Archive for the ‘protest’ Category

Did ACORN Organize Protests At Homes of AIG Execs?

March 22, 2009

On Saturday reporter John Christofferson wrote for the Associated Press that protesters had gone to the homes of AIG executives to make their displeasure known on the bonus issue.

One of our readers commented on the article that the reporter should get an “F” for not pointing out who these people were.

“‘Activists’ ? Who are they? Who organized them? Who paid for the bus ? These are not deep investigative questions. He certainly got the names of the executives and towns easily enough. This is selective journalism at its worst.”

Social Unrest: Hurt by Economy, Europeans Vent Their Anger

We pulled the thread on this and found several sources that confirmed that ACORN (the Association of Community Reform Organizations) engineerd these protests.

We also found out that reporters vastly outnumered the ACORN protesters…

Why would a far left organization so closely tied to Barack Obama feel the need to invade the neighborhoods of the AIG executives after the House of Representatives already made it clear they wanted to get back 90% of these guys’ “bonus” money?

Related:
Protesters At Homes Of AIG Execs (Organized by ACORN?)

Protesters At Homes of AIG Execs Similar To Lawlessness For UK Bank Exec?

Inside Obama’s ACORN
http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=N
DZiMjkwMDczZWI5ODdjOWYxZTIzZGIy
NzEyMjE0ODI
=

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From:

Nice Deb

While the tea parties, (which are popping up all over the country, drawing hundreds and even thousands of people every week), are attracting scarce attention from the media, a motley troupe of 40 ACORN malcontents that go by the name of the Connecticut Working Families Party attracted dozens of reporters from around the world for their protest of AIG working family homes, today:

I’ve been to three tea parties so far, all of which were considerably larger than this sad little  exercise in class envy. Only the last one was covered by anyone in the MSM; one lone reporter from the local Fox affiliate.

But the AIG bonuses are apparently what the media insists we  be outraged about, not the insane spending spree Obama and the Dems in Congress have been on. I could have worked up a little indignation over the bonuses, myself,  but all of the maudlin emoting that came out of Congress, and the White House over them, knocked it right out of me.

Not so with CT Working Families Party.

http://nicedeb.wordpress.com
/2009/03/21/acorn-aig-protest-fail/

See also:
http://sweetness-light.com/archi
ve/acorn-behind-protests-at-aig-ct-homes

http://faustasblog.com/?p=10979

http://pjmiller.wordpress.com/
2009/03/22/anger-militancy-and-riots/

The activist group ACORN provided liberal causes with protest-for-hire services and coerced donations from the targets of demonstrations through a mob-style “protection” racket, according to one of their former lawyers. 

ACORN called it the “muscle for the money” program….

See:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/n
ews/2009/mar/19/hill-panel-testi
mony-to-accuse-acorn-of-mob-tactic/

Visit Michelle Malkin:
http://michellemalkin.com/2009/0
3/23/this-court-brought-to-y
ou-byacorn/

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China, After Delay, Reports Shoe Thrown at Premier

February 3, 2009

It hesitated for hours over the sensitive footage of a British protester shouting “dictator” and throwing a shoe at Premier Wen Jiabao. But finally, China‘s carefully controlled state broadcaster ran it Tuesday.

The move was a remarkable display of openness — but the footage already was leaking into China via satellite television and the Internet. Critics said it showed the increasing power of such media to erode strict information controls.

By HENRY SANDERSON, Associated Press Writer

“It is impossible for a country to shut out a piece of news,” said Shao Peiren, head of Zhejiang University’s communications research institute in eastern China.

The broadcast might also help the government by appealing to Chinese patriotism. Wen is the leadership’s most popular figure, and he emerged as the hero after last year’s devastating earthquake, calling himself “Grandpa Wen.” The nickname was embraced by some enthusiastic Chinese.

Still, incidents that could be seen as unflattering or insulting to the Chinese leadership have long been treated with the greatest sensitivity. The first Chinese reports on the protest during Wen’s visit to Britain’s Cambridge University left out key details, including that a shoe had been thrown.

But the China Central Television broadcast had it all. The evening news showed the footage among the first stories of its half-hour broadcast, leading into it with a report on Wen’s speech itself and his return to Beijing.

Then the shoe-throwing footage was shown, with no commentary from the anchors, just a simple news setup.

The camera was fixed on Wen, but later cut to the whistle-blowing protester being removed from the hall, while the audience shouted “Get out.”

“How can this university prostitute itself with this dictator here? How can you listen … to him unchallenged?” the man — who has yet to be identified — could be heard shouting.

The sound of the shoe hitting the stage, away from Wen, could be heard as well.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090203
/ap_on_re_as/as_china_britain_shoe

Related:
Man Charged With Public Disorder for Shoe Throwing At Chinese Premier

Free Press: Shoe Thrown At China’s Wen Not The Mega Media Event Bush’s Shoe Seemed

Global Economy Sparks Protests; Governments Fear Greater “Social Unrest”

January 31, 2009

Americans just started a new presidency but in China, Russia, France, Iceland and Britain, some leaders already fear that the worsening global economy will result in calls for new governments with new leaders and ideas.

Protesters in Rusia’s eastern most industrial hub and seaport, Vladivostok, called this week for new government leaders because of the economic down turn.

Opposition groups led by Communists protested the economic policies of the Russian government in the eastern city of Vladivostok on Saturday.
James Hill for The New York Times

The protest was peaceful; but more protests are planned.  And previous protests like this one in Russia ended in violence and the police making dozens of arrests. 

The crowd called for the replacement of Dmitri Medvedev and Vladimir Putin, Russia’s top leaders, for mismanaging the economy.

On Saturday protesters held demonstrations throughout Russia, offering largely subdued, but pointed criticism of the government’s economic policies as the country continues to sink deeper into an economic morass, the New York Times said.

In Britain, Prime Minister Gordon Brown is under fire.  He is currently taking heat for a jobs and rights protest that stems from his pledge that “British jobs need to be British.”
.
Thousands of workers across Britain have walked off their jobs following protests over the use of foreigners at a Lincolnshire oil refinery.

On Saturday, the number of strikers multiplied, with hundreds of energy workers across the UK protesting — and with lines of police around them.

And millions of Chinese have gone home for the Spring Festival or New Year and told not to return to their jobs.  China is so worried about domestic unrest that it has started its largest anti-democracy crackdown ever: specifically targeting the media and Internet.

“People have this psychology of crisis,” said Victor Yuan, chairman of Beijing-based consultant Horizon Research Consultancy Group, which does polling for the private sector and the government.

Horizon’s latest survey showed consumer confidence at its lowest since the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, in 2003.

“The real, real winter for the Chinese economy hasn’t come yet,” said Chen Jian, chairman of Hangzhou Hengwei Investment Co., which has business in restaurants, real estate and trading.

In France, President Sarkozy can’t get away from the jeers and shouts of protestors when he makes public appearances.  He has taken to firing public officials that  don’t keep protesters far away from the President’s ears.

A crowd of 300,000 protested in Paris this week in the largest protest in 10 years, some said.

null 
Paris this week

Countries such as France and Greece have been hit by riots and strikes as militant unions demand protectionist measures to keep out foreign rivals.

And both Germany and China expressed fears of American protectionism this week.  Angela Merkel of German told audiences at the economic conference in Davos that the U.S. auto bailout hurts the global economy and spells a new era of protectionism from the U.S.  China’s Hu Juntao told President Barack Obama that the “buy American” provision in the stimulus was rank protectionism and needed to be scuttled.

The economy has made the entire world more tense.

The French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said, “We’re facing two major risks: one is social unrest and the second is protectionism.”

“We need to restore confidence in the systems and confidence at large,” she added.

Christine Lagarde
Lagarde

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan says the world body needs to be reorganized in view of the economic crisis.

“The current architecture of managing global affairs is broken and needs to be fixed,” Annan said.

The worldwide economic recession has exposed a “crisis of global governance” that can only be addressed by the radical reform of the United Nations, said Mr. Annan.

And Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called on world leaders to set about reforming international financial institutions to prevent a repeat of the circumstances that led to the current financial crisis.

“We’ve got to be far bolder and far more imaginative,” Brown said. “We want to create a global society. But we need to have global institutions that work and the problem is the institutions we built 60 years ago are out of date.”

By John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia

The BBC on Russian Protests:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7862370.stm

Related:
Britain:
 Oil refinery strikes: Protests over foreign workers

France’s Sarkozy Getting Testy Amid Public Disapporval, Fires Public Servants

China, Germany Both Pressure Obama on Protectionism

Kofi Annan: Global Economy Tells Us, New forms of government needed

From CNN:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/BUSINESS/0
1/31/davos.wef.brown/index.html

http://www.cnn.com/2009/BUSINESS/0
1/30/britain.refinery.strikes/index.html

Paris:
http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/
world-news/300000-protest-in-paris-14
162666.html?r=RSS

Oil refinery strikes: Protests over foreign workers

January 30, 2009

The world economy is causing even more friction among different groups…

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Thousands of workers across Britain have walked out following protests over the use of foreigners at a Lincolnshire oil refinery.

By Stephen Adams
Telegraph (UK)
.
About 700 employees at the Ineos-owned Grangemouth plant on the Firth of Forth have begun an unofficial strike in solidarity with fellow energy workers at the Total Lindsey Oil Refinery on the North Lincolnshire coast. They have been joined by many hundreds more in Teeside, South Wales and other energy plants across Scotland.

The demonstrations has led to scenes reminiscent of the industrial disputes of the 1970s with hundreds of placard-waving protesters watched by ranks of police.

Staff at the Lindsey refinery originally began their strike on Wednesday to protest at Total’s decision to award a £200 million construction contract to Italian firm Irem, using foreign labour.

The refinery covers 500 acres and is the third largest in the UK, processing 10 million tonnes of crude per year – 200,000 barrels per day.

It is understood 100 Italian and Portuguese workers are currently on the site. They are expected to be joined by 300 more next month.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said the angry workers were “entitled to an answer”.

Earlier this month Shona McIsaac, the Labour MP for Cleethorpes, said that awarding the contract to a firm using foreign labour was like “a red rag to a bull”.

“Although I’m told there are no redundancies arising from the contract going to the Italian company, if you are out of work, it can seem so unfair,” she added.

Total has stressed that Irem staff will be paid at UK nationally agreed levels for the engineering construction industry, under the same terms and conditions as agreed with unions for the existing contractor workforce.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopi
cs/recession/4397237/Oil-refinery-strikes-Thou
sands-protest-over-foreign-workers.html

Protests across Britain over foreign workers

The refinery covers 500 acres and is the third largest in the UK Photo: NORTH NEWS

Shelling Ignites UN Relief HQ and Controversy in Gaza

January 15, 2009

Israeli artillery shelling hit the United nations centre for humanitarian assistance in Gaza City today, setting the building ablaze.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon immediately protested.

Then Israel’s prime minister said the Israeli military fired artillery shells at a U.N. compound in Gaza after militants opened fire from the location.

Ehud Olmert says Israeli forces “were attacked from there and the response was harsh.”

Olmert was quoted by the Associated Press.

John Ging, the head of operations in Gaza for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency said, “It’s a very big fire, and we’re not able to get it under control at the moment.”

“[Israeli] Defense Minister Barak said to me it was a grave mistake and he took it very seriously,” the UN Ban Ki-moon said at a news conference in Tel Aviv with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

But Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said the matter is still under investigation. When asked about Ban’s comment, Regev said Defense Minister Ehud Barak actually told the U.N. chief that “if it was Israel’s fire, it was a grave mistake.”

Regev said it was “not clear whose shells, whose fire hit the U.N. facility.”

“It could have been ours, it could have been Hamas’,” Regev said. “This is being investigated.”

Regez was quoted by CNN.

With gun battles going on around the facility, “the emergency services are not able to get to us.”

By Peace and Freedom

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Associated Press:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090115/ap_o
n_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_palestinians

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From The New York Times:

The military push may be aimed at stepping up pressure on Hamas as cease-fire talks in Egypt entered a pivotal stage.

Read the rest from the NYT:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/16/worl
d/middleeast/16mideast.html?_r=1&hp

A Unitet Nations worker is seen as smoke billows from Israeli ... 
A Unitet Nations worker is seen as smoke billows from Israeli bombardment at the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. Witnesses and U.N. officials said that Israeli shells struck the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City.The U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has expressed ‘strong protest and outrage’ to Israel over the shelling of the compound.(AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

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From Associated Press

The U.N. chief says he has expressed “strong protest and outrage” to Israel over the shelling of a United Nations compound in Gaza City.

Ban Ki-moon is demanding an investigation into Thursday’s shelling. He says Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has told him it was a “grave mistake.”

Israeli shells damaged the international organization’s headquarters in Gaza City, according to witnesses and U.N. officials. U.N. spokesman Chris Gunness says at least three people were wounded.

Israel launched an offensive against Hamas in Gaza on Dec. 27.

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Related:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/me
ast/01/15/gaza.aid.plea/index.html#c
nnSTCText

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From Peace and Freedom:
.
Thousands of Gazans are fleeting their homes as the Israeli Army works to root out Hamas militants in Gaza City.

The military action set the United Nations office structure ablaze today in Gaza City

Fighting is now in the city’s residential neighborhoods on Day 20, Thurswday, January 15, 2009.

In Gaza, the dead now number over 1,000.

Israel Air Force planes struck some 70 targets overnight, including weapons positions, rocket squads and a mosque in southern Gaza that it said served as an arsenal, the military said.

President Assad of Syria asked both sides to agree immediately to a cease fire and then work out their cross border smuggling issues later.

Israel insist on a regime to prohibit the re-arming of Hamas through the Gazan borders.

But Syria is not trusted in Israel where it is often seen as an aid to Iran and militant anti-Israeli forces like Hamas and Hezbollah.

Yesterday, Hamas seemed on the verge of agreement of an international 10 day cease fire brokered in Cairo, Egypt.

Israel was to again consider the cease fire idea today.

In Israel, Defense Minister Ehud Barak is known to favor a cease fire while Prime Minister Olmert is resisting.

Haaretz reported that the disagreement is causing trouble in the Israeli war cabinet.
.
Following press reports Wednesday that Barak wanted to see a humanitarian cease-fire, sources close to Olmert were quoted as saying that Hamas saw and heard what was going on in Israel and “draws encouragement” from this, concluding that Israel was searching for a way out of the military operation.

“The irresponsibility of ministers – regardless of how senior they are – in leading private initiatives is unfortunate,” one of these officials said.

A United Nations worker surveys the damage from Israeli bombardment ... 
A United Nations worker surveys the damage from Israeli bombardment at the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. Witnesses and U.N. officials said that Israeli shells struck the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City.The U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has expressed ‘strong protest and outrage’ to Israel over the shelling of the compound.(AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

The official said that the publication of these plans “gives encouragement to Hamas, gives a shot in the arm to their backers, and has an immediate effect of the fate of a million Israelis in the South and thousands of IDF soldiers carrying out operations inside Gaza.”

But Arab nations trying to assist in the cease fire process were in disagreement how how and when to hold an Arab summit.

 Hamas spokesman Mohammed Nizal said Wednesday, “Is it possible to get into the third week of this Zionist aggression against Gaza and the Arabs can’t hold a summit for Gaza and to stop this aggression?

John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Smoke billows from Gaza on Thursday as fighting continued to rage.

Smoke billows from Gaza on Thursday as fighting continued to rage.

Related:
Haaretz:
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/sp
ages/1055761.html

Jerusalem Post:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1
231917085180&pagename=JPost%2FJPArti
cle%2FShowFull

***************

The Associated Press reported:

Witnesses say Israeli ground troops are advancing into crowded residential areas of Gaza City and thousands of terrified residents are fleeing their homes.

Israeli troops backed by helicopter gunships, tanks and heavy guns thrust deeper into the city than ever before Thursday to seek Hamas fighters, they said.

It wasn’t clear whether this would be a brief foray or signal a new phase in Israel’s devastating offensive against Gaza’s Islamic Hamas rulers.

Israel has balked at launching all-out urban warfare in Gaza City, where Hamas militants are more familiar with the lay of the land and Israeli casualties would be liable to spiral.

Israel launched the offensive on Dec. 27 to stop militant rocket fire on southern Israel from Gaza.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090115
/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_palestinians

Uproar in Congress? Protest Against Pelosi, Leaders

January 6, 2009

A number of Republicans and some Democrats are considering a protest vote against Nancy Pelosi for House speaker when lawmakers convene Tuesday afternoon to launch the 111th Congress, FOX News has learned.

Once the House is sworn in, one of its first orders of business is to elect a speaker, a vote taken by the entire Congress.

The vote usually goes along party lines. Pelosi will run for the Democrats while Republicans were expected to nominate House Minority Leader John Boehner.

But some lawmakers of both parties are mulling a protest against their leaders and are considering casting their vote for the most senior member of the House, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. 

Dingell first took office in 1955 and is the second-longest serving U.S. representative in history.

House sources offered FOX News a number of reasons why some Democrats and Republicans might vote for Dingell. 

Firstly, it would give moderate and conservative Democrats from marginal districts some political space between them and the more liberal Pelosi. 

Fox News

Speaker of The House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi listens ...
Pelosi

Secondly, many House moderates are upset that the House Democratic Caucus unceremoniously ousted Dingell from his chairmanship of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee in favor of the more liberal Henry Waxman, a Pelosi disciple. 

Thirdly, it would be highly unlikely for any Republicans to vote for Pelosi but some conservative Republicans have considered a protest vote against Boehner. He presided over two bloodbath elections for Republicans and while no GOPer has emerged as a strong enough alternative to be the minority leader, some might vote for Dingell as a clear statement of disapproval of Boehner.

Forging a coalition of conservative House Republicans with moderate Democrats could hold some potential to block Pelosi from the speakership, but chances of that scenario remain unlikely.

“That’s not going to happen,” said a senior Democratic aide when asked by FOX News about the odds of Pelosi losing the speakership on Tuesday.

Still, several GOP sources indicate that while no effort has been organized to draft Dingell, they expected the Michigan Democrat to score some votes.

Historically, only a couple of votes have deviated from each party’s candidate during each new session’s speaker tally, in part because those who vote against their party’s candidate are often remembered by loyalists when a favor is needed down the road. The vote is by roll call.

When the Democrats were in the minority and Pelosi was the Democratic leader, Rep. Gene Taylor of Michigan made a practice of casting his vote for Democratic Rep. Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania. Taylor did vote for Pelosi as speaker in 2007.

When the full House votes for speaker, a reading clerk calls the names of each lawmaker. Lawmakers respond orally with the name of their preference. Some lawmakers opt instead to vote “present.”

Ironically, the new speaker is traditionally sworn-in by the most-senior member of the House, in this case, Dingell.

Thousands across Middle East protest Gaza attack

January 5, 2009

Thousands protesting Israel’s ground offensive on Gaza converged Sunday in Beirut and Istanbul as the leaders of the only two Mideast Arab nations to sign peace treaties with Israel demanded an end to the attack.

In Yemen, security officials said anti-Israel protesters attacked several Jewish homes in the northern province of Omran, smashing windows and pelting them with rocks. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media, said at least one Jewish resident was injured among the tiny minority community.

By BASSEM MROUE, Associated Press Writer

Lebanese police used water hoses to try to push about 250 demonstrators away from the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon’s capital. When that failed, they fired tear gas, Lebanese security officials said. A second Beirut protest — a sit-in outside the U.N. building — drew thousands of supporters of Hamas and Lebanon’s Islamic Group.

In Turkey, more than 5,000 people held an anti-Israel rally in Istanbul, waving Palestinian flags and burning effigies of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President George W. Bush. Also in Istanbul, club-wielding police broke up a small demonstration by protesters who hurled eggs at the Israeli Consulate, the private Dogan news agency reported. There were no reports of arrests or injuries.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090105/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_mid
east_israel_palestinians;_ylt=AqTfoooWVJlplVIKJ8aT1_BvaA8F

With Strikes, China’s New Middle Class Vents Anger

December 18, 2008

When 9,000 of Shin Guoqing’s fellow taxi drivers went on strike early last month, he felt he had to join them.

Soaring inflation had undermined what his $300-a-month income could buy for his family, and Shin said he was frustrated that the government had done nothing to help. “After running around the whole day, you have only a few renminbi for it,” he said, referring to China’s currency. “You don’t feel good about your life.”

By Ariana Eunjung Cha
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, December 17, 2008; Page A01

China's former president Jiang Zemin (R) gestures to president ... 
China’s former president Jiang Zemin (R) gestures to president Hu Jintao after a celebration to mark the 30th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing December 18, 2008.  China is using the celebration, in part, to mask deep social issues and protests.(Jason Lee/Reuters)

For two days, the drivers held this Sichuan province metropolis of 31 million people under siege, blocking roads and smashing cars. The Communist Party quickly stopped the violence by promising to address the drivers’ demands for easier access to fuel and better working conditions.

From the far western industrial county of Yongdeng to the southern resort city of Sanya and the commercial center of Guangzhou, members of China’s upwardly mobile working class — taxi drivers, teachers, factory workers and even auxiliary police officers — have mounted protests since the Chongqing strike, refusing to work until their demands were met.

Local taxi drivers scuffle with police during a protest in Guangzhou, ... 
Local taxi drivers scuffle with police during a protest in Guangzhou, Guangdong province November 24, 2008.
Photo: Reuters, China

China’s government has long feared the rise of labor movements, banning unauthorized unions and arresting those who speak out for workers’ rights. The strikes, driven in part by China’s economic downturn, have caught officials off guard.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content
/article/2008/12/16/AR2008121602851.html

Putin and Medvedev Face Trouble: More Authoritarian Control Due From Kremlin?

December 16, 2008

Putin and Medvedev are in trouble – and the result may be the return of the Kremlin’s authoritarian streak…

By James Marson
The Guardian (UK)

Vladimir Putin’s power and popularity in Russia was built on a simple political model: a large carrot and a large stick. The carrot was Russia’s consumption boom fuelled by oil revenues. The large stick was his centralised, authoritarian control over political life, from the quashing of other political voices to the control of the media, which has painted an excessively rosy picture of the country, linking Putin with all the successes and blaming the west or Yeltsin’s so-called democracy for all the problems.

These two factors came together to destroy politics in Russia. No one was interested in options other than Putin’s plan, as people could see on the TV and feel in their pockets what a good job he was doing. Putin didn’t even have to crush all voices of dissent – there are a small number of magazines and newspapers that have critical coverage of the authorities, but hardly anyone reads them. Nor did anyone pay much attention when other voices were crushed. Why rock the boat when it’s sailing along so nicely?

But the crisis is hurting Russia, and threatening this political model. The country’s foreign currency reserves have dropped by a quarter, GDP growth is slowing and there is talk of a budget deficit next year. According to a recent poll, 20% of the working population have been laid off, faced cuts in their salaries or delays in getting paid during the crisis. The carrot is fast disappearing.

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev (L) and Prime Minister Vladimir ... 
Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev (L) and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meet at the presidential residence Gorki outside Moscow, earlier this year. (RIA Novosti/Kremlin/Dmitry Astakhov/Reuters)

The stick is also beginning to look increasingly flimsy. Control of TV coverage is all well and good when what is shown bears semblance to reality. But it’s hard to play down the present crisis, although the Kremlin is doing its best by heaping criticism on the US, while blacklisting certain words, such as “crisis” and “collapse,” from coverage about Russia. But is it possible to believe there is no crisis when your friend loses their job, your salary is cut and your neighbour’s home is repossessed?

The crisis threatens to reveal the glaring failure of Putin’s reign to take advantage of strong economic growth and relative stability to push forward with modernisation and reform. While Putin’s “power vertical” allowed him to take credit for the country’s economic progress in the last few years, the situation is now reversed. As the Kremlin is the only political and economic decision-maker in the country, the blame for the problems could begin to fall on the same man as the praise did.

It is not clear how society will react to the consequences of the crisis. How will the newly wealthy middle class react to losing their jobs, cars and foreign holidays? Will it encourage them to push for economic and political reform? Social and political scientist Yevgeny Gontmakher caused a stir with a recent article in the respected daily Vedomosti, in which he imagined a scenario he called Novocherkassk-2009. (Novocherkassk is the city where protests against food price rises led to a massacre in 1962.) Gontmakher’s scenario begins with the shutting down of a large local factory, which leads to protests that the local authorities are unable to deal with. Moscow – Russia’s only real decision maker in the “power vertical” – is forced to make a decision: negotiate or use force? As a result of the article, Vedomosti was censured by the Federation on the Supervision of Communications and Mass Media for publishing material that may be interpreted as inciting extremist acts. “Extremism” is the Kremlin’s word for any kind of protest or opposition.

An indication that politics may be returning came from an interesting recent spat between president Dmitry Medvedev and Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov, a leading member of Putin’s United Russia party. Luzhkov recently called for the return of direct gubernatorial elections (under Putin, regional governors were appointed). He was on solid ground, given that a recent survey revealed 63% of Russians are in favour of returning to a system of elections.

Medvedev’s response was to say that anyone who wants to see elections return can tender his resignation.

The censuring of Luzhkov and Vedomosti demonstrates the inflexibility of Putin’s political model and gives us an idea of what to expect in the next few months. There is no space for any voice other than the Kremlin’s. Any differing opinions or protests will be swiftly shut down. No one knows how long the crisis is going to continue or how bad it’s going to get. But the messier things get, the more Putin and Medvedev risk being left with a heavy reliance on the uglier side of their political model: less carrot means more stick.

Read the rest:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/200
8/dec/11/russia-dmitri-medvedev

Human Rights? China Has A Problem the UN Ignores

December 10, 2008

China is to Human Rights what Iran’s President Ahmadinejad is to world peace….

By Don Feder
The Washington Times

With much self-congratulatory back-slapping today, Dec. 10, the United Nations will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The Declaration is a noble document to which many U.N. members pay lip-service, and routinely violate.

In the aftermath of World War II – with memories of genocide and other atrocities still fresh – the delegates from 48 nations who gathered in Paris in 1948 were anxious to affirm the universality of human rights.

File photo shows a girl waving a flag in front Mao's Memorial ...

Thus, the UDHR’s preamble affirms that “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”

It goes on to affirm: “the right to life, liberty and security of person,” freedom from cruel or degrading punishment, freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, the right to a fair hearing by an “independent and impartial tribunal,” freedom of conscience and expression, freedom of religion, and the right to protest.

The document also proclaims “the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government” – said will expressed in “periodic and genuine elections.”

Recruits for the People's Liberation Army attend a ceremony ...
 Recruits for the People’s Liberation Army attend a ceremony before they head off to start their service, at a square in Taiyuan, Shanxi province December 10, 2008. REUTERS/
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While all this looks great on paper, the operation of the United Nations makes a mockery of UDHR. Nowhere is this more starkly revealed than in its treatment of China and Taiwan. These neighbors across the Taiwan Straits provide their own vivid contrast in the area of human rights.

After two decades of political reform, Taiwan is one of the freest countries in Asia. The first multiparty legislative elections occurred in 1991-92. Since 1996, Taiwan has had four presidential elections and two orderly transfers of power between the major parties.

Its people enjoy freedom of expression and worship, the right to fair trial by an independent judiciary, freedom of the press, the right to peacefully protest and freedom from arbitrary arrest, to the same degree as citizens of the more mature democracies.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008
/dec/10/double-standards-on-china/