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The Shameful Tragedy of Tariq Aziz

A Metaphor for the “New Iraq”

As with everything to do with “The New Iraq”, the death, on June 5th, 2015, of the country’s former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Tariq Aziz, 79, was announced with a lie.

The Deputy Governor of Nasiriya, Adel Aldikhaly, stated that he had died of a heart attack after “a long term incurable disease.”

Mr Aziz had been transferred from Baghdad’s Khadamiyah prison to Nasiriya’s jail three hundred kilometres south – notorious for appalling conditions at best and torture at worst – a year ago. The reason for his move is so far unknown. It might be surmised as just another …

Right-wing Radicalization, Militarization, and the Boomerang Effect

Throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia, right-wing governments have increasingly adopted extremist socio-economic policies, slashing social expenditures, labor and welfare legislation, while increasing corporate subsidies and reducing taxes for the elite.
           
The right-wing has launched increasingly reckless military interventions via-invasions, proxy wars and massive weapon build-ups on the frontiers of Russia, China and Iran, while engaging in military provocations.
           
In this essay we will outline the scope and depth of right-wing extremism on a global scale, analyze its consequences and then evaluate the successes or failures of the ‘hard right’. In discussing the rise of hard-right socio-economic regimes and …

“Sentence First, Verdict Afterwards”

The Alice in Wonderland World of Fast-tracked Secret Trade Agreements

“Let the jury consider their verdict,” the King said, for about the twentieth time that day.

“No, no!” said the Queen. “Sentence first–verdict afterwards.”

“Stuff and nonsense!” said Alice loudly. “The idea of having the sentence first!”

“Hold your tongue!” said the Queen, turning purple.

“I won’t!” said Alice.

“Off with her head!” the Queen shouted at the top of her voice.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

Fast-track authority is being sought in the Senate this week for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), along with the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) and any other such trade agreements coming down the pike in the next six years. The …

The Radical Reconfiguration of Southern European Politics

The Rise of the Non Leftist Left

Over the past decade fundamental changes have taken place in Southern Europe, which have broken with previous political alignments, resulting in the virtual disappearance of traditional leftist ’parties, the decline of trade unions and the emergence of ‘middle class radicalism’.

New political movements, purportedly on the Left, no longer are based on class conscious workers nor are they embedded in the class struggle. Likewise on the right, greater attention is paid to escalating the repressive capacity of the state instead of state intervention in pursuit of economic …

Just Another Instance of White Terrorism

A white man guns down nine black people in a church in South Carolina. The state’s Confederate battle flag stays waving in the wind the next day. The white man is arrested. He is given a Kevlar jacket.

Welcome to the United States of America in 2015.

The atrocity in Charleston on June 17, 2015, exemplifies the value of black life in America today. Dylann Roof’s crime was an abomination. He slaughtered nine people in cold blood. But in the broader context of the American reality of black people and black lives, Roof’s attack is just another instance of white terrorism.

Even …

Weeding Roses in Kabul

Kabul — Outside the windows of the room where I sleep here in Kabul, the Afghan Peace Volunteer (APV) women’s community maintains a small walled garden filled with roses.  The community planted tomatoes, cilantro and greens. An apricot tree grows in one corner, a mulberry tree in another. The prayer Afghan Peace Volunteer (APV) call, chanted from a nearby mosque, awakens me just before dawn. Light appears in the sky around four, and soon after, the doves and neighborhood children begin to stir. Normal activities and routines persist here in Afghanistan, despite the decades of war and impoverishment.  Military helicopters …

Public Didn’t See Last Two World Wars Coming Either

Books about how World War I started, and to a lesser degree how World War II started, have tended in recent years to explain that these wars didn’t actually come as a surprise, because top government officials saw them coming for years. But these revised histories admit that the general public was pretty much clueless and shocked.

The fact is that anyone in the know or diligently seeking out the facts could see, in rough outline, the danger of World War I or World War II coming years ahead, just as one can see the threats of environmental collapse and World …

The Refugee Crisis in Context

Neoliberalism’s Refuse

A report issued by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) this week provided a jarring statistical glimpse at the unprecedented crisis facing 59.5 million people who are currently displaced. With ongoing wars and sectarian conflicts raging in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, South Sudan and Somalia, and record numbers moving in search of economic betterment, an additional 8.1 million people were uprooted in 2014. If all of the world’s refugees were to form one independent country, it would be the 24th largest, just behind Italy and ahead of South Africa. This country would contain .8% of the global population, …

The Business of Wall Street

If you don’t mind working hard—and partying even harder—why not get a business degree, take a couple of state and federal tests, and become a Wall Street trader?

These are the people who are the current crop of Gordon Gekkos—you know, the pretend-fictional character portrayed by Michael Douglas in Wall Street. The men spend thousands of dollars on suits, ties, and cocaine. The women spend thousands just to own a closet of Jimmy Choo shoes.

But their existence is shrouded by a coop they call an office or cubicle. Their tools are multiple phone lines and computer screens.

The chase for money—and perhaps …

Trump for President? Giving the GOP Nightmares

Donald Trump, the bombastic builder of Trump towers and Trump gambling casinos is moving from his reality TV show to the theater of presidential elections. If he survives the first three months of mass media drubbing him and his notorious affliction of ‘leaving no impulsive opinion behind,’ he’s going to be trouble for the other fifteen or so Republican presidential candidates.

Already the commentators have derided his massive egotitis – he said “I” 195 times in his announcement speech, not counting the 28 times he said “my” or “mine” or the 22 mentions of “me.” But Trump revels in self-promotion and, …

Elect Maggie Thatcher President of the United States

Consider the under-represented majorities in the United States, in the world for that matter, and pretty soon you’re going to come across the most ignored majority of them all. Sure, they’ve been getting a lot of broadcast media time these days, but that’s simply a way to placate their aspirations  with shiny objects while the real power remains where it always has been. Having television shows named after them and hiring many as roaming extras is one thing, but what’s been missing is real power. Political power. It’s time to rectify this egregious deliberate oversight. It’s time for a great …

#ethicalcapitalism and Why It Fails to “Change the World”

Oscar Wilde’s assertions on the degradation of man under capitalism remain as relevant today as it did over a century ago. His essay, “The Soul of Man Under Socialism” tackles the inherent demoralizing nature of charity under capitalism in modern society. Wilde’s critique serves as a crucial starting point for the feel-good campaigns that are ubiquitous today.

While altruism itself is a practice based on selflessness, the fundamental issue is the way in which altruistic acts are carried out under capitalism – the very foundation of inequality remains unaddressed and unquestioned by many. Capitalism has created the problems that …

Resolving the Racial Divide

Why is it so difficult for the mainstream media to mention the word racism?

Reviewing the national headlines and news of the latest massacre – this time in Charleston, S.C., I find no mention of the word. I checked the AP stylebook just to be sure and saw no problem with the word “racism”. So what is this reticence to mention it? With massacres of this type happening almost every five weeks, has it perhaps become a dirty word?

Not even the President had the guts to spell this word out. Too bad. We are not going in the right direction. If …

What Cannot Be Written in the USA

At the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), in Los Angeles, a gigantic, carnivorous flag with torn ends was waving in an artificial wind created by enormous propellers.

There were no visitors at the exhibition. For a while I thought that in all this huge space I was totally alone. But soon I noticed two figures in black torn dresses, moving slowly, in semi-darkness, desperately clinging to the walls. Backs bent, they passed by the bookstore right near the place where someone had put a small sign on the wall that said, “I cannot breath!”

Kiev: Chestnuts Blossom Again

I had to whip up my courage to go to the Ukraine. There was a recent spate of political killings in the unhappy and lovely land, and the perpetrators never apprehended; among those killed was Oles Buzina, a renowned writer and a dear friend. Two years ago, well before the troubles, we had a drink under a chestnut tree in a riverside café. Buzina was in his forties, rather tall and slim, had a narrow sarcastic face of Mephistopheles, a bald head, a hint of moustache and a bad temper. He was a Thersites among the warlike nationalists of Kiev, …

The Injustice Handed out to Julian Assange Must End

Julian Assange, founder and editor of WikiLeaks, has now been a refugee in the Ecuadoream embassy in London for three years. The key issue in his extraordinary incarceration is justice. He has been charged with no crime. The first Swedish prosecutor dismissed the misconduct allegations regarding two women in Stockholm in 2010. The second Swedish prosecutor’s actions were and are demonstrably political. Until recently, she refused to come to London to interview Assange. Finally, when the British government almost pleaded with her to come, she agreed. She has now cancelled her trip. It is a farce, but one with grim …

Venezuelan Tribes Protest against Violent Mining Gangs

Indigenous Venezuelans blocked the landing strip of Canaima National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in protest at illegal miners destroying their lives and lands.

The Hoti in Venezuela and other Amazon Indigenous peoples depend on the forest for their survival. But their forests are being destroyed by illegal mining. © Eglée Zent/SurvivalOver the last decade, illegal mining for gold,

Currency Crisis: How Much Longer Until it Hits the US?

A currency crisis is coming to the US and it’s only a matter of when, not if. Many have been warning about it for years, from politician Ron Paul to economist Peter Schiff to many other voices in the alternative media. It’s a mathematical certainty, and a question of when, not if. Recent events, within the US and abroad, are beginning to indicate that it’s going to happen sooner rather than later. No one knows exactly when; there are way more predictions that don’t come true than those that do. However, making an accurate prediction of the exact date when the currency crisis hits is …

Ethiopian General Election

An Insult to the People and Democracy

Every five years the Ethiopian people are invited by the ruling party to take part in a democratic pantomime called ‘General Elections’. Sunday 24th May saw the latest production take to the national stage.

With most opposition party leaders either in prison or abroad, the populace living under a suffocating blanket of fear, and the ruling party having total control over the media, the election result was a foregone conclusion. The European Union, which had observed the 2005 and 2010 elections, refused to send a delegation this time, maintaining their presence would legitimise the farce, and give credibility to the government.

With …

The Tyrannical Mandate: Ministerial Discretion and Stripping Citizenship

“The reason why we have made this decision is because we have a very strong view: if you’ve left this country to join a terrorist army in the Middle East, we don’t want you.”  These were Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s words in response to the Cabinet dissent that has characterised the debate about stripping Australian citizenship from those believed (though not necessarily known) to be terrorists.

The proposal was always going to be riddled with problems. For one, it flies in the face of citizenship conventions internationally.  To strip citizenship is to eviscerate a legal being, casting the individual into …