Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Charlie Hebdo, the Free Press, and Racism

00 Speak Out Against Racism

_____________________________

How do we put in perspective the international media focus on the massacre of 12 journalists in Paris on 7 January at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, notorious for its racist anti-Muslim caricatures and the lack of media response to the routine, daily racist police murders of black youth in the USA? Why did France ban any protests of the 15 journalists killed amongst the 2,000 deaths in the Israeli assault on Gaza this past summer? Don’t those lives matter? The Charlie Hebdo assassinations strengthen the hand of the state, which uses them in an ideological offensive, even if the state had a role in arming and training the killers. Why do we not mourn other murders, not respect them, not even report them… even the murders of other journalists? A crucial role of the corporate media is to try to shape the perception of which lives matter. Consider the mass outpourings following several different, very public killings in the USA. Hundreds of thousands of youths were in the streets repeatedly in America, confronting the refusal of the state to prosecute killer cops, even when millions saw their murderous crimes on video. Hundreds of thousands of people were in the streets of Paris on 11 January. French, other European, American, and Israeli politicians led the march honouring the slain journalists. Twice, on 27 December and 4 January, thousands of uniformed police from all over the USA converged on New York City for separate funerals of two police officers shot in their patrol car in 20 December. Jet Blue offered free flights to all police traveling nationally to the funeral. The US Vice President, New York State Governor, and the New York City Mayor attended the funerals. They closed off roads in the areas; the put up giant outdoor TV screens.

Not a Free Speech Issue

The French government’s protection of the racist journal Charlie Hebdo had nothing to do with protecting freedom of speech. We must face this deception. In 2012, the same government that protected this vile publication banned any demonstrations, protests, or even public prayers opposing the racist publication. French law allows for the prosecution of “public insults” based on religion, race, ethnicity, or national origin. However, the racist, sexist, bigoted, grossly insulting cartoons in Charlie Hebdo were never once a source of any successful legal action. However, France did ban anyone from even protesting the cartoons that insulted Muslims or the prophet Mohammed. In 2012, as protests swept the Muslim world in response to an anti-Muslim film made in the USA, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls said prefects had orders to prohibit any protest and to crack down if anyone challenged the ban. “There will be strictly no exceptions. Demonstrations will be banned and broken up” (Daily Mail, 21 September 2012). They even banned prayer meetings and street prayers (CNN, 19 September 2012). In the same week, Charlie Hebdo put out an extra run of cartoons featuring a grossly obscene caricature of a naked prophet Mohammed. They gave the magazine extra police protection. Freedom of speech and of the press is hardly sacred in France. It was punishable by a year in prison to even post on the Internet a notice of a demonstration opposing the Israeli onslaught on Palestine during the Israeli 2014 summer offensive on Gaza. France was the only country in the world to bar all demonstrations and protests in any form supporting Palestine during that time. The penalty was one year in jail and 15,000-Euro fine (1.12 million Roubles. 110,000 Renminbi. 1.1 million INR. 17,800 USD. 21,200 CAD. 21,800 AUD. 11,700 UK Pounds). It’s worth noting the double standard… there was no similar crackdown against the current rightwing fascist demonstrations against immigrants.

Role of Nazi Caricature

Charlie Hebdo serves a very important purpose for French imperialism; that’s why they protect its virulent racism, at the very time that they prohibit protests against it. Charlie Hebdo may have run cartoons to ridicule the powerful 40 years ago when it claimed to be left-wing, irreverent, and nonconformist. However, there’s a big difference between satire ridiculing the powerful… a French tradition going back to Voltaire… and the current imagery promoting fear and loathing of the oppressed and powerless. The latter is rightwing and fascist in character. In this period, when Muslims face increasing extreme rightwing attacks and fascist mobilisations grow in Europe, Charlie Hebdo functions like the Nazi publication Der Stürmer with its vehemently anti-Semitic caricatures. Jewish people in Der Stürmer, as Muslims are in Charlie Hebdo, were depicted with exaggerated facial features and misshapen bodies. Both publications used obscene sexually explicit caricatures. The Nazi caricatures were part of a policy to make Jews an object of hatred, fear, ridicule, and disdain. At the end of World War II, Julius Streicher, the editor of Der Stürmer… even though he didn’t run death camps, but only used the press to incite hatred… was put on trial, convicted of crimes against humanity, and executed. They protect Charlie Hebdo as it hardens the population against Muslims, to divide the population. The French government announced a grant to Charlie Hebdo of 1 million Euros (74.4 million Roubles. 7.3 million Renminbi. 73.4 million INR. 1.18 million USD. 1.42 million CAD. 1.46 million AUD. 780,000 UK Pounds), and Google donated 250,000 Euros (18.6 million Roubles. 1.825 million Renminbi. 18.35 million INR. 295,000 USD. 355,000 CAD. 365,000 AUD. 194,500 UK Pounds). Charlie Hebdo isn’t about freedom of expression and freedom of press. It’s an instrument of war mobilisation. It ran cartoons demonising Serbs during the NATO campaign against Yugoslavia, and it supported NATO’s attack on Libya.

No Free Press

Although they laud and glorify “free speech” and “free press” in their reporting of the murder of the French journalists, no such thing exists in any capitalist state. The press in France or in the USA isn’t free, open, or accessible. The ruling class own the media and it serves their interests. They tightly control what one can say and who can say it. The corporate media in capitalist society serves class rule. What’s covered depends entirely on who can pay for publication or airtime. A handful of multibillion-dollar media conglomerates control almost all information, culture, and entertainment in the Western capitalist countries… although in the past decade social media and the internet opened a few cracks in this overwhelming corporate control. The media industry has an enormous impact in shaping what lives have value and what deaths go unreported, unmarked, or consciously covered up.

The hundreds of thousands of deaths in wars initiated by American imperialism, with full support of French and British imperialism, are unmarked and unmourned, callously labelled “collateral damage”. The media ignore or barely mention the enormous toll in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Afghanistan. No mass sympathy arises when an American drone wipes out a wedding party in Pakistan or a whole village with a Hellfire missile. No one notes the assassinations of journalists in these wars. There were no state funerals for the 166 journalists killed in Iraq under American occupation. Chelsea Manning is in prison for releasing videos of American helicopters gunning down two Reuter’s camera operators in Iraq and then circling to kill the family that stopped their van to try to help them.

According to The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms, 15 journalists died in the 2014 Israeli bombing of Gaza. They “were killed in civilian sites which are supposed to be safe for civilians”. The Israelis targeted and bombed eight media centres. American bombers targeted and destroyed RTS, Radio TV Serbia, in the 1999 American/NATO war on Yugoslavia, killing 17 journalists. The most dangerous country in the world for journalists is Honduras. Since the American-backed coup, they’ve assassinated 46 media and information workers. The International Federation of Journalists sharply criticised NATO 2011 air strikes against Libyan television, which killed three people and injured 15. The IFJ stated that the strikes violated international law and UN resolutions. If a free press existed, then, Chelsea Manning wouldn’t be in prison or Edward Snowden and Julian Assange on the run, living in exile. What media they even allow in imperialist countries demonstrates how little they respect freedom of the press. For example, they ban Press-TV, an Iranian news channel broadcasting in English, from broadcasting via satellite throughout Europe, Canada, and the USA. France, Germany, and the USA bans al-Manar, a Lebanese satellite station affiliated with Hezbollah. Both Press-TV and al-Manar protested, to no avail, that this was a grave breach of freedom of speech. Whilst both news channels are available via the internet in limited form, Apple and Google removed al-Manar mobile apps.

National Oppression

We can’t ignore national oppression and racism in France. There are 5.5 million residents of African origin, many of them born in France and most of them citizens. A large number are Muslims, although not all practise. They live in poverty and isolation in suburbs that have high unemployment, inferior schools, and substandard housing. Just as American prisons overwhelmingly imprison black and brown youth, the same is true in French prisons. According to Muslim leaders, sociologists and researchers, about 60 to 70 percent of all inmates in the country’s prison system are Muslim, although Muslims make up only about 12 percent of the country’s population (Washington Post Foreign Service, 29 April 2008). Imperialism needs hatred of targeted peoples. Western politicians cynically use Islamophobia to advance rightwing political agendas and curtail freedoms.

Who Benefits?

Regardless of whether a police conspiracy is ever exposed, we do know that the French ruling class and the corporate media are always primed to take full advantage of such acts to reinforce the repressive state apparatus and sow division among the working class. There shouldn’t be an iota of confidence in the news stories of this massacre at Charlie Hebdo. We know only what French military police and state intelligence agencies have told the corporate media. We do know that three men, who’re now dead, were tools of imperialism in their wars of conquest in Syria and Libya. They’ve recruited, trained, and armed more than 1,000 French citizens of Arab and North African descent for use as weapons conduits, saboteurs, and terrorists in the efforts of the USA, France, Britain, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia to overthrow the government of Syria.

This leads to the fundamental question of whose policies are responsible for the massacre and who gains from the massacre? Since the collapse of the USSR, American imperialism, aided by the old colonial powers of Europe, has engaged in a whole series of wars to reconquer countries that achieved a high level of development based on sovereignty and control of their resources. In their frantic efforts to recolonise Iraq, Syria, and Libya, they’ve cynically whipped up sectarian divisions, organised deadly militias, and promoted fanaticism and anarchy. That aroused deep-seated rage against the USA, France, and Britain. It’s also highly unpopular that French imperialism is widely involved in Africa, primarily in the majority-Muslim countries of Mali, Central African Republic, Chad, Ivory Coast, and Djibouti, and in Abu Dhabi on the Arabian Peninsula. The French ruling class wants to divert mass attention from their expanding wars and increasingly militarised society. We must oppose and counter the mobilisations claiming to defend a free press.

13 January 2015

Sara Flounders

Workers World

http://www.workers.org/articles/2015/01/13/charlie-hebdo-free-press-racism/

BREAKING NEWS… Russian Mediation Springs Archbishop Jovan from Macedonian Slam… Alfeyev Confabbed with Macedonian Leaders in December

00 Archbishop Jovan in Prison. 06.12

________________________________

A court in Skopje granted conditional release to Archbishop Jovan Vraniškovski, the head of the SPC Orthodox Archdiocese of Ohrid, on 19 January. Meanwhile, Tanjug reported that the uncanonical Macedonian Orthodox Church (MPC) expects that a dialogue with the SPC on its status would begin afterwards, with mediation from the MP Synodal Department for External Church Relations (OVTsS). Metropolitan Petar of Prespa and Pelagonija, the MPC administrator for Australia and New Zealand, announced in an interview with TV Sunce that the MPC Holy Synod would most likely discuss this. Skopje media reported that he said that the MPC expects a positive response from the MP, which has stepped in to mediate in the dispute over the status of the MPC. The MPC is uncanonical; the SPC considers it schismatic since it declared autocephaly unilaterally in 1967.

Following “insistence” from MP sources, Macedonia will free Archbishop Jovan on conditional release after spending three years in prison. Visiting Macedonia on 21 December 2014, Metropolitan Ilarion Alfeyev, the head of the OVTsS, urged Vraniškovski’s provisional release. Metropolitan Ilarion made the request during meetings with the head of the MPC Archdiocese of Ohrid, President of the Macedonian Government Nikola Gruevski, and President of the Republic of the Macedonia Ǵorge Ivanov… who has the constitutional power to pardon… and also met with Vraniškovski.

Since 2003, the Macedonian authorities arrested Archbishop Jovan Vraniškovski six times on different charges, including public disorder when he tried to conduct a baptism ceremony in a church the MPC sees as its own. He also faced charges of “inciting ethnic and religious hatred” for having “slandered the MPC” and spent a total of almost 18 months in prison. The authorities last arrested Vraniškovski on 12 December 2011, upon entering Macedonia from Greece, on charges of having misappropriated 250,000 Euros (17.8 million Roubles. 1.84 million Renmnbi. 18.4 million INR. 296,000 USD. 349,000 CAD. 363,000 AUD. 196,000 UK Pounds). He returned to the country to request a retrial, only to have the cops arrest him and dump him in Idrizovo prison near Skopje, where he remains to this day.

The MPC defrocked Archbishop Jovan and the SPC appointed him as Serbian exarch in Macedonia. The SPC believes that Archbishop Jovan is a victim of rigged political trials because of his opposition to the schism, while Amnesty International and Freedom House said that he’s a prisoner of conscience. Tanjug reported that the stated position of the MP is, “We’d be unable to help in the Macedonian-Serbian church dispute for as long as Vraniškovski remains in prison”.

13 January 2015

B92

http://www.b92.net/eng/news/region.php?yyyy=2015&mm=01&dd=13&nav_id=92852

Editor:

Note that this was due to Russian mediation. Is the MP up to something? Is the Russian state up to something? If the MPC and SPC reconcile, will the Phanar sit at table or will it pout and stay away on American orders? This would complicate any all-Orthodox Sobor in 2016. Besides that, is this part of a Russian effort to prise Macedonia out of the American orbit? Look at Russian efforts in Hungary, Slovakia, and Greece… it’s also tempting Romania with pieces of the Ukraine. It looks like the American project in Eastern Europe is unravelling, and right quickly, too.

BMD

13 January 2015. Soros Makes Hurried Trip to Kiev… Calls for 50 Billion USD Loan to Kiev

00 The Night of the Lving Dead. Kiev. 10.05.14

____________________________

Read this and this. The Uniate/Schismatic kleptocrat junta is in the deep kimchi. Soros is crying that the junta needs 50 billion just to survive… and if the West doesn’t pony up, well, those nasty ol’ Russians are going to go on the imperial rampage! Trust me, the situation is exactly the opposite, but it means that Soros has worries about his bottom-line… and that’s BAD NEWS for the junta. Soros is so worried that the junta’s in the shitter irretrievably that he’s in Kiev now. Of course, he’s in a five-star hotel… did you think that he’d see the decay in the junta hinterland for himself? This is a sign that the Uniate project is teetering on the edge of the abyss… it couldn’t have happened to nicer folks…

BMD

Ukrainians Can’t Afford Medicine or Meat… Have World’s Worst-Performing Currency

00 rich man hitting poor man. 26.09.13

If you approve of the Republican Party’s loud support of the Ukrainian junta… this is what you approve. That’s what “Pro-Life” truly means…

____________________________

Amid skyrocketing inflation and a 50 percent plunge in the grivnya, many Ukrainians can no longer pay for basic needs

Valentina is thankful for the two pensions that she and her husband share, even if Ukrainian inflation shock means that they’re no longer enough to buy medicine and meat. The 72-year-old pensioner said as she made her way through the city of Zhitomir, a two-hour bus ride west of Kiev, “We have some potatoes, tomatoes, and cucumbers from our dacha. I can’t imagine how people survive on a single pension. We can’t even go to the drug store. We try to use herbs instead”.

From Lvov, near the Polish border, to Kharkov, 1,000 kilometres (622 miles) east in Russia’s shadow, Ukrainians are grappling with the world’s worst-performing currency, inflation that’s rocketed to 20 percent, and the deepest recession in five years. The plight of Zhitomir’s 270,000 residents shows how bailout-mandated austerity and the strains of an eight-month insurgency are playing out in everyday life. Across the street from the city’s Soviet-era department store, the central open-air market sells food, clothes, and toys. Traders huddle next to signs offering to buy pumpkin seeds, nuts, rabbit pelts, feathers, and beans from producers who’ve travelled from nearby villages. Locals are cutting back because of this year’s 48 percent plunge in the grivnya, a decline that’s eroded purchasing power. The inflation rate spiked to 19.8 percent last month as the currency’s slide boosted the costs of imported goods from gasoline to fruit.

From the window of her 2-square-metre (22 square feet) kiosk, where she sells toothpaste and shampoo, Tamara Yakovets, 46, said, “I feel the grivnya devaluation everywhere. My clients are shocked. I have to raise prices every week. People stopped buying expensive stuff and now they ask for the cheapest soap”. Today, Central Bank Governor V А Gontareva said that inflation would probably speed up to 25 percent this year, compared with the 19 percent forecast earlier. Ukrainians are no strangers to inflation. Price growth peaked at 10,256 percent in 1993 as the Soviet economy melted down. Having subsided, the rate jumped to 31.3 percent in 2008, shortly before the grivnya last sank. The focus is on the currency again. Aside from imports, often, expenses from renting an apartment to buying a car are in dollars, while salaries are in grivnya. For Irina Ivanchuk, even a wage in grivnya would be a relief. Since losing her job this year, she gets by on her husband’s military stipend and assistance from relatives.

The 29-year-old mother of a boy in first grade said, “I watch the dollar rate all the time because for me it’s the best indicator of poverty. I buy less sweets and fruit because of the astronomical costs. We used to save some money. Now, we can’t save anything”. Data compiled by Bloomberg show that the grivnya rebounded to 15.18 per USD as of 13.23 in Kiev. It gained about 4 percent since 11 November. Adding to the burden, the government is raising the price of natural gas to meet the terms of a 17 billion USD (1.03 trillion Roubles. 105.5 billion Renminbi. 1.06 trillion INR. 20.1 billion CAD. 20.9 billion AUD. 14.4 billion Euros. 11.3 billion UK Pounds) international bailout. Whilst that’d stem the drain on state funds from subsidies, it’s putting pressure on households as heating and power costs jump.

According to Aleksandr Valchishen, chief economist at Investment Capital Ukraine in Kiev, the cabinet must address declining living standards in battling an economic contraction that the Central Bank estimates will reach 7.5 percent this year. He said that spiralling prices are as much of a threat to order as and the conflict in the eastern Donbas, noting, “Inflation is the same as the war. It may lead to protests if people blame the authorities for failing to conduct proper policies”. The government promised to help the poor pay their utility bills; it’s expanding a programme to boost the number of households covered to 4 million from 1 million. In July, the World Bank approved a 300 million USD (18.1 billion Roubles. 1.86 billion Renminbi. 18.7 billion INR. 355 million CAD. 369 million AUD. 254 million Euros. 199 million UK Pounds) loan to help the Ukraine widen assistance to the vulnerable and socially-excluded.

Some Ukrainians are prepared to stomach the economic pain as a cost of leaving Russia’s orbit and aligning with the EU. President (sic) P A Poroshenko signed a political association and trade pact with the 28-member bloc, a key demand of the protesters who toppled his predecessor in February. Anna Grigorievna, 67, a teacher at a culinary college who backed the protests’ anti-corruption message, said, “I’m ready to tolerate the current economic situation as long as the war is on. I won’t go onto the streets tomorrow because of inflation and the devaluation but my patience isn’t infinite”.

Others are less understanding. Valya, a pensioner who declined to give her last name, said she’d just bought 2 kilogrammes (4.4 pounds) of grain that should last a month, along with potatoes and beetroot from the market. She doesn’t drink alcohol or smoke, but she can’t afford the bus to visit relatives’ graves in Lvov Oblast. Valya, 76, referring to a slogan of the street uprising, said, “Glory to the Ukraine? Glory for what? Higher prices? The war? We’re just tolerating the authorities”. Ending the war, where a two-month truce hasn’t stopped the killing, is key for Valentina, who’s already living without medicine and meat. With pensions flat as prices increase, everyone’s feeling the pain that’s forced her to cut back. She said, “This is how we survive. The main thing we need is peace”.

20 November 2014

Darina Krasnolutska

Bloomberg.com

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-19/medicine-and-meat-out-of-reach-amid-ukrainian-price-shock.html

Editor:

Let’s keep it simple. The American economic programme in the Ukraine is evil. It’s intent to smash down ordinary people so that the Affluent Effluent gets more “return”… that’s why I oppose Potapov, Dreher, Whiteford, and Paffhausen so bitterly… they’re enthusiastic and willing cheerleaders for the objectively evil Republican neoliberal agenda. “Pro-Life?” I think not!

The parallels between the contemporary Ukraine and Guomindang-ruled China just before the Communist victory on the mainland are eerie. The economy is in similar freefall and the army is falling apart in similar ways. The inflation will get far worse and the army will simply melt away. I see nothing else… the EU and the USA can’t rescue the Uniate project. Remember, the present junta is illegitimate and illegal… the legit President of the Ukraine is STILL V F Yanukovich… for all of his corruption, he was the MOST honest President that the Ukraine ever had, and he protected the canonical Church. That’s why the Uniates hate him… he opposed their perversion of history and he opposed their proselytisation project. They have an agenda… never forget that.

BMD

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.