Sunday, 27 February 2011

West up to its old tricks in Haiti

Well its been over a year since that terrible Earthquake wrecked the most vulnerable nation in the Caribbean and sadly it appears that despite shaking the foundations of the nations houses the countries just as rotten political house seems to have been untouched and is set to receive a fresh coat of paint in the form of a sham election. Now the North American members of the organisation of American States (plus France for some reason) interfering in the internal politics of Haiti is not surprising to those who've studied its almost non stop history of abuse at the hands of the dominant colonial/imperial powers at the given time. What makes this latest development so galling is that its happening at a time when much more attention is being directed at the nation, before shady business deals and exploitation could be carried out with impunity as few were paying attention and the Caribbean nations were to poor to get there plight across to the world community effectively.

Ultimately though it does not matter who wins the elections in Haiti, ever since Aristide was kicked out and his party Fanmi Lavalas was banned the electoral process in Haiti has become a sham. Fanmi Lavalas is the largest party in Haiti and its deposed President(who might be coming back) the only one with genuine popular support of a kind different from the lesser evil, or better the devil you know school of thought.
Banning the largest political party from standing for election is in effect an affront to the democratic ideal which lets remind ourselves is the power of the people to decide there fates, and an blatant admittance of systematic fraud.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Walker gets caught short

This is amazing, Governor Walker the man at the forefront of the attacks on the working class in America was caught out actually admitting that his bill to take away certain Unions collective bargaining was not ideological in nature, but that it is very much the first in a series of attacks on organised labour lined up by a number of Republicans across the states. He was having a phone conversation with what he thought was the older Koch brother a pair of billionaire's (inherited naturally) whom have spent decades funding right wing pro business groups in America including the Tea Party and one Governor Scott Walkers election campaign. Maybe now people will finally realise that capital is not a friend of freedom or progress, it is a friend of well just capital.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

People power from the plains of Wisconsin to the shores of Tripoli

This post is an addendum to the two recent stories about the crumbling of the regime in Libya and the ongoing assault on workers rights in America.

Opposition to Governor Walkers bill to take away workers rights to collectively bargain continues to grow with the state's Unions showing good workers solidarity. Particularly the Fire Brigade which was exempt from the ban in a shameless attempt to divide and conquer the working men and women of the dairy state and have gone on to be a driving force in the protests.

Meanwhile in Libya theres good news and bad news, the good news is the revolt has taken the East and has spread to the West, the bad news is that the Colonel is still in charge and has cracked down even harder. He has also made a quite violent speech putting the rumours that he's fled to Venezuela (as if, keep wishing US state department). Things are still very much hanging in the balance but it does look like his regime has disintegrated beyond the point of repair, hell even the interior minister has defected and he's usually in charge of the detention centre's spies and secret police.Unfortunately if he realises that he might decide to go out in even more bloodshed if only to secure his name in the history of his nation.

Reports on the situation in Libya are understandably sporadic but a group of Libyan dissidents have banded together to create a youtube channel (Save Libya) dedicated to publishing as much video footage of the chaotic scene as possible, including the most complete broadcasts from state TV and Gaddafi's increasingly unhinged demagoguery, particularly strange is this short speech below where he says he wished to sleep with the young protesters but decided not to because it was raining.

Good luck to the people of Wisconsin and Libya and to all people who are fighting against aggression and tyranny no matter is colour or cloak.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Libya is next?

Well the revolt has continued to gain momentum throughout the Arab and African regions. Bahrain has seen its Shia majority demanding a fair share of there nation from there Sunni Autocrats, and its King appears to have killed any chance of a compromise when he took part in a clamp down against protesters that left several dead. Iran was also in the firing lines, though despite wishful thinking its doubtful at present that the current protests will be anything over then a repeat of the election demonstrations as the Greens unlike the revolts in Egypt, and Tunisia do not have the support of the poor, they are instead a coalition of the wealthy urban elites who are resentful of the constraints the Islamic Republic places on there personal liberties both economic and social, and are lead by on of the Republic's key strong man whom carried out one of the regimes worst atrocities in 1988. Though the continued use of armed suppression should at least take the polish off the regimes moral legitimacy.

But the big story is of course concerning the great dictator of the Mediterranean, Gaddafi of Libya. It looks like this is the end for the "Islamic Socialist" demagogue. After weeks of escalating protests and violence the Libyan government has turned to the last resort to prop up a crumbling Autocracy the bayonet. The military has been ordered to crush the protests and his son Saif Gaddafi went on television to announce a fight to the last man. "Now comes the role of the National Guard and the Army, we will not lose one inch of this land. 60 years ago they defended Libya from the colonialists, now they will defend it from drug addicts. Most of he Libyans are intelligent, they are not Baltagiya (thugs) Benghazi is a million and a half not the few thousands who are in the streets. We will flight to the last man and woman and bullet. We will not lose Libya. We will not let Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya and BBC trick us.

We will live in Libya and die in Libya." And even that appears to be failing him. Two Air-force Colonels have taken there jets and scarpered over the sea to Malta, not only is the loss of two senior military officers an embarrassment but it confirmed reports that the Air Force has been ordered to bomb rebelling towns and settlements. The second city Benghazi has effectively fallen and all is far from well in the capital. Another severe embarrassment is that the Libyan diplomatic corps is also in revolt, at present the diplomatic revolt includes Malaysia, Morocco and India as well as most of the staff at the U.N. including its deputy. This perhaps even more so then the defections from the military could severely undermine the regime to the point of collapse, diplomats and ambassadors are crucial to creating to creating a favourable image of a nation and its government to the international community and given there high level access have information on at least some of the skeletons in the regimes cupboard like for example the prison massacre .

Of course had this occurred back in the 1980's or 1990's the diplomats defecting wouldn't matter to much, after all, the regime was close to pariah status after the US and UK blamed Lockerbie on the Libyan government, what few states that did support Libya where part of the anti-imperialist camp and probably would stick with Libya regardless out of a group survival instinct. However in the early 2000's that all changed, Europe particularly Berlusconi and Blair where keen to re-rehabilitate Libya in the eyes of the international community why do this for an old foe, especially since this was the war on terror and Libya had been caught arming the IRA and the aforementioned Lockerbie attack? well it had less to do with an spirit of forgiveness and more to do with the fact that Libya is a mostly untapped energy giant just sitting in Europe's doorstep. Well to fair it wasn't just oil, Italy was able to use Libya as a dumping ground for its illegal immigrants and refugees, where I'm sure they received the best in humane treatment. Despite the cynical nature of big business this does at least mean that Libya has become dependent on economic ties, which are now in danger of being severed, so overall it looks like his days are numbered.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Workers rights to be revoked

Well it looks like we've finally come full circle. Newly elected Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker has announced a new budget for the Dairy state thats guaranteed to solve his states deficit* take state workers benefits away... And heres the kicker since the state employee's obviously don't see why they should pay for a economic hangover caused by private banks and financiers he's also going to take away there rights of collective bargaining or to campaign for wage increases above the consumer price index.

Once again we have a wealthy right wing gov demanding sacrifice from those below them who sacrifice every working day of there lives, heaven forbid the extremely wealthy should contribute a fraction, after all if they'd paid up it they would only be mega rich as opposed to Mega rich. Given that the bill effectively takes away workers rights to collectively organise I doubt this will be the last part of the enforced Austerity measures to be inflected upon the "middle"* class of Wisconsin. After all why bother de-fang a tiger if your not going to kick it a bit?

And don't think for a second it'll end there, Obama's unpopularity and weak handling of the corporations particularly Goldman Sachs lead to a surge in support for the Republicans in the midterm elections for the Federal legislature, they now control the House of Representatives and sliced the Democrats majority in the Senate. They also took a few state legislatures and governorships just like Wisconsin. The problem with this clear voicing of the people's discontent? most of the republicans elected are even chummier with private capital then the dems they kicked out.If Walker's attacks on organised labour are successful then it will spread to the "Red states" and once established across the nation it will act as a beacon to the right wing all over the globe. The Tories constant pushing for piecemeal privatisation of healthcare is justified ideologically on the American example, they obviously can't go on telly and say "I hate paying tax to keep the poor alive" or "I believe private health care is the way forward because I've got a cushy position on an insurance directors-board when I leave parliament" its thats what they have in America and America is great, never mind that the state of US health care and the many unscrupulous business practices of the insurers has been a running joke since the 1990's, to quote Homer "I'll be fine Marge, American Health care is the best in the world.... well except for Canada, Japan, England and most of Europe, but you can thank your lucky stars we don't live in Mexico".

Another disturbing trend displayed on the comments of the video above is that a lot of right wing "libertarians" mostly called "Tea party" or Teabaggers now a days who rail against the government for its tyrannical tendencies have absolutely no problem when that same state Tyrant takes rights away from the people to help big business move on in. Now the right wing being guilty of hypocrisy is of course nothing new and right wing cheer squads for industrialist profit margins pretending to care about liberties and people and to be patriotic is a very old tradition. But it is worrying to see the numbers of working class people this new movement has managed to ensnare.

* Actually these initial cuts at best will remove $300 million from the budget and thats assuming that the social policies attached to it don't increase unemployment and decrease tax revenue.
* In America the working class for some reason is called the middle class, with poor or the rare working label applied to the completely destitute.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

The forests are safe for rambler and squirrel alike

You know I've just realised a new year is upon us and I haven't really said much about 38 degrees. Allow me to remedy that right now. Even better I have good 38 degrees related news.

Checking my in box today I found out that the campaign to prevent to private selling off of are lovely woodlands has worked. For the last week the plans had been temporarily withdrawn following pressure, The ConDems where no doubt hoping the campaign would start to fizzle or one of there highly "skilled" PR drones could come up with a snappy sales pitch to con-fuddle the masses.

Well done to everyone who took part in the campaign in anyway however small. Of course this doesn't mean this attempt to corrupt nature and turn it into a commodity is gone for good an early campaign of theres to stop increased internet censorship by Mandelson kept cropping up (near the bottom) but it does mean that the population are now awake and aware of the dirty tricks that Nick and Dave are capable of.

The campaign of course was bigger then 38degrees 500,000+ petition, it involved community groups springing up across the country and had broad support from the rural community (except for the Countryside Alliance whose members and leaders stood to profit from the deal). But that to me is the most important factor, that internet groups can go beyond emails and petitions and actually help facilitate greater coordination of people in the real world this will really help it and other pressure groups like it make an impact in the closed world of UK politics.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Mission accomplished?

Well that was a hectic few days by the pyramids wasn't it. Mubarak after the daring camel charge made up of interior ministry thugs and there mates who wanted a quick pay check failed to do much other then get a snigger out of people watching the news, and kill a few people gets the hopes of his people up that he would finally leave, after all the protesters enthusiams for the army was cooling fast and the Americans his regimes and its security apparatus biggest financial backer slowly but surely inching its way to the protesters side -incidentally readers of blogs like the polemical report will no doubt recall a similar scenario occurred in Honduras) where the US government and the Emperor of change Obama did not side with the democracy advocating people- only to make a speech saying he'd stay till September when his "democratic" term is up only to have his military the last working pillar of his regime give him the boot, but given that he's amassed a fortune estimated at $70 billion -all paid for by a grateful state and populous- no doubt, in foreign banks all over the world his retirement prospects aren't as bleak as most in this tough financial times.

But does that mean this is over and we can now move onto gawking at the next teetering middle eastern regimes attempts to protect there privilege? Well no theres still much to do in Egypt. Rather then an outright Democratic transfer of power to a constituent assembly or an equivalent, Egypt is now under the control of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) a council that has only previously been formed in times of war.

Now much of the mainstream media is talking about the Turkish model of government where the military is the Supreme power but unlike in Pakistan is fine with letting the civilian politicians do the difficult task of actually running the country. It is argued that this is what has kept Turkey an over 90% Muslim nation that has on occasion elected "Islamist" parties of varying degrees to government like the current Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party* from sliding into the evils of fundamentalism. Just why Islamic countries require a strong secular officer corps while predominantly Christian nations could develop secular governance without them is rarely explained by advocates of the Turkish model.What is also overlooked is the role the military plays in Turkey's aggressive attitudes to preserving the Unity of the Turkish state. Its hard to see the continued oppression of the Ethnic Armenian's and Kurds not being dictated by the Chiefs of staff.

And of course the main problem with the Turkish system other then the nagging thought that this was not what the people on the streets and in the squares wanted is that once established there is very little to keep the New Arabian Turkey from becoming the New Arabian Pakistan or Myanmar. Afterall that is how those nations became Stratocracies the military stepped in in times of crisis and then argued that they should keep power as they were the only ones strong enough to maintain stability. Who else but the Generals can effectively mediate between all those ethnic tribes spread out in Burmese valley's? who but the military can effectively maintain the order of Islamabad and expand it around the Federally Administered Tribal Areasfrom religious radicals? What is to stop SCAF from using Islamic terrorism or perhaps red revivals to justify there maintenance of there privilege? After all America and by extension the rest of the West where perfectly happy to support and fund the Security states of Ben Ali's Tunisia and Mubarak's Egypt (after his predecessor Sadat shifted Egypt to a Western alignment) why not rebuild the relationship with the Generals. Old habits do die hard remember.

And I have to say so far SCAF have not exactly embraced the Democratic spirit, they've agreed to look at reforms in the future but so far seems more preoccupied with some good old fashion strike breaking. Aside from the obvious need to protect production and profits to appease the moneyed classes both at home and abroad the moves to restrict and then no doubt crush Labour activism in Egypt represents a pretty much standard procedure for Dictatorships, but especially so in Egypt. Those who read the Morning Star will probably know this but the protests and revolts in Egypt where not simply copy and pasting from Tunisia, they had been going on for a long time, the most common of which was Strike actions. Striking under Mubarak was more then just highlighting a wage grievance it was also a declaration of discontent with the regime. Thanks to Mubarak's crony capitalism all major manufacturing and finance assets where either owned outright by the state or snapped up by key entrepreneurs who where close supporters of the NDP, a big player in this scheme was the very same military-heads who are now running the show, hence why no Labour organisations of any kind where tolerated. Most strikes that couldn't be just threatened back in line where routinely tear gassed and beaten, a practice which looks set to continue if the Military gets its way.

Fortunately though there are some encouraging signs that the people are not about to letup the pressure on there government no matter what hat it wears until this revolution is finished.

* The Justice and Development Party has recently shifted away from its religious base however due to its strong social conservatism can still be associated with the social trends in much the same way other European and American Conservatives draw their social code from their dominant variant of Christianity.

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