Monday, February 28, 2011
People Get Ready -
There's A Train ComingIt’s become pretty clear to me how Israeli rule in the West Bank is going to end – through Palestinian people power.
By Larry Derfner, Jerusalem Post
I would prefer that the occupation ended in orderly fashion, without chaos, with the settlers living near the Green Line feeling unthreatened and the others having plenty of time to relocate. Unfortunately, this is not happening; I’d hoped the Obama administration would pressure Israel out of the West Bank, but nobody’s pressuring it out of anything. The 43-year status quo becomes more entrenched each day.
Still, the bad blood has been rising – among the Palestinians, the Arabs, Europe, liberal America, and the bad blood in Israel has been rising in kind. Something’s going to blow, I figured, and my guess was that Israel would start one war too many, maybe against Iran, or Lebanon, or Gaza, and masses of Israelis as well as foreigners would die, and when the smoke cleared it would be recalled that we started it, and the world would finally run out of patience with us and we would get out of the West Bank in a lather to avoid being ostracized, to save ourselves from becoming a Jewish North Korea.
Again, not my preferred way of ending the occupation. But no “good” way was presenting itself.
And then came Tunisia. And Egypt. And Iran, and Yemen, and Bahrain, and Libya, and no one knows where this is going to stop.
And it became pretty clear to me that this is how Israeli rule in the West Bank is going to end – through Palestinian people power. Masses of Palestinians, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, marching to IDF checkpoints and outposts, marching to Israeli-only roads, to settlements, to the security fence – to the nearest Israeli presence and screaming, “Out! Out!”
And refusing to leave.
What the hell is the IDF going to do then? Shoot them? Arrest them? With the whole world not only watching but, for the first time, already won over by other unarmed Arab masses facing down their oppressors? What will the IDF do under the eyes of a world that, for the first time, is seeing Arabs as people like themselves who want freedom, who deserve it and who are earning it, to say the least, with their courage?
How will the IDF and the Palestinian Authority police – those who don’t defect – get all these people to go back home and stay there?
I don’t see it. I think we’re going to have grand-scale anarchy on our hands – and we won’t be able to solve it by force, and the world will be on the side of the anarchists.
Impossible? If you say this is impossible, you’ve been on Mars for the last month. If you’ve been on Earth, the idea of the Arab revolt not reaching the West Bank is what seems impossible. To me, it’s inevitable. I’m only surprised it hasn’t started already.
After all, the Palestinians’ “war of the stones,” the first intifada in the late 1980s, was close to being a model for what’s happening in the Middle East now. The Egyptians and other Arab rebels have even adopted the term intifada, which means “shaking off.”
True, the first intifada (not to mention the second one) wasn’t nonviolent – the Palestinians threw stones and Molotov cocktails. But they certainly played David to the IDF’s Goliath. And in recent years, the “popular resistance” – the marches on the security fence in Bil’in and other West Bank villages – has been all but nonviolent, with only a few teenagers throwing stones at IDF troops, usually from far distances.
The Palestinians are the Arab world’s masters at political judo – at turning the enemy’s superior power against him. This is how civil disobedience works, and it’s working wonders in the Middle East, so why on earth shouldn’t it come to the West Bank, too?
It’s a matter of time. Maybe it’ll start Friday with the Palestinians’ “Day of Rage” against the US veto of the UN resolution against settlements. If not Friday, it’ll start soon. Something will set it off.
And yes, I’m hoping it happens. If the only other options are occupation forever or peace following catastrophe – and I think those are the only other options – I prefer people power.
It’s going to be messy. Bibi Netanyahu will be pounding the table for negotiations, and the Palestinians massed at the checkpoints, settlements and security fence will say, “Negotiations? Hmm... how about no? How about you people just get off our land? How about you people just get off our necks? Until then, we’re not leaving.”
Who’s going to save our bacon then? Barack Obama? AIPAC? Sarah Palin?
I don’t know how this is going to play out; there are 300,000 settlers living in the West Bank, 100,000 of them on the far side of the security fence. If there’s a “rosewater revolution” or something, if the IDF is helpless against it and if the whole world sides with the rebels, then we’re going to have an emergency on our hands over there.
If I were running the government, I would think about building mobile home parks for settlers – lots of them. I would think about setting aside billions of dollars to compensate these families for their lost homes.
The image of bewildered, broken families streaming out of the settlements gives me no joy. I wish this terrible sin that Israel committed by conquering the Palestinians could be undone in a less traumatic way. But conquerors tend to grow smug, they think that because they’re calling the shots they’ve got all the time in the world, then one day they find out that the earth, in fact, does not stand still.
It’s happened once or twice in history, it’s happening across the Middle East now, it’ll happen in the West Bank soon. Justice is coming our way, and I sincerely hope it doesn’t turn out to be too rough.
Libya & Imperialism
Of all the struggles going on in North Africa and the Middle East right now, the most difficult to unravel is the one in Libya.
What is the character of the opposition to the Gadhafi regime, which reportedly now controls the eastern city of Benghazi?
Is it just coincidence that the rebellion started in Benghazi, which is north of Libya’s richest oil fields as well as close to most of its oil and gas pipelines, refineries and its LNG port? Is there a plan to partition the country?
What is the risk of imperialist military intervention, which poses the gravest danger for the people of the entire region?
Libya is not like Egypt. Its leader, Moammar al-Gadhafi, has not been an imperialist puppet like Hosni Mubarak. For many years, Gadhafi was allied to countries and movements fighting imperialism. On taking power in 1969 through a military coup, he nationalized Libya’s oil and used much of that money to develop the Libyan economy. Conditions of life improved dramatically for the people.
For that, the imperialists were determined to grind Libya down. The U.S. actually launched air strikes on Tripoli and Benghazi in 1986 that killed 60 people, including Gadhafi’s infant daughter - which is rarely mentioned by the corporate media. Devastating sanctions were imposed by both the U.S. and the U.N. to wreck the Libyan economy.
After the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 and leveled much of Baghdad with a bombing campaign that the Pentagon exultantly called “shock and awe,” Gadhafi tried to ward off further threatened aggression on Libya by making big political and economic concessions to the imperialists. He opened the economy to foreign banks and corporations; he agreed to IMF demands for “structural adjustment,” privatizing many state-owned enterprises and cutting state subsidies on necessities like food and fuel.
The Libyan people are suffering from the same high prices and unemployment that underlie the rebellions elsewhere and that flow from the worldwide capitalist economic crisis.
There can be no doubt that the struggle sweeping the Arab world for political freedom and economic justice has also struck a chord in Libya. There can be no doubt that discontent with the Gadhafi regime is motivating a significant section of the population.
However, it is important for progressives to know that many of the people being promoted in the West as leaders of the opposition are long-time agents of imperialism. The BBC on Feb. 22 showed footage of crowds in Benghazi pulling down the green flag of the republic and replacing it with the flag of the overthrown monarch King Idris - who had been a puppet of U.S. and British imperialism.
The Western media are basing a great deal of their reporting on supposed facts provided by the exile group National Front for the Salvation of Libya, which was trained and financed by the U.S. CIA. Google the front’s name plus CIA and you will find hundreds of references.
The Wall Street Journal in a Feb. 23 editorial wrote that “The U.S. and Europe should help Libyans overthrow the Gadhafi regime.” There is no talk in the board rooms or the corridors of Washington about intervening to help the people of Kuwait or Saudi Arabia or Bahrain overthrow their dictatorial rulers. Even with all the lip service being paid to the mass struggles rocking the region right now, that would be unthinkable. As for Egypt and Tunisia, the imperialists are pulling every string they can to get the masses off the streets.
There was no talk of U.S. intervention to help the Palestinian people of Gaza when thousands died from being blockaded, bombed and invaded by Israel. Just the opposite. The U.S. intervened to prevent condemnation of the Zionist settler state.
Imperialism’s interest in Libya is not hard to find. Bloomberg.com wrote on Feb. 22 that while Libya is Africa’s third-largest producer of oil, it has the continent’s largest proven reserves - 44.3 billion barrels. It is a country with a relatively small population but the potential to produce huge profits for the giant oil companies. That’s how the super-rich look at it, and that’s what underlies their professed concern for the people’s democratic rights in Libya.
Getting concessions out of Gadhafi is not enough for the imperialist oil barons. They want a government that they can own outright, lock, stock and barrel. They have never forgiven Gadhafi for overthrowing the monarchy and nationalizing the oil. Fidel Castro of Cuba in his column “Reflections” takes note of imperialism’s hunger for oil and warns that the U.S. is laying the basis for military intervention in Libya.
In the U.S., some forces are trying to mobilize a street-level campaign promoting such U.S. intervention. We should oppose this outright and remind any well-intentioned people of the millions killed and displaced by U.S. intervention in Iraq.
Progressive people are in sympathy with what they see as a popular movement in Libya. We can help such a movement most by supporting its just demands while rejecting imperialist intervention, in whatever form it may take. It is the people of Libya who must decide their future.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Snakes At Work
Bank Of America Using Private Intel Firms To Attack Wikileaks
In a document titled "The WikiLeaks Threat" three data intelligence companies, Plantir Technologies, HBGary Federal and Berico Technologies, outline a plan to attack Wikileaks. They are acting upon request from Hunton and Williams, a law firm working for Bank of America. The Department of Justice recommended the law firm to Bank of America according to an article in The Tech Herald. The prosed attacks on WikiLeaks include these actions:
Feed the fuel between the feuding groups. Disinformation. Create messages around actions of sabotage or discredit the opposing organizations. Submit fake documents and then call out the error.
Create concern over the security of the infrastructure. Create exposure stories. If the process is believed not to be secure they are done.
Cyber attacks against the infrastructure to get data on document submitters. This would kill the project. Since the servers are now in Sweden and France putting a team together to get access is more straightforward.
Media campaign to push the radial and reckless nature of WikiLeaks activities. Sustain pressure. Does nothing for the fanatics, but creates concern and doubt among moderates.
Search for leaks. Use social media to profile and identify risky behavior of employees.
The full document in pdf file form as prepared by the named security snoop firms may be read here. It appears either a sales promotion or training session introduction accompanied with slide presentations. On reading, any of social conscience might gain insight into minds of such people and come away with increased understanding of why prostituting in such manner makes one an enemy.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Reflecion Of Fidel
THE politics of plunder imposed by the United States and its NATO allies in the Middle East is in crisis. This was inevitably unleashed with the high cost of grain, the effects of which are being felt with more force in the Arab nations where, despite their enormous oil resources, the shortage of water, arid areas and generalized poverty of the people contrast with the vast resources derived from oil possessed by the privileged sectors.
While food prices triple, the real estate fortunes and wealth of the aristocratic minority rise to billions of dollars.
The Arab world, with its Islamic culture and beliefs, has seen itself additionally humiliated by the brutal imposition of a state which was not capable of meeting the elemental obligations which brought about its creation, based on the colonial order in existence since the end of World War II, which allowed the victorious powers to create the United Nations and impose world trade and economy.
Thanks to Mubarak's betrayal at Camp David, the Palestinian Arab State has not come into existence, despite the United Nations agreements of November 1947, and Israel has become a powerful nuclear force allied with the United States and NATO.
The U.S. military-industrial complex supplies tens of billions of dollars every year to Israel and to the very Arab states that it subjugates and humiliates.
The genie is out of the bottle and NATO doesn't know how to control it. They are going to try and take maximum advantage of the lamentable events in Libya. No one is capable of knowing at this time what is happening there. All of the figures and versions, even the most improbable, have been disseminated by the empire through the mass media, sowing chaos and misinformation.
It is evident that a civil war is developing in Libya. Why and how was this unleashed? Who will suffer the consequences? The Reuters news agency, repeating the opinion of the well-known Nomura Japanese bank, said that the price of oil could surpass all limits:
"' If Libya and Algeria were to halt oil production together, prices could peak above US$220/bbl and OPEC spare capacity will be reduced to 2.1mmbbl/d, similar to levels seen during the Gulf war and when prices hit US$147/bbl in 2008,’ the bank stated in a note."
Who could pay this price today? What will be the consequences for the food crisis?
The principal NATO leaders are exalted. British Prime Minister David Cameron, reported ANSA, "'admitted in a speech in Kuwait that the Western countries made a mistake in supporting non-democratic governments in the Arab world.'" He should be congratulated for his frankness.
His French colleague Nicolas Sarkozy declared, "The prolonged brutal and bloody repression of the Libyan civilian population is repugnant."
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini declared "believable" the figure of one thousand dead in Tripoli […] ‘the tragic figure will be a bloodbath.’"
Ban Ki-moon added, "The use of violence in the country is absolutely unacceptable.’"
"…’the Security Council will act in accordance with what the international community decides.’"
What Ban Ki-moon is really waiting for is that Obama give the last word.
The President of the United States spoke Wednesday afternoon and stated that the Secretary of State would leave for Europe in order to reach an agreement with the NATO European allies as to what measures to take. Noticeable on his face was his readiness to take on the right-wing Republican John McCain; Joseph Lieberman, the pro-Israel Senator from Connecticut; and Tea Party leaders, in order to guarantee his nomination by the Democratic Party.
The empire's mass media have prepared the ground for action. There would be nothing strange about a military intervention in Libya, which would, additionally, guarantee Europe almost two million barrels of light oil a day, if events do not occur beforehand to put an end to the presidency or life of Gaddafi.
In any event, Obama's role is complicated enough. What would the Arab and Islamic world's reaction be if much blood is spilt in this country in such an adventure? Would the revolutionary wave unleashed in Egypt stop a NATO intervention?
In Iraq the innocent blood of more than a million Arab citizens was shed when this country was invaded on false pretenses. Mission accomplished, George W. Bush proclaimed.
No one in the world will ever be in favor of the deaths of defenseless civilians in Libya or anywhere else. I ask myself, would the United States and NATO apply that principle to the defenseless civilians killed by yankee drones, and this organization's soldiers, every day in Afghanistan and Pakistan?
It is cynicism's danse macabre.
Fidel Castro Ruz
February 23, 2011
Friday, February 25, 2011
Long Live Palestine
Lowkey says "Nothing is more anti-Semitic than Zionism", this is impossible to deny because Judaism and Zionism are two completely different philosophies. During the past two thousand years of existence of Jews, they have been DIVINELY decreed exile and no Jew had ever intended to end this exile and establish any independent political sovereignty in any land. This was in place to ensure that not only the Jews, but the people as a whole fulfil the commandments of the Torah. However the Israeli state has been created by Zionists within the past 100 years. The ultimate mission behind this is to detach the Jewish people from Judaism and replace it with an affinity and loyalty to a racist, murderous political movement. This movement is Zionism and leaders have deceived, terrorised, manipulated the media and have used clever and false propaganda as mechanisms in the manufacture of this state, which is a catalyst for the NWO.
But although Zionist leaders have global political power and unlimited finances at their disposal, their plans of deceiving the entire world have failed. This is because although they plan, God also plans, and He is the best of planners. The truth remains, that the law of the Torah clearly states that the Jewish people are FORBIDDEN to have their own state. It is important to stress, that Zionism is NOT representative of Judaism and Jews have never selected the Israeli leaders. It is also vital to know that many Rabbis and Jews oppose Zionism, and I honour them and the many Jews who marched alongside myself in protest against this genocide. I want to remind Israeli Jews to uphold to their true faith and its teachings.
It should be known that most of the United States Bill of Rights and founding principles correlate with the religious principles and teachings of the people of Palestine. The American government has continually supported the Zionist state of Israel despite the fact that George Washington wanted America to be a country that HAS NO PASSIONATE ATTACHMENT TO ANY FOREIGN NATION. I would therefore like to remind Americans to be TRUE AMERICANS and to uphold to their founding principles.
Capitalist Wish List
- Introducing The Revolting Index
This article was authored by By Alen Mattich, perhaps after having read Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine - The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism, the essential guide to understanding how and why of sucking profit from natural or intended misery. Editors of The Wall Street Journal, where the article appeared, may have looked upon it as a promising international investment guide.
Amid the wave of rebellion and revolution sweeping across North Africa, investors and autocrats are spending a lot more time these days looking over their shoulders.
To that end I’ve produced an index of likely candidates for (un)civil upheaval on the basis of three equally-weighted criteria: social unfairness; propensity to revolt; and a trigger, in this case the share that food makes up as a percentage of household final expenditure.
The unfairness component is made up of three data series. The first is based on Transparency International‘s Corruption Perceptions Index, on the premise that the more corrupt the society, the less fair it’s likely to be. The second is based on the UNDP’s Human Development Index, a ranking of countries on the basis of how much scope their societies give individuals to achieve their potential.
A final component of the unfairness metric is the GINI index, which measures the dispersion of wealth in a society; the higher the GINI, the bigger the gap between rich and poor. This I gave slightly higher weight to than the corruption or development components. I used the most recent numbers available, according to the CIA World Factbook; even so, for some countries, GINI estimates are more than five years old. At the same time GINI numbers are not calculated for most of the Middle Eastern oil producing states, so I used the U.S.’s GINI number as a proxy. Although the U.S. is a relatively unfair society according to the GINI metric, it’s hard to believe the big oil-producing states have more equitable distributions of wealth.
For determining the propensity to revolt, I used another three indicators, one based on the population’s median age, another on the country’s unemployment rate and the last on GDP per capita. The premise here is that the youth and the unemployed are more likely to be rebellious than older folks in work, and that poorer societies, where people have less to lose, will also have a greater propensity to civil strife. The role of youth has been especially apparent in the recent revolutions in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt.
Finally, there’s the trigger. I used the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s calculation of how much of households’ total consumption was made up by food in 85 countries during 2008. The premise here is that hunger has historically sparked revolt. Indeed, food-price inflation seems to have been a significant factor in the recent wave of crises.
Most major countries are on the FDA list, with the exception of those in sub-Saharan Africa, where there are no data for the likes of Angola, Congo, Zimbabwe, Mauritania, Tanzania, Uganda and Niger. Iraq and Afghanistan also don’t make the list. Countries not on the FDA list aren’t in my index either.
Indeed, the FDA guide alone is probably the best indication of which countries are most unstable. Food makes up more than 30% of household consumption in 25, including Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Jordan and Algeria. Worryingly, others include Pakistan (46%), Indonesia (44%), India (36%) and China (34%). It’s easy to see why the rampant food-price inflation of the past six months has been such a worry for these countries’ governments.
But back to my index; a more comprehensive and possibly spurious index.
The top 10 potential hot spots are led by Kenya and Cameroon and include Pakistan, Nigeria, Indonesia, Morocco, Jordan and Azerbaijan. Libya, Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia are in the next 10, together with Vietnam, India and Uzbekistan. The top 30 is then made up of countries including Colombia, South Africa, Iran, Venezuela, Belarus, China, Kazakhstan and Brazil.
Saudi Arabia is 39 out of the 85, Russia is 40 and Kuwait is 51. The highest-ranked European Union country is Romania at 37.
So which are the least (potentially) revolting countries? Bottom ranked is Sweden followed by Austria, Canada, Denmark and Germany. In terms of oil producers, Norway, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates look pretty safe.
Modest adjustments to the methodology alter the relative positions, but the conclusions are broadly the same. Poor countries with many young people are more likely to be hot spots than ageing, bourgeois Europe. On the other hand, it’ll be interesting to watch Ireland’s and Greece’s progress over the coming years.
The Full Revolting Index
Rank / Country / Index
1. Kenya 100.0
2. Cameroon 94.5
3. Pakistan 90.8
4. Nigeria 88.9
5. Indonesia 80.3
6. Philippines 80.1
7. Guatemala 79.2
8. Morocco 78.7
9. Jordan 78.6
10. Azerbaijan 78.6
11. Vietnam 77.9
12. Algeria 77.4
13. Libya 76.9
14. India 76.6
15. Uzbekistan 76.4
16. Egypt 75.3
17. Bolivia 74.7
18. Georgia 73.4
19. Turkmenistan 71.3
20. Dominican Republic 69.6
21. Tunisia 69.1
22. Ukraine 68.2
23. Bosnia-Herzegovina 67.3
24. Colombia 67.1
25. South Africa 67.0
26. Peru 66.2
27. Iran 65.7
28. Venezuela 65.5
29. Belarus 65.1
30. China 64.3
31. Kazakhstan 64.0
32. Macedonia 63.8
33. Brazil 62.0
34. Ecuador 60.4
35. Mexico 59.4
36. Turkey 59.1
37. Romania 59.0
38. Costa Rica 58.8
39. Saudi Arabia 58.4
40. Russia 58.0
41. Thailand 56.2
42. Argentina 54.6
43. Chile 54.1
44. Croatia 50.5
45. Malaysia 49.2
46. Lithuania 49.0
47. Taiwan 48.7
48. Bahrain 47.9
49. Latvia 47.6
50. Uruguay 47.2
51. Kuwait 46.7
52. Israel 46.1
53. Poland 45.8
54. Bulgaria 44.0
55. Slovakia 42.5
56. Hungary 40.5
57. Portugal 40.3
58. Estonia 39.5
59. Qatar 38.8
60. Greece 38.8
61. United Arab Emirates 38.6
62. Czech Republic 38.4
63. Spain 38.0
64. South Korea 37.5
65. Italy 36.2
66. Slovenia 35.1
67. Hong Kong, China 34.8
68. France 34.5
69. New Zealand 33.2
70. United States 32.3
71. Japan 32.2
72. Belgium 31.7
73. Ireland 31.2
74. United Kingdom 30.3
75. Singapore 29.9
76. Australia 29.2
77. Finland 28.9
78. Netherlands 28.7
79. Norway 28.5
80. Switzerland 28.2
81. Germany 28.2
82. Denmark 27.8
83. Canada 27.5
84. Austria 27.2
85. Sweden 26.7
Wiki To Sweden
The following is a chat that recently took place on the Swedish news website Aftonbladet with Julian Assange. Assange talks about his trial, the possibility of extradition to the United States, why he thinks he won't get a fair trial in Sweden, how WikiLeaks is faring currently, whether WikiLeaks will go on if he is found guilty and sentenced to jail, and more. Here it is re-published in full:
Julian Assange: Hello everyone!
Kommentar från Olof: Do you see yourself as a modern-day freedom fighter?
Julian Assange: The freedom to communicate knowledge is, to me, the most important freedom. It is the freedom on which all other freedoms and rights depend. Concepts such as the right to representation, freedom from arbitary detention or torture all need to be voiced and evidence for them made clear. This can only be done effectively if the central freedom - the right to communicate is strong. In fighting for this freedom, we fight for all freedoms.
Kommentar från John: How do you feel about the court decision today?
Julian Assange: It was not a surprise. Over 95% of EU arrest warrants result in such an outcome in the lower courts. The judge involved, Riddle was the same judge that first put me in prison. I am of course, annoyed at the tremendous distraction from our work in the revolutions in the middle east. This angers me, but on the other hand, the process does mean we and others such as Fair Trials International can inspire law reforms in Sweden and europe.
Kommentar från Maria: What do you base your assumptions on that Sweden will send you to USA?
Julian Assange: This is an interesting question that few people have looked at with any depth. Onwards extradition - to the United States - entirely a matter of politics. The Swedish Prime Minister has refused to block such an extradition, saying, falsely, that it is a matter entirely for the judiciary, while at the same time pathetically pandering with his other commentary on the case. Infact, he has the power, in the Swedish extradition relationship with the US, to disqualify my extradition. He refuses. According to what I have been told of the protocol between Sweden and the UK, and the US and the UK, the Home Secretary of the UK, simiarly has such power to politically veto such an extradition. The British government, thus far, has refused to do so. Now, while it is convention that an extradition from the UK or Sweden to the US would require the US to agree to not execute or torture me or other european based WikiLeaks staff, any such diplomatic guarentee would be meaningless. Sweden went through that formalism with its CIA assisted extraditions to Egypt, which were immediately ignored. In the US many senior politicians have called for our assassination or life imprisonment. There are three bills before Congress and the Senate to do such things as declare us a "transnational threat", so all our staff can be treated like al-Quada - as "enemy combatants" and shipped off to Bagram or Guantanamo, etc. Nothing Sweden can politely ask for can stop this legislative risk.
Kommentar från Maja: What happens to your work with Wikileaks now? Are you releasing anything new soon?
Julian Assange: We are releasing new material every day. Major efforts throughout South America have appeared in the last week and we have had since the start of the year a special focus on the middle east, which is continuing.
Kommentar från cleo: Hi Julian. Do you see yourself involved in what happening in the Arabic World? Are their fight for freedom based on the document you have revealed?
Julian Assange: The heavy lifting in these revolutions has been done by long standing civil and political groups throughout the middle east. However we have tried to play a part in the region since last year. In particular, we are pround of the work of our media partner Al-Akhbar in Lebanon who published many important stories based on our material in Arabic. Al-Alkbar and WikiLeaks were then banned by the Ben Ali regime of Tunisia. Supportive computer hackers then redirected many Tunisian government websites to WikiLeaks and its cables exposing Ben Ali. Al-Alkbar suffered three critical cyber attacks and had its cable publishing eventually wiped out. The sophistication of the attacks point to state involvement. Subsequently, we worked with the Telegraph and on our own to aggressively expose Mubarak (Egypt), Soliman (Egypt), Bahrain and Libya.
Kommentar från BJ: What makes you think you will not be given a fair trial in Sweden?
Julian Assange: I could never have imagined just how badly the Swedish justice system can be abused. This question needs a very long answer, but Swedes everywhere are coming forward to tell us horror story after horror story. While these domestic considerations are bad enough, in my case we have united both Social Democrat patronage networks through political opportunists like Claes Borgstrom and other radical feminists who hope to get some limelight, together with the worst elements of the Moderates who hope to curry favor with the US. I do see, however that the Swedish press is starting to question what is going on more. But, I loved Sweden and the level of xenophoblic opportunism saddens me. I still believe Sweden can be a good country, but it must first, grow up.
Kommentar från TheAmazingHanna: What do you think the chances are for appealing today's decision?
Julian Assange: The United Kingdom has its own pressures. Just look at the handling of the case here. It was the UK that appealed to keep me in prison, rather than have me under house arrest. It is not that, in terms of law, that the UK is safer at protecting me from the US, rather it is that, at least I am receiving materials in my own language, English, something that the Swedish government has, to this day, refused to do, and being a larger country, the judiciary is further separated from government patronage networks. I have greater ability to fight US extradition in the UK than I do in Sweden. The cables we released about Sweden paint a grim picture. Swedish politicians and bureaucrats sometimes do not follow the rule of law when it comes to their dealings with the United States.
Kommentar från Andreas_A: If you are innocent to the allegations of sexual assault, why do you not willingly return to Sweden to clear your name and your reputation?
Julian Assange: There has been so many abuses by the Swedish government, including the ongoing refusal to provide me any material in English, and the prosecutor Ny lying about interview agreements, that I do not have confidence in the Swedish justice system. Let us not forget that I already gave an interview, stayed in Sweden voluntarily for a month, and the warrant for my arrest was dropped.
Kommentar från Annika: The impression from the press is that this is a conspiracy against you, attacking Wikileaks. What I wonder is if there is any substance to the charges. Can you give any comment to this without compromising the ongoing investigation?
Julian Assange: There is a lot of pressure. We should not let people who want to detract from the seriousness of pressure recast it into a conspiratorial cartoon. That is not how real life tends to work. This case has been going for six months. There are many people and many complicated agendas.
Kommentar från Peter: Are you Wikileaks or will Wikileaks continue if you are in prision?
Julian Assange: I have set structures in play. We will not be stopped.
Kommentar från Gustav F: Don't you believe that "white lies" are a necessety for a functional government? I.E. the US ambassador’s personal judgments of certain European leaders.
Julian Assange: The lies we have exposed are not white. They are the highest order concealment of criminality. If governments that conceal reality from their peoples cannot function when those realities are revealed, that's fine by me. Let them be replaced with ones that do not.
Kommentar från Anneli: Do you ever feel guilty that some of your leaks/sources has been exposed ?
Julian Assange: As far as we are aware, we have never failed a source. In two cases, alleged sources allegedly made the mistake of speaking to individuals or not from WikiLeaks.
Kommentar från Martijn: What do you think of Anonymous attacks against websites such as mastercard in order to support you?
Julian Assange:We neither condemn not condone them. They are the online equivalent of a protest and as such are an expression of public sentiment.
Kommentar från Gabriel: What do you fear will happen if you came to Sweden?
Julian Assange: Already answered.
Julian Assange: OK. I have to get back to work now. Thanks everyone. Bye!
Julian Assange: Oh. There is one more thing I would like to say.
Julian Assange: I would like to thank all those Swedish women and men who have stepped forward to help me and tell us what is going on and going wrong. Thanks!
Julian Assange: Night.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
The Real Danger
In the same period of time, Israel, a self-declared Jewish state, attacked Iraq in 1981, bombing the power station at Osirik, claiming it was a clandestine weapons factory. Subsequent examination of the ruins following the 2003 invasion proved Israel had lied. In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon. This led to the Massacres at Sabra and Shatilla. In February 2003 Israel stages incursions into Gaza and Nablus. In September 2007 Israel bombs Syria, again insisting they are destroying a clandestine weapons laboratory. Again there is no evidence to support Israel's claims. In 2006, Israel attacks Lebanon, killing 1200, mostly civilians, several UN observers, and littering the landscape with land mines on their way out.In February 2008 Israel again raids Gaza, killing over 100. HAMAS agrees to a cease fire and keeps it for 6 months until November 4, when Israel again attacks, killing 6 HAMAS members, launching operation CAST LEAD. 1300 Gazans, mostly civilians, are killed. Israel loses 13 soldiers. Violations of international law include the use of White Phosphorus incendiary bombs against civilians and non-military targets. The United Nations investigates, but Israel refuses to cooperate. In May 2010, Israel attacks an international aid flotilla bring food and medical supplies to Gaza in international waters. 9 people are murdered including an American from New York. Add to it the numerous assassinations such as last year's embarrassment in Dubai, and you get the picture, even without the overtly racist and apartheid statements coming from Israel's rabbis.
In the same period of time, the United States, officially a secular nation but predominantly Christian, attacked El Salvador (1980), Libya (1981), Sinai (1982), Lebanon (1982 1983), Egypt (1983), Grenada (1983), Honduras (1983), Chad (1983), Persian Gulf (1984), Libya (1986) , Bolivia (1986), Iran (1987), Persian Gulf (1987), Kuwait (1987), Iran (1988), Honduras (1988), Panama (1988), Libya (1989), Panama (1989), Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru (1989), Philippines (1989), Panama (1989-1990), Liberia (1990), Saudi Arabia (1990), Iraq (1991), Zaire (1991), Sierra Leone (1992), Somalia (1992), Bosnia-Herzegovina (1993 to present), Macedonia (1993), Haiti (1994), Macedonia (1994), Bosnia (1995), Liberia (1996), Central African Republic (1996), Albania (1997), Congo/Gabon (1997), Sierra Leon (1997), Cambodia (1997), Iraq (1998), Guinea/Bissau (1998), Kenya/Tanzania (1998 to 1999), Afghanistan/Sudan (1998), Liberia (1998), East Timor (1999), Serbia (1999), Sierra Leon (2000), Yemen (2000), East Timor (2000), Afghanistan (2001 to present), Yemen (2002), Philippines (2002) , Cote d'Ivoire (2002), Iraq (2003 to present), Liberia (2003), Georgia/Djibouti (2003), Haiti (2004), Georgia/Djibouti/Kenya/Ethiopia/Yemen/Eritrea War on Terror (2004), Pakistan drone attacks (2004 to present), Somalia (2007), South Ossetia/Georgia (2008), Syria (2008), Yemen (2009), Haiti (2010), etc. etc. etc. etc.
So, who is the danger to world peace?
Behold The Amerikans
Ever wondered how they became what they are, living definitions of arrogant ignorance? Seek to answer by asking how their parents and grandparents became so. Question how teachers and those of theirs in turn achieved similar state. Two videos offer insight from just a generation ago. Fade it back to national birth and you will wonder no more.
Keep An Eye On The Other Guy
In this set of clips, Americans are shown how to spot Communists. For example: "If a person consistently reads and advocates the views expressed in a Communist publication, he may be a Communist. If a person defends the activities of Communist nations while consistently attacking the domestic and foreign policies of the United States, she may be a Communist.[...] If a person does all these things, over a period of time, he MUST be a Communist!" The video also goes on to demonstrate the evils of Communists stealing one's daughter away to work on a collective farm.
Fear And Loath
This movie tells you what it takes to be a true patriotic, American. If you can't rat out the godless commies without thinking, watch this film!
Accept Without Question
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Throughout history mankind’s existence has been threatened by various plagues, usually in the form of infectious diseases. Modern times call for modern threats, not necessarily of the viral type, but as uber nationalism, zionism in particular.
One of the smallest countries in the world, almost minut to the naked eye on maps, yet one of the deadliest threats today, Israel has earned that ‘honour among thieves’. But unlike threats of the past, nothing is being done about it. Instead, we see the West infusing it with means to go on spreading its destruction rather than attempting to halt it. We see billions of dollars pumped into its coffers, we see blind eyes overlooking the innocent victims it has claimed.
Billions of dollars and years of research went into fighting diseases of the past, polio, tuberculosis, rubella, the list continues to grow with the ongoing fight against AIDS and other present day ills, but what about zionism? Why isn’t it recognised as a life threatening disease as well? According to THIS definition, zionism should be classified as a disease.
As with other life threatening elements, rather than encourage its spread, it must be isolated, it must be boycotted. It must be brought down to its knees till it begs for forgiveness for the destruction it has been responsible for over the past 62 years.
Instead, we see the ‘doctors’ in the West pumping the blood of the taxpayers to use as transfusions to keep the patient alive. We see themselves ‘medicating’ the system by removing all obstacles, either by legeslation or murder, whichever applies to a given situation. We saw these same techniques used during the dark periods in American history, techniques that were the beginning of the end of the Democratic nature of the country.
A ‘Kevorkian’ is what is needed to finally help put an end to this very sick patient before it is allowed to spread itself beyond the borders it already stole.
In the meantime it remains the ‘Only THREAT‘ to Democracy in the Middle East’.
Egypt Revolution Not
Let’s be clear: the uprising in Egypt is not a revolution.
It may become a revolution. Right now, however, all we have is a nice start that–based on observation from outside–appears to have little chance of success. Which is sad, because I am so inspired and elated by the events in Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt.
Revolution is the radical restructuring of society, politics, ideology and, not least, economic classes. In a revolution, everything changes. The rich are no longer rich. The poor are no longer poor. Old elites are driven out of power. Outsiders take over.
In Egypt, the military is in charge. They are run by an existing set of elites. The civilian government of Omar Suleiman, though nominally in charge, remains in place. Suleiman was appointed by Mubarak, and was Mubarak’s right-hand man for many years. Mubarak has been allowed to escape. None of these events reflect a revolutionary scenario.
In a revolutionary scenario, Egypt’s poor would enjoy the prospect of no longer living in slums. Former elites, including Suleiman and the generals, would be on trial or have been killed.
If the protesters in Egypt become revolutionists, they will almost certainly be forced to resort to violent force in order to force the capitulation of the oppressor class, which remains in charge. The removal of Mubarak, though exciting, is little more than a palace coup, a change of personnel.
Emancipation requires more—much more—than sitting in Tahrir Square and singing songs.
I hope the people of Egypt step forward and start that process. Freedom awaits, not only for them, not only for the Middle East, but for all of us.
Monday, February 14, 2011
McCain Calls Arab
Pro-Democracy Movement A 'Virus'
Tales of Tyrants
Ben Ali, Mubarak & Suleiman
By Clayclai, 02/13/2011
Many mysteries remain and questions still go unanswered about what just happen in Egypt last week, particularly with regards to Mubarak and Sulieman. Who even knows where they are and what they're doing now?
It is now well established that Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak was suppose to have stepped down when he spoke on state TV, 45 minutes after the announced time, late Thursday evening. That's why NBC News reported the 'scoop' early in the day, why various U.S. government sources were making assurances and even the supreme council of the Egyptian army, and that is where the power really lies anyway, all but proclaimed it.
The fix was in. Mubarak had promised to resign and turn his powers over to his new Vice President Omar Suleiman. Then at the last moment he threw the hook again. This was the third time that he had spoken publicly since the mass protests began on January 25th and it is being said that on each of the previous occasions be had been expected to resign but twice, on Jan. 27th & Feb. 1st, he had failed to do so but this time it was for sure.
He surprised almost everyone. Instead of resigning, he announced that he was staying on as president but giving some of those powers over to Mr. Rendition, Omar Suleiman, he chastised his children, promised punishment, said he would serve out his term and hoped to die in Egypt. The people were outraged!
The next morning Omar Suleiman gave Mubarak's resignation speech for him. It took all of 20 seconds. Hosni Mubarak is now reported to be at home at Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea but hasn't been seen or heard from publicly since he was so unceremoniously removed from office. All ministers from his government are forbidden to leave the country. There is talk of criminal proceedings. Suleiman has also been very quiet lately, keeping a very low profile.
Most observers who know anything about Suleiman's history know that a change in leadership from Mubarak to Suleiman is not much change at all. So what's Suleiman up to now? What's his exact position? Is he the Commander-in-Chief of the military? Do they even have a Commander-In-Chief now? We know Mubarak had turned some of his powers over to Suleiman. Nobody seems to know exactly which powers through. What is going on?
In light of these questions the announcement made on Sunday by Egypt's prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, was quite significant. He said "The role of Omar Suleiman will be defined by the Higher Military Council." That is welcome news. IMHO the "role of Omar Suleiman" should be that of cell-mate to Hosni Mubarak.
As to what transpired between Mubarak and Suleiman in those last hours of his presidency, time will certainly tell the tale. Meanwhile we can take as a possible template, the last hours of Tunisian Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's presidency.
Thanks to the French publication, Nouvel Observateur , we now have the juicy details. It seems that Mubarak wasn't the first North African dictator to express a wish to die in his country before leaving:
He refused to board the plane. On the tarmac of the airport of Tunis, he resists, wrings his hands he shakes his little black briefcase, his only luggage, trying to turn back toward the black Mercedes he had just come from. He pleads, "Leave me, I do not want to go, I want to die here in my country." [...]
It is Friday, January 14 about 5pm, while resistance is growing in the streets of the capital, Ben Ali is still refusing to leave. Seriate Ali, Ben Ali's feared secret police chief and companion of thirty years is haggard and groaning as he pushes Ben Ali up the stairs of the aircraft that will take him to Saudi Arabia, "God Damn! You will go up!"
None of the soldiers who form a circle around the small group composed of the president, his wife Leila, their son Mohammed, his daughter, Halima, her fiance, the butler Mustafa, and two Filipino domestic employees is offering to help. Leila is exasperated as she bullies the dazed and whinning Ben Ali with the flowery language she loves "Go up Monte, you idiot, all my life, I've had to support your bullshit!" ...
Le Nouvel Observateur reported this week that Seriate Ali and Ben Ali's diabolical wife Leila worked together to get Ben Ali to leave by promising him that it was only temporary and he could return soon. As if!
I don't imagine that he will want to return anytime soon now that Tunisia has put out an Interpol international arrest warrant for him. They just might help him fulfill his desire to die on Tunisian soil.
Egypt's Hosni Mubarak is a criminal too.
It is good that Hosni Mubarak hasn't left Egypt and they should not let him leave because he has some very serious charges to face. We now know that on the night of January 30th, at one of the most critical junctures for the Egyptian Revolution, that President Mubarak ordered the army tank command to massacre the people in Tahrir Square and the tank commanders refused. As Robert Fisk reported on Friday:
The critical moment came on the evening of 30 January when, it is now clear, Mubarak ordered the Egyptian Third Army to crush the demonstrators in Tahrir Square with their tanks after flying F-16 fighter bombers at low level over the protesters.
Many of the senior tank commanders could be seen tearing off their headsets – over which they had received the fatal orders – to use their mobile phones. They were, it now transpires, calling their own military families for advice. Fathers who had spent their lives serving the Egyptian army told their sons to disobey, that they must never kill their own people.
Later we could see some tank commanders in Tahrir Square striping off their uniforms and joining the protesters. The revolution and Tahrir Square had yet to endure the horrific violence that Mubarak's thugs were to unleash on February 2nd and 3rd but already his most powerful tool of violent suppression had abandoned him.
Although the army took a neutral position when Mubarak's thugs came riding horses and camels into the crowds and then ended up my employing Molotov cocktails and machine guns on them, while the army stood by, those thugs didn't have tanks and artillery and Mubarak already knew that they weren't going to be in this fight. So once this thug assault failed to drive pro-democracy activists from the square and the people came back even stronger on the Friday, Mubarak was out of options. His fate was all but sealed.
So soldiers with cell phones stopped the massacre. This is yet another way that new technology has played a surprising role in this new wave of revolutions. A lot of armies, including the U.S. army, allow their people to carry cell phones. Now an army in the field has used cell phones to organize a mutiny. Will they be re-thinking that?
Please note also something else that can be deduced from Robert Fisk's description of these events. Namely that it was the low level officers in the tanks, the ones that got their orders over headsets, that refused to carry out the mass murder in Tahrir Square. Had the top brass refused Mubarak, those orders never would have been heard over headsets.
This should give all some insight into the true character of the supreme military council, show that this revolution is not safe in their hands, indicate the importance of the people building strong ties with the lower ranks of the army and most importantly, not letting down their guard or abandoning Liberation Square.
While there are still many questions and problems in the road going forward and the success of the Egyptian Revolution is by no means assured simply because Mubarak has finally been forced from office, the Egyptian people have shown a good account of themselves so far and the future looks bright.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
This is America
At a time when the weak economy is squeezing communities across the nation, recently released census figures show that nowhere are the numbers as bad as here — a county with 2,500 residents, most of them Cheyenne River Sioux Indians living on a reservation.
In the coldest months of the year, when seasonal construction work disappears and the South Dakota prairie freezes, unemployment among the Sioux can hit 90 percent.
Poverty has loomed over this land for generations. Repeated attempts to create jobs have run into stubborn obstacles: the isolated location, the area's crumbling infrastructure, a poorly trained population and a tribe that struggles to work with businesses or attract investors.
Now the tribe — joined by a few entrepreneurs, a development group and a nonprofit — is renewing efforts to create jobs and encourage a downtrodden population to start its own businesses.
"Many, many people make these grand generalizations about our communities and poverty and 'Why don't people just do something, and how come they can't?'" said Eileen Briggs, executive director of Tribal Ventures, a development group started by the tribe. "It's much more complicated than that."
The Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, created in 1889, consists almost entirely of agricultural land in Ziebach and neighboring Dewey County. It has no casino and no oil reserves or available natural resources.
Most towns in Ziebach County are just clusters of homes between cattle ranches. Families live in dilapidated houses or run-down trailers. Multicolored patches of siding show where repairs were made as cheaply as possible.
Families fortunate enough to have leases to tribal land can make money by raising cattle. Opportunities are scarce for almost everyone else.
The few people who have jobs usually have to drive up to 80 miles to tribal headquarters. The nearest major population centers are Rapid City and Bismarck, each a trip of 150 miles or more.
Basic services can be vulnerable. The tribe's primary health clinic doesn't have a CT scanner or a maternity ward. An ice storm last year knocked out power and water in places for weeks. And in winter, the gravel roads that connect much of the reservation can become impassable with snow and ice.
Nearly six decades after the reservation was created, the federal government began building a dam on the Missouri River, but the project caused flooding that washed away more than 100,000 acres of Indian land. After the flooding, the small town of Eagle Butte became home to the tribal headquarters and the center of the reservation's economy.
"There are things that have happened to us over many, many generations that you just can't fix in three or four years," said Kevin Keckler, the tribe's chairman. "We were put here by the government, and we had a little piece of land and basically told to succeed here."
But prosperity never came. The county has been at or near the top of the poverty rankings for at least a decade. In 2009, the census defined poverty as a single person making less than $11,000 a year or a family of four making less than $22,000 a year.
Eagle Butte has few businesses and the handful that do exist struggle to stay afloat. The town has just one major grocery store, the Lakota Thrifty Mart, which is owned by the tribe. There's also a Dairy Queen, a Taco John's and a handful of small cafes. There's no bowling alley, no movie theatre.
But a few entrepreneurs are trying to break the cycle of failure, with mixed results.
Stephanie Davidson and her husband, Gerald, started a plumbing-and-heating business in 2000 with a single pickup truck. Eventually, D&D Plumbing started to grow, and they hired several employees.
But the reservation economy, which was never strong, has been hit hard by the economic slump. Many customers don't have the money to pay for work upfront, and the Davidsons have struggled to get contracts in new construction, such as a nearly $85 million federal hospital being built to replace the aging clinic.
They've laid off employees and filled empty space in their building by adding a bait shop and then a deli. Nothing has worked.
"People think you're a pillar of the community because you have a business, and that part of it is good," Stephanie Davidson said. "We don't feel that way right now because we're having such a tough time."
Nicky White Eyes, who owns a flower shop on Main Street, says there are days when she doesn't sell a single flower. Most of her business comes from families who get help from the tribe to buy flowers for a relative's funeral.
"We're getting by with nothing extra," said White Eyes, who said she hasn't taken any salary in the months since she quit another job to run the shop full-time. "But no, I have too much heart in it to let it go quite yet."
ARE societies evolving? What is social progress?
Gradually, throughout history, humanity has managed the organization of societies in such a way that power has been democratized. Doubtless, at a slow pace, but without stopping. When and fundamentally why the exercise of political power was left in the hands of just one person is very difficult, if not impossible to determine. It is a fact that the study of various cultures and historical moments teaches that, from the appearance of agriculture and the breeding of animals onward; in other words, sedentariness, in all complex societies the figure of a single leader (cacique, sovereign, chief, pharaoh, king, high priest, etc) appears. Hence monarchies as a political system, and thus royal households with all their specific codes (divine messengers, pomp, hereditary transmission) was but one step.
Historical studies clearly confirm that Hegel’s formulation of the "dialectic of the master and slave" in terms of synthesizing inter-human relations is correct. The history of social relations is a long relation of conflicts, fights to the death for power and the appropriation of others’ work. Within that framework, it is also a certainty that "violence is the midwife of history," as his disciple Marx affirmed.
When and why the advent of kings (or sole rulers placed at the head of a collective) thus remains without a categorical response; it is a fact that, today, entering the 21st century, approximately 500 million people in the world or 8% of the global population are still living under monarchies.
Thus, 29 countries in the world are kingdoms in formal political-administrative terms: 10 in Europe (Spain, Belgium, Denmark, Liechstenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland), 14 in Asia (Brunei, Bhutan, Cambodia, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal; Western Asia: Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, ); three in Africa (Lesotho, Morocco and Swaziland) and two in Oceania (Western Samoa and Tonga).
In the strict sense there are none on the American continent, apart from those which form part of the British Commonwealth and those which are ruled by Queen Elizabeth II which, along with the other countries in Oceania, form an imprecise group of former colonies – more or less independent according to each case, in a situation of greater or lesser dependence on their former metropolises (Antigua & Barbuda, the Dutch Antilles, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis; St. Vincent & the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Australia, the Solomon Islands, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea).
While they are all kingdoms, there are marked differences among them. For example, the European ones are almost decorative in function and the wielding of effective political power moves at light years from royal households. The economic power of modern capitalist enterprises has displaced them from the center of social dynamics. In many of these countries, nevertheless, monarchs are key to maintaining the unity of their nation, as an agglutinating force of concord for the plural societies in their territories. While in many of these republican monarchies diverse sectors of the population see in royal households a shameful reminder of a feudal past resistant to change and an absolutely superfluous expense, according to experts on the phenomenon, in more than a few countries a notable part of the same populations do not wish to lose their status as a kingdom. Thus the royals are a subject for the paparazzi and scandal mongering newspapers and, alongside people who detest these personalities, there are subjects who love their monarchs.
The case of the oil monarchs of the Persian Gulf (emirates, caliphates, sultans) is a diametrically opposed reality. There, royal households are the center of political and economic power, with a feudal dynamic in which the state and religion are indissolubly intertwined. After seeing what is beginning to happen in Tunisia and in Egypt, more than a few monarchs in the region must be wondering about their future. Will they be brought down a peg by the Western powers – in other words the real holders of power in the world and those who, day by day, write the script for the planet? Until when will those royal households be "tolerated?" When the Shah of Iran no longer served the imperial interests of the powers, the United States openly got rid of him. Is something similar about to happen in the Middle East in the case of these "backward" monarchies?
The case of China is distinct, this nation now being the kingdom with the largest number of subjects (130 million). There, in spite of the spectacular development of capitalist relations, the figure of the emperor continues to have a primordial importance in the logic of the nation, without any hint of winds of change.
There are extremely ancient monarchies, like that of the Japanese (dating back more than 2,500 years) or very recent ones, like those of Africa or Oceania, created on the basis of a social organization imported from their former masters, the countries which dominated them as colonies until a few decades ago. Why was the figurehead of a monarchy rather than a republic taken at the time of inventing a new country?
So, to return to the question at the beginning of this article. What is social progress? It is difficult to respond to that question in a few words. Upon attempting to analyze it one runs the risk of doing so from points of reference that one could take as models or archetypes. Put in another way, individual parameters could be used to assess other distinct ones, on the prejudicial basis that ones own point of reference is more advanced than that of others. The logic of that is that a society is progressing because it is following the guidelines of the dominant model? When Europe met with America in extremely bloody clashes at the end of the 15th century, which one was more "advanced"? Are the representative democracies which emerged in Europe more "advanced" than African ethnic organizations?
With that observation in mind, and aware of the danger in generalizing distinct models, it is essential to note that social progress is not the same as economic progress. The notion of human development – a recently coined indicator – attempts to raise questions concerning the multiplicity of aspects to be taken into account in this context; progress is not only about access to material goods and comforts. Of equal importance in the idea of development are liberties and the democratization of powers. The Arab oil monarchies have, at least on average, incredibly high income levels; are they thus to be considered advanced?
Thus, in order to talk about progress, one would have to talk about a combination of transformations that are operating in society, in its institutions and in the daily culture of its citizens. A distancing from magical-religious thinking is, undoubtedly, a pillar of much importance insofar as it opens up possibilities for a greater development of productivity, of technical science. A scientific world view facilitates greater material comfort. We have developed capitalism to remind us of that fact. But that alone, the unstoppable development of constantly more developed machinery, does not essentially signify having attained "happiness." The environmental disaster looming over us sadly brings that home to us.
In parallel to this is the form in which power is distributed; all powers, not just the political, but gender, inter-ethnic, various social groups (why do so-called at risk or vulnerable groups exist?) It is a fact that anybody can fall into this category and lose power: ethnic minorities, women, children, homosexuals and lesbians, drug dependents, the poor, etc, etc.) The horizontal nature of powers is another major requisite for talking of progress.
The permanence of political regimes where power is concentrated in one person (whether an emperor, ling, tsar, pharaoh, shah, sultan, big chief, sovereign, etc) or in a royal household, undisputed autarchic power, impugn, absolute, places that society in a less evolved form of social organization. Social progress, without any doubt, passes through democratization in the exercise of power. If not it can be reaffirmed that the logic in play gives rise to thinking in terms of ordinary and VIP people. But, are there VIP’s? The Nazis talked about the "superior race." Does that mean that a superior race exists? Is there blue blood? Could one perhaps believe, with Ernest Renan, that "hereditary monarchy is such a profound political concept that that it is not within the reach of all intelligences to understand it?"
The above could lead us to question the following: why are there nations which, in addition to high standards of material satisfaction, have attained socially harmonic models of organization, plus health and unemployment security, high educational levels, the bravery to enact legislation allowing divorce, abortion, euthanasia, and where torture and the death penalty have been eradicated as state policy, still persist in maintaining monarchies (thinking of the European countries)? Why? Do we need to believe that there are, effectively, VIPs? Is social evolution that slow?
Everything would indicate that, despite the deciphering of the human genome demonstrating that we are all equal, regrettably, that evolution is slow, very slow, tremendously slow and difficult. "It is easier to split the atom than a prejudice," Einstein observed.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Click Zzsst - Gotcha
By Ryan Singel, February 11, 2011
Egyptians capturing the revolution with their mobile phones and digital cameras.
US Congressman Bill Keating plans to introduce legislation putting limits on U.S. companies selling net monitoring equipment to repressive regimes, after news that a Boeing subsidiary sold powerful net inspection technology to Egypt’s state telecom.
“The Iranian and Egyptian protests have taught us that social media can be as powerful as any gun,” said Rep. Keating (D-Massachusetts). “Companies that are selling technology to countries that are using it to perpetuate human rights abuses must work with Congress to make this right.
“We should have the same safeguards – such as end user monitoring agreements – that we do when we sell weapons abroad.”
At issue is a company called Narus, which makes powerful deep packet inspection technology that can monitor the net’s fattest pipes to see what traffic is passing through — including reconstructing online phone calls, e-mails, instant messages, and web surfing activities.
Tim Karr, the campaign director for the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group Free Press, noticed last week that Narus had sold its surveillance technology to the state-run Telecom Egypt, as well as to other repressive regimes including Saudi Arabia.
Karr says its time the U.S. government realized the power of such equipment to repress people and put limits on its distribution. That’s especially true in light of evidence from the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt that social networking sites such as Facebook can be powerful tools for organizing, publicizing, recruiting and sustaining pro-democracy forces, according to Karr.
Mubarak’s regime, which was toppled Friday after weeks of protest, was so threatened by power of the net to allow citizens to mobilize that it took the extraordinary step of shutting down Egypt’s internet and mobile phone networks for almost a week in late January.
During the protests, Egypt also imprisoned a number of online activists, including Google executive Wael Ghonim who administered one of the Facebook pages that served as an online café for organizing the protests.
It’s not clear what technology, if any, Egypt’s once feared intelligence services used to track them down.
But, as Evegny Morozov argues in his recent book “The Net Delusion”, social networking tools can make it easy for a repressive regime to track down activists. That’s clearly seen in Tunisia, where a government controlled ISP stole Facebook usernames and passwords in an attempt to erase anti-government pages.
That’s why Karr finds Narus’s sale of its technology to Egypt so egregious.
“Narus basically gave a hammer to a Mubarak regime that sees its political opponent as nails,” Karr said. “Congress or the state department can convince them to disclose the ways they are selling this tech and to whom and for what purposes.”
Egypt in particular galled Karr, since the Mubarak regime routinely jailed bloggers, and is counted as one of 13 “enemies of the internet” as compiled by Reporters Without Borders.
Narus declined to respond to multiple voice mail messages left for its CEO Greg Oslan this week.
Controversy is not new to the Sunnyvale company, which was founded in 1997 and purchased by defense contracting giant Boeing in 2010. The company first came to notoriety in 2005, when it was found to be the processing brain behind the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping of the internet inside an AT&T facility in San Francisco.
Last year, the company announced it was marketing a new product called Hone, which could connect multiple online profiles to a single person, helping governments track down criminals and subversives.
In an interview with PBS’s Frontline, a Narus marketing executive lauded the power of the equipment to “peer into pipes” but stammered nervously that he had no idea if their equipment was being used in that room.
Narus isn’t the first company to come under scrutiny for selling electronic monitoring equipment to repressive regimes. German technology giant Siemens AG and Nokia sold mobile phone and internet monitoring equipment to Iran in 2008, prompting a boycott and backpedalling by the companies.
However, nearly all carrier-grade phone and internet equipment now ships with so-called “intercept capability,” thanks to a 1996 U.S. law called CALEA which mandated that all U.S. phone networks be capable of very sophisticated wiretapping.
In 2002, the FCC — at the behest of the FBI — extended those wiretapping requirements to the internet, prompting major manufacturers to build those capabilities into their equipment as defaults.
These federal requirements also benefited Narus, whose powerful monitoring equipment is used by many of the nation’s telecoms to provide the legally required wiretapping systems needed to comply with U.S. government wiretapping orders.
Activists can often evade the worst of such surveillance using encrypted communication tools, but even these are now under assault by the FBI, which is seeking to have Congress require that encryption technology have backdoors for government surveillance.
Friday, February 11, 2011
Hundreds of thousands of Iranians take to streets, marking Islamic Revolution's 32nd anniversary. President calls on West not to 'interfere' in Egypt upheaval, says protestors 'have the right to pick their own type of regime and rulers'
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday called on Western powers not to "interfere" in the situation in Egypt and Tunisia and warned them to withdraw their support for Israel.
According to the Iranian leader, the recent developments in the Middle East will diminish the influence of the United States and Israel in the region.
In a speech marking the 32nd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, Ahmadinejad turned to the West and said, "If you wish to modify your behavior and have other countries trust you, you must first of all avoid interfering in other countries, including Tunisia and Egypt, and let them make their own decisions."
He called on young people in Arab countries to "be alert". According to the Iranian president, "It's their right to be free, it's their right to express their opinion and pick their own type of regime and rulers."
He added that Western powers "seek to portray themselves as friends of the countries in North Africa, but have malicious intentions."
Ahmadinejad went on to say that the American and Israeli impact would be reduced following the changes in the region.
"In spite of all the satanic schemes, with the help of God and the people's resistance, the new Middle East will turn into a region without the United States and the Zionist regime, and the arrogant powers will have no place in this Middle East. Soon, the entire world will experience the sweet taste of a world without Zionists and thugs."
Masses march despite cold weather
Hundreds of thousands of Iranians, chanting slogans supporting the Arab uprisings and denouncing the United States, marched towards a Tehran square Friday to mark the 32nd anniversary of the Islamic revolution which toppled the shah.
Men, women and children, braving the cold and cloudy weather, were seen marching from several parts of Tehran towards Azadi Square (Freedom Square) where they were addressed by President Ahmadinejad.
"Egyptians, Tunisians, your uprisings are just and we are with you," the crowds were heard chanting as they arrived at the square.
State television, which telecast the crowds live, said this year the government-organized rally would show solidarity with uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, with crowds shouting: "Hosni Mubarak, 'mubarak' (congratulations) on the uprising of your people."
Similar marches were taking place in provincial cities to mark the anniversary, a yearly rallying point for the Islamic regime.
The 1979 revolution toppled the monarchy of shah Mohammad Reza, a key US ally in the region. Diplomatic relations between Tehran and Washington were broken off soon after and remain so to this day.
"Death to America! Death to Israel!" chanted the crowd as they carried Iranian flags, banners and posters of Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who led the uprising against the shah, and of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the nation's supreme leader.
It's easy for the price to be worth it, when the currency (human lives) means NOTHING to you.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Is Coming Home
By John Pilger, Thursday, February 10, 2011
The uprising in Egypt is our theatre of the possible. It is what people across the world have struggled for and their thought controllers have feared. Western commentators invariably misuse the words “we” and “us” to speak on behalf of those with power who see the rest of humanity as useful or expendable. The “we” and “us” are universal now. Tunisia came first, but the spectacle always promised to be Egyptian.
As a reporter, I have felt this over the years. In Cairo’s Tahrir (Liberation) Square in 1970, the coffin of the great nationalist Gamal Abdul Nasser bobbed on an ocean of people who, under him, had glimpsed freedom. One of them, a teacher, described the disgraced past as “grown men chasing cricket balls for the British at the Cairo Club”. The parable was for all Arabs and much of the world. Three years later, the Egyptian Third Army crossed the Suez Canal and overran Israel’s fortresses in Sinai. Returning from this battlefield to Cairo, I joined a million others in Liberation Square. Their restored respect was like a presence – until the United States rearmed the Israelis and beckoned an Egyptian defeat.
Thereafter, President Anwar Sadat became America’s man through the usual billion-dollar bribery and, for this, he was assassinated in 1980. Under his successor, Hosni Mubarak, dissenters came to Liberation Square at their peril. Enriched by Washington’s bag men, Mubarak latest American-Israeli project is the building of an underground wall behind which the Palestinians of Gaza are to be imprisoned forever.
Today, the problem for the people in Liberation Square lies not in Egypt. On 6 February, the New York Times reported: “The Obama administration formally threw its weight behind a gradual transition in Egypt, backing attempts by the country’s vice president, General Omar Sulieman, to broker a compromise with opposition groups … Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it was important to support Mr. Sulieman as he seeks to defuse street protests …”
Having rescued him from would be assassins, Sulieman is, in effect, Mubarak’s bodyguard. His other distinction, documented in Jane Mayer’s investigative book, The Dark Side, is as supervisor of American “rendition flights” to Egypt where people are tortured on demand of the CIA. He is also, as WikiLeaks reveals, a favourite in Tel Aviv. When President Obama was asked in 2009 if he regarded Mubarak as authoritarian, his swift reply was “no”. He called him a peacemaker, echoing that other great liberal tribune, Tony Blair, to whom Mubarak is “a force for good”.
The grisly Sulieman is now the peacemaker and the force for good, the man of “compromise” who will oversee the “gradual transition” and “defuse the protests”. This attempt to suffocate the Egyptian revolt will call on the fact that a substantial proportion of the population, from businessmen to journalists to petty officials, have provided its apparatus. In one sense, they reflect those in the Western liberal class who backed Obama’s “change you can believe in” and Blair’s equally bogus “political Cinemascope” (Henry Porter in the Guardian, 1995). No matter how different they appear and postulate, both groups are the domesticated backers and beneficiaries of the status quo.
In Britain, the BBC’s Today programme is their voice. Here, serious diversions from the status quo are known as “Lord knows what”. On 28 January the Washington correspondent Paul Adams declared, “The Americans are in a very difficult situation. They do want to see some kind of democratic reform but they are also conscious that they need strong leaders capable of making decisions. They regard President Mubarak as an absolute bulwark, a key strategic ally in the region. Egypt is the country along with Israel on which American Middle East diplomacy absolutely hinges. They don’t want to see anything that smacks of a chaotic handover to frankly Lord knows what.”
Fear of Lord Knows What requires that the historical truth of American and British “diplomacy” as largely responsible for the suffering in the Middle East is suppressed or reversed. Forget the Balfour Declaration that led to the imposition of expansionist Israel. Forget secret Anglo-American sponsorship of Islamic jihadists as a “bulwark” against the democratic control of oil. Forget the overthrow of democracy in Iran and the installation of the tyrant Shah, and the slaughter and destruction in Iraq. Forget the American fighter jets, cluster bombs, white phosphorous and depleted uranium that are performance-tested on children in Gaza. And now, in the cause of preventing “chaos”, forget the denial of almost every basic civil liberty in Omar Sulieman’s contrite “new” regime in Cairo.
The uprising in Egypt has discredited every Western media stereotype about the Arabs. The courage, determination, eloquence and grace of those in Liberation Square contrast with “our” specious fear-mongering with its al-Qaeda and Iran bogeys and iron-clad assumptions, bereft of irony, of the “moral leadership of the West”. It is not surprising that the recent source of truth about the imperial abuse of the Middle East, WikiLeaks, is itself subjected to craven, petty abuse in those self-congratulating newspapers that set the limits of elite liberal debate on both sides of the Atlantic. Perhaps they are worried. Across the world, public awareness is rising and bypassing them. In Washington and London, the regimes are fragile and barely democratic. Having long burned down societies abroad, they are now doing something similar at home, with lies and without a mandate. To their victims, the resistance in Cairo’s Liberation Square must seem an inspiration. “We won’t stop,” said the young Egyptian woman on TV, “we won’t go home.” Try kettling a million people in the centre of London, bent on civil disobedience, and try imagining it could not happen.
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
Amid the turmoil in Arab countries, the old question comes back: while these popular movements have taken place in countries whose leaders enjoyed close ties with Washington, why is the United States –a self-proclaimed advocate of democracy- kept silent about blatant violation of human rights? Why has it never uttered a word of objection against lifetime presidency of its allies? Middle East already knows the answer: in the eyes of every president in the White House, citizens’ right to determine their own destiny is worth defense if and only if it is in compliance with US’ critical interests; otherwise it’s an extraneous issue (unless the situation becomes so tragic that Washington senses the need to take a lukewarm critical stance.)
As Stephen Kinzer has correctly noted, “US foreign policy is stuck in a cold war mindset of imperial dominance”, a mindset in which containment of the Soviet Union and strategic alliance with Tel Aviv were two immutable tenets. With USSR’s dissolution and collapse of the Eastern Bloc, Iran replaced Moscow in the US’ zero-sum diplomatic game. Israel, nonetheless, remained the main beneficiary of Washington’s strategy.
It is common knowledge that Washington views Egypt, Jordan and some Persian Gulf Arab states –the Islamic Republic of Iran’s bitter foes- as its valuable assets in the Middle East and obstructs any radical changes in these countries as much as possible. Since the inception of popular uprising in Tunisia, the US administration has shown vague support for the Tunisian citizens’ democratic demands and called Ben Ali a dictator only after he fled the country. In Egypt’s political crisis, Joseph Biden started with rejecting claims that Mubarak was a dictator before Obama and Hillary Clinton felt the urge to support the demonstrators’ demands. And it was only after unprecedented violence of the Egyptian security forces that the US president called for transition towards democracy in Egypt. The following are the basic causes of the US administration’s refusal to chide Mubarak:
1. Washington’s Middle East policy revolves around full support and security for Israel. The pro-Israel lobby in the United States is strong enough to dissuade any US government from taking a non-preferential attitude towards this country. Every Democrat or Republican president in the White House must show commitment to maintaining Israel’s superior military position to its Arab neighbors. Tel Aviv receives the largest annual batch of military aid from the United States. Considering the warm relations of Mubarak and Omar Suleiman with Israeli officials, and the strategic importance of Mubarak’s regime for Tel Aviv, the US government cannot ignore Israel’s security concerns and acknowledge a new political regime whose ties to Israel would be a matter of doubt. Since the eruption of crisis in Egypt, Israeli officials have openly expressed their concern over the post-Mubarak state of Egypt. Senior US officials clung to halfhearted comments and refused to single out Mubarak.
2. As the 2012 US presidential elections are approaching, Obama’s every single major will have implications for his presidential campaign. The pro-Israel lobby and Republicans will avenge on Obama with any move that encourages or facilitates the fall of Mubarak’s regime and instigates political chaos in Cairo. Obama will try not to be caught in Egypt’s trap which could bring him accusations of overthrowing an Israel-friendly state (which is fairly a rare breed in the Middle East).
3. Leaving Mubarak high and dry and without any contingency plans will resent other US’ allies in the region. Thirty years after the Islamic Revolution of Iran, regional states have not yet forgotten how Jimmy Carter dealt with the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi. This is a point Obama will consider in interaction with his country’s Middle East allies.
4. In its latest masterstroke, Hezbollah ‘appointed’ a new, pro-Resistance figure, Najib Mikati, to premiership in Lebanon (indeed a blow to US’s and Israel’s interests in Lebanon). Ben Ali has fled Tunisia and Egypt is in turmoil. Washington is enduring one of its most difficult days in the Middle East. The prospect of Islamists gaining power in Egypt and other regional countries is not only distressful for Tel Aviv, but also renders Washington further prone to attacks.
Obama is now facing a dilemma, realpolitik versus his rosy election slogans of human rights and democracy for the world. American diplomats are thinking of how to negotiating the balance between strategic concerns and human rights these days. Washington may pressure Mubarak in the event of unrelenting popular demonstrations. The most likely scenario is Omar Soleiman serving as caretaker president until September, the date of next presidential election. In that case, Israel and the United States can save time and negotiate with the next likely president over relations with the Jewish state and the Middle East peace process. What the United States mustn’t forget is that the new realities in Middle East implicate a strategic turn in US policies. US should dispense with its obsolete Cold War mindset or forget about any sustainable solution to the Middle East crises.