…as staff work all night to move the stones forward by an hour. Happy Daylight Saving Time to those who must endure it!
As the solar minimum continued, subfreezing temperatures and snowfalls were still breaking records in February. Canada and the US experienced another arctic blast from the now split ‘polar vortex’, pushing temperatures in Canada to -62°C and covering much of the northern, central and eastern U.S. with heavy snow. The cold blast also descended to Europe and parts of Asia. This ‘Beast from the East’ brought heavy snow to much of Europe with some parts colder than the Arctic!
China was hit by heavy snow, disrupting transportation and flights, while Japan had one of its worst winters in decades. Snow also blanketed unusual places like the UAE and Morocco.
Heavy rain caused destructive floods in Indonesia, New Zealand, Cyprus and deadly mudslides in South America, while seventy rivers overflowed from the Great Lakes to Texas. Record-breaking size hail pounded Argentina, while California and Saudi Arabia were pounded by hailstorms that caused damage and disrupted traffic for hours.
The Ring of Fire continued with increased activity, volcanoes and mud volcanoes that had been dormant for decades awoke with a vengeance, triggering evacuations and disrupting the flights of thousands of travelers. Taiwan, Papua New Guinea and Mexico were also shaken this past month by significant earthquakes as the the cosmic ray grand maximum approaches.
Dry tides are becoming more common all around the world, while mass fish deaths and strandings continue to baffle scientists.
Meteor fireballs put on quite a show again this month, while the reports of unexplained loud “booms” increased all over the world.
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The signs are everywhere. If you’re a middle aged man, you probably know a peer who has killed himself in recent years. At least one. If you’re a parent, you may have noticed that your daughter’s friends seem a little more on the ball than your son’s. They get better grades. They smoke less weed. They go to more prestigious colleges. If you’re an employer, you may have noticed that your female employees show up on time, whereas the young men often don’t. And of course if you live in this country, you’ve just seen a horrifying series of mass shootings, far more than we’ve ever had. Women didn’t do that. In every case, the shooter was a man.
Something ominous is happening to men in America. Everyone who pays attention knows that. What’s odd is how rarely you hear it publicly acknowledged. Our leaders pledge to create more opportunities for women and girls, whom they imply are failing. Men don’t need help. They’re the patriarchy. They’re fine. More than fine.
But are they fine? Here are the numbers:
Start with the most basic, life and death. The average American man will die five years before the average American woman. One of the reasons for this is addiction. Men are more than twice as likely as women to become alcoholics. They’re also twice as likely to die of a drug OD. In New Hampshire, one of the states hit hardest by the opioid crisis, 73 percent of overdose deaths were men.
But the saddest reason for shortened life spans is suicide. Seventy-seven percent of all suicides are committed by men. The overall rate is increasing at a dramatic pace. Between 1997 and 2014, there was a 43 percent rise in suicide deaths among middle aged American men. The rates are highest among American Indian and white men, who kill themselves at about ten times the rate of Hispanic and black women.
You often hear of America’s incarceration crisis. That’s almost exclusively a male problem too. Over 90 percent of inmates are male.
These problems are complex, and they start young. Relative to girls, boys are failing in school. More girls than boys graduate high school. Considerably more go to and graduate from college. Boys account for the overwhelming majority of school discipline cases. One study found that fully one in five high school boys had been diagnosed with hyperactivity disorder, compared with just one in 11 girls. Many were medicated for it. The long term health effects of those medications aren’t fully understood, but they appear to include depression in later life.
Women decisively outnumber men in graduate school. They earn the majority of doctoral degrees. They are now the majority of new enrollees in both law and medical schools.
For men, the consequences of failing in school are profound. Between 1979-2010, working age men with only high school degrees saw their real hourly wages drop about 20 percent. Over the same period, high school educated women saw their wages rise. The decline of the industrial economy disproportionately hurt men.
There are now seven million working age American men who are no longer in the labor force. They’ve dropped out. Nearly half of them take pain medication on any given day. That’s the highest rate in the world.
Far fewer young men get married than did just a few decades ago, and fewer stay married. About one in five American children live with only their mothers. That’s double the rate in 1970. Millions more boys are growing up without fathers. Young adult men are now more likely to live with a parent than with a spouse or partner. That is not the case for young women. Single women buy their own homes at more than twice the rate of single men. More women than men now have drivers licenses.
Whenever gender differences come up in public debate, the so-called wage gap dominates the conversation. A woman makes 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That’s the statistic you’ll hear. It’s repeated everywhere. But that number compares all American men to all American women across all professions. No legitimate social scientist would consider that a valid measure. The number is both meaningless and intentionally misleading. It’s a talking point.
Once you compare men and women with similar experience working the same hours in similar jobs for the same period of time – and that’s the only way you can measure it – the gap all but disappears. In fact it may invert. One study using census data found that single women in their 20s living in metropolitan areas now earn eight percent more on average than their male counterparts. By the way, the majority of managers are now women. Women on average are scoring higher on IQ tests than men are.
Men are even falling behind physically. A recent study found that almost half of young men failed the Army’s entry-level physical fitness test during basic training. Fully seventy percent of American men are overweight or obese, as compared to 59 percent of American women.
Perhaps most terrifyingly, men seem to be becoming less male. Sperm counts across the west have plummeted, down almost 60 percent since the early 1970s. Scientists don’t know why. Testosterone levels in men have also fallen precipitously. One study found that the average levels of male testosterone dropped by one percent every year after 1987. This is unrelated to age. The average 40-year-old-man in 2017 would have testosterone levels 30 percent lower than the average 40-year-old man in 1987.
There is no upside to this. Lower testosterone levels in men are associated with depression, lethargy, weight gain and decreased cognitive ability. Nothing like this has ever happened. You’d think we’d want to know what exactly is going on and how to fix it. But the media ignore the story. It’s considered a fringe topic.
Nor is it a priority in the scientific research establishment. We checked and couldn’t find a single NIH-funded study on why testosterone levels are falling. We did find a study on, quote, “Pubic Hair Grooming Prevalence and Motivation Among Women in the United States.”
Those are the numbers. They paint a very clear picture: American men are failing, in body, mind and spirit. This is a crisis. Yet our leaders pretend it’s not happening. They tell us the opposite is true: Women are victims, men are oppressors. To question that assumption is to risk punishment. Even as women far outpace men in higher education, virtually every college campus supports a women’s studies department, whose core goal is to attack male power. Our politicians and business leaders internalize and amplify that message. Men are privileged. Women are oppressed. Hire and promote and reward accordingly.
That would be fine if it were true. But it’s not true. At best, it’s an outdated view of an America that no longer exists. At worst, it’s a pernicious lie.
Either way, ignoring the decline of men doesn’t help anyone. Men and women need each other. One cannot exist without the other. That’s elemental biology, but it’s also the reality each of us has lived, with our parents and siblings and friends. When men fail, all of us suffer.
12 Nov 2015
The scale of corruption involved in this case is beyond belief, in the billions of dollars.
Operation Car Wash began in March 2014 at a petrol and car wash complex in Brasilia, Brazil’s capital, and it was initially thought to be routine.
The Federal Police team had the location under surveillance believing that it was the centre of a money -laundering operation run by Alberto Youseff, a former convicted criminal known as the “doleiro de doleiros” – the money launderer of money launderers.
When it was discovered in one of Youssef’s intercepted emails that he was paying for a Land Rover for an executive of Petrobras, Brazil’s national oil company, it immediately raised suspicions.
The executive turned out to be Paulo Roberto Costa, the man in charge of refining and supply. Costa became the main target in the first phase of the Car Wash investigation and was arrested.
Deltan Dallagnol, the lead Federal Prosecutor for the case, says that investigators uncovered “evidence of money laundering” totalling some 26 million Brazilian reals ($8m). Criminal charges were brought against Costa, who negotiated a plea bargain with authorities.
“That allowed for an exponential expansion of the investigation,” Dallagnol says. “It was the big bang of the Car Wash Operation.”
Never before did Brazil export corruption like it did in the Car Wash case.
Bruno Brandao, head of Transparency International
Costa admitted that the Land Rover was just one of many bribes he received to issue contracts to construction companies, and told law enforcement officials participating in a task force set up to pursue the case that the bribing scheme was much larger than anything they imagined.
Corruption in the supply division he oversaw, Costa said, “was the tip of the iceberg”.
Bruno Brandao, the head of Transparency International in Brazil, says, “Never before did Brazil export corruption like it did in the Car Wash case.”
He adds that the problem of corruption in Brazil is systemic, and that in the Car Wash scandal, “the mechanism of corruption was traditional – overcharging of contracts and the setup of company cartels. What is new is the scale, the amounts of money and number of people involved – officials and companies. The dimensions of this case are what makes it extraordinary.”
Federal police inspector Felipe Hayashi, who heads the Financial Crimes Unit of the Car Wash taskforce, says the investigation “reached people of the highest rank and level of responsibility. That’s something that has never happened before.”
Investigators learned that there was a cartel of companies that dealt with Petrobras. According to a secret agreement that existed for more than 10 years, the cartel would nominate one of its members to be awarded each Petrobras contract – for refineries, oil rigs, and other multimillion-dollar projects.
“We secured documents that laid out the operation of the cartel in terms of championship rules for different sports,” says Dallagnol. “There were 16 championship players and their objective was to ‘maximise’ prizes in national and international markets alike. Obviously, these companies would never openly admit cartel arrangements in a clear way, so they tried to disguise them as championship rules for different sports.”
The cartel rules resulted in steep overpayments for the work done. Petrobras executives were bribed to go along, and the cost of the bribe built into the contract. In fact, the scheme stretched far beyond Petrobras to contracts for stadiums for the 2014 World Cup, the 2016 Rio Olympics and other major infrastructure projects throughout the country.
|Brazil’s Car Wash scandal turned into the largest corruption case in Latin America’s history, involving some of the region’s most prominent public figures. [Getty Images]|
On June 19, 2015, the taskforce moved against the cartel players.
“It was time to take a step which had never been taken before in history; when big businessmen were finally reached, people who had been considered princes of enterprises in Brazil,” says Dallagnol.
Twelve top-level executives were arrested, among them Marcelo Odebrecht, CEO of the company that bears his name. Odebrecht is the largest construction company in Latin America. Its bribing operation typified that of cartel members and was the most extensive in the region.
Marcel Odebrecht was held without bail, and less than a year after his detention he was sentenced to 19 years in prison for corruption, money laundering and criminal association.
For decades and decades, in Brazil, you had to apply grease for everything. If a citizen wanted to obtain an ID, he certainly would have to pay something to a public agent to expedite the process.
Sergio Foguel, member of the Odebrecht Board of Directors
We headed to Salvador in northeast Brazil to get the Odebrecht Company’s response to the scandal.
The business was founded in 1944 by Marcelo Odebrecht’s grandfather, and the city is still its headquarters. Sergio Foguel, a long-time member of the Odebrecht Board of Directors, agreed to talk to us.
Despite the conviction of its CEO, the company still operates in more than 20 countries around the world and had revenues of about $26bn last year.
“There is no excuse to justify those acts of misconduct,” Foguel says. “But for decades and decades, in Brazil, you had to apply grease for everything. If a citizen wanted to obtain an ID, he certainly would have to pay something to a public agent to expedite the process”.
Our reporter, Gustavo Gorriti, wanted to know why the company had consistently denied any wrongdoing for months and months during the investigation.
“Despite all our strength as a company, we carried out acts within our organisation that today would be completely inadmissible,” Foguel says. “There was a collective blindness. Initially, corruption was tolerated and later, it expanded in an incredible way.”
|A plea bargain by Odebrecht employees in the Lava Jato (Car Wash) corruption scandal led to testimony ensnaring nine ministers in President Michel Temer’s cabinet under investigation [Mario Tama/Getty]|
According to authorities, Odebrecht had a division of “Structured Operations” that ran an intricate off-the-books accounting system and a bank to bribe not only company executives, but also politicians.
This started to become clear when Marcelo Odebrecht began talking in hopes of reducing his 19-year sentence.
In testimony to prosecutors captured on audiotape, Odebrecht admitted that his company bribed politicians from all the major Brazilian parties in exchange for appointing Petrobras executives at the public company. Dozens of congressmen, senators and ministers have so far been implicated in the scandal.
Odebrecht’s testimony dealt a body blow to the Workers’ Party of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and his successor Dilma Rousseff.
Amid a deep political crisis, Dilma Rousseff was impeached in August 2016. Two weeks later, Lula was formally charged with corruption in connection with the Car Wash scandal.
While Brazil’s elites were being held to account, investigators were also making steady progress on the international front with the help of the US Department of Justice. The country is one of the world’s main destinies for financial transactions.
“This provides the United States jurisdiction over a good deal of money laundering crimes that happen around the world,” Dallagnol says. “The US acted in a very efficient way, identifying accounts kept in their country to launder money and delivering documents very quickly.
In December 2016, Odebrecht pleaded guilty to American charges that it provided almost $800m in bribes for more than 100 projects in 12 countries. It agreed to pay a $3.5bn fine and disclose details of its corrupt activities in Latin America and Africa.
According to Brandao, “Odebrecht, at least in the 12 countries it operated, had the same system, the same mechanism – plug and play. It was serial corruption.”
Odebrecht’s guilty plea in the US set off investigations throughout Latin America. Key to those efforts was deciphering how the money flowed from the company to corrupt officials through countries like Panama that specialise in offshore banking.
Rolando Rodriguez, who heads the investigative unit of the Panamanian newspaper La Prensa, says that “From Panama, money went out to officials from Brazil, officials from Peru and other parts of the world.”
Panama’s police investigators uncovered a Panamanian company tied to Odebrecht called Contructora Internacional del Sur.
“It was a fake company that received money from Odebrecht and sent it out to accounts in different countries, especially Switzerland,” Rodriquez says. “So, the laundering structure was set up using companies, most of them from Panama, as well as bank accounts, most of them from abroad.”
Many of the shell companies used by members of the Brazilian construction cartel to dispense bribes were set up by Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the centre of the Panama Papers leak, which exposed the financial dealings of some of the most powerful and wealthy people in the world.
“Mossack Fonseca is one of the oldest firms that work on setting up shell corporations,” Rodriguez says. “So, by arriving here in Panama you resolve the problem of having to travel to 10 different countries to get 100 corporations.”
Panama was not only a good transit point for corrupt payments. It was also a place to land large construction projects at inflated prices. With projects of some $9bn, Odebrecht is the most important construction company in Panama. Between 2010 and 2014, according to the US Department of Justice, Odebrecht paid tens of millions of dollars in bribes to secure public works contracts. One of the most profitable was building the Coast Highway.
I do harm to a country for $2 or $3bn. I agree to pay $300m, $500m or a billion and, after some time, I walk away free. What a business.
Jose Antonio Dominguez, legislator
“Panama ended up paying a great deal for a project that should have cost much less,” says Jose Antonio Dominguez, a legislator with the country’s governing Panamenista party who has been questioning the pricing of the project for years. “That project, without any change, suddenly was awarded for $189.5m instead of $133.5m. Why that $60m difference? For what?”
In July 2017, Odebrecht reached an agreement with the Panama authorities to pay $220m in fines and provide information about public corruption to settle bribery charges in the country.
“I do harm to a country for $2 or $3bn. I agree to pay $300m, $500m or a billion and, after some time, I walk away free. What a business,” says Dominguez.
Tensions over the way Odebrecht conducted its business are growing throughout Latin America. The latest flashpoint is Peru, where the country’s ruling establishment is reeling from its connections to the company.
Attorney Walter Alban served as the public ombudsman in Peru from 2000 to 2005 during the presidency of Alejandro Toledo, now accused of receiving bribes from Odebrecht.
“It’s been demonstrated that there were transfers through offshore companies and close friends of the former president,” he says.
Odebrecht wanted the lion’s share of a multibillion-dollar highway project connecting the Peruvian coast to Brazil and they got it. Toledo has been charged with accepting a $20m bribe to steer them the business.
Jorge Barata, the head of Odebrecht in Peru, confessed in 2016 that he struck the deal in a meeting at a Copa Cabana hotel in Brazil that Toledo attended. Peruvian prosecutors are trying to extradite Toledo from the US to face bribery charges, which he denies.
Alban says Odebrecht didn’t just pay off individual politicians. The company promoted its interests by gaining influence over the political system itself.
“The scheme Odebrecht had was not only related to bribes to get contracts,” Alban says. “There was also this practice of promoting candidates and financing political parties, and not just one but all that might have a chance of winning.”
In a videotaped confession to prosecutors obtained by Peruvian investigative journalism organisation IDL-Reporteros, Barata admitted to giving $3m to the Nationalist Party to help finance the 2011 presidential campaign of Ollanta Humala. Humala won and served as president from 2011 to 2016.
Corruption is not an issue of right or left, or ideology. But of a confluence of interests.
Walter Alban, lawyer
Barata also claimed his company supported the left-wing Humala not only to promote Odebrecht´s interests in Peru, but to curry favour with Lula’s Workers’ Party in Brazil. “The Workers Party had an interest that all South American presidents share the same political and economic line as the Workers Party. Humala had those characteristics,” Barata says.
According to Alban, Odebrecht had strong links with ex-president Lula’s party in Brazil. It is described as a “geopolitical strategy” he says, indicating that “corruption is not an issue of right or left, or ideology. But of a confluence of interests.”
Both Humala and his wife, Nadine Heredia who was general secretary of the Nationalist Party, are now in prison awaiting trial.
Keiko Fujimori and her Popular Force party are also under investigation for taking money from Odebrecht to fund her 2011 presidential bid. Fujimori says the accusation is false but Marcelo Odebrecht has testified that his company helped finance her campaign.
On February 28, Barata met Peruvian prosecutors and confirmed that the company gave money to support Fujimori in the presidential race – $1.2m.
“There aren’t political parties any more” says Alban, “There are groups that define themselves as political, but strictly speaking, they are supported in all cases by illegal funds”.
|Demonstrators protest for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff and also against corruption being investigated involving resource diversion and money laundering in Petrobras scandal of corruption on March 16, 2016, in Sao Paulo, Brazil [Victor Moriyama/Getty]|
Last December, the Car Wash scandal arrived at the doorstep of Peru’s current president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. Peru’s congress launched impeachment proceedings against him, alleging his companies received almost $800,000 from Odebrecht while he was serving as a public official.
Kuzcinsky vehemently denies all wrongdoing and narrowly avoided impeachment but prosecutors continue their investigations. In his February meeting with prosecutors, Barata said Odebrecht also contributed to Kuzcinsky’s 2011 presidential campaign.
Peru’s Attorney General Pablo Sanchez is overseeing the investigation of Peru’s high-level officials for dealings with Odebrecht. “We are talking about corruption and a series of very complex crimes that involve several different governments, not just one but at least three,” he says.
When asked why the corruption connected to the Car Wash case went so far in Peru, he says: “Our country is not prepared to face cases of this nature or prevent crime,” Sanchez says. “Our country has trusted too much in the behaviour of state officials and the politicians in our country. So in that way, we haven’t advanced at all, or just very little. What we do now, proper investigations, proper convictions, will help prevent this from happening again in the future.”
Car Wash in Brazil today is no longer just an investigation, nor a process. Lavo Jato today in Brazil is an attitude, an expectation that impunity will start to fade away.
Bruno Brandao, head of Transparency International
Every week seems to bring new developments around the world in connection with the Car Wash scandal.
Governments from Ecuador to Angola are dealing with the repercussions of the case. Meanwhile, back in Brazil, the Supreme Court is considering former President Lula’s appeal of a 12-year sentence he received for corruption. His plans to run for president this October are in danger of being derailed.
“Car Wash in Brazil today is no longer just an investigation, nor a process. Lava Jato today in Brazil is an attitude, an expectation that impunity will start to fade away,” Brandao says.
Alban agrees that a new attitude towards corruption is arising in Latin America. “Democratic societies in which we can say that the problem of corruption is at least controlled,” are those in which the public watches over how public resources are spent and demands “that public authorities be held to account. Because of the Car Wash case that is something that I believe is beginning to happen.”
Yet it’s Canada that’s led the way as the premier cannabis market. Having already legalized medical marijuana back in 2001, the country appears to be on the verge of green-lighting the sale of recreational pot to adults by this coming summer. Its Senate is slated to vote on the measure on June 7, with passage and the expected signing of the bill paving the way for adult-use sales to commence in August or September. This could, in all likelihood, add $5 billion a year or more in sales to the industry.
As you might imagine, Canadian cannabis growers have been angling to get as much of the medicinal cannabis and recreational market as they possibly can, though recreational sales will account for a significantly larger share of total sales. Organic expansion, strategic partnerships, and acquisitions have been occurring at a blistering pace. In fact, four of the five largest marijuana acquisitions of all-time have occurred within a four-month span.
Unfortunately, this rush to grow capacity as quickly as balance sheets will allow could be setting Canada up for an overabundance of cannabis of epic proportions. Even though no one has any real idea how much marijuana Canadians will demand, there’s no shortage of guesstimates.
A recent online report from Grizzle figured countrywide demand at around 800,000 kilograms per year. Meanwhile, uOttawa estimates the annual Canadian consumption at 770,000 kilograms, while a 2017 report from the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer projected 655,000 kilograms in purely recreational demand. This was at a time when medical cannabis producers were delivering around 80,000 kilograms a year. Everything is a guess at this point, and most folks probably have their preferred source, but the relative consensus is that 730,000 kilograms to 800,000 kilograms is where the annual demand floor lies.
How does that stack up against annual production estimates for growers? Let’s take a look.
Canopy Growth Corp. (NASDAQOTH:TWMJF) will likely be the largest producer in Canada. It already has seven facilities operating on 665,000 square feet of growing space, and it’s constructing or developing 3.4 million square feet of growing capacity in British Columbia. Though it hasn’t offered any production estimates, it could conservatively be generating north of 300,000 kilograms per year, if not 350,000 kilograms by 2020.
Aurora Cannabis’ (NASDAQOTH:ACBFF) latest operating results guided toward 240,000 to 270,000 kilograms of annual production. Most will come from Aurora Sky and its Danish Aurora Nordic project, which are expected to yield more than 100,000 kilograms and 120,000 kilograms, respectively. Aurora Cannabis’ acquisition of CanniMed Therapeutics, the costliest pot buyout in history, should also add 19,000 kilograms in annual cannabis capacity.
Not far behind Aurora is Aphria (NASDAQOTH:APHQF), which should yield around 230,000 kilograms of dried cannabis a year. Its four-phase organic project should yield 100,000 kilograms, while a strategic partnership with Double Diamond Farms will add another 120,000 kilograms. Aphria’s acquisition of Broken Coast Cannabis tacks on another 10,500 kilograms a year.
After going public last year, MedReleaf’s (NASDAQOTH:MEDFF) expansion at Bradford, Ontario, plus its existing Markham facility, will combine for 35,000 kilograms a year. More recently, its acquisition of 164 acres of property, 69 of which had an existing facility (the Exeter Facility) that’ll be retrofitted to grow cannabis, should add another 105,000 kilograms. In total, MedReleaf can produce 140,000 kilograms a year.
Tony Robinson explores the major uprising across large parts of England in 1381, its origins, motives and aftermath.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange lashed out at the UK government over Twitter on Friday after Britain’s official UN account (UK Mission to the United Nations) tweeted “A free and independent media fulfils a vital role in holding the powerful to account and giving a voice to the powerless,” with a link to a puff piece waxing eloquent over the UK’s commitment to free speech.
Assange – apparently not included in the UK’s definition of “free and independent media” (facing arrest and detention should he leave the Embassy), fired off a stunning reply – claiming that the UK’s has spent roughly twice as much spying on him as it has on their entire international human rights program.
“And that is exactly why you have detained me without charge for eight years in violation of two UN rulings and spent over 20 million pounds spying on me you hypocritical mother fuckers. Your entire international human rights programme is £10.6m you pathetic frauds.”
Assange then followed up with “Remember how I exposed your secret deal to put Saudi Arabia on the Human Rights Council?” referring to a 2015 vote-trading deal in which the UK approached Saudi Arabia in secret, promising it a seat on the UN Human Rights Council in exchange for council support.
Assange, 46, remains confined in the Ecuadorian embassy in London following a failed appeal of his arrest warrant for skipping bail to enter the embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over allegations of sexual assault (which Sweden has dropped).
The UN, meanwhile, has twice ruled that Assange’s detention is unlawful. Despite this, the judge in his most recent appeal – Emma Arbuthnot, who said “I find arrest is a proportionate response even though Mr Assange has restricted his own freedom for a number of years.” Judge Arbuthnot’s impartiality in the Assange matter has been called into question, while her husband and ex-Conservative MP, Baron James Arbuthnot, is listed as the director of a security company along with the former head of MI6. Not exactly friends of WikiLeaks.
Moreover, a February report from the Guardian reveals that Sweden wanted to drop their case against Assange as early as 2013, but was pressured by the UK to maintain it.
The newly-released emails show that the Swedish authorities were eager to give up the case four years before they formally abandoned proceedings in 2017 and that the CPS dissuaded them from doing so.
The CPS lawyer handling the case, who has since retired, commented on an article which suggested that Sweden could drop the case in August 2012. He wrote: “Don’t you dare get cold feet!!!”. –The Guardian
Assange Drops Bombs
In yet another angry tweet by the WikiLeaks founder, Assange replied to a two-week old comment by former Eric Holder – blaming the former Attorney General for putting him in the position to release emails from the DNC, Hillary Clinton and John Podesta during the 2016 US election.
Ostensibly getting ahead of the upcoming midterm elections in November, Holder tweeted “Russian threat to our upcoming elections: do something!” Holder then called for sanctions, ending the tweet with “We were attacked!”
Assange replied: “Attacked? By what? The truth? It’s entirely your own fault, Eric. Thanks to your unconstitutional grand jury against @WikiLeaks you left me with nothing to do but work 24/7, in harsh conditions, for years–and I’m good, very good, at my job.”
Holder, who was President Obama’s Attorney General, attempted to prosecute WikiLeaks and Assange personally over the publication of military documents and US diplomatic cables regarding Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Russia-theorists” – particularly neoconservatives and hawkish Democrats, have maintained that WikiLeaks is a “cutout” for Russian to engage in information warfare, and blame Moscow for the theft and publication of the leaked emails.
Assange added to his response to Holder, tweeting “Next time, not that there will be one, try following the constitution you swore to uphold,” with a link to a 2014 article calling for Holder to drop the investigation against WikiLeaks or resign.
Because we still have too many Nazis embedded in Canadian politics. They mostly hide within the Conservative party.
“The Canadian government also recently renewed funding for a detachment of 200 “advisors” to train Ukrainian militias, along with twenty-three million dollars—it is true a pittance by American standards—for “non-lethal” military aid, justified by Ms. Freeland to defend Ukrainian “democracy”. Truly, we live in a dystopian world where reality is turned on its head. Fascism is democracy; resistance to fascism is terrorism.”
Canada has a reputation for being a relatively progressive state with universal, single-payer health care, various other social benefits, and strict gun laws, similar to many European countries but quite unlike the United States. It has managed to stay out of some American wars, for example, Vietnam and Iraq, portrayed itself as a neutral “peace keeper”, pursuing a so-called policy of “multilateralism” and attempting from time to time to keep a little independent distance from the United States.
Behind this veneer of respectability lies a not so attractive reality of elite inattention to the defence of Canadian independence from the United States and intolerance toward the political and syndicalist left. Police repression against communist and left-wing unionists and other dissidents after World War I was widespread. Strong support for appeasement of Nazi Germany, overt or covert sympathy for fascism, especially in Québec, and hatred of the Soviet Union were widespread in Canada during the 1930s. The Liberal prime minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, hobnobbed with Nazi notables including Adolf Hitler, and thought that his British counterpart Neville Chamberlain had not gone far enough in appeasing Hitlerite Germany. Mackenzie King and many others of the Canadian elite saw communism as a greater threat to Canada than fascism. As in Europe, the Canadian elite—Liberal or Conservative did not matter—was worried by the Spanish civil war (1936-1939). In Québec French public opinion under the influence of the Catholic Church hoped for fascist victory and the eradication of communism. In 1937 a Papal encyclical whipped up the Red Scare amongst French Canadian Catholics. Rejection of Soviet offers of collective security against Hitler was the obverse side of appeasement. The fear of victory over Nazi Germany in alliance with the USSR was greater than the fear of defeat against fascism. Such thoughts were either openly expressed over dinner at the local gentleman’s club or kept more discrete by people who did not want to reveal the extent of their sympathy for fascism.
The Liberal prime minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, hobnobbed with Nazi notables including Adolf Hitler, and thought that his British counterpart Neville Chamberlain had not gone far enough in appeasing Hitlerite Germany
Even after the Nazi invasion of the USSR in June 1941, and the formation of the Grand Alliance against the Axis, there was strong reticence amongst the governing elite in Canada toward the Soviet Union. It was a shotgun marriage, a momentary arrangement with an undesirable partner, necessitated by the over-riding threat of the Nazi Wehrmacht.
“If Hitler invaded Hell,” Winston Churchill famously remarked, “I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.” Once Hitler was beaten, however, it would be back to business as usual. The Grand Alliance was a “truce”, as some of my students have proposed to me, in a longer cold war between the west and the USSR. This struggle began in November 1917 when the Bolsheviks seized power in Petrograd; it resumed after 1945 when the “truce”, or if you like, the Grand Alliance, came to a sudden end.
This was no more evident than in Canada where elite hatred of communism was a homegrown commodity and not simply an American imitation. So it should hardly be a surprise that after 1945 the Canadian government – Mackenzie King was still prime minister – should open its doors to the immigration of approximately 34,000 “displaced persons”, including thousands of Ukrainian fascists and Nazi collaborators, responsible for heinous war crimes in the Ukraine and Poland. These were veterans of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), the Waffen SS Galicia and the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), all collaborators of Nazi Germany during World War II.
Chrystia Freeland, the current Canadian minister for external affairs
The most notorious of the Nazi collaborators who immigrated to Canada was Mykhailo Chomiak, a mid-level Nazi operative in Poland, who came under US protection at the end of the war and eventually made his way to Canada where he settled in Alberta. Had he been captured by the Red Army, he would quite likely have been hanged for collaboration with the enemy. In Canada however he prospered as a farmer. His grand-daughter is the “Ukrainian-Canadian” Chrystia Freeland, the present minister for external affairs. She is a well-known Russophobe, persona non grata in the Russian Federation, who long claimed her grandfather was a “victim” of World War II. Her claims to this effect have been demonstrated to be untrue by the Australian born journalist John Helmer, amongst many others.
In 1940 the Liberal government facilitated the creation of the Canadian Ukrainian Congress (UCC), one of many organisations used to fight or marginalise the left in Canada, in this case amongst Canadian Ukrainians. The UCC is still around and appears to dominate the Ukrainian-Canadian community. Approximately 1.4 million people living in Canada claim full or partial Ukrainian descent though generally the latter. Most “Ukrainian-Canadians” were born in Canada; well more than half live in the western provinces. The vast majority has certainly never set foot in the Ukraine. It is this constituency on which the UCC depends to pursue its political agenda in Ottawa.
The Canadian Ukrainian Congress (UCC) president Paul Grod
After the coup d’état in Kiev in February 2014 the UCC lobbied the then Conservative government under Stephen Harper to support the Ukrainian “regime change” operation which had been conducted by the United States and European Union. The UCC president, Paul Grod, took the lead in obtaining various advantages from the Harper government, including arms for the putschist regime in Kiev. It survives only through massive EU and US direct or indirect financial/political support and through armed backing from fascist militias who repress dissent by force and intimidation. Mr. Grod claims that Russia is pursuing a policy of “aggression” against the Ukraine. If that were true, the putschists in Kiev would have long ago disappeared. The Harper government allowed fund raising for Pravyi Sektor, a Ukrainian fascist paramilitary group, through two organisations in Canada including the UCC, and even accorded “charitable status” to one of them to facilitate their fund raising and arms buying. Harper also sent military “advisors” to train Ukrainian forces, the backbone of which are fascist militias. The Trudeau government has continued that policy. “Canada should prepare for Russian attempts to destabilize its democracy,” according to Minister Freeland: “Ukraine is a very important partner to Canada and we will continue to support its efforts for democracy and economic growth.” For a regime that celebrates violence and anti-Russian racism, represses political opposition, burns books, and outlaws the Russian language, “democracy” is an Orwellian portrayal of actual realities in the Ukraine. Nevertheless, late last year the Canadian government approved the sale of arms to Kiev and a so-called Magnitsky law imposing sanctions on Russian nationals.
The Harper government allowed fund raising for Pravyi Sektor, a Ukrainian fascist paramilitary group
There is no political opposition in the House of Commons to these policies. Even the New Democratic Party (NDP), that burnt out shell of Canadian social democracy, supported the Harper government, at the behest of Mr. Grod, a Ukrainian lobbyist who knows his way around Ottawa. In 2015 the UCC put a list of questions to party leaders, one of which was the following: “Does your party support listing the Luhansk People’s Republic and the Donetsk People’s Republic as terrorist organizations?” The Lugansk and Donetsk republics are of course anti-fascist resistance movements that emerged in reaction to the violent coup d’état in Kiev. They are most certainly not “terrorist” organisations, although they are subjected to daily bombardments against civilian areas by Kiev putschist forces. Nevertheless, the then NDP leader, Thomas Mulcair, who would have agreed to almost anything to win power, answered in the affirmative. This must have been a moment of dismay for Canadians who still harboured illusions about the NDP as a progressive alternative to the Liberal and Conservative parties. How could it support a US/EU installed putschist regime which governs by intimidation and violence? In fact, it was a Conservative electoral strategy to obtain the votes of people of Ukrainian and East European descent by backing putschist Kiev and denouncing Russia. Mulcair was trying to outflank Harper on his right, but that did not work for he himself was outflanked on his left.
Some Canadians harboured illusions about the NDP as a progressive alternative to the Liberal and Conservative parties
In the 2015 federal elections the Liberals under Justin Trudeau, outwitted poor Mr. Mulcair and won the elections. The NDP suffered heavy electoral losses. Mulcair looked like someone who had made a Faustian bargain for nothing in return, and he lost a bid to remain as party leader. The Liberals campaigned on re-establishing better relations with the Russian Federation, but that promise did not hold up. The minister for external affairs, Stéphane Dion, tried to move forward on that line, but appears to have been stabbed in the back by Mr. Trudeau, with Ms. Freeland guiding his hand in the fatal blow. In early 2017 Dion was sacked and Freeland replaced him. That was the end of the Liberal promise to improve relations with the Russian government. Since then, under Freeland, Russian-Canadian relations have worsened.
The influential Mr. Grod appears to keep the Canadian government in his hip pocket. There are photographs of him side by side with Mr. Harper and then with Mr. Trudeau, with Ms. Freeland on his left. Mr. Grod has been a great success in backing putschist Kiev. Last summer Mr. Trudeau even issued a traditional Ukrainian fascist salute, “SlavaUkraini!”, to celebrate the anniversary of Ukrainian independence. The prime minister is a great believer in identity politics.
The influential Mr. Grod appears to keep the Canadian government in his hip pocket
The latest gesture of the Canadian government is to approve $1.4 million as a three year grant to promote a “Holodomor National Awareness Tour”. Ukrainian “nationalists” summon up the memory of the “Holodomor”, a famine in the Ukraine in 1932-1933, deliberately launched by Stalin, they say, in order to emphasise their victimisation by Russia. According to the latest Stalin biographer, Steven Kotkin, there was indeed a famine in the USSR that affected various parts of the country, the Ukraine amongst other regions. Kazakhstan, not the Ukraine suffered most. Between five and seven million people died. Ten millions starved. “Nonetheless, the famine was not intentional. It resulted from Stalin’s policies of forced collectivization…,” Kotkin writes, himself no advocate of the Soviet Union. Compulsion, peasant rebellion, bungling, mismanagement, drought, locust infestations, not targeting ethnicities, led to the catastrophe. “Similarly, there was no ‘Ukrainian’ famine,” according to Kotkin, “the famine was [a] Soviet[-wide disaster]” (Stalin, 2017, vol. 2, pp. 127-29). So the Liberal government is spending public funds to perpetuate a politically motivated myth to drum up hatred of Russia and to support putschist Kiev.
Identity politics and Canadian multiculturalism are now invoked to defend Ukrainian fascism celebrated in the streets of Kiev with torchlight parades and fascist symbols, remembering and celebrating Nazi collaborators and collaboration during World War II
The Canadian government also recently renewed funding for a detachment of 200 “advisors” to train Ukrainian militias, along with twenty-three million dollars—it is true a pittance by American standards—for “non-lethal” military aid, justified by Ms. Freeland to defend Ukrainian “democracy”. Truly, we live in a dystopian world where reality is turned on its head. Fascism is democracy; resistance to fascism is terrorism. Identity politics and Canadian multiculturalism are now invoked to defend Ukrainian fascism celebrated in the streets of Kiev with torchlight parades and fascist symbols, remembering and celebrating Nazi collaborators and collaboration during World War II. “Any country sending representatives to Russia’s celebration of the 70th anniversary of their victory against Adolf Hitler,” warned putschist Kiev in April 2015, “will be blacklisted by Ukraine.”
* * *
“The further a society drifts from the truth,” George Orwell once said, “the more it will hate those that speak it.”
Well, here is one truth that Mr. Trudeau and Ms. Freeland will not want to hear, hate it or not: 42,000 Canadian soldiers, not to mention 27 million Soviet citizens, died during the war against the Axis. Memories must be fading, for now we have come to this pass, where our government is supporting a violent, racist regime in Kiev directly descended from that very enemy against which Canada and its allies fought during World War II.
Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Liberty Report and RonPaulInstitute.org
SHOW NOTES: https://www.corbettreport.com/?p=26318
Paul Craig Roberts
Americans live a never-never-land existence. The politicians and presstitutes make sure of that.
Consider something as simple as the unemployment rate. The US is said to have full employment with a January 2018 unemployment rate of 4.1 percent, down from 9.8 percent in January 2010. https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000
However, the low rate of unemployment is contradicted by the long-term decline in the labor force participation rate. After a long rise during the Reagan 1980s, the labor force participation rate peaked in January 1990 at 66.8 percent, more or less holding to that rate for another decade until 2001 when decline set in accelerating in September 2008. https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CIVPART/
Today the labor force participation rate is the lowest since February 1978, reversing all of the gains of the Reagan years.
Allegedly, the current unemployment rate of 4.1 percent is the result of the long recovery that allegedly began in June 2009. However, normally, employment opportunities created by economic recovery cause an increase in the labor force participation rate as people join the work force to take advantage of employment opportunities. A fall in the participation rate is associated with recession or stagnation, not with economic recovery.
How can this contradiction be reconciled? The answer lies in the measurement of unemployment. If you have not looked for a job in the last four weeks, you are not counted as being unemployed, because you are not counted as being part of the work force. When there are no jobs to be found, job seekers become discouraged and cease looking for jobs. In other words, the 4.1 percent unemployment rate does not count discouraged workers who cannot find jobs.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has a second measure of unemployment that includes workers who have been discouraged and out of the labor force for less than one year. This rate of unemployment is 8.2 percent, double the 4.1 percent reported rate. https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS13327709
The US government no longer tracks unemployment among discouraged workers who have been out of the work force for more than one year. However, John Williams of shadowstats.com continues to estimate this rate and places it at 22 or 23 percent, a far cry from 4.1 percent.
In other words, the 4.1 percent unemployment rate does not count the unemployed who do show up in the declining labor force participation rate.
If the US had a print and TV media instead of the propaganda ministry that it has, the financial press would not tolerate the deception of the public about employment in America.
Junk economists, of which the US has an over-supply, claim that the decline in the labor force participation rate merely reflects people who prefer to live on welfare than to work for a living and the current generation of young people who prefer life at home with parents paying the bills. This explanation from junk economists does not explain why suddenly Americans discovered welfare and became lazy in 2001 and turned their back on job opportunities. The junk economists also do not explain why, if the economy is at full employment, competition for workers is not driving up wages.
The reason Americans cannot find jobs and have left the labor force is that US corporations have offshored millions of American jobs in order to raise profits, share prices, and executive bonuses by lowering labor costs. Many American industrial and manufacturing cities have been devastated by the relocation abroad of production for the American consumer market, by the movement abroad of IT and software engineering jobs, and by importing lower paid foreign workers on H1-B and other work visas to take the jobs of Americans. In my book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism, I give examples and document the devastating impact jobs offshoring has had on communities, cities, pension funds, and consumer purchasing power. http://www.claritypress.com/RobertsCapitalism.html and
John Williams of shadowstats.com questions whether there has been any real growth in the US economy since the 2008 crisis that resulted from the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act. Williams believes that the GDP growth rate is an illusion resulting from the understatement of inflation. Just as unemployment is under-counted, so is inflation.
Two “reforms” were introduced that result in the under-measurement of inflation. One is the substitution principle. When the price of an item in the basket of goods used to measure inflation goes up, that item is thrown out and a cheaper substitute is put in its place. The “reformers” argue that consumers themselves behave in this way. Thus, they claim this practice is reasonable. However, the old way of measuring inflation measured the cost of a constant standard of living. The new way measures the cost of a falling standard of living.
The other reform is to classify some price rises as quality improvements rather than as inflation. The consumer has to pay the higher price, but he is said to be getting a better product, and so it is not inflation. There is some truth to this, but it appears it is over-used in order to report low inflation rates. Both of these reforms are suspected of being motivated by holding down Social Security costs by denying cost-of-living (COLA) adjustments to Social Security recipients
If inflation is under-measured, the use of the measure to deflate nominal GDP in order to arrive at real GDP leaves some price rises in the GDP measure. Therefore, price rises or inflation are counted as increases in real goods and services. John Williams suspects that most of the GDP growth reported since the alleged recovery is simply price rises, not increases in real goods and services.
The historically high stock averages are another feature of make-believe America. The high price/earnings ratios do not reflect strong fundamentals, such as high rates of business investment, strong growth in real retail sales fueled by strong growth in consumer incomes. The Federal Reserve has used an increase in consumer debt to fill in for the missing growth in consumer income for so long that consumers have no more room to take on more debt. Without growth in wages and salaries or in consumer debt, consumer demand cannot drive the economy and business profits.
What explains the high stock prices? The answer is the trillions of dollars the Federal Reserve has created in order to stabilize the large “banks too big to fail” and bail out their extremely poor investment decisions. All of this liquidity found its way into the financial sector where it drove up the prices of stocks and bonds, enriching equity owners and denying retirees any interest income on their savings. The values of financial instruments are supported by money creation, not by underlying fundamentals. Yet, the stock averages are treated as proof of economic recovery and America’s first place in the world.
As I said, it is never-never-land in which we live.
My website is committed to giving you the counter-narrative to the official BS you get from the presstitutes and the junk economists. Truth is hard to come by and is getting harder. If you support my website, I will continue to give you my best effort. donate: https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/pages/donate/
Washington (AFP) – President Vladimir Putin suggested in a US television interview that Ukrainians, Tatars or “Jews,” could have meddled in the 2016 US presidential election — but not the Kremlin.
“Why have you decided the Russian authorities, myself included, gave anybody permission to do this?” Putin asked in the often-combative interview with NBC television.
The leading US intelligence agencies concluded last year that Putin personally directed an intelligence effort to influence the 2016 US presidential election to undermine Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign and boost Republican Donald Trump.
Last month US Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is conducting a widespread probe into Russia’s role in the campaign, indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies for allegedly backing Trump, maligning Clinton, and engaging in other election interference.
“So what if they’re Russians?” Putin said of the allegations, according to transcripts of the NBC interview released late Friday.
“There are 146 million Russians. So what?… I don’t care. I couldn’t care less… They do not represent the interests of the Russian state.”
“Maybe,” Putin said, “they are not even Russians but Ukrainians, Tatars or Jews, but with Russian citizenship, which should also be checked; maybe they have dual citizenship or a green card; maybe the US paid them for this.
“How can you know that? I do not know either.”
Canada: Stop listening and electing the right-wing troglodytes, Conservatives, as they don’t know what they are talking about and they hurt people with their ignorance.
By Jen Gerson
Mar 11, 2018
There is a reason the Alberta NDP announced it was opening up “supervised consumption sites” in Calgary late last year.
There’s also a reason they avoided the more commonly known term: safe injection sites.
It’s because while there may, indeed, be a plethora of evidence to suggest that these sites save lives and reduce the spread of disease for people suffering from addiction, they also raise concerns among people who feel we’re moving more toward enabling addicts, than helping them live free of their demons.
While many of us have come around to the idea of drug addiction as a disease — it’s a disease where some element of personal responsibility must still play some role.
Some never try drugs.
Some try, but never get addicted.
Some addicts try to get off drugs, and fail.
Some addicts try and succeed.
There is some combination of genetics, upbringing, trauma and, yes, choice, that we’ve yet to fully unravel in all of this.
But we are more than rats pulling a lever.
Safe injection sites don’t appear to raise the public ire as they once did — particularly now that the opioid epidemic sweeping Alberta is collecting exponentially more lives every year.
Or, rather, they didn’t seem to be terribly controversial until United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney decided to make them so.
In a lengthy Facebook post last week, he wrote, “We absolutely need to show compassion for those suffering with addiction, and we need to help them get off drugs.
“But helping addicts inject poison into their bodies is not a long-term solution to the problem.” And there’s the dilemma.
Kenney was roundly lambasted for his comments.
But while the public outcry was apparent, the inner gut wrench was not.
An NDP MLA with more moral authority on the subject than Kenney responded: “He depersonalized anybody with an addiction and labelled them as this horrible person who was bent on doing this awful behaviour,” Debbie Jabbour told Postmedia.
Her daughter died of an overdose in 2017.
Then, Kenney seemed to walk back his comments a few days later, acknowledging a Supreme Court case against the Harper government, which ensures consumption sites can’t be denied a license by the government.
If this back-and-forth is indicative of all the deftness Kenney can muster to outmaneuver the NDP on social issues — well, bub’s still got some work to do.
“I’m not saying I’m opposed to reasonable harm reduction efforts, but I am saying that we need to be realistic about this,” Kenney told Global News.
But he did raise some fair questions about where the logic of such an approach will inevitably takes us.
If we are going to treat drug addiction as a chronic disease — no different in its moral dimension to other lifestyle-impacted illnesses like diabetes or hypertension — then the path becomes clear.
We should offer prevention and abstinence where possible, and ongoing treatment where it is not.
And this will mean providing some chronic addicts lifelong access to clean, regulated drugs so they can manage their addiction.
This, just as someone with a faulty pancreas injects insulin.
Lest anyone accuse me of slippery-slope fear mongering — it’s currently happening.
There are already pilot programs in place to provide taxpayer-funded opiates for severe and chronic addicts.
And there’s a reason.
We can’t just tell drug addicts to buck up and get their lives together.
Nobody can kick a drug habit if they’re dead.
Just because alcohol is legal doesn’t mean it should be disqualified from harm-reduction programs, says a University of Victoria psychologist.
“Alcohol can kill you in more ways than heroin can,” said Tim Stockwell, director of the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research.
“But somehow it doesn’t deserve the same level of respect in harm-reduction treatments as other substances.”
Stockwell, a psychology professor, and Bernie Pauly, associate professor in the UVic department of nursing, edited a special issue of the international, peer-reviewed Drug and Alcohol Review that includes four papers from the Canadian Managed Alcohol Program Study.
The study examined programs in which participants are provided daily, regular and measured doses of alcohol to cope with their addictions. The doses, usually equivalent to one standard drink, are usually offered at intervals, such as every hour or 90 minutes. Housing, food and other supports are typically provided, as well.
Stockwell said managed-alcohol programs are a radical idea being pursued seriously only in Canada. One of the first arose 25 years ago after three people froze to death in Toronto. They had been denied shelter spaces because they were drunk.
Data for the papers were collected from about 380 people in 13 programs across Canada, including two in the Lower Mainland.
Susan Alexman, director of programs for PHS Community Services Society in Vancouver, said her agency is offering two managed-alcohol programs, one as part of a subsidized-housing project.
The other PHS service is community-based. Clients are expected to show up at the PHS centre for drinks, in some cases getting them in exchange for things such as non-beverage alcohol, which includes mouthwash and rubbing alcohol.
Don Evans, executive director of Our Place in Victoria, said his group has considered managed alcohol in the past but gave up because it didn’t have the space or resources.
Breathtaking landscapes. Timeless art masterpieces. Big shiny photographs of big shiny humans.
You put coffee table books featuring any of the above in your living room and they say: “These giant books I never open reflect my taste.” But do they also say say something else? Do they, perhaps say, “I’m boring”?
A new coffee table book by two Italian photographers will definitely not say that. It’s designed solely to showcase the beauty of chickens.
As It Happens host Carol Off spoke with Matteo Tranchellini, and his work partner, Moreno Monti, about their unusual book called CHICken, which they funded through a Kickstarter campaign.
Here is part of their conversation.
Matteo, why did you decide to photograph these beautiful chickens?
This is our passion because we have a studio in Milano with a little garden. We want to have some pets. We decide to buy some chicken, some little chicken, beautiful chicken — a cocincina — not a popular chicken.
When we buy the chicken, we contact the farmer and the farmer invite us to photograph some chicken in an exhibition.
The work start in the exhibition because we start to photograph some chicken and we understand this animal is incredible — like model.
But these are like vogue fashion art pictures of these chickens. These are exquisite.
Yeah, because when the farmer asked us to photograph the chicken we realized that chickens are like model — top models. In this moment, we understand that the shooting is very different from the start of the work.
We are interested in the beauty of this animal. In this exhibition, there was many, many chickens. We choose some chickens.
When we start with one exhibition we wanted to go to another one and another one, more. When we had 300 photographs of many, many chickens, we realized we had many material to make … we don’t know what.
A book — finally, yes. You have just the most amazing chickens. Did you know there were so many different kinds?
No. We discovered at the exhibition. We don’t know so much about chicken, rooster and everything. We discovered many, many people are passionate about this animal. We were in front of the top models.
How much co-operation did you get from these chickens?
When the chicken was on the stage they stay five, 10 minutes maximum, because there was the flash, the camera, people around. The chicken make what they want. After 10 minutes, it’s impossible to shoot them.
Do you think they liked having all this attention?
I think yes, because you can see on the picture. They are like a star, an actress, a model. You can see in every animal the character of the animal.
They strut quite a bit. Did you get roosters or just chickens?
Many rooster and many chicken. Half and half, I think.
Did any of your models become dinner?
No, no, no. Absolutely no. This kind of chicken are only for beauty.