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Journal Archives

Can The Birthplace Of Democracy Provide The Seeds Of Its Renewal?

By Hilary Wainwright
Source: redpepper.org
May 26, 2014

In Athens, there are two kinds of ruins. Alongside the remains of the first fora of democratic government, there is the social devastation wrought by Europe’s most extreme austerity programme. Against this backdrop, people are going to the polls in the second and final round of a closely-fought election for mayor – and 33 year old newcomer George Sakellaridis, candidate for the radical left party Syriza, looks set to be the victor.

Syriza’s candidate has no experience of governmental politics at any level, and it is to the surprise and alarm of many commentators that he is leading the polls. Even the mayoral candidate for the government party New Democracy, defeated in the first round, is now supporting Sakellaridis – though with the remark that “he is a bit too young”.

This lack of experience is part of his appeal. Though it is also potentially a vulnerability, the indications are that he has managed to overcome the classic dilemma facing any would-be challenger to a discredited political class: how to gain credibility with voters without ending up looking like a normal politician? For Robert Michels, the early twentieth century originator of the fatalistic ‘iron law of oligarchy’ and theory of ‘the circulation of elites’, this is not a dilemma, it is a description of reality: young rebels do in fact invariably become the new elite.

If Gabriel Sakellaridis wins on Sunday, he will have taken the first step to overturn Michels’ denial of the possibility of genuinely democratic change. The established politicians in Greece are so discredited that a challenger has to convince voters that they are competent to govern in a radically yet reassuringly, different way. How he has done this indicates that the Athenian experience offers some insights for renewing democracy rather than simply replacing an exhausted elite with a younger, fresher one.

Full article: http://zcomm.org/znetarticle/can-the-birthplace-of-democracy-provide-the-seeds-of-its-renewal/

I wasn't going to tell..., but I bought the '67 Ferrari.


Oh what a joke.

I'm 'swallowing' what I've learned from reading many, many articles and actually seeing the people vote. Why the fuck would they want to remain under the fist of fascists who are fighting to be rid of anyone and anything 'pro-russian' when they have Russian roots and culture that goes back centuries?

A brutal coup will always be a brutal coup, no matter what happens afterward. History doesn't change, no matter how much you want it to. Talk about being off the deep end. You've sunk to the bottom.

Carl Gershman, a leading neocon and longtime president of the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy, took to the op-ed page of the neocon-flagship Washington Post to urge the U.S. government to push European “free trade” agreements on Ukraine and other former Soviet states and thus counter Moscow’s efforts to maintain close relations with those countries.

The ultimate goal, according to Gershman, was isolating and possibly toppling Putin in Russia with Ukraine the key piece on this global chessboard. “Ukraine is the biggest prize,” Gershman wrote. “Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

In furtherance of these goals, NED funded scores of projects in Ukraine, training activists, financing “journalists” and organizing business groups, according to NED’s annual report.

After Yanukovych rejected the IMF’s terms for European association as too drastic – because they would hit the already hard-hit Ukrainian people even harder – his removal from power became the State Department’s goal, as Assistant of State Nuland urged on the demonstrators in the Maidan by passing out cookies and reminded Ukrainian business leaders that the United States had invested $5 billion in their “European aspirations.”


Afrikan Liberation Day and the Commitment to an Anti-imperialist Pan-Afrikan Solidarity

by Ajamu Nangwaya / May 23rd, 2014

May 25, 2014 is the 56th anniversary of Afrikan Liberation Day (ALD) and it should be observed as more than a commemorative event. ALD was institutionalized by the emerging independent states in Afrika to give focus, direction and resources to the struggle against colonial domination. However, the work of emancipating Afrika and Afrikans from exploitation and domination is still a work-in-progress during this post-colonial or flag independence moment. ALD started out as Africa Freedom Day (AFD) on April 15, 1958 at the Conference of Independent Afrikan States in Accra, Ghana, which had in attendance the eight states that won their independence. The anti-colonial and decolonization process progressed to such an extent that there were thirty-two independent states on May 25, 1963 when the Organization of Afrikan Unity was created and it renamed Afrika Freedom Day as Afrikan Liberation Day.

Some observers might be impressed with the rapid pace at which the states were becoming independent of European colonialism. However, the progress was a quantitative experience and not a qualitative shift from the oppressive economic, political and social structures of capitalism and colonialism. By 1961, Frantz Fanon was already documenting his observation of the betrayal of the people’s aspiration and expectation of independence:

The peoples of Africa have only recently come to know themselves. They have decided, in the name of the whole continent, to weigh in strongly against the colonial regime. Now the nationalist bourgeoisies, who in region after region hasten to make their own fortunes and to set up a national system of exploitation, do their utmost to put obstacles in the path of this “Utopia.”…. This is why we must understand that African unity can only be achieved through the upward thrust of the people, and under the leadership of the people, that is to say, in defiance of the interests of the nationalist bourgeoisie.1

Horace Campbell is unsparing in his condemnation of “former freedom fighters have used the history of the liberation struggles to hold on to political power, to enrich themselves and diminish the meaning of independence and liberation.”2

Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2014/05/afrikan-liberation-day-and-the-commitment-to-an-anti-imperialist-pan-afrikan-solidarity/

Brief history of the African Liberation Day

Agwambo Odera (Press release)—On 15 April 1958, in the city of Accra, Ghana, African leaders and political activists gathered at the first conference of independent African states.

It was attended by representatives of the governments of Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, The United Arab Republic (which was the federation of Egypt and Syria) and representatives of the National Liberation Front of Algeria and the Union of Cameroonian Peoples. This conference was significant in that it represented the collective expression of African Peoples’ disgust with the system of colonialism and imperialism, which brought so much suffering to African people. Further, it represented the collective will to see the system of colonialism permanently done away with.

After 500 years of the most brutal suffering known to humanity, the rape of Africa and subsequent slave, which cost Africa in excess of about 100,000,000 of her children, the masses of African people singularly, separately, individually, in small disconnected groupings for centuries had said ‘enough!’ But in 1958, at the Accra conference, it was being said in ways that emphasised joint, coordinated and unified action. This conference gave sharp clarity and definition to Pan Africanism, the total liberation and unification of Africa under scientific socialism. The conference as well laid the foundation and the strategy for the further intensification and coordination of the next stage of the African revolution, for the liberation of the rest of Africa, and eventual and complete unification.

The conference called for the founding of African Freedom Day, a day to ‘mark each year the onward progress of the liberation movement, and to symbolise the determination of the people of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploration’. Five years later after the first conference of independent African states in the city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia another historical meeting occurred. On 25 May 1963, leaders of 32 independent Africa states met to form the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). By then more than two thirds of the continent had achieved independence from colonial rule. At that historic meeting, the date of Africa Freedom Day was changed from 15 April to 25 May and Africa Freedom Day was declared African Liberation Day. African Liberation Day has since then been held on 25 May in every corner of the world.

Full article: http://www.pambazuka.org/aumonitor/comments/brief_history_of_the_african_liberation_day/

Russia-China strategic accords in view

By Manlio Dinucci on May 22, 2014
This article by Manlio Dinucci was published in Il Manifesto on May 20 and translated by Workers World managing editor John Catalinotto from Italian.

While NATO convenes its 28 defense ministers in Brussels on May 21 to strengthen its forces to confront Russia, which includes improving the training of Kiev’s military and paramilitary forces (including squads that have attempted the murder of the secretary of the Ukrainian Communist Party), and the European Union adopts new sanctions against Russia, this aggression is being answered not from Moscow but from far-away Beijing.

President Putin begins his official visit to China on May 21, during which the two countries will sign 30 bilateral agreements, whose first effect will be to neutralize Washington’s plan aimed at “isolating Putin’s Russia by cutting off its economic and political ties to the outside world.”

The agreements’ scope is strategic. A contract worth $270 billion between the Russian state company Rosneft and China’s National Petroleum Company provides that Russia will supply more than 700 million tons of oil to China over the next 25 years. Another contract provides that the Russian state company Gazprom will supply 38 billion cubic meters of gas per year to China by 2018, or about a quarter of what it provides today to Europe.

The Chinese plan investments amounting to $20 billion, concentrated in infrastructure. Moscow plans to strengthen the pipeline between eastern Siberia and the Pacific, joining it to a 2,500-mile pipeline to supply China. Beijing is also interested in making investments in the Crimea, in particular for the production and export of liquefied natural gas, and for the modernization of agriculture and the construction of a cereal terminal.

Full article: http://www.workers.org/articles/2014/05/22/russia-china-strategic-accords-view/

Inside the Troubling Rise of Fascist Parties Across Europe

By Robert Kuttner
Source: The Huffington Post
May 23, 2014

As Europe’s depression continues six years after the financial collapse of 2007-2008, watch for far-right parties to make big gains in this week’s elections to the EU’s European Parliament. And why not? The establishment parties of Europe’s center-right and center-left have put austerity policies and the interests of banks ahead of a real economic recovery for regular people.

More than 20 years ago, when the European Union created its constitution in the form of the Treaty of Maastricht, the hope was that Europe stood for a social compact that put citizens first. Europe, especially northern Europe, was a model of decent earnings, universal social benefits and regulation that prevented wealth from swamping citizenship.

In Europe, proto-fascist parties that are anti-immigrant, anti-Islam, anti-Semitic and anti-European Union are now the second or third largest parties in a belt of formerly liberal societies that runs from Norway and Finland to the Netherlands and France. In Hungary, where the anti-democratic nationalist Fidesz Party already governs, the more extremist Jobbik Party is making even bigger gains.

As economic oligarchs run roughshod over the livelihoods of working people, despairing people give up on democratic government as a counterweight and turn to ultra-nationalism and the far right. There is a bizarre alliance between plutocrats and the downwardly mobile. The elites laugh all the way to the bank.

Full article: http://zcomm.org/znetarticle/inside-the-troubling-rise-of-fascist-parties-across-europe/

The 95% Doctrine: Climate Change as a Weapon of Mass Destruction

Is climate change a crime against humanity? Let's go with... Yes.

by Tom Engelhardt

Published on Thursday, May 22, 2014 by TomDispatch

The fossil fuel industry is waging a war on the planet's ecosystem and her people. It's not only unnecessary and obscene, but should be considered a crime. (Image: public domain)

Who could forget? At the time, in the fall of 2002, there was such a drumbeat of “information” from top figures in the Bush administration about the secret Iraqi program to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and so endanger the United States. And who -- other than a few suckers -- could have doubted that Saddam Hussein was eventually going to get a nuclear weapon? The only question, as our vice president suggested on “Meet the Press,” was: Would it take one year or five? And he wasn’t alone in his fears, since there was plenty of proof of what was going on. For starters, there were those “specially designed aluminum tubes” that the Iraqi autocrat had ordered as components for centrifuges to enrich uranium in his thriving nuclear weapons program. Reporters Judith Miller and Michael Gordon hit the front page of the New York Times with that story on September 8, 2002.

....No point, of course, in blaming this on fossil fuels or even the carbon dioxide they give off when burned. These are no more weapons of mass destruction than are uranium-235 and plutonium-239. In this case, the weaponry is the production system that’s been set up to find, extract, sell at staggering profits, and burn those fossil fuels, and so create a greenhouse-gas planet. With climate change, there is no “Little Boy” or “Fat Man” equivalent, no simple weapon to focus on. In this sense, fracking is the weapons system, as is deep-sea drilling, as are those pipelines, and the gas stations, and the coal-fueled power plants, and the millions of cars filling global roads, and the accountants of the most profitable corporations in history.

All of it -- everything that brings endless fossil fuels to market, makes those fuels eminently burnable, and helps suppress the development of non-fossil fuel alternatives -- is the WMD. The CEOs of the planet's giant energy corporations are the dangerous mullahs, the true fundamentalists, of planet Earth, since they are promoting a faith in fossil fuels which is guaranteed to lead us to some version of End Times.

Perhaps we need a new category of weapons with a new acronym to focus us on the nature of our present 95%-100% circumstances. Call them weapons of planetary destruction (WPD) or weapons of planetary harm (WPH). Only two weapons systems would clearly fit such categories. One would be nuclear weapons which, even in a localized war between Pakistan and India, could create some version of “nuclear winter” in which the planet was cut off from the sun by so much smoke and soot that it would grow colder fast, experience a massive loss of crops, of growing seasons, and of life. In the case of a major exchange of such weapons, we would be talking about “the sixth extinction” of planetary history.

Full article: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/05/22-6

Work It! The New Face of Labor in Fashion

By Annemarie Strassel
Source: Dissent
May 23, 2014

.......In the last year, Ziff has traveled to Bangladesh, toured factories, and visited garment workers in their homes. She has a broad vision of labor solidarity within the industry, with hopes of one day expanding the mission of Model Alliance to stand in solidarity with fashion workers across the global supply chain. In addition to recent partnerships with Kalpona Akter in solidarity with Bangladeshi garment workers, Model Alliance has joined forces with the Retail Action Project (RAP), a newly formed organization of retail workers fighting low wages, wage theft, and scheduling abuses for clothing workers in high-end department stores and multinational chains like Victoria’s Secret. In recent months, Model Alliance and RAP have teamed up to help uninsured workers in the fashion industry navigate the Affordable Care Act’s new state insurance exchanges. They have also organized events to raise awareness about the impact of “fast fashion” on frontline workers like models and retail workers. These efforts raise new hopes for a unified front against industry abuses.

When figures like Akter and Ziff work together, they harness distinct strengths, lending each other their respective credibility and visibility. Interns and models have been extraordinarily successful at generating media interest, even absent grassroots organizing. Model Alliance in particular has adroitly harnessed the star power of models like Coco Rocha and Milla Jovovich to raise the profile of the fledgling organization and its key campaigns. At the same time, models and interns struggle to lift the veil of prestige that disguises their labor. Meanwhile, factory workers have achieved widespread recognition of their plight and a scale of organizing in places like Cambodia and Bangladesh that the labor movement in contemporary America can only dream about. But despite the groundswell, factory workers past and present have struggled to get global attention absent major catastrophe.

Standing together, these workers signal the commonality of their struggle, made all the more powerful by their apparent differences—geographic, occupational, and socioeconomic. These initial gestures of supply chain solidarity point to a more holistic approach to the industry, one that integrates our notions of fashion and labor and connects workers internationally.

“You see front-page headlines about Rana Plaza, but the headlines go away and people continue to buy without regard for where clothes are made or under what conditions,” says Ziff. “Maybe we could foster this sense that as models, we don’t want to be the face of companies that exploit their workers—we don’t have to be complicit in this. I think that would be very powerful and help reach consumers. We’re still finding our footing, but I am excited by a long-term vision.”

Full article: http://zcomm.org/znetarticle/work-it-the-new-face-of-labor-in-fashion/

Protecting Venezuelans’ Constitutional Right to Health Care

By Arlene Eisen
Source: Venezuelanalysis.com
May 24, 2014

The people of Venezuela enjoy health care as a constitutional right. Yet given the political economy of the pharmaceutical industry, the distribution of medication necessary to secure that right has been inconsistent.

This last week the Vice Minister of Resources, Technology and Regulation in the Ministry of Health, Aurelio Tosta, and the National Coordinator of the Oncology Program, Claudia Morón each announced the arrival of large shipments of medications. Tosta also publicized new policy measures to ensure the nation’s continuing supply of essential medicines.

According to some reports, on September 1, 2013, an organization called Doctors for Health petitioned the Ministry to rectify gaps in supply of medications. The President of the Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation, Freddy Ceballos claimed that there were problems with the distribution of 40% of needed medications because of difficulties in access to foreign currency needed for imports.

On May 20, 2014, Carlos Jesús Rivas Perez, an Aporrea commentator, noted, “The pharmaceutical industry, all based in capitalist countries, is one of the most influential politically and most powerful economically in the world. They use medication as a political weapon, manipulating scarcity to increase profits, discontent and anxiety”. Given this political and economic fact, Rivas Perez suggests the best solution is for Venezuela, like Brazil, to create a state laboratory to produce its own generic drugs.

Tosta indicated that the Ministry of Health is taking steps to increasing worker and productive capacity towards achieving the “medication sovereignty” that Rivas Perez suggested. To consolidate medication production, the Ministry is planning to institute post-graduate studies in pharmaceutical studies. Also, he reported that his ministry is negotiating with foreign enterprises to construct binational factories inside Venezuela to produce the most expensive pharmaceuticals—those used to treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and orthodontal problems.

Full article: http://zcomm.org/znetarticle/protecting-venezuelans-constitutional-right-to-health-care/

Toward a New Cold War? - Paul Street

Toward a New Cold War?

By Paul Street

May 24, 2014

.......Here is a useful observation from John Pilger last October: “Countries are ‘pieces on a chessboard upon which is being played out a great game for the domination of the world,’ wrote Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, in 1898. Nothing has changed.”

One thing that certainly hasn’t changed is the readiness of the United States corporate and so-called “mainstream media” (MSM) to report and comment on how Washington plays the “great game” in strict accord with the ideological and propagandistic requirements of US-imperial establishment.

The early 2014 Ukraine crisis provides a perfect example. The US “MSM” coverage and commentary is childish at best. As far as one could tell from what “mainstream” US talking heads and press agents reported, the crisis came down to the big mean imperial bully Vladimir Putin and his Russian gangster-thugs attacking poor and nice Ukraine and trying to carve it up. There was no imperial U.S. bully anywhere to be found in the official “MSM” story. The basic theme was as follows: “Bad Putiin! Good U.S. and Good U.S.-backed Ukraine!! What can and must Captain America do to protect Ukraine and Europe from That Dastardly Fiend in the Kremlin?!” According to the leading New York Times columnist and multi-media super-pundit David Brooks on the “Public” Broadcasting System’s Newshour last April 18th, “The main show is in Vladimir Putin’s brain. It’s just one person who matters here. And the brain is pretty aggressive…In our response, we really need a psychiatrist…a psychological campaign.”

Recall the previously mentioned title of a recent Washington Post column: “China and Russia Bring Back Cold War…”

Never mind clear evidence that the U.S. State Department played a critical role in engineering a coup that put a right-wing anti-Russian government in power in Kiev in mid February of 2014. Never mind Russia’s long history of being disastrously invaded (from the Mongols through Napoleon and Hitler) on its Western border. And never mind the United States’ recent history of humiliating, surrounding, and otherwise threatening Russia, a history that includes:

Full (long) article: http://zcomm.org/znetarticle/toward-a-new-cold-war/
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