure. As we have seen this week with WikiLeaks, power loathes truth revealed. Disclosure is messy and tests moral and legal boundaries. It is often irresponsible and usually embarrassing. But it is all that is left when regulation does nothing, politicians are cowed, lawyers fall silent and audit is polluted. Accountability can only default to disclosure. As Jefferson remarked, the press is the last best hope when democratic oversight fails, as it does in the case of most international bodies."
~ Simon Jenkins at The Guardian

So how is the "last best hope" doing with the latest WikiLeaks exposure of the mythology of power?
For the most part, not well.

What is WikiLeaks? It is The Blueprint. Brilliant.

74 mirror sites for WL which is currently accessable at : or

Best site for news updates on WL : WL Central.

Wiki downloads : Wikisnatch
Monday Update : Freedom of information is priceless; for everything else there's Mastercard

Friday, December 03, 2010

Inside the Subcommittee on Human Rights

Photo : Afghan women students at Kabul University, 1995.
Speaking to his fellow members of the Subcommittee on International Human Rights on Tuesday at a meeting which heard that the situation for Afghan women has considerably worsened over the last two years, Lib MP Mario Silva recounted his own conversations with womens groups in Afghanistan this past June :

"They told us when they were young, they had full freedom in terms of education, they didn't have to wear the head scarf, they could go out in public without any problem. It was more restricted with the Taliban but they did have more progrssive attitudes towards women some time ago so I think when we in the West say we have to be culturally sensitive to them and it takes time - I think that is a false argument."

He stated that that all the womens groups told him that concessions to the Taliban were won on the backs of women, that they strongly opposed the Karzai government, and that continued Canadian presence in Afghanistan was important to them.

The only witness Tuesday was Reverend Majed El Shafie of the Christian Toronto-based human rights group, One Free World International.

He testified that while working in Afghanistan four years ago, he was able to connect with local human rights orgs and individuals through their networks but in the last four years, and specifically in the last two, reports indicated the human rights situation is much deteriorated, so in June he returned with the delegation that included committee member Lib MP Mario Silva.

El Shafie outlined three main issues.

Number one - the severe abuse and shocking punishments meted out to women, abetted and sanctioned by the new 2009 laws passed by the Karzai government before the last election.

Number two - Boy play or "bacha bazi" - sexual slavery in which boys are dressed up to dance as girls and afterwards whoever pays the most gets to rape the boy. Members of the government take part, says El Shafie, and some boys are raped six to eight times a day, including by the police if they complain. He has video.

Number three - Persecution of 25 Afghans converting to Christianity, including calls for their deaths by members of parliament, backed up by Karzai's spokesman, the deputy secretary. El Shafie tabled the document authorizing them being stoned to death.

He recommended future Canadian aid be tied to preconditions on human rights improvements.
Although he testified that "our support of Karzai and the corruption of his family is what is negatively affecting our image" to the Afghan people, he made a passionate plea for Canada not to abandon them, to stay on in Afghanistan.

The committee met hours before the defeat of the Bloc motion condemning the Conservative government's extension of the Afghanistan mission without a parliamentary vote.

There is a notable lack of partisan party bickering on this seven member committee - possibly because a majority of them also work together on the Steering Committee of the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (CPCCA). Scott Reid is Chair of both, Mario Silva is Vice Chair of both, and Irwin Cotler and David Sweet are members of both. So the Steering Committee of the CPCCA holds a majority on the human rights committee.

This also perhaps explains why human rights abuses perpetrated on Palestine/Gaza do not show up anywhere on their radar. Rather unusual for a human rights committee, no?

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Poll dancing at the CBC

CBC Question of the Day :
Should the WikiLeaks document release be treated as a threat to national security or legitimate journalism?
O Threat to national security
O Legitimate journalism
O Unsure

Happily, JimBobby Sez appears in the comments below the CBC poll to sort them out:
"Wikileaks is a source. It is neither a threat nor journalism. The media classifies WL as journalism and then goes on to complain that it's poor journalism. Journalists use sources like Wikileaks to craft articles and analysis. WL simply provides raw material. It's up to journalists to turn it into journalism."

Thank you, JimBobby.
And as noted by Toe in comments under Pogge's excellent On looking a gift horse in the mouth :
"If the Media in this country and elsewhere did their bloody jobs, we wouldn't need a WL's!"

The polling host used by CBC suggests : Start your own poll!
Ok then.

Creekside Question of the Day
Should CBC's Power and Politics be thought of as infotainment or as a musical?
O Infotainment
O Musical
O Unsure

Take your time. Don't rush it. Personally I think CBC is unsure.

WikiLeaks : The Canadian anti-US melodrama doc dump

In a four page 2008 cable, the American Embassy in Ottawa analyzed the increase in "anti-American melodrama" on Canada's "state-owned" television.


*ring* ... *ring* ...

"Yeah. Special Agent Joe here."
"Hey Joe, you finished that report on the changing dynamic of Canada-US relations yet?"
"Just about."
"Just about? It's been six months already and I'm looking at your $20,000 room service bill here. Wtf's going on up there?"
"It's complicated, sir. Things are at a very delicate stage. Did you know there's a CIA plot to secretly divert Canadian water to the southwest?"
"Well, former ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci mentioned it once - something about aquaducts - but I don't think it went anywhere."
"Tell that to the state-owned television station up here. In just the last three weeks a Syrian terrorist with a belt full of explosives was taken off a plane but unfortunately it was the Canadian-Syrian man sitting next to him who was rendered by CSIS and the CIA to Syria."
"I haven't heard anything about .... Are you sure about this?"
"Oh yes, sir, I read about it in the National Post."
"Good God."
"Then one of our rendition aircraft with three terrorist suspects on the "Guantanamo to Syria express" crashed in Quebec and the terrorists escaped. Luckily an arrogant, albeit stunningly attractive female Homeland Security officer, sort of a cross between Salma Hayek and Cruella DeVil, has arrived to sort it out."
"Have you made contact with her yet?"
"Not exactly, sir. She hasn't returned my calls. Her agent was quite rude to me actually and he isn't even a special agent."
"Be careful, Joe. We don't want to start up any interdepartmental turf wars. Is there anything else you need?"
"Another television would be a big help, sir. Sometimes reruns of The Border come on in the afternoon at the same time as Little Mosque on the Prairie and I can't keep up."
"Of course. Whatever you need. After all, it's a matter of national security."

OK, you know what really is funny? The original report from the US Embassy in Ottawa, complete with Selma Hayek/Cruella DeVil references.
.k, you kno what really

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