Radio Freethinker

Vancouver's Number 1 Skeptical Podcast and Radio Show

Posts Tagged ‘dictatorship’

RFT Ep 254 – No Bananas Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on May 27, 2014

Download the episode here! 


Too big to jail

GM Fine

In the wake of revelations the GM executive knowing allowed a car to go into production with a defect that would kill people…and no one charged? Well, there seems to be two legal system, one for you and me and one for corporations (and the rich). We get put into jail, they get a fine and have go back to doing what they do.


<note: at the end of this segment I confused two issues, one the call to arms is a thing in the USA…check it out here.

And my Canadian call to arms was actually meant for the “media consolodation” segments, you can be active here.>

Further Reading:



Thoughts about being neighborly in a global community from a Prairie Correspondent.


UnFair Election Law

Fair Elections Dragon

Just days away for become the law of the land, we look and what was change and what we lost.

Further Reading:

Media consolidation


Canada has the highest levels of media concentration in the world, we also have the most vertically integrated media in the world. We look at how this harms society and what we can do the fix it!

Note that Corus is controlled by Shaw, so Shaw really has a 32.3% share.  Giving the Big 3, a 75% share. Source CRTC

Note that Corus is controlled by Shaw, so Shaw really has a 32.3% share.
Giving the Big 3, a 89% share.
Source CRTC

Further Reading:

And what one media source was reporting on this? You guessed it the CBC

Justin and the Pope

Justin Trudeau exercises dictatorial powers to deny an anti-abortion candidate from running as a liberal, he then get threatened with excommunication for his “pro-choice” views…so, we are left wondering is religious people should be banned from public office?
Friday, May 23, 2014
Further Reading:

“Yes, We have no more bananas”

It is likely that with a decade our beloved proof of god, the Cavendish banana will be on the verge of extinction…how did it happen and what can be done about it? Plus, why doesn’t banana pudding taste like bananas?
Further Reading:

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Libyan No-Fly Zone Redux

Posted by Don McLenaghen on March 31, 2011

In an earlier episode I made a case for a No-Fly Zone over Libya to stop the massacre that was imminent due to a resurgent Gadhafi. When the no-fly zone was implemented, I made a comment about how the USA, NATO and the UN were in a no win situation, that prior to the implantation people would accuse them of callous indifference and that if/when it was implemented people would accuse them of imperialism. I used the term “whine” which offended some listeners…sorry Maurice…and the note that, my comments were an ad homonym attack on those who oppose the no-fly zone.

First, in my defence, the comments were not part of one of our main segments but just our idle chatter, so I wasn’t making any argument ad homonym or otherwise…but I will try to be less flippant in future if that is important to our listeners. Second, the point I was TRYING to make was that both or either side was destined to complain regardless of what was done. I was ‘whining’ that the UN did not impose a no-fly zone prior to our show. Lastly, you are right. When I made the case, for as good skeptics, we should have taken some time to assess the other side. So let’s do so now.

There are several reasons NOT to impose a no-fly zone. These fall into three main camps. The first is the idea of sovereignty. This is the claim often made by Russia and China. Each nation claims to have the right to settle internal affairs… internally and that no nation has the right to in the internal affairs of another. This issue, in a less violent way, has been raised often in Canada. There have been a number of times when Canadians have complained that comments made by American officials are wrong because they are seen as attempting to interfere with the internal affairs of Canada. An example of this is….in 2005 election the US ambassador to Canada said that Canadian politicians should not ‘bash the USA’…in response to issues like Kyoto and Softwood lumber, this verbal defence at the time cause a huge uproar in the press and public…

Another main argument against the no-fly zone is that violence, even when ostensibly for peaceful reasons, is wrong. This is similar to the arguments made against capital punishment…that we kill people to show that killing people is wrong; as in this case we are attempting to stop the killing of people in Libya by killing people in Libya…the only difference being on what side of an arbitrary, like the bombs are allowed to drop.

The last argument, and I think the strongest, is that this intervention IS an act of imperialism or at least opportunism by the US. The US has a long history of interventions in other nation’s internal affairs…or even regions affairs…not to create healthy democracies but to support pro-American regimes. My support for the No-Fly Zone was for humanitarian reasons but it is rapidly transformed into a move by ‘the west’ to oust Gadhafi. They are no longer trying to suppress loss of life but to actively support the ‘rebels’ in an attempt to drive Gadhafi from power…something a number of people said was the probable true reason for the intervention and regardless of the original intent it was the unavoidable outcome…the fundamental reason NOT to have a no-fly zone…that it would inevitably lead to active political intervention in the nation.

Now, we can argue that getting rid of Gadhafi is a good thing…like getting rid of Saddam Hussein was a good thing…and therefor the no-fly zone was still humanitarian and good even if it has been escalated because these dictators were in a near constant state of bringing violence and death upon their own people. We MIGHT agree with that…but what about other regimes that do this and the UN or the west…we do nothing? Syria comes to mind, where in the 80’s after a failed revolt, that government shelled the ‘offending city’ of HAM and killed over 17,000.

Currently Bahrain and Yemen are violently suppressing political dissent but these countries are allied with the USA…notably the US 5th fleet is based in Bahrain and the ‘hot spot’ the US war on terror in the region is Yemen…Bahrain has even had the Saudi armed forces help in the suppression; yet we do nothing. Uzbekistan is infamous for their violent repression and civil rights abuse…yet because the US sees them as reliable allies we do nothing. What about the intervention in Chile…or in 2004 in Haiti where the US engineered a coup against the popularist Aristae government under the guise of humanitarian relief.

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Libyan No-Fly Zone

Posted by Don McLenaghen on March 18, 2011

Peace Prize Roulette

Last week we talked about the popular uprising in Libya and the possibility that world powers would erect a no-fly zone over Libya to level the battle field between the heavily armed forces of Gadhafi and those of the newly recognized government in Benghazi. I mentioned that the US (and any western power) was in a kind of catch 22 – they enforce the no-fly zone and people says it’s another attempt by the west to secure Arab oil (although the Arab League last Saturday announced its support for the zone)…or they don’t and people say that the west doesn’t care if ‘brown people’ die.

Well, as it turns out there is an international law…well a UN protocol, that provides support for the UN to enforce a no-fly zone provided it meets certain criteria, called The Responsibility to Protect[1]. It has three main clauses[2]:

A State has a responsibility to protect its population from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing (mass atrocities).

If the State is unable to protect its population on its own, the international community has a responsibility to assist the state by building its capacity. This can mean building early warning capabilities, mediating conflicts between political parties, strengthening the security sector, mobilizing standby forces, and many other actions.

If a State is manifestly failing to protect its citizens from mass atrocities and peaceful measures are not working, the international community has the responsibility to intervene at first diplomatically, then more coercively, and as a last resort, with military force.

So, the first one says, a state has the responsibility not to kill large portions of its own population, the second one states that if a state needs help to prevent the killing of large portions of its population, the international community may step in to help. Lastly, when a state is killing large portions of its own population, the international community has the responsibility to protect that population from its own government. It seems clear, to me at least, that this is the situation in Libya; that although it may look bad, lives are being lost and the world has the responsibility to act.

Okay, that’s the political speech…now let’s get skeptical. First, the rules claim genocide or ethnic cleansing…is this the case? Well, Libya is very tribal and the fighting does appear to be along largely tribal lines, however there does not appear to be any attempt to ‘remove or kill an ethnic group from a geographical area’. It’s factional fighting but so far, limited to combat and political reprisals, but not genocide.

Okay, what about crimes against humanity?

The cost of delay...

What are crimes against humanity[3]…simply they are acts that violate basic human rights on a grand scale. Acts, such as murder, committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population. Acts reach the threshold of crimes against humanity only if they are part of a widespread or systematic practice. They are NOT sporadic or isolated…that is a few people here or there have their human rights violated is a bad thing but only when it is a large population does it qualify as a crime. I am unclear if Libya qualifies, well at least for this current event, because crimes against humanity are largely assessed in times of peace or occupation; neither seems to be completely applicable here. Yet the ICC has made precedent that it does qualify.

Okay, what about war crimes?

What IS the law of war is not well defined. The best example I could find is International Humanitarian Law[4]…the Geneva conventions for those of us not law professors. Of these the only one that seemed applicable was: Captured combatants and civilians must be protected against acts of violence and reprisals. Now some, including myself, are not sure if the rules of warfare apply to civil wars but there is historical precedent. The breakup of Yugoslavia resulted in charges of war crimes in the world court. UN war crimes tribunal has charged Charles Taylor for civil-war war crimes and the International Criminal Court (ICC) currently has indicted 11 people for civil-war type war crimes. Based on the ICC, it seems both War Crimes and Crimes against humanity have occurred in Libya thus making active intervention necessary.

Now this must be limited to the idea of responsibility to protect; that is intervention to stop mass killing and then to step back and allow ‘civil and democratic’ process to resolve the conflict. Failures in the past can be traced to three main faults: one, delaying action to the point where intervention served no purpose (the damage was already done…this I fear is what is currently happening in Libya); two, too little intervention so that crimes can still persist (this is what happened in Iraq in the 90’s, where intervention served only to make the life of the civilians worse and solidify the control of the dictatorship); and third, too much intervention (this is what happened in Iraq in 2k3; where instead of stopping crimes, the ‘coalition’ attempted to replace the government with one of their own making).

Lost Opportunity

Currently the delays and inaction by the UN (which was always going to be handicapped by anti-interventionist nations like China and Russia), NATO (which has a moral responsibility but technically Libya is outside its jurisdiction) and the Arab League (which lacks the ability to enforce a no-fly zone) makes it all the more likely that the totalitarian regime of Gadhafi will re-assert itself over Libya (likely leading to a genocide of those tribes that supported the revolution). Although legal issues made this delay likely and politics made it inevitable, it strikes me as a sad indictment of the so-called ‘moral democracies’ that we hide behind technicalities while allowing

Proving Critics Right

thousands of people to die…who died in the name of democracy. The USA…NATO…and yes, as ineffectual as it may have been, even Canada has a prime opportunity to show the world that it could use military force to defend the principle it CLAIMS to be defending in Iraq and Afghanistan…defend them in a meaningful and useful way; instead the opportunity may have slipped through our Noble Peace Prize winning (why again did Obama win?) ‘leader of the free world’ hands and the world is much worse place because of it.


The UN has just approved a No-Fly Zone and Canada IS sending planes to help…that is good but was it too late?

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