Category: Europe


Though the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991 may have been regarded as a positive event by Western historians and ideologues, a victory for and validation of liberal democracy, its impact on the lives of Russian people was devastating.

In her superb book – The Shock Doctrine (2007) – Canadian writer and journalist, Naomi Klein, sets out in forensic detail the way in which the Russia that emerged from the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s was used as a laboratory by American free market think-tanks, gurus, and economists. They descended on the country while it was still reeling from the shock of the implosion with the objective of setting up a pure market economy shorn of any and all state intervention, wherein the market would decide who worked and who did not, who could heat themselves and who could not, who ate and who starved – ultimately who lived and who died.

The record shows that many did starve, did go cold, and did indeed die. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-uT – Michael’s Blog

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I’m just an ordinary middle-aged Londoner.

I work in an office. I go to football. I like eating out. I enjoy the arts. I am a proud family man. I give up time for charity work. I try to be a decent contributing member of society. I pay my taxes honestly. But there appears to be something that sets me and my kind apart.

At park gates in East London a friend of mine gets told to f**k off for photographing a flag. At a pub in Bath my wife gets called scum when she mentions her background.  In a student hall in Manchester a friend’s son is asked to leave as the specially prepared food he chose to eat is not permitted because it carries a label written in a language used by a country that is “banned” by the student union. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-tW – Michael’s Blog

The drums for war are being loudly beaten in Washington, European capitals, and the presstitute Western media. A headline in the Asia Times is “NATO Is Desperate For War.” This time the target is Russia, a major nuclear power.

The deadly consequences of such a war would extend beyond Russia, Europe, and the US to the entire world. The Western use of lies to demonize Russia endangers life on earth and reveals the West to be both reckless and irresponsible. Yet, few voices are raised against this recklessness and irresponsibility. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-tQ – Michael’s Blog

Perhaps you’ve encountered the well-publicized idea that Chernobyl, the world’s worst nuclear disaster of 1986, has become a kind of ‘wildlife haven’ as a result of its abandonment by humans.

So what of Fukushima Daiichi, Japan’s nuclear collapse of 2011—might we expect a happy menagerie there, too? Not so much, according to a slew of new papers out in the Journal of Heredity. And you may want to rethink Chernobyl-as-Eden, too. [Read more]

 

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http://wp.me/p4sUqu-tD – Michael’s Blog

Which President to believe on Ukraine: Obama or Putin? Which top diplomat: Kerry or Lavrov? Which country is more to be trusted: USA or Russia?

For the first half of my adult life, “USA” was the instinctive answer — one that seemed undergirded by real-life evidence, not simply blind patriotism. Now, white hats and black hats have merged into a drab gray; in fact, at times the hats seem to have switched heads, as inconvenient reality shatters instincts and preconceptions. And, as Aldous Huxley once put it, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad.”

To cite a small but telling example, is it really being “sanctimonious,” as President Barack Obama would have us believe, to think that those who ordered and implemented torture in our name should be held accountable? It was not always thus. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-tB – Michael’s Blog

The response of the US and UK governments to the latest nightmarish crisis in Iraq is an incoherent mess. The two administrations are in agonised doubt about what to do and what they have the space to do given their respective domestic political contexts.

In an illuminating interview with the New York Times at the weekend President Obama outlined more explicitly than before his approach to foreign policy, adopting principles far removed from those that determined the policies of the wayward Bush regime. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-t6 – Michael’s Blog

The following interview was conducted for Truthout with Daniel Grigor’ev, a social researcher at the Moscow-based Institute for Globalization Studies and Social Movements and graduate of Moscow State University. Among his academic duties, Grigor’ev teaches courses in social and political engagement to activists from eastern Ukraine who attend the Institute’s school of political administration.

Roger Annis: Can you describe the origin of the “Maidan” protest movement that arose last year in central and western Ukraine? What was its social base and program? [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-sU – Michael’s Blog

BRITAIN’S armed forces are used to being under attack. Scarcely a year has passed since the second world war when they have not been engaged in operations overseas of one kind or another. They are also used to feuding with the Treasury over money. But over the past decade they have increasingly faced a foe of a different kind. Arising from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, an unprecedented number of cases have been brought against the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in British courts under human-rights laws. Senior officers fear these could dent military efficiency.

So far there have been two public inquiries, more than 200 judicial reviews and more than 1,000 damages claims made against the MoD on human-rights grounds. The cost of these legal challenges so far is around £85m ($145m), over half of which has gone on inquiries into the killings of Baha Mousa and Al-Sweady by British troops in Iraq in 2003 and 2004. The bill could rise substantially. Other cases are still winding their way through the courts, and lawyers say that there is a stack of other claims yet to be considered. In May the International Criminal Court, responding to a complaint by Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers, announced that it was launching a preliminary examination of 60 alleged cases of unlawful killing and 170 of mistreatment of Iraqis by British troops. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-su – Michael’s Blog

The moment facing the Trans-Pacific Partnership and its sibling the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (known as ‘TAFTA’) and the future approach to trade is reaching a critical stage. The TPP and TAFTA are attempts to get past the failed World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations, but like the WTO, these new agreements are meeting significant opposition and obstacles. We are poised to stop these attempts to rig the international economy in favor of multinational corporations and move to a new model of trade that respects the rights of people and nature, but it will take a coordinated effort. We must be prepared for moves to thwart that effort and organize to avoid them.

The TPP and TAFTA represent a new era of deception and back-room dealing to pass laws that have nothing to do with trade, but that hand even greater power to multinational corporations to profit from everything no matter the consequences for the health of people and the planet. For the first time, the text of the agreements has been classified and they are being negotiated in secret with hundreds of corporate advisers and minimal involvement by Congress. In order to complete the agreements without transparency and public input, the President has asked Congress to grant him the authority to sign them, ‘Fast Track,’ a form of Trade Promotion Authority. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-rD – Michael’s Blog

Under the shade of a giant oak tree, Lena, 37, wondered why she and her family left Luhansk.

“Why did we finally leave?” repeated Lena with incredulity, before listing off all that had happened.

After the referendum in May, which attempted to legitimise the self-styled Luhansk People’s Republic, Lena and her husband thought things would quiet down. After all, Ukraine’s pro-Russian separatists were just a ragtag group of bandits, they reasoned.

But in June, as Ukraine transitioned into a state of crisis, the sound of shooting became all to familiar. Soon, more than 2,600 people had left the Donetsk and Luhansk regions escaping the violence. Around this time, Lena’s eldest son, Danil, started a modest bullet casing collection. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-s0 – Michael’s Blog

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