The Green Blues Show – Edition 37

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Great March of Return (Peter Larson)

What’s going on in Venezuela? I speak to someone who’s just returned, with an alternative view on the turmoil. Carbon taxes versus regulation. What works best? Both, it turns out. Flexible is best. And – as if over a decade of crushing Israeli military siege weren’t enough, now the people of Gaza face multi-drug-resistant microbes.

 

People say and do remarkable things when they get caught up in movements. Some unfurl banners of justice, peace and human equality. Others voice fear, anger and hatred.

A few weeks ago, a one hundred-truck convoy pulled into the nation’s capital, Ottawa,  honking their horns and calling on the Trudeau government to keep Alberta oil, gas and bitumen flowing and shipped around the world. Among the cross-country trekkers, antisemitic, Islamophobic and other racist views were reportedly expressed. More moderate pro-Oilers warned the ‘extremists’ to stay away.

Look at what’s happening in France with the Gilets Jaunes, rising from the Gallic masses. There too, hateful voices pop up like mushrooms on manure.

Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro (credit: Dimitri Lascaris)

Then there’s Venezuela. Huge crowds call on democratically-elected Nicolas Maduro to go. Other crowds (smaller, the mainstream media repeatedly point out), proclaim their allegiance to the Bolivarian, Chavista vision.

Nowhere is mass human behaviour more fractious, loud and crazily off-kilter than in the United States of America, home to all manner of yelling and shouting, and to any political, social or bizarre popular notion you can imagine – including an estimated third of American millennials who believe or suspect that Earth is flat, and are prepared to vote accordingly.

In the thick of it all, trying to make sense of the cacophony, in search of the authentically personal, a great line from America’s Nobel prize-winning folk-poet comes to mind: “To live outside the law you must be honest.”

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What is going on in Venezuela? Forty-eighty countries have supported opposition leader Juan Guaido’s presidential claims. The so-called Lima Group, led by Canada, is exhorting Venezuela’s armed forces to consider the moral option. No violence, though, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland implores! Regime change must be peaceful – and Canada will help out.

Dimitri Lascaris holds Venezuelan constitution.

In search of clarity, alternative web media provide fixes. Check out this and this and this.

On the other hand, here in Canada, listening to CBC Radio each night, one gets the impression that Nicolas Maduro and his regime are nasty and brutish, and that huge swaths of the Venezuelan people are in incipient revolt.

Dimitri Lascaris is a Montreal-based lawyer, journalist and human rights activist, recently returned from a week in Venezuela, reporting for The Real News Network. I spoke with Dimitri by Skype.

[Full disclosure: Dimitri is a friend and colleague of mine … and is representing me in a settlement wine labeling case before the Federal Court of Canada in May].

Here’s my conversation with Dimitri.

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A caravan of a hundred trucks rolled into Canada’s capital, Ottawa, back in mid-February. The United We Roll caravan began in Red Deer, Alberta a week prior. Convoyists wants the Trudeau government to keep pumping and piping oil and gas – and to put a lid on that most detestable of Liberal schemes – the carbon tax. Canada’s future depends on it, they say, and they’re prepared to fight.

Wildfire

What’s all the fuss about carbon taxes? Would opponents of carbon pricing prefer emission-reducing regulations instead, as a means for bringing Canada in line with a 1.5-2.0 degree Earth warming target?  Mark Jaccard is a professor and researcher at the School of Resource and Environmental Management and the coordinator of the Energy and Materials Research Group at Simon Fraser University, in Vancouver, British Columbia. Listen to our complete conversation here, and in this Green Blues Show podcast. SoundCloud link on top.

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It’s a perfect storm: horrific, bone and tissue-pulverizing injuries from high velocity sniper rounds, a health care system crushed by twelve years of military siege, and bone infections resistant to all but the most powerful and costly antibiotics.

Palestinian ballet

Such is the storm sweeping over tiny Gaza, ten months after the launch of popular protests along the perimeter of what gets referred to, alternatively, as an open-air prison or ghetto. Almost 200 Gazans have been shot dead by Israeli snipers since the start of the Great March of Return on March 30, 2018. Now in its 49th week, protestors demand the right to return to their ancestral lands inside Israel.

According to the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Palestinian fatalities include 38 children, two women, two journalists, and three paramedics. Over fourteen thousand have been injured, including 3,058 children, 630 women, 171 paramedics, and 149 journalists, Al Mezan reports.

There’s “no justification for Israel to shoot protesters with live ammunition,” a United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the Gaza protests has just reported, in a report available here.

“The Commission has reasonable grounds to believe that during the Great March of Return, Israeli soldiers committed violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. Some of those violations may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity, and must be immediately investigated by Israel,” said Santiago Canton, the Argentine chair of the commission.

I spoke with Dr. Ghassan Abu-Sittah about the wounds he observed in the course of a two-week visit to Gaza last May. Abu-Sittah is the chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the American University of Beirut, and Director of the Conflict Medicine Program at the AUB’s Global Health Institute.

In this edition of the Green Blues Show, songs by Alexis Korner, Snooks Eaglin and Dr. Isaiah Ross. Lead image by Peter Larson. Thanks, Peter!

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