Saturday, March 26, 2011

Losing Our Way? Or On The Wrong Track?

Losing Our Way?

The USCIA (same thing) has been "losing (y)our way" -- way, way before the Cuban so-called, self-inflicted 'missile crisis', the self-invented Cold War, Vietnam, Nixon-Carter-Somoza vs. the Sandinistas, Reagan-North-Iran contras, Iraq, Af-Pak and all the way to Libya.

It was Eisenhower (see reference below) who first warned against the potential excesses of the military-industrial complex.

The problem with an individualistic, exceptionalist, triumphalist, adolescent nation-state like the US is that it's always all about the US.
It's me-me-me-what-can-I-get-right-now.

Case in point, made as only Bob Herbert can, i'm going all out, paraphrasing : So here you have Obama with a predictably failed Af-Pak and a rudderless aggression on Libya, cozying up to GE, which fooled working people from Madison to Malibu, by not paying a dime in taxes. Full throttle arrogance on both domestic and foreign policy fronts.

Bob Herbert, nice to see you leaving the NYTimes, (that is, if you really, really must leave) -- fiercely.

[my emphasis added below on Herbert's farewell op-ed March 25, 2011]

see quote about the military-industrial complex, from Eisenhower, scroll below:

NYTimes copyright
Op-Ed Columnist
Losing Our Way

Published: March 25, 2011

So here we are pouring shiploads of cash into yet another war, this time in Libya, while simultaneously demolishing school budgets, closing libraries, laying off teachers and police officers, and generally letting the bottom fall out of the quality of life here at home.

Welcome to America in the second decade of the 21st century. An army of long-term unemployed workers is spread across the land, the human fallout from the Great Recession and long years of misguided economic policies. Optimism is in short supply. The few jobs now being created too often pay a pittance, not nearly enough to pry open the doors to a middle-class standard of living.

Arthur Miller, echoing the poet Archibald MacLeish, liked to say that the essence of America was its promises. That was a long time ago. Limitless greed, unrestrained corporate power and a ferocious addiction to foreign oil have led us to an era of perpetual war and economic decline. Young people today are staring at a future in which they will be less well off than their elders, a reversal of fortune that should send a shudder through everyone.

The U.S. has not just misplaced its priorities. When the most powerful country ever to inhabit the earth finds it so easy to plunge into the horror of warfare but almost impossible to find adequate work for its people or to properly educate its young, it has lost its way entirely.

Nearly 14 million Americans are jobless and the outlook for many of them is grim. Since there is just one job available for every five individuals looking for work, four of the five are out of luck. Instead of a land of opportunity, the U.S. is increasingly becoming a place of limited expectations. A college professor in Washington told me this week that graduates from his program were finding jobs, but they were not making very much money, certainly not enough to think about raising a family.

There is plenty of economic activity in the U.S., and plenty of wealth. But like greedy children, the folks at the top are seizing virtually all the marbles. Income and wealth inequality in the U.S. have reached stages that would make the third world blush. As the Economic Policy Institute has reported, the richest 10 percent of Americans received an unconscionable 100 percent of the average income growth in the years 2000 to 2007, the most recent extended period of economic expansion.

Americans behave as if this is somehow normal or acceptable. It shouldn’t be, and didn’t used to be. Through much of the post-World War II era, income distribution was far more equitable, with the top 10 percent of families accounting for just a third of average income growth, and the bottom 90 percent receiving two-thirds. That seems like ancient history now.

The current maldistribution of wealth is also scandalous. In 2009, the richest 5 percent claimed 63.5 percent of the nation’s wealth. The overwhelming majority, the bottom 80 percent, collectively held just 12.8 percent.

This inequality, in which an enormous segment of the population struggles while the fortunate few ride the gravy train, is a world-class recipe for social unrest. Downward mobility is an ever-shortening fuse leading to profound consequences.

A stark example of the fundamental unfairness that is now so widespread was in The New York Times on Friday under the headline: “G.E.’s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether.” Despite profits of $14.2 billion — $5.1 billion from its operations in the United States — General Electric did not have to pay any U.S. taxes last year.

As The Times’s David Kocieniewski reported, “Its extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore.”

G.E. is the nation’s largest corporation. Its chief executive, Jeffrey Immelt, is the leader of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. You can understand how ordinary workers might look at this cozy corporate-government arrangement and conclude that it is not fully committed to the best interests of working people.

Overwhelming imbalances in wealth and income inevitably result in enormous imbalances of political power. So the corporations and the very wealthy continue to do well. The employment crisis never gets addressed. The wars never end. And nation-building never gets a foothold here at home.

New ideas and new leadership have seldom been more urgently needed.
This is my last column for The New York Times after an exhilarating, nearly 18-year run. I’m off to write a book and expand my efforts on behalf of working people, the poor and others who are struggling in our society. My thanks to all the readers who have been so kind to me over the years. I can be reached going forward at
From Farewell Address Jan 17, 1961
Eisenhower quote:
"This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."..................

Saturday, March 19, 2011

OIL Speaks in Libya and Saudia

Blood for Oil appears to be the militaristic 'roadmap' imposed upon civil societies in Libya and Saudia.

The erstwhile imperial colonial powers France, the US, UK and their despotic, previously colonized Arab Allies are spilling blood from the air in Libya.

The bloody ethno-religious rivalries and geopolitical fault-lines are greased by sweet crude.

Q. What would have happened if all 22 nations of the Arab League plus ALL the voting/ non-permanent voting members of the UN Security Council had endorsed HUMANITARIAN ACTION, instead of Military action in Libya?

Q. Would there be fewer civilian deaths in Libya? Probably.

Q. Would there be better information,about what's actually happening on the ground in Libya from groups like Medicins sans Frontieres, the International Red Cross and Human Rights Watch, rather than from the US State Department and CIA operatives? Probably.

Instead, Saudia, the staunchest US ally (and most reliable oil supplier to the US), Saudia has headed the Arab League decision last Saturday to ask the UN Security Council to vote (which of course is not a UNGA vote) to implement a no-fly zone over Libya. A no-fly zone means war. Call it what it is. War.

The one thing that Saudia's leaders (ditto the US) do not want, is a spillover in Saudia, of civil society pro-freedom protest, from Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain, a pro-freedom protest in Saudia's streets, to overthrow the US-supported House of Saud.
If the House of Saud fell, that would be a game-changer that would probably end the blood-for-oil foreign policy of the US.

Saudia, to show its loyalty to the US (and Saudia's Prophet-for-Profit oil arrangement with the US), Saudia just rushed its own troops into Bahrain against the 'rebels' there, to protect US interests (The Fifth Fleet). That freedom movement in Bahrain does not count, why, because the US Fifth Fleet is stationed in Bahrain to protect Israel against Iran, which is perceived as a threat by Israel, the US and Saudia Arabia.

Clearly the US has its favored despots and its favored rebels. Bahrain's freedom-fighting rebels can be abandoned because the US wants Bahrain's despot to protect its Fifth Fleet. US Democracy, questionable as it is upon closer scrutiny, is not for export.

Q. Why did the Arab League call for military action under the UN banner?

A. Because the Arab feudal despots really, really care about their citizens' human rights to free speech, women's equality, freedom of assembly and street protest to topple their autocratic rulers? We know the answer to that one.

Secretary Clinton acted to safeguard oil delivery to the US from Saudia and at the same time to safeguard the delivery of that oil, by safeguarding the absolute rule of the House of Saud over the people of Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi people can kiss human rights goodbye for at least a few years, unless the Saudi people themselves, especially women, rise up against their own obsolete, rights-denying, male-predominant, misogynist monarchy.

The US is now leading the Arab League/UN Security Council (not to be confused with the UNGA) charge upon Libya, because a limited US military action could also guarantee access to Libyan oil, if Gaddafi is weakened or overthrown. If Gaddafi is overthrown, any government that might follow would owe their power to the US and Saudia. Cozy option.

India and Brazil the world's largest post-colonial sister democracies and rising economic powers abstained against the UN Arab League call for military action. They voted ethically and diplomatically, in favor of Libya's people. How? Brazil and India as postcolonial democracies abstained because they support the principle of sovereignty of states against outside interference, especially the US blood -for-oil policy since the early 1950's, to fuel US superpower dominance.

The US pressured South Africa, which this year, along with India is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council to vote yes.
India abstained and went against the US-Saudia call.

Nigeria, a now-you-see-it-now-you-don't postcolonial democracy, fragile at best because of MNC control over its oil reserves, is the second largest supplier of oil to the US (Shell owns Nigerian Oil). No surprise there with Nigeria's YES vote.

Russia has enough oil of its own to abstain and Russia in any event, maintains a strategic relationship with its neighbor Iran, another potentially big producer of oil, as well as being a nuclear nation-state.

Totalitarian China, not to be confused with democratic Brazil and democratic India, well, China abstained because all of Africa is an expanding market for China's trade and geopolitical influence. China's political objective is superpowerdom which China's self-appointed leaders plan to accomplish without the consent of the governed -- the Great Walled-in Chinese people.

The big losers are the peoples of West Asia and North Africa, with practically no lived experience of civil societies. Tradition and culture yes, civil society and a public sphere, no.

Oil wins, the despots win (I think I'll include the US in that group)for now, in Libya.

Does one have to be a supporter of Gaddafi to say NO to the non-fly zone and favor multinational humanitarian intervention instead?

It is a fact that Gaddafi is using airpower and ground mercenaries against armed 'rebels', whoever they might be. Who armed the 'rebels'?

The question stubbornly remains -- How does enacting a no-fly zone in Libya protect street protest and civil liberties? Gaddafi has forces on the ground, so why is the EU/Arab League/UN Security Council/US no-fly zone beneficial to (armed) street protesters?

Finally, here's my core analysis in a soundbyte:

Blood-for-Oil War vs. Humanitarian Intervention for Peace and Social Justice.

Chithra Karunakaran

Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
NYTimes copyright
Obama Takes Hard Line With Libya After Shift by Clinton
Published: March 18, 2011
In a Field of Flowers, the Wreckage of War in Libya
Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

Rebel fighters watched burning vehicles belonging to loyalist forces after an air`strike near Benghazi on Sunday.
More Photos »
Published: March 20, 2011
BENGHAZI, Libya — The attack seemed to have come out of clear skies onto a field of wildflowers.
Detritus of War
Interactive Feature
Map of How the Rebellion Is Unfolding in Libya

Qaddafi Pledges ‘Long War’ as Allies Pursue Air Assault on Libya (March 21, 2011)
At Qaddafi Compound, a Human Shield (March 20, 2011)

Littered across the landscape, some 30 miles south of Benghazi, the detritus of the allied airstrikes on Saturday and Sunday morning offered a panorama of destruction: tanks, charred and battered, their turrets blasted clean off, one with a body still caught in its remnants; a small Toyota truck with its roof torn away; a tank transporter still on fire. But it did not end there.

For miles leading south, the roadsides were littered with burned trucks and burned civilian cars. In some places battle tanks had simply been abandoned, intact, as their crews fled. One thing, though, seemed evident: the units closest to Benghazi seemed to have been hit with their cannons and machine guns still pointing toward the rebel capital.

To the south, though, many had been hit as they headed away from the city in a headlong dash for escape on the long road leading to a distant Tripoli.

“They were retreating,” said Col. Abdullah al-Shafi, an officer in the rebel forces, which had clamored desperately for the allied air help that arrived on Saturday. “Soldiers had taken civilians’ cars and fled. They were ditching their fatigues.”

Among it all, across an area the size of four football fields dotted with trees and white and yellow flowers, hundreds of Libyans solemnly picked through the debris on Sunday, gazing at the results of a last battle in Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s assault on Benghazi, the de facto rebel capital.

At one point, the onlookers carefully extricated the body of a soldier from the remnants of a tank, turned to cinder like five more bodies, unrecognizable on the roadside.

From the debris it was not possible to piece together the full details of the final battle, and some questions hung over the carnage: had Libyan insurgents pinned down the loyalist fighters in some places, as some of them claimed in news reports, or was the damage exclusively the result of allied airstrikes?

At least part of the answer was evident overhead, where jets could be seen across the region — some circling nearby, some screaming through on their way to somewhere else. As allied commanders gauged that the Libyan government’s air defenses had been, at the least, severely damaged, it was clear that the air campaign was entering a new phase, where ground targets were being actively hunted by allied attack aircraft.

But some people here said there was still ground fighting, too, farther down the road toward the strategic crossroads town of Ajdabiyah. But those reports could not be immediately confirmed, any more than the precise details of what had happened on the roadside.

From the look of things on Sunday, it was not immediately clear whether the loyalist column, now turned to ashes, had still been advancing or was staging at this place on the highway. Soldiers appeared to have been trying to bulldoze sand into berms on one flank, with the highway on the other.

But given the distance from Benghazi, it was clear that Colonel Qaddafi’s forces had been moving into position, at least to encircle the city or possibly reinforce advance units already there.

“This is all France,” a rebel fighter, Tahir Sassi, told a Reuters correspondent as he surveyed the devastation on Sunday. “Today we came through and saw the road open.”

The monuments to the loyalists’ last maneuver were not the victory so often trumpeted in their propaganda. Empty ammunition boxes lay discarded among the flowers. Armored personnel carriers still smoldered alongside wrecked rocket-launchers. Craters pitted the fields, as if there had been multiple strikes, apparently by the pilots of the French warplanes that took credit for firing the first shots in the international, American-backed effort to contain Colonel Qaddafi’s forces.

In Benghazi itself, the scene of heavy fighting on Saturday as leaders met in Paris to set their imprimatur on the campaign to contain Colonel Qaddafi, the city on seemed quiet on Sunday. The fighting had sent a panicky exodus of fearful Libyans flowing to the east as thousands tried to escape. But on Sunday, hundreds of cars clogged the roads, bearing residents back past makeshift barricades made of refrigerators, a swing set, a set of garish columns — a surreal montage of war.

In the city, a tire repair shop had reopened and a butcher shop, but many remained shuttered. Long lines formed at the gas stations in this oil-rich land.

The military campaign in these parts had once seemed to see-saw as the rebels seeking the ouster of Colonel Qaddafi tried to push west to Tripoli, his stronghold, while loyalist troops sought to push them back east. The air strikes came with the pendulum swinging in the loyalists’ favor, stopping the advance — at least in one field of wildflowers — with the abruptness of firepower concentrated on targets that had not previously needed to fear attack from the skies.

Bloomberg Businessweek copyright
By Glen Carey and Joseph Carroll

Calm in Saudi Arabia Speaks Volumes
Generous benefits and a popular king help stabilize the oil-rich kingdom

By Glen Carey and Joseph Carroll

The contrast between Libya and Saudi Arabia on Feb. 23 couldn't have been more striking. As Qaddafi loyalists fought rebel forces east of Tripoli, oil majors such as Total (TOT) and ENI (E) cut or suspended their Libyan oil production, while the U.S., Britain, and Italy prepared to send ships and planes to evacuate their citizens. On the other side of the Arab world, Saudi King Abdullah returned from three months of medical treatment abroad laden with gifts for his subjects. Abdullah, known as the people's king, announced $36 billion worth of new jobless benefits, education and housing subsidies, and debt write-offs. The government even unveiled a new sports channel.

The world is focused on the tragic events unfolding in Libya, which have alarmed U.S. policy makers and spooked markets into bidding oil above $100 a barrel. Yet a nonevent—the unrest that is not occurring in Saudi Arabia—could prove just as important in determining the future of the region and the world economy.

If Saudi Arabia's people—including a sizable Shiite minority—keep supporting Abdullah's regime, then the country can bring its vast reserves of oil into play to make up for any production lost in Libya or other crisis-crippled states. If instead Shiite unrest spills over from neighboring Bahrain into the Saudi state and puts production at risk, the world will be in a very dangerous place.

Observers like Peter Zeihan, of geopolitical consultants Stratfor, are betting that Saudi Arabia will escape the turmoil. "Odds are the Saudis would hold on because they have much better social control in the form of policing powers, and they are better able to insulate the minority group that might like to see a change from events in the outside world," he says.

It would be unwise to say definitively that Saudi Arabia will emerge unscathed. Yet 86-year-old Abdullah has proven an able ruler. Under him and his influential Oil Minister, Ali Ibrahim al-Naimi, the kingdom has expanded its oil production capacity to about 12 million barrels a day; actual production is about 8.4 million barrels a day. The government has a 35,000-man force just to protect key oil and gas installations. "I don't really see any credible risk to their oil infrastructure," says Jarmo Kotilaine, chief economist at Jeddah-based National Commercial Bank.

The kingdom is also investing in its citizens, including minority Shiites in the oil-producing region of the Eastern Province, through generous social programs. Saudi Aramco, the giant state oil company, has made sure to employ a large number of Shiite workers to give them a stake in its success.

Ordinary Saudis have started to benefit from King Abdullah's educational programs. Yasser Abbass, a 28-year-old Shiite, got full tuition and board while studying for a master's in business administration at a California university. "The government's program took care of most of my expenses during my studies, including tuition, health coverage, and monthly allowance," says Abbass, who returned to the kingdom and got a job as an investment banker in Riyadh.

The kingdom's role as the world's main oil exporter is more critical than ever as Libya, Africa's third-largest oil producer, and Algeria, the continent's fourth, confront popular uprisings. Libya pumps 1.6 million barrels a day, according to data from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, and exports mostly to Europe.

"Saudi Arabia has built up its spare production capacity so it can handle any supply interruption in the market," says Carsten Fritsch, a Frankfurt-based analyst at Commerzbank. "Saudi Arabia can handle it unless there is a combined impact of protests in North Africa and in another large Gulf Cooperation Council oil producer." So far, none of the major Persian Gulf oil producers have seen the kind of political instability that has affected production in Libya.

Saudi Arabia has about 3.5 million barrels of untapped daily production capacity for emergencies, the International Energy Agency says. That's more than double Libya's output. The Saudis would need at least 30 days to bring this capacity online, says Erik Kreil, the U.S. Energy Dept.'s specialist on oil market disruptions. Minister al-Naimi said on Feb. 22 that OPEC is ready to step in to meet a shortage caused by a disruption in shipments from Libya. "Saudi Arabia and OPEC will be ready to meet that shortage, if and when it happens," he said.

Despite al-Naimi's assurances, Brent oil futures, the benchmark price for two-thirds of the world's crude, have climbed 10 percent since Feb. 15—just before Libya began to unravel and passed $108 a barrel for the first time since 2008. Prices will continue to escalate while the Saudis tap their spare capacity and refiners, chemical makers, and speculative traders scramble for their piece of a shrinking global supply, Kreil says.

Oil traders are haunted by the specter of 2002-2003, when political unrest and an oil industry strike in Venezuela interrupted the flow of crude exports from one of the primary suppliers to the U.S. market. While the world waited for the Saudis to deliver on promises of extra crude, oil futures traded in New York surged 51 percent in the span of three months to the highest price since the outbreak of the first Gulf War more than 12 years earlier. A similar runup now in the Brent contract used to price Middle East crude would translate into prices in excess of $160 a barrel. If the Venezuelan experience is any guide, prices from such a spike would not stay high for long. After Saudi supplies began flowing in the spring of 2003, U.S. crude prices tumbled 37 percent in two months.

The difference between 2003 and now is that the current crisis is in the Mideast, where upheaval has proved contagious. Gianna Bern, a former BP (BP) crude trader now at Brookshire Research and Advisory, puts it this way: "The real concern is that if we see these sorts of disturbances spread to Saudi Arabia or Iran, then we're going to see turmoil in energy markets go to another level, an unprecedented level."

All the Arab states that emerged from the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I are vulnerable, Stratfor's Zeihan says, because none have managed a normal transition of political power. Saudi Arabia has been under the thumb of the same family since its establishment. Even if Saudi Arabia avoids unrest this time, it has to continue Abdullah's reforms to prevent an upheaval. Says former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Richard Murphy: The Saudis need to keep creating jobs and more importantly give their citizens "a sense of participation in government."

The bottom line: Saudi Arabia has thus far escaped tumult thanks to tighter market controls and better social programs than its neighbors.

With Peter S. Green and Steve Voss. Carey is a reporter for Bloomberg News. Carroll is a reporter for Bloomberg News.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Akbar's Secular Governance PRE-DATES Indian Constitution.

Akbar's Proud Secular Legacy PRE-DATES India's Constitution. Yes, that is fact.

The Indian Constitution, which appropriately is a composite borrowing from many modern constitutions, could not exist without Akbar Mughal's 16th century legacy of strategic secular governance.

The Indian Constitution, it is true, offers a modern legalistic framework, BUT Akbar pragmatic idealism which included HUMAN RIGHTS, is more inspiring, as LIVED historical experience, for Aam Koshur, every Indian, every subcontinental.
Akbar's proud, strategic, secular, legacy of subcontinental GOVERNANCE forms the critical basis of Kashmir's unity within India.

1586 not 1947 is the modern starting point of Kashmir's integral unity within India.

2 questions for J&K's elected and unelected 'leaders':

Q. Why rely on the deadly and tragic fallout of colonial Brit divide and rule imperial politics, including the post-Mountbatten-era UN Security Council Resolutions, to limit Kashmir's forward-looking future ? Does anybody seriously think that In-Security Council Resolutions, (even when they are in India's favor), can serve as the guiding framework for Kashmir's integrity and future prosperity?
Learn from the failed UN Security Council Resolutions on Palestine.

Q. Why expect homegrown, postcolonial elites, (which include BOTH Hindutva dominant-caste interest, pseudo-nationalists plus the self-serving alpahabet-soup Hurriyat), to offer constructive solutions when we can take the evidence offered by the secular discursive legacy of Akbar?

My critical reading of subcontinental South Asian political and social history points to the greatest Mughal, Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar, as the pioneering architect of India's modern secular diverse nation-making.

Historians and contemporary politicians, including human rights advocates have failed to fully acknowledge the Mughal master of open-court strategic, philosophical, literary and artistic Navratna discourse.

Akbar and his great grandson Dara Shikoh are the authentic, proven modern architects of Kashmir's unique historical integration within the world's most populous and most diverse democracy.

Aam Koshur can justly share the pride of every indigenous ancestor, every Muslim and Hindu, every Sikh and Rajput, in the governance of the third Mughal.

I write this response today, March 09, 2011, as I leave my University, to meet two dedicated, inspiring representatives of the Youth Parliament (YPP) of Pakistan, a meeting arranged by a dear longterm friend at the OIC.
Such is the complex relationship of blood and kinship that is the unfolding destiny of all South Asians, including of course Aam Koshur of the great State of J&K, India's crown, bestowed by Akbar, in 1586.

Dr. Chithra Karunakaran
City University of New York [CUNY]
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
Rising Kashmir copyrighted article (see link)

* yesterday

Ahimsa, Nonviolent Political Resistance -- Where's the G word?

I sent an email letter to Professor Erica Chenoweth of Wesleyan University and cc'd the NYtimes Public Editor re: the prof's NYTimes editorial (see link below my letter).

The following contains later edits of that letter.

Dear Professor Chenoweth,

It's troubling that you would write a piece about nonviolent resistance in the NYTimes without using the G word -- Gandhi.

The impression conveyed is that you somehow came up with the concept.

I think this a typical instance of commodity capitalism as practiced by the US academy. In this instance you claim (albeit by implication and omission) to own ideas of which you are not the author.

Undoubtedly the NYTimes editorial will accrue professional power, prestige, status, money to you. This is unethical.

Nonviolent political resistance, based on ahimsa, was a core tenet, developed by Gandhi, for the struggle to overthrow the colonial Brits in subcontinental South Asia, and that overthrow was finally accomplished in 1947.

Gandhi in turn was partly influenced by Thoreau's concept of civil disobedience (he had no problem acknowledging his debt).
Gandhi in turn influenced Martin Luther King and others.

That's how society works, ideas and practices build on others'. It's not I, I, I, me, me, me.

The concept of ahimsa has its origins in Hindu philosophy, but it had never before Gandhi, been developed as a political strategy. That's Gandhi's invaluable contribution to liberation movements during the 1940 - 1960's throughout the Global South unshackling colonialism. Nobody understood this better than Malcolm X when he drew attention to the impetus behind the Bandung Conference in 1955

I've long avoided taking a direct role in the US academy because of my reservations about commodity capitalism as practiced in particular by social science faculty in the US academy.

Dr. Chithra KarunaKaran
City University of New York [CUNY]
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

NYTimes copyrighted article
see link:

Gaddafi Republicans -- in Wisconsin

Gaddafi Republicans -- in Wisconsin

So now, collective bargaining is out the window.

This Gaddafi Republican crew just doesn't get it.

Like the disoriented Libyan leader, Governor Walker simply chooses not to grasp the predictable consequences of his actions against the masses. AKA workers.

Walker/Koch Brothers does not appear to be competent to grasp the fact that workers (that's who MOST Wisconsinites are, workers) need to talk together and plan together ("collective bargaining") to set priorities in their career-long occupations.
Wisc workers already pay ALL (100%, that's right) of their pension and health insurance. How do they do that? During "collective bargaining" they enter into a CONTRACT (contractual agreements are enforceable in any court, whether you buy a dog or lease a car or teach kindergarten). In such contracts, the employees and the state AGREE, under law, to set aside so much of workers' EARNED wages (not trust accounts from their wealthy parents) for pensions, so much for healthcare, so much for professional development, etc. It's all coming out of workers earned wages. Get it, Walker?
What Walker and his corporate cronies are proposing to engage in, is theft -- stealing a portion of workers' WAGES, to fill a budget deficit caused partly by tax cuts for wealthy businesses who make their money partly by cutting jobs at home and/or sending jobs -- Wisconsin workers' jobs, overseas.

In other words, Doug Schoen of Fox News (see link below), your analysis is seriously flawed -- it's not the workers of Wisconsin, but the Gaddafi Republicans like Walker and crew, who bring the despots of West Asia and North Africa (most supported by the US govt. BTW) to mind.

And, while I'm on the point of your received canonical wisdom --

Middle East?
Middle of What?
East of Where? (A Brit colonial construct, us post-colonialists -- from India to Libya -- don't buy it).

Dr. Chithra KarunaKaran
City University of New York [CUNY]
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
Wisconsin Union Protests Prove the Midwest Is Now America's Middle East

By Doug Schoen

Published March 04, 2011

Chithra KarunaKaran,

Gaddafi is beating up on his own people in Benghazi, about the same time as the Gaddafi Republicans are feeling right at home -- in Wisconsin.
But not for long.

The union-busting tactics of Wisconsin's Republicans led by Governor Walker show a disturbing, anti-people, anti-worker governance strategy.

Scott Walker showed his anti-people stance when he unknowingly took a prank call from a young Buffalo-based journalist, Ian Murphy, editor in chief of the Buffalo Beast, impersonating a major right wing conservative donor, David Koch.

In this 20-minute taped call, which has since gone viral, Walker amply demonstrated that he is primarily interested in furthering the private vested interests of wealthy, radical political ideologues in corporations like Koch Industries, that have poured money into Walker's election campaigns. Walker is clearly opposed to creating and maintaining public services and jobs in the cash-strapped mid-western state.

Wisconsin's union workers have (reluctantly) already agreed to significant givebacks and other concessions.
But in the past 10 days the Gaddafi Republicans, led by Walker/Koch are in serious overreach mode.
Instead of discussion and more negotiations with unions, Governor Walker has literally shut down and shut out any further discussion.

This anti-worker, anti-people, anti-democratic strategy is guaranteed to fail because there's one thing that labor can and will do -- Labor will ORGANIZE.

That is what Labor is all about. Organizing.

Labor will organize and labor will prevent Governor Walker from carrying out his executive agenda. It's happening right now, not only in Wisconsin but in every state, because EVERY state has workers!

The main point here is that Gaddafi Republican leaders are determined to dismantle workers' negotiating rights in Wisconsin.

Walker's diktat is NOT about balancing the budget or growing jobs. Far from it. This is all about taking away working people's rights to negotiate so that workers continue to have and keep their jobs, and grow more jobs, in solidarity with their fellow workers.
This is kinda like saying to me on a personal level(I belong to the Professors' union at my public uni.):

"You can't ask your family what they want, before you go shopping for groceries." That's collective bargaining in your family and mine.

It is this anti-people, anti-worker, anti-democratic strategy that merits my analysis of the governor and his fellow lawmakers as Gaddafi Republicans.
That Walker , in addition, is almost as self-deluding as Gaddafi (my people love me, even though they are clearly showing they don't!)gives strength to my argument.

Dr. Chithra KarunaKaran
City University of New York [CUNY]
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

copyrighted by
Wisconsin Public Workers Agree to GOP's Demands on Wages and Benefits; Republicans Reject Offer Outright

Some pundits continue to buy Scott Walker's spin that the Wisconsin uprising is a response to the governor's efforts to get his state's public employees to shoulder more of the burden for their health-care and pension costs, but the reality is that it's all about the union-busting.

In fact, according to the Milwaukee Business Times, the unions have agreed to all of the GOP's demands on wages and benefits, in exchange for Republicans dropping the provision that would strip them of the right to negotiate in the future.

Although union leaders and Wisconsin Democratic Senators are offering to accept the wage and benefit concessions Gov. Scott Walker is demanding, Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said today a bill taking away collective bargaining rights from public employees is not negotiable.

Democrats and union leaders said they're willing to agree to the parts of Walker's budget repair bill that would double their health insurance contributions and require them to contribute 5.8 percent of their salary to their pensions. However, the union leaders want to keep their collective bargaining rights.

"I have been informed that all state and local public employees – including teachers - have agreed to the financial aspects of Governor Walker's request," Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Waunakee) said. "This includes Walker's requested concessions on public employee health care and pension. In return they ask only that the provisions that deny their right to collectively bargain are removed. This will solve the budget challenge. This is a real opportunity for us to come together and resolve the issue and move on. It is incumbent upon Governor Walker to seriously consider and hopefully accept this offer as soon as possible."

However, Fitzgerald said the terms of the bill are not negotiable, and he called upon Democrats who left the state this week to stall a vote on the bill to return to the Capitol.

Earlier this week, Walker had said his bill was strictly based on the need to cut the budget and was not based on any political agenda.

Reporters who continue to portray this as a fight over wages and benefits are now committing journalistic malpractice.
By Joshua Holland | Sourced from AlterNet
Posted at February 20, 2011, 9:16 am
WiscFacts (adapted by me, from Associated Press article)Facts overshadowed in debate over union bill By SCOTT BAUER and PATRICK CONDON, Associated Press Scott Bauer And Patrick Condon, Associated Press – Sat Feb 26, 4:32 pm ET
AP copyright
Walker says his plan is needed to ease a deficit that is projected to hit $137 million by July and $3.6 billion by mid-2013.
The budget as it stands now is balanced, and Walker is under no legal obligation to make changes.
But by mid-summer, the state could come up short on cash to pay its bills, largely because of a projected $169 million shortfall in its Medicaid program.
Walker's plan comes up with the money for this year by refinancing debt to save $165 million and forcing state employees to pay for half the cost of their pensions and twice their current health care premiums. That is equivalent to an 8 percent pay cut.

Those increases in benefit contributions would raise $30 million by July and $300 million over the next two years.

But the flashpoint is his proposed elimination of collective bargaining rights.

Nearly all state and local government workers would be forbidden from bargaining for any wage increases beyond the rate of inflation.

Walker argues the sweeping step is necessary to balance the budget not only over the next two years but into the future. School districts, cities, counties and other local governments need the flexibility, he says, to deal with more than $1 billion in state aid cuts Walker will announce Tuesday in his two-year budget plan.

Walker has refused even to consider some of the other ways to raise the massive amount of money needed.
He is resolved not to raise taxes — an option used by Democrats who controlled the Legislature when the state faced a deficit that was nearly twice as large as the one Walker inherited. The Democrats also relied heavily on federal stimulus aid, which the state does not have available this time around.
Not raising taxes and not tapping federal aid leaves Walker with few alternatives other than reducing the money the state gives to schools and local governments or reducing Medicaid to the extent allowed under federal law.
Aid to schools and local governments is more than half of the entire state budget. Medical assistance programs are 9 percent, as is funding for the state prison system and money for the University of Wisconsin system.

Walker won't make cuts to the prisons, but he's expected to make deep reductions in higher education.
Walker's bill gives his administration the power to make any changes necessary to Medicaid to save money, regardless of current law and without approval of the Legislature.

Medicaid is a $1.2 billion part of the budget, but even with the freedom the bill gives him, Walker will be hamstrung by federal law that limits how many cost-saving changes states can make without a waiver.

Walker's new health department secretary, Dennis Smith, is a former federal Medicaid official who has advocated that states drop out of the program entirely. That position and others taken by Smith are worrisome to advocates for the poor, disabled and elderly, who are largely the beneficiaries of the program.

Walker has not released details of what he may cut in Medicaid. At least some of the cuts will be contained in his budget coming out Tuesday.
But the key to that plan, according to Walker, is ending collective bargaining rights. Doing that isn't about busting unions, Walker argues, but balancing budgets.
If he's intent on using cuts in state aid to balance the budget, eliminating collective bargaining does go a long way to achieving one of his key goals — giving local communities the ability to deal with the reductions.
With 3,000 units of government in Wisconsin, all in various stages of contractual negotiations, eliminating collective bargaining may be the only way they could quickly deal with the cuts, said Todd Berry, president of the nonpartisan Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.

Walker has also threatened that if the bill doesn't pass, up to 1,500 people may be laid off by July in order to achieve the savings necessary to balance the budget, with another 6,000 layoffs by the middle of 2013, with an equal number on the local level.
That layoff threat is a real possibility if schools are going to see a large cut in aid and have their ability to raise property taxes restricted, Berry said.
"If 80 percent of your budget is personnel, and you're having state and your property tax revenues reduced while your costs are going up, you can't solve your problem without addressing compensation," Berry said.
In that case, "you only have two choices — reduce the number of people or keep the people and reduce the amount of compensation," he said.
Karen Bloczynski, a fourth-grade teacher in Marshfield, said she expects to be laid off under Walker's plan. With 35 years of experience and a $70,000 salary, Bloczynski said she's more expensive than younger colleagues.
Bloczynski said she's sent letters to a local electrician, a furniture store and several restaurants warning them they're likely to feel the effect.
"Teachers spend money in their communities," she said.
Teachers have been a large part of the protests that have enveloped the Capitol for 11 days, including a massive 68,000 person demonstration. The statewide teachers union represents about 39,000 people.
The central part of Walker's argument is that government workers have long escaped painful cuts that those in the private sector have had to bear. That ignores the fact that under Walker's processor, Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, state workers were forced to take furlough days that amounted to a 3 percent pay cut. State employees have also not had a raise for more than two years.
Even so, Walker has portrayed public employees as the "haves" and private workers as the "have nots," saying government workers can afford trims to their salaries and benefits because on average they earn more than private-sector workers.
This is true as a straight average, but several national reports of public versus private pay say it's also misleading.
In a report released in December 2010, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the average state/local government worker earns $40.10 an hour in salary and benefits. The same report found the average private worker earns $27.68 an hour in salary and benefits.
But the report was quick to note that this is not a direct comparison. Government workers tend to be better-educated than their private-sector counterparts, and government jobs are more likely to be professional or managerial as opposed to the many more manufacturing and sales jobs in the private workforce.
In fact, studies that compare salaries and benefits for similar jobs between the public and private sectors show that government workers lag.
An April 2010 report by the Center for State & Local Government Excellence — a nonpartisan, Washington-based group with Republicans and Democrats on its board of directors — found that in 2008, state workers nationwide earned 11 percent less and local workers earned 12 percent less than private workers with comparable education levels.
The same study found that in Wisconsin between 2000 and 2008, total compensation for state and local workers was less than comparable private sector workers.
Jeff McArthur, a sergeant at Black River Correctional Center, estimated under Walker's plan he would lose about $400 a month from his $45,000-a-year salary. The 41-year-old father of three said his family would definitely feel the difference.
"The first things that are going to go are luxury things," McArthur said. "We'll cut back on our cable. We'll cut back on our cell phones. We won't take family trips, stuff like that. We are not rich. We just want to have a good middle class life. We're not looking to be rich. We're just looking to get by."
UPDATE -- WI judge puts restraining order for 2 months on Walker union-busting law.

Yahoo/AP copyright
Wisconsin union rights law on hold for 2 months

Scott Walker AP – Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) answers questions from the media after reading to Anna Greenman's third grade …

Thousands protest anti-union bill in Wisconsin Slideshow:Thousands protest anti-union bill in Wisconsin

By TODD RICHMOND, Associated Press – Fri Apr 1, 9:17 pm ET

MADISON, Wis. – A week ago, Wisconsin Republicans thought they'd won the fight over the state's polarizing union rights bill. They'd weathered massive protests, outfoxed Senate Democrats who fled the state and gotten around a restraining order blocking the law by having an obscure state agency publish it. They even started preparations to pull money from public workers' paychecks.

But the victory was short-lived. A judge ruled Friday that the restraining order will stay in place for at least two months she while considers whether Republicans passed the law illegally. It was the second blow to Republicans in as many days after the same judge declared Thursday that the law hadn't been properly published and wasn't in effect as they claimed.

Republicans now must either wait for the case to wind its way through the courts or pass the law again to get around complaints it wasn't done properly the first time. One GOP leader said Friday he didn't see much point in that.

"We passed the law correctly, legally the first time," Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said in a statement. "Passing the law correctly and legally a second or third time wouldn't change anything. It certainly wouldn't stop another activist judge and (a) room full of lawyers from trying to start this merry-go-round all over again."

The law would force public employees to pay more for their health care and pension benefits, which amounts to an 8 percent pay cut. It also would eliminate their ability to collectively bargain anything except wage increases no higher than inflation.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker has said the law is needed to help schools and local governments deal with cuts in state funding he expects to make to address an estimated $3.6 billion shortfall in the next two-year budget. His spokesman referred questions Friday to state Department of Administration officials, who declined to comment.

Democrats have said the bill is meant to weaken the public employee unions that have been some of their strongest campaign supporters. Its introduction in mid-February set off a month of protests that drew up to 85,000 people to the state Capitol and sent Senate Democrats scurrying to Illinois to block a vote in that chamber.

Republicans eventually got around the Democrats' boycott by removing fiscal provisions from the bill so it could be passed with fewer senators present.

Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi has been considering a lawsuit that claims Republican lawmakers violated the state's opening meetings law when they met to change the bill. The lawsuit filed by Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne says the state's open meetings law requires 24 hours notice of a meeting but Republicans provided barely two. Republican legislative leaders say proper notice was given under Senate rules.

Sumi heard testimony Friday from people who said they heard about the meeting only minutes before it began. They said they arrived to find long lines at the Capitol's entrances and by the time they reached the room where the meeting was held, police wouldn't allow them in.

Rich Judge, chief of staff for Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca, testified that someone dropped off a petition at Barca's office the night of the meeting that was signed by nearly 3,000 people who claimed they had been denied access.

Brian Gleason of Madison testified he reached the Senate parlor, where the committee hearing was being held, about 20 minutes before the meeting was scheduled to begin. He found a crowd of about 150 people and a line of police standing shoulder to shoulder denying access.

"Frankly, I was angry," he said. "At that point, the train going into the Senate parlor was already closed to me."

Sumi gave the attorneys until May 23 to make additional arguments, delaying a decision for nearly two months and possibly longer. Even when she does rule, one side or the other is likely to appeal in an attempt to get the case to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The state has already appealed her restraining order to the high court, but it has not said whether it will hear the case and is under no deadline to do so.

Two other, separate lawsuits also have been filed, which could further drag out the matter.

Anger over the bill also has prompted recall efforts against 16 state senators, including eight from each party. On Friday, Democrats announced they had collected enough signatures for a recall election against one of the Republicans.