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Fishing With Words

A Review of Fire in the Straw: Notes on Inventing a Life by Nick Lyons

With lilacs in the dooryard blooming a week ago, I was struck by a sense of synchronicity so strong that I stood stone still and sniffed the air for its direction.  I had just written a little essay about my youthful days and the first fish I caught at the age of ten and my subsequent basketball obsession.  Now I was out for an early morning walk up the hill by the lake above the town across from the railroad tracks.  As I dawdled in the intoxicating fragrance of the lilacs, it transported me to other springs when my blood …

Donald Trump’s Assault on the Wages of American Workers

Although Donald Trump, as president, proclaimed in his 2020 State of the Union address that he had produced a “blue-collar boom” in workers’ wages, the reality was quite different.  Using his control of the executive branch of the U.S. government, Trump repeatedly undermined the wages of American workers by blocking raises and imposing wage reductions.

Only the preceding year, Trump derailed vital wage legislation.  In July 2019―with the pathetically low federal minimum wage stuck at $7.25 per hour for a decade and some 13 million workers holding two or more jobs to support their families―the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives …

Veterans For Peace Memorial Day Statement May 2024

Remember: All living things are victims of war

Memorial Day is a day for remembering the victims of war.

Members of Veterans For Peace remember America’s war dead not just once a year, but every day of our lives, with the solemnity they deserve, not the crass commercialism Memorial Day has become.

We remember the war dead and the far greater number of wounded with missing limbs and the even greater number living with invisible, lifelong devils and injuries in their heads.

We remember the lost contributions they could have made to society that they literally bottled up or destroyed in the epidemic of suicide rampant among veterans.

We remember the domestic …

A Misplaced Purity: Democracies and Crimes Against International Law

The application for arrest warrants by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim A.A. Khan in the Israel-Hamas War gives us a chance to revisit a recurring theme in the commission of crimes in international humanitarian law.  Certain states, so this logic goes, either commit no crimes, or, if they do, have good reasons for doing so, be they self-defence against a monstrous enemy, or as part of a broader civilisational mission.

In this context, the application for warrants regarding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant, merits particular interest.  Those regarding the Hamas trio …

Yes, Foreign Agents Try to Shape Your Opinion about Israel

The merging of Zionist propaganda and anti-China hysteria should embarrass its proponents, but apparently there’s a market for this conspiratorial drivel in the “post-truth” era promoted by the far right. They want us to believe the paid foreign agents we should be concerned about are students in $40 tents calling for university divestment, not those working for a foreign-focused lobby with billions of dollars.

Last week National Post columnist John Ivison claimed the Chinese Communist Party was funding the popular uprising against Canada’s role in enabling Israel’s genocide in Gaza. Of course he supplied absolutely no evidence. The front-page article headlined “Chinese …

Aryan Idols and the Search for Indo-Europeans

The Prehistory and History of Fascist Mythology Part II

Orientation

Mythology and folklore can be used for political and religious purposes whether they be to support socialism or fascism. What was going on at the end of the 19th  century politically and in the 1930s that made mythology so attractive to both German and French fascists? Why did the imagined gods of the Indo-Europeans change from how they were conceived in the 19th century? Why was their geographical location changed from India to Germany? The Indo-Europeans of 19th century were considered monotheists. But in the 20th century they became polytheists or …

From COVID-19 to Campus Protests: How the Police State Muzzles Free Speech

The police state does not want citizens who know their rights.

Nor does the police state want citizens prepared to exercise those rights.

This year’s graduates are a prime example of this master class in compliance. Their time in college has been set against a backdrop of crackdowns, lockdowns and permacrises ranging from the government’s authoritarian COVID-19 tactics to its more recent militant response to campus protests.

Born in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, these young people have been raised without any expectation of privacy in a technologically-driven, mass surveillance state; educated in schools that teach conformity and compliance; saddled with a …

Ongoing Colonization

On May 15, we will commemorate the 76th anniversary of the Nakba amid another catastrophe. Since 1948, Palestinians have suffered a profound and enduring trauma, as families were forcibly uprooted from their ancestral lands by Zionist militias, villages were destroyed, and communities were torn apart to create the settler colonial state of Israel. The Nakba represents not only a historical event but an ongoing reality, as it laid the foundation for the continued colonization and occupation of Palestinian land and violent dispossession of the Palestinian people. This series captures how the genocide and mass displacement of Palestinians in Gaza is …

The Rages of Equivalence: The ICC Prosecutor, Israel and Hamas

The legal world was abuzz.  The diplomatic channels of various countries raged and fizzed.  It had been rumoured that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with his cabinet colleagues, had been bracing themselves for a stinging intervention from the International Criminal Court, a body they give no credence or respect to.

Then came the words from the Prosecutor of the ICC, Karim A.A. Khan on May 20, announcing that arrest warrants were being sought in the context of the Israel-Hamas War, benignly described as the “Situation in Palestine”, under the Rome Statute.  “On the basis of evidence collected and examined …

Ongoing Massacres

On May 15, we will commemorate the 76th anniversary of the Nakba amid another catastrophe. Since 1948, Palestinians have suffered a profound and enduring trauma, as families were forcibly uprooted from their ancestral lands by Zionist militias, villages were destroyed, and communities were torn apart to create the settler colonial state of Israel. The Nakba represents not only a historical event but an ongoing reality, as it laid the foundation for the continued colonization and occupation of Palestinian land and violent dispossession of the Palestinian people. This series captures how the genocide and mass displacement of Palestinians in Gaza …

Indeed, there is no comparison: Israel’s crimes are far worse than Hamas’

Benjamin Netanyahu is right to dismiss as “absurd and false” the suggestion that there is any equivalence in the atrocities committed by the two sides. Here’s why

There is one thing we should all be able to agree with Benjamin Netanyahu on: Any comparison between Israel’s war crimes and those of Hamas is, as the Israeli prime minister put it, “absurd and false” and a “distortion of reality”.Here’s why:

* Israeli war crimes have been ongoing for more than seven decades, long predating Hamas’ creation.

* Israel has kept the Palestinians of Gaza caged into a concentration camp for the past 17 years, denying them connection to the outside world and the essentials of life. Hamas managed to besiege …

The Assange Case: A Flicker of Hope in the UK High Court

It was faint, but there was more than just a flicker of hope.  In the tormented (and tormenting) journey the WikiLeaks founder and publisher, Julian Assange, has endured, May 20, 2024 provided another pitstop.  As with many such stops over the years, it involved lawyers.  Many of them.

The occasion was whether the UK High Court of Justice would grant Assange leave to appeal his extradition to the United States to face 18 charges, 17 hewn from the monstrous quarry that is the Espionage Act of 1917.  He is wanted for receiving and publishing classified US government materials comprising diplomatic cables, …

Inside one Israeli death and torture camp

Palestinians participate in a sit-in protest at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir Al-Balah, on 5 May. They denounced the assassination of Dr. Adnan Al-Barash in an Israeli prison.  (Ali Hamad APA images)
Torture, amputations and the fetid smell of untreated wounds hang heavy in the air at the Sde Teiman facility.

An army base situated between Beersheba and Gaza in the southern Negev region, it was turned into a detention center for Palestinians, including abductees from Gaza, before they are transferred to other prisons.

Three Israelis who …

Western Governments’ Submission: From Assisting Israel to Obeying Israel

How did it happen and how can it be opposed?

Israel’s ongoing destruction of the Palestinian community distressed much of the world but hope and optimism that the destruction had a limit, the oppression would exhaust itself, and the destruction would not reach beyond its present borders contained the anxieties. An overly aggressive and duplicitous response to the October 7 attack changed attitudes from that of tolerating oppression to confronting an apparent genocide. The realignment of international coalitions shifted into high gear with the Russia-China bloc recognizing that Israel is a racist, militarist, supremacist, and supra-nationalist entity, a country without borders that solicits assistance from a well-organized network …

Ongoing Destruction

On May 15, we will commemorate the 76th anniversary of the Nakba amid another catastrophe. Since 1948, Palestinians have suffered a profound and enduring trauma, as families were forcibly uprooted from their ancestral lands by Zionist militias, villages were destroyed, and communities were torn apart to create the settler colonial state of Israel. The Nakba represents not only a historical event but an ongoing reality, as it laid the foundation for the continued colonization and occupation of Palestinian land and violent dispossession of the Palestinian people. This series captures how the genocide and mass displacement of Palestinians in Gaza …

“Extremely Harrowing”: British Surgeon’s Gaza Testimony Buried By The “MSM”

Propaganda by omission is a dominant feature of the ‘mainstream’ news media. Indeed, it is a requirement. Rather than serving the public interest by fully exposing the brutal machinations of power, state-corporate media shield Western governments and their allies from scrutiny and focus the public’s attention on the crimes of Official Enemies.

Israel’s genocidal attack on Gaza is but the latest example. Consider the dearth of media coverage given to the compelling and shocking testimony provided by leading British surgeon, Professor Nick Maynard, who works as a consultant …

The Biggest Obstacle to Free and Fair Elections in Venezuela is the US

Prospects for the Presidential Contest under Conditions of Blackmail

For all the hullabaloo about “free and fair elections” in Venezuela by the US government, its sycophantic corporate press deliberately ignores the elephant in the room – namely, the so-called sanctions designed to make life so miserable that the people will acquiesce to Washington’s plan for regime change.

As Foreign Policy puts it, “Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro values his political survival above his country’s economic well-being.” Translated from Washington-speak, the US government is blackmailing the Venezuelan electorate with, in the words of Foreign Policy, “the looming threat,” of continuing unilateral coercive measures unless they vote against the incumbent …

Ongoing Expulsion

On May 15, we will commemorate the 76th anniversary of the Nakba amid another catastrophe. Since 1948, Palestinians have suffered a profound and enduring trauma, as families were forcibly uprooted from their ancestral lands by Zionist militias, villages were destroyed, and communities were torn apart to create the settler colonial state of Israel. The Nakba represents not only a historical event but an ongoing reality, as it laid the foundation for the continued colonization and occupation of Palestinian land and violent dispossession of the Palestinian people. This series captures how the genocide and mass displacement of Palestinians in Gaza …

New Caledonians Demand Complete Independence from France

The latest violent anti-French protests by New Caledonians seeking independence from France show clearly that it is time France respected the right of self-determination of the Kanak people of New Caledonia.

Hell in a Very Small Place

Unbecoming American

Hell: the creditor of last resort

Note: While I was writing this I thought about many things I experienced and read. Then as I was posting this the title of a book I read many years ago came to mind. Bernard Fall’s Hell in a Very Small Place. Fall was and remained a sympathizer with the imperial powers that exploited Indochina, both French and American. His account of the defeat of the French at Dien Bien Phu was a combination of despair and appeal for a more sensible counter-insurgency strategy that would …

Modest Proposal to Prevent Hurt Feelings over Demos against Genocide by Israel

According to a Parliamentary Commission Jewish students are feeling “unsafe” on Canadian campuses.

Last week a House of Commons justice committee hearing instigated by Liberal MP Anthony Housefather heard from a half dozen students about how difficult life has become as their peers criticize Israel’s holocaust in Gaza. As the Grind’s Dave Gray-Donald pointed out, the media ignored that three of the students who testified previously held positions in Israel lobby organizations. But focusing only on those paid to promote a foreign state ignores the depth of the problem.

The problem begins when two and three-year olds …

South China Sea Drama Unfolds

A Political Play?

A Filipino civilian convoy called “Atin Ito” claims to have breached China’s blockade around the Huangyan Dao, also known as Scarborough Shoal, in the South China Sea. The convoy reportedly aimed to resupply Filipino fishermen but stopped 50 nautical miles from the shoal. The Philippine Coast Guard and Navy monitored the mission. What are the real goals behind it? Are the fishermen being exploited, and are there other forces at play? Join us as we uncover the real story behind this high-stakes maritime drama.

Promising the Impossible: Blinken’s Out of Tune Performance in Kyiv

Things are looking dire for the Ukrainian war effort.  Promises of victory are becoming even hollower than they were last summer, when US President Joe Biden could state with breathtaking obliviousness that Russia had “already lost the war”.   The worst offender in this regard remains the United States, which has been the most vocal proponent of fanciful victory over Russia, a message which reads increasingly as one of fighting to the last Ukrainian.

Such a victory is nigh fantasy, almost impossible to envisage.  For one thing, domestic considerations about continued support for Kyiv have played a stalling part.  In the …

Permafrost Showdown

“Deep below the glistening surface of a frozen Arctic lake, something is bubbling—something that could cause global warming to accelerate beyond all previous projections… Now the freezer door is opening, releasing the carbon into Arctic lake bottoms. Microbes digest it, convert it to methane, and the lakes essentially burp out methane.’ Scientists estimate that permafrost holds up to 950 billion tons of carbon. As it thaws, 50 billion tons of methane could enter the atmosphere from Siberian lakes alone. That’s ten times more methane than the atmosphere holds right now,” (Katey Walter Anthony, biogeochemist, National Geographic Explorer Since 2011)

Rapid warming …

Is the U.S. blackmailing India over assassination allegations to be more hostile toward China and Russia?

The United States and its Western allies have stepped up a media campaign to accuse India of running an assassination policy targeting expatriate dissidents.

The government of Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, has furiously denied the allegations, saying there is no such policy.

Nevertheless, the American Biden administration as well as Canada, Britain and Australia continue to demand accountability over claims that  New Delhi is engaging in “transnational repression” of spying, harassing and killing Indian opponents living in Western states.

The accusations have severely stained political relations. The most fractious example is Canada. After Prime Minister Justin Trudeau publicly …

Gaza Genocide 2.0

The most widely reported figure currently used for Palestinian casualties in Gaza since October 7, 2023, is more than 35,000 killed and 78,000 wounded. These are only the civilian casualties, reported by the Ministry of Health. More than two-thirds are women and children. Combatant casualties are not included. The Ministry of Health maintains a list of the casualties, by name, gender and age classification (e.g. “infant”). This usually means that a medical professional has tended to the individual, usually at a hospital. The list is conservative in the extreme: it reports only the casualties that it can identify and confirm.

The …

My Heart Makes My Head Swim

Malak Mattar (Palestine), Hind’s Hall, 2024.

The title of this newsletter, ‘My heart makes my head swim’, comes from Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks (1952). In a chapter called ‘The Fact of Blackness’, Fanon writes about the despair that racism produces, the immense anxiety about living in a world that has decided that certain people are simply not human or not sufficiently human. The lives of these people, children of a lesser god, are assigned less worth than the lives of the powerful and the propertied. …

A Brutal Punishment: The Sentencing of David McBride

Sometimes, it’s best not to leave the issue of justice to the judges.  They do what they must: consult the statutes, test the rivers of power, and hope that their ruling will not be subject to appeal.  David McBride, the man who revealed that Australia’s special forces in Afghanistan had dimmed and muddied before exhaustion, committed atrocities and faced a compromised chain of command, was condemned on May 14 to a prison term of five years and eight months.

Without McBride’s feats, there would have been no Afghan Files published by the ABC.  The Brereton Inquiry, established to investigate …

Gaza is our moment of truth

A protest by students at George Washington University. Probal Rashid SIPA USA)
Powerful student movements in the 1960s and 1970s shook the world’s conscience to end America’s slaughter in Vietnam and Cambodia. The moral force of Black people rising together in their pain and rage against legislated racism changed the social fabric of America, ending formal segregation and ushering a new era in the struggle against institutional racialism.

Power did what power does, deploying brute force, murder, intimidation, silencing, marginalizing, surveillance and all manner of corrupt policing.

We see the outcome …

The Arsenal of Genocide: the U.S. Weapons That Are Destroying Gaza

Protesters block the entrance to the BAE factory in Kent, UK. (Photo credit: Reuters)
On May 8, 2024, as Israel escalated its brutal assault on Rafah, President Biden announced that he had “paused” a delivery of 1,700 500-pound and 1,800 2,000-pound bombs, and threatened to withhold more shipments if Israel went ahead with its full-scale invasion of Rafah.

The move elicited an outcry from Israeli officials (National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir tweeted “Hamas loves Biden”), as well as …