|Progressive Calendar 02.01.11||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|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] mtn.org> 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 Activists! -- 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 http://www.stopfbi.net/petition . FFI: Visit www.StopFBI.net or write StopFBI [at] gmail.com or call 612-379-3585. --------2 of 15------- From: patty <pattypax [at] earthlink.net> 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 ( http://justcomm.org/pax-salon ) 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] comcast.net From: "Adam Mehl" <adammehl [at] kfai.org> Subject: KFAI pgm cmte 2.01 7pm Subject: FEB.1KFAI Program Committee Meeting - Februarty 1, 2011 at 7pm at KFAI 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 KFAI.org/programming. Adam Mehl Program Director KFAI, Fresh Air Radio 1808 Riverside Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55454 (612) 341-3144 x20 (612) 341-4281 fax www.kfai.org --------4 of 15-------- From: AlliantACTION <alliantaction [at] circlevision.org> 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: alliantACTION.org --------5 of 15-------- From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at] msn.com> 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] aol.com 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] aol.com. --------7 of 15-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> 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 612-729-8358. --------8 of 15-------- Psywar 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 events. 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 news". 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 family. 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 Americans. 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 democracy. 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 Haudenosaunee? 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 consumption". 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] dissidentvoice.org. --------9 of 15-------- Rebelling Against the Sham Democracies of the Middle East When the Arab Street Enforces the Constitution By LIAQUAT ALI KHAN January 31, 2011 CounterPunch 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 democracies. 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. -ed] 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? By RON JACOBS January 31, 2011 CounterPunch 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] charter.net --------11 of 15-------- Why Now? Tunisia, Then Egypt By LAWRENCE DAVIDSON January 31, 2011 CounterPunch 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 Amighi: 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 By STEPHEN SOLDZ January 31, 2011 CounterPunch 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 program: 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 By KATHLEEN CHRISTISON January 31, 2011 CounterPunch 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. arms). 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] earthlink.net. --------14 of 15-------- We lesser-evil liberals do what we're told... click...what we're told...click... --------15 of 15-------- Hell's inner ring is reserved for lesser-evil liberals. Roast well! ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments vote third party for president for congress for governor now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8 Research almost any topic raised here at: CounterPunch http://counterpunch.org Dissident Voice http://dissidentvoice.org Common Dreams http://commondreams.org Once you're there, do a search on your topic, eg obama drones
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