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Monday
Jan102011

Algeria: How a "Fundamental Political Deficit" Leads to Demonstrations (Roberts)

It has been widely suggested that the riots have been food or hunger riots, in that they were supposedly triggered by the steep increases in the prices of staple goods, notably sugar and olive oil. These increases were not decreed by the government; the private sector traders appear to have raised prices of their own accord, in reaction to the government's attempts to impose new regulations on their transactions. The government's decision was, in principle, part of the necessary and long overdue attempt to curb the rampant informal sector of the economy by subjecting the trade in foodstuffs to basic regulation and so bring it back into the formal sector. But if so, the government has clearly had no conception of the political difficulty and magnitude of this task and seems to have supposed that it could effect changes of this nature by simple ministerial fiat.

But there can be little doubt that the price increases were simply the last straw. The greater part of Algerian society has been in a permanent state of moral revolt against the regime for the last four or five years. In particular, riots have been a frequent -- one might well say a regular -- feature of the Algerian political landscape for the last decade, since the massive and protracted riots in Kabylia, the main Berber region, in 2001. Since 2005, scarcely a fortnight has gone by without a riot somewhere in the country.

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Monday
Jan102011

Tunisia Latest: Government Says "Message Received" From Protests

2005 GMT: Footage has just been posted which claims to be of a protest tonight in Bizerte.

2000 GMT: Indeed, as we read the reassurances of the Minister of Interior, we see a video of demonstrators burning a poster of President Ben Ali.

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Monday
Jan102011

The Arizona Shootings: Scott Lucas on the BBC

I did a series of interviews for BBC radio and television about this weekend's shootings of 20 people, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, in Arizona. Discussion focused on the context for the violence and what this means for US politics and society.

One of the interviews was with Radio 5 Live. The item begins about the 2:05:00 mark.

Monday
Jan102011

Tunisia Analysis: Mis-Reporting the Story (Whitaker)

The Tunisian uprising is beginning to get more coverage in the English-language media, so this may be a suitable moment to look at the sort of coverage it is getting. 

Considering the horrific violence meted out by the police over the weekend, the Ben Ali regime is being given an extraordinarily easy ride.

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Monday
Jan102011

The Arizona Shootings: The Dangers of Blaming "Violent Rhetoric" (Haddigan)

All those who have come out so far to blame "violent rhetoric" for the slaughter in Tucson have only added to the problem of divided and confrontational politics in the United States. The accusation will fuel resentment within the Tea Party against the liberal left –-- who enjoys being smeared as an accomplice to murder? –--- and only strengthen their resolve to vigorously promote the virtues of overthrowing the establishment in Washington.

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Monday
Jan102011

Iran Document: The Indictment for the Abuses at Kahrizak Prison (Rah-e-Sabz)

A source forwards an English translation, posted on the opposition website Rah-e-Sabz on 5 January, of the Tehran military prosecutor's 27-page indictment against 12 alleged perpretrators of the post-election abuses and killings at the Kahrizak detention centre. The text is introduced with a lengthy analysis:

The full text of the indictment against the accused in the Kahrizak case, signed by the Deputy Military Prosecutor of Tehran, Abbas Parsapour, has recently come to the possession of the Jaras (the Rah-e Sabz (Green Path) Movement). The document, file number 88/4703 and dated 25 Azar 1388 (16 December 2009), is organized in 27 pages. Twelve names appear in this indictment as the accused.

Eleven of the 12 accused who are charged with the crimes in this case are members of the armed forces and one person is a civilian, a hooligan who worked with the law enforcement forces. The highest ranking accused in this case is the commander of the Law Enforcement Forces in the Greater Tehran area (Brigadier General Azizollah Rajabzadeh).

The names of several high-ranking officials of the judiciary also appear in the indictment, but apparently these individuals who issued the orders (making the detainees subject to the conditions in the Kahrizak Detention Center) have not been officially acknowledged by this document as the accused.

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Monday
Jan102011

Sudan Update: Voting on Secession Referendum Continues; 6 Die in Violence (Al Jazeera)

Al Jazeera reports:

Polls have opened for the second day of voting in southern Sudan's historic referendum to determine whether the region will become an independent nation or continue to be part of Sudan.

On Sunday, the first day of voting passed off largely peacefully but more clashes in the disputed border region of Abyei left at least six dead.

Sudan Special: The Referendum for Secession by the South

In the southern capital Juba, the atmosphere was festive with voters queueing for hours outside polling stations.

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Monday
Jan102011

North Korea Special: Kim Jong Il Looks at His Hacked Twitter Account

We have had the esteemed pleasure in recent weeks, first of informing you by pictures of North Korea Dear Leader Kim Jong Il looking at wondrous things like food, pigs, and wood, then of informing you by video of Dear Leader Kim Jong Il looking at an apartment complete with running water, a crying girl, and toilet paper.

We regret this morning, however, that we must inform you that Dear Leader Kim Jong Il is looking at his hacked Twitter account.

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Monday
Jan102011

The Latest from Iran (10 January): Don't Mention the Election

1935 GMT: The "Subversive" Writers. More on the authors targeted in a new Government campaign against dangerous writers (see 1520 GMT)....

The international media have picked up on the specific case of Nobel Prize winner Paolo Coelho, who has appealed to the Brazilian Government after learning from his publisher of a ban on his books.

It is unclear whether the ban is linked to Coelho's editor, translator, and friend, Dr Arash Hejazi. The doctor attracted the ire of the Iranian Government as a supposed foreign agent after he tried to save the life of Neda Agha Soltan, killed by a gunshot during demonstrations on 20 June 2009.

Indeed, there is a Who's Who of Iranian authors whose place on the blacklist has not attracted notice outside Iran. They include Simin Behbahani, Mahmoud Doulatabadi, Ali Ashraf Darvishian, Sepanlou, Javad Mojabi, Bahman Farzaneh, Abbas Milani, Mashallah Ajudani, Bahram Beyzaie, Ebrahim Golestan, and Reza Ghassemi.

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Monday
Jan102011

The Arizona Shootings: What We Know and Don't Know

More than 36 hours since the mass shooting in Tucson, Arizon, killing six people and wounding 14, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, many facts and claims have surfaced: some of them have been proven wrong, notably the report on Saturday that Giffords had died, and some have held up affirmed. But beyond that, many questions remain unanswered.

Giffords, a Democratic Party house member from Arizona’s 8th congressional district, was holding an open meeting with her constituents just after 10 a.m. on Saturday in the Safeway supermarket parking lot in Casas Adobe, near Tucson. The Congresswoman held such meetings, called "Congress on Your Corner", regularly. As the meeting started with the Congresswoman, her aides, and several dozen of her constituents, a 22 year-old white male named Jared Lee Loughner arrived at the scene.

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