Friday, July 11, 2014


A bomb shelter in Sderot (Photo by 'Jewbask')
A bomb shelter in Sderot (Photo by ‘Jewbask’)

As predicted by me, I took all kinds of unholy crap for daring to even speak my mind about the latest round of total insanity going on in Israel and Gaza.  "Why didn't I mention this?"  "Why did you say that? "  "You are a sorry excuse for a Jew".  "Where were you when the rockets started falling? 'Blah, blah blah.

Guess what?  I am about to do it again.  Only this time the people who screamed yesterday will have to find some new things to scream today, and some who didn't scream yesterday will join the club today.  

Do I care?  Not really.  Except for the fact that the "screamers" represent a large part of the problem to begin with.

You screamers want rocket talk, I got rocket talk for you.

Anyway, my friends and enemies, read on for a different take on all this and why I call this crap insanity...and racism...depressing...and more.

This is a story about what it means when anyone builds an ideology on blood...and purity...

The following is again, as yesterday, from +972.

Let's talk about Gaza, Sderot and the racist valuation of lives

A frank discussion about everything we don’t mention when talking about rockets and bombs and Gaza. Let’s talk about fear, about poverty, about angst and about racism.
By Lilach Ben David
Let’s talk about Gaza. Let’s talk about a small strip of land that god didn’t forget about, but about which we are certainly trying to forget. Let’s talk about one of the most crowded populations in the world; or to be more precise, it was made to be one of the most densely populated places in the word, because until 1948 most of its inhabitants lived in Yaffa, in Bir al-Saba’, and in hundreds of other small towns that have since disappeared and which have been forgotten. Let’s talk about what it’s like to live in the world’s largest open-air prison, let’s talk about a million and a half people who are ruled by a foreign government from their own air, sea and land — a foreign power that decides when they do and don’t get medicines, concrete, electricity and coriander. Let’s talk about people who our government wants us to believe we are not occupying yet reserves its right to control their borders, land, water and air, and to collectively punish them when its mood sours.
And let’s talk about Sderot. A transit camp, which is a nice word for a refugee camp, which turned into a “development town,” which is also a nice name for a neglected and deprived periphery town that became the “front line,” which is a nice name for throwing the Mizrahim into the frontier between the Ashkenazis and Arabs, a theoretical category between a Zionist nationality and a Middle Eastern ethnicity, which has turned into a physical divide between “us” and our “enemy” as well as an easy target for desperate attacks from the other side — serving the same role as Jerusalem’s Musrara decades ago. Let’s ask why 13 years of bombardment against citizens in Sderot didn’t push the government to act the same way that two rockets in Tel Aviv did.

Let’s talk about the racist valuation of blood. In the Zionist blood market, the cheapest blood is Arab. You can spill it like water, bomb it, shoot it, fence it in, choke it, or burn it with gasoline or white phosphorus. Slightly less cheap blood, although still pretty cheap, is that of someone who hasn’t managed to find a way into the exclusive “salt of the earth” club: Mizrahim, Ethiopians, Russians and people who ride public buses and live in public housing apartments, many of which are dangerous enough even if they aren’t located within rocket range. So let’s talk about blood that isn’t cheap. Blood that requires revenge. The blood of those who’s deaths are the cause of national mourning, who are born not only as Jews, but the right type of Jew, of the right color and in the right place.
And let’s talk about the fact that that racist valuation exists for all Israeli Jews — for the cultured and educated, and especially for leftists. A wounded Jewish person at a protest against the separation barrier unites us in a show of solidarity that we wouldn’t give for even thousands of wounded Palestinians or dozens of killed. And if the Left was to react to the news of each and every one of the 1,520 Palestinian children that Israel murdered since 2000 in the same way that it reacted to the deaths of three settler youths, it would no doubt long ago have drown in its own sorrow and statements of condemnation.
Let’s talk about fear. Let’s talk about children crying from air-raid sirens and running to find a shelter within 15 seconds. And let’s talk about children whose homes sway like an out-of-control pendulum from the force of artillery shells and who don’t have any shelter to run to. And let’s talk about the more than 350 boys and girls who no longer cry or laugh or grow because they were blown to pieces or burned alive or buried under the rubble of their own homes along with their whole families during the massacre we call “Operation Cast Lead.”
Let’s talk about poverty. Let’s talk about a population that lives on the grace of international humanitarian aid. Let’s talk about more than 60 percent unemployment. Let’s talk about power outages and about the elderly and children who die because the health system is collapsing. Let’s talk about the cement factories and power plant that Israel blew up in order to create that suffocating poverty. And let’s talk about the Israeli economics minister who can’t stop talking about how he’s everybody’s brother, but isn’t enough of a brother to save the Negev Textile Plant from closing. Let’s talk about the mothers whose children don’t go school when Qassam rockets start falling, but who themselves must go to work; nobody is reimbursing them for missed work days.
Let’s talk about angst — the angst of an occupied people under siege that doesn’t see any way to have its voice heard by a world that doesn’t want to listen, that is aside from firing short-range rockets at their neighbors on the other side of the fence. Let’s talk about the angst of those neighbors who for 13 years have lived with rockets and sirens and who know that nobody cares about them. Let’s talk about Mayor Alon Davidi, an Ashkenazi invader from a group of youngsters that was sent to the periphery in order to brighten it with its wonderful pale light. Instead of representing the interests of his city’s residents, he exploits their angst in order to align himself with the war machine and the Israeli massacre and to demand more cheap blood from the other side — when the last thing the majority of Sderot residents would want now is to be sacrificed in the name of another round of violence.
So let’s talk about hope. Let’s talk about breaking the illegal siege, and thereby ending the rocket fire. Let’s talk about a common language, about joint struggle, about a shared life, about a state that doesn’t seek to banish the Arabs, and thereby ending the need to erase the memory of Mizrahi Jews’ Arab culture. Let’s talk about the day after the occupation and siege and hate and hunger and humiliation; let’s talk about justice for Gaza and justice for Sderot, justice that doesn’t come at the expense of the Other. Let’s break the siege, apathy and racism, and replace them with humanity.

Thursday, July 10, 2014



We watch the bombs falling on Gaza.  We are told over and over about air raid sirens in Jerusalem.  There is a rather stark difference don't you think.  There are dead in Gaza. There are people in shelters in Israel.  There is a difference.  Granted I would not be thrilled if someone were firing rockets at my house, but I would be even less thrilled if warplanes were flying overhead dropping bombs on ME.  The rockets seldom hit anything.  The bombs usually do.

It never ends.

I won't even bother with arguing here about who did what to who and when.  Where there is occupation, there will be resistance.  Turn an entire people into prisoners and they will hate you and they will erupt.  Lock a people up and they will feel toward the "guards" the same way I felt toward the guards when I was in prison.  Throw a people out of their house/their land, and by golly, they tend to get angry.

Hamas is not without fault.  I am not concerned much really with Hamas.  They are amongst the last people I would want to run my home.  Okay, so you don't need to tell me nasty things about Hamas.  They are reactionary, religious madmen, but they have one thing going for them.  They aren't occupying anybody.  Would they even exist, would they rule the Gaza if the Palestinian People as a whole had not faced decades and decades of occupation, home demolitions, land thefts, racism, repression, jailing, military rule, road blocks, check points, discrimination, etc?  Would Hamas exist if it were not for Israel?  I can't really answer that question.  I won't blame Israel for every ill that happens anywhere in the world.  Still, I wonder, where would Hamas be without their counterparts in the world of zionism.    Is it any wonder that many Palestinians cheer on Hamas, whether they have any interest in the ideology Hamas represents or not?  Is it any wonder that prisoners cheer on those who poke the eyes of the prison guards?  I mean really?

Those old fools who sit in the government offices in Jerusalem are no better than those they call Hamas terrorists.  If anything they are far worse.  They kill myriads without really even lifting a finger.  They just whisper to someone and the bombs fall, people die.  They just whisper to someone and a whole people are deprived of basic human rights.  They just whisper to someone and a whole nation disappears.  They whisper to someone, they slip on a kippot and pretend to be people.  They are not people.  They are monsters who have managed to lead their own nation down a very dark road of racism, occupation, and war.  They are monsters who have besmirched the name of the whole Jewish People in a way no anti-Semite has ever come close to doing.  They are monsters responsible for deaths, mutilations, depredations, and more.  They must be held accountable.  They never are.  If I have to see the smirking face of Benjamin Netanyahu again, I am sure I will throw up.  If I have to hear one more Israeli spokesperson, one more American rabbi justify the horrors that Israel is responsible for inflicting on a practically defenseless people, I will throw up. I'm a Jew and I will throw up.  If I were a Palestinian, chances are not only would I throw up, but I would be thrown in jail, or maybe just eliminated entirely.

This shit has got to stop, but it doesn't...and I can't imagine how it will without some sort of horrible apocalypse, god forbid.  How many peace processes, guidelines, journeys to peace, etc. etc. etc. do we have to suffer through?

The Palestinian People will not simply go away.  The Jews will not be driven into the sea. No one is going anywhere except the grave..

There is no TWO STATE SOLUTION.  I used to think there was.  I was wrong.There is only a one state solution (until there is a no state solution everywhere).  One state made up of Israelis, Palestinians, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, and people with no religious connections whatsoever....just people.  Until such a democratic, secular state exists, none of this will ever stop.  The PLO used to call for a democratic, secular state, but who knows what they meant back then...and who cares.  The past is only death anyway.

A democratic secular state in all of Palestine/Israel (call it whatever you want) is the only answer.  That has to be obvious to anyone and everyone with any brains, with no sick motives.  A  communist society with direct democracy, with no theocratic pretenses of any kind, that  would be something worth fighting to achieve.  Yeah, right, I know.  How do we get there?  Beats the hell out of me.  So I settle for the democratic secular state.  Yeah right, how do we get there.  Again, beats the hell out of me.

I am sick of even trying to write about this shit.  No sooner will I post this then people on all sides of the political spectrum will start screaming at me about this or that.

Yes, those righteous folks who seems only interested in power, in vengeance, in hatred, in pompous BS, in winning this point or that, in pointing a finger this way or that will jump all over me for writing matters not what I have to say.  It matters not what I do.  It matters not what you say or do.  I guarantee you, if you dare to say or do anything, you will hear from those people.  You will be defiled, ridiculed, denounced, and decried.

Me, I don't really care about that sort of thing.  I have been hearing that sort of stuff for decades.  My skin is thick.

What none of those people seem to really understand (dare I say care about) is there are REAL people who do the dying, have done the dying, will continue to do the dying.  Real people with families, with loved ones, with lovers, with friends, with hopes, dreams, fears, names.  Real people.

I realize that my comments here are scattered.  I realize they are coming out of emotions.  I admit I spent little time analyzing anything, even my own comments.  They can probably be picked apart.  I just don't care right now.  I have been here before.  I will be here again. 

Enough!  I want to scream out "ENOUGH."  

Big deal.  I am sitting here at my computer.  No one is shooting at me.  No one is being blown apart next door.  I can get up and watch TV, go to the store, read a book, get on with my life.  

The post below from +972 is simple and stark. It is a list of just some of those who cannot get on with their lives.  It tells you the names of the real people who are no longer amongst the living in Gaza...and it is already out of date.

Nobody should be a number: Names of those killed in Gaza

At the time of writing, Israeli air strikes and shelling had killed dozens of Palestinians since the start of Operation Protective Edge. There had been no deaths on the Israeli side.
Some of those killed by Israel were Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants, others were civilians, including women and children. The Israeli army has been bombing the family homes of militants, which it claims were also being used for military purposes. Many of the children killed thus far were related to individuals whose homes were targeted.
All too often, casualties on both sides of this conflict are remembered only as numbers. This post is a reminder that each one has a name.
The following is a list of those Palestinians who have been killed thus far, as provided by the Palestinian Ministry of Health to Lebanese daily Al Akhbar. This list will be updated, including the names of Israeli casualties, should there be any.
Gaza Civil Defense Directorate crews remove the wreckage of a car targeted by an Israeli airstrike in the northern Gaza Strip, July 10, 2014. The attack killed three men riding in the car who were taken to Kamal Udwan hospital. Two were identified as Mahmoud Waloud and Hazim Balousha. (Photo by Joe Catron)
Gaza Civil Defense Directorate crews remove the wreckage of a car targeted by an Israeli airstrike in the northern Gaza Strip, July 10, 2014. The attack killed three men riding in the car who were taken to Kamal Udwan hospital. Two were identified as Mahmoud Waloud and Hazim Balousha. (Photo by Joe Catron)
Tuesday, July 8:
1. Mohammed Sha’aban, 24, was killed in a bombing of his car in Gaza City.
2. Ahmad Sha’aban, 30, died in the same bombing.
3. Khadir al-Bashiliki, 45, died in the same bombing.
4. Rashad Yaseen, 27, was killed in a bombing of the Nusseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.
5. Riad Mohammed Kawareh, 50, was killed in a bombing of his family’s home in Khan Younis.
6. Seraj Ayad Abed al-A’al, 8, was wounded in the same bombing and succumbed to his injuries on Tuesday evening.
7. Mohammed Ayman Ashour, 15, died in the same bombing.
8. Bakr Mohammed Joudah, 22, died in the same bombing.
9. Ammar Mohammed Joudah, 26, died in the same bombing.
10. Hussein Yousef Kawareh, 13, died in the same bombing.
11. Mohammed Ibrahim Kawareh, 50, died in the same bombing.
12. Bassim Salim Kawareh, 10, died in the same bombing.
13. Mousa Habib, 16, from Gaza City’s al-Shujaiyah neighborhood, was killed along with his 22-year old cousin while the pair were riding a motorcycle.
14. Mohammed Habib, 22, was killed with Mousa Habib.
15. Sakr Aysh al-Ajouri, 22, was killed in an attack on Jabaliyah, in northern Gaza.
16. Ahmad Na’el Mehdi, 16, from Gaza City’s Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, was killed in a bombing that wounded two of his friends.
17. Hafiz Mohammed Hamad, 30, an Islamic Jihad commander, was killed in the bombing of his home in Beit Hanoun, along with five of his family members.
18. Ibrahim Mohammed Hamad, 26, died in the same bombing.
19. Mehdi Mohammed Hamad, 46, died in the same bombing.
20. Fawzia Khalil Hamad, 62, died in the same bombing.
21. Dunia Mehdi Hamad, 16, died in the same bombing.
22. Suha Hamad, 25, died in the same bombing.
23. Suleiman Salman Abu Soaween, 22
Wednesday, July 9:
24. Abdelhadi Jamaat al-Sufi, 24, was killed in a bombing near the Rafah crossing.
25. Naifeh Farjallah, 80, was killed in an airstrike on the town of Moghraqa, southwest of Gaza City.
26. Abdelnasser Abu Kweek, 60, was killed in the bombing of Gaza’s central governorate along with his son.
27. Khaled Abu Kweek, 31, Abdelnasser Abu Kweek’s son, was killed in the same bombing.
28. Amir Areef, 13, died in a bombing in Sha’af.
29. Mohammed Malkiyeh, one and a half years old, died in a bombing along with his mother and a young man.
30. Amniyeh Malkiyeh, 27, Mohammed Malkiyeh’s mother, died in the same bombing.
31. Hatem Abu Salem, 28, died in the same bombing.
32. Mohammed Khaled al-Nimri, 22
33. Sahar Hamdan, 40, died in the bombing of her home in Beit Hanoun.
34. Ibrahim Masri, 14, Sahar Hamdan’s son, was killed in the same bombing.
35. Sumoud al-Nawasra, a mother, was killed in a bombing along with her two children.
36. Mohammed Khalaf al-Nawasra, 4, arrived at the hospital “in shreds.”
37. Nidal Khalaf al-Nawasra, a child of unreported age, died along with Mohammed and Sumoud.
38. Salah Awwad al-Nawasra, was killed in the same bombing. His body was found under the rubble of the house.
39. Aisha Nijm
40. Amal Youssef Abdel Ghafour
41. Ranim Jawde Abdel Ghafour, a young girl
42. Rashid al-Kafarneh, 30, was killed when the motorcycle he was riding was bombed.
43. Ibrahim Daoud al-Balawi, 24
44. Abdelrahman Jamal al-Zamli, 22
45. Ibrahim Ahmad Abideen, 42
46. Mustafa Abu Mar, 20
47. Khalid Abu Mar, 23
48. Mazen Farj al-Jarbah, 30
49. Marwan Slim, 27
50. Hani Saleh Hamad, 57, was killed in a bombing in Beit Hanoun along with his son Ibrahim.
51. Ibrahim Hamad, 20, was killed in the same bombing.
52. Salima Hassan Musallim al-Arja, 60, was killed in a bombing in Rafah that wounded five others.
53. Maryam Atieh Muhammad al-Arja, 11, was killed in the same bombing.
54. Hamad Shahab, 27
55. Ibrahim Khalil Qanun, 24, was killed in a bombing of Khan Younis.
56. Muhammad Khalil Qanun, 26, was killed in the same attack.
57. Hamdi Badieh Sawali, 33, was killed in the same attack.
58. Ahmad Sawali, 28, was killed in the same attack.
59. Suleiman al-Astal, 55
60. Muhammad al-Aqqad, 24
61. Ra’ed Shalat, 37, was killed in a bombing that wounded 6 others.
Thursday, July 10:
62. Asma Mahmoud al-Hajj was killed in a bombing in Khan Younis that killed eight members of the same family and wounded 16 other people.
63. Basmah Abdelfattah al-Hajj, 57, was wounded in the bombing and succumbed to her injuries shortly afterwards.
64. Mahmoud Lutfi al-Hajj, 58, died in the same bombing.
65. Tarek Sa’ad al-Hajj died in the same bombing.
66. Sa’ad Mahmoud al-Hajj died in the same bombing.
67. Najla Mahmoud al-Hajj died in the same bombing.
68. Fatima al-Hajj died in the same bombing.
69. Omar al-Hajj died in the same bombing.
70. Ahmad Salim al-Astal was killed in the bombing of a beach house in Khan Younis that critically wounded more than 15 people.
71. Mousa Mohammed was killed in the same bombing. The two bodies were recovered four hours after the bombing.
72. Ra’ed al-Zawareh, 33, succumbed to his wounds and died. The location of his death was unreported.
73. Baha’ Abu al-Leel, 35
74. Salim Qandil, 27, was killed in a bombing.
75. Omar al-Fyumi, 30, was killed in the same bombing.
76. Abdullah Ramadan Abu Ghazzal, 5, was killed in a bombing in Beit Lahiya.
77. Ismail Hassan Abu Jamah, 19, was killed in a bombing of Khan Younis that injured two children, one critically.
78. Unknown
79. Mahmoud Wulud was killed in a bombing of a civilian vehicle in northern Gaza. His remains were taken to Kamal Adwan Hospital in Jabaliya.
80. Hazem Balousha was killed in the same bombing. His remains are at Kamal Adwan Hospital.
81. Alaa Abdelnabi was killed in the same bombing. His remains are at Kamal Adwan Hospital.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014


Palestinians watch a World Cup football game on a wide screen on the beach of Gaza City.
Somehow I doubt this can happen today
without the people having bombs dropped on their heads.

Getting ready to watch World Cup action.  Will be rooting for Argentina (which seems to mean they will likely lose).  Won't write much here.  Have to say thought, the world goes on in its very nasty way. What follows is an interesting article which manages to connect the Cup in Brazil with what is happening in the middle east today.

We live in a global world...

The following is from Edge of Sports.

‘Exporting Gaza’: The Arming of Brazil’s World Cup Security

I also saw militarism that was less high-tech, and more of the traditional boots-on-the-ground variety. Several of the favelas—precarious communities of the poor that were once sanctuaries for both outlaws and revolutionaries—are under full-scale occupation. This has sparked protests by favela residents against the violence of living under constant police subjugation
The level of high-tech hardware on display is hardly different from what we have seen at previous World Cups and Olympic games. Gunships and missile launchers have over the last dozen years become as much a part of the scenery as the FIFA Fan Park and Olympic Village. The problem, though, is not really how the media has yawned past these kinds of post 9/11 security imperatives (although this is a problem). It’s the way that in too many host countries the militarization does not go away when the mega-events end. Instead, it becomes the new reality. If you buy a drone you are not, as a security official in London told me in 2012, “going to just put it back in the box.” Surveillance culture becomes normalized, and through the Trojan horse of sports, a fresh Orwellian reality is born.
Brazil’s leaders are unashamed of this overwhelming show of force. The state has expressed grave concern, at different times, about protesters, crime and terrorism. Tragically, if not predictably, they have also chosen to see protest as an act of crime and even an act of terrorism unto itself. I witnessed this repeatedly, with the effect of turning the World Cup host into, as one activist said to me, “a facsimile of the old dictatorship.”
Concern about protesters, crime and terrorism have all undoubtedly played a role in the security buildup, but Brazil has also built up its armed forces dramatically in recent years as a way to show the world that its new global economic might would be matched militarily. Yet the presence of such overpowering—not to mention high tech—weaponry raises a critical question: Who is arming Brazil? Who supplies—and profits—from their new normal?
The answer is found in Haifa, Israel, at two different multibillion-dollar weapons and electronics manufacturers: Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Elbit Systems. Rafael is a for-profit company owned by the Israeli state, while Elbit is a private corporation. Elbit’s earnings are up dramatically, with its drone airplanes providing crowd surveillance during the World Cup. As Chief Executive Officer Bezhalel Machlis said in an interview with Bloomberg, “The intelligence-gathering electronic and optics technologies of Elbit and our Brazilian partners are perfectly suited for the homeland security challenges at these events.” The providing of high-tech militarism caused their second-quarter net income to “rise 30 percent to $50 million.” Bloomberg News wrote antiseptically that Brazil’s desire to increase purchases of Elbit’s weaponry was “given fresh impetus after the Confederations Cup soccer tournament in June [2013] prompted record numbers of people to take to the streets in protest at a range of issues including spending on state-of-the-art stadiums.”
As for Rafael, it was founded in 1948 by the newly established state of Israel to arm the country against those who once resided in its territory. Rafael has an even stronger foothold in Brazil than Elbit. As Flavie Halais, writing for Open Democracy reported last year, “Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has bought a 40 percent stake in Brazilian GESPI Aeronautics. Back in 2010, Brazil and Israel signed a security cooperation agreement, with news reports stating the agreement dealt specifically with the World Cup and Olympics. Since then, officials from both countries have met to develop partnerships for mega-events and Israeli security experts have given several conferences and workshops for Brazilian officials and members of the Municipal Guard.”
This flow of arms from Israel to Brazil has sparked a movement in Brazil led by the Frente em Defesa do Povo Palestino–SP (Front in Defense of the Palestinian People–São Paulo), which is composed of dozens of Brazil’s civil society organizations and unions, and is a part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Last year they protested at the Latin American Aerospace and Defense fair in Rio attended by arms manufacturers from around the world all competing—with the help of scantily clad models—to arm Brazil for the World Cup and the Olympics. The event was seen as a triumph for the thirty Israeli arms manufacturers who were, according to an insider,given special access to Brazilian Vice President Michel Temer and Secretary of Defense Celso Amorim.
“What Rafael, Elbit and Global Shield are doing is exporting the very tactics used on the Gaza Strip,” said one activist to me in Rio. “They are taking neighborhoods of poverty and anger and creating Gaza in the favelas of Brazil. The goal of anyone who sees themselves as a part of civil society should not be more Gazas.” From even the most basic humanitarian perspective, this is unassailable, particularly given the events of this week, as collective punishment, bombings and demolitions, have been the state response to the discovery of three dead Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. We should be figuring out how to demilitarize Gaza so the 1.8 million people who call that strip of land home have freedom of movement and opportunity without the constant specter of military incursion. Exporting the “Gaza security model” to the cities of the future is a recipe for dystopia. Using the World Cup—and our collective love of soccer—to create that new normal is both frightening and enraging. This sport, created and nurtured by the poor across the world, is now being played in exclusion zones under the watchful eyes of drones in the skies and boots on the ground. We may be rejoicing in the beautiful game right now, but we also need to fight to reclaim it.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014


Alberta Tar Oil Sands
It Don't Look Good To Me
In Fact
It Looks So Bad

Here is some bad news that will not surprise you.  A report entitled,  "Environmental and Human Health Implications of the Athabasca Oil Sands for the Mikisew Cree First Nation and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in Northern Alberta," has found wild caught foods in northern Alberta have  higher than normal levels of pollutants associated with oil sands production.  As a result, the report notes that indigenous people are shifting away from their traditional diet over fears of contamination.  According to the Globe and Mail the study finds, 

...contaminants in traditional foods such as muskrat and moose, and that aboriginal community members feel less healthy than they did a generation ago...
 ...this development, as well as upstream hydro projects, compromises the integrity of the environment and wildlife, which, in turn, adversely affects human health and well-being...

Elevated cancer rates have been noted  among residents, particularly members of the Athabasca Chipewyan and Mikisew Cree First Nations.  Said Steve Courtoreille, chief of the Mikisew Cree Nation. 

This report confirms what we have always suspected about the association between environmental contaminants from [tar sands] production upstream and cancer and other serious illness in our community.

It's time the government does something. The reality is our people are dying.

Unfortunately, does anyone really expect the government is going to do anything...or really gives a damn.  

Chief Allan Adam, ACFN Chief commented more to the point, "One thing most striking… is that both province and federal governments refuse to do anything about [the high rates of cancer]. Even though the pressure is escalating"

Dr. Stéphane McLachlan, who headed the team that prepared the report told journalists at a news conference on Monday,  

On one hand, industry, notably the Oil Sands, cause a decline in the health of the environment and ultimately of community members. On the other hand, the existing health care infrastructure is unable to address these declines in human health. The communities are caught in the middle, and the impacts are clear and worrisome.

"There's something unique that is happening in Fort Chipewyan. It's a situation that is alarming and demands attention.

Indian Country Today  writes on its webpage:

Among other health problems First Nations people in the region suffer are miscarriages, lupus and skin abscesses, which they attribute to the degradation of the traditional food they hunt and harvest. Beyond their health, "local traditional economies like fishing and fur trading have been decimated by industrial pollution and widespread habitat destruction, leaving many residents with no other option but to seek employment in the local oil sands mines. Today, the indigenous bands in northern Alberta are no longer able to safely sustain themselves off the land that has nurtured their lives for centuries," states, a dedicated group of photojournalists who are committed to the documentation of injustice and inequities that exist environmentally, socially, culturally and politically in Canada and abroad.

The First Nation people of the region are not surprised by any of this.  They have long suspected what is happening.  For years, residents in Fort Chipewyan have asked government to look for potential links between industrial development and health issues to no avail.   
Updated statistics released in March by the Alberta Cancer Board confirmed clusters of rare bile duct cancer and cervical cancer in the remote community 300 kilometers north of Fort McMurray.

 Jonathan Bruno, an ACFN member who does water quality monitoring for the community quoted at Climate Progress says:

Every time we complain about pollution and sickness to the government, they always come back and say its natural.But our elders and our land users — people who have lived off this land their whole life — they say it’s never been like this their whole lives. And we trust that.

We don’t feel safe unless all our food is tested. Fish, plants, big game — everything that we consume as First Nations, we’re going to sample.

More from Bruno and Climate Progress, 

For Bruno, the loss of culture troubles him to the core. He remembers teaching his young son how to trap, hunt, and live off the land and then, the moment he was told there were limits, that he couldn’t eat fish without risking his health.

“It was heartbreaking,” he said. “For my son … He ate that year-round in our household, and for him to… for these professors and these universities to tell him there’s a limit on it…” he trailed off.

“I still eat it,” he continued. “I won’t put a limit on it, because that’s the way I was brought up. I’m 30 years old, and I ate that my whole life. So for somebody to tell me to quit eating it … I can’t just quit. If I get sick, I get sick. But that’s the choice I make.”

Of course this isn't all the bad news.

Canadian government researchers earlier discovered that oil-sands operations have puffed out mercury over 4.7 million acres of northeast Alberta, boosting levels to as much as 16 times higher than background levels. Mercury is a potent poison that’s frequently emitted by mining and fossil-fuel burning. It can harm the brains, hearts, kidneys, lungs, and immune systems of children and adults alike.

At the fifth and final Tar Sands Healing Walk, Michael Toledano, writes, indigenous communities living on the frontlines of bitumen extraction in Alberta came together to pray, and to lead a march through the grotesque epicenter of a continental oil project.  

Praying seems pretty futile to me, but Toledano has a different take.  

It may seem defeatist to pray in the face of an industrial behemoth like Alberta’s tar sands, but it is actually an incredible show of strength. As millennia old traditions, these prayers have survived smallpox epidemics, policies of starvation, religious bans, torture in state sanctioned residential schools, and massive environmental degradation at the hands of mining, oil, and gas industries. Praying in the heart of Alberta’s tar sands is a palpable act of defiance—a clear refusal to go extinct after centuries of attempted genocide.

Anyway, the indigenous and the  multitude up in Alberta don't need me to tell them how they should choose to fight. 

The Walk itself, 

...passed by open-pit mines, fields of dead earth, lakes of poison called ‘tailings ponds,’ soviet-style worker villages, and hydrocarbon refineries. The air reeked of sulphur and diesel, and many participants complained about burning eyes, sore throats, metallic tastes, headaches, and nausea.

Walk participant  former chief of the Mikisew Cree, George Poitras explained,

Many Elders, hunters, fishermen, and trappers talk about how 20 years ago you could scoop water from your boat or Canoe driving on the rivers, on the lakes, without any concern... Nobody does that anymore.

Over in British Columbia, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip told reporters during a major anti-shale pipeline rally in downtown Vancouver last month , "it's official.  The war is on."  He told a gathering of protesters  there will be battles ahead in the courts with several lawsuits immediately looming.  He added, that activists have to be ready to stop project proponent Enbridge Inc. from doing basic development work on the pipeline site.

There will be the need to go out onto the land and onto the waters and physically stop any effort on the part of Enbridge to do preparatory work, site preparation, surveying while this matter is in the courts.

Some of us here are going to jail because that’s what it’s going to take.

The State and Global Capital, of course, chant a mantra of economic development, jobs and higher wages.   Peter Deranger, an ACFN Elder, is not impressed.  He says monetary wealth is little consolation for the environmental poverty that development has inflicted upon his community. He recalls a kind of wealth, in non-capitalist terms, which the Cree, Dene, and Chipewyan people of Alberta enjoyed for thousands of years prior to the white economy.  He tells how up until the 1960s, when local industrialization began, his community could survive off of traditional foods like “moose, muskrats, buffalo, beaver, bear, caribou,” and water from the Athabasca watershed. He says, “we were living in a paradise, in a state of utopia. We had no government: We were free. We had no money and nobody was poor… We were living in a state where there was no hunger. Nobody was sick...There are some people who say we are not against development, but I am against development, Development is only destruction, no matter which way you look at it, it’s all destruction. And jobs—jobs are slavery. They come into our country here and they make us go through residential schools, and then they want us to work for them: To destroy our land and make them rich.” 

I am out of words.

The following is from  The First Perspective.


Mychaylo Prystupa

Deeply frustrated by provincial denials of health concerns, two First Nations commissioned their own study using out-of-province university researchers to examine oil sands pollutants in their foods.
Vancouver Observer

Two northern Alberta First Nations downstream of massive oil sands smoke plumes and tailing ponds released a human health study Monday, implicating the growth of the industry to many serious Aboriginal health concerns, including cancer.
The worry? Oil sands pollution is contaminating their wild food.
“I don’t know what it is that they’re hiding. What’s causing these cancers? Why is it so hard that they cannot take it out of their production, so it’s not hurting anyone or killing anyone?” asked Chief Steve Courtereille of the Mikisew Cree First Nation at an Edmonton press conference.
The new scientific study states the region's "country food" contains elevated levels of toxic metals and carcinogens, that members of the Mikisew Cree and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations traditionally eat.
But recent fears that oil sands pollution is contaminating the food, has led fewer people to eat it.
The research was partly funded by Health Canada and reviewed by federal scientists.
The wild foods include: moose, ratroot, duck, wild mint, spruce gum, pickerel, caribou, and Labrador tea. Fish are no longer eaten from the Athabasca River, due to government health warnings.
The study reveals these foods contained elevated levels of heavy metals and carcinogens, and that nearly a quarter of the Aboriginal participants -- 23 out of 94 -- had cancer, among other ailments.
Government not trusted
The push for the study was motivated by a deep distrust of provincial and federal health officials, who they say have "failed" to comprehensively study the issue, said the leaders.
“One thing most striking… is that both province and federal governments refuse to do anything about [the high rates of cancer]. Even though the pressure is escalating,” said ACFN Chief Allan Adam.
“We are being brainwashed by the Conservative government that everything is ok. It’s not,” he added.

Conservative Health Minister Rona Ambrose’s press secretary was reached in Ottawa to comment on the study, but a statement was not provided.
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers has previously said:
“Canada’s oil sands producers are deeply concerned about suggestions oil sands development is affecting people’s health, most specifically resident First Nations. Safety is our industry’s top priority and oil sands development must occur in a manner that keeps people safe, and benefits their overall quality of life.”
Questions about cancer in the oil sands have been swirling for months, since Alberta doctor John O’Connor raised concerns in Washington, D.C. in February with U.S. Senators about studies linking the oil sands’ pollution to elevated cancer levels.
O'Connor's remarks sparked an international reaction, and were followed shortly in March by comments from Alberta’s Chief Medical officer, who said his data review of cancer records showed that the “overall number of cancers is not significantly higher than expected” in the Fort Chipewyan area versus the rest of Alberta.
The new First Nations study released Monday provides further details of cancer cases: four incidents of breast cancer, four of lung cancer, and two each of cervical, colon, gallbladder, kidney, prostate, and stomach cancer as well as leukemia, said the report.
Also worrying for community members were: neurological illnesses (e.g. sleeping disorders, migraines, and stress), respiratory illnesses (e.g. allergies, asthma) as well as circulatory (e.g. hypertension, coronary) and gastrointestinal (e.g. gallbladder, ulcers) illnesses.
Chemical soup
The study also found:
“Arsenic levels were high enough in muskrat and moose muscle; duck, moose, and muskrat livers; and moose and duck kidneys that they were of concern for young children.”
“Cadmium levels were again elevated in moose kidney and liver samples but also those of beaver and ducks, although muskrat samples were again low. Mercury levels were also high for duck muscle, kidneys, and livers as well as moose and muskrat kidneys, specially for children.”
“Total levels of PAHs and levels of carcinogenic and alkylated PAHs were very high relative to other studies on food conducted around the world,” said the report.
The report stated that exposure rates to these contaminants “were generally not of health concern” because of the low amounts of traditional foods that are now consumed as community members transition towards store-bought foods.
A feature-length documentary “One River Many Relations” will be released in October, to communicate issues about health impacts from the oil sands.
Excerpts have already been released.
Alberta universities 'too biased' - Chief Courtereille
The University of Manitoba and the University of Saskatchewan, in collaboration with the bands, conducted the research.
The choice to go with out-of-province researchers was deliberate.
“Dealing with the Alberta universities were in our view not credible, because of the close ties to the Alberta government…” said Chief Steve Courtereille.
Dr. John O'Connor, who frequently attends to cancer patients in the Fort Chipewayan area said Monday:
"This (study) is just another piece of information which is on top of all other previous scientific reports that have come out," O'Connor said.
"God knows what difference this report will make. But if someone doesn't act, and come to their senses...we've always said comprehensive studies are needed."
Still, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation’s leader admitted, his nation shares the responsibility for allowing the industrial free for all, that’s led to so many changes to the environment in northern Alberta.
“We recognize we were partly to blame for granting the approvals of projects. What we are asking is a slow down of further development, in regards to what is going on in our region, and start cleaning up the mess, and putting down on paper in regards to what you’re putting in the Athabasca River,” said Chief Adam.
The oil sands industry employs 10 percent Aboriginal people, says the Alberta government. It also brings in $3.5 billion in royalties per year to fund the province's social programs.
CAPP says the oils sands is projected to more than double by 2030, to 5.2 million barrels per day.