Society's Child


Contemptible: Bahrain Grand Prix to go ahead despite regime forces beating protester to death on eve of race

© Mazen Mahdi/EPA
Bahrain security forces fire teargas at protesters during clashes near the site where the body of Salah Abbas was found.
Formula One race subject to mounting global outcry after discovery of body of protester allegedly abducted from village by military

Bahrain's Formula One grand prix will go ahead despite a growing international outcry about the staging of the race in the Gulf state that intensified on Saturdayfollowing the discovery of the body of a protester allegedly abducted from a village by security forces.

According to the opposition party Wefaq, the body of 36-year-old Salah Abbas Habib Musa, a father of five, was found on a rooftop in the Shia village of Shakhoura the day before the race.

With dozens of armoured personnel carriers guarding the main route to the circuit, the decision by F1 and the Sunni minority royal family to push ahead with the event - partly to help convince the world of Bahrain's return to normality - appeared to be degenerating into a human rights and PR catastrophe.

Comment: To understand the mentality of the organizers of Formula One races, see also:

Tyrants of Formula One racing: Hitler supporter billionaire Bernie Ecclestone and Fascist Scion Max Mosley

Formula One's fascism fetish should not surprise anyone

Red Flag

French law prohibits premature publication of exit poll results: If breached, election could be annulled

Has Sarko got one last trick up his sleeve on polling day?
A row over the publication of exit polls is threatening to mar the run up to the French presidential elections.

With less than 24 hours before France goes to the polls in the first round of voting, authorities have issued threats of legal action against anyone who intends to flout a ban on the publication of exit polls.

In France, exit polls - which are taken as an accurate reflection of the election result - are available shortly after 6pm when voting stations close in small towns and villages across the country.

But under current rules, French media are barred from publishing the surveys or even partial results until 8pm, the time when voting stations in big cities like Paris and Marseille officially shut.

If there is a widespread breach of the ban, France could even face the possibility of the elections being annulled as candidates have the right to call for a revote if they feel electors have been unduly swayed by the leaks.

Chemical Plant Blast Kills 1, Injures 17 People in Japan

An explosion at a chemical plant in western Japan on Sunday killed one worker and injured 17, including nearby residents, NHK TV channel reported.

The blast occurred at Mitsui Chemicals' Iwakuni-Ohtake facility in the Yamaguchi prefecture.

The explosion hit the adhesive plant shortly after 2 a.m. local time. A 22-year-old worker was killed and 11 others were injured.

The blast broke windows of about 270 buildings, including nearby houses. The hands and heads of six people were cut by broken glass.

Amsterdam Train Crash Leaves Dozens Injured

Dutch Train Crash
© Evert Elzinga/EPA
Dutch rescue workers at the scene of the train crash in Amsterdam.
More than 100 passengers have been injured after two trains collided head-on in Amsterdam. Of those hurt, at least 56 suffered severe injuries and 13 were in a critical condition, according to a police spokesman.

The crash, involving an inter-city train and a local stopping service, happened near Sloterdijk, to the west of the capital, at around 4.30pm.

A police spokesman, Ed Kraszewski, told Amsterdam's AT5 news station that the spaciousness of the carriages on one of the trains may have contributed to injuries.

"We assume many people were thrown around the train by the crash - against walls, seats and other people," he said.

He added that some of the victims had broken bones and neck injuries.

One of the trains was serving the cities of Den Helder and Nijmegen. The other ran between Amsterdam and Uitgeest, a railway official said.

Gulf fisheries' survival at risk two years after BP oil disaster

Nearly two years after BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, fishermen and scientists say things are getting worse.

Hundreds of thousands of people living along the US Gulf Coast have hung their economic lives on lawsuits against BP.

Fishermen, in particular, are seeing their way of life threatened with extinction - both from lack of an adequate legal settlement and collapsing fisheries.

One of these people, Greg Perez, an oyster fisherman in the village of Yscloskey, Louisiana, has seen a 75 per cent decrease in the amount of oysters he has been able to catch.

"Since the spill, business has been bad," he said. "Sales and productivity are down, our state oyster grounds are gone, and we are investing personal money to rebuild oyster reefs, but so far it's not working."

Perez, like so many Gulf Coast commercial fisherman, has been fishing all his life. He said those who fish for crab and shrimp are "in trouble too", and he is suing BP for property damage for destroying his oyster reefs, as well as for his business' loss of income.

People like Perez make it possible for Louisiana to provide 40 percent of all the seafood caught in the continental US.

But Louisiana's seafood industry, valued at about $2.3bn, is now fighting for its life.
Che Guevara

People Power! 120,000 Czechs stage huge anti-austerity, anti-government rally in Prague

© Reuters
Protesters demanded the immediate resignation of the coalition government
Anti-government demonstrators in the Czech Republic have staged what they describe as the biggest rally since the fall of communism in 1989.

They say 120,000 people packed the capital Prague, protesting against austerity measures and corruption. Police put the numbers at 90,000.

Echoing 1989, people jangled their keys - a signal to the centre-right coalition cabinet to lock up and leave.

The government has recently been rocked by splits and defections.

Identity Crisis of the Left

Socialist poster
© Unknown
A campaign poster for the Socialist Party ticket for president, 1904.
The fight for true equality since 1776.

From the beginning of the American republic, most of the country's thinkers and politicians have argued that our nation neither had nor needed a Left.

Historians of the so-called liberal consensus school argue that the United States has simply always enjoyed agreement on such matters as private property, individualism, popular sovereignty and natural rights. Others claim that the country never developed the leftist working class or peasantry seen in other nations, a claim often termed American exceptionalism. Still others say that the country doesn't need a Left because it already believes in, or has even achieved, such goals as democracy and equality - a view held by Cold War liberals and neoconservatives.

But these are all false and misleading ways to understand America. The country has always needed, and typically has had, a powerful, independent, radical Left. While this Left has been marginalized (as it is today) and scapegoated (during periods of national emergency), the Left plays an indispensable role during the country's periods of long-term identity crisis.
Star of David

Gaza Crisis: The World's Largest Open-Air Gulag

Have you heard much lately about the 1.5 million Palestinians illegally imprisoned by the Israeli government in the world's largest open-air Gulag? Their dire living conditions, worsened by a selective Israeli siege limiting the importation of necessities of life - medical items, food, water, building materials, and fuel to list a few - has resulted in an 80 percent unemployment rate and widespread suffering from unlawful punishment, arbitrary arrests and imprisonment in Israeli jails.

The horrific conditions were a result of the Israeli invasion of Gaza in late 2008, ignited by Israel's breaking of a truce with Gaza on November 4. Fourteen hundred people died, nearly three hundred of them children, and thousands were injured. The terror bombing of the Gazan population smashed into homes, hospitals, schools, ambulances, mosques, subsistence farms, UN facilities, and even the American International School. Israeli bombers destroyed over 30 members of one extended family in their home. That toll alone was three times the amount of Israeli fatalities, which included friendly fire.

We're All Branch Davidians Now

Waco Police State
© Unknown
Nineteen years ago, just outside Waco, Texas, the FBI demonstrated once again that the state at its core is a killing machine. Monarchy, democracy, or republic - any government as conventionally defined is a legal monopoly on violence. The state is always inclined toward oppression, division, conquest, and bloodshed, because these are its tools of trade.

Matters are no different here. The myth of a free America was always seen with bitter irony by those not blessed by such freedom. In the founding generation, as half a million labored in slavery, many who fought in the Revolution genuinely believed in liberty, but for the ruling elite who chided them on, liberty was hardly more than a slogan. This has always been true of our political leaders.

The Father of the Country was a centralizing slave owner. Old Hickory talked up freedom as he threatened war on South Carolina and forced the Cherokee to flee from their ancestral land on a barbarously murderous walk of shame. The Great Emancipator turned America into a military dictatorship and abolished the revolutionary right of secession. Wilson's New Freedom was cover for a Prussianized war machine generating revenue for his profiteering buddies on Wall Street. Roosevelt's Four Freedoms failed to include the freedom not to be drafted or interned in a concentration camp. Ronald Reagan threw the word freedom around as he trained Latin American torturers and raped the Bill of Rights in the name of fighting drugs. The United States has never lived up to its rhetoric.

But the events from February 28 through April 19, 1993, still stand out in my mind as a watershed. It was the post-Cold War regime's coming of age, signifying a major event in cultural history.
2 + 2 = 4

The Assault on Public Education

© David McNew/Getty Images)
UCLA students occupy the hallway outside the university chancellor's office to protest funding cuts and rising tuition in March 2010.
One of America's greatest achievements is being defunded and degraded by the dictates of the marketplace.

Public education is under attack around the world, and in response, student protests have recently been held in Britain, Canada, Chile, Taiwan and elsewhere.

California is also a battleground. The Los Angeles Times reports on another chapter in the campaign to destroy what had been the greatest public higher education system in the world:
"California State University officials announced plans to freeze enrollment next spring at most campuses and to wait-list all applicants the following fall pending the outcome of a proposed tax initiative on the November ballot."
Similar defunding is under way nationwide. "In most states," The New York Times reports, "it is now tuition payments, not state appropriations, that cover most of the budget," so that "the era of affordable four-year public universities, heavily subsidized by the state, may be over."