Chris Hedges is a New York Times Pulitzer-prize winning war correspondent who for two decades covered conflicts in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He returned to the United States to become a powerful social critic and critic of capitalism, and is the author of a dozen books, including War is a Force that Gives us Meaning; Death of the Liberal Class; and Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt. He is a columnist for Truthdig and the host of the Emmy-nominated show On Contact on RT America.
“Suppose that some great disaster were to sweep ten million families out to sea and leave ‘em on a desert island to starve and rot. That would be … an act of God, maybe. But suppose a manner of government that humans have set up and directed, drives ten million families into the pit of poverty and starvation? That’s no act of God. That’s our fool selves actin’ like lunatics. What humans have set up they can take down…. Whoever says we’ve got to have a capitalist government when we want a workers’ government, is givin’ the lie to the great founders of these United States….”
We have blind men, one-eyed men, squint-eyed men, men with long sight, short sight, clear sight, dim sight, [and] weak sight. All that is a faithful enough image of our understanding; but we are barely acquainted with [men of] false sight. — Voltaire, The Philosophical Dictionary, Knopf, NY, 1924
Author Michael Parenti challenges his audience to learn about and advocate free speech in the face of oppression. From the origins of the Bill of Rights up to today’s challenges by the FBI and other government entities, Parenti says, it is essential to stand up for one’s rights. He spoke at an event sponsored by the South Bay Committee Against Political Repression.
Tadesse is a 28-year-old Ethiopian from the capital, Addis Ababa. Like thousands of others he took part in demonstrations over the last three years, and together with family members, refused to pledge support for the Ethiopian government. Such displays of political dissent led to him being repeatedly imprisoned, tortured and cruelly mistreated. Now safe in Europe, he is in physical pain and psychological anguish as a result of the barbaric way he was treated in prison.
Under relentless popular pressure the Ethiopian Prime-Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, has been forced to resign, other members of the government are expected to follow. In his resignation speech he acknowledged that, ”unrest and a political crisis have led to the loss of lives and displacement of many,” Reuters reports. ‘Loss of lives’ of innocent Ethiopians at the hands of TPLF security personnel to be clear. “I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy.”
Have you noticed that it’s no longer PC Dixon of Dock Green who mediates the relationship between the state and its citizens as he goes about his beat in your neighbourhood? Instead, it’s a Kevlar-armoured, video-monitored, taser-equipped, drone-surveilled, spit-masked supplied soldier, straight out of Star Wars, who now staggers along under the weight of an industrialized capitalism, visibly physically disconnected from the citizens they monitor by their bullet-proof uniforms, that more resemble a rack of tools in your local hardware store than the Bobby on the beat.
Since November 2015 unprecedented protests have been taking place in Ethiopia: angry and frustrated at the widespread abuse of human rights and the centralization of power in the hands of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) tens of thousands have taken to the streets. The ruling party’s response to this democratic outpouring has been consistently violent; hundreds have been killed and beaten by security forces, tens of thousands arrested and imprisoned.
In an attempt to distract attention from unprecedented protests and widespread discontent, the Ethiopian Government has engineered a series of violent ethnic conflicts in the country. The regime blames regional parliaments and historic territorial grievances for the unrest, but Ethiopians at home and abroad lay the responsibility firmly at the door of the ruling party who, it’s claimed, are manipulating events.
At Trump’s inauguration, around 200 protesters and journalists were mass arrested and now face up to 70 years in prison on baseless charges. Many other legal assaults on civil liberties are in the works around the country, from treating anti-fascists as “domestic terrorists”, to legislation protecting drivers who run over peaceful marchers.