January 17, 2015 - No. 3

Freedom of Speech of the Reactionary Ruling Classes

The Hypocrisy of Harper's Freedom of Speech Knows No Bounds

Intolerance in the Name of Tolerance
- Sam Heaton -
Dubious Comparisons
- Hélène Héroux -
Cynical Use of Paris Demonstration by
War Criminals and Ruling Elites

With Power of Social Media Growing, Police Now Monitoring and Criminalizing Online Speech
- Glenn Greenwald -
The Aim Behind Publishing Offensive Cartoons in 2006

In the News
Addressing the Concerns of the People
Harper Prepares New Legislation to Expand Arbitrary Powers
- Peggy Morton -
Alarming Increase in Canada's Sale of Arms to Saudi Arabia
Negotiations on Iran's Nuclear Program and Canada's
"Digital Diplomacy" Project

- Louis Lang -

U.S. War Preparations in Asia
Obama's Cowardly Executive Order for
More Unjust Sanctions Against the DPRK

- Philip Fernandez -
U.S. Should Listen to DPRK's Peace Appeal
- Xinhua -

Peace on Korean Peninsula Needs Reciprocal Actions
- Tian Dongdong -

Military Occupation of Japan --
One of the Greatest Threats to World Peace

Discussion of Oil Prices

Oil and the U.S. Empire
- K.C. Adams -

Freedom of Speech of the Reactionary Ruling Classes

The Hypocrisy of Harper's Freedom of Speech
Knows No Bounds

Millions of people in France and around the world have declared their opposition to terrorism and defended the people's right to speak since the shooting in Paris on January 7 and the violence and chaos that followed.[1]

Freedom of speech, association, religion and the like are fundamental democratic principles which serve to block all attempts to usurp power by force on the part of those who do not serve the public interest. This was the case in the 17th to 19th centuries in the battle against the stranglehold of obscurantist forces represented by the European feudal aristocracy and the Church. It is the case today where those who represent the most narrow monopoly interests at home and abroad cannot tolerate any opposition, any resistance to the anti-social offensive and its inter-monopoly, inter-imperialist striving for domination.

What the reactionary ruling classes call the battle against the forces of evil is in fact a battle between the Old World which is passing away and the New World which is striving to come into being. It can only be waged by defending the fundamental principles of the enlightenment movement of yesteryear, including the democratic rights as brought into being by the men and women of the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods, and the enlightenment movement of today which defines rights on the basis that they belong to the people by virtue of being human. The right to speak freely is a fundamental defence of the right to conscience, that is to say, the quality which distinguishes human beings from any other animal species.

It is not fortuitous that those who have usurped power by force and are engaged in the most heinous practices which characterize state terrorism actually do so in the name of defending democratic freedoms. They call them the fundamental values of a democratic society and say that those they call Islamic fundamentalists want to destroy them because they are "evil." It is a simplistic narrative to cover up the sharpening inter-imperialist and inter-monopoly contradictions and U.S. imperialist striving for world domination in rivalry with the big powers of Old Europe, which are leading the world to a war of worldwide proportions and destruction on an unprecedented scale.

In this regard, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper stands second to none in justifying the suppression of those he deems a threat to his rule and agenda while declaring he is a champion of free speech. It would be laughable if it were not so dangerous.

Michael Harris, writing for iPolitics,[2] put it this way:

"...it was beyond hypocritical this past week for the PM to portray himself as a champion of democracy and free speech after the dreadful killings in Paris. He even politicizes tragedy.

"Here is the real man the one who dedicated his entire communications effort to smothering free speech, who undermined access to information, the life-blood of any democracy, with endless delays in handing over government documents that belong to us. In some cases, his government has simply -- and unconstitutionally -- refused to fork them over. He has also mused about charging $200 per access request -- which would certainly suppress the urge to ask.

"The real man has muzzled his own workers -- even demanding loyalty oaths from them. He wanted the right to ask prospective government employees about their politics. He has viciously attacked any individual or institution that opposes him, from former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.

"The real man repeatedly has tried to turn the Internet into a servant of the police state, disguising his intent with nonsense about child pornographers and 'protection.'

"The real man has starved the opposition of even the most basic information about the budget and deprived Parliament of the ability to debate legislation through the cynical use of enormous omnibus bills. [...] laws are being passed without scrutiny [...]

"The real man doesn't speak to his fellow premiers as a group, banishes journalists from public buildings and thinks Sun News is where it's at.

"It didn't take a genius to work out that Harper's reaction to the robocall scandal would be new legislation that will make it harder to catch cheaters the next time. And trust me, there will be a next time. So let it be said clearly: Stephen Harper is a champion of screwing free speech and democracy at every opportunity."


1. Following the attacks in Paris, as part of the anarchy and chaos being sown across Europe in the name of defending "security" and "freedom of speech," security forces launched large scale anti-terror raids on Friday, January 16, with operations taking place in Belgium, France and Germany.

France remains on high alert with 10,000 troops deployed in the name of ensuring security. The French state continues to round up suspects it says provided logistical support in the killing of a policewoman and four hostages. It is also reported that a suspicious package caused the evacuation of Gare de l’Est train station in Paris on Friday morning. Meanwhile, on Friday afternoon, reports emerged of a hostage-taking in the town of Colombes northwest of Paris.

On January 13, Charlie Hebdo published another issue, which featured a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad holding a sign reading "Je suis Charlie" on its cover with the slogan, "Tout est pardonné" (All is forgiven).

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on January 10 that the country is in a "war against terrorism, against jihadism, against radical Islam, against everything that is aimed at breaking fraternity, freedom, solidarity." He said he has requested that the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Justice step up measures to monitor those convicted of terrorism.

In Belgium, police killed two suspects in a raid on an apartment on the evening of January 15 in the eastern town of Verviers. News reports state weapons and police uniforms were found at the apartment. Across the country, 13 people were arrested in other raids.

In Germany, hundreds of police raided sites across the capital Berlin on Friday morning, arresting two men suspected of planning a "violent act" in Syria. The investigation had been ongoing for months, according to the local news site Die Welt. A police spokesperson said there was no evidence that the suspects had been planning an attack in Germany.

2. To read the complete article "Meet the Real Stephen Harper," by Michael Harris on the iPolitics website, click here.

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Intolerance in the Name of Tolerance

Resistance to the Harper government's attacks on First Nations, scientists and the public service, and its support for Zionist war crimes.

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper joined the chorus of reactionary leaders in various countries proclaiming that the armed men who attacked the office of Charlie Hebdo in Paris were part of a war against freedom of expression, a war against "anybody who does not think and act exactly as they wish they would think and act."

Besides the shallowness of these comments, Canadians are astounded to hear such a thing from the very Prime Minister whose main hallmark is to brook no opposition from any quarter.

What can we conclude about the kind of freedom of expression Mr. Harper espouses?

Mr. Harper and his government are well known for suppressing and being intolerant of all sorts of expression. In the case of scientists, his government is notorious for suppressing research that could be used to justify limiting the activities of the energy monopolies when they are destructive to the social and natural environment. Federally-funded scientists have had their ability to speak publicly about the results of their research severely restricted. They have been "gagged."

It is also well known that the political activity of the First Nations and various civil society organizations such as environmental and citizens' organizations are treated as security concerns to be closely monitored. Others have been outright defunded for taking stands that contradict the Harper government's Zionist, racist and colonial outlook. In the case of the working class, expression in the form of demands and defence of working conditions and opposition to the neo-liberal destruction of the old system of labour relations are as a rule treated as criminal matters through the repeated use of back-to-work legislation. Harper uses his majority in Parliament to enact laws which deprive workers of their right to organize and which criminalize their fight for working conditions and security in retirement and he calls this democratic.

In March 2014, a cartoon was published by the Pictou Advocate, a local newspaper in Nova Scotia showing a Nazi flag above the House of Commons with the text "Harper's Economic Action Plan." The cartoonist explained: "The fact is, Harper has violated virtually every element of his platform which is taking away the freedoms and rights of all Canadians, especially the disabled and elderly." This satire was condemned by Minister of Justice Peter MacKay, who issued a statement demanding an apology.

In June 2013, the Vancouver Province newspaper pulled an animated cartoon spoofing an Enbridge Inc. promotional TV ad from its web site. Dan Murphy, the paper's political cartoonist, told CBC News the Province yanked his cartoon after the Calgary-based pipeline company threatened to withdraw its lucrative advertising. There was no government condemnation of this suppression of expression.

Employment Minister Jason Kenney has added his voice. "Freedom of expression means anything," he said. "It means the right to publish controversial or even sometimes offensive speech. It doesn't mean we have to like it, and it doesn't mean we have to endorse it, but we have to tolerate it. [...] That's the price of freedom."

Media Concentration, State-Organized Disinformation and Press Freedom

In what way can we speak of press freedom and the right to publish when Canada is second to none for having its media concentrated in the hands of a few powerful monopolies and out of the hands of the people? With the takeover of Quebecor's Sun Media by Postmedia, ownership of prominent Canadian newspapers will be overwhelmingly the purview of one monopoly. Among the few exceptions will be the Toronto Star, which owns the franchise of free Metro newspapers, and the Globe and Mail, owned by the Thomson family of Canadian oligarchs.

The majority owners of Postmedia are just two U.S. hedge funds. The Postmedia purchase of Sun Media is itself being funded by a New York-based hedge fund consortium called GoldenTree Asset Management. Televised media is no different, controlled by three monopolies: Shaw (owned by J.R. Shaw), Rogers, (owned by the Rogers family) and Bell (the largest shareholders of which are RBC, BMO, TD bank and CIBC). Between the three are held a staggering number of television networks, radio stations and magazines.

The government of Stephen Harper has resorted to increasingly sophisticated schemes to ensure the monopoly media does not deviate from the state-imposed narratives of putting lipstick on a pig. For years various restrictions were imposed on the parliamentary press gallery which would periodically revolt and refuse to attend. Opportunities to ask questions were curtailed outside of very finite conditions imposed by the government.

By 2011 it was reported in the Hill Times that more than 1,500 "communications staff" were working in government offices including 87 in the Prime Minister's Office alone. Media commentators noted that the only purpose of these individuals is "media control" to "manipulate a message." These efforts have now reached new depths of depravity. As revealed by Blacklock's Reporter on December 19, Public Works Canada is paying $1.25 million to an organization called News Canada Ltd. to distribute government-sponsored "news" to publishers and other media simply bearing the name News Canada.

One sample cited by Blacklock's shows the specific purpose of this fake news to cover up in the most cynical way the ongoing crimes of the Canadian government: "The script reads: 'How do you right a past wrong? Well, the Government of Canada has been working towards finding solutions to do just that.' The report continues, 'Canada has made a commitment to reconciling relationships with First Nations people'; 'The future looks bright. More win-win solutions are in the works to bring closure and justice for all.'"

The fact is that Stephen Harper and Co. also do not tolerate "anybody who does not think and act exactly as they wish they would think and act." As the chief salesman of the monopolies he has turned over the state to be run directly by private interests. It is those resisting the anti-social offensive and defending their rights who especially draw the Harperites' ire.

But more to the point, what is Stephen Harper's definition of freedom of expression? Consider the Harperites' nation-wrecking, restructuring of the state and defence of monopoly right at home and its willingness to participate in illegal U.S.-led military aggression and war crimes abroad. This shows that the Harperites' definition of "freedom of expression" is to permit all manner of crimes against the people to serve the private interests they represent.

Stephen Harper's freedom of expression is the "freedom" that everyone must submit to moribund finance capital and its murderous attempts to foil its defeat. All casualties are considered to be unfortunate but necessary "collateral damage" in defence of a righteous cause called freedom and democracy. Under the rule of the monopolies Might Makes Right. Its expression is that any people who do not submit are a potentially terrorist mob. Only those voices which promote irrationalism and U.S. imperialist interests are to be tolerated.

It is only in this context that we can understand Prime Minister Harper's statement in the aftermath of the events in Paris. "We also encourage people to go about their lives and to exercise our rights and freedoms and our openness as a society as loudly and as clearly as we can," the Prime Minister said.

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Dubious Comparisons

In the days since the attacks in France, the monopoly media and the likes of Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard have been making questionable links between terrorists and freedom and resistance fighters. In the context of the events in France, they have tried to connect French resistance fighters against the Nazi occupation during the Second World War, such as national hero Jean Moulin, with the "resistance" of the West to "Islamic obscurantism." U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry did so in his speech in Washington, delivered in French. The widely circulated newspaper Libération made this the front page headline in its Saturday, January 10 edition.

The dubious comparison of the glorious French resistance to the Nazis with the current era of irrational horror and permanent anarchy has only one aim: to unite the French nation and "the West" behind the imperialists' wars of occupation and striving for world domination. It is the blatant but unstated aim of all the current propaganda, as can be seen with the insertion of NATO leaders and the likes of the Zionist Prime Minister Netanyahu at the head of the so-called Republican demonstration in Paris on January 11.

These dubious comparisons in reports on the events in Paris pertain to what constitutes freedom of the press. The old adage from the Renaissance that the pen is mightier than the sword is being used, except that it is not pens which are raining down on the peoples of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Palestine. The pens of cartoonists who demand the freedom to attack the religious beliefs of millions of people worldwide are compared to the pens of fighters for enlightenment and science. The terrorists' bombs are compared to the guns of the Royal Guard of the French monarchy. In fact, it can be said that such pens contribute a great deal to enabling the bombs which are raining down on the peoples of the countries targeted for "regime change," turning the world upside-down instead of making way for new relations amongst peoples and nations.

Since the attacks of January 7, the monopoly media keep repeating that terrorists must not be equated with Muslims in general. The governments of imperialist powers, as well as those of Canada and Quebec, want to appear anti-racist, however they are racist to the core. A French Muslim woman had this to say on a French radio station: "You say we should not put everything into the same mix, but you have been forcing people to do just that for years. You keep talking about radicalized people who have converted to Islam instead of talking about people who have converted to terrorism. That's the mess you're always creating."

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Cynical Use of Paris Demonstration by War Criminals and Ruling Elites

A march of 1.3 million people took place in Paris on January 11 to condemn terrorism and express outrage at the shooting in Paris on January 7, with millions more demonstrating in other parts of France. The participation of 40 heads of state and other international figures was heralded in the monopoly media which ran photos suggesting these leaders stood at the head of the march through Paris streets. An angle shown on French television revealed the staged nature of the photos, taken on a closed and guarded side street.

Twitter user @DanielWickham93 received wide attention on January 11 when he pointed out case by case that the most prominent participants in the leaders' photo op were themselves responsible for criminalization of conscience and suppression of journalists including jailing and killings. Israel killed 16 Palestinian journalists during its assault against Gaza in July-August 2014. An organization called the Committee to Protect Journalists says that Turkey, a NATO member, has more journalists jailed than any other country.

Among those participating in the photo op were Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Union President Donald Tusk, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, Jordan's Queen Rania, Jordan's King Abdullah II, U.S. Ambassador to France Jane Hartley, Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to France, the Foreign Minister of Egypt Sameh Shokri, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and current NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. Canada was represented by Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney.

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With Power of Social Media Growing, Police Now Monitoring and Criminalizing Online Speech

On March 6, 2012, six British soldiers were killed in Afghanistan by a roadside explosive device, and a national ritual of mourning and rage ensued. Prime Minister David Cameron called it a "desperately sad day for our country." A British teenager, Azhar Ahmed, observed the reaction for two days and then went to Facebook to angrily object that the innocent Afghans killed by British soldiers receive almost no attention from British media. He opined that the UK's soldiers in Afghanistan are guilty, their deaths deserved, and are therefore going to hell.

The following day, Ahmed was arrested and "charged with a racially aggravated public order offense." The police spokesman explained that "he didn't make his point very well and that is why he has landed himself in bother." The state proceeded to prosecute him, and in October of that year, he was convicted "of sending a grossly offensive communication," fined and sentenced to 240 hours of community service.

As demonstrators demanded he be imprisoned, the judge who sentenced Ahmed pronounced his opinions "beyond the pale of what's tolerable in our society," ruling: "I'm satisfied that the message was grossly offensive." The Independent's Jerome Taylor noted that he "escaped jail partially because he quickly took down his unpleasant posting and tried to apologize to those he offended." Apparently, heretics may be partially redeemed if they publicly renounce their heresies.

Criminal cases for online political speech are now commonplace in the UK, notorious for its hostility to basic free speech and press rights. As The Independent's James Bloodworth reported last week, "around 20,000 people in Britain have been investigated in the past three years for comments made online."

But the persecution is by no means viewpoint-neutral. It instead is overwhelmingly directed at the country's Muslims for expressing political opinions critical of the state's actions.

To put it mildly, not all online "hate speech" or advocacy of violence is treated equally. It is, for instance, extremely difficult to imagine that Facebook users who sanction violence by the UK in Iraq and Afghanistan, or who spew anti-Muslim animus, or who call for and celebrate the deaths of Gazans, would be similarly prosecuted. In both the UK and Europe generally, cases are occasionally brought for right-wing "hate speech" (the above warning from Scotland's police was issued after a polemicist posted repellent jokes on Twitter about Ebola patients). But the proposed punishments for such advocacy are rarely more than symbolic: trivial fines and the like. The real punishment is meted out overwhelmingly against Muslim dissidents and critics of the West.

In sum, this is not merely an attack on free speech but on specific ideas. Writing about Ahmed's case in The Guardian, Richard Seymour described him as "the latest victim of a concerted effort to redefine racism as 'anything that could conceivably offend white people.'"

The authoritarian impulses that drove Ahmed's prosecution are increasingly asserting themselves. In November, a 22-year-old Iraqi-British woman, Alaa Abdullah Esayed, was arrested and charged with using Twitter to promote terrorism. In the words of the police, she stands "accused of providing a service that enabled others to 'obtain, read, listen to or look at a terrorist publication, by providing links to speeches and other propaganda.'" When she appeared in court last month, the prosecutor emphasized that she is "accused of uploading 45,600 tweets in just under a year encouraging children to use weapons and embrace extremism." Among her transgressions is "post[ing] pictures of corpses felled in battle and poems entitled 'Mother of the Martyr.'" She faces years in prison, and the judge barred her from using Twitter pending her trial.

Last month in the UK, a 35-year-old mother of six, Runa Khan, was sentenced to five years in prison for "promoting terrorism on Facebook." The judge, Peter Birts QC (pictured, right), "heard police had found photos of Khan's children holding guns and swords" and "said the 'only fair interpretation' of those pictures was that Khan had intended to radicalize others." The prosecution overwhelmingly focused on her political views, including the fact that she "took pictures of her toddler son holding a toy gun and encouraged parents of children as young as two to put them on the path to jihad." She "appeared to glorify the murder of [British soldier] Lee Rigby" by "shar[ing] a post by another user which complained about Muslims who condemned the killing." In imposing Khan's sentence, Judge Birts pronounced her an "avowed fundamentalist Islamist holding radical and extreme beliefs."

Khan will now spend the next five years in prison because a very white, very British, very establishment-loyal jurist harbors contempt for her political views, her religious values, and particularly her attempts to teach them to her children. This is part of what he told her when removing her from her children and consigning her to a cage until February, 2020:

You hold to an ideology which espouses jihad as an essential part of the Islamist obligation. . . . I sentence you not for your beliefs, abhorrent though they are to all civilized people, but for your actions in disseminating terrorist material with the clear intention of radicalizing others. . . . Your purpose was to encourage and promote your particular brand of violent fundamentalism. . . . You were deeply committed to radicalizing others, including very young children, into violent jihadist extremism. . . . You appear to have no insight into the effect of radicalizing your children, having selfishly placed your own ideology and beliefs above their welfare in your priorities.

In other words: you're allowed, by our generosity, to mentally harbor your vile opinions. But if you try to publicly advocate them on Facebook, convince others to believe them, or teach them to your children, then you are a dangerous criminal who belongs in prison.

Needless to say, this judge would never lecture, let alone sentence, anyone for "holding to an ideology" that advocates violence by the British government in Muslim countries, nor parents who indoctrinate their children to join the British military, nor those who led that country to invade and destroy Iraq in an aggressive war. To understand the point, one need not equate these views or view some as better than others. The point is that this is the state punishing expression of some viewpoints while sanctioning others. This is about criminalizing specific views anathema to the government's policies, outlawing particular value systems.

This eagerness to criminalize political speech becomes more compelling as social media vests ordinary individuals with greater autonomy to disseminate news as well as their views. No longer dependent on corporate media institutions acting as Responsible Gatekeepers of Tolerable Opinions, individuals all over the world are now able to curate their own news and create their own powerful opinion platforms.

The democratizing effects on political discourse have long been heralded as a future potential of the internet, but it is now a promise finally being fulfilled, and it is scaring entrenched political and media institutions all over the world. Many westerners received news about daily developments in the "Arab Spring" from previously unknown Arab citizens using Twitter and Facebook rather than from large establishment media outlets. That significantly increased sympathy for the protesters, now more humanized than ever before, at the expense of the U.S.-supported tyrannies (long protected by the west's media outlets) which they were attempting to uproot.

Perhaps the most potent example yet was the most recent Israeli attack on Gaza, where, for the first time, the full brutality and savagery of Israeli aggression was publicly conveyed. That's because, despite their poverty, many ordinary Gazans now have video cameras on their cellphones and a Twitter account, which meant they were regularly uploading horrific video of Israeli bombs and tanks destroying hospitals, schools and apartment buildings, which in turn prevented Western journalists from ignoring or diluting the civilian carnage.

Transferring information control from large media outlets to individual Gazans radically altered how that attack was covered and, thereafter, how Israel was perceived around the world. That is a genuinely fundamental change.

Like all technologies that threaten to subvert prevailing authority, social media -- along with the Internet generally -- is being increasingly targeted with police measures of control, repression and punishment. Just like mass surveillance does to the Internet, this is all part of an effort to convert these new technologies from a potential tool of subversion into one that further bolsters governing power factions.

It is thus unsurprising that the national police of Scotland posted the above-displayed warning last week [December 30, 2014]. That warning tweet is starker and more honest than the tone typically used to convey such messages, but it perfectly captures the mindset of states throughout the west about the "dangers" of social media and the repressive steps they are now taking to combat them. As Jillian York of the Electronic Frontier Foundation documented this week, legal suppression of online speech is spreading throughout the west and democracies worldwide.

Despite frequent national boasting of free speech protections, the U.S. has joined, and sometimes led, the trend to monitor and criminalize online political speech. The DOJ [Department of Justice] in 2011 prosecuted a 24-year-old Pakistani resident of the United States, Jubair Ahmad, on terrorism charges for uploading a 5-minute video to YouTube featuring photographs of Abu Ghraib abuses, video of American armored trucks exploding, and prayer messages about "jihad" from the leader of a designated terror group; he was convicted and sent to prison for 12 years. The same year, the DOJ indicted a 22-year-old Penn State student for, among other things, posting justifications of attacks on the U.S. to a "jihadi forum"; the speech offender, Emerson Winfield Begolly, was sentenced to 8 1/2 years in prison.

Countless post-9/11 prosecutions for "material support of terrorism" are centrally based on political views expressed by the (almost always young and Muslim) defendants, who are often "anticipatorily prosecuted" for expression of ideas political officials find threatening. There is no doubt that the U.S. government has even used political speech as a significant factor in placing individuals on its "kill list" and then ending their life, including the U.S.-born preacher Anwar Awlaki (targeted with death before the attempted Christmas Day bombing over Detroit which was later used to justify Awlaki's killing). Anti-American views by Muslims -- meaning opposition to U.S. aggression and violence -- are officially viewed as evidence of terrorist propensity, which is why this passage, flagged by the ACLU-Massachusetts' Kade Crockford, appeared in a CNN article yesterday [January 5]  about the trial of Boston Marathon bombing defendant Dzhokhar Tsarnaev:

Among the evidence prosecutors are expected to use against him are statements claiming to be angry at U.S. wars that killed Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq.

As is true for all War on Terror abuses, this American version of criminalizing speech is spreading far beyond its original application, and is increasingly applied domestically. Anti-police messages are now being subjected to the same criminalizing treatment as anti-military and anti-U.S.- foreign-policy ideas.

Last month in western Massachusetts, police issued a criminal summons to 27-year-old Charles DiRosa for posting an "anti-police Facebook post." His "crime" was the posting of a very simple message on his Facebook account, which simply quoted the phrase posted on Facebook by Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley on the day he killed two NYPD officers.

DiRosa's Facebook post led local police to investigate and confirm his identity. The police then announced on their own Facebook page that DiRosa was the author of the offending post and was being summoned on criminal charges. For good measure, they also posted two of his pictures:

There's no question that DiRosa's "anti-police" post is pure free speech, constitutionally protected. Even if one wants to construe it as a recommendation to others that they kill police officers, the First Amendment bars any prosecution. As the Supreme Court ruled 45 years ago in Brandenburg v. Ohio, "the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force" [...]. Writing in The Washington Post, Law Professor Eugene Volokh makes the same point. Brandenburg overturned the conviction of a KKK member for publicly threatening political officials with violence, and invalidated an Ohio law that made it a crime to "advocate . . . the duty, necessity, or propriety of crime, sabotage, violence, or unlawful methods of terrorism as a means of accomplishing industrial or political reform."

It's unsurprising that in a country borne of violent revolution against its monarch, the Constitution expressly guarantees the right to this advocacy, even if it includes justifications for violence. You're allowed to argue that the state has become so corrupt and dangerous that violent revolution is merited. You're allowed to argue that, in light of police abuse, killing police officers is a legitimate form of self-defense or is otherwise just. You're allowed to argue that decades of U.S. violence against innocent Muslims ethically justifies, or even obligates, Muslims to bring violence back to the U.S. as the only means of stopping that aggression.

Under the most basic free speech principles, nobody can be prosecuted for expressing those views. These principles reflect a vital recognition: empowering officials to criminalize the expression of those views is far more dangerous than the views themselves.

But even if you're someone inclined to cheer when endorsement of violence is outlawed, there's no denying that application of this suppression is completely selective. As Andrew Meyer adeptly documented this week, a former Connecticut police officer, Doug Humphrey, used his Facebook account to issue a much more direct and disturbing threat against DiRosa, yet the ex-officer has not been charged with anything:

Meyer notes that in the wake of increasing controversy over racist and abusive police misconduct "police departments throughout the United States are arresting people for making alleged threats against officers online with little, if any, investigation," and lists numerous prosecutions as dubious as the DiRosa case, if not more so. DiRosa himself was formally summoned within hours of posting his Facebook message. Yet here is a case of a former police officer urging his fellow officers to kill a specific person, with the person's picture posted, and there have been no charges filed. As Meyer argues, "compared to the others who were either arrested or threatened with arrest, [the ex-officer's] comment was the one that came closest to a threat, so not taking action will further prove that cops are above the law."

Like the law generally, criminalizing online speech is reserved only for certain kinds of people (those with the least power) and certain kinds of views (the most marginalized and oppositional). Those who serve the most powerful factions or who endorse their orthodoxies are generally exempt. For that reason, these trends in criminalizing online speech are not so much an abstract attack on free speech generally, but worse, are an attempt to suppress particular ideas and particular kinds of people from engaging in effective persuasion and political activism.

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The Aim Behind Publishing
Offensive Cartoons in 2006

In this issue, TML Weekly is reprinting an excerpt from an article written in February 2006 to deal with the cartoons published by a Danish newspaper which caused much offense around the world. Writing for the Communist Party of Denmark (Marxist-Leninist), which together with other communist forces subsequently founded a new Communist Party at a Unification Congress in November of that year, then Secretary of International Relations Sven Tarp addressed why the editors of Jyllands Posten (The Jutland Post), published the 12 cartoons that presented an offensive, stereotypical image of the prophet Mohammed. The party demanded that they should make a clear-cut apology and that the government should follow up in such a way that it is absolutely clear that it repudiates the provocation.

One of many protests against the
Jyllands-Posten's publication of anti-Muslim
cartoons in 2006.

"The official reason for printing the cartoons was, according to the editor-in-chief, to challenge the way freedom of speech is practised in Denmark as it is allegedly being restricted due to a growing Muslim influence. Before publishing the cartoons, they were shown to a series of experts who explained that they most certainly would provoke anger among Muslims who would feel offended by the way their prophet was portrayed. So, the printing of the cartoons was from the very beginning planned as a malicious provocation," Sven Tarp points out.

The article then explains the official and real motives:

"It is always difficult to guess the personal motives of those who take inappropriate decisions. And these motives are, indeed, of little interest. What is important is the historical context in which the decisions are taken and the role generally played by the decision-makers. From that point of view, it is easy to conclude that the publication of the cartoons is part of a national agenda promoted by the Danish ruling circles with a double purpose:

"- to divide the Danish working class into nationals and foreigners, Christians and Muslims, in order to weaken its resistance to the brutal imposition of neo-liberal policies at a very specific moment where the Danish economy is momentarily one of the most thriving within the general framework of a crisis-ridden capitalist world economy;

"- to weaken -- by creating an artificial image of the Muslim world as an enemy -- the growing demand among the Danish people that Danish troops should be withdrawn from Iraq where they are taking part in the illegal occupation headed by U.S. imperialism.

"From the very beginning, the whole issue has been treated with a mixture of arrogance and stupidity, both by the editors of Jyllands Posten and by the Danish government. It soon became clear that the Muslim peoples did feel offended. The Muslim society in Denmark, in early October, organized demonstrations and called on the newspaper to apologize for the publication. This was refused with the false pretext of defending freedom of speech.

"On October 19, ambassadors from 11 Muslim countries requested a meeting with the Danish government in order to discuss the cartoons. In a very arrogant manner, the rightist government of Anders Fogh Rasmussen refused to meet the ambassadors for a discussion that might have prevented subsequent events.

"In an action unheard of in the history of Danish diplomacy, 22 former Danish ambassadors publicly criticized the Prime Minister's refusal to meet with representatives of Muslim countries. They were backed by former Danish Foreign Minister Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, a cold warrior and rightist politician who, however, is sensible to these kinds of cultural problems. But the government stuck to its own decision. It apparently was not unhappy with the fact that the cartoons caused disunity and distracted popular attention from the social consequences of its planned 'welfare reforms' that were announced last autumn.

"It was only when the national agenda turned into an international crisis of unprecedented dimensions that the government and the newspaper decided to take action. But even then, their arrogance prevented them from saving what could be saved. The editor of Jyllands Posten, for example, apologized to Muslims because they felt offended, but he did not apologize for publishing the offensive cartoons, because such an apology, according to him, would be a violation of his freedom of speech! In this way, the apology was not enough to end the protests and neither was the appearance of the Danish Prime Minister on Arab and Muslim television channels where he didn't deliver the message expected from him."

Sven Tarp then explains the reactionary politics of the newspaper.

"Jyllands Posten is one of Denmark's largest newspapers with a long tradition of rightist policy. In the 1930s, it was infamous for defending pro-Nazi positions. After the Second World War, it turned completely pro-NATO. During the war in Vietnam, it was a loyal ally of U.S. imperialism. Today, it is an arduous defender of the Zionist state of Israel and the imperialist occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the growing pressure on Iran, Syria and other independent countries.

"Jyllands Posten is considered the unofficial organ of expression of the Liberal Party of Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen. As such, it is not an innocent player in the present crisis. Its defence of freedom of speech is nothing but hypocritical.

"During the last years, Jyllands Posten has transformed itself into a national platform of the most rabid attacks against communists and other progressive people. Even the most idiotic anti-communist professor has free access to its columns. The freedom of speech practised by the newspaper is used to distort, silence and criminalize communist and progressive ideas. The way the former socialist countries in Europe and the Danish communists who were active during the Cold War are portrayed is just as insulting as the 12 cartoons."

On the principle of freedom of speech Sven Tarp writes:

"According to legend, the Danish national flag, Dannebrog, fell ready-made down from the sky in the year 1219 during the battle of Lyndanisse where the Danish crusaders fought to Christianize the pagan Estonians. Eight hundred years later, Jyllands Posten and the ruling Danish bourgeoisie is presenting freedom of speech as a sacred, absolutist principle that, in a similar way, fell ready-made down from the sky in its present narrow-minded and intolerant Danish version.

"For the Danish communists, freedom of speech is a beautiful principle that takes its concrete form according to the concrete historical context and the social class that practises it. It is a necessity for the free development of individual human beings and their participation in the democratic processes of modern society. But it cannot be accepted as an unlimited right of the ruling class to insult other people and cause tension, violence, war and destruction. Freedom of speech should always be subordinated to ethics and the rules of civilized behaviour among peoples and nations."

The full text of the article can be found here.

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In the News
Addressing the Concerns of the People

Harper Prepares New Legislation to
Expand Arbitrary Powers

Three young men from Ottawa -- twin brothers Ashton and Carlos Larmond, 24 and Suliman Mohamed, 21 -- were arrested on January 9 and January 12, respectively. Ashton Larmond is charged with facilitating terrorist activity, participation in the activity of a terrorist group, and instructing to carry out activity for a terrorist group. His brother Carlos is charged with participation in the activity of a terrorist group and attempting to leave Canada to participate in terrorist activity abroad. Suliman Mohamed has been charged with one count of participation in the activity of a terrorist group and one count of conspiracy to participate in a terrorist activity.

According to Professor Wesley Wark, who specializes in security matters, Carlos Larmond is the first person in Canada to be arraigned in a Canadian court under the provisions of the Combatting Terrorism Act which make it a crime to attempt to leave Canada to participate in terrorist activity abroad.

News reports state that Carlos Larmond was arrested when he was about to board a plane to Delhi, India and that authorities suspected that he would reroute at Frankfurt, Germany to Turkey and eventually Syria.

Defence lawyer Joseph Addelman who represents the Larmond brothers said that they will "vigorously defend themselves against these allegations" which he said "strike at the heart of Canadian democratic principles."

"This is going to be a case where we are going to determine how much value the Canadian system truly places on freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, and these matters will be determined in court," Addelman said. "All Canadians have the right to express their religious beliefs and participate in free assembly without that being a criminal offence."

Lawyer Doug Baum who represents Suliman Mohamed said that the prosecutor has not made any disclosure and that he and his client do not know the basis for the accusations against him.

The arrests were quickly followed by "leaks" to the monopoly media regarding legislation which is now being drawn up to increase the arbitrary powers of the state to detain and arrest people and increased powers for security agencies to increase surveillance and information-gathering on Canadians. It is reported that the legislation will lower the threshold required to arrest and detain a person in "preventive detention."

Like the response to the killing of Canadian soldiers on October 20 and 22, 2014, the Harper government is once again sowing fear and hysteria to push a narrow agenda that attacks the rights of all. Prime Minister Harper has stated that new legislation is necessary because Canada is "at war," in essence invoking George W. Bush's "war on terror" that has proven so utterly disastrous. "They have declared war on any country like ourselves that values freedom, openness and tolerance. And we may not like this and wish it would go away, but it is not going to go away and the reality is we are going to have to confront it." As in the case of the incidents this past fall, the Harper government is once again conflating its opinion with fact about what these youth were doing, prior to any actual facts coming to light or a trial taking place, to justify taking the extreme position of "going to war." A war against what and whom?

By "confronting" this "war," Harper means that in the name or defending "freedom, openness and tolerance," the sweeping arbitrary and secret powers his government has already given Canadian and U.S. security authorities are to be expanded and enlarged. Past experience shows that increasing such powers will only undermine "freedom, openness and tolerance."

The Combatting Terrorism Act which became law in 2013 re-established the regime of preventative arrest without a warrant enacted after 9/11. Such an arrest can be made based on suspicion that the person may intend to commit a crime or the opinion of authorities that the person may have information about someone else they believe may be involved in terrorist activity. The Act allows detention for up to one year. The Act also permits authorities to arrest someone who they believe is going to leave Canada with the intention of committing terrorist activity or supporting it.

Media sources report that the Harper government is also considering new legislation to criminalize citizens who are deemed to support terrorist attacks on the internet or who declare support for groups that promote such attacks.

Other changes pertain to privacy legislation. The examples being given by media include passing on information submitted in passport applications to Canadian security agencies and giving the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development powers to pass on information about the import or export of chemicals that could be used to make weapons.

One concern raised by many is that Canada already has more than enough legislation to hold those who commit crimes responsible, as well as to prevent crimes from being committed. More legislation is not required, they say. But more important is the issue of how the state should carry out its responsibility to protect people against terrorist acts, in Canada and abroad. A definition of terrorism that upholds the rights of all, at home and in other countries is required. The Harper government cannot be permitted to provide self-serving definitions of terrorism which confound it with Islam or the right to resist, as in the case of the Palestinian and other peoples fighting occupation, foreign aggression or state terror. It cannot be permitted to engage in acts of state terrorism under the pretext of opposing terrorism.

In this regard, the failure to release the video made by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the man who killed the army reservist at the War Memorial and fired shots in the Parliament buildings on October 22, 2014, is very instructive. Zehaf-Bibeau made a video before he carried out his attacks which is said to explain his motives. Release of the video could provide important insight as to whether Zehaf-Bibeau carried out a planned, deliberate terrorist attack or whether his actions were those of a mentally ill individual, suffering from addiction and social isolation. Its release would provide information relevant to a calm and rational debate about the causes and remedies for such tragedies. Instead, the initial statement by the RCMP that the video would be released as soon as possible has been replaced with a statement that there are no plans in place for such a release. Observers are of the opinion that this is due to direct intervention by the Harper government. It does not favour the people and is profoundly dangerous to allow someone to simply be declared a terrorist as no further investigation and no public scrutiny is required.

What is needed is to focus discussion and action on how to resolve the situation in favour of the people. It does not favour the people to withhold information, particularly when the motive seems to be to suppress information which might call into question Harper's immediate conclusion about the nature of this act. It is even more unacceptable when these conclusions then become the pretext for new legislation which provides more arbitrary powers.

The concept of the "radicalized individual" has been introduced as equivalent to declaring someone a terrorist, but there is no definition of what it means to be "radicalized." The word radical means going to the root or source. It means following the facts and evidence where they lead not going from preconceived opinions of what is socially acceptable or "accepted" opinion and so on. This is precisely what is not done. Instead, the concept of the "radicalized" person mixes up criminal acts of terror with opinion that is critical of governments, opposition to U.S./NATO wars of aggression and occupation, or other opinions and is used to criminalize opinion.

The Canadian government conducts surveillance on Canadians from all walks of life who take a stand in defence of their rights and the rights of all. Documents tabled in Parliament show that the federal government has tracked some 800 demonstrations across Canada and around the world since 2006. These surveillance reports were collected by the Government Operations Centre which is supposed to prepare the federal government's response to emergencies. Reports were in some cases provided by CSIS or the RCMP. They include Idle No More rallies in defence of aboriginal rights, students' protests in Montreal, a university panel discussion on historical colonialism and race relations in Quebec, rallies organized by public sector unions, marches and vigils for murdered and missing aboriginal women, and a protest of lobster fishers in New Brunswick.

The Canadian government is also known for using its security agents to incite others to criminal acts that they otherwise would not have taken in order to justify increased security measures. In some cases, these agents have themselves directly engaged in criminal acts. Such activity is used to delegitimize the people's resistance and defence of rights and to put in place measures to criminalize progressive forces. It is a warranted question to ask what involvement state agencies may have had in the alleged terrorist activity of these youth.

A democratic society cannot accept that holding or giving an opinion is a crime, provided that established standards of human behaviour are not violated, judged according to the accepted norms which guarantee due process. It cannot accept that such standards are thrown out the window and replaced with arbitrary powers to criminalize anyone on the basis of opinion. To accuse someone of terrorism or assisting in terrorism is a very serious accusation and the standards of due process must be of the highest level, not the lowest.

(With files from CTV News, CBC, Globe and Mail, and Toronto Star)

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Alarming Increase in Canada's
Sale of Arms to Saudi Arabia

A January 10 item by Warren Bell in the Vancouver Observer, reported that Prime Minister Stephen Harper refused to support the global Arms Trade Treaty, which came into force December 24, 2014, 90 days after being ratified by the 50th nation. Bell writes:

The made-in-Ontario LAV III.

"While doing so, Harper also facilitated more Canadian arms sales this past year than previous governments have ever sanctioned -- a $14.8 billion contract over 10 years to sell Light Armored Vehicles (LAV III) made in Ontario. They are being assembled at a branch plant of U.S.-based General Dynamics, the sixth largest arms manufacturer in the world, with sales of over $31 billion in 2012.

"Canada's weaponry is being sold to Saudi Arabia, the largest arms buyer in the Middle East. It is also the country that has funded the radicalization of Islam for over 40 years, and is the leading exponent of a rigid form of Islamism which preaches rejection of 'infidels.'

"Saudi Arabia is the country in the world where women cannot drive and where days ago a reporter who dared question the strict laws of the country was publicly flogged, fined (over $250,000) and imprisoned for 10 years.

"Not only is Canada selling to the leading Islamist state, it is also selling to Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and even to Iraq, all countries with questionable human rights records. Canada is indiscriminately distributing arms right into the centre of the Middle East, arms which can easily end up in the hands of violent extremists.

"When in the spotlight, Stephen Harper condemns the 'international jihadist movement' and says Canada will do what it can to eliminate the threat embodied by this movement.

"Yet out of the spotlight, he's selling large amounts of weaponry to the very part of the world where he says this threat is coming from."

Bell calls the reasoning "purely amoral."

"These arms sales are directly powered by the Canadian government, through the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC). This agency, in the case of armaments, 'promotes international defence procurement cooperation ... Working as Prime Contractor, the Corporation stands behind every contract ... thus ensuring a high success rate for projects involving CCC. We oversee all contracts from start to finish.'"

This figure from Project Ploughshares puts the recent Canadian arms sales, via the Canadian Commercial Corporation, to Saudi Arabia in context, showing a massive increase
in overall sales for 2013-2014 due to the Saudi contract.

In the opinion of the author, "The violent assaults in and outside Paris are symptoms of a militaristic, violent malaise that grips the world, fuelled, among other things, by a relentless flow of lethal firepower that leaves the entire human community awash in fear and anger, shredding our aspirations for peace to ribbons.

"Our Prime Minister is in the thick of it, sparking the tension with sometimes inflammatory rhetoric and war-like condemnation of the 'bad guys.' Meanwhile, his policies only accelerate the distribution of weapons to those same countries and cultures he rejects.

"It's time for a different way -- a more honest, truly peace-building, warmhearted, inclusive above-board way."

In related news, non-governmental peace group Project Ploughshares recently analyzed the federal government report Export of Military Goods from Canada, 2012-2013. In the analysis, Ken Epp shows that Saudi Arabia has been the largest purchaser of arms from Canada (the report does not include the value of military exports to the U.S.) to the tune of USD$422.3 million and USD$152.8 million worth of arms and military goods from Canadian companies in 2012 and 2013, respectively. This comprises about 92 per cent of all exports to Saudi Arabia by Canadian companies.

According to Epp, ground vehicles and components dominated the shipments, most of them armoured vehicles built by General Dynamics Land Systems Canada in London, Ontario. The government report states that the total value of military exports by Canadian companies to the countries in the Middle East in 2012 exceeded USD$704 million, more than three times the value of such exports to NATO countries for that year.

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Negotiations on Iran's Nuclear Program and Canada's "Digital Diplomacy" Project

Protest in Tehran against attempts to interfere with Iran's sovereign right to possess nuclear technology, November 23, 2014.

On January 15, international negotiations got underway on Iran's nuclear program in Geneva, Switzerland. These negotiations are of great importance for people all over the world. The main subject of the negotiations is the use of nuclear technology and the level of uranium enrichment needed by Iran for the peaceful development of nuclear energy to meet its needs. Coupled with this is the demand by Iran to remove the economic and other sanctions imposed by the U.S. and big European powers to destroy its economy and in this way force Iran to submit to the foreign dictate.

The discussions began last year between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council: Britain, China, France, the Russian Federation and the U.S., plus Germany. They could not be completed within the time frame allotted so all parties agreed to extend the negotiations for another six months.

In following the reports on the negotiations, it is important to establish the aim of both the negotiations as well as the reporting on the negotiations. The aim of the sanctions is also important to establish. In this regard, greatest coverage is being given to Israel's offensive to derail the negotiations. Thus far its main method to destroy any possibility of finding a negotiated solution is to declare that no negotiations with Iran are possible and Iran must be forced to destroy all its centrifuges and give up its program to develop nuclear energy. This approach would certainly lead to a breakdown in negotiations and the imposition of more economic sanctions to try to break Iran and ultimately lead to open war, which the Israelis have been clamouring for all along.

The inter-imperialist contradictions regarding attempts to undermine negotiations could not be any sharper. In a joint press conference at the White House on January 16, 2015, US President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron both appealed to the US Congress not to push for new sanctions against Iran. Obama declared that he would veto any legislation containing new sanctions. Openly challenging Congress which is being pressured by the Israeli lobby, Obama stated, "I've consistently said we leave all options on the table. But Congress should be aware that if this diplomatic solution fails, than the risks and likelihood this ends up at some point a military confrontation is heightened. And Congress will have to own that as well," the president said. "And we may not be able to rebuild the kind of coalition we need in that context if the world believes we were not serious about negotiations."

Clearly the fragile unity between the US and Europe, which is already collapsing because of differences over the sanctions being pushed by the US against Russia, is what is at stake as negotiations with Iran begin.

While Israel and reactionary forces in the U.S., Canada and some European powers are raising the danger of Iran developing nuclear weapons, the fact of the matter is that Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty while Israel is not. Israel has yet to even acknowledge that it possesses hundreds of nuclear weapons. As a signatory to the treaty, Iran is subject to monitoring of its nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Inspections have been carried out on a regular basis but the reports and conclusions these inspections have reached are distorted by those with suspect aims. When talking about the dangers of countries developing nuclear weapons it is important to point out that the U.S., Britain, France, China, Russia, Pakistan, India and Israel among others, already possess thousands of such weapons which pose grave dangers to the peoples of the world, especially the danger of nuclear blackmail if they do not toe the line the imperialists demand.

Meanwhile, the countries that are seeking to sabotage the upcoming negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program intend to call for even more severe economic sanctions in order to break Iran with the ultimate threat of a open war.

Besides Israel, reactionary forces in the U.S. and Europe are also active in pursuing a dangerous policy of warmongering and aggressive attacks against the government of Iran and the Iranian people but none more so than the Government of Canada under Stephen Harper. At a time when what is needed is calm discussion and negotiations to find solutions to the international situation, especially in North Africa and Central and East Asia, the Harper Conservatives are using lies and distortions to promote a policy of outright military attacks against Iran.

On January 6, an article appeared in the Globe and Mail entitled, "Looking for a Way to Talk to Iran, Ottawa Backs 'Direct Diplomacy.'" This "direct diplomacy" has nothing to do with diplomacy. It has nothing to do with negotiations and dialogue to solve problems. It is in fact an irresponsible and dangerous plan to bypass the government and elected leaders of Iran and to interfere directly in the internal affairs of Iranian society. This is a continuation of the same strategy which is being implemented against other countries including Russia, Iraq and Syria. In fact, it takes its cue directly from the Obama playbook, which has made it very clear that the U.S. will deal directly with citizens of various countries and NGOs that do its bidding and bypass governments altogether.

The Canadian government calls these reprehensible actions, which interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign nations, "direct diplomacy." The article in the Globe and Mail announces funding for this project, which will be launched and run by the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs. The article explains, "First launched during the lead-up to Iran's 2013 presidential election, the project was touted as a method for bypassing Tehran and offering a platform for dissidents and human-rights activists in the country."

While preparations were underway for successful discussions on Iran's nuclear program to begin, the Harper government was actively expanding its "direct diplomacy" project which does nothing more than seek regime change by inciting protests and violence in Iran. This project is called, "Global Dialogue on the Future of Iran." It involves an all-sided assault on Iranian society through technology designed to overwhelm online networks. It also involves launching YouTube and Twitter accounts in Farsi.

The Globe and Mail quotes the well-known professor at the Munk School Janice Stein, who stated, "the next phase will involve the creation of a digital public square that will bring together the tools that have already been established, create new ones and expand the project's reach into other countries and regions."

A Canadian official added that while Iran would remain a focal point for the "direct diplomacy" project, its expansion would allow the Munk School to look at other locations where a similar strategy could be used, such as Russia and so-called Islamic State-controlled regions of Iraq and Syria. He explained that future projects could include platforms to help people access restricted web sites and generate "counter narratives" that could challenge the message of a repressive regime.

These "counter-narratives" are a form of incitement of hatred and disinformation in the name of high ideals. They reveal the crisis in which international relations are mired where countries such as Canada use their superior access to technology, membership in NATO and integration with the U.S. imperialist armed forces, to wage cyber warfare to effect regime change.

Canadians require an anti-war government which would immediately restore diplomatic relations with Iran and all countries on the basis of recognizing that all countries have the right to self-determination and are equal, whether big or small, and have the right to defend themselves. Economic and other sanctions now in force against the Iranian government and people should be withdrawn because Iran is violating no international laws of any kind.

Solutions to the problems and dangers which face both the Iranian people and peoples of the region and the world can be found on the basis of high level dialogue and negotiations. Iran is neither a small nor weak country. Canada's attempts to effect regime change to serve foreign interests will not succeed but they are very dangerous to the peace and security of the peoples.

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U.S. War Preparations in Asia

Obama's Cowardly Executive Order for
More Unjust Sanctions Against the DPRK

On January 2, U.S. President Obama signed an executive order imposing further sanctions against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on the fraudulent basis that the DPRK is responsible for the cyber attacks on Sony Pictures last month. The executive order cites the "provocative, destabilizing and repressive actions" of the government of the DPRK which "constitute a continuing threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States." It is interesting to note that Obama is accusing the DPRK of all sorts of crimes that in fact are being carried out by the U.S. against the DPRK! The sanctions target certain officials of the Workers' Party of Korea and officials of companies which are spuriously linked with arms trading and which are no longer allowed to use the U.S. financial system. The sanctions prohibit U.S. citizens from dealing with those targeted.

This is a desperate action by the U.S. to obfuscate the situation and cover up that there is no evidence that the DPRK was responsible in any way for these cyber attacks against Sony Pictures. Furthermore, if past history is any indication, the U.S. modus operandi is to always falsely accuse the DPRK using the technique of the "big lie" in order to provoke that country, justify aggression against it and push for regime change. This was the same technique that was used to justify economic sanctions against the DPRK for the alleged torpedoing of the south Korean frigate the Cheonan on March 26, 2010. Despite the bogus report created by the Joint Investigation Group which included Canada, no actual evidence was found linking the DPRK to this incident. To the contrary, much evidence that came to light, thanks to independent researchers in south Korea, indicated the great unlikelihood that the DPRK was involved in the incident.

The executive order imposing the latest sanctions against the DPRK is an act of aggression and an escalation of the yet unfinished Korean War. It will further isolate the U.S. warmongers in the international arena because of the principled stand taken by the DPRK in its own defence and its call for a peace treaty with the U.S. and for diplomatic solutions to conflicts with the U.S. The sanctions against the DPRK stand in sharp contrast with the U.S. being forced to abandon decades of sanctions against Cuba "that did not work" according to Obama himself, and the re-establishment of U.S.-Cuba relations last month -- as a result of diplomacy at the highest levels.

The executive order against the DPRK is contemptible. Peace- and justice-loving people in Canada, the U.S. and around the world should demand that it be withdrawn and that a peace treaty be signed between the U.S. and DPRK to end the Korean War and normalize relations between the two countries. The U.S. should withdraw all its troops and weapons from the territory in south Korea.

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U.S. Should Listen to DPRK's Appeal for Peace

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has expressed unusual willingness since the beginning of the new year to resume DPRK-South Korea summits and hold direct dialogue with the United States.

The United States, which holds a stake in the Korean Peninsula's peace and stability, needs to seize this opportunity to listen to the DPRK's voice and join hands with other pertinent parties to resolve the decades-old predicament.

In the first significant move since the DPRK's leader Kim Jong Un came to office three years ago, the DPRK's representative to the Six Party Talks Ri Yong Ho and former U.S. Special Representative for DPRK Policy Stephen Bosworth are scheduled to begin two days of talks on Sunday, January 17 in Singapore.

Last year, the DPRK's diplomatic activities focused on its relations with Russia and Japan. This year, they have shifted toward South Korea and the United States.

In his New Year's speech on January 1, Kim said, "There is no reason not to hold highest-level talks" with South Korean President Park Geun-hye if the right atmosphere is created.

In response, Park said at her New Year's press conference that she could meet with Kim if it promotes inter-Korean relations, but she noted that the DPRK should show sincerity toward resolving issues through dialogue.

Pyongyang also clearly knows that whether the inter-Korean talks can resume depends on the United States which is the dominant player of the U.S.-South Korea alliance.

Moreover, to fulfill Kim's promise to boost economic development and improve the people's well-being, the DPRK needs a peaceful external environment.

The DPRK has long regarded South Korea-U.S. joint military drills as a serious threat to its security on a divided peninsula. Starting talks with the United States will be a shortcut for the DPRK to resume negotiations with South Korea.

However, the U.S. response to Pyongyang has been negative and disappointing. U.S. President Barack Obama on January 2 signed an executive order to impose sanctions on the DPRK government, disregarding its proposal to jointly investigate the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment over a comedy film, "The Interview."

Despite the rejection, DPRK made a "crucial" proposal on January 9 to the U.S. side, demanding the suspension of joint U.S.-Korean military drills in exchange for a temporary suspension of its nuclear tests, and made it clear that it is ready to sit with Washington anytime, if the United States needs to hold talks regarding the issue.

Unfortunately, the DPRK's olive branch was rejected once again, as the U.S. side sensed a subtle threat in the initiative.

However, the DPRK has never given up its efforts to talk directly with the United States. A senior Pyongyang representative at the United Nations said January 13 that the DPRK is ready to explain the intention behind its proposal directly to the United States, if the latter wants "additional explanations about our proposal."

Actually, the proposal, if adopted this year, may bring about many changes on the Korean Peninsula, as the DPRK sees the large-scale war exercises undertaken by the United States and South Korea every year as the root cause of the escalating tensions and the danger of a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula.

On the 70th anniversary of the end of Japanese colonial rule and the division of the peninsula, it is high time the United States patiently listen to the DPRK's appeal for peace to help achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and safeguard its peace and stability through dialogue and consultations.

(January 16, 2015. Slightly edited for style by TML.)

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Peace on Korean Peninsula
Needs Reciprocal Actions

Washington's flat refusal on January 10 of Pyongyang's proposal to temporarily suspend nuclear tests in exchange for a halt to joint military exercises by the U.S. and South Korea does no good for trust-building and the realization of peace on the divided peninsula.

In fact, the offer, which the United States deemed an "implicit threat," is a gesture of goodwill from the Democratic People's Republic Korea (DPRK) for a peaceful solution to the decades-long crisis on the Korean Peninsula.

The proposal is the latest effort at easing tensions made in recent months by the Kim Jong Un administration to initiate trust-based dialogue or detente with the United States and South Korea.

Unfortunately, it fell on deaf ears.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki outright slammed the proposal for what she said "inappropriately links routine U.S.-South Korea exercises" and the possibility of a nuclear test by the DPRK, and said that this "is an implicit threat."

The U.S. failed to notice, or chose to ignore, the potentially positive change to the intense atmosphere surrounding the Korean Peninsula that could come if the proposal was implemented.

National security is the "priority of priorities" for any country on the planet, let alone a nation like the DPRK that has been isolated and sanctioned for decades.

Quite contrary to what Psaki said, the possibility of nuclear tests by Pyongyang and U.S.-South Korea military exercises are not separate issues.

For one thing, the nearly 40-year-old military exercises, which Uncle Sam uses as the Sword of Damocles, have failed so far to bring peace and reconciliation to the peninsula.

For another, the annual large-scale war games in South Korea and "its vicinity" encourage brinkmanship on the peninsula, and constitute the main cause -- if not the root cause -- of an anxious and sensitive DPRK.

Believe it or not, a cornered and reckless DPRK is not a blessing to the region or the world at large. Blind arrogance and constant neglect of the olive branches the country has offered might be the last straw for the isolated nation.

Just as China has repeatedly urged, trust-based dialogue is the only way out of the decades-long stalemate and for the resumption of the six-party talks on the denuclearization of the peninsula, and that has been endorsed by the international community.

It is greatly hoped that the United States seizes the opportunity and positively responds to the DPRK's latest offer. After all, peace on the peninsula and rapprochement between long-time foes need reciprocal actions. Now the ball is in Washington's court.

(Xinhua, January 11, 2015. Slightly edited for style by TML.)

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Military Occupation of Japan --
One of the Greatest Threats to World peace

Map of the 135 U.S. military facilities across Japan, circa 2010 -- click to enlarge.

The U.S. Empire uses its military occupation of Japan as its main base for predatory wars in Asia. The U.S. war to conquer valiant Korea, which continues to date, is prosecuted from U.S.-occupied Japan. Likewise, U.S.-occupied Japan served as a base for the U.S. predatory war to destroy the independence of Vietnam and turn it into a vassal state, which the victorious Vietnamese thwarted with courage, great sacrifice and honour. The U.S. militarists have used occupied Japan as the forward spear against the struggle of the Chinese in their anti-colonial struggle to affirm their rights as an independent people.

U.S.-occupied Japan is an open wound on the body politic of Japan, Asia and the world. The Japanese people cannot move their country forward to contribute to peace unless they end the U.S. military occupation of their homeland. An important aspect of the military occupation is the cultural aggression that serves to emasculate the people and their thinking so as to deprive them of political empowerment. The cultural aggression is aimed in particular against the large Japanese industrial proletariat. Worldwide, U.S. imperialist cultural aggression has at its core a racist and anti-communist ideology.

A very unpopular bilateral U.S.-Japan security treaty was signed on September 8, 1951, which set the groundwork for the de facto continuance of the U.S. military occupation of Japan. In Tokyo on May 1, 1952, just days after the official post-war occupation of Japan formally ended, mass protests took place against the agreement. The state repression was such that two protestors were killed and 22 shot by police, with more than 2,000 people injured.

U.S. occupation of Japan is a festering sore and great danger to progress and peace. Each time certain advances are made to bring together the peoples of East Asia, the U.S. military itself or its paid mercenaries launches a provocation to destroy any steps towards peace and friendship.

Canadians must do everything they can to end this debacle of history and force the U.S. imperialists to bring their troops back home. The struggle to form an anti-war government in Canada and break all ties with the U.S. military is a necessary aspect of reining in the U.S. warmongers.

With President Obama's "pivot to Asia," the scope and frequency of the U.S. armed forces participating with the Japanese and puppet South Korean militaries in major war exercises has been rising in recent years accompanied with mounting anti-Korean and anti-Chinese rhetoric. The United States Pacific Command coordinates constant military exercises on mainland Japan, the Korean Peninsula and throughout the waters of East Asia in preparation for a pre-emptive attack on China or the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Advanced U.S. weaponry often makes its debut in Japan, where soldiers are constantly trained in using the most destructive weapons of mass destruction including nuclear armed missiles.

U.S. military personnel in East Asia, circa 2012 -- click to enlarge.

The annual amount the Japanese government gives the U.S. military to sustain its occupation was reported to be 674 billion yen (CAD$6.63 billion) in 2014. In addition to money from Japan, the U.S. government says it spends another CAD$6.26 billion dollars annually to maintain its occupation. The U.S. military's fixed facilities in Japan have an accumulated value of about CAD$57.3 billion dollars.

The Japanese government's 2014 payment of 674 billion yen is equivalent to around $122,000 per U.S. military personnel stationed in Japan. U.S. occupying troops total 54,355 personnel along with approximately 40,000 dependents and another 5,500 U.S. civilians working in Japan for the U.S. Department of Defense. The budget includes money for wages of Japanese employees on U.S. bases, construction costs including soundproofing of residences for U.S. service personnel, land rents used by the U.S. forces, and realignment of the U.S. military in Japan amongst other things. Japanese government funds have been used to build 12,900 military installations for the U.S. forces such as blast-proof shelters for fighter jets, airport runways, piers and berths for warships, including a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, and housing, schools, and hospitals for U.S. troops and their families.

U.S. military forces are spread throughout Japan at 83 facilities operated directly by the U.S. and another 49 facilities jointly operated by the U.S. and Japanese militaries. The headquarters of the United States Forces in Japan is located at the Yokota U.S. Air Base in the western region of Tokyo.

Major installations include a port in Tokyo for the United States Fleet Activities Yokosuka, the base for the United States Seventh Fleet. The U.S. Seventh Fleet based in Yokosuka has played a critical role in the U.S. wars of aggression in Korea and Vietnam. Yokosuka was the site of many anti-war protests during the late 1960s and '70s. The nuclear-powered USS George Washington is currently based at Yokosuka.

Tokyo protest against the revision and renewal of the reviled U.S.-Japan security treaty,
June 11, 1960.

One hundred and thirty USAF warplanes are stationed at the U.S. Misawa Air Base 684 km north of Tokyo, in Aomori Prefecture. The base is home to 5,200 U.S. military personnel, as well as 350 U.S. civilian employees and 900 Japanese national employees. The Misawa Passive Radio Frequency space surveillance site is used for tracking satellites using the signals they transmit. The Misawa Security Operations Center (although secret) is believed to be one of the largest ECHELON ground stations in the world, a "Five Eyes" operation that excludes the Japanese.[1]

The 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force is based in Okinawa a thousand kilometres southwest of the main Japanese islands, where the Kadena Air Base is also located, a site of constant demonstrations demanding the removal of U.S. troops from Okinawa. Also located in Okinawa is the hated Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, a United States Marine Corps base located right within the busy city of Ginowan, just nine km northeast of Naha, the capital of Okinawa. Futenma is home to approximately 3,000 Marines of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing where warplanes continuously take off and land. The people of Okinawa have led an important struggle for removal of the base, which was agreed to years ago but stalled by successive Japanese governments in Tokyo. Almost all elected officials in Okinawa want Futenma removed completely and not relocated in Japan. The recently elected Governor of Okinawa has vowed to veto any landfill work needed to move Futenma to a northern location on the island and demands instead the complete removal of the base. In concert with the people of Okinawa, the elected officials from the southern islands want the entire U.S. military occupation of Japan ended immediately and are currently engaged in a historic showdown with the Tokyo central dictatorship.

Activists blocking contruction vehicles involved in the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Camp Schwab in Henoko, Okinawa, are attacked by the Okinawa prefectural police force, January 14, 2014. The late night movement of contruction vehicles is seen by activists as an act of desperation because of the successful daytime protests.

Canadians can play a role in this important battle for peace by fighting for the formation of an anti-war government in Canada. An anti-war government would cut all ties with the U.S. military including its spy networks and agencies used for political destabilization. An anti-war government would take up its social responsibilities to demand the U.S. military leave Japan and South Korea and let the peoples of Asia settle their problems themselves by their own efforts without outside interference. As it stands, the presence of the U.S. military in Asia is the main factor against resolving any issue peacefully. U.S. interference includes constant war games, threats of military surprise attacks, the sale of advanced weaponry, U.S. imperialist cultural aggression, and its active meddling in the political affairs of others to destabilize regimes and put in power malleable flunkies.

All out to Build Committees of People's Empowerment
that Fight for Democratic Renewal and an Anti-war Government!


1. ECHELON is a signals intelligence collection and analysis spy network operated on behalf of the five signatory nations to the UK-USA Security Agreement -- Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The agreement is referred to as the Five Eyes. ECHELON has been described as a software system to control the download and dissemination of intercepted commercial satellite trunk communications (including those via Internet) for military and industrial espionage purposes. The system has evolved beyond its military/diplomatic origins to also become a global system for the interception of private and commercial communications. Britain's Guardian newspaper summarized the capabilities of the ECHELON system as, "A global network of electronic spy stations that can eavesdrop on telephones, faxes and computers. It can even track bank accounts. This information is stored in Echelon computers, which can keep millions of records on individuals." Officially, Echelon does not exist but is known to be connected with the U.S. National Security Agency and used to disrupt Internet usage worldwide and cause provocations with the DPRK, China and other countries in preparation for regime change and war.

(Sources: Akahata, Japan Press Weekly, Mainichi Shimbun, Wikipedia. Photos: Japan Focus, H. Hamaya, Mainichi Shimbun, Center for Strategic and International Studies, T. Morizumi)

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Discussion of Oil Prices

Oil and the U.S. Empire

Oil has become a strategic resource in the modern world. Oil is necessary for industrial mass production, transportation and warfare.

A human-centred outlook towards oil regards the resource as necessary for mutual development of all peoples to a modern standard wherein all nations are regarded as equal without reference to size or development, where the rights of all peoples are affirmed and force is not used to settle conflicts amongst nations, and the short and long term consequences of the use of oil on the social and natural environments are important considerations in nation- building.

A capital-centred outlook regards oil as necessary for empire-building to amass and concentrate greater power and social wealth for the dominant Empire from the subjugation of the world's peoples and exploitation of their resources and work, to restrict competitors' access to resources, workers and markets, and to suppress all resistance to empire-building through predatory war and other means wherein the short and long term consequences of the use of oil on the social and natural environments are dismissed as impediments to empire-building.

In reaching superpower status and hegemony over the world, the U.S. has built military bases and stationed its naval forces throughout the world to control the production and distribution of oil and increasingly natural gas as well, and restrict access of competitors to these and other resources and to engage in subversion and armed combat to eliminate resistance to U.S. empire- building.

The worldwide deployment of U.S. armed forces is the backbone of its empire-building project. The U.S. military in alliance with corrupt, coerced and bribed governments exercises dictatorship over the world's peoples, their resources and social wealth. It now seeks to consolidate its hegemony with a pivot to Asia, which requires a strengthened grip on old Europe, and isolation and subjugation of Russia.

Any government that steps out courageously on a path of independence from the U.S. Empire does so knowing that the entire military, political, espionage and aggressive cultural weapons and accumulated social wealth and economic strength and connections of U.S. imperialism will be unleashed against it. The people striving for independence must use the power of their state and mobilize their people in defence of their right to be in the battle against the U.S. Empire. The independent state skillfully and bravely must find ways and allies to deprive the U.S. Empire of the power to deprive the world's peoples of their independence and right to be.

Venezuelan oil workers at state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela SA demonstrate in May 2011 against sanctions imposed by the U.S. after Venezuela asserted control over its resources.

The striving for independence includes, importantly, the securing of oil if it lacks a ready source and finding buyers if it has quantities for export. The U.S. Empire does not make this an easy task for any people, creating situations whereby nations must rely on the U.S. and be beholden to it. The global U.S. military force attempts to block transportation of oil and other resources from countries striving for independence, which either need oil or want to export it. Within this worldwide blockade, U.S. sanctions on the economies of independent countries are important economic weapons employed in concert with actions of coerced and compliant sycophants against the popular will.

Fortress North America and Exercising Control over
Energy Resources and Their Price

The monopoly control of prices is another weapon the U.S. Empire employs against the peoples of the world. To facilitate the manipulation of the price of oil to attack those peoples and states striving for independence that have oil for export, the U.S. Empire has formed Fortress North America combining the three states of Mexico, Canada and the United States. Fortress North America has flooded the world with oil and natural gas, especially from fracked shale in the U.S. and oil sands in Alberta. Both production methods have prices of production well above the current $48 per barrel realized price and both are widely considered harmful to the social and natural environments.

Demonstration in Ottawa, September 26, 2011, against the Keystone XL pipeline.

All the incremental growth of oil in the world in recent years has come from the U.S. and Canada. Saudi Arabia announced it would continue to produce its current amount to maintain a grip on its market share. U.S. oil production has expanded to 9.14 million barrels a day, the highest level since January 1983. Canadian production of crude has climbed to a record 3.5 million barrels a day. Estimates are that one million barrels of oil production per day cannot find buyers at any price and is being stored. Similar frantic expansion has been occurring in the natural gas sector, along with proposals for liquefied natural gas (LNG) refineries for sea transport. Natural gas prices have declined to $3.14 per million British thermal units, down 26 per cent during 2014. Oil and natural gas corridors going east, west and south are at various points of expansion coordinated by Fortress North America, where security of oil and natural gas supply in preparation for war is a major consideration.

The financing of frenetic energy expansion without concern for particular economic or environmental consequences has come mainly from the U.S. government pouring trillions of dollars into the coffers of the largest private financial enterprises far in excess of growth in the economy's goods and services sector. This excess money supply has subsequently been doled out to the oil, gas, pipeline and LNG developers in chaotic anarchic abandon without consideration of the glut of supply and ensuing destructive consequences. Some of this borrowed money is now in danger of default because of low realized prices and mass layoffs have already been announced in the energy sector. The incoherence of letting loose competing capitalists with easy money in such a sensitive important basic sector of the economy, unleashing anarchy and destruction in production and prices not to speak of the environmental considerations and hostile global politics is a serious indictment of the Obama and Harper dictatorships and their complete disregard for humanity's future. They are unfit to rule!

Many of the new jobs in the U.S. and Canada since the economic crisis in 2008 have come from the energy sector. The U.S. oil industry has showed 50 per cent employment growth since 2009 almost all from fracking wells and exploration. Now, according to Tom Runiewicz, a U.S. industry economist at IHS Global Insight, if oil stays around $56 a barrel till the middle of 2015 (it has since fallen to $48), a sharp drop of direct employment will occur and companies providing services to the oil and gas industry could lose 40,000 jobs, while oil and gas equipment manufacturers may lay off 6,000 workers. The New York Times reports, "U.S. states dependent on oil and gas revenue are bracing for layoffs, slashing agency budgets and growing increasingly anxious about the ripple effect that falling oil prices may have on their local economies."

What has driven this expansion in oil and natural gas supply and transportation, quite knowingly at odds with apparent demand and using production techniques considered by many in the sector to be hazardous to the social and natural environments? The first answer would be greed, as energy companies using cheap government supplied money and publicly funded infrastructure have seized millions of dollars in profits at least until realized prices recently fell. The second answer would be a political decision of the U.S. Empire to form Fortress North America to secure oil and natural gas resources in preparation for war and to flood the global market with excess supply to depress prices to attack specifically Russia, Iran and Venezuela.

Meanwhile, Canadian workers have become collateral damage in the U.S. economic aggression against other countries, anarchy of production and subsequent collapse of prices. On January 13, oil sands firm and Canada's biggest energy company Suncor announced that due to low oil prices, it would be reducing its 2015 budget by $1 billion, holding off on an expansion project and cutting some 1,000 jobs. Other large energy companies have announced similar layoffs.

Oil is presently trading at about $48 per barrel, well below the $74.55 Suncor used when it prepared and released its original 2015 budget. Notably, the Globe and Mail reports, "Suncor did not reduce its production expectations for 2015. It predicts it will churn out between 540,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day and 585,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day this year." This continued, "churning out" and desperation to complete the Keystone and other pipelines make clear that Fortress North America is not intended to ensure the well-being or security of those who live within its borders or that oil production in Canada is linked to the needs and development of the national economy. Oil production is not planned in any rational coherent manner integrated seamlessly into the broad economy, taking into consideration the social and natural environments. No, oil and natural gas production is one more weapon in the arsenal of the U.S. Empire to feed its insatiable war machine and its aggressive global politics, while the people and their needs are expendable.

Fascist Coup d'État in Ukraine

The deliberate production of a glut in oil and natural gas, using methods known to be harmful to the social and natural environments, targets Russia and its natural gas market in Europe and oil sales elsewhere. The aim appears to be not only to weaken those three oil producing states, labelled antagonists to the U.S. Empire, with regard to their export income but also to wean the European energy market away from Russian natural gas and into the orbit of the U.S. Empire eventually to be supplied with LNG from Fortress North America.

People of Crimea celebrate decision to secede from Ukraine, March 16, 2014. (Xinhua)

A major part of this plan has been for the U.S. spy agencies and Special Forces to destabilize Ukraine, which culminated in a coup d'état last February and persecution of and aggression against those regions of Ukraine perceived as close fraternally and politically to Russia. The coup d'état installed a fascist government under the control of the U.S. Empire. The people in Eastern Ukraine rebelled and responded defensively organizing themselves to beat back the assaults of criminal gangs unleashed by the coup forces. They also held a successful referendum in Crimea to break with the Kiev coup regime and rejoin Russia. In response to the Ukrainian resistance, the U.S. Empire together with sycophants in Europe and the likes of Canada initiated a war of sanctions against Russia and stationed increased numbers of U.S.-led NATO troops and weapons of mass destruction near Russia's borders.

The U.S. Empire has told old Europe in words and actions that it should now rely on energy supplies from Fortress North America instead of Russia. The proposal to supplant Russia as the major supplier of natural gas into Europe, along with the collapse in the price of oil and natural gas and speculative pressure on the Russian currency decreasing its relative value with others, and a broad increase of U.S.-led NATO military forces on Russia's borders are aimed at regime change in Russia or at least serious disruption and weakening of its independent strength. Monopolies of the U.S. Empire could then move into Russia unimpeded to seize its resources and workers, and suppress any Russian dreams of a stable Eurasian economic cooperative market with Russia in the middle, which now exists in an initial form as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

The U.S. Empire believes it can put old Europe more firmly in the U.S. camp through attacking and weakening Russia, and by using its espionage services and Special Forces to create a climate of anarchy and violence throughout Europe that draws it into the U.S. "war on terror." From a position of strength in Europe and with Russia suppressed, the U.S. Empire could intensify its pivot to Asia to surround China, the Indian sub-continent and South East Asia and bring them under U.S. dictate assuring global dominance of the U.S. Empire.

Empire-building is fraught with grave dangers including the possibility of a catastrophic world war with nuclear weapons. The responsibility of the people is to stop empire-building before the situation spirals out of control. Our social responsibility as Canadians is to disengage Canada from Fortress North America and begin our own nation-building project in opposition to the warmongering U.S. Empire and in unity with the peoples of the world who are striving for independence and the affirmation of their right to be.

The New Year statement of CPC(M-L) reads, "The use of force to settle conflicts amongst nations and overt pro-war propaganda pervade the monopoly-controlled media and Parliament with jingoistic fervour. History demands that the people organize themselves for an anti-war government that removes Canada from the integrated Northern Command, NATO, NORAD and any other participation with the aggressive U.S. military forces and perfidious spy agencies of torture and interference in the sovereign affairs of the world's peoples. [...]

"In 2015, let us build the organizations and voice of the working class movement and people's striving for empowerment and an anti-war government! All out to make the Committees for People's Empowerment and Renewal Update a success! Defeat Harper in 2015!"

(With files from TML, RT, NYT, Financial Post, Bloomberg News, Globe and Mail)

Views and Analysis

Evo Morales: U.S. Is Behind Current Drop in Oil Prices

The U.S. is behind the current drop in oil prices as it is aiming to undermine the economies of large petroleum producers Russia and Venezuela, Bolivian President Evo Morales told RT in December.

Morales said that it's "a pity" that the U.S. remains on a "wrong course" by continuing to use sanctions against its political rivals.

"[The U.S. thinks] we are living 200, 300 or 500 years ago, instead of today. But all the past should remain in the past. The U.S. should realize this," he told RT's Spanish channel.

America is acting like other large empires did for centuries as they "disseminated strife and hatred inside and outside, wishing to establish political control over other nations and to plunder them economically," Morales said, in an apparent reference to the Spanish conquistadors' invasions of Latin America. The Bolivian President also denounced Europe for being "U.S. accomplices" in implementing sanctions worldwide.

Morales said that President Obama "should stop imposing sanctions" and pay more attention to America's internal problems.

"[...] I am sure that the oil prices' plunge was provoked by the U.S. to undermine the Russian and Venezuelan economies. This is my opinion," Morales said.

He urged Russia and Venezuela to "join their efforts" in countering the U.S.' "aggressive policies."

Morales said, "I am sure the U.S. aggression related to oil price cuts will not last long. Is $60 per barrel a feasible price? Washington is not interested in this. All the U.S. is interested in is an economic assault on some countries to overthrow their presidents. But they will not succeed in this task."

(RT News, December 19, 2014)

Nicolas Maduro: U.S. Conducting Oil War to Destroy Russia and Venezuela

Venezuelan President Maduro addressing Governors and Ministers, December 22, 2014.

The U.S. is conducting an oil war to destroy Russia and Venezuela, the latter country's President Nicolas Maduro said on December 9.

One more objective pursued by the U.S. is to destroy OPEC, he said.

"A real oil war is underway," he said. "Its goal is to destroy Russia, to drive Russia into a collapse as a global power and President Obama admitted the fact in a radio interview today."

Simultaneously, the current slump in oil prices is also aimed at Venezuela, Maduro believes. "It seeks to turn our country into a colony, to destroy our independence and our revolution with the aid of an economic collapse."

He recalled that the price of Venezuelan oil totaled $95 per barrel back in September and it plummeted to a mere $48, or by 50 per cent, by the end of December.

"Still, neither Russia nor Venezuela will surrender and we'll continue our struggle and they won't overpower us," Maduro said.

(TASS News, December 30, 2014)

Russian Foreign Intelligence Service:
West Behind Falling Ruble and Oil Prices

The U.S. and its allies are pursuing a regime change policy towards Russia, deliberately introducing sanctions and attacking the ruble through manipulation of world oil prices, the head of Russia's external intelligence agency has said.

Mikhail Fradkov, the head of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), warned that Moscow is aware of U.S. moves to oust Putin from power.

"Such a desire has been noticed, it's a small secret," Fradkov -- a former prime minister -- told Bloomberg on December 4. "No one wants to see a strong and independent Russia."

He also attributed the more than 30 per cent drop in oil prices partly to U.S. actions. Lower prices for one of Russia's main exports places immense pressure on the ruble, which is also suffering from sanctions. The ruble has lost 39 per cent of its value against the dollar as of December 2014.

Foreign investment funds are taking part in ruble speculation via intermediaries, Fradkov said. "Any speculation has specific schemes and the schemes have a number of participants."

(RT News, December 5, 2014 (excerpts))

A plunge in oil prices has sent tremors through the global political and economic order, setting off an abrupt shift in fortunes that has bolstered the interests of the United States and pushed several big oil-exporting nations -- particularly those hostile to the West, like Russia, Iran and Venezuela -- to the brink of financial crisis.


The price plunge may also influence Iran's deliberations over whether to agree to a deal on its nuclear program with the West; force the oil-rich nations of the Middle East to reassess their role in managing global supply; and give a boost to the economies of the biggest oil-consuming nations, notably the United States and China.


The price drop, said Edward N. Luttwak, a longtime Pentagon adviser and author of several books on geopolitical and economic strategy, "is knocking down America's principal opponents without us even trying." For Iran, which is estimated to be losing $1 billion a month because of the fall, it is as if Congress had passed the much tougher sanctions that the White House lobbied against, he said.


Venezuela, which has the world's largest estimated oil reserves and has used them to position itself as a foil to American "imperialism," received 95 percent of its export earnings from petroleum before prices fell. It is now having trouble paying for social projects at home and for a foreign policy rooted in oil-financed largess, including shipments of reduced-price petroleum to Cuba and elsewhere.


"It is a big boost for the U.S. when three out of four of our active antagonists are seriously weakened, when their room for maneuver is seriously reduced," Mr. Luttwak said, referring to Russia, Iran and Venezuela.

The only major United States antagonist not hurt by the drop in oil prices is North Korea, which imports all of its petroleum.

David L. Goldwyn, who was the State Department's international energy coordinator during President Obama's first term [...] said of the low price of oil [...] "it harms Russia and puts pressure on Iran."


Another casualty of the price collapse has been Belarus, a former Soviet territory long reviled by American officials as Europe's last dictatorship. It produces no significant amount of crude oil itself but has nonetheless taken a big hit. This is because its economy depends heavily on the export of petroleum products that Belarus produces using crude oil supplied, at a steep discount, by Russia.

Marwan Muasher, a former foreign minister of Jordan who is now a vice president at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, predicted another domino effect in Syria as Russia and Iran find it difficult to sustain their economic, military and diplomatic support for President Bashar al-Assad.


[F]ormer K.G.B. agents close to Mr. Putin have long believed that Washington engineered the collapse of the Soviet Union by getting Saudi Arabia to increase oil output, driving down prices and thus starving Moscow of revenue.

In many ways, the recent price fall really is the United States' work, flowing to a large extent from a surge in American oil production through the development of alternative sources like shale.

By offsetting declines in conventional oil production, increases in shale oil output have allowed overall American crude oil production to rise to an average of about nine million barrels a day from five million a day in 2008, according to the United States Energy Information Administration. That four-million-barrel increase is more than either Iraq or Iran, the second- and third-largest OPEC producers after Saudi Arabia, produces each day, and it has put strong downward pressure on world prices.


(December 24, 2014)

What Are the Military Costs of Securing "Our" Oil?

[...] As bad as the costs of pollution and global warming are, as taxpayers we pay another cost for oil. Each year, our military devotes substantial resources to securing access to and safeguarding the transportation of oil and other energy sources. I estimate that we will pay $90 billion this year [2010] to secure oil. If spending on the Iraq War is included, the total rises to $166 billion.

This year, the U.S. government will spend $722 billion on the military, not including military assistance to other countries, space exploration, or veterans' benefits. Defending American access to oil represents a modest share of U.S. militarism.

Calculating the numbers isn't straightforward. Energy security, according to national security documents, is a vital national interest and has been incorporated into military objectives and strategies for more than half a century. But military documents do not attach a dollar figure to each mission, strategy, or objective, so figuring out which military actions relate to oil requires plowing through various documents and devising methodologies.

The U.S. military carves the world up into regions -- Europe, Africa, the Pacific, the Middle East, South America and North America -- each with its own command structure, called a "unified combatant command." I arrived at my estimate of military spending related to securing oil by tracing U.S. military objectives and strategies through these geographic commands and their respective fleets, divisions, and other units. I only considered conventional spending, excluding spending on nuclear weapons. [...]

U.S. Central Command has an "area of responsibility" which stretches from the Arabian Gulf region through Central Asia and was specifically created in 1980 during the Carter administration because of the region's oil reserves. Two-thirds of the world's oil reserves and nearly half of natural gas supplies reside within these twenty countries. Aside from joint training exercises with oil-producing nations, securing oil fields, and a host of other oil-related tasks, the command closely monitors the Strait of Hormuz. Nearly half of all oil transported throughout the world passes through this chokepoint, which has been periodically threatened with disruptions. I estimate about 15% of conventional military spending is directed at supporting the missions and strategies of Central Command, and three-quarters of that spending is related to securing and transporting oil from and through the region, as shown in Table 1.

U.S. Pacific Command ensures transportation of oil, specifically through the Strait of Malacca, one of the two most important strategic oil chokepoints. Fifteen million barrels of oil per day flow from the Middle East and West Africa to Asia. This oil is particularly important to another oil-dependent country -- Japan, an important American ally in the region. Pacific Command is the largest of all the commands, covering half of the globe. It is also responsible for the largest number of troops and is an important provider of training and troops to U.S. Central Command. Given information on bases, assigned troops and other indicators, I estimate that about 35% of conventional military spending is required for missions and strategies for this command and about 20% of that amount is needed for securing the transport of energy throughout the region.

U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command also have resources devoted to securing access to energy. Initially formed to protect Western Europe, [...] European Command is currently postured to project power toward the energy-rich areas of the Caspian Sea, the Caucasus, and the Middle East. Alongside NATO, European Command is increasingly focused on energy security in Europe, especially since the revision of NATO's Strategic Concept in 1999. Finally, the command was also responsible for overseeing the set-up of the newest command, U.S. Africa Command, which was motivated by competition for newly discovered oil reserves. I estimate that around 25% of the military budget is devoted to military strategies relating to Europe and Africa, and of that, about two-fifths can be attributed to securing oil and energy supplies.

U.S. Northern Command and U.S. Southern Command are responsible for North and South America and the surrounding waters. While Canada, Mexico, and Venezuela rank in the top five countries from which the United States imports oil, I could not find definitive activities connected with either Northern or Southern Command that would justify inclusion in the estimate.

Dividing the military budget according to geographic regions and reviewing activities in those regions leads me to conclude that about $90 billion will be spent this year for securing access to and the transport of oil and other energy supplies.

But that number does not include the vast sums spent on the Iraq War. In spite of the Bush administration's claims that the United States invaded Iraq because of weapons of mass destruction, evidence points to oil. Since World War II and historic meetings between President Roosevelt and the leader of Saudi Arabia, U.S. policy interests have been focused on establishing a stronghold in the region. Prior to the invasion, the Bush administration had already made plans for the oil industry, and currently, the military surrounds and secures the oil fields.

Since 2003, the Iraq War has cost U.S. taxpayers three-quarters of a trillion dollars, as shown in Table 2. Though spending will decline this year, including the Iraq War brings total spending on securing access to oil to $166 billion. Other analysts might point to the strategic importance of Afghanistan in a resource-rich region, but spending on that prolonged war and occupation is not included in this analysis.

Recently, President Obama appeased the oil industry by opening large parts of the East Coast, Gulf waters, and elsewhere to drilling. [...] If production were increased, oil prices may drop. [...]

Anita Dancs is assistant Professor of Economics at Western New England College and a staff economist for the Center for Popular Economics.

SOURCES: Energy Information Administration (eia.doe.gov). These estimates are refined and updated from an earlier paper, Anita Dancs with Mary Orisich and Suzanne Smith, "The Military Cost of Securing Energy," National Priorities Project (nationalpriorities.org), October 2008.

(May 2010)

The Global Oil Market (Excerpt)
- Paul Cummings, Dollars & Sense -

[... I]t's impossible to get the whole picture of demand for oil without recognizing one very special oil consumer: the U.S. military. Every tank, armored vehicle, truck, humvee, jet, and missile runs on refined oil, as do most ships. In 2007, the U.S. military consumed about 250 million barrels of oil and 2.6 billion gallons of jet fuel, making it the world's single largest fuel-burning entity. Without oil the Army and Marines could not maneuver, the Air Force could not fly, and most of the Navy could not sail. The United States would be a paralyzed superpower, unable to project power throughout the world. Since all the other military forces in the world also run on oil, the ability to cut their oil lifelines is a tremendous strategic advantage in any conflict. These factors make oil more than just another commodity. Oil is a weapon, a strategic commodity, a national security resource [...]

(July 2008)

The world is awash in oil, I'm hearing. The problem is, it's fairly expensive oil.

Take for example Canada. The country has managed to increase its production of oil by a million barrels a day over the last decade. But almost all of that increase has come from oil sands. If you consider only conventional crude oil, Canadian production today would be a third of a million barrels a day lower than at its peak in 1973.

Canadian production of crude oil, 1947-2013, in mb/d. Blue: Conventional crude plus lease condensate. Orange: oil sands. (Source: Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers)

Even without counting environmental costs, that stuff's not cheap. It was profitable when West Texas Intermediate was over $90. But last week [in early December] WTI closed at $66. Here are some of the estimates from the Wall Street Journal:

The break-even price for new oil-sands surface mines is among the most expensive in the world, at around $85 a barrel, according to the Bank of Nova Scotia. Operating costs at existing mines are less than half that amount. But the break-even point for so-called in situ projects, in which bitumen is heated and pumped up to the surface, range between $40 a barrel and $80 a barrel. Such projects represent the majority of future growth.

Or consider the United States, where production has grown 2 mb/d since 2004. More than 3 mb/d of that growth has come from fracking of oil trapped in tight geologic formations. Without tight oil, U.S. production would be down more than a million barrels a day over the last ten years and down 5-1/2 mb/d from its peak in 1970.

U.S. field production of crude oil, by source, 1860-2013, in millions of barrels per day.
Source: Hamilton (2014).

Estimates again vary, but prices this low have to severely inhibit new investment in U.S. tight oil. Without continuing new drilling, U.S. tight oil production would quickly fall. And the economics of deep ocean drilling, which has also been important in supporting production in the U.S. and around the world, have become even more difficult at today's low prices.

Why am I talking about the costs for Canadian and U.S. oil producers? Because if it had not been for the success of Canada and the United States, world production of crude oil would be down overall over the last decade.

World field production of crude oil and lease condensate, 1980-2013, in millions of
barrels per day. (Source: U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA))

Granted, some of the stagnation in global output has been due to geopolitical disruptions, Libya being the most important example. And Libyan production rebounded significantly this fall, contributing to the current excess supply.

But Libya remains a very unstable place. It does not take much imagination to see the recent gains there being reversed again over the next few months. Nor does one have to be an excessive worrier to be concerned about the possibility of geopolitical turbulence in places like Nigeria and Iraq taking out more of their production, which between them accounted for 5.4 mb/d of last year's world oil supply.

So here's the basic picture. The current surplus of oil was brought about primarily by the success of unconventional oil production in North America, most new investments in which are not sustainable at current prices. Without that production, the price of oil could not remain at current levels. It's just a matter of how long it takes for the high-cost North American producers to cut back in response to current incentives. And when they do, the price has to go back up.

(December 2014)

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