Monday, December 27, 2010
Julian Assange Helps Tyrants And Thugs, Hurts Democrats And Dissidents.
2. The Cuban regime is selectively translating cables that detail meetings between independent Cuban bloggers with officials from the U.S. diplomatic mission in Cuba in an attempt to show that U.S. officials "organize youth networks to subvert the Cuban Revolution."
3. In the Belarus police state, Wikileaks' official "gatekeeper" - a holocaust-denying antisemite who goes by the name "Israel Shamir" - met with government apparatchiks after claiming to be in possession of never-before-seen documents proving ties between Belarussian opposition democrats and the U.S. government. Since last Sunday's so-called election, Belarussian strongman Alexander Lukashenko has arrested 600 opposition supporters and journalists (the fate of several of the dictator's high-profile opponents are unknown), and he is now vowing to publish the Wikileaks documents in a government propaganda sheet.
4. These revelations follows Assange's flippant response to the urgent pleadings of Amnesty International, the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, the Open Society Institute, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and the Kabul office of the International Crisis Group, who begged Assange to redact the names of Afghan workers and activists WikiLeaks was threatening to expose in its Afghanistan war cables. Assange's warning to human rights activists if they continued their protests: "I shall issue a press release."
H/T Harry's Place: More Repressive Regimes Use Wikileaks Cables To Expose "Traitors."
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
Beannachtaí na Féile.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
"The defamation of our Dharma in such a manner cannot carry on."
His religion is the only reason why Husain is a target, incidentally: no other explanation makes sense. He was born into a Muslim family in Maharashtra in 1913, and his career as a self-taught artist began under the Raj. . .
As I Was Saying: Get Real.
"Shortcuts and backroom deals just won’t cut it. Instead, Canada and other NATO members must focus their efforts on reforms that can give Afghans stability, security and rule of law. More attention and resources, not less, must be focused on building governmental capacity and combatting corruption. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has taken an important first step with his announcement in Lisbon that Canadian money will not go toward shoring up Mr. Karzai’s government if it fails to curb corruption. But this will require a more determined focus on institutional development. It calls for profound reforms and fundamental change, both in the way Kabul operates and in the way Kabul is supported.
"In the coming months, Canada and other NATO partners are likely to face a critical choice between supporting constitutional review or standing by silently as the Afghan government implodes. The alternative for Afghans is constitutional change – giving power back to the people rather than centring it in Kabul – or a return to full-scale civil war. After so many years of sacrifice on the battlefield and financial generosity at home, Canadians must recognize that their continued engagement in Afghanistan must rest not on wishful thinking but on a policy grounded in reality."
Thank you, Justice Arbour. You've just neatly summarized everything the Canada-Afghanistan Solidarity Committee has been saying.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Christopher Hitchens On The 'Critical Political Question' Of Afghan Solidarity.
"There are policies that might permit victory and policies that merely guarantee defeat. At first sight, a "surge" that emphasizes the date of its own abandonment so well in advance belongs in the latter category. But there are those who say that Afghans are encouraged to resist the Taliban by the assurance that NATO will not remain on their soil indefinitely. Tenuous as that sounds, it could explain why important areas in and around Kandahar have gone so quiet lately. But so does the rival explanation that all the Taliban need do is wait, and rest, and get the local population to synchronize its own timing with the inevitable withdrawal.
"The critical political question is now this one: Are we committed to Afghanistan or to the Karzai government? There are many, many Afghans who will fight the Taliban and al-Qaida whether we continue to do so or not: the Hazara and the Tajiks and a good number of the nation's women and city-dwellers. Not to feel some sort of duty and solidarity here would be morally deaf. But in what sense are these allies represented by a regime that cannot any longer even claim to have won an election? Or, even worse, by a predatory regime that may have a mutually hand-washing covert agreement with the Taliban itself?"
Afghanistan: 'Third Way' Imperialism Or Cooperative Federalism?
On its current course, the United States will make that failure almost a certainty. Earlier this year in Kabul, the problem was succinctly described to me by Niamatullah Ibrahimi, research officer with the Crisis States Research Center: “With these latest talks about negotiating with the Taliban, ethnicity is now the most divisive issue in Afghanistan.” This is because Talibanism is an ethnic, specifically Pashtun, phenomenon. It preys most ruthlessly on the Pashtun people. It thrives on Pashtun illiteracy and poverty. It's driven by Pashtun chauvinism, not by "Islam."
The Euro-American preoccupation with an "exit strategy" is the cause of ever-diminishing Afghan expectations in a downward spiral that is saddling everyone with the anticipation of an inevitable accomodation with Talibanism. The result is that the best anyone's left to hope for is some method of containing the Taliban contagion.
Accelerating the downward spiral among Pashtuns is the persistent (and growing) attraction of Robert Blackwill's formula: "Accepting a de facto partition of Afghanistan makes sense only if the other options available are worse. They are." There comes a point where it doesn't even matter if that's true. It's what people think and expect - or more specifically, what Afghans are allowed to expect - that ends up counting. Give Afghans to believe that their fate is sealed and they'll act that way. This is how cynicism becomes prophetic, and how prophecy fulfills itself.
All the more frustrating is the way NATO's European contributors to the UN's Afghanistan project whine about America's capacity to set the course, without coming up with viable alternatives. Especially frustrating for Afghans is the way Canada just sits back and lets events unfold. Keeping in mind that it should be Afghans who make these decisions - and recognizing that Afghans will need the rest of us to provide the space and the means to make those decisions democratically - there are ways forward less draconian than partition.
One is ultra-federalism, but that's just one option Afghans could consider in collaboration with their democratic partners in NATO. There are any number of ways out of this without repeating the British imperial legacy in India. Besides, partition in the form of the Durand line that carved the Pashtun universe in half, leaving one side in Afghanistan and the other in Pakistan, is the key "root cause" issue underlying Afghanistan's agonies in the first place.
There are any number of federalist solutions and Canada just happens to be a pioneer in these post-colonial remedies, being a post-colonial federalist state itself. Canada also pioneered the Forum of the Federations, which examined the prospects for federalism in Afghanistan early on. These deliberations need to be dusted off and looked at again.
Bob Rae, the Liberal Party's Foreign Affairs critic, is a voice in the intellectual wilderness where these discussions are usually relegated. In Afghanistan, federalism is actually not the "F' word, but this almost right: "Religious chauvinism, ethnic tribalism, grievances and grudges all conspire against the intrinsic power-sharing formula that is federalism, where local and central sovereignty are cooperative and coequal." Where it's wrong is that the presumption derives from Pashtun-chauvinist currents, which do not run so deep among ordinary Pashtuns, and barely apply at all among the 60 per cent of Afghans who are not Pashtun and among whom the notion of some sort of federated Afghanistan is a happy idea. But mostly, chauvinism and "tribalism" in the Afghan context are reactionary forces that also tend to cause people to conspire in favour of federalism.
There are risks along with rewards that come with democracy. It's still a very good idea.
Monday, December 20, 2010
This Is How It's Done.
This is the first operation on this scale in which female members of the Afghan National Security Forces participated. One of the two local Taliban commanders was captured attempting to hide in women's clothing. An Afghan policewoman who was part of the push said: "The Taliban commander was wearing a Burqa and was sitting among women."
Roughly 1,000 Afghan personnel took part in Operation Ebtekar (Initiative). Two soldiers were killed and three others were injured. Balkh Police Chief, General Esmatullah Alizai says the so-called insurgents have lost their momentum in most parts of the province and no longer have the potential to resist law-enforcement agencies. The provincial officials say the operation will continue until the complete elimination of anti-government forces.
Balkh Governor Mohammad Atta Noor said the Taliban is masquerading as an Muslim resistance, but in fact they are merely mercenaries: "They are living a worse life because they don't know what they are doing is not a noble thing. They are not doing it for God, they are not doing it on purposes of security. They just want to make people suffer and they themselves earn a living by using guns."
All I'm saying here is that nothing cheers me up more than the sight of an unveiled Afghan woman cradling a machine gun.
Amnesty International And Its 'Cage Prisoners' Poster Boy Get What They Wanted.
In July, 2009, AIUK reported their success this way: "Today the Home Office has agreed to issue Mohmoud Abu Rideh with the travel document he needs to leave the UK. Thank you to everyone who has joined our campaign, your voice has made a difference." Thank you for "making a difference" indeed.
Rideh was a poster boy for jihadist Moazzam Begg's Cage Prisoners outfit, which has enjoyed the support, the services and the platforms of Amnesty International, to the great dismay of AI supporters and some AI staff, most notably AI whistleblower Gita Saghal, who was turfed from her job as head of AI's Gender Unit for her trouble.
AI's bullying of Saghal, its suppression of internal dissent and its sordid associations with Islamist reactionaries are the subject of this fine essay by Marieme Helie Lucas, the founder and former international coordinator of the international solidarity network Women Living Under Muslim Laws. Note especially that "AI induced a hierarchy among victims, in which fundamentalists were privileged as victims of the state while women, the vast majority of whom were victims of the fundamentalists, disappeared from the scene. . . AI also induced a hierarchy of rights, in which minority rights, cultural rights, religious rights (and fundamentalist interpretations of these rights were accepted) came first and women’s rights came last."
I caught quite some heck of trouble last year for noticing these things and writing this op-ed on the very subject: Amnesty International Doubles Down On Appeasement. For background on what Mahmoud Abu Rideh has been up to and the implications for AI and Cage Prisoners, do read this: Al Qaeda Militant Killed In Afghanistan Was Amnesty, Cage Prisoners, Guardian, Indie Pin-Up.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
In Cuba, The Crime Of Journalism Is Punishable By Persecution And Imprisonment.
By the onset of 2003, I had already accumulated enough "merits" for the Cuban regime to consider me one of its top enemies nationwide.
Victor Rolando Arroyo Carmona (his essay for the Committee to Protect Journalists should be read in full, here) was a journalist for the independent news agency Unión de Periodistas y Escritores de Cuba Independientes in his home province of Pinar del Río. He was sentenced to a 26-year prison sentence for acting "against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state" under Article 91 of the penal code.
Notice the contrast?
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Wikileaks & Michael Moore: A Lesson In Propaganda And Mass Idiocy.
To be fair, in its favour it is an amusing spectacle and goes well with popcorn. But by way of background, it is useful to recall a couple of things.
First: Moore's entreprenurial genius arises from the grand American tradition of circus empresario P.T. Barnum, who may or may not have been the source of the maxim "No one ever went broke understimating the intelligence of the American people," and to whom the phrase "A sucker is born every minute" may or may not be accurately attributed, but you get the point. Central to Moore's success was his invention of his own cirriculum vitae and his persistent talent for telling the masses of comfortable Europeans and North Americans who fancy themselves to be "progressive" exactly what they want to hear.
Second: Only last week, Moore moved to combine his talents with those of the geek-vandal Julian Assange, whose similarly fabulous talent for self-marketing and whose sticking-it-to-the-man brand Wikileaks had rapidly assured him a place in the avante garde of the same counterculture celebrity circuit in which Moore makes his money, along with such personalities as Bianca Jagger, John Pilger, Cindy Sheehan, Medea Benjamin, and that crowd. On December 14, Moore invested $20,000 in a joint venture with Pilger and Jagger and others to secure Assange a place in these profitable radical-chic circles. The investment prospectus already had a lot to recommend it - Assange's publicity agents had successfully spun his sordid legal difficulties in Sweden into a tale of the capitalist police state persecuting a whistleblower in order to silence dissent (cue soundtrack, the Ballad of Reading Gaol), or something along those lines anyway.
Two days later, the Guardian newspaper in Britain published this story: WikiLeaks: Cuba banned Sicko for depicting 'mythical' healthcare system - Authorities feared footage of gleaming hospital in Michael Moore's Oscar-nominated film would provoke a popular backlash.
Much ha-ha ensued, most insightfully this essay by the good and decent Nick Cohen, who points out the bone-headed anti-Americanism that animates Assange, whose "strutting vanity" and drippy politics "is best represented by Michael Moore, one of the most disreputable propagandists of our age."
Then, this morning, the Guardian published this story: WikiLeaks cables: Michael Moore film Sicko was 'not banned' in Cuba -Film-maker says diplomats made up the story to discredit film that showed healthcare was worse in US than Cuba.
Much counter-ha-ha ensued, most grotesquely Moore's own sideshow act, in which he enlists the unknown author of a Bay-of-Pigs-era cable in the role of dog-faced boy and Andy Levy of Fox News in the role of the bearded lady.
There are two things worth noticing here. The first is that the Guardian is playing a binary role in all this as a kind of open-source outsourcing vehicle for Wikileaks, while at the same time playing its accustomed role as reliable vector for the same pseudo-left glitterati who are in the middle of the enterprise. The second and more important thing you should notice is that neither of the Guardian stories is really true, at least not in the sense that any conventionally assiduous and responsible journalist would recognize.
The leaked cable in question does not show that Cuban officials banned Moore's cinematic propaganda exercise titled "Sicko." Neither does it show that American diplomats hoped to discredit Moore by inventing a story that Cuban authorities banned the film.
But the most important (and so artfully occluded) story the cable contains is the horrific story of precisely the kind that neither Moore or the Guardian can be counted on to tell you, and indeed would have you left in the dark about. It is not a story that devoted Guardian readers (whose intelligence no one ever went broke underestimating) now congregating in a fawning mass around Assange and Moore will want to hear. It is not a story that will be "news" to anyone who pays attention to the sufferings of the Cuban working class, but it is still the only story worth reporting here.
To begin with, the authors of the cable describe its contents as "anecdotal accounts from Cubans about their healthcare," derived from interviews, "unauthorized visits to Cuban hospitals" and other such interactions with both American and Cuban personnel, in Cuba. One of these anecdotal remarks from a name-redacted informant refers to some Cuban authorities that in some way "banned" Moore's film on the grounds that a "popular backlash" would result because the film depicts health facilities that are "clearly not available to the vast majority" of the Cuban people. That's the thing that we're all supposed to pay attention to (so long as we read it the distorted way Moore and the Guardian would want).
The thing is, we already knew that the Cuban government had given its blessing to Moore's film, at least to the extent of allowing it to be shown on Cuban national television, so it's not clear what the informant meant by reference to some ban. But what that same paragraph also reports is a first-hand report from a "foreign health service provider" who showed the film to a group of Cubans who "became so disturbed at the blatant misrepresentation of healthcare in Cuba that they left the room."
There are only two other references to Moore and his ridiculous film "Sicko" in the cable.
One concerns the stark contrast between Moore's version of Hermanos Ameijeiras Hospital in Havana and the reality of the decrepit hospital and its corrupt practices. Moore's film shows the bright and shiny top floors of the hospital, which are in fact reserved for Venezuelan officials and diplomats who pay in hard cash. The hospital is otherwise off-limits to ordinary Cubans unless they can come up with bribes to the hospital administrator.
The other reference to Moore comes by way of a sarcastic suggestion that if he had been legitimately concerned about depicting the reality of the Cuban health care system he would have visited Havana's Calixto Garcia Hospital, a crumbling 19th-century edifice that caters to ordinary, actually-existing Cubans. A foreign health service provider who visited the institution was "struck by the shabbiness of the facility," its lack of staff, basic supplies, and how it was "reminiscent of a scene from some of the poorest countries in the world."
The rest of the cable presents what might be charitably described as a horror show of Dickensian sick wards, exploitation of health care workers, disregard for the sick and injured and a variety of banana-republic practices about which the Cuban government should be abjectly ashamed. Do read it all, but also bear in mind that none of this should come as "news" to you.
If it's a truly courageous "whistleblower" you want to advise you in the matter of the Cuban police state that Michael Moore and his friends would prefer you not know about, it's Yoani Sánchez.
Here's Comrade Yoani on the absolute irrelevance of the Wikileaks phenomenon to the wretched of the earth: "There are so many who don’t keep records, who have an unwritten culture of repression and who have paper incinerators that smolder all day; bosses who only need to raise an eyebrow, crook an index finger, whisper into an ear a death sentence, or a battle on an African plain, or a call to insult and assault a group of women dressed in white. If some of them would emerge in a local Wikileaks, they would get the maximum penalties, be made examples of with the strongest punishments, without worrying about whether to fabricate a charge of 'rape' or 'bovine slaughter.' They know that 'seeing is believing' and therefore take care that there is no material containing surprising revelations, that the real framework of absolute power will never be visible."
Here's Yoani on Cuba's glorious proletarian health care system: "One day it was announced with great fanfare that they were going to raise the salaries of all heath care workers. But barely 48 Cuban pesos, the equivalent of 2.00 convertible pesos — or about $1.60 U.S. — were added to his meager monthly salary. So he and a friend wrote a letter to the minister of his profession, communicating the discontent among physicians at such a ridiculous increase. They managed to collect 300 signatures and delivered it to the Minister of Health, as well as to the Council of State, the seat of power on this Island. The answer came a few weeks later in the form of his expulsion from his specialty. Five months later both letter writers were fired and their university degrees stripped away. Five years have passed since those events, but neither of the two has been able to get work in a clinic as a doctor."
Now contrast Yaoni's whistle-blowing bravery and struggle against the self-aggrandizing frolics of Julian Assange, Michael Moore and the rest of that class.
A lesson from this latest media rumpus is that it might have served as a useful revelation to people who should know better about just how horrible Cuba's health care system really is - and in the bargain, a "media event" that might also have helped to expose Moore as a millionaire propagandist whose objective in this is to keep important stories hidden from all those Europeans and North Americans who fancy themselves to be properly leftish. Instead, it has become a story that serves to actually enhance Moore's transgressive, bourgeois celebrity cult, and Moore provides a ready made slogan to help the masquerade along its way: ¡Viva WikiLeaks!
Suckers. There's one born every minute.
UPDATE: American celebrity pornographer Larry Flynt joins Moore in Assange enterprise with a $50,000 investment. Guardian publishes bodice-ripping details as Assange's journo-buddy debunks Assange's crazy conspiracy theories. Plus: Gawker exposes Assange in Aussie Teen-Stalking Shock!
It gets more squalid with every passing moment. But the schaudenfreude, I must confess, is worth it.
Friday, December 17, 2010
Rights and Democracy: The Fraud and Deception Reaches New Heights.
In any case, what happened yesterday is now fully exposed to have been a shell game, a classic bait and switch job. Today, Gérard Latulippe, the president of the absurdly beleagured federal "GONGO" known as Rights and Democracy, announced that he smells a rat. He also points out what everyone should have noticed right away: "With regard to the Deloitte Report in particular, I wish to say that Deloitte was never given a mandate to identify fraud or embezzlement within Rights & Democracy."
As I pointed out yesterday: "One of the first things you will read in the Deloitte audit is this: "Our work did not have the objective of detecting errors or fraud that might exist. . . All the facts related in this report are only based on the documents provided to us. . . We did not analyze the effectiveness and the achievement of the objectives of Rights and Democracy's projects."
Here's how the shell game worked.
Rights and Democracy submitted two confidential reports to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. One was undertaken by the auditing firm Deloitte. The other was undertaken by the security firm Groupe Sirco, which, among other things, was tasked with inquiring into a mysterious break-in at the R&D offices in Montreal and a theft of computers that appears to have occurred, by remarkable coincidence, while everyone was away at the funeral of R&D president Remy Beauregard.
The Groupe Sirco report remains conveniently hidden from public view. The Deloitte report was leaked to the Globe and Mail yesterday along with the sleight-of-hand "R&D Vindicated" storyline. Remember: Deloitte was never given a mandate to identify fraud or embezzlement and did not have the objective of detecting errors or fraud.
Nevertheless, the "news" that was served up to accompany the leaked Deloitte report comes under such headlines as "Rights Group Audit Clears Late President," as if it were only the character of the late Remy Beauregard that was at stake, and "No Wrongdoing Found In Rights and Democracy Audit", as if Deloitte's mandate was to uncover any wrongdoing in the first place.
How too convenient for those parties (among them most noticeably the NDP Standing Committee member Paul Dewar) who have staked their own reputations on sullying the reputations of certain Rights and Democracy board members. My favorite act of feigned moral outrage uttered against the Rights and Democracy board yesterday came from Paul Dewar himself: “They had a zealous agenda of their own and what they managed to do was to take an organization that had a solid reputation internationally and tarnished that reputation.”
This Is How It's Done.
HELSINKI - Four days after the first jihadist suicide bomb on Swedish soil injured two in an attack in downtown Stockholm, lawmakers voted 290-20 with 19 abstentions on Dec. 15 to extend the country's military presence in Afghanistan.
"We will not be intimidated. Our resolve is firm. What we are trying to achieve is to bring security and well-functioning civilian institutions to Afghanistan. When the U.N. calls, Sweden will come," said Fredrik Reinfeldt, Sweden's prime minister.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Galloway Either "Banned" From The U.S. Or Directing Snow-Clearing In Regina.
There will always be snow in Saskatchewan, too. The City of Regina’s snow removal manager George Galloway says Thursday’s focus is on getting Category three and four streets finished up. “That downtown activity is an actual plow and remove all at the same time, just due to the nature of no storage lanes down there.”
Rights & Democracy: Just Shut It Down.
This is a great mercy, because it means we do not have to rely on the word of the NDP's Paul Dewar that the review was a "witch hunt" that "came up with nothing." If your masochism leaves you so inclined, do read the whole thing. Much of its content suggests a pattern of dodgy transactions and payouts, as well as inattention to reporting procedures, and my own question remains unanswered: What’s the deal with the payments you made not long ago to Donald McCleery, the infiltration-and-surveillance specialist perhaps best known for burning a barn in Quebec back in the 1970s while he was with the RCMP’s notorious and shadowy “G” Section?
Otherwise, it's fairly unremarkable, and we should not be surprised. One of the first things you will read in the Deloitte audit is this: "Our work did not have the objective of detecting errors or fraud that might exist. . . All the facts related in this report are only based on the documents provided to us."
Some witch hunt.
Further: "We did not analyze the effectiveness and the achievement of the objectives of Rights and Democracy's projects." This might explain why it might have come up with nothing, if that were even true, but at best it does leave unknown whether there was anything to come up with in the first place. As for the latest developments in Ottawa, the CBC instructs us to understand that the Rights and Democracy board "spent $400,000 trying to discredit the now-deceased former head of the organization," which will no doubt come as a surprise to the Rights and Democracy board, among others.
It just goes to show that as the saga continues, the hysteria continues with it, and the hyperventilation is neatly summarized by the Toronto Star's account today: "The agency’s pro-Israel, Conservative-appointed board has been accused of transforming it into an ideologically driven body. It was criticized for repudiating small grants to Middle East rights groups it did not like, and firing several managers."
That's close enough to a helpful and factual summary, but only if you keep in mind 1. All the board members are appointed by the federal government. 2. The federal government at the moment happens to be Conservative, a fault that cannot be laid at the feet of the board members. 3. Whether Rights and Democracy's board is "pro-Israel" is both a dubious assertion and immaterial to everything except conspiracy theories involving shadowy Zionists. 4. From the get-go, the antipathy to those Rights and Democracy board members who appear to be insufficiently anti-Israel has been so shrill that it has required slanderous disortions and outright lies to sustain itself, and it has utterly occluded the function and relevance of Rights and Democracy.
Most pertinently: What's all this about grants to "Middle East rights groups"?
According to the Toronto Star's Haroon the Magnificient: "The majority voted 7-6 to repudiate three grants of $10,000 each to B'Tselem (an Israeli NGO critical of human rights violations), Al Haq (in the West Bank) and Al Mazen (in Gaza), approved by Remy Beauregard, the centre's president, who died earlier this month after a stormy board meeting."
While Haroon and his accomplices have been happily dancing on Beauregard's grave, the rest of us will remember: 1. There was only one single paragraph in the 16-page review of Beauregard's performance that refers to the paltry $10,000 discretionary Middle East grants. 2. Rights and Democracy doesn't even have a Middle East program, which should make you wonder why the Elders of Zion would bother assigning their agents to make mischief at Rights and Democracy in the first place. 3. The board decision to repudiate the grants was a unanimous decision, not a 7-6 vote as we have kept hearing. 4. The late Remy Beauregard himself agreed that the approval of the discretionary grants had been a mistake, a case of his administration's failure to properly do its "homework."
These latest eruptions should suggest to any disinterested observer that the best possible outcome of all this would be to put Rights and Democracy out of its misery. The reputations of Rights and Democracy's board members have been trampled in the mob's rush to traduce the Harper government for its allegedly overweening affections for Israel. The Cold War is over. Rights and Democracy is a relic of that era, and it has outlived its usefulness.
This is not to say that Canada should retreat from the cause of advancing human rights and democracy in the world. Happily, there is an alternative. Its projected annual budget would be in the order of $30 - $70 million, far in excess of the roughly $11 million Ottawa has been pouring into R&D every year. The alternative already enjoys broad multi-partisan support in Ottawa (or at least it did until recently; I can't account for what Supreme Leader Harper's line on it is at the moment). The proposal calls for the creation of a Canadian Centre for Advancing Democracy. It is a very good idea.
Ottawa should either get on with it or get out of this business entirely.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
I Blame The Freemasons.
"Here's hoping that Holbrooke's apparent death bed admission will be a tipping point for public understanding that the war is unwinnable. . . why did big Canadian media outlets not even make mention of this in their reports on his death?"
Could it be the Bilderbergers? The Jesuits? Alien reptiles in human form? Or could it be. . . oh, wait a minute: "It used to takes decades for legends about the supposed last words of famous people to seep into the culture and morph through constant repetition, until some enterprising scholar would look for hard evidence and soberly conclude that the well-known observation was most likely a myth or misunderstanding. In the case of Richard C. Holbrooke, the hard-charging diplomat who died on Monday, in the Internet age, that process took less than 24 hours."
I still blame the Masons.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
More Fairytales From Senator Colin Kenny.
"One day, you will be held to account."
"It is notable that former Tehran prosecutor-general Saeed Mortazavi, whom Ottawa accuses of responsibility in the murder of Iranian-Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi, is blacklisted by the United States, but not Canada."
Monday, December 13, 2010
"Money smoothly replaced a worship built on lies and violence. . ."
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Restrain The Money Power. Rebuild Human Solidarity.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali:
I'm with Henry-Levi, Walzer, and Ali, in that order.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Misogynist Terror In Stockholm.
"Our acts will speak for themselves," The Swedish news agency TT quoted the message as saying. "Now your children, your daughters and your sisters will die as our brothers, our sisters and our children are dying." The message referred to the Swedish military presence in Afghanistan as part of the US-led international security force, TT added.
The acts of the Swedish military machine "speak for themselves" as well, as is made clear by this disturbing video of Swedish soldiers brutally oppressing the women of Afghanistan:
Grant Kippen On The Slow And Steady Struggle For Afghan Democracy.
Thanks to our good friend Andrew Potter at Macleans Magazine, you can read an assessment of recent developments in the struggle for Afghan democracy by Manawi's predecessor, Grant Kippen, who served as chairman of Afghanistan's IEC in 2009 and 2005:
Afghans should take pride in the words of Chairman Manawi and the accomplishments of the IEC this year for their actions signal renewed hope for the long-term prospects of the electoral process and representative democracy in their country. Donors should also pause to reflect on this achievement knowing that against the backdrop of the myriad challenges facing Afghanistan some positive progress is taking place. It is not all doom and gloom in the country.
. . . Electoral reform is desperately needed in Afghanistan in order to address the significant shortcomings that played out so publicly in the 2009 and 2010 elections. This should be the first priority of the incoming Parliament (Wolesi Jirga) and the international community needs do everything it can to ensure that the mistakes made between the 2005 and 2009 elections are not repeated.
Now is the precisely the time for Canada to renew and redouble our efforts in this area by working with Afghans as they continue to build their nascent democracy. Let’s use the momentum that the IEC has created so that the next elections are less fraudulent, more inclusive, credible and transparent than has been the case to date. . .
In Afghanistan: Khomeinist agents secretly poured millions of euro into the recent Afghan parliamentary elections to stack the lower house with their favoured candidates. “They were spending so much money, they literally went to people with bags of it. Very ordinary candidates they have paid $30,000 and they have paid some lots more. It was going to the north, to the south, to the east even. It had an impact.”
In Canada: Khomeinist front groups, propagandists and apologists have effectively captured the so-called "anti-war" movement, from the leadership of the Toronto Stop The War Coalition to the umbrella Canadian Peace Alliance, turning it into their primary organizational vehicle in this country. It's long past time we started paying attention.
More on Grant Kippen here and here.
Friday, December 10, 2010
The Party Line: Award The Nobel Prize To Julian Assange.
UPDATE: Moscow concurs.
Party workers review latest batch of hacked Wikileaks cables:
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
The Delicate Sensibilities Of The Toronto Bourgeoisie.
Pit Bull Or Insufficiently Fabulous?:
Monday, December 06, 2010
With O'Leary In The Grave.
"This is a sell-out of our country. It is a surrender by the Government of this country's sovereignty, of its rights to make its own decisions, determine its own budgets and the Labour Party will not be bound by this document," Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore told the House today.
"We Have Consulted With Many Foreign Policy Experts. They Have Many PhDs."
More Drones, Please.
On Jan. 1, a man driving a pickup filled with explosives set off a blast near the town of Lakki Marwat, where members of an anti-Taliban tribal militia were playing volleyball. At least 75 people were killed. In July, two suicide bomb blasts tore through a busy market in the village of Yaka Ghund in Mohmand, killing at least 65 people in an attack that authorities said appeared to be aimed at members of a local anti-Taliban militia who had been meeting in the area.
Thursday, December 02, 2010
Hey Kids! Want To Help Gaza? Good. You Can Start By Just Paying Your Damn Taxes.
Two quick corrections to the historic record are immediately necessary.
1. The "hardline anti-Palestine bullying" claim appears to have construed events backwards and sideways. The campus rumpus actually started when AMS President Bijan Ahmadian, "shaken from the physical intimidation," had to call security to escort Shaban from his office.
2. Despite what the headlines say, the measly $700 Shaban and his friends so valiantly procured from the UBC AMS budget is not going to be spent on "aid for Gaza." Their $300,000 fundraising target is confined to funding the costs of a "boat and crew," not aid to Gaza. It's not clear whether their boat is intended to carry anything to Gaza at all.
These flotilla spectacles are objectively pro-Hamas moral-exhibitionism displays, and anyone who says it's necessary to ply trade with Hamas in order to get aid to the Palestinians of Gaza is lying to you.
If you really want to help the people of Gaza, you don't need to give your money to creeps like Shaban. In fact, all you need to do is pay your taxes. You can always do more - please do. But paying your taxes will get a thousand times more help into the hands of the people of Gaza than all the money in the bags of cash George Galloway handed over to Hamas strongman Ismael Haniya, and all the flotilla masquerades, and all the Omar Shaban catharsis-shows combined.
The Government of Canada is managing to get in excess of $300 million into Gaza without having to work with Hamas, which Canada lists as a terrorist organization. The Canadian International Development Agency pumps enormous volumes of aid into Gaza and the West Bank through a variety of NGOs and recipient groups in such a way as to ensure the people of Gaza, not Hamas hard boys, get the benefits.
An up-to-date snapshot of some of things the Viva Palestina and the Gaza Boat hucksters are not doing, but CIDA is:
This year alone, CIDA is shelling out $20 million to the UN Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) for West Bank and Gaza - most of it goes to Gaza. Among the projects this money funds is a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) program that delivers food to 675,000 Gazans living in poverty, and a school lunch program that benefits more than 200,000 kids. There's also the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) aid to 1,200 herders in the West Bank and Gaza. There's a UNICEF project for psychological support to more than 100,000 children and 40,000 caregivers across Gaza. There's a "cash for work" program for marginalised youth in the West Bank and Gaza.
There's also the Canadian contributions to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which supplements a $15-million grant towards UNRWA’s Emergency Appeal for West Bank and Gaza from last December.
Has the brave George "This is not charity, this is politics" Galloway managed to raise anything remotely close to that amount? Not a chance.
Just this past March, CIDA funelled another $18 million through the UN CAP to provide emergency food provisions to 365,000 Palestinians, the recycling of 175,000 tonnes of rubble into road-construction material, the removal of 83 unexploded bombs and the safe removal of asbestos and other hazardous materials from buildings.
Compare that with the scrounger Omar Shaban's paltry $700.
Canada is also contributing to CARE International's work with 500 farmers, 250 seasonal workers and 2,000 "food insecure" households. On top of that is CIDA's $4 million contribution to UNRWA and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in January last year, which went directly to the people of Gaza for their humanitarian needs - it didn't arrive in moneybelts to be delivered to Hamas gangsters.
For all of you who sincerely think that you've done some good for the people of Gaza or for the Palestinian struggle for peace and freedom by lending a hand to the "Gaza Boat" crackpots, the "Viva Palestina" crowd or to Omar Shaban, I'm sorry, but someone has to tell you: You've been had. You've been duped. Check your damn head.
If you don't get it by now, you're hopeless, and there's nothing more I can say to help you.
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Why Are Rich White "Left-Wingers" Megaphones For The Third-World Far Right?
The pattern repeats itself today in The Guardian, which everyone in the English-speaking world is expected to apprehend as a clarion of proper left-wing analysis. Simon Tisdall writes: "Pakistan was already under the American hammer before the WikiLeaks crisis blew. But leaked US diplomatic cables published by the Guardian show the extraordinary extent to which Pakistan is in danger of becoming a mere satrapy of imperial Washington. The US assault on Pakistani sovereignty, which is how these developments are widely viewed in the country, is multipronged. . ."
Well, no, not unless "widely viewed" is meant as a euphemism for the Guardian view - the "left-wing" view of rich white people, which now precisely echoes and accurately reflects the lumpen view incited by right-wing Pakistani chauvinists.
"There is a deep abyss between the perceptions of the people of Waziristan, the most drone-hit area, and the wider Pakistani society on the other side of the River Indus. For the latter, the US drone attacks on Waziristan are a violation of Pakistani’s sovereignty," writes Farhat Taj. "I have been discussing the issue of drone attacks with hundreds of people of Waziristan. They see the US drone attacks as their liberators from the clutches of the terrorists into which, they say, their state has wilfully thrown them."
What do intelligent writers from the Pakistani Left have to say about Tisdall's "dangerous" Yankee-imperialist incursions on Pakistan's sovereignty? Azizullah Khan Khetran writes: "We should not heed rightist propaganda and empty slogans. Let the drones hover over the terrorists and terrorise them." Further: "Civil society in Pakistan is well aware of the fact that the drones are cleansing us of terrorists but sometimes they fail to resist the temptation to speak out against them. This is caused by the extreme right trumpeting warnings of US encroachments on our sovereignty."
True, the dainty and fashionable classes of Islamabad and Lahore can give out of themselves about American imperialism and recite lines from Michael Moore documentaries as well as anyone in Toronto's Danforth or Vancouver's Kitsilano. But among the masses of Waziristan, FATA and Khyber-Pukhtoonkwa, where it matters, what do the people want?
Farhat Taj, again, provides a glimpse: "In all the areas of FATA where military operations have been conducted, people complain that the army deliberately targeted civilians and let the Taliban flee or avoided firing at the terrorists. This is the key reason why so many people became displaced in the tribal areas where the military operations have been conducted. This is also precisely the reason why the people in FATA favour drone strikes on the militants instead of military operations. . . despite the relentless drone attacks in North Waziristan, there is no mass scale displacement from the area."
Azizullah Khan and Farhat Taj are just two opinions, you say? Alright then, what about the left-wing political leadership of the NWFP, FATA, including Swat, Malakand, Buner and other Talib-infested districts? What say the Awami National Party, the Pukhtunkhwa Mili Awami Party, the Pakistan Peoples Party, the traditional Pashtun "Red Shirt" secularist movement, several civil society organizations and the Amn Tehrik Peace Coalition?
Here's what they have to say: "NATO and ISAF are sent to Afghanistan under UN mandate. NATO and ISAF should stay in Afghanistan until terrorism is uprooted, foreign interference in Afghanistan must be stopped and the institutions of army and police are established on solid footings." In case there is still any misundertanding, the "Left" in Waziristan and NWFP insists that the ordinary people want to crush the Taliban, but they know they need the Americans to help them do it: "These people do not support any peace deals with the militants. . . it is the [U.S.] drone attacks which they support the most."
Here's some empirical evidence backing up the assertion of popular support for drone strikes and a rejection of Talibanism: "Over two-thirds of the people viewed Al-Qaeda and the Taliban as enemy number one, and wanted the Pakistani army to clear the area of the militants. A little under two-thirds want the Americans to continue the drone attack because the Pakistani army is unable or unwilling to retake the territory from the Taliban."
What to make of the anti-American windbags and soft-palmed pro-appeasement journalists of the sort who enjoy the privilege of writing columns in the Guardian? "They are either intellectually lazy or are insensitive to the trauma of the terrorised people."
But is that all? Maryam Namayzie of the Worker-communist Party of Iran is a woman for whom I have great respect. While I am not a communist, Namayzie does presents a Marxist answer to the question that makes eminent sense of what much of the contemporary Euro-American "anti-war left" really represents: "It is an anti-colonial movement whose perspectives coincide with that of the ruling classes in the so-called Third World. This grouping is on the side of the ‘colonies’ no matter what goes on there. And their understanding of the ‘colonies’ is Eurocentric, patronising and even racist. . . This type of politics denies universalism, sees rights as ‘western,’ justifies the suppression of rights, freedoms and equality under the guise of respect for other ‘cultures’ implying that people want to live the way they are forced to and imputing on innumerable people the most reactionary elements of culture and religion, which is that of the ruling class."