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Aamer of America: What Innocent's Gitmo Imprisonment Tells Us About America

Dec 01, 2014 Chris Floyd
Cage Match: Gitmo Case a Snapshot of…

Arrested on Burnaby Mountain: A Story of Official Neglect and Abuse

Dec 01, 2014 Nina Jankovic
Dehumanization and Neglect: A…

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Aamer of America: What Innocent's Gitmo Imprisonment Tells Us About America

Cage Match: Gitmo Case a Snapshot of America's Imperial Soul
by Chris Floyd - Empire Burlesque
Andy Worthington asks a burning question: “Why is Shaker Aamer still at Gitmo?” And after detailing the case of Aamer — an innocent man sold to the American security forces by the human traffickers who partnered with the CIA in Afghanistan, a man who was cleared for release from the American concentration camp seven years ago — Worthington suggests the likely answer:

Aamer knows too much about the torture regime at Gitmo, and has been too vocal in standing up for fellow prisoners throughout his illegal captivity — and has made it clear he will continue to speak out against the inhumane conditions in the camp.

Worthington’s piece should be read in full, but here are a few excerpts:

Imagine being imprisoned, year after year, despite having been told that your captors had undertaken a high-level review process and no longer wanted to hold you?
At the United States’ detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, is facing just that situation. More than seven years ago, the George W. Bush administration approved Aamer for release from the detention facility. Five years ago, the high-level interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force, appointed by President Barack Obama when he took office, also approved him for release (PDF) and told him he would be freed, along with 125 others, once the necessary arrangements were made.

Der Spiegel: German and EU "Miscalculations" Contributor to Ukraine Crisis

Der Spiegel Tones Down Anti-Putin Hysteria
by Robert Parry  - Consortium News
Der Spiegel MH17Last summer, the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel was swept up in the Western hysteria over Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Ukraine crisis, even running a bellicose cover demanding “Stop Putin Now” and blaming him for the 298 deaths in the July 17 crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine.

“Vladimir Putin has shown his true face. Once seen as a statesman, the Russian president has exposed himself as a pariah of the international community. The MH17 dead are also his; he is partially responsible for the shooting down of the flight,” a Der Spiegel editorial declared on July 28.
“Nobody in the West continues to harbor serious doubts that the plane was shot down with a Buk surface-to-air missile system — one that was almost certainly provided to the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine by Russia.” 

Actually, by then, a number of people in the West, including U.S. intelligence analysts, were doubting the blame-Putin narrative because they could find no evidence that the Russians had supplied the ethnic Russian rebels with a sophisticated anti-aircraft missile system that could bring down a commercial plane flying at 33,000 feet.

At the time, I was being told by a source briefed by U.S. intelligence analysts that the emerging scenario pointed more toward an extremist group associated with the Ukrainian government although not under the control of Kiev’s senior leadership. But the major media in the U.S. and Europe refused to rethink the early “conventional wisdom.”

However, in October, Der Spiegel quietly reversed itself regarding Moscow supposedly supplying the Buk missiles, reporting that the German foreign intelligence agency, the BND, had concluded that Russia did not supply the battery suspected of bringing down the plane, saying the plane was shot down by a Ukrainian military missile captured by the rebels from a Ukrainian military base (although I was later told by a European official that the BND’s conclusion was less definitive than Der Spiegel reported).

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UN's Seventh Ukraine Report: "Obfuscation" and "Bias"

More obfuscation in latest UN report on the human rights situation in Ukraine
by Roger Annis - New Cold
The latest monthly report on Ukraine by the United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR) has earned some headlines because it reports that significant numbers of people are still being killed by the war in the east of the country, notwithstanding a ceasefire agreement on September 5 to which the Ukrainian government committed itself.

The 49-page UN report covers the period Sept. 17 to October 31 and is based on the work of the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU). The report says nearly 1,000 people, an average of 13 per day, were killed between Sept. 6 and Oct. 31.

“Since the beginning of the hostilities in mid-April until 31 October, at least 4,042 people were killed and 9,350 were wounded in the conflict affected area of eastern Ukraine”.

The report also says that the HRMMU and World Health Organisation consider these numbers to be conservative estimates.

“Both believe that the casualties have been under reported, and that their actual numbers are considerably higher.”

Because of the UN authorship of these monthly reports (this latest report is the seventh), readers will assume they are getting a balanced and unbiased view of the situation in Ukraine. But this is far from the case. A careful reader can quickly discern the very deep bias contained within.

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Frontlines Beating Pipelines: Burnaby Mountain 'Caretaker' Numbers Continue to Grow

Weekend on Burnaby Mountain: Celebrate victories, resolve to continue opposition
by ForestEthics Advocacy
Hundreds of people are expected to arrive at Burnaby Mountain today and Sunday to celebrate a significant victory against Kinder Morgan, and to resolve to continue the years-long campaign to stop the pipeline.
After three months of presence by caretakers on Burnaby Mountain, hundreds of residents showing up every day for two weeks of protests against Kinder Morgan drilling activity, and 125 arrests, the pipeline company removed their equipment and stopped their survey work.
It is very clear that local residents, led by Indigenous communities, oppose this tar sands pipeline. Indigenous leaders, academics, faith groups, seniors, mothers and daughters, immigrants, environmentalists have all faced arrest and made it clear they are willing to do what it takes to stop the pipeline from being built.
Saturday and Sunday's events will be family friendly events. Saturday features a celebration 'Frontline Beats Pipelines,' highlighting Indigenous and people of colour who have been at the forefront of the opposition to Kinder Morgan and the presence on Burnaby Mountain.

Honduras Military Regime's Police State Tactics Linked to US/Canadian "Security Strategies"

The Future of Honduran Public Insecurity: Violations of the Military Police of Public Order
by Karen Spring - Aqui Abajo
Honduran Masked Men MPsThe militarization of Honduran streets shows no signs of stopping. On November 11th, the Honduran press announced that one thousand additional Military Police – a new, elite, hybrid military-police force – would be trained and sent to the streets. Four days later, the National Defense and Security Council headed by Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez asked the National Congress to take the necessary measures to approve the Military Police as a permanent security force under the Honduran Constitution.

The recent push to consolidate the Military Police contributed to a minor police scandal that erupted last week when the National Director of the Police, Ramon Sabillon refused to step down after being illegally fired from his position. The scandal was partially caused by fears amongst the National Police and some sectors of Honduran society that the permanent and growing status of the Military Police will render the National Police force obsolete.

With more soldiers in the streets, Honduras is becoming more and more militarized by the day. To date, there have been limited results in generating security and safer streets for it’s citizens.

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Brand's Revolution

In praise of Russell Brand’s sharing revolution
by Adam Parsons -
For all of Brand’s joking and braggadocio, a sagacious theme runs through his new book: that a peaceful revolution must bring about a fairer sharing of the world’s resources, which depends upon a revelation about our true spiritual nature.
The political conversation on sharing is growing by the day, sometimes from the unlikeliest of quarters. And at the present time, there is perhaps no-one calling louder for a new society to be based on sharing than Russell Brand, the comedian-cum-activist and revolutionary. It is easy to dismiss much of Brand’s polysyllabic and self-referential meanderings, as do most of the establishment media in the USA and Britain, but this only serves to disregard his flashes of wisdom and the justified reasons for his popularity.
His latest book is clearly not meant to be taken entirely seriously as a roadmap to “systemic change on a global scale”, hence the various crude digressions and contradictions. Yet as pointed out by Evan Davies at the beginning of his second BBC Newsnight interview, Brand has probably engaged more young people in thinking about serious political issues than any politician, despite his infamous disavowal of voting in parliamentary elections.
On this basis alone, there’s every reason to take seriously Brand’s call for a revolution based on the principles of sharing, cooperation and love. But what does his idea of a caring, sharing revolution actually mean in practice?

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Karen Spring, Alison Thompson, Janine Bandcroft Nov. 26th, 2014

This Week on GR
by C. L. Cook -
In the wee hours of June 28th, 2009, Honduran president Manuel "Mel" Zelaya woke to find his room filled with soldiers, and his presidency finished. Zelaya, a moderately populist leader with a year left on his mandate, would spend the next two years in exile, trying to get back to Honduras and return democracy to his country.

But it was not to be. Thanks in part to the quick recognition of the military junta by Stephen Harper's government in Canada, (and bolstered by a hastily agreed Free Trade agreement) the coup garnered a financial footing, and measure of international legitimacy.

In the mean times since, globally Honduras' murder rate is Numero Uno, and it's now also one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalists, union member, or labour organizer.
On the bright side; it's a great place for Canadian mining interests to do business.
Karen Spring is a Central America-based human rights activist, working with grassroots organizations on various issues, mostly in Honduras. She's the author of the blog, Aqui Abajo providing, "Opinions, Experiences and Perspectives from the grassroots in Central America." Spring's recent article, 'Aura Minerals Ready to Dig up the Dead in Honduras' reveals just how low Canada's miners are willing to go.
Karen Spring in the first half.
And; the BC Liberals plan to make a decision about the long-contested proposed Site C dam project on the Peace River before Christmas; right before it, if past behaviours are any predictor. The as-yet unscheduled in-Cabinet decision follows a Joint Review Panel process meant to explore all interests in, and effects of, the proposed project.

Alison Thompson is Chair and Managing Director of the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association, or CanGEA. Thompson was in Victoria yesterday to give a press conference for a CanGEA report on a made-in BC alternative to placing a third dam on the river. It's a prospect for the Peace the Joint Review Panel itself admits has been woefully overlooked.
Alison Thompson and a renewable, cost effective alternative to Site C in the second half.
And; Victoria Street Newz publisher emeritus and CFUV Radio broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft will be here at the bottom of the hour to bring us up to speed with some of what's good to do in and around our city, and beyond there too, for the coming week. But first, Karen Spring and the dark, Canadian aura haunting the dead in Honduras.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Wednesday, 1-2pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at: And now heard at Simon Fraser University's . He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, Check out the GR blog at:

Sand Castles: The Real Money Being Made on the Fracking Boom

Follow The Sand To The Real Fracking Boom
by James Stafford -
When it takes up to four million pounds of sand to frack a single well, it’s no wonder that demand is outpacing supply and frack sand producers are becoming the biggest behind-the-scenes beneficiaries of the American oil and gas boom.
Demand is exploding for “frac sand”--a durable, high-purity quartz sand used to help produce petroleum fluids and prop up man-made fractures in shale rock formations through which oil and gas flows—turning this segment into the top driver of value in the shale revolution.
“One of the major players in Eagle Ford is saying they’re short 6 million tons of 100 mesh alone in 2014 and they don’t know where to get it. And that’s just one player,” Rasool Mohammad, President and CEO of Select Sands Corporation told

Frack sand exponentially increases the return on investment for a well, and oil and gas companies are expected to use some 95 billion pounds of frack sand this year, up nearly 30% from 2013 and up 50% from forecasts made just last year.

Aura Minerals and the Azacualpa Blockade

Canada-based Aura Minerals Ready to Dig up the Dead in Honduras
by Karen Spring - Aqui Abajo
In April 2014, the community of Azacualpa blocked the entrance of the San Andres mine in La Unión, Copan, in western Honduras. The open-pit gold mine is owned by Minerales de Occidente, a subsidiary of Toronto-based mining company, Aura Minerals who acquired the mine in August 2009.

A few weeks after initiating the blockade, the community was violently evicted by Honduran military and police who beat protesters including minors, shot tear gas, and arrested those that stuck around to fight the eviction, or that lived close to where it took place.

Radio Progreso reports that various people were arrested and 21 community members face charges requiring them to sign before a Honduran judge every month.

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The Short Goodbye: Hagel Sent Down the Road as Pentagon Readies for More Wars

Possible Motives for Ousting Hagel
by Robert Parry - Consortium News
Hagel goodbyeThe abrupt resignation of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel – along with the failure to reach a final agreement on Iran’s nuclear program on the same day – does not augur well for the last quarter of Barack Obama’s presidency, reflecting his continuing tendency to let the neocons have their way.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel shakes hands with President Barack Obama at the White House on Nov. 24, 2014, as the President announces that Hagel is resigning. (U.S..government photo)

Not that Hagel had distinguished himself as a sterling leader of the Pentagon – nor has all hope disappeared that a sensible resolution of the impasse with Iran might be achieved before the next “deadline” in June – but Obama still does not appear to have escaped the spell of the neocons who continue to dominate American geopolitical thought despite the bloody disasters that they helped cause in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Six years into his presidency, Obama still doesn’t seem to understand that just because some people have impressive credentials doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing. Indeed, in a profoundly corrupted system – like the one that now controls Official Washington – rewards are handed out to people who serve the corrupt interests or at least don’t get in the way.

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Teflon Tsar? Why Western Smears Are Failing to Stick to Putin

Vox Populi
by Mike Whitney - CounterPunch
Anyone who follows the news regularly, knows that the media has done everything in its power to smear Vladimir Putin and to demonize him as a tyrant and a thug.

Fortunately, most people aren’t buying it.  Yes, I’ve seen the polls that say that Putin and Russia are viewed “less favorably” than they were prior to the crisis in Ukraine.
In fact, here’s a clip from a recent PEW survey which seems to prove that I’m wrong:

“Across the 44 countries surveyed, a median percentage of 43% have unfavorable opinions of Russia, compared with 34% who are positive.  Negative ratings of Russia have increased significantly since 2013 in 20 of the 36 countries surveyed…

Americans and Europeans in particular have soured on Russia over the past 12 months. More than six-in-ten in Poland, Germany, Italy, Spain, France, the U.S. and the UK have an unfavorable image of Russia. And in all but one of these countries negative reviews are up by double digits since last year, including by 29 percentage points in the U.S., 27 points in Poland, 24 points in the UK and 23 points in Spain.” (Russia’s Global Image Negative amid Crisis in Ukraine: Americans’ and Europeans’ Views Sour Dramatically, PEW Research)

These results strongly suggest that the public blames Moscow for the fighting in Ukraine and (presumably) agrees with the prevailing storyline that Putin is a vicious aggressor who seized Crimea in order to rebuild the Soviet Empire. The problem with the PEW survey is that the results are based on random samples of nationwide face-to-face or telephone interviews.
Why is that a problem?