Another Voice From The Era Of Real Civil Disobedience…Plus Today’s News, Views And Confrontations.
Harry Belafonte voiced eloquently the position I have held for many a year, and have found myself rejected as being too radical when he told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now:
And when you ask me about Barack Obama, it is exactly what happened to Kennedy.
We, the American people, made the history of that time come to another place by our passion and our commitment to change.
What is saddened -- what is sad for this moment is that there is no force, no energy, of popular voice, popular rebellion, popular upheaval, no champion for radical thought at the table of the discourse.
And as a consequence, Barack Obama has nothing to listen to, except his detractors and those who help pave the way to his own personal comfort with power -- power contained, power misdirected, power not fully engaged.
And it is our task to no longer have expectations of him, unless we have forced him to the table and he still resists us. And if he does that, then we know what else we have to do, is to make change completely.
But I think he plays the game that he plays because he sees no threat from evidencing concerns for the poor. He sees no threat from evidencing a deeper concern for the needs of black people, as such. He feels no great threat from evidencing a greater policy towards the international community, for expressing thoughts that criticize the American position on things and turns that around.
Until we do that, I think we’ll be forever disappointed in what that administration will deliver.
AMY GOODMAN: And to those who say, "If you want President Obama re-elected, you will undermine him if you criticize him; and consider the alternative"?
HARRY BELAFONTE: I think we will not only undermine him, but undermine the hopes of this nation, if we don’t criticize him.
Absence of protest in the times of this kind of national crisis -- Theodore Roosevelt once said, "When tyranny takes over the national agenda, it is that time that the voices of protest must be awakened.
AND IF YOU DON’T RAISE YOUR VOICE IN PROTEST, YOU ARE A PATRIOTIC TRAITOR."
AND I BELIEVE THAT PATRIOTISM IS BETRAYED BY THOSE VOICES THAT ARE NOT HEARD.
Those who would detract you from that fact are those who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.
Nothing will happen but good for Barack Obama and the United States of America, and indeed the world, if everybody stepped to the table and said, "This is the course we must be on."
Mubin Shaikh stared at his own name on the neat, impersonal column of names, birthdates and birthplaces on the secret American cable and blinked. Hard.
"My life is screwed forever," he said. "That's pretty much what it means. That means my life, my children, my family members. They're all screwed."
Shaikh probably understands better than most what inclusion in the cable means. It is a list of people provided by Canada's intelligence agency to the U.S. government — people suspected of what CSIS calls "terrorist-related activity."
The names are now in American databases and watch-lists, with all the consequences that entails.
Along with Shaikh, the secret cable, provided to CBC News by WikiLeaks, names all the people originally arrested in the infamous Toronto 18 case in 2006, some of whom went on to prison on terrorism-related charges.
Shaikh knows the other names on the list well. He was the man who put them away.
A Muslim and Canadian citizen, Shaikh was recruited in 2004 as what CSIS calls a "directed source" — someone assigned to penetrate groups and cells suspected of planning violent attacks. He had volunteered his services after returning to Canada from Syria, where he'd lived for two years.
In 2005, once he'd determined that a large group in Toronto was plotting serious attacks, the case, along with Shaikh, was handed by CSIS over to the Mounties, who launched a criminal investigation.
Shaikh became an official, paid agent of the Crown and continued his undercover work for the RCMP, until they rounded up and charged the 18 alleged conspirators.
At that point, Shaikh became the Crown's star witness, testifying in five different criminal proceedings that sent several people to prison.
"It was his evidence that took them all down," Alberta lawyer Dennis Edney told CBC Wednesday night. Edney represented Fahim Ahman, a ringleader who eventually pleaded guilty and remains in prison.
"Most of the warrants for wiretaps that were obtained were obtained as a result of conversations he had with the suspects."
Shaikh proved himself nearly bulletproof to attempts by defence lawyers to discredit him.
There is no doubt of his value to Canadian authorities, or to the Canadian justice system.
And now, described to the Americans by his former employers as "involved in the Toronto 18 conspiracy," he is in at least three American counterterrorism databases, and knows he would be ill-advised to attempt travel to the United States.
"I understand the consequences," he says.
Inclusion in the so-called Visa Viper watch list, to which he was nominated by the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa in September 2009 (and the cable indicates he'd already been placed on another U.S. watch-list), means his name would also have been sent to the wider database of the American National Counterterrorism Centre. And possibly beyond, to other intelligence agencies, some of them rather unsavory, with whom the U.S. government shares intelligence.
"This is just the tip of the iceberg," says Shaikh. "I think someone's got some explaining to do. It just doesn't make any sense, really."
No comment from CSIS
Officially, CSIS has nothing to say about how its own operative was denounced to American authorities.
"We aren't commenting on your story," wrote CSIS public relations person Isabelle Scott in an email. "DFAIT [Canada's Foreign Affairs Ministry] can respond to your questions."
The story, however, has nothing to do with Foreign Affairs and everything to do with CSIS, which had claimed to CBC News earlier this week that it was a careful, responsible steward of information about Canadians.
Long-serving CSIS officials, in private conversations, said that every name handed over to the Americans is carefully vetted by a high-level committee that includes Justice Department lawyers and takes great care to pass on only accurate, credible information about Canadians suspected of "terrorist-related activity."
"CSIS is governed by strict standards and guidelines, including ministerial direction, when co-operating with foreign partners," said the agency Monday, in an official statement issued after queries about naming Canadian citizens to U.S. authorities.
By last night, told that Mubin Shaikh had been named, the agency had circled its wagons.
"They [CSIS headquarters] will not talk about this," said one longtime officer, who said he could not explain Shaikh's presence on the list.
"I cannot believe that name would have come from us," said another security source. "It's just loony."
Shaikh's presence on the list of names means one of two things: Either CSIS blundered badly, which, apart from the attendant embarrassment, will only embolden critics such as lawyer Clayton Ruby, who calls its practice of naming Canadians "abhorrent," or CSIS actually has reason to believe Shaikh is something worse than he seems, which carries legal consequences.
"It takes your breath away," said Mitchell Chernovsky, a lawyer who represented another of the Toronto 18. "It rings alarm bells all over the place."
Both Chernovsky and Edney said they would probably make formal demands to the Crown, asking why they were not told of whatever information led CSIS to denounce Shaikh to the Americans. Defence counsel are legally entitled to disclosure of all such information, in order to prepare their cases.
Croft Michaelson, the federal prosecutor who relied on Shaikh as his main witness, did not return calls, once one of his subordinates was informed about Shaikh's inclusion on the list.
Late Wednesday night, Shaikh said he had made some efforts to contact his old controllers at CSIS.
"I've left some messages," he said, dolefully. "I'm sure this is just a mistake that can be straightened out."
Interestingly, although the U.S. criteria for inclusion on watchlists stipulates that details about those named must be absolutely accurate, lest someone with a similar name is arrested (which has happened in the past), Shaikh's entry is flawed.
His date of birth, Sept. 29, 1975, is accurately logged in the secret American cable. But the cable then states that while he is a Canadian citizen, he was born in India.
In fact, Mubin Shaikh was born at St. Michael's Hospital, in Toronto.
Right Wing's Obsession With Soros' Media Spending Has Become Comical
Media Matters for America (blog)
Right, but that's no secret, so what's the conflict? Because once again Gainor can't point to anything wrong with the journalism in question. Gainor can't find any examples, or even allegations, of Soros trying to influence reports. ...
Ex-FBI Informant and Right Wing Shock Jock Claims Life is in Danger in Prison
By Allan Lengel ticklethewire.com Convicted right winger, New Jersey Internet shock jock Harold “Hal” Turner, who once worked as an FBI informant, claims his life is in danger now that he's housed in federal prison in Terr Haute, Ind., with notorious ...See all stories on this topic »
Will the rush for Arctic oil push us over a stupidity tipping point?
Blogpost Iris Cheng 4 comments
The Arctic sea ice has retreated steadily for the past 10 years reaching record lows, or close to it, every year. The retreat promises to reveal all manner of riches for those willing to risk everything. Unfortunately there seems to be no shortage of takers.
The world seems to be racing headlong towards a point of no return – one that seems to me best described as a ‘stupidity tipping point’. Allow me to show you:
Faced with possibly the most worrying and unequivocal sign of climate change, our collective response seems not one of sense and urgency, but more of joy and greed. As the diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks last week showed, respectable national leaders are about to tip over from the realm of reason to descend into a frenzied resource grab. An ‘Arctic carve up’, where the only lingo is Realpolitik: “protecting our Arctic interests” etc. They race each other to the trough of short term profit seemingly oblivious to the long term risk. The Russians evenplanted their national flag at the bottom of the polar seafloor beneath the North Pole. If it wasn’t so scary it would be comic.
“The challenges in the region are not just environmental,” said Hilary Clinton in Nuuk before the Arctic Council meeting last week. “The melting of sea ice, for example, will result in more shipping, fishing and tourism, and the possibility to develop newly accessible oil and gas reserves. We seek to pursue these opportunities in a smart, sustainable way that preserves the Arctic environment and ecosystem.”
Sorry Secretary Clinton, what is so smart or sustainable about drilling for the last drop of oil, at the risk of destroying the very Arctic environment and ecosystem that you seek to preserve?
As I write this, a small, lone Scottish energy company is racing up to the High North on a hired rig to begin the only exploratory drilling in the Arctic this year. The stakes are high – and I don’t mean the $900m of other people’s money they have borrowed for their risky gamble of a drilling operation. What I mean is the threat of the most catastrophic oil spill in, in the most fragile habitat on earth, at the most critical time.
The US Minerals Management Service estimated a “one in five” chance of a significant spill occurring over the lifetime of energy activity in just one block of leases in Arctic waters off Alaska. The overall chance of a spill therefore increases as more blocks are explored. The blocks that Cairn Energy plans to drill this year are in the notorious “Iceberg Alley” west of Greenland – where freezing temperatures, extreme weather conditions, and dangerous icebergs from the disintegrating Greenland glaciers reign. Cairn Energy has just a few months to carry out the operation. In the event of a spill, a relief well would probably not be completed in the same season and this could mean that oil could spill from a blowout for years. The highly toxic petrochemical mix would pollute unchecked the nutrient rich Arctic waters that are crucial for the health of the global fisheries. And to cap it off, there is no known way to clean up an oil spill under ice.
If the situation is not twisted enough – add Russian floating nuclear power stations into the mix. Yes you heard me right. While the embattled reactors in Fukushima are still leaking tons of radioactive water into the ocean, Russia is building and testing floating nuclear power stations to power the exploitation of resources, including oil, from the Arctic. Just two weeks ago, a Russian nuclear icebreaker had a radioactive leak and had to be towed back to port from the icy Kara Sea.
From the ‘Arctic carve up’ to the floating nuclear plants and new drilling in iceberg alley, we are witnessing “stupidity tipping events” occurring everywhere. The Arctic is under threat. It is threatened by our addition to oil – oil for which we seem happy to pay any price.
I think it is time for us to take a collective deep breath, and think things through. There are so many untapped smart solutions out there. Instead of drilling for the last drop of oil at the real risk of yet another war and the destruction of our last precious environmental capital, we could, for example, increase fuel efficiency and save 1.1 million barrels of oil - per day - in the EU alone.
Come on, people. Don’t get dragged past the point of no return by Realpolitik. Protect the Arctic. Slow down our consumption of oil. Tap into abundant clean energy.
The JP Morgan Chase office in Columbus, Ohio is surrounded by a moat—literally. But that didn’t stop hundreds of Americans from finding a way across and storming the castle yesterday. They dressed as Robin Hood to send a message: stop hoarding resources and pay your fair share!