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VIDEO: U.S.-Backed Bahrain Arrests & Deports 2 U.S. Human Rights Observers As 1st Anniversary Of Democracy Protests Nears

by on Monday, February 13, 2012 at 4:06 pm EDT in Bahrain, World

Two American peace activists, Huwaida Arraf and Radhika Sainath, were arrested and detained this Saturday, while acting as Human Rights Observers in U.S.-backed Bahrain. Both are members of the Witness Bahrain initiative.

The Bahraini monarchy deported the two on Sunday, and they were flown — handcuffed behind their backs, and prohibited from using the bathroom, and from eating or drinking for the entire seven hour flight — to London.

According to Arraf, Bahrain appears to be removing all human rights activists and observers in the run-up to the one-year anniversary of the democratic uprising against the ruling monarchy:

[We] also were getting reports of journalists and human rights organization representatives being denied entry into the country in the lead-up to the first anniversary of the Bahrain revolution, and this caused great alarm, that the government was planning to escalate its oppression of the people. 

A November 2011 report, conducted by an independent commission, and authorized by the Bahraini monarchy in an attempt to ease tensions, concluded that grave violations of human rights had been committed by government troops. These violations included disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force and firearms to repress the protests, and a systematic and deliberate policy of torture.

The panel confirmed that government forces murdered dozens of people during the protests, and five reform activists had been tortured to death while in custody. Other detainees were tortured by electric shock and by beatings with wires and hoses. Additionally, the panel found that activists were later targeted and fired from their jobs and universities and caused to lose their homes.

Just weeks ago, the Obama Administration was reported to be quietly selling arms to the Bahraini monarchy, in spite of these documented human rights abuses against its people. 

In the following video, Amy Goodman of DemocracyNow! interviews the two American peace activists just deported from Bahrain, Huwaida Arraf and Radhika Sainath. They discuss their arrests, what is happening now in Bahrain, and the level of assistance they received by the U.S. embassy during their detention. 

WATCH:

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The Bahraini monarchy has blocked the above footage of Arraf being arrested by security forces from being shown in Bahrain.

UPDATE:

Robert Naiman, Policy Director of Just Foreign Policy, recently arrived at Bahrain Int’l Airport as an observer — there to witness the gov’t response to peaceful protests — and he is reporting that he too has been prohibited from entering the country:

… the Bahrain authorities would not let me enter the country. At this writing, it’s 5 p.m. local time. My flight got in at 2:15 AM. I have been informed that the Director of Immigration has decided that I shall not have a visa to enter Bahrain — although in the past it was the practice of the Bahrain authorities to give visas to Americans in the airport pretty much automatically — so the authorities are saying that the only way I am leaving the airport is on a plane out of the country. At this writing, it looks like I could be in the airport for another 36 hours.

[…]

I won’t be able to contribute to [the Witness Bahrain] reports, since, sitting in the airport, I won’t be able to observe the protests and the government response. 

[…]

WATCH: The Origins Of #OccupyWallStreet: An Interview With Adbusters’ Micah White

by on Saturday, October 22, 2011 at 1:35 am EDT in Occupy Wall Street, Politics

For those wondering how the revolutionary #OccupyWallStreet movement — which now spans the entire globe — came into being, look no further than Vancouver’s activist magazine & website, Adbusters, and its Senior Editor, Micah White.

In this interview, White discusses the movement’s origins, its leaderless (general assembly) decision-making model — vital to ensuring it doesn’t get co-opted, and its underlying goal: economic justice.

WATCH: 

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The original concept behind the #OccupyWallStreet movement, was outlined in a July 13, 2011 Adbusters post entitled: #OCCUPYWALLSTREET: A shift in revolutionary tactics.

This post was followed by a succession of Tweets (the first few shown here) which would go on to “launch a thousand ships:”

The American Left Awakens: As The Middle Class Goes, So Goes The Political Middle

by on Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 10:56 am EDT in Occupy Wall Street, Politics

It could be said that a democracy’s chosen economic model lives and dies by the prosperity of the majority. A thriving middle class has been the key stabilizing factor in American politics for generations. As such, systematic change in the United States has traditionally come slowly and incrementally. 

But after a decade of zero job growth, while millions more Americans have continued to enter the labor market, they have witnessed unemployment rates rise and become fixed at levels rarely seen before. They have watched their wages drop, their cost of living rise (due in large part to high energy prices, high education costs, and runaway health care costs), and correspondingly, their quality of life erode. 

The middle class is gradually disappearing from the U.S. landscape, and the ‘American dream’ is transforming into a fiction in the minds of millions.

This dream is based on an implicit agreement between the establishment and the masses, and is crucial for America’s brand of hyper-Capitalism to remain a viable economic model. It goes something like this:

If Americans work hard, and invest in a decent education, at worst they should expect a comfortable middle class existence, with prospects for future upward mobility based on merit and perseverance.

As long as this dream is deemed achievable in the minds of the majority, the political status-quo remains all-but a certainty. But the moment people stop believing it, the calls for serious systematic change begin to bubble up to the surface. And this is when the political middle dissipates. 

Many economists hold that the dream actually vanished many years ago, but the establishment extended exorbitant lines of credit to Americans, which allowed them to enjoy a mirage of prosperity. In other words, a once prosperous nation on the decline became transformed into a debtor nation. But in doing so, the ‘American dream’ lived on in the minds of millions.

All it took was the massive financial meltdown of 2008, brought on by years of deregulation in the financial and mortgage industries, to pull the curtain wide open on the American dream. The collapse of the U.S. banking industry — which exposed a band of corrupted, highly-leveraged casinos masquerading as banks — rudely awakened Americans to their true state of affairs.

Twelve trillion dollars in ‘perceived’ wealth, mostly in home values, vanished into thin air. Many of those lucky enough to remain employed, found themselves under water with their mortgages. No longer able to sustain their middle class lifestyles with easy credit, consumer spending continued to dry up, and the economy spiraled even further into the doldrums.

The rationale George W. Bush and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson used to sell the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to the American public was that if taxpayers bailed out these banks, they would in turn ‘loosen’ the credit markets by lending again to businesses and consumers, which would help to stimulate investment and demand.

Instead, the banks did just about everything, BUT resume lending. Having received amazing terms from the government, they invested in no-risk, interest-bearing Treasuries — to profit off the spreads and transaction fees. They paid themselves billions of dollars in the form of bonuses. In addition, these ‘Too Big to Fail’ banks used taxpayer money to buy-out struggling competitor banks, thereby growing even bigger. 

Neither TARP, nor the $16 trillion in secret Fed loans to banks (both here and abroad), loosened the credit markets. Nor did they help millions of struggling Americans to stay in their bank-foreclosed homes. What the bail-outs accomplished was to send a powerful message to Wall Street: as long as these institutions remained ‘Too Big To Fail’ they could continue to take obscene risks, because the government could be counted on to cover their losses.

The effort was branded by most to be a colossal failure — a massive transfer of wealth from the ninety-nine percent to the one percent. 

As the status-quo became untenable, many Americans began to abandon the political middle — once a seemingly ‘mainstream’ place to be — and split towards each end of the political spectrum.

Exiled from government, Republicans recast themselves as Tea Partiers — an ‘AstroTurfed movement’ that blamed ‘government’ for all the country’s woes. In particular, they blamed the new Democratic-controlled government, who’d been elected to clean up their mess. These right-wingers embraced pure unadulterated corporatocracy as the solution to problems created, ironically enough, by deregulated banks and corporations. 

Democratic constituents felt relieved, having ushered Barack Obama into the White House on a populist progressive ‘CHANGE’ platform, along with Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. The Left continued to place its faith in democracy — i.e. the ‘ballot box’ — as the appropriate venue for delivering change.

But once sworn in, Obama’s call for ‘Change’ insidiously shifted to a new call for ‘Bipartisanship’. He proceeded to prioritize ‘harmony’ between two diametrically-opposed parties over championing the progressive promises that got him elected.

Of course, this new ‘priority’ was merely a cover for appeasing the entrenched corporate interests. His largely-symbolic legislative victories were so watered down and corporate-friendly that they were routinely castigated by the Left. His advisers would complain bitterly how no one outside the White House would give Obama his due-credit for his ‘achievements’.

He governed like a pre-Tea Party Republican as he broke promise after promise. He proposed cuts to social security, Medicare, and Medicaid. He pushed the Bush-signed, NAFTA-like (job-exporting) trade deals which Congressional Democrats had defeated years before, and he even pressured Congressional Democrats to extend Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2%. In doing so, he grossly underestimated the populist angst that had swept him into office.

Obama’s duplicity led many of his once-energized supporters to conclude that America’s entire political process was something of a sham — that they’d once again been had.

And so they gave up waiting around for the Democratic Party to walk their talk, and took to the streets themselves in masses. On September 17, Occupy Wall Street began peacefully protesting in downtown Manhattan, and it has since spread like a forest fire into a nation-wide movement.

This huge, non-partisan, populist ground-swell blasts the Washington establishment for systematically exploiting and subjugating ninety-nine percent of Americans to appease the wealthy and powerful one-percent. The protesters demand an end to the corrupt and insidious relationship between government and corporations which perverts the very fabric of democracy.

Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine, recently reflected on the underlying cause for the Occupy Wall Street protests on DemocracyNow:

“My biggest fear was that the Obama presidency was going to lead this generation of young people into political cynicism and political apathy,” Klein says. “But instead, they are going to where the power is. They are realizing the change is not coming in Washington because politicians are so controlled by corporate interest, and that that is the fundamental crisis in this country.”

It would appear the power-elite’s greed, corruption, and hubris has finally awakened a sleeping populist giant in the American people. And the longer the Democratic Party continues to promote policies right of center, the more those left-of-center will continue to detach from the party and the entire democratic process.

A new Washington Post/Bloomberg News Poll reveals that 44% of Democrats don’t believe the economy would get any worse should President Obama lose in 2012 to a Republican. Blue Texan from Firedoglake sums up this startling revelation:

“Let that sink in for a minute. The economy will be the number one issue in 2012 — and nearly half of the President’s own party doesn’t think it matters if he’s re-elected.”

Clearly, today’s definition of the political middle — which is where Obama loyalists contend he governs — has come to represent the painful and untenable status-quo to traditional Democratic supporters.

WATCH (Video): Footage And Interviews Of #OccupyWallStreet Protesters

by on Sunday, September 18, 2011 at 8:47 am EDT in Occupy Wall Street, Politics

RT heads downtown in New York City to cover the outrage behind the largest anti-Wall Street rally since the credit crunch:

Wall Street Protesters Plan To Turn Lower Manhattan Into America’s ‘Tahrir Square’

by on Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 4:45 pm EDT in Occupy Wall Street, Politics

Thousands of peaceful protesters have descended on New York City’s financial district today to send a loud message to President Barack Obama: “End the influence money has over our representatives in Washington”. The protesters intend to create a ‘city of tents’ and remain there for as long as it takes for their “one demand” to […]

WATCH: US State Dept. Spokesman Struggles To Explain US Hypocrisy In Egypt

by on Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 2:26 am EDT in Middle East, World

Here’s an excellent al Jazeera interview that perfectly demonstrates America’s misguided and hypocritical Middle East policy. US State Department Spokesman PJ Crowley gets tongue-tied trying to explain how the United States can on one hand claim to support the Egyptian protesters in their fight against torture, poverty, corruption & unemployment, while simultaneously propping up their brutal […]