Harding: After a Decade of Shock and Awe

Here’s Dr. Jim Harding’s latest column. Worth a read.

After a Decade of Shock and Awe

by Jim Harding

It’s common to recap events in decades. We often even adopt decade identities – the rebellious sixties, the greedy eighties, etc. Might we call the first decade of the 21st century the “shock and awe” decade?

The decade is mostly defined by the aftermath of the Sept. 11th 2001 bombing of New York’s Twin Towers. The hysteria generated after this was instrumental in starting two destructive “wars on terrorism”, which trudge on. The Security State has grown along with insurgencies and the politics of fear, none of which are good foundations for building sustainable societies. But much more happened! The decade saw a global economic crisis, devastating natural disasters, extreme storms and deepening of the climate crisis controversy, all of which will shape the coming decade.

BUBBLES AND LIVES BURSTING

Many corporate bubbles burst in the last decade. The S & P 500 lost 25% of their stock value; the dot.com bubble burst as markets plummeted after 9/11. The decade ended when the real estate bubble burst and the world entered the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression. While a few got richer, the majority did not. Many people lost jobs and large amounts of their pensions. The trillion dollar and growing debt from the U.S’s ongoing “wars on terrorism” and economic bailouts will continue to destabilize that country. In the 1990’we were talking of the U.S. being the world’s only superpower. This last decade likely ended that.

Those facing natural and climate disasters had more fundamental challenges than securing their retirement. The tsunami that followed from the earthquake off Sumatra on December 24, 2004 left 230,000 persons dead. The May 12, 2008 earthquake at Sichuan, China killed another 70,000. And the May 2, 2008 cyclone in Burma killed 140,000 more. In the west we likely know far more about the August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina which killed about 2,000 persons. As with the Haitian earthquake, which killed 230,000 persons, social position and political marginalization played a major role in shaping vulnerability.

Extreme weather events and the magnitude of storms propelled worldwide support for actions to prevent irreversible climate change. But the politics of fossil fuel dependency and resistance to moving beyond our carbon economy has won out, so far. Greenhouse gases continued to rise during the last decade, and the Canadian government got a deserved international reputation for undermining climate justice. At the same time the shift towards a green economy and support for renewable energy accelerated worldwide, including in Saskatchewan; the climate controversy won’t be on the back-burner for long.

Over the last decade the politics of fear clearly ascended. One-quarter of Americans now believe they are at risk from a terrorist attack, while, realistically, they face greater dangers from their cars. Our moral sense of proportion became even more warped during the past decade. How do we compare the 2,900 innocent civilians who died so tragically in the Twin Towers or those dead or suffering from occupational hazards after intervening in the ordeal, to the many more soldiers and insurgents who have died at war? Or to the hundreds of thousands of civilians who have died from these terrifying wars? Or to the many more who will now live traumatized lives? Or to those forced to eke out an existence on war-poisoned land? The end-justifies-the means mentality of the last decade is simply not sustainable.

MORE OF SAME?

We humans have huge capacity for denial and dissociation. I, too, look forward to World Cup soccer or Canada-U.S. hockey games, and hope that international sports is making us more accepting of human diversity. But I know that sports and entertainment celebrity culture can also blind us from human suffering and glaring inequalities. How quickly beer-drinking Olympic-mania replaced coverage of the millions still grieving and struggling in Haiti! It’s hard not to conclude that achieving sustainability will require a massive resurgence of human spirituality. Perhaps this has been going on underneath all the shock and awe we have collectively experienced and this will continue to blossom in coming years. Perhaps!

For many the election of President Obama was a sign of moderation and hope, but it was premature to present him with a Peace Prize without any track record. Moving towards more peace and security is a challenge to us all. It is heartening that the U.S. and Russia are talking of nuclear weapons reductions, but nuclear proliferation remains a global threat, with the help of the spreading of nuclear technology. It hasn’t helped the cause that, as the British Inquiry on the War on Iraq is now confirming, the US and UK manipulated fears about Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) to justify their planned invasion of Iraq. All of us can contribute to peace and security by resisting such disinformation campaigns, and demanding more participation and transparency within our democracies. Do we ever need this in Canada now!

The huge changes occurring in the last decade clearly set us up for either more of the same or embracing the needed shift towards sustainability. There will be no tech-fixes in this evolutionary endeavour, but the growth of the internet and other mass communications likely sets the stage for the coming decade. Will the globalizing of communications help us to get a more accurate and compassionate view of the challenges facing humanity? Will this create even more narcissism and attention deficit among those bonding to the new technology market? The last decade vividly shows the challenges to not living in bubbles and to continually enhancing connaection. Perhaps down deep, after all the shock and awe, many will be whispering “enough is enough.” And, like spring winds, whispers can grow.

Next time I’ll explore how population growth affects sustainability.

Originally published in RTown News, February 26, 2010

Confirmed: The SPP is a plan by and for the corporate masters

See short update, below.

Thanks for passing this nugget along, Larry! Not only is it a non-democratic document created in secrecy but it is now confirmed to be created and implemented for business, which we all knew, anyway. But still, it’s nice to have that validation, innit?

CLC/CTC > It’s time to move from candid admission to a people’s agenda

April 23, 2008

All cosmetic gloss of democracy vanished at the New Orleans Summit when the president of Mexico most candidly summarized his day by saying: “This morning, the Business Leaders gave us a specific agenda to follow . . . We are here to support them through.” [emphasis mine]

If anyone out there still had doubts about the true nature of the Security Prosperity Partnership (SPP), this honest confession sets the record straight. The Prime Minister of Canada, the President of the United States and the President of Mexico take their orders from big business. The results: the well-being of working families in our three countries and Canadian control of Canada’s petroleum resources, are on the chopping block. Harper, Bush and Calderón are business’ agents.

UPDATE: Those who need to learn a bit more about the SPP ought to take a look at Creekside, where Alison, the Goddess of Opposition to the SPP, has posted repeatedly about its failings.

The Joint Statement by the leaders is here: and the juicy piece, from which the above is taken, is here.

The fascist politicians on the SPP

I’m getting pretty damned sick of this government by stealth shit.  Here’s the Feb 28 SPP Statement by Ministers from Canada Mexico and the USA.  How can they do this without the support of the elected officials and through them, the people?  All these many years, I’ve been working under the assumption that Canada was a democracy.  What a flippin’ fool I am!!!

Feb 28 SPP Statement By Ministers

Posted on Monday, March 03 2008 by sthompson

U.S. Department of Commerce                                                       Office of the Secretary
Washington, D.C. 20230                                                                   www.commerce.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 28, 2008

CONTACT: Rich Mills / Ann Marie Hauser
202-482-4883

Joint Statement by Ministers Responsible for the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America

In preparation for our leaders’ meeting in New Orleans on April 21-22, we, the ministers responsible for the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) met in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, to review progress on the five priorities identified by leaders in Montebello and to discuss cooperative approaches to common challenges and opportunities.

This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NAFTA has been a tremendous success: trade and commerce among our countries have grown exponentially. Trilateral merchandise trade is approximately $900 billion in 2007, significantly contributing to economic growth and increased standards of living in all three countries.

The SPP builds on this dynamic relationship by providing Canada, Mexico and the United States a partnership to build a safer, more secure and economically dynamic North America, while respecting the sovereignty, laws, unique heritage, and culture of each country.

In order to give guidance and achieve results in advance of the April 2008 North American leaders’ Summit, we have reviewed progress achieved since Montebello and have directed officials to:

  • Competitiveness: Continue to implement the strategy to combat piracy and counterfeiting, and build on the Regulatory Cooperation Framework by pursuing collaboration through sectoral initiatives, with an emphasis on the automotive sector;
  • Safe Food & Products: Strengthen cooperation to better identify, assess and manage unsafe food and products before they enter North America, and collaborate to promote the compatibility of our related regulatory and inspection regimes;
  • Energy and Environment: Develop projects under the newly signed Agreement on Science and Technology; and cooperate on moving new technologies to the marketplace, auto fuel efficiency and energy efficiency standards ;
  • Smart & Secure Borders: Strengthen cooperation protocols and create new mechanisms to secure our common borders while facilitating legitimate travel and trade in the North American region ;
  • Emergency Management and Preparedness: Strengthen emergency management cooperation capacity in the North American region before, during and after disasters.

We also instructed officials to consider innovative ways to advance these five priorities, to enhance our dialogue and further our cooperation.

We recognize the work of our colleagues from the various agencies and departments that have contributed and will continue to contribute to advancing bilateral and trilateral cooperation.

We acknowledge the challenges that transnational crime poses to our region and our assessment indicates that some accomplishments have been made. Nevertheless, we need to improve and strengthen our cooperative bilateral and trilateral mechanisms in order to identify innovative and committed solutions to eliminate those threats and assure the well being and prosperity of our people.

We will also explore new avenues of cooperation and convergence to address issues such as arms trafficking, terrorism, money laundering, counterfeiting, trafficking of people and smuggling, and border violence.

We also met with representatives of the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC), whose contributions and advice in building a more prosperous and dynamic North America have been invaluable.  We discussed the long-term challenges facing our three countries and how best to increase security and prosperity in North America, in order to make our region the best place to live, work and do business.  Accordingly, we reiterate our interest in maintaining an open dialogue with business leaders and other stakeholders.

We reaffirm our commitment to the objectives of the SPP.  We are convinced that greater cooperation and coordination will bring benefits to our countries.  As we prepare for the next leaders` Summit in New Orleans, we will continue to work together to ensure progress in the priority areas identified at Montebello and other areas where there is ongoing work.

From:
http://www.spp.gov/news/news_02282008.asp

Thanks to Vive le Canada for the info. 

Harper & Lunn Lied to Parliament

In email conversation with a US writer, I have learned the following regarding the Chalk River/AECL scandal:

…several nuclear medicine specialists, including the head of the nuclear medicine department at Yale, repeatedly cautioned me against writing that this was as a matter of life or death. They were, in fact, very critical of stories that made that claim. Isotopes supplies, particularly from Belgium, continued to be available. Although they were more costly. The specialists also noted that many, arguably most, of the large number of diagnostic tests they perform made using the isotopes do not involve critical medical conditions and that there are often alternative techniques and technologies available.

And furthermore, where are the hordes of letters that Lunn received from Canadian doctors?

I had a daydream the other day about the Leaders of the parties in Opposition getting it together and walking over to the Governor General’s shack and asking her to dissolve Parliament on the grounds that the Prime Minister deliberately mislead Parliament.  Is that possible?

Linda Keen: What it means to Stand Up for Canada

ReWind.It, over at Bread’n’Roses, POGGE and the good Dr. Dawg have pretty much covered the new piece in the ongoing saga of the AECL’s Chalk River nuclear reactor. And, though I congratulate Ms Keen on her willingness to Stand Up for Canada and speak out regarding unfair treatment from Minister Lunn in her role as President of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, I cannot let it go unnoticed that  Canada’s nuclear regulator has lacked perfection in its role of protecting the safety of Canadians from the nuclear fuel cycle.

I cannot help but wonder if, as with every single thing the Harper regime has done, that this is also a calculated response to their bungling of the Chalk River fiasco. What makes me think this is this statement by Keen:

I would therefore ask you to carefully consider the significant chilling effect your recent actions could have on the practices and decisions of other tribunals who are responsible for important work on behalf of Canadians.

It sends a definite message. And, you can call me paranoid, if you like, but I don’t trust our Steve, the wannabe dictator, one bit.

ETA: Impolitical’s contribution. And to fix the link to POGGE.

Activist Banned from Canada

Ann Wright is banned from Canada for one year because she protested the US invasion of Iraq.  Go figure!  Read it and weep…

 http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/printer_103007A.shtml

Banned From Canada for a Year for War Protest
By Ann Wright
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Tuesday 30 October 2007

    The invitation said six members of the Canadian Parliament were to speak October 25 on Canada’s Parliament Hill as members of a panel called “Peacebuilders Without Borders: Challenging the Post-9/11 Canada-US Security Agenda.” I arrived at the Ottawa airport on the morning of October 25 expecting to be met by three members of Parliament and to hold a press conference at the airport.

    Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Codepink Women for Peace and Global Exchange, was also invited by the Parliamentarians, but had been arrested the previous day for holding up two fingers in the form of a peace sign during the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing in which Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testified on Iraq, Iran and Israel-Palestinian issues. The October 24 committee hearing began with Codepink peace activist Desiree Fairooz holding up her red, paint-stained hands to Rice and shouting, “The blood of millions of Iraqis is on your hands.” As Capitol Hill police took her out of the House hearing, Fairooz yelled over her shoulder, “War criminal, take her to the Hague.” Shortly thereafter, two Codepinkers were arrested for just being in the room, and brutally hauled out of the hearing by Capitol police. An hour later, Medea and a male Codepinker were arrested for no reason. Four of the five had to stay overnight in the District of Columbia jail; Medea was one of those and missed the trip to Ottawa.

    I presented immigration officials our letter of invitation from the Parliamentarians that explained Medea and I had been denied entry to Canada at the Niagara Falls border crossing on October 3, 2007, because we had been convicted in the United States of peaceful, non-violent protests against the war on Iraq, including sitting on the sidewalk in front of the White House with 400 others, speaking out against torture during Congressional hearings, and other misdemeanors. The Canadian government knew of these offenses as they now have access to the FBI’s National Crime Information database on which we are listed. The database was created to identify members of violent gangs and terrorist organizations, foreign fugitives, patrol violators and sex offenders – not for peace activists peacefully protesting illegal actions of their government.

    The immigration officer directed me to a secondary screening, where my request to call the members of Parliament waiting outside the customs’ doors was denied. My suggestion that the letter of invitation from the Parliamentarians might be valuable in assessing the need for me to be in Canada was dismissed with the comment that members of Parliament do not have a role in determining who enters Canada. I suggested the laws enacted by the Parliament were the basis of that determination. I added that the reason I had been invited to Ottawa by Parliamentarian was to be an example of how current laws may exclude those whom Canadians may wish to allow to enter. I also mentioned Parliament might decide to change the laws immigration officials implement. I also suggested, since the Parliament provides the budget to the Immigration Services, they might notify the Parliamentarians awaiting my arrival that I had been detained. The officers declined to do so citing my privacy, which I immediately waived. The Parliamentarians were never notified by immigration I had arrived and was being detained. Only when my cell phone was returned to me by immigration officers four hours later was I able to make contact with the Parliamentarians.

    After nearly four hours of interrogation, I was told by the senior immigration officer I was banned from Canada for one year for failure to provide appropriate documents that would overcome the exclusion order I had been given in early October because of conviction of misdemeanors (all payable by fines) in the United States. The officer said that to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) for entry for a specific event on a specific date, I must provide to a Canadian Embassy or consulate the arresting officer’s report, court transcripts and court documents for each of the convictions, an official document describing the termination of sentences, a police certificate issued within the last three months by the FBI, police certificates from places I have lived in the past ten years (that includes Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia), a letter acknowledging my convictions from three respected members of the community (the respected members that I will ask to write a letter have all been convicted of similar “offenses”) and a completed 18 page “criminal rehabilitation” packet.

    Additionally, besides obtaining the TRP, since I was being banned for a year from Canada, I would have to obtain a “Canadian Government Minister’s consent.” The officer said the TRP and the Minister’s consent normally took from 8-10 months to obtain. In the distant future, to be able to enter Canada without a TRP, I would have to be “criminally rehabilitated” and be free for five years of conviction of any offense, including for peaceful protest.

    The senior immigration officer took my fingerprints for Canadian records, escorted me to the airport departures area and placed me on the first plane departing for Washington, DC. In the meantime, the members of Parliament conducted the press conference and the panel without my presence, but certainly using the example of what had happened to me, and previously to Medea Benjamin, as incidents that the Parliamentarians are very concerned about, specifically their government’s wholesale acceptance of information on the FBI’s database, information that appears to have been placed there for political intimidation.

    A participant on the Parliamentary panel I was unable to attend was Monia Mazigh, the wife of Canadian citizen Maher Arar, who, when he transited New York’s JFK airport, was sent by US authorities to Syria where he was imprisoned and tortured for 10 months. The day before I arrived at the Ottawa airport, Rice acknowledged the United States had “not handled his case properly.” But Rice did not apologize to Arar on behalf of the Bush administration during testimony to the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee. The previous week during a video conference, both Republican and Democrat members of Congress offered apologies to Arar. Arar, an Ottawa telecommunications engineer, still has a lawsuit pending against American officials. Arguments are scheduled for November 9 in New York.

    Many countries have succumbed to the behind-the-scenes, 9/11 pressure of the Bush administration to enact extensive and expansive anti-terrorism laws to increase “harmonization” and integration of security measures among countries. Unfortunately, the Canadian government is mirroring the Bush administration’s use of security measures to increase control over dissent in their country – and in other countries. Most of the new security measures are done through administrative agreements, international joint working groups, regulations and the use of international organizations such as the G-8 and the International Civil Aviation Organization. By using administrative regulations, the US and Canadian governments avoid opening up the proposed restrictions of personal privacy to public scrutiny and debate by preventing such regulations from being enacted in the Congress or Parliament.

    Through these agreements with Canada and other G-8 countries, the Bush administration is setting up a global infrastructure for the registration and surveillance of populations worldwide, looking at every person as a suspect and a risk, whom must, in their opinion, as a precaution, be identified and tracked. Ordinary legal protections fundamental to democratic societies such as the presumption of innocence, rights against unreasonable search and seizure and rights against arbitrary detention and punishment are greatly threatened by these precautionary measures.

    Countries are accepting the “precautionary principle” and are gathering and sharing information not only to track suspected “terrorists,” but to stop dissidents from flying and/or entering other countries, to stop activists and intellectuals at borders, – the Bush administration has refused visas for numerous academics from all over the world who have been invited to teach at American universities, but whom have spoken and written against the Bush war in Iraq, torture. and other violations of international law – to detain persons without reasonable grounds and to send persons to third world countries and prisons operated by the US government, where they are detained indefinitely without charge, tortured and sometimes murdered.

    The Canada-US Smart Border Agreement and Action Plan, an administrative agreement signed in December 2001, is the master document for security integration between Canada and the United States. The agreement calls for biometric standards for identity cards, coordinated visa and refugee policy, coordinated risk assessment of travelers, integrated border and marine enforcement teams, integrated national security intelligence teams, coordinated terrorist lists, increased intelligence sharing and joint efforts to promote the Canada-US model internationally.

    After 9/11, the Bush administration, under the National Security Entry-exit Registration System (NSEERS), registered and took biometric identifiers (fingerprints) of all males age 16-45 with links to Muslim and Arab countries visiting or traveling though the United States. Next, persons applying for visas to visit the United States had to submit biometric data (fingerprints) that will be stored in a US database for 100 years through the new US Visitor and Immigrant Status Indication Technology (US-VISIT) program.

    The Bush administration expanded its biometric round-up on a global scale in 2002 by requiring all countries that want to retain their visa waiver status with the US to require, by 2004, biometric passports through the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002. In 2004, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) set a face recognition standard with fingerprint and iris scans as optional standards. Beginning in 2005, the United States and Canada have biometric passports with facial recognition.

    We all want our countries to be safe from criminal actions. However, the unnecessary curtailment of civil liberties and purposeful targeting of those who disagree with government policies must end.

    I call on the US Congress to conduct hearings to determine who ordered the FBI to place peaceful, non-violence protest convictions on the international data base, and for what purpose.

    It feels to me like purposeful intimidation to stop dissent – but I can guarantee you, it won’t work!

    To all those concerned about free speech, freedom to travel, ending an illegal war, stopping torture, and other violations of domestic and international law, come to Washington and help us!!!

    (For more extensive information on security agreements that unnecessarily jeopardize our civil liberties, please see “Americanizing the Restriction of Canadians’ Rights – Security Overtaking Trade as a Driver of ‘Deep Integration’,” by Maureen Webb, Canadian centre for Policy Alternatives.)

    ——–

    Ann Wright is a 29-year US Army veteran who retired as a Colonel, and a former US diplomat who resigned in March, 2003, in opposition to the war on Iraq. She served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia. In December, 2001, she was on the small team that reopened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. The US Department of State has delayed publication of her new book, “Dissent: Voices of Conscience,” for over three months. It will be published whenever the State Department finishes its search for classified materials.

  ——-

With thanks to Larry for getting this to me.