| Iran nuclear deal a welcome historic development!

Iran nuclear deal a welcome historic development ~ , Columnist, Toronto Star.

The deal is very much in America’s interest — and Canada’s, if we could only acknowledge that.

Had Stephen Harper not closed our embassy in Tehran last year, Canada could’ve played a role between the West and Iran in the nuclear deal done Saturday. And we certainly would have been in a good position in the months ahead to help implement this historic agreement.

No other American ally was better suited, given Canada’s heroic role during the 1979-80 American hostage crisis in Tehran, when Ken Taylor, our envoy there, sheltered six Americans in his house for months and spirited them out on false Canadian passports — a story told in the movie Argoand this year’s Canadian documentary Our Man in Tehran.

Americans remained forever grateful to us. Iranians, initially miffed, resumed normal relations. That was abruptly upended by Harper 14 months ago in what was seen as a favour to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was getting nowhere with Barack Obama on being tough on Iran.

No surprise, then, that Ottawa is faithfully echoing Netanyahu’s rejection of the nuclear deal as dangerous. Worse, Foreign Minister John Baird is invoking a strange rationale: “A nuclear Iran is not just a threat to Canada or its allies, it would also…” In fact, Iran poses no conceivable threat to Canada.

Others opposing a compromise with Iran have been Saudi Arabia, Egypt and some other Persian Gulf states. This is a strange amalgam of dictatorships and Israel and Canada.

The deal between Iran, on the one hand, and the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council) plus Germany, on the other, is welcome, on several counts:

  • Iran’s nuclear program is more or less frozen. Even its highly enriched uranium is to be converted to ordinary fuel. Construction of a controversial new heavy water reactor is postponed. The entire nuclear program comes under more international inspection.

Iran gets modest sanctions relief and release of $4.2 billion of its own money from oil sales, frozen by the U.S. The rest is small change.

The contentious issue of whether Iran has the right to enrich uranium, as per the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, is fudged. Iran can continue to claim it, while the West can go on saying otherwise.

The notion that Iran couldn’t even have basic uranium enrichment, and that all its enriched uranium had to be shipped out of the country, was never really in the cards.

  • Ending the 33-year cold war between Iran and America effectively ends the prospects of a real war on Iran by the U.S. and by Israel (even as Netanyahu continues to claim that he keeps that option).

The prospect of peace also reduces the influence of the hawks in the U.S., who have kept cranking up economic sanctions for three decades. Iran has not been brought to its knees. In fact, it has emerged as a regional power.

  • While Iran would never be a client state of the U.S., it could be persuaded to help stabilize places where it has considerable influence — Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.
  • Iran has not waged a large-scale war on anyone in contemporary history. Despite all its crude rhetoric against the U.S. and Israel — the “great Satan” and the “Little Satan” — the Iranian regime was pragmatic enough to help the U.S. in toppling the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001.

The people of Iran are not implacably anti-American. In Muslim nations (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, etc.), governments tend to be pro-American and the people anti-American, but the opposite has been true in Iran. Iranians were among the first to hold a candlelight vigil within hours of 9/11. But forced to choose between foreign demands for giving up the nuclear program and their own government standing up for it, Iranian were bound to opt for nationalism, given America’s and Britain’s history of supporting the dictatorships of the first and the second shah.

Ending Iran’s isolation and helping to improve the economic lot of ordinary Iranians also holds the best hope of loosening the iron grip of the theocratic regime in Tehran.

  • The deal represents a much-needed victory for Obama. He has been dithering on Syria, Egypt and Afghanistan. But he stayed firm on the diplomatic course on Iran, for the reasons outlined above and also because American public opinion is both against another war in the Middle East and in favour of a diplomatic solution on Iran.

Netanyahu presented Iran as posing an existential threat to Israel. This was not universally accepted in Israel itself, where a strong body of opinion held that Israel obviously wants to maintain its nuclear hegemony in the region and has found Iran a useful distraction from the failure to end the long Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.

As for the Saudis and some of their Sunni Muslim allies, they have a sectarian reason to keep Shiite Iran as a pariah state and a strategic reason to keep it weak.

None of those reasons is in the American, or Canadian, interest.

Obama could not have missed the opportunity opened with the election in June of the moderate Hassan Rouhani as president. In 2003, George W. Bush spurned an offer by another moderate president, Mohammad Khatami, to normalize relations. In 2010, Obama himself scuttled a plan by Turkey and Brazil to resolve the issue. There was no knowing when the next opportunity would come.

Haroon Siddiqui covered the 1979 Iranian revolution and the hostage crisis. He usually writes Thursdays and Sundays.




| War Criminal: Dick Cheney protest outside Toronto Global Forum Oct. 31!

Protesters Will Greet Cheney Outside Toronto Global Forum Oct. 31 ~ Common Dreams.

October 30, 2013
4:08 PM

CONTACT: Peace Groups

Gail Davidson, Lawyers Against the War (LAW), 1-604-738-0338, law@portal.ca
Professor Francis Boyle, LAW, 1-217-333-7954, fboyle@illinois.edu
Sid Lacombe, Canadian Peace Alliance, 416-333-7567
Elizabeth Ramos, War Criminals Watch/World Can’t Wait, 866-973-4463,warcriminalswatch@worldcantwait.net
Nancy Mancias, CODEPINK, 415-342-6409

Protesters Will Greet Cheney Outside Toronto Global Forum Oct. 31

Canada’s War Crimes Section Reviews Lawyers’ Call to Prosecute Cheney for Torture While Activists Protest When Cheney Speaks @ Toronto Global Forum on Halloween

TORONTO – October 30 –  

What:  Protest, Visual Photo Ops
Where:  Metro Toronto Convention Center, 255 Front Street West, Toronto
When:  Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013 @ 11:00 a.m.

Torture and war crimes suspect Dick Cheney is scheduled as a keynote speaker at the October 31st luncheon of the Toronto Global Forum, hosted by the International Forum of the Americas.  Civil society groups will protest beginning at 11:00 am on Halloween, Oct. 31 outside the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

The Facebook page for the protest can be viewed here.  The demonstration is sponsored and/or endorsed by the following organizations: Toronto Coalition to Stop the War, Canadian Peace Alliance, War Resisters Support Campaign,Lawyers Against the WarWar CriminalsWatch / World Can’t Wait  andCODEPINK.

“Former Vice President Cheney led the Bush administration into a war based on lies which destroyed Iraq, directing a far-flung regime of torture, rendition and detention he referred to as ‘the dark side.’ He should be indicted and prosecuted for violations of the conventions against torture,” stated Debra Sweet, director of World Can’t Wait.

David Swanson, author of War is a Lie and adviser to War Criminals Watch noted that, “When Cheney announced an event here in Charlottesville VA we asked the local police to arrest him, and he immediately canceled the event.  But he hasn’t been arrested, despite war, torture, threats of war, fraud, and retribution against whistleblowers, among other egregious offenses.”

Meanwhile, attorneys from the National Lawyers Guild (U.S.), International Association of Democratic Lawyers, European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (Germany), Brussells Tribunal (Belgium), International Initiative to Prosecute US Genocide in Iraq (Iraq, Egypt, Spain), Lawyers Against the War (Canada) and Rights International Spain (Spain) continue to urge Canada to either bar Dick Cheney from Canada – as a person credibly accused of torture – or to arrest and prosecute him on arrival, as required by the Convention against Torture.  Canada’s Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Section is reviewing the request – the reply from this division of the Department of Justice can be read here.

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| 9/11 in Context: The importance of the growing contradictory evidence!

9/11 in Context: The Importance of the Growing Contradictory Evidence ~ Elizabeth Woodworth, Global Research.

Nearly 12 years after the event, the official account of 9/11 continues to be actively studied by academics around the world. The idea of 9/11 as a false-flag operation to build support for an aggressive foreign policy in the Middle East is steadily gaining ground, suggesting that a policy change is overdue.

This essay provides a brief overview of recent academic evidence, high-level conferences, and media documentaries that raise fresh questions regarding the official account of 9/11. It then describes the 9/11 Consensus Panel as an up-to-date source of evidence-based research for any investigation that may be undertaken to settle 9/11′s unanswered questions.

Finally, this essay argues that mortality from all terror events combined lags far behind annual mortality from preventable common causes such as obesity, smoking, and impaired driving. More importantly, all these causes together will be dwarfed by the mortality from predicted “business as usual” global warming events — which cry out for a unified emergency response.

Today is the second anniversary of the day the United States announced the destruction and disposal of Osama bin Laden during a special military operation.

In spite of this announcement, worldwide skepticism and research continue to dog the official account of 9/11.

Had the United States Government called an immediate investigation (it did not form the 9/11 Commission until late 2002) and provided consistent and transparent proof of its claims against Osama bin Laden and the 19 alleged hijackers, things might have been different.

In the wake of the officially failed evidence, NGO’s continue to dig into the disturbing and unanswered questions that haunt this world-changing event. Year by year, these research bodies have been delving ever more deeply into new photographic, FOIA, and witness evidence.

Recent high-level conferences in Kuala Lumpur,[1] Bremen, Germany,[2] and Toronto, Canada,[3] have raised public awareness of the urgent need to revisit the watershed event behind the global war on terror.

An issue of the international magazine Nexus, which sold on news-stands across France in March and April this year, devoted 12 pages to the work of the 9/11 Consensus Panel (www.consensus911.org) and its 28 peer-reviewed Consensus Points of evidence against elements of the official story.[4]

In late 2012, PBS aired one of its most-watched documentaries, “Experts Speak Out,” in which 40 architects and engineers demonstrate that the structural collapses of the Twin Towers and WTC 7 could only have been caused by controlled demolition.[5]

Indeed many serious investigations have been undertaken by the major media, including Canada’s flagship CBC program, The Fifth Estate.[6] These explorations were summarized in my 2010 essay reporting that “eight countries – Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Russia – have allowed their publicly-owned broadcasting stations to air the full spectrum of evidence challenging the truth of the official account of 9/11.[7]

In February, 2010, the American Behavioral Scientist published six articles introducing the concept of “State Crimes Against Democracy” (SCADS), including “Beyond Conspiracy Theory: Patterns of High Crimes in American Government.”[8]

Why has all this effort to establish the truth about 9/11 persisted for nearly 12 years?

1. First, because many high officials have cast doubt on the official story. To name just one, a dismayed General Wesley Clark reported in a 2007 interview with Amy Goodman that on September 20, 2001, and again later in November, his former Pentagon staff told him that the US was going to “take out” seven Middle East countries in the next five years, beginning with Iraq; then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia, and Sudan.[9]

2. In carrying out these operations, the “global war on terror” spawned by 9/11 has maintained an unprecedented degree of fear and divisiveness in the world;

3. This war has been justified by a pervasive, shadowy enemy that can only be countered by flawless surveillance, suspension of civil rights, and unlimited military spending;

4. This “forever war” has redefined world relationships (Muslim and Christian) and given the West a new kind of entitlement to occupy lands that might foster terror against it;

5. It has virtually bankrupted the West through trillions spent in Afghanistan and Iraq that are roughly equivalent to the bank bailouts;

6. September 11th and its offspring terror war have wrecked our confidence in the first principles of democracy. Ever-reminded that terror lurks all around, we must cower and surrender freedoms to contain it.

7. Worst of all, preoccupation with terror has taken our attention off the vital need to address global warming and planetary survival. War-on-terror hawks have done quite the opposite, having manufactured public consent to occupy the very lands that house the cheap oil that is cooking the planet as it approaches 400 ppm of atmospheric CO2.[10]

How do we get back to first principles and return to global, survival-oriented priorities?

The central question is: “Do we choose to act from what we want our world to be, or from what we fear it might become?”

Do we design a harmonious world fit for all humanity, or do we stifle our vision and hopes for peace behind fear, prisons, martial law, and infinite military spending?

All great periods of history – the golden ages of optimism, learning, culture and prosperity — have been inspired by the creative, expansive human imagination. This imagination is inspired by the belief that a civilized world is possible because we can make it so. It is inspired by a vision of human beings as a world family whose spirits embrace justice, order, and decency.

As President John F. Kennedy said in his famous speech of 1963:

“If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. In the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s futures. And we are all mortal.”[11]

Because of 9/11, however, our new century has been dominated by an obsessive fear of Muslim peoples. This fear, fueled daily by the Western media, has persuaded America to compromise its fundamental democratic rights and principles in favor of a “security” that has not yet become evident.

Thus it is crucial to know whether 9/11 transpired as we have been told — and for this we need the means to identify the best evidence possible.

The 9/11 Consensus Panel and its Approach to Evidence

The 9/11 Consensus Panel was formed in May, 2011. Its purpose and procedures are briefly outlined below:

· The media has claimed for a decade that it is unable to evaluate the technical evidence being presented against the official story of 9/11.

· A parallel problem existed in medicine during the years when there were contradictory, unranked approaches to evaluating the 22 million articles in the biomedical literature databases.

· This problem was greatly reduced by the introduction of “evidence-based” medicine, which applied formal rules of evidence in evaluating the clinical literature.

· Using widely accepted tools such as the Delphi Method, medicine has now developed hundreds of standard Consensus Statements to guide physicians in diagnosis and treatment.
· Similarly, 20 expert members[12] of the new 9/11 Consensus Panel have now developed Consensus Points of “best evidence” opposing the official account of 9/11.

· The Panel Members, who remain blind to one another throughout the process, provide three rounds of review and feedback that are refined into 28 Points (thus far) of “best evidence”.

· This scientific process has yielded an unprecedented degree of credibility for points of evidence relating to 9/11 that can be trusted by the media and the public.

· The 9/11 Consensus Points provide a ready source of evidence-based research to any investigation that may be undertaken by the public, the media, academia, or any other investigative body or institution.


We have seen that the evidence supporting the official story of 9/11 has become increasingly open to question. We have also seen that preoccupation with 9/11 has continued unabated through the ever-present war on terror.

But to keep things in perspective: lives lost to the sum total of terror events are far fewer than those lost annually to preventable deaths from obesity, smoking, and impaired driving.[13]

This should translate into the media giving more time to the prevention of obesity, traffic accidents, and smoking, and less time to preventing terror events.

That would be fine except that all these things taken together pale by comparison with the disease and mortality[14] that will ensue if we continue with “business as usual” in the face of recent evidence that “observed [fossil fuel] emissions continue to track the top end of all scenarios.”[15]

In order to steel ourselves to confront global warming — the most serious challenge ever faced by civilization — we need to reframe our priorities.

We need to wage war on our own behaviour, and it’s time to gear up, impose discipline, and win the planet back.

This means taking our declared “war on global warming” to the front page of every newspaper, to the top of all social media discussions, and to the Number One item in every town hall meeting on Platform Earth.


[1]International Conference: “9/11 Revisited — Seeking the Truth,” sponsored by Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia and President of Perdana Global Peace Foundation (http://www.perdana4peace.org/events/conferences/911_revisited/).

[2]“Quo Vadis NATO? — Challenges for Democracy and Law,” University of Bremen, April 26-28, 2013 (http://ialana.de/files/pdf/veranstaltungen/13-Veranstaltungen/IA%20Bremen%20Programm_englisch%2018_4-1.pdf). Presenters included: Dr. Hans-Christof Graf von Sponeck, former United Nations Assistant Secretary General; Prof. Dr. Christopher Weeramantry, former Vice President of the International Court of Justice; Dr. Dieter Deiseroth, Judge at the German Federal Administrative Court; Wolfgang Nescovic, former Judge at the German Federal High Court; Prof. Dr. Reinhard Merkel, Professor for criminal law and philosophy of law, University of Hamburg; Dr. Andreas von Bülow, former German Assistant Secretary of Defense; and Dr. Daniele Ganser, Swiss historian and peace researcher.

[3]The Toronto Hearings, September 2011, chaired by four international judges, including Mr. Ferdinando Imposimato, Honorary President of the Italian Supreme Court (http://torontohearings.org/panelists/). The Proceedings are available at: http://www.amazon.com/The-9-11-Toronto-Report/dp/1478369205/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1367431792&sr=8-2&keywords=toronto+hearings).

[5]“9/11 Explosive Evidence: Experts Speak Out,” produced by Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth (ae911truth.org) was the most watched and most shared PBS video nationwide for several weeks, with over a million viewers. (http://video.cpt12.org/video/2270078138/).

[6] CBC. The Fifth Estate. “The Unofficial Story”, November 27, 2009 (http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/2009-2010/the_unofficial_story/ ) The Fifth Estate has won 243 awards, including an Oscar for best documentary, three international Emmy Awards, and 31 Geminis.

[7]Elizabeth Woodworth, “The Media Response to the Growing Influence of the 9/11 Truth Movement. Part II: A Survey of Attitude Change, 2009-2010,” Global Research, February 15, 2010 (http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-media-response-to-the-growing-influence-of-the-9-11-truth-movement/17624).

[8]These are listed at http://abs.sagepub.com/content/vol53/issue6. The print issue is available for $24 from Sage Journals at journals@sagepub.com, telephone 1-800-818-7243.

[9] “The Plan — According to U.S. General Wesley Clark (Ret.),” Interview with General Wesley Clark, Amy Goodman, March 2, 2007 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXS3vW47mOE). For other military leaders who share General Clark’s concern, see http://patriotsquestion911.com/

[10] Global Carbon Project, “Global Carbon Budget, 2012,” December 12, 2012 (http://www.globalcarbonproject.org/carbonbudget/12/files/CarbonBudget2012.pdf).

[11] John F. Kennedy. American University Commencement Address, June 10, 1963 (http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/BWC7I4C9QUmLG9J6I8oy8w.aspx).

[12]The Panel Members’ photos and biographies are available at http://www.consensus911.org/panel-members/.

[13]World Health Organization. “Overweight and obesity are the fifth leading risk for mortality worldwide, accountable for at least 2.8 million deaths each year.” (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/index.html).

CDC Atlanta. “The adverse health effects from cigarette smoking account for an estimated 443,000 deaths, or nearly one of every five deaths, each year in the United States.” (http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking/).

CDC Atlanta. “In 2010, 10,228 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (31%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.” http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html

[14]Climate Institute, “Human Health,” (http://www.climate.org/topics/health.html). This short summary from 2009 or 2010 estimates the health impacts of global warming.

[15] Global Carbon Project, “Global Carbon Budget, 2012,” December 12, 2012 (http://www.globalcarbonproject.org/carbonbudget/12/files/CarbonBudget2012.pdf).




| Scapegoating: The special dread of terrorism for Muslims in the west!

The special dread of terrorism for Muslims in the west ~


    •  For Muslims in the US and Canada, terror’s enduring damage is the erosion of trust and an unjust stain of guilt by association.




I was born in Pakistan but have been fortunate enough to have had a happy life growing up in Toronto, Canada – a place where I have always felt at home and for which I have more attachment than any other in the world. In my mind, the mere idea of a terrorist attack ever occurring here provokes feelings of anger and sadness: it is painful to imagine something bad happening to a place you care about. I imagine Americans feel exactly the same way about their country.

On Monday, in the wake of last week’s events in Boston, Massachusetts, it was reported by Canadian media that an alleged terrorist plot had been uncovered, which involved individuals in the United States, as well as in Canada. Full details of the police operation have yet to be revealed; there are reasonable grounds for a degree of skepticism due to its timing, coinciding with a parliamentary debate on anti-terrorism, and to the purported support of “al-Qaida elements in Iran”). Yet, I feel immediate relief that this potential terror attack came to light when law enforcement agencies announced its prevention.

If it had been otherwise, if there had been another outrage, what would have happened? Would a lifetime of hard work and good citizenship have been cast aside, and would friends and acquaintances begin to view me and others like me with fear and distrust?

It is a curious experience to feel that the benign normality of your life is constantly held hostage to forces outside your ability to control. That effort of cultivating a positive image – building relationships, respecting the law, living honestly, giving charity, contributing to civil society – could potentially be degraded or wiped out by forces far beyond your scope of influence as an individual.

Today, many Americans live in fear of the random nihilistic violence of terrorists. A 2011 Gallup poll showed that roughly 36% of Americans worryabout a potential terrorist attack killing them or one of their family members – down from post-9/11 highs but still very significant. While academic studies on the subject have shown that the actual risk of such an event occurring isextremely low, the heinous violence at the Boston Marathon this past week shows that even the rarest of “black swan events” do eventually come to pass.

However, to Muslim Americans and other ordinary Muslim citizens of western countries, the fear of being victimized by a terrorist attack is magnified many times. While, like their fellow citizens, the chance of them being personally harmed in such an attack is remote, they are haunted by the very real danger that in the aftermath they will be subjected to greater public scrutiny, abuse, suspicion and hostility. Besides the fear of governments targeting their communities and curtailing their individual freedom, there exists an even broader and more diffuse fear.

While hate crimes targeting Muslims tend to spike in the aftermath of terror attacks (as has sadly been evidenced in attacks against ordinary Muslim Americans in Boston and New York after the marathon bombing), these tend to be exceptional cases. The real damage done to the social fabric by such attacks is the erosion of trust and respect between society at large and its Muslim minorities.

Regardless of the actions of individual Muslims – the overwhelming majority of whom experience events such as terrorist attacks with just as much disbelief, trauma and helplessness as their co-citizens – they are nevertheless viewed as being somehow associated with them, simply due to their ethnic or religious background. In the aftermath of the Boston bombings, the unanimous feeling among my many Muslim friends, family and acquaintances was one of overwhelming fear and dread that the perpetrator might also be someone who professes to share our religious identity.

The idea that people may think about you differently due to factors outside your ability to influence, or even fully comprehend, is profoundly unsettling. This is an anxiety far more pervasive than the fear of violence or abuse. It is a wrenching experience to feel alienated from your own home or to feel that such alienation could one day be visited upon you and upend the life you have carefully built for yourself and for your loved ones.

For many Muslim citizens of western countries – especially among the young – where they live today is the only home they have ever known and the only place they have ever thoroughly understood or felt affection for. The anxiety that despite respecting society’s rules, the welcome mat may still one day be pulled out from under you is very real and common. Given the statements ofsome politicians and popular media figures, these concerns do not seem such a stretch.

In the aftermath of a violent crime that captures the attention of the country, it is safe to assume that white western people do not find themselves praying that the perpetrator does not share their background. When a terror attack occurs, Muslim civil society organizations will inevitably release anguished statements denouncing such violence, yet they feel a stain has been placed upon them in the popular imagination that is practically impossible to remove.

Contrary to some hyperbolic depictions of Muslim minorities as a nefarious fifth column within society, the average Muslim has about as much control of, or connection to, the vile actions of terrorists as the average white American does to school shootings or movie theater massacres. But based on the fact that there are violent individuals in the world who identify as Muslim, some completely deny that moderate Muslims even exist.

At present, the public discourse around terrorism and minority groups renders law-abiding, honest citizens unable to feel completely secure in society. However much we condemn such attacks, distance ourselves from them, identify with the victims, and offer our support to society, we are liable to be viewed with reflexive suspicion, as perennial “outsiders” in the national fabric.

Until we can detach the actions of any single Muslim from being associated with all Muslims, I suspect that the reasons for our anxiety will continue to exist. Being normal in the west: it’s not made easy for us.

Islamic Society of Boston mosque

A banner reading ‘United We Stand For Peace on Earth’ outside the Islamic Society of Boston mosque in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Photograph: Allen Breed/AP



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| Canada terror plot suspects due in court over attempt to derail train!

Canada terror plot suspects due in court over attempt to derail train ~ Isabeau Doucet in Montreal and agencies, guardian.co.uk.

Chiheb Esseghaier and Raed Jaser planned to derail Toronto passenger train backed by ‘al-Qaida elements’ in Iran, say police!

Two men were expected to appear in court in Toronto on Tuesday charged with plotting a terrorist attack against a Canadian passenger train with support from “al-Qaida elements” in Iran, according to Canadian police.


Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, and Raed Jaser, 35, who live in Montreal and Toronto, were planning to derail a Via Rail passenger train in Toronto but posed no immediate threat, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted police (RCMP).


“This is the first-known al-Qaida-planned attack that we’ve experienced inCanada,” said Superintendent Doug Best.


RCMP assistant commissioner James Malizia said the two men had direction and guidance from “al-Qaida elements located in Iran”, though there was no reason to think the planned attacks were state-sponsored.


Police said the men did not get financial support from al-Qaida, but declined to provide further details.


“It was definitely in the planning stage but not imminent,” the RCMP chief superintendent, Jennifer Strachan, said. “We are alleging that these two individuals took steps and conducted activities to initiate a terrorist attack. They watched trains and railways.”


Strachan said they were targeting a railway, but did not say if it was a cross-border route.


A spokeswoman for the University of Sherbrooke in Montreal said Esseghaier, reported to be from Tunisia, studied there in 2008-09. More recently, he had been doing doctoral research at the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique, a spokeswoman at the training university confirmed.


Canadian press reported that Esseghaier was threatened with expulsion for his disruptive behaviour and strict religious views that alienated his colleagues.


Raed Jaser is reported to be a Palestinian with citizenship in the United Arab Emirates, who has permanent resident status in Canada.

This is the first time Canadian police have laid charges related to an al-Qaida-supported attack on Canadian soil. Neither man is a Canadian citizen


The two suspects were expected to appear at a bail hearing in a Toronto court. They were arrested in Toronto and Montreal as part of a major national security investigation called Project Smooth, which was initiated in August 2012.


The attack was thwarted by a cross-border joint task force between Canadian police, the intelligence branch, the FBI and US department of homeland security.


Via Rail tweeted on Monday that thanks to unprecedented co-operation between law enforcement and security units of various departments “at no time was there an imminent threat to the public”.


Law enforcement officials said the terror suspects had no connection to the Tsarnaev brothers, who are suspected of last week’s Boston Marathon bombings, nor to the high school friends from London, Ontario who joined al-Qaida in the Maghreb and died in a bloody shootout in January after taking hostages at the In Amenas gas complex in Algeria.


Al-Qaida’s relationship with Iran’s government is unclear but has been fractious in the past. However, Bruce Riedel, a CIA veteran who is now a Brookings Institution senior fellow, said al-Qaida has had a clandestine presence in Iran since at least 2001 and that neither the terror group nor Tehran speak openly about it.


“The Iranian regime kept some of these elements under house arrest,” he told Associated Press. “Some probably operate covertly. Al-Qaida members often transit Iran travelling between hideouts in Pakistan and Iraq.”


Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesman for the Iranian mission to the United Nations, said the terrorist network was not operating in Iran. “Iran’s position against this group is very clear and well-known. [Al-Qaida] has no possibility to do any activity inside Iran or conduct any operation abroad from Iran’s territory,” Miryousefi said in a statement emailed to AP late on Monday. “We reject strongly and categorically any connection to this story.”


Canada severed diplomatic relations with Iran, closed its Tehran embassy and expelled Iranian diplomats from Canada in September 2012 with Canada’s foreign minister, John Baird, calling Iran “the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today”.


Security sources told the Canadian broadcaster CBC that the alleged plot was potentially more dangerous than the bombings and hostage-takings planned by the so-called Toronto 18 in 2006, a home-grown plot to set off bombs outside Toronto’s stock exchange, a building housing Canada’s spy agency and a military base. Their goal was to push Canada into withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

Canadian police investigate terror plot

Canadian police seize a property in Toronto in connection with an alleged al-Qaida-linked plot to derail a passenger train. Photograph: QMI Agency/Rex Features



| Busybody Canada temporarily recalls diplomats from Israel, West Bank, UN to assess vote on Palestinians!

Canada temporarily recalls diplomats from Israel, West Bank, UN to assess vote on Palestinians ~ Associated PressUpdated: Friday, November 30, 1:44 PM.

OTTAWA — Canada’s foreign affairs minister is temporarily recalling senior diplomats from Israel, the West Bank and the United Nations missions in New York and Geneva to assess the implications of Thursday’s U.N. General Assembly vote to recognize the Palestinians as a non-member observer state.

John Baird also says Canada will review its whole relationship with the Palestinian Authority.

Baird says he is deeply disappointed by the U.N. vote, in which Canada joined Israel, the United States and a few other countries in voting “no.” He says the only way to peace in the Middle East is through negotiations, not what he called unilateral actions.

Baird calls the General Assembly decision an impediment to peace.



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| Tecumseh, Shawnee Chief: Iconic folk hero in American, Aboriginal and Canadian history!

| Tecumseh, Shawnee Chief: Iconic folk hero in American, Aboriginal and Canadian history!

“Live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about his religion.
Respect others in their views and demand that they respect yours.
Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.

Seek to make your life long and of service to your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend,
or even a stranger, if in a lonely place.

Show respect to all people, but grovel to none.
When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light,
for your life, for your strength.
Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.

If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.
Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools
and robs the spirit of its vision.

When your time comes to die,
be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death,
so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time
to live their lives over again in a different way.
Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.”

~ Tecumseh,

(1768-1813) Shawnee Chief

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| When Will the Economic Blockade of Gaza End?

When Will the Economic Blockade of Gaza End? ~ Robert Wright, The Atlantic.

President Obama and Bibi Netanyahu are on the same page when it comes to the justification for Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. Netanyahu : “No country in the world would agree to a situation in which its population lives under a constant missile threat.” Obama: “There’s no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.”

It’s true that if, say, Canada were lobbing missiles into the US, the US wouldn’t tolerate it. But here’s another thing the US wouldn’t tolerate: If Canada imposed a crippling economic blockade, denying America the import of essential goods and hugely restricting American exports. That would be taken as an act of war, and America would if necessary respond with force–by, perhaps, lobbing missiles into Canada.

This is the situation Gaza has faced for years: a crippling economic blockade imposed by Israel. Under international pressure, Israel has relaxed the import restrictions, but even so such basic things as cement, gravel, and steel are prohibited from entering Gaza. The rationale is that these items are “dual use” and could be put to military ends. But this logic doesn’t explain the most devastating part of the blockade–the severe restrictions on Gaza’s exports.

Gazans can’t export anything to anyone by sea or air, and there are extensive constraints on what they can export by land. They can’t even sell things to their fellow Palestinians in the West BankAccording to the Israeli NGO Gisha, the number of truckloads of goods that leave Gaza each month is two percent of what it was before the blockade was imposed. (A black market trade via tunnels to Egypt has taken up some, but by no means all, of the slack.)

No wonder Gaza’s unemployment rate has risen to 28 percent. No wonder 70 percent of Gazans receive humanitarian aid. No wonder there’s a shortage of schools–it’s hard to build them without construction materials.

If you mention the blockade to the average reasonably well-informed American or Israeli, you’ll likely get a reply such as: Well, if the Gazans don’t like economic strangulation, Hamas should quit firing missiles at Israel; or Hamas should recognize the state of Israel; or it should do something else Israel wants it to do.

So, over the past couple of days, I tried to find out exactly what actions on the part of Hamas would suffice to end the blockade. And, after contacting various experts by email, I discovered that the answer is: nothing would suffice. At least, nothing we know of. Apparently Israel hasn’t articulated clear conditions under which the blockade would end.

As law professor Noura Erakat has written in a journal article:

Despite claims of self-defense, Israel has not defined a definitive purpose for the blockade, the achievement of which would indicate its end. Official Israeli goals have ranged from limiting Hamas’s access to weapons, to seeking retribution for the pain caused to Israeli civilians, and to compelling the Palestinian population to overthrow the Hamas government…

This seems kind of strange. I thought sanctions and blockades and the like were supposed to have specific purposes. The sanctions against South Africa, for example, would end when apartheid ended. So when will the blockade of Gaza end? If there’s no answer, why should anyone expect the situation in Gaza to improve? If the Gazan people are being treated this harshly, and there’s no end in sight, why does President Obama sound so surprised and outraged that violence against Israel would emanate from Gaza?

I’m not saying the blockade justifies the firing of missiles. And I’m not saying it doesn’t–I’m just not getting into that messy issue right now, and I’d have to study up on international law before I did. But I’m saying that, when you subject people to treatment like this, without even specifying the conditions under which the treatment would change, human nature pretty much ensures that bad things, including violent ones, will happen.


There is nothing nefarious about defending oneself from armed attack. Making it nefarious writes the Palestinian right to resist out of history, reserving righteous violence and force for the Western powers that already almost monopolize it.



* UK National Demonstration
Stop Israel’s War on Gaza
End the Siege Now
Saturday 24 November
Assemble Downing Street 12 Noon
March to the Israeli Embassy

(Nearest tube Charing Cross or Westminster)

Please publicise the demonstration as widely as you can and urge everyone you know to be there.

Gaza is one of the most densely populated places in the world, with 1.7 million people packed into a strip of land at its narrowest barely six miles wide. It is facing a barbaric onslaught by the world’s fourth most powerful military.

Our demonstration for Gaza starts at Downing Street to tell David Cameron and the British government that the green light they have given to Israel is not in our name.

| Torture Survivors Ask UN: What’s the Point of Having Laws Against Torture if They Don’t Apply to the Powerful?

Torture Survivors Ask the UN: What’s the Point of Having Laws Against Torture if They Don’t Apply to the Powerful? ~  Katherine GallagherCenter for Constitutional Rights.

One thing brings these four men together. Hassan bin Attash, Sami el-Hajj, Muhammed Khan Tumani and Murat Kurnaz—they are all survivors of the systematic torture program the Bush administration authorized and carried out in locations including Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantánamo, and numerous prisons and CIA “black sites” around the world. Between them, they have been beaten, hung from walls or ceilings, deprived of sleep, food and water, and subjected to freezing temperatures and other forms of torture and abuse while held in U.S. custody. None was charged with a crime, two were detained while still minors, and one of them remains at Guantánamo.

This week, in a complaint filed with the United Nations Committee against Torture, they are asking one question: how can the man responsible for ordering these heinous crimes, openly enter a country that has pledged to prosecute all torturers regardless of their position and not face any legal action?

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ) filed the complaint on the men’s behalf.

The country in question is Canada, visited last year by former U.S. President George W. Bush during a paid speaking engagement in Surrey, British Columbia. Bush’s visit drew hundreds in protest, calling for his arrest, and it also provided bin Attash, el-Hajj, Tumani and Kurnaz the opportunity to call on the Canadian government to uphold its legal obligation under the U.N. Convention against Torture, and conduct a criminal investigation against Bush while he was on Canadian soil.

To this end, the four men, submitted a 69-page draft indictment that CCR and CCIJ had presented to Canada’s attorney general ahead of Bush’s arrival in support of their private prosecution. The submission included thousands of pages of evidence against Bush consisting of extensive reports and investigations conducted by multiple U.S. agencies and the U.N. The evidence is overwhelming, not to mention the fact that Bush has admitted, even, boasted of his crimes, saying “damn right” when asked if it was permissible to waterboard a detainee – a recognized act of torture.

Canada should have investigated these crimes. The responsibility to do so is embedded in its domestic criminal code that explicitly authorizes the government to prosecute torture occurring outside Canadian borders. There is no reason it cannot apply to former heads of state, and indeed, the Convention has been found to apply to such figures including Hissène Habré and Augusto Pinochet. A criminal investigation into the allegations was the lawful thing to do. It was also what Canada had agreed to do when it pledged its support to end impunity for torture by ratifying the Convention.

But Canada looked the other way. Not only did federal Attorney General Robert Nicholson refuse to investigate Bush, but the Attorney General of British Columbia swiftly intervened to shut down a private criminal prosecution submitted to a provincial court in his jurisdiction the morning of Bush’s visit.

Thanks to the Obama administration’s call to look only “forward” – even in the face of torture that demands a proper reckoning – and a court system in the U.S. that has readily closed its doors to torture survivors, the crimes of the Bush era are effectively beyond the reach of justice in the U.S. But the immunity – the impunity – granted to these criminals here should not follow them into other countries, particularly those that are signatories to international laws and treaties against torture.

If the Convention against Torture is to have any hope of fulfilling its mission of preventing torture, the committee must send countries like Canada a clear message: it is their legal obligation to ensure there is no safe haven for torturers and any action to the contrary makes these states effectively complicit in furthering impunity for some of the worst crimes of the past decade.

These four survivors are asking the U.N. to enforce its own convention, nothing more and nothing less. They call upon the U.N., unlike Canada, to unequivocally reject a worldview in which the powerful are exempt from rules, treaties and prohibitions against senseless acts of barbarity.  Will the U.N. hear their call?


| Canada’s Ktunaxa: For one indigenous people, the internet could be key to saving a language related to no other on earth!




Canada: The Ktunaxa ~ AlJazeera.

For one indigenous people, the internet could be key to saving a language related to no other on earth.                                                                                              



Living the Language 

Can the internet save a language? For the Ktunaxa nation, an indigenous people inhabiting parts of north-western America, the answer may just be ‘yes’.

The Ktunaxa language is related to no other on earth and only a handful of people speak it fluently. Most of them are members of the oldest generation, something that has spurred a race against time for a community that must record and preserve as much of the language spoken today as possible. In a few years, it might already be too late.

The challenge is not only to record endless hours of material but how to make it available to those wishing to learn the language. Here is where the internet comes in to play. Dedicated young community members, such as Marisa Philips, are working hard to publish recordings, interactive games for children and written language material online.

“We’re just going to be losing a lot of who we are as the Ktunaxa nation, the Ktunaxa people, once those elders have passed on,” Philips says. “Since the younger generation is so well adapted to using technology, it only makes sense to me.”

With the help of a high speed fibre network owned by the community, the material is accessible to everyone – wherever they are. There are even college level online courses available for those wishing to learn the language as adults.

Perhaps the 2,000 people-strong Ktunaxa nation will succeed in reversing the process that has silenced many languages in north-western America, an especially distressing hot spot of language extinction.

Don Maki, the Ktunaxa nation council director, says: “We’re trying to think ahead, we’re trying to be very progressive and think of all the possible things that we need to do now for the future.”

Every 14 days a language dies. Follow the people battling to save theirs.

Living the Language can be seen on Al Jazeera English each week at the following times GMTTuesday: 2230; Wednesday: 0930; Thursday: 0330;Friday: 1630; Saturday: 2230; Sunday: 0930; Monday: 0330

  • Australia: The Aboriginal People – from April 17
  • Guatemala: The Maya – from April 24
  • Canada: The Ktunaxa – from May 01
  • Bolivia: The Aymara – from May 08
  • New Zealand: The Maori – from May 15
  • Over the Airwaves – from May 22