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A roundup of the news made by of, by and for the active engaged progressive people of the world. Also posted at the GOS.
Honduras at the Showdown
It was a day of sweeping rumours, where at one point it seemed the de facto government was declaring a midday toque de queda (curfew) and schools and businesses closed early in the confusion. It seemed that as we compared notes, many of our friends were also growing weary of the day-to-day struggle and disruption wrought by the golpistas, and their intransigence with internal dissent and international criticism.
At the same time the resistance was unbowed by Sunday’s hammer blow to fundamental rights and was able to mobilise about 2,000 people in a peaceful sit-in outside the University Pedagogica, a blatant act of illegal assembly under the executive decree.
Gradually as I starting phoning contacts and cross-checking blogs this evening, the picture of the day’s events began to look more consistent with the often shambolic and, sometimes, comically inept actions of the golpistas. It also seems the – up to now – supine congress and presidential candidates were breaking ranks with the de facto government over the executive decree.
Though Zelaya was a relatively moderate president, his policies challenged the elite enough to inspire a right wing coup. While in office, he passed a 60% increase in minimum wage, bringing income up from around $6 a day to $9.60 a day.(6) Zelaya also gave subsidies to small farmers, cut bank interest rates and reduced poverty.(7) Salvador Zuniga, a leader of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) said, “One of the things that provoked the coup d’etat was that the president accepted a petition from the feminist movement regarding the day-after pill. Opus Dei mobilized, the fundamentalist evangelical churches mobilized, along with all the reactionary groups.”(8)
“Maybe he made mistakes,” Honduran school teacher Hedme Castro said of Zelaya, “but he always erred on the side of the poor. That is why they will fight to the end for him.” She continued, “This is not about President Zelaya. This is about my country. Many people gave their lives so that we could have a democracy. And we cannot let a group of elites take that away.”
But the Honduran Congress ignored the fact– and it is indeed a fact– that, when immunity to prosecution for high government officials was removed from the Constitution, the authority to prosecute officials for crimes, possibly culminating in removal from office, if guilt were proved after a trial, was reconfirmed as residing with the Supreme Court, which began such a legal process in response to the charges by the Public Prosecutor dated June 26.
Understanding this last point is important. Congress on June 28 not only violated the rights of President Zelaya; it mangled the separation of powers by usurping the rightful role of the Supreme Court.
And that was not the first time that the Honduran Congress had reached out to extend a claim over actions that are appropriately the business of the Supreme Court. While the researcher who produced the dreadfully flawed report for the Law Library of the Library of Congress did not produce any useful information about the constitutional basis for the actions Honduras’ Congress took on June 28, she did draw attention to a particularly vivid illustration of a structural problem with Honduran governance under a Constitution that Costa Rican President Oscar Arias has now characterized as “the worst in the entire world”.
On Sunday, Micheletti announced the authoritarian decree without having the aforementioned “consensus” of key coup players. Some seemed as surprised as the general public to find out about it. The decree already does not have any “consensus” even among the limited power players between whom the coup was negotiated and implemented. Now he is saying he needs “consensus” to remove it.
What does this tell us? It reveals that Micheletti himself isn’t calling the shots here. He specifically mentions the Supreme Court, and his reference to “State organisms” most likely means the Armed Forces: the two real kingpins of the coup, for whom Micheletti is a mere marionette.
In typical style, he fools gullible reporters to repeat claims that he has already backed off the decree, while this morning military and police troops continued attacks on peaceful demonstrators that have maintained government agricultural offices occupied for three months now. Clearly, the real powers behind the decree – the Supreme Court and the military – want to make sure it meets its main goals before having to call it off.
Turkey: IMF Meetings
Genç explains the cost of the debt as follows:
“Interest is charged anyway. Of course the interest accumulates and is
added to the debt, this way a never-ending credit spiral sets off. We
know this situation very well because Turkey is one of the most
constant countries with debts”.
“Programs realized on behalf of the state”
Yet according to Genç, the programs offered to the countries applying
for credit are even more important.
“I am saying ‘offering’ though we are actually talking about
obligations. Privatization going on for years and years, limitations
of the public budget, cuts of agriculture subsidies etc. All these
measures are a result of the ‘recommended’ structural adjustment
programs. These programs are executed by the government of course.
A student journalist threw a shoe at IMF Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn on Thursday and ran toward the stage shouting “IMF get out!” as the finance official answered questions at a university in Istanbul.
The white sports shoe bounced off another student’s head but missed the IMF chief before landing beside him on the speaker’s platform. Some students applauded. Strauss-Kahn moved to the side, and a security guard rushed to protect him.
Other guards quickly blocked the man – a student and a journalist with a small left-wing newspaper – from reaching the platform. They pushed him to the floor, covered his mouth with their hands and then dragged him from the hall.
A female protester also tried to unfurl a banner while shouting “IMF get out!” but she was escorted out of the conference hall.
The conference was then cut short and the hall evacuated.
Mexico: Chiapas Peasant Leader Kidnapped
September 30 — Early this morning, people dressed as members of the Mexican Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) kidnapped Jose Manuel Hernandez Martinez, aka “El Chema.” El Chema is one of the leaders of the Emiliano Zapata Peasant Organization (OCEZ). His whereabouts remain unknown, and fellow OCEZ members fear that he will be killed. Members of the organization believe that police kidnapped El Chema, although the kidnappers never identified themselves other than as CFE employees.
According to information that OCEZ member Jose Manuel de la Torre provided to Narco News, the OCEZ believes that El Chema’s kidnapping is in retaliation for a successful land occupation and hunger strike that 13 OCEZ members held this past July.
Greece: NeoNazis attack folk singer
Sofia Papazoglou, a popular folk singer was attacked by members of the Golden Dawn neo-nazi party in Athens after throwing election leaflets handed to her in the garbage. The singer remains hospitalised with serious burns from use of unidentified acid spray and with impaired vision.
Sofia Papazoglou, a popular folk singer of the “entehno” genre known for her progressive politics was attacked on Thursday 1st of October outside the metro station of Katehaki, in Athens, by ten members of the neo-nazi party Golden Dawn when she threw election leaflets handed to her by the thugs in the garbage.
This raw video shows Greek police and neo-nazi Golden Dawn stormtroopers intermingled and jointly attacking leftist demonstrators:
Greece: Anti-terrorist law jails three in Athens “in expectation of evidence”
The three boys now stand accused of membership to the urban guerrilla group “jeopardizing democracy and political system of the Republic”, and for participation in three bombings of apartments housing a) the now chief of the secret services, b) the ex-chief of the general staff and ex-minister of public order, c) the ex-minister of education and his wife, the shadow minister of economics for PaSoK. The three do NOT stand accused of the approximately 150 arson-storming attacks claimed by the NFC before the start of its bombing campaign last spring.
Guinea: Massacre of Anti-Coup Opposition
Repression continues in the aftermath of the massacre of an estimated 157 people attending an opposition rally outside a football stadium in Conakry, the capital of Guinea, on Monday. Eyewitnesses reported that troops bayoneted fleeing demonstrators. Soldiers are said to have publicly raped women.
“The military is going into districts, looting goods and raping women,” said Mamadi Kaba, the head of the Guinean branch of the African Encounter for the Defence of Human Rights (RADDHO), speaking to AFP.
Opposition leaders in the West African country have been arrested, and scores of protestors were taken away in military trucks. There are reported to be military checkpoints across Conakry.
An estimated 50,000 people had gathered at the stadium following reports that Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, head of the military regime that has run Guinea since December 2008, would stand in elections planned for January 2010.
Raw video from Conakry:
South Africa: Housing Activists murdered
Last night at about 11:30 a group of about 40 heavily armed men attacked the Abahlali baseMjondolo office in the Kennedy Road settlement where the movement was holding an all night camp for the Youth League.
The men who attacked were shouting: ‘The AmaMpondo are taking over Kennedy. Kennedy is for the AmaZulu.” Some people were killed. We can’t yet say exactly how many. Some are saying that three people are dead. Some are saying that five people are dead. Some people are also very seriously injured. The attackers broke everything that they could.
The Sydenham police were called but they did not come. This has led some people to conclude that this was a carefully planned attack on the movement and that the police knew in advance that it had been planned and stayed away on purpose.
Abahlali baseMjondolo describe four types of people who would like to destroy their movement:
“1. People who want to follow an ethnic politics: The movement accepts all shack dwellers on an equal basis. We do not care where a person was born or what language they speak. This has caused those who want an ethnic politics to oppose us.
2. Criminals: We have a Safety & Security committee and we have been working to get the criminals out of our settlement. In recent months we have been working very well with the local police to get them arrested. We have also put a time limit on the shebeens saying that they must close at 10:00 p.m. so that people can sleep properly and that there is no violence, especially violence against women, when people get too drunk. The criminals and some shebeen owners do not like what the movement is doing to make the settlement safe for everybody.
3. People who want Gumede’s patronage: Every time the movement wins a small victory, like getting toilets built or even cleaned, Gumede tries to ensure that the jobs go only to his people. We are opposed to development becoming misused for party politics. The people who want to get Gumede’s jobs are also unhappy with what we are doing. We also think that now the Abahlali baseMjondolo has won the struggle against the eviction of Kennedy Road, and for the up grade of the settlement where it is, these people want to use violence to take over the settlement so that they can get the contacts that they think will come with development. We suspect that Gumede has promised them these contracts.
4. People who are making money from electricity: Operation Khanyisa, in which we connect people to electricity, is for free. People who were charging to connect people to electricity see it as a threat to them.”
Canada: Olympics Related Evictions
Residents of a vermin-infested hotel in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside say their landlord is trying to evict them to make room for Olympic business…
In February 2007, the Carnegie Community Action Project claimed the Golden Crown Hotel was the site of the first Olympic Games-related evictions.
Housing advocates said the owner had issued eviction notices to all the tenants, had planned to renovate the rooms and rent them for $1,000 a month to construction workers from the Olympics and the neighbouring Woodwards building.
France: Telecom worker walkout
Workers spontaneously walked out today in solidarity with a colleague who committed suicide.
There were a series of walkouts across the country today as workers showed solidarity with their dead colleagues and protested against the work pressures that lead to his death.
In Annecy-le-Vieux, where the dead man worked over 100 of his colleagues walked out in solidaarity and held a demonstration. In Bordeaux 200-300 workers also downed tools and took to the streets. There was also a demonstration at the regional headquarters in Lyon by over 600 workers.
Iceland: Mortgage Strike
Iceland was the most, you might say, unusual example of the problems caused by the financial crisis last fall. The entire economy was basically torpedoed by mortgage debt gone bad. Tomorrow, something completely different — thousands of mortgage holders are expected to join in a national repayment strike.
From the Marketplace European Desk in London, Stephen Beard reports.
STEPHEN BEARD: One radio station in Reykjavik reckons that 75,000 people — a quarter of Iceland’s population — could take part in the strike. For an initial period of two weeks the protesters will withhold all their loan repayments. Morino Njalsson is one of the organizers of the action.
MORINO NJALSSON: People are very angry because we feel the banks were gambling with the economy, with the currency, stealing, stealing our properties.
When all the country’s major banks went bust a year ago, the currency collapsed. And that, says economist Magnus Arnu Skulason, has had a devastating effect on the many Icelandic mortgages priced in euros, and Swiss francs.
MAGNUS ARNU SKULASON: The Icelandic kroner fell by nearly half so those loans have doubled.
Britain: Postal Workers vote to disaffiliate from Labour Party
This week has seen a further wave of 24-hour strikes by postal workers. Around 15,000 workers are thought to be involved in strikes affecting large parts of the country. In a further indication of growing radicalisation, a recent consultative ballot amongst London members of the CWU voted overwhelmingly for the union to end its political subsidy to the Labour Party.
On Tuesday most of the London delivery offices were out, and today strikes are due to take place in delivery offices across the Bristol area. There have also been a significant number of wildcat actions. The official strikes are regional and sectional, and are taking place during a ballot of all Communication Workers Union (CWU) members for national strike action. That ballot closes October 8, and is likely to return a vote in favour of action.
As a consultative ballot, the vote to end funding for the Labour Party is not binding. But the 96 percent vote against continued affiliation is a clear sign of the anger against the government and its attack on jobs and conditions at Royal Mail. The postal service is looking to impose drastic speed-ups and increase workloads. Managers have already imposed route revisions and shift changes and postal workers face a possible 40 percent cut in staffing levels.
Germany: Breakthrough for Die Linke
The media will tend to focus on the fact that Merkel can now run a right-wing tax-cutting administration in coalition with the FDP. This is hardly unimportant, but the biggest story that obtains here is the way in which the historic collapse of social democracy played out. This is a story that is coming to our shores soon, so it is one we had better pay attention to. It is not possible to protect the parties of the Second International from electoral oblivion, even if that were a desirable thing to do. The best that we can do is try to manage this process in a way that opens up a space for the radical left. It is by no means inevitable, as we have discovered to our cost, that the left will benefit from a slump in the social democratic vote. To be in that position, we have to have our shit together (which we, at the moment, do not).
So, the Linke increasing their vote by 50% on their previous turnout is a momentous development that no one should underestimate. It shows that for all the instabilities in the left-wing coalition, and for all the struggles over how much to compromise and whether to enter into coalition with the SPD in certain circumstances, it is not the flash-in-the-pan army of misfits that the bourgeois media would like to represent it as. It has a durable and growing base, apparently reaching well beyond its expected confines. It would be entirely understandable, given the history of the European left, for such a coalition to split at the first sign of stress, with each element retreating to safe territory, busying themselves rectifying sleights and constructing monuments to past glories. They didn’t. If we could respond to the collapse of Labourism in Britain with the same sort of panache and willingness to overcome tribal divisions, we should be in a much better position to intervene in class disputes such as the Vestas occupation than we presently are.
Opinion: Margaret Kimberley on the G20, Protest, Obama and Capitalism
The youthful Barack Obama was a strange variety of “community organizer” – he didn’t like protests. Obama’s feelings haven’t changed in the interim. The president believes protesters like those that showed up for the G20 summit, in Pittsburgh, are obsessed with some “generic” version of capitalism that throws people out of work and creates wars. But that’s all in their heads. The First Black President said so…
The Pittsburgh protesters needed a good talking to from the former community organizer. Who better to school them in their misapprehensions than a man who first made a political name for himself by helping the common folk.”I was always a big believer in – when I was doing organizing before I went to law school – that focusing on concrete, local, immediate issues that have an impact on people’s lives is what really makes a difference and that having protests about abstractions [such] as global capitalism or something, generally, is not really going to make much of a difference.”
So you see, global capitalism is kind of a fuzzy thing after all. The capitalism system may appear to be very concrete. It seems to create “bubbles” that devastate the lives of millions of people. It seems to demand that politicians turn over trillions of dollars in public resources. It appears to determine who will win elective office. It all must be a cruel optical illusion. After all, who are you going to believe, Obama or your lying eyes?
Pittsburgh: LRAD to be Moneymaker
Pittsburgh police on Thursday used an audio cannon manufactured by American Technology Corporation (ATCO), a San Diego-based company, to disperse protesters outside the G-20 Summit — the first time its LRAD series device has been used on civilians in the U.S.
An ATC sales representative confirms to DailyFinance that Pittsburgh police used ATC’s Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD). “Yes, we sold one LRAD unit to a government agency — I don’t know which one — which was used in Pittsburgh,” the representative said. American Technology Corp.’s stock was trading up over 15 percent in heavy activity late Friday.
France: The Camps of Calais
In the June/July issue of Red Pepper, Alex Clarke from Bristol No Borders reported on the plight of the migrants living in makeshift settlements around Calais. Since then the threats facing these migrants have escalated, from scabies and malnutrition to the imminent destruction of camps by the French police and an increased risk of arrest and forced deportation to war zones.
By the time you read this, the area of wooded dunes near Calais may have been cleared of the shanties that are home to over a thousand migrants and would-be asylum seekers. They come from countries including Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Eritrea, Somalia and Sudan, all seeking security in the UK.
In July, French immigration minister Eric Besson denied that the bulldozing of the camps was imminent and pledged that humanitarian organisations would be fully involved in any clearance plan. Calais deputy prefect Gerard Gavory immediately contradicted him, emphasising that the operation was to take place soon, that no notice would be given to the organisations providing humanitarian assistance, and that those in the camps would be forcibly deported if necessary.
Korea: Crackdown on Migrants
The S. Korean immigration had issued a public notice on September 2 urging the “illegal” immigrants to voluntarily return home within September saying it would launch a massive crackdown on such immigrants in October and November.
Un-documented migrants are terrified as the crackdown came earlier than they expected. Many Nepalis are taking refuge at religious and labour shelters. Some of them have even quit their jobs due to the fear of being detained.
Most of the so-called “illegal” migrant workers were detained from their residences and public places. The arrested also includes some pregnant and ill women!
Poland: Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Leader Dead at 90
Marek Edelman, the last surviving leader of the ill-fated 1943 Warsaw ghetto revolt against the Nazis, died Friday at the age of 90…
Most of Edelman’s adult life was dedicated to the defense of human life, dignity and freedom. He fought the Nazis in the doomed Warsaw ghetto revolt and later in the Warsaw city Uprising. And then for decades he fought communism in Poland.
His heroism earned him the French Legion of Honor and Poland’s highest civilian distinction, the Order of the White Eagle.
Happy Birthday Mohandas K. Gandhi
…Gandhi wasn’t working in mystical isolation, but in dialogue with plenty of Indians who vehemently disagreed with him. With his enthusiasm for technology and dams, Nehru was on the other side of the divide. So too was India’s greatest poet Rabindranath Tagore who in a series of letters with the Mahatma challenged him – respectfully and affectionately but forcefully – not only on his tactics for achieving Independence but also his vision of what should follow.
Sixty years on from independence and India is both a much wealthier country (however unequally that wealth has been distributed) and on the way to great power status. And yet along the way, its ambitions for itself have dwindled. With the occasional exception, the country’s news media has got slicker and bigger – and dumbly triumphalist. And even the intelligentsia has lost the thrilling sense of possibility that enlivened the country’s discourse even into the 70s.
No one argues over what India should stand for anymore – and it would be a brave modern Indian who would talk of his or her nation becoming a force in the world. Yet even Cambridge-educated, Bloomsbury-influenced Nehru talked of how his country was both “a myth and an idea” and there was more to that than mere political rhetoric.
The India that has spent the day celebrating Gandhi’s birthday is fast becoming a powerful country – but it seems to have lost sight of his aspiration for it to become a great one.
PRC: The Revolution Turns 60
The men of China are justifiably proud of China since Liberation, New China. But the women, a visitor soon senses, are unreservedly joyous over it. After sensing this for some time on a recent visit to the Middle Kingdom, I asked one woman whether my perception was correct; she said absolutely it was. Why? “We got our freedom,” she replied immediately.
There is scarcely a woman one meets in China who has does not remember a grandmother or mother with bound feet. One woman told me that her grandmother felt as though razor blades cut into her feet with every step. That torture persisted in Chang Kaishek’s China, supported by the U.S., until Liberation of 1949 when China “stood up” as Chairman Mao put it.
On October 1, 1949, the binding of feet came to an end forever. But in addition to land reform giving the peasants their own land to till which also found its way to China then, the Communist Party of China (CPC) mandated the end of arranged marriages and the right of women to own property and to own half the property of a married couple. Women were now full citizens in the New China and had “stood up” on unbound feet.
Argentina: Si se Calla el Cantor
Argentine folk singer Mercedes Sosa, the “voice of Latin America” whose music inspired opponents of South America’s brutal military regimes and led to her forced exile in Europe, died Sunday, her family said. She was 74…
By the 1970s she was recognized as one of the South American troubadours who gave rise to the “nuevo cancionero” (New Songbook) movement – singers including Chile’s Victor Jara and Violeta Parra, Argentina’s Victor Heredia and Uruguay’s Alfredo Zitarrosa who mixed leftist politics with poetic musings critical of the ruling juntas and their iron-fisted curtailment of civil liberties and human rights abuses.
In 1972, Sosa released the socially and politically charged album “Hasta la Victoria” (“Till Victory”). Her sympathies with communist movements and support for leftist parties attracted close scrutiny and censorship at a time when blending politics with music was a dangerous occupation – Jara was tortured and shot to death by soldiers following Chile’s 1973 military coup.
In 1979, a year after being widowed from her second husband, Sosa was detained along with an entire audience of about 200 students while singing in La Plata, a university city hit hard by military rule.