February 28, 2017

[VID & Script] Fmr Sen. Nina Turner (OH): "DNC Chooses Not to Be the Party of Everyday People"

Former Ohio State Senator Turner tells Paul Jay that in defeating Keith Ellison as DNC Chair, the leadership has chosen to maintain the dominance of big donors and reject the progressive wing of the party

Link: http://bit.ly/2m2UQ96
The Real News

PAUL JAY: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore.
Tom Perez beat Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison for the DNC Chair in a vote held last Saturday in Atlanta, Georgia. Perez, who served as President Obama's Labor Secretary won by a thin margin, only 35 votes out a 435 vote total. Following his victory, Perez appointed Ellison his Deputy DNC Chair, though according to the intercept, this is not an official position in the party's bylaws.
Perez was an outspoken supporter for Clinton during the primaries while Ellison was a vocal backer of Sanders. The race came to signify the conflict between the establishment and progressive wings of the Democratic Party. During the campaign, Perez was criticized for representing the faction of the party that's unwilling to break with its Wall Street alliance, while Ellison was hit by a smear campaign spearheaded by Democratic Party donor Haim Saban.
Now joining us from Cleveland to discuss all of this is Nina Turner. She's a former Ohio State Senator. She's a college professor, a public speaker, a frequent media commentator and author and was a national surrogate for Senator Bernie Sanders during the 2016 Democratic presidential primary.
Thanks very much for joining us, Senator Turner.
NINA TURNER: Thank you, Paul. It's a pleasure.
PAUL JAY: Tell us what the atmosphere was like. You were there voting, and you were there on Saturday. What was the mood?
NINA TURNER: It was electric, especially for those who were supporting Congressman Ellison. He had chants going on, people from all walks of life. Prominently there were the National Nurses United who really helped the congressman all across this country. As you and I both know he traveled to a little over 30 states as he was fighting to become the next chair. But, you know, every candidate, it was palpable. It was pleasant. It was okay. But the energy was definitely on the side of Congressman Ellison in terms of his supporters, wall to wall they were there.
But just like any other campaign atmosphere, that's pretty much what it was like. There were trails of posters for every candidate, for every race. As someone that had a vote on the DNC, you could not walk a few steps without seeing someone's campaign literature. So, campaign move and mode was in full effect.
PAUL JAY: Right. Now, you were a supporter, as I mentioned, of Senator Sanders. You supported Ellison for the chair of the DNC. It was not just a fight over who would be the DNC chair, it was also quite a symbolic fight about whether or not the Democratic Party – corporate Democrats, as many people call them – would maintain their control over the party apparatus, or whether the Sanders Insurgency, as sometimes they've called themselves, would make a breakthrough. You supported Ellison, so how did you feel after this vote?
NINA TURNER: Disheartened, and not because Secretary Perez is a bad person, that's not the issue here. It really is about the direction of the Democratic Party, and bigger than the 447 people who were eligible to vote in that room. This is about America and this is about the people who were not in that room and that to me is what is missing. There was a resolution pushed by Miss Pelosi, and Christine Pelosi, to try to restore the rule that President Obama had put in place that the DNC would not take money from lobbyists, and that got voted down, so that tells you. And we did that even before we went to the chairs' race. So that was the stage. That was the foundation point right there that probably was the omen for what was to come next, that vote, that as a party we couldn't even go back to a very good rule that the president put in in place which is we should not take money from corporate lobbies.
PAUL JAY: The split over the question of money also goes further than that. The progressive wing of the party argues there should be far more reliance on mass fundraising Sanders-style small-donor funding and break this sort of link with the power of finance over the Democratic Party. So it was more than just about that, and so was the race, because the race itself had a lot to do with that issue of how the party gets financed.
NINA TURNER: It did, Paul Jay. To your point for people who were not there, it was live, it was streaming live, so anyone in the world could have seen it, but that point about that resolution that Christine Pelosi was pushing, and, you know, both sides got a chance to argue their point. Well, some of the people who were arguing against the resolution flat out said they didn't even try to hide it that Democrats should not handicap themselves, if you will, and not take all that money. They really made it clear that the receiving of that type of money was more important to them than doing it the way that Senator Sanders has established that it can be done, which is raising money from everyday people en masse to push the mission of this party. It was quite disappointing.
So, again, that is how we started off the meeting when it came time to start the votes. And you're right: it is bigger than all of that. This is about the direction that this party is going to take, and the principle and the values of the party and obviously we went lacking on Saturday.
PAUL JAY: And this issue of how the party gets financed goes to the core of where the party is going to go, and it seems like what people call Corporate Democrats, in this case led by President Obama and Hillary Clinton and their allies, that it was more important to keep ties to finance than it was to, in any way, appease all the young people and all the energy that was coming around the Sanders campaign, in the sense, once again, the Sanders, that type of politics, that type of progressive politics, is not where these people want the party to go.
NINA TURNER: That's right. And there are members, I mean, may of our viewers might not know this, but there are members on the DNC, voting members on the DNC, who are lobbyists. Someone who works actually works for Goldman Sachs, is a voting member on the DNC. So I want that to be clear, that this party decided on Saturday which side that they stand on, and it is obviously not the side of the everyday person in this country who is really depending on the Democratic Party to stand up for the people. We had the power to do something differently there. Not just in terms of the selection of chair, again, I have nothing against Secretary Perez, but they didn't even want to do that in terms of how we raise money to forward the mission and to not have the willingness and the faith to trust that we would be able to raise millions upon millions of dollars from everyday people in this country is a little disturbing. As somebody said to me, conservatives in this country have a party and a half.
PAUL JAY: Well, perhaps it's not that they don't think it can be done, perhaps they don't want it to be done. In the sense that, as I say, they finance these sections of the elites that are serious big donors to the Democratic Party, not least of which is Haim Saban himself, who, once has been said, "He has an honorary seat in the Israeli Cabinet," because he almost acts as a middleman between the Israeli government sometimes and the American. That to allow this kind of popular fundraising to become dominant changes the whole character of the party. These guys lose control of the party.
NINA TURNER: It does. Absolutely. You're right. So maybe it is about willingness, but lots of people were very disappointed in that, so here we go. I think it was the brilliant Einstein who defined insanity, He said, "Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." What the Democratic Party did on Saturday, through and through, is a symbol that we just don't get it.
PAUL JAY: Now, is it primarily a symbol? How much practical consequence will it have? For example, the next big fight, and it's already started, is at down to precinct level captains: at every level of the Democratic Party structure there's a fight taking place right now, whether it's going to be the pro-Sanders section of the party or the Corporate Democrat section of the party that controls status, institutions right down to city level. That fight's taking place now.
Whose chair of the DNC have much effect on the outcome of that kind of fight?
NINA TURNER: In some ways, but, on the local level, progressives still have more than a fighting chance, and we saw that, Paul, in California where a lot of Berniecrats took over, won chairmanships and also precinct committee spaces within their county parties. So we should not give up hope on those fronts because they can still make a difference. I think that is our last line of defense. But in terms of nationally who the chair is determined who gets the contracts, whether or not it's diverse. As you know, one of the downsides, or one of the negative things about the Democratic Party over the years is that it's contracting out from people who print the paper to people who get the commercial contracts or the radio contracts, they have not been very diverse, i.e., African-Americans and other people of color in terms of who gets the opportunity to be able to work professionally as a consultant for the Democratic Party. It does not represent the percentage in terms of how people vote, particularly the African-American community who time and time again always gives over 90% of its votes to the Democratic Party. It is not reflected in who they hire both as staffers but also who they hire as consultants.
So if we in fact really care about diversity, not just phenotype diversity and gender diversity, but also diversity of ideas, the person that leads the Democratic Party has a lot to say, has a lot of sway, and so a lot of consultants will benefit from keeping the status quo.
PAUL JAY: Now, a lot of people in the Democratic Party are very actively beginning or already in the midst of getting ready for the Congressional races in 2018. And there's a division you can see it on the Saturday at the DNC, at the vote, and there's a division in the party, do people focus, and I'm talking about progressive people, focus on primary and right wing corporate Democrats as the 2018 election draws closer, or is there just unite the party, which is what was called for by Tom Perez? In other words, don't fight right wing Democrats, one would think unite the party means, and in other words, don't have this primary fight. Just focus on Trump and elect any Democrat you can. In other words, the character of the party doesn't get changed or challenged.
NINA TURNER: I don't think the grassroots are going to go for that, Paul Jay. They are crying out. That is the reason why we have Mr. Trump in as president right now is because the Democrats just did not get it. So I don't think that, as some of my folks from the country say, "That dog don't hunt." I don't think that that is going to be the ultimate motivating factor in terms of the Democrats winning back the people that we'd lost in 2016 and I'm talking about people who voted for President Obama both times, and also folks who are solidly Democrat but just didn't see any reason to come out to vote in 2016 "because the Democrats are not speaking to their issues". So being totally anti-President Trump did not work in 2016 when he was Mr. Trump, and it is not going to work this year or next year or into the future. The Democrats are going to have to push a vision that says to everyday people in this country that we believe in you and we will push policies that will give you that opportunity to live out your greatest greatness, and that symbol comes first by way of the types of people that we elect to office and what they do once they get there.
So, no, any Democrat will not do in this environment. And organizations like the Justice Democrats and other progressive grassroots organizations that are sprouting up all over this country have already vowed to take the fight to Corporate Democrats and I think they should do just that.
PAUL JAY: All right, thanks very much for joining us, Senator Turner.
NINA TURNER: Thank you.
PAUL JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

A Nazi Skeleton in the Family Closet of Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, Consortium News, Feb 27, 2017

A Nazi Skeleton in the Family Closet
February 27, 2017

Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland

Exclusive: Canada’s fiercely anti-Russian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland says her Ukrainian grandfather struggled “to return freedom and democracy to Ukraine,” but she leaves out that he was a Nazi propagandist justifying the slaughter of Jews, writes Arina Tsukanova.

By Arina Tsukanova

On Jan. 10, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau replaced Foreign Minister Stephane Dion with Chrystia Freeland, a former journalist proud of her Ukrainian roots and well-known for her hostility toward Russia. At the time, a big question in Ottawa was why. Some analysts believed that Trudeau’s decision may have started when it still seemed likely that Hillary Clinton would become the new U.S. president and a tough line against Moscow was expected in Washington.

However, by the time the switch was made, Donald Trump was on his way into the White House and Trudeau’s choice meant that Canada was allying itself more with the mounting hostility toward Russia inside the European Union than with President Trump’s hopes for a more cooperative relationship with the Kremlin. With Freeland running Canada’s Foreign Ministry, the chance for a shared view between Ottawa and Washington suddenly seemed remote.

People who have followed Freeland’s career were aware that her idée fixe for decades has been that Ukraine must be ripped out of the Russian sphere of influence. Her views fit with the intense Ukrainian nationalism of her maternal grandparents who immigrated to Canada after World War II and whom she has portrayed as victims of Josef Stalin and the Red Army.
So, Freeland celebrated the Soviet collapse in 1991, which enabled Ukraine to gain its independence. Freeland, then in her early 20s, was working in Kiev as a stringer for The Financial Times and The Washington Post, shining with delight over the emergence of a “New Ukraine.”

By the next decade, working as the U.S. managing editor of The Financial Times, she proudly interviewed then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, who had won control as a result of the 2004 “Orange Revolution.” In her approach to journalism, Freeland made clear her commitment to foment Ukrainian-Russian tensions in any possible way. Indeed, during her journalistic career, which ended in 2013 when she won a seat in Canada’s parliament, Freeland remained fiercely anti-Russian.

In 2014, Yushchenko’s rival Viktor Yanukovych was Ukraine’s elected president while Canadian MP Freeland urged on the “Euro-Maidan” protests against Yanukovych and his desire to maintain friendly relations with Moscow. On Jan. 27, 2014, as the protests grew more violent with ultra-nationalist street fighters moving to the forefront and firebombing police, Freeland visited Kiev and published an op-ed in The Globe and Mail blaming the violence on Yanukovych.

“Democratic values are rarely challenged as directly as they are being today in Ukraine,” Freeland wrote, arguing that the protesters, not the elected president, represented democracy and the rule of law. “Their victory will be a victory for us all; their defeat will weaken democracy far from the Euromaidan. We are all Ukrainians now. Let’s do what we can — which is a lot — to support them.”

Ukraine’s ‘Regime Change’

Freeland’s op-ed appeared at about the same time as her ideological ally, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, was caught on an insecure phone line discussing with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt who the new leaders of Ukraine should be. “Yats is the guy,” Nuland said about Arseniy Yatsenyuk while dismissing the E.U.’s less aggressive approach to the crisis with the pithy remark, “Fuck the E.U.” Nuland and Pyatt then pondered how to “glue this thing” and “midwife this thing.”
Several weeks later, on Feb. 20, a mysterious sniper shot both police and protesters, touching off a day of bloody mayhem. On Feb. 22, armed rioters seized government buildings and forced Yanukovych to flee for his life. He was then impeached without the constitutional rules being followed. Yatsenyuk became prime minister, and Western governments quickly pronounced the new regime “legitimate.”

The new xenophobic regime in Kiev – bristling with hostility toward ethnic Russian Ukrainians – did not embarrass Freeland. As Canada’s newly appointed minister of international trade, Freeland met frequently with Ukrainian officials, more so than with many of Canada’s leading trade partners.

But the more troubling question is whether Freeland’s devotion to Ukrainian nationalism is rooted not in her commitment to the “rule of law” or “democratic values” or even the well-being of the Ukrainian people whose living standards have declined sharply since the Feb. 22, 2014 putsch (amid continued government corruption), but in her devotion to her Ukrainian grandparents whom she still views as victims of Stalin and the Red Army.
Last Aug. 24, reflecting on so-called Black Ribbon Day, which lumps together the crimes of Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler (with Stalin getting top billing), she wrote on Twitter, “Thinking of my grandparents Mykhailo & Aleksandra Chomiak on Black Ribbon Day. They were forever grateful to Canada for giving them refuge and they worked hard to return freedom and democracy to Ukraine. I am proud to honour their memory today.”

In her autobiography, Freeland presents her grandparents in the following way: “My maternal grandparents fled western Ukraine after Hitler and Stalin signed their non-aggression pact in 1939. They never dared to go back, but they stayed in close touch with their brothers and sisters and their families, who remained behind.”

According to Freeland, her grandfather Mykhailo Chomiak was “a lawyer and journalist before the Second World War, but they [her grandparents] knew the Soviets would invade western Ukraine (and) fled.” After the war, her mother was born in a refugee camp in Germany before the family immigrated to western Canada, Freeland wrote.
Freeland’s grandfather was allegedly able to get a visa only thanks to his sister who had crossed the ocean before the war. The family story told by Freeland portrays her grandparents as World War II victims, but that is not the real or full story.
Chrystia Freeland’s dark family secret is that her grandfather, Mykhailo Chomiak, faithfully served Nazi Germany right up to its surrender, and Chomiak’s family only moved to Canada after the Third Reich was defeated by the Soviet Union’s Red Army and its allies – the U.S. and Great Britain.

Mykhailo Chomiak was not a victim of the war – he was on the side of the German aggressors who collaborated with Ukrainian nationalists in killing Russians, Jews, Poles and other minorities. Former journalist Freeland chose to whitewash her family history to leave out her grandfather’s service to Adolf Hitler. Of course, if she had told the truth, she might never have achieved a successful political career in Canada. Her fierce hostility toward Russia also might be viewed in a different light.

Michael Chomiak and wife Alexandra, with their children in Canada in 1952. Freeland’s mother Halyna is second from left.

Freeland’s Grandfather

According to Canadian sources, Chomiak graduated from Lviv University in western Ukraine with a Master’s Degree in Law and Political Science. He began a career with the Galician newspaper Dilo (Action), published in Lviv. After the start of World War II, the Nazi administration appointed Chomiak to be editor of the newspaper Krakivski Visti (News of Krakow).
So the truth appears to be that Chomiak moved from Ukraine to Nazi-occupied Poland in order to work for the Third Reich under the command of Governor-General Hans Frank, the man who organized the Holocaust in Poland. Chomiak’s work was directly supervised by Emil Gassner, the head of the press department in the Polish General Government.

Governor Hans Frank (left) and Emil Gassner open the German Press House in Krakow, March 1942

Mikhailo Chomiak comfortably settled his family into a former Jewish (or Aryanized) apartment in Krakow. The editorial offices for Krakivski Visti also were taken from a Jewish owner, Krakow’s Polish-language Jewish newspaper Nowy Dziennik. Its editor at the time was forced to flee Krakow for Lviv, where he was captured following the occupation of Galicia and sent to the Belzec extermination camp, where he was murdered along with 600,000 other Jews.

So, it appears Freeland’s grandfather – rather than being a helpless victim – was given a prestigious job to spread Nazi propaganda, praising Hitler from a publishing house stolen from Jews and given to Ukrainians who shared the values of Nazism.
On April 24, 1940, Krakivski Visti published a full-page panegyric to Adolf Hitler dedicated to his 51st birthday (four days earlier). Chomiak also hailed Governor-General Hans Frank: “The Ukrainian population were overjoyed to see the establishment of fair German authority, the bearer of which is you, Sir Governor-General. The Ukrainian people expressed this joy not only through the flowers they threw to the German troops entering the region, but also through the sacrifices of blood required to fight Polish usurpers.” (Because of Frank’s role in the Holocaust, the Nuremberg Tribunal found him guilty of crimes against humanity and executed him.)

Beyond extolling Hitler and his henchmen, Chomiak rejoiced over Nazi military victories, including the terror bombings of Great Britain. While praising the Third Reich, Krakivski Visti was also under orders by the German authorities to stir up hatred against the Jewish population. Editorial selections from Chomiak’s newspaper can be found in Holocaust museums around the world, such as the one in Los Angeles, California.

The Nov. 6, 1941 issue of Krakivski Visti ecstatically describes how much better Kiev is without Jews. “There is not a single one left in Kiev today, while there were 350,000 under the Bolsheviks,” the newspaper wrote, gloating that the Jews “got their comeuppance.”
That “comeuppance” refers to the mass shooting of Kiev’s Jewish population at Babi Yar. In just two days, Sept. 29-30, 1941, a total of 33,771 people were murdered, a figure that does not include children younger than three years old. There were more shootings in October, and by early November, Krakivski Visti was enthusing over a city where the Jewish population had “disappeared” making Kiev “beautiful, glorious.” Chomiak’s editorials also described a Poland “iinfected by Jews.”
Jewish women lined up waiting to be shot at Babi Yar, September 1941

According to John-Paul Himka, a Canadian historian of Ukrainian origin, Krakivski Visti stirred up emotions against Jews, creating an atmosphere conducive to mass murder. In 2008, the Institute of Historical Research at Lviv National University published a paper co-authored by Himka entitled “What Was the Attitude of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists toward the Jews?” The paper states that, by order of the German authorities, Krakivski Visti published a series of articles between June and September 1943 under the title “Yids in Ukraine” that were written in an extremely anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi vein. The Canadian historian writes that Jews were portrayed as criminals, while Ukrainians were portrayed as victims.

Refuge in Canada

As the war turned against the Nazis and the Red Army advanced across Ukraine and Poland, Nazi propagandist Emil Gassner took Mykhailo Chomiak in 1944 to Vienna where Krakivski Visti continued to publish. As the Third Reich crumbled, Chomiak left with the retreating German Army and surrendered to the Americans in Bavaria, where he was placed with his family in a special U.S. military intelligence facility in Bad Wörishofen, a cluster of hotels situated 78 kilometers from Munich in the foothills of the Alps.

The Chomiak family was given accommodations, living expenses and health care. In her biography, Freeland refers to it only as “a refugee camp.” In September 1946, Mikhailo Chomiak’s daughter Halyna was born in that spa town. In May 1948, the facility was closed and Chomiak, the former Nazi editor, departed for Canada.
While it is true that the sins of a grandfather should not be visited on his descendants, Freeland should not have misled the public on history of such importance, especially when her deceptions also concealed how she partly developed her world view. The family’s deep hostility toward Russia appears to have been passed down from Mikhailo Chomiak’s generation to his granddaughter Chrystia Freeland.

Like many of today’s Ukrainian nationalists, including pockets of post-World War II immigrants in Canada and the United States, Freeland glosses over the violent abuses of the current regime in Kiev toward ethnic Russians, including the fatal firebombing of the Trade Union Building in Odessa and enlistment of neo-Nazi militias to prosecute the so-called “Anti-Terror Operation” against ethnic Russian rebels in the Donbass region. Overall, the conflict has killed some 10,000 people, including many ethnic Russian civilians.
But Freeland only sees “Russian aggression” and vows to maintain an unrelentingly hard line to punish Moscow. So, the pressing question about Freeland is whether her family history makes her incapable of an objective assessment of this dangerous New Cold War crisis. Is a person who describes her Nazi-collaborating grandfather as someone who “worked hard to return freedom and democracy to Ukraine” fit to represent Canada to the world?

Arina Tsukanova is a Russian Ukrainian journalist from Kiev currently living in Crimea. Before the Euromaidan she used to work for several Ukrainian newspapers, now closed.

February 27, 2017

Trudeau's torture policies no different than Trump's: Matthew Behrens Source: Rabble.ca Feb 24, 2017

Trudeau's torture policies no different than Trump's
February 24, 2017
Source: Rabble.ca  

The Trudeau government suffers from an acute case of cognitive dissonance, either failing to see (or cynically not caring about) the yawning gap between its lofty rhetoric and its actual policies. While a case can be made that this dissonance is apparent on many issues -- Indigenous rights, climate change, women's rights, poverty, racism, refugees and immigrants, electoral reform -- too many Canadians overlook the broken promises and embrace Trudeau simply because he is not Stephen Harper and, more recently, Donald Trump.
This allows folks like Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale to get away with remarkable statements like his recent pronouncement that:
"Torture is contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it's contrary to the Canadian Constitution, it's a violation of the Criminal Code, it's inconsistent with virtually every international treaty Canada has ever signed, including the Geneva Convention(s), and most importantly, Canadians find it abhorrent and will never condone it. Period."
Goodale's remarks followed Trump's ABC News interview in which the U.S. president said torture "absolutely" works and that his country's state security agencies need to "fight fire with fire."
While Canadians may indeed find torture abhorrent, that fact alone does not prevent the Canadian government from being up to its neck in torture complicity. Indeed, for decades, Canada's state security agencies have behaved exactly as if Donald Trump were their boss, playing fast and loose with the binding prohibitions against involvement in torture. Canadian officials can trumpet their opposition to torture all they like, but their policies reveal a different reality of, at best, turning a blind eye to the thumbscrews and electric shocks being employed by some of their closest allies.
Canada backs Ukraine's torture-tainted regime
For example, this week, the Canadian government confirmed it will extend its costly military "training mission" in support of a Ukrainian regime that Human Rights Watch implicates in arbitrary detention, torture, suppression of media, violence against women, a refusal to provide workplace protections for LGBT folks, and other "shared values."
At the same time, Trudeau has continued the Harper regime's policies of prioritizing economic interests ahead of human rights across the globe. One of the first overseas meetings War Minister Harjit Sajjan held was with his counterpart under the Egyptian regime, one brought to power by a coup that overthrew a democratically elected government. While Canada and Egypt cozy up on military matters (with the potential for increased weapons sales), neither Goodale nor Sajjan is stepping up to condemn the widespread torture and arbitrary arrest and detention of upwards of 40,000 people.
Sajjan himself knows a thing or two about torture. He is potentially implicated in acts of torture in Afghanistan, given his close working relationship with Kandahar Governor Asadullah Khalid (who was known to personally torture detainees in the dungeon underneath his guest house). Sajjan's "intelligence" is credited with the "kill or capture" of some 1,500 individuals. Given the rampant use of torture by the National Directorate of Security and other arms of the Afghan regime, it is highly unlikely that Sajjan did not know the bleak fate of those turned over by Canadian soldiers.
When the Harper regime shut down an investigation of Canadian complicity in the torture of Afghan detainees, then opposition MP Stéphane Dion told the CBC "the likelihood is very high" that Afghan detainees were abused in custody, adding, "I don't think Canadians will accept that it's over." But once the Liberals took power, they shifted gears. Given the opportunity to clear the air about Canadian complicity as well as his own role in Afghanistan, Sajjan -- despite the clear conflict of interest -- saw no problem in deciding whether a public inquiry should be held. Predictably, he refused to open one.  
Peggy Mason (a former Canadian Disarmament Ambassador to the United Nations and now head of the Rideau Institute) declared that the transfer to torture issue is "unfinished business of the most serious kind -- accountability of Canadian officials for alleged serious breaches of international and national law -- the only appropriate remedy for which is a public inquiry. What better way is there for this government to demonstrate its commitment to transparency and accountability than to call such an inquiry?"

Goodale refuses to rescind torture memos

Ralph Goodale, meanwhile, has refused to act on a Liberal promise to rescind the Harper-era torture memos, which granted CSIS, the RCMP, the Canadian Border Services Agency, the Communications Security Establishment, and the War Dept. a free pass to trade information with torturers. The widely respected International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) notes that the practice of trading in torture-tainted information:
"[u]ndermines the absolute prohibition on torture which entails a continuum of obligations -- not to torture, not to acquiesce in torture, and not to validate the results of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment."
In 2009, the ICJ condemned such policies in a report that declared:
"States have publicly claimed that they are entitled to rely on information that has been derived from the illegal practices of others; in so doing they become 'consumers' of torture and implicitly legitimize, and indeed encourage, such practices by creating a 'market' for the resultant intelligence. In the language of criminal law, States are 'aiding and abetting' serious human rights violations by others."
Of course, agencies of the Canadian government have long been consumers of torture, including the torture-by-proxy cases of numerous Canadian citizens. Two judicial inquiries -- one held completely in secret, and the other mostly behind closed doors -- nonetheless found that the Canadian government was complicit in the torture of Maher Arar, Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou-Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin. The torture occurred under previous Liberal governments in the years after 9/11.
All were wrongly labelled security threats, and subjected to torture-by-proxy in Syria and Egypt, whose torturers were provided questions by Canadian officials, with the complicity of the RCMP, CSIS, Global Affairs, the Department of Justice, and other agencies. While Mr. Arar received an apology of sorts from the Canadian government as well as compensation, the other three cases remain unresolved to this date. Mssrs Almalki, Abou-Elmaati and Nureddin, and their families, have been forced by the Canadian government to endure a 12-year legal struggle as they seek an apology, systemic changes and accountability, and compensation.
While the Harper government predictably fought the men and their families in court, the Trudeau government, elected on the wings of change, saw no reason to change course. Indeed, Goodale may condemn torture when it comes to the Trump administration, but he refuses to do so when it comes to the practices of agencies for which he is responsible. 
Goodale and Trudeau ignore the fact that on December 3, 2009, a majority of the House of Commons, including the Liberals and NDP, called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to take specific steps to achieve justice in these cases. Harper refused to act, and eight years later, the Trudeau government continues to defend the torturers.
The text of that 2009 motion is worth remembering:
 "In consideration of the harm done to Mr. Almalki, Mr. Abou-Elmaati and Mr. Nureddin, the Committee recommends:
• That the Government of Canada apologize officially to Mr. Abdullah Almalki, Mr. Ahmad Abou-Elmaati and Mr. Muayyed Nureddin.
• That the Government of Canada allow for compensation to be paid to Mr. Almalki, Mr. Abou-Elmaati and Mr. Nureddin as reparation for the suffering they endured and the difficulties they encountered.
• That the Government of Canada do everything necessary to correct misinformation that may exist in records administered by national security agencies in Canada or abroad with respect to Mr. Almalki, Mr. Abou-Elmaati and Mr. Nureddin and members of their families.
The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada issue a clear ministerial directive against torture and the use of information obtained from torture for all departments and agencies responsible for national security. The ministerial directive must clearly state that the exchange of information with countries is prohibited when there is a credible risk that it could lead, or contribute, to the use of torture."
Needless to say, Liberals in opposition are not the same as Liberals in power. Mr. Goodale speaks a good line on international law, but refuses to recognize that as a signatory to the Convention Against Torture, Canada is required to "ensure in its legal system that the victim of an act of torture obtains redress and has an enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation, including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible."

A lengthy history of racism

The cases of Almalki, Abou-Elmaati and Nureddin present a face of Canada most refuse to recognize. That failure to see allows amnesia to cloud the still-unresolved cases of Omar Khadr and Abousfian Abdelrazik, also Canadians tortured with the complicity of their government. Equally concerning are the cases of security certificate detainees Mohamed Harkat and Mohammad Mahjoub, who are fighting deportation to torture in Algeria and Egypt, respectively, based on secret allegations from torture-tainted spy agency CSIS. All of them symbolize a long, ugly history of racism and human rights abuses that we tend to sweep under the rug.
Indeed, as the Truth and Reconciliation report revealed, the residential school system imposed on Indigenous children was, in certain respects, this nation's first venture into the world of rendition to torture. The kidnapping and secreting away of children from their loved ones, and the abusive treatment many were subjected to while under government and church control, rivals the 21st-century horror stories that have emerged from such scandalous places as Abu Ghraib, Bagram Air Force Base, and Guantanamo Bay. The fact that the sexual assaults, cigarette burnings, and broken bones inflicted on Indigenous children took place in a democratic country does not in any way differentiate their suffering from those Arab Muslims who have endured years of similar agonies under torture states abroad.
The Trudeau government's approach of defending those agencies and individuals responsible for torture complicity is -- like Obama's abysmal forgive-and-forget free pass to those Bush administration officials complicit in torture -- a grant of impunity that leaves in place a torture-enabling mindset. With no sign that anyone will be held accountable, such nefarious practices will continue. The practices of both Liberal and Conservative federal governments since 9/11 reveal how complicity in torture has had a corrosive effect on democratic institutions and decision-making.  The proof is in the actions of a prime minister who will shut down Parliament to avoid questions (as Harper did while under fire for Afghani torture), the refusal to initiate criminal proceedings against those found to have contributed to torture, or the insistence of state security agencies like CSIS and RCMP on absolute secrecy and zero oversight of their netherworld activities.

Torture and the Anti-Terrorism Act

The latest manifestation is one section of the Anti-Terrorism Act (a.k.a. C-51) that recalls the bone-chilling justification of torture by former White House counsel John Yoo (who advised "cruel, inhuman, or degrading" treatment is not torture, and the threshold for something to be deemed torture must be "serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death"). Under C-51, CSIS is advised that in the process of terror plot disruption, they cannot intentionally or through negligence cause "death or bodily harm to an individual," a vague statement considering the elastic definition of intentionality. (Bodily harm is defined as "any hurt or injury to a person that interferes with the health or comfort of the person and that is more than merely transient or trifling in nature.") It would seem that CSIS cannot be held responsible, therefore, if someone in their custody "accidentally" falls out of a helicopter or six-floor window.
As discussed in previous columns, Trudeau and his colleagues appear to take a perverse delight in a Trump administration that sets the bar so low that anything which is not Trump -- or which does not appear to be Trump -- is deemed praiseworthy and acceptable. Indeed, while Trudeau continues to endanger the lives of desperate refugees who risk freezing to death to reach Canada (through his refusal to rescind the Safe Third Country Agreement), Trump-despising editorialists at the Washington Post and New York Times position Trudeau as a man of light and hope in a time of bleak prospects. Given the Trudeau brand, all it takes is a smiling tweet for the U.S. media to swoon and the Canadian media to give him a pass. While the Toronto Star tallies Trump lies and deceits, this leading Canadian newspaper dedicates no similar space to the dishonesty emanating from Ottawa. Cognitive dissonance is contagious.

Matthew Behrens is a freelance writer and social justice advocate who co-ordinates the Homes not Bombs non-violent direct action network. He has worked closely with the targets of Canadian and U.S. 'national security' profiling for many years.

[VID] Tom Perez Chair of DNC also oversaw High African American Unemployment & rise of Uber, Antonio Moore

Attorney Antonio Moore Talks selection of former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez as head of DNC - Democratic National Committee. 

He talks about the appointment in context of President Obama, and the rise of Uber. It is also noted that we saw 50% unemployment in many cities for black males, and black youth during Perez’ tenure.

The economy that Tom Perez created: the Uber driver's income in the new Gig Economy, Buzzfeed Nov. 19, 2014

Note: gig economy is an environment in which temporary positions for workers are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements. No labour protections cover such workers and they may be "deactivated" from Uber without redress.
The trend toward a gig economy was sealed by Tom Perez when as United States Secretary of Labor  he assisted in destroying decades of labor law regulations. Uber created many of Obama's "jobs" and their entrance into the US was facilitated by Perez. A study by Intuit predicted that by 2020, 40 percent of American workers would be independent contractors.


What Uber Drivers Really Make (According To Their Pay Stubs)

I went on 11 rides with 11 randomly picked Uber X drivers to see how much they’re paid and how they like driving for Uber. 


A few weeks ago, Uber New York General Manager Josh Mohrer, who has been known to fight his fair share of public battles in defense of Uber on Twitter, tweeted an offer to reporters: In response to articles that questioned Uber’s claims that drivers made an average of $25 an hour (or that the median driver makes upwards of $90,000 a year) Mohrer said he would go on the record with any reporter who took 10 rides and asked those drivers for their payment statements (Uber is currently investigating Mohrer for apparently violating the company’s privacy policy during the reporting of this story).
It seemed as good a chance as any to get to the heart of Uber’s rapidly growing business, one that has already transformed the transportation industry in just a few years, so I took Josh up on the offer and took 11 rides with 11 randomly chosen Uber X drivers and obtained eight out of 11 of the drivers’ pay statements — two drivers who spoke on the record were not comfortable with showing me their pay statements and Uber did not provide pay statements for the last driver.
As is common with ride-sharing services, throughout my 11 rides, the work schedule varied considerably for each driver. Most were part time by their definition (working two to three days out of the week or only a few hours each day), three were students attempting to pay their way through college, one had been with Uber since it arrived in New York, three just started driving for Uber in the week before I rode with them, one was renting his car through Uber’s fleet partnerships program, and another was renting his car from his father. The youngest drivers were 21. The oldest were over 40.
The eight drivers netted hourly wages of $15.22, $21.17, $27.54, $32.90, $36.88, $37.12, and $38.25 — not including one-time referral or sign-up bonuses or one-time deductions. They worked between 5.78 and 42.65 hours per week. Overall, their combined hourly wage during this time was $31.61 (BuzzFeed News has uploaded its aggregated driver payment information here).
All of this seems to verify, if not surpass, the data that Uber touted in a September blog post, comparing this past September’s average net wages to the two previous Septembers’ (before Uber put in place a fare cut that made Uber X cheaper than taxis). According to Uber, drivers netted an average of $25.00 an hour with an average of 1.3 rides per hour.
These net wages, however, don’t take into account bridge tolls, car insurance, or other costs of being a driver. Subtracting only minimum insurance, rent (when appropriate), and tolls in the case of one driver who drives to and from New Jersey, the drivers’ combined hourly wage weighted by how many hours they worked was approximately $21.95. Though it’s not a far cry from what Uber claims their drivers pay on average per hour, it’s important to note that this is still before accounting for other weekly driver expenses such as gas, car payments, car maintenance, and wear and tear.
BuzzFeed News
The initial net income only reveals one aspect of the Uber driver pay structure, one that’s been complicated by an huge influx of part-time drivers. Many of these drivers identify as part time because they either do not work every day of the week or only work a specific set of hours. Those who only work certain hours typically only go online during the busiest times of day when there is likely to be surge pricing.
For example, Zahidur Rahman, a 21-year-old student and Uber X driver who began working for Uber just a few months before the summer fare cuts, usually only works three nights a week because of classes. On those three nights, based on his pay statements, Rahman typically only works during the evening rush. During his busiest week starting Oct. 28 and ending Nov. 2, of the 38 rides Rahman had 15 were during surge pricing, which was an average of 1.9 times the usual fare. Seven of those rides were double or more than double the standard fare. Rahman worked 18.57 hours that week, grossed $968.61 and took home $687.21 after Uber’s 20% commission, sales tax, black car fund, and the $10 data fee for their phone.
Between Oct. 20 and Oct. 27 (Rahman’s highest grossing of the five weeks of pay statements I obtained), Rahman had 30 rides, 14 of which were surge-priced rides and six of those surge-priced rides were 2.75 times the fare. That week, Rahman only worked 14.5 hours across three days (the 21, 22, and 23), grossed $1,078.19 and netted $771.17.
Compare that to Lahab Alaur’s highest grossing and busiest weeks. Alaur started working with Uber about four months ago. Of the drivers I obtained payment statements from Alaur worked the closest to full time during the five weeks of statements. Twice, Alaur worked more than 40 hours and one week he was just under 40 hours.
Between Oct. 6 and Oct. 11, Alaur worked 42.65 hours, had 54 rides only three of which were surge priced, grossed $1,336.82, and netted $941.17. This was the most hours Alaur worked of the five weeks and he only netted approximately an average of $22.06 an hour. During the highest-grossing week between Oct. 27 and Nov. 3, on the other hand, Alaur worked 40.1 hours, took 71 rides 16 of which were surge rides, grossed $1,870.77 and netted $1,333.73. He netted approximately $34.24 per hour that week.
Put that next to Rahman’s highest-grossing week and busiest weeks and you have an interesting comparison:
Rahman (part-time) Highest Grossing Week: 14.5 hours / $53.18 per hour
Alaur (full-time) Highest Grossing Week: 40.1 hours / $34.24 per hour
Rahman (part-time) Busiest Week: 18.57 hours / $37.07 per hour.
Alaur (full-time) Busiest week: 42.65 hours / $22.06 per hour
Put simply: Rahman, like many other part-time drivers I spoke to, works fewer but very specific high-income hours and thus makes much more per hour than a typical full-time driver.
Uber drivers protest outside Uber’s New York HQ. BuzzFeed News
According to Mohrer, Uber NY has seen a large influx of these part-time drivers, since the company began to take advantage of a loophole in TLC regulations that allows drivers to work for more than one black car base (a loophole Lyft had been exploiting).
“Sixty-five percent of the drivers we have with us weren’t with us in July,” Mohrer told me. “The whole makeup of our supply base has changed a lot and a lot of part timers have come in.”
And it seems to be this influx of part-time drivers that complicates Uber’s previous claims that their median driver makes $90,000 a year.
“If you want the 90k, it’s there for you,” Mohrer said of Uber driver potential earnings. “What was true in May, because of the way that our partner base has changed in structure — you have all these guys coming in part time — obviously that has changed. But what hasn’t changed is that drivers do have the ability to [make $90,000 a year]. There are a bunch who do.”
Mohrer wouldn’t give an exact number of how many drivers make $90,000 a year, arguing that he didn’t think it was a valuable figure. But in order to make $90,000 a year, a driver would have to make $7,500 a month or approximately $1,731 a week. If a driver typically works 12-hour days, six days a week — a figure that doesn’t appear typical at all — he or she would need to net $24.04 an hour. If a driver worked 12-hour days, four or five days a week, the driver would need to net $36.06 or $28.85 an hour respectively. For a driver that typically works 10-hour days — a more realistic figure — and drives four to six days a week, the driver would need to make between an average of $28.85 and $43.27 an hour.
Based on our sample set of drivers who made an average of $30.23 an hour and worked an average of about 24.45 hours per week, the drivers made a weekly average of $739.12, or $3,178.23 a month — assuming they work these exact hours and times. Continuing at that very specific rate, those drivers would make about $38,434.42 a year.
This is all without considering the expenses built into being an Uber driver, of which there are many, most notably insurance and car payments.
BuzzFeed News
Additionally, according to several of the drivers I spoke to, though passengers are charged for the tolls that they pass through during their trip, if the driver returns to the city, the charge for that toll comes out of their own pockets.
“When we go to like Newark Airport there’s only one E-ZPass where we gotta swipe it,” Saif Khalid, another student who has been driving for one month, told me. “But when we go back you have to swipe E-ZPass to come back like three times. That one no one pays for.”
Khalid, who is under 25, rents his car from his father for $500 a week. So in addition to paying for car washes (“I need to get my car washed that’s like $10-15,” Khalid said. “If you don’t they’ll rate us like the shittiest ride ever”) gas, tolls, and weekly rent, Khalid has to pay a higher insurance premium because of his age.
Khalid says insurance costs him $6,800 per year, which works out to approximately $567 per month or $131 per week. So already, without accounting for any other expenses, Khalid has to pay a total of $631 per week just for rent and insurance.
BuzzFeed News
Khalid’s highest-grossing week brought him a net income of $1,428.41 after driving for 38.9 hours (almost a full work week). That week, after accounting for rent and insurance (both expenses built into being an Uber driver) Khalid took home $786.74. That’s roughly 55% of his net income and 38% of his gross fares of $2,050.38 that then needed to be divided among his additional expenses of gas, tolls, and maintenance — additional expenses that are by virtue built into being an Uber driver. This was his highest-grossing week thus far, which puts him on pace to earn roughly $74,277.32 per year, but when accounting for his largest expenses as an Uber driver would put him at $40,910.48.
The week prior to that, Khalid worked more hours — 41.38 to be exact — and brought home $1,238.03, his second-highest income in the five weeks of pay statements I obtained. This type of week puts Khalid on pace to earn $ 64,377.56 per year. Accounting for insurance and rent, Khalid took home approximately 47% of his net income. If you were to divide the cost of rent and insurance by hours worked, Khalid is paying an additional cost of about $15.51 an hour.
“When you look at expenses, you don’t make anything for Uber,” he told me. “I work four days a week [usually], the busy days which are Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. If I work about 10 hours, I’m rarely going to make anything after expenses; I’ll only make $100 to $150. I only work four days so I work hard because I have to pay rent. I work 14 to 17 hours a day just for those days because I cover myself up for the week, gas, and other expenses.”
But Khalid’s estimation of hours worked per week is a bit off. He worked between 8.02 and 41.38 hours. Two of those weeks he worked more than 35 hours, another week he worked 17.65 hours and one week he worked the late night shift for only 8.02 hours. That week, his lowest income, Khalid only netted $368.21 meaning he couldn’t cover his rent, insurance, and expenses and was in debt that week.
So we calculated Khalid’s new average of net income per hour over the five weeks I had access to by distributing his two largest expenses of being an Uber driver (rent and insurance) of approximately $641.67 over hours worked per week and subtracted that hourly expense from the net income per hour based on his pay stubs. His original average hourly net income without expenses was $32.90. Accounting for two weeks where he was technically in debt and could not cover both his rent AND insurance because he did not make enough, Khalid’s new average including expenses was a net income of $10.36.
Even drivers who own their vehicles and don’t have to worry about rental payments still come up against concerns. Take Yilmaz Genc, a student attempting to pay his way through nursing school. Genc worked between 24.67 hours and 36.2 hours a week over five weeks, a fairly consistent and narrow range of hours, and made between $901.98 and $1,296.77. Genc attends Bergen Community College, is from New Jersey, and until one month ago drove for Uber in New Jersey. After spending some time frustrated with the extremely low rate per mile in New Jersey, he got his TLC license to drive in New York.
“In New Jersey the price right now is too low,” Genc told me. “Per mile it is $1.10 and in New York it is $2.50… even when you go to pick up [from] long distances. I got a passenger from Newark airport and I went to Brooklyn. It was $38.00. Right now I just started working in New York, I don’t open my app in New Jersey. Because otherwise I cannot afford it if I get a customer from New Jersey.”
In other words, in addition to the $500 a month Genc pays for insurance and other expenses like gas (which is arguably more since he is coming into the city to work from New Jersey), and maintenance, Genc also has to pay all the tolls coming to or from New Jersey.
“You can make $25 an hour,” Genc said. “Maybe I’ll make $25, but who is going to pay for my car? I pay tax, car, and my insurance.”
For Genc, the tolls to go to and from the city to his classes in Bergen Community College or home in New Jersey run him a minimum of $9 to $11 depending on whether he’s traveling during peak hours (which are 6 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends). Genc, by his own estimation, works four to five days a week, a figure that was verified by the pay statements I obtained, meaning he pays roughly $36 to $55 a week on tolls. When added to his insurance fees, which are approximately $125 a week, that’s an extra $161 to $180 in outside expenses per week, not accounting for gas and car maintenance.
Genc’s — whose pay statements indicate his net income per hour was $36.88 — new average net income per week when his tolls and insurance are distributed over hours worked comes to $31.44.
Though it varies on a driver-to-driver basis, typically, in order to be an Uber driver, contract employees incur the added expenses of gas, car maintenance, insurance, and tolls (to come back from a trip) which are often overlooked and not factored into Uber’s promotional materials. Paired with one-time expenses (such as a $300 down payment on the iPhone Uber gives to all drivers), the net weekly income of some new drivers begins to plummet. Jack Tse, a new Uber driver, saw his first week’s net take-home pay reach just $19.41 after 11.13 hours of driving. Tse — who made upwards of $800 at Page A Ride, the last car service he worked, according to the pay stub he showed me — only made enough to cover half the deposit so Uber only charged him $150 for that week. That brings Tse’s hourly average for that week only to $3.99 not including any other expenses.
Drivers do, however, also receive one-time bonuses such as referral fees, sign-on bonuses, and other driver incentives (i.e. on Halloween if you drove 20 hours you were guaranteed $250 even if you didn’t make that money.)
Uber has publicly touted wage data that aims to prove that the company’s ride-sharing opportunity is the most lucrative in the industry and, after examining raw pay stubs, I found that those averages largely hold true. A deeper examination, however — one that accounts for the number of logistical and monetary expenses Uber drivers regularly incur — paints a much bleaker picture of what these drivers are actually making on average.
Using Uber driver data as well as information from interviews, I calculated a new weighted average for the eight drivers. This new average included any bonuses Uber offered to drivers as an incentive to work certain hours or days (meaning drivers earned that money based on what they drove), a minimum of $125 for insurance for each driver unless otherwise indicated, tolls for drivers like Genc who see those costs every day (I hedged toward the lower end of the total cost averages), and weekly rent for those that don’t own their cars. Without including other real weekly expenses such as gas, car maintenance (or accounting for depreciation of the car), I found that the average net income per hour for the eight drivers was $21.90, roughly 10 dollars per hour less than the combined hourly wage from the raw Uber data.
Because drivers incur a myriad of different costs and all driver patterns and behaviors vary wildly, it is nearly impossible to estimate with certainty exactly what the average driver makes (because there really is no such thing as an average Uber driver).
The numbers obtained by BuzzFeed News offer only a small slice from a particular time of the year. Since driving hours and patterns are subject to a variety of factors like time of year, even time of day, and weather, a definitive average number cannot be calculated with this sample size. However, if we assume an average weighted driver wage of $21.90 per hour, which factors in just a fraction of driver expenses, and assume drivers work 30 hours a week (again, not necessarily typical, but a middle range of the hours worked by the eight drivers we spoke to), we can assume a rough projected yearly driver salary of $34,164.

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