Saturday, December 20, 2008

Comrade Fidel Comments On Alberta

Reflections by Comrade Fidel


Can the capitalist society avoid it? News about this issue are far from encouraging. The project to be submitted for approval on December next year in Copenhagen, where the new Convention that will replace Kyoto’s will be discussed and approved, is being currently analyzed at Poznan.

The Commission in charge of the drafting of this project is presided over by Al Gore, ex presidential candidate of the United States, who was fraudulently defeated by Bush in the elections of 2001. Those who are drafting the project are pinning all their hopes on Barack Obama as if he could change the course of history.

An enlightening example comes from Canada.

An article published by BBC World entitled “Canada's Black Gold Oil Rush” points out that “the total area currently being mined is 420 Km2 , while the overall area that the Alberta government has leased to oil companies is 64 919 Km2. The area of exploitable reserves is 140 200 Km2 - about the size of Florida.

“From the air, the strip mines have transformed the forest into a moonscape of craters and lakes, with smoke stacks pumping out billowing clouds. All this in a remote part of northern Alberta.”

Further on, the article continues: “…There are three major players at the moment - Suncor, Syncrude and a consortium led by Shell - but more foreign investors and consortiums have piled in.

“…the lack of government action means not enough is being done about the cumulative effects on the environment.

“…an investigation by the Alberta Cancer Board is due to be published soon.

“Earlier this year, 500 ducks died after landing on a tailings pond run by Syncrude…A government investigation is ongoing. Whatever the results, it seems the pace of opposition to the oil sands is quickening.”

According to the Spanish daily “El País”, “… the estimates made by the dependent agency of the OECD (Organization for Economic and Cooperation and Development) are based on the predictions made by the IMF which point to a steady recovery of the global economy as from the second semester of the year 2009, when the world’s oil production will reach 86.3 million barrels per day.”

That same Spanish newspaper announces that “the director of the Department on Climate Change of China wants to state very clearly that Beijing would only limit its emissions in exchange for lots of investments and patents for clean technologies. His signature is indispensable so that all 187 countries gathered at the Polish city could move on to the adoption of a protocol that could replace that of 1997. Obama is causing a twenty years delay in the struggle against climate change.”

Another wire service from the agency NOTIMEX, dated on December 13, explains that “…the colossal fraud in Wall Street carried out by Bernard L. Madoff, ex chief of the firm Nasdaq, is causing losses in Spain amounting to millions”, according to an article published today by the newspaper “Expansión”, specialized in economic issues.

“…This Friday, one of the biggest scandals in Wall Street” –continues the wire service- “has been exposed after the ex chief of Nasdaq, Bernard L. Madoff, was arrested for having taken part in a fraud with an investment fund that could amount to 50 billion dollars.”

“…Madoff, ex founding president of the Nasdaq Stock Market, was arrested on Thursday evening after his own son reported to the federal authorities that his father was part of what he called ‘a huge pyramidal fraud’.”

“…Based on this scheme, only the first investors would obtain dividends from their investments, leaving all of the rest with losses that, according to the Federal Prosecutor’s Office in New York, could amount to the aforementioned figure.”

Another news published by Reuters on the same date stated that: “…President-elect Barack Obama is considering a plan to boost the recession-hit US economy that could be far larger than previous estimates”, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

“…Obama aides, who were considering a half-trillion dollar package two weeks ago, now consider $600 billion –a year- over two years “a very low-end estimate,” the newspaper said,

“…The final size of the stimulus is expected to be $1 trillion over that period, given the deteriorating state of the US economy.

“…Officials with Obama’s camp have declined to comment on media reports about the size of the boost that the Democrat will launch once he takes office as President of the United States on January 20.”

The picture appears to be even gloomier after the news by several press agencies reporting all sorts of problems, ranging from the bankruptcy of the automotive industry as a result of the crisis, up to the natural disasters, including the increasing cost of foodstuffs, starvation, war, and many other facts.

The problem is that there is no more habitable space on our planet. The only one left was Australia, and the United Kingdom took hold of it on January 19, 1788. There’s been a long time since the environment is compromised.

¿Could our species surmount that barrier?

Fidel Castro Ruz

December 15, 2008

6:12 p.m.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Pen Meets Paper, Dec 15, '08

Pen Meets Paper
Opinion by Helge Nome
Stephen Harper's days as the Prime Minister of Canada and leader of his party are likely numbered. The “Economic Update” presented to Parliament recently was just the straw that broke the camel's back. The aggressive nature of the proposals put the old Reform Party's platform on center stage and galvanized the opposition parties into action after several years of bickering in Parliament. Harper thought he had the Liberals over a barrel with a discredited leader in the form of Stephan Dion and chose the path of the bully to gain added advantage. What he forgot was that when an animal is cornered, it is likely to bite, and it so happens that this animal has more muscle behind its teeth than Harper does. That was one big mistake.
The next one came when Harper, now backed into his own corner, started sneering at Quebec, alienating that part of the country as indicated by Jean Charet's Liberals winning a majority in the recent provincial election there. Prior to that, Harper had alienated Atlantic Canada by being branded a “liar” by the conservative Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, Danny Williams. In fact, Harper has managed to get himself branded as”a man who can not be trusted” by people from all sides of the political spectrum. All of which proves that Stephen Harper is not up to the task of being the Prime Minister of Canada. No more so than Brian Mulroney and his “cash in brown paper bags” or Paul Martin and his “Canada Steamship Line” getting federal contracts and being registered in Liberia.
The problem now is for the Central Canadian Money Establishment to find a credible leader for the Liberal Party of Canada and then throw its media weight in behind him. Is that man Michael Ignatieff? Time will tell.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Pen Meets Paper, Dec 1, '08

Pen Meets Paper
In the midst of an all encompassing financial crisis, affecting all countries around the globe, our politicians in Ottawa are busy creating a constitutional crisis of their own. Instead of working together for the common good, they are now engaged in gamesmanship at our expense: Harper thought he had free reigns in continuing to bully the Liberals with Stephan Dion sulking in the background following his disastrous mistake of proposing a new tax regime prior to the last election. Harper decided to pull federal funding for the various political parties as a “cost saving” measure for the taxpayer, effectively handing political power over to the back room boys with money in their pockets from vested interest groups. Harper was summarily accused of not providing a stimulus package to the Canadian economy in the face of mounting evidence of a severe economic slowdown. So now our government and its opposition are locked in a battle for power fueled by several years of angry bickering in Parliament. The chickens are coming home to roost.
I remember when Australian Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was dismissed by Governor General Sir John Kerr on November 11, 1975. It was a shocker and a lot of Australians lost faith in Democracy on that day. John Kerr ended up taking refuge in Britain following the event as it was felt that his life would be in danger in Australia. But only after installing a Liberal/Country Party coalition Government under the leadership on the Right Honorable Malcolm Fraser AC CH who, following his political demise in 1983 appeared in his underpants early in the morning at the registration desk of a Dallas Motel, as a hooker had evidently taken off with his pants (in lieu of payment?). After a reporter got hold of the story all of Australia literally shook with laughter over the man whose favorite quote was; “Life wasn't meant to be easy”. All except his wife, that is. And everybody knew he had to face the music when he got home. So, poor old Malcolm did not derive a lot of joy from his political coup d'etat. To top it up, he was alienated from his own party. Gough Whitlam on the other hand, at 91 years old, is to this day revered by the Australian Labor Movement.
So the message to our representatives in Ottawa is: “Cool it you guys, remember who is paying your wages!”

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pen Meets Paper, Nov 24, '08

Pen Meets Paper
Opinion by Helge Nome
Some things don't change. In the 1790ies, during the Napoleonic wars pirate ships, based in my home town of Kristiansand, Norway, preyed on the Baltic Sea trade supplying the British/American colony side of the conflict. My sister's investigations, while researching a book on the subject, revealed that some 400 American colonists were held for ransom in Kristiansand at one point, making the owners of local pirate ships wealthy men.
Supertankers are currently being held for ransom in ports of Somalia, shanghaied by pirates in fast moving motor boats. And the party is on in the home communities of the pirates. In a recent interview, one fisherman turned pirate, stated that they were merely protecting the territorial waters of Somalia from illegal traffic and the dumping of toxic waste, as Somalia currently does not have a functional government.
The difference between the two scenarios, separated in time by about 200 years, is that the King of Denmark/Norway gave the nod of approval to his pirates, whereas the puppet regime in Mogadishu is powerless to influence the behavior of local pirates.
For several hundred years the European powers created colonies out of territories stretching across the surface of the globe in Africa, America and Asia. They co-opted local minority groups to work with them to establish regimes that were dependent on the colonizing nation to maintain political power over a given territory. This is precisely what has recently happened in Afghanistan and Iraq. And it has everything to do with the control of, and access to, rich energy sources.
And now something else is happening, which is like an echo from the past and has been reported in “The Guardian” newspaper:
“Rich governments and corporations are triggering alarm for the poor as they buy up the rights to millions of hectares of agricultural land in developing countries in an effort to secure their own long-term food supplies.

by Julian Borger, diplomatic editor
(The Guardian)

The head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, Jacques Diouf, has warned that the controversial rise in land deals could create a form of "neo-colonialism", with poor states producing food for the rich at the expense of their own hungry people.

Rising food prices have already set off a second "scramble for Africa". This week, the South Korean firm Daewoo Logistics announced plans to buy a 99-year lease on a million hectares in Madagascar. Its aim is to grow 5m tonnes of corn a year by 2023, and produce palm oil from a further lease of 120,000 hectares (296,000 acres), relying on a largely South African workforce. Production would be mainly earmarked for South Korea, which wants to lessen dependence on imports.”
For a copy of the full article, check my blog
Some things don't change.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Rich Man Poor Man

Africa: Rich countries launch great land grab to safeguard food supply
Posted: 2008/11/22
From: Source

Rich governments and corporations are triggering alarm for the poor as they buy up the rights to millions of hectares of agricultural land in developing countries in an effort to secure their own long-term food supplies.

by Julian Borger, diplomatic editor
(The Guardian)

The head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, Jacques Diouf, has warned that the controversial rise in land deals could create a form of "neo-colonialism", with poor states producing food for the rich at the expense of their own hungry people.

Rising food prices have already set off a second "scramble for Africa". This week, the South Korean firm Daewoo Logistics announced plans to buy a 99-year lease on a million hectares in Madagascar. Its aim is to grow 5m tonnes of corn a year by 2023, and produce palm oil from a further lease of 120,000 hectares (296,000 acres), relying on a largely South African workforce. Production would be mainly earmarked for South Korea, which wants to lessen dependence on imports.

"These deals can be purely commercial ventures on one level, but sitting behind it is often a food security imperative backed by a government," said Carl Atkin, a consultant at Bidwells Agribusiness, a Cambridge firm helping to arrange some of the big international land deals.

Madagascar's government said that an environmental impact assessment would have to be carried out before the Daewoo deal could be approved, but it welcomed the investment. The massive lease is the largest so far in an accelerating number of land deals that have been arranged since the surge in food prices late last year.

"In the context of arable land sales, this is unprecedented," Atkin said. "We're used to seeing 100,000-hectare sales. This is more than 10 times as much."

At a food security summit in Rome, in June, there was agreement to channel more investment and development aid to African farmers to help them respond to higher prices by producing more. But governments and corporations in some cash-rich but land-poor states, mostly in the Middle East, have opted not to wait for world markets to respond and are trying to guarantee their own long-term access to food by buying up land in poorer countries.

According to diplomats, the Saudi Binladin Group is planning an investment in Indonesia to grow basmati rice, while tens of thousands of hectares in Pakistan have been sold to Abu Dhabi investors.

Arab investors, including the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, have also bought direct stakes in Sudanese agriculture. The president of the UEA, Khalifa bin Zayed, has said his country was considering large-scale agricultural projects in Kazakhstan to ensure a stable food supply.

Even China, which has plenty of land but is now getting short of water as it pursues breakneck industrialisation, has begun to explore land deals in south-east Asia. Laos, meanwhile, has signed away between 2m-3m hectares, or 15% of its viable farmland. Libya has secured 250,000 hectares of Ukrainian farmland, and Egypt is believed to want similar access. Kuwait and Qatar have been chasing deals for prime tracts of Cambodia rice fields.

Eager buyers generally have been welcomed by sellers in developing world governments desperate for capital in a recession. Madagascar's land reform minister said revenue would go to infrastructure and development in flood-prone areas.

Sudan is trying to attract investors for almost 900,000 hectares of its land, and the Ethiopian prime minister, Meles Zenawi, has been courting would-be Saudi investors.

"If this was a negotiation between equals, it could be a good thing. It could bring investment, stable prices and predictability to the market," said Duncan Green, Oxfam's head of research. "But the problem is, [in] this scramble for soil I don't see any place for the small farmers."

Alex Evans, at the Centre on International Cooperation, at New York University, said: "The small farmers are losing out already. People without solid title are likely to be turfed off the land."

Details of land deals have been kept secret so it is unknown whether they have built-in safeguards for local populations.

Steve Wiggins, a rural development expert at the Overseas Development Institute, said: "There are very few economies of scale in most agriculture above the level of family farm because managing [the] labour is extremely difficult." Investors might also have to contend with hostility. "If I was a political-risk adviser to [investors] I'd say 'you are taking a very big risk'. Land is an extremely sensitive thing. This could go horribly wrong if you don't learn the lessons of history."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pen Meets Paper, Nov 17, '08

Pen Meets Paper
Opinion by Helge Nome
The question of nuclear power in Alberta is not going away. In fact, it has come home to roost on my own doorstep, literally: The location of the proposed nuclear power station has just been changed from the shores of Lac Cardinal (near Grimshaw in the Peace River Country) to a place north of the Town of Peace River, a couple of kilometers to the west of the river. It just happens to be about one kilometer from the doorstep of family owned property there. I am on the public record for criticizing the previous location on Lac Cardinal as being totally illogical as is was in the middle of a duck breeding habitat, close to Provincial Park, on the shores of a shallow and sensitive lake, on top of a sensitive aquifer (The Grimshaw Gravels), and some 20 odd kilometers from the only practical water supply which is the Peace River with its massive upstream dam.
I guess that's what you get for being a smart apple. I will let the proponent of the 4000+ Megawatt operation introduce itself: “

Bruce Power Alberta is an all-Canadian partnership among TransCanada Corporation of Calgary, Cameco Corporation of Saskatoon and BPC Generation Infrastructure Trust, a trust established by the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System and based in Toronto.”
If generated, a good deal of all that power will likely be used to extract oil from the tar sands in the Peace area and beyond. The process of public consultation which is included in the application process for the plant will likely take about three years according to company estimates.
What remains to be decided, however, is whether Albertans want nuclear power established in the province. One power station would open the doors for more. How safe is nuclear power? What are the risks? The answers are radically different, depending upon who you listen to and the debate has been raging in the Peace Country for well over a year already. The Alberta Government is comfortably sitting on its hands at this time, waiting to see where the political wind is blowing. Another question is: Will the Americans want to buy “dirty' oil from Alberta? The answer is: They already do and would likely want more of the same if the Middle East blows up in their face.
So, like it or not, the nuclear question has not gone away, and has to be faced collectively by Albertans. And this writer in particular.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pen Meets Paper, Nov10, 2008

Pen Meets Paper
Opinion by Helge Nome
As this edition of the Mountainer goes to press, Canadians are remembering those that lost their lives in armed conflicts during the last hundred years. The second World War is starkly real to me as it literally came in with my mothers milk: I was conceived in 1942 and born in 1943 during the height of the war in German occupied Norway. In later years, my mother told me about smuggling eggs under her coat on the train, coming back to the city from a farm belonging to family friends. Strict rationing forbade common folk from getting extra food on the side.
My father was a dairy factory inspector for a farmers' cooperative during the war and used to travel around the country quite a bit. One morning he happened to share breakfast table at the hotel with a young cocky German officer of the occupation force who remarked on the lack of resistance the Germans had encountered during their invasion. He uttered words to the effect of “I thought you were tough Vikings in Norway?” To which my father replied “We have become civilized in the last 1000 years”.
Unfortunately, that is not the case for most people on the planet, as evidenced by ongoing war and strife during the 20th century with no abatement in sight in the early part of the 21st century.
When I was young I had a hard time figuring out why decent people would turn on one another with the sole object of destroying the other person. I concluded that there must be some kind of insanity behind this behaviour.
When we were kids we used to play in bunkers and dugouts left behind by the occupation forces, unbeknown to our parents, which was just as well as the supporting timbers were in an advanced state of decay at the time (early 1950ies). We even found a pouch of wartime tobacco in one of them and got well and truly sick when we tried to smoke the stuff. To this day, I am convinced that it was not real tobacco at all. I can well remember walking around along the edge of a large circular gun turret made of concrete and steel and imagining controlling the great gun that commanded the entrance to Kristiansand Harbour.
We also played in the remains of a castle on a small island that used to command the same, albeit smaller, area during the Napoleonic wars when English raiders were kept at bay. (Norway/Denmark participated in that conflict on the side of the French).
So, like it or not, “War” is in my bones and it is truly a detestable business: My father told me that the Gestapo had commandeered a house on a high spot on the edge of the town of Kristiansand and used it as a place to torture suspected resistance members. The windows were deliberately kept open so that their screams could be heard all over town in order to discourage would-be recruits. The occupation forces also had a policy of shooting 10 Norwegians, picked up at random, for each German that was killed by resistance people. One German commander, in charge of the occupiers of a community in Northern Norway was a decent man, and refused to carry out this order. He did his best throughout the occupation to protect local people and developed a good relationship with them. After the end of the war he and his family were invited back and he was celebrated as a hero.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Pen Meets Paper, Nov 3, '08

Pen Meets Paper
Opinion by Helge Nome
This (Monday) morning I tuned in to the local radio broadcast over the Internet from Kristiansand, Norway, my old home town, and listened to the local news. The main item was a drop in the value of homes in September alone, of an average of 4% in the city and 5% in the surrounding municipalities. And real estate agents are having a hard time making ends meet due to the low volume in turnover of properties. The similarity in the story here and what is taking place right in our own back yard is amazing. Particularly when you realize that Kristiansand is on the other side of the globe. That just goes to show you how interconnected human beings are. And when I read comments on the Internet to stories about the faltering economy of the United States many, if not most, of them reflect my own sentiments to a tee. I can't help but believe that we are, in our nature, very similar to those flying ants who migrate in huge numbers, over a large area, during a very narrow window of time. Like one great unified organism with a life and mind of its own. The ants then proceed to shed their wings and form relatively independent colonies in new locations. Airborne seeds of plants do much the same thing in their own way.
What is happening all around us in the economic life of nations has been in the works for a long time.
The insanity of the frenzied rush towards self gratification, facilitated by readily available credit for all but a few, has been understood by most people for a long time, without having been acknowledged by same. When the inevitable consequences became evident in the adverse effects on the world's climate, it became more difficult to sweep the evidence of the collective insanity under the carpet.
And now, at last, we have hit the wall, just like the man with heart disease who chose to ignore his symptoms for the longest time and ends up having a major heart attack.
We can play the blame game and accuse the corrupt bankers of causing all our problems. But the fact is that their guilt lies in giving us what we wanted, while raking in a major share of the loot for themselves in the process, without any regard for the consequences. Their mindset has hardly been different from our own. So we are all in this stew together, like it or not, and the central banks' choice of throwing more money at the problem is only making it worse by strengthening the balance sheets of the biggest banks out there, so that they can gobble up the smaller ones. The net result is that fewer and fewer people are in control of more and more public resources and that is not good news for small folks like you and I. The time has come to get connected in a different way than before and take charge of the economic affairs of the nations we belong to, rather than letting strangers determine our fate.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pen Meets Paper, Oct 20, 2008

Pen Meets Paper
Opinion by Helge Nome
Quick fixes and instant gratification are hallmarks of contemporary society. “Fix me up Doc” (“so that I can continue to indulge in my bad habits”) is an all too common attitude. Free health care is taken as a given and the right to indulge in unbridled gambling, in the casino or on the stock market, is a God given principle. The list goes on as exemplified by monster trucks used to go to the corner store for a snack.
Noah would most definitely recognize the patterns and would likely be busy building a new ark at this time. (Look for large home made sailboats in back yards and tell me about it if you see one. I have some chickens that would like a ride).
In order for the world to get back to “normal” again, there has to be a major shift in attitude by an awful lot of people. “Education” just doesn't cut it. Most of us simply have to hit the wall before we change our ways. And for many, that is just a temporary change. Before we know it, we slip back into the old ways again. Dieting is a typical example of this phenomenon.
I am flabbergasted over how pure greed jumps into the driver's seat when people are confronted with “get rich quick” schemes (“Invest $5000 and get $50,000 back”). There is no thought for who pays for it at the end of the day as long as “I” can get “My” share of the pie. Casino gambling, in particular, is a good example: Community groups are happy to waste a night of sleep to give legitimacy to an activity that is highly predatory on people who can ill afford to lose their shirts. Taking $20,000 home for a “good cause” is more important than the social problems created by this form of gambling.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Pen Meets Paper, Oct 6, 2008

Pen Meets Paper
Opinion by Helge Nome
The financial crisis of October, 2008 is looking more and more like the one in October 1929 which was the herald of the Great Depression. I have spent some time reading about what happened in Alberta during that time in an excellent book series entitled “Alberta in the 20th Century”edited by Ted Byfield. Just like now, most people had their heads in the sand following the stock crash on October 28 in 1929. They didn't see any particular connection between that event and what would happen to grain prices in the following months and years when farmers went bankrupt in droves from a combination of low prices, drought and pestilence in the form of grasshoppers that even ate dry wood.
And while we are somewhat more aroused at the present time by extensive media coverage of events to the south of us, and around the globe, most of us are woefully unaware of the prospect that we, yes, we right here in Alberta, including Rocky Mountain House, Clearwater County and Caroline, are going to be hit a lot harder than most Americans are. The energy boom we have experienced in the last few years is turning into a mega bust with rapidly falling demand for energy across the whole world. This is being caused by the credit freeze brought about by the excessive and frivolous creation of worthless commercial paper by the financial system.
A huge proportion of all the high paying jobs in the oil and gas sector are going to disappear like mist before the morning sun, leaving large numbers of able people unemployed and distressed. The energy bubble has burst and we are going from riches to rags in short order.
By the middle of 1930 there were a lot of angry workers in the street creating a potential for civil unrest and desperate measures were put in place to prevent a festering cancer from spreading: Men were required to move from place to place in order to collect welfare payments; the rationale being that they should be willing to move to where the jobs were, and not sit around and wait for a job to fall into their laps at home. Thus was born the “Hobo”, catching free rides on freight trains going across the landscape. Labor boot camps were also created, run along military and prison camp lines. These became breeding grounds for frustration and resentment and perfect training grounds for communist agitators.
Then, as now, bankers were blamed for the stock market crash and the suffering that followed, but is it really that simple? Aren't we all somewhat to blame for indulging in speculation and gluttony, along with the bankers? If you were able to sell your house for twice of what you paid for it, did you refuse? Did you worry about the poor sucker who would be stuck with it when the price came down, as it inevitably had to? I believe that most of us were carried along on a wave of greed facilitated and encouraged by people who ultimately plan to gain from the process by grabbing control of the system by using public fear to facilitate the process. This is already happening as central banks, financed by taxpayers, are shifting huge amounts of capital into the hands of the people that helped wreck the financial system.
It may be useful to know that U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson used to be the CEO of Goldman Sachs; one of the world's most powerful banks (who is doing very nicely, thank you) and that our own Mark Carney, born in Fort Smith, NWT, and currently the Governor of the Bank of Canada, worked for thirteen years in Goldman Sachs branches across the world prior to his present appointment.
And working quietly in the background, facilitating massive mergers and acquisitions across national boundaries, is the Rothschild banking empire which is more that 200 years old (

These organizations have a vision of the world that make nation/states subordinate entities to what, in effect, becomes an international aristocracy, to whom we all have to remove our hats and bow gracefully. And we will be required to supply them with cannon fodder, in the form of our children, for their conflicts with those who refuse to be subordinated. Knowing this, I am closely tracking military developments in the Middle East, and elsewhere on my blog These developments are not reported in the mainstream media until a major incident occurs. Right now, there is a concentration of some 10,000 Syrian troops near Tripoli, in the northern part of Lebanon. There are also major naval movements underway on the earth's oceans as the cold war heats up again.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pen Meets Paper, Sept. 22, '08

Pen Meets Paper
Opinion by Helge Nome
While the sorry tale of the carnage on Wall Street continues and occupies the airwaves, along with election trivia, things are moving rapidly in the Middle East: According to the news agency DEBKAfile in Israel :
“The director of research at Israeli military intelligence (AMAN), Brig. Yossi Baidatz, surprised the Israeli cabinet Sunday Sept. 21, with a new appreciation of Iran’s nuclear timetable. Tehran, he disclosed, has already stocked one-third or even half the quantity of enriched uranium needed for a nuclear bomb. He warned the ministers that Iran is dashing at top speed towards a nuclear weapons capability and nothing stands in the way of its headlong advance, including international sanctions.

Separately, former Israeli army chief Lt. Gen (Res.) Moshe Yaalon said in a radio interview that an Israel-Iranian war is unavoidable.”
So the stage is being set for an attack on Iran by Israeli forces which will likely drag in the major world powers in due course with unpredictable consequences. Remember the CIA intelligence reports (which turned out to manufactured) that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction ready to be used? The pattern looks to be very similar and special interest groups in Israel are now working towards setting up a government that is up the the job of conducting a war. For daily developments from news sources around the world, see my Blog:
I believe the timing of these events is closely tied to what is happening on Wall Street where the biggest international banks now effectively control the U.S. Government through their people working in key positions within the government structure including the Treasury and Federal Reserve. (Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke, among others). The U.S. Congress has been cajoled and intimidated into becoming the tail of the dog, rather than the dog itself, a process that began in earnest with the 9/11 event.
As mentioned in this column before, the object of a war against Iran is the replacement of the Islamic Republic government with one which is a stooge for western economic interests like the one operated by the Shah of Iran before the revolution.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Pen Meets Paper

Pen Meets Paper
Opinion by Helge Nome
Today (Monday) the Dow Jones Industrial Stock index took a nosedive of more than 500 points to less than 11,000 points following the collapse of the Lehman Bros investment bank, the fourth largest bank of its kind in the United States. All this is happening amongst a buildup of tension in both the Middle East and in South America. The Russian Bear has emerged from his post cold war slumber after having been thoroughly aggravated by Georgia's attack on South Ossetia. To put it in blunt terms, the world is re-polarizing at a very rapid rate. Alliances are formed so that a military attack on one member is considered to be an attack on all members.
Stephen Harper decided to call an early federal election in Canada, in spite of previous promises to the contrary. Conservative Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams has publicly called Stephen Harper a liar and promise breaker and his statements can hardly be challenged.
The timing of the Georgian attack on South Ossetia coincided with the Beijing Olympics and was said to have been enabled and encouraged by the Bush White House with involvement from Israel as well.
The mainsteam world media attention is now on the U.S. Race for the Presidency and here in Canada the airwaves will be filled with election talk, at the expense of more substantive news. Meanwhile, naval battle groups from nations on both sides of a potential conflict are taking up their positions, unnoticed by the vast majority of people. (Please check my Blog where daily updates are being posted).
So were does all this leave us here in Canada? Does Stephen Harper want to lead us blindfolded into another war created by his friends in Washington? Or is his timing purely opportunistic following the Liberal blunder of proposing a carbon tax before an election, rather than afterwards? Most of us probably realize that an election is more of a stage show than a really important national event, both here and to the south of us: Plans and preparations for war are made well ahead of the event and the timing of the trigger is chosen for maximum perceived advantage. By looking at the past we can predict the future because the wheel goes round and around.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Pen Meets Paper, Sept 8, 2008

Pen Meets Paper
Opinion by Helge Nome
Another milestone was reached in the downward spiral of the U.S. economy when Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was taken over by the U.S. Government last weekend September 6/7. Together, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac form the cornerstones of the U.S. mortgage market and own or guarantee almost half the home loans in the country's roughly $12 trillion mortgage market. Over the past year, the companies have recorded combined losses of around $14 billion and their share values have now fallen to junk levels (less than $1). The common folk in the U.S. are now on the hook for propping up these banks as the Treasury pumps new magic dollars into them. These dollars, created out of thin air by the Federal Reserve Bank, go into circulation, increasing the total money supply and so make each dollar worth less. That means that people with savings, and those on fixed incomes, effectively have their wealth robbed from them by the state. It is called inflation (inflated value of goods and services). That is also the way the Cheney/Bush gang and their associates have financed their wars in the Middle East: Printing dollars to cover the cost, making each dollar worth less as they do so.
There is another worrying aspect to this scenario: To date the world's trade in energy (oil,gas,etc) has been carried out in U.S. Dollars. That has given Americans a financial advantage over other people because everybody has needed their dollars to be able to buy energy. So they have exchanged tons of their dollars, at virtually no cost to themselves apart from the printer's ink, in return for all kinds of goods and services, including energy, from abroad. This is now changing with more energy trade taking place using the Euro as currency, instead of the dollar. Iran has threatened to set up some kind of energy exchange which does not utilize U.S. Dollars.
If the U.S. looses its strangle hold on the energy trade, its currency could become almost worthless, in comparison to other currencies. That is what happened in Germany before the Hitler administration got into power during the Great Depression. In spite of its economic woes, the United States has arguably the most powerful war machine in the world today and has shown a willingness to use it whenever it is perceived to be necessary. From their perspective it only makes sense to hang on to power as long as possible, using whatever means are available. The alternative for them is very unpalatable.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Thourough War Research From Der Spiegel

The Chronicle of a Caucasian Tragedy


Many in the West were surprised by the outbreak of war between Georgia and Russia. But there were plenty of signs that the conflict was approaching. SPIEGEL reconstructs the road to violence.

The Sheraton Metechi Palace Hotel in the Georgian capital Tbilisi has a sand-colored façade, dozens of floors and a bright atrium-style lobby. It is an ideal base for guests working abroad who are eager not to attract attention.

A small group of American soldiers along with US advisors in civilian clothes stand huddled around laptop computers, whispering with officers and looking at images on the screen. As soon as a visitor walks over to see what they're up to, they snap the computers shut. A man in his mid-30s, wearing a blue polo shirt, explains: "We're the worst-informed people in Tbilisi. I can't even tell you what we're doing here."

As of the end of last week, the roughly 160 American military advisors still stood their ground in Georgia. They weren't the only foreign soldiers in the country, though. Russia withdrew far more slowly than Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had promised. And Moscow has likewise announced that some 500 soldiers will remain in the country to secure a buffer zone between Georgia and South Ossetia.

It is, in short, a messy situation. But who is actually responsible for this six-day war in the southern Caucasus?

Georgia President Mikhail Saakashvili criticizes what he calls a "brutal Russian attack and invasion." In return, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin calls Saakashvili a "war criminal" and talks of the "genocide" committed against Russian citizens. But what are the representatives of the Western community of values saying? The fact is, they are still puzzled.

If They Only Looked

This is surprising, because the war that erupted on the southern flank of the Caucasus Mountains was almost as inevitable as thunder after a lightening strike. The dozens of witness statements and pieces of intelligence information at SPIEGEL's disposal combine to form a chronicle of a tragedy that anyone could see coming -- if they only looked.

But a true reconstruction of events must begin well before Aug. 7 -- the day when Georgian troops marched into South Ossetia. A war of words had been raging between Moscow and Tbilisi since the beginning of the year and, before long, both sides were conducting military maneuvers, which, in retrospect, can be seen as preparation for actual conflict. A number of intelligence agencies had observed troop movements in Georgia and South Ossetia, with satellites providing precise images of what was happening on the ground. United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice became involved in shuttle diplomacy, trying to appease Saakashvili on the one hand, while criticizing Putin, on the other.

In truth, the world should have been able to predict what was about to happen in the southern Caucasus. Nevertheless, when the armed conflict finally erupted, it was to great astonishment worldwide. No one had wanted a return to the Cold War.

Between Jan. 5, 2008, the day of Mikhail Saakashvili's re-election as president of Georgia, and May 7, 2008, the last day of Vladimir Putin's term in office as president of Russia, there was a great deal of movement along the fronts in the conflict over South Ossetia and Abkhazia, separatist Georgian provinces for the past 18 years.

Wreaths laid at the Russian barracks in Tskhinvali where nearly a dozen soldiers were killed in a Georgian attack.
Getty Images

Wreaths laid at the Russian barracks in Tskhinvali where nearly a dozen soldiers were killed in a Georgian attack.
It was as if the Caucasus populist Saakashvili and the coolly calculating Russian Putin, facing the nominal end of his regency, had realized that it was finally time for a showdown.

'Only Through the Force of Weapons'

Saakashvili wanted to bring his country into NATO as quickly as possible and was confident that he had the support of the West. Putin, who wanted to establish his country as a hegemonial power in the southern reaches of the former Soviet empire, relied on the skills he had acquired as an agent working for the KGB -- especially those involving a careful analysis of the enemy.

The signals that Saakashvili was sending after his re-election set off alarms in Moscow. The Georgian, who, since 2004, had been promising his people that he would regain control over all of Georgian territory, was getting impatient. He attempted to discuss a plan to invade Abkhazia with Washington, before Georgia, as a candidate for NATO membership, came under more intense scrutiny. Meanwhile, SakarTVelo, a Georgian military television station with the motto "We serve those who serve," was using a 1932 quotation attributed to Adolf Hitler to advertise for new recruits: "Only through the force of weapons" could lost territory be regained.

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Putin, meanwhile, watched and waited -- he wanted to see how the Kosovo question would turn out. He made it clear that if the ethnic Albanian province was granted the right to secede from Serbia, the West could not deny Abkhazia and South Ossetia the right to secede from Georgia. On Feb. 17, 2008, the United States, Great Britain and France recognized Kosovo's independence.

After Saakashvili's state visit to Washington on March 19, when he clearly enjoyed his reception as the president of a key ally in the war on terror, there was the NATO summit in Bucharest. In response to a German and French initiative, the alliance denied Georgia and Ukraine its consent to their joining NATO, but promised membership at a later date.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko promptly predicted that this decision would have "the gravest consequences for overall European security." US President George W. Bush met with Putin at his Black Sea vacation home in an effort to restore calm. But Bush apparently failed to take the Russian president's warnings as seriously as they were intended. In retrospect, Western observers describe what happened in the ensuing few days in April as a "point of no return" for the Georgian-Russian war.

Ideologue of Expansionism

Twelve days after the NATO summit, Putin issued an order to upgrade Russia's relations with the separatist regimes in Abkhazia and South Ossetia almost to the point of recognition. On April 20, a Russian fighter jet shot down a Georgian reconnaissance drone over Abkhazia. According to observations by the International Crisis Group, Saakashvili then assembled 12,000 Georgian soldiers at the extremely well-fortified Senaki military base. It was still a good three months before the outbreak of hostilities.

In May and June, Moscow sent additional troops to the separatist regions, allegedly for "humanitarian purposes." They included 500 paratroopers and a maintenance team of 400 men, which arrived in Abkhazia on May 31 to repair segments of a railroad south of the capital Sukhumi. The work was necessary to prepare for transporting tanks and heavy military equipment.

By that time, Alexander Dugin had set up camp. Dugin is the bearded chief ideologue of those in favor of an expansionist Russia -- and an advisor to Putin's United Russia Party. He had come to the region to tour a tent camp set up by members of his youth movement about 25 kilometers (16 miles) from the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali. Thirty army tents housed the 200 attendees. The program included geopolitical seminars and paramilitary training. The pro-Russian forces in South Ossetia provided the group with Kalashnikovs and live ammunition for its field exercises.

"Here is the border in the battle of civilizations," said Dugin. "I think Americans are great. But we want to put an end to America's hegemony." It was a sentiment shared by the young men in the tent camp -- and Dugin's dreams did not end at the Russian-Georgian border. "Our troops will occupy the Georgian capital Tbilisi, the entire country, and perhaps even Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula, which is historically part of Russia, anyway," he continued.

As Dugin's supporters were preparing for the worst, the situation along the borders between both South Ossetia and Abkhazia and the areas controlled by Tbilisi became increasingly tense. There were even exchanges of grenade fire between the two sides, all under the eyes of OSCE and United Nations emissaries.
Part 2: Practicing for War

On July 3, an assassination attempt was made on the pro-Georgian head of the South Ossetian administration, Dmitry Sanakoyev. Sanakoyev had once served as the separatists' head of state and was then recruited by Saakashvili -- and he is widely considered to be one of the wild cards in the Caucasus region. His name rarely surfaces in the threat analyses prepared by Western intelligence agencies. And yet men like Sanakoyev hold key roles in the geopolitical jockeying for position in the Caucasus, where even village chiefs and minor Mafiosi occasionally manage to enter the global spotlight.

In mid-March Sanakoyev, Georgia's man on the Russian border, said: "If Moscow recognizes South Ossetia, there will be war." On July 3, his Nissan SUV hit a landmine and then came under machine-gun fire. Three bodyguards were seriously injured, but Sanakoyev miraculously survived.

Five days later, Russian fighter jets penetrated Georgian air space in what Moscow called a signal to the "hotheads in Tbilisi." The timing of this show of strength was carefully chosen, being only one day before Georgian President Saakashvili planned to meet with US Secretary of State Rice over dinner in Tbilisi. In retrospect, Saakashvili and Rice would interpret their conversations in different ways. Rice claims that she warned Saakashvili against military conflict with Russia, while Saakashvili recalls Rice's assurances of firm solidarity. Rice left Tbilisi 28 days before the war broke out.

Combative Language

On July 10, Georgia recalled its ambassador to Russia, in protest over the violation of its airspace. At the same time, tensions were growing in the Black Sea republic of Abkhazia, where bomb attacks killed four people. There were even explosions in the nearby Russian resort of Sochi, the site of a future Olympic venue. Georgian nationals were suspected of committing the attacks.

Even as Russian tourists were enjoying their low-cost vacations on Abkhazian beaches, troops and military vehicles were being deployed to the breakaway region. Using combative language, Abkhazian leader Sergei Bagapsh told the Moscow magazine Ogonjok: "We are ready for war. But I am not about to stand here and tell you exactly how we have prepared ourselves."

On July 15, an unprecedented show of military strength began on both sides of the main ridge of the Great Caucasus Range. In the south, not far from Tbilisi, close to 1,000 Americans joined the Fourth Infantry Brigade of the Georgian army in a maneuver called "Immediate Response 2008."

On the same day, a maneuver called "Caucasus 2008," under the command of high-ranking General Sergei Makarov, the commander of the northern Caucasus military district, began on Russian territory north of the Caucasus ridge, between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. The exercise included 8,000 troops from all branches of the military. Troops with the 76th Air Landing Division, from Pskov, conducted their exercises openly on a military training ground in the Daryal Canyon, not far from the Roki Tunnel to South Ossetia -- the eye of the needle between Russia and Georgia.

According to claims coming from Moscow, Russia's troops in the field were prepared to "come to the aid of the Russian peacekeepers" stationed in South Ossetia. The government in Tbilisi was quick to respond, noting that it was unaware of a "right to conduct any actions on Georgian soil."

Western intelligence agencies observed that, after the July 30 end to the "Caucasus 2008" exercises ended, the dispatch channels set up by the Russians were kept in place, hardly the usual practice following military exercises. Furthermore, the 58th Army remained in a state of heightened readiness. For US intelligence, with its arsenal of spy satellites, reconnaissance aircraft and unmanned drones, this should have been a reason for concern.

48 Russians for each Georgian

More reasons for worry quickly followed. Following the military exercise on the Georgian side, President Saakashvili -- directly under the noses of the American military advisors -- sent parts of his army toward South Ossetia instead of ordering them to return to their barracks. The artillery brigade, for example, which would begin firing on the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali eight days later, on Aug. 7, is normally divided between two towns, Senaki and Gori. But after July 30, the brigade was concentrated in Gori.

The outbreak of the war was still seven days away. Two armies, both well-equipped but of unequal strength, were facing off across the border. In case of conflict, there would be 48 Russian troops for each Georgian soldier. A tragedy was gradually taking shape, and yet the world public was still in the dark.

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The skirmishes became more frequent in the final days leading up to all-out war. On Friday, Aug. 1, five Georgian police officers were injured in a bomb attack in South Ossetia. A short time later, snipers shot and killed six people, most of them police officers with the pro-Russian separatist government, while they were fishing and swimming. Ossetians began sending their women and children to safety in Russia.

On Aug. 3, the Russian foreign ministry issued a final warning that an "extensive military conflict" was about to erupt. Officials in Europe's seats of government and intelligence agency headquarters had a sense of what the Russians were talking about. Saakashvili's plans for an invasion had been completed some time earlier. A first draft prepared in 2006, believed to be a blueprint of sorts for the later operation, anticipated that Georgian forces would capture all key positions within 15 hours.

A plan B -- in the event of failure -- did not exist.

Three days before the outbreak of the war, officials in Israel emphatically stated that the country had not sold offensive weapons to Georgia in months, and that "frantic requests" from Tbilisi, including those requests for Israeli-made Merkava tanks and new weapons, were rejected. From the perspective of the Israelis, Georgia and Russia were clearly on a collision course.

The People Would Pay the Price

Georgia had increasingly made headlines as a goldmine for Israeli arms dealers and veterans from the military and the Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency. According to reports in the Jerusalem media, cousins of Georgian Defense Minister David Kezerashvili, who himself lived in Holon near Tel Aviv and speaks Hebrew, acted as reliable contacts for Israeli arms dealers. And Temuri Yakobashvili, who, as Georgia's state minister for reintegration, is responsible for South Ossetia and Abkhazia, said openly: "The training of our military units by Israelis makes me proud to be a Jew."

But did Georgia's young elite misinterpret the importance of their own country and misunderstand the motives of its allies, friends and trading partners? That conclusion seemed more and more likely as war approached. But it would be the people who would pay the price.

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At about 10 p.m. on Aug. 5, teacher Sisino Javakhishvili, after bathing her granddaughter, went into the courtyard of her house in the Georgian village of Nikosi, three kilometers from the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali, to fetch water. She had heard gunfire before, but suddenly she sensed that it was serious. "No one here is surprised by individual gunshots or even machine-gun fire, but this time it was truly massive," she says. "We had not noticed anything out of the ordinary in the days before then. The only thing we did notice were the television stories about Ossetian residents being taken out of Tskhinvali. We saw busses full of people departing for Russia. But my husband said that it was to intimidate us."

The evacuation of the women and children was complete by Aug. 6. In the Georgian-controlled villages of South Ossetia, skirmishes between Georgian army infantry and South Ossetian militias became more intense, erupting into nonstop artillery exchanges during the ensuing night. Georgian sources reported that Russian soldiers had entered the conflict on the Ossetian side.

According to Western observers, by the morning of Aug. 7 the Georgians had amassed 12,000 troops on the border to South Ossetia. Seventy-five tanks and armored personnel carriers were in position near Gori. In a 15-hour blitzkrieg, the tanks were to advance to the Roki Tunnel to seal it off. At that point, there were only 500 Russian soldiers and another 500 fighters with the South Ossetia militia armed and ready to defend Tskhinvali and the surrounding area. At 4:06 p.m., the South Ossetian authorities reported that Tskhinvali had come under attack from grenade launchers and automatic weapons. Fifty minutes later, they reported "large-scale military aggression against the Republic of South Ossetia." According to Western intelligence sources, the Georgian artillery bombardment of Tskhinvali did not begin until 10:30 p.m. on that Thursday. It was orchestrated by 27 Georgian army rocket launchers capable of firing ordnance with a maximum caliber of 152 millimeters. At 11 p.m., Saakashvili announced that the goal of the operation was the "re-establishment of constitutional order in South Ossetia."
Part 3: A Disastrous Decision

During his invasion, the Georgian president relied primarily on infantry units that had to advance along major roads. At 11:10 p.m., the Georgian side informed the general in charge of the Russian peacekeepers that they planned to use military force to re-establish "constitutional order" in the Tskhinvali Region, the Georgian term for South Ossetia. Half an hour later, a Georgian grenade struck the roof of a three-story building occupied by Russian troops, killing two soldiers on observation duty.

Salvos from multiple rocket launchers rained down on the complex. The peacekeepers' cafeteria was reduced to rubble and all of the buildings went up in flames. Eighteen Russian soldiers died in the attack. Four minutes before midnight, the South Ossetian authorities reported: "The Georgian armed forces' storm on Tskhinvali has begun."

Russian soldiers did offer resistance. According to Georgian reports, they included members of both the peacekeeping force and Ossetian militias. The Georgians, however, became bogged down during their attack and failed to advance beyond Tskhinvali. They were inexperienced -- the civilian casualties in Tskhinvali were high. The Georgian interior ministry -- instead of the defense ministry -- managed the campaign. The choice was consistent with international law, given the fact that South Ossetia nominally belongs to Georgia. From a military standpoint, however, the decision was disastrous.

Saakashvili Was Unavailable

In Russia, shortly before the war began, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin was sitting in his office on the seventh floor of a Stalin-era skyscraper in downtown Moscow. It was the evening of August 7, following a rainy, late-summer day. Karasin is in charge of managing Russia's strained relations with the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), including conflict zones on the territory of the Black Sea republic of Georgia.

In the past three years, says Karasin, hardly a day has gone by when he has not discussed South Ossetia and Abkhazia with European, American or Georgian officials.

But starting in early August, Karasin began receiving unsettling reports from Yuri Popov, the relevant special ambassador and commander of the Russian portion of the peacekeeping force. At approximately 9 p.m. on the evening of Aug. 7, Karasin was informed that Georgia was amassing troops along the South Ossetian border. The special ambassador reported counting five tanks, six armored personnel carriers, five howitzers, multiple rocket launchers, trucks and buses full of soldiers and officers on the road back to Tbilisi from Tskhinvali.

Karasin stayed in his office until after 10 p.m., and when he arrived at home he called Russian President Medvedev. It was one of seven conversations with the president conducted that night. Medvedev instructed Karasin to contact Saakashvili immediately, but the Georgian president was unavailable. Instead, Karasin called Dan Fried, his American counterpart, who told him that Washington was doing its best to get the situation under control. That was the extent of the conversations on that night.

By the next morning, it was too late for a peaceful solution. Starting at 2:06 a.m. on Aug. 8, the tickers of international press agencies began running reports of Russian tanks in the Roki tunnel. Depending on the estimate, the Russians moved between 5,500 and 10,000 soldiers into South Ossetia through the Roki tunnel. Meanwhile, there were already between 7,000 and 10,000 Russian soldiers at the Georgian-Abkhazian border, many of them brought there on ships from Russia. The "Moskva," a guided missile cruiser and flagship of Russia's Black Sea fleet, with the fleet commander himself on board, was patrolling off the Georgian coast.

Sukhoi and Tupolev combat aircraft, including the models Su-25, Su-24, Su-27 and Tu-22, were patrolling the air. For the people living in the Georgian villages in South Ossetia, Russian air superiority quickly became a nightmare.

'Explosions Every Few Seconds'

A 68-year-old mechanic from Kurta, a village northeast of Tskhinvali, couldn't believe his eyes. "It was terrible, when the planes came and shot at us. Every bomb didn't explode only once, but several times in succession, a little farther along each time, creating long strips of explosions; the planes made a droning noise as they approached. I hid in the cellar and looked at my watch. There were explosions every few seconds."

The Russian planes must have been using cluster bombs -- as did the Georgians, according to reports by observers with the organization Human Rights Watch. It was a war that was unleashed on the basis of archaic 20th-century geopolitics, but fought with 21st century technology. It was a war that caught the world policemen in a globalized community off-guard. And by the time the world noticed, it was already in full swing.

Alexander Stubb, the Finnish foreign minister and current chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), did not see the war coming: "The OSCE has always been involved here, since 1992. There were many reports about smaller conflicts. I received the first information about the major conflict in the night before Aug. 8. It took us by surprise. I spoke with my mission chief in Tbilisi on Aug. 7. She told me that it was very dangerous there, but that it was not a problem. The, in the night before Aug. 8, all hell broke loose."

The civilian dead have now been buried. No one knows the real death toll. Seventy-four Russian soldiers died (400, according to Georgian sources), and the Georgians lost 165 (4,000, say the Russians). But which of the countries truly won? Which can hope for a better outcome once the dust from this strange Caucasian war has settled? And how long will the new Cold War, which appears to have erupted between Russia and the West, last?

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In recent days, President Saakashvili has tirelessly met with foreign dignitaries and relished the international spotlight. First Condoleezza Rice returned to Tbilisi, followed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Foreign Minister David Miliband. Meanwhile, Poland signed a treaty with the United States for the development of the missile defense shield. Moscow responded by commenting that in doing so, Warsaw had also placed itself into Moscow's nuclear sights. In the UN Security Council, Russia and the West introduced resolutions that had no chance of approval, because the current and former superpowers were vetoing each other.

During all this, the withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgian soil dragged on into the night before last Saturday. The soldiers destroyed key bridges, railroad lines and roads. The military victor went to great lengths to humiliate the loser, which had allowed itself to be provoked into an attack.

It could take Georgia years to recover from this Six-Day War.

By Manfred Ertel, Uwe Klussmann, Susanne Koelbl, Walter Mayr, Matthias Schepp, Holger Stark and Alexander Szandar

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

Monday, September 1, 2008

Pen Meets Paper, Sept. 1, '08

Pen Meets Paper
Opinion by Helge Nome
Word is out that there will be a Federal election shortly. The conservatives, led by Stephen Harper, are hoping to form for a majority government. The Dion Liberals, having launched a misguided plan for a carbon tax, are set for a massive election loss. So what are we going to get from Harper's crew, once they are back in office, backed by a small percentage of eligible Canadian voters?
More of the same, no doubt, with Bills C51 and C52 in the works to restrict the freedom of Canadians to make choices about what they can consume. Bill C51 seeks to restrict access to natural health products and C52 gives “the Minister”authority to send inspectors into your premises and remove whatever they please at your expense with no accountability to the legal system represented by courts and juries and judges. The “Minister”, elevated into his or her position by unknown interest groups, can do what he or she pleases without being accountable to anybody under the proposed legislation.
The liberals brought in Bill C68 which established the gun registry which was supposed to protect us from criminals. Many people voted for the conservatives with the idea of getting rid of that monster. And what did they do? Nothing. And I have been informed by one gun dealer that people who hardly know the front from the rear of a gun have walked out of his shop as the legally registered owner of a fire arm. As we all know, the gun registry has merely established a lucrative black market for guns. Mortality statistics clearly indicate that gang members have no difficulty in arming themselves to the teeth. So why does our government want to know the names and addresses of law abiding citizens who own a gun? So that the people who call themselves the legally elected representatives of Canadians can take all the guns back, if they feel threatened at any time. It is all perfectly logical.
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Monday, August 25, 2008

Pen Meets Paper, Aug 25, 2008

Pen Meets Paper

Opinion by Helge Nome

Have you ever tried to put yourself into the shoes of an aboriginal person in Canada? What would it feel like, walking on the street, going into shops, talking to people? Would you feel at home? You know that any news that appear in the mainstream media are negative news, such as gang shootings, etc. What does it feel like to be a person of mixed heritage, a native person and a European, or Asian, in the same package? Who would you identify with? Whoever it is will ask the other part of you to go into hiding. Whoever you are, you know that the European mainstream culture tried as hard as it could to ethnically cleanse the Native in you from the surface of the earth, using the residential school system. It was done because you did not fit into the culture of the invader of your land. That made you a useless burden on the rest of society, to be discarded as efficiently as possible. You were removed from your parents by force, raised in barracks by hired zealots, and forbidden to use your language at any time.

When the government and academia that created the ethnic cleansing system finally realized how stupid and brutal they had been, they once again allowed you to raise your own kids, having removed all the skills and cultural supports you needed to do the job. Then you were treated with contempt for not being able to raise children in an approved way. So, whatever you do, don't look to the European for help. The result is only hidden contempt. The white man respect those that kick his arse.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008