My tone in all the posts is snarky, but the links are good, in any case.
My tone in all the posts is snarky, but the links are good, in any case.
More over at my journal.
Documents released by National Archives show prime minister Winston Churchill feared the colony would turn communist
Secret documents declassified on Friday by MI5 reveal in detail how in 1953 the UK under prime minister Winston Churchill overthrew the elected government of British Guiana – now Guyana – because he feared its leftwing leader and his American wife would lead the British colony into the arms of the Soviet Union.MORE
Camila Vallejo's call for better and cheaper education has seen student protests transform into a two-day nationwide shutdown
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In Chile, Dissent Has A Woman’s Face
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Ya know? Yes, she's beautiful. And the fact that the media are falling all over themselves to note that, ignoring that they would have ignored her if she wasn't? PISSES ME OFF. Also, teh GUardian keeps going "protests turned violent" completely erasing who turns the protests violent ...THE FUCKING POLICE.
We are prepared to give our lives for education High school kids on hunger strike
SANTIAGO, Aug 25, 2011 (IPS) - As students and teachers continue their massive protests in the streets of Chile's cities, one of the most extreme methods of demanding higher-quality, free public education is the hunger strike being undertaken by 28 youngsters at secondary schools across the country, four of whom have not taken food for nearly 40 days. One teenage girl in the south of Chile had to be urgently admitted to hospital on Tuesday, Aug. 24 in unstable condition, and last week another young woman in Santiago required medical attention. Several of the hunger strikers have lost 10 kg or more.
The government of rightwing President Sebastián Piñera, under heavy pressure from the ongoing demonstrations, is attempting to pass on responsibility for solving the crisis to Congress. Its proposals have so far been characterised as insufficient by the teachers and students fighting for radical changes to the education system. To cap Piñera's problem, social grievances have expanded beyond the issue of education, and Thursday was the second, and last, day of a nationwide general strike called by the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores, the main union federation, to demand structural changes in the political and economic system, that was also joined by 80 other social organisations and opposition parties. The protest by students and teachers has lasted over three months so far, making it the longest demonstration since 1990, which marked the end of a 17-year dictatorship that in its dying days imposed the present education structure, which subsequent democratic administrations have left unmodified.
Education Minister Felipe Bulnes was particularly critical of the hunger strike, saying it "does not solve any of our problems; in fact, it only complicates the situation." Francia Gárate, an 18-year-old in her final year of secondary school, joined the hunger strike over a week ago and told IPS they were fasting "so that they take us seriously." "I would ask (Piñera) to realise that we are not playing games; he should wake up, because what we are doing is not a game, and we are prepared to give our lives for education," Gárate emphasised. MORE
The Syrian regime's response to five months of popular uprising was described by a recent report of the International Crisis Group as "slow motion suicide", resulting from a "mix of uninhibited brutality, sectarian manipulation, crude propaganda and grudging concessions".
The regime opted for a survival strategy: responding by violence and threatening the population with chaos and civil war in the event of its demise. The objective was to launch a war of attrition by playing on time to wear out any internal revolt. It chose, however, the wrong combination of brutal repression and gradual concessions. The result was a crisis of confidence which was too deep to be overcome by mere calls for national dialogue and reform.
The death toll is estimated at 2,000 civilian casualties (including more than 100 children), and 400 members of the security services. The situation has now reached a stalemate. Neither side appears to be able to defeat the other. Protests are rallying at major urban and rural centres, including Damascus and Aleppo in the last weeks. Rallies continue in Hama, Homs, Lattakia, the Idlib province, and continue to be met with massive military assaults and house to house arrests. The cities of Homs, Hama and Deir ez-Zor were brutally besieged by the regime's armed forces; hundreds of civilian casualties have fallen since the start of the holy month of Ramadan. In Deir ez-Zor, the regime was met with strong resistance by local tribesmen, including the leading Baqqara tribe who joined the opposition movements.
On July 17, the National Salvation conference held in Istanbul gathered 450 opposition figures who called for civil disobedience throughout the country. Tenets of regime survival quite naively assumed that they would effectively counter the historical meeting held in Damascus on June 27 by prominent opposition figures in the Semiramis Hotel of Damascus. The regime's so-called "national dialogue" conference held on July 10 included a few organic intellectuals and public figures which were carefully selected and summoned to contribute to the process of constitutional amendment and political reform. The strategy was to divide the opposition and maintain the status quo. Dialogue under repression was, however, firmly rejected by the opposition. MORE
Proposals to radically re-formulate the constitution of Honduras need to incorporate the experiences and perspectives of indigenous and Afro-Honduran women, declared Berta Cáceres, a longtime feminist indigenous activist and an organizer of the Constitutional Assembly Self-Organized by Indigenous and Afro-Honduran Women. The historic event, which is taking place July 10-14, 2011 in Copán Ruinas, will include indigenous and Afro women delegates from all over Honduras, said Cáceres, who is also coordinator of COPINH (Civic Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations in Honduras).
Many of these women have been front and center in the popular resistance movement against the repression following the coup d’etat in their country in June, 2009, struggling against assaults on their lands, sovereignty, natural resources and cultures. Likewise, many have been specifically targeted as leaders in these struggles with aggressive and violent assaults and detentions by police and private security forces.
Along the northern coast of Honduras, there are 48 Garifuna communities “who are suffering an accelerated expulsion from our territories that we have inhabited for 214 years,” said Miriam Miranda of OFRANEH (National Fraternal Organization of Black Hondurans) in a public letter she released after being violently detained and assaulted by security forces in March, 2011 for her role as a leader in the resistance. Communal lands of the Garifuna have been subject to widespread privatization as part of massive development plans by the government and World Bank to create big tourist resorts and “model cities.” The Garifuna are matrilocal, meaning the land has been traditionally passed along matrilineal lines, so this massive assault on communal lands has hit women particularly hard (Vacanti Brondo, 2007).MORE
Indigenous and Afro-Honduran Women: Autonomy and an End to Violence Against Us
Final Declaration of Constituent Assembly Self-Organized by Indigenous and Afro-Honduran Women
From the rhythmic beat of powerful drums and ancient spiritual songs that echoed through the sacred ruins of the Mayan Chortí in Copan in western Honduras, the three-day event ended with hundreds of indigenous and Afro- Honduran women demanding autonomy and an end to the colonization of their lands, their bodies, their lives, and ways of doing politics.
The Final Declaration of Copán Galel of the Self-Organized Constituent Assembly of Indigenous and Afro-Honduran women denounced the “violence, repression and domination of women operating through capitalism, patriarchy and racism,” said Berta Caceres, coordinator the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), in an interview with Escribana.
Caceres was also one of the organizers of the Assembly, which took place July 11 to 13, 2011 in Copan Ruinas, Honduras. The Assembly involved an intensive dialogue on the realities of life of the 300 participating women whose cultures, lands, natural resources and the country have been under siege that intensified since the military coup in June 2009.
Since then, the government, the powerful elites and transnational corporations have been using the “Shock Doctrine” (Naomi Klein) to promote a rapid re-engineering of business, economic policies and all policies before people have opportunity to react. (Http://www.naomiklein.org/shock-
For Honduras, this has meant immediate and aggressive plans for mass-tourism projects, mega-projects such as hydroelectric dams and the expansion of mining, agribusiness and forestry, all involving the confiscation of indigenous and Afro lands.
Israel Daphne Leef:How a woman in a tent became Israel's Top Story
Until recently nobody had heard of Daphni Leef. Now, everybody in Israel knows the 25-year-old's face and her cause. Just a few weeks ago, Leef was waiting tables. Now, her schedule has become such that she cannot help keeping people waiting. This interview was meant to take place at 11am but did not start until 5pm. Among things that might have distracted her was the small matter of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu putting everything on hold to respond to her demands.
Even after the interview started, we were interrupted by well-wishers, delighted to see her in the flesh sitting outside a Tel Aviv café. A young man wanted a hug; a little old lady wanted to have her picture taken with Leef. And upon hearing her voice a blind woman halted her guide dog and chatted excitedly.
So what did Leef do to bring her such national attention? She got chucked out of her flat. And then wrote on Facebook. Just over a month ago she was told that she needed to leave her Tel Aviv apartment because the building was slated for redevelopment. She started looking for a new home, and was shocked to find how expensive rents had become.
"I called up a friend and said, 'I'm setting up a tent'," she recalls. "He said I should calm down." But she did not calm down - instead she opened a Facebook "event", inviting people to erect tents in central Tel Aviv to protest against high housing prices.MORE
Dude. They profiled the originator of a protest that has seen up to 300,000 people participate....in the lifestyle section. God. DAMN.
Tunisia Tunisian women fear the Algerian way
TUNIS, Aug 5, 2011 (IPS) - A women’s group begins campaigning near La Marsa beach in Tunis to convince more women to come up and register in the electoral lists, in time for the deadline now pushed back to Aug. 14. Most of the women watching the proceedings are veiled.
The veils present more a question than a suggestion at present. One survey among veiled women conduced by journalists here claims that four in five of these women will not vote for Ennahda, the Islamist party surging ahead in popularity ahead of elections for a constituent assembly due in October.
Veils in such numbers are an unusual sight in Tunisia where women visit the beach just as comfortably in a bikini as wearing a headscarf, and just as comfortable sipping wine as a soft drink, listening to rap or traditional music.
Looks may be deceptive, one way or another. "Look around," says Khadija, an activist with the Modernist Democratic Front - a coalition of local Tunisian democratic parties - on another beachfront near the fashionable La Goulette. "Can you see these people living under Islamic law? Tunisia is not Algeria. I am sure it will never happen here."
Women have had successes they want to hold on to: half the candidates in the electoral lists must now be women. A strong presence of women in the constituent assembly could be crucial to women’s rights.
Women also want to consolidate the position taken by the High Commission charged to verify that the goals of the revolution are respected - namely that religion and politics will be kept separate. Ennahda has opposed this move in the transitional period. It has also opposed the transitional government’s decision that parties cannot receive funds from outside.
On another front women are fighting the undemocratic influence of former president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali in institutions such as the media. The media gives little space to women, even though they are politically active, and many will be candidates. MORE
Approximately 30,000 protesters marched in Tel Aviv last night, with social justice activists blocking central streets and chants of "Mubarak. Assad. Netanyahu" filling the air.
Tel Aviv police arrested 42 activists, which is an extremely rare number, "if not unprecedented," according to +972 Magazine, which has been closely following the circumstances surrounding the sudden rise of Israel's progressive left
The protests are part of a larger movement that began as opposition to rising housing prices, and indeed is still centered around that issue, but has spread to other social justice and progressive causes.
These protests are being described as "the greatest challenge PM Netanyahu faces on the home front," and show that the progressive left in Israel has awoken.
Change in Israel may be coming.MORE
Facebook is driving Israel's protests
But the role of Facebook is not limited to news updates. The protesters on Rothschild Boulevard hold meetings where everyone can have a say. On Facebook, one status update can provoke a flood of responses and turn into a heated public debate.
Facebook is what radio was in the early days of the state, what television was when the Iron Curtain crumbled, what the newspapers were during the Spring of Nations. The protests over the price of gas, cottage cheese and, of course, housing, would not have accelerated as they did without Facebook.
It's even possible that without this platform, where people can call for a boycott and get infinitely more exposure for their views than they would by standing in the town square, these protests would have never taken place.
These are crazy times in the virtual world of Facebook. One strand of civil action meets another, 1,000 more people join a protest and a chain reaction that began with nothing in the morning can build up into a demonstration that is thousands strong by evening.
"What's happening tonight?" a friend asks. "Go to Facebook, all the details are there," I tell her. "I told you I'm against Facebook, I want to maintain my privacy," she says. But the wall of opposition is slowly but surely cracking; "perhaps today I will join," she finally says. MORE
Massive Housing Protests Shake Israel Government Into Action Demonstrators Reject Netanyahu's Plan as Inadequate
Tel Aviv — In a speech from his office July 26, Netanyahu announced that for the first time in Israeli history, the government will give contractors incentives to build housing for long-term private rental at low rates.
Netanyahu’s speech came as 350 tents lined Tel Aviv’s fashionable Rothschild Boulevard, filled with people demonstrating against high housing prices. More than 500 protest tents were pitched elsewhere in the country. A few hours before Netanyahu’s speech, Haaretz released a poll finding that 87% of Israelis supported the protests. Three days previously, about 30,000 Israelis marched for the cause in Tel Aviv. Netanyahu put other political business on hold and tried to quell the anger.
“In Israel protests by specific groups happen daily, but this has brought in many groups and become massive,” said Ben Gurion University historian of social economics Efraim Davidi. “It is the most important protest in a generation.”
Under Netanyahu’s proposal, the government will offer free state-owned land to contractors willing to compete to build homes for long-term rental at the lowest prices. Netanyahu’s program will also offer half-price land for sale where contractors compete to promise the lowest sale price. Young couples, graduates, and people finishing military or civilian national service will have priority when these homes reach the market. MORE
Free state owned land, eh? Wonder where this land came from? Either way...I watch this development with interest...
Investigation launced into whether News Corp broke anti-bribery and hacking laws in US
Now I am VERY skeptical that the US has the political will to stick anything to Fox News, but ...
Having trouble keeping everyone straight?
Via: delux_vivens Key players in the News Corp phone-hacking case
While we are looking at the phone hacking link from The Guardian, here's a couple more:
The 'For Neville' email: two words that could bring down an empire: James Murdoch now stands accused of complicity in an attempted coverup of crimes within his company
In His Own Defense: Cameron Zigs, but the Opposition Follows
Andy Coulson investigated for perjury while working at No 10
Phone hacking also rife under Piers Morgan at [Daily] Mirror, claims ex-reporter Somehow I don't think The Daily Mail was exempt, do you?
Phone hacking visualized: What happened when? For those of us who are still fucking confused as to the timeline of events
Phone hacking: Three weeks that made a revolution In which the English now expect to actually regulate the press. Huh. Such a novel idea!
Guardian Live Blog which is a constant source of grins as this whole damn thing unfolds:
Consider this roundup:
10:17amPeter Walker writes: It's not been a good couple of weeks for Rupert Murdoch. Today, Paul Owen writes: Labour MP Tom Watson has said that he plans to refer to the police a claim that James Murdoch gave inaccurate evidence to the Commons culture committee this week. More as we get it. Peter Walker writes: Following on from that: Sky News is reporting that another Labour MP who has been central to pursuing News International over this story, Chris Bryant, has written to News Corporation's non-executive directors requesting that they suspend Rupert and James Murdoch from their roles.
Last but not least raise a middle fingers at that bloody asshole Robin Givhan and her sexism; and both middle fingers and a lot of expletives at the fuckers who decided to run an editorial cartoon stating that instead of paying attention to that hacking bit, we should pay attention to famine in Somalia. Because we can't do both at the same time. And because NOW you fuckers are interested in Somalian famine. I thought Somalis were all pirates??? Media Analysis, the Butterfly Effect and how Rebekah Brooks hair is forced to eat humble pie
As an antidote to Ms. Givhan's idiocy:
Rebekah Brooks's cardinal sin:It isn't her hair, charm or connections that have defined her. Brooks is the archetypal tabloid editor
ETA: via rydra_wong Phone hacking: Met police to investigate mobile tracking claims
I wonder how many more will be forced to resign?
The crisis triggered upheaval in the upper ranks of Britain's police, with Monday's resignation of Assistant Commissioner John Yates — Scotland Yard's top anti-terrorist officer — following that of police chief Paul Stephenson, over their links to an arrested former executive from Murdoch's shuttered News of the World tabloid.MORE
AND THEN of course, there's the, um... unexpectedly dead reporter. Dude they don't need a movie for this shit. They need a fucking TV SERIES to encompass this thing!
BAAN FANG, Thailand, Jul 4, 2011 (IPS) - Across villages, towns, and cities in northeast Thailand, a mood of political empowerment is bursting to the surface, with people gathering in groups since Sunday evening to celebrate political history. After all, they helped put Yingluck Shinawatra on the road to becoming the country’s first female prime minister.
Under a starlit sky on Jul. 3, election night, a group of villagers sat on mats outside a house in this village on the outskirts of this plateau’s main city, Khon Kaen, basking in the victory of a candidate who "has given a lot of attention to the grassroots people," as one of them, Paitoon Pohnang, described it.
As they listened to news reports that Yingluck’s opposition Phue Thai (For Thais) party was gaining seats, the group broke into whoops and applause, drowning out the chorus of crickets chirping from the darkened trees on the edge of the garden.
"I believe that a woman can be a prime minister in Thailand," said an excited Sukunthai Buthawong, a 61-year-old rice farmer. "We have to try something new, not only voting for men to lead the country. I voted feeling this way. I want change. I want to make history."
It was a sentiment echoed by the nearly 30 people gathered around her, men and women who were also part of the same community of rice farmers. "Women are good with details and work carefully," added another farmer who was wearing a red shirt, the colour worn by Phue Thai supporters.
Celebrations were more vivid on Monday in the downtown market selling fresh produce in Khon Kaen, 24 km from Baan Fang. Women wearing red shirts, some wearing red bows on their heads, were dancing to the blare of local music in their stalls of vegetables and meats. "I am happy and crazy. It feels better than winning a lottery," yelled a vegetable vendor who only gave her first name, Ratree.
"Rural people got involved with politics more than before," said a calmer Phrapapai Pongpan, a fish vendor. "They were pushed out of home to go and vote after seeing the injustice in the last few years."
And the final tally from the 20 provinces in the northeast, a large vote bank of over 15 million voters of the registered 47.3 million across the country, confirmed this. Phue Thai secured a thumping 104 seats out of the 126 contested in this rural heartland.MORE
Pheu Thai gears toward amnesty: Moves are already afoot to bring back Thaksin Thaksin is her older brother who was a PM 2001-2006, but who was deposed in a military coup on corruption charges.
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Army in neutral: 'accepts' election result
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Priorities for a Yingluck govt Bangkok Post Editorial
Yingluck Must Keep Promises Opinion
I hope she and her party do not fuck up the trust that the poor have put in her.
As Greece battles economic collapse, protests in the country have been getting louder, bigger and more heated. Greeks on the streets have been demonstrating against the squeeze on their wages and pensions, but the media covering those protests have found some hostility directed at them as well.
The protesters accuse the media of stereotyping them, of being voices of the economic and financial elite and not reflecting the reality of the Greek worker. In our News Divide this week, we look at the Greek protests and how the media covered them.See awesome video which won't allow me to embed at the source
DEBTOCRACY: Causes of Greece's debt crisis and solutions, hidden by the government and the dominant media [full length documentary]
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The struggle in the squares
Greece's Prime Minister George Papandreou and his PASOK party government survived a June 21 confidence vote in parliament, but he will face continued mass protests as he pushes for yet more devastating austerity measures.
Greece is in the grips of a desperate economic crisis. The government has needed massive bailouts engineered by the European Union and International Monetary Fund, but they have come with the demand that the government slash spending, cut the wages and benefits of workers, and privatize public enterprises.
But a new mass movement has arisen to give voice to the anger of the mass of the population. Following the example of youth and workers in Spain--and before that, the Egyptian revolutionaries of Tahrir Square--the Greek "aganaktismenoi" ("indignants") have occupied public squares. On June 27 and 28, the so-called "movement of the squares" will demonstrate alongside the labor movement during a 48-hour general strike called as parliament is set to vote on yet more cutbacks.
Panos Petrou, a member of the socialist group Internationalist Workers Left (DEA) and a participant in the occupation in Athens' Syntagma Square, explains how this powerful new movement developed.
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A response to the recent Op-Ed entitled “Fixing Honduras” by Noah Feldman, David Landau and Brian Sheppard that was published in the L.A. Times.
This op-ed by US-based constitutional lawyers completely misidentifies the real crisis in Honduras.
For the authors, the problem to be solved is one of political instability, a power struggle amongst politicians that to be avoided by way of slight tweaks to the constitution. The real crisis in Honduras is the 300,000 rural families without access to land, not counting the thousands that have fled the country entirely. It's the poverty rates as high as 80%, where community after community lacks basic sanitation, much less roads or medical clinics. It's the political system that has failed for decades to address these problems.
The arrogance of titling their article 'Fixing Honduras' is that Feldman is assuming that fixing Honduras isn't a job fit for Hondurans, and more importantly, that fixing Honduras isn't precisely what Hondurans themselves are already trying to do by fighting for an entirely new constitution.
Many Hondurans saw the Zelaya presidency, and in particular his proposal to write a new constitution, as the first genuine attempt to address the country's normalized humanitarian crisis. Many people here are demanding more participation in politics as they've lost faith in the traditional political class. They demand evolution from the representative democracy defended by the current constitution, to a more participatory democracy. The details of the new Honduran democracy would be determined through a constitutional assembly that guarantees real participation for all Honduran sectors and geographical regions. Supporters of this bold plan are merely demanding a right to a referendum to see whether Hondurans want to have such an assembly.
In response to this demand, Feldman tells Hondurans that they can't have a referendum without the approval of those very representatives they are rejecting. In their words, such a move would “require the assent of other institutions of government, such as the Congress and the courts, before the executive is able to consult the public for any exercise of direct democracy.” Getting assent from the congress and courts has been proven impossible. The members of these two institutions naturally see direct democracy as a threat, given that it's practice requires a loss of power for them. In taking this position, Feldman is protecting the same status quo that the Honduran military and oligarchy have defended so violently both during and since the coup of June 28th, 2009. MORE
While “Europe’s slow-motion financial collapse” – as Mother Jones magazine described it in a June 6tharticle – continues to unravel, Spain, like other European states continues to implement anti-social-neo-liberal policies with strong opposition from the citizenry.
It has been one month since the country’s ‘Indignados’ (Indignant Ones) movement claimed nonviolently sixty city-squares in cities across the country, calling for economic democracy, political justice and peace. Since then, much has happened within Spanish borders, and what is happening there is clearly spreading across Europe, where we have already witnessed social movements making similar demands. We have seen the Bastille in Paris, taken nonviolently by French ‘Indignados’ only to be quickly reclaimed by the country’s police force. We have observed the rise of a parallel movement in Portugal where most city squares have also been camped on by ‘Indignados’, and where only hours before the country’s general elections protestors in Lisbon were attacked and beaten by police. We have witnessed how on that same night, in Athens, Greece, 80,000 protestors congregated in the city’s main square in opposition to the country’s ‘austerity measures’, waving banners in solidarity with the ‘Indignados’ of Spain and of other European country’s. MORE
May 28th 2011 'Democracia Real Ya': When the People in Spain Remind the Government Who They Work for
Anyone who was there during the protest would tell you that they didn’t see it coming. As a matter of fact, how can we explain this movement? Perhaps a little context is necessary for us to understand, even though one does not always find clear answers to that.
On September 29th 2010, thousands of people were asked by the main labor unions to join a protest in the streets of Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and all the other major cities, in protest for the austerity measures anounced by the Zapatero government. However, this general strike, deemed a failure by many, left most people disenchanted with traditional politics and the general atmosphere was one of frustration, defeat and a growing sense of individualism, palpable in the streets of Madrid, and also a general mistrust, conveyed in public opinion polls regarding banks, social groups and the political class across the spectrum, as well as a pessimistic view of their future.
So, in other words, nothing at the time would make any observer anticipate what was to happen, nor its magnitude. So the question is, what happened in between? What are the main causes that could explain this phenomenon? MORE
Protests Evolve But Tensions Continue
The mobilizations that started on May 15 in Spain have gradually evolved into local meetings, gatherings and different kinds of initiatives all over the country. Most activists are not focusing on the camps any more. Campers have decided to leave the Madrid square “Puerta del Sol” on June 12, 2011. It became the physical symbol of the people's unease with their political representatives. Netizens are calling this shift “Sol se mueve” (Sol is moving), and using the tag #solsemueve on Twitter.
This does not mean that the movement has died. Assemblies and reunions co-exist with specific actions, like the marches towards city councils on June 11 to protest against the investiture of politicians charged with corruption. In Madrid, the capital city, a sit-in ended up with police charging against demonstrators, which can be seen on the videos widely shared online, like this one by journalist Juan Luis Sánchez of Periodismo Humano [es]:MORE
A corruption scandal rocking one of Argentina's leading human rights organisation is now tainting the country's president, Christina Kirchner.
Al Jazeera's Lucia Newman reports.
Mothers of Plaza de Mayo Scandal 'Toxic' for President
BUENOS AIRES, Jun 17, 2011 (IPS) - Above and beyond the impact it might have on Argentina's Oct. 23 general elections, few doubt that the government of Cristina Fernández will feel the effects of the fraud scandal involving the alleged misuse of public funds by the former right-hand man of the head of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Association.
The latest survey by pollster Enrique Zuleta found that nearly 53 percent of respondents believe the scandal is a serious problem that will have far-reaching consequences for politics and the country's institutions, and that the effects are not merely limited to the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo.
The Mothers, a world-renowned human rights group, emerged 34 years ago during the 1976-1983 dictatorship to protest the forced disappearance of their children.
The scandal involves Sergio Schoklender, who was the chief adviser to activist Hebe de Bonafini – the head of the Mothers Association – and the financial manager of the foundation set up by the human rights group.
Early this month the Association fired Schoklender and several of his associates after legal charges were brought against them for fraud, illegal enrichment and money laundering in relation to government funds that went to the foundation for the purpose of building low-income housing to replace slums.MORE
Drawing from a trove of 1,918 Haiti-related diplomatic cables obtained by the transparency-advocacy group WikiLeaks, The Nation is collaborating with the Haitian weekly newspaper Haïti Liberté on a series of groundbreaking articles about US and UN policy toward the Caribbean nation.
Haïti Liberté, published largely in French and Creole, is working with WikiLeaks to release and analyze the Haiti-related cables, which will be featured in a series of English-language Nationpieces, written by a variety of freelance journalists with extensive experience in Haiti and posted each Wednesday for several weeks.
The cables from US Embassies around the world cover an almost seven-year period, from April 17, 2003—ten months before the February 29, 2004, coup d’état that ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide—to February 28, 2010, just after the January 12 earthquake that devastated the capital, Port-au-Prince, and surrounding cities. They range from “Secret” and “Confidential” classifications to “Unclassified.” Cables of the latter classification are not public, and many are marked “For Official Use Only” or “Sensitive.”MORE
Wikileaks Haiti: Let them live on $3 a day
Contractors for Fruit of the Loom, Hanes and Levi’s worked in close concert with the US Embassy when they aggressively moved to block a minimum wage increase for Haitian assembly zone workers, the lowest-paid in the hemisphere, according to secret State Department cables.
The factory owners told the Haitian Parliament that they were willing to give workers a 9-cents-per-hour pay increase to 31 cents per hour to make T-shirts, bras and underwear for US clothing giants like Dockers and Nautica.
But the factory owners refused to pay 62 cents per hour, or $5 per day, as a measure unanimously passed by the Haitian Parliament in June 2009 would have mandated. And they had the vigorous backing of the US Agency for International Development and the US Embassy when they took that stand.
To resolve the impasse between the factory owners and Parliament, the State Department urged quick intervention by then Haitian President René Préval.MORE
WikiLeaks Haiti: The Earthquake Cables
Washington deployed 22,000 troops to Haiti after the January 12, 2010, earthquake despite reports from the Haitian leadership, the US Embassy and the UN that no serious security threat existed, according to secret US diplomatic cables.
The cables, obtained by WikiLeaks, were made available to the Haitian newspaper Haïti Liberté, which is collaborating with The Nation on a series of reports about US and UN policy toward the country.
Washington’s decision to send thousands of troops in response to the 7.0 earthquake that rocked the Haitian capital and surrounding areas drew sharp criticism from aid workers and government officials around the world at the time. They criticized the militarized response to Haiti’s humanitarian crisis as inappropriate and counterproductive. French Cooperation Minister Alain Joyandet famously said that international aid efforts should be “about helping Haiti, not about occupying Haiti.”
The earthquake-related cables also show that Washington was very sensitive to international criticism of its response and that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mobilized her diplomatic corps to ferret out “irresponsible journalism” worldwide and “take action” to “get the narrative right.”
There are a great many reasons why I vomit when feminists like Shakesville go hurray Hilary Clinton!!! And this is one of MANY.
WikiLeaks Haiti: The PetroCaribe Files
When René Préval took the oath of Haiti’s presidential office in a ceremony at Haiti’s National Palace on May 14, 2006, he was anxious to allay fears in Washington that he would not be a reliable partner. “He wants to bury once and for all the suspicion in Haiti that the United States is wary of him,” said US Ambassador Janet Sanderson in a March 26, 2006, cable. “He is seeking to enhance his status domestically and internationally with a successful visit to the United States.”
This was so important that Préval “declined invitations to visit France, Cuba, and Venezuela in order to visit Washington first,” Sanderson noted. “Preval has close personal ties to Cuba, having received prostate cancer treatment there, but has stressed to the Embassy that he will manage relations with Cuba and Venezuela solely for the benefit of the Haitian people, and not based on any ideological affinity toward those governments.”
Soon, however, it became clear that managing relations with those US adversaries “solely for the benefit to the Haitian people” would be enough to put Préval in Washington’s bad graces—especially when it came to the sensitive matter of oil.
Immediately after his inauguration ceremony, Préval summoned the press to a room in the National Palace, where he inked a deal with Venezuelan Vice President José Vicente Rangel to join Caracas’s Caribbean oil alliance, PetroCaribe. Under the terms of the deal, Haiti would buy oil from Venezuela, paying only 60 percent up front with the remainder payable over twenty-five years at 1 percent interest.
As the press conference rolled on, just a mile away from the National Palace, in the bay of Port-au-Prince, sat a tanker from Venezuela carrying 100,000 barrels of PetroCaribe diesel and unleaded fuel.
Préval’s dramatic inauguration day oil deal won high marks from many Haitians, who had demonstrated against high oil prices and the lack of electricity. But it ushered in a multiyear geopolitical battle among Caracas, Havana and Washington over how oil would be delivered to Haiti and who would benefit.MORE
Women are very visible in Tunisian society. They mix freely with men, are highly educated and career-minded, and have enjoyed some of the most egalitarian legal rights in the Arab world, enshrined in the Personal Status Code (PSC) of 1957. The PSC was drawn up by Habib Bourguiba, Tunisia’s first president, directly after independence from France and even before the national constitution was written. It improved women’s rights, particularly in family law, by removing some of the more patriarchal aspects of shari’a: polygamy was abolished, the consent of both parties was now required for marriage and judicial procedures for divorce were established. Bourguiba was ousted in 1987 by Ben Ali, who extended the pro-women policies. One of the most interesting aspects of the Tunisian Revolution from a feminist perspective is that many of the women who participated in the protests that brought down Ben Ali are now campaigning to defend the rights they’ve already been enjoying for some time, fearing that the post-revolutionary period might bring a surge in popularity for the Islamist party, Al Nahda (‘the Renaissance’), and a swing towards traditionalist ideas about women.
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Tunisia: Will Democracy Be Good For Women's Rights?
Falling tyrants and rising freedoms have been a recurrent theme of the Arab Spring. Invariably, in every discussion of democratisation in the Middle East, the question of women crops up. The key conundrum: will democracy be good for women’s rights?
While the social and political movements gaining momentum in the Middle East and North Africa appear to be opening the door for democracy, initially progressive revolutions do not often result in sustained improvements for women’s rights. While Arab women have been crucial in the revolutions that have shattered the status quo, their role in the future development of their own countries remains unclear. In Tunisia, for example, the fear is that women will be sucked into an ideological and religious tug-of-war over their rights, reducing the complexities of democratisation into a binary secular/non-secular battle.
In contrast to vivifying images of flag-waving female protesters taking over Avenue Habib Bourguiba and Tahrir Square in January and February, women are barely present in the interim governments: two in Tunisia and one in Egypt. Valentine Moghadam, an expert in social change in the Middle East and North Africa, describes the first months of post-revolution Tunisia as a "democracy paradox" - a post-protest period of democratic freedom that simultaneously witnessed the disappearance of women’s representation. The lack of female voices in Tunisia’s transitional government seemed an early warning sign of such a trend of exclusion. “Unless women are visible during the negotiations,” Moghadam argues, “a nation's new sense of freedom may not be shared by all”. Many women involved with Ben Ali’s party, the Rally for Constitutional Democracy (RCD), were excluded from the transition processes, and massive structural impediments hindered the political mobilisation of others. In the first weeks of independence, despite the high hopes for nationwide democracy, optimism for women’s rights slipped away.MORE
via: Muslimah Media
HUMALA INHERITS a country that is extremely polarized. The vast majority of the population struggles just to survive, sometimes literally. Accoring to Peruvian sociologist Jorge Lora Cam, only 20 percent of the country's gross domestic product comes from wages, and the informal sector has mushroomed. This year, the poverty rate "went down" to 36 percent.
In Lima, over 1 million people lived without running water as of 2008. In the city of Ayacucho, 25 percent of the population faces the same lack.
The signing of bilateral free trade agreements, not only with the U.S. but also with China, has lead to increased sweatshop exploitation in the cities and to an exponential rise in multinational and foreign investment in metal and fuel mining, which in turn displaces peasant and indigenous communities and pollutes the ecosystem, whose land the government now claims the right to sell off.
Those fighting the conglomerates have been at the forefront of struggle in recent years. As the elections took place, the border between Peru and Bolivia was being blocked by indigenous people taking on mining companies. In Cocachacra, Arequipa and the area around these two southern towns, protesters against the Tía María mining project have been shot and killed, but have refused to accept a truce until after the elections take place.
Left candidate wins election in Peru
The victory of left-populist candidate Ollanta Humala in Peru's election is a "big fucking deal", as Vice President Joe Biden famously whispered to Obama on national TV in another context. With respect to US influence in the hemisphere, this knocks out one of only two allies that Washington could count on, leaving only the rightwing government of Chile. Left governments that are more independent of the United States than Europe is now run Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay and Peru. And Colombia under President Manuel Santos is now siding with these governments more than with the United States.
This means that regional political and economic integration will proceed more smoothly, although it is still a long-term project. On 5 July, for example, heads of state from the whole hemisphere will meet in Caracas, Venezuela, to proceed with the formation of Celac (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States). This is a regional organisation that includes all countries except the United States and Canada, and which – no matter what anyone says for diplomatic purposes – is intended to displace the Organisation of American States. The new organisation is a response to the abuse of the OAS by the United States (which controls most of the bureaucracy) for anti-democratic purposes, most recently in the cases of Honduras and Haiti.
These institutional changes, including the vastly expanded role of Unasur (Union of South American Nations) are changing the norms and customs of diplomatic relations in the hemisphere. The Obama administration, which has continued the policies of "containment" and "rollback" of its predecessor, has been slow to accept the new reality. As a result, it does not have ambassadors in Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador.MORE
Hope in the Andes: What Ollanta Humala’s Victory Means for Peru
Fried pork rinds, fish, potatoes and eggs were sold by street vendors outside polling stations on election day in Lima, Peru. By nightfall, thousands of people gathered in a central plaza waving the white flags of Ollanta Humala’s political party.
Ollanta is an Incan name meaning “the warrior everyone looks to.” Indeed, all eyes were on the leftist president-elect as he greeted the crowd just before midnight with the words, “We won the elections!”
Humala, a former military officer who led a failed military uprising in 2000, lost the elections in 2006 to Alan Garcia. On the June 5th presidential elections this year, he narrowly defeated Kieko Fujimori, the daughter of ex-president Alberto Fujimori, who was jailed in 2007 for corruption and crimes against humanity. If elected, Kieko would have likely worked to release her father from jail, and carry on his administration’s capitalist and repressive policies.
This election puts Humala among a growing number of leftist presidents in Latin America and offers hope to the poorest sectors of Peruvian society.
The poverty rate in Peru is just over 31 percent; in the countryside, two in three people live under the poverty line. In Sunday’s elections, it was the impoverished rural areas that went for Humala over Kieko Fujimori.
"You cannot speak of Peru advancing if so many Peruvians live in poverty,” Humala said in his victory speech, explaining that he would work to make sure that the government functioned “above all for the poorest people in the country.”MORE
June 2 Peru's Presidential Election: A Battle Over Memory and Justice
When Peruvian presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori arrived at a plaza in the city of Cajamarca for a recent campaign speech, she was met by a barrage of eggs thrown by activists who opposed her candidacy and called her a “murderer and thief.”
The activists were referring to the legacy of her father, Alberto Fujimori, who was Peru’s president from 1990-2000 and jailed in 2007 for a quarter century sentence after being found guilty of corruption and ‘crimes against humanity’.
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Ppl, the free market reforms that Fujimori did were not separate from the massacres and other fuckery he got up to. it was part and parcel of it, to make sure his opponents would stfu and stfd while he got on with capitalism. This thing is from The Economist and I'm linking for the info that it provides, but...jsyk k?
Victory for the Andean chameleon: Having reinvented himself as a moderate, Ollanta Humala has an extraordinary opportunity to marry economic growth with social progress
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I mean to say there! Taxing mining companies!!! Allowing Amerindian nations to have veto power on mining on their own LANDS!!!! What IS this world coming to!!!
June 7, 2011
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Though pundits and candidates suggest there is too much anger in politics, the emotion does have a potential benefit—it significantly motivates citizens to vote, according to a University of Michigan study.More at the link.
"Anger in politics can play a particularly vital role, motivating some people to participate in ways they might ordinarily not," said Nicholas Valentino, the study's lead author and a professor of communication studies and political science. "We normally think people with a lot of resources and political skills are the ones who participate, but many citizens in this category regularly abstain from politics. Furthermore, many citizens with few resources can be mobilized if they experience strong anger.
"Anger leads citizens to harness existing skills and resources in a given election. Therefore, the process by which emotions are produced in each campaign can powerfully alter electoral outcomes."
MALAGA, Spain, Jun 9, 2011 (IPS) - The May 15 Movement (15-M) which sprang up as huge rallies in public squares in Spain's largest cities to protest against the political, economic and social system, is multiplying as assemblies in local neighbourhoods in provincial capitals and other municipalities.
"The idea is for the movement to decentralise and carry on working in the neighbourhoods and small towns," Laura Rueda, a 29-year-old unemployed journalist and one of the spokespersons for the movement, told IPS in the southern city of Málaga, where they are still debating whether to continue camping in the central Constitution square. MORE
Spain | Nobody expects the Spanish revolution
In Spain there's definitely something going on: starting last May 15th thousands have taken to the streets to protest against corruption, unemployment, and the current political system.
People organized themselves in peaceful sit-ins, first in Puerta del Sol in Madrid, then in many other Spanish cities and towns. They spread the word using social networks and they are using mostly Twitter to ask for technical and practical things to help the permanent gatherings.MORE
The most popular hashtags are #acampadasol, #nonosvamos, #spanishrevolution
The Twitter account of Democracia Real Ya has 37.000 followers, more than the combined followers of the accounts of PSOE and PP, the two main Spanish parties.
From ontd_political = Nobody expects the Spanish Revolution: Maybe that's why scarce coverage is to be seen, specially on Spanish media but also some at major international sources.
We are ordinary people. We are like you: people, who get up every morning to study, work or find a job, people who have family and friends. People, who work hard every day to provide a better future for those around us.
Some of us consider ourselves progressive, others conservative. Some of us are believers, some not. Some of us have clearly defined ideologies, others are apolitical, but we are all concerned and angry about the political, economic, and social outlook which we see around us: corruption among politicians, businessmen, bankers, leaving us helpless, without a voice.
This situation has become normal, a daily suffering, without hope. But if we join forces, we can change it. It’s time to change things, time to build a better society together. Therefore, we strongly argue that:
- The priorities of any advanced society must be equality, progress, solidarity, freedom of culture, sustainability and development, welfare and people’s happiness.
- These are inalienable truths that we should abide by in our society: the right to housing, employment, culture, health, education, political participation, free personal development, and consumer rights for a healthy and happy life.
- The current status of our government and economic system does not take care of these rights, and in many ways is an obstacle to human progress.MORE
Tens of thousands of protesters defy ban in Spain
(AP) MADRID (AP) — Tens of thousands of people are defying a pre-election ban on demonstrations and protesting unemployment in squares around Spain in defiance of an order to quit at midnight.
The government has avoided saying if it would order police to break up the crowds on Saturday.
People are angry over Spain's high unemployment rate and what they see as the national political parties' ineptitude in dealing with a deep economic crisis. Protesters built a camp in Madrid's central Puerta del Sol square Sunday, a week ahead of nationwide elections.
Friday was the last day for candidates to campaign for the election for municipal and regional government positions nationwide. Citing the mandatory end of campaigning, the national election commission banned protests Saturday.
Spain: 'Yes We Camp', Mobilizing on the Streets and the Internet We Camp
According to the Madrid Election Board there are“no special or serious reasons” [es] for the urgent call for mass demonstrations. These declarations show the gap between the official discourse and citizen demands, and has swelled opposition against the two main political parties. Protests have spread across the country and the Internet, with hundreds of thousands demonstrating in different cities like Málaga, Granada and Tenerife, and users sharing updates and supporting each other through social media, especially Twitter:#acampadasol Mojándose por la democracia y por unos derechos y unos deberes más justos. Mucho Ánimo desde #acampadasegovia #nonosvamosCitizens have organized efficiently into legal, communications, cleaning, food, health, and even music committees. There was so much food brought to the camps out that organizers had to look for somewhere to store it. Also, dozens continue to volunteer to translate documents and the committee's decisions into English, French, Arabic and sign language. MORE
#acampadasol Getting wet for democracy and for more equitable rights and duties. Much Encouragement from #acampadasegovia
#nonosvamos Events in solidarity with Spain have also been organized, mainly through Facebook and Twitter, in front of Spanish embassies in different cities like London or Jerusalem.
@Anon_Leakspin: At 19:00 a camp at Spanish embassy at London (UK) will start. #spanishrevolution #europeanrevolution #yeswecamp #acampadasol”
PERU No Easy Choice for Women in Presidential Runoff
LIMA, May 20, 2011 (IPS) - In other circumstances, many women in Peru would be celebrating the possibility of a female president for the first time in the history of their country, or the alternative: the triumph of a candidate who promises to improve things for the poor. But both candidates taking part in the Jun. 5 runoff draw heavy opposition or awaken serious doubts among women's groups.
The second round of elections, in which Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of the former president who launched a campaign of forced sterilisation of thousands of poor women, and Ollanta Humala, a former military officer stigmatised for leading a failed coup in 2000, puts the women's movement in a bind, activists say.
"I always wanted to see a woman elected president of my country, but with Keiko there is no possibility that women would be respected. 'Fujimorismo' is used to governing with impunity and corruption," Victoria Vigo told IPS, with the vehemence of someone who was a victim of forced sterilisation in 1996, during the regime of Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000). MORE
Peru: Humala and Fujimori in Final Stretch
(IPS) - If retired military officer Ollanta Humala wins the Jun. 5 presidential runoff in Peru, he will have to govern with a highly fragmented Congress. And if lawmaker Keiko Fujimori triumphs, her most notable move may be the release of her father, former president Alberto Fujimori, who is serving 25 years in prison.
Leftwing nationalist Humala came in first in Sunday's elections, and according to the partial results, his adversary in the second round will be the 35-year-old Keiko Fujimori, who is conservative and has pledged to be tough on crime.
Humala, a 48-year-old former army officer who heads the Gana Perú party, took 29.3 percent of the vote, followed by Fujimori of Fuerza 2011, with 23 percent, and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski of Alianza por el Gran Cambio, with 21 percent.
The leading candidate had to win at least 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff.
This is the second time that Humala – who led an uprising against former president Fujimori (1990-2000) in 2000 – has won a first-round victory. In 2006 he garnered 25.6 percent of the vote, but was defeated by current President Alan García in the second round, by 52.6 percent to 47.3 percent.
Keiko Fujimori, whose father is in prison for human rights violations and corruption, is set to go on to the next round, because the gap between her and Kuczynski is small but consistent, the electoral authorities announced.
Meanwhile, "Fujimorismo" - the movement represented by Fujimori – will go from the 13 seats it currently holds to nearly three times that number.
But what is most worrisome about a possible triumph by Fujimori is that she may use the office of president to free her father, the director of the local human rights organisation Legal Defence Institute, Carlos Rivera, told IPS. MORE
Can you imagine being a Peruvian voter in this situation?
On Thursday 5th May, there is a referendum being held in the UK on changing the system for electing members of parliament.
The full text of the question will be
At present, the UK uses the “first past the post” system to elect MPs to the House of Commons. Should the “alternative vote” system be used instead?
First Past The Post (FPTP), the current system, works as follows:
The voter: Marks their first choice candidate.
The returning officer: Counts how many votes each candidate has. The candidate with the greatest number of votes wins.
Alternative Vote (AV), the proposed system, works as follows:
The voter: Puts the candidates in order of preference.
The returning officer:
1) Counts how many first choice votes each candidate has. If one candidate has over 50%, that candidate wins. If not, the candidate with the least number of votes is eliminated from consideration.
2) In each subsequent round, each vote counts for the voter's favourite candidate who is still in the running. If one candidate has over 50% of the vote, that candidate wins. If not, the candidate with the least number of votes is eliminated and the procedure is repeated.
(If this is not clear, a worked example of AV may be helpful.)
I strongly recommend A Guide to the Alternative Vote (pdf) by Roger Mortimore, Ipsos MORI SRI Director of Political Analysis as a clear, interesting and reasonably unbiased guide to the debate.
I've also put together my own (biased) collection of links.
Being hauled up before courts and jailed just because you have chosen to walk to work as a form of protest is something unimaginable in many countries. But in Uganda it happens.
Security forces are harassing and have been locking up opposition politicians and their supporters who are taking part in a protest against spiralling food and fuel prices by walking to work.
The walk-to-work protest, as it is called, began on April 11. A group calling itself Activists for Change (A4C) organised the demonstration and opposition politicians - keen to show they are concerned about people's discontent over rising prices - heeded the call to take part.
But the protest got off to a stuttering start as the leading opposition figure, Kizza Besigye, was promptly intercepted by security forces when he was leaving his home in Kasangati near Kampala, the capital. Another politician, Nobert Mao, head of the Democratic Party, and an opposition MP were also picked up.
Besigye, who was arrested for a fourth time on Thursday a day after he was freed on bail on condition that he does not stage more protests, had been given three options: To return to his house or be driven to work in a police vehicle or send for his personal car and drive to work. He chose none.The tense standoff that ensued and resulted in Besigye getting shot in the right hand - as supporters who were dispersed by police amid plumes of tear gas joined him - shows no sign of easing and has led to more protests.
Purchase of fighter jets
It is not hard to see the source of the discontent. The government is planning to buy eight fighter jets for $740m when its people cannot afford food. Government officials justify this spending by saying Uganda needs to beef up its defence systems, if it is to protect its newfound oil near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).MORE
Uganda rebellion gathers pace despite bloody government crackdown
Riots have swept across the Ugandan capital, Kampala, in the biggest anti-government protest in sub-Saharan Africa so far this year.
Security forces have launched a brutal crackdown, opening fire on unarmed civilians with live rounds, rubber bullets and teargas. Two people have been killed, more than 120 wounded and around 360 arrested. Women and girls have been among those beaten, according to witnesses.
Two weeks of growing unrest – sparked by rising food and fuel prices – have gained fresh impetus after the violent arrest of the opposition leader Kizza Besigye on Thursday. Critics say President Yoweri Museveni, in power for 25 years, is losing his grip. They claim his wildly disproportionate crackdown on Besigye's "walk to work" protests smacks of panic and is sowing the seeds of popular revolt.
"I thought the police were going to kill me," said Andrew Kibwka, 18, after police with heavy sticks rained blows on him. "I was telling them I'm harmless but they just carried on. I did nothing to provoke them. They beat me because I was running away."MORE