Life Beyond Capitalism

Quantum Note: Beyond Capitalism

By Dr. Muzaffar Iqbal

The demise of the USSR did not alter the contours of the world; it merely made a small dent in the global distribution of power. To be sure, it ended the cold war, consolidated the gains of World War II for the Western world, liberated a small part of Europe from the iron clutches of communism, and led us into the nightmare of a unipolar world. While communism was wedded to dictatorship, capitalism has always been branded as eternally married to liberal democracy. A closer examination, however, reveals capitalism is, in many ways, the alter ego of communism and it is ethically as bankrupt as communism.

This was not apparent until recently, but now there are early signs of disappearance of the façade. People around the world are discovering the new face of capitalism as they march on the streets of financial capitals of the world amidst fears of a global economic collapse. Indeed, the global economy is under strain of an order it has never witnessed before. Movements as “Occupy Wall Street” are not only insisting that this is the case, they are, in fact, the desperate calls of humanity for release from the iron clutches of a morally bankrupt system. They are not only signs of discontent against an economic system, they are simultaneously indicative of a lack of confidence in the political system; people have finally realized that there is no choice left for them politically except to vote for one of the two parties, both of which sell the same goods.

These early signs may not be the start of the demise of capitalism, but there is no doubt that all brands of capitalism—the anglo-saxon, the neoliberalism, the Chinese-Singaporean capitalism with Asian values—all are fracturing from within. The most apparent indicators are emerging from USA where, according to the U.S. Census Bureau data released on September 13th, 2011, the nation’s poverty rate rose to 15.1% in 2010, up from 14.3% (approximately 43.6 million) in 2009 and to its highest level since 1993. The economic situation of other countries in the Western world is not rosy either. In fact, millions of people are now living under the looming shadow of economic collapse which may trigger mass social unrest.

After putting bandages on the Greek economy, the leaders of the Western world—the so-called G20 countries—are now preparing for emergency talks on averting a return to worldwide recession. While they move to the next emergency, the Greek bandages are already falling apart because of the popular discontent at the terms of the deal which has forced George Papandrou, the Greek Prime Minister, to seek a referendum on the deal which took months to finalize. While Europe deals with defaulting countries, the United Nations’ International Labour Organisation (ILO) has warned of the social effects of the continuing economic crisis, which could take until 2016 for global employment to return to the levels of three years ago.

No one from within the Western political leadership seems ready to acknowledge that there is something seriously wrong with the system; they are all looking for minor tune-ups and they are all living in the self-created utopia of a happy marriage between capitalism and the political system which has beget them. The magic cure they have found is creation of jobs through state-sponsored projects. Mega projects were first announced by President Obama, then by the Canadian Prime Minister and the latest came from David Cameron, who announced a fresh drive to create jobs through major infrastructure projects last week. This includes the construction of power plants at Ferrybridge, West Yorkshire, and Thorpe Marsh, South Yorkshire, creating 1,000 construction jobs.

The economic strains are translating into political strains: many citizens of Western democracy are realizing that though they live in so-called free societies, with elections every five years, authoritarianism is creeping at such a rate that its breath is upon their necks. Security threats have been blown out of proportion to institutionalize repression in the name of security: callous anti-terrorism laws passed by Bush-Blair and Co. now routinely insult passengers at airports, the camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral can’t be allowed, those who have finally come together to seek justice will be overcome, defeated by any means necessary, the right to peaceful protest notwithstanding.

This is not to say that there is no one in the Western world who is ready to acknowledge the inherent bankruptcy of capitalism; it is just that such voices are considered “interesting” and cast aside. The nameless millions living below poverty level are told that they are still better than millions out there, in the so-called developing world and there is no alternative to capitalism so they had better be silent. This breeds hopelessness, disempowerment, doom and gloom, which then translates into individual tragedies.

A recent work by Ha-joon Chang, a South Korean economist, currently a Reader in the Political Economy of Development, University of Cambridge23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism lays bare certain long-standing myths about capitalism. These are not shocking disclosures; merely common sense truths supported by fact and logic. Chang is not anti-capitalist, he simply recognizes the failings of centrally planned economies, describes capitalism as “the worst economic system except for all the others”. His book shows capitalism as it actually operates, but does not look deeper than that: he is not interested in looking at the links between capitalism and “democratic authoritarianism”; nor at the fundamental flaws of the system, yet it is instructive to see these insights from within the system.

What remains to be seen is how Capitalism will eventually come to its logical end and what will emerge from the rubble. There are no alternatives available for the Western world. The new and emerging economies in Asia, likewise, have no alternative; they will simply emulate the Western model with a sprinkle of Asian values. The slick veneer that has camouflaged the inherent ills of capitalism is now tearing and the world is finally able to make connections between events: the disgraceful Victorian work practices, the terror unleashed by Thatcher’s special police forces on black and Asian people and miners in the 1980s, and the current union of the high churchmen with the City of London are not isolated instances of failure of the system; they are veritable signs of its inherent moral bankruptcy.

Turkey Readies ’15,000 Strong’ Army To Take On Syria

’15,000 strong’ army gathers to take on Syria

An insurgent army which claims to be up to 15,000 strong is being coordinated from Turkey to take on President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, which risks plunging the region into open warfare.

Anti-government protesters shout slogans against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad

Anti-government protesters shout slogans against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad during the funeral of villagers killed on Wednesday, in Hula, near Homs Photo: REUTERS

By Ruth Sherlock, Antakya, Turkey

The national “Syrian Free Army” aims to be the “military wing of the Syrian people’s opposition to the regime”, its leader told The Daily Telegraph from a heavily guarded camp in eastern Turkey.

Confirmation of an armed force operating with the covert approval of the Turkish authorities follows evidence that attacks inside Syria are causing high levels of casualties in the security forces. It also shows the anger of Recep Tayipp Erdogan, the Turkish premier, with Mr Assad, a former ally whose failed promises of reform have caused a deep rift.

“We are the future army of the new Syria. We are not in league with any particular sect, religion or political party. We believe in protecting all elements of Syrian society,” the Army’s leader, Col Riad al-Assad, said.

Made up of defectors from the regime’s army, SFA fighters are conducting “high quality operations against government soldiers and security agents,” Col Assad said.

Last week the SFA claimed responsibility for the killing of nine Syrian soldiers in battles in a town in central Syria. On Friday a further 17 regime soldiers were reported killed in violent clashes with defected former comrades in the city of Homs, a hotbed of resistance.

The violence has continued this week. There have been unconfirmed reports that nine members of the minority Alawite sect to which Mr Assad belongs were dragged off a bus and killed, while 15 members of the security forces were killed by deserters on Wednesday in two attacks, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The escalation has given new urgency to Wednesday’s fragile agreement between the regime and the Arab League to withdraw the army from the streets. The Observatory said 20 more people died in Homs on Thursday from gunfire and shelling despite the supposed agreement, while today will see an even bigger test as activists challenge Mr Assad with street protests after Friday prayers.

Col Assad has an extensive Turkish personal security entourage, and access to him is controlled directly by the Turkish foreign ministry.

Turkey’s formal position that it has only a humanitarian role in Syria and Col Assad was coy on whether the SFA was conducting cross border operations.

But he said his men were operating across Syria. “Our fighters protect the borders of dissident towns and villages, and attack soldiers who gun down peaceful demonstrators,” he said. “We are armed with guns and ammunition stolen from the regime”.

The size of the movement is unclear, with estimates ranging from 5,000 to 15,000. Many defectors have fled across the border and are being hosted in guarded camps in Turkey.

Col Assad appealed to the international community to impose a ‘no fly zone’ and a ‘no sea zone’.

“We don’t have the ability to buy weapons, but we need to protect civilians inside Syria,” he said. “We want to make a ‘safe zone’ in the north of Syria, a buffer zone in which the SFA can get organised.” With a small weapons supply, his movement is not yet in a position to pose a serious threat to the regime, but its presence marks a definitive change to the original unified opposition policy of peaceful protest.

Col Assad said he wanted his force to be recognised as the military wing of the Syrian National Council – the umbrella political opposition announced at a conference in Istanbul.

“We are waiting for them to appoint a high delegation and send a representative to speak to us about how we can support their aims militarily,” he said.

A council member speaking anonymously confirmed that ‘off the table discussions’ were taking place. “Our commitment is, and has always been, peaceful resolution, but our patience has a limit,” the source said. “It depends on the political developments among the Arab League, the Middle East and the International Community.

“In 10 days we will present a new plan that is to include a military and political strategy. Here the issue of the SFA may well be put on the table.”

Disposal of quake debris begins

Disposal of quake debris begins

Kyodo

Work to dispose of debris from the quake-ravaged city of Miyako, Iwate Prefecture, began Thursday in Tokyo with about 30 tons arriving on a train at Tokyo Freight Terminal, the first load from Iwate to be accepted by a local government outside the Tohoku region.

News photo
Put to the test: Workers check the radiation levels of tsunami debris from Iwate Prefecture that arrived in Tokyo on Thursday morning. Officials said the results were well below the legal limit of 0.01 microsievert per hour. KYODO PHOTO

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government plans to accept a total of 11,000 tons of debris from Miyako by next March, as part of plans to dispose of a combined 500,000 tons of debris from both Iwate and Miyagi prefectures, the areas hit hardest by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, by fiscal 2013.

At the terminal in Shinagawa Ward, debris containers were transshipped onto trucks to be carried to a crushing facility in Ota Ward, from where combustibles will be taken to an incinerator in Koto Ward.

Resulting ash and incombustibles are to be used as landfill in Tokyo Bay.

In light of radiation fears among residents, the metropolitan government plans to monitor and release data weekly on radiation levels in the air at the edge of the crushing premises and once a month on crushed waste, ash and exhaust gas, it said.

Its four crushing facilities, incinerator and landfill site are all located in an industrial zone facing Tokyo Bay.

Miyako is located 260 km north of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, while Tokyo is roughly 220 km southwest of the plant.

Tepco denies criticality

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Thursday the detection of radioactive xenon at its stricken Fukushima No. 1 power plant, indicating recent nuclear fission, was not the result of a sustained nuclear chain reaction known as a criticality, as feared, but a case of “spontaneous” fission.

When it revealed Wednesday that it had detected at its crisis-hit No. 2 reactor xenon-133 and xenon-135, which are typically generated by nuclear fission and have relatively short half-lives, it touched on the possibility that melted fuel inside the reactor may have temporarily gone critical.

Tepco has been analyzing the phenomenon, which did not raise the reactor’s temperature or pressure, with support from the Japan Atomic Energy Agency.

The nuclear crisis at the plant, the world’s worst in 25 years, erupted in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, and resulted in the meltdown of nuclear fuel in the six-reactor power complex’s reactors 1, 2 and 3.

How to Be Outraged Effectively

[The Freedom House (Soros crowd) approach is intended to further the goals of the "Arab spring" subversives at the State Dept.  They insist that, whatever is done, be done in a fashion shaped to erode the state's powers.  They are against any deal or compromise which doesn't undermine Karimov's rule.  Human rights issues cannot be our primary concern, if we are truly making the deal to acquire an escape route.

Our real concern should be with the military agreements that have been made, especially what military materiel is to be transferred to the Uzbek govt. and how that will upset the balance of power with Tajikistan, where issues like dams and water shortages threaten to turn hostile if the situation escalates.

We will not know the size or shape of that military aid until we understand what has been agreed to.  Did Karimov give Obama an escape route or a highway from Afghanistan into Central Asia?  Did  we collar the Asian Devel. Bank into upgrading the Uzbek A373 highway simply to gain egress for heavy equipment moving into the Ferghana Valley, where NATO forces could reinforce troops in Kyrgyzstan, especially in any unwanted eviction from Manas air base? ]

How to Be Outraged Effectively

by JOSHUA FOUST

There is a continuing debate over whether the U.S. government should work with the abusive government in Uzbekistan or not. On one side is a coalition of human rights groups who object to the idea of working with a notorious rights abuser, and on the other is a rag tag, and uncoordinated group of analysts, policymakers, and officials who really don’t see any other options in the region (I am a part of the latter group).

Freedom House, one of the organizations that drafted (pdf) an open letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton imploring her not to reestablish relations with the Uzbek regime, has published a blogpost by Susan Corke, who left the State Department to head Freedom House’s Eurasia Program this year. Corke’s piece explains the primary objections to the arrangement. After reading it, however, I’m left more confused than ever about what, exactly, these human rights groups would have the U.S. government do.

For example, after noting the Uzbek government’s terrible human rights record, Corke asks, “why is the United States wooing one of the world’s most repressive regimes?” She answers her own question: Afghanistan, and the U.S. government’s need to use the Northern Distribution Network to move supplies and people out of Afghanistan as it withdraws. On this, everyone seems to agree: the U.S. is making a temporary alliance with the Karimov regime so it can withdraw from Afghanistan and maybe put pressure on Pakistan (a bonus to the policy which Corke does not mention). Corke, however, objects: “no policy goal is well served by sacrificing core values or downplaying strategic strengths.”

She goes on to complain that the U.S. government phoned Uzbek dictator Islom Karimov and hosted their Minister of Foreign Affairs.

This sort of high-level attention—with phone calls and visits involving the top representatives of the U.S. government—sends a troubling signal to elites, citizens, and beleaguered civil society activists, not only in Uzbekistan, but also in other authoritarian countries and in states that are teetering between democratic and authoritarian trajectories. To make matters worse, the courtship was not accompanied by basic steps like informing human rights groups of the planned secretarial visit early on, and soliciting their views on how to extract concessions from the Uzbek regime.

I’m not certain where Corke gets the idea that Uzbekistan is “teetering between democratic and authoritarian trajectories.” In fact, the entirety of her piece before this statement was about how Uzbekistan was irredeemably abusive and that was why the U.S. should not engage with the regime.

The second part of that paragraph, however, is even more troubling: why should the U.S. government solicit the views of the human rights community for “extracting concessions from the Uzbek regime?” Up until last month, the U.S. government was following the course of action the human rights industry had demanded it follow in 2004 — rapid, deep disengagement with the regime on the basis of its atrocious human rights record. Later in her piece, Corke admits, “Since 2005, the human rights situation has only gotten worse.” Moreover, the human rights industry’s methods of hectoring, fashion protests, and counterproductive boycotts has been especially ineffective at altering the regime’s behavior. Why should the State Department solicit their views, when the human rights industry has such a poor track record of effectiveness in Uzbekistan?

I’m sure that some human rights groups would argue they have been effective in changing the government’s behavior Uzbekistan. That’s a point I’m open to, and I will admit I’m wrong if presented with evidence (I’ve been looking for it for years, though). Unfortunately, Corke then begins a type of analysis I simply cannot abide, especially coming from a former employee of the State Department.

Sending the secretary of state to meet with a dictator like Karimov conveys legitimacy on a repressive regime. Doing so without first requiring positive steps toward addressing systemic human rights abuses is atrocious. Moreover, as the past year has reminded us, propping up dictators with the goal of preserving stability and security often has the opposite effect.

This is, put simply, a ludicrous standard for U.S. diplomatic engagement. Islom Karimov is abusive and his method of rule is unacceptable, but he is not an illegitimate ruler (at least in the sense of lacking some sort of mandate to govern, which the elites in Tashkent clearly convey to him). He is the head of government and recognized as such by the U.S. government. There is no additional “legitimacy” to convey. Moreover, if the Secretary of State should demand “positive steps” in the host nation’s human rights record before meeting the head of a repressive state, then the Secretary of State should never visit Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Russia, China, North Korea, Burma, Pakistan, Sudan, and dozens of other countries the Secretary of State clearly engages and meets with.

The thing is, basic statecraft requires working with unsavory regimes. There is a huge difference between limited engagement like the current U.S. plan for Uzbekistan, and total patronage like Saudi Arabia (and I’m certain Corke is smart and experienced enough to know that). And given the hemming and hawing with which the human rights industry greeted Human Rights Watch’s expulsion from Tashkent, the community is aware that in order to have any hope of changing a regime’s behavior, you must be there, and interact with them to do so. Demanding change as a precondition for engagement is not only backwards, it is little more than pouting guaranteed to be ineffective.

Corke concedes that Secretary Clinton called for more political freedom and human rights. “But her remarks were censored by the Uzbek media and went unheard within the country,” she writes. “Uzbek human rights activists (and others) were left with the impression that the United States cares more about deepening its relationship with Karimov than about improving human rights conditions for the people of Uzbekistan.”

This doesn’t scan. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan routinely called for greater political freedom and respect for human rights within the Soviet Union. His remarks were consistently censored by the Soviet media. The Soviet human rights activists still heard about his remarks. In Uzbekistan, the human rights activists (and by “others,” I presume Corke means the 99.999% of Uzbeks who are not human rights activists) have an even better understanding of what happens outside their country thanks to the Internet. The only way they would come to Corke’s conclusion about Secretary Clinton’s support for their rights is if activists like Corke keep insisting to them that that is U.S. policy (which it probably is: the government should prioritize its own citizens’ interests above those of any other country).

Unfortunately, this sort of backward thinking has come to define the human rights industry rebuke of the State Department’s outreach. In her recommendations, Corke says that first the U.S. government should “use its substantial leverage to require that the repressive regime take several tangible steps toward improving its human rights record.” But if the U.S. refuses to even visit with the regime beforehand, what leverage would it possibly have to coerce such a concession (as it stands, one of her examples of “tangible steps,” the release of political prisoners, took placeafter the U.S. government began its re-engagement). Her other suggestions, like meeting with activists, and somehow magically ensuring official remarks are not censored, are so unworkable in practice that I’m curious what, exactly, her expectations are. Is Hillary Clinton able to do this on state visits to China? What about Madeleine Albright’s visit to North Korea?

The sad fact of the matter is, human rights are only one concern among a great many in official U.S. decision making. With a war going on that is killing thousands of civilians and hundreds of U.S. troops ever year, officials must prioritize ending that conflict first, before worrying about how to help a country whose best hope under the current leadership is marginal and symbolic changes. And as much as the human rights industry waves away the calculation that this new Uzbek policy is a way to alter the government’s relationship with Pakistan, they have yet to proffer a viable alternative.

It’s sad to see the proper and correct outrage at Uzbekistan’s human rights record directed at the one thing with even a remote chance of ever improving it: U.S. engagement and pressure. But, it seems, effectiveness is not the priority of the human rights industry right now — feeling outraged is. And meanwhile, the people of Uzbekistan, in whose name the human rights industry acts, continues to suffer.

Former Ukrainian State Dept. Guard Makes Charges of “Deep State” Assassins’ Bureau

Melnychenko: Ukraine has secret service engaging in political assassinations

Melnychenko: Ukraine has secret service engaging in political assassinationsFormer major of the Ukrainian State Department of Guard Mykola Melnychenko.AFP

Interfax-Ukraine

Former major of the Ukrainian State Department of Guard Mykola Melnychenko has said that Ukraine has an illegal secret service engaging in political assassinations.

“Ukraine has a very powerful, strictly classified and fairly well equipped illegal special service that engages in political assassinations. A certain analog of notorious “Kravchenko’s eagles” and Belarusian “death squads”. The positions of the special service are strengthening. One of its tasks was to eliminate me,” he said in an interview with Segodnya newspaper published on Friday.

Melnychenko said that the special service comprises former and acting officers of the SBU, military counterintelligence, police and prosecutor’s office. “They are operating in the interests of oligarchs,” he said.

“However, my removal is not the only task of the special service. One more is to set up President Viktor Yanukovych. A special operation is being conducted to discredit him and ultimately remove him from power. He has crossed paths with too many people and they will not forgive him. Serious forces in and outside of Ukraine are involved in the orbit of the special operation. Everything is very serious,” he said.

On July 29, 2011, Kyiv Court of Appeals upheld a Pechersky District Court of Kyiv ruling of June 23, 2011, which canceled a resolution by former Prosecutor General Sviatoslav Piskun dated March 1, 2005, which closed a criminal case against Melnychenko.

The criminal case was opened against Melnychenko regarding the leaking of state secrets, abuse of office and the use of forged documents.

On October 14, the Prosecutor General’s Office said that Melnychenko twice attempted to leave Ukrainian territory and that on September 23, an SBU investigator issued a resolution to put him on the wanted list.

The office recalled that as part of the investigation into a criminal case opened against Melnychenko, in order to prevent possible attempts to evade investigation, it had been decided to impose a ban on his foreign travels pending the completion of a pretrial investigation.

Melnychenko is currently staying in the United States.

Read more: http://www.kyivpost.com/news/politics/detail/116305/#ixzz1cqIk48Pd

Thousands March Against the Kremlin and the Return of Putin

[The Daily Beast portrays this as an anti-Putin protest, in addition to perennial enemies of the Russian right-wing, the "Jews from the Kremlin."]

Thousands of Russian nationalists march in Moscow

MANSUR MIROVALEV, Associated Press

Ultra nationalist demonstrators carry an assortment of banners and flags during their authorized march on the outskirts of Moscow, Russia, Friday, Nov. 4, 2011. The new holiday, marking the end of the foreign intervention in Russia in 1612, was created in 2005 to replace the traditional Nov. 7 celebration of the 1917 Bolshevik rise to power. But it has been seized upon by extreme nationalists. The banner reads "Russian march for Russian empire". Photo: Mikhail Metzel / AP

Ultra nationalist demonstrators carry an assortment of banners and flags during their authorized march on the outskirts of Moscow, Russia, Friday, Nov. 4, 2011. The new holiday, marking the end of the foreign intervention in Russia in 1612, was created in 2005 to replace the traditional Nov. 7 celebration of the 1917 Bolshevik rise to power. But it has been seized upon by extreme nationalists. The banner reads “Russian march for Russian empire”. (Mikhail Metzel / AP)

Ultra nationalist demonstrators seen wearing masks during their authorized march on the outskirts of Moscow, Friday, Nov. 4, 2011. The new holiday, marking the end of the foreign intervention in Russia in 1612, was created in 2005 to replace the traditional Nov. 7 celebration of the 1917 Bolshevik rise to power. Photo: Sergey Ponomarev / AP

Ultra nationalist demonstrators seen wearing masks during their authorized march on the outskirts of Moscow, Friday, Nov. 4, 2011. The new holiday, marking the end of the foreign intervention in Russia in 1612, was created in 2005 to replace the traditional Nov. 7 celebration of the 1917 Bolshevik rise to power. (Sergey Ponomarev / AP)

Russian nationalists shout slogans at a nationalists rally to mark National Unity Day in St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, Nov. 4, 2011. The new holiday, marking the end of the foreign intervention in Russia in 1612, was created in 2005 to replace the traditional Nov. 7 celebration of the 1917 Bolshevik rise to power. But it has been seized upon by extreme nationalists. Photo: Dmitry Lovetsky / AP

Russian nationalists shout slogans at a nationalists rally to mark National Unity Day in St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, Nov. 4, 2011. The new holiday, marking the end of the foreign intervention in Russia in 1612, was created in 2005 to replace the traditional Nov. 7 celebration of the 1917 Bolshevik rise to power. But it has been seized upon by extreme nationalists. (Dmitry Lovetsky / AP)

Amid smoke from a smoke grenade, ultra nationalist demonstrators shout slogans as they carry Russian Empire's black-yellow-white flags during their authorized march on the outskirts of Moscow, Friday, Nov. 4, 2011. The new holiday, marking the end of the foreign intervention in Russia in 1612, was created in 2005 to replace the traditional Nov. 7 celebration of the 1917 Bolshevik rise to power. But it has been seized upon by extreme nationalists. Photo: Sergey Ponomarev / AP

Amid smoke from a smoke grenade, ultra nationalist demonstrators shout slogans as they carry Russian Empire’s black-yellow-white flags during their authorized march on the outskirts of Moscow, Friday, Nov. 4, 2011. The new holiday, marking the end of the foreign intervention in Russia in 1612, was created in 2005 to replace the traditional Nov. 7 celebration of the 1917 Bolshevik rise to power. But it has been seized upon by extreme nationalists. (Sergey Ponomarev / AP)

Ultra nationalist demonstrators shout slogans as they carry Russian Empire's black-yellow-white flags during their authorized march on the outskirts of Moscow, Friday, Nov. 4, 2011. The new holiday, marking the end of the foreign intervention in Russia in 1612, was created in 2005 to replace the traditional Nov. 7 celebration of the 1917 Bolshevik rise to power. But it has been seized upon by extreme nationalists. Photo: Sergey Ponomarev / AP

Ultra nationalist demonstrators shout slogans as they carry Russian Empire’s black-yellow-white flags during their authorized march on the outskirts of Moscow, Friday, Nov. 4, 2011. The new holiday, marking the end of the foreign intervention in Russia in 1612, was created in 2005 to replace the traditional Nov. 7 celebration of the 1917 Bolshevik rise to power. But it has been seized upon by extreme nationalists. (Sergey Ponomarev / AP)

Ultra nationalist demonstrators and activists march carrying the banner reads as "Russian march" to mark National Unity Day on the outskirts of Moscow, Russia, Friday, Nov. 4, 2011. Chanting "Russia for Russians" and "Migrants today, occupiers tomorrow," about 5,000 people, mostly young men, marched through a working-class neighborhood on the outskirts of the capital, while police stood shoulder to shoulder along the street, which was blocked to traffic. Photo: AP / AP

Ultra nationalist demonstrators and activists march carrying the banner reads as “Russian march” to mark National Unity Day on the outskirts of Moscow, Russia, Friday, Nov. 4, 2011. Chanting “Russia for Russians” and “Migrants today, occupiers tomorrow,” about 5,000 people, mostly young men, marched through a working-class neighborhood on the outskirts of the capital, while police stood shoulder to shoulder along the street, which was blocked to traffic. (AP / AP)

Activists and supporters of the pro-Kremlin youth group "Nashi" rally in front of the main entrance All-Russia Exhibition Center and hold posters saying "Russian march" marking Russian National Unity Day in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Nov. 4, 2011. The march was held ostensibly to counterbalance a rally of nationalists who use this holiday to express extremist views. The new holiday, marking the end of the foreign intervention in Russia in 1612, was created in 2005 to replace the traditional Nov. 7 celebration of the 1917 Bolshevik rise to power. Photo: Mikhail Metzel / AP

Activists and supporters of the pro-Kremlin youth group “Nashi” rally in front of the main entrance All-Russia Exhibition Center and hold posters saying “Russian march” marking Russian National Unity Day in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Nov. 4, 2011. The march was held ostensibly to counterbalance a rally of nationalists who use this holiday to express extremist views. The new holiday, marking the end of the foreign intervention in Russia in 1612, was created in 2005 to replace the traditional Nov. 7 celebration of the 1917 Bolshevik rise to power. (Mikhail Metzel / AP)

Ultra nationalist demonstrators and activists march carrying a Russian Empire black-yellow-white flag to mark National Unity Day on the outskirts of Moscow, Russia, Friday, Nov. 4, 2011. Chanting "Russia for Russians" and "Migrants today, occupiers tomorrow," about 5,000 people, mostly young men, marched through a working-class neighborhood on the outskirts of the capital, while police stood shoulder to shoulder along the street, which was blocked to traffic. Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP

Ultra nationalist demonstrators and activists march carrying a Russian Empire black-yellow-white flag to mark National Unity Day on the outskirts of Moscow, Russia, Friday, Nov. 4, 2011. Chanting “Russia for Russians” and “Migrants today, occupiers tomorrow,” about 5,000 people, mostly young men, marched through a working-class neighborhood on the outskirts of the capital, while police stood shoulder to shoulder along the street, which was blocked to traffic. (Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP)



Taliban steps up attacks ahead of Afghan Loya Jirga

Taliban steps up attacks ahead of Afghan Loya Jirga

English.news.cn

By Abdul Haleem

KABUL, Nov. 4 (Xinhua) — Amid Afghan government’s efforts to convene Loya Jirga or traditional grand assembly to get national endorsement for inking the possible strategic partnership with the United States, the Taliban militants have intensified attacks to spoil the step.

The armed outfit fighting Afghan government and some 130,000 strong-NATO-led troops with nearly 100,000 of them Americans, in the latest attacks, targeted a logistic company providing assistance to the NATO-led forces in Herat province on Thursday killing two people and injuring three others.

Afghan government is going to convene a Loya Jirga within weeks, probably by the end of November to discuss the proposed Afghan-U.S. strategic partnership and the possible establishment of the U.S. military bases in the militancy-plagued Afghanistan.

As a sign of strong opposition to the possible formation of U.S. permanent military bases in Afghanistan, the Taliban outfit, in a statement released to media outlets days ago, termed the upcoming Loya Jirga as a trick to legalize the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and vowed to disrupt it.

“Under the orders of its masters, the Kabul administration wants to abuse a much respected custom of our country (Loya Jirga) and try to give a legal face to the establishment of permanent bases for the American occupying forces on the Islamic soil of Afghanistan,” the Taliban statement, sent to media last week said.

“For its long term goal of permanently staying in Afghanistan, the Americans want to once again abuse this tradition through its stooge regime to call a supposed Loya Jirga in which faces of its preference will be gathered, food will be eaten and once again, games will be played with the fate and future of its nation,” the English statement of the Taliban outfit read out.

Although the authenticity of the statement has yet to be verified, the inflexible outfit warned of dire consequence to anyone attends the traditional Loya Jirga or grand assembly including tribal elders, chieftains, parliamentarians and functionaries.

To oppose the presence of NATO-led multinational peacekeeping force, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in the post-Taliban Afghanistan and lash at government-initiated Loya Jirga, the militants have intensified their attacks recently.

On Oct. 31, the Taliban militants stormed a guesthouse in their former stronghold Kandahar 450 km south of Afghan capital Kabul leaving six people including three UN employees, dead.

Similarly, two days earlier of Kandahar offensive, on Oct. 29, the Taliban fighters, in a brazen attack, carried out a deadly suicide bombing against NATO-led troops in the fortified capital city Kabul killing 16 people including 13 Americans.

The coming four-day Loya Jirga is scheduled to be held under a giant tent inside the Polytechnic compound and as part of security measures, the government has given holidays for the students of Polytechnic during the Jirga, besides stationing police on the hilltops and roads leading to the Jirga avenue.

Taliban militants, who attacked a peace Jirge or peace gathering under the same tent in 2010, have warned sternly to disrupt the coming Loya Jirga.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (name of the ousted Taliban regime) calls on its brave and courageous Mujahideen (holy warriors) to target every security guard, person with intention to participate the so-called Loya Jirga, and such traitors will be pursued by Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate in every corner of the country and will face severe repercussions,” the statement warned.

Editor: yan

Mullah Omar’s Eid Message To the American People

[Mullah Omar's Eidul Azha message to the American people (read in full HERE).]

Mullah Omar

 

“Afghanistan is without a doubt the shared home of its many ethnicities. The sovereignty and protection of this home is an obligation on all. Our foreign enemies must realize with full conviction that we are not bluffing or talking out of place but are unequivocally calling them to the solution of this problem which is:

From the very first day of your invasion of Afghanistan, you did not lend an ear to our stance or you looked at it with an enemy’s eye but now you have seen that you have journeyed in vain for the past ten years, spent your treasure and spilled your blood in a wasted effort. How do you weigh the condition of Afghanistan and America compared with the past decade?

If you do not try to delude yourselves and the world than indeed you will accept that both the countries have regressed, not progressed compared to that time. As regards to the situation of Afghanistan; if you are still optimistic about the futile Bonne Conferences and the lies of your Generals then surely you are headed on the path towards more failures and devastation!

Our people are not ones who succumb to other nations. We do not turn our backs on our creed and stance. We do not cherish this life to the extent that we abandon our religion but rather our life and death are and will be solely for the sake of Allah Almighty. We take pride in and are happy to offer sacrifices in the path of Allah (Glory to Him, the Exalted) while you fight for expansionism, wealth and money. Your soldiers do not have the spirit to fight and lose moral easily hence all your reliance is on military weapons and hardware.

According to reliable information, hundreds of thousands of your troops have come to and gone from Afghanistan on rotational deployment basis but you are still being confronted by the Mujahid and Talib of the first day; he is neither tired nor has he wavered. So now you only have one choice and that of removing all of your military forces from our country as quickly as possible and this is for your own benefit. Leave this nation and soil to the sons of this soil. This soil is the concern of Afghans. The establishment and the nature of system here is the job of the Afghans. We do not want to harm other nations and countries. We believe the resolution to all conflicts and tribulations resides in realization and understanding. We had said this a decade ago and reiterate it again. For this purpose we have given guidance to the concerned authority of Islamic Emirate to come to a mutual understanding with all the countries while paying heed to National and Islamic principles in order to elucidate the policy and stance of Islamic Emirate to the world.

May Allah Almighty turn our afflictions to happiness and help us in establishing a Peaceful, Free, Independent and Shariah-based government. Amen.”

The servant of Islam
Amir-ul-Momineen
Mullah Mohammad Omar Mujahid

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

http://alemara1.com

Occupier/Army Ranger in ICU: Oakland PD “jumped me”

Occupier/Army Ranger in ICU: Oakland PD “jumped me”

By  at 3:59 am Saturday, Nov 5

Kayvan Sabeghi, a veteran of the US Army Rangers, is in the ICU at Oakland’s Highland General Hospital after a clash with Oakland PD during the Occupy Oakland protests. Sabeghi claims he was “jumped” by OPD officers who severely beat him and subsequently denied him medical treatment.

The group Iraq Veterans Against the War said Sabeghi was detained during disturbances that erupted late on Wednesday in downtown Oakland and was charged with resisting arrest and remaining present at the place of a riot…”He told me he was in the hospital with a lacerated spleen and that the cops had jumped him,” Kelly said. “They put him in jail, and he told them he was injured, and they denied him medical treatment for about 18 hours…”

The veterans group said in a statement that police struck Sabeghi with nightsticks on his hands, shoulders, ribs and back, and that in addition to a lacerated spleen he suffered from internal bleeding.

Army veteran injured in Oakland clashes with police (via Reddit)

Fracking May Have Caused 50 Earthquakes in Oklahoma

Fracking May Have Caused 50 Earthquakes in Oklahoma

Written by Brian Merchant, Treehugger

In a surprising turn of events, Cuadrilla Resources, a British energy company, recently admitted that its hydraulic fracturing operations “likely” caused an earthquake in England. Predictably, this news quickly sent a shockwave through the U.K., the oil and natural gas industries, and the environmental activist community. And it certainly feeds plenty of speculation that the same phenomenon could be occurring elsewhere.

Speculation that would be well-founded, evidently. Right on the heels of Cuadrilla’s announcement, news is spreading that the United States Geological Survey has released a report (pdf) that links a series of earthquakes in Oklahoma last January to a fracking operation underway there. Evidently, a resident reported feeling some minor earthquakes, spurring the USGS to investigate. They found that some 50 small earthquakes had indeed been registered, ranging in magnitude from 1.0 to 2.8. The bulk of these occurred within 2.1 miles of Eola Field, a fracking operation in southern Garvin County.

The U.S.G.S. determined that “from the character of the seismic recordings indicate that they are both shallow and unique.”

From the report:

Our analysis showed that shortly after hydraulic fracturing began small earthquakes started occurring, and more than 50 were identified, of which 43 were large enough to be located. Most of these earthquakes occurred within a 24 hour period after hydraulic fracturing operations had ceased. There have been previous cases where seismologists have suggested a link between hydraulic fracturing and earthquakes, but data was limited, so drawing a definitive conclusion was not possible for these cases.

The report is still under peer-review, and even then, the correlation between fracking and the quakes is inconclusive. The U.S.G.S. notes that region has historically been seismically active, though the summary states that the “strong correlation in time and space as well as a reasonable fit to a physical model suggest that there is a possibility these earthquakes were induced by hydraulic fracturing.”

Needless to say, it’s become much less far-fetched to presume that fracking has a serious impact on seismic activity. And so, yet another reason emerges to be wary of the secretive processes that underly the nation’s most controversial gas-extraction process: Fracking earthquakes.

This post was originally published by Treehugger.

Medicare for Americans Who Live Longer Is “Unsustainable”

[Romney's planned cuts are typical of all heartless Republican schemes to target the old and the disabled, instead of reining-in his compatriots who have grown fat in their profiteering in the bubble economy and the windfalls that they have obtained by the privatization of government programs.  These are the American "oligarchs," who are no different from their sleazy Russian counterparts.  Heartless Republican policies are what have landed the American economy in the current mess.]

Social Security, health programs targeted

By Donovan Slack

|  GLOBE STAFF

Mitt Romney spoke at the Washington Convention Center today in Washington, D.C.

CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES

Mitt Romney spoke at the Washington Convention Center today in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney unveiled a sweeping budget-cutting plan yesterday that would make significant cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and dramatically shrink the federal government, slashing funding to Amtrak and programs supporting the arts and public broadcasting.

If elected president, the former Massachusetts governor said, he would gradually increase the eligibility age for Medicare and Social Security and turn Medicaid into a block-grant program that would cap payments to states for health care for the poor and disabled at fixed amounts.

Amtrak would lose all government subsidies, and Romney would slice $600 million from the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Legal Services Corporation, which subsidizes legal services for the poor.

“There are some who are going to argue that fiscal responsibility is heartless and immoral,’’ Romney said. “No, what’s heartless is to imperil our children, and what’s immoral is to imperil the strength of a nation that was founded under God and preserved by his hand.’’

Another $300 million would be cut from subsidies for family planning and tests for sexually transmitted diseases and cervical cancer, on the grounds that the funds indirectly support groups that provide “abortions or abortion-related services.’’

Overall, the plan would cut some $500 billion annually from the federal budget as of 2016, he said in a speech at the Defending the American Dream summit of Americans for Prosperity.

Romney campaign advisers said the pace and scope of changes to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid had yet to be decided, but they said current and soon-to-be beneficiaries would not be affected.

The plan resembles one released earlier this year by Representative Paul Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, who also proposed capping Medicaid payments to states and converting them into block grants. But Ryan’s plan would have privatized Medicare, the federal health care insurance for seniors. Romney’s plan would allow seniors to choose between private insurance and Medicare.

Romney said his plan will lead to a “simpler, smaller, and smarter’’ federal government.

Since officially hitting the campaign trail in the spring, Romney has issued a number of detailed policy statements, including a 160-page jobs plan. He is running largely on his business acumen at a time when the US economy is stagnating and the national debt is climbing to its highest level, more than $14 trillion.

Aides to other candidates for the Republican presidential nomination were quick to slam Romney’s plan yesterday. A spokesman for former Utah governor Jon Huntsman said that the proposal does not go far enough, that it only “nibbles around the edges on entitlements,’’ and that Ryan’s plan is better.

Romney “pandered to interest groups and offered timid reforms to government spending, all the while trying to convince voters that he will magically balance the budget anyway,’’ spokesman Tim Miller said.

Representative Ron Paul’s campaign also said Romney’s plan does not cut enough, saying defense spending also should face the ax.

“Dr. Paul remains the only candidate with a plan to cut spending deep enough to balance the budget right away as Governor Romney’s proposal leaves steep deficits for years to come and is unlikely to save us from the debt crisis looming on the horizon,’’ said Paul’s campaign chairman, Jesse Benton.

A spokesman for President Obama’s reelection campaign, Ben LaBolt, said Romney’s proposed cuts would place an untenable burden on middle-class and elderly Americans. LaBolt equated Romney’s plans for overhauling Medicare with privatization.

“The fundamental challenge of our time is how we rebuild our economy so that hard work and responsibility are rewarded and that economic security is restored for the middle class,’’ LaBolt said in a statement. “Mitt Romney’s proposal takes us in exactly the opposite direction.’’

On his first day in office, Romney said, he would send Congress a bill cutting all non-defense spending by 5 percent. Also on his first day, he said, he would begin work to repeal Obama’s overhaul of health insurance, which Romney said would save the government $95 billion.

Eliminating Amtrak subsidies would save $1.6 billion annually, the campaign estimated. It said capping Medicaid payments to states and funding for other programs, such as workforce training, would save $100 billion.

Romney characterized the changes to entitlement programs as preservation measures. Providing Medicare benefits to an increasing number of older Americans who are living longer than ever before is unsustainable, he said.

Under Romney’s plan, some Medicare benefits would be provided on a sliding scale, based on income. Currently, the same benefits are provided to every senior. The eligibility age would increase gradually and be tied to increases in life expectancy.

“These ideas will give tomorrow’s seniors the same kinds of choices that most Americans have in their health care today,’’ Romney said. “The future of Medicare should be marked by competition, choice, and innovation – rather than bureaucracy, stagnation, and bankruptcy.’’

A conservative budget specialist and Brookings Institution senior fellow, Ron Haskins, called Romney’s plan a “great first step.’’

“The thing that I really like is a presidential candidate who is willing to show some specifics,’’ said Haskins, who served as a welfare policy adviser to President George W. Bush. “That’s really good.’’

In particular, Haskins praised Romney for proposing deep cuts in spending to try to control the federal deficit. “The things he proposes are tough, but they’ve got to be,’’ he said. Haskins said, however, it was unrealistic of Romney to require the federal government to spend no more than 20 percent of the gross national product, as his plan provides, given the rapid growth of Medicare and Social Security.

Haskins was also critical of Romney for refusing to include any tax increases in his plan. Haskins said that position will make it impossible to balance the budget and strike a deal with Democrats in Congress.

“You’ve got to have revenues, and it’s time for Republicans to admit that,’’ said Haskins, a Republican. “You’ve got to have a compromise.’’

Michael Levenson of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Donovan Slack can be reached at dslack@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @DonovanSlack.

Uzbekistan, an unlikely example of Chevrolet’s global influence

“with government-affiliated UzAvtoSanoat and with a reputed 93 per cent of the passenger car market, is essentially the only game in town. Virtually all other makes have to be privately imported.”

[GM has abandoned most of its American workforce in favor of a partnership with one of the world's most inhuman dictatorships.  This is the new face of American corporations, a merger of super-capitalists and "former" communists and their state-planned economies.]

Uzbekistan, an unlikely example of Chevrolet’s global influence

David Booth

 

 

 

 

 

 

Astana plant’s one-millionth GM car.

The problem with virtually all automotive manufacturer press events is that they are meticulously – some might say obsessively – scripted, all the corporate talking heads sticking to their “talking points” like a bunch of politicians (and, yes, I am referencing America’s infamous Tea Party here) afraid that they might actually have to state an opinion of their own.

So it was at General Motors’ 100th anniversary celebration in Detroit for Chevrolet, its most ubiquitous brand. Every speech – and there were many – reinforced that, yes we heard you, Chevrolet has sold more than 209 million vehicles in its star-studded history and that someone, somewhere in the world, buys a Chevrolet every 7.4 seconds.

What makes such tightly scripted events interesting, however, is that despite the best manipulations of über-controlling PR flacks, some totally off-the-wall tidbit always slips out. So, amid all the “our new [fill in any model here] is going to revolutionise the market” and “we are poised for the next 100 years of success” that was part and parcel of every GM manager’s mantra, was hidden the completely unexpected gem that Uzbekistan – yes, that little peanut of a landlocked country that used to be a part of the Soviet Union – is the fifth-largest market for Chevrolet in the world.

Of course, we understand that China and Brazil have joined traditionally large markets such as the United States and Canada in Chevy’s top five; China is now the world’s largest auto market and the Brazilian economy is booming. But Uzbekistan? It butts up against such thriving nations as Afghanistan to the south and Kyrgyzstan to the east so it’s hardly an export powerhouse. Indeed, its economy is mostly rooted in the past, with cotton production its greatest export. GDP per capita is less than US$1,000 (Dh3,673) per person and unemployment or under-employment is said to be more than 20 per cent. It is, by any measure, a poor nation.

And yet, according to Johan Willems, vice president of communications for GM International Operations, Uzbekis will buy almost 80,000 Chevrolets this year, making it an even more important market to GM than rising industrial giant India. Casually ask a GM spokesperson the secret of the amazing success and, of course, they will talk about Chevrolet’s product revolution, new business practices and all the other rigidly mandated highlights that were part of every press release. Press a little further, however, and out comes the real reason. The General, thanks to a generous association with government-affiliated UzAvtoSanoat and with a reputed 93 per cent of the passenger car market, is essentially the only game in town. Virtually all other makes have to be privately imported.

OK, so Uzbekistan is hardly a business model that can be transposed elsewhere (though, no doubt, GM would love to try). What it does show, however, is that the new General Motors is very much a worldwide automobile manufacturer. Of the 4.26 million – yes 4.26m – Chevrolets sold last year, more than 60 per cent were sold outside the United States, and emerging markets are a huge part of Chevy’s success (the company’s spokespeople claim it was the only top five global auto brand to grow its market share).

Indeed, GM is becoming quite the expert at exporting the American way of motoring. Susan Docherty, GM International Operations’ vice president of sales and marketing, notes that The General’s relative lack of exposure in the Middle and Far East are actually a benefit. “There’s just so much potential for growth,” says Docherty, noting that while GMIO made up 28 per cent of Chevrolet’s sales in 2011, it is up from a minuscule one per cent in 2000. “And,” she says, “there’s lots of room for growth,” her region accounting for 49 per cent of worldwide auto production and 80 per cent of its population.

With this focus on international markets comes a breadth of knowledge of emerging nations that the previous General Motors could only dream about. Along with the standard marketing bumpf (80 per cent of the world’s growth in gross domestic product until 2050 will be outside Europe, the US and Canada; the middle class in the developing world will exceed that of US, Europe and Japan combined) comes the interesting observation that emerging markets become serious car-buying nations when GDP per capita hits US$6,000. By that reckoning, says Docherty, China now has more than 300 million households with sufficient income to go car shopping, which explains why it’s the world’s biggest market for new automobiles and why Chevrolet’s sales in the People’s Republic have skyrocketed 413 per cent since 2005.

Of course, right alongside China in market potential is India, where Docherty sees annual sales hitting five million – third globally behind only China and the United States – by 2015. Almost 50 per cent of those will be to first-time car buyers and will be to predominantly young people.

What General Motors is trying to reinforce, however, with its gala centennial celebrations, is that Chevrolet has been the world’s most successful automotive brand. Of course, more important is that Chevrolet’s glory years are not yet in its past.

This year looks to be the brand’s all-time best. There’s been a record 1.2m units sold in the third quarter alone, sales of the Cruze subcompact are about to reach the one million mark globally (and more than 175,000 in the third quarter of this year) and the brand accounted for about 5.8 per cent of all vehicles sold worldwide in 2010.

Did I mention that a Chevrolet is being bought somewhere in the world every 7.4 seconds?

 

 

No War To Fight, Nobody To Kill, No Job To Return To–Welcome To the Army of Unemployed

 

No homes or jobs for US vets

No homes or jobs for US vets — RT, posted with vodpod

America’s veterans are returning home from wars to staggering unemployment and homelessness rates. RT reports on what life post-war is like for thousands of US servicemen.

Their job is to defend their country’s interests, but once that job wraps up, their country has no interest in them any longer. Tens of thousands of American war veterans are simply being discarded.

“They are coming home to a disproportionate rate of homelessness, of foreclosures and evictions. In 2010 a whopping 75,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in the United States were homeless; were sleeping on the streets,”said Iraq war veteran Michael Prysner to RT.

War veterans include 55-year-old Joe Mangione. After 16 years of military duty, he is homeless on the streets of New York with health problems he can’t afford to take care of and no job.

“Just to sit here like this, it’s not easy. It’s degrading! It’s just demoralizing. I had no resources. I can’t collect unemployment because I was hurt and was working cash. And that unemployment runs out anyhow,” said the veteran.

Mangionesays all the US military machine cares about is money, while the people who risked life and limb are disposed of once they’ve served the purposes of politicians.

“It’s a bunch of deceptions. It’s about numbers. As long as they keep the numbers up, the recruiter gets his money; he gets his promotions; his bonuses. They care for themselves. They don’t care about us. They care about their own bank notes,” said Mangione.

The US is winding down its operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the damage to the people who fought in those wars remains.

“We have a VA system that is unable to provide us with the services that we need, the services that we are entitled to as a result of us signing a contract and putting our lives on the line for our country,” said war veteran Eli Wright.

Unemployment rates among war veterans are staggering.

“They are coming home to an unemployment rate of about 30 percent for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. This is triple the national average,” said Michael Prysner.

Joining the military used to be considered a great career step that led to a life of honor; these days this couldn’t be further from the truth.

“Joining the U.S. military is probably one of the stupidest retirement or career moves you can make as a human being,” said Ted Rall.

The editorial columnist and author believes military service is one of the biggest hoaxes in American history.

“They’re defending the borders, they’re expanding the empire – we owe them. They’ve lost their minds, and they lost limbs, they’ve lost their time and they took risks, they deserve it. Somehow, generation after generation, America keeps screwing its vets,” said Rall.

There are said to be 18 suicide attempts a day among veterans in America, hundreds each month – handling the realities of being forgotten at home is tough.

“When you come home, you’re foreclosed on, your job is gone, and then they want you to go to shelters. And shelters pretty much housing criminals, drug addicts, and a lot of us can’t tolerate that lifestyle,” said homeless U.S. army veteran Joe Mangione.

The hardest truth is that many believe forgotten vets back at home is a permanent stain on America’s image.

“This reality is set to continue indefinitely, with no end in sight. Despite the Iraq war supposedly ending, of course that’s yet to be seen, reality for soldiers with these constant deployments, to wars we don’t want to fight, that is not going to change,” said Michael Prysner.

After nearly nine years of war in Iraq, the US Government plans to bring American soldiers back home by the winter holidays. But with joblessness, homelessness and official neglect an undeniable reality for many of America’s veterans – after the cruelty of war, thousands more may be faced with the cruelty of life after it.

 

Libya’s new Liberation Front organizing in the Sahel

Libya’s new Liberation Front organizing in the Sahel

By Franklin Lamb
Graphics: By Alex

On the edge of the Sahel, Niger

 “Sahel” in Arabic means “coast” or“shoreline”. Unless one was present 5000 years ago when, according to anthropologists, our planets first cultivation of crops began in this then plush, but now semiarid region where temperatures reach 125 degrees F, and only camels and an assortment of creatures can sniff out water sources, it seems an odd geographical name place for this up 450 miles wide swatch of baked sand that runs from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea.

Yet, when standing along its edge, the Sahel does have the appearance of a sort of dividing shoreline between the endless sands of the Sahara and the Savanna grasses to the south. Parts of Mali, Algeria, Niger, Chad, and Sudan, all along the Libyan border fall within this supposed no man’s land.
Today the Sahel is providing protection, weapons gathering and storage facilities, sites for training camps, and hideouts as well as a generally formidable base for those working to organize the growing Libyan Liberation Front (LLF). The aim of the LLF is to liberate Libya from what it considers NATO installed colonial puppets. The Sahel region is only one of multiple locations which are becoming active as the Libyan counter revolution, led by members of the Gadahfi and Wafalla, make preparations for the next phase of resistance.
When I entered an office conference room in Niger recently to meet with some recent evacuees from Libya who I was advised were preparing to launch a “people’s struggle employing the Maoist tactic of 1000 cuts”against the current group claiming to represent Libya,” two facts struck me.
One was how many were present and did not appear to be scruffy, intensely zealous or desperate but who were obviously rested, calm, organized and methodical in their demeanor.
My colleague, a member of the Gadhafi tribe from Sirte explained “More than 800 organizers have arrived from Libya just to Niger and more come every day”. An officer in uniform added, “It is not like your western media presents the situation, of desperate Gadhafi loyalists frantically handing out bundles of cash and gold bars to buy their safety from the NATO death squads now swarming around the northern areas of our motherland. Our brothers have controlled the borderless routes in this region for thousands of years and they know how not to be detected even by NATO satellites and drones.”
d8b5d988d8b1d8a9-d985d8aed8aad984d981d8a9-0081The other subject I thought about as I sat in an initial meeting was what a difference three decades can make. As I sat there I recalled my visit with former Fatah youth leader Salah Tamari, who did good work at the Israeli prison camp at Ansar, south Lebanon during the 1982 aggression, as the elected negotiator for his fellow inmates.
Tamari insisted on joining some of them at a new PLO base at Tabessa, Algeria.
This was shortly after the PLO leadership, wrongly in my judgment agreed to evacuate Lebanon in August of 1982 rather than wage a Stalingrad defense (admittedly minus the nonexistent expected Red Army) and the PLO leadership apparently credited Reagan administration promises of “ an American guaranteed Palestinian state within a year. You can take that to the bank” in the words of US envoy Philip Habib. Seemingly ever trustful of Ronald Reagan for some reason, PLO leader Arafat kept Habib’s written promise in his shirt pocket to show doubters, including his Deputy, Khalil al Wazir (Abu Jihad) and the womenfolk among others in Shatila Camp who had some garve misgivings about their protectors leaving them.
At Tabessa, somewhere in the vast Algerian desert, the formerly proud PLO defenders were essentially idle and caged inside their camp and apart from some physical training sessions appeared to spend their days drinking coffee and smoking and worrying about their loved ones in Lebanon as news of the September 1982 Israeli organized massacre at Sabra-Shatila fell on Tabessa Camp like a huge bomb and many fighters rejected Tamari’s orders and left for Shatila.
This is not the case with Libyan evacuees in Niger. They have the latest model satellite phones, laptops and better equipment than most of the rich news outlets that showed up with at Tripoli’s media hotels over the past nine months.
This observers, “how did you all get here and where did you secure all this new electronic equipment so fast?” question was answered with a mute smile and wink” from a hijabed young lady who I last saw in August handing out press releases at Tripoli’s Rixos Hotel for Libyan spokesman Dr. Musa Ibrahim late last august. On that particular day, Musa was telling the media as he stood next to Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid Kaim, a friend to many Americans and human rights activists, that Tripoli would not fall to NATO rebels and “we have 6,500 well trained soldiers who are waiting for them.”As it turned out, the commander of the 6,500 was owned by NATOand he instructed his men not to oppose the entering rebel forces.Tripoli fell the next day and the day after Khalid was arrested and is still inside one of dozens of rebel jails petitioning his unresponsive captors for family visits while an international, American organized, legal team is negotiating to visit him.
The LLF has military and political projects in the works. One of the latter is to compete for every vote in next summers promised election. One staffer I met with has the job of studying the elections in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere in the region for possible applications to Libya.
Another LLF committee is putting together a Nationalist campaign message plus specific campaign planks for their candidates to run on and putting together lists of recommendations of specific candidates. Nothing is firmly decided yet, but one Libyan professor told me “for sure Women’s rights will be a major plank. “Women are horrified by NTC Chairman Jalil said while seeking support from Al Qaeda supporters who threaten to control Libya, about polygamy being the future in Libya and the fact that women will now longer be given the home when divorced. Libya has been very progressive with women’s rights as with Palestinian rights.” Aisha Gadhafi, the only daughter of Muammar who is now living next door in Algeria with family members including her two month old baby, was a major force behind the 2010 enactment by the Peoples Congresses of more rights for women. She has been asked to write a pamphlet on the need to retain women’s rights which will be distributed if the 2012 elections actually materialize.
While their beloved country lay in substantial NATO bombed ruin, the pro-Gadhafi LLF has some major pluses on its side. One are the tribes who during last summer were starting to stand up against NATO just as Tripoli fell before they launched their efforts which included a new Constitution. The LLF believes the tribes can be crucial in getting out the vote.
Perhaps even a more powerful arrow in the LLF’s quiver as it launches its counter revolution are the 35 years of political experience by the hundreds of Libyan People’s Committees long established in every village in Libya along with the Secretariats of the People’s Conferences. While currently inactive (outlawed by NATO–truth be told) they are quickly regrouping and areexpected to be able to dominate any forthcoming election.
Sometimes the subjects of ridicule by some under informed self-styled Libya “experts,”the People’s Congresses, based on the Green book series written Lby “Baba” Gadhafi, are actually quite democratic and a study of their work makes clear that they have increasingly functioned not as mere rubber stamps for ideas that floated from over the walls of Bab al Azziza barracks. A secretary general of one of the Congresses, now working in Niger, repeated what one western delegation was told during a fascinating late June three hour briefing at the Tripoli HQ of the national PC Secretariat. Participants were shown attendance and voting records as well of each item voted on, for the past decade and the minutes of the most recent People’s Congress debates. They illustrate the similarities between the People’s Congresses and New England Town Meeting in terms of the local population making decisions that affect their community and an open agenda where complaints and new proposals can be made and discussed. Libyan leaders, including Muammar Gadhafi lost plenty of votes on items they favored or proposed. In the last few years the Guide declined to take public positions on the items to be voted on in the PC’s because he preferred not to influence or interfere with what he called “the decisions of the masses.”
This observer particularly enjoyed his 4 years term representing Ward 2A in the Brookline, Massachusetts Town Meeting while in college in Boston, sometimes sitting next my neighbors Kitty and Michael Dukakis. While we both won a seat in the election, I received 42 votes more than Mike but he rose politically while it could be said that I sank, following my joining Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the ACLU and the Black Panthers all in one semester as an undergraduate Boston University, following an inspiring meeting with Professor Noam Chomsky and Professor Howard Zinn in Chomski’s office at MIT. The Town Meeting debates were interesting and productive and “Mustafa”, the National Secretary of the Libyan People’s Congress, who studied at George Washington University in WDC and wrote a graduate thesis on New England Town Meetings, claimed his country patterned their People’s Congresses on them. Unfortunately, “Mustafa”is also now incarcerated by the NTC according to mutual friends.
Who LLF candidates will be if an election is actually held is unknown but some are suggesting that Dr.Abu Zeid Dorda, now recovering from his “suicide attempt”(the former Libyan UN Ambassador was thrown out of a second floor window during interrogations last month by NATO agents but he survived in front of witnesses so is now recovering in prison medical ward).
Contrary to media stories, Saif al Islam is not about to surrender to the International Criminal Court and, like Musa Ibrahim, is well. Both are being urged to lay low for now, rest, and try to heal a bit from NATO’s killing of family members and many close friends.
Many legal and political analysts think the ICC will not proceed with any trials relating to Libya for reasons of the ICC convoluted rules and structure and uncertainly of securing convictions of the “right” suspects. Whatever happens on this subject, if a case goes forward, researchers are preparing to fill the ICC courtroom with documentation of NATO crimes during its 9 month, 23,000 sorties and 10,000 bombing attacks on the five million population country.
 Some International Criminal Court observers are encouraged by the ICC Prosecutor’s office pledge this week and as reported by the BCC: “to investigate and prosecute any crimes committed both by rebel and pro-Gadhafi forces including any committed by NATO.”
  As one victim of NATO crimes, who on June 20, 1911 lost four of his family members including three infant children, as five NATO American MK-83 bombs were dropped and two missiles fired on the family compound in a failed assassination attempt against his father, a former aide to Colonel Gadhafi, wrote this observer yesterday from his secret sanctuary, “This is good news if it is true.”.
As NATO moves its focus and drones to the Seral, it is possible that its nine months of carnage against this gentle country and people will not in the end achieve its goals and that the Libyan people will defeat NATO’s neo-colonial project both by armed resistance and at the ballot box.
A rejuvenated national resistance has begun on Libya’s borders.
Franklin Lamb is doing research in Libya. He is reachable c\o fplamb@gmail.comHe is the author of The Price We Pay: A Quarter-Century of Israel’s Use of American Weapons Against Civilians in Lebanon.
He contribute to Uprooted Palestinians Blog

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Pakistan to give military training to Afghan army

[How does this affect the India/Afghan security pact?]

Pakistan to give military training to Afghan army

By IANS,

Islamabad : The Pakistan army will train the Afghan National Army and police under trilateral pacts signed at the 6th Trilateral Summit held in Istanbul, local media reported Friday.

Quoting Foreign Office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua, The News reported that Pakistan signed a protocol with Afghanistan and Turkey on conduct of mutual exercises and on training cooperation with Afghanistan. Pakistan would train police personnel to counter terrorism/law enforcement and it would also train the military personnel, Xinhua reported.

According to one of the protocols, the three countries signed a memorandum of understanding for training police personnel and conduct of mutual military exercises.

The protocol includes training courses between the militaries of the three countries and mutual exercises. These were signed by Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, General Necdet Ozal of Turkey and General Shah Muhammad Kairimi from Afghanistan.

The foreign office spokesperson said that Pakistan’s principal objectives with regards to Afghanistan are “to promote stability, peace and prosperity in this brotherly country. This is important for peace and stability in the region as a whole”.

“We are actively participating in all trilateral processes with regards to Afghanistan. These include Pakistan-Afghanistan-Turkey, Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran, Pakistan-Afghanistan-US and the Pakistan-Afghanistan-Tajikistan-Russia quadrilateral as well as the SCO-sponsored processes and RECCA,” said the spokesperson.

Local watchers believe that the conduct of mutual exercises and training cooperation would lessen the tension between the two countries. After the assassination of former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani on Sep 20, a statement issued by Afghan foreign office accused Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI of alleged involvement in the murder plot. Pakistani government refused it but such accusations tensed bilateral relations.

Uzbekistan: Parliamentarian Calls for Fight Against Internet Subversives

Weaponization of the Internet Is A Two-Way Street

U.S. Policy to Address Internet Freedom

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has noted the Internet’s use in toppling repressive regimes and crushing dissent.

By MARK LANDLER and BRIAN KNOWLTON

WASHINGTON — Days after Facebook and Twitter added fuel to a revolt in Egypt, the Obama administration on Tuesday announced a new policy on Internet freedom, intended to help people get around barriers in cyberspace while making it harder for autocratic governments to use the same technology to repress dissent.

“The United States continues to help people in oppressive Internet environments get around filters, stay one step ahead of the censors, the hackers and the thugs who beat them up or imprison them for what they say online,” said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, laying out the policy in a speech at George Washington University.

The new policy, a year in the making, had been bogged down by fierce debates over which projects it should support, and even more basically, whether to view the Internet primarily as a weapon to topple repressive regimes or as a tool that autocrats can use to root out and crush dissent.

Mrs. Clinton defended an expansive approach that embraces a variety of tools for responding to threats to Internet freedom.

“Some have criticized us for not pouring funding into a single technology — but there is no silver bullet in the struggle against Internet repression,” she said. “There’s no ‘app’ for that.”

She added, later in the speech: “We support multiple tools, so if repressive governments figure out how to target one, others are available. And we invest in the cutting edge because we know that repressive governments are constantly innovating their methods of repression.”

Thus, in the 2009 protest movement in Iran, demonstrators used Web sites to organize marches and distribute galvanizing cellphone videos of violence by paramilitary forces; but then, said Mrs. Clinton, “theRevolutionary Guard stalked members of the green movement by tracking their cellphones.”

Similarly, social networks have been used by both protesters and governments in the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and other Arab countries, she said.

The State Department plans to finance programs like circumvention services, which enable users to evade Internet firewalls, and training for human rights workers on how to secure their e-mail from surveillance or wipe incriminating data from cellphones if they are detained by the police. The department has also inaugurated Twitter feeds in Arabic and Persian, and soon will add others in Chinese, Russian and Hindi.

Though the new policy was on the drawing board for months, it has new urgency in light of the turmoil in the Arab world, because it will be part of a larger debate over how the United States weighs its alliances with entrenched leaders against support for the young people inspired by the events in Tunisia and Egypt.

Administration officials say the emphasis on a broad array of projects — hotly disputed by some technology experts and human rights activists — reflects their view that technology can be a force that leads to democratic change, but cannot by itself bring down repressive regimes.

“People have a view that technology will make us free,” said Michael H. Posner, the assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor. “No, people will make us free.”

Critics say the administration has held back $30 million in Congressional financing that could have gone to circumvention technology, a proven method that allows Internet users to evade government firewalls by routing their traffic through proxy servers in other countries.

Some of these services have received modest financing from the government, but their backers say they need much more to install networks capable of handling millions of users in China, Iran and other countries.

A report by the Republican minority of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which was to be released Tuesday, said the State Department’s performance was so inadequate that the job of financing Internet freedom initiatives — at least those related to China — should be moved to another agency, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which overseesVoice of America and Radio Free Europe.

There are other tensions in the State Department’s agenda: It champions the free flow of information, except when it is in secret departmental cables made public by WikiLeaks; it wants to help Chinese citizens circumvent their government’s Internet firewall, but is leery of one of the most popular services for doing so, which is sponsored by Falun Gong, a religious group outlawed by Beijing as an evil cult.

Mrs. Clinton tried to reconcile one of those tensions. She described the WikiLeaks disclosures as “an act of theft” of sensitive government documents whose publication made it far harder, she said, for the United States to protect its security or promote human rights and democracy around the world. “WikiLeaks does not challenge our commitment to Internet freedom,” she said.

The State Department has received 68 proposals for nearly six times the $30 million in available funds. Among the kinds of things that excite officials are “circuit riders,” experts who tour Internet cafes in Myanmar teaching people how to set up secure e-mail accounts, and new ways of dealing with denial-of-service attacks.

The progress does not satisfy critics.

“The department’s failure to follow Congressional intent created the false impression among Iranian demonstrators that the regime had the power to disrupt access to Facebook and Twitter,” said Michael J. Horowitz, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, who lobbies on behalf of the Global Internet Freedom Consortium, a circumvention service with ties to Falun Gong.

Mr. Horowitz has organized demonstrations of the service for legislators, journalists and others. On Jan. 27, the day before the Egyptian government cut off access to the Internet, he said there were more than 7.8 million page views by Egyptians on UltraSurf, one of two consumer services under the umbrella of the consortium. That was a huge increase from only 76,000 on Jan. 22.

The trouble, Mr. Horowitz said, is that UltraSurf and its sister service, Freegate, do not have enough capacity to handle sudden sharp increases in use during political crises. That causes the speed to slow to a crawl, which discourages users.

And in Egypt, by shutting down the Internet completely, the authorities were able to make such systems moot.

Mrs. Clinton acknowledged the difficulties ahead at a time when, she said, the number of global Internet users could swell by 5 billion within 20 years.

“We are playing for the long game,” she said.

Pakistan’s last-minute retraction irks India

Pakistan’s last-minute retraction irks India

Nayanima Basu / New Delhi

India is particularly displeased with Pakistan, after an early end to a party it was enjoying over Islamabad’s proposed grant of a ‘most favoured nation’ (MFN) status in bilateral trade. All eyes are now focused on Pakistan commerce secretary Zafar Mahmood’s upcoming India visit. This is likely to be followed by a sideline meeting between the prime ministers of the neighbouring countries.

As of now, Mahmood is slated to land in the Indian capital on November 13. The visit, though, may be cancelled, given the controversy surrounding the grant of the MFN status, according to government sources

A top official noted on Friday that the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) made the MFN status virtually India’s fundamental right. “Pakistan is retracting from its position after its Cabinet took the decision and their information minister made the (pertinent) announcement. This is unqualified and unconditional,” he told Business Standard.

Senior officials in the ministry of commerce and industry also said it was “at the last moment” that Pakistan’s Cabinet changed the statement, making it “further difficult to take the process of enhancement of trade”.

However, going by records, MFN status bears no guarantee to enhanced trade ties. For, New Delhi had granted MFN status to Islamabad in 1996, but imports from Pakistan has since remained significantly low compared to India’s export to that country. Data released by the ministry of commerce and industry show imports from Pakistan, in the last five years, had remained within the range of $250-$300 million. On the contrary, exports to Pakistan from India have more than doubled.

As for imports from Pakistan, the figures stood at a paltry $332.51 million, $275.94 million and $370.17 million in 2010-11, 2009-10 and 2008-09 respectively. Contrastingly, exports stood at $2.33 billion, $1.57 billion and $1.43 billion in 2010-11, 2009-10 and 2008-09 respectively.

Even so, Pakistan on Friday said the process of “normalisation” was underway. “The grant of MFN status is part of that normalisation process,” according to that country’s high commissioner to India Shahid Malik. “There is no question of a U-turn about it.”

It was late on Wednesday that Pakistan broke the news when information minister Firdous Ashiq Awan told reporters after a Cabinet meeting that the government had approved giving MFN status to India. Anti-climax followed, as an official statement issued thereafter did not mention ‘MFN’ anywhere.

All it said was that the Pakistan government had approved the decision to “normalise” trade with India. What’s more, Islamabad soon took back an earlier statement (issued by its press information department) that mentioned ‘MFN’.

The India-Pakistan trade in the last financial year stood at $2.6 billion. As for the next three years, both sides have set a target of $6 billion worth of bilateral trade. At present, Pakistan’s “negative” list features more than 12,000 items, while there are 1,948 “positive” items.

Currently, without an MFN status mutually accorded, it’s through Dubai that the two-way trade (worth billions of dollars) takes place — informally. This is one main reason India has been pushing Pakistan to grant it MFN status.

Securing an MFN status would facilitate India to export to Pakistan all those items it ships to the countries under the SAFTA.

They include engineering goods, fruits and vegetables, drugs and pharmaceuticals, textiles, food items, chemicals and machinery.

At present, SAFTA mentions Islamabad having a specific rider that Indian imports into Pakistan would continue to be as per their positive list of importable items from the eastern neighbour. This, currently, comprises 1,938 items.