GNEP: Good for Terrorists

I could go on and on a bout why no nukes is good nukes but these folks at the Oxford Research Group (celebrating their silver anniversary) are very articulate so I’ll let them have the floor. From Too Hot to Handle? The Future of Civil Nuclear Power

Richard L. Garwin, IBM Fellow Emeritus and an expert in nuclear-weapon technology, argues that
the new reprocessing scheme proposed in GNEP would make it easier for terrorists to acquire
fissile material needed to fabricate nuclear weapons. Reprocessing was abandoned not only
because of the increased risk of nuclear proliferation but also because it was too expensive to
make commercial sense.

Garwin argues that, far from being proliferation resistant, GNEP makes it easier for terrorists
to acquire nuclear material suitable for fabricating nuclear weapons. He points out that: “To obtain
10 kg of plutonium from ordinary Pressurised Water Reactor spent fuel containing 1% plutonium,
a terrorist would need to acquire and reprocess 1000 kg of highly radioactive material.”

Under GNEP: “the plutonium will be contaminated only with a modest amount of transuranics (TRU)
so that the terrorist would need to reprocess a mere 11 kg of material, and according to
recent Department of Energy (DOE) studies, this would have only about 1/2000 of the
penetrating radiation that would count as ‘self protecting’.” Spent nuclear-power reactor fuel,
however, is so radioactive that it is self-protecting and cannot be handled without
remote-handling equipment.

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So, uh, ya, the PM didn’t really do his homework on this one, did  he?  Or did he?

Thanks to World Report for the lead.

Who’s renting the busses?

Well, I guess Dubya is flexing some muscle over PM Steve these days.

And, apparently, it’s all because of Maude Barlow and the Council of Canadians, the ones some radio personality around here is writing off as an extremist radicals. Now, I don’t know about you, but from my recollection of Maude Barlow the last time she was through here, she’s a pretty tame duck. And she tends to talk a lot of sense, most particularly on water and globalization, I had thought.

Now there’s this issue of North American Union aka Security & Prosperity Partnership aka deep integration. The idea’s been around for a long time, just not so brilliantly orchestrated or articulated. We’ve had “structural adjustment,” the Free Trade Agreement and NAFTA, just a few bits of the language global economics and capitalist ideology have thrown our way as they continue in their lust for more, their disgusting and immoral misuse of resources and promotion of rampant consumerism.

And PM Steve is priming Canadians to accept it while big business works behind the scenes to quietly make it happen. PMS (and a PM or two or more before him) also kowtows yet again to the President of the United States of America, allows the US Army to dictate security in our country! Again, I don’t know about you, but I know I don’t like it when a mucky-muck from another country, most particularly an aggressively violent other country is “protected” by a 25 km security perimeter from seeing what Canadians really think of him and his policies. I mean, is he worried that Maude might kill him? Now that is laughable!

What really gets my goat though is when friends of the mucky-mucks have the complete and utter stupidity to issue a challenge, as reported in the Ottawa Citizen:

“You can be sure it [security] will be pretty strong. I wouldn’t advise anyone to try to get through the 25 kilometres.”

Yet again, I do not know about you, but when I get challenges or threats sent my way by anyone, I get persnickedy. So, I’d like to try breaching the security area. I would. I hope some fine Canadian or group of Canadians charters a bus or organizes a train full of Canadians to get me and a whole lot of others to bring attention to this undemocratic and unethical attack on human rights and human security.

In the meantime, I guess I’ll write the letter The Council of Canadians are asking for (see below). And I’ll talk to a shwack of folks, too. If enough of us make noise, we might just succeed in getting that meeting cancelled. If not, I will see you on the bus or train.

 

INTEGRATE THIS! Teach-In

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ACTION ALERT: Stop SPP talks, consult with Canadians now July 12, 2007Dear activists,As reported on the front-page of the Ottawa Citizen and in numerous other media reports, “Police have derailed plans for a public forum on the Security and Prosperity Partnership that was to take place six kilometres from where the leaders of Canada, Mexico and the U.S. will gather next month for a summit.” (See Ottawa Citizen Police nix meeting near world leaders, July 12, 2007)The news report states, “The forum was scheduled for August 19, the day before Prime Minister Stephen Harper, U.S. President George W. Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon are due to start two days of meetings on the security partnership, a controversial initiative aimed at more closely aligning the three countries in a variety of areas.”

Frederic Castonguay, the municipality of Papineauville’s general manager, “confirmed he had been called by Mr. Guy Cote (of the Quebec provincial police), who told him that the police and U.S. army need the community centre as a base of operations for summit security.” Despite the fact that the Council of Canadians had paid its $100 deposit for the space, Mr. Castonguay said the police, “didn’t want us to rent it to anyone because they need the room there to put equipment and special vehicles. There was no choice.”

The Council of Canadians in coalition with other organizations, including the Canadian Labour Congress, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Communications, Energy & Paperworkers Union of Canada, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Common Frontiers-Canada and the Quebec Network on Continental Integration, had planned to hold a public forum on the Security and Prosperity Partnership in the nearby community with Maude Barlow and a panel of writers, academics and parliamentarians. This public forum was intended to promote broader public awareness and citizen engagement on this important issue. An alternate location for the public forum is now being sought.

Linda McQuaig wrote recently in the Toronto Star, “Given the centrality of (national security and energy, as well as trade), one would have thought that any changes – especially changes that would make Canada more like the U.S. – should involve wide consultation with the Canadian people. But exactly the opposite is happening. The public has been completely shut out of the SPP process…No public consultations have been planned for Montebello. Indeed, security measures will ensure the leaders hear as little as possible from the people.”

For more information on the Council of Canadians campaign against the Security and Prosperity Partnership, along with a wide range of analysis and background materials on this issue, please go to IntegrateThis.ca.

THE DEMAND
Activists are encouraged to send their own version of the following message to Prime Minister Stephen Harper at pm@pm.gc.ca or click here to send a letter using the form on our website
:

Prime Minister Harper,

As a member of the Council of Canadians, I am calling on you to stop talks on the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, including the upcoming leaders summit this August 20-21 in Montebello, and to consult with Canadians on this critical issue.

I was outraged to read that a public forum near Montebello with writers, academics and parliamentarians wanting to speak on this issue was blocked because the police and U.S. army wanted the community centre it was to be held at as a base of operations for summit security.

I am opposed to the SPP, which includes the no-fly list (the SPP states, “Develop comparable standards and procedures…for passenger screening”); pesticide residues (it says, “Work to resolve differences in pesticide maximum residue limits that may be barriers to trade…”); the tar sands (it calls for, “Greater economic production from the oil sands”); and civil rights (it calls for, “sharing of terrorist watch list data and the establishment of appropriate linkages between Canada, the United States and Mexico.”)

I also believe that the North American Competitiveness Council should be disbanded. Corporations such as Manulife Financial, Home Depot and Wal-Mart should not be shaping economic policy between Canada and the United States.

I urge you to keep the promise you made in your Throne Speech that “significant international treaties will be submitted for votes in Parliament.” I believe that the Security and Prosperity Partnership should be subject to public hearings, as well as brought to the House of Commons for a full debate and vote.

I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,
<your name>

For more information about the Security and Prosperity Partnership, visit IntegrateThis.ca. We’ll post new information about the Montebello summit as it becomes available. Visit often for up-to-the-minute updates

With thanks to the good women and men at BnR and to The Council of Canadians for the links.

Iraq Unmasks the American State

Interesting analysis, this, courtesy The Business of Emotions.  Long, but well worth the read.

I was particularly interested in these points about “America’s emotional and moral malaise” before the writer launches into how the Iraq Resistance shows the American State for what it is.

America’s Emotional and Moral Malaise
The explanation of Bush’s hold on the United States developed in The Business of Emotions over the past few years, can be summarized thus:

1. Without authentic emotions, the vital connection between thinking and feeling is lost and the ability to act, morally and politically, for oneself and for others, is compromised…

2. People who lack emotional authenticity are incapable of recognizing its absence in others…

3. People who lack authentic emotions are susceptible to the predations of emotional marketers…

4. Thinking without feeling, talking without meaning…

Thanks to

Male Military Vets Committing Sexual Assault at Alarming Rates

This is US data, but it makes one wonder how Canadian veterans fare in this regard.  Surely we are better placed to prevent such horrific statistics, by simply being a less militaristic culture than our southern neighbours. Mind you, with Harper and Hillier at the helm, we may be doomed to echo the patterns of the USians.  From AlterNet: War on Iraq:

Why Male Military Veterans Are Committing Sexual Assault at Alarming Rates

By Lucinda Marshall, AlterNet. Posted May 25, 2007.

A recent DOJ report found that vets are twice as likely to be jailed for sexual assault than non-veterans.

A recent study by the Department of Justice found that military veterans are twice as likely to be incarcerated for sexual assault than nonveterans. When asked about the finding, Margaret E. Noonan, one of the authors of the study, told the Associated Press, “We couldn’t come to any definite conclusion as to why.” The intrinsic and systemic connection between militarism and violence against women, however, makes this finding far from surprising.

Sexual violence has been a de facto weapon of war since the beginning of the patriarchal age. Raping and assaulting women is seen as a way to attack the honor of the enemy, and women have always been the spoils of war. The result is that many types of violence against women are exacerbated by militarism, including the indirect effects on civilian populations both during hostilities and after the conflict ends and soldiers go home. These include:

  • Rape/sexual assault and harassment both within the military and perpetrated on civilian populations
  • Domestic violence
  • Prostitution, pornography and trafficking
  • Honor killing

Read the rest of the article

Dispatches: Iraq: The womans story.

If I knew what to do I would embed the video here, but alas and alack, I don’t so you’ll have to click the link to see Dispatches: IraqThe womans story at Google Video.

Slaughtering Human Rights in Afghanistan

Read this, by RAWA at ZNet.  Maybe this is why Gilles has changed his tune

Bring our soldiers home!

Afghanistan

The Bloodiest Field for Slaughtering Human Rights

by RAWAFive years ago, America and their allies attacked Afghanistan in the name of bringing “Human Rights”, “Democracy”, and “Freedom” to our war-torn country. The Taliban regime fell and Hamid Karzai’s puppet regime, which included the well-known Northern Alliance criminals or as UN envoy Mahmoud Mestri said, “the bandit gangs”, took over in the name of a fake democracy. However, today, the deceitful policies of Mr. Karzai and his Western guardians have brought Afghanistan to a very critical situation where disaster is a ticking time bomb that can explode any minute. Treason and mockery have efficiently been used in the name of “democracy” and “freedom” in the past five years. The human rights situation in Afghanistan is a product of the painful deception of the warlord led government.

Northern Alliance criminals, backed by the US have their own local and barbaric governments. Just the increasing number of women who commit suicide by burning themselves is the best example of a human rights violation in Afghanistan. According to UNICEF, 65% of 50000 widows in Kabul think that committing suicide is the only option they have. Northern Alliance crooks raped an 11 year old girl, Sanuber, and traded her for a dog. In Badakhshan, a young woman was gang-raped by 13 Jehadis in front of her children, and one of the rapists urinated in the mouth of her children who were continuously crying. In Paghman, a suburb of Kabul, a criminal leader Rasol Sayyaf, who was the mentor and godfather of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, plunders our peoples’ territory and tortures his opposition in his private prison. Despite many protest rallies by the unfortunate people of Paghman in front of the Parliament House, no one hears their painful voice. Instead the so-called police forces headed by infamous criminal warlords like Zahir Aghbar and Amanullah Guzar, attacked the protesters and killed 2 of them. These are all just some examples of thousands of crimes that are being carried out by the fundamentalists of the Northern Alliance. These evil men have high positions in the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of the US-imposed government with some unprincipled intellectuals dancing to their tune.

The full article is here.

End Darfur Rapes

The war on women goes on worldwide. Darfur is especially horrific.

From the BBC:

Women demand end to Darfur rapes
International stateswomen have made a joint call for an end to rape and
sexual violence in Sudan’s conflict-torn region of Darfur.

Peacekeepers must be sent to protect women there, the group said in a letter published by newspapers worldwide.

Signatories include former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and theIrish former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson.

The call comes as protests on the issue are planned in 40 countries.

The letter says rape is being used “on a daily basis” as a weapon of war in
Darfur.

The main signatories were joined by other prominent women including:

* veteran Palestinian politician Hanan Ashrawi
* Graca Machel, wife of Nelson Mandela
* Edith Cresson, former French prime minister
* Glenys Kinnock, a UK member of the European Parliament
* Carol Bellamy, former head of the UN children’s fund.

‘Constant fear’

Published on the eve of the Global Day for Darfur, the letter says that”women and young girls live in constant fear of attack”.

Sudan’s government is accused of being “unwilling or unable to protect its own civilians”.

The international community is called upon to “deliver on its responsibility to protect these civilians”.

Events to mark Darfur Day are due to take place in more than 40 countries and will include women-led protests outside Sudanese embassies.

The BBC’s Jonah Fisher, in Khartoum, says the three-year war in Darfur has been characterised by rape and violence against women, mostly by the pro-government Arab Janjaweed militia.

The protests around the world will have no direct impact on the Sudanese government, he adds.

The government views the three-year crisis in Darfur as a Western invention, insisting that just 9,000 people have died.

It also denies reports of widespread rape, pointing out that the people of Darfur are Muslim and, therefore, incapable of rape.

In reality, though, at least 200,000 people have died in Darfur’s and an estimated two million people, mostly black Africans whose villages have been attacked by the Janjaweed, have fled their homes.

Khartoum denies accusations it is backing the militias to put down an uprising by Darfur’s rebel groups in 2003.

A force of 7,000 African Union peacekeepers has struggled to protect civilians in the absence of a strong, UN contingent.


			

Gang-rape in Afghanistan

Below is a report from the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan’s website.  It makes me physically ill to read it, so do not take the link if you do not want to know about the gang-rape of a woman in Badakhshan and the treatment of her children, who were witnesses to the event.

Is it this vilification of women and children — this terrorism — that we are reconstructing in Afghanistan?  It seems to me that Canadian participation in this pseudo war on terror has made the situation for the women of that country even worse than before.

Bring our troops home!

Harper’s Gamble

I hope that I will one day have the discipline to pump out essays like my friend, John Conway, does.  Here’s another really good one folks.

 

 

The Afghan War: Harper’s Re-election Gamble

 

 

by J. F. Conway


 

Our esteemed prime minister continues to dig himself deeper into his political hole. Soon it will be impossible for him to claw his way out.

On the UN world stage Prime Minister Stephen Harper decided to present himself, and Canada, as warmongers, defending the dirty war in Afghanistan and vowing never to leave until the job is done. Finally, he is brazenly affirming that Canada is at war. But what is this war? It is a war of invasion, occupation and aggressive combat supporting one side against the other in a civil war. The current puppet regime, put in place by the US after questionable elections, wouldn’t last a fortnight if NATO troops pulled out. Indeed, military experts argue that in the absence of superior American air power, the current combat troops on the ground would be overrun by the Taliban-led insurgency coalition.

Harper insists we are fighting the war on terror. But the Taliban, formerly the government after driving out the Soviet invaders, then toppled after 9/11 by US bombing and invasion, are not the terrorists who haunt us. They are one side in a civil war. Our war is therefore a war on the Afghans who support the Taliban. According to the Senlis Council of Europe and the US-based International Institute of Strategic Studies, both prominent establishment think tanks, the Afghan war can no longer be won. That in a nutshell is why other NATO members are reluctant to send troops. The military campaign has ravaged the homes, farms and infrastructure of the country so badly that the Afghan people face insecurity and lawlessness, abject poverty and mass starvation. And this massive destruction has been due to the bombing and artillery shelling of NATO forces. The 10 to 15,000 refugees in camps in the south are not receiving enough aid simply to survive. As a result the Taliban is returning to political prominence and has fashioned a growing insurgency coalition against the foreign occupiers. Over one-half of Afghanistan and one-third of Iraq are now effectively in the control of the respective insurgencies.

Harper dug himself in deeper by inviting Afghan President Hamid Karzai to visit Canada and to address a joint sitting of the House of Commons and the Senate. Karzai’s visit was planned to coincide with a 10,000 strong “Wear Red Friday” rally on Parliament Hill. The Wear Red on Fridays campaign was founded by family members of troops from the Petawawa military base. The movement has grown into a jingoistic pro-war “support our troops” movement mobilized with a great deal of help from Harper’s Tory party. In his address to the rally Harper promised to build up the Canadian military and to stay the course in Afghanistan through all necessary means, no matter how long it takes.

This double whammy of the theatre of pro-war propaganda – Karzai’s visit and the Wear Red rally – might contribute temporarily to growth in support for the war among Canadians. The last Strategic Council poll reported that 49 per cent of Canadians want to bring the troops home, while 43 per cent support staying the course. These figures reveal a polarized and confused public, since the polls have gone up and down with events and propaganda campaigns. But the pattern has remained clear, a plurality of Canadians, usually a majority, opposes the war and wants our troops brought home. Harper ignores this political truth at his peril, and the Afghan war could become a defining issue in the next election. Harper appears to welcome such a possibility (after all, 43 per cent is higher that his current support level of 35 per cent).

The polling numbers reflect the deep ambivalence in Canadians’ sentiments rooted in contradictory attitudes. All Canadians support our troops in the sense of admiring their courage and their devotion to their duty as defined by Parliament. All Canadians grieve with the families of the fallen. Harper’s cynical and manipulative ploy of trying to conflate those good sentiments into support for the war and its political objectives is hard to resist. Harper says in order to support our troops, and to honour their sacrifices, we must support this war and support continuing to send more troops to wage it. Canadians, however, are increasingly moving to the position that the best way to support our troops is to bring them home now, not to leave them there to fight, kill and die, nor to send yet more young men and women to do so.

What is truly astonishing about Canadian attitudes is that opposition to the war continues to be so strong. The Canadian media have betrayed the trust of the Canadian people by serving as a pro-war propaganda arm of the Harper government and cheer leading chorus for the war. Even the news broadcasts are little more than pro-war propaganda. There is a virtual absence of critical, investigative reporting on the war. But despite a pro-war media, a pro-war prime minister and government, and repeated pro-war messages from the military broadcast daily, the Canadian people have refused to be bamboozled and stampeded.

This failure of the media took a particularly disgusting turn with the visit of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The media bought into Harper’s stunt of treating Karzai like he was the greatest freedom fighting government leader since Winston Churchill – pomp, ceremony, honour guards, salutes by cannon, the whole red carpet treatment, including the rare honour of addressing a joint sitting of Parliament. One understands why the Harper government would want to do so as part of a political campaign to win the hearts and minds of Canadians to support the war. But where were the critical analyses in the media about Karzai? Canadians were being instructed to honour this man uncritically, and asked to spend yet more blood and treasure (37 dead and over $3 billion to date) in supporting him and his government.

Did Canadian people not have the right to know that Karzai has so little support outside the capital city that he is widely referred to as “the Mayor of Kabul?” Or that he vetoed US plans to destroy the poppy crop through aerial spraying (Afghanistan now supplies 92 per cent of the world’s heroin; during the Taliban regime the trade was virtually stopped)? Or that his brother is alleged to be involved in the drug trade? Or that he was picked to lead the country at a meeting of US officials and Afghan exiles prior to the overthrow of the Taliban at a meeting in Bonn? Or that his election was allegedly riddled with fraud, only one month’s campaigning was allowed, his opponents were blacked out by the media, and his main political adversary, the Taliban, could not run (and would not in an American organized election)? Or that he was a former consultant to oil companies in the region? Or that he has fired all the reformers from his cabinet? Or that he is alleged to have had links with the CIA and US military intelligence? Or that George Bush personally approved his candidacy? The fact is that Karzai heads up a puppet regime set up by the US and its NATO allies. Do Canadians not have a right to know the nature of the president and government they are sending their young men and women to die defending?

This is a time of shame for Canadian media institutions. They have failed to inform Canadians in a balanced way about this war. Not only have they betrayed the public trust, but they have lost the trust of the public.

Harper is clearly gambling that he can parlay his warmongering, pro-US stance into a victory in the next election. Many think he has made a big mistake.

Conway is a University of Regina political sociologist.

Women and the Middle East

I don’t think I can say it any better than Lucinda Marshall has, so go have a look-see.

What women are saying about the Violence in the Middle EastBy Lucinda Marshall

September 11, 2006
There has been no shortage of punditry when it comes to the current crisis in the Middle East, however most of the published and broadcast voices have been male. If there is to be any hope of a sustainable peace in this region it is critically important to also listen to what women are saying.

As Professor Cynthia Enloe has pointed out many times, we must ask how armed conflict and militarism affects women. How are their lives impacted, what are their needs, and what are their thoughts. Unfortunately, every time anyone fires a rocket or a gun, real news about women and what they are saying (not to be confused with sensationalized coverage such as the Jon Benet Ramsey ‘story’) is almost completely blacked out. We get a few pictures of anguished women holding dead children and husbands, but mostly we see pictures of tanks, mobs of men and the voices of generals and politicians, with only a token woman or 2 thrown in to ‘balance’ the picture.

While many women have offered thoughtful and intelligent analyses of what is happening in the Middle East, very few of these voices have made their way on to the Op Ed pages. One of the exceptions is a piece by Nobel Peace Prize winners Shirin Ebadi and Jody Williams that appeared in the International Herald Tribune http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/07/31/opinion/edebadi.php , where the authors write,

“We do not understand how the international community can continue to stand by while entire populations are held hostage in what has been described as “self defense.”

Read the full article