Thursday, January 5, 2012
By Sunday Alamba and Yinka Ibukun, AP
LAGOS, Nigeria — Protesters furious over spiraling gas prices set fires on an expressway Tuesday and at least one person was killed in the violent unrest after Nigeria’s government did away with a subsidy program that had kept fuel costs down for more than two decades.
One union leader described the federal government’s hugely unpopular move as “immoral and politically suicidal,” and urged Nigerians to resist “with everything they have.” But Tuesday’s protest showed that, once unleashed, the pent-up anger of the masses could be hard to curtail.
Angry crowds vandalized gas stations, intimidated owners into keeping their pumps unused and assaulted a soldier, showing how easily the fragile peace in Africa’s most populous nation could spiral into chaos.
One young man threw jerry-cans of engine oil off the racks at a gas station and tried to damage the station’s gas pumps. After union leader and chairman of the Joint Action Front, Dipo Fashina, asked the young man to stop vandalizing the station, he did, but later started one of the first bonfires of the protest in the middle of the highway.
Other activists marched to the protest songs of the late Afrobeat pioneer Fela Anikulapo-Kuti who fought against the injustices of military rule in Nigeria. His musician son, Seun, walked shirtless among the demonstrators, as his father used to, and also made attempts to keep things civil.
An Associated Press reporter at the scene in the megacity of Lagos said the protest had started with activists wielding signs and walking down a major expressway, but before long angry protesters lit bonfires and vandalized at least three gas stations. A wounded man later ran along the road shouting: “The police shot me, take me to hospital!” Continue reading
[Only a few days after President Obama signed into law provisions for arbitary and capricious seizure and indefinite detention of US citizens–throwing out habeus corpus and other “Constitutional rights”–one of the most prominent and courageous opponents of such a repressive policy–the US’ detention of Japanese American citizens during World War II–has died. –Frontlines ed.]
January 3, 2012
Gordon Hirabayashi, World War II Internment Opponent, Dies at 93
By RICHARD GOLDSTEIN, New York Times
Gordon Hirabayashi, who was imprisoned for defying the federal government’s internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II but was vindicated four decades later when his conviction was overturned, died on Monday in Edmonton, Alberta. He was 93.
He had Alzheimer’s disease, his son, Jay, said.
When Mr. Hirabayashi challenged the wartime removal of more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans and Japanese immigrants from the West Coast to inland detention centers, he became a central figure in a controversy that resonated long after the war’s end.
Mr. Hirabayashi and his fellow Japanese-Americans Fred Korematsu and Minoru Yasui, who all brought lawsuits before the Supreme Court, emerged as symbols of protest against unchecked governmental powers in a time of war.
“I want vindication not only for myself,” Mr. Hirabayashi told The New York Times in 1985 as he was fighting to have his conviction vacated. “I also want the cloud removed from over the heads of 120,000 others. My citizenship didn’t protect me one bit. Our Constitution was reduced to a scrap of paper.”
In February 1942, two months after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in the name of protecting the nation against espionage and sabotage, authorized the designation of areas from which anyone could be excluded. One month later, a curfew was imposed along the West Coast on people of Japanese ancestry, and in May 1942, the West Coast military command ordered their removal to inland camps in harsh and isolated terrain.
Mr. Hirabayashi, a son of Japanese immigrants, was a senior at the University of Washington when the United States entered World War II. He adhered to the pacifist principles of his parents, who had once belonged to a Japanese religious sect similar to the Quakers.
When the West Coast curfew was imposed, ordering people of Japanese background to be home by 8 p.m., Mr. Hirabayashi ignored it. When the internment directive was put in place, he refused to register at a processing center and was jailed.
Contending that the government’s actions were racially discriminatory, Mr. Hirabayashi proved unyielding. He refused to post $500 bail because he would have been transferred to an internment camp while awaiting trial. He remained in jail from May 1942 until October of that year, when his case was heard before a federal jury in Seattle. Continue reading
by Larry Everest, Revolution
The danger of a U.S.-Israeli war on Iran is escalating rapidly. The U.S. and its allies are ramping up their all-around assault on Iran, including new crippling sanctions, and openly threatening to attack. Ground is being laid daily in the headlines and statements by politicians of every stripe in mainstream U.S. politics calling for aggression against Iran—all justified by unsubstantiated assertions that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons.
Whether or not Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons technology (and there is no proof they are), this U.S. imperialist narrative and framework is an outrageous effort to turn reality upside down—the reality of which of the clashing oppressive forces in the region is the dominant threatening oppressor and bully.
Iran is a non-nuclear, Third World country. The U.S. is the world’s most powerful nuclear weapons state—with over 4,000 warheads. It’s the only country to ever use nuclear weapons, killing 150,000-240,000 people in the 1945 bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan (with many more dying of the effects of radiation for years after). It’s the main backer of the one country in the Middle East that actually does have nuclear weapons—Israel.
Now the U.S. and its allies have launched a massive, all-around campaign of aggression against Iran in the name of stopping the spread of nuclear weapons. These weapons are horrible, and they should be banished from the earth. If the U.S. rulers were really against these tools of mass murder they’d insist everyone get rid of them—but they’re not. They and their media mouthpieces aren’t saying word one about getting rid of their nukes, or Israel’s nukes, or Britain or France’s nukes.
Instead, the U.S. and its allies are threatening war over the possibility that Iran could get a bomb, a war that would be terrible for the people of the world. In a 2006 statement, Kurt Gottfried, Chairman of the Union of Concerned Scientists, and emeritus professor of physics at Cornell University, said: “The [Bush] administration is reportedly considering using the B51-11 nuclear ‘bunker buster’ against an underground facility near Natanz, Iran. The use of such a weapon would create massive clouds of radioactive fallout that could spread far from the site of the attack, including to other nations. Even if used in remote, lightly populated areas, the number of casualties could range up to more than a hundred thousand, depending on the weapon yield and weather conditions.” And any attack by the U.S. and Israel on Iran would be military aggression to preserve their military dominance—including their nuclear monopoly—in the Middle East. There is absolutely no justice in anything the U.S. is doing in pursuit of this criminal goal.
• • •
The last half of December saw a sharp spike in the U.S.-led assault on Iran’s Islamic Republic. On December 31, President Obama signed a defense authorization bill that included by far the harshest sanctions the U.S. and its allies have yet imposed on Iran. These new sanctions target Iran’s oil exports (which account for well over half of government revenues) for the first time, as well as its financial sector. (One provision calls for punishing foreign firms and banks which purchase Iranian oil, including through its central bank.) Continue reading
[Photo: Paul J. Richards/Getty Images]
Wednesday, January 4 2012