Without a Big Commotion

by bicyclemark 0 Comments

So what you know ’bout the pirates terrorize the ocean,
To never know a simple day without a big commotion,
It can’t be healthy just to live with a such steep emotion,
And when I try and sleep, I see coffins closing.

This is the chorus of the song I’m listening to as I read the news from around the world. The lyrics of the great Somali hip-hop artist who immigrated to Canada and is dedicated to performing songs about his hometown, Mogadishu, and the reality he grew up in and the experience of immigrating with his mother, to Canada, leaving behind a country falling into an ever more violent abyss.? I’m listening to K’Naan sing these lines:

Iraqi Labor

by bicyclemark

The media conversation about the goings-on in Iraq doesn’t get much beyond the religious divisions and political executions. When it does, it certainly doesn’t make the front pages.

Over the weekend my Radio Labor Start Podcast feed included a recent episode of building bridges, the labor radio program from WBAI in NYC and an old favorite of mine. I expected the usual discussion of labor organizing in the US. But this episode featured a labor leader from Iraq.

Complete with translator, the IRaqi talked about the struggle of organized labor since the early 20th century in Iraq. Beyond that, he spoke about how the current government is passing laws that allow labor organizers to be arrested, tortured, and killed. While workers for sectors like oil and power, struggle to organize themselves and demand a living wage.

While we’ve long read about how terrible this current Iraqi government is, I hadn’t heard about it’s despicable labor policies. It is as if part of bringing “freedom” to Iraq involves making sure the labor movement is destroyed.

Highly recommended listening.

More on Russian Oligarchy

by bicyclemark

As I periodically do on this blog, today I’m writing about how more and more obvious it becomes that the Russian Federation is run by an oligarchy.

Not that its so unique, lots of nations are run by oligarchies, but let’s stay on Russia today. Last weeks news that yet another person who was going to testify that the Russian secret police were responsible for the poisoning of that guy in the UK, once again threw an even brighter blinking red warning sign that not only is Russia run by an oligarchy, the oligarchs are willing to do whatever it takes to stay in power, and that includes the occasional murder.

Oligarchy: (according to webster) 1 : government by the few
2 : a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes; also : a group exercising such control

Radio Open Source had one of their must-listen-to programs the other day regarding Russia and just what has happenned to the country since their so-called adoption of the market system. Among the things that the interesting guests pointed out:

    – Moscow now has one of the highest number of billionaires of any city in the world.
    – President Putin may step down after the next election, but the next president will come from the same group that has ruled the country for the past 2 decades.
    – He can also just rewrite the statutes to make himself a powerful prime minister and keep ruling.
    – The KGB was never disbanded, it was simply given a new name.
    – All the big industries, especially fossil fuels like gas and oil, were taken control through secret deals, family connections, and of course the occasional government payoff.

Anyway there’s plenty more where that came from, but the concern remains the same. Huge inequality continues to grow in Russia while a small group of people plunder its natural wealth. The population is decreasing while the rest of the world pretends Putin is a nice guy and nothing is wrong because they are so addicted to the fuel Russia will provide for the forseeable future.