Malalai Joya on Obama’s ‘surge’

After months of waiting, President Obama is about to announce the new US strategy for Afghanistan. His speech may be long awaited, but few are expecting any surprise: it seems clear he will herald a major escalation of the war. In doing so he will be making something worse than a mistake. It is a continuation of a war crime against the suffering people of my country.


Honduras, Fictional Election

There is no attempt to make this believable, like a Disneyland management committee they don’t have to, they just imagineer the make believe for a captive audience and count the money. And any trouble, the guards take care of that and nice hacks pretend not to notice and write- Lobo Wins Peaceful Honduran Election.


Some 20 U.S. Citizens have traveled throughout Honduras over the past 3 days to cities and communities such as Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, Tocoa, Santa Rosa de Copán, Choluteca, Comayagua, Siguatepeque y Puerto Grande. In addition, they have visited police stations, hospitals and jails.

In each of these communities they have observed the sistematic abuse of human rights as evidenced by raids, detentions, threats, physical abuse, indimidation and persecution on the part of state security agents. These actions have been mostly directed against citizens identified with the Resistance movement.

Anyways, back to the drawing board and what a wonderful Fantasia they construct, hey this election was a blockbuster success!

Rory Carroll (eek) – The Supreme Electoral Tribunal said 61% of registered voters cast ballots, a big jump from the barely half who voted in the 2005 election won by Zelaya. Local media, which backed the coup, hailed a “historic” turnout.

Yeah… right, more people voted than in 2005 (or not ,Uh-oh even corporate media are getting the stories mixed up). And of course the US and its backbone-free familiars (sure to include us, after all we can get our indie popstars to fellate Uribe, anything’s possible) will recognise the ‘results’ (and perhaps it would be rude not to, the global elite called Dubya President after Florida 2000. Those Hoping for Change will of course be disappointed but really that bridge was never for sale, empires don’t do that democracy stuff, internally or externally, hey that public option’s almost as obscure as the Bagram black site!).

At SOA Watch a protest at the US embassy –

We were, indeed, greeted by many: dozens of guards with cameras, some 30 journalists, Honduran police with guns and also cameras, as well as a low flying helicopter that at least made us feel important. While the journalists let us read our entire statement of why these elections should be not be recognized by our government because of the egregious repression, the embassy guards wouldn´t even let us leave our slip of paper. That, in spite of the fact that the embassy´s human rights officer, Nate Macklin, told our delegation leader to make sure to let him know if there were any human rights abuses.

Any? In each of the many corners of the country visited by the 70-plus international observers, we witnessed the fear, repression, intimidation, bribery and outright brutality of the government security forces (note: we were there to observe the electoral climate, not electoral observers, since we consider the elections to be illegal. Likewise, the UN, OAS, and Carter Center and other bedrock electoral groups boycotted “the event” as many Hondurans called the day.)

…Today the headlines in most of the U.S. media reiterate the official Honduran statistics that 60% of Hondurans went to the polls yesterday. Our delegates visited dozens of polling stations, finding them almost empty, in most places counting more electoral monitors and caretakers than voters. The resistance movement puts abstention at 65-70%. Which statistic do we prefer to believe?

Honduras coup blog goes over some of the figures. Even the official versions can’t get their numbers straight (hey is Goofy a dog or a what?). The moral of the story? If you are friends with Mr. Empire your shit don’t stink, sorry, once more unto the idiom- Who’s the fairest of them all? Why you are Mr. Conservative Imperialist, as fair as a brand new torture dungeon with nary a spot of blood on it just waiting for some new customers! Look at what is being rubber stamped as we speak (Maybe Obama meant Year Zero)-

The political military coup in Honduras, which took place on June 28, 2009, has special characteristics … .

The first component is the participation of the old followers of the National Security Doctrine that have continued practicing torture with impunity since the 80’s and who are the principle military and police advisors of the de facto regime.

The second component is the strategy of low intensity conflict, psychological torture, state terrorism, total suspension of constitutional guarantees, the state of siege and the presence of national and international hired assassins.

The third element is that the coup is taking place in the country where one of the most important US military bases exists [Palmerola, 40 minutes north of Tegucigalpa, the capital city] and where international military trainings and maneuvers occur frequently.

The fourth element is the alliance of economic, media, political, judicial, and religious powers in the country, that openly denies the coup, referring to it as a ‘constitutional succession.’ An alliance which also proclaims and justifies this military coup in the name of the law of God, peace, and democracy, all while keeping silent about murders, torture, and human rights violations.

The fifth component is the condemnation of the coup as a military coup, by almost 100% percent of the world’s countries, with the exception of United States, which condemns it as a coup but does not consider it to have been military in nature.

The sixth component is that the coup is considered as being not only against Zelaya but against the entire people of Honduras, and is a threat to the stability of some Latin American governments.

The seventh component is the existence of the popular response by the National Resistance Front Against the Military Coup, which has been protesting continuously for more than 120 days, despite the massive repression by brutal military and police force, the use of toxic gases, chemical weapons, intense noises, murders, persecution, political imprisonment and massive use of torture.

The eighth component is that the coup has occurred in the context of an electoral process which censors and gags the freedom of expression, in which the de facto government has fierce control of more than 90% of the communications media, and through which a variety of media outlets and journalists were militarized and repressed, including Radio Globo, Cholusat Sur, Diario Tiempo, Canal 11, Radio Progreso and the newspaper El Libertador.

The ninth element in that candidates from the opposition parties for the upcoming presidential, congressional, and mayoral elections have been subjected to torture, to being followed, to violent trauma and to murder. These facts are indicators of the restrictions on freedom and the civil and political rights of an electoral campaign process.

The tenth component is a 60% increase in femicide, the violations of the rights of trans-gender people, as well as the persecution and racism against the indigenous and the Garífunas. In this context, it is especially important to mention that since the sixth of October of 2009, 12 people affiliated with the Lenca indigenous organization COPINH have sought political asylum inside the Guatemala Embassy, that Augustina Flores, sister of COPINH leader Berta Caceres, was tortured by the police forces, and that the Lenca resistance leader Antoio Leiva was murdered.

Freedom’s On The March…still!







And for my next trick, Afghanistan!

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War Criminal is Coward Shocker

Goldsmith threatened to resign at least once. He lost three stone in that period. He is an honourable man and it was a terribly stressful experience.’

Before not resigning and making up some spurious reasons why it might sort of be legal… um not understanding the definition of ‘honourable’ being used here. Do they mean as in a ‘careerist coward’ hmmm, that definition is not listed in any dictionaries I have seen, is there a New Labour one with all these New Meanings? I expect under Lies it says- anything people who disagree with us say, and nothing else!

PS. And terribly stressful experience. This is conspiring to prosecute an illegal war of aggression, the supreme international war crime, not a fucking polo match being rained off or being gazumped on that des res in Holland Park. I’ll tell you what, get in the queue behind the over a million dead, their families & friends and 6 million displaced, the deformed babies and tortured survivors and when your turn comes in about a thousand years, yes we’ll all feel sorry for you and your awful, awful stress. Fuck Me!

Honduras ‘Election’

A cool, sunny calm day, so internets work! Just in time to direct you to this primer (via Otto) on the sham about to be staged in Honduras, worth reading it all, the lowdown-


This is the legacy of Sunday’s electoral exercise:

We are left trying to figure out how low participation has to be to be interpreted as a sign of electoral protest, ignoring plummeting participation election after election which should long ago have been seen as electoral protest.

We are left with the spectacle of a US that declared a multilateral foreign policy in Trinidad and Tobago openly leading a tiny minority of countries of the Americas committed to recognizing the elections, alienating governments that see it putting the “stamp of approval” on the coup.

Which, remember, is taking place under the supervision of the armed forces, who have stockpiled plenty of tear gas for the election, prompting Amnesty International to express concerns about just how fair and open this election really can be:

There’s an environment of fear and intimidation in Honduras …We have seen an increased level of harassment against those who are seen as opposed to the de facto authorities.

Far from “starting from zero”, as President Obama suggested, the situation in Honduras on Monday will stay precisely where it is– with added sources of conflict provided by what will without a doubt be disputes about the Sunday vote.

Update: That democracy Washington is backing- Honduras: Feminist Leader Detained in Tegucigalpa (ht2 earwicga)

Update: BoRev is liveblogging.

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Friday! Front Line Assembly- Digital Tension Dementia

Hey what’s it like in the 21st century with your internet and all? Posted from the past with a tin can and a piece of fucking string.

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In a new wrinkle instead of breaking, this time the storms just bring my connection speed down to dialup like levels (and intermittent flicking off and on at that). So talk amongst yourselves, as far as today is concerned I give up.

Socialist Party of Wales Report on EDL’s Wrexham Fiasco

The people of Wrexham were already hostile to the EDL, but tensions increased after the racist demonstrators unfurled a large English flag, sang God Save The Queen, and chanted racist slogans such as “kill the Muslims”.

One woman, laden with shopping bags, summed up the feelings of the whole town when she stood her ground as the EDL tried to rush the much larger, and by this stage extremely hostile, audience of working people and shouted; “This is our town and you are not welcome here”!



Cruel Britannia

Human Rights Watch- British Complicity in the Torture and Ill-treatment of Terror Suspects in Pakistan

Guardian on it (ht2 D-Notice)

• It is inconceivable that the UK government was unaware of the systematic use of torture in Pakistan.

• UK officials engaged in acts that virtually required they knew about the use of torture in specific cases.

• UK officials supplied questions and lines of inquiry to Pakistan intelligence sources in cases in which detainees were tortured.

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Curiouser and Curiouser, Dr Aafia Siddiqui

Declan Walsh in the Guardian has done some more reporting on Dr Aafia Siddiqui, I would not say he has come to any definitive answers and reports official sources too uncritically (quite why you would take the word of US medical personnel when we know doctors & psychologists have been an integral part of an organised torture program I don’t know, or the story of ex husbands and an uncle under the watchful eye of the ISI), many questions remain, not least where are her two children Mariam & Suleman? But still, it gives further colour to the shadow world of the war-on-terror which has been a wholesale cover for increasing state power, demolishing judicial process and basic human rights. However if this is the way the corporate media are going to report on The Inquisition’s in New York then indeed this is the next chapter in destroying human liberty and protection from torture under the guise of lazy media reporting adminstration spin that it is restoring it.

Prisoner 650- The Grey Lady of Bagram
Grey Lady Revealed?
Thugs & Child Kidnappers Charge Gray Lady of Bagram

Tax & Human Rights In Guatemala

GUATEMALA: A Tax Code by and for the Oligarchs? Eli Clifton (IPS) – Taxation and government spending are the targets of a new report on Guatemala that argues the government is failing in its fiscal commitments to food, health and education.

The report, issued earlier this month by the Guatemala-based Instituto Centroamericano de Estudios Fiscales (ICEFI) and the United States- and Spain-based Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR), attempts to tackle the difficult question of why Guatemala has experienced consistent levels of inequality and deprivation despite having the largest economy in Central America.

The decision to focus on government spending and taxation is a relatively new method of addressing human rights and development.

“I think looking at a budget as a human rights issue is fairly new and looking at taxation is an important element of a budget,” Ann Blyberg, director of IHRIP, which supports budget analysis by human rights groups around the world, told IPS.

“I know of efforts to look at taxation but looking at it from a human rights lens is newer,” Blyberg said.

Low levels of social spending – and failure to realise economic and social rights – are attributed to “the lack of political will by democratic governments to invest more in upholding those rights, and ensuring that resources reach the most vulnerable population”, said a statement by CESR and ICEFI.

A combination of a social budget that, as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), is one of the lowest in the region and an inability to enact fiscal reforms has led Guatemala to its current situation of being unable to leverage its wealth into meaningful improvements in economic and social rights, the report says.

Guatemala exhibits some of the worst poverty in Latin America, with half of children under five suffering from malnutrition; one-third of children not completing primary school; and 290 women dying from complications in pregnancy or childbirth for every 100,000 live births.

Particularly, Guatemala has failed to address health, education and nutrition disparities along the lines of the lines of gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status and geography, finds the report.

It emphasises that in the context of Guatemala’s recent civil war – armed conflict ended in 1996 – addressing economic, social and cultural rights was a crucial component of the plans put forward for post-conflict stability and development.

At the time of the 1996 Peace Accords, both land and taxation reforms were identified as important steps to be taken, but vested interests have blocked these reforms for the past 13 years.

CESR and ICEFI claim that the failure of Guatemala to implement a “fair and progressive” tax policy violates the social and human rights of its citizens and has led Guatemala to fall behind on human development indicators – some indexes put Guatemala on par with sub-Saharan African countries.

“Guatemala has one of the lowest tax burdens in Latin America, as well as one of the most generous regimes of exemptions and tax breaks. The study attributes the low tax collection and expenditure to the state’s historic control by elite sectors of the economy,” say the report’s authors.

“This makes health, nutrition and education privileges of the few instead of universal rights,” said Ignacio Saiz, executive director of the CESR.

The report made several recommendations for how to improve Guatemala’s public spending and enact the tax reforms that have been promised since 1996.


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Old Spill

Police officers are now routinely arresting people in order to add their DNA sample to the national police database, an inquiry will allege tomorrow. The review of the national DNA database by the government’s human genetics commission also raises the possibility that the DNA profiles of three-quarters of young black males, aged 18 to 35, are now on the database. The human genetics commission report, Nothing to hide, nothing to fear?, says the national DNA database for England and Wales is already the largest in the world, at 5 million profiles and growing, yet has no clear statutory basis or independent oversight.

EDL’s Epic Fail In Wrexham

After the on the spot reportage now the Daily Post weighs in-

FOUR people were arrested at an anti-Muslim demonstration amid a strong police presence in Wrexham. Around 40 members of a group calling themselves the Welsh Defence League (WDL) shouted racial abuse and gestured towards locals, saying they were protesting against plans for a new mosque. Four people were arrested for public order offences, and North Wales’s Temporary Deputy Chief Constable, Ian Shannon said the day passed without “significant incident”. Meanwhile Unite Against Fascism held a counter-protest, near where the WDL gathered on Saturday.

And a Wrexham Communities Against Racism festival attracted around 200 people. Residents were joined by faith groups, the Wales TUC, Searchlight, Unison and members of Wrexham Council. Searchlight Cymru secretary Ian Titherington said none of the WDL protestors were Welsh, and they appeared to be members of the English Defence League (EDL). He said: “This was the final humiliation for the EDL’s disastrous visits to Wales. The only way they could hold an event was to bus in 30 from Bolton, who on arrival went to the nearest pub, got drunk and bawled out racist chants.

The EDL gathering did not exactly sell any local links, by displaying a Bolton Wanderers FC English flag and singing God Save the Queen.” The WDL was formed in June 2009 as an off-shoot of the EDL, which claims to campaign against Islamic extremism. The group insists it is not fascist. But at a march in Swansea in October, onlookers were confronted by jeering men giving Nazi salutes, and one was arrested for a racially aggravated public order offence.

An EDL supporter posted a short video (subtitled ‘Outnumbered and we still stand our ground‘ thus admitting their low numbers and it’s not so much ‘stand our ground’ as milling around where the cops said to stand so your small group doesn’t disrupt the traffic or any passing badgers) in which you can hear no Welsh accents, they chant EDL not WDL, plus the worst/funniest murdering of God Save The Queen I have yet to hear (a piece of music that is so droning, joyless & plodding it is almost impossible to wreck it, yet somehow…they do!). You almost feel sorry for them, I don’t think this is endangering any kind of no platform policy, propaganda’s meant to improve your image, not demolish it. Comedy gold-

Andy Coulson Is A Bully

A News of the World reporter who suffered from a culture of bullying led by former editor Andy Coulson, who is now David Cameron’s head of communications, has been awarded almost £800,000 for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination.

Matt Driscoll, a sports reporter sacked in April 2007 while on long-term sick leave for stress-related depression, was awarded £792,736 by the east London employment tribunal. It is believed to be the highest payout of its kind in the media, and legal costs could take News International’s total bill well over the £1m mark.

The award will cause fresh embarrassment for Coulson, who resigned in January 2007 from the newspaper after the former royal editor, Clive Goodman, was jailed for hacking into the phone messages of aides to the royal family.

Earlier this year, Coulson faced renewed pressure, after the Guardian revealed that the News of the World’s owner, News International, had paid out £1m to settle claims from Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, and other victims of phone hacking.

Driscoll, who has not been in a full-time job since his dismissal, said the award reflected the severity of the case. (ht2 Anton Vowl)

So the Tories have a problem, their top spin doctor is shown in court to be a bully, not just an also ran but the ring leader, how can any schools operate an anti bullying strategy under a Conservative government that employs a proven bully in a senior position? What message does it send, for all the fine words Cameron and chums might speak over bullying, until he fires Coulson his actions clearly say- bullying is ok with me and I reward, at the highest level and value, bullies in my team, bullying will get you where you want to go. Not to mention bugging.

Just how many ‘second chances’ will Cameron give, and anyway a second chance is what you give someone who shows genuine remorse and contrition, none so far has been forthcoming from Coulson. Now this is all pretty well much unsurprising, people are not shocked Conservatives are bigots, crooks and bullies. Yet it is unfair and wrong to hold that as a prejudice, so here’s a chance for Cameron to show they are not unremittingly awful human beings by firing Coulson, however I would advise him to ensure Coulson has proper medical help. We can’t know why Coulson has this problem, maybe his mother abused him or his father hated him, maybe he is a sociopath, superficially charming yet unable to feel empathy or a wide range of normal human emotions. Maybe a physical malformation of parts of his brain are its cause. While he is in positions of power his personal failings are a source of concern and great potential harm to those affected by his actions, when properly kept in a situation where he cannot harm himself and others he should have our sympathy. Perhaps this will lead to Cameron committing to tax the vast unearned wealth of his supporters to fund proper mental health provision under the NHS, so that Andy might no longer cowardly victimise others, avoiding responsibility for his actions while his underlying personal and mental problems go unaddressed. For those having to work with Coulson, solidarity is the key tactic for deterring bullying, forming strong supportive co-operatives or unions will defeat the bully.

Who said satire was dead?

New Mark Eitzel Album Klamath

Not just Tom Waits but the wonderful Mark Eitzel of American Music Club fame/infamy has a new album out Klamath, no free tracks but you can Spotify here and buy direct in the US or EU (scroll down) or the usual Amazon, iTunes (UK) suspects. His voice and poetry are as scintillating as ever, the music a warm friend complete with hopes, failures and dreams, heartbreak and wit. And I haven’t even been sent a free review copy (hint)!

Buying Something You Already Own

Charities could take over post offices, pubs and parks, says shadow communities secretary Caroline Spelman. The Conservatives have pledged to introduce a ‘community right to buy’ that will allow not-for-profit groups to take control of struggling local facilities, such as post offices, pubs and parks. Under the scheme, community groups would have first refusal to bid for publicly owned assets as well as failing privately owned ones, such as post offices, pubs and shops.

Also ‘failing privately owned ones’ will include previously privatised assets, so just how stupid do the Tories think people are? Election as national IQ test will be an amusing phenomenon. It’s better than just selling them off to their chums in business but the road to hell is paved with lesser evil good intentions. But where do charities & communities get the money (hmm maybe a loan from a bank, hey there see how that works)? They are creating the distinction that government and local councils are not ‘us’ they are neoliberal governance entities and so have no responsibility to the public and what they own on our behalf…is not ours, but hey lovely Davy boy will let us have first refusal on buying our own property. Ooh, have I just summed up Red Toryism?!?!? Privatisation but with the words *community*, *charity* plastered all over it?