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By Catherine Hornby
ROME | Wed May 18, 2011
(Reuters) - Up to 27 million people are modern-day slaves, and migrants fleeing violence in North Africa are among those most at risk of being exploited, a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday.
Countries where migrants arrive should try to identify potential victims and protect them, rather than opting for immediate repatriation which often sends them back into the hands of human traffickers, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca said.
Tens of thousands of migrants are fleeing turmoil in North Africa, with many trying to reach Europe by boat, but the problem of slavery exists all over the world and India, Thailand and Malaysia are among the worst-affected countries.
By Marjorie Cohn
The United States, France and Britain invaded Libya with cruise
missiles, stealth bombers, fighter jets and attack jets. Although NATO
has taken over the military operation, U.S. President Barack Obama has
been bombing Libya with Hellfire missiles from unmanned Predator
drones. The number of civilians these foreign forces have killed
remains unknown. This military campaign was ostensibly launched to
enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 in order to
protect civilians in Libya.
In addition, the United Nations and France have been bombing the Ivory
Coast to protect civilians against violence by Laurent Gbagbo, who
refuses to cede power to the newly elected president after a disputed
election. UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon insists that the United Nations is
“not a party to the conflict.” France, former colonial ruler of Ivory
Coast, has over 1,500 troops stationed there. Ivory Coast is the
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has asked us to mobilize the broadest possible online campaign in support of the trade union movement in Bahrain.
If you've been following the news you'll know that the movement for democracy in that country has been met by a violent response from the regime - and unions have been on the front lines.
It will take you less than a minute to send off your message of protest and it's hugely important that you do so. Today, if possible.
And please make sure to forward this email message on, and to publicize this campaign in your union, on Facebook, and elsewhere.
Al-Ahram is reporting in Arabic that Gamal and Ala Mubarak, the sons of deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak, have been arrested and will be moved from Sharm El Sheikh to the maximum security Tura prison in the Muqattam hills above Cairo. They are said to have sat stunned and silent for some time on receiving the news. They will be held for 15 days while the office of Egypt’s chief Prosecutor interrogates them about their possible role in ordering secret police to attack nonviolent protesters during the rallies that began January 25. Nearly 900 persons are now thought to have been killed in the various attempts at crackdown by the Amniyyat al-Dawlah or security police.
By Agence France-Presse
CAIRO (AFP) – Egypt's public prosecutor on Sunday ordered ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his sons to be questioned over violence against protesters and alleged corruption, MENA state news agency reported.
"The public prosecutor Abdel Magid Mahmud decided today to ask for the questioning of former president Hosni Mubarak and his sons Gamal and Alaa," the official news agency reported.
Mubarak and his sons would be questioned about allegations and legal complaints that they were "connected to the crimes of assault against protesters, leading to deaths and injuries," said MENA.
He would also be quizzed on allegations of graft, it added.
An estimated 800 people were killed in clashes with police and the former president's supporters during weeks of protests that led to Mubarak's resignation on February 11.
By Missy Comley Beattie
I used to joke with my peace-movement friends, telling them I might self-immolate in front of the White House to make a statement about war. And, then, I’d laugh, saying there was just one glitch in the plan—I’d require so much Valium I’d be unable to strike the match.
For weeks, I’ve thought about a 26-year-old Tunisian man. Mohamed Bouazizi, educated, jobless, unable to feed his family, and desperate, doused himself with gasoline and died from his burns. This sacrificial act triggered the uprising in Tunisia and inspired other people across North Africa to do the same.
We are witness to revolution, civil wars, in which ordinary people are demanding basic rights.
Lately, I’ve been obsessing about the catastrophe of Fukushima, a crescendo of events as/more devastating than Chernobyl.
It’s impossible to make sense out of why we are at war in Libya through the lens of Republican/Democratic politics and outside the context of U.S. Empire.
If it weren’t so tragic, it would be humorous that Republicans are opposed because there is no distinct mission or endgame, given their steadfast support of nine years of war in Afghanistan and eight years in Iraq without so much as a whimper of dissent. While the Democratic president, who made the decision for war, is far too enamored with the “war is peace” doctrine (he presented to the world when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize for escalating the Afghanistan war) than to giving the Libyan freedom fighters the support they were asking for when they needed it.
Read the rest at
President Obama on Monday said he would "never hesitate" to use the U.S. military "unilaterally" to defend "interests" and "values," including "maintaining the flow of commerce." Fear of exactly that led the founders of this republic to give Congress the exclusive power to declare war. James Madison did not believe any single individual could be trusted with such power:
"The strongest passions and most dangerous weaknesses of the human breast, ambition, avarice, vanity, the honorable or venal love of fame, are all in conspiracy against the desire and duty of peace."
March 23, 2011 - The number of people around the world uprooted by conflict or violence and displaced within their country has increased to 27.5 million, the highest figure in the last decade, according to a new report released Wednesday.
The report by the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, established by the Norwegian Refugee Council in 1998 at the U.N.'s request, said close to three million people in 20 countries were newly displaced by conflict or violence in 2010 including 1.2 million in Africa.
Gadhafi's LatAm allies criticize military strikes
By IAN JAMES, Associated Press Ian James, Associated Press
CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez condemned military strikes against Libya on Saturday, accusing the United States and its European allies of attacking the country to seize its oil.
Chavez's ally and mentor Fidel Castro raised similar concerns in a column written before the first strikes, while Bolivian President Evo Morales also accused world powers of intervening with an eye to the North African country's oil.
Chavez, who has long-standing ties to Moammar Gadhafi, has urged mediation and called it "disgusting" that the U.S., France and other countries are taking military action.
"More death, more war. They are the masters of war," Chavez said. "What irresponsibility. And behind that is the hand of the United States and its European allies."
"They want to seize Libya's oil. The lives of Libya's people don't matter to them at all," Chavez said. "It is deplorable that once again the warmongering policy of the Yankee empire and its allies is being imposed, and it is deplorable that the United Nations lends itself to supporting war, infringing on its fundamental principles instead of urgently forming a commission to go to Libya."
From the Black Agenda Report
Certainly, Somalia is a victim of U.S. war-making. Washington attempted to occupy the country in 1993, suffered military setbacks (Blackhawk down), then returned to invade the country in December 2006 through its proxy, Ethiopia, buttressed by U.S. Special Forces and air and naval support. The invasion, which interrupted Somalia’s first, brief period of relative peace in decades under an Islamic Courts regime, caused what United Nations officials called “the greatest humanitarian crisis in Africa” at the time, “greater than Darfur,” displacing 3.5 million people. When the Ethiopians withdrew with heavy casualties, the Americans waged a “food war” against the Somali populace to starve the “Shabab” resistance into submission. The U.S. bulldozed the UN, its European allies and the African Union into recognizing a puppet regime huddled in a tiny corner of the capital city, Mogadishu – a rump entity that is incapable of serving any purpose other than preventing Somalis from establishing control over their own country. In the process, Washington has destabilized the entire region, sowing the seeds of wider war. An American financed and directed offensive is currently underway in the capital and on the borders with Kenya and Ethiopia. This is a U.S. war. End the War Against Somalia! U.S. out of the Horn of Africa!
The main protectors of Somalia’s puppet regime are Rwandan troops, who act as hit men and mercenaries for the U.S. in Africa, as does Uganda’s military. A United Nations report charges both U.S. allies with the mass killing of Congolese during Rwanda and Uganda’s invasion, occupation and systematic looting of eastern Congo. Hutus of Rwandan and Congolese nationality were systematically selected for slaughter: genocide. Congolese blame the U.S.-backed foreign militaries for the bulk of the six million deaths since the mid-Nineties, yet the U.S. has made no substantive changes in its policies in the Great Lakes region of Africa since the UN report was formally released, in October.
“The U.S. paid for and engineered the biggest killing field since World War Two, and is legally and morally culpable for waging aggressive war against peace.”
Has the U.S. been at war with the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo? Emphatically “yes,” a continuation of the war America has waged since Eisenhower ordered the assassination of Congo’s elected president, Patrice Lumumba. The U.S. paid for and engineered the biggest killing field since World War Two, and is legally and morally culpable – not only for genocide and crimes against humanity, but for waging aggressive war against peace, along with its Rwandan and Ugandan hirelings, in eastern Congo. Washington Must Pay for Six Million Dead! U.S. Out of Central Africa!
America’s war against Haiti goes back to the days when the U.S. waged slavery, which is inseparable from war. The free Black Republic of Haiti was quarantined, harassed, subjected to extortion, constantly bombarded and invaded by U.S. privateers and uniformed forces until 1915, when an official, 19-year U.S. occupation began. Nobody called this a “war” on Haiti; you will not read of America’s “Haitian wars,” but thousands were killed by rifle, grenade and machine gun, or by aerial bombardment. And, since the U.S. is not thought to have ever been at war with Haiti, it can pretend to be a good and caring neighbor when it sponsors coups or physically re-invades, such as in 1994 and 2004.
The 2004 invasion – at first by proxy through a few hundred U.S.-trained and -financed terrorists, then by uniformed American troops – put a definitive end to Haiti’s sovereignty, which is what sometimes happens when countries lose wars to merciless adversaries. The U.S. military occupation was transformed by extra-legal magic into an armed United Nations occupation, commanded by Brazilians. This is, of course, a continuation of the original invasion and, therefore, inseparable from the American war. Free Haiti! End the Occupation! Washington, Stop Your Wars Against Haiti!
WASHINGTON -- Green Party leaders strongly urged the White House not to launch a military intervention in Libya, saying that democracy must be achieved by Libyans without meddling by the U.S. or NATO.
Greens insisted that the U.S. and NATO honor the request of human rights lawyer Abdel-Hafidh Ghoga, spokesman for the new Libyan National Transitional Council, who said, "We are against any foreign intervention or military intervention in our internal affairs... This revolution will be completed by our people."
Wouldn't it be kind and generous of us to send the US or NATO or a UN-approved military into Libya to bloodlessly prevent the vicious slaughter of masses of people by a truly evil lunatic?
In a study called "Why Civil Resistance Works," Maria Stephan and Erica Chenoweth examined major uses of violence and nonviolence against tyrannical governments around the world between 1900 and 2006. They found that violence succeeded 26 percent of the time. I think they were taking a short view, because the blowback from violence is often delayed. But they found that nonviolence succeeded 53 percent of the time, over twice as often.
They also found that when the regime being challenged uses violence, a nonviolent resistance campaign gains in its likelihood of succeeding, whereas a violent campaign becomes more likely to fail.
War is a crime.
Joining an ongoing war is a crime.
Joining on the side of a friendly lunatic dictator is an immoral tragedy.
Joining on the side of violent rebels who capture and expel British troops there to "help" is an immoral comedy.
Joining on the side of our own nation would be opposed by both of the existing sides plus our own nation.
Limited warfare is limited murder.
Limited warfare almost always traverses the limits.
The military is the worst organization to provide humanitartian relief.
The military is not needed to protect anyone, and would endanger many.
We disguise military defeats by pretending to have stumbled into civil wars.
Actually stumbling into a civil war would add to our military and moral defeats.
Pouring all of our money into our military is what makes imperial warfare possible.
Pouring all of our money into our military is what makes financial crises blamed on teachers and cops possible.
At a time when the issue of civilian casualties in Libya has been dominating the international agenda, our Recording Casualties of Armed Conflict programme has launched Every Casualty.org, a website aiming to raise the profile of casualty recording worldwide and the organisations that undertake it. The site is a one-stop shop for information on casualties of conflict worldwide. It engages 22 of the organisations that record them in the International Practitioner Network convened by ORG.
From NY Times:
Clashes erupted in Tripoli on Friday as security forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi used gunfire to try to disperse thousands of protesters who streamed out of mosques after prayers to mount their first major challenge to the government’s crackdown in the capital.
The protesters refused to back down, witnesses told news services and the opposition reported on websites, and clashes continued in parts of the city. Rebel leaders said they were sending forces from nearby cities and other parts of the country to join the fight.
2.14.11 Best-selling non-fiction author David Swanson joins Coy with an update on the revolution in Egypt. Swanson describes just how inspiring the revolution is to civil rights activists around the world. He notes the impact of non-violent training by the citizen activists in the streets of Egypt, and says that method of protest is more effective than military involvement. Along those lines, Swanson comments on the importance of the writings of noted non-violence author Gene Sharp being translated into Arabic. Finally, David gives his analysis of how the events in Egypt will influence American political action. Be sure to check out Swanson’s latest book War Is A Lie.
By Matt Stoller, the former Senior Policy Advisor for Rep. Alan Grayson. His Twitter feed is @matthewstoller
Via Wikileaks, we learned that the son of the former President of Egypt, Gamal Mubarak, had an interesting conversation in 2009 with Senator Joe Lieberman on the banking crisis. Gamal is a key figure in the forces buffeting Egypt, global forces of labor arbitrage, torture, and financial corruption. Gamal believed that the bailouts of the banks weren’t big enough – “you need to inject even more money into the system than you have”. Gamal, a former investment banker trained at Bank of America, helped craft Egypt’s industrial policy earlier in the decade.
Juan Cole has all the links.
New York Times on Gene Sharp's Influence in Egypt, Plus Pages of Meaningless Obsession With US President
A Tunisian-Egyptian Link That Shook Arab HistoryBy DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and DAVID E. SANGER
CAIRO — As protesters in Tahrir Square faced off against pro-government forces, they drew a lesson from their counterparts in Tunisia: “Advice to the youth of Egypt: Put vinegar or onion under your scarf for tear gas.”
The exchange on Facebook was part of a remarkable two-year collaboration that has given birth to a new force in the Arab world — a pan-Arab youth movement dedicated to spreading democracy in a region without it. Young Egyptian and Tunisian activists brainstormed on the use of technology to evade surveillance, commiserated about torture and traded practical tips on how to stand up to rubber bullets and organize barricades.
They fused their secular expertise in social networks with a discipline culled from religious movements and combined the energy of soccer fans with the sophistication of surgeons. Breaking free from older veterans of the Arab political opposition, they relied on tactics of nonviolent resistance channeled from an American scholar through a Serbian youth brigade — but also on marketing tactics borrowed from Silicon Valley.
As their swelling protests shook the Egyptian state, they were locked in a virtual tug of war with a leader with a very different vision — Gamal Mubarak, the son of President Hosni Mubarak, a wealthy investment banker and ruling-party power broker. Considered the heir apparent to his father until the youth revolt eliminated any thought of dynastic succession, the younger Mubarak pushed his father to hold on to power even after his top generals and the prime minister were urging an exit, according to American officials who tracked Hosni Mubarak’s final days.
The defiant tone of the president’s speech on Thursday, the officials said, was largely his son’s work.
“He was probably more strident than his father was,” said one American official, who characterized Gamal’s role as “sugarcoating what was for Mubarak a disastrous situation.” But the speech backfired, prompting Egypt’s military to force the president out and assert control of what they promise will be a transition to civilian government.
Now the young leaders are looking beyond Egypt. “Tunis is the force that pushed Egypt, but what Egypt did will be the force that will push the world,” said Walid Rachid, one of the members of the April 6 Youth Movement, which helped organize the Jan. 25 protests that set off the uprising. He spoke at a meeting on Sunday night where the members discussed sharing their experiences with similar youth movements in Libya, Algeria, Morocco and Iran.
“If a small group of people in every Arab country went out and persevered as we did, then that would be the end of all the regimes,” he said, joking that the next Arab summit might be “a coming-out party” for all the ascendant youth leaders.
Bloggers Lead the Way
The Egyptian revolt was years in the making. Ahmed Maher, a 30-year-old civil engineer and a leading organizer of the April 6 Youth Movement, first became engaged in a political movement known as Kefaya, or Enough, in about 2005. Mr. Maher and others organized their own brigade, Youth for Change. But they could not muster enough followers; arrests decimated their leadership ranks, and many of those left became mired in the timid, legally recognized opposition parties. “What destroyed the movement was the old parties,” said Mr. Maher, who has since been arrested four times.
By 2008, many of the young organizers had retreated to their computer keyboards and turned into bloggers, attempting to raise support for a wave of isolated labor strikes set off by government privatizations and runaway inflation.
After a strike that March in the city of Malhalla, Egypt, Mr. Maher and his friends called for a nationwide general strike for April 6. To promote it, they set up a Facebook group that became the nexus of their movement, which they were determined to keep independent from any of the established political groups. Bad weather turned the strike into a nonevent in most places, but in Malhalla a demonstration by the workers’ families led to a violent police crackdown — the first major labor confrontation in years.
Just a few months later, after a strike in the Tunisian city of Hawd el-Mongamy, a group of young online organizers followed the same model, setting up what became the Progressive Youth of Tunisia. The organizers in both countries began exchanging their experiences over Facebook. The Tunisians faced a more pervasive police state than the Egyptians, with less latitude for blogging or press freedom, but their trade unions were stronger and more independent. “We shared our experience with strikes and blogging,” Mr. Maher recalled.
For their part, Mr. Maher and his colleagues began reading about nonviolent struggles. They were especially drawn to a Serbian youth movement called Otpor, which had helped topple the dictator Slobodan Milosevic by drawing on the ideas of an American political thinker, Gene Sharp. The hallmark of Mr. Sharp’s work is well-tailored to Mr. Mubark’s Egypt: He argues that nonviolence is a singularly effective way to undermine police states that might cite violent resistance to justify repression in the name of stability.
The April 6 Youth Movement modeled its logo — a vaguely Soviet looking red and white clenched fist—after Otpor’s, and some of its members traveled to Serbia to meet with Otpor activists.
Another influence, several said, was a group of Egyptian expatriates in their 30s who set up an organization in Qatar called the Academy of Change, which promotes ideas drawn in part on Mr. Sharp’s work. One of the group’s organizers, Hisham Morsy, was arrested during the Cairo protests and remained in detention.
“The Academy of Change is sort of like Karl Marx, and we are like Lenin,” said Basem Fathy, another organizer who sometimes works with the April 6 Youth Movement and is also the project director at the Egyptian Democratic Academy, which receives grants from the United States and focuses on human rights and election-monitoring. During the protesters’ occupation of Tahrir Square, he said, he used his connections to raise about $5,100 from Egyptian businessmen to buy blankets and tents.
Wael Ghonim Forgives and Kisses Soldiers, 60 Minutes Redeems Itself, Power of Internet and of Television Demonstrated
Three Hundred Gold Coins and a Fistful of Figs
By Diane Wittner
Once upon a time in ancient Egypt, there lived a Pharaoh who had great wealth and power. He had many palaces, and was worshipped as a divinity up and down the Nile River delta. The Pharaoh had thousands upon thousands of slaves. He was known throughout the land to be a cruel and cunning ruler.
To those who somehow escaped enslavement, the Pharaoh offered land along the fertile Nile valley, fine homes, slaves of their own, and beautiful wives. Very quickly the Pharaoh had a loyal - or indifferent and therefore harmless - following of courtiers. After some years, the comfortable and unquestioning children of these courtiers were counted, too, as reliable supporters of the Pharaoh.
From Electric Politics
I worry about the fate of violent insurrections (don't kid yourselves, Egyptian mobs are not non-violent). I worry about young, educated demonstrators with an overwrought passion for U.S. government support (it seems inauthentic). I worry that without an Arab political theorist (alive or dead), it's impossible to ring the changes on democratic institutions. I worry about whether one way or another the Egyptian state apparatus may prevail (we shouldn't inadvertently — or covertly — aid and abet a military coup). To quell my worries I turned to the eminent Middle East scholar Dr. Roger Owen. He likes what he sees and I'm glad that he does. But the situation is so fraught I hesitate to declare victory. All I know is, Egyptians should sort this mess out for themselves. Total runtime thirty three minutes. Look before you leap!