Tuesday, November 29, 2011

WRAPUP 2-Watchdog leaves EU banks in dark on capital

Europe's banking watchdog has delayed telling individual lenders how much capital they must raise to safeguard their survival until EU finance ministers can agree on broader plans to shore up confidence in the financial system.

The delay is a blow to banks and investors keen to get to grips with how much cash is needed as the bank sector faces multiple risks that threaten to spill over to the real economy.

The European Banking Authority (EBA) had planned to finalise by Wednesday how much cash banks need to meet a minimum 9 percent core capital -- a preliminary estimate had put it at 106 billion euros ($141.5 billion) for the 70 lenders under scrutiny.

But European Union finance ministers (Ecofin) meeting to discuss the euro zone debt crisis need to help banks as part of a wider plan. If they agree on the bank measures, the EBA is likely to release details next week, a spokeswoman for the EBA said.

The euro zone crisis has shown how closely banks are tied to the health of their country, which continues to hurt Greece's lenders. Some 13-14 billion euros of deposits left Greek banks in September-October, and the outflows continued in the first 10 days of November, the country's central bank chief said.

Cyprus's largest lender, Bank of Cyprus also showed the risk of sovereign troubles spilling over borders, as it slumped to a loss after losing 1 billion euros on its holdings of Greek government bonds.

Banks are under pressure from worries about sovereign health, capital and liquidity, analysts said.

"For the funding markets to reopen, banks need a minimum of 160 billion euros (more capital) in a mild recession and 215 billion in a stress scenario," said Kian Abouhossein, analyst at JPMorgan.

If the credit market doesn't reopen, he said banks could face a "systemic problem" as they need to refinance 680 billion euros of debt next year. "We see funding as one of the key challenges in 2012," he said.

The European bank sector was down 0.1 percent by 1700 GMT, languishing not far from a more than 2-1/2 year low set last week.


Banks across Europe are stepping up plans to shrink balance sheets in the face of these difficulties, prompting Portugal's banking regulator to warn its banks to shrink slowly to limit damage to its fragile economy.

Germany's Commerzbank may shift bad assets from its loss-making property arm Eurohypo to the German state, sources close to the bank told Reuters.

The move could allow it to avoid a potentially punitive fresh state-aid inquiry by the European Commission. It has been ordered by the Commission to sell Eurohypo by the end of 2014 as a condition for approving state aid in 2008/09.

France's Societe Generale is selling property loans worth more than 600 million euros ($801 million) as it seeks to slash its exposure to the volatile sector and bolster its balance sheet, a person close to the situation said.

Rivals BNP Paribas and Credit Agricole and banks in Italy, Spain, Germany, Britain and Ireland are also deleveraging aggressively to meet tougher capital rules and ease funding strains.

That could put more pressure on sovereign debt or squeeze lending to the economy, according to a report prepared for the Ecofin meeting.

"There are serious concerns about a possible inappropriate deleveraging by banks when implementing the measures that would prejudice an adequate supply of lending to the real economy or put excessive additional pressure on sovereign debt," officials wrote in the report seen by Reuters.

Sweden's central bank told its lenders to adopt tougher global rules on liquidity ahead of the deadline, ratcheting up pressure on the sector just days after introducing tougher capital requirements than European rivals.

The Riksbank said Swedish banks should speed up changes to short-term liquidity and the way they fund themselves in the longer term so that their assets and liabilities match better.

The EBA said it had made progress in finalising its recapitalisation plan, but it was part of a broader package also including improving long-term funding and dealing with losses on Greece's debt. Funding appears to be the sticking point for policymakers.

A public guarantee scheme was considered to support banks' access to term funding, but there were objections to a pooled guarantee and now national guarantees are on the cards.

The EBA is also due to publish guidelines for banks that want to issue hybrid debt known as contingent capital to help fill any capital shortfall.

Source http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/29/banks-europe-idUSL5E7MT23V20111129

Monday, October 3, 2011

Anti-capitalism rebellion in progress in US

They are in a rebellious mood against their economic system as it is grinding to a halt. During the past week alone some $4 trillion of paper assets on the global stock exchanges went down the drain, because they were speculative ‘assets’ that had no real material (real economy) base.

They were paper assets acting as parasites on the real economy. The meltdown of the bubble economy that begun in 2008 is now in full swing because despite the pumping in by the US government of large amounts of dollars into the economy through ‘stimulus packages’ the recession did not ebb. Instead it worsened into what is now being called a ‘double dip recession.’ The result has been that the US unemployment rate has continued to worsen. It is now standing at 9.1 per cent and as a result it is creating problems for Obama’s second term re-election hopes.

Last week the Governor of the Federal Reserve abandoned all efforts of pumping more printed dollars into the economy to help ‘quick start’ the recovery with what the Federal Reserve has recently called “Operation Twist” after it abandoned the “Quantitative Easing” of printing more dollars as the appropriate response.

In Europe, the Euro zone is in the grip of the Greek ‘sovereign debt’ crisis due to the worsening of the economic recovery in that zone. Many of these countries adopted stringent budgetary controls as a response to the meltdown, but these strategies have not produced any astounding results.

In the case of the UK, these policies have led to serious social tensions that erupted in the city riots that threatened to burn Britain down. The Greek debt crisis has threatened the Euro Zone as a regional monetary system. Countries are pulling back into their national cocoons to run away from supporting Greece. Many members are insisting that the holders of the Greek state bonds should also contribute to solving the crisis. The Italian credit system has recently been downgraded from A+ to A. The other ‘PIGS’ countries (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) are on the edge.

In the meantime, the increasing inequality in the distribution of wealth all over the world, which is capitalism’s main weakness, has begun to have toll on the billionaire’s confidence. They are increasingly being looked upon as the real problem for the world economy because of their insatiable greed. The mood among the large numbers of unemployed is beginning to turn rowdy and rebellious. The recent British riots were a clear warning to the Western leaders of the upcoming upheavals. Now the anger is beginning to emerge in the US where there have been plans by the youth to occupy Wall Street, the headquarters of American financial capitalism.

According to a recent article in the Guardian, the rebellion begun on Saturday September 17, when over 5,000 young Americans descended on to the financial district of lower Manhattan with signs, banners, drums, slogans and proceeded to walk towards what they called the “financial Gomorrah” of the nation as they vowed to “occupy Wall Street” and to “bring justice to the bankers.”

Although the New York police thwarted their efforts temporarily, locking down the symbolic street with barricades and checkpoints, the protestors were undeterred. They walked around the area before holding a people’s assembly and setting up a semi-permanent protest encampment in a park on Liberty Street, a stone’s throw from Wall Street and a block from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Three hundred of them spent the night in the streets and several hundred reinforcements arrived the next day to back them up. Using the social network, the protesters sent messages to the world that they were hungry and a nearby pizzeria received $2,800 in orders for delivery in a single hour. Emboldened by an outpouring of international solidarity, the protestors said they’d be there to greet the bankers when the stock market opened the following Monday. The police, according to the Guardian realised they could not stop them. The ABC News reported that even though the demonstrators did not have a permit for the protest they were nevertheless” digging in for a long-term occupation.”

According to news reports, the campaign to “Occupy Wall Street” was inspired by the “People’s Assemblies of Spain,” which were in turn inspired by the “Arab Spring.” Although the concept “Occupy Wall Street” was floated in a double-page poster in the 97th issue of Adbusters magazine, it was nevertheless spearheaded, orchestrated and carried out by independent activists. It all started when Adbusters magazine asked its network of culture jammers to flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens and peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months. The idea caught on immediately on social networks and the unaffiliated activists seized the idea and built an open-source organising site.

A few days later, a general assembly was held in New York City and 150 people showed up. These activists became the core organisers of the occupation. The mystique of Anonymous pushed the idea into the mainstream media with a video communiqué endorsing the action. This attracted 100,000 views resulting in a warning from the Department of Homeland Security addressed to the nation’s bankers about what was going on. But the ‘indignation’ was spreading in other cities. When, in August, the ‘indignados’ of Spain sent word that they would be holding a solidarity event in Madrid’s financial district, activists in Milan, Valencia, London, Lisbon, Athens, San Francisco, Madison, Amsterdam, Los Angeles, Israel and beyond vowed to do the same.

There is thus a shared feeling on the streets around the world that the global economy is a ‘Ponzi scheme’ run by and for ‘Big Finance,’ meaning the billionaires who do not want to pay taxes. People everywhere are waking up to the realisation that there is something fundamentally wrong with a system in which speculative financial transactions add up, each day, to $1.3 trillion, which is 50 times more than the sum of all the production and commercial transactions. Meanwhile, according to a United Nations report, “in the 35 countries for which data exist, nearly 40 per cent of jobseekers have been without work for more than one year. A jobless Vietnam veteran protestor said the demonstration was “a worthy cause because people on Wall Street are blood-sucking warmongers”.

The indignation was an expression of a feeling among the protestors that the standard solutions to the economic crisis proposed by leading politicians and mainstream economists such as stimulus packages, budget cuts, debt management, low interest rates, neo-Keynesian propping up of ‘demand’ though increased consumption were all false approaches that would not work.

This is not just a concern of the Western unemployed youth, it is also increasingly becoming an issue among rural folk in Uganda in areas such as Buliisa where people’s lands are being grabbed by the oil speculators and Bugisu where the peasant farmers cooperators are determined to ‘walk naked’ to demand the restoration of their cooperative union. These rural folk have also decided to join hands with the New York and Madrid ‘indignados.’ This mood amongst the world’s poor is bound to reverberate for some time to come and who knows what is likely to come out of the protests - a World Revolution?

Source http://www.monitor.co.ug/Magazines/ThoughtIdeas/-/689844/1245982/-/bms5nc/-/

Friday, July 22, 2011

The rebellion continues

Jeff Stone, the Riverside County supervisor who's become the latest to float a breakup of California, continues to press the idea --- creating a website complete with manifesto and even a Facebook page whose fans have already created the "South California" flag.

If you can judge from our recent online poll, the sentiment for a divorce remains very strong in the north state as well. Only one problem: Under Stone's plan, South California's secession --- which would carve off some of the more conservative-leaning parts of the state --- would leave our equally conservative region lumped with the even more liberal remainder.

Just to put it in perspective, voter registration in today's California is 44 percent Democratic, 31 percent Republican, which has given Democrats a complete lock on the state government.

Without the counties of "South California," it would skew even more strongly --- 48 percent Democratic and just 20 percent Republican.

For those many Shasta County conservatives who feel alienated from the state government and the values it embodies, this particular breakup plan would make things far, far worse.

Source http://blogs.redding.com/bross/archives/2011/07/the-rebellion-c.html

Monday, July 4, 2011

The social rebellion will burst into violence

This protest is the start of a broader and much more serious social rebellion. It is an expression of terrible anger that will burst out in violence," the owner of a large consumer products factory told "Globes" today.

He added, "Bibi is a nice guy, he has created a free economy, flourishing, but the partners to this prosperity are the owners and a very thin socio-economic layer of talented and young people in senior positions in high-tech, in industry and in the banks. 50% of the population have sub-normal salaries and are not part of the celebrations."

He continued, "In the end it will be like a bomb hitting our heads. We cannot carry on with 10% of the population living and 50% of the population earning the minimum wage plus a little. A democratic state will be here for many years only if there is a very strong middle class. There cannot be a polarization of the rich when most of the population has their heads in the ground. I'm hurting."

What's hurting you? You yourself belong to the top 10%.

"I also want my children to be millionaires and I don't want them to be in a position where they will say to us. Hello hello bring us your money."

How exactly?

"They will impose a tax and take 20% of our property and that will go to the Treasury. I think there is such a possibility because the polarization will lead to revolution. There are many Israelis that are not going out onto the streets but they have good reason to do so. And in the end they will go out."

The senior executive is harshly critical of the government. He said, "What sort of government do we have? What sort of idea was it to raise excise on fuel? It's OK to take excise on fuel but what's the point of putting up excise when the price of all fuels is going up? The government is putting up all prices all the time and without any limits."

He added, "They are asking women to go out to work. And who will look after the kids? How can a young couple where both partners are working spend NIS 5,000 on two children per month? Why do we need such surpluses in the government coffers? To build more roads in the territories? While putting the age of compulsory kindergarten down to three, give something to ordinary citizens."

Isn't industry contributing to the situation?

It is not the role of industry to set the minimum wage. In my company there is no concept of the minimum wage, we pay 5% more than the minimum wage without thinking about it but I cannot speak about all industry. If a factory can't pay the minimum wage or more, it shows that that industry has a problem."

If you sat in the government what would you do?

I see the macroeconomic picture. Those in the government only see a picture where they need to air the opinion that it is possible to raise the minimum wage. The revolutions in the Arab countries are not happening because of Mubarak's corruptness but because of 40% unemployment among young people. If we want to prevent that we need to give to the population. I'm in favor of enlightened capitalism not greedy capitalism."

Source http://www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/docview.asp?did=1000660613

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Robot to Throw First Pitch at Phillies Game

Has technology gone too far? Will it ever stop? How long will it be until humans are a second-class race, fighting a war of rebellion against our machine overlords? Google saves your chats, Facebook sells ads tailored to your personal information, and now we have the most frightening development yet: a robot will throw out the first pitch for tomorrow's game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Milwaukee Brewers.

The robot's name is PhillieBot, and it was designed by (presumably evil) engineers at the University of Pennsylvania who obviously want to usher in the age of machine dominance over humanity. You can read all of the details here, but apparently the engineers used a Segway as the base of the robot, because building other machines is the only practical use a Segway serves. From there they attached a pneumatic tube to power the arm, which relies on software to direct velocity and accuracy of the pitch.

Sound familiar? How long is it until we're fighting robots who have been sent to kill our mothers? I had previously thought that the greatest threat to humanity was the rise of the octopus rebellion, but it looks like we now have to worry about an army of killer pitching robots who will inevitably destroy us.

Source http://www.ology.com/sports/skynet-approaches-robot-throw-first-pitch-phillies-game

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Rabih Mroue, the Lebanese artist starting a creative rebellion

Theatre director, visual artist, actor, writer: there are many feathers to Rabih Mroue's cap.

The Lebanese artist, whose performances, video works and installations deal with Lebanon's troubled history, is currently enjoying increasing visibility on the world's stage.

With two exhibitions currently in Europe (one in London and one in Sweden), Mroue is gaining more and more admirers, though cinephiles may already know him from his role in 2008 film "Je Veux Voir," in which his character traverses Beirut's destroyed neighborhoods with French actress Catherine Deneuve, following the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war.

His exhibitions, which feature video work ruminating on his country's tumultuous past as well as his own personal history, also respond to recent events across the Arab world, with a window work in London entitled "The People are Demanding," also the title of the exhibition.

"There is no particular precise thing (that triggered the new work), but what is happening in the region is really something big and one cannot ignore it," he said.
It's one of the conditions of being a human being -- to think, and to produce abstract ideas
--Rabih Mroue, artist

"It is in a way a problematic word, 'people,'" the artist continued, speaking about the popular slogan "The People are Demanding," which was chanted during the mass demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt that toppled their respective governments.

He points out that in Arabic, the word "people" is always singular. "We say, "The people is demanding" and in this sense, it's as if you're reducing the people into one quantity," he said.

The window display at London's Institute of International Visual Arts features numerous imagined demands that protesting individuals might make: the right to overthrow a government, the right to love, even the right to tweet -- all written across the window.

"It's in a way a playful piece of work, which starts with a very serious demand and goes to the very basic needs of every human being," he said.

Mroue adds that while he supports events across the Arab world, he is wary of Arab people being dissolved in one mass with a single view.

Tensions like these are at the heart of Mroue's work, which often deals with complex issues such as the desire to remember traumatic events in his country's history, but also the desire to consign them to the past and move on.

"For me, it's a question of, 'What should we remember? And what we should not remember?' What should we forget and what should we not forget, and who decides on these issues?" he said.

He is referring to the amnesty declared in Lebanon following its painful civil war, which lasted from 1975 to 1990, and what he sees as the state's desire to foreground certain things from the past and eliminate others.

"It's all about history -- about writing history -- because history in this sense erases something and highlights something else," Mroue said.
It's all about history, about writing history because history in this sense, erases something, and highlights something else

"If one looks at Lebanese art and contemporary culture, without generalizing or essentializing, one would see that there is a certain kind of obsession for collecting images and traces of a lost life," said Cosmin Costinas, curator of Mroue's exhibitions at the Lunds Konsthall in Sweden, and in London.

"I would interpret (Mroue's) work as a reaction to a certain kind of archival instinct, which you have in contemporary culture," said Costinas.

Mroue began producing theatrical work in the early 1990s. He became central to a loose community of Beirut-based artists and intellectuals and soon found his work crossing over into the realms of visual and performance art.

But Mroue says that both he and others are forced to navigate the thorny issue of censorship. His plays and performances have, in the past, been altered by the state's censors. One particular performance from 2007 was banned by the authorities, though later staged following a public outcry.

"To use the words of the censorship department, they tell us: We don't censor you, we just play with the contrast, we make it less sharp, just make it more gentle, not so violent or provocative," he explained.

He gets around the censors, he said, by only putting on performances for short periods, and not charging people to see them.

Though it gets an easier reception in the West, Mroue's work doesn't shy away from potentially provocative subjects. One work in the London exhibition, entitled "Grandfather, Father and Son," features meticulously filed library index cards belonging to his intellectual grandfather, who was assassinated, aged 80, by Islamic fundamentalists.

"It's one of the conditions of being a human being -- to think, and to produce abstract ideas," Mroue pointed out.

"This is what distinguishes us from animals, that we are allowed to produce and to write about abstract ideas, about justice, injustice, mathematics," he continued.

Having the courage to think about and articulate these abstract ideas is, he believes, an important form of resistance.

Source http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/meast/04/05/lebanon.artist.mroue/

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Libya: arming rebellion 'would turn tide'

The Libyan rebel movement could legally be supplied with weapons from abroad in a move that would rapidly bring the conflict to an end, defence experts have said.

The United Nations resolution that was made before that governing the no-fly zone prevented Col Muammar Gaddafi's government from obtaining arms but analysts say that it would still be possible to arm a provisional rebel government.

There are growing doubts that the rebels will be able to prevail over Col Gaddafi's forces without outside intervention, and there are worries too that a costly and dangerous stalemate will follow a lack of decisive military action.

Brig Ben Barry, of the International Institute of Strategic Studies, said however that if a provisional council was recognised by the United Nations, it would be able to accept arms, and could quickly overthrow Gaddafi loyalists or persuade the Libyan ruler's inner circle to oust him.

"If this went on for months and months then equipping the rebels would make a difference. The UN arms embargo only proscribes the current Libyan government so if another state recognised a provisional council as the new government it could then agree to requests for assistance including weapons and other military supplies.

"If significant parts of the Libyan military capability were destroyed it could change the minds of those within the regime who might then view Gaddafi as more part of the problem rather than the solution."

Lt Col Richard Williams, the former SAS commander, said that the first thing the rebels needed was a political leader "who can offer to pro-Gaddafi people something that will not terrify them".

Prof Malcolm Chalmers of the Royal United Services Institute, said: "If we get into a stalemate over the coming months then I think arms supply would make a real difference. Rebels will be better organised to provide a sustained and sufficient back bone."

However British defence chiefs admit they are struggling to understand the rebel groups. "We are trying to understand what they want and what they are doing," said a military planner in the Ministry of Defence. "There's no cohesion and there are factions from Benghazi to Misurata and those in Benghazi are not necessarily the right people to talk to. I think stalemate is distinct possibility."

Source http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8401856/Libya-arming-rebellion-would-turn-tide.html

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


The Middle East is in an uproar. There’s always some sort of uproar in the Middle East, but this one is affecting a number of countries simultaneously and has already resulted in several suprises and personnel changes.

Anti-government demonstrations have already led to the resignations of two dictators, Ben Ali in Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.

In Libya, however, Muammar Khaddafi, the longest-ruling dictator of both the Middle East and Africa, is not giving up. A full-scale rebellion is going on in that country, as Khaddafi has no intention of leaving power. This guy is ready to go down fighting and has no qualms about killing plenty of his own countrymen.

There is talk now about the U.S. getting involved. Should we intervene in Libya, helping the rebels to overthrow Khaddafi?

It wouldn’t be the first time that U.S. troops have been involved in Libya. Remember the Marines’ hymn – “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli” In Tripoli, now Libya’s capital, U.S. Marines fought the Barbary pirates nearly two centuries ago.

In 2011, though, we’d better think long and hard before jumping into the Libyan cauldron. In fact, it’s high time to re-evaluate our whole Middle Eastern policy and see if we need a course re-adjustment.

In the first place, history should have showed us by now that just because a ruler is a dictator doesn’t mean his replacement will be any better. Remember that old Who song that says “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” The new boss might even be worse than the old boss.

In Egypt, there are already ominous signs that the Muslim Brotherhood may be the eventual rulers of that nation. Would a Muslim Brotherhood government break Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel? Would Egypt’s Christian minority (comprising 10% of the population) be treated worse than it already is? How would a Muslim Brotherhood government affect the region’s balance of power?

As for Libya, Muammar Khaddafi is an anti-American dictator. But do we really know what sort of government would replace him? No, we don’t. Do we know for a fact that it would be an improvement? No, we don’t. Among the rebels are elements of Al Qaeda. As for the rest, besides being against Khaddafi, what do they stand for?

Do we really want to get mixed up in Libya, a country over which we have almost zero influence? How do we know what sort of new government we would be bringing into being?

The Middle East is a complicated region. There are all sorts of rivalries. And behind it all is the Islamic steamroller – a totalitarian system incompatible with Western Civilization.

I would suggest that we seriously consider staying out of this one. We already have troops in Europe and various Mideastern countries, especially Afghanistan and Iraq (where I served a tour of duty). And let’s not forget, our nation is heavily in debt.

How about if we keep an eye on things and let the Libyans sort this one out?

I would suggest that if anybody feels very strongly about aiding the Libyan rebel cause, that he go over there himself and offer the rebels his services.

Source http://www.newswithviews.com/Wall/allan141.htm

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Libya: Gaddafi asks supporters to crush rebellion

A defiant Muammar Gaddafi on Tuesday refused to bow down to a massive uprising and vowed to "die a martyr" while exhorting his supporters to crush the anti-regime protests and take back the streets of Libya.

As outrage grew over the bloody suppression of anti-government protests in his country, a fiery Gaddafi cursed the elements he claimed were trying to stir unrest in the Arab world, and raised the spectre of civil war by calling on his supporters to take to the streets.

"Damn those who try to stir unrest in Arab countries," said Gaddafi, as international voices grew in condemnation over the bloodshed in Libya.

Appearing on state television for the second time in 24 hours, the the 68-year-old leader called himself a bedouin warrior who had brought glory to Libya, and rejected all calls for stepping down.

"Muammar Gaddafi is the leader of the revolution, I am not a president to step down... This is my country. Muammar is not a president to leave his post, Muammar is leader of the revolution until the end of time.

"I am a bedouin warrior who brought glory to Libya and will die a martyr," he said.

Wearing brown robes and a turban, he asked his supporters to attack the protesters and take back the streets from them, as reports said some of the cities had fallen to the opposition.

"If you love Muammar Gaddafi, go out and secure Libya's streets... Capture the rats," he said of anti-regime demonstrators.

"Leave your homes and attack them in their lairs ... Starting tomorrow the cordons will be lifted, go out and fight them," he said.

The speech, which appeared to have been taped earlier, was aired on a screen to hundreds of supporters massed in Tripoli's central Green Square, Al Jazeera said.

"Go out of your homes and storm them" wherever they are, he said claiming that the Libyan people were with him.

Gaddafi's appearance was the second since reports said that he may have left the country for Venezuela.

He earlier made a fleeting appearance to lay to rest speculation of his departure, and called the foreign TV channels who were relaying such reports as "dogs".

He appeared again on TV this evening, making a furious speech to make it clear that he did not intend to step down.

"Libya wants glory, Libya wants to be at the pinnacle, at the pinnacle of the world... I am a fighter, a revolutionary from tents ... I will die as a martyr at the end," he said pounding his fists.

The statement came as latest reports put the figure of dead in the continued violence in Libya at 300.

UN high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, warned that the widespread attacks against civilians "amount to crimes against humanity", and called for an international investigation in possible human rights violations.

Source http://www.sify.com/news/libya-gaddafi-asks-supporters-to-crush-rebellion-news-international-lcwx4cicgie.html

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Revolutionary Rebellion in Egypt

The Cuban Revolution leader declared his support of the Egyptian people and their brave struggle for social justice and political rights while analyzing the recent antigovernment demonstrations in Egypt. He expressed his interest in favor of world peace in his reflections entitled “The Revolutionary Rebellion in Egypt”.

Solvision is posting bellow the article:

Several days ago I said that Mubarak’s fate was sealed and that not even Obama was able to save him.

The world knows about what is happening in the Middle East. News spreads at mind-boggling speed. Politicians barely have enough time to read the dispatches arriving hour after hour. Everyone is aware of the importance of what is happening over there.

After 18 days of tough struggle, the Egyptian people achieved an important objective: overthrowing the main United States ally in the heart of the Arab nations. Mubarak was oppressing and pillaging his own people, he was an enemy to the Palestinians and an accomplice of Israel, the sixth nuclear power on the planet, associated with the war-mongering NATO group.

The Armed Forces of Egypt, under the command of Gamal Abdel Nasser, had thrown overboard a submissive King and created a Republic which, with the support of the USSR, defended its Homeland from the Franco-British and Israeli invasion of 1956 and preserved its ownership of the Suez Canal and the independence of its ancient nation.

For that reason, Egypt had a high degree of prestige in the Third World. Nasser was well-known as one of the most outstanding leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement, in whose creation he took part along with other well-known leaders of Asia, Africa and Oceania who were struggling for national liberation and for the political and economic independence of the former colonies.

Egypt always enjoyed the support and respect of that international organization which brings together more than one hundred countries. At this precise time, that sister country is chairing NAM for a corresponding three-year period; and the support of many of its members for the struggle its people are engaged in today is a given.

What was the significance of the Camp David Agreements, and why do the heroic Palestinian people so arduously defend their most essential rights?

At Camp David ―with the mediation of then-President of the United States Jimmy Carter―, Egyptian leader Anwar el-Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menahem Begin signed the famous treaties between Egypt and Israel.

It is said that secret talks went on for 12 days and on September 17th of 1978 they signed two important treaties: one in reference to peace between Egypt and Israel; the other having to do with the creation of the autonomous territory in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank where, el-Sadat was thinking – and Israel was aware of and sharing the idea –the capital of the State of Palestine would be, and whose existence, as well as that of the State of Israel, was agreed to by the United Nations on November 29, 1947, in the British protectorate of Palestine.

At the end of arduous and complicated talks, Israel agreed to withdraw their troops from Egyptian territory in the Sinai, even though it categorically rejected Palestinian participation in those peace negotiations.

As a product of the first treaty, in the term of one year, Israel reinstated Sinai territory occupied during one of the Arab-Israeli wars back to Egypt.

By virtue of the second agreement, both parties committed to negotiate the creation of the autonomous regime in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The first of these included 5 640 square kilometres of territory and 2.1 million inhabitants; and the second one, 360 square kilometres and 1.5 million inhabitants.

The Arab countries were offended by that treaty where, in their opinion, Egypt had not defended with sufficient energy and resolution a Palestinian State whose right to exist had been the focal point of the battle fought for decades by the Arab States.

Their reactions reached such a level of indignation that many of them broke off their relations with Egypt. Thus, the United Nations Resolution of November 1947 was erased from the map. The autonomous body was never created and thus the Palestinians were deprived of their right to exist as an independent state; that is the origin of the never-ending tragedy they are living in and which should have been resolved more than three decades ago.

The Arab population of Palestine are victims of genocidal actions; their lands are confiscated or deprived of water supplies in the semi-desert areas and their homes are destroyed with heavy wrecking equipment. In the Gaza Strip a million and a half people are regularly being attacked with explosive projectiles, live phosphorus and booby-trap bombs. The Gaza Strip lands are being blockaded by land and by sea. Why are the Camp David agreements being talked about to such a degree while nobody mentions Palestine?

The United States is supplying the most modern and sophisticated weaponry to Israel to the tune of billions of dollars every year. Egypt, an Arab country, was turned into the second receiver of US weapons. To fight against whom? Another Arab country? Against the very Egyptian people?

When the population was asking for respect for their most basic rights and the resignation of a president whose policy consisted of exploiting and pillaging his own people, the repressive forces trained by the US did not hesitate for a second in shooting at them, killing hundreds and wounding thousands.

When the Egyptian people were awaiting explanations from the government of their own country, the answers were coming from senior officials of the United States intelligence or government bodies, without any respect for Egyptian officials.

Could it possibly be that the leaders of the United States and their intelligence agencies knew nothing at all about the colossal thefts perpetrated by the Mubarak government?

Before the people were to protest en masse from Tahrir Square, neither the government officials nor the United States intelligence bodies were uttering one single word about the privileges and outrageous thefts of billions of dollars.

It would be a mistake to imagine that the people’s revolutionary movement in Egypt theoretically obeys a reaction to violations on their most elementary rights. Peoples do not defy repression and death, nor do they remain for nights on end protesting energetically, just because of merely formal matters. They do this when their legal and material rights are being mercilessly sacrificed to the insatiable demands of corrupt politicians and the national and international circles looting the country.

The poverty rate was now affecting the vast majority of a militant people, young and patriotic, with their dignity, culture and beliefs being trampled.

How was the unstoppable increase of food prices to be reconciled with the dozens of billions of dollars that were being attributed to President Mubarak and to the privileged sectors of the government and society?

It’s not enough now that we find out how much these come to; we must demand they be returned to the country.

Obama is being affected by the events in Egypt; he acts, or seems to act, as if he were the master of the planet. The Egyptian affair seems to be his business. He is constantly on the telephone, talking to the leaders of other countries.

The EFE Agency, for example, states: “…I spoke to the British Prime Minister David Cameron; King Abdala II of Jordan, and with the Turkish prime minister, the moderate Muslim Recep Tayyip Erdogan.”

“…the president of the United States assessed the ‘historical changes’ that the Egyptians have been promoting and he reaffirmed his admiration for their efforts …”.

The principal US news agency, AP, is broadcasting some reasoning that we should pay attention to:

“The US is asking Middle Eastern leaders leaning towards the West, who are friendly with Israel and willing to cooperate in the fight against Islamic extremism at the same time they are protecting human rights.”

“…Barack Obama has put forward a list of ideal requisites that are impossible to satisfy after the fall of two allies of Washington in Egypt and Tunisia in popular revolts that, according to experts, shall sweep the region.”

“There is no hope within this dream scenario and it’s very difficult for one to appear soon. Partially this is due to the fact that in the last 40 years, the US has sacrificed the noble ideals of human rights, that it so espouses, for stability, continuity and oil in one of the most volatile regions of the world.”

“‘Egypt will never be the same’, Obama said on Friday after praising the departure of Hosni Mubarak.”

“In the midst of their peaceful protests, Obama stated, the Egyptians ‘will change their country and the world’.

“Even as restlessness persists among the various Arab governments, the elite entrenched in Egypt and Tunisia has not shown signs of being willing to hand over the power or their vast economic influence that they have been holding.”

“The Obama government has insisted that the change should not be one of ‘personalities’. The US government set this position since President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled Tunis in January, one day after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned the Arab rulers in a speech in Qatar that without reform the foundations of their countries ‘would sink in the sand’.”

People don’t appear to be very docile in Tahrir Square.

Europe Press recounts:

“Thousands of demonstrators have arrived in Tahrir Square, the epicenter of mobilizations that caused the resignation of the president of the country, Hosni Mubarak, to reinforce those continuing in that location, despite the efforts of the military police to remove them, according to information from the BBC.

“The BBC correspondent stationed in the downtown square of Cairo has assured us that the army is appearing to be indecisive in the face of the arrival of new demonstrators …”

“The ‘hard core’ […] is located on one of the corners of the square. […] they have decided to stay in Tahrir […] in order to make certain all their claims are being met.”

Despite what is happening in Egypt, one of the most serious problems being faced by imperialism at this time is the lack of grain as I analyzed in my Reflection on January 19th.

The US uses an important part of the corn it grows and a large percentage of the soy harvest for the production of biofuels. As for Europe, it uses millions of hectares of land for that purpose.

On the other hand, as a consequence of the climate change originated basically by the developed and wealthy countries, a shortage of fresh water and foods compatible with population growth at a pace that would lead to 9 billion inhabitants in a mere 30 years is being created, without the United Nations and the most influential governments on the planet, after the disappointing meeting at Copenhagen and Cancun warning and informing the world about that situation.

We support the Egyptian people and their courageous struggle for their political rights and social justice.

We are not opposed to the people of Israel; we are against the genocide of the Palestinian people and we are for their right to an independent State.

We are not in favour of war, but in favour of peace among all the peoples.

Source http://www.solvision.co.cu/english/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1933:-the-revolutionary-revolutionary-rebellion-in-egypt&catid=34:portada&Itemid=171

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Week in Egypt’s Twilight Zone

It is crucial to remember that almost no one expected the revolution sweeping Egypt today, least of all the people of Egypt themselves. This fact has left anyone sane teetering dangerously, jet-lagged, in a freefall between two time zones.

For over a week now, some of us have been living in a post-Mubarak time-zone. As early as last Friday, demonstrators and many policy analysts began to believe the regime had already crumbled, and that it was only a matter of time measured by days till Mubarak fled Egypt. But Mubarak is still here.

By contrast, the regime and its beneficiaries remain in an alternative reality, one in which “reform” can be promised and deferred. From our post-Mubarak time zone, this seems a delusion of Soviet proportions, best captured in the scripted scenes constantly aired on government controlled public TV, whose headquarters are now tensely protected by the army as a strategic building, as if we were living a rerun of some Latin America coup from the 1960s.

For those in the Mubarak twilight zone — for whom it seems plausible that this president could remain for months while reform is promised — the Egyptian people can never experience human dignity nor have the courage to revolt against a corrupt ruler. Indeed, this is what most of us thought a week ago. But the Egyptian people did wake up, even if the regime was slow to awaken. It took this octogenarian ruler four days after the demonstrations started to even deign to recognize the people on the street. Then, with a calculated maliciousness his regime proceeded to withdraw the police from all of Egypt, releasing prison inmates and suspected petty criminals upon an unarmed and largely urban population, all in the hope of frightening the people to their knees so that they might beg Mubarak to stay in power and save us from looming chaos and violence.

This dark scheme has failed monumentally so far. Despite the attacks and bloodshed in the square, Egyptian cities remain largely safe today thanks to the popular grass roots committees formed in every neighborhood. For a people who have not spoken politics for 30 years, this has provided an unintended benefit. We have begun to talk with one another in the police-free streets we patrol. The scheme has nonetheless left the majority of people in a state of collective panic, even as Mubarak addressed the nation Tuesday.

I write these lines from a post-Mubarak time zone. I know in my heart that we are experiencing a national revolution that has nothing to do with any political party. This sweet taste of freedom is as undeniably beautiful and true as the surprisingly dignified voice I’ve rediscovered in myself, and in watching ordinary fellow Egyptians turn heroes before my eyes. In this time zone, the hollow promises offered in Mubarak’s midnight speech are immediately understood as yet another cowardly move to further split the country and drive it into a bloodbath. And so the past two days have been mired by supposedly pro-Mubarak demonstrators taking to the streets, infiltrating Tahrir Square with the seeming cooperation of the army, and then staging a full blown attack on peaceful demonstrators using machetes, guns, even camels and horses in a brutal scene of medieval carnage. The battle for the square wages on into the Cairo night, and like many I fear the death toll the coming days will bring.

We don’t believe the violence will stop today or tomorrow: our famously obstinate president seems to have decided to teach us a lesson. There is fear and tension about more violence as we approach this Friday’s prayers, but nothing short of Mubarak’s immediate departure will stop demonstrators, myself included, from taking to the streets for a tenth day in a row. We are serious here: We want to topple a corrupt regime and truly start a new page of government accountability to the people.

Mubarak will leave. I can explain why I think so in measured analysis, but I really don’t need to because in my time zone he’s already gone — tonight, tomorrow, in three days, whatever, but gone he is, and what matters now is insuring a smooth transition to a truly democratic and socially just Egypt, where the regime stands trial for the cruelty of its force and the corruption of its ruling elite.

Source http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/03/a-week-in-egypts-twilight-zone/

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

India's Business Elite Urges Government to Stamp Out Corruption

A group of prominent Indians has called on their political leaders to address rising corruption and a governance deficit in the country. Graft has emerged as a key concern in India after several corruption scandals hit the headlines in recent months.

The 14 signatories to the "Open Letter to Our Leaders" include heads of some of India’s top companies, such as Wipro Limited and the Godrej Group, bankers and judges.

They want corruption to be tackled on a war footing, saying its corrodes the fabric of the nation. The letter also expresses alarm at what it calls a widespread governance deficit in the government, business and institutions.

The spotlight has been on official graft after allegations that sale of telecom spectrum in 2008 was mishandled, resulting in losses of billions of dollars of revenue, and that kickbacks were involved in contracts awarded for last year’s Commonwealth Games.

Independent political analyst in New Delhi, Prem Shankar Jha, says the letter reflects the growing concern about the impact that graft could have on the spectacular economic growth India has had in recent years.

"I think there is a widespread fear in the middle class and in the new industrialist business aristocracy that the progress that India has been making is not sustainable if there is not political reforms to accompany the process. The political system we have today is corrupt beyond belief and the rebellion is coming out against it from all over," said Jha.

The Congress-led government, whose credibility has been hit because of the allegations of corruption, has promised to punish those found guilty of graft.

The head of the ruling Congress Party, Sonia Gandhi, has called corruption a "disease spreading in our society," and says measures must be adopted to curb it.

It is widely accepted that graft, which ranges from petty bribes to bigger kickbacks, is a part of life in India.

The letter by corporate leaders - the first of its kind - wants the government to establish independent anti-corruption bodies so that investigative agencies are free of political interference.

The letter also calls on leaders to take steps to restore the self-confidence and self-belief of Indians in themselves, the state, business and public institutions.

Political analysts say the signatories to the letter have unimpeachable credentials and the concern they are voicing should be a wake-up call for the government to clean up the system.

Source http://www.voanews.com/english/news/asia/Indian-Business-Leaders-Call-on-Government-to-Address-Rising-Corruption-114110144.html

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cameron faces backbench rebellion over EU vote

David Cameron faces a serious rebellion from his backbenchers tonight when a bill on the referendum lock goes before the Commons.

MPs will debate amendments to the bill, with veteran eurosceptic Bill Cash putting forward a series of radical changes.

Tory backbencher Douglas Carswell branded the bill, which would ensure a referendum in the case of a "significant" EU treaty, "smoke and mirrors".

"This bogus EU bill is no substitute for the referendum we were promised. Nothing in this bill will cause the permanent British representatives in Brussels, who really decide Europe policy, to change course," he wrote on his blog.

Mr Cameron originally promised the referendum lock in opposition, when it became clear that his promise of a referendum on the Lisbon treaty would not be possible.

But Tory backbenchers have been dismayed by the moderate tone adopted towards the EU from the prime minister and his foreign secretary, William Hague, since they arrived in office.

Combined with the unconcealed pro-European credentials of the Conservatives' Lib Dem coalition partners, many eurosceptic backbenchers are intensely uncomfortable with the way Britain's relationship with the EU is being managed.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Hague insisted the bill would protect Britain from any further expansion of EU jurisdiction.

"The truth is that only in a few minor areas does it give the ministers of the day any discretion at all about the calling of a referendum - and then only if they can persuade parliament and the courts that they are right," he wrote.

"When it becomes an act this will be the strongest defence of national democracy put in place anywhere in Europe. It is a massive advance for national democracy."

But Labour is unimpressed by the law, especially the judicial review aspect, which they say hands power to judges which should be in the hands of elected representatives.

"Even the foreign secretary must know this bill is a dogs dinner," said shadow foreign secretary Yvette Cooper.

"This bill is about failed Tory party management not the issues that matter for Britain in Europe. Instead of concentrating on things like growth, exports or cross border crime, William Hague is wasting time trying and failing to keep his eurosceptics happy.

"Even worse, the bill is so badly drafted and contradictory that it could lead to a lawyers paradise where important decisions happen in court rather than parliament."

MPs will debate the bill this afternoon.

Source http://www.politics.co.uk/news/foreign-policy/cameron-faces-backbench-rebellion-over-eu-vote-$21386606.htm