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Monthly Archives: December 2010

Jafar Panahi

On 20 December 2010, Jafar Panahi was handed a six-year jail sentence and a 20-year ban on making or directing any movies, writing screenplays, giving any form of interview with Iranian or foreign media as well as leaving the country.[2]

As if to underline its weakness, the Iranian regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad issued the above sentence to Jafar Panahi. Since the popular “Green” movement of a year and a half ago, his government has steadily applied the heavy hand of violence and suppression ostensibly in the name preserving the Islamic Republic. While this suppression has been, thus far, successful, and the voices for change have been driven underground or silenced, a sentence such as that given to Panahi signal not strength, but a profound weakness. While Iranian prisons are indeed the burial ground for many who enter them, should Panahi survive, it is sure that the balance of his sentence will be negated by the collapse of the regime which imposed it. Any glance at history, recent and ancient, shows that dictatorial repressions such as that occurring in present day Iran are always short-term and collapse from the internal stresses their structural contradictions produce.

Ahmadinejad at the UN

“Usually, you cannot prove that sort of thing. How can you prove that you are not a bad person?” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Julian Assange in UK prison

While initially the US Government sought to down-play the WikiLeak release of a tiny fraction of the files which it holds, with the passing of time it becomes increasingly evident that the American authorities consider the leaks, and their potential example for the future, to be a grave threat, worthy of a draconian response.  Consequently Julian Assange has been arrested on what certainly appear to be trumped up charges of “rape”, to say alleged consensual sex without a condom, apparently in Sweden, fabled land of easy sex, a  crime.  One of the parties connected to this charge has been involved with right-wing Cuban politics.  A bit fishy, to say the least.  She said, he said….

Mr Assange, still imprisoned in London, awaits resolution of a bail hearing, with confusion as to whether the UK, America’s ever-obliging “partner-in-crimes” has appealed the judge’s ruling, or whether it is Sweden (which of latest news apparently says it’s not them.)

Meantime the alleged source of the leaked material, Bradley Manning, resides in strict imprisonment in the marine prison located in Quantico, Virginia, now in his 7th month of confinement though no charges have been brought against him.   And it is said a grand jury is now investigating the WikiLeaks matter with the apparent aim of securing charges of espionage against Manning and Assange.

Bradley Manning, US Govt’s “bad guy”

In its frantic efforts the US Government has alienated most of the world’s population and the press, which sees the attempts to make criminal charges against a “whistle-blower” to be a threat to freedom of the press.  Ironically only the past week the US issued an announcement that it would be happily hosting the upcoming May 3 UNESCO World Press Freedom day:


The United States is pleased to announce that it will host UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day event in 2011, from May 1 – May 3 in Washington D.C. UNESCO is the only UN agency with the mandate to promote freedom of expression and its corollary, freedom of the press.

The theme for next year’s commemoration will be 21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers. The United States places technology and innovation at the forefront of its diplomatic and development efforts. New media has empowered citizens around the world to report on their circumstances, express opinions on world events, and exchange information in environments sometimes hostile to such exercises of individuals’ right to freedom of expression. At the same time, we are concerned about the determination of some governments to censor and silence individuals, and to restrict the free flow of information. We mark events such as World Press Freedom Day in the context of our enduring commitment to support and expand press freedom and the free flow of information in this digital age.

Highlighting the many events surrounding the celebration will be the awarding of the UNESCO Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize at the National Press Club on May 3rd. This prize, determined by an independent jury of international journalists, honors a person, organization or institution that has notably contributed to the defense and/or promotion of press freedom, especially where risks have been undertaken.

The Newseum will host the first two days of events, which will engage a broad array of media professionals, students, and citizen reporters on themes that address the status of new media and internet freedom, and challenges and opportunities faced by media in our rapidly changing world.

The State Department looks forward to working with UNESCO and the U.S. executive committee spearheaded by the Center for International Media Assistance at the National Foundation for Democracy, IREX, and the United Nations Foundation and the many civil society organizations they have brought together in support of the organization of events unfolding in Washington.

For further information regarding World Press Freedom Day Events for program content, please visit the World Press Freedom Facebook page:

Barack Obama campaigned, among other things, on a promise of transparency in government, a promise certainly contradicted by his administration’s response to the WikiLeaks release.  As with numerous other campaign stances, Mr Obama has behaved quite differently once securing office.  Guantanamo remains open, as do myriad black-sites around the globe; his administration has argued for his executive power to order the execution of an American citizen with no judicial review; “extreme rendition” remains a CIA option; the war in Afghanistan grinds on at 2 billion dollars a week, with no evidence of an end in sight.  By any reasonable measure, Obama has proven himself to be a fraud, a Trojan horse implanting a continuation of Bush policies with a different rhetoric, but the same actions.  It is clear the military-industrial-media complex is running the US Government, and all other concerns take second place to its concerns.

“When the government fears the people, it is called democracy. When the people fear the government, it is called tyranny.”
Thomas Jefferson

Reaching its lowest rating ever, the performance of the US Congress is approved by 13% of the American electorate. (Wait til next year…)


Julian Assange was released on $350,000 bond to a rather upscale estate confinement in east England. It would seem the US government is intent on turning Mr Assange into a Hollywood asset.   Now if only Mr Obama had torn his Trojan and injected some actual transparency into the behavior of the United Corporations of America.

Julian Assange, lawyers and bond posters

David Brooks times four

Today, posting a comment in the NY Times, replying to a column by the ever ridiculous David Brooks (who writes as if he’d never left the cozy confines of a very posh suburban country club or 5 star hotel), I found my horse-race posting, #17, and glancing at what I’d posted saw a curious little addition:

Jon Jost Seoul, Korea December 14th, 2010 12:59 am

Brooks’ new recipe for “Pie in the Sky.” “In a world of relative equals, the U.S. will have to learn to define itself not by its rank, but by its values.”

Yep, we have some hot extreme rendition to sell you, and how about a “black hole” site in your country, working with the CIA. Or how about you have a lot of oil so we’re going to invade you saying you had something to do with a terrorist attack you had nothing to do with. Or how about would you like to buy our totally dysfunctional health-care system. Or for that matter, how about our kind of “democracy” which as everyone knows works so well. We got some real values for you.

And this is going to be built on the back of our ever shrinking “middle-class”, the one that’s been down-sized, off-shored, de-unionized, and turned into adjuncts and temps, no nasty benefits attached. The middle-class that is actually “poor” for a good part, but we don’t do poor in America so you must be middle-class.

What country and world do you live in, Mr Brooks. In a country-club with a library of the kinds of books you like to regurgitate and imagine has to do with us?
Yes, America

The addition was the “Yes, America” after my blog URLs.  I didn’t put it there.   Could the august Mr Brooks have done so?  Or merely one of the moderator/censors which the Sunday Times described this week?

At all events, Mr Brooks, along with Mr Friedman, seems to provide a perpetual pin-cushion for those responding, this column drawing  particularly acidic comments.  Not that it didn’t deserve it, as Mr Brooks’ waxing seemed to indicate the little glass bubble he occupies in Washington provides zero visibility of reality, but rather some warped other world where all is OK for most Americans, and if we just propagate our wonderful middle-class values to the up-and-coming world, why, we’ll just manage another American Century for ourselves, leaders of some world, though I am not sure just which he has in mind.   The mind-set which Mr Brooks chronically displays – and for which he is well-paid – is really pathological.  And doubtless appeals to that broad cross-section of America which shares his pathology and inability to perceive reality.  Very much like those pre-embalmed guys who were to be found running the USSR (into the ground) back in the good old days.   America doesn’t do “old” so we get guys who are mentally already dead but have kept their bodies sort of in good shape to act as stand-ins.


Yes, Dorothy, it’s mourning in America

A  jelly-bean, anybody?

Step’n Fetchit announces another bank heist by his owners on Wall Street

Keeping his track record perfect, Barack Obama has done as all the bookies predicted, and “made a deal” with his loyal opposition across the aisle.  Rewarding the top 2% with an extension of the massive Bush tax cut for the wealthy, worth a mere $900 billion in the next two years, our “change” man tried to make it look good by claiming some trade-offs like an extension of unemployment benefits worth, oh hell, a fistful of billions.  Neat deal.  Other fine print sees Social Security, hated by Republicans, being undermined with sneaky reductions in payments for it, thus setting the stage for its insolvency which, of course, is reason to abolish it and toss those who paid into the fund into the hands of our beneficent private accounts guys.

American middle-and-lower income BBQ Obama celebrating his newest compromise, center-right in checked pants

Jamie Dimon, CEO of Chase Manhattan bank, NY Times Magazine coverboy for story “Least hated banker in America” and happy Obama friend

President Obama’s “principles”

Money has never made man happy, nor will it, there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has the more one wants.
Benjamin Franklin  

N. Korean moohla

With the release of the Assange files, the swoon of the Irish economy, the faint of the Portuguese and the tremors of the Spanish, it seems our little Korean woulda coulda shoulda war has been whisked off the front pages.  A few days ago the American navy was huffing and puffing in exercises in the Yellow Sea and today’s news has it doing major exercises with the Japanese military in (take your pick) the East Sea or the Sea of Japan.  Korea is no longer the hot news, even if the Korean military has some hot babes doing the can-can in uniform.

N Korean hot babes

Back state-side it appears other things are hot items to keep the populace up in arms, from Congressional rumbles about keeping the good old Bush tax cuts for zillionaires, with Obama looking to make a deal: unemployment compensation payments extended in trade for a massive give-away to the richest.   Some deal – maybe 10 billion to help the busted hang on another 6 months in trade for 700 billion to America’s wealthiest.  The kind of deal which Mr Obama seems to favor:  1 for me, 10 for you.   Increasingly, Obama’s real political inclinations are getting as clear as, uh, a TSA security scan.

Hot Americans being held up by the TSA T & A examiner

Among items in the WikiLeaks release are some indicating that the Obama administration, ever looking forward and never backward, had a hand in suppressing Spanish Judge Garzon’s initial steps to indict Bush and friends for war crimes.  Of course in his latest book, Mr Bush, dis-invited from visiting London, proudly bragged about ordering just those war crimes.  One supposes he’d happily pose for the TSA scanner, just to show-off his great manhood.

Obama claims to be a Constitutional lawyer, and a keen reader of old Abraham Lincoln, though one has to wonder just which Constitution and what of Lincoln he’s read.

I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country; corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in High Places will follow, and the Money Power of the Country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the People, until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic is destroyed.”
–Abraham Lincoln

Ain’t it a crying shame?

And the won, wobbling with the news, has moved back to 1130 per Uncle Sam’s Greenback, headed it would seem back in the line toward parity, while the almighty buck begins to buckle under to the blunt realities of our dysfunctional national union.

Unemployment office, San Diego, California