Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Razor's Edge

The Razor’s Edge


We’re standing on “The Razor’s Edge” right now and that edge is getting thinner and sharper all the time. Especially for women. Why especially for women? Because there is a political equivalent of global warming afoot that comprises, in my opinion, a retreat into intellectual and judicial barbarism. And this edge is poised on something we have long taken for granted and cherished…the separation of church and state.

This separation represents a high point of civilization in the Western world. And it’s becoming blurred. How is it that we can celebrate the coming into power of the Muslim Brotherhood along with Al Qaida in the blood soaked countries of Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia and call these triumphs of radical religionists a good thing, a triumph of democratic principles? How can we say that when The Muslim Brotherhood has as its credo:”God is our objective; the Quran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of God is the highest of our aspirations” ( Principals of Muslim Brotherhood).

Never mind that the Quran advises Muslim men to beat their wives if they don’t obey (A.A. Maududi’s translation of the Arabic text), and a main text seems to be for Muslims to wage war. On a Muslim Brotherhood web site this is explained by a series of articles by Dr. Ahmad 'Abd Al-Khaleq about Al-Walaa Wa'l-Baraa, an Islamic doctrine which, in its fundamentalist interpretation, stipulates absolute allegiance to the community of Muslims and total rejection of non-Muslims and of Muslims who have strayed from the path of Islam. In his articles, the writer argues that according to this principle, a Muslim can come closer to Allah by hating all non-Muslims -Christians, Jews, atheists, or polytheists - and by waging jihad against them in every possible manner. Is this is what the people of the Arab Spring were fighting and dying for? And what the US, Israel, and most of Europe along with the UN are clamoring for in the rest of the Muslim countries?

Hard to believe. So is Joe Biden, US Vice President, when he says, and the President agrees, that the Talban is not our enemy. Wait a minute. The Talban is worse than the Muslim Brotherhood. They’re right up there with Osama bin Laden. If the Talban is not the enemy then why were the American people whipped up to such a white hot hate before invading Iraq and Afghanistan? Why so much death and destruction for so many years? But the odd thing is, now that Obama has done this about face and wants to talk to the Talban, the Talban have turned coy. No talks for them, they seem to be saying, you can kiss off, you American infidels. Now Obama is embarrassed. He should be. He should be embarrassed out of his skull.
But it isn’t just some Muslim groups that are circling the wagons; we have our own home grown fundamentalist leaders. In fact we have one for a prime minister. He most certainly will not open the debate on abortion, as he promised, and I don’t expect him to. At least not personally. His back benchers will do it for him and at a crucial point the matter will become a legal question again and go to the Supreme Court. And guess who will be on the Supreme Court waiting? Four of his own personally appointed conservative judges, who will now comprise a majority on the bench, and who will make abortion illegal. Oh, our Prime Minister is shrewd. He evidentially worships the right kind of God. And the US?

Well, Republican candidate Rick Santorum is now claiming that the US should not only should have a fundamentalist Christian president, but be a fundamentalist Christian nation. And he may well turn out to be the Republican winner, although he and Mitt Romney are only a hair’s breath apart. Yes, the razor’s edge is getting thinner and sharper all the time. We should not mistake extreme religiosity for democracy, or let the media confuse us on these issues, especially in Arab countries. We can think for ourselves and recognize falsification when we see it. And stand up and say so.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Sunday morning I tuned into Michael Enright’s Sunday Edition radio show (Feb. 19) and was sorry. I don’t know what to think about Michael these days. Or CBC Radio. I understand that Stephen Harper considers CBC Radio the enemy but I am increasingly perplexed as to why. As far as international news reporting goes, it seems to me that the Canadian media, including the CBC, is doing Harper’s job for him by keeping the Canada public so tense with threats of immanent war that we will be willing to accept more restrictions on our basic freedoms. These threats center on the so-called possibility of a US-Israeli invasion of Iran.

On the program Michael utters the threatening words in a deeply authoritarian voice: “How close is Iran to building a nuclear weapon? What should be done? Should the US and Israel make a preemptive strike?” Michael’s first two guests demure about a strike, but at least his third guest, Hirsh Goodman from National Security Studies from Tel Aviv University in Israel gives Michael the answer he seems to be hoping for. The answer is yes. Mr. Goodman would think a preemptive strike would be proper action if Iran continues with nuclear development.

The other two guests, Barbara Slavin (Atlantic Council Think Tank) and Paul Rogers (University of Bradford, England) weren’t so sure about what to do. But what I find so troubling is this… there was a lengthy discussion with these three scholars concerning Iran and a possible invasion and not a single one of them, including Michael himself, mentioned the magic word…China. I couldn’t believe it. It was as if China didn’t exist. As if China hadn’t announced to the world that she would protect Iran. As if China hadn’t announced to the world just recently that she was preparing for war if need be (Commodity On Line 1/7/12) and that she was troubled by remarks coming from the White House. Voila! An immediate change in Obama’s attitude.

“Okay,” Obama and the bankers seem to say to China, “if you won’t let us invade Iran without getting your kickers in a knot, will you please loan us some more money? “Well,” China seems to say in response, “we would like to see a negotiated settlement on the restrictive measures against Iran”. “Okay, we’ll get to work on that,” Obama seems to have responded and the bankers appear to have nodded in agreement. And China seems to have accepted this kind of a compromise because suddenly China and the US are big buddies. Really big buddies. And the talk coming from the While House appears to be leaning toward a negotiated settlement with Iran rather than an invasion. Just as Stephen Harper also appears to have been “born again” on the Chinese front.

“We’re not really looking for trouble over Iran,” Stephen Harper seems to have explained to China. “We just have to get rid of some of this bitumen we’re digging out of our tar sands, and as we are disfiguring and poisoning the entire landscape, we need more investment in the tar sands and we also have these other big plans for fracking shale gas that we need investment for, and in return and with a little luck maybe we can get the liquid gas over to your shores without explosions, how about it?”

“Fracking right on”, the Chinese seem to have replied.

There will be no invasion of Iran. China buys most of Iran’s oil. And while China is not expansionist she will protect her own interests. Harper and Obama and the banks all know this. However, the saber rattling by the Western media keeps their citizens on edge. Nervous citizens will allow erosions of civil rights that they wouldn’t entertain without the stabbings of continuous war anxiety. The CBC is certainly doing its share of exaggerating or outright falsifying the dangers of an imminent invasion of Iran. And while I’m at it, I have another bone to pick with Mr. Michael Enright’s reporting, this time about legalizing the sale of body parts. For another time.

Monday, February 13, 2012


Your Prime Minister has just proved how much he loves you. Panda Bears! Next year while we watch these adorable natural wonders with awe and even love, we might be able to forget for a little while what we have paid for them. Like our national sovereignty. In exchange for Canada’s resource reserves, especially the oil sands and shale gas deposits, China and private investors will reap billions of dollars in addition to the long term sales of the oil and gas. And what do we citizens get? Aside from the rise in domestic oil and gas prices? And irreparable ecological damage? Why, the loan of Panda Bears. Sweet as they are, two Panda Bears are not worth the rapid acceleration of the ecological trashing of Canada. The place where we Canadians all live. So what, some might ask. Better to be under the economic heel of a country far away than one almost in spitting distance, one, they might add, that is getting queasy about Canada’s “dirty oil”. The Chinese are not so finicky.

Perhaps. But these new developments are more than a little scary considering our Prime Minister’s rapid turn toward China after his utter disdain of that country during his first years in office. Unsettling, too, is Harper’s apparent total disinterest in, and perhaps disbelief in, any value added treatment of these same resources he has now signed away. But this has long been the federal and BC provincial stance on logging so why am I surprised that Canada will simply be shipping out oil and gas in the raw state without refining in Canada? I guess I thought in spite of being an end times fundamentalist religionist, that Harper could figure out a way to encompass value added principals to Canada’s oil and gas reserves. But apparently not. And this is a signal, in my opinion, that Canada is soon to become (actually has been becoming for years) as Alvin Toffler describes in his book “Powershift”, when speaking of the future… “The backward republics, (those who are) still dependent on agriculture and raw material extraction, may huddle together in a loose federation”.

As Canada certainly looks more and more like a backward republic of this description, who would Canada huddle with? Even drug war ridden Mexico has nationalized its oil reserves. In addition and largely ignored by the press, there is a global political elephant in the room as Harper invites China to draw a ring around the gas and oil resources of Canada. This political elephant is Iran and Syria. Both China and Russia seek to protect Iran and Syria. We are fed daily news updates (propaganda?) about how the Syrian government is killing its own people. However, the opposition forces who are led by the Muslim Brotherhood, also have its own army and apparently lots of ammunition. Which begs the question…is this really an uprising solely by unarmed citizens in Syria who are yearning for freedom, or is this a civil war with the opposition spearheaded, at least at the moment, by the Muslim Brotherhood?

Whatever the truth of that conflict, the US is in full battle gear lusting for a “regime change” in both Syria and Iran. The main thing stopping the US from invading these two countries is China. And with Harper suddenly China’s best friend, it is no wonder that Canada hasn’t recalled our ambassador to Syria as many of the European nations have done to demonstrate their displeasure about events in Syria. Recalling our ambassador from Syria might upset China no end. In fact, I suspect an agreement on this was part of the “done deals” of the economic agreements Harper brought home. And I would probably faint (delicate flower that I am) at some of the names that Harper is presently and privately being called by the American heads of state and military. I find it rather ironic that Stephen Harper’s cozying up to China, while bad for Canada economically and environmentally, may help avoid Word War Three.

Because in spite of the deaths and confusion in Syria, I am hopeful that there will be no “regime change” invasions by the US or Israel. With China and Russia both opposed this would be madness. It could very well precipitate World War Three. And if we look at the mess left in Iraq and Libya by “regime change” which was fuelled by US propaganda and outright lies, I personally don’t believe much the US government says about anything, much less about a country with a path to Iran’s oil. Neither do I believe Stephen Harper’s stories about what he said to the Chinese government “in private” about human rights. And to top it off, I don’t much believe CBC reporting on any of these matters to be unbiased. Not anymore.

What I do believe is that if Harper’s plans do go through, he has sold us so far down the river as “hewers of wood and drawers of water (and oil and gas)” that there is probably no returning. But they (the Harper government, China, private investors) can take it all from us easy, or they can take it hard. Let’s make it as hard as we can. Let’s make it so hard they might pause to reconsider a few things. Like the Canadian people. Like the environment. And that’s possible. Happy Valentine’s Day. And Panda Bears, you darlings of nature, we do love you.

Monday, February 06, 2012


How did this happen? Well, it seems that the Kitimat area is where a big part of Canada’s proposed shale gas extraction and Enbridge pipe line conjoins. It follows that this is where the action is threatening to bubble up big time, for the Chinese as well as for First Nations and Canadians at large. Petro China International, already a major investor in Alberta oil sands and the Enbridge pipe line, and who has also recently agreed to buy full ownership of Mackay River Oil Sands in Alberta (Glove and Mail, Feb.3) is definitely interested in the shale gas extraction. And Kitimat is where it’s at.

Soon Petro China officials will be sweetly escorted onto whatever Kitimat area they might fancy. Who will be escorting? Most probably Kristy Clark and Kevin Falcon (Harper at the moment is in China, warmly courting the Chinese in his eagerness to sell Canada…literally). Holding up his end, I feel sure that Mr. Falcon will repeat his admiration for the way Chinese authorities have conditioned their people to accept whatever environmental destruction accompanies resource extraction, just the way Mr. Falcon did in reference to his destruction of Eagleridge Bluffs. But he was only kidding, Mr. Falcon said later, after his remarks were reported. Kidding? I don’t think many of us laughed.

For all of this oil and gas extraction excitement sweeping the Harper and Clark governments, there doesn’t seem to be any upside for First Nations or Canadians in general. Monstrous amounts of water are used in the process of extracting natural gas. My understanding is that this water after use is so poisoned it can’t be recycled. This is hugely, hugely problematic. There is only so much drinkable water and moisture on this planet and all of it is constantly being recycled by nature. If this water can’t be recycled safely by Mother Nature then billions of tons of water will be taken out of nature’s recycling system. Which means, of course, that this life giving water will be denied to the rest of the earth’s inhabitants, including, of course, people. And all happening at a time when drought is threatening many lands, including the state of Texas. I wonder what all the Texas oil tycoons are drinking.

In the process of extracting natural gas (called fracking) the gas companies bore deeply into the earth, deeper than any usual kind of resource extraction. This may prove to be a significant disruption of the soil and rocks and bacteria. In fact, this process raises a worry in some quarters that fracking may seriously disturb the natural equilibrium of the earth itself in the area.

So this is the proposed scenario…we will have the Enbridge pipe line that may leak in many places, oil tankers full of oil alongside other carriers hauling natural gas…can you imagine the fireworks if the two different carriers should collide? And what do Canadians get from this combined domestic and foreign invasion of Kitimat? Besides the risk of living in a hell of oil slicks and gas fumes and a dearth of drinking water? Well, primarily higher oil and gas prices (CBC News, Feb.2).

Let’s all join hands symbolically and love Kitimat. It’s not decent for Harper to sell our resources to a global giant like China who doesn’t care how the extraction is carried out. Let’s ask the First Nations to invite us to come and be with them when this oil and gas pot starts bubbling over. It will take all of us when the time comes.