News Headlines Via Democracy Now!
(With all that’s happening lately, it can be hard to keep up. The following news headlines were adapted from Democracy Now!)
Anti-Gaddafi Forces Close in on Tripoli
Despite the fact that most in the Third World live in a constant state social and economic duress, fears of a larger humanitarian crisis in Libya are growing amidst escalating violence between US-backed and popular rebels and forces loyal to the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Anti-Gaddafi groups have seized control of the eastern and western regions of the country as they close in on the capital city, Tripoli. On Sunday, protesters seized control of the town of Zawiyah, just 30 miles from the capital. As residents celebrated, one demonstrator called for Gaddafi’s prosecution for ordering attacks on protesters.
Gaddafi came to power in 1969 after deposing a US-backed monarchy. Gaddafi quickly aligned Libya with the Soviet Union; implemented ‘Islamic Socialism’ by reigning in private ownership in large enterprise and creating much need welfare and reform programs; and allowed the country to become a sponsor of anti-western, anti-imperialist movements from around the globe. Since the disintegration of the Soviet Union and demise of the larger secular anti-imperialist movement, Gaddafi ever-more bowed to western pressure while increasing dictatorial methods of retaining power. Unlike other countries where unrest has recently taken hold, the US is enthusiastically backing anti-government forces in Libya.
Security Council Backs Libya Sanctions, War Crimes Probe
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Geneva Monday for a special session of the UN Human Rights Council on the Libya crisis. The meeting comes after the UN Security Council unanimously approved a measure imposing sanctions on the Gaddafi regime.
U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice: “We are pleased to have supported this entire resolution in all of its measures, including the referral to the ICC. We were happy to have the opportunity to co-sponsor this, and we think that it is a very powerful message to the leadership of Libya that this heinous killing must stop and that individuals will be held personally responsible.”
Earlier the week, the US rejected a UN Security resolution condemning continued Israeli settlement in Palestine. The US and UN’s condemnation of the Gaddafi regime come as their own Iraqi government used similar force against protestors there.
Over 100,000 Rally in Madison; Thousands Join Nationwide Protests
Over 100,000 people rallied in Madison on Saturday against Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s effort to remove the collective bargaining rights of most public-sector workers there. According to Democracy Now!, “It was the largest demonstration Madison has seen since the Vietnam War. Tens of thousands of people marched in solidarity protests nationwide. In New York City, thousands gathered for a “Save the American Dream” rally outside City Hall. Crowds drawing several thousand were also reported in cities including Chicago, Columbus, Los Angeles and Denver. In Wisconsin, hundreds of demonstrators defied police orders and slept inside the State Capitol building Sunday night in defiance of Walker’s order to leave. Capitol police decided not to enforce Walker’s edict after hundreds of labor activists, students and supporters insisted on staying put.”
Though this is the first time the people of Wisconsin have demonstrated in such large in numbers in decades, the struggle is one to maintain privileges secured through imperialist exploitation of the Third World. Regardless of who wins in Madison, the Third World masses who are truly oppressed by US-led imperialism gain little. Whereas struggles inside US which seeks to build independent power in congruence with the demands of the Third World masses are progressive, struggles such as those in Madison merely seeks to maintain the coalition between the US imperialist and net-exploiter classes. Madison state workers are reactionary by virtue of their class backgrounds.
Providence School Teachers Warned of Layoffs
Public school teachers in Providence, Rhode Island have been warned they could soon lose their jobs. The Providence School Board is citing a multi-million-dollar budget shortfall behind the possible firings.
The Amerikan public education system has always had a basis of propaganda and ideology: i.e. promoting a specific world-view. The Cold War provided much of the impetus behind mass education, especially in the sciences, in the US. Yet before and after, the main lesson of a US education is chauvinism and obedience. While decreased funding for education may contribute to the US’s downward spiral into a country of degenerate nationalist philistines, it has always been the case that those in the US who sought a radical education must look outside the bourgeois school system.
Nearly 2,000 teachers in Providence have been told they may no long be paid to administer such propaganda.
US State Governors Push Changes to Medicaid
President Obama over the weekend hosted the National Governors Association, a meeting of the country’s state governors, at the White House today amidst the continuing debate over the reducing of “workers’ rights” and social services in the US. In the name of reducing budget deficits, Democratic and Republican leaders agreed to form a committee to explore ways to amend Medicaid, possibly changing eligibility rules and other provisions of the insurance program for lower-income Amerikans.
As US imperialism becomes over-extended in wars of attrition around the world and as it losses control over the development of some Third World countries, it is evermore willing to toss overboard its least secure citizens. Whether or not a widening gulf between the US’s well-to-do and less-well-to-do will result in any tangible internationalist class struggle is yet to be seen.
Afghan Civilian Killings at Record Level
Afghan officials say more than 200 have been killed in attacks and military operations over the past two weeks. An Afghan government panel is still “investigating” a U.S.-led attack last week which killed 65 people, 40 of whom were children. Afghans face increased violence and poverty so that Amerikans and First Worlders can have increased access to resources and life-opportunities. Afghanistan’s per capita GDP is 800 USD (PPP) and 80% of the country’s labor force is employed in agriculture.
Mubarak Faces Travel Ban, Asset Freeze
According to Democracy Now!, “Egypt’s top prosecutor has issued a travel ban on former President Hosni Mubarak and his family. Mubarak is believed to remain in Egypt following his ouster earlier this month. But rumors have swirled he will attempt to flee abroad to avoid prosecution for corruption and human rights abuse under his three-decade rule. Large crowds have returned to Cairo’s Tahrir Square for a series of protests. On Friday and Saturday, tens of thousands rallied in Tahrir to mark one month since the uprising began and to urge the firing of Mubarak appointees in the Egyptian cabinet. The Egyptian military cracked down on the demonstration, in some instances beating and tasering protesters.”
McCain “Praises” Egyptian Revolution
Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona and ‘independent’ Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut were in Egypt this weekend as the first visiting US congressional delegation since Mubarak’s ouster. The US senators met with officials in Egypt’s transitional government and even walked through Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the focal point of the uprising. At a news conference, McCain had warm words for the Egyptian revolution.
John McCain: “This revolution is a repudiation of al-Qaeda. This revolution has shown the people of the world, not just in the Arab world, that peaceful change can come about and violence and extremism is not required in order to achieve democracy and freedom. That’s why we are especially proud to be here, where history is being made for the entire world, not just the Arab world.”
McCain’s comments differ from those he made during the height of the Egyptian uprising. Speaking on Fox News days before Mubarak was forced to resign, McCain called uprisings in the Arab world a “virus.”
Sen. John McCain: “This virus is spreading throughout the Middle East. The president of Yemen, as you know, just made the announcement that he wasn’t running again. This, I would argue, is probably the most dangerous period of history in—of our entire involvement in the Middle East, at least in modern times.”
In discussing Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, McCain has similiarly talked from both side of his mouth.
In an interview with Der Spiegel, McCaine said the group was, “involved with other terrorist organizations,” and that he, “believe[s] that they should be specifically excluded from any transition government.” Later, in a televised interview on Fox News, McCaine said, “We have reasons to be concerned about the Muslim Brotherhood. But at the same time, for us to dictate what the role they should play, in a way, may be harmful to us.”
Though the Mubarke regime was a key player in maintaining US hegemony in the regime, in the wake of his ouster the US is taking special effort to manage what implications his overthrow may have.
Thousands Protest in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia Sends Tanks
Protests are continuing across the Middle East. In Bahrain, thousands continue to flood the streets of the capital city of Manama and demonstrators marched to a central court building in their deepest foray into the city so far. The protesters represent the 70% of the Bahraini population which complains of discrimination and brutality at the hands of the Sunni Al Khalifa monarchy. A Shiite bloc of parliamentarians has quit the government, adding fuel to the the protests. Meanwhile, leading Bahraini Shiite opposition leader Hassan Mushaima returned from exile after the protests forced the Bahraini monarchy to issue royal pardons.
Hassan Mushaima: “Promising is not enough. We have to see something on the ground. Just by talking—because different times, they promised before, but they did not do anything for the nation of Bahrain.”
In response to the protests, the neighboring Saudi Arabian Sunni monarchy is reported to have sent 30 tanks to support the besieged Bahraini government.
Protests Force Resignation of Tunisian Interim PM
In Tunisia, thousands have taken to the streets to celebrate the resignation of Interim Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi. A holdover from the regime of former President Ben Ali, Ghannouchi faced constant protest since taking the helm following Ben Ali’s fall. At least three people were killed and more than 100 wounded in clashes between protestors and state forces on Saturday.
Yemen King Unveils New Unity Gov’t Amidst Unrest
Amindst ongoing protests, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh declared on Monday a new “unity government.” Despite the offer, the month-long demonstrations continued Tuesday with tens of thousands participating. Opposition leaders say protests will continue until Saleh steps down. Eleven people were killed on Friday after Yemeni security forces fired on protestors in the port city of Aden.
The protest in Yemen began in late January and were inspired by the success of anti-regime protests in Tunisia.
6 Reported Killed in Oman Protests
On Sunday, up to six people were reportedly killed when Omani government forces fired on protesters demanding political reform. Protesters torched government buildings and launched a sit-in demonstration in the city of Sohar. Sultan Qaboos bin Said has ruled the country since 1970.
“Inside Job” Wins Best Documentary at Oscars
The film ‘Inside Job,’ about the nation’s so-called ‘financial crisis,’ was awarded best documentary at the 83rd annual Academy Awards. In his acceptance speech, Director Charles Ferguson, in missed the point but drew applause after calling for the jailing of financial executives.
Charles Ferguson: “Forgive me, I must start by pointing out that three years after a horrific financial crisis caused by massive fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail—and that’s wrong.”
Charles Ferguson, if he really seeks to end fraud and profiteering, should look more critically at the capitalism-imperialist system rather than solely those individuals engaged in it. Similiarly, Ferguson and his supporters should get over their chauvinism and side with the real victims of the murderous, exploitative system: those in the Third World.