Protest against “Literary Festival” in repressive Sri Lanka

Chomsky, Arundhati, lead protest to writers meet in Galle

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 19 January 2011, 23:37 GMT]
“This is not the right time for prominent international writers like you to give legitimacy to the Sri Lankan government’s suppression of free speech by attending a conference that does not in any way push for greater freedom of expression inside that country,” said an appeal made by leading intellectuals, Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka and Reporters without Borders, against writers participating the ‘Fifth Galle Literary Festival’ scheduled to take place in the southern city Galle in the island of Sri Lanka, 26 – 30 January 2011. Noam Chomsky and Arundhati Roy were the leading signatories of the appeal. In the great tradition of solidarity that binds writers together everywhere, the appeal urged them to send a clear message by their actions that until there is a real improvement in the climate for free expression in Sri Lanka, one cannot celebrate writing and the arts in Galle. Continue reading

Daniel Ellsberg: “WikiLeaks’ Manning is no traitor”

Tells Facebook, Google, Twitter: resist!

21 January, 2011
Bradley Manning, the alleged source of WikiLeaks’ dossiers on Iraq and Afghanistan, is not a traitor – and big firms must take a stand to protect whistle-blowers from US government demands to spy on their data, according to Daniel Ellsberg, the former CIA man who leaked the Pentagon Papers.

Ellsberg, who last year signed an open letter supporting WikiLeaks, said companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter need to stand firm in the face of excessive requests by government for access to personal data.

“You are facing a challenge at this moment of profound implications for our democracy,” Ellsberg told Silicon Valley executives in Santa Clara, California, on Wednesday night.

Ellsberg was part of a panel discussing the reaction of corporations such as Amazon, eBay, Visa and Mastercard to US government pressure aimed at shutting down the whistle-blowing site. Continue reading

Amman, Jordan: Thousands protest economic conditions

Protesters from opposition parties and labour unions hold pieces of bread as they shout anti-government slogans after Friday prayers in downtown Amman January 21, 2011. Credit: Reuters/Muhammad Hamed


By Suleiman al-Khalidi

AMMAN (Reuters) – Several thousand Jordanians protested on Friday over soaring food prices and the erosion of living conditions, blaming corruption spawned by free-market reforms for the plight of the country’s poor.

Islamists, left wing and trade unions activists marched through the old downtown of the city chanting “The government is eating our flesh … O Samir (Prime Minister Samir al-Rifai), you have slaughtered us with high prices. You have left us broke.”

The 5,000-strong march was largest so far after several smaller protests last week, inspired by Tunisia, to try to force authorities to roll back austerity steps such as higher taxes imposed to repair public finances that have been severely strained by the global financial crisis.

Hundreds of members of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s largest opposition group, chanted: “O people of Jordan revolt against poverty and hunger,” “The government must leave” and “No to theft of the country.”

Many Jordanians hold successive governments responsible for a prolonged recession and rising public debt that hit a record $15 billion (9 billion pounds) this year in one of the Arab world’s smaller economies that is heavily dependent on foreign aid. Continue reading