Category Archives: History

Tomgram: Danny Sjursen, With Friends Like These…

There is no “Reblog” on these articles, so I just copy and paste…  My personal question is posting this was, post this or not? It’s a tough choice, although the source of this article is definitely American, from TomDispatch which I believe is located in New York.  This should not be taken as an anti-American article, but an explanation of why things are getting so bad in homeland America, and a clear and present WARNING of what America’s endless and expanding wars is going to do to homeland America. The following ‘opinion piece’ will not sit well with American patriots as I already know but patriots are the worst kinds of people to trust when a nation has been highjacked by totalitarian-thinking politicians allied with military minds.  The America of its founding fathers hangs by a thread, folks, and it is the patriots, all right let’s call them by their real label, the MAGA types, who are busy hacking away at that thread.  If nothing REAL is done that thread will soon break.  So read on and find out what Danny Sjursen, a TomDispatch regular, a retired U.S. Army major and former history instructor at West Point, has to say.  (in order not to lose the ‘colour’ of the links here, I am not changing the font colour to black, sorry)


Posted by Danny Sjursen at 8:01am, May 30, 2019.
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch.

Email Print

Think of U.S. policy in the Middle East as the proverbial broken record. Explain it as you will, Washington’s focus always comes back to Iran. Seldom has a country that remains anything but a superpower (even a regional one) loomed larger. It all started in 1953 when the CIA overthrew Mohammad Mossadegh, the prime minister of a democratically elected Iranian government, and left power in the hands of the autocratic young shah (and his brutal secret police). In other words, Washington’s modern history in the region began with a devastating blow against a democracy (and against democracy itself). In a sense, neither country has ever recovered. Of course, blowback for that act finally arrived in 1979, when the Shah was ousted, Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile, American diplomats were taken hostage, and the clerics ascended to power.

The enmity between the two countries would only grow in the years that followed. Though it’s long been forgotten here, in the mid-1980s, the U.S. secretly backed Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran. (Yes, the same Saddam who, within years, would become the “Adolf Hitler” of the Middle East in Washington’s eyes.) The U.S. military even helped his forces target Iranian troop concentrations at a time when Saddam was using chemical weapons on them. It was another bitter blow to the Iranians (though President Ronald Reagan’s administration also secretly sold that country arms in what became known as the Iran-Contra scandal). And then, of course, George W. Bush’s administration turned on Saddam, declared him part of an “axis of evil” (including, of course, Iran), attempted to “decapitate” his government, invaded his country, and left its ruler to be hung. But even when destroying its former ally and disastrously occupying Iraq, Bush’s top officials, including John Bolton, never took their eyes off Iran. As the saying reportedly went at the time, “Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran.”

The real men, of course, didn’t make it there in 2003 or thereafter, but it seems that they’re once again angling to take a shot at it, as the Trump administration further beefs up U.S. forces in the region. Almost 70 years after Mossadegh and Iranian democracy went down for the count, the blowback only continues. (Even Chalmers Johnson, author of Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, might have been amazed.) And so many years later, what could possibly go wrong with such a policy approach to the Middle East? As retired Army major and TomDispatch regular Danny Sjursen suggests today, when it comes to both this country’s eternal fixation on Iran and its eternal devotion to “democracy,” Washington is playing that same broken record again. Hey, remind me, isn’t it time to bomb, bomb, bomb Iran? Tom

Troika Fever
Key American Allies in the Middle East Are the Real Tyrants
By Danny Sjursen

American foreign policy can be so retro, not to mention absurd. Despite being bogged down in more military interventions than it can reasonably handle, the Trump team recently picked a new fight — in Latin America. That’s right! Uncle Sam kicked off a sequel to the Cold War with some of our southern neighbors, while resuscitating the boogeyman of socialism. In the process, National Security Advisor John Bolton treated us all to a new phrase, no less laughable than Bush the younger’s 2002 “axis of evil” (Iran, Iraq, and North Korea). He labeled Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua a “troika of tyranny.”

Alliteration no less! The only problem is that the phrase ridiculously overestimates both the degree of collaboration among those three states and the dangers they pose to their hegemonic neighbor to the north. Bottom line: in no imaginable fashion do those little tin-pot tyrannies offer either an existential or even a serious threat to the United States. Evidently, however, the phrase was meant to conjure up enough ill will and fear to justify the Trump team’s desire for sweeping regime change in Latin America. Think of it as a micro-version of Cold War 2.0.

Odds are that Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, both unrepentant neocons, are the ones driving this Latin American Cold War reboot, even as, halfway across the planet, they’ve been pushing for war with Iran. Meanwhile, it’s increasingly clear that Donald Trump gets his own kick out of being a “war president” and the unique form of threat production that goes with it.

Since it’s a recipe for disaster, strap yourself in for a bumpy ride. After all, the demonization of Latin American “socialists” and an ill-advised war in the Persian Gulf have already been part of our lived experience. Under the circumstances, remember your Karl Marx: history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce.

And add this irony to the grim farce to come: you need only look to the Middle East to see a genuine all-American troika of tyranny. I’m thinking about the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the military junta in Egypt, and the colonizing state of Israel — all countries that eschew real democracy and are working together to rain chaos on an already unstable region.

If you weren’t an American, this might already be clear to you. With that in mind, let’s try on a pair of non-American shoes and take a brief tour of a real troika of tyranny on this planet, a threesome that just happen to be President Trump’s best buddies in the Middle East.

America’s Favorite Kingdom

The Saudi royals are among the worst despots around. Yet Washington has long given them a pass. Sure, they possess oodles of oil, black gold upon which the U.S. was once but no longer is heavily dependent. American support for those royals reaches back to World War II, when President Franklin Roosevelt took a detour after the Yalta Conference to meet King Ibn Saud and first struck the devilish deal that, in the decades to come, would keep the oil flowing. In return, Washington would provide ample backing to the kingdom and turn a blind eye to its extensive human rights abuses.

Ultimately, this bargain proved as counterproductive as it was immoral. Sometimes the Saudis didn’t even live up to their end of the bargain. For example, they shut the oil spigot during the 1973 Yom Kippur War to express collective Arab frustration with Washington’s favoritism toward Israel. Worse still, the royals used their continual oil windfall to build religious schools and mosques throughout the Muslim world in order to spread the regime’s intolerant Wahhabi faith. From there, it was a relatively short road to the 9/11 attacks in which 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals (and not one was an Iranian).

More recently, in the Syrian civil war, Saudi Arabia even backed the al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda franchise. That’s right, an American partner funded an offshoot of the very organization that took down the twin towers and damaged the Pentagon. For this there have been no consequences.

In other words, Washington stands shoulder to shoulder with a truly abhorrent regime, while simultaneously complaining bitterly about the despotism and tyranny of nations of which it’s less fond. The hypocrisy should be (but generally isn’t) considered staggering here. We’re talking about a Saudi government that only recently allowed women to drive automobiles and still beheads them for “witchcraft and sorcery.” Indeed, mass execution is a staple of the regime. Recently, the kingdom executed 37 men in a single day. (One of them was even reportedly crucified.) Most were not the “terrorists” they were made out to be, but dissidents from Saudi Arabia’s Shia minority convicted, as Amnesty International put it, “after sham trials that… relied on confessions extracted through torture.”

During the Arab Spring of 2011, the Saudi royals certainly proved anything but friends to the budding democratic movements brewing across the region. Indeed, its military even invaded a tiny neighbor to the east, Bahrain, to suppress civil-rights protests by that country’s embattled Shia majority. (A Sunni royal family runs the show there.) In Yemen, the Saudis continue to terror bomb civilians in its war against Houthi militias. Tens of thousands have died — the exact number isn’t known — under a brutal bombing campaign and at least 85,000 Yemeni children have already starved to death thanks to the war and a Saudi blockade of what was already the Arab world’s poorest country. The hell unleashed on Yemen has been dubbed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. It has already produced millions of refugees and, at present, the world’s worst cholera epidemic.

Through it all, Washington stood by its royals time and again, with The Donald far more gleefully pro-Saudi than his predecessors. His first foreign excursion, after all, was to that kingdom’s capital, Riyadh, where the president seemed to relish joining the martial pageantry of a Saudi “sword dance.” He also let it be known that the cash would keep flowing from the kingdom into military-industrial coffers in this country, announcing a supposedly record $110 billion set of arms deals (including a number closed by the Obama administration and ones that may never come to fruition). Son-in-law Jared Kushner even continues to maintain a bromance with the ambitious and brutal ruling Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

In other words, with fulsome support from Washington, sophisticated American weapons, and a boatload of American cash, Saudi Arabia continues to unleash terror at home and abroad. This much is certain: if you’re looking for a troika of tyrants, that country should top your list.

America’s Favorite Military Autocracy

The U.S. also backs — and Trump seems to love — Egypt’s military ruler Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. At a press conference at the White House in September 2017, the president leaned toward the general and announced that he was “doing a great job.” Hardly anyone inside the Beltway, in the media, or even on Main Street batted an eye. Washington has, of course, long supported Egypt’s various tyrants, including the brutal Hosni Mubarak who was overthrown early in the Arab Spring. Cairo remains the second largest annual recipient of American military aid at $1.3 billion annually. In fact, 75% of such aid goes to just two countries, the other being Israel. In a sense, Washington simply bribes both states not to fight each other. Now, that’s diplomacy for you!

So, how’s Egypt’s military using all the guns and butter the U.S. sends its way? Brutally, of course. After Mubarak was overthrown in 2011, Mohammed Morsi won a free and fair election. Less than two years later, the military, which abhors his Muslim Brotherhood organization, seized power in a coup. Enter General al-Sisi. And when Morsi supporters rallied to protest the putsch, the general, who had appointed himself president, promptly ordered his troops to open fire. At least 900 protesters were killed in what came to be known as the 2013 Rabaa Massacre. Since then, Sisi has ruled with an iron fist, extending his personal power, winning a sham reelection with 97.8% of the vote, and pushing through major constitutional changes that will allow the generalissimo to stay in power until at least 2030. Washington, of course, remained silent.

Sisi has run a veritable police state, replete with human rights abuses and mass incarceration. Last year, he even had a show trial of 739 Muslim Brotherhood-associated defendants, 75 of whom were sentenced to death in a single day. He also uses “emergency” counterterrorism laws to jail peaceful dissidents. Thousands of them have gone before military courts. In addition, in U.S.-backed Egypt most forms of independent organization and peaceful assembly remain banned. Cairo even collaborates with its old enemy Israel to maintain a stranglehold of a blockade on the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which the United Nations has termed “inhumane.”

Yet Egypt gets a hall pass from the Trump administration. It matters not at all that few places on the planet suppress free speech as effectively as Egypt now does — not since it buys American weaponry and generally does as Washington wants in the region. In other words, a diplomatic state of marital (and martial) bliss protects the second member of the real troika of tyranny.

America’s Favorite Apartheid State

Some will be surprised, even offended, that I include Israel in this imaginary troika. Certainly, on the surface, Israel’s democracy bears no relation to the political worlds of Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Still, scratch below the gilded surface of Israeli life and you’ll soon unearth staggering civil liberties abuses and a penchant for institutional oppression. After all, so extreme have been the abuses of ever more right-wing Israeli governments against the stateless Palestinians that even some mainstream foreign leaders and scholars now compare that country to apartheid South Africa.

And the label is justified. Palestinians are essentially isolated in the equivalent of open-air prisons in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip — not unlike the bantustans of South Africa in the years when that country was white-ruled. In the impoverished, refugee-camp atmosphere of these state-lets, Palestinians lack anything resembling civil rights. They can’t even vote for the Israeli prime ministers who lord it over them. What’s more, the Palestinian citizens of Israel (some 20% of the population), despite technically possessing the franchise, are systematically repressed in a variety of ways.

Evidence of an apartheid-style state is everywhere apparent in the Palestinian territories. In violation of countless international norms and U.N. resolutions, Israel imposes its own version of a police state — functionally, a military occupation of land legally possessed by Arabs. It has begun a de facto annexation of Palestinian land by building a “security wall” through Palestinian villages. Its military constructs special “Jewish only” roads in the West Bank linking illegal Israeli settlements, while further fracturing the fiction of Palestinian contiguity. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not only refused to withdraw those settlements or halt the colonization of Palestinian territory by Jewish Israelis, but during the recent Israeli election promised to begin the actual annexation of the West Bank in his new term.

Israeli military actions are regularly direct violations of the principles of proportionality in warfare, which means that the ratio of Israeli to Palestinian casualties is invariably absurdly disproportionate. Since last spring, at least 175 Palestinians (almost all unarmed) have been shot to death by Israeli soldiers along the Gaza Strip fence line, while 5,884 others were wounded by live ammunition. Ninety-four of those had to have a limb amputated. A staggering 948 of the wounded were minors. In that period, just one Israeli died and 11 were wounded in those same clashes.

Life in blockaded Gaza is almost unimaginably awful. So stringent are the sanctions imposed that one prominent official in a leaked diplomatic cable admitted that Israeli policy was to “keep Gaza’s economy on the brink of collapse.” In fact, back in 2012, one of that country’s military spokesmen even indicated that food was being allowed into the blockaded strip on a 2,300 calories a day count per Gazan — just enough, that is, to avoid starvation.

Through it all, with President Trump at the wheel, Netanyahu can feel utterly assured of the near limitless backing of the United States. The Trump team has essentially sanctioned all Israeli behavior, thereby legitimizing the present state of Palestinian life. Trump has moved the U.S. embassy to contested Jerusalem — admitting once and for all that Washington sees the holy city as the sole property of the Jewish state — recognized the illegal Israeli annexation of the conquered Syrian Golan Heights, and increased the flow of military aid and arms to Israel, already the number-one recipient of such American largesse.

Sometimes, in the age of Trump, it almost seems as if “Bibi” Netanyahu were the one guiding American policy throughout the Middle East. No wonder Israel rounds out that troika of tyranny.

Wag the Dog?

Beyond their wretched human rights records and undemocratic tendencies, that troika has another particularly relevant commonality as the U.S. reportedly prepares for a possible war with Iran. Two of those countries — Israel and Saudi Arabia — desperately desire that the American military take on their Iranian nemesis. The third, Egypt, will go along with just about anything as long as Uncle Sam keeps the military aid flowing to Cairo. Think of it as potentially the ultimate “wag the dog” scenario, with Washington taking on the role of the dog.

This alone should make Washington officials cautious. After all, war with Iran would surely prove disastrous (whatever damage was done to that country). If you don’t think so, you haven’t been living through the last 17-plus years of this country’s forever wars. Unfortunately, no one should count on such caution from John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, or even Donald Trump.

So settle into your seats folks and prepare to watch the empire swallow the republic whole.

Danny Sjursen, a TomDispatch regular, is a retired U.S. Army major and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has written a memoir of the Iraq War, Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. He lives in Lawrence, Kansas. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet and check out his podcast “Fortress on a Hill,” co-hosted with fellow vet Chris ‘Henri’ Henriksen.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Books, John Feffer’s new dystopian novel (the second in the Splinterlands series) Frostlands, Beverly Gologorsky’s novel Every Body Has a Story, and Tom Engelhardt’s A Nation Unmade by War, as well as Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power and John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II.

Copyright 2019 Danny Sjursen

The Last Battle – by Chris Hedges

Due to WordPress’ ongoing snafu condition, I was unable to access the following in the usual way so I cannot use the “Reblog” button. Instead I’ve copied the article and pasted it here, in its entirety, with proper credits and links, I hope.  And how would I title this article if I had written it? How about the very first line from Canada’s national anthem?

“Oh Canada, our home and native land…”  …and while you are reading I’ll go and throw up.

DEEP GREEN: ‘Recovery of the Sacred’, The Last Battle – By Chris Hedges

by The Smoking Man

Source – truthdig.com

“…The Cree have been under relentless assault since the arrival of the European colonialists in the 1500s. Now the 500 inhabitants of the Cree reserve, where many live in small, boxy prefabricated houses, are victims of a new iteration of colonial exploitation, one centered on the extraction of oil from the vast Alberta tar sands. This atrocity presages the destruction of the ecosystem on which they depend for life. If the Cree do not stop the exploiters this time, they, along with the exploiters, will die”

The Last Battle – By Chris Hedges

THE BEAVER LAKE CREE NATION, Treaty No. 6 Area, Canada. I am driving down a rutted dirt road with Eric Lameman, a member of the Cree nation.

“Over there,” he says, pointing out where he was born in a tent 61 years ago.

We stop the car and look toward a wooded grove.

“That’s the mass grave,” he says softly, indicating a clearing where dozens of Cree who died in a smallpox epidemic over a century ago are buried.

The Cree have been under relentless assault since the arrival of the European colonialists in the 1500s. Now the 500 inhabitants of the Cree reserve, where many live in small, boxy prefabricated houses, are victims of a new iteration of colonial exploitation, one centered on the extraction of oil from the vast Alberta tar sands. This atrocity presages the destruction of the ecosystem on which they depend for life. If the Cree do not stop the exploiters this time, they, along with the exploiters, will die.

The reserve is surrounded by the tar sands, one of the largest concentrations of crude oil in the world. The sands produce 98% of Canada’s oil and are the United States’ largest source of imported oil. This oil, among the dirtiest fossil fuels on earth, is a leading cause of atmospheric pollution, releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide. The production and consumption of one barrel of tar sands crude oil release 17% more carbon dioxide than production and consumption of a standard barrel of oil.

Tar sands oil is a thick, mucky, clay-like substance that is infused with a hydrocarbon called bitumen. The oil around Beaver Lake is extracted by a process known as steam-assisted gravity drainage, which occurs under the earth and is similar to fracking. Farther north, extraction is done by strip-mining the remote boreal forest of Alberta, 2 million acres of which have already been destroyed. The destruction of vast forests, sold to timber companies, and the scraping away of the topsoil have left behind poisoned wastelands. This industrial operation, perhaps the largest such project in the world, is rapidly accelerating the release of the carbon emissions that will, if left unchecked, soon render the planet uninhabitable for humans. The oil is transported thousands of miles to refineries as far away as Houston through pipelines and in tractor-trailer trucks or railroad cars. More than a hundred climate scientists have called for a moratorium on the extraction of tar sands oil. Former NASA scientist James Hansen has warned that if the tar sands oil is fully exploited, it will be “game over for the planet.” He has also called for the CEOs of fossil fuel companies to be tried for high crimes against humanity.

It is hard, until you come here, to grasp the scale of the tar sands exploitation. Surrounding Beaver Lake are well over 35,000 oil and natural gas wells and thousands of miles of pipelines, access roads and seismic lines. (The region also contains the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, which has appropriated huge tracts of traditional territory from the native inhabitants to test weapons.) Giant processing plants, along with gargantuan extraction machines, including bucket wheelers that are over half a mile long and draglines that are several stories high, ravage hundreds of thousands of acres. These stygian centers of death belch sulfurous fumes, nonstop, and send fiery flares into the murky sky. The air has a metallic taste. Outside the processing centers, there are vast toxic lakes known as tailings ponds, filled with billions of gallons of water and chemicals related to the oil extraction, including mercury and other heavy metals, carcinogenic hydrocarbons, arsenic and strychnine. The sludge from the tailings ponds is leaching into the Athabasca River, which flows into the Mackenzie, the largest river system in Canada. Nothing here, by the end, will support life. The migrating birds that alight at the tailings ponds die in huge numbers. So many birds have been killed that the Canadian government has ordered extraction companies to use noise cannons at some of the sites to scare away arriving flocks. Around these hellish lakes, there is a steady boom-boom-boom from the explosive devices.

The water in much of northern Alberta is no longer safe for human consumption. Drinking water has to be trucked in for the Beaver Lake reserve.

Streams of buses ferry workers, almost all of them men, up and down the roads, night and day. Tens of thousands from across Canada have come to work in the tar sands operations. Many live in Fort McMurray, about 180 miles from Beaver Lake, and work punishing 12-hour shifts for three weeks at a time before having a week off.

The Cree, the Dene and other tribes that live amid the environmental carnage and whose ancestral lands have been appropriated by the government to extract the tar sands oil suffer astronomical rates of respiratory and other illnesses. Cancer rates are 30% higher than in the rest of Alberta, according to the Alberta Cancer Board, which was disbanded soon after releasing this information in 2008.

When he was a child, Eric Lameman was taken from his parents by the government, a common practice a few decades ago, and sent to an Indian boarding school where beatings were routine, speaking Cree or any of the other indigenous languages was forbidden and native religious and cultural practices were outlawed. He says the forced severance from his family and his community, along with the banning of his traditions, was psychologically devastating. He remembers his father and other Cree elders on the reserve performing religious rituals in secret. He would sneak to the woods to watch them as, risking arrest, they clung to their beliefs and spiritual practices.

Lameman defied the efforts to wipe out his identity and his culture, which he nurtured in spite of the attempts to eradicate them. And he says it is only his Cree roots that keep him whole and make it possible for him to endure. He suffered extreme poverty. He also had periods of addiction and even episodes of violence. It is hard to avoid personal disintegration when the dominant culture seeks to eradicate your being. Canada’s indigenous people represent 4 percent of the population, but they make up more than a quarter of the inmates in the nation’s federal prisons. Lameman’s wife left him and their young children. She died from alcoholism on the streets of Calgary. He worked as a heavy machine operator in the tar sands. He quit when he realized the land he was despoiling would never recover and he began to get sick. He survives now on welfare.

We are back in his small house, seated in the tiny kitchen. His daughter Crystal Lameman, an internationally known indigenous rights activist, heats juniper in an iron skillet until fumes of the pungent herb drift upward. We cup our hands and pull the smoke into our nostrils. The Cree and others say “smudging” cleanses negative energy, helps bring clarity and vision, and centers those exposed to the scent. We sit quietly.

The more the Cree recover their traditions to defy the capitalist mantra of hoarding, profit, exploitation, self-promotion and commodification of human beings and the earth, the more their life has an intrinsic value rather than a monetary value. This recovery is the antidote to despair. It grounds the Cree spiritually. It permits transcendence. It at once estranges them from reality and brings them closer to it. Resistance is not only about challenging the extraction companies in court, as the Cree have done in trying to block the tar sands industry and the pipelines from their traditional land; it is about holding fast to another orientation to reality, one that we all must adopt if we are to survive as a species. It is about the recovery of the sacred. The white exploiters seek not only to steal the land and natural resources and commit genocide against indigenous communities but to wipe out this competing ethic.

“I need my people,” Eric Lameman says. “I need the ones that know our history, our language, our spiritual practices and our culture. I rely on them to pass it on to me so I can pass it on.”

The exploiters have sought to corrupt the Cree and bastardize their traditions. Extraction companies have paid off some tribal leaders to support pipelines or surrender tribal territory to oil development. The companies use the quislings to mount propaganda campaigns in favor of extraction, to divide and weaken indigenous communities and to attempt to discredit leaders such as Crystal. The federal government last year staged a Cree religious ceremony, complete with honor songs and drums, to bless the Trans Mountain Expansion Project and Canada’s $4.5 billion purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline, developments that mean death for the Cree people.

“This is what they call reconciliation,” Eric says bitterly.

“It’s cultural appropriation,” Crystal says. “ ‘Reconciliation’ is a bullshit word. Reconciling with whom? Reconciling what? Reconciling us with the current colonial systems of exploitation? Until they dismantle the structures of exploitation there can be no reconciliation.”
The man camps of tens of thousands of tar sands workers fuel the prostitution industry. Indigenous girls and women, living in squalor and poverty, are lured by the seemingly easy and fast money. Their sexual degradation soon leads to addictions to blunt the pain. This too is a legacy of colonialism. Canada began as a military and commercial outpost of Britain. The Hudson’s Bay Company did not permit European women to immigrate to Canada. Brothels, populated by prostituted indigenous girls and women, were established alongside the military forts and trading posts. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police issued a report in 2015 that found that indigenous, or First Nations, women, who constitute 4.3% of Canada’s female population, are four times more likely to go missing or be murdered than other Canadian women. They are 16% of female murder victims and are the objects of 11% of missing person’s cases involving women.

“I was on a panel in Vancouver,” Crystal Lameman says. “I used the word ‘prostitution.’ A trans person got up and told me to use the term ‘sex work,’ saying it was a choice. Impoverished and vulnerable indigenous girls and women do not choose to be prostitutes. They are forced into that world. Girls are conditioned for this from familial disintegration and sexual abuse. … Sexual abuse, a common experience for girls in residential schools and the foster care system, is another one of the legacies of colonialism.”
The infusion of workers with disposable incomes has also seen an explosion in drugs in northern Alberta such as crack cocaine and crystal meth, and with the drugs has come a rash of suicides among the native population. Suicide and non-suicidal intentional self-injuries are the leading causes of death for First Nations people under the age of 44 in Canada. Young indigenous males are 10 times more likely to kill themselves than other Canadians. Young indigenous females are 21 times more likely to commit suicide. Beaver Lake has not been spared, losing seven people to suicide in a 12-month period in 2014 and 2015. All of them were under the age of 44, and all were drug addicts or alcoholics.

“There are two roads into Fort McMurray,” Crystal says. “There’s Highway 63 and Highway 881, which runs through here. This is one of the stops for the drugs. The traffickers say, ‘Well, there’s a little town, we’ll stop there and drop drugs there too. A lot of the drug runners are from small towns, from these communities. It is a quick way to make money.”

“Our community used to be safe,” she says. “We left the doors unlocked, even when we slept. We would leave our vehicles running. Nobody worried.”

“It’s dangerous now,” she goes on, speaking of the rash of robberies by addicts. She adds, “You can’t get into altercations. It’s the drugs. They affect people’s mental health. People live in fear.”

The resurrection of the old ceremonial practices such as the annual sun dance, along with the traditional medicine camp, harvesting camps and sweat lodges, is about another way of being, one that honors the interconnectedness of all living beings, including the earth on which we depend for life.

“We are seeing the effects,” Crystal says. “Our cultural practices and language embody a belief system that is the opposite of capitalism and globalization, the lust for money and material wealth.”

“I used to think globally,” she says. “I was in D.C. on the front lines. I was in the climate march in New York. I was everywhere. I traveled internationally. I was at every rally. But I wasn’t here, at home, doing the real work. It’s easier being out there, instead of being in our community. Yes, there is this big black cloud, but there is also another, beautiful side. The women in the community are bringing the ceremonies back. The more we return to the land, the closer we are to achieving holistic wellness. My community is not in despair. We are doing our diligence to be well again. I think about my dad. My dad was one of those people he’s talking about [when he says] ‘I had friends that I can’t trust now because they’re not well because of the drugs.’ My dad was one of those in despair. But he has come back to us and to himself.”

Chris Hedges, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.

https://www.truthdig.com/author/chris_hedges/

Converting Information into Knowledge

[thoughts from    ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

Converting Information into (useful) Knowledge

I’ve been rather “quiet” on the blog lately, not because I couldn’t think of anything worthwhile to share but mainly because I’ve been absorbing information from a wide range of bloggers about a wide array of current topics. We talk about “informed opinion” and it is a “brute” fact that without information one cannot have informed opinions. The thing to be aware of is that information is neutral so the source of it is quite irrelevant. What matters is what happens when the information hits home: when the mind identifies it, translates it, sorts it, accepts, rejects. On a 100% scale, gathering information shouldn’t take more than a 10% slice of awareness. The 90% slice is converting it into knowledge.

I’ll make a simple comparison. A swimming pool does not equate swimming. I you can’t swim it won’t do you any good. You will stand at the edge, stare in it, then turn away, or you can jump in and drown. You need to learn how to swim to enjoy the pool. Once you’ve got that you can go to something more challenging, like a lake, a river, the ocean, and learn how to swim all over again. Sure, you’ll have the basics on how to stay afloat for a while, but what about current? Undercurrents? Waves? Underwater snags or those submerged reeds that grab the feet and tighten on the legs as you try to pull away? As a life-long canoeist, kayaker, river and sea lover I’ve had plenty of opportunities to learn how to interact with various types of water bodies, of “information” to stay afloat in, to learn from and of course to enjoy. Desire, determination and drive to overcome the initial reticence of the land creature to interact with water. Then, training, training, training, with risk and daring.

That’s my analogy and I think it is fitting because children in this modern day are not taught how to go from wishing to accomplishing. As information is forced upon young minds, wishes, dreams and desires are awakened and stirred but that’s just sitting on the edge of the pool stirring the water with one’s feet. That’s not swimming. Modern education is failing abjectly because it is inculcating, stuffing information but without simultaneous observation and experience nothing of value is learned.  In fact such inculcation is easily surpassed by even low level AI application. Once upon a time learning that 2+2=4 was a big deal. Now the same kid can find out the square root of pi while at the same time being told irrational numbers cannot be squared. Does the kid understand the implication? No but more “searches” will give other “answers” and the little brain will feel like it really knows “something” about “something” when in fact a half hour down the road it will have forgotten. After all, why bother with memorizing when it’s all at one’s fingertips?

Before anyone objects furiously that “there are some really smart kids out there” let me remind the reader that I speak of the majority, not the exceptions and also remind s/he that exceptions prove the rule – a truism. If there was no rule, there could be no exceptions so when someone brings up an exception they are proving the rule. I need to repeat that as with information most people have never bothered to understand that correlation. 

So we have access to more information than ever before, at least that we can know based on our short span of questionable history.  I could list so many examples of beliefs (information) that once formed the basis of education. Flat earth. It is a waste of time and money to educate girls because women can’t learn “stuff.” Two of my favourites. Currently we are just as stuck in beliefs used, not to improve conditions on the planet but to bolster/counter old beliefs or feed some collective hubris. Darwinian evolution theory – raised eyebrow? I can do better: moon landings as false flags. Stop reading now? 9/11 and the burning of Notre Dame – inside jobs – am I certifiable yet?

How to we know if we can neither observe nor experience “it”? How can we be so sure? How did we come to accept that the earth was some sort of sphere? When it was no longer a matter of belief but overwhelming evidence (even though we may still be quite wrong about that “certainty” and future generations in for a bigger surprise without going back to the flat earth belief). To learn something we need to work through it from many different angles, to observe and experience it differently. I think, for example, that experience has demonstrated beyond a shadow of doubt that women are at least as intelligent as men and all they needed was a chance to demonstrate their intelligence and dexterity side by side with men. Yet there are still large pockets of resistance to this (which bothers me a lot), as there are still sincere flat earthers (which doesn’t bother me in the least).

The problem with belief is, it is not founded on knowledge – it relies on supportive belief and rejects evidence. That leads to the perpetuation of the vilest types of abuse on this world such as misogyny, racism, zealotry, bigotry, the economic and sexual exploitation of the weakest and most vulnerable members of society.  These are results of information not converted to knowledge.

Now the tough part: how do we convert our information into knowledge if we cannot observe first hand, or experience, the information? Is there a back door that can be used to let us escape the trap of being informed without being educated?

Though still not entirely satisfactory to me, I did devise a mental tool whereby I could determine the ‘value’ of certain information and the danger of other. I don’t know if my ‘tool’ has a name so I have to describe how it works instead.

I’ll take one of my favourite conspiracy theories: moon landings as false flags. (If you find yourself reacting strongly to such an accusation it’s time to look inside and ask, ‘why am I reacting negatively to such a statement? What’s in it for me? Am I afraid to realize I was taken in by the System so many years ago and spent my life believing a monstrous lie? Am I a patriot who feels obligated to defend “my country right or wrong”? Why is believing in the moon landings so important to me particularly?”) Already, that is the beginning of converting information into knowledge. But that’s not nearly enough. Let’s take the story all the way down – and yes, even if there is an American flag on the moon, and there are booted human footprints in its regolith.

Assume for a moment that I am a reasonably intelligent human being, not only well informed on what matters, but able to analyze that information and make use of it. Continuing with the “space program” (check this link for example about the reality of costs in space exploration and its purpose:  https://www.forbes.com/2009/07/16/apollo-moon-landing-anniversary-opinions-contributors-cost-money.html#2e1736181d04

Although it has been scientifically proven that getting live human beings to the moon – and back (that’s the big one) alive was impossible in 1969, as much as it is impossible today, with insurmountable problems of Van Allen belts radiation + solar radiation; weight of lander and impossibility of blasting free of even low lunar gravity based on available power, to little stupid details like camera and light angles, non-matching shadows and yes, numbers on rocks (staged!), that is not the issue for someone converting information into knowledge. Here’s what should matter: did these extremely expensive maneuvers “make America great again”?  Is the world in general in better shape socially, economically and environmentally today than it was in 1969? Yes, the “Evil Empire” (Soviet Union) imploded in 1991 but can we credit the moon landings for that? Even if we could, was that the end of the Cold War or did it just morph into another series of imperial endless wars mostly driven by America’s desperate need to control all major resources of the planet in order to maintain its military/corporate global empire?

I make this point, and I only need one, to demonstrate how the moon landings, real or false, were nothing more than a massive propaganda effort to bolster the military industrial complex and turn the US and subsequently the entire world into a controlled “security state” a la George Orwell’s “1984.”

Honestly, the whole world got worse. Credit (blame) whom you will for that but I “blame” the sheeple for believing without evidence; for accepting without reasoning, testing, experiencing.

“The world of spirits is unpredictable Mrs. Santiago. Are you a believer, Mrs Santiago?”
“Si, si, I believe, I believe. I pay more… I believe!” (paraphrase from the movie “Ghost”)

Three Guineas – by Virginia Woolf

[Intro comment by   ~burning woman~  ]
My Italian blogger friend Shera made me aware again today of Virginia Woolf’s novel length essay, Three Guineas, on how wars may be prevented. I was reminded of my own claim that if ways haven’t worked in the past there is little point in going back to them to seek answers to repeating problems.  What is desperately needed is open minds that are not afraid to seek for new solutions and new answers to old problems.  Yes such thinking defies the Establishment, the Matrix set-up, the Patriarchy and dethrones the old dogs of war, but hello, isn’t it high time? Speaking for women in particular, how long are women expected to, and willing, to send their own children to be slaughtered in old men’s wars? How long before we all, women and men, realize that the war-makers are now fully engaged in war not just against people but against the very environment that makes it possible to exist on planet earth? How long “must” we support these psychopathic predatory monsters who run governments, banks, militaries, exploitative corporations? If we don’t stop them, we can be sure of one thing: nature will, and it will not differentiate between them and us – we will be eradicated as the virus we have become. Is that then our choice, deliberate self-imposed genocide? Is that our sign that we possess a superior intelligence?

From the source:

Three Guineas is an extended essay by Virginia Woolf. Published in 1938 alongside the building world political tensions that would become World War II, it is structured as a letter-form dialogue in a series of questions and answers with a man who starts by asking her how one might prevent war. Woolf wrote Three Guineas in response to three questions that were lingering at the forefront of her mind. The first is the question of how war should be prevented; the second is why there is little government funding for the education of women; and the third is why women are prohibited from doing professional work. Woolf’s dialogue creates the effect of privacy in which truth can be more fully disclosed. It ties together the subjects of war and feminism, stemming mainly from Woolf’s visits to Nazi Germany and Fascist controlled Italy in the early 1930’s.

See the rest of this summary at:  https://www.supersummary.com/three-guineas/summary/

The Age of the Dictators

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ ]

Tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of an intervention that not only saved my physical life but sent me off on a 180 degree tangent from what I had been. That can only have meaning to myself, of course, or perhaps to anyone who may have been touched by some of the thoughts and ideas on expressing life which I have spouted quite regularly and annoyingly. After all, who wants change that turns all the known and relative comfortable on its head? Better to stick with the tried and failed, follow tradition. Tomorrow is “Good Friday” as declared by the Roman Church many years ago and subsequently adhered to by all of Christendom. That the concept was stolen from the very “pagans” the Church despised and massacred is of little consequence: we have a TRADITION!

That out of my way, I want to write a bit about some recent observations of the global political processes. Lots of noise and bloody foolishness bandied about as the overcrowded numbties of Earth increasingly go for the jugular over their beliefs and traditions. Not so different than previous slices of historical drama except that now we can “participate” in the processes globally through satellite feeds and the quasi-ubiquitous Internet.

I have noticed a serious difference however, and I call it ‘The Age of the Dictators.’

Man’s civilization is of course familiar with, and his history replete with, dictators but what makes this age different is the global and successful wave of political power grabbing by psychopathic and sociopathic billionaires or military leaders able to circumvent democratic constitutions written to prevent this sort of thing from “ever happening again.” Fledgling democracies established through compromise with totalitarian powers of business, banking and the social security state in the last couple hundred years are being systematically dis-empowered and disarmed by the returning totalitarians.

Temporarily sidetracked, the forces of dictatorship slowly but systematically burrowed into the democratic forms of government, buying stooges, corrupting ideals, installing preferred leaders, developing armies of constitutional lawyers to challenge existing laws that protected the people, particularly the most vulnerable: women, children, the working poor, racial minorities and changing rules that allowed all and sundry to vote, thus in a small way making their voices heard. The stooges of totalitarian power are now overtly active in eliminating free speech and destroying all vestiges of a so-called free press. More: in the USA in particular, 50% of the nation’s income is now barrelling like a train without brakes into the military and much of the rest finds its way into the pockets of its billionaires while a flaming racist and sexual predator rules the country from the White House.

War criminals, torturers, sexual predators, perverts, corrupt billionaires, these it would appear, form the preferred choice of voters in most democracies yet we know that it is ownership of the propaganda apparatus and manipulation of polls that have made this possible. Well, some of us know this but of course those who are trained to react to a ‘score’ as if an election was nothing more than a playoff take it at face value that their team won or lost the game and they’ll have to wait another four years to attend another playoff in which their team with better management, stronger or sexier players and richer sponsors, will have a chance to win.

That’s what democracy and the “popular vote” has become: sports teams, playoffs and a final score.

The conclusion was foregone when this began happening decades ago. No one can change the course of events now all hope and talk to the contrary. Unknown to the spectators of the democratic playoff game was a much more powerful team some have labelled “the New World Order” to be politically correct, to be sprung upon the bewildered spectators. It was funded and manned to crush all opposition and usher in the Age of the Totalitarian Dictators. It’s team consisted of the most mentally weak and morally corrupt psychopaths and the owners made the rules for the final playoff.

The people never clued in that “participatory democracy” did not begin and end at the polling booth but had to be a 24/7 commitment to an ideal. Too bad and so sad: goodbye democracies. Now we lose everything. Now we go to war against one-another and against our natural environment. Now we bleed, suffer and die. Now we pay the price for our apathy and woeful ignorance of the kind of forces that have always manipulated us to kill and die for their enrichment and entertainment.

Let’s follow the leaders and go out on the streets to cheer the final winners, our Dictators.

Dreaming and Past Life Remembrances

[thoughts from    ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

When I first started on the path of awakening to self-empowerment I began to dream strange new dreams. I filled pages of records of dreams I made it my task to interpret for myself. I had been dreaming before, of course, since as far back as I could remember but these new dreams were teaching dreams, many having nothing to do with Earth or this life.

From these strange dreams I became aware of memories from past lives. As I worked at developing my new nature and a topsy-turvy different understanding of life and a possible purpose in having become a participant in it, those dreams began to subside in proportion to how much I entered into past life remembrances and adapted what I remembered to my current and ever-changing circumstances.

Was there a connection between increased past life awareness and the negative effect on my dreaming? Being the curious type I wanted to know why past life remembrances should negatively affect quantity and quality of dreaming.

Obviously the first question was, why do we dream anyway? What’s the point?

The point, I realized, is that dreams are the mind’s safety valve. The mind cannot be contained within a strictly material, single life event, nor even within a religious context which amounts to the same thing, what I’d call, based on personal experience, a state of mindlessness. (I’m talking about religion, not spirituality.) Dreams I realized, serve as pressure reliefs for an enslaved mind. They remind the mind being that no matter what is believed, there is more that the Matrix mind prison cannot contain, deny or explain.

Once we break out of the “thou shalt not” programming and allow our mind to develop cosmically, outside the totalitarian bounds of the Matrix and accept that we are more than we are allowed to know, dreams have served their purpose. Now we can contemplate our own remembrances of past/future lives without listening to the very loud societal voice that says, “You’re crazy!” We know that crazy is refusal to look in photo albums and the old diaries because the System says they don’t exist. The Voice of Reason that says there are no such things as past lives, never mind future ones. We are not supposed to have other lives than this one. Only two possibilities officially allowed: annihilation at death for the materialist or the permanently removed zombie state of heaven or hell for the religionist. That’s all she wrote, says the priest-psychiatrist, now go shopping.

What are dreams then? Until we awaken they are the safety valve that prevents us from complete mind death. They cannot enlighten, however, just prevent, keeping the mind on life-support until the Eureka moment that changes everything and from which there is no turning back. Until we dare trust ourselves rather than the System as we learn to explore ourselves through our past/future lives, deliberately and purposefully choosing to remember who we really are, remembering hidden lives we have experienced however brutal or insignificant they may have been.

It’s not what we did that matters, as psychics like to emphasize, it’s that we dare give the System the finger by remembering ourselves though we were never given space to appear in any official history book; we dare rise from the common grave of the ignorant, forgotten, enslaved, trod under and murdered unwashed masses.

Because I have worked hard at penetrating the wall of lies erected by the System to separate this me from all other “me’s” of past/future lives – the process is not a linear or chronological progression – I have achieved something that has taken me beyond the need to vent my mind through dreams that needed interpretation. I have shattered the time mirror to see myself in myriads of dimensions and shapes without having to feel foolish about it, or the need to hide. My mind is no longer on life support. I no longer have to to choose between religion and materialism.  Best of all I no longer need to be an Amazombie Googleite Facebookian!!!

I grew up from the ground as a slender shoot, extended leaves through my dreams, then shot up a seed head through past life remembrances that is now ready to scatter its seeds over time and space when the wind of death blows over me. Within my own seeds I will take flight and go on and on and nothing can ever stop me again.

That is what I call freedom.

A Short Walk in a Denied Reality

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ ]

Billions of mind slaves are daily driven to do “stuff” no normal person would even think of thinking about or doing. These slaves are whipped along their self-destruct path by a tiny bunch of psychopaths who have arbitrarily placed themselves in charge of the planet and declared that all of it belongs to them. It’s always been that way but it seems to us the more obvious today. Yet this untenable situation is not just tolerated, but the majority actually approves and quite often cheers on their predators.

Being, in my own estimation at least, reasonably intelligent, such a fact forces me to ask, “Why?” Why do people put up with this deadly charade? Why do they allow the psychos to eat them alive while destroying the only world they, and their children, have to survive on? Why can’t they collectively say, “Enough!” without having to wait until they’re all starving to death, or dying of various preventable plagues to plunge into pointless bloody revolutions?

Every question is based on an answer, not the other way around. So taught the Teachers. When I ask “Why?” I don’t expect to hear an answer, I expect to find one depending on how I ask the question. It’s like pointing a rifle at a target. The rifle isn’t going to find and lock on the target, I have to do that first. The target is the answer I’m shooting for.

Why are people so dummied-down and collectively stupid as to accept being their own worse enemies? I asked and replied to myself, over the years, “Think!” The answer was rather obvious: propaganda. Official lies is another name for it.

Which begs another “Why.” Why does propaganda work? That was a bit more complex. Well, people are predisposed to accept the propaganda and to reject any other idea that doesn’t fit into the official lie. That’s the basis for the success of brain dead organized religion, the deception of government (in any guise) and the banditry of banking.

Which brings up the next “Why?” Why are people predisposed to lean favorably to official lies and reject common sense? The answer to this third and last “Why?” is where people go running for the hills, their collective ears solidly plugged with any substance found so they won’t have to hear.

The answer is as simple as it is unacceptable to the rank and file: programming. How to put this simply?

Basic foundational question: What is an Earthian, that *ISSA creature that insists on calling itself “human” when it can’t even demonstrate a humane life; that creature that revels in gratuitous violence? It is not a natural creature and it’s lifestyle proves it beyond any shadow of doubt. It is totally dependent upon its life-sucking systems to remain alive – and that is no contradiction: being alive does not necessarily mean being alive.

Take away all of the “benefits” or “advantages” of civilization this very day then come back in a year to count the ones still alive and functioning as normal, natural creatures.

The Earthian creature is a cloned and programmed entity, designed as a slave to serve masters. It can’t help itself. If it breaks free of one master it will seek another and begin serving again. It cannot imagine itself as a free and autonomous creature. In fact it resents the thought of real freedom because that entails taking full responsibility for all aspects of its own life without relying upon social support systems.  Wild animals can do this because they have more free intelligence than Earthians hence why Earthians are programmed to kill off the wilderness: nature is always a threat to Cyborgs.

Being unnatural, it cannot comprehend nature so must rely on its masters for its survival and knowledge. This is where it get truly touchy. The creature is “endowed” with a wonderful thing it calls a soul. Even among atheists the concept of “soul” keeps its validity. It is variously thought of, or spoken of, as some natural aspect of the creature or a gift of the gods, or God; the repository of consciousness or mind.

All of which is of course total BS – in capital letters.

The real story?  The soul was designed as a controlling implant. It is used to motivate and to generate and maintain an endless array of repetitive and cycling belief systems within the implanted ISSA creature. It is programmed to keep the creature believing in “something” (basically anything at all) that is always superior to itself, something that holds the carrot and the stick. The foremost of soul laws are: obey and never question. The ever-present hope is that through obedience one receives the carrot and not the stick. When the creature sees others getting the stick it doesn’t hear their cries; it hears the propaganda that says, “Hey, they deserve what they’re getting, they are disobedient.” The nature of that “disobedience” is not questioned. Or they hear the other line: “They are the enemy and must be subdued or they will come “here” and take what you have.” If it wasn’t pure programming control, how many would fall for those inanely simplistic explanations that condone theft, mass murder and genocide?

Some say, I don’t believe in the soul like that’s supposed to be an answer. Not believing makes it go away? Closing your eyes to danger makes the danger go away? Billions of Earthians are crowding the world with their heads solidly stuck in the sands of denial hoping that denial will make the bad go away. Billions have their minds hacked on a daily basis, filled with dis-mis-information, salivating when the soul message dings and passing social media lies with likes and hits and clicks blissfully unaware they are frantically contributing to their own demise.

Isn’t it time to wake up to reality? Isn’t it time to realize if something has never worked it isn’t about to miraculously start working just because we are approaching dire straits? Protests, wars, revolutions, changing of the political guard: none of that is going to resolve our current dilemma because it never has.

Time for something truly new, like new thinking; like a new idea?

*ISSA being: an intelligent, sentient, self aware person.