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Electoral Politics


Chinese soldiers seen in Mutare

April 16th, 2008

One of our activists yesterday evening received an email from a contact in Mutare, who saw and reported this:

There are some chinese army personnel staying at the Holiday Inn here in Mutare and they are moving between their hotel and the local army/police HQ.

What are they doing there? Especially at this time?

A quick search this morning pulled this article up, published on zimbabwejournalists.com, which corroborates the truth of what he saw:

Venezuela 2008: A Libertarian Proposal for the Current Situation

* The Collective Editorship of El Libertario, www.nodo50.org/ellibertario, expounds its vision of which path to follow in the current situation in Venezuela, summed up in the slogan, “Against the (B)oligarchy, demagoguery and corruption: Autonomous struggle of the underdogs!

Here is my own offer for ending the conflict (originally written almost 3 months ago, right after shmanapolis):

Fellow Leftists...

Transnational Institute writes:

Networked Politics:

Rethinking Political Organisation

Rethinking Political Organisation in an Age of Movements and Networks
A reader produced by TNI, Transform! Italia, IGOP and Euromovements
January 2007

Networked Politics is the product of a collaborative research process for rethinking political organisation in an age of movements and networks. In a world where the traditional institutions of democratic control have been weakened by an unconstrained global market and superpower military ambitions, it uncovers diverse forms of resistance with the potential to create new institutions for social change. The authors set out the principles upon which such transformations should be based, and the challenges that stand in the way of their realisation.

The discussion is then pursued along four interrelated lines of inquiry. These examine social movements, including their development of new forms of knowledge and organisation; progressive political parties, and attempts to bring about transformative forms of political respresentation; the dangers and opportunities facing the development of political institutions in a network society; and the potential of new techno-political tools for facilitating and reconceiving political organisation. A series of case studies are also offered, drawing critical lessons from the experience of the German Green Party; the 2006 French mobilisation against the controversial CPE employment law; and an extended discussion on 'open source as a metaphor for new institutions'.


Download the reader as a single file (7.29 MB) or by chapters (below).

Solve et Coagula writes:

"The United States of Barbarism"

James Bovard, Future of Freedom Foundation

September 25, 2006

The U.S. Senate is cutting a deal with President Bush to make America a banana republic. Last week, three senators reached an agreement with the White House that will de facto permit the CIA to continue torturing people around the world. And the deal will prevent anyone — including Bush administration officials — from being held liable for the torture.

This is latest sign that our elected representatives in Washington believe that the federal government deserves absolute power over everyone in the world. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell warned recently that Bush’s efforts to gut the Geneva Conventions would cause the world to "doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism.”

But more important, the Senate-White House torture deal should cause Americans to doubt the moral basis of their entire government. After 9/11, many Bush administration officials seemed determined to use any and every means to bludgeon people suspected of terrorism or terrorist intent. The Justice Department delivered to the White House a memo in August 2002 explaining why Bush was not bound by the War Crimes Act or the Anti-Torture Act.

The memo began by largely redefining torture out of existence. It then explained why even if someone died during torture, the torturer might not be guilty if he felt the torture was necessary to prevent some worse evil. The memo concluded by revealing that the president has the right to order torture because he is above the law, at least during wartime (even if Congress has not declared war).

The Justice Department declared that the president may effectively exempt government officials from federal criminal law, noting that “Congress cannot compel the President to prosecute outcomes taken pursuant to the President’s own constitutional authority. If Congress could do so, it could control the President’s authority through the manipulation of federal criminal law.”

The memo’s absolutism would have brought a smile to despots everywhere: “As the Supreme Court has recognized... the President enjoys complete discretion in the exercise of his Commander-in-Chief authority and in conducting operations against hostile forces.... we will not read a criminal statute as infringing on the President’s ultimate authority in these areas.”

Thus, the “commander-in-chief” label automatically swallows up the rest of the Constitution. Yet, as Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh observed, “If the president has commander-in-chief power to commit torture, he has the power to commit genocide, to sanction slavery, to promote apartheid, to license summary execution.”

This is the doctrine that the Senate-White House deal largely codifies. It will be up to the president to declare which interrogation methods U.S. agents can use — almost regardless of the Geneva Conventions. It will be up to the president to decree who will face “rough” interrogation.

The details of the torture deal vivify how our politicians no longer give a darn about maintaining even a pretense of due process. The agreement will permit the use of coerced confessions in military tribunals — turning the judicial clock back to the 1600s. The Washington Post noted that the agreement permits “defense attorneys to challenge the use of hearsay information obtained through coercive interrogations in distant countries only if they can prove it is unreliable.” Thus, there is a presumption of correctness to whatever accusation is bludgeoned out of people in secret prisons around the world.

And it will be almost impossible to disprove an accusation when a defense lawyer is not allowed to question — or perhaps even know — who made the charge.
But that is fair enough for the U.S. Congress.

The New York Times noted that the agreement “would impose new legal standards that it forbids the courts to enforce.” Thus, it will be impossible for the vast majority of detainees at Guantanamo to challenge their detention.

The unverified accusations of U.S. government officials will still be the highest law of the land. The habeas corpus rights that go back to the Magna Charta of 1215 will be null and void under the agreement for many, if not most, detainees.

The torture scandal shows what happens when politicians and political appointees are permitted to redefine barbarism out of existence. If the government can effectively claim a right to torture, then all other limits on government power are practically irrelevant. What would it take to make the public acquiesce to the torture of Americans? Would simply applying an “odious” label (such as “cult member” at Waco, or “Muslim” with John Walker Lindh) to the victims be sufficient?

[James Bovard is the author of Attention Deficit Democracy [2006] as well as The Bush Betrayal [2004], Lost Rights [1994] and Terrorism and Tyranny: Trampling Freedom, Justice and Peace to Rid the World of Evil (Palgrave-Macmillan, September 2003) and serves as a policy advisor for The Future of Freedom Foundation. Send him email.


Solve et Coagula writes:

"How to Hack a Diebold Voting Machine"

Marty Kaplan

Diebold Hack

Mexican Leftists Swarm Capital in Election Protest

Cyntia Barrera

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) — A massive crowd marched through Mexico City on
Sunday to back a leftist who claims he was robbed of victory in a fiercely
contested presidential election and is demanding a vote-by-vote recount.

At least 100,000 protesters [police finally estimated 2.4 million, twice the size of the July 16 rally, and the largest in Mexican history, Ed.] swarmed toward the central Zocalo, one of the
world's largest squares, where Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was to rally his
supporters for a campaign of civil disobedience.

"Lopez Obrador, hold on, the people are rising up," supporters chanted on
Sunday, many dressed in the bright yellow of his leftist Party of the
Democratic Revolution, or PRD.

Mexico was plunged into a political crisis by the close July 2 election,
which saw ruling party conservative Felipe Calderon beat Lopez Obrador by
just around 244,000 votes out of 41 million cast.

Lopez Obrador, an austere former mayor of Mexico City who campaigned on
promises to help Mexico's poor with ambitious welfare and infrastructure
programs, claims the result was rigged against him.

"The elections were filthy," said Maria Teresa Priego, a 57-year-old city
government employee. "We are here to support a humble man, a hard-working

It was the third mass protest in the last three weeks, and many expected it
to be the biggest.

The crowd grew steadily as it approached the Zocalo, which holds well over
100,000 people and was once the center of the Aztec empire. It is still the
heart of modern Mexico, home to the National Palace and the capital's main


Lopez Obrador says vote counts were fiddled at more than half the country's
roughly 130,000 polling stations. He is challenging them before Mexico's
highest electoral court, and says he will only accept the result if there
is a recount.

While stressing his protests will stay peaceful, Lopez Obrador upped the
ante last week by declaring he was the country's legitimate president and
warning his supporters had plenty of energy for more protests.

Critics accuse him of holding the country to ransom with threats of civil

However large the latest protest, it is unlikely to directly influence the
seven electoral court judges who have until August 31 to decide whether
there is a case to reopen ballot boxes.

Their choices range from throwing out Lopez Obrador's case and declaring
Calderon the winner, to ordering a partial or full recount or even
annulling the election and calling for a repeat.

An annulment is thought highly unlikely and, without it, the court must
formally declare Mexico's president-elect by September 6.

Calderon insists the vote was clean and that no recount is needed. While
his party's lawyers are fighting the PRD at the electoral court, he is
trying to pull support from other opposition parties for reforms he plans
to push through once he takes office in December.

[Additional reporting by Catherine Bremer.]

As Mexico Awaits Judges' Ruling, The Writing Is On The Wall And In The

AMLO Presidente!

John Ross, CounterPunch

MEXICO CITY — The day before Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), the
peppery left leader who insists he is the winner of the July 2 election
here, summoned over a million Mexicans to the great Zocalo plaza to lay
out plans for civil resistance to prevent right-winger Felipe Calderon
from stealing the presidency, this reporter marched down from
neighboring Morelos state with a group of weather-beaten campesinos the
color of the earth.

Saul Franco and his companeros farmed plots in the village of
Anenecuilco, the hometown of revolutionary Emiliano Zapata who gave his
life to defend the community's land from the big hacienda owners. "It
is our obligation to fix this fraud and kick the rich out of power,"
Saul explained. "If Zapata was still alive he would be with us today"
the 52 year-old farmer insisted, echoing the sentiment on the
hand-lettered cardboard sign he carried.

But although Saul and his companions admired and supported Lopez
Obrador, they were not so happy with AMLO's party, the Party of the
Democratic Revolution or PRD. "We had a PRD mayor and things went badly
and we lost the next time around," remembered Pedro, Saul's cousin.
Indeed, many PRD candidates are just made-over members of the
once-ruling (71 years) Institutional Revolutionary Party or PRI that
have climbed on Lopez Obrador's coattails to win public office. In 57
per cent of all elections the PRD has won, the party has subsequently
failed to win reelection.

Electoral Fraud and Rebellion in Mexico

Roger Burbach

Over half a million people took to the streets of Mexico City on
Saturday to protest the fraudulent election of Felipe Calderon.
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the real winner of the presidential
election, told the huge crowd, "the elections were fraudulent from
the start," adding the incumbent president, Vincente Fox "has
betrayed democracy."

The reason Fox and his National Action Party (PAN) pulled out all the
stops to steal the election is quite simple — they are desperately
afraid of the growing class rebellion by Mexico's poor and oppressed.
The campaign slogan of Lopez Obrador was straight forward: "For the
good of all, the poor first." In a country where almost half the
population lives below the poverty line Lopez Obrador pledged to
provide a stipend to the elderly and health care for the poor.
Millions of jobs will also be created, particularly by undertaking
large construction projects to modernize Mexico's dilapidated
transportation system. He also promised to renegotiate the North
American Free Trade Agreement with the United States, particularly
the clauses that allow the importation of cheap subsidized grains
that undermine Mexico's peasant producers.

Anonymous Comrade writes:

"Why American Liberalism Is Impossible"

John Chuckman

I heard an interview the other day with Peter Beinart who has a new book called The Good Fight: Why Liberals – and Only Liberals – Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again. Apart from a slight nausea induced by a toothy Richard Beymer smile offering reassuring platitudes, there was a sense of both déjà vu and ennui, and the interview only succeeded in reinforcing my gloomy conviction that there are virtually no liberals left in America.

You cannot be a liberal in any meaningful sense of the word and talk about winning a war on terror. It is a ridiculous inconsistency and a revealing one. When someone representing himself as a liberal feels he must appeal to Americans in these terms, it tells us a lot about the state of that nation’s values, just as it did when Michael Moore announced he supported that arrogant, perfumed generalissimo, Wesley Clark, for president.


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