10/19/2014 archive

AC Meetup: In Our Hearts & on the Ground: International Solidarity with the Democrats of Rojava

The most compelling socialist message is how we live our lives. In many places, such as the so-called “free” U.S., repression against socialists often effectively prevents us from coming out of the closet. We know each other by pseudonyms if at all. The credit to our cause for much of our efforts may be lost and actions misunderstood as advancement of one volunteer cause or another, mere do-goodism–not as revolutionary acts intended to promote change from the world neoliberal system that causes unjust conditions to begin with.

Hardly woe is me, however; in Syrian Kurdistan, our sisters and brothers die every day for the crime of living out loving egalitarian solidarity. In truth, woe is “we.” To Islamic State (IS) and its direct enablers in the governments of Turkey and oil-generating Middle East “friends of the U.S.”–making the U.S. in essence the biggest enabler of IS— stateless anarcho-socialism in Rojava is a cause worthy of rape and other torture followed by cruel death.

“We” can come to the aid of the deep democrats of Rojava or watch as our comrades are slaughtered. It is as simple as that.

“We” don’t often get second chances. But we have to be ready. Perhaps once in a great while, we can resurrect our bigger global dreams, move beyond despair to critique honestly “our” mistakes, and then do our best as species-beings. And honor the memory and example of selfless people like Tom Page.

It is a sad tale, the Spanish Civil War. One of the saddest aspects is the left’s disintegration in part from harassing and even killing its own. Almost a sick joke, to the delight of the Fascists and their crypto pals around the capitalist world even to this day: recruited by Comintern, thousands of well-intentioned communists walk into a country to fight Fascists, where they find thousands of well-intentioned Trotskyites and many independent socialists like my dear Eric Arthur Blair also have walked, and a huge and highly successful homegrown anarchist experiment in Catalonia with the living spirit of socialism Blair would never forget; and they are told that they are at war not only with the Fascists but also with their leftist brothers and sisters, whom Stalin’s NKVD proceeds to attack, with the end result of a divided-and-conquered left and the fall of the Republic.

Almost eight decades later, the left has never recovered. But we can still dream, and more importantly act mindfully.

Sometimes I become inspired by a diary published in Anti-Capitalist Meetup to try to work out the practical implications. Such is the case with last week’s excellent diary by NY brit expat. At the end, she calls the hard left to take serious material action in support of Syrian Kurdistan, aka, Rojava. There brave leftist women and men are fighting and dying for stateless deep democracy against all odds–IS and the Syrian regime to the front and sides of them and the government of Turkey to the rear. But, they are not really alone. The more we learn about them, and feel our solidarity with them, the more their fight becomes ours, as we are called to defy boundaries and if necessary laws with our love in action.

The Syrian Kurds are cutoff by Turkey from their brothers and sisters who want to come to their aid. Moreover, Turkey has effectively sided with IS. How else to interpret deeds and words?–ISIS fighter in Kobanê: “Erdoğan has helped us a lot”.

[O]n Tuesday October 7, Kurds across Turkey, but especially in the country’s southeastern region, took to the streets in protest against Turkey’s role in the looming massacre of Kobanê. The size and intensity of the protests were unprecedented (at least since the violence of the 1990s), as was the reaction of the state. The opinion shared by most people I have met over the past few days is that this is the beginning of a new Kurdish uprising.

Before anything else, what has to be made absolutely clear is that the Kurds are not protesting to demand a military intervention by Turkey, as has been presented in several mainstream media outlets. Instead, the protesters – Kurds and sympathizers alike – demand an end to Turkey’s covert support for ISIS and for the border at Kobanê to be opened in order to let refugees out, and humanitarian aid and weapons in. Every single person I spoke to in Diyarbakır, Urfa, Suruç and in the villages at the border agree about one thing: ISIS could never have grown as big as it did, and conquer as much of Rojava as it has done, were it not for the material, financial and logistical support the extremists received from the Turkish state.


Before discussing practical ways to aid the Syrian Kurds, a theoretical dynamic is worth noting. As deep democrats eschewing the sound bites fed to us by capitalism, we grapple with root causes in the Middle East and everywhere, which Geminijen did well here just two weeks ago. Carrying this analysis to its logical conclusions, we grapple for ways to supercede national boundaries, which as Rosa Luxemburg observed was necessary to establish lasting justice in a material world controlled by and for capitalists. It is therefore ironic that a one-time “nationalist struggle” in part of Kurdistan would now serve as a teachable moment. The reformation of the dream for Kurdistan from a nation state to a stateless deep democracy is remarkable in and of itself. But as a symbol of the means for unifying the human species, the truth lies right in front of us: WE CAN UNITE AS PEOPLE OF THE WORLD no matter what the nation states, which are largely governmental slaves to neoliberalism, tell us. If Syrian Kurds can work to build socialist autonomy in a Middle Eastern war zone with so many obstacles, we see that we too can be part of a stateless deep democratic whole. But not if we won’t fight for it, and do so mindfully.

Rant of the Week: Jon Stewart – The Last Perspiration of Crist

Democalypse 2014 – The Last Perspiration of Crist

Florida’s gubernatorial race heats up as Governor Rick Scott shows up late to a debate where Democratic candidate Charlie Crist is using a fan to strategically cool his balls

Fan Delays Florida Debate, and Mocking Circulates Online

By Lizette Alvarez, The New York Times

Clinging to caricature, Florida has once again stumbled into political farce. This time by way of a fan, a small black Vornado Air Circulator tucked discreetly – some said improperly – beneath former Gov. Charlie Crist’s lectern during Wednesday’s high-stakes governor’s race debate.

The fan delayed Gov. Rick Scott from taking the stage for seven minutes, in protest of an apparent rule violation. And it led to an almost immediate flurry of social media lampooning, helped along by Mr. Crist who asked, “Are we really going to debate a fan?” [..]

By Thursday, #Fangate, as it was christened on Twitter, had devolved into a predictable campaign montage of finger-pointing, backpedaling, face-saving and, finally, money-raising. That’s because the fan kerfuffle, while seemingly trivial, breezed into the middle of a neck-and-neck race between Mr. Scott and Mr. Crist.

Why we can’t have nice things.

Latest Intellectual Property Chapter Of TPP Agreement Leaked: Would Be A Disaster For Public Health

by Mike Masnick, Tech Dirt

Thu, Oct 16th 2014 7:57am

(W)e’ve discussed the ridiculous and unnecessary secrecy concerning trade agreements negotiated by the USTR. The text of the negotiating documents and even the US’s general position is kept secret until the very end, at which point concerns from the public and innovators no longer matter. Instead, the USTR relies on legacy industry “advisors” who are mostly interested in protecting what they have from disruption, change and innovation. For all the talk of how these agreements are “free trade” agreements, they tend to be anything but. They are focused on protecting a few industries against competition, disruption and innovation. The former US Trade Rep Ron Kirk was unusually honest a few years ago in admitting that these agreements would never get adopted if the public actually knew what was in them. A year ago, Wikileaks helped leak the “Intellectual Property” chapter of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, and now it’s done so again with a more recent version of the chapter. Public Citizen has put together a thorough analysis, highlighting a key change: the US pushing to delay access to affordable treatments for cancer and other diseases, in direct contrast to the pledges of the Obama administration.

the US is pushing strongly for “drug-company friendly” language that undermines existing agreements under TRIPS. In particular, TRIPS has long allowed countries to authorize the production of cheaper generic drugs to deal with significant health problems. Big Pharma — showing how it really feels about public health — has been angry about this for years, and appears to be using TPP as a vehicle to try to undermine it. Of course, they know better than to kill off this provision entirely.

As you may recall, Eli Lilly is currently demanding $500 million from Canada under a corporate sovereignty (“investor state dispute settlement” or ISDS) tribunal, because Canada rejected some of its patents for not being any more effective than existing offerings. For most of us, it seems like a perfectly reasonable reason to reject a patent: your patented drug doesn’t do anything to make it more useful than existing products. Canadian law agrees. But big pharma, like Eli Lilly flips out, because they want to produce new drugs that they can patent as old patents run out, hoping to trick people into wanting the new, much more expensive “new new thing” rather than the old, generic, cheaper offering that is just as (if not more) effective.

A bunch of countries are pushing for the right to cancel a patent if it “is used in a manner determined to be anti-competitive,” but of course, the US and Japan are completely against such a thing. Instead, the US and Japan say it should only be cancelled on grounds that would have been justified for refusing to grant the patent in the first place. In other words, most of the countries recognize that patents can be abused in anti-competitive ways and want to protect against that. The US and Japan, on the other hand, appear to be happy with enabling anti-competitive abuses with patents. That says something.

In the copyright section, it appears that US goes beyond existing US law in asking that “making available” be considered one of the exclusive rights protected under copyright law. Some US courts consider “making available” to be considered part of the “distribution” right, but others have disagreed (saying that the distribution right only covers works that have actually been, you know, distributed). While the legacy entertainment industry likes to pretend this is settled law and merely making available equals distribution, that’s not entirely clear. No matter, in the agreement, the US (and Japan) push to require everyone to include “making available” as an exclusive right for copyright holders.

There was great fanfare a few years ago when the USTR announced that, for the first time ever, it would include some language about fair use to appease those who were concerned about how these agreements only ratcheted up the enforcement side of copyright, and not the public’s rights. Except, when the details finally leaked, we realized the proposed language was actually about limiting fair use by putting a much stricter definition on it. That language is still in the agreement. There still appears to be debate about copyright term length, with at least some pushing to extend the copyright term, because, hey, copyright terms always expand. This comes despite even the head of the Copyright Office agreeing that copyright terms should be reduced.

The US is also looking to definitively kill off any chance of an Aereo-like solution (even if Congress were to pass a law in response to the Supreme Court), by saying that such a service shall not be allowed without authorization of the copyright holder. The agreement would also extend broken anti-circumvention rules that block non-infringing and perfectly reasonable uses. The US is (of course) pushing for more criminal copyright efforts (Vietnam and Malaysia are pushing back). The US, against pretty much everyone else, is also pushing for statutory damages to be a necessary option for civil copyright cases, despite the massive problems we’ve seen with statutory damages in the US and how it enables shady practices like copyright trolling.

There’s a lot of debate about whether or not recording a movie in a theater should be a criminal act. The US, of course, is pushing for what appears to be an extreme definition where any recording should absolutely be seen as criminal. Other countries would like it to be more flexible, leaving it up to the countries to decide if they want to make it criminal. Singapore says the taping should be willful, and Mexico says it should only apply to a significant part of the film. The US doesn’t care. If you accidentally record a bit of a movie? Go to jail.

There’s a lot more in there, but, once again you can clearly see why the US remains so against any transparency at all in these negotiations. Having to actually answer for why they’re only concerned with protecting the rights of the legacy copyright industry and pharmaceutical industries, while paying little to no attention to the impact on public health, knowledge and innovation, would apparently put a damper on their future job prospects.

On This Day In History October 19

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

October 19 is the 292nd day of the year (293rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 73 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1781, hopelessly trapped at Yorktown, Virginia, British General Lord Cornwallis surrenders 8,000 British soldiers and seamen to a larger Franco-American force, effectively bringing an end to the American Revolution.

The Siege of Yorktown or Battle of Yorktown in 1781 was a decisive victory by combined assault of American forces led by General George Washington and French forces led by the Comte de Rochambeau over a British Army commanded by Lieutenant General Lord Cornwallis. It proved to be the last major land battle of the American Revolutionary War  in North America, as the surrender of Cornwallis’s army prompted the British government eventually to negotiate an end to the conflict.

In 1780, 5,500 French soldiers landed in Rhode Island to assist their American allies in operations against British-controlled New York City. Following the arrival of dispatches from France that included the possibility of support from the French West Indies fleet of the Comte de Grasse, Washington and Rochambeau decided to ask de Grasse for assistance either in besieging New York, or in military operations against a British army operating in Virginia. On the advice of Rochambeau, de Grasse informed them of his intent to sail to the Chesapeake Bay, where Cornwallis had taken command of the army. Cornwallis, at first given confusing orders by his superior officer, Henry Clinton, was eventually ordered to make a defensible deep-water port, which he began to do at Yorktown, Virginia. Cornwallis‘s movements in Virginia were shadowed by a Continental Army force led by the Marquis de Lafayette.

The French and American armies united north of New York City during the summer of 1781. When word of de Grasse‘s decision arrived, the combined armies began moving south toward Virginia, engaging in tactics of deception to lead the British to believe a siege of New York was planned. De Grasse sailed from the West Indies and arrived at the Chesapeake Bay at the end of August, bringing additional troops and providing a naval blockade of Yorktown. He was transporting 500,000 silver pesos collected from the citizens of Havana, Cuba, to fund supplies for the siege and payroll for the Continental Army. While in Santo Domingo, de Grasse met with Francisco Saavedra de Sangronis, an agent of Carlos III of Spain. De Grasse had planned to leave several of his warships in Santo Domingo. Saavedra promised the assistance of the Spanish navy to protect the French merchant fleet, enabling de Grasse to sail north with all of his warships. In the beginning of September, he defeated a British fleet led by Sir Thomas Graves that came to relieve Cornwallis at the Battle of the Chesapeake. As a result of this victory, de Grasse blocked any escape by sea for Cornwallis. By late September Washington and Rochambeau arrived, and the army and naval forces completely surrounded Cornwallis.

After initial preparations, the Americans and French built their first parallel and began the bombardment. With the British defense weakened, Washington on October 14, 1781 sent two columns to attack the last major remaining British outer defenses. A French column took redoubt #9 and an American column redoubt #10. With these defenses taken, the allies were able to finish their second parallel. With the American artillery closer and more intense than ever, the British situation began to deteriorate rapidly and Cornwallis asked for capitulation terms on the 17th. After two days of negotiation, the surrender ceremony took place on the 19th, with Cornwallis being absent since he claimed to be ill. With the capture of over 8,000 British soldiers, negotiations between the United States and Great Britain began, resulting in the Treaty of Paris in 1783.

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

The Sunday Talking Heads:

This Week with George Stephanopolis: The guests on Sunday’s “This Week” are Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins; and Archbishop of New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

The roundtable guests areL Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol; Republican strategist Mary Matalin; EMILY’s List president Stephanie Schriock;and television and radio host Tavis Smiley.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Mr. Schieffer’s guests are: Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN); and CBS News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook.

The guests on a special panel discussing Ebola are: Richard Umbdenstock, president of the American Hospital Association; Dr. Robert Wah, president of the American Medical Association; and Jean Ross co-president of National Nurses United.

The guests on his political panel are: Gerald Seib, The Wall Street Journal; Susan Glasser, Politico Magazine; and Michael O’Hanlon, Brookings Institution.

Meet the Press with Chuck Todd: The guests on Sunday’s MTP are: Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases;  Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA); and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO). The rest is anybody’s guess.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: Ms. Crowley’s guest are Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX); and Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Her panel guests are: Kevin Madden; Ana Navarro; LZ Granderson; and Penny Lee.

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Catholic synod: Gay rights groups ‘disappointed’

19 October 2014 Last updated at 01:32


Catholic gay rights groups say they are disappointed after bishops rejected a call for wider acceptance of gay people, which had the Pope’s backing.

The draft report, which also urged more tolerance for divorcees who remarried, failed to win two-thirds backing at the bishops’ synod in Rome.

The final report says only that anti-gay discrimination is “to be avoided”.

Pope Francis has asked for the full draft document, including the rejected paragraphs, to be published.

The synod will meet again in a year’s time in an expanded form.

Sunday’s Headlines:

Ebola deaths in Liberia are ‘far higher than reported’ as officials downplay epidemic

Thai scholar may face jail for insulting king who died in 1605

Foreign interests trying to exploit my fragile nation, says Timor PM Xanana Gusmao

Abbas vows legal measures to prevent Al-Aqsa ‘attacks’

Water crisis squeezes Sao Paulo state

TBC (Skillet Good & Greasy)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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Today in History

Breakfast Tune – Keep That Skillet Good & Greasy

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