28Jun/15

What is Personal Services Business?

accountantsA personal services business is a type of business that earns through personal services income.  There are literally a huge number of professions that falls under this.  Overall, the personal services business is a term given by the revenue service to individuals who earn profit for their skills and personal effort.  There are different legislations on how personal services income should be taxed.  Contractors, lawyers, medical professionals, and all those who earn by providing personal services are all affected by this legislation.  This legislation is however inapplicable to people who do not get any personal services income.

There is actually a significant difference – tax wise – between personal services corporation and personal services business.  Incorporated business falling under the classification of personal services business is considered by the Canada Revenue Agency as a non-active business income.  If your corporation is identified by the Canada Revenue Business as personal services business, it will entail three tax problems.

  1. You cannot take claim of Small Business Deduction as this is only applicable to those classified as having active business income.
  2. You cannot claim a lot of standard business deductions. This includes not being to take claim on expenses such as supplies, office space rental, accounting, and other legal fees against the corporation’s income.  Only the employee salaries and benefits are eligible for deduction.
  3. Potential tax penalties. Corporate taxes are never a laughing matter.  Reassessing the tax filings from previous business years along with tax audit may follow suit and possibly be found of years of back taxes.

While there are always certain tax issues befalling personal services.  Both corporation and personal services business each have their own unique issues.  It should however be emphasized that corporations that carry personal services business that they need to evaluate this matter and decide what to do with the corporation.  Even if a corporation becomes classified as personal services business, different rules actually apply under this case.

A corporation may employ individuals who can perform the services the company provides.  That employee falls under personal services business wherein they work on behalf of the corporation.  Personal Services Business Calgary provides individuals and corporations proper tax accounting as per corporate tax rate.  They are highly knowledgeable on income tax matters and they can help attain possible solutions on acquirable tax deductions.

15May/15

Advancing U.S.-Canada Economic, Energy And Security Integration

Much has been made about the secretive nature and lack of transparency surrounding efforts by the U.S. and Canada to create a North American security perimeter. With several high-level meetings in the last month, not to mention all the behind the scenes negotiations, it is expected that an action plan will be unveiled at some point in September. From a U.S. perspective, it is security which is driving the agenda, while on the Canadian side, facilitating trade and easing the flow of goods across the border is the focal point. Any deal reached will build off of past initiatives and be used to advance economic, energy and security integration between the two countries.

During a bilateral meeting in early August, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird discussed issues pertaining to the Middle East and the Western Hemisphere. Also high on the agenda was U.S.- Canada relations. This included the declaration, Beyond the Border: Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness issued by U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper back in February of this year. At a news conference following her meeting with Minister Baird, Secretary Clinton stressed that, “it’s critical that we ensure our border remains a safe, vibrant connector of people, trade, and energy. And today, the minister and I discussed other ways to expand trade and investment; for example, by reducing unnecessary regulations.” It is interesting that Clinton brought up energy as this is also an integral part of North American integration which is being further advanced through the U.S.-Canada Clean Energy Dialogue, as well as other initiatives.

Another issue that came up during Clinton and Baird’s meeting was the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. If approved, it would carry oil sands crude from the province of Alberta and pass through the U.S. states of Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas to delivery points in Oklahoma and Texas, at the Gulf of Mexico. While addressing a question at a joint news conference about delays on coming to a decision on the pipeline, Secretary Clinton said, “We are leaving no stone unturned in this process and we expect to make a decision on the permit before the end of this year.” Several months back, the Environmental Protection Agency expressed concerns about environmental impacts associated with the project, as well as the level of analysis and information being provided. With the State Department’s recent release of its Final Environmental Impact Statement, the Keystone XL pipeline has moved one step closer to a final decision. The review period will now go, “beyond environmental impact, taking into account economic, energy security, (and) foreign policy.” While there continues to be vocal opposition to the project, it is being touted as important for future U.S. energy security.

In May of this year, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a series of hearings which among other things, examined legislation concerning theNorth American-Made Energy Security Act. The bill called on, “the President to expedite the consideration and approval of the construction and operation of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.” With regards to oil consumption, it acknowledged that, “While a significant portion of imports are derived from allies such as Canada and Mexico, the United States remains vulnerable to substantial supply disruptions created by geopolitical tumult in major producing nations.” It goes on to say. “The development and delivery of oil and gas from Canada to the United States is in the national interest of the United States.” The bill also stated, “Continued development of North American energy resources, including Canadian oil, increases domestic refiners’ access to stable and reliable sources of crude and improves certainty of fuel supply for the Department of Defense.” In other words, more Canadian oil is needed to fuel the U.S. war machine. This all ties in with the perimeter security deal and further removing trade barriers. It is part of U.S. efforts to secure more access and control of Canadian resources.

The Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) was created at the same time as President Obama and Prime Minister Harper signed the Beyond the Border declaration. The RCC aims to further advance regulatory harmonization in a wide range of areas. While the border security and regulatory cooperation discussions are separate, they do go hand in hand. In June, theRCC held its first meeting which centered around the development of a joint action plan and the creation of working groups in key sectors. The Terms of Reference for the RCC establishes the mandate and principles by which it will carry forth. When an action plan is completed it, “will outline activities for a period of up to two years. At the end of the two-year period, Canada and the United States will review the work of the RCC and consider the adoption of a new Action Plan.” While this is a bilateral initiative, “The United States and Canada will seek, to the extent possible, to coordinate the RCC’s activities with the work of the U.S.-Mexico High-Level Regulatory Cooperation Council when the three governments identify regulatory issues of common interest in North America.” At some point, these dual-bilateral councils could come together to form a single continental regulatory body.

On August 15, 2011, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano met with Canada’s Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, “to discuss the ongoing partnership between the United States and Canada to work collaboratively on our shared vision for perimeter security and strengthen information sharing to better combat cross-border crime, while expediting legitimate trade and travel.” The bilateral meeting was an opportunity to review progress being made on an action plan that is being developed by the Beyond the Border Working Group. The Toronto Star reported that Napolitano and Toews also discussed increasing joint border operations such as the Shiprider program which allows law enforcement officials from both countries to operate together. Secretary Napolitano explained. “We’re looking at expanding that kind of basic concept to other areas where we can do more by way of joint law enforcement operation, intelligence gathering and … joint policing.” This would also further build off of the Integrated Border Enforcement Team Program, a bi-national initiative which is comprised of both Canadian and American law enforcement agencies. Eventually, you could see the creation of a joint U.S.-Canada organization managing the border.

Following his meeting with Secretary Napolitano, Minister Towes also announced that Prime Minister Harper and U.S. President Obama will meet in early fall where they will be updated and provide further directions on plans for a North American security perimeter. There are fears that any deal reached could be lopsided with Canada giving up more than it gains. Over the last number of years, Canada has already enacted many U.S. security measures. As part of a continental security perimeter arrangement, Canada could be forced to comply with any new U.S. requirements, regardless of the risks they may pose to privacy and civil liberties.

11Apr/15

Billboards That Look Back

In advertising these days, the brass ring goes to those who can measure everything – how many people see a particular advertisement, when they see it, who they are. All of that is easy on the Internet, and getting easier in television and print.

Billboards are a different story. For the most part, they are still a relic of old-world media, and the best guesses about viewership numbers come from foot traffic counts or highway reports, neither of which guarantees that the people passing by were really looking at the billboard, or that they were the ones sought out.

Now, some entrepreneurs have introduced technology to solve that problem. They are equipping billboards with tiny cameras that gather details about passers-by – their gender, approximate age and how long they looked at the billboard. These details are transmitted to a central database.

Behind the technology are small start-ups that say they are not storing actual images of the passers-by, so privacy should not be a concern. The cameras, they say, use software to determine that a person is standing in front of a billboard, then analyze facial features (like cheekbone height and the distance between the nose and the chin) to judge the person’s gender and age. So far the companies are not using race as a parameter, but they say that they can and will soon.

And the issue gets thornier: the companies that make these systems, like Quividi and TruMedia Technologies, say that with a slight technological addition, they could easily store pictures of people who look at their cameras.

The companies say they do not plan to do this, but Mr. Tien said he thought their intentions were beside the point. The companies are not currently storing video images, but they could if compelled by something like a court order, he said.

For now, “there’s nothing you could go back to and look at,” said George E. Murphy, the chief executive of TruMedia who was previously a marketing executive at DaimlerChrysler. “All it needs to do is look at the audience, process what it sees and convert that to digital fields that we upload to our servers.”

TruMedia’s technology is an offshoot of surveillance work for the Israeli government. The company, whose slogan is “Every Face Counts,” is testing the cameras in about 30 locations nationwide. One TruMedia client is Adspace Networks, which runs a network of digital screens in shopping malls and is testing the system at malls in Chesterfield, Mo., Winston-Salem, N.C., and Monroeville, Pa. Adspace’s screens show a mix of content, like the top retail deals at the mall that day, and advertisements for DVDs, movies or consumer products.

15Mar/15

U.S.-Canada Perimeter Security And The Consolidation Of North America

The U.S. and Canada are very close to unveiling a North American perimeter security deal that would promote greater integration between both countries. This includes expanding collaboration in areas of law enforcement and intelligence sharing which could dramatically affect sovereignty and privacy rights. While there is a need for more public scrutiny, incrementalism has been used to advance North American integration. In many ways this has kept the agenda under the radar. Much like NAFTA and the Security and Prosperity Partnership, a U.S.-Canada perimeter security agreement would represent another step in the consolidation of North America.

During his speech at a recent meeting of northern border states, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told participants that the U.S. and Canada are set to launch a pilot project next year which will allow law enforcement officers to operate on both sides of the border. Holder explained that, “the creation of ‘NextGen’ teams of cross-designated officers would allow us to more effectively identify, assess, and interdict persons and organizations involved in transnational crime.” He went on to say, “In conjunction with the other provisions included in the Beyond the Border Initiative, such a move would enhance our cross-border efforts and advance our information-sharing abilities.” The declaration, Beyond the Border: Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness issued by President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper last February, identified joint law enforcement operations and information sharing as a high priority. There are already examples of what we could expect from a security perimeter as some Canadians have been denied entry into the U.S. after their records of mental illness were shared with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

While further details of the new joint law enforcement project are not yet available, Stuart Trew of the Council of Canadians pointed out that the plans are well advanced. This prompted him to question, “why is Harper consulting with Canadians on a done deal? We haven’t had a chance to yea or nay the perimeter agreement which is expected to be released as an ‘action plan’ within weeks. But a pilot project that legalizes and normalizes US policing activities in Canada is already set to begin next year.” He added that this confirms, “the Harper government will use its limited public consultations earlier this year to move ahead quickly with whatever new cross-border policing and information sharing commitments it wants, regardless of privacy and other concerns.” Last month, the Canadian government released two reports which summarized public input received concerning regulatory cooperation, as well as security and trade across the border. While improving the movement of goods and people was the priority for business groups, many individuals expressed concerns over the loss of sovereignty, along with the protection of personal information.

On top of announcing plans to create teams of cross-designated officers, Attorney General Eric Holder took time to praise bilateral relations between the two countries, but acknowledged, “there are areas in which the U.S. and Canada can enhance cooperation in criminal investigations and prosecutions. And I believe we must consider how extradition, and mutual legal assistance, processes could be streamlined.” He also stated, “As Canada’s national government considers various anti-crime policies and approaches, we will continue working to implement a comprehensive anti-crime framework.” Does this mean that as part of a security perimeter, Canada would have to change its legal system to better reflect U.S. laws? As the fall session of Parliament gets underway, the Harper government is set to table tough new criminal reform legislation.

In the report entitled Shared Vision or Myopia: The Politics of Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness, former Foreign Service officer Gar Pardy warns that a perimeter security deal with the U.S. could sacrifice Canadians privacy while doing nothing to improve the flow of trade across the border. In his report, Pardy reveals that “The concessions the Americans want is the transfer of enormous amounts of information about Canadians and others about whom Canada collects information. It is evident that to meet such expectations Canadian privacy laws will need to be ignored, violated or weakened.” He also stated that, “The Shared Vision approach essentially promotes the idea that in order to restore the status quo ante implicit in the free trade agreements there have to be large political concessions by Canada that will satisfy American security concerns.” This could explain the Conservative government’s announcement that it will reintroduce anti-terrorism measures which have expired and are on par with sections of the liberty-stripping U.S. Patriot Act. The move is tied to plans for a security perimeter and is aimed more at satisfying U.S. fears.

In his report released by the Rideau Institute, Gar Pardy also warns that, “when Canada—United States privacy protection principles are under bilateral discussion, privacy protection will not be increased. A more likely result is that existing Canadian privacy laws, as flawed as they are, will erode to meet the demands of the United States.” As part of his report, he recommended measures that would better protect privacy rights and encourage transparency. This included all new agreements with the U.S. affecting the privacy rights of Canadians, be reviewed by the Privacy Commissioner. Pardy called for the creation of a single authority to oversee all federal police and security organizations participating in information transfers between both countries. He also recommended a separate treaty that would protect personal information transferred to the U.S. for national security purposes. With regards to a perimeter security deal, Pardy concluded that, “If Canadian concessions on security and privacy rules do result in the lessening of American border restrictions and controls then such results would always be hostage to future events over which Canada has no control.”

It is important to keep in mind that the move towards a North American security perimeter is being done without congressional or parliamentary approval. There is no reason to trust that our governments will strike any kind of balance between security and freedom. That is why it is imperative that we demand more transparency and input. With a joint action plan expected to be released soon, it is my hope that Canadians and Americans will reject any perimeter security deal that reduces privacy rights and further puts our sovereignty at risk.

14Mar/15

North American Integration And The Ties That Bind

After a two year hiatus, the leaders of the U.S., Canada and Mexico are set to meet for a trilateral summit. While the push for further North American integration continues incrementally, at this time, it is unlikely that discussions will yield any grand new initiatives that involve the participation of all three NAFTA partners. Instead, the meeting could be used to build off of bilateral discussions already underway. This includes negotiations between the U.S. and Canada on a North American Security perimeter deal designed to accelerate the flow of people and goods across the border.

In an article from several months back, Robert Pastor, who has been a leading proponent of continental integration, emphasized that Obama’s jobs strategy should be a North American one. He explained how the U.S. can expand trade faster by focusing on its neighbours and also pointed out that few Americans realize just how dependent the U.S. is on Canada and Mexico. In order to facilitate this approach, Pastor recommended, “We should eliminate restrictive ‘rules of origin,’ which add a tax as high as the tariff that was eliminated by NAFTA, and combine, rather than duplicate, customs’ forms, personnel and frequent-traveler programs.” He also called on President Obama to, “expand his infrastructure fund to be a North American one, with contributions from all three countries.” Pastor went on to say, “The leaders of each nation should then instruct their transportation ministers to develop a North American plan for transportation and infrastructure that would include another trade corridor from the busiest transit point in Windsor, Ontario, to southern Mexico.” This sounds a lot like plans for a NAFTA superhighway.


In his op-ed, Robert Pastor also stated, “In 2009, the three leaders of North America pledged to meet the next year, but that still hasn’t happened. Obama should invite his counterparts to address the full North American agenda, beginning with a strategy to lift the continent’s economy and then addressing transportation, immigration, education and borders. The goal should be to forge a North American community.” Pastor may have gotten part of his wish as President Barack Obama will host the North American Leaders Summit in Honolulu, Hawaii on November 13, 2011 which will include the participation of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon. The meeting is expected to focus on economic, energy, environmental and security issues. The setting could also provide an excellent opportunity for the U.S. and Canada to release an action plan that stems frombilateral trade and security perimeter talks that were launched back in February. Both countries could also further discuss the pending Keystone XL oil pipeline which would span from western Canada to Texas. President Obama has now indicated that a final decision on the project may not take place until sometime next year.

While the U.S. and Canada have been busy putting the final touches on the proposed Beyond the Border agreement, a series of unwelcome distractions have caused the initiative to lose some of its momentum. In September, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency draft report recommended the use of fencing and other barriers on the northern border. This ties into an assessment from last year by the Government Accountability Office which warned that only a small portion of the Canadian border was under operational control and even went so far as to claim that it posed a greater threat than the southern border. Although the CBP denied that a fence is being considered at this time, it does reveal that in many ways, the U.S. still thinks in terms of a two border policy with the idea of a security perimeter around the U.S. and another one around North America.

The timing of a number of protectionist measures have also proven to be a stumbling block. First, there was the Buy American provision which is included in Obama’s jobs creation plan. This was followed by the announcement that Canadian travellers will have to pay a $5.50 tax when they enter the U.S. by air or sea. Not to mention the threat of new tariffs on container cargo entering U.S. ports from Canada. The moves prompted Roland Paris to ask in his article, Is There a Problem in Canada-U.S. Relations? He acknowledged that it is, “noteworthy that several of these irritants have appeared at this time, when Canada and the U.S. are negotiating the terms of a new partnership. We are left with unanswered questions: Is the White House still committed to elaborating and pursuing a renewed agenda of bilateral cooperation?” The protectionist actions go against what both countries are supposedly trying to accomplish. They have proved to be a source of contention and reinforce Canada’s perceived weakness when dealing with its American partner.

In their article, Sad but true: Canada and Mexico have no clout in Washington, Stephen Clarkson and Matto Mildenberger argued that both countries are more valuable to the U.S. economy than most people realize. They pointed out that, “although Canada and Mexico make extraordinarily large contributions to America’s economic strength, homeland security and international effectiveness, they have virtually no influence in Washington’s corridors of power.” One of the reasons given deals with the way, “the U.S. has shaped the governance structures within which continental policy processes play out ? including disempowering any institutions that could give the continental periphery a voice in affecting American policies.” When it comes to Canada’s lack of influence, they contend that it centers around its willingness to, “make almost any concession in order to get access to the U.S. market. Their resulting limp bargaining culture causes Ottawa’s negotiators to back off from confrontations, then claim the resulting compromises as victories.” There are fears that the same could happen with negotiations on a perimeter security agreement with the U.S., resulting in Canada giving up more than it gains.

When it comes to foreign policy matters, Clarkson and Mildenberger also noted that even though at times Canada and Mexico have proven to be an essential support for achieving U.S. aims, it still doesn’t translate into political influence. They added, “When it comes to security, Canada’s and Mexico’s land masses are a potential menace, since they could be used by terrorist organizations to infiltrate the United States. But this proximity also turns the Canadian and Mexican governments into Washington’s prime associates in its war on terrorism, as they are in its war on drugs.” In many ways, both of these wars have morphed together and are being used as the pretext for a North American security perimeter. Growing drug violence and insecurity have allowed the U.S. to assume more control over Mexican security priorities and intelligence operations. The Merida Initiative which promotes a perimeter security strategy continues to deepen U.S.-Mexico relations. At some point, Mexico could join the U.S. and Canada as part of a formal, common security perimeter arrangement.

There is no doubt that protectionist measures, along with other factors have put a bit of a damper on the pending U.S.-Canada security perimeter agreement. If the Beyond the Border action plan is not announced by the end of the year, the whole effort could collapse. From the Canadian government’s perspective, it is essential to get some sort of deal done before the election year primaries begin in the U.S. or risk possible failure. Despite all the delays and obstacles, it is believed that the overdue action plan will soon be released. Having said that, it is now expected that it will be more modest than what was initially envisioned and for the time being will avoid some of the more contentious issues. It is also likely to include built-in structures to ensure that things happen on schedule with a list of items that both countries will pursue over the coming years. This will result in a constant implementation process making the move towards a North American security perimeter an incremental one.

When it comes to continental integration, much of the focus has shifted to greater convergence bilaterally which over time could move back to a more trilateral approach. There is an overwhelming sense that one way or another, the U.S. is going to get a North American security perimeter on their own terms, one that its NAFTA partners will have to conform to, whether they like it or not.

14Feb/15

The Naked Empire: ‘Low Intensity Conflict’ And State Sponsored Terror, Part 1

“They have cast all the mysteries and secrets of government… before the vulgar (like pearls before swine), and have taught both the soldiery and people to look so far into them as to ravel back all governments to the first principles of nature…” Clement Walker, on the English Revolution, 1661

From Miami with Love

Something very interesting happened this past April in an El Paso courtroom. There, a verdict was returned in the case of one Luis Posada Carriles, a man that has notably been described as the “Osama Bin Laden of Latin America” and “one of the most dangerous terrorists in recent history”. [1]

The circumstances of the case and the details of Posada’s extraordinary biography could be mistaken for the plot of an international thriller — there’s ample evidence of a long career in the business of international terrorism, including declassified FBI and CIA documents [2] and Posada’s on-the-record admission of involvement [3] in a string of hotel bombings in Havana. Add to that terrorism convictions by multiple governments that have found themselves in Posada’s crosshairs, an outstanding INTERPOL warrant, sundry bombings and other paramilitary attacks within Cuba and abroad. He ran guns to the Contras during their cross-border war with Nicuaragua, as exposed during the Reagan-era ‘Iran Contra’ scandal hearings [4]. He was caught flying 200 lbs of C4 plastic explosive into Panama City and convicted of a plot to assassinate Fidel Castro [5]. He’s connected with the bombing of Cubana Flight 455 in 1976 and the immolation of 78 people. [6]

Far from being reviled as a mass murderer however, among the fervently anti-Castro members of Miami’s Cuban exile community Luis Posada Carriles is considered a hero and a freedom fighter. The Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), a well-connected [7] organization Posada claimed to have received money from to carry out a 1997 bombing campaign in Havana stated in that same year in a publication that they did not regard attacks against Cuba to be ‘terrorist actions’. [8] Note that this defies the common understanding of the term as “the use of violence and fear to achieve a desired political end.”

It also defies understanding that a known militant of Posada’s notoriety was allowed to apply for asylum and set foot in Miami in 2005, having been just recently pardoned and released from jail in Panama for the attempted Castro hit. [9] This political double standard or blind spot in the US-led ‘War on Terror’ was not lost on the hundreds of thousands of Cubans that turned out in massive anti-Posada rallies held in Havana during the middle of May 2005. [9]

Posada was arrested shortly thereafter, but he was not charged under any anti-terror statutes or treaties. Instead, he was charged with lying [10]: specifically, lying to immigration about whether he had arrived in the US by boat or by bus and lying about his past involvement in Havana bombings, all charges that carry relatively light sentences [11]. Any questions of charges under the various national and international statutes against terrorism were off the table.

To understand the reasons behind this unique new approach to prosecuting the war on terror, it is necessary only to understand that for decades Posada was America’s terrorist. As it turns out, that makes all the difference in the world.

‘School of the Assassins’

Outrage in Havana. Welcome in Miami. Diffidence in Washington. The polarized reactions occasioned by Posada’s return to the US provide an unusually clear example of what’s meant in practice by the saying ‘one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist‘ [12] Posada himself has displayed little inhibition in the past to relate his exploits to the media and appears adamant in the belief that his mission is to help free Cuba and/or fight Communism in the region. As for his methods, he claims he’s not losing any sleep [13] over their bloody toll in Havana, at least — an ability we might chalk up to extensive practice.

Young Luis lived through and was shaped by the turmoil and civic unrest of the latter years of the US-backed Batista regime. He studied medicine and chemistry at Havana University, meeting Castro during the student uprisings, violence, and protests of the era [14]. However, he opposed the Cuban Revolution and was active in speaking out against the new regime, convictions which landed him in prison. Upon his release, he fled to Mexico and then to Miami where he was recruited by the CIA [15] for the ill-starred Bay of Pigs invasion, though his squadron within Brigade 2506 never saw action.

Between 1963 and 1964, Posada trained in demolitions and sabotage at the US Army’s infamous ‘School of the Americas’ at Fort Benning in Georgia. Whistleblower site SOA Watchdescribes the operations of the School of the Americas as having

trained over 64,000 Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics. These graduates have consistently used their skills to wage a war against their own people. Among those targeted by SOA graduates are educators, union organizers, religious workers, student leaders, and others who work for the rights of the poor. Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been tortured, raped, assassinated, “disappeared,” massacred, and forced into refugee by those trained at the School of Assassins. [16]

The alumnus of this school counts among its members a significantly higher number of military dictators and secret police than your average collegiate. The SOA Watch online database[17] of program graduates lists some 395 alumni of particular notoriety for their reign as military or intelligence officers once they returned to their home country, including thoseworking with cocaine traffickers [18], those involved in church burnings targetting activist preachers [19], the organization of death squads [20], the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero [21], and other similar breaches of human rights.

Posada’s career took off. Fast forward a number of years and we find the by-now seasoned militant heading up the feared Venezuelan intelligence agency, the DISIP or Dirección Nacional de los Servicios de Inteligencia y Prevención which by that time had become a CIA-supported base of operations against the Castro regime in Cuba. [22]

The remarkable career of Luis Posada Carriles and other graduates of the SOA (since renamed but still very much in operation and teaching “the identical courses” [23]) should not come as any great surprise to students of Latin American history, as even a cursory perusal of the public record reveals a comprehensive, decades-long involvement in the area by American intelligence, special forces, and their proxies. Yet time and again, public debate on the issue (on the rare occasions it receives exposure in the mainstream media) fails to question the ongoing policy of shipping US military resources and expertise to the area, instead focussing on issues narrow enough in scope as to exclude any discussion of the wider context.

Such as the distraction of Posada’s ‘immigration fraud’ charges. Such as the Army’s contention that SOA Watch “claims a false cause-and-effect relationship between training at [SOA] and the criminal acts of a few who have attended the school’s programs in the distant past.” Such as one oft-cited attack on the founder of the SOA Watch (Catholic priest Roy Bourgeois), the allegation by Paul Mulshine of the New Jersy Star-Ledger that he “had once gone on patrol with the Salvadoran guerillas” [24]. Looking into the available facts on the matter, it becomes apparent instead that the priest’s goal was to travel the countryside, speak with the poor, and investigate who may have been responsible for the assassination of Archbishop Romero and a number of catholic nuns of his order, as reported in Time magazine and a 1999 interview with the priest [25] [26].

Some irony may be detected in the way Bourgeois’ trip to interview dispossessed natives was ginned-up into a ‘guerilla patrol’, given that the embedding of US agents within guerilla groups is a fairly standard military practice in the area. The study of these and similar tactics, a field known as ‘Low Intensity Conflict’, has produced a body of military scholarship on counterinsurgency documenting the use of tactics as diverse as the direct creation of armed insurgent (or counter-insurgent) militias, the use of embedded special forces operatives asagents provocateur, the administrative suspensions of civil rights in occupied regions, and ‘psuedo-operations’, the use of violence and fear undertaken while masquerading as the enemy.

Counterinsurgency, by the Book

One of the first recorded outline and proposal of guerilla warfare is found in Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, a practical manual on military strategy written in the 6th century BC [27]. Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince, published somewhat later in 1532 AD, is one of the West’s earliest works of modern political philosophy and presents a treatise on regime change and the pacification of rebellious subjects in newly acquired realms. Machiavelli infamously advises aspiring princes that “whoever becomes master of a city accustomed to the free way of life invites his own destruction unless he destroys it first … Anything you implement or plan is useless if you do not set the citizens against each other and scatter them throughout the land, because otherwise they will forget neither the name of liberty nor those institutions…” [28]

For current students of Low Intensity Conflict in this past century, there’s the writings of General Sir Frank Kitson, a British military man that held the title Commander in Chief of UK Land Forces from 1982-85. During the 1950s, he was assigned to serve in the suppression of the Kenyan and Malayan uprisings during the postwar collapse of Britain’s colonial empire, and he committed his experiences to print in a number of volumes. Low Intensity Operations: Subversion, Insurgency and Peacekeeping, published in 1971, came to print around the time he was actively applying the same concepts in Northern Ireland, setting up a covert British Army unit [29] subsequently accused of drive-by shootings and assassinations [30].

Kitson outlined a theory of the 3 stages of insurgency and subversion [31] in which, chillingly, any criticism of the state is seen as falling along a continuum of insurgency. This ‘slippery slope’ model encompasses a preparatory period in which the subversives communicate their ideas to the population, the non-violent phase in which the use of protest, pickets, strikes and boycotts by critics are presented as the dangerous precursor to violence — and the use of police force becomes an operational decision to put down protest. Finally the insurgency erupts, and militants stream into the streets, engaging in armed conflict with government forces.

Just such a theory of ‘subversion’, where protest is seen as leading inevitably to violence appears to have become entrenched in law-enforcement practice. In 2009, the American Civil Liberties Union discovered that US Department of Defence anti-terrorism training course material identified protest as a form of ‘low level terrorism’ [32]. The recent experience of the Toronto G20, in which large crowds of protestors and passerby were held captive for long periods of time in defiance of Canadian civil charter rights suggest that this attitude is operational in Canada as well. When questioned about the roundup of innocents outside the Novotel building on June 26, 2010, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair stated that “I know a lot of people who did not come to commit crimes but were facilitating the potential of that breach of the peace … by providing cover in a crowd” (emphasis added), thus justifying the suspension of civil rights in the city [33].

Counterinsurgency and Low Intensity Conflict theory provides for the use of a number of continuum-of-force tactics ranged along various stages of the insurgency: the use of informants, psychological operations or propaganda campaigns during the ‘non-violent phase’, the stick-and-carrot approach of police force followed up by concessions offered to aggrieved communities upon restoration of public order, the use of velvet-glove intimidation by military or police forces to create an atmosphere of “respect and awe” among populations, the cordon and search of civilian areas, the use of central identity databases or watch lists on the population and the insertion of ‘psuedo-operations’ special forces disguised as insurgents to wreak deliberate mayhem and confusion. [34]

Lawrence E Cline, a military instructor at the US Naval Postgraduate School notes crisply in his 2005 monograph Psuedo Operations and Counterinsurgency: Lessons from Other Countries that “Pseudo operation strategies used in earlier counterinsurgency campaigns can offer valuable lessons for future missions.” He goes on to present an exhaustive survey of such lessons from the Phillipines to Africa, offering first a word of caution:

These operations, although of considerable value, also have raised a number of concerns. Their use in offensive missions and psychological operations campaigns has, at times, been counterproductive. In general, their main value has been as human intelligence collectors, particularly for long-term background intelligence or for identifying guerrilla groups that then are assaulted by conventional forces. Care must be taken in running these operations both to avoid going too far in acting like guerrillas, and in resisting becoming involved in human rights abuses. [35]

Cline also writes that the “potential political impact” of direct psuedo-operations unfortunately makes it “all too easy for government opponents to brand the teams conducting these missions as ‘death squads’ beyond the reach of the law.” [36] His apprehension is well-founded.The first case described in his paper, the paramilitary response to the 1946-1955 Huk Insurrection in the Philippines, crops up continuously in the literature for its early innovations in the field like the deployment of small hunter-killer teams. In his book Instruments of Statecraft: U.S. Guerilla Warfare, Counterinsurgency, and Counterterrorism, 1940-1990 Michael McClintock quotes a top army officer describing the style of the Nenita or ‘skull squadron’, named for their use of the skull and crossbone flag “The special tactic of these squadrons was to cordon off areas; anyone they caught inside the cordon was considered an enemy…. When I was stationed in the Candaba area [in Pampanga], almost daily you could find bodies floating in the river, many of them victims of Valeriano’s Nenita Unit.” [37] His source for the quote is a book co-authored by the same Major Napoleon Valeriano.

As a top agent working under Phillippines CIA station chief Colonel Lansdale, Valeriano was a central figure in shaping future counterinsurgency policy. Roland G. Simbulan, Manila Studies Program coordinator at the University of the Philippines writes

The CIA’s success in crushing the peasant-based Huk rebellion in the 1950s made this operation the model for future counterinsurgency operations in Vietnam and Latin America. Colonel Lansdale and his Filipino sidekick, Col. Napoleon Valeriano were later to use their counterguerrilla experience in the Philippines for training covert operatives in Vietnam and in the US-administered School of the Americas, which trained counterguerrilla assassins for Latin America. [38]

Valeriano was instrumental in the training of Cuban exiles [39] [40] for the Bay of Pigs invasion, and so in tracing the thread of Major Valeriano’s career we may observe an unbroken decades-long succession of covert involvement in foreign LIC operations from Indonesia to the operations of Luis Carriles Posada in Latin America and beyond, and it is to Posada’s trial in El Paso that we now return.

13Feb/15

State-Corporate Cybersurveillance Partnership Exposed

Public Service Announcement: If you object to warrantless state surveillance of your online activities, visithttp://stopspying.ca now and sign the OpenMedia.ca petition to stop the Harper government’s forthcoming ‘Lawful Access’ provision.

“If we understand the revolutionary transformations caused by new media, we can anticipate and control them; but if we continue in our self-induced subliminal trance, we will be their slaves.” – Marshall McLuhan

During a 1969 interview conducted during the dawn of the new age of electronic media, oft-cited futurist and tech critic Marshall McLuhan made the point that for our species, the market of information we call ‘culture’ is the frame we think within, a common set of ideas and symbols analogous to the air we breathe. Because this set of ideas is so all-pervasive and seemingly without boundaries, leaving us with little to compare and contrast it to, it slips into the background of our awareness.

One of the consequences of this reflexive inability to see the forest for the trees is that it’s precisely those technologies capable of causing social upheaval, of changing the ways people interact with their culture and with each other, that do much of their transformative work out on the liminal edges of awareness. And we tend to prefer it this way, McLuhan suggests — taking refuge in the familiar, numbing our responses to great change like trauma survivors might while technology extends the reach of our nervous system to new and unaccustomed horizons. All the while, we try bravely to take it in stride while the world is changed around us.

12Feb/15

U.S.-Canada Perimeter Security and an Integrated North American Command

While few details have emerged surrounding talks between the U.S. and Canada on a North American security perimeter, there is little doubt that deeper military integration between both countries will play an important part of any such deal. Plans for a common security perimeter have renewed calls to expand the NORAD bilateral air defence model to include ground and naval forces. There are also efforts to increase security cooperation in the Arctic and further integrate military command structures.

As part of the Tri Command Vision, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), and Canada Command (Canada COM) are working closer together in the defense and security of North America. Moving forward, the Tri Command strategic goals are to, “Improve unity of effort with each other and with our respective mission partners; develop a culture of continuous collaboration and cooperation in planning, execution, training, information management, and innovation; enhance intelligence and information sharing and fusion.” In order to better achieve these objectives, “The Commands shall develop and share comprehensive, situational awareness and a common operating picture, and must strive to interact seamlessly with each other and with our respective civil authorities, non-governmental organizations and other mission partners.” The Tri Command is part of efforts to merge the three commands into one.


In his report, ‘Now for the Hard Part’: A User’s Guide to Renewing the Canadian-American Partnership, Colin Robertson, Vice President and Senior Research Fellow at the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute outlines a plan of action for future bilateral relations. With respects to what a common security perimeter deal might look like, he proposed, “Start by extending to our land and sea environments the interoperability that our Air Force already enjoys through NORAD. It will require our Forces in Canada Command to match their current crossservice ‘jointness’ with those of American Forces employed in Northern Command.” Robertson added, “A security perimeter will also go some distance to resolving the remaining disputes and the shared challenges around stewardship, sovereignty and surveillance of the North West Passage and the activities of foreign ships and submarines in Arctic waters.” In a prelude to what joint security in the Arctic might look like, last year’s Operation Nanook, an annual Canadian Forces sovereignty exercise included military participation from the U.S. and Denmark.

In their report, From Vision to Action: Advancing the Canada — United States Partnership, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) issued a wide range of proposals as part of the public consultation process regarding negotiations on a trade and perimeter security agreement. This included recommendations concerning NORAD, as well as shared Arctic security. In the section titled, extending the NORAD model of bilateral engagement, the CCCE emphasized that, “Canada and the United States should extend existing bi-national air perimeter defense arrangements under the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) to incorporate what is already an increasing maritime interoperability.” As part of strengthening the northern security perimeter, the CCCE explained, “The Canadian Governments Northern Strategy recognizes that the United States is Canada’s ‘premier partner’ in the Arctic. We welcome the commitment to work together on a common security agenda for the North.” Both countries are moving towards merging their Arctic foreign policies and further adopting a North American approach.

In April of this year, the U.S. Department of Defense released the Unified Command Plan 2011 which updated, “geographic areas of responsibility for commanders of combatant commands.” The adjustment brought about, “Shifting areas of responsibilities boundaries in the Arctic region to leverage long-standing relationships and improve unity of effort. As a result of this realignment, responsibility for the Arctic region is now shared between USEUCOM and USNORTHCOM.” This change to the Unified Command Plan reflects the growing importance of the Arctic. With the move, USNORTHCOM has been given the responsibility to advocate for Arctic capabilities. This is significant considering its partnership with Canada COM, as well as NORAD and will facilitate with the development of an integrated Arctic security framework.

In a posting on his Commander’s Blog, Admiral James A. Winnefeld, Jr., commander of USNORTHCOM and NORAD addressed some of the challenges the U.S. faces in the Arctic. He confirmed that the region is becoming one of USNORTHCOM’s most important with its areas of responsibility now expanded to include the North Pole and the Bering Strait. Winnefeld stated, “In close coordination with the Commander of USEUCOM, our interagency partners and our close Canadian partners, we will work to gain an understanding of our gaps in this unique and austere environment and identify future capabilities and requirements.” He went on to say, “Our responsibility in the Arctic is a recognition of our close, enduring and vital relationship with Canada Command and the U.S. Coast Guard.” During a bilateral meeting earlier this year, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Canadian Minister of National Defense Peter MacKay discussed the need to further strengthen the U.S.-Canada defense relationship. This included expanding cooperation in the Arctic and deepening coordinated contributions to global security.

Increasingly, the Canadian government’s foreign policy is becoming more aggressive as it further embraces the U.S. pro-war agenda. Military spending is at its highest point since the second World War. There are reports that Canadian Forces are looking to establish bases overseas. In an effort to gain more influence in Washington and elevate its status in NATO, Canada has taken on a key role in military operations in Libya. It has extended its mission in Afghanistan which has transitioned from a combat role to a training capacity. There are also growing concerns over its decision to purchase 65 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets which is tied to plans for a North American security perimeter.

The end results of a fully integrated continental security perimeter could sacrifice what is left of Canadian sovereignty and independence. This could bring its military, security and foreign policy under the umbrella of a single, U.S.-dominated North American Command.

11Feb/15

Indoctrinating A New Generation To Think North American

Recent WikiLeaks documents confirm what some of us have been warning about for years, that plans for a North American Union dismissed by many as a conspiracy theory are indeed real. With Canada and the U.S. pursuing a trade and security perimeter agreement which could later include Mexico, it has once again highlighted the whole process of North American integration. This deep-rooted agenda has permeated our schools, universities and other learning institutions. Through various initiatives, the future leaders of tomorrow are being indoctrinated to view themselves as North American citizens as opposed to Canadians, Mexicans or Americans.

In 2005, the North American Forum on Integration (NAFI) a Montreal based think tank pushing for closer continental ties organized the Triumvirate, a North American Model Legislature which meets once a year. The exercise brings together university students from Canada, Mexico and the U.S. with participants assigned the roles of legislators, journalists or lobbyists. Over the years, the mock parliament has debated and drafted resolutions concerning trade corridors, consolidating North American governance, immigration, NAFTA’s Chapter 11, along with the creation of a continental investment fund and a customs union. Many of the issues discussed mirror plans for deeper integration. In a press release from the first Triumvirate, NAFI proclaimed that a North American Parliament is Born. With efforts to establish a common security perimeter, future steps towards political union could bring about the creation of an actual North American Assembly made up of representatives from all three countries. This could also include the adoption of a continental charter of rights.

The Triumvirate 2011 will be held at Arizona State University – Tempe Campus from May 29 to June 3. The objectives of the event include, “To allow participants to familiarize themselves with the functioning of democratic institutions, as well as North American political, economic, environmental and social realities; to develop the participants’ sense of belonging to North America (and) to increase intercultural exchanges and promote the creation of academia networks.” This year’s delegates will address topics such as freight transportation infrastructure, fostering green building practices, as well as North American guest worker programs. The model legislature is seen as an opportunity for students to better understand the political process and the challenges facing the continent. Through the whole proceedings, participants are encouraged to view North America as a single entity.

In an article from several years back, Steve Watson, writer and editor for Infowars.net and Prisonplanet.com described the mock parliament exercise as, “another example of an overarching movement on behalf of globalist business leaders and politicians to merge the three nations of North America into an EU like federation.” He added, “Integration meetings such as the NAFI Triumvirate are simulations of the exact practices currently being undertaken by the SPP and its offshoot organizations. The NAFI Triumvirate is designed to familiarize ‘future Canadian, American and Mexican leaders’ with the processes involved in such practices.” Watson also pointed out that missing from the whole activity is any simulated opposition to the agenda being presented. While the Triumvirate does promote a sense of cooperation, its lasting influence is instilling participants with the importance of thinking North American.

The 2005 Council on Foreign Relations report, Building a North American Community has been used as a blueprint for deep continental integration. Many of its recommendations became part of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) and continue today with plans for a North American security perimeter. The policy paper also advocated the creation of a network of centers for North American studies. It proposed that, “the three governments open a competition and provide grants to universities in each of the three countries to promote courses, education and research on North America and assist elementary and secondary schools in teaching about North America.” In addition, the report recommended developing, “teacher exchange training programs for elementary and secondary school teachers. This would assist in removing language barriers and give some students a greater sense of a North American identity.”

In his article The Future of North America, Robert Pastor, one of the leading proponents of continental integration proclaimed, “To educate a new generation of students to think North American, each country should begin by supporting a dozen centers for North American studies. Each center should educate students, undertake research, and foster exchanges with other North American universities for both students and faculty.” The Center for North American Studies at American University in Washington, D.C., “was established to educate a new generation of students, to promote policy debate among the governments and the public, and to undertake research on ideas for a continental future.” Arizona State University also founded the North American Center for Transborder Studies whose vision is, “to promote a safer, more prosperous, more competitive, more cooperative, and more sustainable North American region.” These various learning institutions, along with other initiatives are part of the ongoing efforts to further condition and train a new generation into accepting a North American consciousness.

The ideology of globalization is deeply embedded in the corporate structure, mass media, government, as well as in the whole educational system. Together, they are working to shape the minds of the next generation. Students at all levels are being indoctrinated to conform to universal values and standards. Under a new global order, there is no room for sovereignty or individuality.

10Feb/15

Terror Case Begins To Emit Ripe Aroma

Two years ago, this country received a rude shock. On June 2, 2006, the Star reported that police had arrested 17 young Toronto-area Muslim-Canadian males (an 18th would be picked up a few weeks later) on charges of terrorism.

The allegations that dribbled out over the next few weeks were sensational.

Some reports said that the group had planned to attack Parliament and behead Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Others talked of a plot to blow up CBC — or maybe the Canadian Security Intelligence Service — headquarters in Toronto. There were lurid accounts of a jihadist training camp near Orillia.

Police said that some of the accused had tried to purchase enough fertilizer to make three Oklahoma City-style bombs.

In the media, security experts said the arrests proved that Canada was not immune to terrorism, while diversity experts wrung their hands and asked what the country had done wrong.

It was widely assumed that the Toronto 18 were all guilty of plotting heinous crimes.

Two years later, matters are much less clear. The Crown has, in effect, dropped all charges against seven of the 18 — including a man convicted in the original gun-smuggling case that helped bring the group to police attention. The trial of the one remaining minor still charged with an offence is just getting underway.

What has been allowed to emerge from various court hearings (the case is subject to a sweeping publication ban) suggests that whatever was going on may not have been as spectacular as had been first suggested.

The training camp appears to have been a sorry affair in which the alleged jihadists spent most of their time complaining and trekking to a local doughnut shop.

The threats against politicians seem to be based, in part, on a brief, desultory conversation during a 10-hour car ride during which some of the accused debated among themselves just who exactly the Prime Minister was.

Much of the case seems to rest on the testimony of two RCMP moles, one of whom was later criminally charged in an unrelated matter, both of whom received hefty payments for their work.