News for progressives

Being bullish about Arctic shipping – the Northern Sea Route (NSR)

Being bullish about Arctic shipping – the Northern Sea Route (NSR) by Nat South for the Saker Blog Part 1 The Northern Sea Route, (Северного морского пути) handled a record
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Official Russian reply to the British “shut up and go away”

To follow up on the British suggestion to Russia “to shut up and go away”: If the Russian Foreign Ministry reacted in its traditional polite fashion, the Ministry of
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POKÉMON IN UKRAINE: Tactical War Game Introduction MANUAL

War Game Manuals Book 1 The first of a series, our own Scott Humor’s new Manual is now available on Amazon. Just in time and on the button topical, this
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Governments Decree 'Truth' About Skripal - Dissenters Will Be Punished

The Skripal incident is now, by chance or by design, part of a much larger campaign about 'western' dominance over 'the east'. Russia, which ended the unilateral moment of U.S. nuclear primacy, is currently the main target. The situation is...
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Moveable Feast Cafe 2018/03/16 … Open Thread

2018/03/16 15:00:01Welcome to the ‘Moveable Feast Cafe’. The ‘Moveable Feast’ is an open thread where readers can post wide ranging observations, articles, rants, off topic and have animate discussions of
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Syrian War Report – March 16, 2018: Army Evacuated Over 12,500 Civilians From Eastern Ghouta On March 15, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies liberated the village of Hamuriyah in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta from members of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham
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NDP leader Singh responds to critics

Rabble News - Fri, 2018-03-16 14:45
March 16, 2018Politics in CanadaWorldJagmeet Singh breaks his silence, but did he provide good answers?In a series of media interviews the NDP leader finally condemned the mastermind of the Air India bombing. But he refused to categorically condemn violence in support of the Sikh cause. Federal NDPJagmeet Singhair india
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Climate change, climate denial and climate ironies in wake of Alberta Legislature's pipeline demand vote

Rabble News - Fri, 2018-03-16 12:20
David J. Climenhaga

On Tuesday, the Alberta Legislature passed a motion declaring the support of everyone there for the Trans Mountain Pipeline to the West Coast.

The motion, introduced by NDP Premier Rachel Notley, also demanded the federal government take "all necessary legal steps" to get cracking on the project to expand the existing pipeline owned by the Canadian subsidiary of Texas-based Kinder Morgan Inc.

The project was approved by the National Energy Board last year and, if completed, is expected to increase tanker traffic about seven fold to and from the Kinder Morgan Terminal at the far eastern end of Vancouver's long, narrow and windy harbour, which is one part of why the mega-project is so unpopular on the B.C. Coast.

And what do you want to bet they couldn't pass a unanimous motion in the B.C. Legislature in Victoria saying the opposite of what MLAs all agreed to say in the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton? So there!

Meanwhile, on Monday, the Alberta Legislature's NDP Caucus published a news release pointing out that while Opposition Leader Jason Kenney now insists his MLAs aren't "climate deniers," things said by many United Conservative Party Caucus members suggest otherwise.

This is pretty hard to deny, assuming Kenney meant "climate change deniers."

You never know with Kenney. He's a sharp one. You sometimes have to parse his sentences to see what he's actually saying, like when he acknowledged there's climate change, but it's … not caused by anything us humans do.

At any rate, the NDP Caucus news release listed a half dozen examples, with citations, of UCP MLAs saying things that sure sound like climate change denial to a fair-minded person.

There was Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes, who financed a climate change denial video, sitting at the head table of an event billed "Climate Dogma Exposed." Cardston-Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter posted a tacky cartoon mocking the idea of climate change, while Bonnyville-Cold Lake MLA Scott Cyr provided a link to a story suggesting global cooling is the problem. Both Drumheller-Stettler MLA Rick Strankman and Kenney were quoted suggesting climate change is just one of those natural things, nothing to do with anything we get up to in Alberta.

This was fair enough for the NDP to target, but there are people who would argue that what Notley and her MLAs are doing is also a variety of climate change denial.

Specifically, back in May last year, Seth Klein and Shannon Daub of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives argued that just because there are hardly any outright climate change deniers any more doesn't mean there isn't any more climate change denial.

Most fossil fuel corporations, governments, think tanks, Astro-Turf organizations and politicians who benefit from activities that contribute to climate change have nowadays stopped denying that global warming is a thing, they explained.

Instead, the director and associate director of the CCPA's British Columbia office asserted, such people and groups are typically shifting from outright denial to conceding that the science is real while doing things that delay meaningful change that might do something about it. Daub dubbed this "The New Climate Denialism."

"They've decided to stop fighting the science," she said, cataloguing four strategies for doing nothing while acknowledging the reality of the problem. She called one group "The Pragmatists," those who seek an image makeover for oil sands extraction to win markets abroad.

That's what Notley and her MLAs are doing, Daub argued last year, when they use carbon pricing and tougher environmental regulations in an effort to persuade Canadians we can have climate leadership and more oil and gas expansion at the same time.

But many environmentalists argue it's not possible to use such arguments to justify pipeline expansion that would facilitate continued increases in oil sands extraction when that in turn would make it impossible for Canada to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement.

So all the Alberta NDP is doing, according to Daub's argument, is providing "green cover for industries profiting from fossil fuels and pumping carbon into the environment."

Seen in this context, the NDP Caucus news release is mildly ironic in light of the next day's unanimous motion.

And while the motion without question reflects preponderance of opinion among MLAs and the public generally in Alberta, it is nevertheless troubling there was not a single voice of principled dissent in the assembly.

As readers will recall, even in moments of grave national crisis, there are usually one or two elected representatives with the courage to swim against the tide on principle -- as Tommy Douglas did in 1970 when he voted, alone in the House of Commons, against the government "using a sledgehammer to crack a peanut" by implementing the War Measures Act.

On Tuesday, even David Swann, the sole Liberal in the Legislature, voted for the Trans Mountain motion, despite the defeat by the House of his amendment to require more transparent annual reporting "on both the benefits and the risks of increasing bitumen flows. …"

Alert readers will recall that in 2002, before entering politics, Swann was canned as Medical Officer of Health for the Palliser Health Region for daring to support a resolution by an organization of health officers that sought government action on climate change. It was revealed later the Progressive Conservative environment minister of the day pulled strings to force him out.

On Wednesday, the MLA for Calgary-Mountain View, whose political career included a spell as leader of the Opposition and two stints as leader of the Alberta Liberals, announced he won't seek reelection in 2019. "This is the right time for me to move on to other things, pass the torch to the younger generation," he told reporters.

Swann vowed, however, to remain active on the issues he fought for during his political career, including government action on climate change.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog,

Photo: IQRemix/flickr

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Categories: News for progressives

What Results When U.S. Invades a Country

by Eric Zuesse for the Saker blog The U.S. Government certainly leads the world in invasions and coups. In recent years, it has invaded and occupied — either by military
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History and I: China, China : Then and Now, Here and There

by Anne Teoh for the Saker blog China is a country one wants to repeat when saying its name; much as Trump did when he enunciated, “ China… China… ”
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Syrian War Report – March 15, 2018: Militant Advance In Northern Hama Ends In Failure On March 14, ten so-called “moderate opposition” groups launched a large-scale attack on positions of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in northern Hama and captured the villages of al-Hamamiyat
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Hold my beer and watch this!

Rattlesnakes have a terrible reputation.  Here were I live, in Florida, we have the biggest rattlesnakes on the planet, the Eastern Diamondback (Crotalus adamanteus).  They are huge and can reach
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Gina Haspel's record of torture should disqualify her from heading the CIA

Rabble News - Fri, 2018-03-16 00:54
US Politics

On Monday, President Donald Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by tweet. Despite the scores of administration officials who have been ousted, escorted out or simply left, Trump is still managing to make an indelible mark on the federal government, installing scores of conservative judges to lifetime appointments, gutting hard-won regulations and slashing vital social safety net programs. In the same tweet in which he fired Tillerson, he announced two promotions: CIA Director Mike Pompeo would be his new secretary of state, and Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel would replace Pompeo to head the spy agency. Haspel's career at the CIA spans more than three decades. Her work is shrouded in secrecy, but two things are well-known: She ran a CIA "black site" where people were brutally tortured, then she helped cover up the torture through the destruction of videotapes, against presidential orders.

These alone should immediately disqualify her for confirmation by the U.S. Senate. "Would I approve waterboarding? You bet your ass I would, in a heartbeat," Trump boasted from the podium at an Ohio campaign stop in November 2015. He repeated the pledge throughout his campaign, and while president. He suggested a slew of other techniques, including the execution of family members in front of interrogation suspects as an inducement to talk. If Trump gets his way and installs Gina Haspel as CIA director, he will have someone with direct, hands-on experience with torture, a leader in the George W. Bush administration's notorious torture program.

In 2002, Gina Haspel ran a CIA torture centre in Thailand, where al-Qaida suspects were brought to be interrogated. The best-known victim at that site is Abu Zubaydah, who was subjected to a horrific array of torture techniques, all technically authorized through a series of legal memos written by lawyers in the Bush-Cheney administration. Waterboarding, constricted confinement in a box for long periods of time, humiliation, forced feeding through the rectum and numerous other painful procedures were used. In 2005, working as chief of staff to Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., the head of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, Haspel drafted a memo that he sent ordering the destruction of 92 videotapes of those very torture sessions she led, despite a White House directive not to destroy them.

John Kiriakou, a 14-year veteran of the CIA, blew the whistle on the Bush-era torture program and, for speaking out, was imprisoned for two years. He is, to date, the only U.S. official jailed in relation to Bush's torture program. "We did call her Bloody Gina," Kiriakou said on the Democracy Now! news hour. "Gina was always very quick and very willing to use force … there was a group of officers in the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, when I was serving there, who enjoyed using force. Everybody knew that torture didn't work." Kiriakou asked, "Was it moral, and was it ethical, and was it legal? Very clearly no. But Gina and people like Gina did it, I think, because they enjoyed doing it. They tortured just for the sake of torture, not for the sake of gathering information."

After President Barack Obama's election, the torture program was dismantled, but those who authorized it, those who oversaw it and the torturers themselves all avoided prosecution. "We need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards," Obama said in 2009.

"This is where we Europeans come in," human-rights attorney Wolfgang Kaleck told us on Democracy Now! He is founder of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, and last year asked German prosecutors to issue an arrest warrant for Haspel for her role in the torture program. "Torture has to be prosecuted everywhere in the world. We have a number of laws in Europe, and we used these laws in the last 15 years to file numerous criminal complaints in numerous jurisdictions against the torturers of the U.S. … the interesting result of our network's legal work is that the torturers of the U.S. are not untouchable anymore. They have to take care where they travel."

Kaleck said of Haspel: "We decided to target her last year, because as a deputy director, she is traveling a lot around the world. We think it's important that the judicial authorities in Germany, in other European countries, try to investigate her role in Thailand and elsewhere, and that they are prepared -- if Gina Haspel travels to our countries -- that they arrest her. Notorious torturers shouldn't be allowed to travel freely through Europe."

Republican Sen. Rand Paul has already said he will oppose her. Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, who was tortured as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, has called the Bush torture program "one of the darkest chapters in American history." All senators should close the book on torture now and vote to oppose Gina Haspel's confirmation.

Amy Goodman is the host of Democracy Now!, a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,300 stations. She is the co-author, with Denis Moynihan, of The Silenced Majority, a New York Times bestseller. This column originally appeared on Truthdig.

Photo: Justin Norman/flickr

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Rex TillersonGina Haspeltrump administrationciaTortureAmy GoodmanDenis MoynihanMarch 15, 2018CIA scandal reveals secret policy of torture and rendition in U.S.Lost in the Beltway power struggle between Sen. Dianne Feinstein and the CIA is the untold story of the United States' secret policy of torture and rendition.Chilling parallels to the Bush administration: Leaked memo justifies U.S. drone killings A "profoundly disturbing" Justice Department document -- with "chilling" parallels to the Bush torture memos -- obtained by NBC News outlines when the U.S. can put its own citizens on a "kill list."To torture or not to torture: Why is this question being asked in America?Why have our societies become conditioned to accept torture? The main reason is that intelligence agencies and politicians have mastered the "art" of demonizing terror suspects.
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Trump, May, Merkel and Macron issue joint statement blaming Russia for Sergei Skripal poisoning

Business Insider reports: full statement (emphasis added) We, the leaders of France, Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom, abhor the attack that took place against Sergei and Yulia
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By inflicting sanctions, Canada sides with the bullies against Venezuela

Rabble News - Thu, 2018-03-15 23:30
Politics in CanadaUS PoliticsWorld

In terms of foreign policy damage, whatever harm Justin Trudeau did by parading around India in colourful outfits is a nothing-burger compared to the severe hardship he is inflicting on Venezuela.

And yet media commentators have been full-throttle in denouncing the prime minister's alleged wardrobe malfunction on his recent India trip while being silent -- or downright supportive -- of Trudeau's decision last fall to join the Trump administration in imposing sanctions on the struggling South American nation.

Anyone following the international media coverage would conclude that the Venezuelan government is terribly autocratic and that Western nations, led by the U.S., have stepped in with sanctions out of concern over human rights abuses there.

A closer look suggests a different scenario that puts Western actions in a less laudable light: Washington is waging economic war against a nation that dared to rise up and reject U.S. control over its ample oil reserves.

The Obama administration targeted individual Venezuelans with sanctions, but the Trump administration's sanctions are much broader, taking punishing aim at the country's entire economy.

Sadly, Trudeau is backing up the U.S. bully, apparently hoping to win a reprieve from Trump's arbitrary trade measures -- a strategy that seems unfair to Venezuela and also likely futile. We'll return to Canada's sorry role in this saga in a moment.

Venezuela has been in Washington's cross hairs ever since the dramatic 1998 election of Hugo Chavez, a charismatic, populist leader -- and this is one case where the word "populist" legitimately applies.

Unlike the "populist" Donald Trump, Chavez actually came from humble roots as the child of Black and Indian parents, and actually championed his country's large peasant population.

Indeed, unlike many Third World leaders who siphon off their nation's wealth in cahoots with foreign multinationals and local elites, Chavez enraged Washington by nationalizing Venezuela's oil and redirecting the wealth to health care, education, housing and food for the poor.

Venezuela's wealthy elite, angry about losing their privileged position, vowed to overthrow Chavez -- and briefly did in a violent 2002 coup, with the help of Washington, before being repelled two days later when hundreds of thousands of pro-Chavez demonstrators from poor neighbourhoods took to the streets of Caracas.

Many in the elite had worked for the U.S.-owned oil industry when it effectively ran the oil-rich nation. And, like the Cuban elite after Fidel Castro nationalized U.S.-owned industry there, the Venezuelan elite has remained close to Washington.

After the failed 2002 coup, Venezuela's elite concentrated on demonizing Chavez -- and Nicolás Maduro, his hand-picked successor, who narrowly won election following Chavez's death from cancer in 2013.

Although lacking Chavez's charisma, Maduro has continued to win elections even as the country's economy has plunged, along with world oil prices. Frustrated, the opposition has adopted increasingly violent tactics -- including a bizarre attack last year when rebels dropped grenades from a helicopter on the country's Supreme Court.

Alfred de Zayas, a UN-appointed expert sent to investigate the chaos last fall, met with dozens of opposition activists as well as church and human rights groups, and concluded that the Maduro regime has made "major mistakes including excessive force by the police."

But de Zayas also found that popular support for the Chavez revolution remains strong. And he accused anti-government demonstrators of having "attacked hospitals, nursery schools, burned ambulances and buses in order to intimidate the people. Is this not classic terrorism?"

The UN expert also explained that the sanctions -- which he considers reminiscent of U.S. measures against Chile's Salvador Allende in the 1970s -- are aggravating the suffering of Venezuelans, and he called for them to end. "That would be the greatest help," he said.

But Canada refuses to listen. Our sanctions aren't as broad as Trump's, but they lend Canadian credibility to penalizing Venezuela, thereby providing political cover for the harsh U.S. measures.

And so we continue to inflict sanctions on Venezuela, citing the lofty goal of defending human rights -- even while we actively trade and sell arms to full-fledged dictatorships, such as Saudi Arabia.

What's going on in Venezuela is a bitter class war, with millions of poor people committed to defending a revolution carried out in their name, and Canada taking the side of the wealthy, well-armed opposition.

Journalist and author Linda McQuaig interviewed Hugo Chavez in Caracas in 2004 for a book she wrote on the geopolitics of oil. Her book Shooting the Hippo: Death by Deficit and Other Canadian Myths was among the books selected by the Literary Review of Canada as the "25 most influential Canadian books of the past 25 years." You can follow her on Twitter @LindaMcQuaig. A version of this column originally appeared in the Toronto Star.

Photo: Eneas De Troya/flickr

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VenezuelaHands Off VenezuelasanctionsCanadian foreign policyLinda McQuaigMarch 15, 2018Open letter in support of mediation not sanctions in VenezuelaWe urge the United States and Canadian governments to immediately remove their illegal sanctions against Venezuela and to support efforts at mediation.Hugo Chavez's audacious challenge to Western powerWhat appears to have infuriated the western establishment was Hugo Chavez's audacity in challenging -- and scoring some victories against -- western dominance of the world economy.The truth about the state of democracy in Venezuela and Canada Stephen Harper remarks on the death of Hugo Chavez strongly implied that Venezuela had a lot to learn about freedom and democracy. The facts displayed in this infographic tell a different story.
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Canada is culpable for Tina Fontaine's death

Rabble News - Thu, 2018-03-15 22:18
Pamela Palmater

Tina Michelle Fontaine was a 15-year-old Anicinabe girl from Sagkeeng First Nation northeast of Winnipeg. Thelma Favel, the aunt who raised her, described her as polite and funny, someone who made people laugh all the time.

Tina, however, also carried a great deal of pain inside from the loss of her father, Eugene Fontaine, in 2011. Two men pled guilty in 2014 to manslaughter and were sentenced to nine years each in his beating death. Family members say Tina was finding it difficult to cope with her father's death. Her aunt Thelma tried to get counselling, but says she was turned away by several Child and Family Services agencies.

Tina had been struggling to write a victim impact statement which was to be used in the sentencing of the men convicted in her father's death when she left her community to visit her mother in Winnipeg. Her aunt, not hearing from her, contacted Child and Family Services. In the days before her murder, Fontaine had come in contact with Winnipeg police, and Child and Family Services as well as paramedic services. She had been placed in a hotel by social workers before she was reported missing on August 9, 2014. Her body was pulled from the Red River eight days later. Police were reportedly looking for another Indigenous man when they found her.

It would not be until more than a year later, in December 2015, that police would arrest Raymond Cormier, a drifter with a history of criminal convictions, in Vancouver and charge him with second-degree murder in Fontaine's death. On February 22, a mostly white jury found him not guilty. The verdict marked the second time in as many weeks that a jury has found white defendants not guilty in the deaths of Indigenous young people. On February 10, a Saskatchewan jury cleared farmer Gerald Stanley in the 2016 shooting death of 22-year-old Colten Boushie.

Following the Cormier verdict, which has hurt and angered Indigenous peoples across Canada, criminal law experts rushed to defend Canada's justice system. The Winnipeg police, whose handling of the case has received heavy criticism -- the evidence against Cormier has been described as "thin" -- took the unusual step of issuing a statement defending their investigation as "extensive." Lawyers have also weighed in to reject claims the justice system is stacked against Indigenous peoples. Some members of the mainstream media engaged in a not-so-subtle form of victim-blaming, citing Fontaine's use of drugs and alcohol, to suggest she was somehow responsible for her own death.

Tina was a child. She did not die because her father was murdered. She did not die because she was suffering in pain from her father's death. She did not die because she wasn't living with her mother, as she was lovingly cared for by her auntie. She did not die because, like all teenagers, she tried drugs and alcohol. Tina did not kill herself. Tina died because federal, provincial and state agencies charged with keeping her safe, all failed to protect her. And for that, Canada should stand trial. 

Looked at from a human rights framework, Canada is culpable for Fontaine's death.

This may upset the criminal law experts, mainstream political commentators and online haters, but it is a fact.

For example, we all know from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report into residential schools that Canada is guilty of committing genocide against Indigenous peoples. We also know that Canada is guilty of having dispossessed Indigenous peoples of their lands and resources and committed grave acts of violence against them. Sadly, many of Canada's racist and oppressive laws, policies and practices continue. 

There are more Indigenous children in foster care today than the 150,000 children taken from the families at the height of the residential schools tragedy. First Nations, Inuit and Metis children under 14 years of age make up more than half of all children in the system. There are more than 4,300 Indigenous children under the age of four in the system in Canada. In Manitoba alone there are some 10,000 Indigenous children in foster care. Minister of Indigenous services, Jane Philpott, has described the situation as a "humanitarian crisis." 

The courts have found Canada guilty of racial discrimination against Indigenous peoples for the purposeful underfunding of First Nations children in foster care, but Canada has refused to abide by the ruling.

The Canadian Human Rights Act applies to federal departments and agencies and prohibits discrimination on the basis of race. Yet, the federal government continues to provide less funding for First Nation child and family services than other provincial residents enjoy. This lack of funding has been found to be a primary cause for why First Nation children are over-represented in a foster care system that has become a pipeline to prison -- more than two-thirds of all Indigenous peoples in prisons today have come through the foster care system -- sexual exploitation and, in Fontaine's case, murder.

If one looks to the international treaties, declarations and conventions that Canada has ratified, the breaches of human rights go back decades.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Canada ratified in 1991, committed the government to take all legislative, administrative and other measures necessary to secure the human rights of children to the "maximum extent of their available resources." Given Canada's vast wealth -- which comes from Indigenous lands and resources -- it is shocking that the majority of Indigenous children live in poverty.

When Canada puts Indigenous children into foster care, it is legally obligated to act in their best interests (article 9); ensure they are fostered in their own cultures, not hotel rooms (article 20); ensure the highest standard of health (articles 3, 24); and take all measures to protect them from drugs (article 33) and sexual abuse while in state care (article 19).

Year after year, Canada reports to various United Nations and international human rights bodies about its level of compliance with international human rights commitments. And year after year, Canada reports worsening statistics with promises to do better. 

Canada has not done better -- and it knows it. Worse, it can predict with a relatively high degree of certainty what will happen if it continues to violate the basic human rights of Indigenous children. Statistically, they will lack equal access to education and employment, and experience higher rates of homelessness and incarceration. They will suffer higher rates of disease and physical and mental illness that lead to premature death. They will face more violence, suicide, disappearances and murders. And white men accused of killing them will continue to walk free.

Tina's death is not on Tina or her family or community. It's on Canada.

This article was first published in Now Magazine on February 25, 2018. Pamela Palmater is a Mi'kmaw citizen member of Eel River Bar First Nation. She has been practising Indigenous law for 18 years and is currently an associate professor and the Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University.

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Categories: News for progressives

Art to glorify war at Canadian War Museum exhibition

Rabble News - Thu, 2018-03-15 22:15
March 15, 2018Arts & CultureMilitary pays artists and historians to shape what you think of them An exhibit at the Canadian War Museum highlights a little discussed arm of the military’s massive propaganda apparatus.artwar artCanadian War Museum
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