Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday News Links-Wisconsin;Libya;Egypt, The Middle East and USA; Afghanistan - video of Pech District Children's Funerals + More


Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now interview David Cay Johnston, author of "Free Lunch: How The Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves At Government Expense (and stick you with the bill) ", who exposes Scott Walker's claim that unionized state workers pensions are subsidised by the state. Johnston writing on the blog believes that "economic nonsense is being reported as fact in most of the news reports on the Wisconsin dispute" by journalists who have a "lack of understanding of basic economic principles."

Meanwhile Judge John Albert ruled yesterday that free speech must be allowed to protesters but that no one is allowed access to the Capitol building outside of normal working hours. video shows that an altercation took place when Dem. state Rep Nick Milroy tried to collect his belongings from inside the Capitol building.


Al Jazeera reports that the humanitarian crisis in Libya continues as more than 30,000 migrant workers try to flee the country because they are afraid that they will be targeted by either the government or protesters. Since the beginning of the uprisings more than 200,000 are reported to have fled Libya.


Al Jazeera published an opinion article on the 24th February which I missed. It was written by Walter Armbrust a Hourani Fellow and University Lecturer in Modern Middle East Studies at Oxford University. In the article Armbrust makes the case that a reinforcement of neo liberalism policies in Egypt, and similar countries in the Middle East, would be a disaster for the pro-democracy movement whose demands for political and social reform were loud and clear. Armbrust writes:

Mubarak's Egypt degraded schools and hospitals, and guaranteed grossly inadequate wages, particularly in the ever-expanding private sector. This was what turned hundreds of dedicated activists into millions of determined protesters.

He also draws parallels with America:

The political economy of the Mubarak regime was shaped by many currents in Egypt’s own history, but its broad outlines were by no means unique. Similar stories can be told throughout the rest of the Middle East, Latin America, Asia, Europe and Africa. Everywhere neoliberalism has been tried, the results are similar: living up to the utopian ideal is impossible; formal measures of economic activity mask huge disparities in the fortunes of the rich and poor; elites become "masters of the universe," using force to defend their prerogatives, and manipulating the economy to their advantage, but never living in anything resembling the heavily marketised worlds that are imposed on the poor.

Unemployment was a major grievance for millions of Egyptian protesters [EPA]

The story should sound familiar to Americans as well. For example, the vast fortunes of Bush era cabinet members Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, through their involvement with companies like Halliburton and Gilead Sciences, are the product of a political system that allows them — more or less legally — to have one foot planted in "business" and another in "government" to the point that the distinction between them becomes blurred. Politicians move from the office to the boardroom to the lobbying organization and back again.

As neoliberal dogma disallows any legitimate role for government other than guarding the sanctity of free markets, recent American history has been marked by the steady privatization of services and resources formerly supplied or controlled by the government. But it is inevitably those with closest access to the government who are best positioned to profit from government campaigns to sell off the functions it formerly performed. It is not just Republicans who are implicated in this systemic corruption. Clinton-era Secretary of Treasury Robert Rubin’s involvement with Citigroup does not bear close scrutiny.

This article deserves full attention. Read more here.


The funerals of the nine young children killed in an air raid whilst collecting firewood have taken place amidst allegations from Afghan officials that "as many as 65 civilians were killed in another raid in February:" General Petraeus has denied these allegations. Warning.The video below includes graphic images of some of the dead children and other disturbing images.

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