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Monthly Archives: August 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Israel plays this prisoner-release game every time the U.S. manages to push it, once again, into negotiations. I’m amazed people don’t yawn en masse at the announcements.

Each time they play the game, mainline news media give Israel endless positive coverage, as though something significant or hopeful were happening.

But Israel holds many thousands of Palestinians in prisons, including some very young people and people guilty of no crime, so the release of a couple of dozen is virtually meaningless.

And since these particular prisoners are ones convicted of crimes but nearing the end of long sentences, a slightly early release is truly meaningless: it is what happens in the prison system of every Western nation.

The amount of publicity garnered by this paltry act – day after day in all the big-name papers – couldn’t be bought for a billion dollars.

So why do we hear endlessly about nothing as though it were something?

It is only one more stark proof of the inordinate influence of Israel and its apologists have over our sources of information.

These “peace talks” will go nowhere, just as countless others in the past have gone nowhere.

Why is that?

The obvious harsh truth is that Israel does not want, and never has wanted, peace as anyone outside Israel understands it.

Israel wants more land, minus its undesirable Arabic people, and it has had a long, slow process of ethnic-cleansing going on for decades. Just look at the announcement of still more settlements in the West Bank and the ugly manipulations underway in East Jerusalem to separate people from property they’ve owned for centuries. None of it anything less than legalized theft of the property of others who are forced to live under Israeli rule with absolutely no rights.

There is a fundamental truth to human history, and that is that tyranny and abuse ultimately fail. They succeed for a while – the Soviet Union had a run of ninety years – but it is impossible to maintain such a repressive regime indefinitely.

Here is Israel going through the motions yet again of negotiating, only this time it negotiates with an unelected Palestinian, Abbas, the U.S. has propped up in office because of his compliant nature, one moreover who does not even pretend to rule the Palestinians of Gaza.

Peace will come only when the U.S. gets tough with Israel and stops subsidizing and protecting its brutality, and I suspect that will never happen.

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Note that a new law has been proposed in Israel. This law would allow Israel to seize the property of all “non-resident” Palestinians who own land in East Jerusalem (Arabic in population for centuries), Palestinians who happen to have their primary residence in the West Bank or Gaza.

It is the equivalent of the state of Florida proposing a law to seize all the condos and vacation properties of people who live in the other forty-nine states. It is actually worse than that because Israel as illegal occupier has no right in international law to legislate such matters over the heads of Palestinians.

Apart from the bitter irony of such a law – after all, Jews are supposed to have left what was Israel two thousand years ago, and you cannot get more “absentee” than that – it is extremely difficult to understand how property-worshipping Americans can stomach such rigged legislation.

Of course, the American mainline press carries virtually no mention of the proposal.

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JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Toronto has become a laughing stock with this whole long transit fiasco.

A guaranteed project with funding from the province (the Scarborough LRT), a project suitable to the real needs of Scarborough, is allowed to lapse.

Meanwhile, the Mayor and his followers, bellow about a subway being what people want.

But there are no means of financing a subway.

And when you ask people: “Would you rather have a new Chevy or a new Rolls?” without any reference to what it will cost them, you are asking a pretty stupid question, but that is Mayor Ford’s approach to transit.

Costless wants are nothing but childish fantasy, not serious political mandates.

Further, given the nature of the Scarborough route, a subway this far out makes no economic sense.

Previously, Toronto built the Spadina Subway – in effect, a subway to nowhere – and that line never reached the capacity required to justify it.

At that time, the Yonge Subway was already at capacity.

Subways are the most expensive public transportation you can build, and they make no sense in semi-suburban locations.

Years ago, we should have built a Queen Street subway, for that is the kind of location that would warrant the huge cost.

Today, with costs having risen hugely, subways are so terribly expensive to build that many cities in the world are going with light-rail.

It does seem that Toronto’s situation would be best served by a good light-rail system combined with restrictions on private car access downtown, at least during rush hours.

It is well to remember, too, that Toronto proper has a great stock of extremely modest homes. They will not bear great increases in tax.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY AURAL BRAUN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

More intellectual crap from Aural Braun.

Mr Braun is a full-time lobbyist for the interests of the Israeli-U.S. effort to re-shape the planet.

Mr Putin, as one of the true independent-minded statesmen of our time, is of course at odds many times to a dangerous vision of world affairs.
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“Please, Obama is a joke. He is a complete amateur, never worthy or prepared to be president.”

I wish it were true that Obama’s behavior could be explained by “amateur” status.

But it cannot be.

He came to office with dreams and enthusiasms and some sound thinking, but in the face of the forces which truly govern America, he quietly threw up his hands and has become effectively a hostage.

He undoubtedly feared assassination, but it is not just such a dark threat which likely influenced him.

Day to day, he works with a relatively small group of people – military and intelligence officials, members of the imperious Senate, big money political contributors, including the powerful Israel Lobby – and that group is not friendly to the language of an Obama before election.

Look at any other notable American politician and presidential aspirant, and you see the same thing at work.

Hillary Clinton, over the last 20 years or so, has gone from a rather idealistic person to an unpleasant, acerbic advocate of Imperial America. She has told bald-faced lies in public countless times and uttered words which might have been written by an old crypto-Nazi like Dick Cheney.

Her husband was once a man of some ideals, too, but his two terms in office were marked by not one achievement of any worth, and he became little more than a kind of giant vacuum cleaner for political donations, setting some ghastly precedents like selling nights in the Lincoln bedroom of the White House or pardoning a big-time criminal at the end of his term in exchange for many millions of political dollars.

This is the modern reality of imperial America: elections at the highest level simply do not matter. By the time a politician has managed to scrabble to become a contender, with all the endless secret begging for campaign funds, he or she has become part of the problem, not the solution.

In economics, we speak of barriers to the entry of markets. The American campaign finance system requiring truckloads of private money to run is effectively a barrier to entry in the political market, a barrier against the idealistic or those who would do anything to interfere with America’s entrenched governing establishment: the military-industrial-intelligence complex along with such powerful special interests as the Israel Lobby.

This barrier is reinforced by a duopoly of parties in that market, each being not very different than the other, except in some volatile social interests of no concern to the establishment.

And anyone who even chances to pass over those barriers faces everyday life with some dark and powerful people who will not watch their power diminished.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Terrorism?

What a joke.

The United States just murdered a number of innocent Yemenis with a drone strike.

That is indeed terror, state terror.
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There is not, and never has been, an organization called al Qaeda.

We have the words of several important statesmen, including a former British foreign minister, that the word was only used inside the American government as a catch-all for “bad guys” in certain regions of the world.

The word actually means “hole” or “sewer.” Can you imagine a secret fierce group calling itself “sewer”?

Yet the continued use of the term – repeated over and over in the press – undoubtedly lends weight to vague assertions about threats, and that is precisely why Washington continues to use this ridiculous language.

So why does the press keep repeating the nonsense?

The answer is found in the degree of genuine independence of thought and investigation exhibited by our mainline press, and that is simply not much.

It is not an organization. It does not send e-mails. It does not write press releases. If indeed it were an organization and it did these things from time to time, does any thinking person not understand that NSA and others would locate them quickly, causing the launch of drones in minutes?

But there are some pretty nasty people out there in the world. The United States has cynically used some of them again and again to get something it wants, the latest being the effort to topple the government of Syria.

It used them in Afghanistan – twice: once to fight the Russians in the 1980s, and a second time to defeat the Taleban government and carry out acts of terror like the murder of thousands of Taleban prisoners – and in Libya and in other places.

The United States in using these people and heavily assisting them – aided by its friends Israel and Turkey – is responsible for more terror in Syria alone than any so-called terrorist group could conceive of doing on its own anywhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

 

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

What we have in the killing of Sammy Yatim is simple: a policeman shot and killed a man who was a threat to no one.

The victim had what amounted to an ordinary pocketknife, a three-inch blade, virtually incapable of killing anyone, and especially a policeman in his heavy armored vest.

One of the first rules of expert negotiators in hostage-takings is to test whether the hostage-taker is ready to release some or all of his captives. Various initial ploys are used such as asking the release only of children or women.

When a hostage-taker complies with such a request, officials know they are dealing with a person of some conscience and reason, willing to show good will.

There were no passengers left on the streetcar. None. The man was absolutely not a threat.

Indeed, the poor soul was already in a portable jail, an empty streetcar. All police had to do was wait patiently for his giving up, perhaps calling in someone with common sense and talking skill.

No, instead, a police officer threateningly approaches with his gun, does not in the least engage in calming conversation, just utters a curt order, and shoots. Even a taser was unwarranted.

Animal keepers re-capturing an escaped lion or bear show more sense by a thousand times. Is a man’s life worth so little in Toronto today?

These military police methods are imported from the United States whose poisonous police have been cited many times by organizations such as Amnesty International for their brutality and lack of reason.

Chief Blair is wrong as he is almost always wrong – the most ineffectual police chief I can recall – there is no more evidence to be had in this matter.

The video tells the story with blinding clarity. The words of eight or so policemen, the only live witnesses, tell us nothing. Our police have become adept at lying even in court and always, without fail, defend a fellow police no matter how corrupt or brutal. Our poor management of police has allowed this to happen.

This shooting, at best, was the act of a simple coward. Police like to blubber about putting their lives at risk for the public, but that is not what we see here at all.

The officer faced no genuine threat. None. His acts resemble those of someone anxious to sweep a piece of garbage off the street, not those of a trained and thoughtful public servant.

After this and the G-20 fiasco, Toronto needs seriously to examine its hiring policies. There are tests which can be administered to candidates to weed out people with poor attitudes, weak intelligence, or pathological problems. They should act as a powerful filter against this kind of person becoming a policeman.

Training too clearly needs serious scrutiny and revision.

But most important is leadership: Toronto does not have any.

We desperately need to be able to fire incompetent officers easily. A man with a gun and a badge and virtual immunity against prosecution is far more dangerous than any disturbed man with a small knife.
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Police are hired muscle for the most part, and we have pretty well adopted the American model of a police force as an army.

The police force is a well-organized group of urban bouncers, each having great privileges, expensive equipment, and able to use lethal force

Most of them are experts in nothing, and the training they receive does not even deal with many of the things of greatest concern to society.

We forget these things at our peril as a decent society.

Television shows create the fiction of thoughtful, brave and highly-trained individuals risking their lives for us.

They also promote the illusion of resourceful policeman, something which in reality is not all that common.

Police organizations (really, crypto-unions) promote these same illusions and add the dangerous dimensions of always defending what cannot be defended and encouraging insubordination (as when Toronto police once demonstrated in uniform at City Hall against orders).

The behaviors of the RCMP officers at the Vancouver Airport, the police at the Toronto G-20, and the police surrounding poor Sammy Yatim are completely unacceptable in a free and decent society.

If we cannot gain some control over these new developments in police destructive incompetence, all our lives will be diminished.