Bird’s Eye: Two interesting pieces expand on last week’s Julan Assange: Tariq Ali looks at the wider conflict between South America and the 1st world, and Glen Greenwald looks at the visceral hatred many journalists have towards Assange. Canada plans to spend a billion on their own drones (Thank goodness! I was worried our gov’t would fritter away our money hiring nurses and teachers.) And we have two more pieces on the politics and music of Pussy Riot.
* Why Latin America backs WikiLeaks Tariq Ali Green Left Weekly (Thanks Linda)
And that Venezuelan model, in different ways, spread. It spread to Bolivia, it spread to Ecuador, it spread for a while to Paraguay [where elected president Fernando Lugo was overthrown in a parliamentary coup in June by forces aligned with large landowning interests], to Honduras [where left-wing president Manuel Zelaya was overthrown in a 2009 military coup]. It had a huge impact in Brazil.
And so we don’t have the world of the West now in many South American countries. What do they do? They have oil wealth, they have other sources of wealth. They don’t allow this wealth to go to the fat cats. They don’t allow it to go to bankers. They spend it on free education. They spend it on hospitals. They have created new universities free of charge for poor kids.
They refuse to follow the Western model where everything is privatised — including the armies and including the police force here. Everything is being privatised. The train services here are privatised, in South America they are trying to construct a new one. And so, these social — radical social democratic governments in South America are today — in my opinion — offering more social and human rights to their citizens than the countries of Europe, leave alone the United States.
* The Bizarre, Unhealthy, Blinding Media Contempt For Julian Assange Glenn Greenwald The Guardian
Is it not remarkable that one of the very few individuals over the past decade to risk his welfare, liberty and even life to meaningfully challenge the secrecy regime on which the American national security state (and those of its obedient allies) depends just so happens to have become – long before he sought asylum from Ecuador – the most intensely and personally despised figure among the American and British media class and the British “liberal” intelligentsia?
…When it comes to the American media, I’ve long noted this revealing paradox. The person who (along with whomever is the heroic leaker) enabled “more scoops in a year than most journalists could imagine in a lifetime” – and who was quickly branded an enemy by the Pentagon and a terrorist by high U.S. officials – is the most hated figure among establishment journalists, even though they are ostensibly devoted to precisely these values of transparency and exposing serious government wrongdoing. (This transparency was imposed not only on the US and its allies, but also some of the most oppressive regimes in the Arab world).
But the contempt is far more intense, and bizarrely personal, from the British press, much of which behaves with staggering levels of mutually-reinforcing vindictiveness and groupthink when it’s time to scorn an outsider like Assange. On Tuesday, Guardian columnist Seumas Milne wrote a superb analysis of British media coverage of Assange, and observed that “the virulence of British media hostility towards the WikiLeaks founder is now unrelenting.” Milne noted that to the British press, Assange “is nothing but a ‘monstrous narcissist’, a bail-jumping ‘sex pest’ and an exhibitionist maniac” – venom spewed at someone “who has yet to be charged, let alone convicted, of anything.
* Canadian Military Intends To Spend $1 Billion On Armed Drones Ottawa Citizen
Senior Canadian defence leaders pitched the idea of spending up to $600 million for armed drones to take part in the Libyan war shortly before the conflict ended, according to documents obtained by the Citizen.
And while the death of Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi effectively ended the war and scuttled the Defence Department’s plans, the military has now relaunched its program to purchase unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that can be outfitted with missiles and other bombs. According to DND documents the military intends to spend around $1 billion on the project.
* Pussy Riot Prove The Only Professionals In Sight Michael Idov The Guardian
The entire case was a triumph of amateurism on every conceivable level, as one participant after another forewent logic, law, and common sense in favour of personal grievances, knee-jerk responses and anger.
The Russian authorities took a marginal act of arty protest and, through sheer cruelty, made it into an international cause. (In covering the trial live, CNN and the BBC have broadcast what essentially amount to long infomercials against investing in, visiting and generally dealing with Russia.)
… The only professionals anywhere in sight are Pussy Riot themselves. From their name, perfectly pitched to both shock and attract the western media, to their instantly recognisable look; from their message (concise bursts of feminist agitprop with just enough of a tune to pass as a song), to their method of distributing this message via social networks; from their initial punk posturing in interviews, to their pointedly academic statements to the court, which no less than David Remnick called “a kind of instant classic in the anthology of dissidence”; these women, and they alone in this mess, know exactly what they are doing.
* Have Pussy Riot sparked a new wave of grrl power? The Guardian
For Distras, the Pussy Riot influence echoes the “riot grrrl” scene of the early 1990s, an underground feminist punk movement that originated in the US. Riot grrrl’s central message has been much debated, but can perhaps best be summed up as a mission to engender communities of supportive, creative women. Certainly, Pussy Riot’s abrasive, energetic sound has much in common with that of the original riot grrrls Huggy Bear and Bikini Kill.