Tag Archives: revolt

Smooth transition from one revolution to the next

A Kyrgyz riot police vehicle burns in the capital of Bishkek on April 7th.

A Kyrgyzstan riot police vehicle burns in the capital of Bishkek on April 7th.

After a series of post-election protests in Ukraine in 2004, dubbed and romanticized as the Orange Revolution, a second round of elections caused the fall of the previous ‘winner’, a pro-Russian leading candidate, and the ultimate victory for the pro-Western candidate.  There were parties in the streets and all was well.  (There was a rather large resentment that existed among parts of the country that were pro-Russian and they would eventually recapture the government in later elections, but let’s not let that get in the way of the overreaching positive theme).

Months later there was another romantically named revolution in a country thousands of miles to the east, the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan.  While there will probably never be another romantic sounding name for the events that have occurred this year in the landlocked central Asian nation, what is for sure is that blood runs in the streets in another place where everything old is new again.

So which method of revolution is better?

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A coup, complete

In today’s edition: Iran’s coup becomes official, the U.S. ponders the good bank/bad bank solution, and the Rooskies are coming

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As the President, I swear to Almighty God before the Holy Quran and the Iranian nation that I will protect the official religion and the Islamic Republic regime and the country’s constitution, and use all my talents and qualifications towards responsibilities I have undertaken, and dedicate myself to serving the people and promoting the country, promoting religion and morality, supporting truth and spreading justice, and will avoid any kind of obstinacy and defend the freedom and dignity of individuals and rights of the nation that the Constitution has recognized.  I will refrain from any action to safeguard the borders and political, economic and cultural independence of the country, and with the help of God and by following the Islamic Prophet and the Imams like a devout and self-sacrificing trustee will protect the power that has been given to me by the nation as a sacred trust placed in me and pass it to the nation’s elected [leader] after me…

With those words spoken today, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad began his 2nd term as President of Iran.  It appears all but certain that the old guard of that country has solidified its grip, has pulled off an obvious mass electoral fraud, killed its own citizens to further the cause, and has gotten away with it.  Perhaps not scott free, but any sort of winning is winning, right?  One last time now, the “actual” and “real” results…

Official Iranian Election Results
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 24,527,516 62.63%
Mir-Hossein Mousavi 13,216,411 33.75%
Mohsen Rezaee 678,240 1.73%
Mehdi Karroubi 333,635 0.85%

…and…

Unofficial Iranian Election Results
Mir-Hossein Mousavi 19,075,623 45.39%
Mehdi Karroubi 13,387,104 31.85%
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 5,698,417 13.56%
Mohsen Rezaee 3,754,218 8.93%

The next Iranian election for President is in 2013. Mr. Ahmadinejad is term limited and will not be allowed to run (probably). Still, I highly, highly doubt that any sort of openness of debate will be allowed anywhere near the level that was seen in Iran this year – and it will probably be limited in such a way for a long time.

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The financial crisis and its after effects continue to haunt us.  Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, two companies that were quazi-private lenders of last resort to potential house buyers, were slammed by last fall’s meltdown.  There appears to be an endgame on the table for both of those companies, and that would basically involve wiping their collective slates clean:

The Obama administration is considering an overhaul of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that would strip the mortgage finance giants of hundreds of billions of dollars in troubled loans and create a new structure to support the home-loan market, government officials said.

The bad debts the firms own would be placed in new government financial institutions — so-called bad banks — that would take responsibility for collecting as much of the outstanding balance as possible. What would be left would be two healthy financial companies with a clean slate.

The moves would represent one of the most dramatic reorderings of the badly shattered housing finance system since District-based Fannie Mae was created by Congress to support mortgage lending during the Great Depression. Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, based in McLean, have government charters to buy home loans from banks, which they then repackage and sell to investors. The banks can then use the proceeds to offer more loans to home buyers.

While this does the job of making unhealthy companies healthy again, and attempts to collect whatever is left over of what can be paid on these properties, it does allow two companies to walk away from their own lending practices and their own mess, into the future to potentially do it all again.  The bad guys get away and we get stuck with the bill.  The downside to letting them fail, however, was seen in last fall’s stock market crash.  The evaporation of Lehman Brothers helped to evaporate 20 – 30% off of the U.S. stock market – and that was just one financial company.  It’s one of those situations where there are no pleasurable options, just bitter pills to swallow.  Good job, capitalism.

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Russia is flexing its muscle:

A senior Russian military official said Wednesday that Russian nuclear-powered attack submarines spotted off the U.S. East Coast were on a legitimate training mission.U.S. defense officials said Tuesday that two Russian submarines had been patrolling in international waters for several days. While the activity was reminiscent of the Cold War, the U.S. officials said the submarines had done nothing to provoke concern.

Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, a deputy chief of the General Staff of the Russian military, said the patrols were part of efforts to give more training to the military forces.

For anyone who has forgotten the back story, last year the tiny nation of Georgia instigated a war against Russia with weapons sold to them by the United States.  The Georgians were routed and sent packing by the overwhelming Russian forces and in a few days the conflict was over.  The fact that Russians were being shot at with American weapons though, did not sit well with Moscow – causing a freezing in relations like nothing seen since the end of the Cold War.  Such a thing isn’t going to be forgotten by the Russians as quickly as the West might forget that the conflict ever happened.  If anything the exercises off the east coast of the U.S. are a “stay out of our backyard!” warning that, thanks to the current administration we have, will more than likely not turn into a dick waving war for the 2010s and beyond.  Just let time heal these wounds.

Iran moves toward outlawing opposition

In today’s edition: What might be the beginning of the end of the Iranian opposition, success is apparently a warning of disaster, and a college graduate displays they slept through any and all legal classes they may have taken.

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The show trials in Iran have begun.  Over the next few days, perhaps weeks, hundreds of people will be publicized on state media – accused of inciting riots that were actually massive protests in the days that followed that country’s historic election.  The leaders of the reform movement – so far not including main opposition candidate Mousavi – will be tried, found guilty, paraded in front of the public, and either locked up for the rest of their lives or put to death.  That seems to be exactly where all this is heading, indicating that the hard line regime looks to remain just that and to not give into the public’s demand for modest reform.

The mass trial of Iran’s top reformist leaders over the weekend on charges that include conspiring to overthrow the regime signals that a process is under way to eventually outlaw the reformist party and ban its members and supporters from political activity, Iran analysts say.

On Sunday, reaction by Iranian newspapers and Web sites to the trials of some 100 detained opposition members, including a former vice president, was polarized as some raised questions about whether their confessions were coerced.

Those who disagree may eventually be forced to fall in line, and opinions like this might become more common and more… official from the government toward the west:

The Kayhan newspaper, which acts as a mouthpiece for Iran’s government, hailed the testimonies as proof that Western powers were plotting a “velvet revolution” in Iran and called for the execution of top reform leaders. It also encouraged the government to jail Mr. Khatami and opposition leader and presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi.

If this all goes according to plan, Iran will become a one-party dictatorship:

The outlawing of the Islamic Participation Front, the reform party that vehemently opposes Mr. Ahmadinejad, would immediately purge the parliament of reformist lawmakers. It would also ensure that no reformist candidate could run for office.

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The so-called “Cash for Clunkers” program, a program that is offering up to $4,500 for an individual to trade in their old, gas guzzling car for a new, more energy efficient one has been a smashing success – going through its allotted billion dollars in funding in just one week, which potentially translates into a quarter million new car sales.  Upon hearing that the funds were running out the House hurriedly passed a measure that would allocate another $2 billion for the successful program.  If it is approved by the Senate this week, then it’s full steam ahead for the program at least through the rest of this month.  This new source of economic activity and overall successful part of the $700+ billion bailout effort of this government is exactly why the Democrats and Obama can’t be trusted with anything!  What?  Oh, it must be the newest Republican talking point:

Republicans say the problems with the program are another strike against the Obama administration as it pushes for a speedy overhaul of the health care system that would involve a government-run insurance program. They argue that government involvement in any industry is a recipe for disaster.

Senator Jim DeMint, Republican of South Carolina, said the “cash for clunkers” program was an example of the “stupidity coming out of Washington right now.”

“The federal government went bankrupt in one week in the used-car business, and now they want to run our health care system,” Mr. DeMint said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” “This is crazy to try to rush this thing through again while they’re trying to rush through health care, and they want to get on to cap-and-trade electricity tax. We’ve got to slow this thing down.”

Let’s play that game where we parse language.  The “problems” described by Senator DeMint, and others like him, say that because the program was such an overwhelming and popular success, it was an utter failure.  It would have apparently been better if nobody bought anything and the program… failed.  The “government went bankrupt in one week” line is a cute touch but is, in fact, just another distortion of the truth.  The government allocated x-dollars for the program, which were subsequently spent.  The government is now looking to re-allocate an additional x-dollars for the program, so it may continue.  This happens on an annual basis in Washington, it’s called the budget.  Under Senator DeMint’s argument, every program and the federal government itself goes bankrupt every year because money that is allocated is eventually spent.  That’s over 233 years of continuous bankruptcies.  How will we ever survive?

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Here’s an entry for “legal case that doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell“:

A 27-year-old Monroe College graduate is suing the New York school, contending it has done little to help her find a job.Trina Thompson, who graduated in April with a bachelor’s degree, alleges in a Bronx Supreme Court lawsuit that she did not receive adequate employment leads and advice from the school’s office of career advancement, the New York Post reported Sunday.

“They have not tried hard enough to help me,” the information technology degree graduate alleges in the July 24 suit.

Ms. Thompson has apparently yet to learn that college is not a service that is guaranteed to do things for you.  Just because you get a degree in anything doesn’t mean you’re going to the Forbes 500 list, and just because your school has job seeking help doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed to get a job.  Ms. Thompson is a bit miffed that she spent $70,000 on schooling and was not greeted with a job upon leaving the campus for the final time, but she’s in a very large boat with a vast number of graduated students all across the country.  The jobs just aren’t there right now, at least not in the fields that were studied during school.  Most people set out to make do with what they can, hoping that when the economy finally does turn, there will be some sort of employment award for that piece of paper that is worth so many thousands of dollars.  In the meantime the answer is not to sue everyone else for your problems.  Anyone who honestly thinks college = automatic employment is perhaps not smart enough for the real world just yet, and may consider additional schooling.

All of this coming from a college student who has been there, done that.

Iran: The Organic Movement

Allow me for a moment to take a trip to a foreign policy of yesteryear…

If only the Neocons could have gotten what they wanted… Read more »

Iran protests in video (20)

The following post contains nothing but 20 videos from over the last few days. A fair warning, some of them are graphic: Read more »

Blood runs in the streets of Tehran

A badly injured man lays in a truck after being shot at a protest for Mousavi

A badly injured man lays in a truck after being shot at a protest for Mousavi

There is a logical end to what happens when people without guns stand up to people with guns. It’s only a matter of time until the people with guns attempt to take control of a situation at the expense of people without. That threshold was crossed yesterday in Tehran, as police and militia aligned to the state-approved victor of the Iranian Presidential election, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, attacked an absolutely massive crowd of defeated candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi. An unknown number of the crowd were injured with deaths also reported – a tragic end for a few of the perhaps million people who turned out in clear defiance of the established order that rules Iran (perhaps if only for the time being).
Despite sustained efforts by the Iranian government to block media access to the country – to the point where journalists have been arrested, detained, or outright kicked out of the country, the story and the pictures are indeed getting out:

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Iran learns people can be silenced for only so long

Tehran Police attack civilian

Tehran Police attack civilian

As the minutes go by, the world is learning more and more how an event that was believed to mean so little could actually portend a sea change in a volatile region of the world. The 2009 Iranian Presidential election will already go down in history even if the violence were to end right here and now today. At the rate things are going, however, this seems to be anything but the case.

What was believed to be nothing more than a sham election a few weeks ago by most sources turned out to be every single bit of the sham that was predicted but it had an unusual side effect: a seemingly spontaneous blossoming of anti-establishment feelings and outright anger at the government of the Ayatollahs that have been in place since the Islamic revolution of 1979. Read more »

Social Inequality and the French Riots

It’s almost a given, like waiting for another shoe to drop. I suppose some out there are just wired this way, ready for the knee jerk reaction, ready to blame a problem they don’t understand on skin color, religion, clothing, life preferences, anything out there that they might not understand, and understand little enough to use as a method to put someone down.

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It was a hot summer night in 1967 in the 5th largest city in America…

In the 1960′s, Detroit was the fifth largest city in America. Its population was 1.67 million (source), down from its peak in the 1950’s, but still in the fifth slot. Race relations were on high tension from the 1943 race riots that were caused by an exploding African-American population in a predominately white-city. Racial turmoil around the country at this same time didn’t help matters much. Predominately black portions of the city were being patrolled by predominately white officers was almost asking for a disaster. Unemployment hovered around 5% in the more white areas of the city, but was beginning to touch and exceed 10% in the African-American portions of the city. All of this by itself, however, was not cause for a riot just yet. Read more »