Archive for the 'Free Trade' Category

Proof of Big Brother tactics at SPP protest (pics + vid)

It was easy to miss, but here are three examples of Big Brother tactics at the SPP protests this week in Quebec.  One of which is your standard George W. Bush doublethink, the second of which gives some interesting circumstantial evidence of government conspiracy to crack down on protesters (and has become an internet sensation), and the third of which proves the culpability of the government and police but which hasn’t been reported anywhere that I am aware of.

#1. As many of you know, the leaders of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico (“The Three Amigos”)  met yesterday and the day before to negotiate a backroom, undemocratic deal to harmonize regulations at the behest of North America’s CEOs.

This summit took place, behind closed doors and meetings were carefully arranged to transpire without public scrutinty.  Afterwards, “The Three Amigos” emerged to the only public scrutiny the meetings would receive: namely George W. Bush reassuring the public that nothing offensive to public morals took place while the public was forbidden from listening in.

So, it was a boring, uneventful series of meetings in which nothing which the public would disapprove of took place, but the public was still nevertheless forbidden from seeing these uneventful meetings?

#2. The following video has recently become an internet sensation because of youtube, digg.com and reddit.com.  It shows three very suspicious ‘protestors’ who come to a peaceful protest with stones and rocks in hand seeking to provoke a confrontation.  It shows fairly reasonable circumstantial evidence that they were actually police informants designed to create cause for the police to crack down.  When confronted with the realization that the crowd surrounding them has realized this, they ‘give themselves up’ to the police.

Now, the other part of the story that has been widely reported, is that after these three were handcuffed, a picture was shot which showed that two of the ‘protesters’ had the same boots as a police officer.

spp-protest-boots-1.png

Here’s where it gets interesting.

The Toronto Star linked to the youtube video, but their report still suggested that it could have been a coincidence.  They wrote that:

“Late Tuesday, photographs taken by another protester surfaced, showing the trio lying prone on the ground. The photos show the soles of their boots adorned by yellow triangles. A police officer kneeling beside the men has an identical yellow triangle on the sole of his boot.”

Clearly, it takes no time at all to see that the protestors have the same boots as ONE of the police officers.  That hardly qualifies for investigative journalism.  And in and of itself without further investigation, this can still be dismissed as a coincidence by the government or by skeptics.

#3. But the part of the story that hasn’t been reported is also the part of the story which proves that all this circumstantial evidence above is not merely a series of coincidence.  The picture below shows that it’s not a matter of these protestors coincidentally having the same style of boots as one of the police officers, but rather that they have the exact same boots as all of the police officers.

spp-protest-boots-2.png

 (Original, hi-rez picture source here — look for yourself)

I made this image when I started to notice something as I was looking over the super-hi rez version of the same image.  If it didn’t take me long to figure this out, no journalist worth his or her salt should have missed it.

Take a look at the way the seam of the leather at the back of everyone’s boots falls in a straight line from the ankle towards the heel.  It doesn’t taper outwards away from or in towards the achilles tendon.  Nor does it curve in any way around the heel and converge towards the achilles tendon.  Rather it runs straight and perpendicular to the sole of the boot.  Notice anything similar between everyone’s boots?

If it wasn’t just one of the officers, then all of the evidence above is not merely circumstantial.  If all of the evidence of police interference in this protest is not circumstantial, then from this everything else, including the media’s complicity in this story, follows.

An apology is owed…

This is an absolutely fantastic quote and a great quote for any progressive person who wants to throw something back at liberals when they turn their noses up at us.

“When capital and the ruling classes apologise for: Colonialism, the 14 hour day, class privilege, the 7 day working week, children in coalmines, the opium wars, the massacre of the Paris Commune, slavery, the Spanish-American War, the Boer War, starvation, apartheid, anti-union laws, the First World War, Flanders, trench warfare, mustard gas, aerial bombing, the Soviet Intervention, the Armenian Genocide, chemical weapons, fascism, the Great Depression, hunger marches, Nazism, the Spanish Civil War, militarism, Asbestosis, radiation death, the Massacre of Nanking, the Second World War, Belsen, Dresden, Hiroshima, Racism, The Mafia, nuclear weapons, the Korean War, DDT, McCarthyism, production lines, blacklists, Thalidomide, the rape of the Third World, poverty, the arms race, plastic surgery, the electric chair, environmental degradation, the Vietnam War, the military suppression of Greece, India, Malaya, Indonesia, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama and Turkey, the Gulf War, trade in human body parts, malnutrition, Exxon Valdez, deforestation, organized crime, the Heroin and Cocain trade, tuberculosis, the destruction of the Ozone Layer, cancer, exploitation of labour and the deaths of 50,000,000 Communists and trade unionists in this century alone, then — and only then — will I consider apologising for the errors of socialism.” (from: the Communist Party of Australia)

There’s a great pic to go with this quote that I’ve just added to the Paulitics Political Images resource (along with a bunch of other additions).

The crime against humanity that is Afghanistan

I have a confession to make which may shock many of my readers and even some of my close personal friends.

Many people do things in the hastiness of youth which later goes on to serve as a deep embarrassment for them.

Some get tattoos.

Some experiment with drugs.

I once took out a membership in the old Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.

But, allow me to explain.  I met two-time PC Party leadership Candidate David Orchard on a couple of occasions and even had lunch with him and his long-time friend and advisor Maraleena Repo a few years back during one of his Ottawa trips.

I joined the PC Party (the only party of which I have ever been a member) due in large part to the principled policy positions of Orchard on NAFTA, U.S. foreign policy, Canadian foreign policy and his impressive environmental credentials.

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from David Orchard’s brother Grant which contained an Op/Ed piece that Orchard and Professor Michael Mandel have co-written and were disseminating as widely as possible.  As predictable, very few mainstream media are carrying the insightful and well-argued Op/Ed (so far as I can tell, only the Halifax Chronicle Journal carried it).  So, out of respect for the man who once impressed me so much that he got me to actually join the PC Party, I am posting his and Professor Mandel’s Op/Ed here for all to read.

———————

Afghanistan and Iraq: the same war
by David Orchard and Michael Mandel

Four years ago, the U.S. and Britain unleashed war on Iraq, a nearly defenceless Third World country barely half the size of Saskatchewan. For 12 years prior to the invasion and occupation, Iraq had endured almost weekly U.S. and British bombing raids and the toughest sanctions in history, the “primary victims” of which, according to the UN Secretary General, were “women and children, the poor and the infirm.” According to UNICEF, half a million children died from sanctions-related starvation and disease.

Then, in March 2003, the U.S. and Britain ­ possessors of more weapons of mass destruction than the rest of the world combined ­ attacked Iraq on a host of fraudulent pretexts, with cruise missiles, napalm, white phosphorous, cluster and bunker-buster bombs, and depleted uranium (DU) munitions.

The British medical journal The Lancet published a study last year estimating Iraqi war deaths since 2003 at 655,000, a mind-boggling figure dismissed all too readily by the British and American governments despite widespread scientific approval for its methodology (including the British government’s own chief scientific adviser).

On April 11, 2007, the Red Cross issued a report entitled “Civilians without Protection: the ever-worsening humanitarian crisis in Iraq.” Citing “immense suffering,” it calls “urgently” for ” respect for international humanitarian law.” Andrew White, Anglican Vicar of Baghdad, added, “What we see on our television screens does not demonstrate even one per cent of the reality of the atrocity of Iraq …” The UN estimates two million Iraqis have been “internally displaced;” another two million have fled ­ largely to Syria and Jordan, overwhelming local infrastructure.

An attack such as that on Iraq, neither in self-defence nor authorized by the United Nations Security Council, is, in the words of the Nuremberg Tribunal that condemned the Nazis, “the supreme international crime.” According to the Tribunal’s chief prosecutor, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, such a war is simply mass murder.

Most Canadians are proud that Canada refused to invade Iraq. But when it comes to Afghanistan, we hear the same jingoistic bluster we heard about Iraq four years ago. As if Iraq and Afghanistan were two separate wars, and Afghanistan is the good war, the legal and just war. In reality, Iraq and Afghanistan are the same war.

That’s how the Bush administration has seen Afghanistan from the start; not as a defensive response to 9-11, but the opening for regime change in Iraq (as documented in Richard A. Clarke’s Against all Enemies). That’s why the Security Council resolutions of September 2001 never mention Afghanistan, much less authorize an attack on it. That’s why the attack on Afghanistan was also a supreme international crime, which killed at least 20,000 innocent civilians in its first six months. The Bush administration used 9-11 as a pretext to launch an open-ended so-called “war on terror” ­ in reality, a war of terror because it kills hundreds of times more civilians than the other terrorists do.

That the Karzai regime was subsequently set up under UN auspices doesn’t absolve the participants in America’s war, and that includes Canada. Nor should the fact that Canada now operates under the UN authorized International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mislead anyone. From the start, ISAF put itself at the service of the American operation, declaring “the United States Central Command will have authority over the International Security Assistance Force” (UNSC Document S/2001/1217). When NATO took charge of ISAF, that didn’t change anything. NATO forces are always ultimately under U.S. command. The “Supreme Commander” is always an American general, who answers to the U.S. president.

Canadian troops in Afghanistan not only take orders from the Americans, they help free up more U.S. forces to continue their bloody occupation of Iraq.

When the U.S. devastated Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia (1961-1975), leaving behind six million dead or maimed, Canada refused to participate. But today Canada has become part of a U.S. war being waged not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in a network of disclosed and undisclosed centres of physical and mental torture, like Guantanamo Bay in illegally occupied Cuban territory. What we know about what the U.S. government calls terrorism is that it is largely a response to foreign occupation; and what we know about American occupation is that it is a way the rich world forces the rest to surrender their resources.

General Rick Hillier bragged that Canada was going to root out the “scumbags” in Afghanistan. He didn’t mention that the Soviets, using over 600,000 troops and billions in aid over 10 years, were unable to control Afghanistan. Britain, at the height of its imperial power, tried twice and failed. Now, Canada is helping another fading empire attempt to impose its will on Afghanistan.

Canadians have traditionally been able to hold their heads high when they travel the world. We did not achieve that reputation by waging war against the world’s poor; in large part, we achieved it by refusing to do so.

Canada must ­ immediately, and at the minimum ­ open its doors to Iraqis and Afghans attempting to flee the horror being inflicted on their homelands. We must stop pretending that we’re not implicated in their suffering under the bombs, death squads and torture. This means refusing to lend our name, our strength and the blood of our youth in this war without end against the Third World. THE END

~

DAVID ORCHARD is the author of The Fight for Canada: Four Centuries of Resistance to American Expansionism and ran twice for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative party. He farms at Borden, SK and can be reached at tel 306-652-7095, davidorchard@sasktel.net, http://www.davidorchard.com

MICHAEL MANDEL is Professor of International Law at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto and author of How America Gets Away With Murder: Illegal Wars, Collateral Damage and Crimes Against Humanity. He can be reached at tel 416-736-5039, MMandel@osgoode.yorku.ca.

O’ Quebec, why hast thou forsaken progressivism?

Quebec used to be what made Canada cooler than the US.  With a genuine social democracy, a childcare program the envy of the rest of us backwards provinces and more affordable tuition, Quebec was arguably the sole reason why our federal politicians couldn’t drift too far to the right like their American counterparts.

With Quebec now having shifted drastically to the right after Monday’s election, it looks like all that’s over.  The surge of Mario Dumont’s far-right ADQ is even making waves in Britain where The Independent is calling Dumont (correctly, in my opinion), Canada’s Le Pen.

Moreover, if the surge of the ADQ was not enough, this nice little bit of propaganda does a good job of adding insult to injury.

The article notes that “The legacy of those years – Quebec’s vaunted welfare model – is now under the strain of an aging population, while Quebecers have made sport of grumbling about high taxes and longer emergency-room wait times.”

So I guess the archaic legacy of progressivism in Quebec is their welfare model which is under the strain of an aging population (damn baby-boomers and their stubborn aging).  And, apparently, emergency wait times would be improved if it weren’t for the government of Quebec spending all that money on, you know, doctors and stuff. 

I guess I missed that memo.

With Quebec now shifting to the right, the real question becomes, which province will keep our already right-wing federal politicians from having the incentive from becoming more like their American counterparts?  Ontario?  BC?  Neither seems like it would step up to the plate.

So, despite the fact that the people of Quebec had a truly progressive and fresh option (Québec solidaire) to chose from that was polling at the highest rates seen by any genuine left-wing party in this country since before the days of the NDP, “Le Pen”-lite is now being portrayed by the media as the “fresh new face” of Quebec politics.  And, what is worse, the media is praising this as a vindication for the unity of Canada when, in actuality, all it merely does is shift the threat to Canadian unity away from internal fracture to even further and deeper economic subjugation from abroad.

The politics of “Le Pen”-lite, flat taxes and hyper-capitalism are neither new nor are they fresh, and we should start treating them accordingly.

“But we’ve always been at war with Eurasia” and other truths…

“Always [Big Brother’s] eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, working or eating, indoors or outdoors, in the bath or in bed — no escape. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull.”

 ——————————————-

I recently came across this video clip at Terry’s blog “Message in a Matrix“.  Terry’s a good comrade from the UK, so for all you progressives here in Canada interested in some excellent video selections and commentary from a British perspective, I strongly recommend a visit to his blog.

This clip in particular I felt was haunting especially when paired up with the New York Times’ excellent article (that’s right, I actually praised the New York Times) “City Police Spied Broadly Before G.O.P. Convention.”

In the NY Times piece, it is noted that NYPD (in concert with other US thoughtpolice agencies) spent a year spying on people who were planning to demonstrate against George W. Bush at the Republican convention.  But the real kicker is that they monitored people from across the US as well as Canada and Europe; they shared their intelligence on people who had broken no laws with various other law enforcement agencies; and had such detailed intelligence that they knew of mundane details such as the nature of the performance to be given by a small group of musicians called “Bands against Bush” including how they were planning on getting their political messages out in between musical sets.

Read that NY Times article, then watch this video and then tell me that America has not become a police state.

Propaganda in action: The closure of the Hershey plant

Welcome to the second installment in the ongoing series “Propaganda in action”.  In each installment, I analyse a current event’s coverage through multiple media outlets in the West to uncover the hidden, systemic propaganda in our speciously-free media.  (For the original installment on Pinochet’s death, click here).

As Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman note in their “propaganda model”, what characterizes propaganda in the West is not so much that what gets covered are lies.  For the most part, journalists are honest people who want to do good in life and in their employment.  Rather, our experience with propaganda is centred around sins of omission.  Let’s explore with reference to the media’s coverage of the Hershey corporation’s closure of its Canadian flagship plan in Smiths Falls (just outside of Ottawa).

Here’s what the Canadian media – even the supposedly “left-wing media” (and even that supposed bastion of socialism:  the CBC) – had to say about the closure.

#1)  The CBC

“Hershey confirms Smiths Falls plant will close”

This story on the plant closure demonstrates several levels of propaganda very much in line with Chomsky and Herman’s propaganda model. 

Firstly, the story is told almost exclusively from the perspective of management.  The corporation, or its spokesperson, Kirk Saville, is given a total of precisely 100 words. The union, or its spokesperson, Henry Gadhan, is given just 19 words.

Secondly, nowhere in the article is it mentioned that the Hershey factory is the primary employer of the small town of less than 10,000 people.  Moreover, nowhere in the article is it mentioned that this move will essentially destroy not only the city’s primary industry, but will destroy the property value of anybody who lives there.

Thirdly, nowhere is the corporation’s reasons for relocating to Mexico given.  In fact, even the new location for Hershey’s factory (Mexico) isn’t given at all.

#2) A Channel News

Smiths Falls Hershey Plant Closing?

Continue reading ‘Propaganda in action: The closure of the Hershey plant’


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