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Europe, Canada and US

Canada-Iran: Canada's diplomatic disaster

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Tehran is officially non grata in Ottawa now. What’s cooking, asks Eric Walberg

On 7 September, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced that Canada is suspending all diplomatic relations with Iran, expelling all Iranian diplomats, closing its embassy in Tehran, and authorizing Turkey to act on Canada's behalf for consular services there. Baird cited Iran’s enmity with Israel, its support of Syria and terrorism. "Canada views the government of Iran as the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today," Baird said at the Asia Pacific Economic Conference in Vladivostok, Russia.

Canada has not had a full ambassador in Iran since 2007. Relations between the two countries cooled after Iranian-Canadian free-lance photographer Zahra Kazemi died in Iran in 2003 under disputed circumstances, and went from bad to worse under the Conservative government in power in Ottawa since then.

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Republican primaries: Fooling some of the people

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As the primary race heats up for the Republicans, Eric Walberg looks at the “radical centre”

Salafist (excuse me, “deeply Catholic”) Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum appears back in the race for chief elephant after trouncing Mitt Romney in Minnesota and Colorado. But beware: Minnesotans are an unpredictable lot, with the only black Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison, their own Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, and of course 9/11 Truther and wrestler-governor Jesse Ventura (1999-2003).

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Greece in flames: Cassandra strikes again

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Greek protesters defied the pleading of their prime minister in a televised address to the nation to accept austerity measures to allow a massive loan and “debt swap” plan by the IMF and EU to stave off bankruptcy. The measures approved by parliament involve slashing the minimum wage by up to one-third, deregulating the labour market to make it easier to lay off workers, and cutting pensions.

In a scene worthy of “Battle of the Damned” gas-mask clad protesters left 40 buildings in Athens in flames as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets, wounding hundreds. Greece’s 99 per cent have little or nothing to lose in a “structurally readjusted” country, leaving them at the forefront in the growing battle in the West to wrest the torch of democracy from politicians, both left and right, in thrall to their behind-the-scene corporate-banking masters.

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Canada's 'honour killings': Where is the sense of honour?

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As Canada continues to pour troops and money into American wars and intrigues in the Muslim world, the media focusses on so-called honour killings, notes Eric Walberg

Afghan immigrants Mohammad Shafia, 58, his wife Tooba Mahommad Yahya and their 21-year-old son Hamed were found guilty in a Canadian court Sunday of first degree murder in the 2009 “honor killing” deaths of four female family members, and sentenced to life imprisonment. These were not poor, uneducated people, but upstanding members of Canada's economic elite. The enterprising Mohammad escaped to Pakistan as “free Afghanistan” descended into civil war in 1992, before emigrating to Australia and Dubai, where he made his fortune in its hot real estate scene, finally settling in Canada in 2007.

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Euro-US cold winter/ seething anger

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The eviction of demonstrators last week is an ominous metaphor for ruling elites, whose own days are surely numbered, ponders Eric Walberg

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

Europe, Canada & USA

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