Progressive Calendar 02.01.11
From: David Shove (
Date: Tue, 1 Feb 2011 01:22:23 -0800 (PST)
               P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   02.01.11

1. Stop FBI/call-in   2.01
2. Salon/Sami Rasouli 2.01 6:30pm
3. KFAI pgm cmte      2.01 7pm

4. Alliant vigil      2.02 7am

5. Eagan peace vigil  2.03 4:30pm
6. Northtown vigil    2.03 5pm
7. Palestine/film     2.03 7pm

8. Kim Petersen - Psywar: riveting film on controlling the public mind
9. L Ali Khan   - Rebelling vs the sham democracies of the Middle East
10. Ron Jacobs  - Point of no return: is the game really over for Mubarak?
11. L Davidson  - Why now? Tunisia, then Egypt
12. S Soldz     - The torture career of Egypt's new vice president
13. KChristison - A Wikileak on the US and Al Jazeera

14. ed            Click!...  )haiku(
15. ed            Reservations for Hell  (((haiku)))

--------1 of 15--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Stop FBI/call-in 2.01

Committee to Stop FBI Repression's National Call-In Day to Fitzpatrick,
Holder and Obama
Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Over 50 cities, hundreds of groups, and thousands of people protested
against FBI and U.S. Grand Jury repression on Tuesday January 25. The
protests are a response to ongoing and expanding repression originating
from U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's office in Chicago. On September
24th, the FBI raided anti-war and solidarity activists' homes and
subpoenaed fourteen in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Michigan. All fourteen
decided to not appear before the Grand Jury in October. The Grand Jury is
a secret and closed inquisition, where the U.S. Attorney controls the
entire proceedings, hand picks the jurors, there is no judge, and the
activists are not allowed a lawyer.

The following month, three Minneapolis women had their subpoenas
reactivated and they are still waiting in limbo. Then nine more Palestine
solidarity activists, most Arab-Americans, were subpoenaed to appear at
the Grand Jury on January 25, 2011, launching renewed protests.

Now we are asking you to call those in charge of the repression aimed
against anti-war leaders and the growing Palestine solidarity movement.

-- Call Off the Grand Jury Witch-hunt Against International Solidarity
-- Support Free Speech!
-- Support the Right to Organize!
-- Stop FBI Repression!
-- International Solidarity Is Not a Crime!

Three calls:
1. Call U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald at 312-353-5300. Then dial 0
(zero) for operator and ask to leave a message with the Duty Clerk.
2. Call U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder at 202-353-1555
3. Call President Obama at 202-456-1111

Suggested text: My name is __________, I am from _______(city), in
______(state). I am calling U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald/Eric
Holder/President Obama to demand he call off the Grand Jury and stop FBI
repression against the anti-war and Palestine solidarity movements. I
oppose U.S. government political repression and support the right to free
speech and the right to assembly of the 23 activists subpoenaed. We will
not be criminalized. Tell him to stop this McCarthy-type witch-hunt
against international solidarity activists!

Please sign and circulate a new petition at .

FFI: Visit or write StopFBI [at] or call

--------2 of 15-------

From: patty <pattypax [at]>
Subject: Salon/Sami Rasouli 2.01 6:30pm

HI, Next Tuesday, Feb. 1, Sami Rasouli will be the guest.  Sami's topic
will be "Why the U.S. Military will be in Iraq till at least 2025."  Sami
lived in the Twin Cities for more than 17 years and owned "Sinbad's"
restaurant in Minneapolis before moving back to Iraq to help rebuild his
own country and found the Muslim Peacemaker Teams.

Pax Salons ( )
are held (unless otherwise noted in advance):
Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
Mad Hatter's Tea House,
943 W 7th, St Paul, MN

Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats.
Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information.

--------3 of 15--------

From: lydiahowell [at]
From: "Adam Mehl" <adammehl [at]>
Subject: KFAI pgm cmte 2.01 7pm

Subject: FEB.1KFAI Program Committee Meeting - Februarty 1, 2011 at 7pm at

The KFAI Program Committee will meet on Tuesday, February 1 st at 7pm in
Studio 5. All Program Committee meetings are open to the public. If you
would like to attend, please RSVP by noon on the 1 st so enough materials
can be provided. The meeting agenda and minutes from the January meeting
are available at

Adam Mehl Program Director KFAI, Fresh Air Radio 1808 Riverside Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55454 (612) 341-3144 x20 (612) 341-4281 fax

--------4 of 15--------

From: AlliantACTION <alliantaction [at]>
Subject: Alliant vigil 2.02 7am

Join us Wednesday morning, 7-8 am
Now in our 14th year of consecutive Wednesday
morning vigils outside Alliant Techsystems,
7480 Flying Cloud Drive Eden Prairie.
We ask Who Profit$? Who Dies?
directions and lots of info:

--------5 of 15--------

From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at]>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 2.03 4:30pm

PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest corner of
Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs and
candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends south
of the river speaking out against war.

--------6 of 15--------

From: EKalamboki [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 2.03 5pm

NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy
10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine.

Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View,
New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park,
Fridley, and Coon Rapids.  We'll have extra signs.

For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or
email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at]

--------7 of 15--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Palestine/film 2.03 7pm

Film Screening: "Life in Occupied Palestine"
Thursday, February 3, 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, February 6, 12:30 p.m. Holy
Trinity Lutheran Church, Library, 2730 East 31st Street, Minneapolis.

A moving introduction to the plight of the Palestinians. Jewish-American
Anna Baltzer presents her discoveries as a volunteer with the
International Women's Peace Service in the West Bank, documenting human
rights abuses and supporting Palestinian-led nonviolent resistance to the
occupation. Sponsored by: Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. FFI: Call

--------8 of 15--------

Riveting debut film on controlling the public mind
by Kim Petersen
January 31st, 2011
Dissident Voice

Psywar is a sterling debut documentary from writer-director Scott Noble.
It is chock full of interviews with thinkers, historical background, and
excellent narration by Mikela Jay.

Psywar explores the evolution of propaganda and public relations in the
United States, with an emphasis on the "elitist theory of democracy" and
the relationship between war, propaganda, and class.

This film is designed both as an introduction to the concept of
psychological warfare by governments against their citizens and as an
exploration of certain dominant themes in American propaganda. Significant
time is also devoted to different conceptions of "democracy" as theorized
by figures like Walter Lippmann, Edward Bernays, and the "founding
fathers" of the United States itself.

Psywar illuminates how the state of the world reached the point it is at
today: where an imperialist United States wages several wars abroad and
maintains the support of its people, despite a growing and yawning chasm
between the haves (who profit from warring) and the have-nots (cannon
fodder deluded by unquestioning patriotic idealism). The US has managed to
drag its fellow capitalist nations along in more-or-less support of its
imperialist aggressions.

People who analyze the state of the world and consider the manifest moral
and humanitarian violations might be forgiven for shaking their heads that
such a whopping segment of humanity could go along with such inequality,
such carnage, such insouciance.

 Psywar begins by looking at how people's distorted perceptions are
                       crafted and maintained

In the opening segment of Psywar, there is video footage of American
soldiers defacing a statue of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein with the Old
Glory. It was a staged event by psyop group. The film then segues into
another infamous pysop about the fallen American soldier Jessica Lynch.
Both events were disinformation campaigns that deliberately misreported

John Rendon, an "information warrior and perception manager," is a major
player in the $200 billion a year perception-management industry. Rendon
is the figure who orchestrated the effort to sell the American public on a
war against Iraq. The American public was buying it early on. At best, it
can be stated the government thought highly enough about the public acumen
that it resorted to disinformation; at least public perception matters.

The corporate media is heavily complicit in the warmongering and warring,
even to the extent that psywarriors at CNN "helped in the production of

Psywar points to a synergy: "The invasion of Iraq represents a pinnacle of
domestic psywar in the United States, an unparalleled integration between
[sic] public relations firms, corporate media, and military psyops".

The perception management was so powerful that even soldiers were so
deceived that they engaged in the greatest crime as defined by the
Nuremberg Tribunal at the end of World War II: aggression.

Perception management is "steeped in class warfare". Psywar tells the
story of the exploitation of workers by the wealthy Rockefeller family.
Striking coal miners seeking better working conditions and pay were
attacked by the National Guard who were in the pay of the Rockefeller
family. It is known as the Ludlow Massacre.

In one of his last videotaped interviews, historian Howard Zinn explains
the dilemma of the working poor against plutocrats such as the Rockefeller

The Ludlow Massacre was a PR nightmare for the Rockefellers. An early
psywarrior, Ivy Lee was instrumental in attempting to rehabilitate the
image of the Rockefellers. His public relations involved smears and
disinformation against the coal miners and their supporters. As Psywar
mentions later in the film, Lee would later propagandize for Nazis against

Early on, it became clear that public perception needed to operate behind
the scenes. Staged PR was arranged, such as charity.

Richard Coniff, author of A Natural History of the Rich, challenges the
philanthropy of rich - stating that the rich hold a "functional view of
wealth rather than a strictly charitable view".

Zinn agreed, noting that charity can be exploitative and that the American
system is exploitative. Zinn said that the "system is maintained [...] by
giving people a little bit, and giving enough people just enough to
prevent them from breaking out in open rebellion".

In the second part of the documentary, Noble looked at propagating the
faith. It begins with Graeme MacQueen, co-founder of the Center for Peace
Studies. He also holds that the support of the people is necessary for
war. However, he said "war is disgusting to most people"; therefore great
psychological pressure is brought to bear upon soldiers.

              National Security is there to swindle people

Christopher Simpson, author of The Science of Coercion, says propaganda is
about mindset and ideology.

Recognizing this, Psywar relates how president Woodrow Wilson helped cast
the propagandistic George Creel Commission which would pave the way for
the US to enter World War I by planting false atrocity stories, stoking
fear in Americans and calling on them to fight the good fight for

The propagandist firm of Hill and Knowlton arranged an infamous staged op
as a prelude to an assault against Iraq. A teenage girl, Nasriyah, cried
crocodile tears and lied about babies being ripped from incubators by
Iraqi soldiers. The false story moved American sentiment to back military
action against Iraqi soldiers in Kuwait.

Patriotism is the sentiment widely relied upon by governments to attain
their ends against foreign foes. Historian Michael Parenti appears to
challenge typical notions of patriotism. He identifies patriotism as being
about greater values than attacking foreign lands; he sees it as about
social justice, peace and stability, an end to racism, etc.

Another problem identified as preventing a public solidarity was that
unions were based on gender and ethnicity.

Historian Sharon Smith said a breakthrough came with the
anarcho-syndicalist union the Industrial Workers of the World (better
known as the Wobblies) which set out to organize and include women,
immigrants, and African Americans in one big union.

Anarcho-syndicalist scholar Noam Chomsky holds that it is natural for
humans to free associate.

The unity among humans is thwarted by a state which uses war to accumulate
power and by corporations to gain enormous fortunes.

           The Left worldwide labor movement is in disarray

In part 3, We the People, Psywar elucidates on how people are pawns in a
system set up in favor of the wealthy.

The existence of democracy is refuted. Chomsky calls elections "a
marketing exercise".

Says William I. Robinson, editor of Critical Globalization Studies, we
live in polyarchy: "a system of elite rule". That is the way the system
was designed to be.

Historian John Manley states that the so-called founding fathers were
slave owners who sought to protect propertied interests. To this end, the
Constitution was crafted behind closed doors. Chomsky notes that James
Madison, the major framer of the Constitution, designed it to protect the
opulent from the majority.

Littler known is that the US Constitution is based on the Kaianerekowa
(Great Law of Peace) of the Haudenosaunee (called Iroquois in Psywar).
Stephen M. Sachs, author of Remembering the Circle, lists how the
Kaianerekowa allowed the Haudenosaunee to easily remove corrupt leaders,
that women had a major role in decision-making, that everyone was involved
in policy formation, thus creating a participatory society.

One weak link stood out in Psywar. Why did the film turn to a white man to
tell the history of "native Americans"? Why not talk to one of the

The final part of Psywar is Consumers. People are indoctrinated to see
themselves as consumers. Advertising reminds people of this. The system
would have people work to consume. To this end, the emphasis is on work,
not leisure. It is feared that less hours of work might foment radicalism.

Sut Jhally of the Media Education Foundation attacked consumptive society:
"The problem of capitalism is the problem of consumption. And the problem
is that after your needs have been met, there is no real need for

The system is reeling now. Neoliberalism calls for cutbacks and results in
increasing inequality. Parenti said we are back to about 1900 in terms of
inequality. "People are poor because they are paid less than the value
that they produce. You need poverty. Poverty is needed if you are gonna
have wealth".

Psywar argues that it is the monopoly media's relentless propaganda that
holds up capitalism. Democracy and capitalism are argued to be mutually
exclusive. If capitalism is sacrosanct, then you can not have democracy.

"Behind political democracy was economic equality".

Psywar tells the story of how and why the world is the way it is now. It
tells of the system, why it was concocted and why it is kept in place.

Knowledge is requisite to combat propaganda and disinformation. It is
necessary to overcome the system and to erect a people-centered system
that respects the needs and aspirations of the society as a whole. Psywar
makes clear that public opinion is important. If it were not important,
then there would be no need for perception management. It is the incessant
propaganda and disinformation that creates a perception of reality. Noble
reveals the framework that exploits class, race, gender, and resources to
benefit the already wealthy at the expense of the masses.

Psywar is a documentary that augurs well for future filmmaking by Noble
who made the film for $1500 while working a blue collar job. It is a good
example of the democratization of filmmaking occurring via the internet.

Kim Petersen is co-editor of Dissident Voice. He can be reached at:
kim [at]

--------9 of 15--------

Rebelling Against the Sham Democracies of the Middle East
When the Arab Street Enforces the Constitution
January 31, 2011

The peoples' revolution is brewing in Tunisia, Yemen, and Egypt. These
nations, unlike the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, have established state
constitutions that promise a democratic form of government and espouse the
principle of popular sovereignty. Article 3 of the Tunisia Constitution
declares that "The sovereignty belongs to the Tunisian People who exercise
it in conformity with the Constitution". Article 4 of the Yemen
Constitution declares that "Power rests with the people who are the source
of all powers". Article 3 of the Egypt Constitution proclaims that
"Sovereignty is for the people alone who are the source of authority".
Invoking these constitutional provisions, the people of Tunisia, Yemen,
and Egypt have resolved to enforce their democratic rights and liberties.

In blatant violation of national constitutions, President Zain El-Abidine
Ben Ali ruled Tunisia for twenty four years (1987-2011), President Ali
Abdul Saleh of Yemen has been in power for over twenty years (1990-2011),
and President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt has occupied the highest state office
for thirty years (1981-2011).  The people have finally elected to recall
these irremovable Presidents by resorting to street power, the ultimate
expression of sovereignty against tyranny. The reasoning of the peoples'
revolution is no other but the one that has inspired other revolutions:
"When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same
object evinces a design to reduce (the people) under absolute despotism,
it is (the people's) right, it is their duty, to throw off such
government, and to provide new guards for their future security". The
peoples of Tunisia, Yemen, and Egypt can no longer tolerate sham

Sham Democracies

It is commonplace in North Africa and the Middle East to establish
irremovable autocracies through the medium of sham democracy. Over the
decades, sham periodic elections have been held in Tunisia, Yemen, and
Egypt to elect parliaments and presidents. However, the same ruling party
returns to power and the same President wins an overwhelming majority of
popular vote. The periodic democratic ritual is staged to delude the
people and the world that the governments in Tunisia, Yemen, and Egypt are
anchored in the will of the people. Nothing is farther from the truth.

In October 2009, Tunisia held sham presidential and parliamentary
elections. The Constitutional Democratic Rally, the ruling party that has
governed Tunisia since its independence from France in 1956, received
nearly 85% of the popular vote. To conceal electoral fraud, the ruling
party refused international monitoring of the elections. In Egypt, the
National Democratic Party has retained power since its creation in 1978.
In the most recent sham elections held in 2010, the National Democratic
Party won 81% of the seats in the national legislature. Opposition parties
that could have challenged the ruling party were banned and their leaders
arrested.  Yemen is essentially a one party state. The next parliamentary
elections are scheduled to be held in April, 2011. It remains to be seen
whether the Yeminis would allow the General People's Congress, the ruling
party, to return to power.

Even sham democracies are tolerable if rulers are competent and just. But
sham democracies are doubly unbearable if the people face unremitting
economic hardships. Hope is at the lowest ebb when protesters wave
baguette as the symbol of revolution. In Tunisia, President Ben Ali and
his family exploited state power to amass huge amount of personal wealth.
Corruption at the top trickled down to the bottom. Tunisian protests began
the day a farmer set himself on fire when the police, in order to extort
money, impounded his vegetable and fruit stand. Yemen, the poorest country
in the region, has made little economic progress under President Saleh's
incompetent administration. In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak has run the state as a
personal fiefdom. The members of the ruling party are blissful and
affluent whereas millions of ordinary people live in shanties. Economic
hardships are further aggravated when omnipresent security forces resort
to cruelty, torture, and inhumane treatment.

United States Support

It is unclear how the United States would react to the peoples' revolution
in Tunisia, Yemen, and Egypt. While the Obama administration has expressed
lukewarm support for Tunisians after Ben Ali's departure, no real support
is offered to the peoples of Yemen and Egypt. If history is any guide, the
U.S. would give public lectures on the people's right to peaceful protest
but secretly support the suppression of revolts in Yemen and Egypt. As
usual, concrete U.S. interests will trump the peoples' right to institute
representative governments. The U.S. would support President Saleh for his
commitment to physically eradicate al-Qaeda, which is taking root in
Yemen. Likewise, the U.S. would support President Mubarak for his
commitment to suppress the Muslim Brotherhood, a religious political party
that opposes U.S. policies in the Middle East. The despots have memorized
the logic of American self-interest.

By betting on the discredited Presidents of Yemen and Egypt, however, the
U.S. will choose the wrong side of the inevitable revolution. The
revolution for genuine democracy, even if brutally suppressed, is unlikely
to fade away. The people seem determined to enforce the national
constitutions that promise free and fair elections, freedom of speech, the
right to vote, and the right to remove a ruling party that no longer
serves their social and economic needs. In his 2009 speech in Cairo,
President Obama rejected the notion of pawning other nations for securing
American interests. He said, "For human history has often been a record of
nations and tribes subjugating one another to serve their own interests.
Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our
interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of
people over another will inevitably fail". Now is the time for President
Obama to support the peoples of Tunisia, Yemen, and Egypt in their
sovereign struggle to self-enforce the democratic constitutions that have
yet to deliver genuine democracy.  [Now is also the time for pigs to fly.

Liaquat Ali Khan is professor of Law at Washburn University in Topeka,
Kansas and the author of A Theory of Universal Democracy (2006).

--------10 of 15--------

The Point of No Return
Is the Game Really Over for Mubarak?
January 31, 2011

As I write this on January 31, 2011,  Al-Jazeera English is ireporting
that six of its reporters have been arrested by the Egyptian military.
Meanwhile there has been ongoing speculation as to whether or not the
Egyptian military will support the ongoing protests against the Mubarak
regime.  The live video feed via internet is broadcasting protests across
the nation.  The protests are growing in front of the camera's eye.

The old Mubarak cabinet has been dismissed and a new one is being
assembled.  A tighter curfew has gone into effect across the nation.  Yet
everyone is ignoring it.  Furthermore, calls for a general strike are
growing; the opposition has issued a call for a "mega-protest" on Tuesday
and the major Islamist opposition group the Muslim Brotherhood has called
for a peaceful transfer of power.

Someone who might be among Washington's favorite men in the opposition,
Mohammed El-Baradei, is supposedly under house arrest, but has appeared in
Tahrir Square and called for Mubarak to step down.  Others are calling for
a trial of Mubarak and his government.  Apparently, no protesters were
killed by the security police yesterday, although over 150 have been
killed since Friday.  Some officers have met with Mubarak, while the
military rank and file remain non-committal.  Major clerics are reminding
their faithful that the shedding of blood is prohibited under Islam.  As I
watch the video, a noticeable difference between yesterday and today's
crowd and protests earlier in the week is the growing presence of women.

According to a report published by Reuters on July 13, 2009, 77 million of
the 80 million Egyptians live on less than $1 a day. Around 30% of the
workforce is unemployed, 7% of children miss schools because of poverty.
There are over 100,000 homeless youth. Egypt's official foreign debt is
around 12 billion dollars, yet several of Mubarak's corrupt ruling elites
have stolen almost half this amount from Egyptian banks.

These facts, along with the record of abuse by police forces defy
Washington's statement that it is "not too late" for the Mubarak regime to
reform itself and become a democratic government.  This statement is
comparable to the Carter administration's support of the Shah of Iran in
1978 and 1979 while street protests that eventually included close to 10%
of the Iranian population rocked the nation.

Although there are a number of major differences between the Iranian
revolution and the current situation in Egypt - with the primary one
possibly being the national differences - the fact is that popular
uprisings are exactly that no matter where they occur.  That being said,
and with the understanding that all sides in Egypt are aware of history,
if the process underway continues, two things to watch out for are the
response to the general strike call, the Tuesday protest call and whether
or not Mubarak is able to woo any leading elements of the opposition into
his sphere.   If the response to the general strike and Tuesday protest
call is massive, than one can expect to see Mubarak either forcefully
crack down on the protests (if he can find any security units to go along
with him) or perhaps even invite someone like El-Baradei into his
government.  Of course, if the latter occurs, El Baradei runs the risk of
losing whatever support he has amongst the protesters.  If that happens
(and using the Iranian experience as a template), then the way for more
religious elements opens wider.

If El-Baradei and other more moderate elements refuse to accept any offers
of reconciliation from Mubarak, then it would seem the only means that
would remain for Mubarak would be resignation or repression.  His
appointment of the current head of Egyptian intelligence to the vice
presidency seems to indicate he may very well choose the latter.  While
official appointments with little meaning are being made by Mubarak, thugs
from his ruling party have been captured by Cairo residents breaking into
homes and shops in that city's wealthier sections.  In response, Egyptians
citizens have begun to set up neighborhood watch committees.

One of the Egyptian movement groups not talked about very much in the west
is Kefaya or the Egyptian Movement for Change.  This group, which was
announced in 2004, is a network of (mostly youthful) opposition groups and
individuals from across the ideological spectrum with the primary goal of
ending the Mubarak family rule.  Its role in the current rebellion is
publicly unannounced, but the fact that the protests seems to have begun
in the universities and amongst Egyptian youth tends to encourage the
supposition that Kefaya was instrumental in organizing them.  Given the
recent rebellions and revolutions across the Arab world, perhaps the
synthesis represented by this movement is the wave of an Arab future.

If so, then the regimes in Yemen, Jordan and other Arab nations would be
smart to initiate reforms sooner rather than later.  That is, unless it is
already too late.  As for Palestine, its administrative forces should pay
close attention.  Not only might they lose whatever authority they have
left among the Palestinians, but the fact of an Arab world composed of
popular governments has got to be one that Israel fears.  After all, it is
the US-sponsored regimes like Mubarak's that have been essential to Tel
Aviv projecting its expansionist policies across the region.  For Mahmoud
Abbas to express his support for Mubarak while the streets of Egypt are
filled with protesters demanding his resignation is extremely
shortsighted.  Furthermore, it looks like a political calculation Abbas
and the Palestinian Authority can ill afford to make given the recent
Wikileaks cable releases revealing the PA's willingness to concede to
Israeli demands many Palestinians consider at best anathema to Palestinian
national interests.

Ignoring governments for the moment, what do these protests mean for
people around the world?  As virtually any earthling knows, the past
decade has seen an increase in economic disparity and political repression
in almost every nation.  From New York to Cairo; from Beijing to Buenos
Aires, the neoliberal world order (or monopoly capitalism's latest phase)
is feeling the effects of its greedy attempts to privatize the very basics
of human survival.  The legal and illegal corruption these attempts and
the poverty they have spawned have been felt the deepest in nations like
Tunisia and Egypt.  Despotic government officials, their national and
international business partners and the security forces that protect them
have robbed and brutalized whole societies.

All the while, those governments in the global north and west that have
backed this phenomenon have in turn removed freedoms and economic security
from large swaths of their own populations.  Consequently, many nations
have seen popular uprisings against these governmental actions, especially
from their student and working class elements.  But only two populations
have reached the point of no return to the past: Tunisia and Egypt.  Their
example serves as a beacon.

Ron Jacobs is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather
Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs' essay on Big Bill
Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch's collection on music, art and sex,
Serpents in the Garden. His first novel, Short Order Frame Up, is
published by Mainstay Press. He can be reached at: rjacobs3625 [at]

--------11 of 15--------

Why Now?
Tunisia, Then Egypt
January 31, 2011

If the recent events in Tunisia and Egypt tell us anything it is that
predicting the beginning of mass unrest is very difficult. Indeed, it is
probably easier to predict the stock market. What one can do, however, is
describe conditions that are likely to create a context conducive to such
unrest. What might those be?

First and foremost are poor economic conditions that are believed
unnecessary by a suffering population. In our day and age this condition
is easy to meet. There are many areas of the world where economies are
stagnant, held hostage by international organizations like the World Bank
and the International Monetary Fund, unable to feed usually growing
populations, and most importantly, unable to employ a growing percentage
of their adult population, including highly educated middle class
individuals. And, in age of worldwide instant communication, no one really
believes that such conditions are the way things have to be. Muhammad
Bouazizi, the young man who, through an act of self-immolation, sparked
the revolt that brought down Tunisia's dictator, was responding to years
of economic frustration.

Police and/or military repression is the second condition that increases
the probability, at least in the long run, of resistance and revolt. In a
country where unemployment is high, the army and the police become primary
employers. But, those so employed are separated out from the rest of the
population as an arm of a government that is unpopular. They often act
with impunity. That is they are above the law and not its servants. If
their salaries are sub-standard or they are not well supervised the police
may well turn criminal. And their usual crime is extortion. Muhammad
Bouazizi committed suicide after police took away his only source of
living. They confiscated his street stall in part because he could not
afford to pay off those in authority.

Thus, rampant corruption is a third ingredient often found in societies
that are vulnerable to popular revolution. When questioned about
employment possibilities, a young man from Bouazizi's town, Sidi Bouzid,
responded, "Why don't I have a job? Because I would have to pay people
connected to the president's family to receive one. They take everything
from us, and give us nothing."

Egypt too reflects this mix, though in different ways than does Tunisia.
In Egypt unemployment is very high, particularly among the young and
college graduates. Having a highly educated labor force that is
chronically unemployed or under employed is always a dangerous mix.
Repression is also high in what amounts to a police state with rigged
elections and torture chambers in the basements of local jails. Corruption
is pervasive in Egypt. Everyone knows that those close to the dictator
control the economy. You want something done, you have to cut them in.

While the three conditions listed above might be necessary to the eventual
outbreak of mass unrest, at least in the non-Western world, they are not
sufficient. Zine Ben Ali was Tunisia's dictator for 23 years. Hosni
Mubarak has "led" Egypt for 30 years. Conditions in both countries have
been ripe for a popular uprising for much of that time. So what is the
missing ingredient? It is probably not one thing, but rather a chain of
things. Here is the surmise put forth by my wife, the anthropologist Janet

A. The default positions among the population of these dictatorships are
fear and passivity.

B. Then something particularly outrageous (Bouaziz's public suicide) or
inspiring (successful revolt in Tunisia) occurs.

C. This event is enough to overcome the fear and passivity of a small
number of people who publically protest.

D. For whatever reason they are not immediately suppressed and this
encourages others to take the chance of coming into the streets.

E. At this point the authorities have a choice. You either come down very
hard on the protestors, which usually includes shooting many of them down,
or you positively respond to their demands. Or sometimes the authorities
are so stunned and uncertain they just do nothing. In 1989 in China the
government choose to shoot the people in Tianamen Square. In Tunisia and
also in Iran of the Shah, and now in Egypt too, the government hesitated
or, as seems likely in the case of Tunisia, the army refused to shoot down
the citizenry.

F. Whatever the reason, hesitation on the part of the government that goes
on long enough changes the default norms. Passivity and fear ebb and all
the discontent and hatred that has built up over the decades comes pouring
out. At that point the days of most dictatorial regimes are numbered.

For a very long time now the U.S. has put its money on the dictators.
Washington has bought both them and their armies so as to have the
leverage to economically exploit their countries and dictate their foreign
policies. We officially call this arrangement "stability." It works most
of the time because most people are in fact passive and fearful. Yet, at
the same time the U.S. government has presented itself as the champion of
democracy. This is mostly for domestic American consumption, but it does
make it difficult for Washington to turn around and advocate the slaughter
of protestors in those rare moments when such a choice presents itself.

However, that does not mean there are not those among us who have not and
would not again do just that or worse. Henry Kissinger and his Chilean
friend Augusto Pinochet come to mind. More recently there are the
neo-conservatives. As far as I am concerned, Jimmy Carter did the right
thing by advising the Shah of Iran not to slaughter those he had so long
oppressed. And, just so, Barack Obama has (at least so far) done the right
thing by advising Hosni Mubarak and his generals not to slaughter the
people of Egypt. However, there is little doubt that Mubarak would have
gotten a very different message from George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald
Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and the entire gang that ran the U.S.A. only a
few years ago.

* * *

The future outcomes of these popular revolts are also difficult to
predict. Unless the protesting elements have strong organization and a
clear notion of how they want their future to look, these things can peter
out as quickly as they erupt. Then the names of the dictators may change,
but the repressive game stays approximately the same. That is also
something Washington calls "stability" or, in the present case of Egypt,
an "orderly transition." Then again, once there is turmoil all manner of
possible outcomes are possible. In Tunisia the dictator is gone and, right
now, the country is calm as a new government is formed. In Egypt things
are much more uncertain. It seems to me that the U.S. is presently backing
Omar Suleiman, Mubarak's newly named vice president. Suleiman was the head
of the Egyptian Intelligence Services and is identified with policies of
cooperation with Israel, particular when it comes to Gaza. He can be
relied upon to be Washington's man in Cairo. Yet the likelihood of the
Egyptian people swapping Mubarak for Suleiman is highly unlikely. There is
also the fact that the Muslim Brothers, who have kept a low profile so
far, can put half a million additional protesting Egyptians in the streets
within hours with little regard to the fact that this would certainly
upset Secretary of State Clinton. They have expressed their willingness to
cooperate with Mohammed El Baradei, someone much more acceptable to the
general population than Suleiman.

So you see, once the genie is out of the bottle so to speak, unless you,
the government and its foreign supporters, are willing to kill a lot of
people, you really can't control the outcome. As in Tunisia, the Egyptian
army has so far decided not to murder its own people. Therefore, we don't
really know how this is all going to play out in the land of the Nile.

Lawrence Davidson is professor of history at West Chester University in
West Chester PA.

--------12 of 15--------

Omar Suleiman and the Rendition to Torture
The Torture Career of Egypt's New Vice President
January 31, 2011

In response to the mass protests of recent days, Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak has appointed his first Vice President in his over 30 years rule,
intelligence chief Omar Suleiman. When Suleiman was first announced,
Aljazeera commentators were describing him as a "distinguished" and
"respected " man. It turns out, however, that he is distinguished for,
among other things, his central role in Egyptian torture and in the US
rendition to torture program. Further, he is "respected" by US officials
for his cooperation with their torture plans, among other initiatives.

Katherine Hawkins, an expert on the US's rendition to torture program, in
an email, has sent some critical texts where Suleiman pops up. Thus, Jane
Mayer, in The Dark Side, pointed to Suleiman's role in the rendition

Each rendition was authorized at the very top levels of both
governments....The long-serving chief of the Egyptian central intelligence
agency, Omar Suleiman, negotiated directly with top Agency officials.
[Former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt] Walker described the Egyptian
counterpart, Suleiman, as "very bright, very realistic," adding that he
was cognizant that there was a downside to "some of the negative things
that the Egyptians engaged in, of torture and so on. But he was not
squeamish, by the way" (pp. 113).

Stephen Grey, in Ghost Plane, his investigative work on the rendition
program also points to Suleiman as central in the rendition program:
To negotiate these assurances [that the Egyptians wouldn't "torture" the
prisoner delivered for torture] the CIA dealt principally in Egypt through
Omar Suleiman, the chief of the Egyptian general intelligence service
(EGIS) since 1993. It was he who arranged the meetings with the Egyptian
interior ministry.... Suleiman, who understood English well, was an urbane
and sophisticated man. Others told me that for years Suleiman was
America's chief interlocutor with the Egyptian regime -- the main channel
to President Hosni Mubarak himself, even on matters far removed from
intelligence and security.

Suleiman's role, was also highlighted in a Wikileaks cable:

In the context of the close and sustained cooperation between the USG and
GOE on counterterrorism, Post believes that the written GOE assurances
regarding the return of three Egyptians detained at Guantanamo (reftel)
represent the firm commitment of the GOE to adhere to the requested
principles. These assurances were passed directly from Egyptian General
Intelligence Service (EGIS) Chief Soliman through liaison channels -- the
most effective communication path on this issue. General Soliman's word is
the GOE's guarantee, and the GOE's track record of cooperation on CT
issues lends further support to this assessment. End summary.

However, Suleiman wasn't just the go-to bureaucrat for when the Americans
wanted to arrange a little torture. This "urbane and sophisticated man"
apparently enjoyed a little rough stuff himself.

Shortly after 9/11, Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib was captured by
Pakistani security forces and, under US pressure, torture by Pakistanis.
He was then rendered (with an Australian diplomats watching) by CIA
operatives to Egypt, a not uncommon practice. In Egypt, Habib merited
Suleiman's personal attention. As related by Richard Neville, based on
Habib's memoir:

Habib was interrogated by the country's Intelligence Director, General
Omar Suleiman.... Suleiman took a personal interest in anyone suspected of
links with Al Qaeda. As Habib had visited Afghanistan shortly before
9/11, he was under suspicion. Habib was repeatedly zapped with
high-voltage electricity, immersed in water up to his nostrils, beaten,
his fingers were broken and he was hung from metal hooks.

That treatment wasn't enough for Suleiman, so:

To loosen Habib's tongue, Suleiman ordered a guard to murder a gruesomely
shackled Turkistan prisoner in front of Habib - and he did, with a vicious
karate kick.

After Suleiman's men extracted Habib's confession, he was transferred back
to US custody, where he eventually was imprisoned at Guantanamo. His
"confession" was then used as evidence in his Guantanamo trial.

The Washington Post's intelligence correspondent Jeff Stein reported some
additional details regarding Suleiman and his important role in the old
Egypt the demonstrators are trying to leave behind:

"Suleiman is seen by some analysts as a possible successor to the
president," the Voice of American said Friday. "He earned international
respect for his role as a mediator in Middle East affairs and for curbing
Islamic extremism".

An editorialist at Pakistan's "International News" predicted Thursday that
"Suleiman will probably scupper his boss's plans [to install his son],
even if the aspiring intelligence guru himself is as young as 75".

Suleiman graduated from Egypt's prestigious Military Academy but also
received training in the Soviet Union. Under his guidance, Egyptian
intelligence has worked hand-in-glove with the CIA's counterterrorism
programs, most notably in the 2003 rendition from Italy of an al-Qaeda
suspect known as Abu Omar.

In 2009, Foreign Policy magazine ranked Suleiman as the Middle East's most
powerful intelligence chief, ahead of Mossad chief Meir Dagan.

In an observation that may turn out to be ironic, the magazine wrote,
"More than from any other single factor, Suleiman's influence stems from
his unswerving loyalty to Mubarak."

If Suleiman succeeds Mubarak and retains power, we will likely be treated
to plaudits for his distinguished credentials from government officials
[eg torture chief Obama -ed] and US pundits.  We should remember that what
they really mean is his ability to brutalize and torture. As Stephen Grey
puts it:

But in secret, men like Omar Suleiman, the country's most powerful spy and
secret politician, did our work, the sort of work that Western countries
have no appetite to do ourselves.

If Suleiman receives praise in the US, it will be because our leaders know
that he's the sort of leader who can be counted on to do what it takes to
restore order and ensure that Egypt remains friendly to US interests.

We sure hope that the Egyptian demonstrators reject the farce of
Suleiman's appointment and push on to a complete change of regime.
Otherwise the Egyptian torture chamber will undoubtedly return, as a new
regime reestablishes "stability" and serves US interests.

Stephen Soldz is a psychoanalyst, psychologist, public health researcher,
and faculty member at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. He
edits the Psyche, Science, and Society blog. Soldz is a founder of the
Coalition for an Ethical Psychology, one of the organizations working to
change American Psychological Association policy on participation in
abusive interrogations; he served as a psychological consultant on several
Gutanamo trials. Currently Soldz is President of Psychologists for Social
Responsibility [PsySR] and a Consultant to Physicians for Human Rights.

--------13 of 15--------

Blaming and (Killing) the Messenger
A Wikileak on the US and Al Jazeera
January 31, 2011

The United States has had it in for al-Jazeera at least since 2000, when
the Qatar-based news network began reporting on Israel's harsh treatment
of Palestinians during the intifada and, a year later, covered the start
of U.S. war-making in the Middle East, revealing to the Arab world a
graphic picture of U.S. and Israeli brutality.  During the Iraq war, U.S.
planes bombed the al-Jazeera station in Baghdad and killed one of its
correspondents, in what clearly appeared to be an attempt to silence the
network.  CounterPunch can show, through a Wikileaks-released cable from
the U.S. embassy in Doha, Qatar, where al-Jazeera is based, that U.S.
officials were still ragging the network in February 2009 in the wake of
Israel's three-week assault on Gaza, because, alone of news networks the
world over, al-Jazeera had actually shown what was happening on the ground
to Gazan civilians besieged by an unrelenting Israeli air, artillery, and
ground attack.

The U.S. ambassador's scolding of al-Jazeera is particularly relevant
today in view of the network's running coverage of the popular uprising in
Egypt against U.S. ally Husni Mubarak.  Mubarak himself has tried to shut
down the network, and one can assume that U.S. officials, undecided just
how to respond to this crisis and which side to support, are at least
biting their fingernails over what to do about this latest instance of
al-Jazeera's honest reporting.  There is no way to hide this uprising,
even with press censorship, and U.S. networks are also reporting non-stop,
but al-Jazeera is the network watched throughout the Arab world, and it is
easy to imagine U.S. policymakers ruing the fact that it is once again
exposing the U.S. alliance with dictatorships and oppression of Arabs.

Accordig to the cable from Doha, on February 10, 2009, three weeks after
the Gaza assault ended, U.S. Ambassador Joseph Lebaron arranged a meeting
with al-Jazeera's director general, Wadah Khanfar, to express concern that
the network's reporting from Gaza was harming the U.S. image "in the Arab
street".  Lebaron's contorted reasoning went as follows: al-Jazeera's
coverage "took viewers" emotions and then raised them to a higher level
through its coverage..  Then Qatar's ruling royal family, which provides
funding to the network, would point to anger on the Arab street as "a call
to action," which Lebaron contended created a vicious circle leading to
"more graphic coverage, more emotion, more demonstrations, and then more
calls to action" - as if the emotion-raising images from Gaza that started
this circle revolving were somehow not real and not the basis of the
story.  There would obviously have been no emotion and no demonstrations
if Israel had not launched the assault in the first place (using U.S.

Lebaron simply did not like the fact that al-Jazeera had shown what was
happening in Gaza.  With jaw-dropping illogic, he complained that
al-Jazeera provided no balance in its reporting because on one side it
showed Israeli talking heads, while "on the other side of the scale, you
are broadcasting graphic images of dead children and urban damage from
modern warfare".  Lebaron was not convinced by Khanfar's point that, even
though al-Jazeera had attempted to provide both perspectives by running
reports in every news bulletin from correspondents in Israel as well as in
Gaza, it was still impossible to "balance" coverage because it was Gazans
who were being killed and Israelis who were talking.

In answer to Lebaron's argument about the vicious circle, Khanfar noted
that demonstrations in other sizable Muslim countries such as Turkey and
Indonesia had also been very large, despite the fact that there was not a
big market for al-Jazeera in these countries.  But Lebaron thought this
argument "extraneous".

It is of course in the nature of any war-making country to wish no one
were looking over its shoulder reporting on the atrocities it and its
allies are committing.  U.S. policymakers and the U.S. media have long
regarded al-Jazeera's television coverage of Israeli and U.S. actions as
"incitement" - as if al-Jazeera rather than we and the Israelis were the
perpetrator, as if al-Jazeera rather than U.S. and Israeli actions were
the cause of anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiment among Arabs.  This
cable is one of the most blatant examples of this effort to manage the
news, avoid responsibility, and blame the messenger.

Kathleen Christison is a former CIA political analyst and the author of
several books on the Palestinian situation, including Palestine in Pieces,
co-authored with her late husband Bill Christison.  She can be reached at
kb.christison [at]

--------14 of 15--------

 We lesser-evil
 liberals do what we're told...
 click...what we're

--------15 of 15--------

 Hell's inner ring is
 reserved for lesser-evil
 liberals. Roast well!


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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