Saturday, November 27, 2010


Hardly a day goes by without the demagogues in the American right-wing attacking Obama for being different from ordinary Americans, or characterized as having a different set of beliefs or being foreign born or some such rot. It's a testament to the failure of the various media that they allow themselves to be used to propagate this slander and thinly veiled racism all the while pretending that it's being done in the name of "balance."

 Always included as part of the narrative is Obama's relationship with his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. There are a litany of quotes taken from a post 9/11 sermon that are always served up as "proof" that Obama was listening to anti-American screeds all these years and hence must be anti-American too. It is of course absurd on its' face but as far as media narratives go that doesn't prevent it from continuously being spread to the unquestioning viewing and hate-radio listening public.
Back when this story broke and the right-wing media were playing those selected clips around the clock I went looking for and found the entire sermon which I played on my radio show several times to put context to the oft repeated sound-bites being played. Interestingly, the sermon was not anti-American at all. It was a presentation of the American foreign policies he believed led to the attack and the folly of seeking revenge. The most controversial statements in the sermon do not belong to Reverend Wright but are him repeating what former US Ambassador Edward Peck had said while being interviewed on the Fox network -- save the phrase "America's chickens are coming home to roost," which was an embellishment of the part of the Reverend.
In some circles these ideas may be somewhat controversial but certainly not in all and so I've wanted to post the video for some time but the full video is no longer available but I did find a ten minute snippet which indeed does put enough context to put the lie to Obama's pastor was a radical anti-American. It's a speech delivered with passion and a certain amount of flair which I do not believe is that uncommon in a lot of American churches. Have a listen and please tell me what you think.

And We're Back!

Fell way behind in everything and had to temporarily abandon doing this blog which was essentially about American politics, international news and global warming science. I missed it and so I'm back to pick up where I left off. I'm still over at our Canadian blog most every day and at the radio station too. Check them out if you have time.

Starting with what should be a huge story so far as global warming is concerned but so far has received very little coverage in the media, Antarctic waters are warming and a citadel of ice is melting. It's completely remarkable when you consider that the fringes of the world's coldest continent are warming faster virtually than any place on earth. This represents what is essentially the first breech in an area that holds 90% of the world's ice. Steady warming has the potential to raise ocean sea levels many feet.
Here's a link to the indispensable Climate Progress's pretty thorough wrap on global warming and green energy news that includes stories about how the World Bank has been talking about focusing its support on clean energy projects, the UK is negotiating a central role for business at the Cancun climate summit next week, hybrid tugboats, an organic farming system geared for homeowners, schools, restaurants and commercial growers, optimizing wind farms, China hitting their energy efficiency and pollution targets and at the cost of one Tim Horton's donut per month Ontario's solar PV industry will have created 72,000 person-years of jobs.

The people at Motor Trend take on the hate-mongering, drug addicted blowhard Limbaugh over his uninformed stance on the new Chevy Volt and remind him that driving and Oxycontin don't mix!

Some insight from Harold Meyerson about how Germany got it right on the economy and why theirs is the strongest in the world with a trade balance second only to China's.

 So, on to the overseas wars, and it is notable that the US is shrugging off Afghan anger at civilian killings. They're just being ungrateful and have no appreciation for the freedom the US and NATO forces are bringing them. The US denies the allegation of such killings, but admitted that they don’t both the investigate the vast majority of the complaints because they assume them to be “Taliban propaganda.” The commander of the Marines is the district says that the Taliban are to blame for “every single instance” of a civilian casualty in the district. In direct contradiction to such claims by the US, airstrikes are the single largest cause of civilian deaths by foreign and Afghan government forces during the first half of 2010, accounting for 31 percent, said the U.N..

US envoys are being forced to apologize in advance of the upcoming WikiLeaks document dump that promises to be an embarrassment to the US and the Pentagon is being described as "hyperventilating over being held to account" for its actions. According to the Independent, "Hillary Clinton and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning, and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public." A thought to which I have a one word response, Good!

Of course as always the US is claiming that the release will put lives in danger -- I think it'll put politicians careers in danger. The US's unending war efforts are what puts lives in danger. Shining a light on what they're up to is merely holding the accountable for their actions. Something there needs to be more of.

Okay, that's enough for one post! Will do my best to come back and post on right-wing American wankery which will no doubt be just as long a post.
The question now, as humanity pours greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at an accelerating rate, is not whether Antarctica will begin to warm in earnest, but how rapidly.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Preserving Life On Earth

The title sounds a bit grandiose and the Globe and Mail even suggests that the task facing the 193 national delegations descending on Nagoya, Japan, one befitting a deity: how to preserve life on Earth. The Convention on Biological Diversity, an international agreement signed amid great hope and in the early 1990s is part of what's at stake during the eleven day conference. And it begins with bad news:

The document bound countries to cut mass species loss “significantly” and preserve 10 per cent of the world’s ecological regions by 2010. But this year brought the sobering realization that not one country had met those targets.
Not one! After twenty years of high-level talks and treaties, mass extinction continues apace and three contentious issues issues have the potential to send this off the rails. There are seventeen developing countries bearing the overbearing moniker Group of Like Minded Megadiverse Countries and they've formed to accuse their richer counterparts of biopiracy. This group includes India, China and Brazil and they want regulations in place that would compensate them for pirated resources. With Canada leading the way, Western nations have largely resisted, according to those involved in the negotiations.

These developing countries are demanding that rich countries bankroll their conservation efforts as they cannot afford it. The same is not true of the west and there has been success of a kind: A recent World Wildlife Fund inventory of world biodiversity over the past 40 years found that while extinction rates continue unabated in the developing world, they have levelled off in the West, where expensive conservation projects have a ready place in national budgets.

Lastly, the ambitiousness of the targets undermined by failure and a lack of action means that the future viability of the convention is in doubt.

Interestingly, Canada's Conservative government has increased its support for the Global Environmental Facility, a global fund that invests in biodiversity projects fund by 50 per cent to $238-million over the next four years. And Jim Prentice the Minister for the Environment, who will attend the last four days of the conference has spoken constructively of this get together saying, “It’s an extremely important summit because biodiversity is an area where we all need to improve. This is a real issue for us and our children.”
“This is the one chance governments have to fix the loss of species and loss of biodiversity, said Bill Jackson, deputy director general of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, a Switzerland-based group working closely with governments in Nagoya. “In some ecosystems, we only have 10 or 15 years left before they’re gone.”

UPDATE: Here's a wonderful page full of links from the Guardian with 100 tasks for world governments to undertake to tackle the biodiversity crisis. George Monibot emphasizes what's at stake: The outcome is expected to be as tragic and as impotent as the collapse of last year's climate talks in Copenhagen.

We cannot accept this. We cannot stand back and watch while the wonders of this world are sacrificed to crass carelessness and short-termism.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

War: What is it Good For?

Wednesdays down at the radio show once the Canadian headlines are all covered are now officially for the conflicts taking place around the globe so I ask you, who could resist using that title at least once? Certainly not me.

In Canada an anti-war ad made by the Federation des femmes du Quebec was edited to appease military parents who were upset that the ad referred to the soldiers as "cannon fodder." It looks like a free speech issue to me. The objecting parents have every right to be unhappy with the ad but it is within the rights of the anti-war protesters to say what they want say about how they feel about war and Canada's participation in the Afghan conflict. Cannon fodder or not, good Canadian kids have died for a war that serves who in Canada? What exactly does victory look like? Why are we still there? Seems as if these questions should be answered poste haste.

And the wars of occupation in the middle-east continue to go poorly -- civilian casualties it is being reported are soaring in Afghanistan (and NATO is lying about it) and the occupations and wars it only serve to feed terrorism around the globe studies prove. Glenn Greenwald writes, ...a new, comprehensive study from Robert Pape, a University of Chicago political science professor and former Air Force lecturer, substantiates what is (a) already bleedingly obvious and (b) known to the U.S. Government for many years:  namely, that the prime cause of suicide bombings is not Hatred of Our Freedoms or Inherent Violence in Islamic Culture or a Desire for Worldwide Sharia Rule by Caliphate, but rather.  . . . foreign military occupations.

Those oft mentioned peace talks with the Taliban have no momentum and would seem to offer little hope for peace in the near future.

As for Iraq, Juan Cole argues that the real victor of the Iraq election, albeit 7 months later has been Iran.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Truculent Tuesday

Decided that for the radio show I'd make Tuesdays the day to chronicle the goings on in American hate-radio and tea party/John Bircher madness. A couple of stories from last week while I was off seemed to be emblematic of the current state of divisiveness in American politics.

 One happened in Obion County Tennessee the house of the Cranicks caught fire and they fled their home, their neighbors alerted the county’s firefighters, who soon arrived at the scene. Yet when the firefighters arrived, they refused to put out the fire, saying that the family failed to pay the annual subscription fee to the fire department. Because the county’s fire services for rural residences is based on household subscription fees, the firefighters, fully equipped to help the Cranicks, stood by and watched as the home burned to the ground.

The selfish, heartless and soulless philosophy of the GOP and tea party types on display for all to see. Not surprisingly this was defended by Glenn Beck and all the writers over at the National Review. It's hard to tell from my perch up here in Canada how this is resonating with people other than the choir.

The second story involves a group of Missouri tea partiers who have decided to campaign against regulations that would mandate more humane conditions in the state’s puppy mills. Missouri’s Proposition B, which would place new regulations on puppy mills, including mandating that they provide “sufficient food and clean water, necessary veterinary care, sufficient housing, including protection from the elements, sufficient space to turn and stretch freely, lie down, and fully extend his or her limbs, regular exercise, and adequate rest between breeding cycles.”

It is ridiculous to even debate with the right at this point as they are not interested in having a debate on any issue. If a liberal is for it they are against it and that includes puppies. Like my sometimes blogging partner said, "I'm pro-puppy!"

On to the hate spewers, beginning with a story about the man who wanted to murder the people in the Tides Foundation and the ACLU and start a revolution. Spurred on by conspiracies he heard Beck relate on his show -- you can watch a sample of this for yourself:

Media Matters does a terrific job of chronicling the bile vomited up Beck in just a single month. It's astounding that Fox lets him do this -- the extreme violence suggested by his rhetoric and the outright fiction he peddles as truths are frightening. In another era they would not have been tolerated but are now standard fare on American hate-radio. At some point in the near future they will have blood on their hands. Go read the whole long list of Beck's so-called "...anarchists, Marxists, communists, revolutionaries, Maoists who have to "eliminate 10 percent of the U.S. population" in order to "gain control."

 Beck has other enablers, like Palin, and co-conspirators in his spreading of hate and lies like Rush Limbaugh, who is "ready for the overthrow of Imam Obama's agenda."

None of this would be possible without the enabling of the regular MSM. Time magazine's editor Mark Halperin demonstrates what makes Time worth ignoring even when it's free. Media elites like Halperin have been witness to the most unhinged and hateful and sustained attack on a sitting president in modern American history. Their take-away after nearly two years of this hate-fest? It's Obama's fault. And worse, it's his fault when he defends himself.

The hack who passes for a moderator on Meet the Press, David Gregory, distinguishes himself similarly as he bows before his corporate, republican masters and advances right-wing lies about the current state of Social Security solvency in this clip courtesy of the good people at C&L.

Bob Herbert of the NYT's believes the US is losing its soul and becoming a second rate power -- it's hard not agree.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Monst Important Story Of The Week (IMHO)

On Monday September the 27th, the Washington Post published the first of three excerpts from Bob Woodward's new book Obama's Wars. There was some notice but hardly any genuine consternation over what should be alarming to believers in representative democracy -- especially as it concerns our American cousins.

I have been openly critical of Obama's Afghanistan war strategy on my radio show. I saw it as a continuation of the previous administration's policies -- which is as damning a thing as I could think to say about it. After reading the excerpts I no longer feel that way but am far more worried about who really is in charge. Woodward reports of Obama's dilemma in his 'I am the tape recorder' fashion,

He was looking for choices that would limit U.S. involvement and provide a way out. His top three military advisers were unrelenting advocates for 40,000 more troops and an expanded mission that seemed to have no clear end.

"So what's my option? You have given me one option," Obama said, directly challenging the military leadership at the table, including Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, then head of U.S. Central Command.

"We were going to meet here today to talk about three options," Obama said sternly. "You agreed to go back and work those up."

The only real option offered him was a surge of 40,000 troops and the beginnings of a drawdown in 2016 from the war in Afghanistan -- everything else was a variation on those same ideas. Not what he wanted or asked for but it was where the military brass were steering him. Gaming him if you will. As he tells the brass that his lawyerly compromise of a 30,000 troop surge and a drawdown in 2011 is what they'll have to accept, there is a moment where he looks to call their bluff and just get out noting that would be the expedient thing to do politically,

"It'd be a lot easier for me to go out and give a speech saying, 'You know what? The American people are sick of this war, and we're going to put in 10,000 trainers because that's how we're going to get out of there.' "

It was apparent that a part of Obama wanted to give precisely that speech. He seemed to be road-testing it.
Sadly, Obama is swayed by Defense Secretary Gates and the people who seem to want a forever war and he opts for the compromise. He tries to define victory -- something few people have been able to do when discussing the afghan conflict calling for a plan that will deny safe haven to al Qaeda, to "degrade,” rather than defeat the Taliban insurgency as well as provide guidelines for building sufficient Afghan capacity to secure and govern their country. An approach that is not fully resourced counterinsurgency or nation building -- just a way out.

In reading this I was reminded of the Dwight Eisenhower farewell address he gave 50 years ago and the warning about the Military Industrial Complex, that came with it. His words have as much relevance today as they did then but clearly have not been heeded. There is an awful lot at stake here and cable news as well as the rest of the MSM are doing a poor job of explaining it. When the duly elected civilian head of state tells his generals he wants to see plans that will take them out of a bloody conflict that the people are tired of, he should get what it is he asks for. Anything else is unacceptable.

Sin City

Good morning to any passers by! I've not been filling up these pages of late but it's always on my to do list so before I get distracted today -- hopefully with a bike ride in the crisp October air here in Montreal, I thought it'd be nice if I posted a great piece of music. It's called Sin City and it has one of my favourite verses in any song:

A friend came around, tried to clean up the town, his ideas made some people mad,
But he trusted his crowd and he spoke right out loud and they lost the best friend they had!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Shades Of Cambodia -Lessons From The Past-

In it's unending battle against the Taliban and Al Qaeda U.S. government has increased its drone attacks inside Pakistan. Reminiscent of the U.S. governments insurgents into Cambodia in search of the Vietcong relations between Pakistan and the U.S. becomes more frayed by the day.

During one such strike coalition helicopters killed three members of the Pakistani border force. This was the fourth attack in Pakistan in the week. In retaliation Pakistan closed a vital supply route for used by NATO forces to get to the troupes in Afghanistan. 

The U.S.government not known for choosing the best of associates, General Augusto Pinochet, Saddam Hussein (off and on), Anastasio Somoza etc. there could be one more not so great bed fellow with the Pakistani army being accused of executing civilians. A video released on Wednesday, shot on a cell phone shows the shooting.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

John Le Carré's Essay On Bush, Blair and the Iraq War

From the great people at Democracy Now: John LeCarré reading an exerpt from his much quoted 2003 essay on the then looming Iraq war:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Favourite Blogging Site

For those that come by and have figured out that I do a radio show and blog at the station and at NMPCanada and here, but hardly ever at our sister site the Daily Satirist (no time). You might not have guessed it but this is my favourite site to blog on. That's because my appreciation for the new media came from following the American blogging sites that always kept me informed way ahead of the MSM curve. They were also reliably accurate whereas the MSM had proved itself to be full of crap, corporate propaganda and war-mongering. So for those who drop by from time to time here's a reward, George Carlin and the truth about Republicans:

Compare and Contrast

Covering the very unsexy Afghanistan war today on my radio program I began by reporting what Brigadier-General Jonathan Vance said on Monday night on his return to Kandahar where he was in command.  “Although we’ve been in Afghanistan for a long time, and in the south since 2006, we really did not have the forces necessary to defeat the enemy using counterinsurgency tactics at the time.” But that's all changed now with Obama's surge in troops for Afghanistan and now the allies do have what’s needed for “enduring progress.”

  Did you get that? You see all this time we've had Canadian soldiers fighting and dying in a situation that they could not win so, unbeknownst to Canadians, they have essentially just been in a holding pattern all these years. But now, with the extra troops the Americans are providing to the southern battlefields, now victory is on the way!

It sure sounds like bunk after eight long years of Canadians doing their part on behalf of their American and NATO allies, but who am I to dispute the General's assertions? So let's hear what Robert Blackwill, who was Condolezza Rice's deputy as National Security Adviser in 2003 to 2004 has to say. The Telegraph reports that he will use a speech at the International Institute of Strategic Studies think tank in London on Monday to call on President Obama to make drastic changes in the war's objectives. He believes the surge will likely fail and that, "The Taliban are winning, we are losing, They have high morale and want to continue the insurgency. Plan A is going to fail. We need a Plan B."

Indeed the do, as there are reportedly now 1,000 soldiers deployed for every one of the estimated 100 al Qaeda operatives now believed to be based in Afghanistan, and it's costing the US $100 billion dollars a year. Even General Petreus is reported as having said on ABC News that success over the insurgency could be another 9 or 10 years away. This presents us with the obvious question of, do any of the allies have the stomach to wage war in Afghanistan for that much longer and what exactly would a plan B look like?

As for Canada's part in all this, by 2011 at least $18 billion dollars of taxpayers money will have been sunk into the war ($1500 per person) and is the reason Canada has essentially abandoned  its' 50-year commitment to UN peacekeeping.  Some estimates of the total costs to Canadians by 2011, when the private costs to families and community of lost and injured soldiers are factored in, as being as high as $28 billion.

So, exactly why was General Vance trying to paint such a rosy picture? Who in hell believes him, and why doesn't the Canadian media challenge his assertions?

The Iraq Debacle

Looking for adjectives to describe what the American war machine has wrought in Iraq is only difficult in the sense that there are so many of them. Even the word debacle seems to understate it -- for the Iraqis it is a complete disaster and the current state of affairs is far worse than was ever visited upon them by their former dictator.

There was a report yesterday that 1 out of every 6 Iraqis is an orphan. You read that right. Not 1 out of every 6 Iraqi kids but 1 out of ever 6 Iraqis, period. The exact figure only became a reality recently, when the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs made public its own statistics, but there have been reports reflecting this crisis for years now -- they've just been ignored. So when you read that the Americans have only killed 100,000 or so Iraqis, remember the number of Iraqi orphans and do the math. The real numbers of deaths that the Americans are responsible for are far higher, as this report from Truthout asserts, for the war and continuing occupation of Iraq.

Leaving behind 50,000 combat ready troops, and paid contractors (modern day mercenaries) who are regularly engaging in combat is war and occupation no matter how the story is currently being spun.

While on the subject of people whose misery is being scrupulously ignored in the media go read this report on the 4.5 million Iraqi refugees that this war has created. The humanitarian consequences of this seven-year war on Iraqi civilians are too often unreported. Since 2003, 2.5 million Iraqis have fled the country, mainly to Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, while another two million have been dislocated inside Iraq, many of whom are now living in makeshift camps on the outskirts of Baghdad and other cities.

This is a humanitarian crisis on a grand scale and the United States needs to take action but it seems uunlikely that they will because as far as the US media is concerned it's not really happening.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Intolerance Nightly

The planned burning of the Qurans to mark the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attack has sparked outrage around the world -- here in Canada, Peter MacKay has stood up and rightly denounced it noting that this may put Canadian troops in Afghanistan in further danger. Terry Jones of the laughably named Dove World Outreach Center has said he doesn't care who's against it and that includes General David Petreus the Commander of the Nato Afghanistan forces who has said it could endanger the troops. Right-wing blogger and CNN (fox-lite) contributor Erick Erickson has said that General Petreus has "folded like a cheap suit" to violent Islamists in being against this hateful act of extremism. And the cowardly leadership of the GOP has remained silent on the issue not wanting to alienate any of their racist voters one guesses. Here's Keith Olbermann on the fiasco:

This is one of those stories that I've been ignoring on my radio show until today. They're a relatively small group and I always like to explain the craziest of this stuff away by pointing out that these are extremists and out of the mainstream of current American politics... but they're really not that far out there compared to what is regularly broadcast nightly on fox and other MSM news outlets. Have a listen to some of the stuff as chronicled on Rachel Maddow's show:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Labour Day Weekend!

Hope your weekend was great and you had the holiday Monday off to spend with your family and that if you did you should know you have unions to thank for holidays and weekends. I'm weary of people with short memories who don't know how the middle-class in North America came to be so well off, we have the unions to thank. Listen to what Obama has to say:

And because I love everyone who shows up here, something beautiful to listen to:

And just to hammer it home, really, what have unions ever done for us?:

Friday, September 3, 2010

Some Good News For Labour Day Weekend

First the good. After a four year absence from public ceremony Fidel Castro is up and about just after his 84 birthday. A credit to Zoomers everywhere Mr. Castro looked sharp in his classic green shirt and hat. (a belated happy birthday from the staff at New Media and Politics)  During a speech at Havana's University he called for the disappearance of nuclear weapons, commented on the ill effects military action against Iran could cause and how climate change threatens human existence.

In Wanju province of South Korea, Cha Sa-soon or "Grandma Cha Sa-soon" as she is affectionally called finally received her drivers licence after failing 959 times. As a reward for her perseverance the Hyundai car company presented Ms. Cha Sa-soon with a car.

Business is starting to pick up for crab trappers along the Gulf Coast. One trapper Robert Metz said, "Beautiful crabs out there. A lot of number one males and big, heavy, fat females. We lost 60 days. That's as long as I've ever been closed down for any reason."