Saturday, February 28, 2009
Richard Reynolds and his 93 year old grandmother go guerrilla gardening in Totnes Devon. She gets a kiss from a stranger for her efforts and Richard tries (and fails) to get some locals interested in planting veg.
From TV Guide: Urban guerrillas by Helen Ganska
Helen Ganska reports the revolution has begun.
Guerrilla gardening is political gardening.
It is a form of non-violent direct action, primarily practiced by environmentalists. Activists take over an abandoned piece of land which they do not own to grow crops or plants.
The gardeners believe in re-considering land-ownership to reclaim land from perceived neglect or misuse and assign a new purpose to it.
There are six guerrilla gardeners in the Channel 10 show.
They are Ally – gardening guru; Lilly – 'Jill of all trades' with a penchant for power tools; Scott and Pete – construction experts; Dave – keeping the public and the law on side and Mickie - the mastermind behind the disguises.
Executive producer Nick Murray talks about the show from his car while waiting to see if the council have got wind of their illegal project.
“Every week we have different decals on the side of our trucks and logos on our clothes to make sure we keep our cover,” he says.
“Channel 9’s Domestic Blitz was up here the other day and was shut down by the council and so we thought we would need to get away with it for a bit longer.”
On set two weeks ago the gardening team had filmed 18 ‘stings’ and had one shut down by the council with another one shut down but then allowed to be resurrected.
“With the council we try and buy a little extra time and if we push it back up the bureaucratic chain then we can buy some time.
“It can take them a while to work out if we should be there or not.
“Often we can be on the border of two councils and it takes a while to determine whose land it is.
“That is often why the land that we select is derelict and disused.”
The earliest record of guerrilla gardening was in 1973 when Liz Christy and her team transformed a derelict private lot in the Bowery Houston area of New York into a garden.
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Afghan war documentary charges US with mass killings of POWs
Showings in Europe spark demands for war crimes probe
By Stefan Steinberg
17 June 2002
A documentary film, Massacre in Mazar, by Irish director Jamie Doran, was shown to selected audiences in Europe last week, provoking demands for an international inquiry into US war crimes in Afghanistan.
The film alleges that American troops collaborated in the torture of POWs and the killing of thousands of captured Taliban soldiers near the town of Mazar-i-Sharif. It documents events following the November 21, 2001 fall of Konduz, the Taliban’s last stronghold in northern Afghanistan.
The film was shown in Berlin by the PDS (Party of Democratic Socialism) parliamentary fraction to members of the German parliament on June 12. The following day it was shown to deputies and members of the press at the European parliament in Strasbourg.
After seeing the film, French Euro MP Francis Wurtz, a member of the United Left fraction that organised the showing, said he would call for an urgent debate on the issues raised in the film at the next session of the European parliament in July. A number of other deputies in the European parliament called on the International Committee of the Red Cross to carry out an independent investigation into the allegations raised in the film.
Leading international human rights lawyer Andrew McEntee, who was present at the special screening in Berlin, said it was “clear there is prima facie evidence of serious war crimes committed not just under international law, but also under the laws of the United States itself.”
McEntee called for an independent investigation. “No functioning criminal justice system can choose to ignore this evidence,” he said.
The Pentagon issued a statement June 13 denying the allegations of US complicity in the torture and murder of POWs, and the US State Department followed suit with a formal denial on June 14.
Doran, an award-winning independent filmmaker, whose documentaries have been seen in over 35 countries, said he decided to release a rough cut of his account of war crimes because he feared Afghan forces were about to cover up the evidence of mass killings. “It’s absolutely essential that the site of the mass grave is protected,” Doran told United Press International after the screening in Strasbourg. “Otherwise the evidence will disappear.”
Doran’s call for the preservation of evidence was echoed by the Boston-based Physicians for Human Rights, which issued a statement June 14 urging that immediate steps be taken to safeguard the gravesite of the alleged victims near Mazar-i-Sharif.
Late last year Doran shot footage of the aftermath of the massacre of hundreds of captured Taliban troops at the Qala-i-Janghi prison fortress outside of Mazar-i-Sharif. His film clips, showing prisoners who had apparently been shot with their hands tied, ignited an international outcry over the conduct of American special operations forces and their Northern Alliance allies.
Doran’s new film includes interviews with eyewitnesses to torture and the slaughter of some 3,000 POWs. It also contains footage of the desert scene where the alleged massacre took place. Skulls, clothing and limbs still protrude from the mound of sand, more than six months after the event.
The film has received widespread coverage in the European press, with articles featured in some of the main French and German newspapers (Le Monde, Suddeutsche Zeitung, Die Welt). Jamie Doran has also given interviews to two of the main German television companies.
While the documentary has become a major news story in Europe, it has been virtually blacked out by the American media. The UPI released a dispatch on the screenings last week, yet the existence of the film has not even been reported by such leading newspapers as the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post. The film and its allegations of US war crimes have been similarly suppressed by the television networks and cable news channels.
This reporter was able to view the 20-minute-long documentary in Berlin. In the course of the film a series of witnesses appear and testify that American military forces participated in the armed assault and killing of several hundred Taliban prisoners in the Qala-i-Janghi fortress. Witnesses also allege that, following the events at Qala-i-Janghi, the American army command was complicit in the killing and disposal of a further 3,000 prisoners, out of a total of 8,000 who surrendered after the battle of Konduz.
Afghan witnesses who speak of these atrocities are not identified by name, but, according to the director, all those testifying in the film are willing to give their names and appear before an international tribunal to investigate the events of the end of last November and beginning of December.
In Doran’s film, Amir Jahn, an ally of Northern Alliance leader General Rashid Dostum, states that the Islamic soldiers who surrendered at Konduz did so only on the condition that their lives would be spared. Some 470 captives were incarcerated in Qala-i-Janghi. The remaining 7,500 were sent to another prison at Kala-i-Zein.
Following a revolt by a number of the prisoners in Qala-i-Janghi, the fortress was subjected to a massive barrage from the air as well as the ground by American troops. The atrocities inside Qala-i-Janghi are confirmed in the film by the head of the regional Red Cross, Simon Brookes, who visited the fort shortly after the massacre. He investigated the area and found bodies, many with their faces twisted in agony.
The American Taliban supporter John Walker Lindh was one of 86 Taliban fighters who were able to survive the massacre by hiding in tunnels beneath the fort . In one chilling scene in the film, we witness actual footage, secretly shot, of the interrogation of Lindh. We see him kneeling in the desert, in front of a long row of captive Afghans, being interrogated by two CIA officers. The officer leading the interrogation is heard to say: “But the problem is he needs to decide if he lives or dies. If he does not want to die here, he is going to die here, because we are going to leave him here and he’s going to stay in prison for the rest of his life.”
Massacre in Mazar then goes to describe the treatment meted out to the remaining thousands of captives who had surrendered to the Northern Alliance and American troops. A further 3,000 prisoners were separated out from the total of 8,000 who had surrendered, and were transported to a prison compound in the town of Shibarghan.
They were shipped to Shibarghan in closed containers, lacking any ventilation. Local Afghan truck drivers were commandeered to transport between 200 and 300 prisoners in each container. One of the drivers participating in the convoy relates that an average of between 150 and 160 died in each container in the course of the trip.
An Afghan soldier who accompanied the convoy said he was ordered by an American commander to fire shots into the containers to provide air, although he knew that he would certainly hit those inside. An Afghan taxi driver reports seeing a number of containers with blood streaming from their floors.
Another witness relates that many of the 3,000 prisoners were not combatants, and some had been arrested by US soldiers and their allies and added to the group for the mere crime of speaking Pashto, a local dialect. Afghan soldiers testify that upon arriving at the prison camp at Shibarghan, surviving POWs were subjected to torture and a number were arbitrarily killed by American troops.
One Afghan, shown in battle fatigues, says of the treatment of prisoners in the Shibarghan camp: “I was a witness when an American soldier broke one prisoner’s neck and poured acid on others. The Americans did whatever they wanted. We had no power to stop them.”
Another Afghan soldier states, “They cut off fingers, they cut tongues, they cut their hair and cut their beards. Sometimes they did it for pleasure; they took the prisoners outside and beat them up and then returned them to the prison. But sometimes they were never returned and they disappeared, the prisoner disappeared. I was there.”
Another Afghan witness alleges that, in order to avoid detection by satellite cameras, American officers demanded the drivers take their containers full of dead and living victims to a spot in the desert and dump them. Two of the Afghan civilian truck drivers confirm that they witnessed the dumping of an estimated 3,000 prisoners in the desert.
According to one of the drivers, while 30 to 40 American soldiers stood by, those prisoners still living were shot and left in the desert to be eaten by dogs. The final harrowing scenes of the film feature a panorama of bones, skulls and pieces of clothing littering the desert.
On October 23, 1958, Boris Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his "important achievement both in contemporary lyrical poetry and in the field of the great Russian epic tradition."
The latter clause referred to a controversial novel, banned in the Soviet Union, smuggled out to the West, and released in 1957 in Italian by the prominent Milanese publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli.
The work, "Doctor Zhivago," was a tragic love story set against the tumult of Russia's Bolshevik Revolution. Goslitizdat, the Soviet Union's main publishing house, had initially promised to publish the book in a season of growing social liberalization. But the Hungarian uprising in 1956 prompted Moscow to once again tighten the screws. Pasternak, whose work was seen as a subtle critique of the Soviet regime, was once again in the cold.
Without a "Zhivago" in the original Russian, Pasternak would lose his most important audience - and, it was believed, his chance of winning a Nobel. Although the Swedish Academy is famously protective of its rules for eligibility, it has long been believed an author must be published in his native language in order to be considered for the prize.
After Feltrinelli's Italian publication, "Zhivago" was later translated into English and French. But it wasn't until September 1958 - just a month before the Swedish Academy made its announcement - that a version of the original Russian text saw light at Expo 58, the Brussels World's Fair.
It was a mutant of a book, riddled with typographic and grammatical errors, incomplete passages, and underdeveloped story lines. The jacket appeared to come from The Hague-based academic publisher Mouton, but the title page was Feltrinelli's. This "Zhivago" had clearly not gone through ordinary publishing channels. So who was responsible?
The Soviets, infuriated by Pasternak's Nobel win, blamed the agents of imperialism.
Nikita Khrushchev denounced the Swedish Academy for political meddling and demanded that the prize be awarded instead to socialist realist Mikhail Sholokhov.
Still, few had reasons to doubt the Soviet accusations. It was obvious Moscow hadn't published "Zhivago" or lobbied for its author to win the Nobel. If it wasn't them, it stood to reason it had to be the other side. But the University of Michigan soon published an official Russian version of the work, and questions about the "mutant Zhivago" soon faded.
Thirty years later, I set out to trace its mysterious lineage.
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'Senoi Dream Theory is a set of claims about how people can learn to control their dreams to reduce fear and increase pleasure'
From Senoi Dream Theory: Myth, Scientific Method, and the Dreamwork Movement by G. William Domhoff
...It isn't just that dreams contain wisdom in esoteric symbolic form, as Jung claimed, or that they can be used in an aggressive fashion in therapy groups to deal with personal problems, as Perls said. In addition, according to Senoi Dream Theory, dreams can be shared and shaped in groups in a positive and supportive fashion for the benefit of everyone, not just specific individuals with problems. As the literature of the now-defunct Jungian-Senoi Institute in Berkeley put it in the early 1980s, "Senoi dreamwork emphasizes the deliberate alteration of dream states, the resolution in dreams of problems encountered in waking consciousness, dream 'rehearsal' for activity while awake, and the application of dreams to creative individual and community projects." The new theory sees dreams as an open and positive phenomenon which can be shared and shaped for maximum human development. The human potential movement has long since disappeared, but the dreamwork movement lives on.
The people who were said to first practice this new way of thinking about and using dreams, the Senoi, are an aboriginal people who live in the jungle highlands of Malaysia. Numbering between 30,000 and 45,000 for the past 50 years, they live near rivers in loose-knit settlements of fifteen to 100 people. The Senoi are characterized by the dreamwork movement as an easygoing and nonviolent people. Their ideas about dreams are so appealing because they are believed to be among the healthiest and happiest people in the world. There is reportedly no mental illness or violence precisely because they have a theory of dream control and dream utilization unlike anything ever heard of in Western history.
The main source on the Senoi use of dreams is the work of Kilton Stewart (1902-1965), who first learned about the Senoi during a stay in Malaya (now Malaysia) in 1934. His articles in Complex and Mental Hygiene provide the basis for the discussion of the Senoi in such widely read dream books as Ann Faraday's Dream Power (1972) and The Dream Game (1974). Moreover, three different articles in Psychology Today, one in 1970, another in 1972, and a final one in 1978, discuss his work in a favorable light. Then, too, his 1951 article in Complex, "Dream Theory in Malaya," later was reprinted in such once-influential collections on human possibilities as Charles Tart's Altered States of Consciousness (1969) and Theodore Roszak's Sources (1972).
In addition, Stewart's writings on the Senoi are supplemented by the work of psychologist Patricia Garfield, author of the best-selling Creative Dreaming (1974), which was reprinted with a new introduction in 1995. Although her book has chapters on the dream practices of Native Americans, ancient Greeks, and Eastern mystics, it is in fact built around her chapter on how to learn and utilize what are said to be Senoi principles for controlling dreams. Garfield visited with some Senoi at the aborigine hospital in Gombak, Malaysia, in 1972. Until the early 1980s, Garfield was the only dream researcher besides Stewart claiming direct knowledge of Senoi dream practices. She was that crucial "second opinion" that helped solidify belief in the reality of Senoi Dream Theory. Moreover, she tantalized readers by reporting that her personal use of Senoi techniques led to a decline in the number of dreams in which she was a helpless victim and an increase in the number of dreams in which she had orgasms.
According to Stewart: "The Senoi make their dreams the major focus of their intellectual and social interest, and have solved the problem of violent crime and destructive economic conflict, and largely eliminated insanity, neurosis, and psychogenic illness." Although highly cooperative, they are nonetheless individualistic and creative, with each person developing his or her unique personality characteristics. As Stewart puts it in a particularly well-turned phrase: "The freest type of psychic play occurs in sleep, and the social acceptance of the dream would therefore constitute the deepest possible acceptance of the individual."
Most of all, Senoi have near-perfect mental health. "Perhaps the most striking characteristic of the Senoi is their extraordinary psychological adjustment," says Garfield. "Neurosis and psychosis as we know them are reported to be nonexistent among the Senoi," she continues. "Western therapists find this statement hard to believe, yet it is documented by researchers who spent considerable time directly observing the Senoi. The Senoi show remarkable emotional maturity."
Those in the dreamwork movement who write about the Senoi accept Stewart's claim that this unusual level of health and happiness can be attributed to the way in which the Senoi use and interpret dreams. "There are no well-controlled scientific studies to prove that peacefulness, cooperativeness, and creativeness, mental health, and emotional maturity are the result of the Senoi's unique use of dream material," Garfield admits. "However, there is much to strongly suggest that, at the very least, their use of dreams is a basic element in developing these characteristics."
For the Senoi, life is a veritable dream clinic. The concern with dreams begins at the break of day. "The Senoi parent inquires of his child's dream at breakfast, praises the child for having the dream, and discusses the significance of it," reports Stewart. "He asks about past incidences and tells the child how to change his behavior and attitude in future dreams. He also recommends certain social activities or gestures which the dream makes necessary or advisable." ...
[ via Hidden Missives ]
Friday, February 27, 2009
On the 1st of March 2009, we, along with many people from all over the world, will embark on an exciting journey of love, music and peace to create a social and environmental change. It will be an inspiring three month walk through nature, music festivals, dancing, ecological activities, friendly dialogue, spreading love and uniting cultures. Let's join together to spread the light of love and joy to all human beings!
On this walk, we will use constructive, non-violent actions to SAFELY spread the seeds of brotherly love, peace and co-existence to everyone along the way. This is not a protest journey against any war in particular: it is a practical action against the idea of war aimed at changing the sociological and environmental situation in which war is fostered. It is a practical action to deepen and spread the awareness of love in ourselves and in our brothers and sisters that we will meet along the way.
The Walk About Love journey is free to join, almost all the activities (except for the three main festivals) are free and you are free to arrive or leave whenever you want. There will also be daily progress updates from the journey on this website so you can easily find where to meet up with the group if you are joining late.
So come on and support Walk About Love! Walk the journey, talk about cultural reconciliation, dance at the festivals, learn about ecological sustainability, trade at the travelling markets, volunteer your time, donate money or goods, register or become a member of Walk About Love. We need your help to demonstrate that people, on a large scale and no matter what the differences, are willing and able to live side by side in peace and solidarity.
A Brighton family was forcibly deported to Algeria last week on an Air Algérie flight from Heathrow. The first attempt to deport them on a British Airways flight three days before had failed, allegedly because there was 'a problem with their tickets.' Both times campaigners from Brighton and London gathered at the airport and leafleted crew members and passengers to try and get them to protest on board, which may explain why the deportation was cancelled the first time. Earlier that week, about 50 Iraqi refugees refused asylum were not so lucky to have 'tickets with problems' or protesters leafleting at the airport. Instead, they were surreptitiously taken through the VIP entrance at Stansted airport and put on a special 'ethnic charter flight' operated by a Czech airline, which carried them to Erbil in northern Iraq. A few deportees were taken off the plane, just before it took off, after last-minute interventions by solicitors and MPs. One deportee was flown back to London after winning a High Court injunction.
Safe as death
Until last week, Assia Souhalia and her husband, Athmane, had been living in the UK for seven years. Their two-year-old daughter, Nouha, was born in Brighton in 2006 and had lived there all her life. Assia fled Algeria in 2002 in fear of her life after her family had suffered years of violence. Two of her brothers were murdered in two separate and premeditated shootings in 1993 and 1994, despite having no involvement in political activities. Upon hearing of the death of her eldest son, their mother suffered a heart attack and died. Since then, Assia's family have repeatedly received death threats and, in 1994, another brother was murdered. In 2007, her sister was badly wounded in a bomb attack. Only one man has been arrested in relation to these murders. Two of Assia's remaining brothers and sisters have also fled the country.
The Home Office's policy of deporting 'failed asylum seekers' to Algeria has been highly controversial, to say the least. In 1997, an Algerian policeman was deported from the UK. Upon arrival at Algiers airport, he was arrested by Algerian security forces and murdered. In 2007, the Appeal Court halted the deportation of three Algerians after judges ruled that the government "could not be certain" that they would be safe from torture.
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By Nikos Konstandaras
23 Feb, 2009
The riots in Greece last December are on their way to becoming one of the lasting symbols of the global recession, much in the way that “France 1968” captures the awakening of youth in that – other – eventful decade. Wherever tension rises due to economic hardship, governments tremble lest they have to deal with a rebellion like that of the Athenian youth.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy appears to have this nightmare before him continually: First he froze his plans for education reform and now he is rushing to appease the workers and the unemployed of faraway Guadeloupe so as to prevent the troubles in the French Caribbean from spreading to the mainland.
In Greece, we understand that the burning of Athens was the result of a toxic mix of social disobedience, tolerance of youth violence and state paralysis. The fact that our youth are not looking forward to a rosy future played a role in the rebellion, but was not the principal factor. Outside of Greece, however, the troubles in Greece were seen as an outburst of rage and despair because of economic hardship – which the whole of Europe had been dreading before December. Since then, we have seen troubles, strikes and government crises in many countries. In January, the government of Iceland fell, in the midst of public outrage. Last week, the government of Latvia followed suit. We have seen major strikes in Britain, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Lithuania, Montenegro and Russia. Almost every time, reports on these troubles refer to Athens as an early eruption of this social tension.
Just how worried Europe is can be seen in an interview by one of Sarkozy's chief aides, Henri Guaino, with Le Monde last Tuesday, as the French Caribbean was being rocked by violent protests. “If we do not agree on common rules of protection and (government) intervention, if we stay trapped in dogma, then we run the serious risk of absurd protectionism, populism and xenophobia.
“We must take this risk very seriously. Look at what happened in Iceland, at the chasm that was created between the people and the government. Look at the strikes by British energy workers, strikes protesting the use of seasonal workers from Spain and Italy. Look at what happened in Greece. This crisis is exhausting all the chapters of economic practice. Let us take measures so that we do not exhaust the chapters of a history textbook as well,” Guaino said. In other words: We have exhausted all we know about economics, now we are afraid that the crisis will lead to unpredictable developments on the political and social level.
Guadeloupe is especially interesting in that it is a possession of France and could easily transmit its tensions to the French “metropolis.”
One of these dangers is that the uprising in the Caribbean raises the specter of a racial clash: Most of the islands' blacks are poor, while the rich and those who run things are, for the most part, white. “A clique is in control of the economy and abuses this,” said Christiane Tobira, a deputy from the nearby territory of Guyana. She added that this was not far removed from “social apartheid.” One of the protesters' slogans is: “Guadeloupe belongs to us, not to them,” meaning, of course, the whites. The protesters are demanding a raise of 200 euros on the minimum monthly wage of 900 euros (when in Greece the minimum wage is 701 euros).
It is natural that governments should fear the tensions and unpredictable social consequences of economic hardship. The events of Athens showed what happens when a largely homogenous society cannot develop and cannot manage its inner tensions. Guadeloupe shows how easily complicated social tensions can come to the fore – tensions that can make society regress dangerously.
It is clear that no country can be allowed to sink under its problems. The evil is contagious. This will play a role in the current effort by Europe's strongest players to help the weaker ones. “Look at Greece,” they will say.
~ Source: Kathimerini English Edition ~
by Stu Harrison & Simon Butler
14 February 2009
Europe has all but exploded into the new year with a growing fightback against the policies that caused economic crisis across the continent. Millions of protesters are beginning to take on those responsible for the capitalist meltdown.
Ian Traynor, the Europe editor of the Guardian, summed up the new developments on January 31: “Europe's time of troubles is gathering depth and scale. Governments are trembling. Revolt is in the air.”
While governments are handing out billions to save the banks and big business, working people are suffering from the immense fallout.
Already, one European government has come crashing down in the face of a mass protest movement. Iceland's conservative government collapsed in January under the weight of some of the biggest demonstrations ever seen in the country.
The protests rapidly took on a strong anti-establishment character. One Icelandic activist described it to the Guardian as “a revolution in political activism”.
Icelandic politics has shifted sharply to the left in the wake of the spectacular collapse of the nation's economy. The Left-Green Movement is now the country's most popular party, according to recent polls.
Similar movements have also spread to the poorest and most vulnerable nations in eastern Europe.
Europe in turmoil
After Iceland, the Baltic nation of Latvia is tipped to be the next country to descend into economic meltdown. Latvia's gross domestic product fell a huge 10.5% in the last quarter of 2008, compared to the same period 12 months earlier.
The governor of Latvia's central bank even described the economy as “clinically dead” on national television.
On January 13, more than 10,000 Latvians converged on the capital, Riga. The protests continued into the night, despite violent attempts by police to disperse the crowds.
A section of the protesters confronted riot police outside the Latvian parliament. Outnumbered by the angry crowd, many of the police had their riot shields and batons ripped out of their hands.
By January 16 similar protests had spread to neighbouring Lithuania. Demonstrators in the capital Vilnius defended themselves from police baton charges and threw tear gas canisters back towards the police lines.
By the end of the protest, many windows of the Lithuanian parliament had been smashed.
Anti-government protests also erupted in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia on January 14. Police attacked the demonstrators, arresting 150 and injuring more than a dozen.
Undeterred, protests have continued outside the Bulgarian parliament almost every day since then, demanding greater democracy and accountability from government.
Anger is also brewing in Hungary and the Ukraine. Both countries' economies have been ravaged by the economic crisis. The International Monetary Fund has waded in with bail-out loans of $26 billion to Hungary and $16 billion for the Ukraine — but these loans are having little impact in alleviating the crisis for ordinary people.
As both governments announce further cutbacks to services and unpopular new taxes, popular discontent threatens to explode.
In France, the government's anti-worker, pro-corporate response to the economic crisis and massive job losses have provoked a series of general strikes. The next will occur on March 19 with the support of France's eight union federations.
This follows the huge general strike on January 29, where 2.5 million protesters took to the streets. According to a poll by French magazine l'Express, 69 per cent of the French supported the strike.
French President Sarkozy has called for talks with the unions, but without major concessions further strikes and protests appear certain.
Meanwhile in Greece, the police killing of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos on December 6 triggered the widespread social unrest that has dominated European headlines since.
The movement began as a spontaneous mobilisation by those outraged by ongoing police brutality.
But it has since developed into a broader campaign, incorporating the concerns of those disenfranchised by the effects of economic rationalism, a problem only exacerbated by the economic crisis.
The demonstrations resumed in the new year on January 9, with a militant march of 20,000 teachers and students in Athens.
Central to this movement has been the thousands of school and university students who have organised demonstrations and other actions, often by email and text message, which have shaken towns and cities across Greece. These actions have been supported by wider workers' strikes and actions by farmers.
Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis was elected in 2004 on a platform of openness and honesty. It was a promise that the Greek people had heard many times before.
Three political families have largely controlled Greek politics since the 1950s — interrupted only by the military dictatorship of 1967-74.
The two main capitalist parties, New Democracy and the Socialist Party, have shared power between them for the last 30 years.
Now, the people of Greece, like in many other countries across the globe, are beginning to see their faith in the ruling powers disintegrate.
Stratos Fanaras, political analyst and director of Metron Analysis, told the January edition of Le Monde Diplomatique: “The studies we have recently conducted show that all economic indices as well as people's aspirations for the future have sunk to a record low. People feel let down and disillusioned, and cannot see the situation improving.
“This reaction is the same for men and women, and across all social classes and educational levels.”
The Exarchia district in central Athens, where Grigoropoulos was killed, has become a base for radical protest actions. The area is located close to the Athens Polytechnic — the site of a famous student uprising crushed by the military junta in 1973.
As the protests have swelled, discontent has reached all corners of Greek society. Farmers have protested over low prices by setting up roadblocks on the Bulgarian border throughout January.
Meanwhile, Greek journalists have joined protesters in occupying television stations and the offices of the conservative journalists' union.
At the same time, a new movement in solidarity with the people of Gaza has swept British universities.
Thousands of students have occupied lecture theatres and other buildings across England and Scotland demanding their universities condemn Israel's brutal attacks and cut academic ties with Israeli institutions.
The student movement has also demanded that British universities provide scholarships for Palestinian students, undertake to divest from the arms trade, and send unused books and computers to Palestine.
The campus occupations have sparked greater student involvement in other political issues, including a campaign to demand the abolition of university tuition fees.
Wes Streeting, president of the National Union of Students, commented to the February 8 Independent: “What we've seen over the Gaza issue is a resurgence of a particular type of protest: the occupation. It's a long time since we've seen student occupations on such a scale.
"It's about time we got the student movement going again and had an impact.”
How far will it go?
Forty-one years after the rebellious year of 1968 that shook the world, new movements are forming, determined that working people and the poor should not have to pay for the capitalists' crisis.
But the question of organisation, of turning movements into vehicles for genuine far-reaching change, remains.
In response to this challenge, the formation of political parties able to link up with these movements, parties that strive for a “socialism of the 21st century”, is essential.
“Make no mistake”, wrote the New Statesman's Neil Clark on December 4, “socialism — pure, unadulterated socialism, an ideology that was taken for dead by liberal capitalists — is making a strong comeback.
“Across the continent, there is a definite trend in which long-established parties of the centre left that bought in to globalisation and neoliberalism are seeing their electoral dominance challenged by unequivocally socialist parties which have not.”
Clark draws on the new popularity of left social-democratic parties such as Die Linke in Germany and the Socialist Party in the Netherlands as evidence for the continent's shift towards the left.
Another indication is the growing support for the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) in Greece — a coalition of more than 10 left political groups. In the 2004 legislative elections, SYRIZA garnered 3.3% of votes. Recent polls suggest its support now sits as high as 20%.
Clark doesn't comment on possibly the most radical and promising of the new formations on the European left: the New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA) in France. The public approval rating of prominent NPA leader Olivier Besancenot has topped 50% in recent weeks.
The public interest around the creation of the NPA signifies the importance of rebuilding the organised left as a pre-requisite to building movements for social change that can win.
Even during this economic crisis, which has already thrown millions more people around the world into desperate poverty, democratic socialist change can often seem a far-off prospect.
But the very people who can create this change are increasingly taking action now in the belief that a new future of justice and equality is something worth fighting for.
~ Source: Green Left Weekly ~
From a critique by Bri Riggio:
They began with the police shooting of a 15-year old student, and for many people around the world who read about the December 2008 riots transpiring in Athens, Greece, a murderous police officer on a power trip appeared to be the primary reason for the subsequent violent uprising. Yet, while the tragic death may have acted as a catalyst for revolt, the issues and implications went much deeper, and the rebellious youths who torched areas of downtown Athens were more likely protesting their corrupt government as a whole as well as the defective Greek economy.
While the riots were violent and tragic, media coverage greatly over-sensationalized the events. Reading over foreign newspaper articles covering the riots, reporters made it sound as if all of Athens was burning and that the entire country was experiencing internal unrest. In reality, the rioters consisted of young, self-declared anarchists –not your average Greek citizens –demonstrating only in a few important Athenian neighborhoods with rocks and Molotov cocktails.
Shockingly, within 24 hours of the original outburst, the riots had spread from downtown Athens to other significant Greek cities such as Thessalonica and Trikala. Within days, violence erupted on the southernmost island of Crete and on the eastern island of Corfu. Eventually, even the Greek embassies in Germany and Britain were overrun by Greek ex-patriots who stormed the buildings in solidarity.
But it was not the zealous sensationalism by the mainstream media that caused these violent manifestations of Greek sympathy. As New American Media's Andrew Lam explained in an article published on Alternet.com, the traditional news media were actually slow to cover the events. About a week later, his investigation discovered that the extraneous and spontaneous riot eruptions were not so spontaneous after all. Indeed, it appeared as if the Greek youths were using so-called “new media” social networking sites like Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook as well as cell phone text messaging to rally and organize their destructive efforts. Perhaps these methods of communication and organization are not so strange or far-fetched from an U.S. standpoint, but for many Greeks who live in a country still heavily steeped in tradition and not entirely up-to-speed on new media, this behavior likely seemed alarming.
The media madness hardly stopped there. Footage of the riots almost immediately began springing up on YouTube, some produced by news wires such as the Associated Press, but more often videos shot by the rioters themselves. On one hand, such videos act as a way of global communication, transmitting information about an important event around the world instantaneously. But on the other, some of these YouTube pieces posted by regular citizens served as propaganda, promoting the rioters' actions and showing people firsthand the actions needed to avenge the Greek government's transgressions.
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The fall of the Shah was an epic, a morality play or a Greek tragedy if he had been a truly great man rather than just another American satrap, complete with US fighter aircraft, a swamp of corrupt officials and a sadistic intelligence service. When one of my colleagues suggested that the Iranian revolution could be compared to the fall of the Bastille and of the Tsar – he quoted Charles Fox's line about “how much the greatest event it is that ever happened in the world” – I thought his trust in Ayatollah Khomeini's liberal intentions was born of wishful thinking.
When Khomeini's prime minister, Mehdi Bazargan, appeared on television to condemn the revolution's bloody kangaroo courts as a disgrace to “a wonderful revolution of religious and human values” and appealed to the Ayatollah to set new rules for the trials, Khomeini agreed, then forgot his promise. The size of the street demonstrations in Tehran – a million one day, one and a half million the next – gave the Iranian revolution a mesmeric quality. It was anarchic, animalistic, ritualistic, very definitely Shia, but, in its earliest days, strangely moving.
I was then working for the pre-Murdoch Times, which was temporarily closed by a printing dispute, and made my way to Iran to report for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. But I still have the notes I sent back to my then news editor, Ivan Barnes. The Shah's acolytes, I said, had been insufferably arrogant, but “I found that this arrogance had disappeared with the revolution. I was treated with courtesy and kindness almost everywhere I went and found Iranians much more aware of the implications of world events than ... the inhabitants of Arab countries. There was a straightforward quality about Iranians in the country as well as the towns that I couldn't help admiring. They were thirsting to talk about anything.
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From Next Step: Overcoming Hate by Abeer Abdalla
Mirroring a global phenomenon that many have come to expect from other nations' borders, hate and extremism in America have an historical precedence with a modern agenda touting a simple refrain - intolerance is here to stay.
Since 2007, even in the racially diverse community of Los Angeles County crimes increased by 28 percent. "Hate crimes," reports the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations, "are criminal acts or attempted criminal acts against an individual or group of individuals because of their actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, gender or disability."
Belying historic and geographical precedence, the Commission's report attributes the rise in hate crimes to a growing white supremacist movement in Southern California.
Chris Keeling, a member of the FBI Hate Crimes Task Force in Santa Clarita asserts in an interview with NPR that Obama's impact on the hate movement is alive and well. "There is more on the Internet. There are more flyers [and more] leafleting going out, because now they have a target," he said. "Take Obama out of the situation, you're still going to have leafleting."
Certainly inspiring both saint and sinner, the Internet has also impacted domestic and international terrorism. "The Internet is a vessel that goes on its own and it provides a library of hate and a social networking opportunity - so the need to join an organized group doesn't exist as it once did," said Brian Levin, associate professor of criminal justice and Director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.
Levin, who specializes in the analysis of hate crime, terrorism and legal issues, nonetheless says there had been a decline in white supremacist recruitment since 2000 but that its current expression is in response to changing political tides.
"I think the Klan was seen as an anachronism," he said. "They played their card during the 1990s and tried to hook into the anti-government movement, but a lot of the stuff that they had been selling - a bad economy, which they blamed on blacks and immigrants, really didn't carry resonance. Crime had gone down so they couldn't sell the black crime story they previously sold."
From How do you define hate? by Alia Hoyt
Dr. Glaser notes that hatred was probably a good thing back in the days of primitive people, when it provided the necessary motivation to attack or avoid potential enemies. But hatred can actually be physically toxic. A recent study published in the journal Annals of Behavior Medicine found that a "love-hate" relationship with a friend could actually cause a person's blood pressure to rise, at least in the short term. The study deduced that just being in the same room as a friend who tends to be critical, unreliable or unpredictable can send blood pressure up. Furthermore, many experts believe hatred causes a host of other physical problems, including reduced immunity to illness, migraine headaches and increased vulnerability to diseases like diabetes and cancer.
While it's doubtful that anyone will ever be completely able to rid themselves of hateful thoughts and feelings, it is possible to minimize its presence in everyday life. One Buddhist quote, when translated to English, reads:
"…This eternal wisdom is to meet hatred with non-hatred. The method of trying to conquer hatred through hatred never succeeds in overcoming hatred. But, the method of overcoming hatred through non-hatred is eternally effective. That is why that method is described as eternal wisdom."
According to Webster's Online Dictionary
Agape (3 syl.) A love-feast. The early Christians held a love-feast before or after communion, when contributions were made for the poor. These feasts became a scandal, and were condemned at the Council of Carthage, 397. (Greek, agape, love.). Source: Brewer's Dictionary.
From Philosophy of the Abstract
Love is a strange thing.
Love is usually defined as a strong positive emotion of affection or pleasure. It is commonly expressed towards family and friends, and towards objects and ideas. It can even refer to loving yourself and impersonal love or loving the world. It could even mean “40 love!” when you are playing tennis with a friend. However, love is often referred to as the love between two individuals or interpersonal love.
In English, the word 'love', which is derived from Germanic forms of the Sanskrit lubh (desire), is broadly defined, and thus generates problems of definition and meaning. However, the word is resolved to some degree by the Greek terms, eros , philia , and agape . The term eros is used to refer to the passionate, intense desire for something and is often classified as lust or sexual desire. In contrast to the lusting form of eros , philia involves a fondness and appreciation of the other. Aristotle defines philia as “generally motivated by reciprocity”, which means that you love someone because they love you. Agape is basically the blending of the two eros and philia, and it generally translates to “thoughtful love”. Agape was usually used by Christians to refer to the self-sacrificing love of God for humanity, which they were committed to reciprocating and practicing towards God and among one another. Thus eros , philia , and agape help define the nature of love.
From Philosophy of Love
Agape refers to the paternal love of God for man and for man for God but is extended to include a brotherly love for all humanity. (The Hebrew ahev has a slightly wider semantic range than agape). Agape arguably draws on elements from both eros and philia in that it seeks a perfect kind of love that is at once a fondness, a transcending of the particular, and a passion without the necessity of reciprocity. The concept is expanded on in the Judaic-Christian tradition of loving God: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might" (Deuteronomy 6:5) and loving "thy neighbour as thyself" (Leviticus 19:18). The love of God requires absolute devotion that is reminiscent of Plato's love of Beauty (and Christian translators of Plato such as St Augustine employed the connections), which involves an erotic passion, awe, and desire that transcends earthly cares and obstacles. Aquinas, on the other hand, picked up on the Aristotelian theories of friendship and love to proclaim God as the most rational being and hence the most deserving of one's love, respect, and considerations.
The universalist command to "love thy neighbor as thyself" refers the subject to those surrounding him, whom he should love unilaterally if necessary. The command employs the logic of mutual reciprocity, and hints at an Aristotelian basis that the subject should love himself in some appropriate manner: for awkward results would ensue if he loved himself in a particularly inappropriate, perverted manner! (Philosophers can debate the nature of 'self-love' implied in this-from the Aristotelian notion that self-love is necessary for any kind of inter-personal love, to the condemnation of egoism and the impoverished examples that pride and self-glorification from which to base one's love of another. St Augustine relinquishes the debate--he claims that no command is needed for a man to love himself (De bono viduitatis, xxi.) Analogous to the logic of "it is better to give than to receive", the universalism of agape requires an initial invocation from someone: in a reversal of the Aristotelian position, the onus for the Christian is on the morally superior to extend love to others. Nonetheless, the command also entails an egalitarian love-hence the Christian code to "love thy enemies" (Matthew 5:44-45). Such love transcends any perfectionist or aristocratic notions that some are (or should be) more loveable than others. Agape finds echoes in the ethics of Kant and Kierkegaard, who assert the moral importance of giving impartial respect or love to another person qua human being in the abstract.
However, loving one's neighbor impartially (James 2:9) invokes serious ethical concerns, especially if the neighbor ostensibly does not warrant love. Debate thus begins on what elements of a neighbor's conduct should be included in agape, and which should be excluded. Early Christians asked whether the principle applied only to disciples of Christ or to all. The impartialists won the debate asserting that the neighbor's humanity provides the primary condition of being loved; nonetheless his actions may require a second order of criticisms, for the logic of brotherly love implies that it is a moral improvement on brotherly hate. For metaphysical dualists, loving the soul rather than the neighbor's body or deeds provides a useful escape clause-or in turn the justification for penalizing the other's body for sin and moral transgressions, while releasing the proper object of love-the soul-from its secular torments. For Christian pacifists, "turning the other cheek" to aggression and violence implies a hope that the aggressor will eventually learn to comprehend the higher values of peace, forgiveness, and a love for humanity.The universalism of agape runs counter to the partialism of Aristotle and poses a variety of ethical implications. Aquinas admits a partialism in love towards those we are related while maintaining that we should be charitable to all, whereas others such as Kierkegaard insist on impartiality. Recently, LaFallotte has noted that to love those one is partial towards is not necessarily a negation of the impartiality principle, for impartialism could admit loving those closer to one as an impartial principle, and, employing Aristotle's conception of self-love, iterates that loving others requires an intimacy that can only be gained from being partially intimate ("Personal Relations", Blackwell Companion to Ethics). Others would claim that the concept of universal love, of loving all equally, is not only impracticable, but logically empty-Aristotle, for example, argues: "One cannot be a friend to many people in the sense of having friendship of the perfect type with them, just as one cannot be in love with many people at once (for love is a sort of excess of feeling, and it is the nature of such only to be felt towards one person)" (NE, VIII.6).
From the Gospel according to Matthew, chapter 5
Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.
And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you
From Martin Luther King's Philosophy on Nonviolent Resistance
Nonviolent Resistance Rests on the Power of Love
King's sixth point was central to the method of nonviolent resistance. He believed the importance of nonviolence rested in the fact that it prevented physical violence and the "internal violence of spirit." Bitterness and hate were absent from the resisters mind, and replaced with love.
Agape Love is a Redemptive Love
However, the kind of love King was talking about, was not the affectionate type, but instead the type that meant "understanding, redeeming good will for all men." He further explained that in the Greek New Testament there were three words for love and each had a different meaning. Eros was romantic love and philia was a reciprocal love. Neither of these two types of love were the kind that King advanced. Agape, which was not a passive love, was the kind of redemptive love he referred to. According to King, "It is an overflowing love which is purely spontaneous, unmotivated, groundless, and creative. It is not set in motion by any quality or function of its object. It is the love of God operating in the human heart.”
Why do we love? It has been suggested above that any account of love needs to be able to answer some such justificatory question. Although the issue of the justification of love is important on its own, it is also important for the implications it has for understanding more clearly the precise object of love: how can we make sense of the intuitions not only that we love the individuals themselves rather than their properties, but also that my beloved is not fungible—that no one could simply take her place without loss. Different theories approach these questions in different ways, but, as will become clear below, the question of justification is primary.
One way to understand the question of why we love is as asking for what the value of love is: what do we get out of it? One kind of answer, which has its roots in Aristotle, is that having loving relationships promotes self-knowledge insofar as your beloved acts as a kind of mirror, reflecting your character back to you (Badhwar, 2003, p. 58). Of course, this answer presupposes that we cannot accurately know ourselves in other ways: that left alone, our sense of ourselves will be too imperfect, too biased, to help us grow and mature as persons. The metaphor of a mirror also suggests that our beloveds will be in the relevant respects similar to us, so that merely by observing them, we can come to know ourselves better in a way that is, if not free from bias, at least more objective than otherwise.
Brink (1999, pp. 264–65) argues that there are serious limits to the value of such mirroring of one's self in a beloved. For if the aim is not just to know yourself better but to improve yourself, you ought also to interact with others who are not just like yourself: interacting with such diverse others can help you recognize alternative possibilities for how to live and so better assess the relative merits of these possibilities. Nonetheless, we need not take the metaphor of the mirror quite so literally; rather, our beloveds can reflect our selves not through their inherent similarity to us but rather through the interpretations they offer of us, both explicitly and implicitly in their responses to us. This is what Badhwar calls the “epistemic significance” of love.
In addition to this epistemic significance of love, LaFollette (1996, Chapter 5) offers several other reasons why it is good to love, reasons derived in part from the psychological literature on love: love increases our sense of well-being, it elevates our sense of self-worth, and it serves to develop our character. It also, we might add, tends to lower stress and blood pressure and to increase health and longevity. Friedman (1993) argues that the kind of partiality towards our beloveds that love involves is itself morally valuable because it supports relationships—loving relationships—that contribute “to human well-being, integrity, and fulfillment in life” (p. 61). And Solomon (1988, p. 155) claims:
Ultimately, there is only one reason for love. That one grand reason…is “because we bring out the best in each other.” What counts as “the best,” of course, is subject to much individual variation.
This is because, Solomon suggests, in loving someone, I want myself to be better so as to be worthy of his love for me.
From Emma Goldman's Marriage and Love
If motherhood is the highest fulfillment of woman's nature, what other protection does it need, save love and freedom? Marriage but defiles, outrages, and corrupts her fulfillment. Does it not say to woman, Only when you follow me shall you bring forth life? Does it not condemn her to the block, does it not degrade and shame her if she refuses to buy her right to motherhood by selling herself? Does not marriage only sanction motherhood, even though conceived in hatred, in compulsion? Yet, if motherhood be of free choice, of love, of ecstasy, of defiant passion, does it not place a crown of thorns upon an innocent head and carve in letters of blood the hideous epithet, Bastard? Were marriage to contain all the virtues claimed for it, its crimes against motherhood would exclude it forever from the realm of love.
Love, the strongest and deepest element in all life, the harbinger of hope, of joy, of ecstasy; love, the defier of all laws, of all conventions; love, the freest, the most powerful moulder of human destiny; how can such an all-compelling force be synonymous with that poor little State and Church-begotten weed, marriage?
Free love? As if love is anything but free! Man has bought brains, but all the millions in the world have failed to buy love. Man has subdued bodies, but all the power on earth has been unable to subdue love. Man has conquered whole nations, but all his armies could not conquer love. Man has chained and fettered the spirit, but he has been utterly helpless before love. High on a throne, with all the splendor and pomp his gold can command, man is yet poor and desolate, if love passes him by. And if it stays, the poorest hovel is radiant with warmth, with life and color. Thus love has the magic power to make of a beggar a king. Yes, love is free; it can dwell in no other atmosphere. In freedom it gives itself unreservedly, abundantly, completely. All the laws on the statutes, all the courts in the universe, cannot tear it from the soil, once love has taken root. If, however, the soil is sterile, how can marriage make it bear fruit? It is like the last desperate struggle of fleeting life against death.
Love needs no protection; it is its own protection. So long as love begets life no child is deserted, or hungry, or famished for the want of affection. I know this to be true. I know women who became mothers in freedom by the men they loved. Few children in wedlock enjoy the care, the protection, the devotion free motherhood is capable of bestowing.
The defenders of authority dread the advent of a free motherhood, lest it will rob them of their prey. Who would fight wars? Who would create wealth? Who would make the policeman, the jailer, if woman were to refuse the indiscriminate breeding of children? The race, the race! shouts the king, the president, the capitalist, the priest. The race must be preserved, though woman be degraded to a mere machine,--and the marriage institution is our only safety valve against the pernicious sex awakening of woman. But in vain these frantic efforts to maintain a state of bondage. In vain, too, the edicts of the Church, the mad attacks of rulers, in vain even the arm of the law. Woman no longer wants to be a party to the production of a race of sickly, feeble, decrepit, wretched human beings, who have neither the strength nor moral courage to throw off the yoke of poverty and slavery. Instead she desires fewer and better children, begotten and reared in love and through free choice; not by compulsion, as marriage imposes. Our pseudo-moralists have yet to learn the deep sense of responsibility toward the child, that love in freedom has awakened in the breast of woman. Rather would she forego forever the glory of motherhood than bring forth life in an atmosphere that breathes only destruction and death. And if she does become a mother, it is to give to the child the deepest and best her being can yield. To grow with the child is her motto; she knows that in that manner alone can she help build true manhood and womanhood.
From Eagleton on agape
'We need a term somewhere between the intensity of 'love' and the rather cooler 'friendship', and the fact that we lack one is probably significant. Love is no respecter of persons. It is remorselessly abstract, ready to attend to the needs of any old body. In this, it is quite indifferent to cultural difference. It is not indifferent to difference in the sense that it is blind to the specific needs of people. If it was, it would not be attending to them at all. But it is quite indifferent as to whose specific needs it attends to. This is one way in which it differs from friendship, which is all about particularity. Friends are irreplaceable, but those we must love are not. ...'
From A Little Philosophy on Love: an interview with Jacob Needleman
You have a section called "Love and Agitation" in your book where you write, "On the one hand, we are troubled when someone we love or who works with us is not torn up by his or her feelings about us or about what we care for. On the other hand, we are touched by the power of great men and women to radiate an inner collectedness in situations that would bring most people to panic or excesses of zeal." Why do we expect our loved ones to have the same emotional overreactiveness that we are feeling as being a sign of their love for us?
It is part of the illusion of our time -- the deep, hypnotic illusion that we live under -- that to care for anything is to be obsessed. We know ourselves that we have moments of very deep caring that are very quiet and calm but full of love. We have not been helped to realize that obsessive desire or craving is not really care for another person. It's more neurotic based on our own ego.
That obsessive craving is something that's definitely fueled by our society.
Absolutely. And also in the way that our stories and movies portray people who care for anything--they are always obsessed by it. If you are working in an office and you really care about your job and you're doing it calmly and quietly, your boss is going to say, "What's wrong with you? You don't care about your work!" You have to pretend to be like that to show that you really care!
You talk about ethics as being something that springs from love.
When you really feel love, the things that you have been taught you should do are things you wish to do without pushing yourself, without forcing it. When I really feel care for another person's life, I don't have to force myself to do what needs to be done. I don't feel it's a big sacrifice to go against my wishes and help the other person. You could say in those rare moments that you wish to do what you ought to do--that is, duty and desire fuse. This is very rare. But in those moments, you really do know the meaning of ethics. And then you realize that these ethical rules are meant for people who feel love. Since we don't feel love all the time, we take them as obligations which is okay as long as we realize that we are obeying these ethical rules because they spring from people who have had greater consciousness. They are like scripts from more conscious people and we obey them because we have nothing better to put in their place.
From No Quarter :
But, but … what about that top Bush official and former high-level Cheney aide who ruled that the detainee was so severely affected medically from extreme use of coercive interrogation ethods that she could not allow the case to go further. The best part of this excellent segment on TORTURE is when Rachel Maddow interviews Sen. Jim Webb — as rational a voice as you could wish to hear on the subject. Senator Webb DOES NOT RULE OUT the possibility that top officials could be charged...
From 2006 Foreign Policy Report
Crime Control/Human Rights
(Sections 742.7, 742.11, 742.17)(1)
Export Control Program Description and Licensing Policy
As required by Section 6(n) of the Export Administration Act of 1979, as amended, the United States controls the exports of crime control and detection items because of human rights concerns in various countries of the world. The U.S. Government requires a license to export most crime control and detection instruments, equipment, related technology, and software to all destinations, except Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). A license is required to export certain crime control items, including restraint type devices (such as handcuffs) and discharge type arms (such as tasers) to all destinations except Canada. Specially designed implements of torture and thumbscrews, which are part of the crime control category, require a license for export to all destinations. In addition, the U.S. Government maintains concurrent export license requirements for certain crime control items in furtherance of the Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and other Related Materials.
Trade in the tools of torture: The U.S. government OKs the export of shackles and stun guns
US News & World Report [16 Nov, 2003]
The United States has permitted American companies to ship electric-shock weapons and mechanical restraints to 39 countries accused of torturing dissidents and detainees, according to a U.S. News review of export documents and State Department reports. The inquiry established that in the past two years, for instance, stun batons, stun guns, and similar devices were shipped to Haiti, India, Lebanon, and Turkey; the State Department has cited authorities in those countries for torturing prisoners with electric shock devices. Some companies have even found ways to ship their products overseas without seeking a government license, the inquiry found.
After being shown some of the 4,000 Commerce Department export documents obtained by U.S. News, Rep. Tom Lantos said he would introduce legislation to tighten controls and ban the export of such devices to countries where governments engage in torture. He would prohibit overseas sales of equipment such as thumb cuffs, leg irons, and stun belts. "This is a horrifying spectacle," says Lantos, a California Democrat and Holocaust survivor. "These are singularly unsavory governments that do not share our human-rights concerns." The European Union is considering similar export controls.
Horrors. The practice of torture is widespread, even in countries that are close American allies, such as NATO member Turkey. That country has been cited by the State Department for a host of horrific practices, including administering electric shock, dangling victims by their arms, and hanging sandbags on prisoners' necks. Nevertheless, the Commerce Department approved three licenses for exports of stun devices to Turkey in 2001. Human-rights activists are outraged. "How could the United States possibly grant an export for electroshock equipment transfers to Turkey," wonders Maureen Greenwood of Amnesty International, "when the State Department, Amnesty International, and Turkish parliamentarians have all reported a pattern of torture including electric shock?"
The answer: The Commerce Department has become little more than a rubber stamp for the more than 60 American companies looking to ship devices overseas. In addition to approving exports of electric-shock weapons, Commerce also signed off on the sale of restraint devices--which could include thumb cuffs and leg irons--to countries where torture by authorities was reportedly widespread. These countries include Egypt, Indonesia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. It is difficult, however, to trace a specific device to a particular case of torture.
A U.S. company must apply to the Commerce Department for a license if it wants to export certain crime control equipment to any country except Canada. Prior to 2000, licenses were not required for some close allies, including Turkey. The department's "general policy" when enforcing the Export Administration Act is to deny applications for export to countries where there is a pattern of gross human-rights violations. Commerce also states that it does not look favorably on an application if there is civil disorder in the country.
U.S. officials say all license applications and foreign importers are carefully screened by the department as well as by other government agencies. "The Departments of Commerce and State, and in some instances Defense, review the proposed export--the item, the end user, and the country of destination--to decide the likelihood that an item will be used properly or misused," says Matthew Borman, a Commerce Department official.
Critics are also concerned about companies that try to export without a license. U.S. News found that a handful of small companies freely advertise on Web sites ways to circumvent export rules for stun guns. The department requires companies to obtain licenses to export the components of shock weapons. But businesses such as SelfDefence.com will sell a stun gun "kit," in which the parts are shipped separately. The Web site declares: "We have been highly successful in clearing them through foreign customs." Lee Norris runs the company out of his home with his wife in rural Browntown, Va. He says the kits are legal to export. "It's funny how those laws work," says Norris. Commerce officials, alerted to the practice by U.S. News, weren't amused--and promise to investigate.
Jolt. Companies argue that the restraints and shock devices are standard police gear and that they cannot be held responsible if the equipment is misused. Tom Smith, the president and co-founder of Taser International, says he and his brother, Rick, started selling stun equipment to help stop gun violence. Two of Rick Smith's high school friends were gunned down in a road-rage incident in Scottsdale, Ariz., Tom says. In 1994, the brothers began making stun devices--called tasers--later marketing them to police as "less lethal" alternatives to guns. The company's bestselling product fires two barbed darts up to 21 feet and jolts its target with 50,000 volts of electricity. A person at the receiving end is immobilized for several seconds. Police departments in cities like Phoenix, Seattle, and Los Angeles are customers. Company revenues hit $9.8 million in 2002, up from $6.9 million the year before. Total exports of shock weapons and restraints approved by the United States in 2002 were worth $19 million, according to Commerce.
The Scottsdale-based company has exported tasers to 59 countries. Several have been cited for torture by the State Department, including India, Peru, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. "There is no proof our products are used to torture people," says Smith. In June, Taser closed a deal to sell more than 3,300 tasers worth $1.5 million to the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces; that country hasn't been cited for torture.
Human-rights advocates admit that security weapons have legitimate uses. But the devices can be misused, too, says Allen Keller, a medical doctor and director of the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture. "How can one ensure that these won't be used to torture someone?" Keller asks. His clinic has treated more than 1,000 torture victims, including some from countries where the Commerce Department approved licenses.
It's virtually impossible to say if a specific shipment of stun guns or leg shackles from the United States was later used for torture. Many countries export such devices. For proprietary reasons, the Commerce Department does not reveal the names of U.S. companies that receive licenses, or their customers. But critics warn that U.S. exports--even legitimate ones--could easily fall into the wrong hands without tighter enforcement. For instance, handcuffs made by Peerless Handcuff, a Springfield, Mass., company, were found in a Lebanese prison in 2000, according to Amnesty International. The company says it does not export to Lebanon. Amnesty reports that Smith & Wesson handcuffs were found to have been used in 1999 to torture detainees in Saudi Arabia.
Most of the time, though, no one knows who manufactured the tools of torture. In August 2002, Turkish police in the town of Hakkari reportedly blindfolded 28-year-old Zahide Durgun, tortured her with electric shocks to the ear, and beat her, according to Amnesty International. The police wanted Durgun, an ethnic Kurd, to say she belonged to a political party opposed to the Turkish government. Another Kurdish woman, Sukriye Beyter, was blindfolded and shocked days later at the same police station, according to Amnesty. These victims couldn't possibly be expected to be sure what device was used to make them suffer--or whether the implements of torture were made in America.
The following is testimony to the fact that the human eye can look at an elephant but fail to see him at all. I've also grown tired of the 'Bush-Cheney torture regime' nonsense. Which is not to say it is not true, merely that it is but a small part of the truth. It gives the impression that the U.S. government did not torture before, or that it will not continue to torture, or that its allies are squeaky clean. In the late 80's the New York Times reported two years in a row on a tiny item buried near the obituaries page: something to the effect that Congress had passed a bill allowing the sale of torture implements to friendly nations. They specifically mentioned electric cattle prods and the list of 'friendly nations' included Germany and Japan.
Wake-up coffee, anyone?
From Amnesty International: Gaza white phosphorus shells were US made :
White phosphorus bombs used by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip were produced and supplied by American arms manufacturers, according to an Amnesty International report that called for a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel.
The report documented dozens of weapons used by Israel and Hamas during the three-week offensive, concluding that both groups had carried out attacks on civilians constituting war crimes punishable by international law. The UN Security Council should impose an embargo until a mechanism was established to ensure that military equipment was not used to carry out such violations, said Amnesty.
Donatella Rovera, who headed the Amnesty fact-finding mission, said that the group had systematically collected and catalogued shells across Gaza, and traced serial numbers back to factory production lines in the US.
"All of the evidence points to the failure of America to exercise due oversight of what they sell to Israel, which is in breach of their own laws... which require that weapons will not be sold to a country where they will be misused. And the manner in which these weapons were used in Gaza is a war crime."
The human rights group said that weapons experts in Gaza found white phosphorus artillery shells marked M825 A1 – a US-made munition – throughout the coastal strip. The Times published photographic evidence that Israel was using the M825 A1 shells on January 8. At that time, Israeli military spokesmen denied that the weapon was being used, saying: "This is what we call a quiet shell – it has no explosives and no white phosphorus".
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France has decided to classify the archives of the situationist philosopher coveted by an American university. Guy Debord erected as a national monument. . . .
The French state has refused to allow the personal archives of the founder of the Situationist International to leave France. The injunction of 29 January , signed by the Minister of Culture, Christine Albane, and published on Thursday in The Official Journal, stipulates that the archives assume "a great importance for the history of the ideas of the second half of the 20th century and for the knowledge of the still-controversial work of one of the last great French intellectuals of the period." A major and symbolic decision. "This classification as a national treasure reveals a recognition by the State of what Debord represents in the intellectual and artistic life of the just-ended century," emphasized Bruno Racine, President of the National Library of France, who has worked to keep the archives in France.
A paradox. Astonishing posterity for Guy Debord, who preferred the secret over neon lights, gave no press interviews and abhorred awards [honnissait les distinctions]. At most, he finally left Editions Gallimard the care of publishing his works, after having been the emblematic author for Editions Champ Libre. "I have merited universal hatred from the society of my time," he wrote in 1978, "and I am angry that I have had other merits in the eyes of such a society." Today, in the most lively paradox, he has become its "treasure." Guy Debord shot himself in the heart on 30 November 1994 at the age of 62, in his home in the Haute-Loire. Born in Paris in 1931, he founded in 1957 the Situationist International, a movement of thought in the line of Lettrism that he scuttled in 1972. This theoretician of revolution continued to write and make films. Since his death, his wife and legatee Alice Debord has guarded his archives, which have been rarely consulted. She herself has worked to bring out the correspondence of the author of Panegyrique, the seventh volume of which, published by Fayard in 2008, covers the final period from January 1988 to November 1994.
Two years ago, Yale University in the United States manifested its desire to acquire the totality of the personal archives of the author. The Americans are hooked [friands] on contemporary French intellectuals. The university wanted to base its research center on the avant-garde upon this purchase; the Debord assets would be one its diamonds. Because these assets are quite beautiful (see below). They include the quasi-totality of the works of the writer and filmmaker from 1950 to 1994. The masterpiece is of course the manuscript of The Society of the Spectacle, published in 1967, which watered May 68 and all as a sociological and philosophical current.
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Washington, DC, February 26, 2009 – Today Secretary of Defense Robert Gates lifted a blanket ban on news media coverage of the honor guard ceremonies that mark the return of military casualties from abroad. The new policy will permit media coverage of the ceremonies, during which caskets draped with American flags are brought home from war, after consultation with the families of the fallen. The Obama administration's move restores press access to the honor ceremonies, which had been the practice from World War II through the Panama invasion of 1989. During the lead-up to the Gulf War in 1991, Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney instituted the ban. The news media lost a first amendment challenge to the ban, but Professor Ralph Begleiter and the National Security Archive forced the release of hundreds of images taken by military photographers under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in 2005.
Professor Begleiter, the long-time CNN correspondent who is the Rosenberg Professor of Communications and Distinguished Journalist in Residence at the University of Delaware, filed the lawsuit with the National Security Archive in 2004 to compel release of DOD's own images of the honor ceremonies under the FOIA. Once it became clear that the government had no basis for withholding the images under the FOIA, the military stopped taking photos documenting the return of fallen soldiers.
“This reversal of two decades of policy is an important and welcome milestone for the American people. This decision restores to its rightful, honorable place the immense value of the sacrifice American troops make on behalf of their nation,” said Professor Begleiter. “The Pentagon's reversal of the news media ban should also result in the military itself returning immediately to documenting with its own photographers the honorable return of war casualties – and making those images public. That public documentation by the government should not be subject to anyone's veto.”
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Thursday, February 26, 2009
From Christos Kefalis' review of John Carpenter's "They Live” in Dissident Voice
" ... Science fiction has been frequently utilized in embellishing the capitalist system. Suffice it to mention movies like Superman and Exterminator, which, under a seemingly innocent story, cover a barely hidden apology of its dominant values. In the history of the seventh art there exist, however, opposing examples where the symbolism of the imaginary is used for aims of social criticism. One of the most outstanding is undoubtedly offered by John's Carpenter's They Live. Although it appeared about 20 years ago, in 1988, the movie remains timely and relevant as one of the most devastating and sharp criticisms of American imperialism ever made. And it also reads as prophesy of what later crystallized to be the embodiment of its most brutal features, the corrupt and cynical Bush administration, now leaving the scene.
The symbolic dimension is indeed central in science fiction. Moreover, its symbolism does not draw from the past, as in the case of myth, but turns to the future, which it attempts to predict and foreshadow. Yet, while in apologetic movies symbolism is realized in an irrational way, covering or distorting social contradictions in order to foist biased and fallacious conclusions on the spectator, in progressive creations it fulfills a realistic function of revealing and emphasizing contradictions, which elevates to a sense of the totality and awakens consciousness.
Following this second road, Carpenter, a talented, independent director who has given us a number of significant films, is able in “They live” to represent in exemplary fashion the process of neo-conservative barbarization in American society as well as the dynamic of its revolutionary overthrow. And while he possesses an element of conscious approach – he himself has compared his strange aliens to republicans – his sharp intuition results in lending the movie a much deeper problematic than his conscious intentions.
Nada, Carpenter's hero, is a simple worker, a builder immersed in the American dream. His words in one of the first scenes, “I believe in America and follow the rules. I'm waiting for my chance”, sum up the illusions of the majority of American workers. What he ignores is that the yuppies and “successful” people he encounters in the streets are not what they seem. In fact, they are aliens who have come from a distant world and are plotting to gain control of our planet. The road of success is thus open only to those humans that are recruited by them and consent to become their docile organs.
[ ... ]
The role of the media
The channel controls heavily the information allowed to the people. Sporadically, the illegal channel of the rebels appears on the screen, only to be lost in the noise interfered by the aliens. The speaker, an orator with a somewhat fanatic look, zealously castigates the devilish rulers: “The poor and the underclass are growing. Racial justice and human rights are nonexistent. They have created a repressive society and we are their unwitting accomplices… They have made us indifferent, to ourselves, to others, we are focused only on our own gain. That is their primary method of survival. Keep us asleep, keep us selfish, keep us sedated… More and more people are becoming poor. We are their cattle. We are being bred for slavery”.
Through a number of such epigrammatic phrases, a bit schematic but illuminating as well, the creator depicts the essence of the social conditions. Yet, apart from its direct message, the movie unfolds in a second, deeper level, developing the dynamics of the struggle between the oppressors and the rebels.
[ ... ]
Reactionary and misconceived criticisms
Needless to say, reactionary commentators, sensing the significance of the movie as a devastating critique of their beloved capitalist system, have made every attempt to bury and discredit it. Making it worse, even progressive commentators have sometimes failed to appreciate the meaning of critical scenes and details.
Limiting ourselves to just a few examples, Mike Clark of USA Today is of the opinion “They live dies around the time Carpenter allows 10 minutes of gratuitous Piper-David eye-gouging, an apparent bone to wrestling fans. Forget the amusing premise; a full crate of magic glasses couldn't make this a bearable movie”. A similar view is echoed by Peter Stack of San Francisco Chronicle: “Typical of some of the absurd moments in this film is a long drawn-out fist fight between the hero and Frank, who almost kill each other because Frank is too proud to try on the magic dark glasses. It is completely stupid.”
Even more hostile is Richard Harrington of the Washington Post: “Even for sci-fi, the creatures-walk-among-us plot of “They Live” is so old it ought to be carbon-dated. Oh, sure, director John Carpenter trots out the heavy artillery of sociological context and political implication, but you don't have to get deep down to realize he hasn't a clue what to do with it, or the talent to bring it to life… The plot for They Live is full of black holes, the acting is wretched, the effects are second-rate. In fact, the whole thing is so preposterous it makes “V” look like “Masterpiece Theatre.” ... "
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Workers from the Waterford Crystal factory occupation led a 120,000 strong march in Dublin against the Irish government last Saturday (Pic: Paula Geraghty)
Simon Basketter reports in the Socialist Worker:
Anger at the Irish government's response to the recession erupted onto the streets of Dublin last Saturday.
In the biggest demonstration in the country for decades, more than 120,000 people marched over the Irish government's handling of the economic crisis.
Over 300 workers from the ongoing occupation at Waterford Crystal led the march alongside sacked workers from SR Technics, an aviation technology firm at Dublin airport.
Public and private sector workers marched together. Farmers, builders and students all took to the streets.
One indication of the scale of the growing crisis in Irish society was the group of police officers who joined the protest.
Even the army's "union" said they would refuse to be used in any strike-breaking.
The size of the march meant it set off earlier than planned. The entire route was filled with workers. Thousands lined the streets to cheer the protesters.
The demonstrators marched past the Dail (the Irish parliament) for a rally, where the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) general secretary David Begg accused a wealthy elite of "economic treason" for destroying the country's international reputation.
Begg said, "There is fear about how to keep body and soul together. There is anger because everybody knows that it is not our fault that a business elite has destroyed our economy and has as yet to be made accountable for it."
The original focus of the protest was the government's attack on public sector workers. It had introduced a "pension levy" – in reality a wage cut.
But the protest quickly became a national expression of anger against the government and the banks.
Placards read "Down with cosy cartels", "Ireland Inc is bankrupt and corrupt" and "Why no pay cuts for corporate swindlers?"
Many joining the demonstration spoke of what the recession and the government attacks mean for them.
"This isn't a pension levy – it's a pay cut," explained Dennis Walsh, a civil service clerical officer. "I will lose a significant portion of my salary into the dark hole of a banker's pocket."
Sean Whelan, a worker with Dublin council, said, "I'm on a gross wage of 650 euro a week, and by the time all my reductions are taken out I take home 106 euro a week.
"Now with the government's levy and the credit card I have to pay off, I will be left with 6.50 euro a week to live on – chicken feed."
Damien Buggy, a construction worker, said that people had finally found their voice of protest:
"I'm here to let the government know that people are hurting. I'm here to protest the unfairness of it all. I haven't lost my job but nobody is secure anymore. I would like to see this government fall."
The government has introduced austerity measures at the same time as bailing out banks that have been embroiled in a series of scandals. This has enraged people.
And the inspiring factory occupation of the Waterford Crystal workers has shown people that they can fight back against the recession.
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