A.Loewenstein Online Newsletter

When rascism is part of the Australian mainstream
Posted: 16 Feb 2011 02:45 PM PST


The opposition immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, urged the shadow cabinet to capitalise on the electorate’s growing concerns about ”Muslim immigration”, “Muslims in Australia” and the “inability” of Muslim migrants to integrate.
Mr Morrison’s suggestion was made at a meeting in December at which ministers were asked to bring three ideas for issues on which the Coalition should concentrate its political attack during this parliamentary term.
The Herald has learnt several colleagues, including the deputy leader, Julie Bishop, and the former immigration minister Philip Ruddock, strongly disagreed with the suggestion, pointing out that the Coalition had long supported a non-discriminatory immigration policy and saying it was not an issue that should be pursued. 
But after Mr Morrison’s comments this week on the cost of asylum-seeker funerals and his role in the controversial decision to cut a Howard government program to fund schools in Indonesia, colleagues are privately questioning whether he is trying to pursue an anti-Muslim political strategy unilaterally.

Because the Middle East needs so much more US involvement
Posted: 16 Feb 2011 04:50 AM PST

Just what the Middle East needs; more meddling in its affairs, because the current state of the region shows a wonderfully happy place.Only in America could “stability” be defined as backing Zionist occupation and Arab dictatorships:

There’s a raging debate on Capitol Hill surrounding huge cuts to foreign aid funding proposed in the House Republicans’ latest spending bill. But several senators are looking to add a generous foreign aid package for Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and other Middle Eastern countries when the bill comes over from the House.
“A [continuing resolution] that had full year funding for the troops plus an Egypt, Israel, and Middle East stability package of full year funding would send the right signal from the United States,” Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) told The Cable in an exclusive interview.
The current version of the continuing resolution, which is needed to keep the government running past March 4, is being debated in the House now. It proposes significant cuts in the State Department and foreign assistance budgets below what the president requested for fiscal 2011, which began last October.
Kirk said several senators on both sides of the aisle supported the new Middle East Stability funding package, which would fully fund foreign aid accounts for a host of countries in the region at the level requested by the president and pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well.
“There’s not a need to fund the full foreign assistance program but there is a need for Egypt, Israel, and Jordan related programs to receive full funding for fiscal 2011 right now. This is being discussed and I strongly support it,” Kirk said.
Back in the House, there is plenty of support for funding Israel aid, which totals about $3 billion per year, but some Republicans are looking to restrict aid to other Middle East countries, such as Egypt. House Foreign Affairs ChairwomanIleana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) has argued that further funding should be withheld from Egypt unless they exclude Islamist groups such as the the Muslim Brotherhood, from participating in the new government.
Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told The Cable in an exclusive interview that new funding for Egypt was needed to bolster secular and moderate political groups that have been marginalized over the past decades under the old Egyptian regime.
Berman supports increased funding for U.S.-based organizations that promote civil society in Egypt, such as the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
“We need to educate [moderate Egyptian political groups] on how to communicate, how to build a political party, how to organize. There’s a way to do that without choosing who you want but giving the secular parties some skills and some resources to get going,” Berman said.
Berman said that increased aid to Egypt now should not be held up due to concerns about the Muslim Brotherhood, which he argued is not going to be particularly interested in NDI or IRI programs anyway.
“America can’t decide who participates, we shouldn’t, and to the extent we try to too clumsily, we are going to hurt the cause we all share,” Berman said. “Mubarak is the one who drew the line, ‘it’s either me or the Muslim Brotherhood.’ Our job is to create an alternative.”
If groups have a chance to organize, the vast majority of the Egyptian population will not be receptive to the Muslim Brotherhood’s agenda, Berman said. That doesn’t mean, however, that he takes the threat posed by Islamist groups in Egypt lightly.
“Am I concerned about the Muslim Brotherhood? You betcha,” he said.


Hillary loves the kind of speech written by her speech-writers
Posted: 16 Feb 2011 04:21 AM PST

Does anybody take America seriously over its alleged free speech wishes?

The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, praised the role of social networks such as Twitter in promoting freedom – at the same time as the US government was in court seeking to invade the privacy of Twitter users.
Lawyers for civil rights organisations appeared before a judge in Alexandria, Virginia, battling against a US government order to disclose the details of private Twitter accounts in the WikiLeaks row, including that of the Icelandic MP Birgitta Jonsdottir, below.
The move against Twitter has turned into a constitutional clash over the protection of individual rights to privacy in the digital age.
Clinton, in a speech in Washington, cited the positive role that Twitter, Facebook and other social networks played in uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. In a stirring defence of the internet, she spoke of the “freedom to connect”.
The irony of the Clinton speech coming on the day of the court case was not lost on the constitutional lawyers battling against the government in Alexandria. The lawyers also cited the Tunisian and Egyptian examples. Aden Fine, who represents the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the leading civil rights groups in the country, said: “It is very alarming that the government is trying to get this information about individuals’ communications. But, also, above all, they should not be able to do this in secret.”


Bradley Manning is the hero
Posted: 15 Feb 2011 11:15 PM PST

A fine and detailed investigation by ABC TV’s 4 Corners program this week on the case of Bradley Manning, the alleged leaker to Wikileaks:


Evidence for prosecution that Australian government lacks humanity over refugees
Posted: 15 Feb 2011 09:58 PM PST

Read on.


Who was behind the Egyptian revolution?
Posted: 15 Feb 2011 09:52 PM PST

Stunning Al-Jazeera documentary:


Egypt’s internet kill switch; it will be used again and elsewhere
Posted: 15 Feb 2011 06:47 PM PST

Internet users and activists in repressive regimes need to be extra careful, protecting themselves from prying state eyes:

Epitaphs for the Mubarak government all note that the mobilizing power of the Internet was one of the Egyptian opposition’s most potent weapons. But quickly lost in the swirl of revolution was the government’s ferocious counterattack, a dark achievement that many had thought impossible in the age of global connectedness. In a span of minutes just after midnight on Jan. 28, a technologically advanced, densely wired country with more than 20 million people online was essentially severed from the global Internet.
The blackout was lifted after just five days, and it did not save President Hosni Mubarak. But it has mesmerized the worldwide technical community and raised concerns that with unrest coursing through the Middle East, other autocratic governments — many of them already known to interfere with and filter specific Web sites and e-mails — may also possess what is essentially a kill switch for the Internet.
Because the Internet’s legendary robustness and ability to route around blockages are part of its basic design, even the world’s most renowned network and telecommunications engineers have been perplexed that the Mubarak government succeeded in pulling the maneuver off.
But now, as Egyptian engineers begin to assess fragmentary evidence and their own knowledge of the Egyptian Internet’s construction, they are beginning to understand what, in effect, hit them. Interviews with many of those engineers, as well as an examination of data collected around the world during the blackout, indicate that the government exploited a devastating combination of vulnerabilities in the national infrastructure.
For all the Internet’s vaunted connectivity, the Egyptian government commanded powerful instruments of control: it owns the pipelines that carry information across the country and out into the world.
Internet experts say similar arrangements are more common in authoritarian countries than is generally recognized. In Syria, for example, the Syrian Telecommunications Establishment dominates the infrastructure, and the bulk of the international traffic flows through a single pipeline to Cyprus. Jordan, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries have the same sort of dominant, state-controlled carrier.


Washington loathes Wikileaks; Arabs love it
Posted: 15 Feb 2011 06:43 PM PST

Hard to determine the real accuracy of such a poll but fascinating nonetheless:

Six out of ten Arabs believe that the world is better off with Wikileaks and nearly three quarters would like to see the whistle-blowing website publish more on the Arab world.
Support for Wikileaks and a demand for greater transparency emerged from a wide-ranging Doha Debate poll that surveyed the views of Arabs in 17 Gulf, North Africa and Levant countries, including Egypt and Tunisia. Fieldwork was conducted between the 1st and 6th of February 2011 and included over 1000 respondents.
The results closely mirror the results at a public forum in Qatar where 74 percent of the audience at the recent Doha Debate carried the motion ‘This House believes the world is better off with Wikileaks’.
In the aftermath of the fall of the Ben Ali regime Tunisia, nearly 60 percent of respondents believe Wikileaks played a part in the events in Tunisia and the demonstrations in other Arab countries.
More than 60 percent believe that Wikileaks will change the way governments behave.
55 percent of Arabs revealed in the poll that they believe little to nothing of what their governments tell them.
This figure is highest in North Africa where 65 percent of citizens believe little to nothing of government information.
Half of those surveyed want full access to information and transparency.
Despite the support for WikiLeaks, more than half of those interviewed believed the materials released are not 100 percent accurate and truthful. Additionally, an equal number were unsure of whether WikiLeaks has a political agenda or not.


Young Iranians are looking for a new revolution?
Posted: 15 Feb 2011 05:15 PM PST

My Iranian friend, Bozorgmehr Sharafedin, who currently works in London for BBC Persian and featured in my book The Blogging Revolution when we were together in Iran in 2007, writes that this week’s mass protests across the Islamic Republic signal a shift in focus of the opposition;

It is clear that Monday’s demonstrations in Iran came as a big surprise to both the government and the leaders of the opposition Green Movement.
The fact that people were willing to come out onto the streets in defiance of the security forces showed just how much anger there still was against the government among some sections of the population.
It also underlined the emptiness of the government’s claims that the Green Movement was a spent force.
Since the brutal suppression of the protests triggered by the disputed June 2009 presidential election, the authorities have maintained the line that there is no powerful opposition movement in Iran.
As Monday’s protests were unfolding across the country – and opposition websites were buzzing with news from the streets – state media were continuing to report that all was quiet.

Like their counterparts in Cairo and Tunis, the opposition supporters who have been out on the streets of Tehran this week are overwhelmingly members of the Facebook generation.

Footage of the protests in Tehran was captured on mobile phones
But while the protestors in Egypt had both their own military and the US administration behind them, this is not the case in Iran.
Continue reading the main story
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By isolating the Green Movement’s leaders from its young support base, the government might paradoxically have pushed the opposition onto a much more radical course”
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The powerful Revolutionary Guards are leading the fight against any dissent against the government.
And expressions of support from President Barack Obama will allow the government to accuse the opposition of being “traitors who align themselves with Israel” and suppress them.
The renewed opposition protests this week have given Green Movement supporters a new sense of hope, but it is clear that the movement is still far from bringing about the kind of fundamental changes which we have seen in Egypt or Tunisia.
However, some observers both inside and outside Iran have noted that the opposition is beginning to change.
Many of the slogans being chanted by protesters on Monday were aimed against the very top figure in the Iranian establishment – Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Some were burning pictures of him and even calling for his death – something which would have been unthinkable before the 2009 election.
By isolating the Green Movement’s leaders from its young support base, the government might paradoxically have pushed the opposition onto a much more radical course.
While Mr Mousavi and Mr Karroubi are still seeking changes within the current system, the increasing anger that was evident on the streets this week shows that some opposition supporters may no longer be satisfied by “reform” and now seek a “revolution”.


Is anybody in Australia being targeted for backing Wikileaks?
Posted: 15 Feb 2011 04:09 PM PST

Visit msnbc.com for breaking newsworld news, and news about the economy
More here from one of those targeted by some of America’s leading corporate and legal outfits, Salon’s Glenn Greenwald.

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