Thursday, December 30, 2010

Conservative brains are full of fear

Fans of the classical (but probably incorrect) blank slate hypothesis of the human brain won't like this: new research (not yet published at a peer review journal, will be in the near future) has found that conservative people have a larger amygdala, a primitive almond-shaped part of the brain responsible for fear and anxiety.

It is unclear if this physical/neurological trait is caused by the ideology, which is clearly based on fear of any change and attachment to some learned values, or if, inversely, it is the biological trait which causes conservative ideology. Different research, earlier this year found that people with more liberal ideology tend to share a variant of the DRD4 gene, which may be a cause of openness to novel ideas (which in turn may increase adaptability, as hyper-specialists invariably go extinct in the long term).

Source: Salon

Also, in regard to the role played by the amygdala in fear, you may be interested in this story (another scientific research) about a woman whose amygdalas were destroyed by a disease and who feels no fear whatsoever (what also has its downsides: fear is a natural emotion or instinct that plays a clear role in survival).

Additionally, Razib mentions today that conservatives (in the USA) tend to be fatter than average. Maybe they have to compensate for their quasi-permanent state of panic by giving themselves continuous treats?

Update (Jan 13): Amygdala stores "Pavlovian fear conditioning"  according to the latest PLoS ONE paper on the matter by H.G. Bergstrom and colleagues.

Rare sentence: Spanish policemen to jail for tortures

In a most rare sentence four agents (out of 15 on trial) of the Guardia Civil (Spanish military police corps, similar to the Carabinieri or Gendarmerie) have been sentenced to prison for the tortures against two Basque citizens, Igor Portu and Mattin Sarasola, arrested in Lesaka in 2008. 

As you may know, almost all cases of torture by Spanish police, a systematic practice, are left unpunished and normally not even investigated at all. The Guardia Civil, whose military organization prevents any criticism from inside, ranks first in this criminal practice among all police bodies.

The provincial court considered the tortures proven and sentences the four torturers as follows:
  • Sargent Juan Jesús Casas García (leader of the operation): four years of prison for severe tortures plus six months for a crime of injuries plus eight years of absolute banishment from public office and special ban for the right of voting.
  • Corporal José Manuel Escamilla Martín: two years of prison for severe tortures (with banishment from public office) plus six months for injuries.
  • Agent Sergio García Andrade: two years of prison for severe trotures plus 8 days for injuries (the extra 8 days are important because you get an automatic conditional liberty from a sentence of two years or less if you do not have antecedents).
  • Agent Sergio Martínez Tomé: same as the previous.
They will also have to pay compensations of  €18,000 (Casas and Escamilla) and €6,000 (García and Martínez) to the victims.

While I welcome the sentence I fear that they may get away on appeal. I also think that the punishments are mild, because torture and rape are absolutely comparable to murder (if not worse).

Source: Gara[es]

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nations oppressed by Spain, show what they have playing football

The Galician football (soccer for those in the USA) selection defeated Palestine by 6-3, the Catalan selection showed its level before Honduras by 4-0 and the Basque selection is playing right now against Venezuela (and I do not know the result yet).

While this division by nations is treated with total normality in Britain, where England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have each their own national team, in Latin Europe this is forbidden and therefore we cannot enjoy for example the probably quite decent teams of Brittany or Sardinia or the selections mentioned above in official international competitions. 

Urban legend says that the real reason why the Spaniards do not want to allow national selections is because they fear being beaten on the field (and lose many of their best players, who often come from the oppressed nations of the periphery).

Previously to the Basque Country-Venezuela game there was a large demonstration  in Bilbao for officialdom of the Basque team.

Sources: Sare Antifaxista (1, 2, 3) and Askapena.

Update: we won 3-1... but Venezuela scored first, causing some fear (source: Gara).

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Veteran nonviolent activitist sentenced to life in India

Binayak Sen
Dr. Binayak Sen, national Vice-President and Secretary General in Chhattisgarh of the People's Union for Civil Liberties, a nonviolent human rights organization, was declared guilty of sedition by a state court and sentenced to life imprisonment on December 24. 

He was previously imprisoned, at times in solitary confinement (which amounts to torture) but was eventually released on bail in May 2009, only to be arrested again now after his conviction. All the evidence in this case is clearly ideological or circumstantial (owning materials of arguable revolutionary content and communicating with a Maoist prisoner with government authorization), however the anti-terrorist laws have been applied, what means that people can be sentenced on nearly anything. 

Upon his first arrest in 2007 there was a campaign for his liberation, supported by many Nobel laureates, among others. Indian physicians established hospitals for the poor upon his example as a reaction as well. This campaign was surely what allowed him to be released on bail last year. 

There is an online petition for his release that you can sign HERE

Monday, December 27, 2010

North Caucasus resistence in evolution

Basque geopolitical analyst Txente Rekondo (Basque Cabinet of International Analysis, GAIN) has today a quite interesting article on the North Caucasian resistance against Russia at Gara newspaper (in Spanish language). 

North Caucasus ethnic groups (source)

The main element is the increase of armed attacks in the region, which have spread all around favored by the Russian Jacobin (and often terrorist) intransigence towards the self-rule demands of the peoples of the area. While the guerrilla activity in Ishkeria (Chechnya) has been somewhat reduced because of the terror state implemented by the Russian proconsul Ramzan Kadirov, the number of attacks has increased in other republics, notably Daghestan, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria. However the Chechnyan volcano is erupting again.

The guerrilla has been particularly active in Daghestan, where police agents, businessmen and "collaborators" have been targeted often. Meanwhile municipal elections took place in an environment of fraud and violence that does not help the least to legitimize the Russian occupation, already discredited by the terrorist methods employed by the Russian forces. 

Daghestan is a multiethnic republic but most of its components are NE Caucasian micro-ethnicities also united by the traditional influence of Islam, a trait shared with other native North Caucasian peoples. Unemployment is very high, forcing emigration to Russia and other countries. The economy is very weak. 

In the NW Caucasian republic of Kabardino-Balkaria attacks are also frequent against police and military forces, energy infrastructure and pro-Russian politicians. One of the main triggers is the racist or islamophobic attitude of the Russian administration and armed forces, which have pushed many to join the guerrilla. 

In the Western part of the region a relatively new front is that of Adyghe people (Circassians), who are affronted by the selection of Sochi to be the site of the Winter Olympics 2014. Sochi, now a Russian city ethnically, symbolizes the genocide against the Circassian people in the 19th century. However this front is a political one and not yet armed.

In Ingushetia, the local resistance decided recently to suspend temporarily their attacks against Russian forces (but not against collaborators).

Division in the Emirate

Doku Umarov
But most important maybe is the division in the clandestine Emirate that acts as coordinator of North Caucasian resistance against Russia. This Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus is the joint front organization of the various guerrillas operating in the area and was formed in 2007, after the Chechen resistance had suffered some serious setbacks. 

Their official leader or emir was Doku Umarov, former President of Ishkeria (Chechnya). In August, Umarov appeared in a video resigning as emir and naming a successor. However a few days later he recanted from such declaration blaming it as a Russian maneuver. He then expelled the Chechen commanders, who in turn declared themselves not anymore under his command. 

Rekondo thinks that this schism pivots on the delicate balance between the Islamist ideology and the ethnic nationalist one, which has always been the real cause of the conflict, in spite of the yihaddists. 

The Chechen commanders have declared themselves open to solve the situation but they demand that the Emir becomes a formal figure and not pretend to be the only leader, they also demand a confederate structure for the Emirate and not a centralized one.

The situation remains open and unstable for all. The Caucasus is in any case far from being pacified.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Riots in Tunisia continue

Just a brief note to mention that the situation in Tunisia continues to be one of civil unrest and continuous clashes between civilians and police forces. Tunisia is one for the most advanced countries in North Africa but is also tyrannically ruled by an authoritarian regime that allows no or little dissent. 

The riots began in December 17 in the city of Sidi Bouzid in the center of the country, after a street seller set fire to himself in protest of police confiscating his merchandises, his living. 

It was believed that extra police forces would have quelled the riots but the fact is that they continue almost ten days later and they have extended to other towns, including the capital Tunis. 

Reading the opinions of the people, it seems it is not just an economic protest (also) but that Tunisians are really fed up with their autocratic and corrupt government and want a regime change. 

We should watch closely what happens in Tunisia and other North African countries because it seems to me that the end of the old regimes approaches. 

Read full stories at Al Jazeera: the original riots of Sidi Bouzid (incl. videos) and the ongoing riots through the country.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The persistent real state bubble in Spain

Catalan economist Vicenç Navarro has today another good analysis of the ills of the Spanish economy at his blog (all are articles published elsewhere in the media, in this case Sistema Digital, most are in Spanish language and this one too).

Professor Navarro deals today with something I have been saying from several years ago, either by voice, at my blogs or in commentary in other spaces: that the real state bubble is brutal in Spain and that, while it has stopped growing since some years ago, it has yet to burst. Also that this is the main problem of the Spanish economy, not because of debt and other usual idiocies you may read in the media but because the absurd extremely high value of homes causes a practical impossibility to reduce salaries and increase consumption in other areas. People are practically spending every single cent on their homes, be them purchases or rented. 

This does not happen in Germany, where the state provides cheap public housing, and that is a major reason explaining why German workers are more competitive, everything else equal.It also damages population growth as almost every family needs two salaries all the time.

This situation causes high unemployment (above 20%) and low competitivity.

Select quotes (translated by me):

A characteristic of the alleged Spanish "miracle of economic growth and employment creation" was the huge banking investment in the real state sector, creating the bank-real state-construction industry complex, that was the engine of such alleged miracle. As consequence of this, construction industry went to represent 12% of GDP, more than twice what happened in Britain or France.


The ratio between house price and median salary in Spain was almost triple the average of the EU-15 [EU before Eastern extension in the late 1990s]. Hence the huge indebtedness of the population, cause of the great expansion of the real state-banking business, core of the expansive drive of the Spanish economy. 


When the bubble burst, largely because of the negative of German and French banks to keep lending to Spanish banks, Spanish banks turned up owning a huge amount of empty homes without possible buyer. 


If markets worked correctly, the banks could have sold the empty homes and reignited the real state market by lowering prices to more realistic levels (corresponding to local salary levels). Banks however did not do that and are still not doing it, because they fear to lose a lot of money. Actually the price of housing has only fallen a mere 12.8% since its peak (in 2006). As the New York Times reported recently (18-Dec-2010), most real state experts in Europe estimate that the price of homes in Spain would have to fall some 30% or 40% for the housing market to recover and hence reignite the economy. 
[Maju's note: vox populi is surely of even greater discounts, maybe c. 50% or more, official economists are always conservative and pro-banks].

The [central] Bank of Spain protects [private] banks by claiming that the prices have already dropped to the levels deserved. The Bank of Spain, who rejected that there was any real state bubble, rejects now that the homes' prices are still inflated. And it does so to protect the banks. And protecting the banks, it delays economic recovery. Actually the Spanish state should intervene and force the sale of empty homes. But again the Spanish state, which did not predict either the real state bubble, continues claiming that price adjustment has already happened (...)

The problem of the banks, the Bank of Spain and the Spanish state is that nobody believes them. And with good reason. It is obvious that the banks are not absorbing the costs of their extreme speculative behavior. Who is paying for it is the citizen, who has an artificially high mortgage that cannot be paid, and the customers (businessmen and common people) who cannot get credit because the banks are in danger of bankruptcy.

New general strike called in the Basque Country for January 27th

The most important unions (by far) of the Basque Country, Basque Workers' Solidarity (ELA) and Patriotic Workers' Union (LAB), together with sectoral unions of teachers and school workers (STEE-EILAS), farmers (EHNE) and transport workers (HIRU), are calling a general strike in the Basque Country for January 27th against the looting of pensions, the increase of retirement age to 67 years and for workers' rights.

The last call of this kind, in June, was a total success with some 70% of workers walking out.

Source: Bilboko Branka[eu].

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Suicide attempt at Romanian Parliament on welfare cuts

A man tried to kill himself jumping from the public tribune at the Romanian Parliament. It has been reported that he has an autistic son and the Government has suspended social aid in the frame of the latest austerity craze that is destroying Europe.

Follows video from Russian TV (text by poster at YouTube). Warning of real life violence.

Found at Sare Antifaxista.

Irish government to rob billions from pensioners to "save" yet another useless toxic bank

Outrageous, right?

It is however what politicians through Europe are doing these days: rob the poor to give to the rich.


The Irish government gained court approval Thursday to nationalize Allied Irish Banks, the fourth bank taken over by Ireland amid a financial crisis brought on by speculative real estate lending.

The government, through the National Pension Reserve Fund, is immediately injecting €3.7 billion ($4.85 billion) into the bank and will initially get a 49.9 percent share of the AIB's ordinary share capital. Following the conversion of nonvoting shares already held by the government, taxpayers will own 92.8 percent of the bank, Ireland's Department of Finance said in a statement.

Can't we nationalize by decree without paying and without assuming the toxic debts of such useless entities? I understand that guaranteeing the regular accounts and savings (up to a limit) of regular citizens is important but for that we do not need to give away the hard earned pensions of workers. 

This is simply put a crime against the citizens, against the workers that keep Ireland (or any other country) standing. 

Let me forecast that the members of this government will some day be put to popular trial and sentenced to death for this and other similar abuses. 

... if not just outright lynched by a rightfully angry mob.

Thanks to DownSouth for the reference.

Attacks against unemployement offices in Galicia

Some days ago several offices of the Spanish National Institute of Employment (INEM) were attacked simultaneously in the Galician towns of Vigo, Coia and Porriño. Someone threw molotov cocktails against them. Also an office of the right-wing Spanish-nationalist Popular Party was attacked with rocks and graffitied with the text Woker Power and an anarchist symbol (the A in a circle). 

A young citizen of Vigo has been arrested in relation to these incidents, that, if anything, show the growing discontent with the economic situation and the management of those in power. 

Source: Sare Antifaxista[es]

Update (Dec 26): several offices of the ruling Socialist Party have also been attacked in the last months, most in September. The latest one was just yesterday, when a "quite powerful" explosive device destroyed the see of this Spanish Nationalist party in Teo, near Compostela. Source: Sare Antifaxista[es]

Olentzero will be poor in Pamplona these Christmas

Not because of budget cuts.

The traditional parade of the Olentzero, mythical Basque coal-maker who brings gifts to children in Christmas (Santa-style), will not be this year in many Pamplonese neighborhoods. The Olentzero may still parade but the usual paraphernalia of chariots, dances, etc. that comes with him will not be.

The fascist Mayor of Pamplona, Yolanda Barcina, has forbidden some and in other cases placed such draconian conditions that the Neighborhoods' Coordination has decided to call them off in all the city. Private citizens will still carry the big-headed smoker fat man but the parades will be much more modest.

Sources[es]: Sare Antifaxista, Gara.

Nazi attacks in Germany and Spain

Nazis in the Andalusian city of Almería kidnapped an antifascist militant and tortured him until he gave them information about a comrade. Later they ambushed this other person, also beating him badly.

One of the aggressors had previously attacked some of the same people with a machete in the middle of the city. 

A few days ago another aggression by five neonazis of skinhead looks also happened, the victims managed to run away. 

(Sources[es]: Sare Antifaxista, Almería Antifascista)

Two Latin Americans (from Ecuador and Mexico) were attacked by three nazis in Magdeburg, Germany. The Ecuadorean man, 24, suffered a broken nose and many facial injuries as he was kicked repeatedly on the face, he is still in hospital. His Mexican friend, 29, also suffered less important injuries.

The three nazis (aged 18, 21 and 23) were arrested but two of them are already at large. 

Ecuador has protested the aggression officially. 

Source: Sare Antifaxista[es]

Worker uprise in Bangla-Desh ends up with four dead, hundreds injured

The date for this news is December 13 but I did not know until today (thanks "free media" for keeping us so ill informed). 

The conflict seems to have begun as a protest of workers of Korean textile company Youngone Ltd, demanding the restoration of a food allowance of 250 taka (c. $3.5) withheld by the management when it began paying the minimal salary (they "raised salaries" by 500 taka (per law) but then deducted 250. 

This caused the Korean multinational to close their whole complex, the Korean Export Processing Zone (KEPZ) at the Chittagong harbor, causing factories through the country to stop production. When some 10,000 workers arrived to work and found the industries closed, the riots began. 

Workers clashed with the police in the cities of Chittagong, Dhaka and Narayanganj. Police used live ammunition, killing four people, a textile worker (Ruhi Das, 45), a rickshaw-puller (Ariful Islam) and other two not specified people at the KEPZ. More than 200 people were injured, including 56 police agents, one also shot (not cler by whom). 30 people were arrested.

The most affected city was Chittagong, where workers scattered their fights through the city, bringing it to a halt. They set fire to some vehicles and ransacked 30 factories.

Source: The Daily Star, via Revolution in South Asia.

Update (from Random Pottins):

Union leader, Moshrefa Mishu, was arrested at night and without any warrant by plain clothes policemen, in spite of being not directly related to the riot. He is now being accused, falsely, of connection with a banned islamist group. Relatives have not been able to visit her in jail.

She is now at hospital and still under arrest (and no visits), under humiliating conditions as her guards are policemen (with emphasis in men).

You can sign a petition for her liberation HERE.

That same weekend 25 workers were killed and more than a hundred injured in a factory fire because the emergency doors were locked by the patrons.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

We apologize for the incovenience

My blogs as well as my whole Google account was disabled on a weirdo error (spam?) this morning. I finally managed to get them back but for hours this blog and the others have been impossible to access. 

So I apologize for the inconvenience (even if it was not my fault).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Torture widespread in Indian-occupied Kashmir

Relatives of missing Kashmiris demand to know
This is the stark conclusion of the Red Cross reported in a confidential cable by US ambassador David C. Mulford in 2005, according to one of the cables reported by Wikileaks and now echoed by Revolution in South Asia (link 1, link 2).

The cable mentions that:

In 852 cases, the detainees reported ill-treatment, the [Red Cross] said. A total of 171 described being beaten and 681 said they had been subjected to one or more of six forms of torture.

These included 498 on which electricity had been used, 381 who had been suspended from the ceiling, 294 who had muscles crushed in their legs by prison personnel sitting on a bar placed across their thighs, 181 whose legs had been stretched by being “split 180 degrees”, 234 tortured with water and 302 ‘sexual’ cases, the ICRC were reported to have told the Americans.

All tortured were non-combatants because independentist militants are murdered on the spot if captured. They are just civilians who become suspect by the occupants of maybe having some information about insurgents.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Lithuania to issue new homophobic law

Gay Pride marches like this one could be banned
The Lithuanian Parliament is set to pass a new law that fines with as much as €2900 any open discussion of homosexuality. The law reads:

... public promotion of homosexual relations is to be punished by a fine from 2,000 to 10,000 litas.

Amnesty International considers that Lithuania must reject this law.

Earlier this year Lithuania forbade, also by law, any kind of discussion of homosexuality or polyamory in schools.

In that case, AI, said that:

Far from protecting children, the law deprives young people of their right to freedom of expression and access to information and risks isolating children who are already amongst the most at risk of violence at school or within the family.

All very true. It is unbearable that in 21st century Europe we are witnessing this kind of reactionary attack against the freedoms of people even inside the European Union. In my opinion, all this should warrant a quarantine on Lithuania of the same kind as that imposed to Austria when they appointed neofascist politician Georg Heider as prime minister.

There should be no room for fascism in Europe and this kind of attack against freedom of speech and emotional expression is totally unacceptable. People have the right to choose the ways they find best for their sexual and emotional relationships and we all have the right of open information and debate on these matters.

It is a shame and a backdoor to fascism probably too.

You can take action by writing to the President of the Semias (Parliament) using the form available at Amnesty International's site (scroll to bottom).

Sources: Amnesty International (new law, earlier schools law)[en], Sare Antifaxista[es]

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fascist ambush gets two Basque youths injured in solidarity act with Otegi

Two young Basques heading towards a protest at Logroño prison to demand the freedom of Arnaldo Otegi, leader of the Basque Nationalist Left, were ambushed by Spanish fascists at the roundabout of access to the prison, resulting injured.

The exact severity of the injuries is not known to me at the moment but they had to be brought to hospital in any case.

Otherwise some 200 people challenged the freezing weather to show their solidarity with Otegi and other political prisoners at Logroño prison. You can watch moments of this demonstration at the video below, including from min. 2:00 some folk and militant music.

Otegi was present in the action by means of a letter that was read in public. He said that we have not been born to resist but to win, and we will win.

HERE you can find another video with a song dedicated to Otegi's freedom by IRUN LION ZION konexioa (Lyrics and Music: BAD Sound System, Fermin Muguruza, Rude, Aitor Korta, Mikel Aveiro - Video: Dani REV). The lyrics are mostly in Basque but there is a substantial part in Spanish as well.

Sources[es]: Sare Antifaxista, Gara

Christmas on strike

This is a very local news item but letting you know that if you're dropping by Bilbao this week, there are partial strikes in the subway on 21st, 23rd, 24th and 25th (one hour by the morning and one by the evening). This has been triggered by a decree forcing metro employees to work on Christmas night. 

Also commerce workers are going on strike on the 23rd and 24th against excess work time, part time contracts and low salaries. 

Source: Bilboko Branka[es]

Update (Dec 20): the metro strike has been finally called off after the direction made a new offer, which was accepted. It is remarkable that the Town Hall and some reactionary media have been attacking the collectivity of subway workers in a most intolerable way proper of the worst bourgeois petty thought. 

On the other hand the shops' strike goes ahead and workers of at least 12 major stores have already adhered.  

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bradley Manning subject to destructive psychological torture

US soldier Bradley Manning (left) is being subject to torture by means of sustained isolation plus drugs. It has been demonstrated that prolonged isolation damages the brain.

According to acquaintances, he is being also subject to harassment, intimidation and even bribery attempts to bring him to "infiltrate" Wikileaks. 

Manning, who has not been brought to trial yet, has shown all this time a particularly high moral stand. He may be accused of naivety, specially for trusting that worm of Adrian Lamo, but he has all the time shown to have high moral values, whether you agree with them or not. He is a clear case of prisoner of conscience.

In his fateful conversation with Lamo he clearly underlined his altruistic motivation in leaking... whatever he leaked (we do not know for sure yet):

Manning: i mean what if i were someone more malicious- i could've sold to russia or china, and made bank?

Lamo: why didn’t you?

Manning: because it's public data

Lamo: i mean, the cables

Manning: it belongs in the public domain -information should be free - it belongs in the public domain - because another state would just take advantage of the information… try and get some edge - if its out in the open… it should be a public good.

Read more in depth at Empire Burlesque, The Guardian, Salon.

To support Bradley Manning, his legal defense and/or the overall campaign for his freedom and rights, look it up at Courage to Resist (also other campaigns on war resisters).

Random Pottins: 'Buddies in Arms (and bomb conspiracies)' or US-sponsored terrorism

British blogger Charlie Pottins deals today with the Miami based terrorist mafias at the service of the White House. Something you don't read much about, much less in English language:

IT'S a happy picture, the two old friends and comrades in arms meeting in Miami. The man on the left is Orlando Bosch Avila, his buddy is Luis Posada Carriles, and if those names don't ring a bell straight away, because they have not been in the news much here, they will mean something to a lot of people in Cuba and other countries.

On October 6, 1976 Cubana airlines Flight 455 was destroyed, plunging into the sea soon after takeoff from Barbados. Two time bombs had exploded in the aircraft. All 73 people on board the plane were killed, including young members of the Cuban national fencing team, and five North Koreans.

Read the full story at Random Pottins.

Washington Blog: 'Extreme Inequality Helped Cause Both the Great Depression and the Current Economic Crisis'

Very nice article by this always interesting US blogger:

It is clear that when banks become too big, it harms the economy. Economist Steve Keen says that "a sustainable level of bank profits appears to be about 1% of GDP", and higher bank profits lead to a Ponzi economy and a depression.

But most mainstream economists dismiss the idea that wealth inequality among individuals causes economic crises.
Of course, some ideologues will argue that even discussing inequality is waging class warfare, and smacks of an attack on capitalism.

However, the father of modern economics - Adam Smith - disagreed.

And as Warren Buffet, one of America's most successful capitalists and defenders of capitalism, points out:
There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war .... 
And as I have previously noted, radical concentration of wealth actually destroys capitalism, turning it instead into socialism for the rich.

Is There a Causal Connection Between Extreme Inequality and Economic Crises?
Read full article at Washington Blog.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Aurore Martin to be extradited to Spain (political persecution)

Aurore Martin (left), political activist of Batasuna, a party absolutely legal in the French Republic, and of French citizenship, will be extradited to Spain, the appeal tribunal has confirmed.

She is accused of taking part in political activities (meetings, speeches, demonstrations) as member of Batasuna. That is enough, it seems, for someone to be indicted in Spain and for France to support that indictment even against its own citizens.

174 elected representatives of various formations have issued a protest against this arbitrary, undemocratic and outrageous decision by the every day less reliable French justice system. They complaint of the "the political application of European orders of arrest against political militants". Among the signatories are European MPs Catherine Grèze, José Bové (Europe écologie) and François Alfonsi (Régions et peuples solidaires), as well as French Parliament members Jean Lassalle (MoDem) and Noël Mamère (Europe Ecologie), and also representatives of the Socialist Party, the Communist Party and the Party of the Left.

Jean Pierre Mirande, representative by MoDem (Centrist Liberal party) in Maule (Mauleon) said in press conference:

I revolt against this decision. I am very much worried. This does not forecast anything good for the future.

Alice Leiciaguezahar, regional secretary of Europe Écologie said:

Accepting to transfer someone to the Spanish justice is antidemocratic. The French State cannot compromise itself this way. If it accepts illegalization in Spain, it opens also the gate to it in France.

The French Socialist Party, the main opposition force, also considered the decision unacceptable for us as democrats. They consider that the principles of the euro-order have been perverted:

It reflects the will not of fighting against terrorism, as the European arrest mandate obliges, but of criminalizing democratic political activities.

For the Basque Nationalist Left, there is a clear intent since the beginning to hand her to the Spanish Audiencia Nacional (Political Inquisition). 

Otegi, Permach, Álvarez

These other three leaders of Batasuna have been in jail for months accused of unclear political crimes. They were declared not guilty by the Audiencia Nacional last week but the sentence has been appealed. They remain in prison as of now. 

Arnaldo Otegi is also accused in another political trial: they are accused of rebuilding Batasuna (it was never destroyed, no idea of what they are talking about). 

Galician politicians and intellectuals gathered onDecember 9th to denounce the persecution against Otegi and the others. Among the participants there were members of the Galician National Bloc (BNG) but also independent intellectuals like Suso de Toro (considered an ideologist of current Spanish PM J.L. Rodríguez Zapatero). Other activities for the freedom of Otegi have taken place in Madrid and Catalonia. 

German Die Linke (The Left) party also suggested that Spain should take the opportunity (of the truce and clear will of negotiating peace) and accordingly: granting political and civil rights for Basques. 

In the maimed Basque Parliament also the electoral majority demanded an end to illegalization of ideas, only the Spanish Nationalist parties (which have more seats but less votes, even after the illegalization of Batasuna) demanded more repression instead. 

Sources: Gara[es], Kazeta[eu], AFP at Yahoo News[fr]

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Basque attorneys arrested

In another instance of continued and even increasing Spanish political repression (in a truce! who does not want peace?), two attorneys were arrested yesterday, along with several members from the independentist youth organization Segi.

All them are being accused of belonging to Segi, including the two attorneys, who are little bit old for that.

The arrested attorneys are Haizea Ziluaga and Haritz Escudero, who were arrested at work in a Madrid prison and in his holiday place respectively. The Segi members are: Saioa Zubiaur, Garazi Autor, Izaskun Goñi, Eneko Villegas, Ohiana López and Ainhoa Villaverde. These were all arrested in the Basque Country. The offices of the attorneys, seven private homes and a tavern were registered in the repressive operation.

Sources[eu/es]: Gara, Bilboko Branka, Apurtu and Berria.

Update: demonstrations were held against the arrests. Below: image of the demo at Santutxu neighborhood, Bilbao:

Source: Bilbo Branka.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Greek general strike: paralized country, large demos and major clashes

Today a general strike, the eighth in few months, has paralyzed Greece again. It was a response to the latest FMI-EU imposed reforms against social rights, against the rights of the working class. The trigger this time has been a law that allows employers to ignore unions-companies agreements and fix unilaterally the salaries of their workers. 

Airports and trains are totally paralyzed  all day but otherwise information is scarce because apparently journalists have also walked out in the same day.

"Thousands" of demonstrators took part in the many protests along the country. The ones in the two major cities, Athens (more than100,000 demonstrators according to La Haine) and Thessaloníki (20,000), turned violent.

In the South Macedonian capital, activists threw Molotov cocktails (petrol bombs) against government buildings and damaged bank offices. In the national capital, the Finance Ministry was attacked and there were clashes with the police (videos at BBC and Euronews). As mentioned before a former minister was attacked and injured by a group of some hundred people (left). 

Sources: Al Jazeera[en] and La Haine[es]

Update: All luxury cars have been burned around the five stars hotels near Parliament. The hotel entrances were also attacked. Some demonstrators attempted to capture the see of the officialist union GSEE, controlled by the government. 

Some more photos:

Even more at Indymedia Athens.

Unemployment causing revenge crimes

One of the most tragic consequences of the economic slump is unemployment: without a job and in absence of a half-decent welfare system (under heavy attack now by the budgetary scissors maniacs) you are totally lost in this hyper-competitive system: you become a pariah.

Some just go crazy and kill people whom they consider more or less responsible from their personal and financial demise. While the cases that I will discuss here are extreme, one even wonders why they are not even more common or if they are going to become more and more common as misery and desperation spreads.

Sare Antifaxista, a Basque blog, reports of three such cases which can't but disturb us.

Catalonia: kills his former employers and then director and employee of his bank office

This happened in Olot, Catalonia. A construction worker, possibly with some mild psychological disorder (he liked to walk in his leisure time dressed as a Far West sheriff), shoot down his former employers, father and son, and then went to his bank office murdering the director and an employee.

Florida man murders school managers in apparent revenge for the firing of his wife

We are almost used to weirdo US school shootings, however unemployment has seldom been the motivation for such massacres. In this case it was, it seems. A man kidnapped school managers and demanded to know why his wife had been fired. When his question were not answered, he went on rampage killing everyone until he was shoot down by a security guard. The security video (warning: real violence) is hang at YouTube, though the signal is broken since soon after the shooting begins.

Greece: demonstrators injure a former minister

This one is more directly political and I may deal with it separately, specially as a hot protests week is scheduled for Greece a we speak. But in raw essence is the same: people wants managers to solve problems and not to cause or aggravate them anymore. People is desperate and sometimes go violent and the managers, be them private businesspeople, bank directors, public administration managers, policemen losing a tactical street battle or privileged idle royals caught by a mob while turning the wrong corner, are natural targets of such frustration turned anger.

Hundreds of people attacked an injured a former minister of the previous conservative government (considered even more guilty than the current one for the national economic disaster).

Some 200 people attacked with stones and sticks Kostis Hatzidakis, former minister of transportation, injuring him (apparently not severely) until he could hide in a nearby building. The attackers cried: thieves, you should be ashamed!

Other similar cases you have seen in the Italian demonstrators angrily beating policemen or in the well known incident in which a British prince and his wife, the dukes of somewhere, were attacked by angry demonstrators prevented to join the actual demo by the police. People is starting to get really angry and that is worrisome (yet easy to understand).

But if the anger could be concentrated towards a positive goal such as toppling current EU (confederal and states') governments and electing constituent assemblies for a new socialist Europe, then it may well be worth it. But I fear that the movement is yet immature for such feats, so I guess that more or less chaotic anger and violence will keep growing until the pot blows up somehow.

That's the situation we live in Europe nowadays and that is also surely the situation that is being created in the USA, even if the level of class consciousness seems much lower over there (no big demos nor general strikes yet anywhere). It is a situation, I know, of terminal decadence and certainly not a pretty one.

Brace yourselves because it is just the beginning. And also let's prepare the change because it will happen unavoidably as the so-called leaders (economical or political) lack any sort of exit strategy that could even hope to work.

Riots shatter Italy as Berlusconi buys his survival through confidence vote

Major riots have erupted in Rome, Milan, Turin and other Italian cities as the parliament narrowly rejected to kick out the most controversial Prime Minister of the Repubblica, Silvio Berlusconi.

Berlusconi managed to survive politically a bit more by 314 to 311 votes but the people is clearly not the least happy about this outcome, specially in the context of austerity budget draconian cuts, which have already sparked many protests in the recent past.

A key element not well explained by the media is that Berlusconi's party (PDL) bought several deputies for this crucial and uncertain vote. This has been denounced by famous anti-corruption judge Antonio di Pietro, now opposition MP (source: Gara[es]). Obviously this corruption of politics is taking off all legitimacy from this vote.

So the people, specially students, who have been a most dynamic force not only in Italy but also in France and Britain, went to the streets. Hundreds of thousands of them! The result: massive riots leaving some 100 people injured, half of them police agents.

Rome burns. Should buy a lyre for Nero-Berlusconi to play or rather should we invest in guillotine technology? I'm rather for the latter.

Videos at BBC, Euronews and La Haine. Also many photos and more or less updated info at this last site (in Spanish). Some pics from the La Haine gallery follow:

As in previous demos, students used shields titled as classical books

Massive numbers of rioters

Angry rioters

Very angry

Plain clothes policemen resorted to guns

Anonymous' Guy Fawkes mask was present: Let them all go home!

Very, very angry indeed

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

David Kelly's murder case still haunts Britain

Dr. David Kelly
Do you remember the death in most strange circumstances of Dr. David Kelly in London in July 17th 2003?

Not? What if I tell you that he was an expert in biological warfare who worked for the British Ministry of Defense and that he had been a weapon inspector in Iraq?

Not yet? What if I add that he was suspect of informing the BBC about a false claim included by authoritarian force in the intelligence reports claiming that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, reports that were important in the feeble justification by the Azores Trio for the invasion of Iraq that year?

If it doesn't ring a bell, you sure were born after 1987 (so you'd be younger than 16 at that time) or you really don't follow the news at all. Or maybe you suffer from amnesia.

Guess that if you are in this circumstance you may read the Wikipedia entry to refresh your memory, with previous warning that it is a one-sided view carefully manipulated by US and British secret services, who control Wikipedia in key issues like this (I can tell you but too long to explain here, just take a look at the history of the page and notice the activity of SlimVirgin, a well known MI6 wikipedian).

Anyhow, the case is that yesterday the Daily Mail published the memorial redacted by four doctors on the death of Dr. Kelly, again casting doubt in the official version. In the words of M. Goslett:

The Hutton inquiry into his death found that he killed himself after slashing his wrist with a blunt knife and overdosing on painkillers.

On Monday the Mail revealed that no fingerprints were found on the blister packs of pills which Dr Kelly supposedly took. No fingerprints were recovered either from the knife or a bottle of water found by his side. He was not wearing gloves when his body was found, nor were there gloves anywhere near the body.

The memorial argues that Dr Kelly’s death was not sufficiently investigated and claims that there are a large number of irregularities surrounding it.

It names Lord Falconer, once Tony Blair's flatmate and in June 2003 appointed Lord Chancellor, as the architect of the public inquiry into Dr Kelly's death chaired by Lord Hutton.

It was Falconer who proposed the controversial decision to abandon a coroner's inquest, where witnesses would be cross-examined under oath, and replace it with a non-statutory examination of the circumstances leading to Dr Kelly's death. As a result no witness, including Tony Blair and his press secretary Alastair Campbell, swore an oath or was cross-examined.


The memorial addresses - and answers - each of the six legal points necessary for a coroner's inquest to be re-opened. Under section 13 of the Coroners Act 1988 only one of these points has to be satisfied for an inquest to take place.

Wendy Wearmouth, a relative of Dr. Kelly with previous professional experience on suicide risk, agrees that it cannot be a case of suicide, that such an option was totally against his whole way of being.  She clearly supports the need for a coroner inquiry.

Sources: Uruknet, Daily Mail.

Hackers raid Nazi sites in the USA

Nazi, white supremacist, fascist, KKK... all the various tags for the same bunch of dangerous idiots, were taken down by a group of hackers organized under the Antifa tag, who claim to have done the feat in revenge for the Nazi aggressions.

The result, besides taking them down temporarily, is a large hoard of emails and other personal data about the scum that joins and specially leads such organizations. The word scum is really appropriate because, as Hackbloc puts it:

The released private email correspondence reveals a number of embarrassing and often disturbing stories about top neo-nazi leaders in the US and is expected to cause infighting and disunion in the white supremacist scene. Some of the profiled Nazis were involved in the military, have been to prison for hate crimes, have raped or molested people, or are just plain racist losers - making one wonder why such a supposed “master race” attracts some sick and disturbed people to their movement.

The hoard of data is sure to cause some serious embarrassment and maybe infighting between the bonehead scum. 

They are asking for mirror sites to distribute the materials.

Read more at Hackbloc and Zone-h (in this one you can also download the looted data). Found via Sare Antifaxista.

Nazis attack five people in Murcia (Spain)

A gang of some ten Nazis from the MSR party attacked with pocket knives a group of people drinking at a terrace. One had to remain in hospital after being injured in the side, while four others also suffered less important cuts. Fortunately all them are out of danger.

Source: Sare Antifaxista[es]

Indian journalist Arundathi Roy faces charges of sedition for defending the self-determination of Kashmir

Famous Indian journalist Arundathi Roy is facing charges for sedition because she has advocated self-determination for Kashmir. Roy, who delighted and informed us with her chronicle of the Maoist guerrilla: Walking with the Comrades, has declared that they can posthumously sue the father of the nation Jawaharlal Nehru for the same reasons.

Nehru said in various occasions:

I should like to make it clear that the question of aiding Kashmir in this emergency is not designed in any way to influence the state to accede to India. Our view which we have repeatedly made public is that the question of accession in any disputed territory or state must be decided in accordance with wishes of people and we adhere to this view.

... as soon as law and order had been restored, the people of Kashmir would decide the question of accession. It is open to them to accede to either Dominion then.

We are anxious not to finalise anything in a moment of crisis and without the fullest opportunity to be given to the people of Kashmir to have their say. It is for them ultimately to decide —— And let me make it clear that it has been our policy that where there is a dispute about the accession of a state to either Dominion, the accession must be made by the people of that state. It is in accordance with this policy that we have added a proviso to the Instrument of Accession of Kashmir.
As for Roy herself, this is what she said when she knew she could face arrest:

I write this from Srinagar, Kashmir. This morning’s papers say that I may be arrested on charges of sedition for what I have said at recent public meetings on Kashmir.

I said what millions of people here say every day. I said what I, as well as other commentators have written and said for years. Anybody who cares to read the transcripts of my speeches will see that they were fundamentally a call for justice. I spoke about justice for the people of Kashmir who live under one of the most brutal military occupations in the world; for Kashmiri Pandits who live out the tragedy of having been driven out of their homeland; for Dalit soldiers killed in Kashmir whose graves I visited on garbage heaps in their villages in Cuddalore; for the Indian poor who pay the price of this occupation in material ways and who are now learning to live in the terror of what is becoming a police state.

Yesterday I travelled to Shopian, the apple-town in South Kashmir which had remained closed for 47 days last year in protest against the brutal rape and murder of Asiya and Nilofer, the young women whose bodies were found in a shallow stream near their homes and whose murderers have still not been brought to justice.

I met Shakeel, who is Nilofer’s husband and Asiya’s brother. We sat in a circle of people crazed with grief and anger who had lost hope that they would ever get ‘insaf’ — justice — from India, and now believed that Azadi — freedom — was their only hope. I met young stone pelters who had been shot through their eyes. I travelled with a young man who told me how three of his friends, teenagers in Anantnag district, had been taken into custody and had their finger-nails pulled out as punishment for throwing stones.

In the papers some have accused me of giving ‘hate-speeches,’ of wanting India to break up. On the contrary, what I say comes from love and pride. It comes from not wanting people to be killed, raped, imprisoned or have their finger-nails pulled out in order to force them to say they are Indians. It comes from wanting to live in a society that is striving to be a just one. Pity the nation that has to silence its writers for speaking their minds. Pity the nation that needs to jail those who ask for justice, while communal killers, mass murderers, corporate scamsters, looters, rapists, and those who prey on the poorest of the poor, roam free.

Source: Revolution in South Asia, Indian Vanguard.

Interesting sites on the Maoist uprising in India (and neighbors)

I was actually searching for something else when I spotted the news about Roy. In fact I was looking for this interview with Koteswar Rao, which I read first in Spanish at La Haine and found most interesting.

In the process I stumbled upon the following pro-Maoist sites which offer some information, otherwise missing in the mainstream media:
The first one looks more "classically militant", while the second one looks more ample and has maybe a greater focus on Nepal. I may include them to my blogroll list.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Israel murders two Palestinians in cold blood in Gaza

While they first the Israeli Army reported that the two Palestinians had been killed in a shooting, later they admitted that the two men had been murdered in cold blood by the soldiers after identifying them. These soldiers also injured one of them in what is being described as "friendly fire" in "adverse meteorological conditions" but that I suspect has some other explanation. 

Source: Gara[es]

Video: WikiRebels (documentary on Wikileaks)

Quite an interesting watch I just found via Global Research (the article includes some extra meditations on Wikileaks, of some interest).