As recently as 2016 Dr Robin Black, Head of the Detection Laboratory at the UK’s only chemical weapons facility at Porton Down, a former colleague of Dr David Kelly, published in an extremely prestigious scientific journal that the evidence for the existence of Novichoks was scant and their composition unknown. Yet now, the British Government is claiming to be able instantly to identify a substance which its only biological weapons research centre has never seen before and was unsure of its existence.
Worse, it claims to be able not only to identify it, but to pinpoint its origin. Given Dr Black’s publication, it is plain that claim cannot be true.
"In recent years, there has been much speculation that a fourth generation of nerve agents, ‘Novichoks’ (newcomer), was developed in Russia, beginning in the 1970s as part of the ‘Foliant’ programme, with the aim of finding agents that would compromise defensive countermeasures.
Information on these compounds has been sparse in the public domain, mostly originating from a dissident Russian military chemist, Vil Mirzayanov. No independent confirmation of the structures or the properties of such compounds has been published." - (Black, 2016) Robin Black. (2016) Development, Historical Use and Properties of Chemical Warfare Agents. Royal Society of Chemistry
The world’s international chemical weapons experts share Dr Black’s opinion.
It’s not the Ides Iraqis are wary of in March, but the 20th day. That marks the date in 2003 their lives changed forever. It was of course when America and its allies, its “Coalition of the Willing”, launched the infamous, ‘Operation Iraqi Liberation’.
You may recall the shock and awe of watching a nation blown to pieces LIVE on CNN; not in living colour, but rather transmitted in the eerie iridescence of infrared night vision?
Despite serial declarations to the contrary, the "operation" in Iraq never really was accomplished and fifteen years later the country, with its cities in shambles, millions killed, maimed, or driven into exile is, like fellow invadee Afghanistan, still a chaos; is still at war.
David Swanson is a peace and political justice activist, journalist, radio host, and author whose book titles include: ‘War No More: The Case for Abolition,’ ‘When the World Outlawed War,’ ‘War Is a Lie,’ and ‘The Military Industrial Complex at 50’ among others. He’s director of WorldBeyondWar.org, blogs at Let's Try Democracy (DavidSwanson.org) and WarIsACrime.org, and hosts the public affairs program, Talk Nation Radio.
David Swanson in the first half.
And; as though tensions between the World's nuclear titans weren't taut enough, a bizarre alleged poisoning in Britain has Western fingers pointing again at a Russian conspiracy. Former spy and exile, Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia were discovered collapsed on a Salisbury park bench a week past Sunday last. Though the pair have not been seen or heard from outside of hospital since, authorities claim they were poisoned with Novichok, a nerve agent known once to be part of the USSR's chemical arsenal. Now, British prime minister, Theresa May says, "Putin did it!" But what she won't, or perhaps can't say is, why.
John Helmer and uncertain certainties in the second half.
And; Victoria-based activist and CFUV Radio broadcaster at-large, Janine Bandcroft will be here at the bottom of the hour with the Left Coast Events Bulletin. But first, David Swanson and the enduring legacy of war in Iraq and beyond.
There was a revealing coincidence of timing yesterday. Philip Hammond made a speech in which he pleaded with the EU to allow the UK continued free access to their financial services markets, on the basis of mutually recognised standards.
At the same time, Theresa May met the Saudi Crown Prince in Downing Street and discussed specific legal reductions of those standards in the City of London, to allow for the stock exchange flotation of part of Saudi state oil giant Aramco.
It is symbolic because the toxic addiction of the ruling classes to Saudi cash has been lowering British standards of basic decency for generations.
The most blatant example was when Tony Blair as Prime Minister intervened directly in the justice system to prevent the pursuit of corruption charges against the stench-ridden arms dealers of BAE, on grounds of “national security”.
Charting the life path of Beau Dick, the great Kwakwaka’wakw artist, is no mean navigational feat. The master carver, best known internationally for his traditional and fantastical masks is the subject of the documentary, 'Maker of Monsters: The Extraordinary Life of Beau Dick'. The film reveals the artist as teacher, mentor, community leader, political activist, and above all spiritual warrior living within and between multitudinous worlds.
Natalie Boll is an award-winning filmmaker whose work has garnered accolades in this country and abroad. She and collaborator, LaTiesha Fazakas wrote, produced, directed, and are now distributing the film that most recently featured at both the Victoria International and Salt Spring Island Film Festivals.
And; teevee news viewers can be forgiven their collective mal de mer; tossed as they are from issue to issue with hardly a contextual handrail to hold on to. It's little wonder then retching seems the only sensible reaction. But is there more behind the sick-making spectacle? Could it all be designed to keep the head spinning, and belly threatening imminent eruption?
Consider Russia coverage: Badgered by a year of conspiracy theories about elections meddling and other unsubstantiated rumours, viewers may feel disoriented when Vladimir Putin's declaration of a new atomic and next-gen tech. weaponry era, (and entirely unveiled promises to use those weapons should NATO continue its undeclared war against his country) rates a media yawn.
Roger Annis is a longtime socialist and trade union activist whose social justice and peace articles appear at his website, A Socialist in Canada. The site is a daily notifier on World News, and features both Canadian and Ecology news rolls.
Roger Annis and a barely noticed New Cold War escalation in the second half.
And; Victoria-based greentrepreneur and horticulturalist extraordinaire, Christina Nikolic will be here at the bottom of the hour with the Left Coast Events Bulletin, bringing us up to speed with some of the good things going on in and around our town in the coming week. But first, Natalie Boll and the extraordinary life of Beau Dick, Maker of Monsters.
As extreme temperatures, the rate of sea ice melt, the collapse of Greenland glaciers, the thawing of Siberian and Canadian permafrost and increased evaporation in the Arctic drive cold snow storms into Europe and North America, and as hurricanes and wild fires affect tropical and semi-tropical parts of the globe, it is becoming clear Earth is entering a shift in state of the atmosphere-ocean system associated with destructive climate tipping points.
As Arctic permafrost is thawing an analogy with geological methane-release events such as the 56 million years-old Paleocene-Eocene boundary thermal maximum (PETM) event is becoming more likely.
As is well known to students of the history of the climate, once a temperature threshold is breached, abrupt weather events ensue amplified by feedbacks such as decreased reflectivity of the Earth surface and enhanced release of greenhouse gases, often within short time frames.
There was indeed a foreigner responsible for the election of Donald J. Trump in 2016. This is not an “allegation” or a supposition or any kind of “conspiracy theory;” it is a confirmed fact, backed up by reams and reams of documented evidence. The culpable foreigner was not named Vladimir Putin, however; he was called James Wilson, and he was born in Scotland. (Just like Trump’s mother!)
James Wilson is one of the more unsung of the Founding Fathers, but he played a key role in the Constitutional Convention that formed the current political system of the United States.
Having emigrated to the American colonies at the age of 24, he became a prominent lawyer and (like Trump) a major real estate tycoon. He was also a strong and eloquent force behind the drive for independence, due to his anger at the British government’s refusal to grant parliamentary representation for the Colonials.
However, Wilson was also very firmly on the ‘conservative’ side of the Revolutionary camp. He fought hard – even violently – against the “rabble” who attempted to seize the wealth of aristocratic Loyalists to the British crown after they fled from Philadelphia. And he continued to defend Loyalists in court cases following the Revolution.
It's said, "March comes in like a lion", but for the federal New Democrats it was the February convention where the membership was thrown to their leonine new leader, Jagmeet Singh. And they ate each other up.
If nothing else, the party's choice matches strategy with their arch-rival Liberals; opting for a youthful, energetic, and above all photogenic front man. But what about NDP policy?
Following the stifling years of Tom Mulcair, is the membership ready to make a substantive progressive, as well as cosmetic change?
One area providing the opportunity to prove the party's positional difference is Palestine: BDS, the US embassy move to Jerusalem, West Bank teenager, Ahed Tamimi's arrest and continued detention, and recent IDF military actions in Gaza all provide ample grist for differentiation in the NDP's foreign policy mill.
Yves Engler is a Montréal-based activist, lecturer, and author whose book titles include: ‘The Ugly Canadian — Stephen Harper’s Foreign Policy,’ ‘Lester Pearson’s Peacekeeping — The Truth May Hurt,’ ‘The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy,’ ‘Canada in Africa — 300 Years of Aid and Exploitation,’ and his latest, ‘A Propaganda System: How Canada’s Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and Exploitation.’ He recently wrote the anticipatory article about the NDP convention, 'Burying Canada’s Anti-Palestinian Consensus', and attended to see which way the new NDP's winds would blow.
Yves Engler in the first half.
And; as if to accentuate Alberta NDP leader, Rachel Notley's contempt for the well-being of British Columbia's share of the Pacific Ocean, the HMCS Calgary, one of Canadian Forces' Orca-Class frigates, dumped a reported thirty thousand liters of fuel into the Strait of Georgia over the weekend.
The spill took hours to discover and longer to be reported to authorities; and, days after the fact recovery efforts have consisted of "searching for the spill". Environment Canada was quick to allay fears of negative environmental effects, saying "evaporation" and "natural dispersal" should suffice to clean-up the Navy's mess.
What's worse than this lame official reaction though is the sad proof it presents of the immense procedural and attitudinal shift required if coastal ecology here is to be maintained in anything resembling its natural state: with or without the vast increase of shipping traffic expected if the Kinder Morgan pipeline should make it to Port of Vancouver "tidewater".
Jason Colby and loving our aquatic neighbours in the second half
And; Victoria-based activist and CFUV Radio broadcaster at-large, Janine Bandcroft will be here at the bottom of the hour with the Left Coast Events bulletin to bring us up to speed with some of the good things to get up to in and around Victoria in the coming week. But first, Yves Engler and Burying Canada’s Anti-Palestinian Consensus with the NDP.
A descriptive paragraph for the Sunday, February 25th podcast edition of 60 Minutes, the iconic weekly CBS News program, reminds of the official justification for last year's US missile attack against Syrian Army positions following the alleged sarin gas attack against the town of Khan Sheikhoun by the Assad government saying,
"Last year -- civilians in Syria were victims of a deadly gas attack -- prompting a 59-missile response from the United States."1
60 Minutes goes on to detail an extremely troubling account of the current situation in East Ghouta, a near suburb of benighted Syria's capital city, Damascus, where new claims of gas attacks, this time using chlorine, are being attributed to government of Syria forces. Lead reporter, Scott Pelley claims,
"Over seven years of civil war, the Syrian government has repeatedly bombed its own civilians; as we saw this past week outside Damascus. Incredibly, it has also continued to use chemical weapons on civilians attacking its civilians, not just a few times, but nearly 200 times..."
The introduction also promises viewers will see the "awful proof" the "Assad dictatorship" is behind the alleged attacks over the course of the broadcast, but that proof isn't forthcoming.
Foreign meddling in electoral politics can legitimately be compared to an act of war. Just ask the voters of Honduras whose popular president was forced out of office at gunpoint by agents working for the interests of offshore corporations.
Since the replacement of Mel Zelaya in 2009 the coupsters, anointed by the good offices of El Norte, have run roughshod over the rights and dignity of the people, putting in place by hook, crook, bullets and batons an old-fashioned fascist regime; a banana republic the likes of which has not been seen since the last time Uncle Sam ran the show.
Jesse Freeston is a Canadian documentary filmmaker and video journalist. A seminal member of the Real News Network, he’s also produced documentaries for teleSUR, the world’s largest Spanish-language public broadcaster, and his latest film, Resistencia: The Fight for the Aguan Valley documents an agrarian take-over of palm oil plantations by share-cropping farmers. He's currently working on his next independent film, Human Park.
And; media-shaded the last few years by neigbouring regional conflicts, and more recently by the Olympics and spotlight hogging Trump political circus, Gaza, and Palestine generally, has garnered scant coverage in North America's press. That changed a little with Israel's aerial and tank bombardment of the embattled enclave last week; but that attention would hover a little longer there to reveal the desperate, ongoing plight of the World's largest and longest refugee crisis.
Dr. Ramzy Baroud is an American-Arab journalist, media consultant, syndicated columnist, educator, past editor of numerous online and print news organizations, and author. He's currently embarking on a World-tour to promote his latest book, 'The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story' to provide, he says, "a new take on the history of the Palestinian people, one in which the refugees are the core theme".
That tour will bring Ramzy to our town next week, 7pm Friday March 2nd, right here at UVic's David Strong building.
Ramzy Baroud and bringing the voice to Palestine's refugees in the second half.
And; Victoria-based activist and CFUV broadcaster at-large, Janine Bandcroft will be here with the Left Coast Events bulletin to bring us up to speed with some of what's good going on in and around Victoria in the coming week.
But first, Jesse Freeston and the story of Honduras' never-ending coup.
Dear Premier Rachel Notley; I am writing you this open letter to defend myself against your attack on me personally and professionally.
What is the evidentiary basis behind your characterization of my academic work as “repulsive, offensive and not reflective of Alberta”?
Why have you decided to set yourself up, Premier Notley, as some sort of arbitrator of what scholarly work in Alberta universities meets the criteria of being “reflective of Alberta”?
Is your opinion about what is or is not reflective of Alberta to become a new test of how curriculum will be created and how faculty members will be chosen in this province?
What lies behind your decision to disseminate a caricature of me “standing at the head of the class” in order to “spread lies and conspiracy theories”? 
Since I began teaching in the Department of Native American Studies at the University of Lethbridge in 1990, I have never once seen in a student evaluation that reflects the kind of accusations you are pressing publicly on me. How is it you think you know more about me, including and what goes on in my classroom, than my own students?
Moscow - The three types of power which decide the fate of regimes are force, fraud and subversion; that’s to say, arms, money, media.
The Roman Empire was good at using small armies to take on much bigger ones; by adeptly concentrating their force they managed to rule much larger large territories than the legions could cover.
The Byzantine Empire excelled at using bribery of locals to stay loyal; the pre-requisite for that was the intelligence to identify who to pay, how much, and how often. The British Empire used subversion to divide and rule most of their colonial targets, but if the British were matched for firepower and intelligence, they failed and were defeated – by the American colonists, the Maoris, the Boers, the Germans, the Japanese.
The American Empire excels at subversion on the home front. But abroad it usually combines fraud with subversion. When these two fail to preserve or topple regimes, US-made wars have been a consistent failure. The Russians are better than Americans at force and fraud. Schemes of subversion like the US plots to promote Boris Yeltsin, Anatoly Chubais, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and Alexei Navalny to rule the Kremlin, are not winners with Russians; they are judged successful only by foreigners who read the Washington Post and London Times.
The “judge” who dismissed Assange’s case yesterday was “Lady Arbuthnot of Edrom”, wife to Tory peer, former Tory junior Defence Minister and government whip Lord James Arbuthnot. Not to mention Chairman of the Conservative Friends of Israel.
Arbuthnot was naturally Eton educated, the son of Major Sir John Sinclair Wemyss Arbuthnot. Of course Lady Arbuthnot’s children were all sent to Eton too.
At the first hearing, I was stunned by reports of completely inappropriate comments by Lady Arbuthnot, including responding to representations about Assange’s health by the comment that medical care is available in Wandsworth prison.
As the official charade is that Assange is wanted for nothing but jumping bail, for which a custodial sentence is rare, that callous attempt at gallows humour was redolent of Arbuthnot’s Tory mindset.