Wake Me, Shake Me

Jim Kunstler is giving Saudi Arabia three weeks before it blows. Then $10 a gallon diesel fuel will end civilization as it is presently known. Peacenik says plant your garden now. And tune up your bicycle. Time for communities to get their acts together because working together is the only way to survive as we go forward into the...ah...future.

A quickening of events pulses through lands where for so long time stood still, and the oil - what's left of it - lies locked for the moment beneath hot sands - woe upon all ye soccer moms! - while Colonel Gadhafi ponders the Mussolini option - that is, to be hoisted up a lamp-post on a high-C piano wire until his head bursts like a rotten pomegranate. Then the good folk of Libya can fight amongst themselves for the swag, loot, and ka-chingling oil revenues he left behind. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton scowls on the sidelines knowing how bad it would look if US marines actually hit the shores of Tripoli (and perhaps how fruitless it might turn out to be). And Italian grandmothers across the Mediterranean wonder why there's no gas to fire up the orecchiette con cime di rapa.
The fluxes of springtime run cruelly across the sands of Araby, clear into Persia where the ayatollahs' vizeers toy with uranium centrifuges and thirty million young people wonder how long they will allow bearded ignoramuses to tell them how to pull their pants on in the morning. Along about now, I wouldn't feel secure standing next to somebody lighting a cigarette in that part of the world.
Pretty soon we're going to find out just how fragile things are in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, there at the heart of things oily. Last week, King Abdullah wobbled out of his intensive care unit to spread a little surplus cash around the surging population, but let's remember that their share of the oil "welfare" has been going down steadily in recent years - a simple matter of numbers really. Putting aside even the common folk, a thousand princes from dozens of different tribes pace restively in the background awaiting the struggle that must follow King Abdullah's overdue transmigration to the farther shore. All along the western coast of the Persian Gulf and down toward the Horn of Africa, dark forces stir. Fuses sputter in Kingdoms from Bahrain to the Yemen.

Read on...

10 Ways Scott Walker Is Selling Out His Constituents to Corporations

Peacenik read this list of stuff the GOP is doing in Wisconsin and Peacenik realized that there is no common ground. All 10 of these GOP actions are insane. You cannot convince Peacenik otherwise. And Peacenik is certain that you cannot convince Scott Walker that his actions are crazy. Clean drinking water is too much of a burden on who? So in the misguided belief that only in taking actions like the 10 listed here, can the economy be cured and employment return, the GOP is taking society back to a time that is forgotten. Back to the dark ages. What would you do if you lived in Wisconsin. In Ontario, what would you do if the government passed a law that created the likelihood that the Walkerton tragedy would replay itself? Peacenik is not even sure that the regulation of drinking water in Ontario is adequate after Walkerton. What do you do when the government turns its back on the people and acts like there is no common good? Watch Wisconsin. The future is there.

Walker’s assault on public employees is only one part of a larger political program that aims to give corporations free reign in the state.

As the standoff between the Main Street Movement and Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) continues for the twelfth day, much of the media coverage — and anger — from both sides has focused on Walker’s efforts to strip Wisconsin public workers of their right to collective bargaining. But Walker’s assault on public employees is only one part of a larger political program that aims to give corporations free reign in the state while dismantling the healthcare programs, environmental regulations, and good government laws that protect Wisconsin’s middle and working class. These lesser known proposals in the 144-page bill reveal how radical Walker’s plan actually is:

1. ELIMINATING MEDICAID: The Budget Repair Bill includes a little-known provision that would put complete control of the state’s Medicaid program, known as BadgerCare, in the hands of the state’s ultra-conservative Health and Human Services Secretary Dennis Smith. Smith would have the authority to “to override state Medicaid laws as [he] sees fit and institute sweeping changes” including reducing benefits and limiting eligibility. Ironically, during the 1990s it was Republicans, especially former Gov. and Bush HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, who helped develop BadgerCare into one of the country’s most innovative and generous Medicaid programs. A decade later, a new generation of radical Republicans is hoping to destroy one of Wisconsin’s “success stories.”

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Chomsky: Only a Massive Uprising Will Change Our Politics

Are there enough progressives to stage a mass uprising in the U.S.A? Wisconsin seems to be the test. And in Wisconsin a majority of the citizens apparently elected a Republican/Tea Party dominated legislature. The eviseration of the labour movement in Wisconsin, and in your state or province might just be done democratically. That one percent of the U.S. that controls over 99 percent of the wealth, seems to have convinced the 99 percent that that is a normal and just state of affairs. Is this the last gasp of the labour movement in the U.S. (and soon in Canada), or is it the beginning of a re-birth. Peacenik is not feeling good about what is going down in Wisconsin. Editorials about Tea Party over-reach are not going to get it done. This is the pitch fork moment. But wait, who is on Dancing with The Stars. And did J-Lo really cry on American Idol this week. Is Charlie Sheen finished? Will Lindsay go to jail?

Chomsky: "What has to be done is what's happening in Madison, or Tahrir Square. If there's mass popular opposition, any political leader is going to have to respond.

NOAM CHOMSKY: We were talking about unions before. Union busting is criminal activity by the government, because they’re saying, "You can go ahead and do it; we’re not going to apply the laws," effectively. And the COINTELPRO, which you mentioned, is actually the worst systematic and extended violation of basic civil rights by the federal government. It maybe compares with Wilson’s Red Scare. But COINTELPRO went on from the late ’50 right through all of the ’60s; it finally ended, at least theoretically ended, when the courts terminated it in the early ’70s. And it was serious.

It started, as is everything, going after the Communist Party, then the Puerto Rican Independence Party. Then it extended—the women’s movement, the New Left, but particularly black nationalists. And it ended up—didn’t end up, but one of the events was a straight Gestapo-style assassination of two black organizers, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, literally. The FBI set up the assassination. The Chicago police actually carried it out, broke into the apartment at 4:00 in the morning and murdered them. Fake information that came from the FBI about arms stores and so on. There was almost nothing about it. In fact, the information about this, remarkably, was released at about the same time as Watergate. I mean, as compared with this, Watergate was a tea party. There was nothing, you know?

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WikiLeaks’ Assange can be extradited to Sweden: judge

Supporters of the founder of WikiLeaks Julian Assange hold placards as they wait for his arrival for his extradition hearing Feb. 24.

Has Sweden offered any assurances that Julian Assange will not be extradited to the U.S.A? Sweden has already shown itself to be a big secret supporter of U.S. foreign policy. And now for the first time someone has been extradited for sex charges in the European Union. Peacenik doesn't trust Sweden in this matter, nor Britain, nor the U.S.A. Peacenik hopes Julian Assange will have his own security. Meanwhile has anyone noticed a lack of news from Wikileaks. The efforts to marginalize and intimidate and bankrupt Wikileaks seem to be having an effect. Peacenik says release the Doomsday File now. Lets see the Bank of America documents. And free Julian Assange.

Supporters of the founder of WikiLeaks Julian Assange hold placards as they wait for his arrival for his extradition hearing Feb. 24.
LONDON — Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden in a sex crimes inquiry, a British judge ruled Thursday, rejecting claims by the WikiLeaks founder that he would not face a fair trial there. Assange's lawyer said he would appeal.
Judge Howard Riddle said the allegations of rape and sexual molestation by two women against Assange meet the definition of extraditable offenses and said the Swedish warrant had been properly issued and was valid.
Assange, 39, a key figure in the release of tens of thousands of secret U.S. government and military documents, has been out on bail during the extradition fight. He has seven days to appeal the ruling in British courts.
After hearing three days of testimony this month, Riddle concluded “there is simply no reason to believe there has been a mistake” about the European Arrest Warrant issued by Swedish authorities.

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This is my farm: From the city to the country and back again

Peacenik has been so busy trying to follow and make sense out of all the revolutions and protests in the world that Peacenik hasn't written much about urban farming and sustainability lately. But with bank runs in Korea, riots in Wisconsin and Tripoli, food shortages all over the world, and Peacenik's "empty storeshelves" google alert filling Peacenik's inbox, it may be time to start thinking about food. And how to get it during a state of anarchy, or when the supply chain collapses due to oil shortages, crop shortages (winter storm destroyed usual tomato crop), or total economic collapse. This article is a celebration of Urban Homesteading Day, which was on Monday. Peacnenik has said many times that Peacenik feels fortunate to have a small garden on Peacenik's balcony, and window sills. And Peacneik feels fortunate to live near a large Amish community in Ontario. Peacenik fears Peacenik is going to need both in the near future.

by Sharon Astyk

Note: You've got to give the Dervaes' some credit - their asshattery has inspired a wholel lot of focus on urban sustainable agriculture, homesteading and making a good life in the city! Today is "Urban Homesteading Day" and in its honor, here are some meditations on the relationships we need between city homesteaders and farmers, country homesteaders and farmers and everyone in between.

Urbanization is the biggest trend in history. For the first time, more human beings live in cities than in the country. More than 50,000 farmers worldwide leave their land or are driven off of it every single day, most of them moving to cities, often to slum dwellings on the outskirts of growing megacities.

In each family that makes this journey, there will be a recognizable pattern that emerges from that shift in culture.. The first generation who moves from the farm to the city remains agricultural in mindset and practice. They will never fully assimilate into urban life, but will be the grandparents who embarass their children by picking edible plants from the side of the road and giving nutritious soups instead of vitamins.

Their children will want to fit into the urban life. They will disdain and reject the skills of their parents, in many cases, or at best view what their parents know as irrelevant. This second generation recognizes that what the first generation knew is now gone, and wants it as far out of the way as possible. The second generation will be taught how to pick and use those plants, but they will see such knowledge as old fashioned, embarassing or even "dirty."

Then comes the third generation removed from the land. They may have eaten grandmother's soup, or seen her pick the greens, but they will also have absorbed their parent's rejection of these things - at least at first. And only when they are grown will the grandchildren begin to see the value of what their grandparents knew, and to try and recreate it a little. If they are fortunate, they will have noticed their lack before the first generation is gone. If not, they will try and recreate what is lost as best they can, knowing that it is never the same as the first. They will start searching for the echoes of their agrarian past everywhere, and begin trying to remake the world from echoes, growing fainter every year.

Read on...


Wisconsin's Political Crisis Is A Good Deal More Serious Than Its Fiscal Crisis

Peacenik thinks that if public sector collective bargaining can be destroyed in Wisconsin, then public sector collective bargaining can be destroyed anywhere in North America, including Canada. There are lots of movies about the development of unions in North America. Watch one. It was a tough battle. And now after years of having the right to bargain collectively, the right to join a union, and the right to worker safety laws, it is now all at risk. Some wingnut in Missouri is even trying to ban child labour laws. And who is standing up to defend worker rights. Is Obama? Is Bill Clinton? Is Hillary? A lot of common people are, along with the captain of the Green Bay Packers. If the governor of Wisconsin wins this battle, the United States of America will make Libya look like a tea party. Not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But sooner than anyone wants. Collective bargaining is part of the fabric of society. Rip it apart, and watch out.

MADISON - Wisconsin’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau was created in 1968 by a Republican governor, Warren Knowles, and a Republican-controlled state legislature.

The purpose was to establish a non-partisan agency that would provide honest fiscal analysis and information for Wisconsin Legislators. Across more than four decades, the bureau has done just that, earning the respect of legislators from both parties, including a young Scott Walker, who frequently cited the bureau when he served in the state Assembly.

Less than a month ago, a Fiscal Bureau memo reported that the state had a $121.4 million surplus through the remainder of the current fiscal year.

That is a fact that is now under attack by Governor Walker, who the conservative publication Human Events refers to as the “new hero” of the Republican right. Walker argues-- as Republicans and Democrats have acknowledged for some time -- that the state’s fiscal house is not in order and that unsettled issues relating to a payment due Minnesota after the canceling of a tax agreement, as well as rising health care and prison costs, could well create a shortfall before the end of the year.

So it is possible that Wisconsin might need a budget repair bill of the sort Walker has proposed before the fiscal year is finished, as it has in many years.

Read on...


Uncommon Wisdom at the Convenience Store

punditman says..
Punditman recently learned that convenience store owners everywhere toss out more old newspapers than ever before because apparently nobody reads anymore.

Punditman always knew that news industry circulation numbers were faked but the whole thing has become laughable. Call it the Twitterization of the public mind, but surely publishing newsprint is one dying industry. Saves trees anyway.

In any case, contributory negligent deforestation occurs whenever we decide to trade in our strained, screen-reading eyes, for the relaxing and tactile experience one can only achieve through the purchase of a morning newspaper composed of dead trees.

Punditman's local variety store is owned by Afghan Canadians and recently passed hands to relatives or family friends (Punditman is not exactly sure). In his short conversations, Punditman has always found these folks have an uncommon sense of humanity and social justice. No doubt informed by the harshness of earlier life under Russian occupation, they have told Punditman that they are similarly outraged by what NATO forces have been doing to their country for the past decade. Leave the place alone, they insist.

For some reason these fine folks often feel compelled to engage Punditman in a little tete-a-tete. And my friendly shopkeepers have an uncanny way of getting straight to the point— be it sports, business, or world politcs.

As it happened, Punditman walked in yesterday bleary and sleep-deprived as a result of a restless night. Thankfully, Punditman's psyche was abruptly jolted into cognition when the store owner asked Punditman what was going on in Libya. Punditman said there were some protests and riots and he heard on the radio yesterday that some people had been killed. Punditman forgot the name of one of the cities in Libya (Benghazi), where these things were happening. But Punditman did say that he thought the Libyans were emulating what was happening in the rest of the Arab world. The shopkeeper agreed that the Arab world was exploding and that it needs to change and that in fact the whole world needed to change (waving his hands). Punditman agreed (waving Punditman's hands).

As an example, the shopkeeper said that let's say he made 100k and Punditman made 20k, well that it's not right and that has to change, he proclaimed. Was this guy reading Punditman's mind? Punditman finds the idea of a guaranteed annual income a no-brainer as have many big wigs throughout history and though it is gaining traction across the political spectrum, entrenched power apparently doesn't agree. So Punditman nodded again. So there you have it: a straightforward treatise on wealth redistribution from a hard working immigrant and small business owner. Such insights are sadly lacking in the minds of many second and third generation Canadians, Punditman mused. Yep, this guy had more common sense that a sauna full of PhDs. Have a redistributive evening.

PS: This reminds Punditman of Johnny Cash:

Well, we're doin' mighty fine, I do suppose,
In our streak of lightnin' cars and fancy clothes,
But just so we're reminded of the ones who are held back,
Up front there ought 'a be a Man In Black.

I wear it for the sick and lonely old,
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold,
I wear the black in mournin' for the lives that could have been,
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.

And, I wear it for the thousands who have died,
Believen' that the Lord was on their side,
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died,
Believen' that we all were on their side.

Well, there's things that never will be right I know,
And things need changin' everywhere you go,
But 'til we start to make a move to make a few things right,
You'll never see me wear a suit of white.

See the whole video back here.


Radical States: GOP Forcing Their Nightmarish Right-Wing Vision on People Who Elected Them

The scary thing is that these people are getting elected in the first place. The U.S.A. is a very sick place, Culturally, politically and economically. And it may take more that some protesting to cure it. And Canada may not be much better off. Tea Bagger Ford got elected mayor of Canada's biggest city. Ford has already declared war on the cities unions. Can Canada's economy improve without the U.S. economy improving? Peacenik doesn't think so. If Wisconsin can become Egypt, can Guelph become Egypt too. Peacenik thinks so.

When President Obama took office amidst the worst recession in three generations, he immediately focused his energy on enacting a comprehensive plan to revive the nation's economy. Newly elected Republicans, however, have interpreted their temporary rise to power in an entirely different way. Where Obama saw an immediate need to grow the nation's economy, GOP leaders are seizing their moment to force longstanding GOP fantasies upon the people they govern. Several GOP-led states are pushing plans to strip state workers of their collective bargaining rights. Twelve states are considering unconstitutional bills "nullifying" the Affordable Care Act. Arizona Republicans are lining up behind a plan to unconstitutionally strip citizenship from millions of Americans. New Hampshire Republicans have returned to the GOP's favorite pastime of denying gay Americans their constitutional rights. Given the opportunity to lead, far-right politicians have decided instead to ignore the nation's needs and pursue their own narrow, unpopular ideological vendettas.

Read on...

"What's Disgusting? Union Busting!" Chant Wisconsin Crowds That Swell to 30,000; Key GOP Legislators Waver

This is beginning to look a lot like Egypt. Peacenik knows some rightwing whacko first suggested this but that doesn't mean it is necessarily untrue. Or that there is something wrong with comparing a mass protest in Wisconsin to a mass protest in Egypt. Protests are going to be a way of life around the world very soon. The good news is that the protesters in Wisconsin are not being tasered, and shot at with rubber bullets. This is a beginning in Wisconsin. Regular people are standing up to Tea Party bullies. It is a good beginning.

by John Nichols

"I have never been prouder of our movement than I am at this moment," shouted Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt, as he surveyed the crowds of union members and their supporters that surged around the state Capitol and into the streets of Madison Wednesday, literally closing the downtown as tens of thousands of Wisconsinites protested their Republican governor’s attempt to strip public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights.

Where Tuesday’s mid-day protests drew crowds estimated at 12,000 to 15,000, Wednesday's mid-day rally drew 30,000, according to estimates by organizers. Madison Police Chief Noble Wray, a veteran of 27 years on the city’s force, said he had has never see a protest of this size at the Capitol – and he noted that, while crowd estimates usually just measure those outside, this time the inside of the sprawling state Capitol was “packed.”
On Wednesday night, an estimated 20,000 teachers and their supporters rallied outside the Capitol and then marched into the building, filling the rotunda, stairways and hallways. Chants of "What's disgusting? Union busting!" shook the building as legislators met in committee rooms late into the night.

Read on...

Update: Chomsky weighs in.


FOX News Creates Fraudulent Video to Discredit Ron Paul

Peacenik isn't a supporter of Ron Paul. Nor is Fox News. But this example shows how blatant the media's manipulation of news is. And meanwhile the CRTC thinks having Fox News, or Fox News wannabes, is ok in Canada. You want to know why most Republicans think Obama is a Muslim? It is because of media distortion/propaganda like this. Follow the link. Watch the video.

As Paul Joseph Watson of PrisonPlanet writes:

In a shocking act of mass public deception, Fox News attempted to skew Ron Paul’s 2011 CPAC straw poll win by representing it with footage from the previous year’s CPAC event, at which Mitt Romney supporters had loudly booed the result, another example of the continuing dirty tricks campaign being waged against Paul by the establishment media.

Congressman Paul replicated his 2010 victory over Mitt Romney by defeating the former Governor of Massachusetts for a second consecutive year at the annual CPAC conference.

However, before anchor Bill Hemmer introduced a segment concerning the story, Fox News played a clip of the 2010 announcement of the poll results, during which Mitt Romney supporters had loudly booed Ron Paul’s victory, passing off last year’s footage as representative of this year’s event.

Hemmer then proceeded to state, “In the end he was the winner, probably not the reaction he was hoping for,” describing the reaction as “mixed applause and boos,” before directly asking Ron Paul if he knew who was booing him.

Read on....


A 'Dictator' Governor in Wisconsin Sets Out to Cut Wages, Slash Benefits and Destroy Public Unions

My, My, isn't the world an interesting place. While Peacenik is cheering on protesters all over the world, look what is happening in Peacenik's backyard. Organized labour is under a frontal assault all over North America. The people in Tunisia, Egypt, Iran, Syria, etc. all no longer want to be serfs. But in the good old U.S.A. the people are electing rightwing dingbats who are marching the U.S.A. quickly down the road to serfdom. And the serfs are loving it. God bless those patriotic tea baggers. And it isn't much better in Canada. But some of the serfs are doing ok. The publically bailed out General Motors is giving everyone a good old bonus. And Wall Street is awash with bonus money. Peacenik doesn't know what to think. Peacenik is losing track of who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. But Peacenik does know Peacnik is on the slippery slope to something.

by John Nichols

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s proposal to strip public employees of most collective bargaining rights, cut pay and gut benefits without any negotiation the most radical assault yet by the current crop of Republican governors on the rights of workers has inspired outrage in a historically progressive and pro-labor state.

With unions calling on members an allies to “fight back” against a “blatant power grab,” tensions are running so high that the governor, who took office in January, is threatening to call out the National Guard in case of industrial action by state, county and municipal employees. “Even if you don’t like unions,” says Rich Abelson, executive director of AFSCME Council 48, the union that represents Milwaukee County workers, “surely we all can agree that anti-freedom attacks that deny public employees the right to negotiate a fair contract…are outrageous and wrong.”

Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI). Walker’s proposal to strip public employees of most collective bargaining rights, cut pay and gut benefits without any negotiation the most radical assault yet by the current crop of Republican governors on the rights of workers has inspired outrage in a historically progressive and pro-labor state. (AP Photo) Even Republicans are unsettled, with a senior GOP legistator, state Senator Luther Olsen, describing the governor’s announcement a “radical” move that threatens “a lot of good working people.”

Walker never discussed ending collective bargaining during a campaign in which he promised to work across lines of partisanship and ideology to create jobs.

Instead, he has chosen to play political games.

The governor’s budget repair bill, which includes the plan to gut collective bargaining protections for public employees, does not seek to get the state’s fiscal house in order.

Read on...


Mubarak Steps Down, Ceding Power to Military

Peacenik has been trying to follow the Egypt story which has been dragging on for a while now. But Peacenik is confused. The military dictatorship of Murbarak is stepping down in favour of a military dictatorship? How is this an improvement? Why are all those people on TV so happy. Why can I never remember question marks. Until Peacenik sees who steps forth, someone who the people want, Peacenik thinks this may have been an unsuccessful revolution. Peacenik is sure the US is very comfortable with the Egyptian army being in control. Goodbye status quo. Hello status quo. Saudi Arabia is next. Whatever next means, in this case.

CAIRO — President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt resigned his post and turned over all power to the military on Friday, ending his nearly 30 years of autocratic rule and bowing to a historic popular uprising that has transformed politics in Egypt and around the Arab world.

The streets of Cairo exploded in shouts of “God is Great” moments after Mr. Mubarak’s vice president and longtime intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, announced during evening prayers that Mr. Mubarak had passed all authority to a council of military leaders.
“Taking into consideration the difficult circumstances the country is going through, President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave the post of president of the republic and has tasked the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to manage the state’s affairs,” Mr. Suleiman, grave and ashen, said in a brief televised statement.

Read on...

Foreign Policy 101: Plus ca Change

punditman says...

Punditman is not sure why any student would want to study US foreign policy these days because the course could easily be completed in a couple of lectures. That is if the right prof. is lecturing. Or the student could just survey the internet for a couple of hours to get the ugly truth.

Undoubtedly these courses need to fill the time somehow (commercials are probably the next step in university lectures, just like anywhere else you venture these days outside of your already heavily mediated head space). In any case, punditman assumes these course still contain the obligatory, redundant drivel about the machinations of realists, idealists, triangular diplomacy, and other flopsam and jetsom (yawn), most of which avoids the fundamental point concerning American statecraft: namely, the essence of American foreign policy is not difficult to understand because it is based primarly on elite control, corporate profit, war-making and war-preparing and has rarely changed in substantive ways over the centuries and decades regardless of who the boogeyman is (natives, nationalists, Communists, Islamists, etc.) This goes back to the days of Mark Twain around when the US began its fateful path towards imperial power. Twain knew a thing or two about the corruptions of power and money and wasn't afraid to call it as he sees it. The new posthumous autobiography of Twain is no doubt a great read in this regard.

In more recent times, the same old pattern has emerged from country to country:  Support a dictator with money, arms and well wishes for years and years until the people finally rebel. Then preach "stability" while pretending to support people power all the while maneuvering behind the scenes to install your next puppet either overtly or covertly.

It reminds punditman of the following lyrics from "Lives in the Balance," by Jackson Browne (a great American):

And there's a shadow on the faces
Of the men who send the guns
To the wars that are fought in places
Where their business interests run

On the radio talk shows and the T.V.
You hear one thing again and again
How the U.S.A. stands for freedom
And we come to the aid of a friend

But who are the ones that we call our friends--
These governments killing their own?
Or the people who finally can't take any more
And they pick up a gun or a brick or a stone
And there are lives in the balance
There are people under fire
There are children at the cannons
And there is blood on the wire

This article by Philip Giradi, pretty much sums up Punditman's view of the whole scene unfolding in Egypt and how it relates to US foreign policy. It would be nice if the United States lived up to its rhetoric about democracy for once and stopped interfering in other people's countries and put the will of the people above that of elite interests. Then they could actually say and do the right things. Punditman is not holding punditman's breath because punditman does not want to die.


It Ain't Just Mubarak -- 7 of the Worst Dictators the U.S. Is Backing to the Hilt

Peacenik watched the Superbowl and was appalled, amused, and entertained by all the hoopla. Like the U.S. has no problems. All is well with the world. What a celebration. WOW. War criminal George Bush was in the owner's box, along with a whole bunch of other "celebrities/criminals". What other country celebrates the worst of their society? (Btw George Bush had to cancel a trip to Switzerland to avoid getting arrested for war crimes.) What other country celebrates the worst of their society? Take a look at the list of dictatorial regimes the U.S. supports below. And every other banana republic you can think of. Better than Roman circuses before the collapse. At least the Packers won.
From Saudi Arabia to Uzbekistan to Chad, the U.S. keeps some very bad autocrats in power.
Let's take a look at the other dictators from around the planet who are fortunate enough to be on Uncle Sam's good side.
1. Paul Biya, Cameroon
Biya has ruled Cameroon since winning an “election” in 1983. He was the only candidate, and did pretty well, getting 99 percent of the vote.
According to the country's Wikipedia entry, “The United States and Cameroon work together in the United Nations and a number of other multilateral organizations. While in the UN Security Council in 2002, Cameroon worked closely with the United States on a number of initiatives. The U.S. government continues to provide substantial funding for international financial institutions, such as the World Bank, IMF, and African Development Bank, that provide financial and other assistance to Cameroon.”
Amnesty International details unlawful executions, journalists being thrown in jail and a host of other nasty business.

Musings on Western Hypocrisy

punditman says...
Punditman has been busy these past few days, with, among other things, attending to some urgent family matters. Meanwhile, I am happy to see Peacenik has kept the site up-to-date. Let's hear it for Peacenik.

Punditman does not have much time to comment on the state of the world at the moment, but he will point out a few salient features of Western diplomacy and policy that have reared their hypocritical heads a little higher than usual this past little while. Namely, hypocrisy on human rights and the blatent double standard when it comes to the behaviour of "our side" versus "theirs."

Exhibit A: the terror bombing of the Moscow Domodedovo Airport. Remember that? It was all of two weeks ago, soon to be overshadowed by events in Egypt. But it was a major act of terror: at least 36 killed and 180 wounded. Wow, that's certainly newsworthy enough to have more than the tepid follow-up that Western media coverage affords it, meaning it will soon simply slip down the memory hole.

Punditman did read an article the next day in the Toronto Star that talked about how Russia needs to rethink its Caucasus policy to "come to grips with the roots of anger and frustration that have grown a crop of deadly extremists." Not only that, but the situation has become so fragmented politically that it’s not clear with whom Russia can negotiate. Funny, that has a familiar ring to it. Where has Punditman heard that before? Oh yes, in Punditman's head, that's where. Because we rarely hear any such sentiments in the mainstream media when it comes to Western foreign policy, in places like, oh, I dunno...Afghanistan? Or the whole Middle East for that matter. That's because we're on the side of the angels, and democracy, and human rights, and Israel, and all things bright and beautiful, just like we are in Egypt, which leads to Exhibit B: Have you ever seen such hypocritical drivel oozing from the cake holes of Western leaders? The Egytian eruption is a widespread popular revolt against a Western-backed dictatorship, and yet Stephen Harper and Barak Obama can't bring themselves to say without equivocation that we support the people, period. Not Mubarak ("I would not refer to him as a dictator," said Joe Biden), not a Mubarak successor groomed to support our interests, not some sort of "smooth transition," but the people. Smooth transition is code for putting into place the people we want, so they trot out all the unwarranted fears of the Muslim Brotherhood, etc. Human rights, eh?

Ditto for Israel's shameful reaction, best summed up by Anshel Pfeffer in Haaretz:
We (Israelis are) all suffering from Orientalism, not to say racism, if the sight of an entire people throwing off the yoke of tyranny and courageously demanding free elections fills us with fear rather than uplifting us, just because they’re Arabs.
Actually Noam Chomsky sums up these attitudes and the situation a  lot better than Punditman ever could. Check it out.


How to Maintain Internet Access Even If Your Government Turns It Off

It wouldn't surprise Peacenik at all if the Harper Gov't tried to set up a kill switch for the Internet. He's already allowed the CRTC to make it too expensive for some people to use. So Peacenik is going to file this article away for future reference. And Peacenik is glad Peacenik has some walkies talkies and a citizen's band radio. 10-4

This is a great companion article to the brief article I posted yesterday about the expected increasing growing civil unrest and violence worldwide that will be the fallout from Central Banks' highly inflationary fiat currency devaluation schemes. If mass civil unrest strikes a country, a government may respond by banning internet access and severely restricting information flow. To address this concern, Patrick Miller & David Daw just published an article to let you know how you can maintain your freedom of information even when your government tries to ban this right.

I've reprinted some of the most pertinent excerpts from Get Internet Access When Your Government Shuts it Down, by Patrick Miller & David Daw below. I figured that this information will probably be useful to someone living in a country where the next revolution is brewing.

"Even if you've managed to find an Internet connection for yourself, it won't be that helpful in reaching out to your fellow locals if they can't get online to find you. If you're trying to coordinate a group of people in your area and can't rely on an Internet connection, cell phones, or SMS, your best bet could be a wireless mesh network of sorts--essentially, a distributed network of wireless networking devices that can all find each other and communicate with each other. Even if none of those devices have a working Internet connection, they can still find each other, which, if your network covers the city you're in, might be all you need. At the moment, wireless mesh networking isn't really anywhere close to market-ready, though we have seen an implementation of the 802.11s draft standard, which extends the 802.11 Wi-Fi standard to include wireless mesh networking, in the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) XO laptop."

Read on...

The New Face of Revolution: After Tunisia and Egypt, the World

Ted Rall thinks there is hope for a revolution in the U.S.A. And every where else in the world. Peacenik thinks there is too. Peacenik was just reading about the normalization of tent cities in the U.S.A., and about how there are 11 million empty homes in the U.S.A., and how food inflation costs were up over 3% in the last month alone, and how the payrolls on Wall Street set a new all-time record. But it is hard to visualize a protest in the U.S.A. on the scale of the present Egyptian protests. On the other hand, citizens in the U.S.A. own on average 4 guns each. And citizens in the U.S.A. won't be riding around on camels and ponies, hitting people with sticks and whips, if and when they to get riled up enough to get off their asses, and away from their boob tubes. The right-wing media and politicians have been working overtime to delegitimize government. Peacenik didn't used to think that a military coup was possible in the U.S.A. But now Peacenik thinks a military coup might be the event that gets the citizens of the U.S.A. in a protesting mood. First a coup. Then a counter-revolution against the coup. Peacenik thinks it is a possible future.

by Ted Rall

NEW YORK--From the British newspaper the Independent: "Like in many other countries in the region, protesters in Egypt complain about surging prices, unemployment and the authorities' reliance on heavy-handed security to keep dissenting voices quiet."

Sound familiar?

Coverage by U.S. state-controlled media of the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt is too dim by half: they say it's an Arab thing. So it is. But not for long. The problems that triggered the latest uprisings, rising inequality of income, frozen credit markets, along with totally unresponsive government, span the globe. To be sure, the first past-due regimes to be overthrown may be the most brutal U.S. client states--Arab states such as Yemen, Jordan and Algeria. Central Asia's autocrats, also corrupted by the U.S., can't be far behind; Uzbekistan's Islam Karimov, who likes to boil his dissidents to death, would be my first bet. But this won't stop in Asia. Persistent unemployment, unresponsive and repressive governments exist in Europe and yes, here in the U.S. They are unstable. The pressure is building.

Global revolution is imminent.

Read on...


When Corporations Choose Despots Over Democracy

Obama and corporations desperately want the status quo. Even when the status quo means supporting a vicious tyrant. Egypt of course has been the country that has done much of the torturing for Obama. And this is what has Obama and corporations befuddled. The uprisings in Egypt are spontaneous. The spark that set off the uprising was the self immolation of a vegetable vendor in Tunisia about a month ago. Who'da thunk it. A vegetable vendor joins Arch Duke Ferdinand. The outcome of the revolution in Egypt is unknown and uncontrollable. So far, other than Anderson Cooper getting a boo boo, there hasn't been much anti-americanism visible. So Obama and the corporations wait and watch. Hoping that whoever emerges as a leader is willing to accept their corrupt and criminal support. Peacenik.

by Amy Goodman

“People holding a sign ‘To: America. From: the Egyptian People. Stop supporting Mubarak. It’s over!” so tweeted my brave colleague, “Democracy Now!” senior producer Sharif Abdel Kouddous, from the streets of Cairo.

More than 2 million people rallied throughout Egypt on Tuesday, most of them crowded into Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Tahrir, which means liberation in Arabic, has become the epicenter of what appears to be a largely spontaneous, leaderless and peaceful revolution in this, the most populous nation in the Middle East. Defying a military curfew, this incredible uprising has been driven by young Egyptians, who compose a majority of the 80 million citizens. Twitter and Facebook, and SMS text messaging on cell phones, have helped this new generation to link up and organize, despite living under a U.S.-supported dictatorship for the past three decades. In response, the Mubarak regime, with the help of U.S. and European corporations, has shut down the Internet and curtailed cellular service, plunging Egypt into digital darkness. Despite the shutdown, as media activist and professor of communications C.W. Anderson told me, “people make revolutions, not technology.”

The demands are chanted through the streets for democracy, for self-determination. Sharif headed to Egypt Friday night, into uncertain terrain. The hated Interior Ministry security forces, the black-shirted police loyal to President Hosni Mubarak, were beating and killing people, arresting journalists, and smashing and confiscating cameras.

Read on...


Tunisia's Spark & Egypt's Flame: The Middle East Is Rising

Peacenik is becoming bored with the Egyptian riots. Peacenik doesn't know if that says something about Peacenik or about the state of the world. The world is in the early stages of a cataclysmic collapse and Peacenik is bored. Is seven days of watching Egyptians milling around a square boring? Seven days of shitty tv pundits trying to put their spin on things? Seven days of watching Al Jazeera tv on a laptop, and running up huge Internet usage charges? The revolution is moving at a snails pace. Peacenik wants resolution and then on the the next revolution. And the next. And the next. And the next.

Is this how empires end, with people flooding the streets, demanding the resignation of their leaders and forcing local dictators out? Maybe not entirely, but the breadth and depth of the spreading protests, the helplessness of the U.S.-backed governments to stop them, and the rapidly diminishing ability of the United States to protect its long-time clients, are certainly resulting in a level of revolutionary fervor not visible in the Middle East in a generation. The legacy of U.S.-dominated governments across the region will never be the same. The U.S. empire's reach in the resource-rich and strategically vital Middle East has been shaken to its core.

There's a domino effect underway in the Arab world. Tunisia was the spark, not only because its uprising came first but because the people of Tunisia won and the dictator fled. Egypt remains for the United States the most important strategic Arab ally.

The fall of Hosni Mubarak, the U.S.-backed dictator in power for more than three decades, would mean an end to Washington's ability to rely on Cairo to stave off Arab nationalism and independence and an end to Egypt's role as a collaborator in the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Whatever happens, what's likely, though not inevitable, is that never again will Tunisia be used as a transit point or Egypt as a "black site" secret prison for U.S. agents engaged in the "extraordinary rendition" of detainees for interrogation and torture.

Read on...