The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

Iran Bazaar Strikes signal Misery, not Sanctions 'Victory' | Juan Cole

On Wednesday, the Tehran covered bazaar was closed, and the traditional market in some other cities such as Mashhad also went on strike, with demonstrators protesting the collapse of the Iranian currency, the rial. Until last November, the rial was about 10,000 to the dollar. Then it fell to 12,000. Last summer it hit 16,000. Some merchants were offering 35,000 to the dollar on Wednesday and expected the rial to decline further.

Although the US, the EU and Israel’s government will gloat that ‘sanctions are working,’ it is unclear that any such thing is true.

True, Western sanctions on Iran have gone beyond mere boycotts to a kind of financial blockade, in which obstacles are being placed in the way of Iran selling its petroleum to third parties, especially in Asia.

Iran had been producing 3.5 million barrels a day of oil, and selling 2.5 million abroad. It is now apparently only producing 3 million barrels a day and selling 2 (especially to China, India and some other Asian states). Iran is shipping to China in its own tankers and insuring them itself, which is producing some delays in delivery, but nothing the Chinese are worried about. The loss of 500,000 barrels a day in exports, and the extra costs of doing business (15%?), however, cannot possibly be causing the collapse of the value of the rial.

The West can blockade Iranian petroleum in this way because Saudi Arabia agreed to ‘flood the market,’ pumping as much as two million barrels a day more than normal. Iraqi output is also up about a million barrels a day over 2010 levels. But the addition of a couple of million barrels a day wouldn’t have been enough to allow this policy. In addition, the world economic slowdown has reduced the rate at which the demand for oil is expanding in Asia. At any point where Asian demand returns strong, Iran will likely be better able to evade sanctions.

Thus, although Iran’s petroleum sales have fallen, it is not clear that they have will have fallen dramatically when new trade arrangements with China, India, South Korea and so forth are implemented, getting around the US financial blockade. Europe stopped buying Iranian oil on July 1, and sales were hurt that month. But Iranian officials say that they are back up to normal sales volume this fall. Likely Europe will buy oil from other producers, denying it to previous customers in the global south, some of whom will turn to Iran. Iran’s government should be flush with billions of dollars of reserves, and should have the expectation of more, and there is no obvious reason for the rial to plummet this way.

In short, it is not entirely clear that these severe sanctions or the reduced oil exports are the only things responsible for the rial’s rapid decline against the dollar.

Hyperinflation is caused by printing too much money. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has for some time pumped extra money into the economy in the form of subsidies, which has caused the money supply to grow unhealthily in Iran. The rial has probably for a long time been over-valued, partly because of the support for it of an oil state. So it may be that years of easy money are now coming home to roost, in part because the severe sanctions have (irrationally) weakened the confidence of traders in the hardness of the rial, a confidence that itself had earlier been irrational.

Money traders in the neighboring United Arab Emirates are said to have been unable to quote a price for converting rials to dollars on Wednesday, because the rial was going over a waterfall in a barrel, falling by the second.

The money changers and merchants in Tehran and Mashhad were angered in part by an inability to price their goods (especially imported goods). Many of them had counted on keeping some of their assets in dollars, but suddenly dollars have disappeared from the Iranian currency markets, probably because they are being massively hoarded. There are rumors in the bazaar, say some close observers, that ‘mafias’ and cliques are doing the hoarding.

But reading these events as a ‘victory’ for sanctions goes too far. First, the demonstration in the bazaar may have had a narrow social base.

(Source: jayaprada)

fuckyeahmarxismleninism:

Tens of thousands converge in Okinawa to protest Osprey deployment
Tens of thousands of people gathered for a rally in Okinawa on Sunday to protest against the planned deployment of U.S. Ospreys in the prefecture in the face of a series of problems involving the tilt-rotor military aircraft.
Organizers said 101,000 people took part in the rally.“It cannot be considered normal to live under conditions in which an Osprey may fall from the sky at any moment,” Masaharu Kina, chairman of the Okinawa prefectural assembly, told the protesters at a seaside park in Ginowan, which hosts the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station.
The protest was held after safety concerns over the deployment of the aircraft in Japan were amplified following Osprey crashes earlier this year in Morocco and Florida. Pentagon reports suggest human error was a factor in both crashes.
On Saturday, it was also reported that an Osprey made an emergency landing at a field behind a church in Jacksonville, North Carolina, on Thursday.

fuckyeahmarxismleninism:

Tens of thousands converge in Okinawa to protest Osprey deployment

Tens of thousands of people gathered for a rally in Okinawa on Sunday to protest against the planned deployment of U.S. Ospreys in the prefecture in the face of a series of problems involving the tilt-rotor military aircraft.

Organizers said 101,000 people took part in the rally.“It cannot be considered normal to live under conditions in which an Osprey may fall from the sky at any moment,” Masaharu Kina, chairman of the Okinawa prefectural assembly, told the protesters at a seaside park in Ginowan, which hosts the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station.

The protest was held after safety concerns over the deployment of the aircraft in Japan were amplified following Osprey crashes earlier this year in Morocco and Florida. Pentagon reports suggest human error was a factor in both crashes.

On Saturday, it was also reported that an Osprey made an emergency landing at a field behind a church in Jacksonville, North Carolina, on Thursday.

(via queerencia-deactivated20130103)

thenationmagazine:

Some 800 people gathered in Charlotte’s Frazier Park and marched to Uptown, where the Democratic National Convention kicks off on Tuesday. Environmental justice, immigration, labor, education, anti-war, and Occupy activists spent nearly four hours in the streets despite an overwhelming amount of police and other security forces.

The march marked the first major protest for Undocubus riders. The bus made its way from Phoenix, Arizona, picking up riders along the way from various states in the South in the past month. The activists are calling for the immigration reform that President Obama promised when he first ran for office. Watch the full video to learn more about Undocubus and visit NoPapersNoFear.org to get involved.

(Source: thenation.com)

thepeoplesrecord:

Indonesian students clash with police during protests against planned fuel price hikes on March 27, 2012 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Thousands of Indonesians students in big cities all over the county gathered to protest the governments plans to increase the price of subsidized fuel by 30 percent. The Indonesian parliament is currently debating the fuel hikes which would go into effect March 25, 2012 if approved.

More here.

(Source: thepeoplesrecord, via anarcho-queer)

From Dictatorship to Democracy — the executive summary | Jack Lindstrom

Lindstrom presents a cliff’s notes version of Gene Sharp’s now famous handbook (think of the 1%, or more accurately the 0.1%-0.01%, as “the dictator”):

From Dictatorship to Democracy by Gene Sharp

TL; DR: Competent strategic planning of political defiance is necessary in order to take down a dictatorship. To be as effective as possible, this strategy must target the dictators’ most important sources of power at their weakest points.

Why strategy is essential:

You are more likely to end up where you want to go

Need to maximize resources since the dictatorship has so much more

Ensures that the current dictator isn’t just replaced by a new one

Keeps you on the offenses instead of just responding to whatever the dictatorship does

Otherwise may just be wasting energy; just doing whatever you feel like doing isn’t likely to be enough to take down the dictatorship. It may even increase the dictatorship’s strength.

PROTIPS:

The movement must be nonviolent.

By using violence, you attack the dictatorship at its strongest point (i.e. military).

Don’t worry about infiltration.

Since it’s bound to happen whether you strive to maintain secrecy or not, you gain more from including as many people as possible than being closed off and allowing paranoia to destroy the resistance group.

Can’t plan just to dismantle the dictatorship; have to also plan the democratic system that will replace it or else another dictator will.

Continue reading

Lucy Lawless—a.k.a. Xena the Warrior Princess—Occupies a Shell Oil Drilling Ship

anticapitalist:

Lucy Lawless is illegally seated atop a 174-foot derrick rising from a drilling ship off New Zealand’s western shore, and she really, really doesn’t want to talk about Xena: Warrior Princess. The ship is called the Noble Discoverer, but Lawless has rechristened it the Ignoble Destroyer. It used to be called the Frontier Discoverer, and before that the Discoverer 511, and sometime before that, the Jessica. It’s a nearly 50-year-old ship, built for offshore drilling, and its owner, the Noble Corporation, has leased the ship to Royal Dutch Shell. This weekend, the Noble Discoverer is scheduled to head out on a 6,000 mile journey to the Chukchi Sea, off Alaska’s northwest coast, to break open the ice and suck out some of the 26.6 billion barrels of recoverable oil estimated to await in the Arctic’s outer continental shelf. That’s why Lawless left her house very early Thursday morning, her three kids still asleep, drove to Port Taranaki in Wellington, walked straight up the Noble Discoverer’s gangplank along with five other climbing experts and Greenpeace volunteers, and scaled its massive derrick.*

Now that is some badass stuff. We need more direct action like this. It prevents environmental destruction, without alienating the public with the use of violence.

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(Source: anticapitalist)

Debating Tactics: Remember to Ask, "What Works?" | Jadaliyya

In the midst of Yet Another Tactical Debrief, this time on the recent Move-In-Day-turned-street-semi-battle-then-mass-arrest at Occupy Oakland, I ended up tossing out on Twitter a cluster of successful movement moments, some of which involved fighting back against cops—Stonewall, Cochabamba Water War, anti-apartheid defiance campaign, Tahrir Square 2011—and others of which involved a calculated refusal to fight back, even to the point of enduring direct state violence: anti-nuclear demos, the 1980s Central America solidarity movement, the Gandhian salt march. In my estimation, every single one of these was successful, which raises the question of what they had in common.

What these moments do not share in common is their achievement of a universally correct balance of nonviolence and forcefulness, self-sacrifice and safety, or daring and accessibility, but rather their solution to an immediate and tangible tactical problem that had been totally disabling to their movements. Without these solutions, the trajectories of their movements were towards frustration with the possibilities of action, and thereby to spirals of apathy and spurts of ineffective outrage. With them in mind, the trajectories shifted to hopeful emulation, contagious optimism, and surges in new participation, leading to a whole new scale for participation. [more]

nickturse:

A protester throws a petrol bomb against riot police guarding the  parliament in Athens’ Syntagma (Constitution) square during clashes  December 6, 2011. Greek police fired tear gas at dozens of black-clad  protesters in Athens who hurled petrol bombs and stones, while hundreds  marched to parliament to mark the 2008 shooting of a student by police.   REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

nickturse:

A protester throws a petrol bomb against riot police guarding the parliament in Athens’ Syntagma (Constitution) square during clashes December 6, 2011. Greek police fired tear gas at dozens of black-clad protesters in Athens who hurled petrol bombs and stones, while hundreds marched to parliament to mark the 2008 shooting of a student by police. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

Restless Planet | Tom Engelhardt

On the streets of Moscow in the tens of thousands, the protesters chanted: “We exist!”  Taking into account the comments of statesmen, scientists, politicians, military officials, bankers, artists, all the important and attended to figures on this planet, nothing caught the year more strikingly than those two words shouted by massed Russian demonstrators.

“We exist!”  Think of it as a simple statement of fact, an implicit demand to be taken seriously (or else), and undoubtedly an expression of wonder, verging on a question: “We exist?”

And who could blame them for shouting it?  Or for the wonder?  How miraculous it was.  Yet another country long immersed in a kind of popular silence suddenly finds voice, and the demonstrators promptly declare themselves not about to leave the stage when the day — and the demonstration — ends.  Who guessed beforehand that perhaps 50,000 Muscovites would turn out to protest a rigged electoral process in a suddenly restive country, along with crowds in St. Petersburg, Tomsk, and elsewhere from the south to Siberia?

In Tahrir Square in Cairo, they swore: “This time we’re here to stay!”  Everywhere this year, it seemed that they — “we” — were here to stay.  In New York City, when forced out of Zuccotti Park by the police, protesters returned carrying signs that said, “You cannot evict an idea whose time has come.”

And so it seems, globally speaking.  Tunis, Cairo, Madrid, Madison, New York, Santiago, Homs.  So many cities, towns, places.  London, Sana’a, Athens, Oakland, Berlin, Rabat, Boston, Vancouver… it could take your breath away.  And as for the places that aren’t yet bubbling — Japan, China, and elsewhere — watch out in 2012 because, let’s face it, “we exist.” [Read]

Kazakhstan Disables the Internet

occupyallstreets:

Kazakhstan’s president on Saturday imposed a three-week state of emergency in an oil town where 10 people were killed in a clash between police and demonstrators. The city of Zhanaozen has had their internet and local cellphone towers disabled. They claim that they have gained control of the people by imposing a curfew. According to the associated press, internet users are unable to open several independent news sites from Zhanaozen since the disturbance began.  

The blame on all these disturbances seems to be aimed at a bunch of oil workers who had participated in a month long sit down strike, asking for higher wages. Since then, Kazakhstan has labeled them extremists and fired many of them. As of today Kazakhstan celebrates it’s 20th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s independence, and protests are seen as a major problem. 

As of now, hactivist group telecomix has stepped in to help restore the internet to the town of Zhanaozen. Internet censorship is not an acceptable way to control people. Similar to how they helped egypt, dial up internet servers are being set up so that people in Kazakhstan will be able to communicate on dial up soon.

Source

(via anarcho-queer)