Venezuela: Crucial Test for Bolivarian Revolution by Federico Fuentes

Dandelion Salad

by Fred Fuentes
Global Research
November 10, 2008

While on the surface it may appear to be a simple electoral battle, something much different is at stake on November 23.

On that day, Venezuelans will go to the polls to elect 22 governors, 328 mayors, as well as 233 legislators to the state legislative councils and 13 councillors to district committees — including indigenous representation — making a total of 603 positions.

Once again, the intricate process of the Bolivarian revolution will put in play its strengths and weaknesses in the form of an electoral contest.

Deepening the revolution

What is at stake is the dynamic of an economic, social and political revolution that, since 2006, has unequivocally declared its will to leave capitalism behind and build 21st century socialism.

To continue down this path implies a very rapid and energetic deepening of measures to adapt the state apparatus to the necessities of radical transformation.

Will the Venezuelan people express, with sufficient participation and a majority weight, their will to accelerate the revolution?

There is no historic precedent of a struggle of this type ever being resolved through elections — much less in the era of corporate monopoly over information and the shameless manipulation of opinion by the media.

But, as has been the case since the beginning, this process demonstrates features dictated less by Venezuelan particularities than by the never-before-seen historic context within which it is occurring.

And the fact is that, in the middle of October, opinion polls done by opposition companies, as well as those sympathetic to the government, augur a new and clear electoral victory for the revolution.

If this occurs, it will be a real feat of perseverance in defence of a strategic program.

Since December 12, 1998 — when President Hugo Chavez was first elected — up until the referendum on reforming the constitution last December, Chavez won countless elections of all types, each time with more voter participation and by a greater margin.

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Schoolgirls attacked with acid in Afghanistan

Dandelion Salad



This video may contain images depicting the reality and horror of war/violence and should only be viewed by a mature audience.


A group of girls determined to receive an education have been scarred for life in southern Afghanistan.

They were walking to school in Kandahar when battery acid was thrown into their faces by two men. Three of the girls are now in hospital with serious burns.

Al Jazeera’s David Chater reports.

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more about “Schoolgirls attacked with acid in Afg…“, posted with vodpod



Afghanistan – Worth the Sacrifice + 2009 is going to be a very important year for the Iranian issue

Why The Bailout Isn’t Working by Josh Sidman


by Josh Sidman
Dandelion Salad
featured writer
Josh’s Blog Post
November 12, 2008

Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson announced today that the government will not be purchasing troubled assets from banks, as they had previously planned to do. This is a startling reversal, given that this was the centerpiece of the original bailout package. Such an abrupt about-face is hardly encouraging as it begs the question of what exactly the government has been doing all this time and calls into question whether those in charge really have any idea how to solve our problems.

It is common knowledge by now that the root cause of our financial difficulties is excessive debt. Across the whole economic landscape – from individual homeowners to corporations to the government – everyone dug themselves into financial holes that they are now unable to climb out of. This being the case, doesn’t it seem odd that the government’s solution to the crisis is to borrow even more money to shower upon the financial sector in hopes that they will start lending again? This is like treating a patient suffering from alcohol poisoning by force-feeding him another drink.

Yes, functioning credit markets are an essential part of a modern industrial economy, but we seem to have lost sight of the fact that the ultimate health of an economy is based on individuals and corporations creating, buying, and selling valuable goods and services. Yet virtually all of the money the government is spending on its rescue efforts are aimed at Wall Street rather than Main Street. The credit markets ought to be the servant of the real economy, rather than the other way around.

Does nobody find it strange that, while hardly anyone bats an eyelash at the latest hundred-billion-dollar bailout of a bank or insurance company, we hear nothing of plans for increased public spending on infrastructure, technology, or education? Is it really better use of taxpayer money to pour countless billions into a financial black hole like AIG rather than investing in technology and education which will improve the long-term ability of American workers and corporations to compete in the global economy? What if, instead of spending a trillion dollars to help banks avoid the consequences of their own foolishness, we spent that money on building bridges and roads, developing alternative energy, and retraining American workers with outdated skills?

Forgetting for a moment the question of fairness, let’s consider from a purely practical point of view which approach to rescuing the economy is most likely to work.

All of the measures aimed at repairing the credit markets are based on the presupposition that once banks stop the financial bleeding they will resume “normal lending”, thereby rescuing the economy. The rationale underlying this argument is based on a very questionable assumption. Even if banks are willing to lend, borrowers need to perceive attractive uses for capital or they will have no incentive to utilize the available credit. After all, if someone offered you a zero interest loan to purchase real estate right now, would you do it? Two years ago virtually everyone would have answered this question in the affirmative, but things have changed since then.

In the absence of solid investment opportunities, the government can print all of the money it wants, but it may still be incapable of stimulating the real economy. I would argue that the trauma of the last several months has fundamentally changed public attitudes to debt and that a return to “normal lending” is neither possible nor desirable. Do we really want to go back to a state in which people borrow as much as they possibly can in order to buy bigger TVs and homes they can’t really afford?

If, on the other hand, the government announced that it was going to spend a trillion dollars to repair roads and bridges, build wind farms, and retrain American workers, the stimulative effects would be far more certain. Millions of jobs would be created and those millions of employees would have an increased ability to spend and invest. This seems like a far more effective way of battling the current crisis than pouring money into banks and insurance companies in the hopes that they will return to business as usual.


Sign Petition for a Monetary System That Puts People First – Open Letter to G-20

Fed Defies Transparency Aim in Refusal to Disclose + A Quiet Windfall For U.S. Banks

Mikhail Khazin: U.S. will soon face second “Great Depression”

Will the US default on its foreign debt? Interview with Michael Hudson

How to Survive the Coming US Dollar Collapse By Christopher Laird


The Economy Sucks and or Collapse

Mosaic News – 11/11/08: World News from the Middle East

Dandelion Salad



This video may contain images depicting the reality and horror of war/violence and should only be viewed by a mature audience.


Mosaic needs your help! Donate here:

“Bombing Shows Fragility of Iraq’s Security Gains,” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
“Reopening of Iraq bridge symbolizes renewed unity,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Iraq cholera outbreak under control,” Al-Iraqiya TV, Iraq
“Low Turnout in Jerusalem Municipal Elections,” IBA TV, Israel
“Palestinians boycott Jerusalem election,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Abbas calls on Hamas to go for early elections,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Muslim Immigrants Affected the Most by Unemployment in France,” Al-Alam TV, Iran
“Obama Will Inherit Many Problems,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Reviving Train Service Between Jordan & Syria,” Syria TV, Syria
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

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French immigrants must learn La Marseillaise says Nicolas Sarkozy ally

A New Political Party Is Needed by Joel S. Hirschhorn

by Joel S. Hirschhorn
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
November 12, 2008

Third-party presidential candidates had a miserable showing this year, totaling just over one percent of the grand total with 1.5 million votes nationwide, compared to almost 123 million votes for Barack Obama and John McCain. It couldn’t be clearer that Americans are not willing to voice their political discontent by voting for third-party presidential candidates. The two-party duopoly and plutocracy is completely dominant. The US lacks the political competition that exists in other western democracies.

For many years, third parties have not been able to offer a presidential candidate that captures the attention and commitment of a modest fraction of Americans, unlike Ross Perot (8.4 percent in 1996 and 18.9 percent in 1992) and John Anderson (6.6 percent in 1980).

This year, among the four most significant third-party presidential candidates, Ralph Nader without a national party did the best with 678,683 votes or 0.5 percent of the grand total (a little better than in 2004’s 0.4 percent but much worse than in 2000 running as a Green Party candidate with 2.7 percent). He was followed by Bob Barr the Libertarian Party candidate with 499,744 votes or 0.4 percent of the total (typical of all Libertarian candidates in recent elections), followed by Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party with just 180,615 votes or 0.1 percent, and then Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party with only 146,494 votes or 0.1 percent.

Showing the problem of ballot access, engineered by the two major parties, is that there were only 15 states where all four were on the ballot. In all but one, Nader received more votes than the other three third-party candidates. In four states only one of the four candidates was on the ballot; in one state none of them were (Oklahoma).

Nader’s best state was California with 81,434 votes, as it was for McKinney’s with 28,624 votes. Baldwin was not on the ballot there. Alan Keyes received 30,787 votes in California. Barr’s best state was Texas with 56,398 votes. None of the other three were on the ballot there. In his home state of Georgia where he had been a Representative Barr received 28,420 votes (and none of the other three were on the ballot). Baldwin’s best state was Michigan with 14, 973 votes. Nader was not on the ballot there.

In round numbers, Barack Obama raised $639 million or about $10 per vote, and John McCain raised $360 million or $6 per vote, compared to Ralph Nader with $4 million and $6 per vote, Bob Barr with about $1 million or $2 per vote, and Cynthia McKinney with only about $118,000 or less than $1 per vote. Money matters, but the ability of the two-party duopoly to keep third-party presidential candidates out of the nationally televised debates matters more for media attention, money and votes.

It must also be noted that there were countless congressional races with third-party and independent candidates, but none were able to win office, with only a very few reaching the 20 percent level. That third-party candidates can win local government offices means little because political party affiliation at that level is overshadowed by personal qualifications.

I say that current third-party activists should admit defeat, shut down their parties, and move on. Unlike so much of American history, current third-parties no longer play a significant role in American politics or even in affecting public policies. Current parties have shown their inability to matter.

We need a new, vibrant political party that could bring many millions of American dissidents, progressives and conservatives, and especially chronic non-voters, together behind a relatively simple party platform focused on structural reforms (not merely political change) in the political and government system. It should position itself as a populist alternative and opponent to the two-party plutocracy. It should define itself as against the corporate and other special interests on the left and right that use money to corrupt our political system. I suggest the name: Patriotic Party, with Thomas Jefferson as its spiritual founder and seek the political revolution he said was needed periodically.

Here is what helps. Despite considerable enthusiasm for Barack Obama, there is widespread unhappiness with both the Democratic and Republican Parties. One indication is that the majority of voters register as independents. Plus there has always been a chorus of negative views about the two-party system. In one pragmatic sense this is the ideal time to create a new party. Why? Because of the incredible loss of stature of the Republican Party. Why not envision a new party that could replace the Republican Party on the national stage and provide a sharp alternative to the Democratic Party? In other words, we don’t need a new third party as much as we need a new major party.

[Contact Joel S. Hirschhorn through]


Ralph Nader Posts & Videos

The Anti-Incumbency Movement is Dead by Joel S. Hirschhorn

Libertarians and Socialists as Workers Must Unite by Lo

Nader: Obama will be like Bush + Obama recruits “Rahmbo” Emanuel + Howard Zinn

Between Hope and Reality – An Open Letter to Barack Obama By Ralph Nader

Hirschhorn-Joel S.

Afghanistan – Worth the Sacrifice + 2009 is going to be a very important year for the Iranian issue

compiled by Cem Ertür
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
12 November 2008

excerpt from UK defence secretary John Hutton: “Afghanistan – Worth the Sacrifice

On Tuesday 11th November 2008 Rt. Hon John Hutton MP, Secretary of State for Defence, addressed the International Institute for Strategic Studies on Afghanistan

Terrorism is a constant threat. One that actually cannot be understated. Wished away or appeased.  Now it has to be confronted. Wherever and whenever it threatens our security here at home. That is why we have 8000 troops in Afghanistan.

And to those who say that we can never succeed, that we should walk away and accept defeat, I say simply this: the victims of that kind of defeatism would be the British people. We would have abandoned our ability to tackle terrorism at source. And we would then have to deal with it here on our own streets.


excerpt from ‘Speech given by the Prime Minister to the Lord Mayor’s Banquet at the Guildhall

by Gordon Brown, 10 November 2008

And we will support the Afghan and Pakistan governments in working together to tackle the security issues across the border which the last decade has shown are crucial to our own security at home. Afghanistan is a test the international community cannot afford to fail. And we will not fail.


excerpt from ‘UK Foreign Secretary Miliband on Andrew Marr Show

Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, was interviewed in the Andrew Marr show on Sunday 9 November on Obama’s election and foreign policy issues.

DM: … [T]his is in the end about making Afghanistan safe for its own people from Taliban and therefore from entry by Al Qaeda, but also thereby making us safe.

AM:  Iran.  Inconceivable that there would be a sudden attack before there’s a change of presidency.

DM:  Well I think that we, and by that I mean the Americans as well as European countries and China and Russia, are a hundred per cent focused on a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian problem.  The Iranian problem, let’s be absolutely clear, is that the Government of Iran is in defiance of five UN Security Council resolutions.  It’s in defiance of the International Atomic Energy Authority as well.  Why?  ‘Cause we can not, because they have not been able to show that their intentions in respect of nuclear power are purely civilian.

The danger from Iran is that the pursuit of a nuclear weapon by that country triggers an arms race in the Middle East and for all the problems in the Middle East the last thing it can stand is an, is a nuclear arms race.  And so the stakes are very high.

2009 is going to be a very important year for the Iranian issue and the ball is in the Iranian court.  We, along with the Americans, have made a very clear offer to Iran, economic benefit, civilian nuclear power benefit is on the table if you suspend your programme that is leaking in to a nuclear weapons programme, that is why the stakes are so high.

AM:  And to be absolutely clear, you said a hundred per cent focus on a diplomatic solution.  So before January the 20th, no kind of attack, nothing, nothing because there’s been this talk as you know of President Bush wanting to finish this business before he leaves.

DM:  President Bush and Condoleezza Rice decided to send the most senior American diplomat to the talks process that was held with allies from Europe and Russia and China with the Iranians.  That was a very significant acknowledgement that it is the diplomatic track that needs to work.  But the ball is in the Iranian court.  They are in defiance of successive UN Security Council resolutions.  The situation is serious, because the whole Arab world, never mind Israel, are extremely concerned about the nuclear weapon pretensions of Iran.

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Obama will want more European soldiers to fight in Afghanistan + Indian Army officer arrested over bomb attack

US air raid kills Afghan civilians + Afghanistan’s expectations of Obama

The Mission Possible in Afghanistan by David Miliband

Coalition forces on the wrong track in Afghanistan

November 4th 2008 – The Day Democracy Changed

Dandelion Salad

Crossposted at Thomas Paine’s Corner thanks, Jason.

By William Patching

No, I am not about to wax lyrical on the remarkable phenomenon of an African-American’s ascension to the famous white house that black slaves built on Pennsylvania Avenue, or that his upbringing in Indonesia contrasts so vividly from the jingoistic insularity we have to come to expect from the ‘Leader of the Free World’.

Nor am I reveling in the delicious reality that the feeble-minded Bush’s days are numbered and his contemptible policies of antagonism and hatred will no longer be visited on the weak and less fortunate by his administration – or continued by his McPalin clone.

Yes, it is refreshing that the new White House incumbent can string a sentence together, and he genuinely seems intellectually equipped to lead the US away from a constitutionally bleak period – one that threatened the very fabric of American society. But none of these things are reasons why I contend that democracy changed on 11/4/08.

As a renowned cynic when it comes to politicians – it is my firmly held belief that pretty much anyone who aspires to political office is psychologically unsuited to the role – I have no great faith that Obama will deliver much change at all. He is constrained by the same two-party illusion of democracy that the millions of indoctrinated flag-waving, anthem-singing, gun-toting, bible-thumping US patriots hold so dear. The oligarchs, the bloated corporatists and their media machine will use the mechanisms and inertia of government to tie Obama’s hands so securely America will not be that different in four years or eight years – even if he does his best to deliver on his pre-election promise of ‘Change we can believe in’.

So, if Obama himself is not the true agent of change, then how can the date of his election mark a more fundamental shift for democracy?

The answer is simple: you are experiencing the defining element in this shift right now. It is pulsating at the speed of light on the screen in front of you and literally dancing at your fingertips. Yes, you may not realize it but you are reading this commentary via the most powerful new democratic medium ever conceived: the internet.

A technological battleground

Obama took the first tentative – but hugely successful – steps in harnessing this new medium in his campaign; he reached through the ether and used the web to involve more people in the democratic process than ever before, galvanizing a massive land army of enthusiasts proselytizing his message of change throughout the country, and he saturated the ground with devotees even in the most sclerotic Republican strongholds. This level of individual involvement is just one element in the technological shift demonstrated in this 21st century US election, one that could presage a new era of political representation.

The second strand in this seemingly mundane but fundamentally different battle for the White House was a function of a generation gap: McCain doesn’t even use email and seems fearful of technology, whereas Obama not only understood the potential power of the internet to boost involvement in his campaign, he exploited it to raise hundreds of millions of dollars from individual contributors. This level of bottom-up fundraising is a first, but it won’t be the last time a political candidate electronically dips into ordinary people’s pockets.

This populist approach to campaign financing is a very democratic way of funding presidential hopefuls, and could even spell the end of the Washington gravy train. Imagine severing political candidate’s reliance on the grasping porcine lobbyists, snuffling for post-election goodies as a reward for their patronage (ie cash), and how politics could then more accurately reflect voters’ concerns.

Okay, Obama still tapped into the corporate coffers, sucking as much cash from his Wall Street and Hollywood backers as he did from the general public, but the end result was that a Democrat finally outflanked the well-oiled Republican fundraising machine, allowing him to overwhelm McCain’s propaganda campaign with a hugely successful one of his own.

Blogging for the truth?

Citizen journalists, political bloggers and online news outlets also played their part in this election – they represent the third wave moving toward a new democracy – though the political parties were much more evenly balanced when it came to getting their messages across in the virtual world. Bear in mind that many of these blogs are relatively new (The Huffington Post did not exist at time of the last presidential election) yet the spill over to the mainstream media from informed commentary and analysis on both left and right wing sites generally improved the national debate.

More importantly, the power of the internet kept a check on the usual mainstream media political steamroller, releasing control over the messages the public received. Any contentious issue immediately bubbled into cyberspace and was debated and debunked where necessary. Spurious claims were hotly researched by the candidates’ supporters and immediately refuted in cyberspace, spiraling straight back to the mainstream outlets. This time round the media oligarchs could not dictate the messages: lies could no longer be pedaled and left to fester in the public consciousness without rejoinder.

Obama, the one on the receiving end of the most vicious campaign of vile mendacity, benefited most as his fans created a massive backlash against the rabid TV talking heads on Fox News and the anodyne Washington Post pundits, taking them to task on everything from his purported Muslim beliefs to his disputed birth in Hawaii. Through the power of the internet people are gradually becoming more aware of the narrowness of debate fostered by the traditional news outlets and fighting against the propaganda: this is A Good Thing for democracy.

Looking back 2500 years to look forward…

The Democrats stole the advantage in the technological arena through Obama’s internet savvy background and his antediluvian opponent’s inability to comprehend the potential of today’s technology, but the broader implications have yet to stir the public imagination.

Few people seem to realize how the internet has created an opportunity to dramatically change the US (western) model of democracy. Not to something new… but actually to something based on an ancient form of democracy, quite possibly the original form of democracy: Athenian style from twenty five centuries ago.

Towards a better form of democracy

One person one vote as the basis of western democratic government sounds reasonable, and these days we are rather more egalitarian than the Athenians whose model ascribed one male one vote, as long a he was not a slave. But whereas Athenians voted on all issues and policies, we are coerced into choosing representatives who, like Bush, then ignore the electorate for four years, cozy up to their corporate cronies at the expense of the citizens, and take hugely unpopular decisions even when opinion polls clearly show they are out of step with voters.

This charade, pompously claiming to be the best form of democracy in the world, has been directly responsible for the disillusionment and powerlessness felt by most of the western population when it comes to politics. It is outdated and should be tossed on the scrapheap of history: the Obama campaign has cracked open the door to an effective participatory democracy that would re-energize the people and re-engage the masses in the political process.

A government by the people…

Is it possible to emulate the Athenians by creating a system that would allow a referendum on every major policy proposal? And if we were able to do so can we dispense with elected representatives?

It has been argued that a pure democratic system would be too cumbersome; to reflect the will of the people there would need to be a referendum on all major issues, with any voters who feel they have an interest in the topic taking part. It does not take much imagination to understand how internet technology could make such a system a reality, both in educating the public on the options and alternatives, as well as offering them the option to vote and affect the outcome.

Elected representatives would still have a role in government, but it would be very limited compared with today – a factor that explains establishment resistance to electoral reform and any push toward a true democracy. Ideally our politicians would be appointed by popular vote but restricted to formulating policies, putting forward their proposals and making recommendations for the electorate to vote on before implementation. Each politician would truly represent the electorate as an enabler rather than, as Bush rather grandly anointed himself, a decider.

We the people could decide. On everything.

Would the Iraq war have happened if such a system was in place?

Implementing such an electoral system would create a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Sounds like a good ideal to aspire to…
Change we should believe in

The technology is here, only the will is lacking. Sadly our political leaders are hardly likely to support changing to a system that would dis-empower them. Altruism and selflessness are no longer words you would associate with most politicians, and the dead hand of vested interest will inevitably stifle any progress toward a more representative form of democracy.

If we let it.

The beauty of the internet is that a quiet revolution is already underway and Obama has unwittingly boosted it by shining some light on the technology’s true democratic potential. We should all celebrate the fact of his elevation to the Presidency for this reason, if for no other

Will Patching is a reformed workaholic mammonist with a total lack of respect for the babblings of the mainstream media and a healthy suspicion of all politicians’ words and actions. His eclectic writings range from blogs on politics and current affairs through to short stories and thriller novels. He can usually be found exploring the South China Seas from his base in Thailand or, more easily, at


The White House 2 – Where YOU set the nation’s priorities

What Do People Who Want Change Do Now?

Obama’s First Press Conference 11.07.08

Does a Leopard Change Its Spots? by William Bowles

Howard Zinn: Keep the Expectations High for Obama

A Look Under the Hood at the (Potential) Obama Administration