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Posts Tagged ‘News’

Western Media Discuss Options To Attack Ian

February 7, 2012 Leave a comment

According to some reports, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stated that Israel will strike at Iran sometime between April and June of this year. The Pentagon declined to officially comment, and Israeli leaders are silent as well. The Western media, however, were happy to sink their teeth in the story. Many publications are convinced that both Israelis and Americans may strike at Iran. Read more…

Protests In Wisconsin: Union Protests Spread Across The US

February 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Over 20,000 angry union supporters gathered at the Wisconsin state capital expressing opposition to an anti-union bill and an end to Walker’s governorship. Now, pro-union protests have spread to other states proposing cutbacks.

Republican lawmakers are trying to secure quorum in Wisconsin to hold a vote on a measure to kill the collective bargaining rights of state union workers, however the Democratic law makers have refused to show up at the legislature and have fled the state to avoid being brought into the capital by state police.

The Republican controlled Senate dispatched the state troopers to find the Democrats, but they were unsuccessful. A group of them have opted to stay in a hotel just on the other side of the state line in Illinois.

Without quorum a vote cannot be held, effectively stalling the passage of the legislation.

Meanwhile, the State legislature in Tennessee has also proposed a bill that will dissolve the collective bargaining rights of the state’s teachers and proposed police layoffs in Hartford, Connecticut were met with hundreds of police marching the it streets, expressing their opposition. In Ohio crowds of hundreds have descended on the state capitol to protest legislation that would strip all state employees of their collective bargaining rights.

Opposition to cuts to workers and labor rights continue to be met with opposition, opposition which appears to be speeding across the country.

The Wisconsin protest is being called the largest set of protests the state has encountered in years.

Widely seen as the boldest anti-union bill in the nation, the law has been engineered to combat the $3.6 billion state budget shortfall.

If passed, the law would bring about a major political shift in Wisconsin. The state has been widely seen as progressive in the past, being the first state to pass comprehensive pro-union legislation in 1959.

Over 40 percent of the 2,600 unionized teachers and staff called in sick in Madison, Wisconsin, forcing the State’s second largest school district to cancel school for the day.

The state’s prisons are staffed by unionized guards. These guards would lose their bargaining rights under the new law. So far, the guards have not opted to protest or walk out. That may change.

Under the proposed law, unions could not force employees to pay dues, but could choose to represent state workers. However, they could not seek pay increases above the listed maximum in the Consumer Price Index without approval from a public referendum.

In exchange for the loss of their labor rights, the state government would promise not to engage in furloughs or layoffs. If the bill fails, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has threatened to lay-off 6,000 state workers.

Walker plans to move forward, insisting he has the necessary votes in the state legislature to pass the bill.

Support for the measure comes from the state’s Republicans who control the legislature. The state’s Democrats and union members adamantly oppose the proposed law. The Republicans claim they have the votes, despite public outcry, to pass the new law.

Activists nevertheless are pushing for a ‘citizen’s filibuster’ to prevent the passage of the bill by forcing discussion into unsociable hours.

While a number of other US states are considering bills which target labor rights, Wisconsin’s is by far the most antagonistic anti-labor measure aimed at solving budgetary shortfalls.

David Vines, a protestor and a student at the University of Wisconsin argued the Republican controlled state government is trying to bust up unions and is creating a culture war to drive poor people away from the polls.

He explained the government was elected based on promises of jobs, but instead has opted to take on issues people see as less vital, such as voter ID rules and anti-union laws.

“They are not concerned about jobs at all right now,” he said. “They come in here and they try and bust up unions and use these culture wars as a way to drive younger people and poorer people away from polls.”

Radio Host Alex Jones said this is a huge development, and the main driver behind the protests is the economy as a whole which has been driven down by the inflated dollar.

Austerity and globalism are impacting the world, what began in Europe, and the Middle East is spreading to the US, he contended.

“We’re seeing massive protests, riots. We’re seeing people get very angry,” Jones said. “We’ve seen the governor of Wisconsin threaten preemptively to call out the National Guard.”

He added, “The question is will the people be victorious against this or will the offshore robber barons of the new world order be successful brining in their new world government?”

Jones argued the protests have been coordinated and organized by international powers in order to create reasons to bring in a new global power structure and eventually a world government.

U.S. With Corporate Media Tries To Lead Iran Protests

February 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Hillary Clinton had instantly recognized them by referring to them as the Iranian “opposition” a few months ago: “We continue talking with them and supporting the opposition.” The same government that, in the words of Juan Gelman, had so many ups and downs against the protests against the government of their ally Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, now they have thrown themselves into the effort to head up support to those who are allegedly fighting the government in Tehran, granting them a semblance of legitimacy.

by Iroel Sánchez

Rebellion

Hillary Clinton had instantly recognized them by referring to them as the Iranian “opposition” a few months ago: “We continue talking with them and supporting the opposition.” The same government that, in the words of Juan Gelman, had so many ups and downs against the protests against the government of their ally Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, now they have thrown themselves into the effort to head up support to those who are allegedly fighting the government in Tehran, granting them a semblance of legitimacy.

Towards this end, the U.S. State Department has opened a Twitter account USAdarFarsi to encourage those who do what America wants. Quickly, in an instant, the mainstream Western media, for example, the Spanish press started talking about repression in the Iranian capital, showing images of a burning trash can they call a “barricade” (El País–The Country), and a video in which a small group People burn a blanket on a busy road to the indifference of passing drivers (Público–Public) which was used to talk about victims of firearms.

Once again the technique of self-fulfilling prophecy begins to operate from the media against U.S. enemies, announcing in advance what the White House wants to happen. In this case, the goal is to divert the anti-imperialist and popular rebellion in the Middle East against the main enemy of the United States and Israel in the area and prevent the fire from reaching regimes such as Morocco and Saudi Arabia, faithful servants of the Empire.

And not only is the United States acting in this case, the consul of the Spanish government in Tehran who was weeks ago so reluctant to investigate and condemn the Moroccan regime’s crimes against the Saharawi people, spent four hours at a police station in Iran “after being stopped when I strolled through the center of Tehran while the ‘protests’ were taking place “…

Much ado about nothing, the U.S. is desperate to deflect attention. See the picture showing the “thousands” of demonstrators, and this is just Tehran. The rest of the country is, well, er. quietly living in peace. University of Tehran Professor Seyed Mohammad Marandi said no more than “a few hundred rioters” were in downtown Tehran.

However, just survey the western corporate media. Being dusted off are the stories that failed so miserably not long ago, trying to push Washington’s agenda.

The Empire is now determined to even the score in the Middle East, by generating displays of mass discontent to bring down a U.S. adversary in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Obama’s National Security Advisor, Tom Donilon, issued an official, White House letterhead statement, declaring as a matter of U.S. policy that Iran must allow protests of whatever sort the Obama Administration wishes to encourage.

In other words, they will try to “get something going” in Iran. The administration will fail, and the spectacle will be disheartening for them.

Did somebody say “demonstrators” for hire?

Here’s looking forward to seeing them fall on their faces once again. It’s over…

U.S. with corporate media tries to lead Iran protests

Unrest in Arab countries: Yemenis stage new protests, demand president leave office

February 15, 2011 Leave a comment

At least 3,000 protestors gathered on Monday on the streets of Yemen’s capital Sanaa in a hopes of repeating the success of the recent revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia and to oust their long-standing President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Clashes between pro- and anti-government protestors ensued on the streets. The two sides threw rocks at each other and brandished knives and daggers, eyewitnesses said. Protesters chanted “Down, down with Ali, long live Yemen!” as police formed a human shield to keep crowds from spreading and dividing the two sides.

Mass upheavals, the first large-scale public challenge to Saleh during his rule, broke out in Yemen in late January when tens of thousands of Yemenis took to the streets in Sanaa demanding the end of his 32-year regime.

In early February, Saleh said he would not seek to run in 2013 when his presidency expires and his son would not succeed him as president.

Kazakh Armed Forces To Draft Celebrities In New Reality Show

February 15, 2011 Leave a comment

The Kazakh Defense Ministry and national TV have launched a televised project in which politicians, athletes and celebrities will be drafted into the armed forces.

The participants of the project, titled “Special Mission,” will undergo special training for several days in one of the country’s military units and then will be tasked with an “important mission.”

“Those who did not fulfill their military service duty for whatever reasons will get combat experience in various services and branches of the armed forces,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

According to the program, participants will be unexpectedly “drafted” at work, home or even at a party and whisked off to serve in the military.

“There will be no favors. He [the participant]… will do workouts, eat soldier’s meals and live in barracks,” the ministry said.

The show will go on the air for the first time on Sunday.

Middle East – Nothing Will Ever Be The Same…

February 15, 2011 Leave a comment

The fall of dictatorships in Egypt and Tunisia shows that the U.S. can no longer keep the power scheme it set up for over three decades. Powerless to act directly with the military, the U.S. tries to articulate transitions that change the form of domination, but keep its essence. The Army chose Mubarak’s resignation because it realized that his presence had united the opposition. They hope that without him, they might co-opt the opposition sectors to a moderate coalition – with El Baradei, the Muslim Brotherhood, with the support of the U.S. and Europe.

The Middle East has become a pillar of the foreign policy of the North American empire for two good reasons : the strategic need for safe and cheap oil supplies to the U.S., Europe and Japan, and protection for Israel – key U.S. ally in the region, surrounded by Arab countries.

Hence the rise of Arab nationalism has become one of the most frightening ghosts to the U.S. in the world. On the one hand, the nationalisation of oil by nationalist governments directly affects the interests of oil giants – North American or European – and the propagation of anti-imperialist, nationalist ideology – Gamal Abdel Nasser was the leading exponent – as well as the Palestinian question.

The contemporary history of the Middle East centers on the Arab-Israeli war of 1967 as its most important reference. The union of Arab governments allowed the recovering of the claim of the Palestinian state, which was answered by Israel with the invasion of new territories – including Egypt – with the direct military support of the U.S.A.

A new conflict began in 1973, now accompanied by the politics of OPEC to increase oil prices. From that moment, the West sought to overcome its dependence on oil or it would attempt the dividing of the Arab world. This second possibility triumphed, with the Iraq-Iran war, encouraged and armed by the U.S., which struck two countries with nationalist governments, who became mutually neutralized in a bloody confrontation. As a by-product of war, Iraq felt entitled to invade Kuwait – with tacit U.S. approval – which was taken as a pretext for the invasion of Iraq and the definitive settlement of U.S. troops in the very center of the richest oil region in the world.

The U.S. managed to divide the Arab world and has, on one hand the most reactionary regimes – led by monarchies, beginning with Saudi Arabia, which holds the largest oil reserves in the world, and the other moderate governments like Egypt and Jordan. The greatest North American achievement was the co-optation of Anwar El Sadat, Nasser’s successor, who surprisingly normalized relations with Israel – the first regime in the region to do so – paving the way for the creation of a moderate, pro-North American bloc in the region, which is characterized by the resumption of relations with Israel – and therefore the recognition of Israel – and virtually abandoning the Palestinian question. This also became a moderating force in OPEC, in the interests of the western powers.

Egypt as a country has the region’s largest population, with large oil production. The country also once had the biggest nationalist leader of the entire region, Nasser. Now it has become crucial as a political pawn of the U.S. in the region. Not coincidentally, Egypt became the second largest country to get U.S. military aid in the world after Israel and ahead of Colombia.

This neutralization of the Arab world, by appointment of governments and the U.S. military presence in the heart of the region – updated with the invasion of Iraq – was in itself an essential element of North American politics in the world and the guarantee of oil supplies to supplement the declining oil production in the U.S.A. and all oil supplies to Europe and Japan

That is what is at stake now, after the fall of dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt. Impotent to act directly with their military, the U.S. tries to articulate transitions that change the form of domination, but maintains its essence. The Army preferred Mubarak’s resignation, because they realized that his presence had united the opposition. They hope that without him, they might co-opt the opposition sectors into a moderate coalition – with El Baradei, the Muslim Brotherhood, and with the support of the U.S. and Europe – that can make constitutional reforms, but control the succession process in the elections of September, managing to demobilise the popular movement before it can forge new leadership.

Independence could be extended to other countries in the region – of which Algeria, Jordan, Morocco and Saudi Arabia are strong candidates. The fall of the dictatorships in Egypt and Tunisia demonstrates that the U.S. can no longer maintain the scheme of power that they did for over three decades. The least that can be expected is political instability in the region, until other coalitions of power can be organised, whose character will colour the new period which the Middle East is set to enter.

Middle East: nothing will ever be the same

Democracy Promotion For Dummies, Or What Is The Color Of Your Revolution?

February 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Just a month ago, a Washington Post editorial shared with us some bad news: freedom is on retreat around the globe. Helping the Post‘s editors arrive at such a sad conclusion was a survey by the Freedom House which claimed that the situation with the world’s human rights has been deteriorating “for the fifth consecutive year.” Did it occur to the clowns from the Freedom House that the timing of their supposed trend conspicuously coincided with the George W. Bush administration’s policy of advancing democracy at a gunpoint? (Incidentally, supervising these clowns is a David Kramer, the Freedom House’s executive director, who served in the Bush administration as an assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor. For democracy and human rights! One can be sure that in this capacity, Kramer did his best to sharpen the administration’s favorite democracy promotion tools, such as Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, CIA secret prisons and waterboarding.)

It is therefore quite understandable that the eruption of street protests in Egypt has lifted the spirit of thousands of professional democracy promoters in Washington, DC. And rightfully so: it’s not every day that a “pro-democracy” crowd is challenging the rule of a bloody Middle Eastern tyrant.

Yet, at the risk of sounding obstructive, I have a couple of clarifying questions for the folks who’re more versed than me in the science and art of democracy promotion. (Actually, I’d love to start with this one: if Egypt is on its way to democracy, then why did many countries, including the United States, begin evacuating their citizens? But I won’t let this technical question distract us from the more fundamental.) The first question: what kind of proof do we have that the mob regularly gathering at the Tahrir Square in Cairo represents a bona fide “pro-democracy” movement? Now, there is no question that this movement is antiMoubarak, but history provides us with enough examples of anti-movements — the 1789 French Revolution, the 1917 Russian Revolution, and 1979 Iranian Revolution come to mind immediately — that resulted in regimes that were arguably more brutal than the ones they replaced. What exactly did the Tahrir Square protesters do or say to pursuade us that they were not simply anti-Mubarak, but pro-democracy?

And this leads me to my second question. In democracy, the voice of majority rules. Do we have any evidence that the protesters’ demand for Moubarak’s resignation reflects the opinion of the majority of Egyptians — and not of a particular minority faction, however large, organized and determined? This is not a fancy question. We all remember mass protests that engulfed the streets of Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, in the fall of 2007. Many, myself included, believed that the days of Georgia’s embattled president Mikheil Saakashvili were numbered. But Saakashvili held on, and the protests have gradually stopped. Why? Because as much as Saakashvili was hated by the Georgian intellectuals running the show in Tbilisi, he was equally popular in the countryside where the majority of Georgians live.

I’m not an expert on the Middle East: I don’t speak Arabic and my only personal experience with the region is restricted to a short tourist trip to Morocco. (Yes, I know that a similar lack of knowledge of the Middle East doesn’t prevent U.S. democracy promoters from comfortably issuing labels like “dictator”, “pro-democracy”, “moderate”, “radical”, etc. But I can only speak for myself.) I didn’t plan to write about the Egypt protests and I changed my mind only in response to repeated attempts to bring parallels between the crisis in Egypt and the situation in Russia.

This, of course, shouldn’t come as a surprise. Ever since the glorious times of the Orange Revolution in Kyiv in November 2004, every case of mass disturbances in the post-Soviet space — and now even in the Middle East! — has been exploited as an excuse to stick the proverbial Mirror of the Russian Revolution into Russia’s face. My only wonder is which term will be chosen to describe the “revolution” that is supposed to bring a “pro-democracy” change to Russia. Somehow, I suspect that this isn’t going to be a color, but, rather, a plant — pretty much in line with the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan, the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, or the Date Palm Revolution in Tunisia. The Birch Revolution? The Daisy Revolution? Or, perhaps, something completely unorthodox: say, The Samovar Party Movement?

To assess whether Russia is ready for a “revolution”, I turned to a man with an impressive track record of launching Russian revolutions. Obviously, I’m speaking about Vladimit Ilyich Ulyanov-Lenin whose definition of the “revolutionary situation” — presented in the 1915 article “The Collapse of the 2-nd International” — still remains the golden standard in the field.

Lenin describes three major conditions characterizing a “pre-revolutionary” situation in a given country. The first is the inability of the ruling class to execute its authority (“the top can’t rule in the old way”). It is plain clear that with the approval ratings of Russia’s top two leaders oscillating around 60%, the Russian ruling class remains in full control of the country. President Medvedev‘s attempts at “modernizing” Russia’s economic and political institutions, however clumsy at times, still reflect the ability of the Russian elites to adjust to the changing conditions on the ground.

The second condition identified by Lenin is the sharply increased (“beyond the usual level”) impoverishment of ordinary citizens (“the bottom doesn’t want to live in the old way”). True, the economic crisis has decreased the living standards of ordinary Russians and further widened the already large gap between the wealthy and the poor. Yet, at the average per-capita income of about $14,000, it’s a huge stretch to call Russians impoverished “beyond the usual level.” Characteristically, over the past couple of years, only two significant mass protests, in Vladivostok and Kalinigrad, have been marked by economic demands, and Vladivstok was obviously a special case. At least for now, the authorities have enough financial resources to prevent “economic” grievances from reaching the boiling point — by increasing the pensions and salaries of state workers.

The third condition is the dramatic increase in political activity of ordinary people, their “readiness for spontaneous revolutionary actions”, as Lenin called it. This is definitely something that deserves consideration. There is no question that mass political activity is on the rise in Russia. However, so far, the most prominent anti-government movements, such as, for example, the Defenders of the Khimki Forest, have been alternating their protest actions with clever PR campaigning and occasional talks with the authorities. And Medvedev is somewhat decreasing the likelyhood of “spontaneous” mass actions by holding well-publitized meetings with his Council on Civil Society and Human Rights, where “hot” topics are allowed to be at least publicly articulated.

The close attention the West is paying to the regular episodes of a reality show mistakenly called “the rallies of the Russian opposition” is actually purely self-serving, as it allows the democracy promotion crowd to justify its own existence. The spectacular clashes between wooden-headed “strategists-31” with equally wooden-headed omonovtsy may make great news in the Western media, but they can’t hide this simple math: 1,500 of protesters gathering for such meetings represent less than a two-hundredth of a percent of the 10-million population of Moscow. This is not something that the Kremlin should worry about.

What the Kremlin must worry about is the repeat of the demonstration that took place on the Manezhnaya Square on December 11, when a few thousand youngsters showed up out of the blue (or so it seemed) with the banners “Russia for Russians, Moscow for Muscowites!” and “Moscow is not the Caucasus!” No efforts should be spared to prevent converting this, so far, one-off episode into another reality show. For the genre of this show won’t be Russia’s “democratization.” It will be Russia’s disintegration, something that even the evil Lenin didn’t want happening to Russia.

Democracy Promotion For Dummies, Or What Is The Color Of Your Revolution?