Author: Vaska

Antifa in Theory and Practice: Storm Troopers of the Neoliberal War Party

by Diana Johnstone, 9 October 2017, via Counterpunch “Fascists are divided into two categories: the fascists and the anti-fascists.” – Ennio Flaiano, Italian writer and co-author of Federico Fellini’s greatest film scripts. In recent weeks, a totally disoriented left has been widely exhorted to unify around a masked vanguard calling itself Antifa, for anti-fascist.  Hooded and dressed in black, Antifa is essentially a variation of the Black Bloc, familiar for introducing violence into peaceful demonstrations in many countries. Imported from Europe, the label Antifa sounds more political.  It also serves the purpose of stigmatizing those it attacks as “fascists”. Despite its imported European name, Antifa is basically just another example of America’s steady descent into violence. Historical Pretensions Antifa first came to prominence from its role in reversing Berkeley’s proud “free speech” tradition by preventing right wing personalities from speaking there. But its moment of glory was its clash with rightwingers in Charlottesville on August 12, largely because Trump commented that there were “good people on both sides”. With exuberant Schadenfreude, commentators grabbed the opportunity …

Three candidates for Sicily: A signal for Italy

by Giulietto Chiesa, October 9, 2017, via DefendDemocracyPress In Europe someone is trying to cheat voters by shrugging off Brexit and promoting a “new pact for Europe” which will include the UK (but will be led either by Germany or by a German-French alliance). In the meantime, Italian political life (or I would rather call it, “the Italian political class”) is focused on the upcoming regional elections in Sicily. There are three protagonists and they are all very worried. Matteo Renzi will be the first to downplay a probable bad result, by saying that after all the island is not so politically important. This is a sign of discomfort that, in any case, will probably make him lose more votes. But, of course, if he loses the election in Sicily there will be trouble in Rome. The celebrated Democratic Party leader has already been defeated several times in succession: he resigned as prime minister after being defeated in a referendum to change the constitution and then after that lost the local elections a few months …

The “Non-Citizens” of the Baltic States: Α European Scandal nobody speaks about!

by Tatjana Zdanoka, 4 October 2017, via DefendDemocracyPress The negotiations on Brexit are attracting a lot of attention. In particular, the possible erosion of the rights of around three million EU-27 citizens living in Britain is a major cause for concern. The European Parliament resolution adopted on 3 October states that “the withdrawal agreement must incorporate the full set of rights citizens currently enjoy, such that there is no material change in their position”. The main author of this text, Mr Guy Verhofstadt, the EP Brexit Coordinator, argues that such an approach – not to lower the level of citizens’ rights – is “the goal of democracy”. But why was the very same principle ignored when another “exit” took place in Europe? It was the exit of the Baltic states from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1990-1991 when a million and a half citizens who had moved to Latvia and Estonia from other republics were deprived of the essential rights they enjoyed. Theoretical substantiation for this legal action was found in the …

A Balanced View of the Economics of Independence in Catalonia

by Angel Ubide, PIIE, September 15, 2015 Editor’s Note: In the light of the recent independence referendum in Catalonia, in which some 43% of the population took part despite police attempts to prevent the vote from taking place by means of violence, we are posting this 2015 article on the economics of the proposed secession. Two years after voters in Scotland rejected independence from the United Kingdom, Spain faces the threat of breakup as Catalonia holds regional elections on September 27. The Catalan president, Artur Mas, leads a pro-independence coalition for these elections, Junts pel Si (Together for Yes), with a single aim: to start a process of independence culminating in secession in 18 months. Polls show the independence coalition achieving a narrow majority in Parliament, though with just 40 percent of the popular vote. With its capital in Barcelona, Catalonia, a region of about 8 million people on the Mediterranean coast just below the Pyrenees, is one of Spain’s more prosperous regions. The pro-independence coalition argues that an independent Catalonia would be economically better …

The End of the Cold War and Shakespeare’s Macbeth

by Vladimir Golstein, October 9, 2017 It is naïve to think that Macbeth is only about some “vaulting” and murderous ambition. Macbeth does not acquire the throne with the intention of controlling his subjects. In fact, in his quest to secure his rule, he strives to control the very idea of time and change. It is thus hardly surprising that when he is killed, Macduff declares: “behold, where stands/The usurper’s cursed head: THE TIME IS FREE.” Enslaving time, means stopping its flow; it means attacking the very idea of change, and therefore destroying the agents of change: the young. Thus, Macbeth’ speciality is butchering children.  He does so as he tries to achieve “security,” – which, obviously, means the elimination of rivals.  But the witches do inform us that: “security is mortals’ chiefest enemy.”  The quest for it is as deadly as its temporary possession.  Permanence, security, they are as futile as the desire to stop the time. Now fast forward to the collapse of the Soviet Union.  That collapse meant that Russia, in fact, …

Vladimir Putin’s 17 years in power: The scorecard

by Alex Krainer, The Naked Hedgie Editors: Today, October 7, 2017, Russia celebrates the 65th birthday of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.  To mark the occasion, we are posting Alex Krainer’s review of Putin’s achievements since 2000. Mr. Putin can’t seem to get a break in the western media. I watched his recent interview with CBS’s Megyn Kelly with her tiresome, boring questions like, “did Russia interfere in our election,” “did your ambassador meet with Trump’s election officials,”  “isn’t it true that you’re a corrupt murderous thug,” etc. Only in response to Kelly’s last question did Mr. Putin get to name a handful of his achievements in Russia. But someone ought to better prepare his talking points on this score. The excerpt below from my upcoming book summarizes how Russia has changed during the 17 years since Mr. Putin has been at the helm. On 26th July 2014 British magazine “The Economist” published an article titled “A web of lies,” opening with the following two sentences: “In 1991, when Soviet Communism collapsed, it seemed as if the …

Google’s New Search Engine Bias is No Accident

by Jonathan Cook, October 1, 2017, via Dissident Voice Alternet has gone public with concerns about the way Google and Facebook have limited traffic to its website and, more generally, undermined access to progressive and independent media. Its traffic from web searches has dropped precipitously – by 40 per cent – since Google introduced new algorithms in the summer. Other big progressive sites have reported similar, or worse, falls. More anecdotally, and less significantly, I have noticed on both my own website and Facebook page a sharp drop in views and shares in recent weeks. Alternet is appealing for financial help, justifiably afraid that the drop in traffic will impact its revenues and threaten its future. Nonetheless, there is something deeply misguided, even dangerous, about its description of what is happening. Here is how its executive editor, Don Hazen, describes Alternet’s problems: Little did we know that Google had decided, perhaps with bad advice or wrong-headed thinking, that media like AlterNet—dedicated to fighting white supremacy, misogyny, racism, Donald Trump, and fake news—would be clobbered by Google …

Safe-Zone Judo as Syrian Forces Cross the Euphrates

by Tony Cartalucci, October 2, 2017, via Land Destroyer Report Syrian forces with the support of their Russian and Iranian allies, have crossed the Euphrates River near the city of Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria. The move is not only a significant step forward in restoring security nationwide and ensuring the nation’s territorial integrity, it is also a significant step toward turning the tables on the very interests who provoked and have perpetuated this conflict since 2011. US policymakers as early as 2012 openly declared their intent to partition Syria through the use of “safe zones” or “buffer zones.” From these zones – established with and protected by direct US military intervention – militant proxies would attempt to expand deeper into Syrian territory until the nation could either be toppled entirely, or sufficiently partitioned, effectively eliminating the Syrian Arab Republic as it was known before the conflict began. Understanding “Safe Zones”  A March 2012 Brookings Institute paper titled, “Middle East Memo #21: Saving Syria: Assessing Options for Regime Change” (PDF), proposed the concept of “safe zones” …

A Doctor’s Report from Yemen

by Adrian Rossi, Sanaa, Yemen, October 2, 2017 I will start this by saying I’m not a very sentimental person. Perhaps it has to do with not having reached a certain emotional maturity yet in order to feel at ease with being publicly vulnerable, so this post will be a bit of that in the hope that I will be able to offer all of you, a glimpse into the horrors Yemenis experience on a daily basis, at what is an emotional and psychological level. I lost my parents at age 7 while in Angola. Had to witness them being shot in the head, then set on fire in what was a mass grave. Their deaths had been instantaneous, so their eyes had stayed open. Watching them at what was still a tender age, I remember thinking to myself maybe they were still alive and could feel the pain. Most of it is a blur that comes every now and then. What I do remember best is the desperate instinct to jump in there after …

Middle East, post-Daesh: Some Possible Scenarios

by Denis Churilov, October 2, 2017 ISIS/Daesh is likely to be defeated in Syria and Iraq very soon. But will it bring peace to the region?  No. There are many potential local conflicts that can break out in the nearest future. Some of them are already going on, some of them are in the dormant state, waiting to be triggered.  Other conflicts might be created spontaneously out of thin air. Let’s try to predict the upcoming conflicts in the Middle East.  The following list contains the worst case scenarios that are not mutually exclusive and can, in fact, facilitate one another in a domino effect style: A civil war in Iraq between Kurdish Erbil and Iranian-backed Baghdad government. We have already seen reports on the clashes between Peshmerga forces and the Shia militias in 2016. The recent developments with the referendum may soon exacerbate the situation, especially considering that ISIS has been seriously weakened and now can’t serve as a unifying common threat factor. Kurds in Turkey. The clashes between various Kurdish militants and Erdogan’s …

The Centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution: a Legacy to Celebrate

This month, commemorations will be held in towns and cities across Russia to mark the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution. Whilst the state and system that the revolution gave birth to – the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and Soviet communism – is no longer in existence today, the positive legacy of this pivotal event in history has endured in modern-day Russia. Indeed, as a result of the political, economic and social carnage of the 1990s in Russia, stemming directly from the collapse of the Soviet system, and which Russians continue to be haunted by to this very day, the legacy of what was officially known in the USSR as the Great October Socialist Revolution continues to receive more and more prominence within all age groups in Russia today, including the young.

Greece has become the EU’s third protectorate

by Jan Zielonka, August 14, 2015, OpenDemocracy The EU looks increasingly like an empire, having just created its third protectorate in the Balkans. Greece will effectively be run by the EU the way Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina already are. The EU looks, walks and talks like an empire. After extending its borders into Central and Eastern Europe, the EU has just created its third protectorate in the Balkans. From now on Greece will effectively be run by the EU the way Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina already are. Empire is not a synonym of evil despite some bad historical connotations, especially from the colonial era. Power can be exercised in noble ways, and peripheries often prefer to be “conquered” than abandoned. However, the EU’s ambition to run dysfunctional countries by decree is doomed to fail and will represent yet another blow to the project of European integration. Formal involvement of the UN or the IMF in running the protectorates will not exonerate the EU. Enlargement to Central and Eastern Europe has been successful because it empowered local actors. …

Canadian FM Freeland Was Slated to Be George Soros’ Authorized Biographer

by John Helmer, via Russia Insider A Toronto newspaper has revealed that Canada’s leading Russia hater, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, had a deal with George Soros (lead image) to write his biography after she had lost her journalist jobs at the Financial Times and Reuters, and before she started her run for election to the Canadian parliament. On August 16 the Toronto Globe and Mail reported Soros is a “close friend” of Freeland, and that with her he has “very great hopes for Canada”. Before she decided to run for parliament, the newspaper says Freeland had a “deal” for “a sort of authorized biography of George Soros”. Soros’s spokesman in New York, Laura Silber, refused to answer repeated questions last week for clarification of the terms of this deal or the compensation Soros agreed with Freeland. Freeland’s first filing to the Canadian parliament’s ethics watchdog was registered on May 1, 2014. There is no mention of Soros, but there is “income received under a book collaboration agreement with an individual”. Freeland refused last week to identify that individual by name. …

U.S. Korea Policy, “Mutually Assured Madness”

by David William Pear, September 24, 2017 “if you have nukes, never give them up–if you don’t have them, get them”. —Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence. Those were the words of President Trump’s Director of National Intelligence, about the lessons taught from the U.S. destruction of Libya and the assassination of Muammar Gaddafi. That is why North Korea is a nuclear power. That is the reality and eventually the U.S. will have to accept “Mutually Assured Madness“. The U.S. has nobody to blame for its self-inflected wounds. It is called Blowback. The propaganda mill and the mainstream media greatly exaggerate the US national security risk to the American people, and it is for their own greedy self-interest to spread panic and paranoia among the American people. If Kim Jong-un wanted to kill Americans out of insane hatred, he has that capability now with conventional weapons. There are over a quarter of a million American citizens living in Seoul, 100 miles from Pyongyang. Kim Jong-un has not attacked Seoul to kill Americans because he is …

The Single-party French State

by Diana Johnstone, June 21, 2107, via Counterpunch French legislative elections follow hard on the heels of the Presidential election.  The momentum virtually ensures a presidential majority.  So it was taken for granted that voters would give President Emmanuel Macron a docile parliament for his five-year mandate. But these elections were exceptional.  The victory of Macron’s personal party, la République En Marche (REM), is novel in several ways.  Not only has REM won an absolute majority of 350 out of 577 seats in the National Assembly.  REM’s victory has also bled the two traditional governing parties, the Republicans and the Socialists, perhaps fatally. With over 130 seats, the Republican Party of former President Nicolas Sarkozy and its allies came in second, and thus ranks as leading opposition party.  But since Macron successfully lured two Republican politicians into prominent positions in his government – Edouard Philippe as Prime Minister and Bruno LeMaire as Economics Minister – it is hard even for the Republicans’ current leader, François Baroin, to explain just what they will oppose.  How can …

Euro-visions

Lexit’s Digest No. 14, 19 September 2017 Juncker’s recent ‘State of the Union’ address was widely applauded by Europeanist media outlets. For example, Politico was very impressed by the Commission President’s ‘bold vision for Europe’: One speed. One currency. One president. No to a multi-speed Europe, all 27 Member States shall join the euro-zone and the Schengen agreement rather quickly after Brexit. EU enlargement shall continue, in particular with the Balkan states. How the governments of these entities ‘adapt’ to the Greek style ‘labour market reforms’ expected by the EU from such poor peripheral countries – see an interesting interview on LeftEast on this with Aleksandar Matković (a researcher at the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory at the University of Belgrade)  here. In that general context it is interesting to see that Andrew Watt – formerly a senior researcher at the European Trade Union Institute in Brussels and now working at the Hans Böckler Foundation of the German trade unions – was very positive about Juncker’s proposals. Equally interesting, his colleague Daniel Seikel, also …

The 6th mass extinction is a product of capitalism — not population growth

by Barnaby Philips, 25 August, 2017, via RCG ‘Every particular mode of production has its own special laws of population, which are historically valid within that particular sphere. An abstract law of population exists only for plants and animals and even then only in the absence of any historical intervention by man’ – Karl Marx, Capital, Volume 1, Chapter 25, pp783-784 ‘You don’t need to be a scientist to know what’s causing the sixth mass extinction,’ began Professor Paul R. Ehrlich in a Guardian article on 11 July. Given the ‘developed’ imperialist world’s throwaway consumerism and the well-documented destruction of the environment by multinational corporations, it should indeed be fairly obvious. Ehrlich however names one main culprit: population growth. His solution? Some unspecified form of ‘humane’ population reduction. Apparently the reason you don’t need to be a scientist is because the pseudo-science of eugenics suffices. Ehrlich must be refuted with science.  It is capitalism’s need for infinite economic growth that is destroying life on earth. Ehrlich is best known for his 1968 book The Population Boom, which warned that …

The German Election: The West’s Nervous Breakdown Continues

by Gregory Barrett, September 25, 2017 Following Sunday’s nationwide parliamentary election here in Germany I can hear the mocking laughter of 1989’s ghost, echoing throughout Europe and around the world. The great victory march of the “Free Market” Religion, which featured pompous, self-righteous politicians, pundits, and other worshippers at the altar of Big Finance strutting and crowing in the years following the fall of the Wall about the final demise and alleged failure of the supposedly evil and misguided socialist idea, has come to a grinding halt. The rapid growth of the anti-immigrant, anti-EU party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) in Germany – which received almost 13% of the vote and will now be the third biggest party in the new Bundestag or parliament — has been driven, above all, by widespread rage and frustration in Germany’s Eastern states, the former communist German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republik, DDR), over the broken promises made at the time of German reunification regarding “blooming landscapes” (former Chancellor Helmut Kohl) and the associated affluence that was to be expected …

Actors and other Useful Idiots for Empire

by Cindy Sheehan In 2005 while I was roasting for peace under the hot Texas sun at Camp Casey in Crawford, Tx, Rob Reiner sent his wife Michelle and a crew there to film a commercial with me. Before the end of 2005, a lot of the people/groups who supported our antiwar effort kicked us to the curb when they figured out we really were against war and not just against Bush’s wars. The Reiners were among the ones that I discovered didn’t so much care about the wars, but cared more about getting Demo-quacks elected. Soon after Camp Casey temporarily shut-down that summer, I was invited to the Reiner’s house to have a meeting. I was never the kind of person who got all twittery over so-called celebrities, but if the Reiners could help our cause, I was anxious to further our collaboration. Rob Reiner and his team had already offered to do the paperwork and pay for getting Gold Star Families for Peace (my organization at the time) non-profit (501c3) status which we …

The Killing of History

One of the most hyped “events” of American television, The Vietnam War, has started on the PBS network. The directors are Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Acclaimed for his documentaries on the Civil War, the Great Depression and the history of jazz, Burns says of his Vietnam films, “They will inspire our country to begin to talk and think about the Vietnam war in an entirely new way”.