Sunday, April 30, 2006

Dean Reed (1938-1986) The Red Elvis

Dean Reed was born in America, but spent most of his life in East Germany. He was an actor, singer, and songwriter, who rocked East Europe during the days of the Soviet Union.

He was born in Denver, and moved to California as a young man signing with Capitol Records. He was groomed to be a teen idol. He appeared on television on the show Bachelor Father in 1958. His music was modestly successful.

He recorded a song called "Our Summer Romance," while on a tour of South America. That song soared up in South America. There he would become more well known than Elvis. He settled in Argentina.

In Argentina he became involved leftist politics. He opposed nuclear weapons, and performed free shows in barrios, and prisons. He was deported in 1966.

He performed in movies in Rome, and often toured East Europe, acting, directing and writing movies. He settled in East Germany.

Reed supported the politics of his new country. He never joined the ruling party, or proclaimed himself socialist. On the TV show "60 Minutes," he declared support for the Berlin Wall, and the Soviet incursion into Afghanistan. He received hate mail, and shocked family and friends.

He never renounced his US citizenship. He payed taxes to the US government.

In 1986 he was found dead in East Germany. His friend in Germany say suicide, his family says murder.

Tom Hanks is making a movie about his life called "Comrade Rockstar."

I was introduced to him when he was visiting in Minnesota, to support an antiwar group in the Vietnam period.

There might be more insight on Dean Reed from Redwine and the beatroot.
See: Wikipedia/Dean Reed.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Iraq: Moral Militia

Kudos to Penguins in bondage.... for alerting me to this article in Timesonline from the UK.

Iraqis facing persecution from religious zealots, are not allowed political asylum in the USA, since Iraq is now a "democratic" country.

Young lovers court danger from puritan moral militia

From Daniel McGrory in Baghdad
The Times April 27, 2006

DATING is a dangerous game in Baghdad. Ali Ilhiam knows that holding hands with his teenage girlfriend could cost him a beating — or worse — from militant extremists.
“Boys can’t be seen walking and laughing with their girlfriends any more in the new Baghdad,” the 21-year-old university student said, glancing over his shoulder to make sure that he was not being watched. Friends of his have been dragged from their cars, imprisoned and threatened with death by self-appointed moral guardians for daring to link arms with their girlfriends in public.

An artificial lake on the banks of the Tigris, built by Saddam Hussein to cool one of his palaces, is among the few sanctuaries where Mr Ilhiam can still meet Murwa Majid, 19. Both are studying at nearby Baghdad University and skip lectures to spend a few minutes together.

They, like many of their friends, dread the approach of the summer holidays, when they will be separated, so they are planning to fail their exams so they can spend two months at college studying for resits.

“This is the only life we get,” Mr Iliam said. Gone are the days when he could go to a nightclub or a party with his girlfriend. “Baghdadis don’t go out any more after dusk. We are all prisoners now.”

Most cinemas and discos have closed, and the few restaurants popular with the younger crowd close at 8pm. Gunmen hang around former favourite haunts and check identity cards to make sure that couples are married.

Mr Iliam, a physical education student, wonders how much longer the Jadariyah Tigris park will remain a haven.

Three weeks ago a gang of militiamen driving on the main road that runs past the park spotted one of his friends while he was embracing his fiancée near the lake.

The gunmen chased the couple as they drove away and forced their vehicle off the road. The driver, a 29-year-old engineer, who would give his name only as Ahmed, was dragged from behind the wheel and pistol-whipped. His terrified partner, Wasan, 23, who is studying at the College of Science, was locked in the car and made to watch. The gunmen took the couple to a makeshift detention centre and warned them that if they were seen “misbehaving” again they would be shot. They have never returned to the lake.

In recent days two young women had battery acid thrown at their legs by Mehdi army members, who are loyal to the militant young cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. The victims were told that they were being punished for dressing inappropriately.

In Basra late last year a couple were ambushed while walking in the zoo. The man was shot dead and his young partner was partially blinded by the gunmen, who stripped and photographed her, saying that they would send the pictures to her family. She ran home and killed herself.

Mr Ilhiam recalled that holding hands with a girl was permissible under the regime of Saddam Hussein, but he expressed concern about the growing puritanism that is being enforced by both Shia and Sunni militias.

“This country has expired,” Murwa Majid said, nervously twisting a gold necklace that spelt out her name. “No matter what our new Prime Minister says, my generation is pessimistic. Life will not improve any time soon. This is not living.”

Ali Athra, 24, who was also in the park with her boyfriend, ran her hands through her long, black hair and said that if her usual taxi driver did not show up in the morning to take her to university she would quickly change her clothes and order another car.

“I run upstairs, tear off the jeans and top and put on the abaya (headscarf) and a long coat to my ankles,” she said.

“Girls don’t walk the streets alone any more. We used to shop, go dancing, have parties, until a few months after the downfall of Saddam, and bit by bit, every day, we feel more repressed.”


Sunday, April 23, 2006

Nepal: King's Days Are Numbered

The last three months in Nepal have presented the deepest political crisis in the last decade in Nepal. In last two weeks, a general strike has paralyzed the country, and signal the monarchy is on the verge of being destroyed. China provides luke warm support to the monarchy, otherwise it's isolated. It is on its last days.

The mass movement is led by a coalition of the Nepalese congress, a seven party coalition called the Seven Parties Alliance, and Maoist insurgents who control about 60% of the countryside. All segments of society including judges, lawyers, trade unions, peasants etc have come out against the monarchy. The general strike is open ended, will go on until the monarchy is gone. No going back to the status quo.

The Maoists have been involved in the last several years in skirmishes against the army, known to be barbaric. They recently called for a cease fire to expose the inflexibility of the monarchy. This tactic increased the Maoist's support. The Maoist's support the program of the Seven Party Alliance's call for non violent change, and new parliament to form a new government.

The question is how will the pro-bourgeois elements of the movement maneuver? The Maoists must go beyond calling for the king to step down. Their base is rural, while the movement against the king is urban. Maoists in the trade unions, generally neglect worker's issues, and organize them to support country side struggles. What is needed is an urban/rural alliance to overthrow the feudal system. The Maoists are content to build a parliamentary government, than in the late, late future establish socialism.

The general strike movement is far reaching, and moves faster than its leadership. The rulers of India, Pakistan and US, call on the king to step down. The Maoists will be integrated into a parliamentary system. They seem satisfied with that.

Nepal alone can't establish socialism. It would have allies with workers and peasants in India, Pakistan and Tibet.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Dinner Party Game2

My most far reaching post was my dinner game post. I was linked to by several bloggers, I never knew of before.

The Rules:

1) You can invite any four people, living or dead, from any period in history.

2) If you played before, use different guests,

I'll start.

V.I. Lenin

Diego Rivera

Astor Piazzolla (tango composer)

Salma Hayek

Last year I invited to the party: Leon Trotsky, Keira Knightly, Carl Sagan and Pablo Picasso.


Thursday, April 13, 2006

Daniel Pipes On Iraqi Civil War

This is from the April 11, 2006 WorldSocialist Web Site, the most widely read Socialist site on the internet.

Daniel Pipes, the director of the neo-conservative Middle East Forum and a vociferous supporter of the invasion of Iraq, is not an inconsequential figure in the American political establishment. His writings consistently articulate and refine the views of the extreme right in the United States, a layer that exerts considerable influence over the policies of the Bush administration. It is therefore noteworthy when such an individual begins publicly arguing that a sectarian civil war in Iraq would be to the strategic advantage of US imperialism. One can conclude that similar views are prevalent in Washington’s corridors of power.

Pipes first presented what he views as the advantages of an Iraqi civil war in an article published by the New York Sun on February 28—six days after the destruction of the Shiite Muslim Al-Askariya mosque by suspected Sunni Muslim extremists and amid the reports that Shiite militias were carrying out revenge killings of Sunnis. He expanded on the theme during a visit to Australia in March, in interviews given to Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) television and radio current affairs programs.

The core of Pipes’ argument is that a fratricidal conflict between Sunni and Shiite Iraqis, whatever the death toll and however tragic for the Iraqi people, would have definite benefits for American strategic, economic and military interests in the Middle East.

Pipes’ calculations are completely ruthless. The US and its allies invaded Iraq on false pretexts, including that of establishing “democracy”. Yet Pipes rejects completely that the United States has any obligations toward the population. “Iraq’s plight is neither a coalition responsibility nor a particular danger to the West,” he wrote in the New York Sun.

Instead, the catastrophe unfolding in Iraq could have positive consequences, according to Pipes. In the short term, he asserts that a civil war would “reduce coalition casualties” as Iraqis “fight each other”. Pipes also argues that there would be fewer terrorist attacks on US and allied targets outside Iraq as networks like Al Qaeda—which is based on Sunni extremism—would focus their attention on a sectarian war against Shiites. He wrote: “When Sunni terrorists target Shiites and vice-versa, non-Muslims are less likely to be hurt.”

More importantly for Pipes, however, civil war in Iraq would end what he views as the dangerous talk of establishing democracy in Iraq or anywhere else in the Middle East. As far as Pipes is concerned, the masses of the region should not and cannot have democratic rights because they will not necessarily vote for the preferred candidates of Washington. To the extent that elections in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Lebanon and elsewhere have given the population the chance to express their sentiments, large numbers of people have given their support to Islamic fundamentalist movements opposed to the American presence in the region—organisations that Pipes refers to as the “extreme enemies” of US interests.

Before the war, Pipes was indistinguishable from other neo-conservative ideologues who were justifying a US invasion of Iraq on the grounds it would inspire a democratic “revolution” in the Middle East. In an article published by the New York Post on February 11, 2003, Pipes argued that an American victory and the “successful rehabilitation” of the country “will bring liberals out of the woodwork and generally move the region toward democracy”.

Within a matter of months, as resistance to the US occupation developed, he had abandoned such talk. Pipes’ argued last month that Iraq is in “no position... to develop advanced institutions of democracy and capitalism”. By implication, the type of regime advocated by Pipes in Iraq is a pro-US dictatorship no less brutal than that of Saddam Hussein—after many hundreds of thousands more Iraqis have lost their lives in a sectarian bloodbath.

Elsewhere in the region, Pipes asserts that it will take “decades” before the people of the Middle East are ready to elect their own governments. A fervent defender of the Zionist state in Israel, Pipes is particularly outraged by the victory of Hamas in the Palestinian elections. While he rhetorically declares that democracy is a long-term goal, Pipes articulates the view of the US ruling class that no regime can be allowed that is not compliant with American interests.

From this standpoint, Pipes argues that a civil war in Iraq could be advantageous by providing a pretext for US military action against Iran and Syria. Open warfare between Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites, he wrote in the New York Sun, would most likely “invite Syrian and Iranian participation... hastening the possibility of an American confrontation with those states, with which tensions are already high”.

The American neo-conservatives make no secret of their ambitions for “regime-change” in Iran and Syria, which are currently regarded as obstacles to untrammeled US domination over the Middle East. An incredulous ABC radio journalist asked: “America can’t afford to take them on in open warfare, can it?” And Pipes bluntly replied: “America’s good at open warfare. It’s just not good at occupying countries.”

While Pipes repeats ad nauseum that a civil war in Iraq would be a tragedy, the obvious conclusion is that he believes the US has no interest in preventing one. The fact that such a figure can callously speak of the advantages of a sectarian bloodbath points to the possibility that agencies of the US government that share his views may have been involved in encouraging communal conflict. Numerous highly suspicious provocations, murders and bombings have occurred at particularly opportune times for the US occupation and the Bush administration.

More generally, American policy since the occupation of Iraq began has been to foment tensions between the country’s various religious and ethnic groups in order to weaken resistance to the US presence. A classic “divide and rule” strategy has been pursued.

Kurdish nationalist and Shiite fundamentalist organisations were promoted into positions of privilege and authority at the expense of the largely Sunni Arab elite that dominated under the Hussein regime. Almost as soon as the war was over, shadowy Sunni organisations began carrying out murderous and indiscriminate attacks on Shiite civilians. Thousands of Shiites have been killed. The Shiite fundamentalist parties have used the carnage to justify their collaboration with the US forces.

A considerable proportion of the US-recruited Iraqi military were members of Kurdish or Shiite militias. The Sunni population is deeply fearful of these sectarian formations, which fight alongside American troops against the largely Sunni-based resistance. The Shiite fundamentalist parties have used their control over security forces to unleash death squads against Sunni communities, to wipe out opponents and terrorise the population. Hundreds of Sunnis have been murdered after being detained by police.

Alongside the killings, there are now reports of ethnic cleansing. Thousands of people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds are being forced either by direct threats or the general escalation of violence to leave their homes in mixed neighbourhoods to find protection elsewhere.

The response of Pipes to this catastrophe in Iraq underscores the predatory and criminal nature of US foreign policy. The American ruling elite as a whole does not have one iota of concern for the lives, well-being or democratic rights of the masses in the Middle East or anywhere else. It is desperately seeking to establish US dominance over key strategic territory and crucial energy resources and markets for the benefit of American corporations and financial conglomerates.

Significantly, Pipes’ neo-fascist speculation on the benefits of barbarism in Iraq has produced hardly a word of comment, let alone criticism, in the American and Australian press or political establishment.


Sunday, April 09, 2006

Kurdish unrest stirs again in Turkey

On Turkish television Turkey's Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, announced Turkey has received pledges of support in its struggle against the Kurdish "Marxist" group PKK (Turkey's Kurdish Workers Party) from Damascus and Tehran.

The PKK revolt centered in the Turkish city of Diyarbakir started in 1984. Since that time 37,000 people have perished in the fighting. The most recent fighting is unique, is that Turkey has received the support of neighboring countries. They plan to also negotiate with the Baghdad.

Syria and Iran also face the possibility of revolt of their Kurdish populations. They also harbor dreams of a united Kurdistan. The Kurdish population in Northern Iraq, actually have some degree of autonomy. They have been aiding the Kurdish in Turkey, financially, and by giving refuge to PKK fighters.

If Kurdistan became independant; it would carve up borders in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and the Caucasus State. It would be greater than any of the "color revolutions" in Ukraine and Georgia. Energy agreements would have to be renegotiated. It could inspire other national groups to revolt.

Ankara has been making serious military alliances, particularly since Kurdish in Northern Iraq, negotiated an oil deal with Norway, independant of Baghdad.

Islamic units fighting against Kurdish independance, can provide a diversion from their fighting the West, Russia or Israel. Allies may convince the Kurdish, that independance is reachable.

Recently US intelligence and Turkey, have been working against the PKK in Turkey. It is geared to eliminating the PKK's influence in Northern Iraq.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Hitchens On The Third Anniversary of the Iraq War And Occupation

Reason Magazine and Slate, had opinions by Christopher Hitchens, on the third anniversary of the Iraq occupation.

ReasonOnline at 03/17/06, asked several conservative and libertarian writers, if they changed their mind about the Iraqi occupation. They were all asked the same three questions. This is Hitchens response:

1. Did you support the invasion of Iraq?

Yes: I was an advocate before the fact, not a supporter.

2. Have you changed your position?

Not in the least: I wish only that Saddam had not been able to rely upon Russian and French protection and the influence of oil-for-food racketeers and other political scum.

3. What should the U.S. do in Iraq now?

The United States and its allies should continue to stand for federal democracy, while making Iraq a killing-field for jihadists and fascists and a training ground for an army that will need to intervene again in other failed state/rogue state contexts.

As for the second point, I have some memory of a third party, that had something to do with the oil for food program. Iraqi people are facing more hardship, now that the oil for food program is being discontinued.

My reaction to the third point, is to tell Hitchens, the joke is on you. I believe some neocons and Bush, authentically entered this situation with a sense of idealism. Days after the invasion of Iraq, the idealism ended. The neocons were heard from less. The world view of Cheney and Rumsfeld prevailed. The US's best friends are Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Israel. All US imperialism wants to do is contain Islamism. Islamism is similar to imperialism, as both based on profit and reaction.

The March 20th Slate, has Hitch again telling us about Iraq.

Up until now, I have resisted all urges to assume the mantle of generalship and to describe how I personally would have waged a campaign to liberate Iraq.

Not quite true. I can live with that statement.

This commitment doesn't override truth, and I know that a lot of people feel that they were cheated or even lied into the war. It seems amazing to me that so many people have adopted the "Saddam Hussein? No problem!" view before the documents captured from his regime have even been translated, let alone analyzed. I am sure that when this task has been completed, history will make fools of those who believed that he was no threat, had no terror connections, was "in his box," and so forth. A couple of recent disclosures lend some point to my view. The first are the findings published in the most recent issue of Foreign Affairs, and the second is the steady work of Stephen Hayes, over at the Weekly Standard, aimed at getting some of the captured documents declassified.

Things changed from Saddam had WMD, to he had intentions, to we have documents that say something.

Well, if everyone else is allowed to rewind the tape and replay it, so can I. We could have been living in a different world, and so could the people of Iraq, and I shall go on keeping score about this until the last phony pacifist has been strangled with the entrails of the last suicide-murderer.

What the hell is that supposed to mean?? Maybe he means,“Mankind will not be free until the last king is stranged with the entrails of the last priest"- Diderot.

Hitchens announced he is part of the ACLU lawsuit against wiretaps. He announced it at Huffington's blog. Why not announce it in The Wall Street Journal or Reason? Shouldn't the Huff and Puff people be strangled?

This post represents an obvious direction change. The process of blogging, not only changes readers of blog, it changes writers. My initial support of the Iraq invasion, wasn't based on support of the invasion, as much as not being able to identify with the stupid arguments brought by the Democratic Party.

I like Maryam Namazie's blog. Her party with branches in Iraq and Iran, are unequivocally against both Islamism and occupation. I love Edie's blog Annotated Life. Read her articles about the history of neoconservativism and Islamism.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Wishing Tina's Baby All The Best

Tina from the blog fuzzy and blue --political musings by a proud Democrat baby girl, is having a major eye surgery on Wednesday. If you read her blog, you'll find she is a person of substance. I always tell her, the Democratic Party, doesn't deserve having her. Go to her blog, and write her a note.RENEGADE EYE