Friday, March 30, 2012

(Opinion): 21st century: the century of woe for the worker

We are twelve years deep into the 21 century and already it looks like its going to be a  miserable century for the worker.He faces a long century where rights that workers fought hard to gain in the 19th and 20th century are now fighting to keep them with power firmly in the grasp of corporations in the employer/employee dynamic.the 21 century  looks like it is to follow the trend of the late 20 century which saw the real wages of workers drop and debt burden go up.

You only have to look at recent dispatches in Europe, where there violent protests taking place in Italy, Spain and Greece in the face of government austerity programs, to see the worker has to fight just to keep what he has never mind bargain for more.

The worker is increasingly underrepresented by mainstream parties, even those that have their roots in worker struggles.In many cases these very parties, who are steeped in the tradition of worker movements, have bought through the legislature torrents of legislation that hurt the worker and have admonished the worker for withdrawing his Labour, the only weapon the worker has left to preserve or better his lot.

His plight is rarely, if ever, reflected upon or covered in any depth or insight in the media, regardless of form.The media is a place were the employer outnumber the worker, the lives and ideas reflected in the media are lives of those of upper and middle class backgrounds, who may share cultural and poltical perspectives with the worker, but their economic interests are likely to clash with the worker.

The 21 century will continue the class denial of the later periods in the late eighties and nineties in a age where  class will and already does matter more than ever.This will be an age again where the discussion of class will become unavoidable as the 'we're all middle class' mantra will soon begin to dissappate in light growing schisms in wealth and a already depressed social mobility.

In sum, the carnage report is not suggesting that the 21st century will be an extended rerun of the 80s, but the fate of the worker will be will have to figure highly on the political agenda as the problems currently plaguing southern Europe will be widespread. the problems that face the worker are easy to fix but there pieces of legislation that would be step in the right direction.Finally, class must be not be considered a dead concept as while many people do not refer to themselves by their class, the issues that effect them can be attributed to it. 


(video):What a Hot Mic Can Reveal

Friday, March 23, 2012

(opinion): Bad bargaining

The relationship between the United Sates and Pakistan was always going to be strained, but in light of recent events, it is hard to see where the rebuilding of the US/Pakistani relationship can begin. however, Pakistani MPs have today have come up with a suggestion, stop drone attacks in our country! Now this sound like a fair demand as killing scores of innocent Pakistani citizens as well as their not so innocent citizens is sure to cause friction. 

add to this mix the death of Pakistani army members and you got yourself a real problem in a country with no shortage of them. It would be a good start for the US slow down or stop drone attacks in Pakistan of people they suspect to be terrorists but the United States has always had the 'we answer to nobody' air about their foreign policy and to stop them means your country becomes carpet-bomb central.You only have to look at Iran to see this as a top level meeting with Iran's ruling bodies would go some way to quell some of the fear fuelling Iran dash for nuclear capability  but that would require a demonstration of  reason.

good relations with Pakistan is imperative to the United States' other mission in Afghanistan,  where there is a large Pashtun population in both countries who share a border,with the united states continuing their drone campaign, are likely to rile up discontent and likely violence in both countries. however the tension between the united states and Pakistan is not entirely the fault of the US.With the US finally finding and killing Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan, living so close to a military base in the most suspicious looking house in the area, this made US officials come to the conclusion that Pakistani intelligence knew of Bin Laden's whereabouts.

However, the eventual capture and killing of Bin Laden in Pakistan came as no shock to a number of ex intelligence officers and journalists who cover the region who all correctly predicted years before that Bin Laden would be in Pakistan. The Bush administration actively gave up on finding Bin laden in the midst of the war in Iraq despite it being known that Bin Laden wasn't in Afghanistan and was probably in Pakistan along with many other members of Al-Qaeda who fled after the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. 

A starting point to mending the fractured relationship between Pakistan and the US is to find common ground on the issues that binded them together in the first place.the main issue that binds these countries is terrorism as many terrorist recruit in Pakistan, have set up madrases,  and have devised attacks, mainly in the south of Pakistan. But even finding common ground there is difficult as it has been widely reported that the Pakistani army have relationships with some terrorists groups. 

Another issue where common ground can be found is the supply of aid in light of the crushing poverty in Pakistan, made worse by the floods of 2011. This should provide no sticking point as aid to Pakistan helps US in their effort to stop terrorism , providing opportunity to people in a land where little exists, making Pakistan fertile ground where terrorists can recruit. However, it can be argued that the US has supplied Pakistan with billions of dollars in aid and have seen little in the way of progress on the terrorism front, which may serve as a justification for the US drone campaign in the south of Pakistan.

The relationship between United States and Pakistan was always going to be strained as these nations are binded together by one issue. This has always been the case as the Zia regime helped (with the US)  the mujaheddin efforts in Afghanistan to defeat the Soviet Union as the US successfully sought to inflict a Vietnam style humiliation of their communist counterparts. fast forward thirty years and both nations face a threat from the group they funded in Afghanistan, that mutated in to a Bin Laden backed Al-Qaeda, filled with many fighters who took heart from the defeat of the Soviet union and sought to fight a global jihad.While Pakistan have a right to complain about drone attacks their nation and deaths they produce, as the US do not divulge in their process of delineating who is a member of a terrorist group and who is not.

In sum the US and Pakistan relationship will for now remained strained as the United States believe that Pakistan are not honest dealers and Pakistan would like the drone attacks to stop completely. both sides must meet at a compromise on the issue that concerns them both, Terrorism. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

(video):Bill Maher Lays Down New Rules

Bill Maher on form as he lays down the law

(video) Hitchens on Falwell

Hitchslap par excellence

Revolutionary Tag

(opinion) Iran a Grave Threat?

With the apparent winding down of the controversial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the incessant push for a war with Iran coming from Republicans and some democrats seems not only nonsensical but reckless. The constant natter of the threat Iran poses to the US, and Israel foaming at the mouth with the prospect of attacking Iran escapes the reality that Iran pose no real threat to the United States or Israel, and if they did manage to reach nuclear capability, it will only be of deterrent value.

Iran, who are almost universally hated in their region, share borders with nations where the US have invaded or have subsequently built military bases in. they also face attempts by the US to weaken Iran's oil exports by bullying other nations such as India and South Africa to cut business ties with Iran. To make matters worse, Saudi Arabia, a long standing US ally, have promised to pick up the slack left from cutting oil ties with Iran. terrorist groups in the region are largely Sunni Muslims which makes a proxy terror counter-strike from Iran unlikely as Iran is largely Shia. Its main ally in the region (Syria) is currently embroiled in a major civil upheaval where the continuation of the Assad regime looks less than promising.

In this current climate, the rational option for the Iranian leadership would be to build or develop nuclear capability in light of all these negatives, but the Iranians, despite having a nuclear program for five decades, have failed to achieve nuclear capability.Iran's nuclear research has come at expense with the concerning trend of Iranian nuclear scientists dying violently on the increase. this would surely increase with rebuilding attempts if surgical strikes from the United States or Israel were used in targeting nuclear research sites.

With this knowledge widely available , the drumbeat to war with Iran does seems absurd, but it is only absurd depending on where you start the conversation on Iran, with its current state of affairs or its perceived future capability for nuclear weapons. As the war in Iraq tragically proved, it is folly to start with a conclusion when dealing with foreign policy as starting from a  conclusion leads little room for alternative interpretations of the perceived threat.

In sum, the drumbeat of war with Iran should be ignored as considering  the current state of affairs, Iran poses little or no threat to the US or its allies.If Iran were to develop nuclear capability, it will be used almost exclusively as a deterrent as they are in a region with very few friends and growing list of powerful enemies. finally, it is important that the US and its allies avoid the mistakes of the past by avoiding premature conclusions, a lesson that should have been in light of the Iraq war.                  

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Beware of the bubble net!

Eli Pariser sheds a light on ad and news targeting steadily turning the internet into a echo chamber 

Jon Stewart Take On Mitt Romney

Jon Stewart pulls no punches

(Opinion) lack of property rights in Africa: cause of conflict?

If you ask people from countries in the west and beyond what's the world greatest invention,the internet, the wheel or the iPod will usually come, up but what should come up more is the invention of property rights. while property rights may not inspire as much wonder as internet or the iPod and has a very bad reputation
(at least in Marxist and Anarchist circles where it has reached swear word status)but without it, capitalism  cannot work as anyone can claim ownership of land, leading infinite disputes among a unknown number of parties.

Property rights avoids this conflict by simply ensuring the right of the individual to own a commodity ( land or property for the purpose of this short essay) and can keep or use the said commodity as the rightful owner sees fit.When such a system does not exist where land or property can be bought and owned by the individual,or the there is no system in place that can clearly attribute land or property to an owner, this almost ensures an  Hobbesian nightmare begins to take shape.

Without property rights guaranteed and protected by law or neutral arbiter, the abuse of power become the norm as other actors can claim, with force, ownership over a given property. This problem is rife within the global south , particularly in Africa as many states on the continent have little or no discernible property rights system to show who owns what in relation to land.

 in this legal black-hole, it is left to the state to manage the county's real estate,  the problem with this is the majority of states in Africa are no guarantors of economic rights. In knowledge of this, it is no wonder why economic  development in many African states has failed to take off as the lack property rights means that African find it difficult to acquire credit as they have little else to offer as collateral.

Added to this already trying mix is the rapidly growing trend of African states selling land to multinational corporations regardless of whether people occupy it or not. land disputes lead into many of problems  in Africa such as conflict as dispossessed individuals look for other means to survive as land is of great importance in economies still dominated by the agricultural sector.

In sum, property rights is not catch-all solution for problems in Africa or anywhere else with similar problems  but represents a step in the right direction. The codification and enforcement of property rights will help attenuate land disputes, which has served as a focal point of many conflicts in Africa thrown in the mix of predatory governments and rival militias, very often split along tribal lines.


Monday, March 12, 2012

(video) Slavoj Zizek On Resistance

Slavoj Zizek speaks on the recent upsurge in protest in world politics

(Video) Bill Maher New Rules

(Opinion) Afghanistan: Shitstorm Central

In general all wars are pointless, but the war in Afghanistan has to take a very bloody biscuit. with no clear mission or even an exit strategy, the allied forces find themselves in a land were they are unwanted and hated in equal measure. They face an enemy who seem, despite heavy losses, to be two steps ahead and is slowly gaining support, a public who have as much appetite for occupation as they do for a shit sandwich, and a  political class and security force which are both corrupt and inept.

With the recent scandal involving a US soldier,suspected not to have acted alone, killing sixteen Afghanistan citizens, the already chainsaw proof tension between the people of Afghanistan and their western occupiers will intensify greatly. This incident comes in a growing line of  public relations nightmares with the burning of the koran by US troops and the released footage of US troops urinating on dead Taliban fighters, which not only seems to reveal a certain lack of discipline but the realization of the soldiers of just how pointless their mission is as it has become apparent this is a war that the allied forces cannot win .

This scandal will almost certainly culminate in revenge attacks most likely to be perpetrated by the Taliban, who have already sworn retribution.this will also serves as powerful recruitment propaganda for the Taliban and Al-Qaeda if lack of economic opportunity wasn't enough of a motivation. the Obama administration has set out to apologize for the afghan deaths caused by a US soldier knowing full well it won't help forestall the tragedies to come when even the US installed president 'mayor of Kabul' Karzai acknowledges such an act cannot be forgiven.

In sum, all arguments aside, pro or anti war, Afghanistan is not a country and hasn't been for last forty years. it has played the hostile host to tyrannical rulers, conquest hungry empires, and death and suffering beyond human imagination. the best favour or help the US can lend to the country is to leave and to leave quickly as an ill defined mission, the corrupt and inept organs of the afghan political system and security force, and the growing number of violent incidents involving US troops will surely lead to more loss of life on all sides in a nation that has grown accustomed to conflict.      



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