Archive for the ‘Doublespeak’ Category

Climate Depression   Leave a comment

Naomi Klein counsels all of us NOT to succumb to “climate depression”, but to continue to act to reduce carbon emissions, AND to speak up. In her book, This Changes Everything, she says that little has happened to reduce carbon emissions because the actions that would do so, and benefit the vast majority of humankind, “are extremely threatening to an elite minority”.

IMG_1697

Winter 2014 on Lake Ontario

She also writes that, “during the same years that our governments failed to enact a tough and binding legal architecture requiring carbon emissions, supposedly because cooperation was too complex, they managed to create the World Trade Organization – an intricate global system that regulates the flow of goods and services around the planet, under which the rules are clear and violations are harshly penalized.”

Is it any wonder that the agreement reached in Paris in December 2015 did not have legally binding provisions?

Addressing climate change cannot be relegated to governments, and the political elite. It is what all of us can do, both as individuals and as a part of grassroots communities that demonstrate that the power to do the right thing will not be taken away from us.

 

70th Anniversary   Leave a comment

The Day the World Changed
by Jim Rice

Pick any day on the calendar, and it most likely will mark the anniversary of significant events, from the profound to the puerile.

Aug. 6 is no exception. On that day in 1965, President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, intended to guarantee African Americans the right to vote (a right that, unfortunately, is still under attack). The day also marked the debut of cultural phenomena and figures from George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones (in 1996) to the births of Andy Warhol and Lucille Ball.

But it’s also the day the world changed. Seventy years ago, the city of Hiroshima, Japan, was obliterated by a single bomb. It was not only the first use of atomic weapons in warfare, but the beginning of the Nuclear Age — on which the world has spent, by some estimates, well over $6 trillion — that’s trillion with a “t.” And plans to “modernize” the U.S. nuclear arsenal (which is a euphemism for continuing to build state-of-the-art weaponry for the next 30 years) will likely cost another trillion or so.

The destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, by any civilized standards, represented one of the moral low-points in human history. After all, by very conservative estimates, 135,000 people died from the atomic blasts — most of them civilians, the victims of the intentional targeting of cities. Think about that — these weren’t military targets, but cities full of men, women, and children, going about their lives, destroyed in seconds by the most destructive weapons ever invented.

But the point of memorializing isn’t about the past. It’s about ensuring such things happen “never again.”

Which brings us to Iran.

Read all of what Jim Rice wrote in Sojourners athttps://sojo.net/articles/day-world-changed

   

David Cameron and Jim Flaherty prove fatalism is back: Salutin   Leave a comment

Sunrise at Cape Spear

Sunrise at Cape Spear

Rick Salutin muses on the topic of those who are fatalistic about climate change.

Read his Toronto Star column at:

http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2014/02/13/david_cameron_and_jim_flaherty_prove_fatalism_is_back_salutin.html

Nuclear disarmament ?   Leave a comment

 

Matthew Behrens

Canada aids and abets the spectre of nuclear terrorism

BY

MATTHEW BEHRENS – published by Rabble.ca
Photo: Peace activists Rev. Carl Kabot, Greg Obed, and Michael Walli. Credit: Sc

Earlier this year, Michael Walli made a blunt confession in a Tennessee court. “I was employed as a terrorist for the United States Government,” he told the judge hearing his case. And sure enough, Walli is facing down a potential 35 years in prison for what his prosecutors successfully argued was an action that fit the “federal crime of terrorism.”

Walli is an army combat veteran of the U.S. invasion of Vietnam, and is certainly not the first to take some personal responsibility for America’s genocidal occupation and relentless bombing of Southeast Asia (with at least 3 million murdered). Indeed, as the recent book Kill Anything that Moves reminds us, American military units were committing so many atrocities that the Pentagon opened up its own, secretive war crimes investigation unit.

But his participation in such crimes is not what led Walli to that Tennessee court. Rather, it was a peaceful protest against nuclear terrorism and the U.S. construction — in clear violation of the nonproliferation treaty — of a new generation of nuclear weapons. Unlike Iran, the U.S. has used — and threatened to use — nuclear weapons for almost 70 years, in the form of atomic bombs as well as depleted uranium-coated ammunition that has left a cancerous wasteland behind in Iraq, among other countries where it has been used by U.S. and NATO forces.

Walli, joined by Sister Megan Rice (aged 82) and Greg Boertje-Obed, all veteran peacemakers, entered the Y12 nuclear weapons site in Oak Ridge, Tennessee on July 28, 2012, cutting through four fences and making their way right to the Enriched Uranium Materials Facility which, as the venerable magazine Nuclear Resister notes, is “the largest storehouse of bomb-grade uranium in the world. They marked the building with blood, painted disarmament messages on the wall and hung banners. Symbolic of beginning to transform swords into plowshares, they also hammered a few chips of concrete from the building’s foundation before being seen by security guards and arrested.”

To read the entire column by Matthew Bherens, go to: http://rabble.ca/columnists/2013/07/canada-aids-and-abets-spectre-nuclear-terrorism

Powerless minister in Ontario cabinet   Leave a comment

By: Melissa Addison-Webster

Published by the Toronto Star on Wed Jul 17 2013

Anti-poverty protesters unfurl a banner and chant "Raise the rates!" from the public gallery at Queen's Park last year. (April 24, 2012)

ROBERT BENZIE / TORONTO STAR

Anti-poverty protesters unfurl a banner and chant “Raise the rates!” from the public gallery at Queen’s Park last year. (April 24, 2012)

Ted McMeekin, Ontario’s minister for community and social services, is responsible for improving social assistance. At a community consultation in Peterborough on July 3, he made two notable statements:

  • “If it were up to me, I would raise social assistance rates by a lot more than $100 a month. But it’s not up to me.”

  • “I have to tell the story in a way that will marshal the resources. And you and I have to tell our story in a better way.”

This minister seems to deny that he has the power to improve living conditions for the people of Ontario who live on the margins. If he cannot, who can?

To read the whole commentary on how helpless this cabinet minister claims to be, go to:

http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2013/07/17/ted_mcmeekin_talks_but_who_can_act_on_social_assistance_rates.html

Democracy in Canada   Leave a comment

How does one define “democracy”?

The Green Party here in Canada has sent me a note which illustrates the trend towards less democracy, as I know it, here in Canada. The letter from the Greens, in part, reads:

“Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline runs straight through major Canadian cities, including Sarnia, the GTA and Montreal, passing 9.1 million people, and nearly 100 towns and cities.

“Installed in the mid-1970s, this aging pipe system is set to be modified. A proposal is in place to reverse the flow of this pipeline and expand its carrying capacity.

“But if you are one of the millions of Canadians along its route who wish to communicate legitimate concerns about this project to the National Energy Board (NEB), you will have to apply for permission to do so.

“New rules implemented due to the rewriting of federal environmental assessment law in omnibus bill C-38 last spring mean Canadians are required to submit a 10 page application, including a resume and references within a two week deadline, just to ask permission from the NEB to submit a letter of comment on pipeline proposals.

“Permission will only be granted to those deemed “directly affected” by the NEB, which has restricted public comment even further by adding its own deadlines.”

Is this the “democratic process” that Canadians dream of? Do we want a “democracy” where citizens are:

“required to submit a 10 page application, including a resume and references within a two week deadline, just to ask permission from the NEB to submit a letter of comment on pipeline proposals.”

Each of us has an important patch on the quilt of creation. We are all directly affected by decisions on pipelines, pollution of the air and water, and econotheism.

Who gets to decide which citizens can participate in making the pattern for us, and the next generations? Is this the new “democracy”, or is it doublespeak?

Canadian War Department drones on with summer splurge   Leave a comment

Canadian War Department drones on with summer splurge

This is a re-posting of a piece written by Matthew Behrens, and also published by rabble.ca

| August 20, 2012

With student activists away for summer vacation, it was the perfect occasion in late July for Carleton University to celebrate a new $40-million war-training contract. In partnership with war manufacturer CAE, Carleton’s Visualization and Simulation Centre will enable Canadian Forces to better practice, in the coarse but memorable phrase of former Canadian warlord Rick Hillier, the fine art of killing people.

In a moment that would have done Orwell proud, Carleton President Roseann O’Reilly Runte gushed: “This is about saving lives. This is about saving money.” On hand for the announcement was Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, who boasted this war-training partnership will advance “Canada’s security interests and…Canadian values around the world.”

If such values are so great, one wonders why they need to come out of the barrel of a gun. But that’s a non-issue in a national security state: when everything comes down to the rhetoric of “saving our way of life” from some unknown threat and protecting “our soldiers” from the threats we often arm to begin with, everything becomes justified, from transfers to torture to starving the poor of billions to pay for the War Department’s high-tech toys.

Such announcements regularly occur on Canadian university campuses, but hopefully it will spur at Carleton the kind of protest that shut down similar attempts to exploit bright young minds for nefarious purposes (such victories occurred at OISE and the University of Toronto).

The Carleton University contract was one of numerous boondoggles announced during summer break by a Canadian War Department that’s busily seeking out new enemies and new rationales to shield the lion’s share of a $23-billion budget that is unquestioned by all major political parties. The military is so awash in funds, that last March their expenditures jumped 14 per cent and no one could explain why.

In May, Canada’s Parliamentary budget watchdog remarked that the Harper government had deliberately misled the public on the costs of the F-35 stealth bombers (a deception built upon bureaucrats within the War Department also ignoring their own internal warnings that the bomber project was plagued by serious troubles).

Shortly after, we also learned that War Minister Peter MacKay had also low-balled government figures by almost seven times when he discussed how much it cost to drop bombs on the people of Libya (over $350 million at last count). Needless to say, the Libyan “mission,” as it was delicately called, was an important benchmark for MacKay and the generals, who got to play with new equipment and push for new weapons programs as a result.

Meanwhile, the drawdown in Afghanistan — where Canadians fired off almost 5 million bullets in one 20-month period — is making some Canadian soldiers itchy. In one Ottawa Citizen interview, a Kingston sergeant explained that garrison life on the home base “really discourages a lot of guys. The question becomes, ‘When do we go next?’ Adrenalin is a drug and they need the heart-pumping excitement and that level of unknown to keep them happy now.” Thus, war is an experience we must incessantly provide to those trained to be warriors, finding new enemies and places to bomb so we can keep our soldiers happy.

Some of the boys apparently got what they wanted when millions were wasted last month as a Canadian contingent of 1,400 soldiers were shipped off to Hawaii to take part in the U.S.-led Rim of the Pacific war exercises, an attempt to remind China of who’s boss on the world stage (and perhaps to reassure Canadian mining firms that help is not far away when Asian locals agitate over poor working conditions, toxic spills, or the murder of their union leaders).

The irony here is that at the same time we are preparing for war — if necessary — with China — the busy Mr. Baird signed a deal to export increasing amounts of Canadian uranium to the nuclear weapons-holding government of Beijing, a slap in the face to nuclear non-proliferation.

And while the Pacific was being pounded with ordnance, we also learned the Canadian Forces are working to establish bases in the Caribbean, East Africa, Europe and Southeast Asia. This allows Canada’s military to “project combat power/security assistance and Canadian influence rapidly and flexibly anywhere in the world,” according to a memo signed by Canada’s top soldier, Walter Natynczyk.

Part of that power projection will be done not so much with human beings who — despite thorough indoctrination in home-grown training camps to eliminate their sense of empathy with those they are commanded to kill or transfer to torture — remain vulnerable to the twinges of humanity that lead to afflictions like post-traumatic stress, depression, and suicide. Rather, the path forward is the remote control warfare that has become de rigueur over the past decade.

Indeed, the eagerness of War Minister Peter MacKay and his cronies to grab their joysticks and bomb from the safety of 5,000 miles away in Playstation fashion is clearly palpable. The U.S. and Israel have long dominated in the global use of drones (unmanned aerial vehicles), but now most countries are getting in on the act because of cost savings (especially relative to multi-billion contracts like the F-35 stealth bomber) and the relatively lower political costs (no troop deployments, no body bags from “our side,” no embedded media who might step outside the boundaries and inspect the “collateral damage” on the ground).

And so we have also learned that Canada’s poor will have to sacrifice an additional $1 billion so that armed Predator drones and their Hellfire missiles will be part of Canada’s growing arsenal.

The drones are also touted as vehicles by which Canada somehow “saves lives,” but this equation always leaves out the lives at risk on the ground. Over 3,000 souls have been slaughtered from the skies in the not-so-secret and clearly illegal drone war waged by Obama and his minions in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the rapidly evolving technology is also being used to prevent refugees from finding asylum and to target political demonstrations. Drones represent the ultimate tool in a 24/7 surveillance and punishment society: the forces of control can always monitor us and, when convenient, vaporize us, without any sense of transparency or accountability.

They’ve been used extensively by Obama in his targeted assassination program, and are increasingly privatized to take them out of the already limited loop that would provide any measure of accountability. Indeed, private mercenary firms like Blackwater are deeply involved in arming and conducting drone strikes, thus privatizing larger portions of what’s known as the “kill chain.” Ironically, by the rules the Pentagon plays, such use of private mercenaries creates a whole new army of “unlawful combatants” who, if captured by the Taliban, would have no rights under the Geneva Convention. But such a scenario is unlikely, since the Taliban cannot invade the safe sanctuaries in New York and Nevada in which drone “pilots” sit in air conditioned comfort and fire the missiles.

The usual rationale for anything military these days is being touted in the drone PR: it is to protect “our Arctic” (and the precious resources that we stole from First Nations) from anyone who’d steal them from us. But even the War Department knows this is a red herring, as an internal assessment revealed in late June concluded Russia poses no threat to the region.

But corporations like Northrup Grumman are not letting logic or the facts get in the way of a good profit, and so in June pitched the Canadian government at the annual Ottawa weapons bazaar, CANSEC. War merchants have until September 28 to submit their tenders to provide the Canadian War Department with a fleet of Hellfire-armed Predators.

In addition to the direct damage caused by drone strikes, they play a huge role in projecting psychological torture on those who live beneath them.

Last year, Pakistan’s Foundation for Fundamental Rights, in conjunction with U.K. human rights group Reprieve, brought together 350 people to discuss the traumas of life under the drones, which many reported seeing 10 to 15 times a day. The anxiety of never knowing when the hovering drones will strike is unimaginable: war by drone is a form of torture, an indefinite death sentence hanging over the heads of villagers that can be executed at any time of the day and night. And the victims never know what hit them, as Hellfire missiles travel faster than the speed of sound. In addition, after a drone strike, villagers often face death squads who believe someone in the village provided targeting data. Kidnappings and torture ensue, a convenient extension of the “kill chain” that begins back in a Nevada bunker.

The social justice group Homes not Bombs has long protested at the site of Canada’s largest drone profiteer, L-3 Wescam, located right next door to a private elementary school in Burlington, Ontario. The group conducted their first attempted weapons inspection of the plant in late 2002 and numerous direct actions have followed, but such challenges have not, unfortunately, slowed the relentless search for newer targeting systems (though one employee informed the group of a resignation, spurred to leave when s/he discovered the true nature of their work).

L-3 Wescam announced last month at the U.K.’s annual Farnborough weapons show the launch of its MX™-10D electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) imaging and designating turret, with their equipment showing, in the lifeless language of murder, “exceptional performance in all modes of flight throughout the HELLFIRE operational envelope.”

Canadians concerned about remote control murder, the rights of refugees, and freedom to associate would do well to resist Canada’s new generation of drone warfare: with this technology, the wars have truly come home.

Matthew Behrens is a freelance writer and social justice advocate who co-ordinates the Homes not Bombs non-violent direct action network. He has worked closely with the targets of Canadian and U.S. ‘national security’ profiling for many years.

 

Posted August 20, 2012 by allanbaker in Doublespeak, Peacemaking

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