Sick Sophistry – BBC News On The Afghan Hospital ‘Mistakenly’ Bombed By The United States

In Media Lens ALERTS 2015

One of the defining features of the corporate media is that Western crimes are ignored or downplayed. The US bombing of a Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, on the night of October 3, is an archetypal example.

At least twenty-two people were killed when a United States Air Force AC-130 repeatedly attacked the hospital with five strafing runs over the course of more than an hour, despite MSF pleas to Afghan, US and Nato officials to call off the attack. The hospital’s main building, which contains the emergency operating room and recovery rooms, was heavily damaged. Dave Lindorff noted:

‘the hospital was deliberately set ablaze by incendiary weapons, and the people inside not incinerated were killed by a spray of bullets and anti-personnel flechettes.’

Lindorff added:

‘The AC-130 gunship is not a precision targeting weapon, but a weapons system designed to spread death over a wide swath.’

Shockingly, MSF had already informed US military forces of the precise coordinates of the hospital in order to prevent any attacks. Indeed, the hospital is:

‘a well-known and long-established institution with a distinctive shape operating in a city that until recently was under full [Afghan] government control. That the US/NATO command did not clearly know the function of that structure is inconceivable.’

MSF were unequivocal in their condemnation of the American attack. The hospital was ‘intentionally targeted’ in ‘a premeditated massacre’.  It was, they said, a ‘war crime’. The organisation rejected US assurances of three inquiries – by the US, Nato and the Afghan government. Instead, MSF demanded an independent international investigation.

In the days following the attack, the US changed its official story several times. At one point, as Glenn Greenwald observes, the dominant narrative from the US and its Afghan allies was that the bombing had not been an accident, but that it had been justified because the Taliban had been using the hospital as a base; an outrageous claim that MSF vehemently rejected. It was even reported that an American tank had later forced its way into the hospital compound, potentially destroying evidence of the war crime that had just taken place.

Yes, the bombing was reported in the ‘mainstream’ media; sometimes with harrowing footage of ruined hospital corridors and rooms. Hospital beds were even shown where patients had burned to death. But the US bombing did not receive the extensive headline coverage and editorial outrage that it deserved.

If you are unsure of that, just imagine the response of the British media if it had been a Russian gunship that had bombed a hospital with the loss of 22 lives, despite pleas from doctors to call off the attack. Western leaders would have instantly condemned the Russian bombing as a ‘war crime’, and the corporate media would have taken their lead from the pronouncements coming out of the offices of power in Washington and London.

By contrast, we have not found a single editorial in any UK national newspaper condemning the US bombing of the hospital or calling for an independent investigation. This is one more example of the dramatic subservience of the corporate media to the state and indeed its long-term complicity in state crimes against humanity.

In the meantime, with nothing to say on Kunduz, the Guardian has found space to publish editorials onhoverboards and the Great British Bakeoff, as well as Guardian editor Katharine Viner’s ‘grilling’ of George Osborne at the Tory party conference. To compound the paper’s ignominy, it still proudly carries Tony Blair in its Comment section where it describes him merely as ‘a former British prime minister’, rather than the notorious and unpopular war criminal he so clearly is. That accurate description is only emphasised by the weekend’s revelations of a memo written by Colin Powell, then George Bush’s US Secretary of State, that Blair had pledged his support for a US invasion of Iraq fully one year in advance, even while telling Parliament and the country that a ‘diplomatic solution’ was still being sought.

 Sopel’s ‘Mistake’

On BBC News at Ten on October 15, 2015, BBC North America correspondent Jon Sopel told viewers over footage of the ravaged Kunduz hospital that it had been ‘mistakenly bombed by the Americans’. Not intentionally bombed, as MSF were saying, but ‘mistakenly bombed’. BBC News were thereby adopting the Pentagon perspective presented earlier by General John Campbell, the US senior commander in Afghanistan, when he claimed that:

‘A hospital was mistakenly struck. We would never intentionally target a protected medical facility’.

In fact, the US has done so before, many times. In November 2003, the first target of the huge American ground assault on Fallujah, following several weeks of bombing, was the city’s General Hospital. This was a ‘war crime’, Noam Chomsky noted, and it was even depicted on the front page of the New York Times, but without it being labelled or recognised as such by the paper:

‘the front page of the world’s leading newspaper was cheerfully depicting war crimes for which the political leadership could be sentenced to severe penalties under U.S. law, the death penalty if patients ripped from their beds and manacled on the floor happened to die as a result.’

Going further back in time, US veterans of the Vietnam war have reported that hospitals in Cambodia and Laos were ‘routinely listed’ among targets to be struck by American forces. In 1973, Newsweekmagazine quoted a former US army intelligence analyst saying that:

‘The bigger the hospital, the better it was’.

And now, in the case of the MSF hospital in Kunduz, Associated Press reported that:

‘US analysts knew Afghan site was hospital’.

Moreover, it has since emerged that the American crew of the AC-130 gunship even questionedwhether it was legal to attack the hospital.

Our repeated challenges on Twitter to Sopel and his BBC News editor Paul Royall were ignored. Is this really how senior BBC professionals should behave when publicly questioned about a serious breach of impartiality? Simply deign not to answer?

However, one of our readers emailed Sopel and did extract a remarkable response from the BBC North America correspondent which was kindly forwarded to us.

Sopel wrote in his email:

‘At this stage whether the bombing of the hospital in Kunduz was deliberate or accidental is the subject of an investigation – and I know there are doubts about the independence of the inquiry – but what it most certainly WAS was mistaken. Given the outrage the bombing has provoked, the humiliating apology it has forced the US into, the PR disaster it has undoubtedly been, how can anyone describe it as anything other than mistaken? If I had used the word accidentally you might have had a point.’

But this is, at best, disingenuous nonsense from Sopel. Most people watching his piece, and hearing him say that the hospital had been ‘mistakenly bombed by the Americans’, would have assumed he meant that the Americans had not intended to bomb the hospital rather than that bombing the hospital was misguided.

As we saw above, the notion that US forces did not know the target was a hospital is the Pentagon propaganda claim, and is not the view of MSF. Moreover, it contradicts the evidence that was both available at the time of Sopel’s BBC News report and what has since come to light (that the US aircrew actually questioned the legality of the strike on a hospital). Christopher Stokes, general director of MSF, told Associated Press that the US bombing was ‘no mistake’.

‘The extensive, quite precise destruction of this hospital … doesn’t indicate a mistake. The hospital was repeatedly hit’.

The rest of Sopel’s remarks in the exchange are irrelevant (the bravery of war journalists), verging on cringeworthy (his proud support of MSF with a standing order).

Sopel’s attempt to exploit ‘the outrage’, ‘the humiliating apology’ and ‘the PR disaster’ to justify his use of ‘mistakenly bombed’ is desperate sophistry. Is he really trying to say that a war crime is ‘mistaken’ because it is a ‘PR disaster’, requiring a ‘humiliating apology’?

Perhaps the airstrike was a ‘mistake’ in much the same way that the killing of eight Afghan schoolboys by US-led troops in 2009 was a ‘mistake’? This was a ‘mistake’ that Nato brushed away with payments of $2,000 for each dead child, in a kind of macabre ‘fire sale’.

Perhaps the airstrike was a ‘mistake’ in much the same way as the 2003 invasion of Iraq, in the eyes of Bridget Kendall, the BBC diplomatic correspondent. She declared on BBC News at Six:

‘There’s still bitter disagreement over invading Iraq. Was it justified or a disastrous miscalculation?’ (BBC1, March 20, 2006)

That the Iraq invasion was, in fact, an illegal and immoral war of aggression – indeed, the ‘supreme international crime’ judged by the Nuremberg standard of war crimes – was not a permissible description for BBC News.

But that is the ideological norm shaping corporate media output and ‘mainstream’ debate. Western political and military leaders may occasionally make ‘mistakes’ or ‘disastrous miscalculations’. But their essential intent is always honourable: to ‘keep the Taliban at bay’ (Sopel again), to destroy Islamic State or to ‘bring peace to the Middle East’.

We asked John Pilger to comment on Jon Sopel’s report for BBC News and his subsequent remarks on email. Pilger told us (via email, October 19, 2015):

‘Serious journalism is about trying to set the record straight with compelling evidence. What is striking about Jon Sopel’s report is that he offers not a glimpse of journalistic evidence to support his assertion that the US attack on the hospital was “mistaken” – thus calling into question facts presented by MSF: facts that have not been refuted and he makes no attempt to refute. Neither is the dissembling by the US military challenged by Sopel. Instead, he is “certain” the attack was mistaken. What is the basis of his “certainty”? He doesn’t say; and he clearly feels under no compulsion to say. Instead, in full defensive cry, he tells us what an experienced frontline reporter he is, implying that his word is enough. Well, I have reported more wars than Sopel has had White House briefings, and I know – as he knows – that journalism of this kind is no more than a feeble echo of the official line. He does reveal his agency by telling us – quite unabashed — that President Obama has “very little option” but to continue his campaign of destruction in Afghanistan. Some might call this apologetics; actually, it’s anti-journalism.’

Perhaps it is not surprising that the header photo at the top of Sopel’s Twitter page should show him listening respectfully to US President Obama. The tragic irony is that Obama, the 2009 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, has just committed a war crime in bombing Médecins Sans Frontières, the 1999 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

DC

Suggested Action

If you decide to contact a journalist in response to our alert, please keep the tone civil. We do not condone abusive language.

Jon Sopel, BBC North America correspondent
Email: jon.sopel@bbc.co.uk
Twitter: @BBCJonSopel

Paul Royall, editor of both BBC News at Six and News at Ten
Email: paul.royall@bbc.co.uk
Twitter: @paulroyall

Please forward any replies to us:
editor@medialens.org

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Canada: The Cover-Up and Theft of Another Election.

Harper fraude

The Memory Hole of Continuous Proven Fraud  over Nine Years

Canadians are within a few days of stopping or allowing the Harper regime to continue to destroy the democracy and life fabric of Canada. But the dots are taboo to connect. The PR-led opposition has joined the corporate media in a public stage ritual of forgetting. The endless lies, election cheats, and bullying abuses through nine years of PMO civil destruction go scot free.

The Harper regime has cheated or stole every election. Yet not even the Conservative robo-call fraud to deprive up to 500,000 citizens of their votes in the 2011 election has been raised in the official campaign. No-one on stage remembers any of it back to the first Harper theft of power in 2006, featuring the Harper-RCMP deal to falsely accuse the Liberal Finance Minister Ralph Goodale in criminal investigation just prior to the election. Nor is Harper’s violation of his own Election Act in calling the 2008 election and its massive illegal spending on attacks ads filling the airwaves with public hate just before the vote. All has been proven off the campaign stage, but all has been silenced on it. The regime’s near-daily record of lies, scandals and violations has gone the memory hole of the electoral campaign, with $54 million on hand for attack ads.

Nothing sticks because public information is repressed in every form by the Harper PMO, the corporate media publish only transient details and flattering pictures, and the mainstream parties silently submit to the rule of amnesia. Yet every destruction tracks back to the Mafia-like despotism of the Harper PMO whose rule of fear, division, lies, character assassination and public sector dismantling runs free with no connection on stage. Even as I write, Harper tells more public lies that “there are no cuts at the CBC” and that “marijuana is far more dangerous than tobacco’.

The Wheat Board clause is the addition replacing the gagging clause (which comes in enough). We may recall how the proven big liars and war criminals of the US Republican party getting re-elected there despite their crimes against democracy and law. Harper is the branch-plant version with more years allowed to strip the country’s public accountability and wealth to serve the rich. Constituencies of bigotry and greed provide the energies of attack always in motion.

From Fraud, War against Science and Dispossession of the Poor to tthe Niqab Sting

Fraud, war against public knowledge, and dispossession of the poor are the hallmarks of the Harper regime exposed in many forms off stage from an aroused Canadian public. But they are amnesiac in the official campaign. They continue with impunity and the tacit support of official opposition silence. The clear majority of citizens loathe the man destroying Canada’s common life substance and identity. But the pathological meaning is taboo to name on the public stage.

In the turning point of the election campaign that Harper was losing on the ground, national  attention was suddenly diverted to the veil rights of two indoctrinated women claiming duty to Allah and the Prophet to keep their faces hidden in citizenship ceremony. How could such a red herring reverse the Harper defeat overnight when not even the Koran prescribes veils?

Yet a feudal harem duty became solemnly claimed as a public right by the politically correct even in swearing citizen allegiance to Canada. Incredibly the leader of the Quebec stronghold of the opposition NDP took  the bait. Playing against the role that had been long fit up for him by the corporate press – the angry man – he donned the image of liberal tolerance. He stood up for the symbol of an ancient, foreign right of possession of women, and predictably alienated his Quebec support. Along with the NDP’s me-too neo-liberalism of “no deficit”, the party blew the national election lead into third place within days.

Public relations and political correctness are dear to marketing men and pollsters running the NDP too. But they do not work with citizens who dislike turncoats to neo-liberal dogma and are used to seeing people’s faces as fellow citizens.

Thus dragged into a stand enabling no-one’s life in the country, the campaign for the working people of Quebec and Canada became weak and alien – a betrayal of its voter base. In truth, the stand does not even protect the veiled immigrants. Their fathers and husbands can now demand the right of their proprietorship over them as a sacred right in Canada itself against long evolved citizen norms of openness and trust. Thus the entire Harper record of perpetual lies and harms against the common life interest of Canada disappeared into the memory hole over a false right serving no-one’s better existence in the country.

Thus a total diversion to a sectarian demand in citizenship oath itself succeeded. It completely switched the life-and-death of the 2015 election to an unconscious visceral plane where emotional knee-jerk was guaranteed – the master psych-op of the Harper regime. The fact that the issue is still before the courts known to rule against Harper over-stepping laws of every kind was ignored. But Harper rule won again by appeal to the knee-jerk unconscious of the masses.

This is in fact the crypto-fascist key of all Harper public appeal. Play the primeval fear card and step up PMO command to stop the fabricated danger to the country. Transnational attack dog Lynton Crosby, “master of the dark arts of dirty politics”, was on hand to orchestrate the diversion in the midst of a losing election. Simultaneously Harper’s-re-jigged Election Commission overrode the Election Act that says no non-Canadian may “induce anyone to vote” one way rather than another. Anything goes in this regime of corruption all the way down.

The Underlying Grammar of Amnesia and Illusion

The underlying deep structure of amnesia and illusion can be formulated in one sentence. National elections are increasingly reduced to a corporate market game of propagandas to sell one product rather others to targeted private-interest groups who will behave predictably as an aggregate as buyers of commodities for sale. The first premise here is that public intelligence does not exist, and the second is that any lie and fraud you can get away with is smart. .

No-one seems to see the entailment that the common life interest of citizens is ruled out a priori.Slogan rhetoric and partisan hype is all there is for the P-R managers of the game. “Middle class” can be asserted as vehemently by one party as the other with no meaning. The health, home and literacy of all citizens, not just the middle class having more money, is repelled by the marketing mind. Here the common interest is the latest opinion poll of selves with no facts involved.

The deciding force is private money, but this too is taboo to speak on the public stage. So is is the predictable  result. Those who control more money more fund the party that wins even it cumulatively destroys the collective life capital of society and world.

The party meant to oppose this refuses to say it nd the mass media never allow it into their ad vehicles. So the ‘left’ party buys in and presses everyone on its lists to give more money to pay corporate media for more ads. One X on a card at the end decides it all in the end. Yet ever more people cannot access even that.  This is the design of Harper’s Orwellian ‘Fair Elections Act’, excluding all those without an official identification resident address – in short, the poor and native citizens. Buttressing this fix of the election, Harper rule redefines electoral boundaries at the same time so that his party picks up an extra 22 seats, compared to the NDP and the Liberals adding six and two seats respectively. The riggings and frauds never stop.

In the dominant value system, the underlying formula is that more money in private pockets is the final good. Worship of riches that contribute no life function and increasingly pollute and deplete the world are kept out of public view. That the global gold baron patron of the Munk Institute debate been featured in this election is a metaphor of this regime’s total corruption. The instant institute becomes the private corporate ground for where Harper is willing to debate. No media or even opposition party reports that the Munk institute is a special recipient of many millions from Harper’s government, lavishes Tory front-men with rich company positions when they step down, helps to reset University of Toronto to a transnational corporate propaganda site, and causes continual human rights abuses in poor countries by its world-leading gold extractions from their lands. The right-wing audience repeatedly applauded Harper alone, and no mass media reported the fix.

This is one way in which the Harper regime reduces the country to a looting basin for borderless corporate market vehicles. His “economic record” never deviates from this outcome, but this again is taboo to say in the campaign. Mass ignorance rules along with absolute power to command. But no-one names the game. What distinguishes the Harper regime, from prior administrations is its war on public knowledge and democracy at every plane  – its market-fascist logic. But who thinks through the meaning of every step?  None is seen or connected on stage. Aan Orwellian propaganda field is the ocean to the voters and citizens surrounded by it.

As always in this totalizing corporate game, images are the only reality. Corporate media carry the only common messages the majority see. The truth becomes whatever sells.

Yet which contending party does not buy in?  For the Harper regime, taxes like death are bad by definition, and the more money in private pockets is the ruling public value. One meta law governs the war of movement – to feed without limit on the public purse and expropriate all life-serving programs outside private profit and control.

The Harper Corruption of Canada Spreads by the Taboo Against Naming It.

Even the official opposition with the most progressive tradition of the three major parties has played the corporate-ad game instead of naming the proven despot, liar, and fraud in the PMO.  As in BC in 2013, the NDP snatches defeat from the jaws of victory by empty advertising logic with no life substance. And as with Jack Layton who first let the fanatic Harper in the door by attacking only Liberals in the 2006 debates, the NDP is too busy going after Liberals to expose the usurper destroying the country.

A narcissism of small differences prevails, with the Liberals now outflanking the NDP to the left. The NDP’s leader, Thomas Mulcair, has the capacities of an ace prosecuting attorney to expose the Harper regime as tyrannically corrupt. Yet there has been no mention of the Harper record of continual public lies, cheating, criminal behaviors, war-mongering, and – most lethal to democracy – stripping of public science, communications and accountability at every level.

Consequences follow. The Harper regime has not only torn up the Kyoto Protocol. It has closed down scientific monitorings of everything from freshwater fish and contaminants to unique carbon load detectors, fired 2000 federal scientists, shut down and destroyed public archives of fisheries and oceans, prohibited any public communication of scientific information by those remaining, and abolished habitat-protecting laws 99% of Canada’s waterways.

Not only Canada’s environment and environmental knowledge, laws and resources have been attacked non-stop by the Harper regime. It wages war against all life-protective intelligence and knowledgethat can recognize the disastrous consequences. Its master goal is to serve the runaway global corporate juggernaut that devours the world to maximize private money demand as the only value there is.

Try to think of an exception. The long train of lies, abuses, interferences, public information destructions, criminal appointments, violations of laws, and vengeful uses of the state beggars belief in its perversion of the democratic process. Even more deeply, the collective life capital bases on which every one of us depends from the atmosphere to the ocean bottoms to the rule of life-protective law and common knowledge are exactly what are targeted and defunded to turn all of government into more private market riches at the top.

Yet the near-daily Harper outrages have already come and gone with no connected tracking of them in the official campaign. So silenced have the public positions of the opposition parties been that a complicity under partisan appearances seems hard to deny. Yet we need to know the depth of the corruption that has spread into Canada’s very metabolism and marrow. Unconscious submission to the ruling game of corporate mass sales has become the way we decide how to live even if it increasingly destroys Canada and life on earth.

Tracking the Beast Not Named

We need to recall out of the memory hole of all that has been forgotten in the 2015 election what destruction Harper has wrought on Canada’s abilities to function as a democratic society and intelligent civilisation. In fact, his meta program is to destroy everything that cannot be bought and sold for private profit – the underlying fanatic goal that is not seen.

It includes what is not publicly tracked or connected – destroying the public post delivery and financially gutting the nation’s only public broadcaster CBC; attacking the prairie family farm by dismantling the Canadian Wheat Board; continuous gaggings of elected representatives; continual appointment of criminals to office; stripping Statistics Canada and the mandatory Canada Census that are the recording memory of the nation; destroying the country’s gun registry against provincial and law-enforcement requests; continual anti-union interference in collective bargaining; smearing of veteran advocates resisting abuse and dismissal of their federal ombudsman; tax agency attacks on venerable social charities not towing the Harper line; gag orders on any federal civil servant not controlled by partisan public relations officers; lying attack ads without remission on any opposition leader who may compete against Harper; putting protestors under blanket state surveillance with black lists of their leaders; covering up torture and lawless police and armed-force killings across continents; risking the lives of Canada’s foreign troops for Harper photo-ops (he forbids any photographers but his own at press conferences); continuously false cost estimates of public money for new institutional violence, dispossession and caging policies; falsification or disappearance of documents across jurisdictions; use of Government of Canada identifiers and publication channels for party propaganda including even government cheques, altogether costing over $700 million of taxpayer funds;  implicitly accepting bribes in return for public offices on the public purse for significant donors in every possible form of partisan pay-off; public contempt of parliament twice as prime minister with endless parliamentary abuses; fixed blocking of parliamentary and individual access to public information; silencing of the public service in every domain; forced loyalty oaths to political incumbents; omnibus bills that sneak through fascist-style overwhelming of any debate; secret trade deals that ruin the productive lives of countless thousands of citizens; dismembering Statistics Canada and lying about it;  arbitrary shut-downs of Parliament when convenient for continued rule; incessant interferences in independent bodies like the National Energy Board, the CRTC, the Integrity Office  and  – for reporting vast sums of illegal spending – the Parliamentary Budget Office itself.

As for foreign affairs, Harper’s attack-dog regime has been by far the most war-mongering administration in Canada’s history. It has declared without any evidence Iran as the “greatest threat in the world” while applaudingd the continuously war-criminal actions of the Israel state. It has led the NATO  bombing of once thriving Libya to irreversible ruin. It has jumped to recognise the violent and neo-Nazi-led coup in Ukraine and blame Russia for the resulting civil war and failed state. It has constructed endless false claims of Islamic terror threats and rushed to bomb in the Middle East to “stop ISIS” in ignorance of its Saudi-CIA funding, arming and creation. It has completely reversed Canada’s tradition as a peacemaker nation, voted off even the UN Human Rights Commission.

All follows the fascist pattern not named. Harper long ago gave notice of his readiness to commit the supreme crime under law in demand that Canada join the war-criminal bombing and genocide of Iraq on completely false pretexts in 2003. Here again, however, he has been given a free pass by the opposition parties in Parliament and on the 78-day campaign.

The Cover-Up Not Seen

Marketing elections run by private money for private money can override or silence all that a society needs for its better life. Once the corporate media control all perceptions to serve self-maximizing marketers from the top down with no common life interest binding across differences, no shared life value or ground can be seen.

If corporate-market PR machinations capture opposition parties themselves, there is no centre of gravity of the common good. There are only sales pitches to targeted consumers. Nothing else gets in. Since private money alone can buy the media time to pitch political products, the competition becomes over who has more money to buy ads.  That the election is won by those with most private money backing is an underling meaning that disappears into the frenetic contest to get more of it to win.  Nothing else is defined but more-money-needed in the 2015 campaign of the NDP even after all the evidence is in.

The shared life infrastructures of air to breathe, green space to enjoy and vocations to serve disappear from the conversation. Even the continuous frauds, lies, civil society destructions, and giveaways to the corporate rich are forgotten in this cover-up process not seen. Incredibly, no-one charges Harper for his proven record to destroy the very fabric of Canada’s democracy and capacity to govern for the public. It does not exist in this field of meaning. Only the memory hole remains on the campaign stage.

Do You Trust this Man? 

The electoral opposition to the Harper regime’s decade of society destruction and transfer of public wealth to the rich has one more big lie to consider. Just 12 days before the election, it was announced that the TPP (‘Trans-Pacific Partnership’) had been rammed through before the election and before Canadians or Parliament have had a chance even to read it. No matter. Harper proclaims he “is 100% certain that it is good for Canada and all Canadians”. All the terms and details remained secret and inaccessible. Not one of the factually certain costs to Canadians is admitted as an issue. No citizen or party and knows any more than allowed to be told to them. The Trade Minister refused to be interviewed.  All the certain life sacrifices of local economies, people’s secure livelihoods, food security, and vast new transportation pollution and carbon loads  are simply erased from the ledger. They do not exist to this mind-set.

The TPP was announced the day I complete this analysis. But already one can recognize that every step follows in the tracks of Harper’s absolutely unaccountable and fraudulent rule – unlimited central control, complete secrecy, exclusion of public information in every detail, silencing of everyone else around including his own party’s elected MP’s, worship of the transnational corporate system of ever more profit as infallible, omnipotent boast of knowing the future for all citizens, and a very big-lie core of all he proclaims.

One might say Harper is a fanatic beyond all precedent in Canada’s prime ministry, and a pathological liar by demand of the corporate market doctrine of which he is a creature. This is why the life-blind inner logic of what drives him is not available to his mind. What sustains him are the corporate media barons and the extreme right-wing business roundtables from which he graduates. This is why he must always have them around in debates, as at the Munk centre. They pump him on in the CEO-despotism and greed they all bow to that destroys the world.  The same happens across oceans in different variations. The TPP organizes corporate rule across the most distant continents into global dictatorship over all sovereign governments involved, over new and old unions of organized workers who can withdraw labour, over public policy shifts to serve people instead of endless foreign profits out of their countries, and over evolved recourses of democracy and  government by collective life need.

This is the covered up meaning of Harper’s certitude of better lives for all. What life-blind doctrine has ever been so mindlessly ignorant of the facts of human life and the common life support systems of our planet?  They simply do not exist to this corruption of mind. A borderless corporate market ever larger and more unaccountable to the public, human life and the biosphere itself is the God of the world destruction.

Masked in the absurd slogan of “free trade” which is free for none but transnational corporations – and why they always love it – no media challenges this deranged mind-set any more than its big advertisers. And the two mainstream parties are always funded by its agents.  This is why the evil consequences are always ignored even though they follow necessarily from these one-sided treaties of transnational corporate rights. These are the real certainties that even the money masters and  their servants cannot deny – that big transnational foreign corporations will always displace and ruin small and local businesses in every sphere they enter; that jobs and wages will always be lost, lower and less secure in the aggregate; that organized workers in unions will always be smashed or reduced further; that environmental restraints and regulations will always be eliminated if they do not conform to corporate rights to the profits they expect;  that no-one except corporate lawyers will be able to judge by secret tribunal operations accountable to no one or no international law whether a public policy is valid if a private corporation sues it at public expense; and that every penalty for not conforming to this corporate treaty mechanism, with no non-profit public body allowed to dispute it, is without upper limit of money punishment to be paid by the taxpayers of the country that has disobeyed the new global corporate rights as judged by the private and unelected corporate-lawyer tribunal made up of the same people who wrote the treaty in secret and without public debate.  

This is the already established format of the ‘Trans-Pacific Partnership’ which no-one can truthfully deny, and this what Stephen Harper is “certain is good for Canada and Canadians” as he gives away Canada’s sovereignty and imposes still secret foreign terms on the country in the middle of an election. Official Opposition leader Thomas Mulcair has for the first time in this election stood against the job-destroying, hollowing-out system that Harper leads with big lies – just as Brian Mulroney did before him with NAFTA promising “jobs, jobs, jobs” when 500,00 secure manufacturing  jobs with living salaries and benefits were soon destroyed in fact.

The Harper regime has already lost 400,000 jobs under its watch. But the TPP will disemploy more than that when race-to-the-bottom Asian wages, safety, financial and environmental regulations are available to transnational corporations and banks to feed on at the expense of Canadian society, sovereignty, family security, youth opportunities and natural life and resources. This is the competition to the lowest denominators of life and life ruin that Harper adores as his ideal, ‘the free market’ of private corporate money sequence that override all else. .

Yet the real Canada beneath corporate-money functions sees through the endless lies and betrayals that are masked as “Conservative”. This worse-than-Mulroney despot and quisling of money power might come unstuck in his latest destruction of the common life bases of the country. Recall that this party of sell-out to private and transnational money powers ended up with two seats once the people caught on to the fraud.

After 1,000 Palestinians Wounded, 24 Killed, Hillary Clinton Laments Only Israeli Deaths

She weighed in on this violence by essentially forgetting that the Palestinian casualties of this violence even exist.

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton listens to a speaker during the 2014 Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in New York September 24, 2014

The past two weeks have seen enormous clashes in the Holy Land, with a wave of violence between Palestinians primarily in the occupied West Bank but also in Gaza clashing with Israeli soldiers, settlers, and civilians.

The violence has many believing that a third Palestinian intifada, uprising against the occupation, is brewing. This uprising is taking a different form, with Hamas in Gaza and the Palestine Liberation Organization in the West Bank both sitting out the fighting. Rather, young Palestinians are self-organizing as part of raucous protests, while others have, in frustration, engaged in knife attacks against Israeli civilians which have spread fear and terror.

Last night, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton weighed in on this violence by essentially forgetting that the Palestinian casualties of this violence even exist:

Here are some of the facts of what has happened to Palestinians during the past two weeks:

  • The Wounded: Over 1,000 Palestinians have been reported woundedsince October 1st.
  • The Dead: 28 Palestinians have perished as of this writing. They include a pregnant mother killed in an airstrike, and a group of protesters who were shot with live ammunition.
  • Attacked By Settlers: Although the Israeli settlement movement is not employed by the Israeli government, it is shielded by it, with settlers often attacking Palestinians with Israeli soldiers at their flank. October saw a spike in attacks by settlers, with 130 logged in the month so far. The PLO has charted this:

It is not incredibly surprising that Clinton would posture as pro-Israel – she isseeking the support of one of her long-time funders, Haim Saban, an Israeli-American who is a strong supporter of the Israeli government. However, writing the Palestinians out of her statement altogether is a step the U.S. government itself rarely takes, and may be a sign that she is trying to distance herself from President Obama, who has been criticized for his few moments of disagreement with Israel’s government.

Nobody expects the Republicans to speak up for the Palestinians, but it is disappointing that Clinton’s rival Bernie Sanders has not put out any statements on this issue over the past two weeks, despite his words many years ago condemning Israel for the exact same sort of behavior it is conducting right now.

Your organic cotton tee-shirt probably poisoned a river in Asia

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Dyed yarn hanging on a fence at the Jubilee Farm in Snoqualmie, part of a class on using natural plant dyes. (Photo by Carolyn Higgins)
Dyed yarn hanging on a fence at the Jubilee Farm in Snoqualmie, part of a class on using natural plant dyes. (Photo by Carolyn Higgins)

Your soft cotton tee shirt is the ultimate warm fuzzy. Snuggling gratefully into its soft fibers, you feel virtuous about buying a product that was made of natural organic materials. Think of all those barrels of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers that weren’t sprayed on foreign cotton fields thanks to you. Think of the smiling cotton farmers in Turkey and India growing those pure white organic tufts for you to snuggle into.

Sigh.

Bet you a tidy sum that the label boasting of organic fiber on that shirt says nothing about the luscious color. And for good reason.

We tend to be blissfully unaware of the myriad health problems attributed to the textile dyeing process, as most of our clothing is not from around here.

Yet somewhere in India, a river runs fluorescent pink. Or electric blue, or tangerine orange.

Perhaps the most infamous of these is India’s Noyyal River, which carries toxin-dense waste water from factories in Tirupur — a metropolis also known as “Knit City.” The effluent resulting from dyeing that imported cotton shirt you love pours from the dyeing plant into the Noyyal and other Indian and Chinese streams and rivers, carrying with it toxic chemicals – cancer-causing cadmium, lead, chromium, mercury, and more.

A Japanese-owned textile dyeing facility in the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area in Northeastern China. (Photo from Flickr by Matthew Stinson)
A Japanese-owned textile dyeing facility in the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area in Northeastern China. (Photo from Flickr by Matthew Stinson)

But one Seattle woman believes that we don’t have to pay such a heavy price for our penchant for color, and she is sharing her passion for plant-based, low-water dyes, adding to a “slow clothing” movement.

On a sunny recent August afternoon, Kathy Hattori leads a small band of acolytes to the cutting flower garden on Jubilee Farm, an organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) grower in Washington state’s fertile Snoqualmie valley.

She stops in front of a backdrop of enormous sunflowers and faces her students from behind a row of blanket-flowers, a daisy-like bloom glowing with streaks of orange, gold, pink, and coral. “Gaillardia,” she pronounces. “Let’s cut these – we should get some good color.”

The gloved throng bends to gather the bright flower heads, filling baskets.

Despite the jeans and encyclopedic knowledge of plant-based dyes, Hattori’s past career was rooted not in textiles or art but in the corporate world.

“The specter of Death drove me from the high-tech world,” she joked in an earlier interview.

A degree in environmental studies originally led to a job with the EPA. Her administrative flair led to a highly-paid but draining stint in the Silicon Valley. But discontent with the unfulfilling work led her to establish a new life in Seattle.

Leveraging her business background and following a long-time love of textiles, Hattori went to work for a natural dye company. There she became aware of the toxicity bedeviling conventional clothing. It was the 2005 GreenPeace report, “Toxic Threads” that galvanized her explorations with natural dyes.

Kathy Hattori at the Jubilee Farm. (Photo by Carolyn Higgins)
Kathy Hattori at the Jubilee Farm. (Photo by Carolyn Higgins)

She learned about places like “Knit City,” where about a third of nearby villagers find themselves suffering from a range of ailments attributed to dye-related pollution, including gastritis, joint pain, and more.

Azo dyes, which are used for about 70% of textiles made, carry significant health and cancer risk, as do other chemicals used in the process like benzidine, pthalates, and formaldehyde.

Large amounts of precious potable water in clothing producing countries like China, India, and Bangladesh, is diverted from human and animal use, to be used in the dyeing process and then released back into streams. Neighboring farmland can be rendered unusable, exacting a heavy toll on health, livelihoods, and the environment.

The clothing produced arrives in the shopping bags of first world consumers with toxic residue, continuing the threat of toxic run-off to our own local water supplies. This is particularly concerning with regard to children’s clothing.

“I’d known that there were some pretty aggressive chemicals in the textile dyeing industry,” Hattori said. “But I didn’t realize just how toxic the substances are, and I hadn’t known about the amount of effluent produced and the enormous amount of water used in these processes. It had a huge effect on me.”

In 2010, she formed her own company, Botanical Colors, producing natural dyes for hobbyists and eventually for the fashion industry.

“I now work with small designers,” Hattori told me. “Younger designers are frustrated by not being able to make sustainable designs.”

Yarns dyed with natural indigo hang on a tree at the Jubilee Farm. (Photo by Carolyn Higgins)
Yarns dyed with natural indigo hang on a tree at the Jubilee Farm. (Photo by Carolyn Higgins)

To that end, Hattori collaborates with New York design house Eileen Fisher, overdyeing gently-used clothing for Eileen Fisher’s clothing recycling initiative, Green Eileen.

Re-sellers like Green Eileen address a related concern of Hattori’s: the impact of the enormous amount of clothing we purchase in the developed world — as much as 70 pieces of clothing per person per year, by some estimates.

Producing dyes in bulk is a part of Hattori’s commitment to sustainability.

“National brands find it difficult to adapt to using natural dyes, but many of them have committed to fix their supply chains by 2020. I want to figure out how to bring the process to the point where it is practical for them to use; to be an evangelist,” she said as we sat in her Ballard facility. “If I can get their attention and then their buy-in, we can start to make a change. But natural dyes are challenging to mass-produce. You never eat the same piece of spinach twice, and it’s that way with natural dyes.”

But by accumulating large quantities over a season, maintaining disciplined procedures, and exercising her artistry – assessing and modifying the color as her eye tells her – Hattori is succeeding. Well-known Dharma Trading Company, a California-based fiber art supply company, now uses Hattori as one of their suppliers.

Even so, Hattori keeps what she calls “a visceral attraction to the work of the hand” at top of mind, accepting teaching requests in an ever-wider geographical range. That is how we find ourselves in that idyllic field, dipping organic and locally-raised wool into pots of water infused with color from blanket flowers, marigolds, and cochineal insects. Blouses, wool skeins, and even canvas shoes find their way into vats of indigo. As we lift out skeins of wool, now glowing with intense yellows, oranges, reds, and delicate green, depending on the ingredient, I ask Michael Fromberger, a Google programmer, what has drawn him to this decidedly low-tech pastime.

“I think that through human history, we’ve been surrounded by plants and used them in all kinds of ways. Now we seem aware of only a small number, and we think of them only as food,” he muses. “What I enjoy about this is that it reminds me that we’re not so alien from the natural world, and I love having this skill.”

Melissa Bob, a student in Hattori's class, cuts flowers for textile dyeing. (Photo by Carolyn Higgins)
Melissa Bob, a student in Hattori’s class, cuts flowers for textile dyeing. (Photo by Carolyn Higgins)

Melissa Bob, an artist of Coast Salish heritage who has also joined the class, wanted to learn the methods her ancestors used to create their distinctive textiles and adapt them to her own work. Beth Murphy, herself a knitwear designer, and Jade Getz, an artist and photographer, are interested in sustainable clothing and art. Enthusiasts of the Fiber Shedmovement, which is dedicated to locally and sustainably-produced clothing, they were keen to expand their skills to produce and enhance fibers for their art and their clothing. Several participants likened the growing movement to the organic food crusade of a generation ago.

Anna Dianich, owner of Tolt Yarn and Wool, which offered the class, underscored that commitment.

“People like to know the farmer when it comes to yarn and natural dyeing goes along with that,” she said. She sees evidence of that in registrations for the classes offered by Tolt; summer classes generally fill slowly but Kathy Hattori’s natural dyeing and indigo classes filled almost immediately.

As we spoke, the gathering of artists, and hobbyists lay freshly dyed clothing on the grass under a late summer sun. On the other side of the earth, workers in China and India – and increasingly, in other less industrialized Asian countries – were laboring among vats of synthetic dyes laced with toxins. That’s what Kathy Hattori wants to change.

“Someone dying for my clothing is wrong,” she says.

ELECTION 2016 Bernie Sanders Is Exceeding Obama’s Historic 2008 Run in Crowds, Donors and Polling

In three key areas, Sanders is actually ahead of the insurgent campaign Barack Obama ran in 2007 and 2008.

When Bernie Sanders announced he would be running for president late in the Spring of 2015, many observers didn’t take it seriously – making analogies to failed perennial candidates like Ron Paul, who had a fervent base but did not make traction in the election.

The problem with these early predictions is that it quickly became clear that they were underestimating the Vermont Senator’s campaign.

In three key areas, Sanders is actually exceeding the insurgent campaign Barack Obama ran in 2007 and 2008.

Record-Breaking Crowds

Over the summer, it became clear that Sanders was drawing some of the largest crowds in Democratic primary history – with tens of thousands pouring out into cities to see the senator.

Up until this point in 2007, the largest rally Obama had held was a rally in New York City, our nation’s most populated location, that brought out 24,000 people. Sanders has exceeded that in numerous locations that are actually much smaller in population – Boston, Portland, and Los Angeles.

Earlier this month, Sanders set a record for the largest Democratic primary rally in Boston’s recorded history.

Sanders also has a campaign that is working hard to translate these crowds into volunteers. In late July, his campaign mobilized over 100,000 people for community meetings to support his bid; today, his campaign has developed a map that shows all of the organizing events currently planned:

Record-Breaking Donations

At the end of September, the Sanders campaign announced that it had hit one million donations – faster than any presidential campaign in history. This was a target that the Obama campaign did not hit until February 2008 during its own challenge to Hillary Clinton.

Perhaps even more remarkable is that this milestone was achieved with an average contribution of $24.86; although the Obama campaign was quick to boast of its sizable number of small donors, 47 percent of his money ended up coming from small donors, less than half.

Polling Stronger Than Barack Obama

Obama managed an upset of frontrunner Hillary Clinton that few believed to be possible. But at this point in his initial campaign, he was polling well behind her. Real Clear Politics has a chart showing polling averages among major pollsters for that primary. In early October, Obama was at 22.6  percent to Hillary Clinton’s 48.2 percent:

They also have one for this primary

Sanders is at 25.4 percent to 42 percent for Hillary Clinton, meaning that the gap is around 17 points, when it was 26 points between Obama and Hillary at this time.

Deciding Days

None of this is to say that Sanders will necessarily defeat Clinton. Much of that depends on his ability to defeat her in early primary and caucus states, which would give him the momentum for Super Tuesday and the rest of the nation’s primary elections. The Obama campaign’s strong ground teams in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina gave him the momentum to increase turnout and defeat the frontrunner who was trouncing him just a few months prior.

For Sanders, these early elections will be the deciding days, to see if he can continue on a viable path to the White House.

Palestinians will never have a state and will be ruled by Israel — says Israeli minister

Eli Ben-Dahan, deputy defense minister, photo by Yossi Zamir

Israel’s Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan said yesterday: “Palestinians have to understand they won’t have a state & Israel will rule over them.”

The report is in Hebrew from Udi Segal of Israeli Channel 10, as translated by David Sheen on Facebook and Emily Hauser. 

Ben-Dahan referred to Palestinians as animals in 2013, according to the Times of Israel:

“To me, they are like animals, they aren’t human.”

Ben Dahan told Maariv that homosexual Jews were superior [to]gentiles — gay or straight.

“A Jew always has a much higher soul than a gentile, even if he is a homosexual,” he said.

One Secret Text Gives Any Police State Agency Total Control Of Your Phone – Even When It’s Off

snowden nsaBy Jay Syrmopoulos

Whistleblower Edward Snowden, in an interview with the BBC’s ‘Panorama,’ spoke in detail about a stunning array of cyber spying tools used by the U.K.’s GCHQ to hack smartphones with a single text message. The spyware package is named after the little blue cartoon characters; the Smurfs.

“It’s called an ‘exploit’,” Snowden said. “That’s a specially crafted message that’s texted to your number like any other text message but when it arrives at your phone it’s hidden from you. It doesn’t display. You paid for [the phone] but whoever controls the software owns the phone,” he added.

Smartphone users can do “very little” to stop security services getting “total control” over their devices, according to Snowden.

The “Smurf Suite” package arrives by text messages, without users ever being aware of the message or its payload, as the phone is not altered in any way, according to Snowden.

Dreamy Smurf: A power management tool, which allows the phone to be powered on and off without the user knowing.

Nosey Smurf: A ‘hotmic’ tool that allows the microphone on a phone to be turned on, even if the phone is powered off.

Tracker Smurf: A geo-location tool that tracks a person with much greater precision than the typical triangulation of cellphone towers.

Paranoid Smurf: Covers the tracks of the breach of phone security, as to not allow even a phone security expert to recognize that the device has been tampered with upon inspection.

Snowden said the spy agency could see “who you call, what you’ve texted, the things you’ve browsed, the list of your contacts, the places you’ve been, the wireless networks that your phone is associated with.”

“And they can do much more. They can photograph you,” he said.

According to a report in the Daily Dot:

The NSA, which Snowden said provided “tasking and direction” for GCHQ’s use of these tools, reportedly has comparable mobile surveillance capabilities, but it is unknown if the U.S. agency deploys it through a hidden text message like its British counterpart.

The NSA and its partners in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance exploited flaws in a popular mobile app to gain access to phones running that software and searched for ways to hack into popular app markets. GCHQ and the NSA also tried for years to break into Blackberry devices, with an analyst celebrating their eventual success in March 2010 by writing “Champagne!”

Snowden, who has been living in exile in Russia since June 2013, has been charged by the U.S. with espionage and theft of government property after leaking documents to the media about widespread digital surveillance.

During the interview Snowden said that he would like to eventually return to the U.S., and would be willing to serve prison time for his massive data breach, but that he would not be willing to do so if he was being charged under the Espionage Act.

The heroic acts of Edward Snowden stand as a testament as to what it means to be truly willing to sacrifice for an ideal.

This little device delivers turnkey Internet privacy and security (Ad)

Image Credit

Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, free thinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism.