Naomi Klein

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The Olympics Land Grab

In sports, as in life, “security” trumps peace.

That’s what happened when the International Olympic Committee faced a choice between Pyeongchang, South Korea and Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Games.

South Korea pitched itself as the Peace Candidate: with the world in turmoil, bring the games to the very border of George Bush’s “Axis of Evil” and make a gesture of reconciliation.

Vancouver, on the other hand, sold itself as the Safety and Security Candidate: with the world in turmoil, hold the games somewhere you can be almost certain that nothing will happen. The Vancouver-Whistler Olympic bid presented the province of British Columbia as a model of harmonious, sustainable living, a place where everyone gets along: Native and non-Native, rural and urban, rich and poor.

Before the vote, IOC President Jacques Rogge tipped his hand by declaring South Korean’s peace theme to be “secondary” and telling the Los Angeles Times that his top priority was “the best possible security.”

Canada: Hippie Nation?

Canadians can't quite believe it: Suddenly, we're interesting.

After months of making the news only with our various communicable diseases-SARS, mad cow and West Nile-we're now getting world famous for our cutting-edge laws on gay marriage and legalized drugs. The Bush conservatives are repulsed by our depravity. My friends in New York and San Francisco have been quietly inquiring about applying for citizenship.

Bush to NGOs: Watch Your Mouths

The Bush administration has found its next target for pre-emptive war, but it's not Iran, Syria or North Korea — not yet, anyway.

Before launching any new foreign adventures, the Bush gang has some homeland housekeeping to take care of: It is going to sweep up those pesky non-governmental organizations that are helping to turn world opinion against US bombs and brands.

The war on NGOs is being fought on two clear fronts. One buys the silence and complicity of mainstream humanitarian and religious groups by offering lucrative reconstruction contracts. The other marginalizes and criminalizes more independent-minded NGOs by claiming that their work is a threat to democracy. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is in charge of handing out the carrots, while the American Enterprise Institute, the most powerful think tank in Washington, D.C., is wielding the sticks.

Downsizing in Disguise

The streets of Baghdad are a swamp of uncollected garbage and crime.

Battered local businesses are going bankrupt, unable to compete with cheap imports. Unemployment is soaring and thousands of laid off state workers are protesting in the streets.

In other words, Iraq looks like every other country that has undergone rapid fire "structural adjustments" prescribed by Washington, from Russia's infamous "shock therapy" in the early nineties to Argentina's disastrous "surgery without aesthetic" a few years later. Except that Iraq's so-called reconstruction makes those wrenching reforms look like spa treatments.

Paul Bremer, the U.S. appointed governor of Iraq, has already proved something of a flop in the democracy department in his three weeks there, nixing plans for Iraqis to select their own interim government in favour of his own handpicked team of advisors. But Bremer has proved to have something of a gift when it comes to rolling out the red carpet for U.S. multinationals. No wonder George Bush looked so pleased when he met Bremer in Qatar.

When Some Lives Matter More Than Others

Jessica Lynch and Rachel Corrie could have passed for sisters. Two all-American blondes, two destinies forever changed in a Middle East war zone. Private Jessica Lynch, the soldier, was born in Palestine, West Virginia. Rachel Corrie, the activist, died in Israeli-occupied Palestine.

Corrie was four years older than 19-year old Lynch. Her body was crushed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza seven days before Lynch was taken into Iraqi custody on March 23. Before she went to Iraq, Lynch organized a pen pal program with a local kindergarden. Before Corrie left for Gaza, she organized a pen pal program between kids in her hometown of Olympia, Washington, and children in Rafah.

Lynch went to Iraq as a soldier loyal to her government. In the words of West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller, "she approached the prospect of combat with determination rather than fear."

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