Saturday, February 28, 2015

Even Conrad Black Can't Stomach Bill C-51

He knows a thing or two about law enforcement, the judicial process and essential liberties.  All that has Conrad Black incensed at Bill C-51 which he sees as a threat to the freedom of the Canadian people.  He doesn't like the place into which he believes Stephen Harper plans to lead the country.

As presented, Bill C-51 makes a Swiss cheese out of due process, and the three national political parties have approached the problem from distinctly different angles. The government have swaddled themselves in Stephen Harper’s default-toga of protecting the public, aspersing civil liberties concerns, and uttering tired pieties that “the law enforcement agencies are on our side,” presumably referring to their objectives rather than their political preferences. It is easy to be cynical about this and resignedly conclude that Vic Toews and Julian Fantino ride again (itself a terrorizing thought, and thought-terror is assumedly covered in the vast sweep of this bill). The government is responsible for preventing terrorist outrages from happening and it has to be given some licence to protect the country and everyone in it. But it is hard to be overly sanguine about the medieval antics of the government that took the giant leap backwards that was the omnibus crime bill. Nor is it reassuring that Mr. Harper, as is his frequent custom, is imposing a shortened debate on Parliament.

...We have ample proof, from the McDonald Commission’s 1981 report and elsewhere, that the law enforcement agencies in this country, as in others, are capable of outrageous and unfathomably stupid abuses, and anyone who has had anything to do with any arm of the law knows it (although most people in these occupations are reasonably dedicated and honest). Definitions have to be tightened; oversight has to be stringent and prompt and answerable to parliament, and we should be careful of too much reciprocity with foreign governments. Only 10 or 12 other countries have as much respect for human liberties as Canada does and must retain; the United States, with its 99.5% conviction rate and stacked rules — a criminal justice system that is just a conveyer-belt to its bloated and corrupt prison industry — is not one of them. If we go to sleep in Canada, we will wake up in an unrecognizable despotism, like Argentina, Turkey, or Louisiana.

"He's Acting Like Someone Who Has Nothing to Lose"

The editorial board of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz looks at the country's prime minister and sees a one-man wrecking ball winging his way to Washington.  The paper concludes that Israel badly needs a new prime minister.

On the eve of Israel’s election, Netanyahu is insisting on damaging Israel’s most important relationship. His grip on power is shaky, and he’s acting like someone who has nothing to lose.

Instead of respecting the American president and refraining from intervention in his domestic and foreign policy, Netanyahu is insisting on embarrassing Barack Obama in his home court. He will challenge Obama on Capitol Hill and urge the president’s political opponents to disrupt his diplomacy with Iran, just so that he can portray himself as the “savior of the nation” back home and please his master, American billionaire Sheldon Adelson, an avid supporter of both Netanyahu and the Republicans.

...This flawed judgment, which betrays the trust the public reposed in him as a leader and a statesman, bolsters the need to elect a different prime minister. And one of that premier’s first tasks will be to fix what Netanyahu has destroyed.

The past few weeks haven't been kind to Netanyahu.  He's been exposed as a calculating, serial liar and a chronic manipulator.  Video has also emerged of Netanyahu telling friends that he'll commit to agreements like the Oslo Accord without the slightest intention of honouring them.  It's no wonder his last friend on Earth is Stephen Harper.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Americans See Combating Climate Change a Moral Obligation. Speaking of Morality, Where's Steve Harper?

Some are calling it the "Francis effect" after the forceful statements the Pope has made about the need to address climate change.

A significant majority of Americans say combating climate change is a moral issue that obligates them – and world leaders - to reduce carbon emissions, a Reuters/IPSOS poll has found.

The poll of 2,827 Americans was conducted in February to measure the impact of moral language, including interventions by Pope Francis, on the climate change debate. In recent months, the pope has warned about the moral consequences of failing to act on rising global temperatures, which are expected to disproportionately affect the lives of the world’s poor.

The result of the poll suggests that appeals based on ethics could be key to shifting the debate over climate change in the United States, where those demanding action to reduce carbon emissions and those who resist it are often at loggerheads.

Two-thirds of respondents (66 percent) said that world leaders are morally obligated to take action to reduce CO2 emissions. And 72 percent said they were “personally morally obligated” to do what they can in their daily lives to reduce emissions.

Our prime minister's favourite passtime, pimping high-carbon fossil fuels, is pretty plainly immoral.  It's Canada's eager contribution to a great deal of suffering, dislocation and, ultimately, death.  It's the legacy of petro-statehood in the 21st century.  That trafficking in high-carbon bitumen is a disgrace to Canada and establishes our well-deserved reputation as an environmental pariah.  My guess is that Stephen Harper and his minions will be steering well clear of Pope Francis.

Another Dubious Record

We're about to hit the 30-year milestone.  That's 30 years of consistent, above-average temperatures.  February will mark 360 consecutive months of above average temps.  That's even getting close to half my own lifetime.

Each month, the US National Climatic Data Center calculates Earth’s average surface temperature using temperature measurements that cover the Earth’s surface. Then, another average is calculated for each month of the year for the twentieth century, 1901-2000. For each month, this gives one number representative of the entire century. Subtract this overall 1900s monthly average—which for February is 53.9F (12.1C)—from each individual month’s temperature and you’ve got the anomaly: that is, the difference from the average.

Asia's Dreadnoughts

Dreadnoughts.  The first modern battleship - big guns and steam turbine power. Prior to WWI these new super-warships triggered a major naval arms race between Britain and Germany.

Something similar is underway today across Asia and the South Pacific only this time its a naval arms race focused on submarine superiority.  We don't hear much about it but just about every player from the Sea of Japan, the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean and the south/central Pacific is rapidly rearming with submarines.

Even the city state of Singapore has a fleet of six subs, some of which are soon to be replaced with the latest and greatest.  Australia is wrestling with plans to replace its Collins-class boats with up to a dozen new subs.  Vietnam is beginning to deploy new Russian boats.  The Philippines is establishing its own submarine service.  Thailand is following suit.  India, seeking to establish a Blue Water navy has a major submarine programme that includes the development of an indigenous nuclear missile sub.  Pakistan is looking to buy new subs from China.  Japan may amend its constitution to allow the export of new technology submarines to potential customers like Australia.

What's driving all the panic for U-boats is, of course, China and its rapidly expanding naval force.  Now even the US Navy is expressing concerns about the size and capability of China's submarine force.

China now has a larger submarine fleet than that United States, a U.S. admiral said on Wednesday. Speaking to the House Armed Service Committee’s Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee (which oversees the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps), Vice Admiral Joseph Mulloy said that China is building some “fairly amazing submarines,” both diesel- and nuclear-powered. Mulloy is the deputy chief of naval operations for capabilities and resources.

Mulloy told the subcommittee that China is “out experimenting and looking at operating and clearly want[s] to be in this world of advanced submarines.” He also noted that China is increasing the geographical area of deployment for its subs, as well as the length of time per deployment.

...Nuclear-power submarines are a particular area of emphasis as China looks to improve its ability to conduct military operations outside its own near seas. China is continuing to produce Jin-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) and Shang-class nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs), and is expected to introduce new models over the next decade (the Type 096 SSBN and Type 095 guided-missile attack submarine or SSGN). For now, however, the DoD reports that diesel-powered subs are still “mainstay of the Chinese submarine force.”

Right now the leading edge in submarine technology is with the ultra-quiet, conventional submarine with AIP or air-independent propulsion. These non-nuclear boats can operate underwater for up to two-weeks at a stretch. The big suppliers are Germany, France, Sweden and, perhaps soon, Japan. The hapless subs Canada operates do no have AIP and are completely outclassed, even when they are fit for duty.

The Royal Canadian Navy did establish a record today.  For the first time since they acquired their second-hand subs from the Brits, three out of the four were operational today.  Tomorrow could be another matter.  No one knows.

The Christian States of America?

What if America became a theocracy?  Apparently a survey of Republicans found 57 per cent in favour of making Christianity the official religion of the United States.

Younger Republicans in the 18 – 45 age group were more favorable to the idea, with 63 percent of that cohort affirming that Christianity should be our national faith. Majorities of the older age groups still agreed, but in slightly smaller proportions. Among self-proclaimed Tea Partiers, 58 percent wished to establish Christianity as a state faith; and among those favoring former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee in the Republican primary, 94 percent would support such a measure. Eighty-three percent of Rick Perry fans replied that they would prefer Christianity be made our national religion, along with 62 percent of Rand Paul advocates.

...But aside from the illegality and irrationality of it, naming Christianity the United States’ national faith would do damage to the faith and faithful even if it did somehow shore up national morality. This is because national faiths, for better or worse, tend to morph into nationalism with a faith element, rather than a faith that happens to be practiced by a particular nation.

This is already true of right wing rhetoric wherein Christianity is made to stand in for American conflicts or situations. Earlier this month, for example, President Barack Obama faced censorious outcry after noting that Christians of the past carried out the Crusades; with Republicans like Governor Bobby Jindal accusing the president of going hard on Christianity in lieu of ISIS, it’s clear the Crusades were, in this instance, turned into an analogy of a purely modern conflict, with Obama implied to be on the wrong side. By criticizing Christianity instead of Islam he was understood to take the side of foreigners rather than Americans.

Ironically, the same zealots who pitch this nonsense are also fervent in their supposed support of America's "founding fathers" even though they were decidedly secular and avowed supporters of separation of church and state.  

Spock is Gone

Leonard Nimoy has died at age 83.  His death has been blamed on many years of smoking even though he quit three decades ago.

I can think of no finer tribute to Nimoy:

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Newsweek's Obituary for the Athabasca Tar Sands

Is it time for the Barons of Bitumen to wave the white flag?  That seems to be the case according to an article from the latest NewsWeek, "Keystone and the Riddle of the Tar Sands."

...some of Alberta’s crude has made its way to market, but so much slower than it could have, or was projected to, that producers, refiners, shippers, banks and other investors in tar sands development are beginning to wonder whether they have backed a good play by investing over $160 billion to turn tar into oil.
So the economic stranding process has already begunFive global energy giants—Shell, Total, Suncor, Statoil and Occidental—have cut bait on major bitumen deposits in Alberta, in which they had already invested billions. Suncor has just slashed another billion dollars from its capital spending program and $800 million more from operating expenses. And as oil prices slide lower, commercial and investment banks are reconsidering future underwritings. An industry that recently envisioned doubling production over the next 20 years is now looking at something closer to the opposite: a halving of production or worse in far fewer than 20 years.
American media coverage of the tar sands has focused primarily on the approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which, if completed, would carry 830,000 barrels of Athabasca crude, every day, to the world’s largest refining center near Houston next to a booming export hub.
Because American and Canadian politicians and oil executives have lobbied so hard for its approval, Americans tend to believe that construction of Keystone will secure the future of the tar sands. Not true. To even approach a break-even point, at least four other pipeline routes will be needed to carry bituminous crude to the world’s market: two to the Canadian west, one to the East and one to the North.
If two or three of those lines are somehow stopped, and that’s quite likely to occur, the stranding of the tar sands will escalate, Canada will cease being a petro-state, and its business leaders will begin their search for yet another staple to drive its national economy.
The article singles out Stephen Harper for scrutiny, labeling him Canada's Ted Cruz.
...Canada’s tar sands booster-in-chief is Prime Minister Stephen Harper, an Alberta-based petrolero who rose to prominence in politics as chief policy officer of the Reform Party, Canada’s version of the American Tea Party. Founded in 1987, Reform merged in 2000 with the floundering Progressive Conservative Party to form a new and almost unbeatable national coalition calling itself the Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance. (After adding Partyto its name, it became CCRAP and was nicknamed “see-crap.”) Harper became party leader of CCRAP, which has since won two national elections. It’s as if Ted Cruz became the Republican front-runner and won the White House twice.
...In Calgary, he became an outspoken and eloquent opponent of Pierre  Trudeau’s National Energy Plan, which seemed set upon nationalizing Canada’s last staple resource. While there is still talk of nationalizing oil and tar sands oil in Canada, and in some polls a majority of Canadians support the idea, that couldn’t possibly happen with Harper in power.
At the 2012 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Harper announced that the expanded production and export of tar sands bitumen was a national priority. Canada, he predicted, was set to become an energy superpower. In Ottawa, he took immediate and aggressive steps to weaken environmental protections like the Navigable Waters Protection Act, which was hindering pipeline construction, and to fast-track tar sands production.
...If Canada’s tar sands do one day become stranded, the equivalent annual emissions of over 65 coal-fired plants and 50 million passenger vehicles will remain underground. And a lot of the credit (or blame) will go to environmental activists, aboriginal communities, litigious farmers and groups like GreenpeaceNRDC and, which have added to their anti-pipeline advocacy a campaign to pressure institutional investors to divest their “Big Fossil” holdings. Even before divestment began, nine out of 10 tar sands producers’ stocks had underperformed the market. So they are vulnerable. 
...While assets like the tar sands should be stranded, because mining and burning them will raise the temperature of an already overheated planet a degree or more, they are more likely to become stranded because they are either unable to reach market or have lost market value.
The sad irony is that before Canada selected tar sands crude to be its staple export, the country was poised to become a major global contributor to clean energy. It had signed climate treaties, promoted solar energy, developed hydroelectric power and had a prosperous renewable-energy industry under sail, for which the country possessed all the necessary natural and financial resources.
Then one powerful neoliberal free-market zealot decided to double down on high-carbon fuels and announce to the world that tar sands would become the next nation-building staple for his country.
It appears he was wrong about that, which would not be a bad outcome for the planet.

You May Find This Hard to Believe

Just in from NOAA, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. January, 2015 was the second hottest January on record.  I know, I know - the Polar Vortex, all those snowstorms, - yada, yada, yada.  But, you see, that's the "global" part of global warming.

Much of central and eastern North America has been in the deep freeze for several weeks but much of the rest of the planet has been toasty.  Recently Barrow, Alaska has been logging warmer temperatures that many states in the lower 48.  Here's what the world looked like in January.  Red is warm, blue is cold.

So, as you scrape the ice off your windshield, consider yourself unique, somehow special.  The rest of the world doesn't get to do that.

What Stands Between Stephen Harper and a Spring Election Call?

Yesterday, apparently, some Ottawa journos were speculating about Stephen Harper dropping the writ today for a spring election.

I was told last week that Harper has already brought in a couple of heavy hitters to staff his campaign war room so I followed up on the speculation with a message to my go-to, Ottawa veteran Tory.  His terse reply:  "lots of signs. good bet."

So, what, if anything, might stand in Harper's way from pulling the pin?  It certainly won't be his own, fixed election date law.  He's ignored that before.

One factor might be the deep freeze that besets most of the country east of Lotus Land.  EnviroCan says there's at least another month of Arctic fronts that'll be rolling through central and eastern Canada.  Not the best weather for campaigning.

Then there's the Duffy trial.  That's a double-edged sword.  If Harper goes now he'll be exposed to those who'll say that the prime minister wants to get Canadians to vote before they can learn the true state of skullduggery that went on in his PMO and details of Harper's personal involvement.

On the other hand, if Harper knows the evidence that will come out during the trial will show him to have lied about what he knew and when - or worse - what has he got to lose from speculation?

Recent polls show Trudeau and Harper neck and neck.  What if Harper doesn't see much chance of his fortunes improving over the next several months?  What would he have to lose by going now?

With world oil prices tanking, Harper can't expect Fortune to smile on Canada's petro-economy.  His supposed stewardship of the Canadian economy has saved him before but that'll be a harder sell this time around.

Somehow I don't think the terrorism trick is going to work this time either.  Even the rightwing media won't rally to defend Harper's assault on Canadian civil liberties, Bill C-51.  He needs us afraid and I just don't think enough of us are any longer.

When you step back you can see this is an awfully tired government that's fresh out of ideas.  Harper will probably try to turn the next election into a referendum on Justin Trudeau, the tactic he employed to trash Dion and Ignatieff in their turn.

What do you think?  Will Harper, yet again, try to catch the opposition off guard?  

It Ain't Your Grandfather's Fascism, But It's Still Facism - John Pilger

There's a form of fascism that's flourishing today and it's even considered pretty respectable.  Then again, old school fascism prior to WWII was also considered respectable in some pretty high places.

Journalist, documentary filmmaker, social critic John Pilger sees the face of fascism in much of Western foreign policy.  An important essay published in Asia Times Online.  If what Pilger claims is remotely accurate, we have been well and truly had - by our own governments.

"To initiate a war of aggression…," said the Nuremberg Tribunal judges in 1946, "is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."

...Had the United States and its satellites not initiated their war of aggression in Iraq in 2003, almost a million people would be alive today; and Islamic State, or ISIS, would not have us in thrall to its savagery. They are the progeny of modern fascism, weaned by the bombs, bloodbaths and lies that are the surreal theatre known as news.

Like the fascism of the 1930s and 1940s, big lies are delivered with the precision of a metronome: thanks to an omnipresent, repetitive media and its virulent censorship by omission.

...The public sodomising of the Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi with a "rebel" bayonet was greeted by the then US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, with the words: "We came, we saw, he died." His murder, like the destruction of his country, was justified with a familiar big lie; he was planning "genocide" against his own people. "We knew ... that if we waited one more day," said President Barack Obama, "Benghazi, a city the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world."
This was the fabrication of Islamist militias facing defeat by Libyan government forces. They told Reuters there would be "a real bloodbath, a massacre like we saw in Rwanda". Reported on March 14, 2011, the lie provided the first spark for Nato's inferno, described by David Cameron as a "humanitarian intervention".

Secretly supplied and trained by Britain's SAS, many of the "rebels" would become ISIS, whose latest video offering shows the beheading of 21 Coptic Christian workers seized in Sirte, the city destroyed on their behalf by Nato bombers.

...The "humanitarian war" against Libya drew on a model close to Western liberal hearts, especially in the media. In 1999, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair sent Nato to bomb Serbia, because, they lied, the Serbs were committing "genocide" against ethnic Albanians in the secessionist province of Kosovo. David Scheffer, US ambassador-at-large for war crimes [sic], claimed that as many as "225,000 ethnic Albanian men aged between 14 and 59" might have been murdered.
Both Clinton and Blair evoked the Holocaust and "the spirit of the Second World War". The West's heroic allies were the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), whose criminal record was set aside. The British foreign secretary, Robin Cook, told them to call him any time on his mobile phone.

With the Nato bombing over, and much of Serbia's infrastructure in ruins, along with schools, hospitals, monasteries and the national TV station, international forensic teams descended upon Kosovo to exhume evidence of the "holocaust". The FBI failed to find a single mass grave and went home. The Spanish forensic team did the same, its leader angrily denouncing "a semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machines".

A year later, a United Nations tribunal on Yugoslavia announced the final count of the dead in Kosovo: 2,788. This included combatants on both sides and Serbs and Roma murdered by the KLA. There was no genocide. The "holocaust" was a lie. The Nato attack had been fraudulent.

...The tragedy of Afghanistan rivals the epic crime in Indochina. In his lauded and much quoted book, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the godfather of US policies from Afghanistan to the present day, writes that if America is to control Eurasia and dominate the world, it cannot sustain a popular democracy, because "the pursuit of power is not a goal that commands popular passion … Democracy is inimical to imperial mobilisation."

He is right. As WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden have revealed, a surveillance and police state is usurping democracy. In 1976, Brzezinski, then president Jimmy Carter's National Security Advisor, demonstrated his point by dealing a death blow to Afghanistan's first and only democracy. Who knows this vital history?

In the 1960s, a popular revolution swept Afghanistan, the poorest country on earth, eventually overthrowing the vestiges of the aristocratic regime in 1978. The People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) formed a government and declared a reform programme that included the abolition of feudalism, freedom for all religions, equal rights for women and social justice for the ethnic minorities. More than 13,000 political prisoners were freed and police files publicly burned.

The new government introduced free medical care for the poorest; peonage was abolished, a mass literacy programme was launched. For women, the gains were unheard of. By the late 1980s, half the university students were women, and women made up almost half of Afghanistan's doctors, a third of civil servants and the majority of teachers.

Pilger contends that it was progressivism in Afghanistan that the US sought to destroy by launching the mujahadeen against the Kabul government, the first step in the evolution of the Taliban, al Qaeda and today's nemesis, ISIS.  This corner of the Muslim world was thrown to the dogs of brutal Islamist fundamentalism, sacrificed in order to destabilize what was then the Soviet Union.

Such fanatics might have remained in their tribal world had Brzezinski not launched an international movement to promote Islamic fundamentalism in Central Asia and so undermine secular political liberation and "destabilise" the Soviet Union, creating, as he wrote in his autobiography, "a few stirred up Muslims". 

His grand plan coincided with the ambitions of the Pakistani dictator, General Zia ul-Haq, to dominate the region. In 1986, the CIA and Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, began to recruit people from around the world to join the Afghan jihad. The Saudi multi-millionaire Osama bin Laden was one of them.

Pilger contends that the manifestation of modern fascism is the Hellfire missile launched from a drone far overhead, obliterating targets hand picked by Obama himself.

"For goose-steppers," wrote the historian Norman Pollock, "substitute the seemingly more innocuous militarisation of the total culture. And for the bombastic leader, we have the reformer manque, blithely at work, planning and executing assassination, smiling all the while."

Uniting fascism old and new is the cult of superiority. "I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being," said Obama, evoking declarations of national fetishism from the 1930s. As the historian Alfred W McCoy has pointed out, it was the Hitler devotee, Carl Schmitt, who said, "The sovereign is he who decides the exception."

This sums up Americanism, the world's dominant ideology. That it remains unrecognised as a predatory ideology is the achievement of an equally unrecognised brainwashing. Insidious, undeclared, presented wittily as enlightenment on the march, its conceit insinuates Western culture.

...During the Second World War, America (and Britain) went to war against Greeks who had fought heroically against Nazism and were resisting the rise of Greek fascism. In 1967, the CIA helped bring to power a fascist military junta in Athens - as it did in Brazil and most of Latin America. Germans and east Europeans who had colluded with Nazi aggression and crimes against humanity were given safe haven in the US; many were pampered and their talents rewarded. Wernher von Braun was the "father" of both the Nazi V-2 terror bomb and the US space programme.

In the 1990s, as former Soviet republics, eastern Europe and the Balkans became military outposts of Nato, the heirs to a Nazi movement in Ukraine were given their opportunity. Responsible for the deaths of thousands of Jews, Poles and Russians during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Ukrainian fascism was rehabilitated and its "new wave" hailed by the enforcer as "nationalists".

This reached its apogee in 2014 when the Obama administration splashed out $5 billion on a coup against the elected government. The shock troops were neo-Nazis known as the Right Sector and Svoboda. Their leaders include Oleh Tyahnybok, who has called for a purge of the "Moscow-Jewish mafia" and "other scum", including gays, feminists and those on the political left.

These fascists are now integrated into the Kiev coup government. The first deputy speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, Andriy Parubiy, a leader of the governing party, is co-founder of Svoboda. On February 14, Parubiy announced he was flying to Washington get "the USA to give us highly precise modern weaponry". If he succeeds, it will be seen as an act of war by Russia.

No Western leader has spoken up about the revival of fascism in the heart of Europe - with the exception of Vladimir Putin, whose people lost 22 million to a Nazi invasion that came through the borderland of Ukraine.

At the recent Munich Security Conference, Obama's Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, ranted abuse about European leaders for opposing the US arming of the Kiev regime. She referred to the German Defence Minister as "the minister for defeatism". It was Nuland who masterminded the coup in Kiev. The wife of Robert D Kaplan, a leading "neo-con" luminary of the far-right Center for a New American Security, she was foreign policy advisor to the fascist Dick Cheney.

Nuland's coup did not go to plan. Nato was prevented from seizing Russia's historic, legitimate, warm-water naval base in Crimea. The mostly Russian population of Crimea - illegally annexed to Ukraine by Nikita Krushchev in 1954 - voted overwhelmingly to return to Russia, as they had done in the 1990s. The referendum was voluntary, popular and internationally observed. There was no invasion.

At the same time, the Kiev regime turned on the ethnic Russian population in the east with the ferocity of ethnic cleaning. Deploying neo-Nazi militias in the manner of the Waffen-SS, they bombed and laid to siege cities and towns. They used mass starvation as a weapon, cutting off electricity, freezing bank accounts, stopping social security and pensions. More than a million refugees fled across the border into Russia. In the Western media, they became unpeople escaping "the violence" caused by the "Russian invasion".

...The intensity of the smear campaign against Russia and the portrayal of its president as a pantomime villain is unlike anything I have known as a reporter. Robert Parry, one of America's most distinguished investigative journalists, who revealed the Iran-Contra scandal, wrote recently, "No European government, since Adolf Hitler's Germany, has seen fit to dispatch Nazi storm troopers to wage war on a domestic population, but the Kiev regime has and has done so knowingly.

"Yet across the West's media/political spectrum, there has been a studious effort to cover up this reality even to the point of ignoring facts that have been well established ... If you wonder how the world could stumble into world war three - much as it did into world war one a century ago - all you need to do is look at the madness over Ukraine that has proved impervious to facts or reason."

In 1946, the Nuremberg Tribunal prosecutor said of the German media: "The use made by Nazi conspirators of psychological warfare is well known. Before each major aggression, with some few exceptions based on expediency, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically for the attack .... In the propaganda system of the Hitler State it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons."

This speaks to the warning from the leading German financial newspaper, Handelsblatt, last summer that we in the West are being "mentally mobilized" for war.  I agree wholeheartedly with Pilger when he calls on each of us to prevent the final conquest - the conquest of ourselves.

...The responsibility of the rest of us is clear. It is to identify and expose the reckless lies of warmongers and never to collude with them. It is to re-awaken the great popular movements that brought a fragile civilisation to modern imperial states.

Most important, it is to prevent the conquest of ourselves: our minds, our humanity, our self respect. If we remain silent, victory over us is assured, and a holocaust beckons.


Remember that Mysterious Crater in Siberia?

It caused a world wide uproar when a helicopter crew in Siberia overflew a massive crater in the permafrost in the summer of 2013.  Within a week or two a couple of additional craters were found.  Then the whole business died down.

Well, they're back, and there are a lot more.

Siberia’s Yamal Peninsula, which means ‘end of the world,’ is becoming increasingly porous, according to scientists at the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS). Last July, a sinkhole measuring 260 feet in width was reported in the region. Researchers now suggest that up to 30 more could litter the cold earth.

Since the discovery of the first Yamal crater, nine more have been reported in the region. Additionally, the crater known as B2 is apparently flanked by 20 water-filled “baby craters,” the Siberian Times reports.

Whatever is creating these chasms is still largely unknown. Some Antipayuta residents reported seeing a flash in the vicinity of one crater, while others in the Yamal district noted feeling tremors. Russian scientists have named one possible culprit, however: methane.

Bogoyavlensky suspects that gas emissions – possibly even gas explosions – could have formed the craters. A thaw of the Arctic landscape could have allowed underground gas reserves to burst outward, he says. Researchers have previously observed ‘degassing’ in Yamal lakes – the release and subsequent rising of gas from lakebed – which seems to support Bogoyavlensky’s theory.

The Videos Every Member of Congress Needs to Watch

Thanks to a White House that's willing to stand up to him, Benjamin Netanyahu is finally being exposed as a manipulative, chronic liar.  For starters there's this clip recorded surreptitiously in 2001 in which Netanyahu boasts of his prowess at twisting American legislators to do his bidding.

The Washington Post reports how Netanyahu spoke freely of trashing the Oslo Accord.

Netanyahu also bragged how he undercut the peace process when he was prime minister during the Clinton administration. "They asked me before the election if I'd honor [the Oslo accords]," he said. "I said I would, but ... I'm going to interpret the accords in such a way that would allow me to put an end to this galloping forward to the '67 borders. How did we do it? Nobody said what defined military zones were. Defined military zones are security zones; as far as I'm concerned, the entire Jordan Valley is a defined military zone. Go argue."

It has also emerged that when Netanyahu appeared before the UN General Assembly in 2012 with his bomb graphic to claim that Iran was just weeks away from having the weapons grade material to make a bomb he was flat out lying and that his intelligence service, the Mossad, told him that Iran was years away and seemingly not pursuing a weapons programme.

But wait, there's more.  Here is Netanyahu in 2002, while he was briefly out of office, appearing before Congress to lie his ass off about Saddam and the non-existent nuclear weapons of mass destruction.

This is a guy whose most powerful talent is an astonishing ability to manipulate Western leaders with whatever lies he thinks will work and he's usually right. This guy is an unrepentant con artist, a true pathological liar.  That probably explains his affinity for Harper.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Oh, This Is Rich. Stephen Harper Wants Us to Listen to Scientists.

"get the facts from the ...scientific community, and if you're not a ...scientist yourself, listen to the people who are. It's that simple."

You heard it right, straight from the lips of Stephen Joseph Harper.  Get the facts from the scientific community and, if you're not a scientist yourself, listen to the people who are.  Who could argue with that sort of logic except, of course, the man who said it, Stephen Harper.

Memo to Steve:  There are many, many scientists who would dearly love to give you oodles of facts so why aren't you listening to them?  We could pack an auditorium with top scientists in fields such as climatology, meteorology, hydrology, atmospherics, biology, botany, oceanography, glaciation, geology, chemistry, medicine and epidemiology, and many, many more scientific disciplines who would love to explain to you things like climate change, and the host of imminent threats it poses to our country - if only you would listen.  

You put it perfectly, Mr. prime minister:  "But we have a responsibility to set an example, for God's sake. ...And as an advanced, educated society, it's completely irresponsible of people in this society to communicate anything other than that anywhere else in the world."

So, for God's sake (as you put it, Steve) get the facts, listen to the scientists and act on their advice.  Do it Steve - or the cat gets it.

Maybe When Obama is Finished Mauling Netanyahu He Could Give Us a Hand With Harper

It's widely thought that Barack Obama is working to engineer regime change in Israel.  He's had a snootful of Benjamin Netanyahu and his underhanded ways and, in the process, confirms that the best way to deal with a bully is to stand up to him and fight back.

But wait.  We've got a bully boy here too, one every bit as devious and manipulative as the Israeli prime minister.  What's more, as a people, Canadians really like Obama - and by a good measure more than we like Stephen Harper.

Harper has been a pain in the White House backside over the Keystone XL pipeline, regularly crossing the line to cajole and embarrass the president.  Add to that Harper is just about the only head of government still in bed with his Israeli counterpart.

So, c'mon Barack.  Make like a good neighbour.  We need regime change too.  Is that too much to ask?

When the Taps Run Dry, Where Do You Go?

Sao Paulo Riots

Imagine telling the residents of Toronto that they have to flee the city and travel elsewhere in search of water.  Well something along those lines may be in store for the millions of residents of Brazil's largest city, Sao Paulo.

As south-east Brazil grapples with its worst drought in nearly a century, a problem worsened by polluted rivers, deforestation and population growth, the largest reservoir system serving Sao Paulo is near depletion. Many residents are already enduring sporadic water cut-offs, some going days without it. Officials say that drastic rationing may be needed, with water service provided only two days a week.

Behind closed doors, the views are grimmer. In a meeting recorded secretly and leaked to the local news media, Paulo Massato, a senior official at Sao Paulo's water utility, said that residents might have to be warned to flee because "there's not enough water, there won't be water to bathe, to clean" homes.

"We're witnessing an unprecedented water crisis in one of the world's great industrial cities", said Marussia Whately, a water specialist at Instituto Socioambiental, a Brazilian environmental group. "Because of environmental degradation and political cowardice, millions of people in Sao Paulo are now wondering when the water will run out."

For some in this traffic-choked megacity of futuristic skyscrapers, gated communities and sprawling slums, the slow-burning crisis has already meant no running water for days on end.

...Experts say the origins of the crisis go beyond the recent drought to include an array of interconnected factors: the city's surging population growth in the 20th century; a chronically leaky system that spills vast amounts of water before it can reach homes; notorious pollution in the Tiete and Pinheiros rivers traversing the city (their aroma can induce nausea in passers-by); and the destruction of surrounding forests and wetlands that have historically soaked up rain and released it into reservoirs.

Deforestation in the Amazon River basin, hundreds of kilometres away, may also be adding to Sao Paulo's water crisis. Cutting the forest reduces its capacity to release humidity into the air, diminishing rainfall in southeast Brazil, according to a recent study by one of the country's leading climate scientists.

Officials also point to global warming. "Climate change has arrived to stay", Geraldo Alckmin, the governor of Sao Paulo state, said in February. "When it rains, it rains too much, and when there's drought, it's way too dry."

Imagine going three days at a stretch without fresh water.  The UN calculates we need 20-liters a day just for basic hydration, cooking and sanitation.   Studies have found that we in the developed world use the toilet about 5-times daily which consumes 34-liters per day for low-flow toilets up to 72-liters per day for older toilets (some are much higher).  That makes it pretty tough for a family living in a high-rise apartment to just meet their basic sanitation needs unless everyone starts emptying their chamber pots over the balcony.  

Protesters Swarm Rio
Unrest is building as would be expected, anti-government riots breaking out every now and then in Sao Paulo, Rio and more than 100-other Brazillian towns and cities.. 20-million people can't live this way.  How do you relocate many millions of internally displaced people?  Where do they go?  Where will they find services and housing much less jobs and schools and everything else that supports modern life?  

Brazil may become the poster child for this sort of First World problem.  And the Third World is also reeling from water shortages.

When Khawaja Muhammad Asif, [Pakistan's] Minister of Defense, Power, and Water (yes, that is one ministry), warned that the country’s chronic water shortages could soon become uncontrollable, he was looking on the bright side. The meagre allotment of water available to each Pakistani is a third of what it was in 1950 . As the country’s population rises, that amount is falling fast.

...Nowhere, however, is the situation more acute than in Brazil, particularly for the twenty million residents of São Paulo. “You have all the elements for a perfect storm, except that we don’t have water,” a former environmental minister told Lizzie O’Leary, in a recent interview for the syndicated radio show “Marketplace.” The country is bracing for riots. “There is a real risk of social convulsion,” José Galizia Tundisi, a hydrologist with the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, warned in a press conference last week. He said that officials have failed to act with appropriate urgency. “Authorities need to act immediately to avoid the worst.” But people rarely act until the crisis is directly affecting them, and at that point it will be too late.

Feeding a planet with nine billion residents will require at least fifty per cent more water in 2050 than we use today. It is hard to see where that water will come from. Half of the planet already lives in urban areas, and that number will increase along with the pressure to supply clean water.

...The result of continued inaction is clear. Development experts, who rarely agree on much, all agree that water wars are on the horizon. That would be nothing new for humanity. After all, the word “rivals” has its roots in battles over water—coming from the Latin, rivalis, for “one taking from the same stream as another.” It would be nice to think that, with our complete knowledge of the physical world, we have moved beyond the limitations our ancestors faced two thousand years ago. But the truth is otherwise; rivals we remain, and the evidence suggests that, until we start dying of thirst, we will stay that way.

Netanyahu's High-Risk Gambit

What?  I Stepped In What?

With just three weeks to go, Israel's national election has turned into a real nail-biter.  The governing Likud party of Benjamin Netanyahu is in a dead heat tie with the rival Zionist Union party, each of which stands to collect 24-seats according to the latest polls.  Of course it's not all that simple.  With 11-parties expected to meet the 4-seat party threshhold, forming a government coalition really is a matter of herding cats.

Being tied for first isn't an enviable position for Netanyahu's Likud, not when the prime minister is about to stage his potentially explosive appearance before a far-less-than-joint session of the US Congress.  Many Democrats are expected to boycott the speech which is seen as an effort by Netanyahu to undermine the White House.  That's worrisome to voters in Israel who hate to see anything that harms Israel's relationship with Washington.  Both Barack Obama and Joe Biden are giving Bibi the cold shoulder.  He won't be received at the White House and Biden won't attend the speech although he's the president of the Senate.

Some of Israel's strongest Democratic supporters tried to reach out to Netanyahu, offering to arrange a separate meeting but Netanyahu returned the snub and rejected their offer.  That'll go over - not well - either on Capitol Hill or in Israel.

The White House is fighting back:

The Obama administration has engineered a series of highly visible snubs of Netanyahu – from refusing a White House invitation and levelling accusations that the Israeli government is not trustworthy to a humiliating leak about new limitations on intelligence sharing – just weeks before the Israeli leader faces a tight general election.
Top administration officials, including Vice-President Joe Biden and the US secretary of state, John Kerry, have made a point of meeting Israeli opposition leaders who have seized on the dispute to characterise Netanyahu as jeopardising relations with Israel’s most important ally.
Aaron David Miller, who served six US secretaries of state as an adviser on Arab-Israeli negotiations, said the confrontation marks a further deterioration in an already dysfunctional relationship between Obama and Netanyahu. But Miller, who is now a vice-president at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, said the Israeli leader’s divisive handling has handed the administration an opening “to try to demonstrate how much the US-Israeli relationship is dysfunctional at the top because of Netanyahu” and an opportunity to press for “regime change”.
...Last week, the White House made an unusually direct attack on the Israeli government, accusing it of dishonesty in selectively leaking information about the Iran nuclear talks to the Israeli press in an attempt to discredit the negotiations.
“We see that there is a continued practice of cherry-picking specific pieces of information and using them out of context to distort the negotiating position of the United States,” said the White House spokesman, Josh Earnest. “There’s no question that some of the things that the Israelis have said in characterising our negotiating position have not been accurate.”
That led the US not only to take the unusual step of limiting the intelligence it shares with Israel about the Iran talks but to embarrass Netanyahu by leaking the move.
Bibi's credibility took another body blow with the leak of documents showing that Netanyahu has been dishonest about the state of Iran's nuclear programme.  The focus has been on his appearance before the UN General Assembly when he claimed that Iran was on the cusp of production of nuclear weapons.  He used a red marker pen to show that Iran was all but ready to go nuke.

Bibi's problem is that even Israel's own and highly-respected intelligence service, Mossad, has a much different opinion.  Mossad's assessment is that Iran is years away from producing a bomb.  In other words, Netanyahu has been freely lying to anyone and everyone about Iran and the imagined threat it poses to Israel.
Well, now that he's pissed off Obama and pretty much every other world leader, that leaves Netanyahu with just one unquestioningly loyal friend, Mr. "Bring on Armageddon" himself, Stephen Harper.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Germans Get It. When Will We?

Sixty per cent of Germans believe that capitalism is the cause of poverty and hunger and that real democracy can't be realized under that economic system.  It seems they're not fond of market fundamentalism and neoliberalism.  In fact, they see straight through it.

You might have thought that Germans who live in Europe's economic powerhouse would be true free market capitalists.  You would be wrong.

The survey found that more than 60 percent of Germans believe there is no genuine democracy in their country because industry has too much political influence and that the voice of the voters plays only a subordinate role.

Gee, does any of that sound familiar?

Apparently It's Our Fault. Sorry.

Hey, Nice Car!

I won't tell you about the lovely motorcycle ride along the coast road I enjoyed yesterday.  It was great but I won't get into that. And I'm not going to whine about having to cut the damned lawn, again. The crocuses and daffs that are coming up?  Who hasn't seen flowers?  They're just flowers.  The herbs, though, they're really coming in beautifully.  The chives are magnificent.

I won't get into this stuff because I know most of you are freezing your buns off. EnviroCan claims it's all our fault.  Something to do with an enormous high pressure front parked just off the Pacific coast that's triggering Arctic fronts to pour down through the prairies, central and eastern Canada.

Sorry about that.  If I could make it all better I would.  I can't.

And right here, right now I want to say sorry again because, according to EnviroCan, you're just going to keep getting more cold fronts for the next month or two, that Pacific thing again.  But, hey, you're breaking all kinds of records! That's something, isn't it?

And at least you're getting a winter, even if it is fierce.  We didn't get one this year.  We were even in a losing battle to keep some of our ski resorts open.  A bunch are already closed for the year.

So be sure to dress warmly.  Keep the snow shovel and the bag of rock salt handy.  Before you know it, it'll be May.  And, until then, again I'm sorry.

Obama Vetoes Congressional Go Ahead on Keystone XL

It's said to be Barack Obama's first veto of any significant legislation since he took office.  It comes as no surprise.  He said he would do it.  It doesn't decide the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline one way or the other.

Congress forwarded a bill authorizing the construction of the pipeline.  Obama vetoed the bill.

The president has said he'll take his time and wait until all environmental and regulatory reports are in before deciding on the project.

Are We Supposed to Defend Democracy or Just Mourn Its Passing?

There is certainly no shortage of opinion pieces these days bemoaning the steady decline in Western or "liberal" democracy.  I've penned a few myself.

People I speak or correspond with seem to agree that the introduction of Bill C-51 is an assault on freedom of speech and protest that sets government against the public and treats democratic dissent as subversive.

We have a government, make that a "regime", in power today that has erected walls of secrecy between itself and the Canadian people.  It's all but impossible to have a conversation with your government that is filtered through freedom of information requests.  We can ask questions but that doesn't mean they'll be answered.

Even as it has become much harder, in some cases an ordeal, to look into our government and what it's up to, our government has cloaked itself in powers that make it ever more capable of prying into our lives.  It connives to exploit any incident, even something shocking thousands of miles distant, as a pretext to expand its powers over us and diminish our freedoms to object.

What does it say for Canadian democracy when we need Edward Snowden to blow the whistle on critical issues such as domestic spying?

Our government, instead of respecting our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, butts heads with it and seeks ways to circumvent or undermine it.  Time and again we have to fall on the Supreme Court of Canada to protect us from this government's predations.

We are witnessing the rise of illiberal democracy, a shifting of the balance of power between the individual and government.  This regime swept to power on clear and unequivocal promises of accountability and transparency, promises it had no intention of keeping.  Instead it promptly scurried behind walls of secrecy and lies as it put in place first a surveillance state and, now, a police state.

So what are we to do?  Under C-51 is the mere asking of the question subversive? Is raising the prospect of some response in defence of democracy, up to and including civil disobedience, an offence against the regime?  Does this earn us a place on some secret security service's watch list?

Or are we just to mourn the passing of our liberal democracy and sit idle as we watch it slowly displaced by neoliberal authoritarianism?  Are we to settle for a new style of democracy, illiberal democracy, where you can still vote yet that is of little meaningful significance?

Do we have a duty to defend our democracy?  Do we even have the right if that demands resisting our government? I wish I had some answers but I really don't.

Monday, February 23, 2015

To So-Called Liberals Who Slam Trudeau Over His ISIS Policy

Sometimes even I have to stand up for Justin Trudeau.  He has been attacked recently for his less than bloodthirsty views on ISIS.  Some of these attacks come from self-identified Liberals who apparently can't get a paid gig from Team Trudeau but are they fair?  MSNBC's Chris Hayes helps make Justin's point.

These days it's becoming harder to tell some Liberals from redneck Conservatives.  That, perhaps, is Ignatieff's lasting Liberal legacy - the unquestioning pro-Israel stance, the "muscular foreign policy" that just keeps falling on its face, the neoliberal contagion that has sent many progressive Liberals packing.

Screw Oversight! In HarperLand, We Watch YOU, You Don't Watch Us.

What's the point in having domestic spying if it means you're going to be, oh I don't know, "accountable?"

Canada's Closet Clausewitz, def min Jason Kenney, says there'll be no additional oversight of national security operatives after the Harper government rams through bill C-51.

Defence Minister Jason Kenney, who has functioned as the government’s lead spokesman for the legislation in recent days, rebuffed an appeal for more independent supervision of national-security agencies – one that came in the form of letter published in The Globe and Mail and signed by former prime ministers, ex–Supreme Court justices and others.

Mr. Kenney noted the letter’s key signatories, Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin, Joe Clark and John Turner, did not change the oversight of Canada’s spy agency, which is currently supervised by the Security Intelligence Review Committee, while they were in power.

“We have the same system that has worked well in Canada for over 25 years,” the Defence Minister told CTV. “I would point out those four former prime ministers all had exactly the same system of an independent oversight committee for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.”

Yes, Jason, they had the same system only they didn't have the same domestic spying powers because C-51 is the Orwellian hellspawn of your government. You created it, not Chretien, Martin, Clark or Turner.  Those wimps didn't think Canada should be a police state.  What were they thinking?

Now all eyes should turn to Justin.  Will Trudeau the Lesser grow a pair and oppose this terrible law or, just like Ignatieff, will he bow on bended knee to Harper?

John Oliver Rips the Lid Off America's Corrupt Judiciary

America is the ultimate "transactional democracy."  A look at its "bought and paid for" Congress, the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson or ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, shows that democracy is a commodity in the states.

But what about the country's judiciary, that other branch of government?  John Oliver ripped that apart on Last Week Tonight:


Remember this the next time you hear some rightwing yahoo rant about how we need to elect judges in Canada.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

When Getting It Wrong No Longer Matters

In the age of neoliberalism ideology matters, not results.  Neoliberalism ensures there'll always be another bus to drive into the next ditch.

Call it what you like, be it "market fundamentalism" or "free market capitalism," neoliberalism works at cross purposes to democracy.  You know that business about government "of the people, by the people, for the people"?  There's really no need for that sort of pap in the age of neoliberalism.

Neoliberalism displaces unruly democracy, the sort of thing that demands results and punishes failure, with an orderly form of corporatism where some things matter and others are ignored or suppressed or even attacked.  There are plenty of examples.

The environment, climate change.  In a government "of the people, by the people, for the people" this would be a big deal.  It's akin to a 3-alarm house fire for all of humanity.  Something is blocking action.  What do you think it could be? Neoliberalism?  Well, look at the governments that have been subverting every effort to slash greenhouse gas emissions, notably the United States and Canada. The United States, with its "bought and paid for" Congress and wildly corporatist Supreme Court and its soaring inequality.  Canada, with its corporate executive prime minister, our CEO, calling the shots on everything, demolishing our rights, our freedoms and our protections.  Who so relentlessly suppresses science but Stephen Harper, some Salafist Mullahs and the Khmer Rouge? Oh dear.

Inequality, perhaps the hallmark of neoliberalism.  Who needs a wealthy country if the price is a healthy, robust and empowered middle class?   With their middle class incomes and their unions and associations and their doting concerns for the welfare of their kids and grandkids, they operate as a sponge, absorbing the lion's share of political and economic influence.  All that political and economic power, that clout, however can be commodified and sold to a markedly higher bidder in the age of neoliberalism.

The emergence of the "Permanent Warfare State" is the poster child of neoliberalism.  We have entered an age of for-profit, corporate war fighting.  As usual, the United States leads the way paved by giants such as Halliburton, Blackwater and Kellogg Brown & Root. In Afghanistan, these "contractors" not only operated outside any authority's laws but outnumbered American military personnel in that miserable country.

What is warfare in the era of neoliberalism?  It's never ending.  Neoliberal wars are not won.  No one sits down and says "Okay, here's the objective.  This is what we're up against.  This is what it's going to take to win.  This is what it's going to take to secure the peace after we win. Now, let's do it."

Warfare in the age of neoliberalism revolves around the "whack-a-mole" strategy.  Consider it a form of "low-intensity fraud."  Wars, in times past, usually ended in one of two ways. You won or you lost.  If neither of those was available then you sat down and negotiated some form of truce.  You did it because people want peace.  They want to get on with their lives.

Look how our war in Afghanistan ended.  We packed up our stuff in shipping containers and left.  There was no concluded outcome.  We simply withdrew from the field (which, by the way, is losing).

Bombing, death from above, is particularly appealing in the age of neoliberalism. We have plenty of ways to keep that churning over - drones, bombers, cruise missiles, strike fighters.  Harper likes it so much he's fond of dispatching penny packets of jet fighters hither and yon.  If he wants to be a part of something, he'll get a six-pack of CF-18s there in no time.

The thing is, in the age of neoliberalism, getting it wrong no longer matters.  Our military and political leadership failed miserably in Afghanistan but nobody was sacked, no careers were ruined.  What's more telling is that, when we got back home, there was no post-mortem.  No enquiry.  No discussion of why the Taliban prevailed over us.  No exploration of what went wrong and just who made all the terrible calls.  Good people died - for nothing - but in the neoliberal era, that no longer matters.  Their dead and broken bodies are bookkeeping entries.  We have moved on.

Libya.  We got together with our NATO pals and rained death from above on Gaddafi's troops for - One Hundred and Sixty One days - leaving the place in utter chaos.  We created the conditions that allowed Islamic fundamentalists to become established in North Africa, first al Qaeda and, more recently, ISIS (naturally).  Now our defence minister, our Closet Clausewitz, muses about expanding our neoliberal air war to Libya - again.  Why do I keep thinking of Groundhog Day?

We're seemingly confronted by threats on all sides these days - Putin, ISIS, al Qaeda, Iran, North Korea.  NATO is dusting off the cobwebs and eagerly preparing for Cold War II, relentlessly hyping the idea of a full-blown shooting war with Russia.  In August, the leading German financial paper, Handelsblatt, warned we in the West are being "mentally mobilized for war."  These same clowns, the very people who couldn't defeat an outnumbered gaggle of illiterate Afghan farmboys armed with Korean war vintage small arms, are banging the war drums over Russia.  Putin has become NATO's "indispensable enemy."  Fire up the foundries. We need more guns.

Warfare in the age of neoliberalism. It's not a total loss. Keep it stoked and you can keep the public fearful and fear is the fuel of manipulation.

Domestically, neoliberalism marks the subordination of public policy to economic policy.  Neoliberalism advances illiberal democracy over liberal democracy.  It results in transactional government in which even the plebs are cast as taxpayers, not citizens.  The connection between government and citizen falters as government quietly retreats from the public square.  Politics are waged on wedge issues and lies, not competing visions. Posterity is discounted to the point of irrelevance.  There is no room for government "of the people, by the people, for the people" for there is no "people" - no community united by common interests - but, instead, a badly fractured, confused and deeply divided society maliciously rendered impotent by the fog of fear mongering, slander and appeals to our darkest, basest instincts.

Neoliberalism shifts political and economic power from labour to capital. Government withdraws and yields rights and powers once associated with sovereignty to the forces of market fundamentalism.  Rights are negotiated away without consultation with the citizenry to whom they truly belong.  The public is defrauded by a political caste no longer in their service.  They do this because getting it wrong no longer matters.  There is no longer a power in the populace to be feared.

The road to neoliberalism is straight and it runs entirely to the right.  The measure of how far our political villainry of all stripes has gone down that road is disturbingly apparent by comparing their political alignment before 1970 to where it stands today.

What had been conservative has now morphed so far into the extreme right as to bear no resemblance to conservatism, none.  What had been liberal has journeyed far into the realm of conservatism, purged of its last vestiges of anything remotely progressive.  What had been socialist, as we once knew the New Democrats, is now extinct, suffocated by centrism.  All of this has happened beneath the blanket of neoliberalism. Sure we haven't fallen as low as the United States but, in fairness, we're catching up with a vengeance.

One thing is certain.  Neoliberalism has taken hold and it has the grip of a political limpet.  It won't be letting go until society is gutted and collapses or we come to our senses and pry it loose.  That may not happen until "we, the people" take to the streets with pitchforks and torches.  They know it.  Not for nothing have they crafted today's surveillance state in which even democratic dissent can be cast as subversive, a form of terrorism.

Post Script.  If you think my assessments border on hyperbole, do both of us a favour.  Go back a century to 1910 and the small farming town of Osawatomie, Kansas.  It was there that the eminently conservative Republican, Teddy Roosevelt, delivered his "Square Deal" speech.  Read it.  It's eye-opening.  You may even find Roosevelt's words a bit shocking.  I guarantee when you finish you'll appreciate how utterly degenerate and ultimately destructive is the neoliberalism that infects our government today.