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newthinking

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Ukraine Elections Bring Society Closer to Brink of All Out War and Economic Collapse

[Font size="3", face="Georgia,serif"]Ukraine Elections Bring Society Closer to Brink of All Out War and Economic Collapse
by JO and DYLAN MURPHY
CounterPunch
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/11/04/ukraine-elections-bring-society-closer-to-brink-of-all-out-war-and-economic-collapse/

The parliamentary elections in Ukraine has been lavished with praise by Western politicians and the mainstream media as confirmation of the country’s turn towards democracy and a rejection of Putin’s evil Russian empire. What the media drones and corporate politicians won’t tell you is that these elections represent a disaster for the ordinary people of Ukraine.

Ukraine is bankrupt and its economy is rapidly collapsing. It has been promised billions in aid from the IMF and EU in return for the most vicious austerity measures that will make Greece look like a picnic. Industry and agriculture are suffering steep declines in production while austerity measures will lead to huge cuts in wages and welfare benefits. At the same time the rapid immiserisation of the masses is worsening due to massive price increases in basic foodstuffs and essential utilities such as electricity, gas and water.

All of the capitalist politicians elected to the new Rada have no solution to these devastating economic problems. Their economic programme can be summed up in the slogan; ”Austerity, austerity and yet more austerity.” Capitalism offers an extremely bleak future to the ordinary people of Ukraine.

The election will return a government that is committed to continuing the war against its own people in the rebel held regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. It confirms the splitting up of the country into several parts. Crimea will stay with Russia while the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk which make up Novorossia will continue to fight for their independence, which leaves the rest of Ukraine minus about 15% of its former population.

It would be more accurate to call this election the ”battle of the billionaires”. All of the political parties that got representation in the new Rada are puppets of the different billionaire oligarchs. It is these people who really call the shots in collaboration with their masters in Washington.

There is nothing remotely progressive about the motley collection of ultra-nationalists who will make up the new Rada. Most of the new MP’s are rabidly right wing and ultra hostile to Russia, the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, the trade unions, the Communist Party, the list goes on. It includes an assortment of Holocaust deniers and sympathisers for the Ukrainian Nazis who fought with the SS during World War Two. It would appear that even people wanted by Interpol for inciting terrorism and responsible for the Odessa massacre on 2 May, such as Right Sector fuhrer Dmitry Yarosh, can be elected to the new Rada.



Story continues and includes an Interview with Rozhin Boris
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/11/04/ukraine-elections-bring-society-closer-to-brink-of-all-out-war-and-economic-collapse/
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The Washington Post's Putinology

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The Washington Post's Putinology
By Peter Hart
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting

http://fair.org/blog/2014/10/28/the-washington-posts-putinology/

We're supposed to know by now that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a really bad guy–so bad that anything that he says is further proof of his screeching hostility to the United States.

The Washington Post reported (10/24/14) on a recent Putin speech with this blistering lead sentence:

[blockquote style="width:620px";][font size="2"] “Making clear that the Kremlin has no intention of backing down from the worst Russia/Western crisis since the Cold War, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the United States on Friday of trying to "reshape the whole world" for its benefit, in a fiery speech that was one of the most anti-American of his 15 years as Russia's paramount leader.”[/font]


Fiery anti-Americanism!

It's not hard to believe that Putin was highly critical of the US foreign policy, but what precisely did he say? The Post called it "a bitter distillation of Putin's anti-American rhetoric." The Post Karoun Demirjian and Michael Birnbaum reported that the address was an:

[blockquote style="width:620px";][font size="2"] “unsmiling, straightforward worldview that blasted the United States as taking advantage of its powerful post-Cold War position to dictate misguided terms to the rest of the world. Putin faulted the United States for a rise in global terrorism, a resumption of a global arms race and a general worsening of global security.

It never ceases to amaze me how our partners have been guilty of making the same mistakes time and again," Putin said, accusing the United States of breeding terrorists by upsetting the established order in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan.”
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OK, so fiery anti-Americanism is the belief that the United States desires a unipolar world where it calls the shots. Does anyone doubt US elites think otherwise?

And the US, he thinks, bears some responsibility for fueling the global arms race. The United States is, according to some less than fiery and not particularly anti-American news outlets, the leading supplier of arms in the world ("US Arms Sales Make Up Most of Global Market," New York Times, 8/26/12; "US Doubles Down on Foreign Military Sales," Defense News, 7/19/14).

On the subject of nuclear arms, a key issue in US/Russia relations, the New York Times (9/21/14) recently reported on the US plan to increase its nuclear arsenal–a "nationwide wave of atomic revitalization" that could cost well over a trillion dollars.

And it's hard to argue with Putin's critique of US foreign policy accomplishments in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya; those countries have suffered extreme violence and instability due to US military actions. Would there even be an ISIS without the US invasion of Iraq?

None of that should be mistaken as an endorsement of anything Putin or Russia has done. But if the Post means to show us that a foreign leader is a fiery, bitter anti-American, it might want to make a stronger case.

The news article, though, was nothing compared to the Post's editorial (10/27/14). Under the Web headline "Putinoia on Full Display," the paper blasted Putin for his

[blockquote style="width:620px";][font size=2] “poisonous mix of lies, conspiracy theories, thinly veiled threats of further aggression and, above all, seething resentment toward the United States.”[/font]

Again, that's a pretty serious charge. It's not hard to imagine a politician telling lies; which ones did Putin tell?

The Post doesn't seem to want to tell us. It does say Putin claimed that the United States has:

[blockquote style="width:620px";] “promoted a "unipolar world [that] is simply a means of justifying dictatorship over people and countries." According to Mr. Putin, Washington has created chaos across the world by conspiring to foment revolutions, including what he views as an armed "coup d'etat" in Ukraine.”

Again, the United States does see itself as the world's lone superpower, with a dominant military and an obvious record of attempting to use military force, directly or otherwise, to change the world to its liking (though these efforts are not always successful). In Ukraine, in particular, Washington certainly supported the violent overthrow of an elected government–whether you want to call that a "coup d'etat" or not.

The editorial began with this observation:

[blockquote style="width:620px";] “Anyone wondering what Western leaders have been up against when they try to reason with Vladi­mir Putin need only read the transcript of the Russian ruler's three-hour performance at the annual Valdai conference in Sochi on Friday.”

The thing is, if you're going to say someone is a poisonous liar who traffics in conspiracy theories, then you should show that. That the Post doesn't seem to feel the need to do so either means the evidence isn't there, or that the burden of proof is very low when it comes to official enemies.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Per the license the only changes made are some mid paragraph link citations and images. Please see the original page at:
http://fair.org/blog/2014/10/28/the-washington-posts-putinology/
You can follow the additional references there.

Democracy Is for Amateurs: Why We Need More Citizen Citizens

I am more and more convinced that citizen panels/commissions are the next evolution in Democracy. Democracy (and Republics) have been an improvement over previous forms of government, but it is still possible, some would argue inevitable, for the government to separate itself from the people, corrupt or stack the deck in the favor of an elite.

Personally it seems to me that Parliaments (more evolved since they allow the citizens to mount new parties if the current ones fail), combined with citizen panel "stewardship", and lessening the professional political class (not eliminating, we will always need specialists), would be the direction to move.

Anyone know of an organization who is focused on advocating for this approach?

This article by The Atlantic goes into this concept:

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Democracy Is for Amateurs: Why We Need More Citizen Citizens

Eric Liu May 11 2012, 9:00 AM ET

America can't afford to leave its government in the hands of professionals.



This year I'll wrap up a decade as a trustee of the Seattle Public Library. Our board of five citizens has unusual authority. Appointed by the mayor, we are an independent operating body. The city council gives us a line in the budget, but how we spend those funds, on what programs, in what allocations across which neighborhoods, with what kinds of popular input, and under what policies -- all such decisions rest in the hands of our citizen board.

There's something very American about such a volunteer body. We celebrate the "citizen scientist" or "citizen diplomat" or "citizen soldier" on the idea that while the job -- scientist, diplomat, soldier -- requires professional expertise, amateurs who care can also step in and contribute. Indeed, this is something of a golden age for amateurs. With big data and social media amplifying their wisdom, crowds of amateurs are remaking astronomy, finance, biochemistry and other fields.

But not so much the field called democracy. The work of democratic life -- solving shared problems, shaping plans, pushing for change, making grievances heard -- has become ever more professionalized over the last generation. Money has gained outsize and self-compounding power in elections. A welter of lobbyists, regulators, consultants, bankrollers, wonks-for-hire, and "smart-ALECs" has crowded amateurs out of the daily work of self-government at every level. Bodies like the library board are the exception.

What we need today are more citizen citizens. Both the left and the right are coming to see this. It is the thread that connects the anti-elite 99 percent movement with the anti-elite Tea Party. It also animates an emerging web of civic-minded techies who want to "hack" citizenship and government.

Why is government in America so hack-worthy now? There is a giant literature on how interest groups have captured our politics, with touchstones texts by Mancur Olson, Jonathan Rauch, and Francis Fukuyama. The message of these studies is depressingly simple: democratic institutions tend toward what Rauch calls "demosclerosis" -- encrustation by a million little constituencies who clog the arteries of government and make it impossible for the state to move or adapt.


Full story:
http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/05/democracy-is-for-amateurs-why-we-need-more-citizen-citizens/256818/
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