Sandra Finley

Oct 022022
 

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A few weeks ago, I (David Brooks) mentioned on “Meet the Press” that for all the horror of the recent school shootings, we shouldn’t be scaremongering. There’s much less gun violence over all in schools today than in the early 1990s. Four times as many students were killed per year back then than in recent years.

This comment elicited a lot of hatred on social media, of a very interesting kind. The general diagnosis was that I was doing something wrong by not maximizing the size of the problem. I was draining moral urgency and providing comfort to the status quo.

This mental habit is closely related to what we now call “wokeness.” In an older frame of mind, you try to perceive the size of a problem objectively, and then you propose a solution, which might either be radical or moderate, conservative or liberal. You were judged primarily by the nature of your proposal.

But wokeness jams together the perceiving and the proposing. In fact, wokeness puts more emphasis on how you perceive a situation — how woke you are to what is wrong — than what exactly you plan to do about it. To be woke is to understand the full injustice.

There is no measure or moderation to wokeness. It’s always good to be more woke. It’s always good to see injustice in maximalist terms. To point to any mitigating factors in the environment is to be naïve, childish, a co-opted part of the status quo.

The word wokeness is new, but the mental habits it describes are old. A few decades ago, there was a small strain of Jewish radicals who believed that rabid anti-Semitism was at the core of Christian culture. Any attempt to live in mixed societies would always lead to Auschwitz. Segregation and moving to Israel was the only safe strategy, and anybody who didn’t see this reality was, in today’s language, insufficiently woke.

This attitude led to Meir Kahane and a very ugly strain of militancy.

In 1952 Reinhold Niebuhr complained that many of his fellow anti-communists were constantly requiring “that the foe is hated with sufficient vigor.” This led to “apoplectic rigidity.” Screaming about the imminent communist menace became a sort of display art for politicians.

These days we think of wokeness as a left-wing phenomenon. But it is an iron law of politics that every mental habit conservatives fault in liberals is one they also practice themselves.

The modern right has its own trigger words (diversity, dialogue, social justice, community organizer), its own safe spaces (Fox News) and its own wokeness. Michael Anton’s essay “The Flight 93 Election” is only one example of the common apocalyptic view: Modern liberals are hate-filled nihilists who will destroy the nation if given power. Anybody who doesn’t understand this reality is not conservatively woke.

The problem with wokeness is that it doesn’t inspire action; it freezes it. To be woke is first and foremost to put yourself on display. To make a problem seem massively intractable is to inspire separation — building a wall between you and the problem — not a solution.

There’s a debate on precisely this point now surrounding the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates. Coates is, of course, well known for seeing the problem of racism in maximalist terms. The entire American story was and continues to be based on “plunder,” the violent crushing of minority bodies. Even today, “ ‘gentrification’ is but a more pleasing name for white supremacy.”

Coates is very honest about his pessimism and his hopeless view of the situation. But a number of writers have criticized his stance. Cornel West has argued that it’s all words; it doesn’t lead to collective action. In The New York Review of Books, Darryl Pinckney argues, “Afro-pessimism threatens no one, and white audiences confuse having been chastised with learning.”

I’d add that it’s a blunt fact that most great social reforms have happened in moments of optimism, not moments of pessimism, in moments of encouraging progress, not in moments of perceived threat.

The greatest danger of extreme wokeness is that it makes it harder to practice the necessary skill of public life, the ability to see two contradictory truths at the same time. For example, it is certainly true that racism is the great sin of American history, that it is an ongoing sin and the sin from which many of our other sins flow. It is also true that throughout history and today, millions of people have tried to combat that sin and have made progress against it.

The confrontation with this sin or any sin is not just a protest but a struggle. Generalship in that or any struggle is seeing where the forces of progress are swelling and where the forces of reaction are marching. It is seeing opportunities as well as threats. It is being dispassionate in one’s perception of the situation and then passionate in one’s assault on it.

Indignation is often deserved and always makes for a great media strategy. But in its extreme form, whether on left or right, wokeness leads to a one-sided depiction of the present and an unsophisticated strategy for a future offensive.

Oct 022022
 

This is for a younger person who was commenting on the current surveillance in Canada and the U.S.

Edward Snowden.   Snowden’s  incredible feat goes back 10 years.   “The kids” who are 20 years old today may know nothing about it.   The second link below has some info.

 

2012-03-25 F/U on 2009 NSA, $2 billion data centre in Utah. “More on spy city – Big Brother Goes Live September 2013”

 

Oct 012022
 

John Ralston Saul is president emeritus of PEN International and PEN Canada. His 14 books include The Collapse of Globalism and The Unconscious Civilization. This piece was adapted from opening remarks made at a Sept. 27 reading of Salman Rushdie’s work, organized by the Toronto International Festival of Authors, Penguin Random House Canada, the Writers Trust and PEN Canada.

Salman Rushdie, a fellow writer, remains in hospital, recovering from 10 wounds, each one of them intended to end his life.

Salman would be the first to remind us that this attack was not one of a kind. It was symptomatic of our time.

The pressure against free expression – sometimes subtle, sometimes violent – has been growing, everywhere, over the last two decades. For so many writers this era has been anything but free.

Libel chill. The courts being used to bankrupt writers and publishers. Prison cells. Torture. Assassination attempts. Assassination itself.

We in the West are quick to assert that all of this is happening somewhere else far away, in places less democratic, more autocratic, dictatorial.

Yet the preaching of legal and physical violence against those who use words to free the imagination – to encourage doubt, debate, change – has been almost normalized, as if it were a sign of intellectual vibrancy. As if literature were not a civilizational concept, but merely a political tool of the enemy.

Yes, novelists, journalists, playwrights, poets, essayists, filmmakers have always sailed close to the wind. Literature is about risk, not comfort.

In many places today, the target is journalists, including Mexico, our close partner, which is in the midst of its deadliest year on record for reporters. In others, it is poets.

Our reality is this: Writing remains the most dangerous profession. In many places, it is much more dangerous than military life.

This gathering is organized by PEN Canada – one of the 150 PEN centres around the world. Since the beginning of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie 33 years ago, PEN Canada has been at the forefront of his defence. Some of you will remember the night of Dec. 7, 1992, when a small group of us, under the leadership of Louise Dennys, brought Salman secretly to Toronto – it couldn’t have happened any other way – to put him suddenly on the Winter Garden Theatre stage at that year’s PEN benefit. A thousand people rose to their feet in astonishment and in support, including the premier at the time, Bob Rae.

We then took him to Ottawa to brief the foreign minister and, most importantly, to be seen with her. After that, it was on to testify before the foreign affairs committee.

It was the first time since the fatwa began that he was received publicly at such levels. This led to Canada taking his case – as a victim of international terrorism – to the United Nations. All of which changed the trajectory of his threatened life.

The threat was great, but he needed to be seen and heard. It was a matter of life and rule of law.

But Salman would want me to insist that his case is only one among many around the world. He himself has never hesitated to speak up in defence of other writers.

Why? Because the people of the word are everywhere sued, beaten up, imprisoned, tortured, murdered.

In my years as the international president of PEN, a small group of us travelled constantly from country to country, negotiating, pressuring and, if necessary, embarrassing those in power, trying to stop executions and torture and attempting to get writers out of prison. We were continually fighting small battles over their rights to medications, decent food, blankets, family visits.

The indifference of those in power to freedom of expression was depressing. Their indifference to the imprisonment, torture and murder of writers was a frightening revelation.

Salman would not want us to focus on his case in a mournful manner. Free expression is a fragile force. He would expect us to embrace it, to imbue it with great strength, so that everyday, when each of us, each of you, wakes up and leaves our home, we carry free speech with us and we defend it.

No matter how small or large the cause, we make it part of our everyday life.

 

= = = = = = = = =

Grace Westcott is the Executive Director of PEN Canada.  

Thirty years ago, PEN Canada, a non-partisan organization that supports freedom of expression in Canada and writers endangered around the world, staged an extraordinary coup in Toronto. Held in support of award-winning English novelist Salman Rushdie, it went on to have international ramifications – with this country at the root of it.

In 1992, Rushdie was in his fourth year of hiding, under constant police protection for fear of his life. Three years earlier, Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran had issued a fatwa calling for his murder, and the murder of those associated with his novel, The Satanic Verses. Khomeini claimed the novel insulted Islam, though his son admitted later that he never read it.

Internationally, political will to stand up to such an astonishing public threat against a private citizen of another country was sadly lacking. But no country was willing to act alone. Louise Dennys, then president of PEN Canada, told the head of the International Salman Rushdie Defence Committee that she believed Canada could break the impasse.

A handful of PEN members – Louise, with Ric Young, John Ralston Saul, Adrienne Clarkson, Marian Botsford-Fraser and Clayton Ruby – hatched an ambitious plan to persuade the Canadian government to condemn Iran’s state-sanctioned act of terrorism against Rushdie. The strategy: to use the annual PEN Canada Benefit to showcase public support for Rushdie in the country and galvanize the government in Ottawa to take the issue to the United Nations. They needed to bring Rushdie to Canada and draw intense media coverage.

This was no easy matter. It required absolute secrecy, the support of MI6 in Britain alongside CSIS and the RCMP in Canada, and a frantic last-minute search for means – ultimately, a private jet offered by an anonymous donor – to bring Rushdie across the Atlantic when the initial flight plan fell through.

Miraculously, they managed it. On Dec. 7, 1992, Rushdie appeared as a surprise guest on stage at the Winter Garden Theatre before an astonished audience of a thousand people. There was a collective gasp as the crowd rose to its feet in applause, even as they suddenly became aware of the 60-some security personnel present in the theatre, talking into their sleeves.

And then Bob Rae, premier of Ontario at the time, came on stage and embraced Rushdie, the first head of government anywhere to publicly stand with him. Rae called upon all governments to “do the right thing.”

It did not end there. The small delegation flew straight to Ottawa. Overnight, a morning press conference was convened. A few hours later, Barbara McDougall became the first secretary of state of any country to meet with Rushdie. Jean Chrétien, then the leader of the Official Opposition, walked him over to the House of Commons where he testified before the Parliamentary Sub-Committee on Development and Human Rights.

The result was electrifying. Within 48 hours, Canada became the first country in the world to pass a unanimous, all-party resolution condemning the Iranian government for its shameful record on human rights, demanding the withdrawal of the fatwa. Three months later, at the instigation of the Canadian government, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva passed a resolution condemning Iran’s actions and calling for sanctions.

Remarkably – and sadly, given the cause – a full generation after the epochal 1992 benefit, the organization is again holding an event to stand with Rushdie after the horrific attack on him in August at the Chautauqua Institute, in upper New York State. Together with the Toronto International Festival of Authors, Penguin Random House Canada and the Writers Trust, PEN Canada will hold a reading of Rushdie’s works on Sept. 27.

The event will feature prominent writers, many of them alumni of the 1992 benefit: Margaret Atwood, Adrienne Clarkson, John Irving, Ian McEwan, Deepa Mehta, Rohinton Mistry, John Ralston Saul, Shyam Selvadurai and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa. It will be hosted by Matt Galloway of CBC Radio’s The Current, and will be broadcast in an upcoming episode of that program.

The attack on Rushdie occurred while he was on stage to discuss the U.S. being a sanctuary for exiles. Early in the fatwa he had decided that his life’s work would be to speak for others in jeopardy, while continuing to write.

A year after the 1992 benefit, Rushdie called to thank PEN Canada and the many who did so much to bring it to pass. He also said: “I will remember Toronto for the intellectual tolerance and wisdom of those who had been offended by my writing, but – in recognition of the fundamental human importance of freedom of expression – had allowed me to pass through Canada without a threat, without a single threat.”

He remembered, too, the passionate commitment to that same freedom shown by the media of Canada who rallied in support of him, speaking out against the silence that terrorism imposes, and ensuring that Ottawa heard the public’s support – that thunderous applause at the Winter Garden Theatre.

What did we learn? That it does work to speak out. When we speak out in support of Salman Rushdie on Sept. 27, we speak out for the future of free inquiry; opinion and debate, for our love of reading and writing; and against escalating book-banning. We speak out on behalf of those whose right to peaceful freedom of expression is being repressed.

Rushdie said 30 years ago, as he has said ever since, that his story, terrible as it is, is not unique. It is representative of the experiences of all those throughout the world who are silenced by repressive regimes. Indeed, we continue to be reminded daily of the fragility of the right to free expression, and the need to defend it today, tomorrow and every day.

We must keep speaking out, for all of us.

Sep 242022
 

By Felicity Bradstock for Oilprice.com

 

For years, the energy sector, and almost every other sector, has taken water for granted, viewing it as an abundant resource. But as we move into a new era of renewable energy, the vast amounts of water required to power green energy operations may not be so easy to find. And it’s not just renewables that are under threat from water scarcity, as it also hinders fossil fuel production and threatens food security

In recent months, we have seen extreme droughts across Europe and the U.S., which are finally making people realise the significance of water security. Stefano Venier, CEO of the Italian energy infrastructure company Snam, highlights the huge impact recent droughts have had on both food security and energy production. Labelled as ‘Europe’s worst drought in 500 years’, the low water levels have restricted shipping capabilities, as well as drying up soil and reducing summer crop yields.

Venier explains, “For a long time, water was considered [as being] for free, as something that is fully available in any quantity.” He went on to say, “Now, we are discovering that with climate change … water can become scarce.” And so, “we have to regain the perception of importance, and the value [that] … the water has, also, with respect to … energy production… we have discovered that without water, enough water, we cannot produce the energy we need, or we can’t ship the fuels for filling the power plants,” he added.

The drought has already raised concerns for nuclear power plant operators that rely on water from rivers to cool their nuclear reactors. EDF typically uses water from the Rhone and Garonne but rising water temperatures mean that nuclear power output could be reduced during hot periods. The falling water levels have also hindered traditional energy operations such as coal output, according to several European energy firms.

But the issue of water scarcity is perhaps most detrimental to hydropower projects. In the U.S., several hydropower operations are located along rivers with falling water levels, with a higher risk of water scarcity by 2050. Montana, Nevada, Texas, Arizona, California, Arkansas and Oklahoma are the most affected states. A recent study published in the Journal Water found that 61 percent of all global hydropower dams will be in basins with very high or extreme risk for droughts, floods or both. In addition, one in five hydropower dams will be in high flood risk areas, an increase from one in 25 today.

World Wildlife Fund’s Global Freshwater Lead Scientist Jeff Opperman explains, “Hydropower projects must deal with a range of hydrological risks–ranging from too little water to too much–and these risks are projected to increase in many regions due to climate change.” “Already, we’ve seen regions, such as the southwestern US, southern Africa, and Brazil, where hydropower generation has declined due to falling water levels,” he adds.

And it’s not just the U.S. that is facing these challenges. In August, Norway threatened to limit its power exports due to low reservoir levels. The country, which relies on hydropower for around 90 percent of its electricity production, increased regulations on power production to prevent hydroelectric reservoir levels from running out of water. This news came just days after the world’s longest under-sea power cable began transferring hydroelectric energy from Norway to the UK.

Norway’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy Terje Aasland explained, “We need a management mechanism or security mechanism that safeguards national security of supply so that we do not run out of water in our reservoirs.” He added, “We are now introducing a system where, when we come to a situation where the magazine capacity is below what is normal for the time of year and down to a critically low level, there will be a restriction on exports.”

These kinds of restrictions could become commonplace if these severe weather events, and related water scarcity, continue to take place. Europe’s recent heatwave far exceeded the expectations of climate experts, with several countries reaching record highs which led to wildfires in areas that had never previously experienced such events, showing the reality of the effects of climate change.

As well as the detrimental effect water scarcity has on energy output, it also has a hugely negative impact on food production. With several areas of the world seeing poorer harvests year on year, as temperatures soar and water scarcity becomes a challenge, many countries are worried about their food production levels. And the water-food-energy nexus is raising concerns over the impact of the two other factors on the energy sector. We’re already seeing this nexus work the other way, with increasing gas prices causing fertiliser shortages, which have exacerbated the impact of water shortages on agricultural yields further.

With rising concerns over water scarcity, mainly due to climate change, there are fears that the big transition to renewable energy will be hindered even further. However, even traditional fossil fuel production cannot escape from the effects of water scarcity, and the water-food-energy nexus may further exacerbate the situation, meaning that plans to mitigate this scarcity must be quickly established to avoid a major energy crisis.

Sep 092022
 

Dr. Obomsawin does an interesting walk that includes some ancient history.

From ‘The Conservative Woman”

Until recently, I remained firm in the belief that despite some failures, vaccines are a wonder of modern medicine. Had they not eliminated smallpox and polio?  The Covid crisis encouraged me to look at data offering a more challenging perspective, such as in this cool and evidence-based video presentation by the late Dr Ray Obomsawin. A champion of indigenous people’s health needs, he published more than 85 research papers until his sudden death this year.

Sep 092022
 

Having soaked for 82 years in a deep bath of righteousness that is the official version of the last world war,

isn’t it time those who are meant to keep the record straight declared their independence and decoded the propaganda?

The urgency is greater than ever.

By John Pilger / MintPress News

 

In the 1970s, I met one of Hitler’s leading propagandists, Leni Riefenstahl, whose epic films glorified the Nazis. We happened to be staying at the same lodge in Kenya, where she was on a photography assignment, having escaped the fate of other friends of the Fuhrer.

She told me that the ‘patriotic messages’ of her films were dependent not on ‘orders from above’ but on what she called the ‘submissive void’ of the German public.

Did that include the liberal, educated bourgeoisie? I asked.  ‘Yes, especially them,’ she said.

I think of this as I look around at the propaganda now consuming Western societies.

Of course, we are very different from Germany in the 1930s. We live in information societies. We are globalists. We have never been more aware, more in touch, better connected.

Are we? Or do we live in a Media Society where brainwashing is insidious and relentless, and perception is filtered according to the needs and lies of state and corporate power?

The United States dominates the Western world’s media. All but one of the top ten media companies are based in North America. The internet and social media – Google, Twitter, Facebook – are mostly American owned and controlled.

In my lifetime, the United States has overthrown or attempted to overthrow more than 50 governments, mostly democracies. It has interfered in democratic elections in 30 countries. It has dropped bombs on the people of 30 countries, most of them poor and defenceless. It has attempted to murder the leaders of 50 countries.  It has fought to suppress liberation movements in 20 countries.

The extent and scale of this carnage is largely unreported, unrecognized; and those responsible continue to dominate Anglo-American political life.

In the years before he died in 2008, the playwright Harold Pinter made two extraordinary speeches, which broke a silence.

‘US foreign policy,’ he said, is ‘best defined as follows: kiss my arse or I’ll kick your head in. It is as simple and as crude as that. What is interesting about it is that it’s so incredibly successful. It possesses the structures of disinformation, use of rhetoric, distortion of language, which are very persuasive, but are actually a pack of lies. It is very successful propaganda. They have the money, they have the technology, they have all the means to get away with it, and they do.”

In accepting the Nobel Prize for Literature, Pinter said this:

The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.”

 

Pinter was a friend of mine and possibly the last great political sage – that is, before dissenting politics were gentrified. I asked him if the ‘hypnosis’ he referred to was the ‘submissive void’ described by Leni Riefenstahl.

‘It’s the same,’ he replied. ‘It means the brainwashing is so thorough we are programmed to swallow a pack of lies. If we don’t recognise propaganda, we may accept it as normal and believe it. That’s the submissive void.’

In our systems of corporate democracy, war is an economic necessity, the perfect marriage of public subsidy and private profit: socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor. The day after 9/11 the stock prices of the war industry soared. More bloodshed was coming, which is great for business.

Today, the most profitable wars have their own brand. They are called ‘forever wars’: Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and now Ukraine. All are based on a pack of lies.

Iraq is the most infamous, with its weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist. Nato’s destruction of Libya in 2011 was justified by a massacre in Benghazi that didn’t happen. Afghanistan was a convenient revenge war for 9/11, which had nothing to do with the people of Afghanistan.

Today, the news from Afghanistan is how evil the Taliban are – not that Joe Biden’s theft of $7billion of the country’s bank reserves is causing widespread suffering. Recently, National Public Radio in Washington devoted two hours to Afghanistan – and 30 seconds to its starving people.

At its summit in Madrid in June, Nato, which is controlled by the United States, adopted a strategy document that militarises the European continent, and escalates the prospect of war with Russia and China. It proposes ‘multi domain warfighting against nuclear-armed peer-competitor. In other words, nuclear war.

It says: ‘Nato’s enlargement has been an historic success’.

I read that in disbelief.

A measure of this ‘historic success’ is the war in Ukraine, news of which is mostly not news, but a one-sided litany of jingoism, distortion, omission.  I have reported a number of wars and have never known such blanket propaganda.

In February, Russia invaded Ukraine as a response to almost eight years of killing and criminal destruction in the Russian-speaking region of Donbass on their border.

In 2014, the United States had sponsored a coup in Kyiv that got rid of Ukraine’s democratically elected, Russian-friendly president and installed a successor whom the Americans made clear was their man.

In recent years, American ‘defender’ missiles have been installed in eastern Europe, Poland, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, almost certainly aimed at Russia, accompanied by false assurances all the way back to James Baker’s ‘promise’ to Gorbachev in February 1990 that Nato would never expand beyond Germany.

Ukraine is the frontline. Nato has effectively reached the very borderland through which Hitler’s army stormed in 1941, leaving more than 23 million dead in the Soviet Union.

Last December, Russia proposed a far-reaching security plan for Europe. This was dismissed, derided or suppressed in the Western media. Who read its step-by-step proposals? On 24 February, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy threatened to develop nuclear weapons unless America armed and protected Ukraine.  This was the final straw.

On the same day, Russia invaded – according to the Western media, an unprovoked act of congenital infamy. The history, the lies, the peace proposals, the solemn agreements on Donbass at Minsk counted for nothing.

On 25 April, the US Defence Secretary, General Lloyd Austin, flew into Kyiv and confirmed that America’s aim was to destroy the Russian Federation – the word he used was ‘weaken’. America had got the war it wanted, waged by an American bankrolled and armed proxy and expendable pawn.

Almost none of this was explained to Western audiences.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is wanton and inexcusable. It is a crime to invade a sovereign country. There are no ‘buts’ – except one.

When did the present war in Ukraine begin and who started it? According to the United Nations, between 2014 and this year, some 14,000 people have been killed in the Kyiv regime’s civil war on the Donbass. Many of the attacks were carried out by neo-Nazis.

Watch an ITV news report from May 2014, by the veteran reporter James Mates, who is shelled, along with civilians in the city of Mariupol, by Ukraine’s Azov (neo-Nazi) battalion.

In the same month, dozens of Russian-speaking people were burned alive or suffocated in a trade union building in Odessa besieged by fascist thugs, the followers of the Nazi collaborator and anti-Semitic fanatic Stephen Bandera.  The New York Times called the thugs ‘nationalists’.The historic mission of our nation in this critical moment,’ said Andreiy Biletsky, founder of the Azov Battaltion, ‘is to lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade for their survival, a crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen.’

Since February, a campaign of self-appointed ‘news monitors’ (mostly funded by the Americans and British with links to governments) have sought to maintain the absurdity that Ukraine’s neo-Nazis don’t exist.

Airbrushing, a term once associated with Stalin’s purges, has become a tool of mainstream journalism.

In less than a decade, a ‘good’ China has been airbrushed and a ‘bad’ China has replaced it: from the world’s workshop to a budding new Satan.

Much of this propaganda originates in the US, and is transmitted through proxies and ‘think-tanks’, such as the notorious Australian Strategic Policy Institute, the voice of the arms industry, and by zealous journalists such as Peter Hartcher of the Sydney Morning Herald, who labeled those spreading Chinese influence as ‘rats, flies, mosquitoes and sparrows’ and called for these ‘pests’ to be ‘eradicated’.

News about China in the West is almost entirely about the threat from Beijing. Airbrushed are the 400 American military bases that surround most of China, an armed necklace that reaches from Australia to the Pacific and south east Asia, Japan and Korea. The Japanese island of Okinawa and the Korean island of Jeju are loaded guns aimed point blank at the industrial heart of China. A Pentagon official described this as a ‘noose’.

Palestine has been misreported for as long as I can remember. To the BBC, there is the ‘conflict’ of ‘two narratives’. The longest, most brutal, lawless military occupation in modern times is unmentionable.

The stricken people of Yemen barely exist. They are media unpeople.  While the Saudis rain down their American cluster bombs with British advisors working alongside the Saudi targeting officers, more than half a million children face starvation.

This brainwashing by omission has a long history. The slaughter of the First World War was suppressed by reporters who were knighted for their compliance and confessed in their memoirs.  In 1917, the editor of the Manchester Guardian, C.P. Scott, confided to prime minister Lloyd George: ‘If people really knew [the truth], the war would be stopped tomorrow, but they don’t know and can’t know.’

The refusal to see people and events as those in other countries see them is a media virus in the West, as debilitating as Covid.  It is as if we see the world through a one-way mirror, in which ‘we’ are moral and benign and ‘they’ are not. It is a profoundly imperial view.

The history that is a living presence in China and Russia is rarely explained and rarely understood. Vladimir Putin is Adolf Hitler. Xi Jinping is Fu Man Chu. Epic achievements, such as the eradication of abject poverty in China, are barely known. How perverse and squalid this is.

When will we allow ourselves to understand? Training journalists factory style is not the answer. Neither is the wondrous digital tool, which is a means, not an end, like the one-finger typewriter and the linotype machine.

In recent years, some of the best journalists have been eased out of the mainstream. ‘Defenestrated’ is the word used. The spaces once open to mavericks, to journalists who went against the grain, truth-tellers, have closed.

The case of Julian Assange is the most shocking.  When Julian and WikiLeaks could win readers and prizes for the Guardian, the New York Times and other self-important ‘papers of record’, he was celebrated.

When the dark state objected and demanded the destruction of hard drives and the assassination of Julian’s character, he was made a public enemy. Vice President Biden called him a ‘hi-tech terrorist’. Hillary Clinton asked, ‘Can’t we just drone this guy?’

The ensuing campaign of abuse and vilification against Julian Assange – the UN Rapporteur on Torture called it ‘mobbing’ — brought the liberal press to its lowest ebb. We know who they are. I think of them as collaborators: as Vichy journalists.

When will real journalists stand up? An inspirational samizdat  already exists on the internet: Consortium News, founded by the great reporter Robert Parry, Max Blumenthal’s  Grayzone, MintPress News, Media Lens, Declassified UK, Alborada, Electronic Intifada, WSWS, ZNet, ICH, Counter Punch, Independent Australia, the work of Chris Hedges, Patrick Lawrence, Jonathan Cook, Diana Johnstone, Caitlin Johnstone and others who will forgive me for not mentioning them here.

And when will writers stand up, as they did against the rise of fascism in the 1930s? When will film-makers stand up, as they did against the Cold War in the 1940s? When will satirists stand up, as they did a generation ago?

Having soaked for 82 years in a deep bath of righteousness that is the official version of the last world war, isn’t it time those who are meant to keep the record straight declared their independence and decoded the propaganda? The urgency is greater than ever.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

John Pilger

John Pilger has twice won Britain’s highest award for journalism and has been International Reporter of the Year, News Reporter of the Year and Descriptive Writer of the Year. He has made 61 documentary films and has won an Emmy, a BAFTA the Royal Television Society prize and the Sydney Peace Prize. His ‘Cambodia Year Zero’ is named as one of the ten most important films of the 20th century. This article is an edited version of an address to the Trondheim World Festival, Norway. He can be contacted at www.johnpilger.com

Sep 022022
 

I was holding my breath on this one!   A critical vote.  There will be wild partying among the people, the winners!

(Except – – THERE WASN’T  A VOTE!  The legislation was withdrawn to avoid the PUBLICITY of defeat, BEFORE a vote could take place .   All thanks to the mobilizations!)

BACKGROUND     2022-04-04 California Screamin’

. . . And now,  the California Legislature says NO to Big Pharma!

‘We Beat Big Pharma on Its Home Turf’ — California Grassroots Movement Stops Teen Vaccine Consent Bill

from Children’s Health Defence,    By Suzanne Burdick, Ph.D.

State Sen. Scott Wiener, who authored Senate Bill 866, announced he will not put his

teen vaccine consent bill up for a vote in the California Assembly

because it does not have enough support to pass.

A bill that would have allowed California children ages 15 and older to be vaccinated without parental consent went “inactive” Wednesday.

State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), who authored Senate Bill 866 (SB 866), announced he will not put the measure up for a vote in the California Assembly because it does not have enough support to pass.

Wiener said in a statement the bill, which would have lowered the age of consent for all vaccines — including the COVID-19 vaccine — to 15, was “several votes short of 41” needed to pass, with no “viable path for these final few votes.”

He also tweeted his response regarding the outcome of the bill:   – – –

While Weiner attributed the bill’s failure to a “small” but highly vocal and organized “minority of anti-vaxxers,” many Californians said the bill faced growing bipartisan opposition.

Californians rise up

“The tide has officially turned in California,” Nicole Pearson, attorney and founder of Facts Law Truth Justice, told The Defender in response to Weiner’s announcement.

Pearson continued:

“What happened Wednesday was not the product of a minority, fringe, extremist group. It was the result of thousands of tireless hours of millions of Californians uniting, educating and empowering each other, and rising up together to take our seats at the political table where we belong and have the right to be.

“It was the product of measured, respectful, informed, consistent efforts from Californians from all political, religious, racial and professional backgrounds, meeting with their elected representatives to educate and inform them and ensure that they represent and protect the will of the people.

“While we as lawyers — and doctors, nurses, teachers, parents, concerned citizens and human beings — still have a tremendous amount of work to do to truly turn our state around, today marks a tremendous moment in California history. Today marks the day that we know that we have the power and right to turn our communities into exactly what we want them to be.”

Pearson noted the efforts of Tara Thornton and Denise Aguilar of Freedom Angels “who held the line every single day the last three weeks of the legislative session to ensure we were maintaining and fostering relationships with legislators, and to keep a close track of the temperature and movement at the capitol. Without their relentless, tireless, thankless, and selfless efforts and insights, we would not have achieved the success we did today.”    . . .

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., chairman of Children’s Health Defense, also commented on the widespread lack of constituent support for Weiner’s bill.

Kennedy told The Defender:

“It’s long been said that California Democratic state legislators are not for sale;

Pharma owns them all and will not sell.

“Now, years of grassroots activism have finally fortified enough legislatorial spines in Sacramento that assembly members are supporting children’s health rather than Pharma profits.

“We beat Big Pharma on its home turf. If we can win in California, we can protect kids everywhere.”

SB 866 was one of a handful of bills introduced by a group of Democratic lawmakers who called themselves the Vaccine Work Group and sought to “determine the best approaches to promote vaccines” as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic while “battling” misinformation.

However, many Californians felt that SB 866 was more about generating profits for pharmaceutical companies than about stopping disease and disseminating accurate information.

In its original form, SB 866 would have allowed children ages 12 years and older to “consent to vaccination when the vaccine is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and meets the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” according to the bill’s official fact sheet.

After the original bill was met with stiff resistance, California lawmakers amended the bill in June by raising the proposed consent age from 12 to 15 years in hopes of garnering more support — but raising the consent age to 15 did little to nullify many individuals’ concerns.

 

Aug 092022
 
A half-dozen related postings.

(Anti-SLAPP laws  are designed to protect ordinary citizens from being silenced.)

1.      2202-08-09  Anti-SLAPP   BIG WIN FOR PEOPLE .   Court dismisses defamation suit against conservationists  . . . a B.C. law designed to protect freedom of speech   (https://sandrafinley.ca/blog/?p=27325)

 

2.       2017-07-28 How an Ontario mom fended off a $120K libel lawsuit over her Facebook posts, CBC

Dismissed under Anti-SLAPP laws.

 “I was terrified,” “Where am I going to get this money from? . . .

Ontario Superior Court Justice Thomas Lederer ruled in Mohammed’s favour, citing the province’s “strategic lawsuits against public participation” rules (“anti-SLAPP” measures).

3.       2016-07-29 ‘What law am I breaking?’ How a Facebook troll came undone (Cyber-Bully)   

(https://sandrafinley.ca/blog/?p=19715)

 

4.       2015-09-30 Cyberbullying, an issue of free speech. Salman Rushdie, a guiding light.

2022-09-28 In support of Salman Rushdie, Freedom of Speech. PEN Canada, John Ralston Saul & Grace Westcott.

(http://sandrafinley.ca/blog/?p=27407 )

 

5.       2015-09-24 Urgent action needed to combat online (“cyber”) violence against women and girls, UN report

 

6.       Anchor      (https://sandrafinley.ca/blog/?p=11775)

 

 

Aug 092022
 

RELATED

 

 

With thanks to The Narwhal

By Stephanie Wood

‘Every citizen in British Columbia won’: court dismisses defamation suit against conservationists

The Qualicum Beach case has big ramifications as one of the first tests of a B.C. law designed to protect freedom of speech

A B.C. environmental group that tested a provincial law intended to protect freedom of speech and prevent frivolous lawsuits from bogging down the courts has won.

On Monday, the B.C. Supreme Court dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed by a developer against the Qualicum Nature Preservation Society and its president Ezra Morse, ruling that the case did not have substantial merit. The case was a test of B.C.’s new Protection of Public Participation Act, intended to prevent strategic lawsuits against public participation (often referred to as SLAPP suits), which can be used by companies to silence and out-resource opponents.

While the law has been tested a handful of times, this may be the first time it was used to defend an environmentalist against defamation claims arising from land-use disputes, according to Morse’s counsel, Chris Tollefson.

“This has shown this legislation works. It can provide protection for people who are engaged in lawful, democratic expression,” Tollefson said in an interview.   . . .   cont below

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In May 2021, Richard Todsen and Linda Todsen, owners of Todsen Design and Construction, filed a claim alleging Morse was misleading in his outspoken advocacy against the project and damaged their company’s reputation. In the court decision, Justice Jan Brongers concluded that statements made by Morse and the Qualicum Nature Preservation Society were and “expression on a matter of public interest” and they had a viable defence to the defamation allegations.

Tollefson, of the Tollefson Law Corporation and founder of the Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation, filed a motion to dismiss the claim in July 2021 utilizing the public participation act, colloquially referred to as an anti-SLAPP law.

Under B.C.’s Protection of Public Participation Act, Brongers concluded the Todsens’ claim was “a type of SLAPP proceeding that the Act prohibits.”

“While the Todsens are free to take issue with Mr. Morse’s comments … the [Protection of Public Participation] Act precludes them from doing so through the vehicle of a defamation claim,” Brongers’ decision reads.

“My client is very happy and relieved about this decision,” Tollefson said.

Morse told The Narwhal he hopes the decision encourages others in B.C. to “speak up for their values”

“Every citizen in British Columbia won today,” he said.

Ezra Morse in front of an old growth in Qualicum Beach
Todsen Design and Construction and its owners sued Ezra Morse, president of the Qualicum Nature Preservation Society, for publicly criticizing their development project. B.C. Supreme Court Justice Jan Brongers called their claims “a type of SLAPP proceeding.” Photo: Bojan Uzicanin / The Narwhal

The judge found most statements made by Morse could be viably defended as “fair comment,” meaning they were in the public interest, based on fact and recognizable as an opinion that someone may reasonably and honestly have.

Richard Todsen told The Narwhal he would not be providing comment until having further discussions with his counsel, who did not respond in time to comment for this story.

Judge concludes neither side in Qualicum Beach case acted with ‘malice’

The story unfolded in Qualicum Beach, a town on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Like many places, Qualicum Beach is embroiled in debates about the best path forward to address housing, conservation, the climate crisis and the community’s needs — which contributed to the tension around the Todsens’ development proposal.

The Todsens allege Morse and the preservation society made defamatory statements online in opposition to their proposal to build a 16-lot subdivision in the town’s greenbelt.

Using the anti-SLAPP law, which was passed unanimously in 2019, Tollefson applied to have the claim dismissed and also countersue the Todsens for damages. The anti-SLAPP law outlines that a plaintiff may be sued for damages if they acted in bad faith to intimidate or inflict harm on the defendant.

But Brongers concluded the Todsens did not act in bad faith and that Morse was not entitled to damages.

“Just as I did not find that Mr. Morse was actuated by malice when he expressed his opinions, I can see no basis for a finding that the Todsens were actuated by malice when they responded with their claim,” reads Brongers’ decision.

“Rather, the situation here is fundamentally one where two parties have strong opposing views about the merits of a proposed land development and its potential impact on the environment.”

The significant outstanding question remains of whether the Todsens will be required to cover the defendants’ legal costs. Both sides are expected to try to reach an agreement on costs, and if they cannot agree, they are required to provide submissions to the Supreme Court, which will issue a decision.

The anti-SLAPP law outlines that if a case is dismissed under the act, the applicant (in this case, Morse and the preservation society) is “entitled to costs” unless the court decides that is “inappropriate in the circumstances.”

B.C. anti-SLAPP law puts the onus on the plaintiff, not the defendant

The anti-SLAPP law requires that if a lawsuit targets a person who is lawfully expressing themselves on a matter of public interest, the onus is on the plaintiff to show the court their case still has substantial merit and should be allowed to proceed.

Under the public participation act, the plaintiff must pass three steps: 1) prove their case has substantial merit; 2) prove the defendant has no valid defence and 3) demonstrate the harm they suffered outweighs the public interest of protecting the defendant’s expression.

If the plaintiff can’t meet this onus, the courts are “basically bound by the law to dismiss the case,” Tollefson told The Narwhal.

Brongers found in each of the Todsens’ 24 allegations, they failed on one or more of the three steps.

The Protection of Public Participation Act was unanimously passed in 2019 and designed to protect free speech from intimidation lawsuits. Ontario, Quebec and B.C. are the only provinces in Canada with anti-SLAPP laws.

“We want to protect the interest of the journalist who’s breaking that big story, of the community member who’s going out to speak out about a problem that they’re seeing in their community, of the activist who’s saying something about the pollution that’s coming from the factory,” Attorney General David Eby told CBC in 2019 when the law was passed.

“In this rough and tumble public debate on the issues of the day we don’t want people to feel like they have to be too dainty about it, because they’re worried they’re going to get sued.”

A photo of the proposed development site shows the zone’s proximity to key ecological pockets of the Qualicum Beach greenbelt.
A photo of the proposed development site shows the zone’s proximity to key ecological pockets of the Qualicum Beach greenbelt. Photo: Concerned Citizens of Qualicum Beach / Facebook

SLAPP suits can have a chilling effect on activists, Larry Reynolds, lawyer for West Coast Environmental Law’s environmental dispute resolution fund, told The Narwhal last year. The fund provides grants for individuals and communities to hire lawyers at reduced rates, and they are helping Morse.

“Citizens often feel very unempowered when it comes to taking on developers,” he said.

Todsen Design and Construction is still seeking approval to rezone part of the woodlands to accommodate up to 28 units. The development falls outside of the town’s urban containment boundary, which is designed to curtail sprawl and protect conservation areas and rural lands.

Qualicum Beach Town Council will make a final decision about the company’s application on Wednesday.

Updated on Aug. 9, 2022, at 2:37 p.m. PT: This story has been updated to add more recent images of the Qualicum Beach area and Ezra Morse and corrected a photo caption that misidentified the Qualicum Nature Preservation Society as the Qualicum Beach Preservation Society.

Aug 042022
 

From: Sandra Finley
Sent: August 4, 2022 11:18 AM
Subject: the REPORTING about blue jays player not vaxxed,  2202-08-04 AM

 

TO:  CBC Radio Victoria

 

The ASSUMPTIONS behind the reporting on the Blue Jays player who can’t play at the Jays’ home games are a discredit to Canadian media coverage.  The expressed incredulity and laughter, a failure to engage in journalistic scrutiny by the reporters, are further discredit.

Vaccine mandates are about human rights.  What do you think they’re about?

I don’t know the Blue Jays’ story, so I put “blue jays player not vaxxed” into an internet search.   You may want to do the same.

A random excerpt from what I found:

(July 2022)  Canadian vaccine mandates have kept 36 players from traveling to Toronto for games against the host Blue Jays, and 34 of them – a whopping 94% – hail from the United States  . . .

So to me, it’s not about the player from the U.S. that the Blue Jays signed up.  36 players have been prevented from playing in Canada, plus this recent one.

What’s it about?

  • how is it that players who freely walk out on baseball diamonds in the US, are barred from Canadian baseball diamonds?
  • But more importantly,  WHY are these players not vaxxed?

There’s plenty of available information.  But for me,

I’m big on human rights (I’m from the 1960-70’s:  Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Canadian Neil Young’s song “Four Dead in Ohio” (Viet Nam War protests, students shot down by the U.S. National Guard, Daniel Ellsberg’s Pentagon Papers, then comes The Iraq War Syndrome – –  accurately the anthrax vaccine forcibly injected into more than a million American military and related forces, with disastrous and heart-breaking results . . .  on and on we go.)

Can you not see a legacy?

  • American sports, lots of “black” heroes
  • Their family backgrounds include civil rights activists who worked in alignment with Martin Luther King Jr (just ONE prominent example).  Fast forward
  • Today, Black lives matter forms bonds of solidarity, and morphs into “All Lives Matter”.

 

  • BUT BEFORE ALL THAT:   my Dad was a young man during World War 2.  He read a lot and I read some of his books.  The NUREMBERG TRIALS.  Human RightsInternational humanitarian law  . . .  “ never again”.

 

Forced medical treatments are a clear and dangerous violation of human rights with a history that precedes World War 2 (in the U.S., experiments on black and poor kids in orphanages.  You don’t want to know about it.  Nazis were good at sadistic behavior;  so were Americans.  We don’t tell stories on ourselves (I’m Canadian).  

It is well-known that Big Pharma is corrupt and corrupting.  So what are we doing in bed with them?  Providing immunity from prosecution and public funding to create billionaires?

As I type, I am offended.  I feel like swearing.  Through failed journalism you are supporting the trampling of Human Rights.  Won through hard and long fights, continuous since before Emancipation in the USA (since before 1863).  . .

The Federal Court of Canada will hear the constitutional challenges to forced injections and other mandates (not supported by sound science) on October 31st.  I wonder if the CBC will cover the case fairly?

Sandra Finley