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Ukraine: hopeful signs versus the neocons

by: fairleft

Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 14:19:17 PM EST

While President Obama announces meaningless sanctions (they had been telegraphed for weeks so those targeted had plenty of time to protect assets), b at moonofalabama reports U.S./Russian progress toward crisis resolution through a new constitution that creates a devolved, federated Ukraine guaranteeing minority and language rights. B found a source that presents what looks like a rough draft agreement generated for a proposed Ukraine Support Group (the EU, U.S., and Russia). (The proposal is also discussed by Pepe Escobar in Asia Times.) In the imperfect English of the bilingual draft, the following is the second on its to-do list:
2. Convene without delay, by a decision of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the Constitutional Assembly with equal representation of all Ukrainian regions in order to draft a new federal constitution that would provide for the following:
- Enshrine the principles of rule of law, protection of human rights and all national minorities, freedom of speech and activities of political parties and mass media, as well as other principles underlying Ukraine's political system as a democratic federation state possessing sovereignty and neutral military and political status;
- Russian along with Ukrainian will be given a state language status while other languages will be given a status in accordance with the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages;
- Regions will independently elect their legislative and executive bodies through a direct vote and have wide authority, reflecting the cultural and historic specificity of each to them, with regard to economy and finance, social sphere, language, education, [and] external interregional relations, while ensuring protection of national minorities living in each of the federation constituent entities; ...
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The new Ukraine's first law revokes Russian language rights

by: fairleft

Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 07:00:51 AM EST

The critical question about Ukraine is the character of its new government. Well, its first act in power was an 'ethnic nationalist' act one, revocation of the very tolerant and multicultural language law. Even worse if passed, there is also a bill before parliament to ban Russian media in Ukraine.

But back to the language bill: why was that good law revoked? It kept Ukrainian as the national language but made other languages -- usually Russian but also Hungarian, Moldovan and Romanian -- regional languages anywhere 10% of more were non-Ukrainian native speakers. The law was mostly, I think, about assuring parents that their kids could go to public schools where their mother tongue was the language of instruction, but also about assuring that courts and other governmental institutions are bilingual Ukrainian/other language in bilingual regions.

Revoking the law displays nothing much more than malevolence toward Russian and other minority language speakers, and I understand why they would be very uncomfortable about their future, and their children's future, in Ukraine, especially considering the post-Soviet story in other Eastern European states with Russian-speaking minorities.

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Here's to a less prettied up, less distracted, less disguised 2014

by: fairleft

Thu Dec 26, 2013 at 02:46:58 AM EST

Great quote in yesterday's Counterpunch from John Stauber:

Democracy is all but dead, snuffed out by centuries of a corporate economic system that has concentrated wealth and thus political power in the hands of an elite. That elite sits astride a self-destroying economy that is eating up the earth to churn out consumer crap and the vision of a shopping mall utopia. Nothing will get better for the poor or the planet until we individually and collectively come to grips with this reality, and any propaganda that disguises or pretties up this ugly situation is detrimental.

I wonder if in the new year we could be less distracted by the manufactured b.s. -- produced by the Democratic and Republican Parties -- designed to make us hate the Reds or the Blues? Just a little less? Or if we can keep our eyes on the prize more steadily, the prize being changing the economy into one that makes full employment at good wages our number one 'left wing radical' priority. Why is the latter so hard to achieve, when it is what any developed economy can achieve (don't let the austerians fool you) and what everyone outside the wealthy elite wants?  

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The Snake's Eyelids

by: donkeytale

Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 15:01:55 PM EST

Ricky came home on semester break from SF State with a goody bag from the dorms.

"Purple ozzie". Ricky never got the names right.

His favorite scotch was "Cutty Shark." He always ordered "Cutty Shark and Coke" because the Beatles' publicist once told Tiger Beat Magazine that's how John drank it. Ricky adored John, generously ignoring the fact that the moptops were anglos jotos.

Ricky would take a drink then spit it out.

=Yuck. I hate Scotch.
=Its not the Scotch, dipshit. Its the coke. Nobody mixes scotch with coke, except the Beatles.

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Citizen Pffugee

by: melvin

Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 00:28:25 AM EST

Thoughts after two weeks plus in jail.

I miss it. Specifically, the easy access to chess opponents of various abilities, the endless stories - many quite interesting and all more so than the daily offerings outside, the sense of community (cue mockery if it hasn't already autotuned). Most interestingly the sense that someone could really use my help.

The surprising number of people in for LFO's. Debtor's prison is back. The muslims applying for kosher meals because it is the closest they can get.

The people who were kind to me for no reason at all.

Bitch away you bastards, but it felt a lot like home.

Discuss :: (38 Comments)

How to fight: Social Security & Bangladesh garment workers

by: fairleft

Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 03:07:51 AM EST

 photo angrygarmentworkers3_zpse153ce0f.jpg

There is predictable bad news on Social Security, that the Democrats are gonna try to shove cuts down our throats despite opinion polls showing overwhelming opposition to them, and overwhelming support for adjusting the income cap (can you believe it, there's a damn regressive taxation income cap!) if we need more revenue. But don't forget the (related!) good news. Bangladeshi garment workers worked hard after the preventable fire/catastrophe that killed 1100 last April, worked angry, got in the streets and closed them down, shut down factories, and so they have achieved, so far, a 50-80% wage increase:

Bangladesh's garment factory owners are pencilling in a minimum wage increase of about 50 to 80 percent and will ask retailers to pay more to defray the cost, as the government tries to end a wave of strikes that hit nearly a fifth of workshops last month.

See, no cuts for those who get in the streets and make life impossible for the owners. The pay of Bangladeshi garment workers will go from $38 up to $57 to $68 a month -- a month! -- so they continue to protest, hard, in order to achieve their stated demand of $100. A good place to learn about the fight and how progress is being made is at The Real News, which interviews Michelle Chen, a labor expert who frequently contributes to MyFDL. As she would I think agree, and as I show through recent headlines, this is how you do it:

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The Man Who Soul'd America

by: donkeytale

Thu Oct 17, 2013 at 21:47:01 PM EST

It is widely accepted today that Motown represented the greatest leap forward in the postwar racial integration of the United States. This milestone of the early 1960's mass media boom was accomplished by 'crossing over' historically segregated musical forms to a burgeoning young white audience. Motown reached astonishing pop chart success during the 1960-70s through a calculated effort to smooth the rougher, rawer edges of 1950s "race" music, making it palatable and radio friendly for the times, propelled by the shiny, upbeat optimism of the rhythm rather than featuring the downward bound moral disintegration found so often to be the chief characteristic of the blues.

Indeed, 'the sound of young Amerika' quickly became the background music of a generation, soon to be plundered, re-packaged and cleverly marketed by an invading horde of long-haired British insects.

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NSA

by: Stu Piddy

Wed Oct 09, 2013 at 15:30:21 PM EST

I don't know about you, but I feel safe knowing my government is watching me, Who KNOWS what I might do? I'm not a stable person, none of us are.

According to ABC News, http://abcnews.go.com/... One in Five Americans suffers from Mental Illness. That means that 20% of everyone you know is mentally ill and that's not counting those who are simply unstable. Our leaders understand that and simply want to make sure those who are still clinging to mental health have the best chance of anyone in the world at realizing the American dream of owning your own home.

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Sergey Lavrov is the obvious Nobel Peace Prize choice

by: fairleft

Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 14:28:01 PM EST

Expanding a comment at David Swanson's Save the Nobel Peace Prize from Itself ...

Obviously the Nobel Peace Prize should be given to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. In the quickest thinking diplomatic moment of all time, he literally prevented an imminent war by taking advantage of a U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry bonehead error, where Kerry sneered/joked that aggressive U.S. war on Syria would be called off only if "every single bit" of Syria's chemical weapons were eliminated in a week. More details are in Syria calls John Kerry's bluff, agrees to turn over its chemical weapons to UN!, where I quote the Guardian on the purely rhetorical nature of Kerry's pseudo-demand:

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BOO

by: d3n4l1

Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 12:10:12 PM EST

and so
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Why was this site down?

by: PffugeeFly

Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 21:28:49 PM EST

Just a question.
Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Before there was MTV, et al....

by: PffugeeFly

Fri Sep 13, 2013 at 21:38:01 PM EST

If you wanted visuals with your music, you stared at the album covers, saw the group live or on television. Staring at the pattern of holes which constituted the speaker on your transistor radio was another option.  
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Syria calls John Kerry's bluff, agrees to turn over its chemical weapons to UN!

by: fairleft

Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 02:32:57 AM EST

John Kerry smirking and in his best George Bush Jr. voice: John Kerry gives Syria week to hand over chemical weapons or face attack. And then Syria says yes! This is getting interesting, and maybe just a bit hopeful: Syria positive about giving up chemical weapons. Wow, fantastic, what an "elegant solution," in the words of Los Angeles Times columnist Doyle McManus. Here's more detail, and then afterwards I have to discuss the potential peace party poopers (I've edited the terrible grammar in the following, and removed the italics):

Syria welcomes Russia's offer to put its chemical weapons under international control

Damascus welcomes Russia's call to hand over control of its chemical weapons to the international community, the Syrian Foreign Minister has said, responding to Sergey Lavrov's statement after the two met in the Russian capital.

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Elias Groll vs. Ghouta, Syria's 'most plausible hypothesis'

by: fairleft

Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 04:09:44 AM EST

Though discussing evidence ('Why don't you show us the evidence, Mr. Kerry?') and assertions and plausibility does not matter to the Congressional dolts who will vote for their owners in a few days, it does matter to those attempting to keep resistance strong. In that light, I've noticed that the most plausible account of what happened in Ghouta, based on evidence and not assertions, is that there was an accidental release of chemical weapons agents by the rebels. Good to know the learned and insightful Diana Johnstone is thinking along the same lines (which are grounded in an in-Ghouta mintnews.com report and perhaps an International Business Times report):

... the most plausible hypothesis so far is that the incident was an accident. Indeed, rebel sources themselves have been quoted as saying that the incident occurred as a result of their own mishandling of chemical weapons obtained from Saudi Arabia. In that case, the victims were the "collateral damage" so frequent in war.

But more important than its plausibility is that the accident hypothesis is now reaching dangerously large numbers of Americans. For confirmation of that good news, we see that the mainstream media now can't ignore the hypothesis and must go on the attack. And that's where Foreign Policy Magazine's Elias Groll comes in. Here's his entire case for why the 'accident hypothesis' is "crazy" (and yes, note the extreme, trollish rhetoric):

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Israel, Oil, & Military-Industrial Complex Drive Syria Regime Change

by: fairleft

Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 02:42:46 AM EST

Anyone with any sense of who and what drives U.S. foreign policy has been blackly pessimistic as the Congressional 'bomb Syria' vote approaches. But the charade of a debate goes forward in our campaign-contributions-driven Congress, Secretary of State Kerry giving them assertions not evidence (If the evidence underlying the assertions were real don't you think Kerry would've shown it to us immediately?), but 'our' representatives magically in a buying mood for that b.s. I could pause and point out that even the assertions indicate a catastrophic accident occurred, where Syrian conventional bombardment hit rebel sarin gas stores, and that this matches what on-the-ground Ghouta residents say happened (in the year's most important ignored news story -- thanks mintnews.com).

But hell, discussing evidence and assertions ... what does it matter when three of America's main determiners of foreign policy all are bent on destroying Syria? By my count the U.S. has four main foreign policy power constellations: (in no particular order) the Israel lobby, the oil and gas lobby, the military-industrial complex, and the finance industry. Finance is sitting this one out but the other three are gung ho for regime change or Syria destroyed (transformed into squabbling, unstable mini-states).

ISRAEL LOBBY: While I agree with Ohio Barbarian (in The Pro-Israel Argument Against American Military Intervention in Syria) that chaos or regime change in Syria doesn't help the people of Israel, it is nonetheless what Israeli neocons have long wanted. And they are employing the full force of their Israel Lobby in order to get what they want

This goes back at least to 1996 and "A Clean Break," the neoconservative game plan that they've with great success gotten the U.S. to implement. Syria is mentioned with great deja vu:

"Syria challenges Israel on Lebanese soil. An effective approach, and one with which Americans can sympathize, would be if Israel seized the strategic initiative along its northern borders by engaging Hizballah, Syria, and Iran, as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon, including ... by establishing the precedent that Syrian territory is not immune to attacks emanating from Lebanon by Israeli proxy forces..."

Back to the present, we of course have plenty to choose from, beginning with this news yesterday on the pinnacle of the Israel Lobby, AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee):

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