Daily Archives: August 19, 2008

Nepal braces for revolution with Maoist warlord as Prime Minister

Fanatical followers of Prachanda are ready to take over and turn Nepal into a Maoist Republic

AFP | Aug 19, 2008

KATHMANDU (AFP) — Nepal is set for more major change after the Maoist leader and former warlord Prachanda was declared prime minister promising to deliver a left-wing revolution.

The charismatic leader — whose nom-de-guerre means “the fierce one” — was overwhelmingly elected as the impoverished country’s most powerful man in a vote by lawmakers late Friday.

His ascent from rebel to national leader cleared the way for his band of ultra-leftists, who feature on a US terrorist blacklist, to forge ahead with their vow to radically reform the country.

Nepal, the world’s newest republic, has already undergone momentous change over the past two years, which have seen the Maoists end a decade-long revolt, unpopular king Gyanendra sidelined and then sacked and the 240-year-old monarchy abolished.

The Maoists’ number-two leader and top ideologue Baburam Bhattarai hailed a “golden dawn” and vowed historic change.

“We feel that Nepal has found its hero. For any epoch-changing society, we need a hero,” he said of Prachanda, a 53-year-old ex-school teacher.

“After Europe’s capitalist revolution, Napoleon came along. To institutionalise socialism in Russia, Lenin appeared.

“In Nepal, to institutionalise the federal democratic republic after 10 years of People’s War and mass popular movement, Prachanda is here.

“We have already finished destroying the roots of feudalism in Nepal. Under the leadership of Prachanda , the main agenda of the new administration will be nationalism, republicanism, economic and social transformation,” he said.

The former rebels were on Saturday locked in negotiations with their allies to form the nation’s first post-royal government.

“We’re in talks with the parties in our alliance and hope to form a government in the next few days,” Maoist spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara said.

Prachanda has come a long way. Until 2003, there was only one photograph of him in public circulation, but as he began work as prime minister, his picture was splashed across the front page of every newspaper Saturday.

He was profiled largely sympathetically with writers charting his progress from teacher to revolutionary and finally prime minister.

“New Nepal turns left, Prachanda turns PM,” the Himalayan Times said in a banner headline. Naya Patrika (New Paper) went with “From the bunker to Baluwatar,” referring to the prime minister’s official residence.

In April, Prachanda steered his party to victory in elections for a new national assembly, set up as part of a peace deal to abolish the monarchy and write a new constitution.

But as premier he will face major challenges, including urgently dealing with soaring food and fuel prices that have paralysed an economy struggling to recover from the civil war.

There is also the issue of integrating the 20,000-strong rebel army, currently confined to UN-monitored camps, into the national army.

“The integration of the People’s Liberation Army into the Nepal Army will see lots of arguments and counter-arguments. The way they deal with the army is very crucial,” said Amit Dhakal, editor of the Kathmandu Post newspaper.

“The Maoists will try to bring in populist and radical economic reforms. But financially they will have lots of constraints.”

Prachanda, who was inspired by Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong and Peru’s Shining Path guerrillas, has also had trouble shaking off his image as a ruthless warlord.

Critics say the ultra-leftists have yet to fully abandon violence and that their feared youth wing — the Young Communist League — must disband to prove they are committed to peaceful democracy.

“He is a communist hardliner, but now he has a responsibility to meet the standards of democratic principles,” said top Nepali Congress party official Narhari Achayra.

“This is an acid test for him to prove his commitment to democracy.”

Sir Walter Scott’s novel about the Knights of Malta to be published 200 years after his death

Grandmaster Jean Parisot de la Valette (1494-1568), commanded the Knights Hospitaller (Knights of Malta) during the Great Siege of Malta


Knights of Malta: we’re still waiting, Guy

The Siege of Malta to Be Brought to the Big Screen

Malta Independent | Aug 18, 2008

by Michael Carabott

One of Scotland’s greatest writers’ so far unpublished works are to be published almost 200 years after his death – one of them is The Siege of Malta, written in 1831.

Sir Walter Scott came to Malta on doctors’ orders and, inspired by his stay, he penned the novel The Siege of Malta. The visit to warmer climes did not do him much good and he passed away in 1832, one year after completing the book.

The work is a novel, but is based on fact – the stand made by the Order of the Knights of St John against the massive Ottoman Army in the Great Siege of 1565.

Sir Walter had sent the draft of the manuscript to his publisher in 1832, the year in which he also wrote the other unpublished work, Bizarro, but his deteriorating health conditions took their toll on his literary abilities and led to the decision not to publish the work.

It is a known fact that another writer had used Sir Walter’s unfinished notes to publish The Siege of Malta in 1942. They were never printed, as both prospective publications were full of ‘silly’ errors and spelling mistakes brought on by the onset of ill health and old age. It was believed that the quality of the novels would have tarnished Sir Walter’s reputation.

The Edinburgh University Press took the matter in hand and has published a corrected version of both works in a single volume. Other literary works by Sir Walter Scott include Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, The Heart of Midlothian, The Bride of Lammermoor and Waverly. His writing style altered after the publishing firm he part-owned went bankrupt in 1826 and he spent the next five years churning out reams of work to generate cash for his creditors.

In some ways Scott was the first English-language author to have a truly international career in his lifetime, with many contemporary readers all over Europe, Australia, and North America. His novels and poetry are still read, and many of his works remain classics of both English-language literature and of Scottish literature.

Information on the Knights of Malta

Beijing police block all protests during Olympics including free-speech pens

Police patrol World Park in Beijing, one of the three designated ‘protests zones’ in Beijing Photo: EPA

No protests have been allowed in any of the pens set aside for demonstrations at the Beijing Olympics despite 77 applications, Chinese police have admitted.

Telegraph | Aug 18, 2008

By Richard Spencer in Beijing

According to official figures released through state media in China, 149 people in total submitted the 77 applications, including three foreigners.

But despite their hope that they would for the first time be able to make a political point against the Chinese government legally and under the eyes of the world, the three parks which had been set aside for the purpose remain empty.

A police spokesman said that while 77 applications were put forward, of these 74 “were properly addressed by relevant authorities or departments through consultations” and had been withdrawn.

This usually means that complaints against officials over corruption, land confiscation and other local issues have been referred back to the very authorities that are subject of complaint.

Two had been “suspended” because they did not follow proper procedures – one because the applicants wanted to include children, who are not allowed to participate. The final application was “vetoed” by the public security bureau – Beijing’s police headquarters – because it was “in violation of China’s law on demonstrations and protests”.

It was stipulated in advance that protests could not violate “national, social and collective interests” – likely to rule out many major causes such as autonomy for Tibet, or greater democracy.

The promise of protest zones, intended as a sop to complaints over China’s human rights record, has caused some of the bitterest rows between international media and the Beijing and International Olympic Committees. Inquiries to the Beijing Olympic committee have been repeatedly referred to police without success.

“To date, what had been announced publicly doesn’t appear, in reality, to be happening, and a number of questions are being asked,” said Giselle Davies, chief spokesman of the IOC. “The IOC is keen to see those questions answered by the relevant authorities.”

Human Rights Watch and other groups claim that several of those who have tried to submit applications were subsequently detained by police and have not been seen since.

Nicholas Bequelin, a Hong Kong-based researcher for HRW, said the Olympics had set back the development of human rights in China.

“The Games have not helped, they have actually slowed down work that was progressing and increased abuses,” he said.

Meanwhile, an American Christian group staged a brief sit-in in Kunming airport in the south-west of the country after having 315 bibles taken from them by customs officials. Chinese law bans proselytising, but allows one bible per person for personal use.

Russell Crowe may play radical comic Bill Hicks in biopic film

“Go back to bed, America, your government has figured out how it all transpired. Go back to bed America, your goverment is in control. Here, here’s American Gladiators. Watch this, shut up, go back to bed America, here is American Gladiators, here is 56 channels of it! Watch these pituitary retards bang their f*cking skulls together and congratulate you on the living in the land of freedom. Here you go America – you are free to do what well tell you! You are free to do what we tell you!”

– Bill Hicks

On politics

Guardian | Aug 19, 2008

Born to play the part … Russell Crowe and Bill Hicks. Photograph: Evan Agostini / Getty and Everett Collection / Rex Features

By Ben Child

Russell Crowe is considering starring as Bill Hicks in a biopic of the late, great US comic, according to Empire online. Crowe was due to star as a good Sheriff of Nottingham in Ridley Scott’s Nottingham, but that project has been delayed until at least spring by concerns over a possible actors’ strike and a likely deficit in the greenness of Sherwood forest’s leaves over the period in which the movie was initially due to be filmed.

New Zealand writer Mark Staufer is currently working on a draft script for a film about the life of Hicks, a controversial figure in the States who gained a huge cult following in the UK before his death from pancreatic cancer at the age of just 32.



Bill Hicks: The truth about the War in Iraq

Bill Hicks Conspiracy Tribute – Millitary & New World Order Takeover

Reports and rumors have been circulating about Russell Crowe starring in a Bill Hicks movie. We can confirm that a script is in development for a production company owned by Mr. Crowe. Anything you’ve heard regarding director, casting, filming schedule and release date is mostly speculation and cannot be decided until a script is substantially complete and the project is formally set up. Further confirmed details will be announced once they are known. Please note: this “biopic” film is not the documentary already in production under the title American: The Bill Hicks Story (which is currently planned for a television broadcast and/or home video release sometime in the latter half of 2009).


Bill Hicks
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

China’s Hi-Tech Surveillance State Is Ready for Export

AlterNet | Aug 18, 2008

Democracy Now interview with Naomi Klein

By Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez

With 300,000 security cameras in Beijing alone, China is at the forefront of the surveillance boom — and U.S. corporations are reaping the profits.

Juan Gonzalez: China deported five international activists [last week] for unfurling a “Free Tibet” banner over the top of an Olympic Games billboard. It’s the latest incident in what has become an almost daily crackdown on both domestic and international protesters who have had to contend with a brand new surveillance system that China set up ahead of the games. This includes 300,000 security cameras and an estimated 100,000 security officers on duty in Beijing.

But it’s not just Beijing that’s gotten a security upgrade. There are now over 600 “safe” cities in China that have received new surveillance gear. The equipment and integrated security systems will remain long after the Olympics, to be used, many fear, on China’s own population. The domestic surveillance market in China is expected to reach $33 billion next year. And some of the biggest beneficiaries of this boom are U.S. hedge funds and corporations, such as Cisco, General Electric and Google.

Amy Goodman: Award-winning journalist and bestselling author Naomi Klein calls this “McCommunism.” Her latest article published in the Huffington Post is called “The Olympics: Unveiling Police State 2.0.” Naomi Klein is author of The Shock Doctrine. She joins us on the phone from Canada.

We’re also joined in our firehouse studio by investigative journalist and author Christian Parenti, who’s also just back from China. His latest piece for The Nation magazine is called “Class Struggle in the New China”.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Naomi Klein, let’s begin with you. Lay out what you also called in Rolling Stone the “all-seeing eye.”

Naomi Klein: Well, there’s an incredible operation going on in China to use the latest, what’s now called homeland security technology — networked surveillance cameras, biometric identification cards, facial recognition software — networking all of these cameras and running the software through it as a way to control an increasingly rebellious population. There’s an incredible statistic from 2005 that there were 87,000 mass incidents, which means protests and riots, across the country.

So it is already being used as a way to control the population and also to keep an eye on what in China is called the floating population, the migrant population, who are displaced by mega projects, who travel to cities like Beijing and Guangzhou and Shenzhen looking for work. This is a mobile population that is right now 130 million people. And this technology is used to keep track of those people, because in a sort of Maoist time in China, you had — where people stayed in their communities, you had networks of control and surveillance that were really about people snitching on their neighbors. When people are moving across long distances, the technology is replacing that. So “Police State 2.0” is really about upgrading the surveillance system, with the help, as you said earlier, of U.S. companies like Cisco, General Electric, who have been providing these technologies.

Juan Gonzalez: Your article talks about — calls it the “Golden Shield,” as the Chinese refer to it, and you focus especially on the city of Shenzhen, in terms of the enormous reach of this. I was struck that you mentioned, for instance, that every internet cafe in China has surveillance cameras that are hooked up to local police stations so that they can keep an eye on who is using the internet cafes?

Naomi Klein: Yeah, and the internet cafes are — you know, they’re really like internet bowling alleys. They’re huge. An average-size internet cafe has 600 terminals. And there are dozens of cameras in the — not just obviously the cameras on the computers, but surveillance cameras. And this is a huge market. You mentioned that it’s worth $33 billion a year now. It’s actually — that’s even increased since I wrote that article. The latest estimate is that it’s going to be worth $43 billion, and — a year within two years.

And the reason why this is such a fast-growing market is that it’s not just that the internet cafes are installing these cameras; it’s that it’s a law now in China that they are required to install the cameras. So are at religious sites, so are entertainment sites, karaoke bars, restaurants. So, the government passes a law and says you must install these surveillance cameras, the companies comply, and then you have another set of companies who are connected to the party and also, as you said, to American companies. Many of them are listed on the NASDAQ, the New York Stock Exchange. And they are benefiting directly from this created market, this mandated market. You must install security cameras, so no wonder this is such a fast-growing market.

Complete Interview