Saturday, June 27, 2009

Gordo in Chains: B.C. Rail Deal Haunts Premier

B.C. Supreme Court hears notes exchanged by Premier's office and accused in corruption trial
by Mark Hume

Campbell controlled BC Rail deal: defense

Vancouver — From Friday's Globe and Mail Last updated on Saturday, Jun. 27, 2009 05:15AM EDT

Premier Gordon Campbell was allegedly in direct control of the BC Rail deal that is central to a corruption case involving charges against three former government employees, the Supreme Court of British Columbia has been told.

Defence lawyer Kevin McCullough, who is arguing high-level cabinet e-mails are relevant to the case, made the allegation after reading in court yesterday a series of electronic notes exchanged between top officials in the Premier's office and one of the accused, Bob Virk.

The e-mails were from or to, or were copied to, some of Mr. Campbell's closest advisers, including Martyn Brown, his chief of staff; Lara Dauphinee, his deputy chief of staff; and Brenda Eaton, deputy minister to the Premier.

In the e-mails (which the defence has because they were seized by the RCMP from the government's central database after a raid on the legislature in 2003), the Premier's staff issue directives on the BC Rail deal and receive up-to-the-minute briefings on negotiations that led to the $1-billion sale of the publicly owned railway to CN Rail.

Mr. McCullough told Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett the communications leave no doubt of “the iron hold the Premier's office has” on the BC Rail deal.

Referring to e-mails from 2002, Mr. McCullough read instructions from the Premier's office on how a rail conference should be organized, prior to the announcement of the decision to sell BC Rail.

“Let us know how to proceed,” Mr. Virk says in one note to Ms. Eaton.

“I will show the Premier for final approval,” Ms. Eaton says in a later note, concerning the rail conference agenda.

“If there's any doubt the Premier is controlling the process, this is proof of it. …The Premier's office was exercising substantial control over the BC Rail agenda,” Mr. McCullough said.

Two weeks ago, the defence filed an application for the disclosure of the e-mail records of Mr. Campbell, several cabinet ministers and numerous staff, arguing the communications could shed light on whether the accused were acting on their own, or under directions from superiors.

But earlier this week George Copley, a lawyer representing the Executive Council of the B.C. government, told court a search had failed to produce the e-mails sought because the data system keeps backup tapes for only 13 months.

Yesterday, he elaborated on that point, saying the e-mails may have been deleted because they were defined as “transitory” under document-management regulations.

He said “routine records of no value” are labelled transitory and are deleted.

“It is possible the e-mails you were asking about were considered transitory in nature or there may be other explanations,” Mr. Copley said.

One explanation he offered was that about half the officials the defence wants e-mail records for had left government by the time the application was made and their e-mail accounts were erased.

However, Michael Bolton, who is defending Dave Basi, told court the government should have safeguarded the e-mails because it was evident as early as the fall of 2003 that police were investigating suspicions of fraud surrounding the BC Rail deal.

He said the Solicitor-General was advised of the investigation, and if that didn't make it clear there could be legal action, the dramatic police raid on the legislature certainly should have.

“Clear imprimaturs were given to the government that those documents should be retained and not treated as trash,” he said.

The defence has been arguing this week the e-mails should be produced or officials should be called to explain how the files came to be destroyed.

Crown prosecutor Janet Winteringham, however, asked Judge Bennett to dismiss the defence arguments, saying it has not been shown that the e-mails in question are relevant.

A decision is pending.


Colour Me Green: Marching Cap and Trade Tax Tyranny Through the House

This is the bill that is being forced through the House today and that none of the representatives voting for it are allowed to read. In addition, the bill is growing even as it is being debated, adding pages that no one knows about except their authors at high levels. It has grown from a few hundred pages to well over 1,000 pages this morning. This is a bill that caused Alex Jones to go into a furious rant on his program today that came near to him totally losing it. It is the bill that is causing a plea for massive phone calls from listeners to his program, John Stadtmiller's program and others, even as the phone numbers designated for complaints are allegedly being block or deleted. This is the bill that is seen as the icing on the cake in the destruction of the U.S. We will no doubt hear more about this bill in coming days, after it is passed and becomes a fait accompli.

Things are deteriorating so rapidly and massively that it almost leaves me speechless. I don't know how to respond to what is happening any more without feeling like I'm not coming any where near to doing justice to the situation. People who have their ear to the ground are waiting now for the other shoe to drop. It's not a matter of if, but it's a matter of when, how hard and in what form. This whole situation is leading to some sort of perfect storm that threatens more and more to engulf us. And the shame is that most people are not directly addressing this crisis and others seem not to realize that there is even a serious problem. Most environmentalists will support this bill while ignoring its economic implications and the fascistic manner in which it is being forced on people.

F.Y.I. Harper won't be far behind.

Climate Bill Would Be Biggest Tax In History (Wall Street Journal)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has put cap-and-trade legislation on a forced march through the House, and the bill may get a full vote as early as Friday. It looks as if the Democrats will have to destroy the discipline of economics to get it done.
Despite House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman’s many payoffs to Members, rural and Blue Dog Democrats remain wary of voting for a bill that will impose rushing costs on their home-district businesses and consumers.

The leadership’s solution to this problem is to simply claim the bill defies the laws of economics.

Their gambit got a boost this week, when the Congressional Budget Office did an analysis of what has come to be known as the Waxman-Markey bill. According to the CBO, the climate legislation would cost the average household only $175 a year by 2020. Edward Markey, Mr. Waxman’s co-author, instantly set to crowing that the cost of upending the entire energy economy would be no more than a postage stamp a day for the average household.


A closer look at the CBO analysis finds that it contains so many caveats as to render it useless.

For starters, the CBO estimate is a one-year snapshot of taxes that will extend to infinity. Under a cap-and-trade system, government sets a cap on the total amount of carbon that can be emitted nationally; companies then buy or sell permits to emit CO2. The cap gets cranked down over time to reduce total carbon emissions.

To get support for his bill, Mr. Waxman was forced to water down the cap in early years to please rural Democrats, and then severely ratchet it up in later years to please liberal Democrats. The CBO’s analysis looks solely at the year 2020, before most of the tough restrictions kick in. As the cap is tightened and companies are stripped of initial opportunities to “offset” their emissions, the price of permits will skyrocket beyond the CBO estimate of $28 per ton of carbon. The corporate costs of buying these expensive permits will be passed to consumers.

The biggest doozy in the CBO analysis was its extraordinary decision to look only at the day-to-day costs of operating a trading program, rather than the wider consequences energy restriction would have on the economy. The CBO acknowledges this in a footnote: “The resource cost does not indicate the potential decrease in gross domestic product (GDP) that could result from the cap.”

The hit to GDP is the real threat in this bill. The whole point of cap and trade is to hike the price of electricity and gas so that Americans will use less. These higher prices will show up not just in electricity bills or at the gas station but in every manufactured good, from food to cars. Consumers will cut back on spending, which in turn will cut back on production, which results in fewer jobs created or higher unemployment. Some companies will instead move their operations overseas, with the same result.

When the Heritage Foundation did its analysis of Waxman-Markey, it broadly compared the economy with and without the carbon tax. Under this more comprehensive scenario, it found Waxman-Markey would cost the economy $161 billion in 2020, which is $1,870 for a family of four. As the bill’s restrictions kick in, that number rises to $6,800 for a family of four by 2035.

Note also that the CBO analysis is an average for the country as a whole. It doesn’t take into account the fact that certain regions and populations will be more severely hit than others — manufacturing states more than service states; coal producing states more than states that rely on hydro or natural gas. Low-income Americans, who devote more of their disposable income to energy, have more to lose than high-income families.

Even as Democrats have promised that this cap-and-trade legislation won’t pinch wallets, behind the scenes they’ve acknowledged the energy price tsunami that is coming. During the brief few days in which the bill was debated in the House Energy Committee, Republicans offered three amendments: one to suspend the program if gas hit $5 a gallon; one to suspend the program if electricity prices rose 10% over 2009; and one to suspend the program if unemployment rates hit 15%. Democrats defeated all of them.

The reality is that cost estimates for climate legislation are as unreliable as the models predicting climate change. What comes out of the computer is a function of what politicians type in. A better indicator might be what other countries are already experiencing. Britain’s Taxpayer Alliance estimates the average family there is paying nearly $1,300 a year in green taxes for carbon-cutting programs in effect only a few years.

Americans should know that those Members who vote for this climate bill are voting for what is likely to be the biggest tax in American history. Even Democrats can’t repeal that reality.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Iran: Another View

Another View of Iran
by Yassamine Mather

The dramatic events in Tehran and other major cities following the June 12 presidential election in Iran are clear manifestations of the anger and frustration of the majority of Iranians with political Islam.

The election campaign of the four presidential candidates was largely ignored by the majority of the population until early June, when a series of televised debates triggered street demonstrations and public meetings. Ironically it was Mahmood Ahmadinejad's fear of losing that prompted him to make allegations of endemic corruption against some of the leading figures
of the religious state, including former president Ali Akbar Rafsanjani and Ali Akbar Nategh Nouri, former interior minister and adviser to supreme leader ayatollah Khamenei.

In doing so he crossed one of the red lines of the Islamic regime. Once that was done, the floodgates were open. The language used by all three of his opponents - Moussavi, Karroubi and Rezaii - became more colourful. As Ahmadinejad continued to rail against 20 years of corruption and political and economic interference by the "economic mafia" associated with important figures, including Rafsanjani (currently chairman of the 'assembly of experts' charged with electing the supreme leader), his opponents wasted no time in using equally strong language to condemn his own presidency, pointing out the worsening economic situation, mass unemployment and 25% inflation, as well as Iran's "embarrassing international profile".

In response to these accusations, Ahmadinejad's election campaign made some historic claims. Apparently he is the man who brought Islam to Venezuela and Latin America! He has secured a written apology from Blair (prompting a denial by the foreign office). And he is the only president who is so feared by the US that it has been forced to drop regime-change plans for Iran. At times Iranians must have thought their president and his supporters lived in a parallel universe.

In just 10 days the two opposed factions between them managed to expose every unflattering aspect of the 30-year-old Islamic regime. No-one in opposition could have done a better job - no-one else had such in-depth knowledge of the levels of corruption and incompetence prevalent among the inner circles of power.

It was unprecedented for the authorities, including Ahmadinejad's government, to tolerate the various election gatherings and slogans. But the eyes of the world were now on Iran and the regime put on a show: Bassij militia and Islamic guards turned a blind eye to women who failed to adhere to Islamic dress code for the duration of the campaign. Comrades and relatives inside Iran were telling us the atmosphere was like the pre-revolution days of 1979. Political discussions were held at every street
corner, political songs of the late 70s became fashionable amongst a generation born long after the February uprising.

Those who had advocated a boycott of the elections were constantly reminded that it was the mass boycott of the 2005 presidential elections that had allowed Ahmadinejad to come to power. Consequently many life-long opponents of the regime reluctantly decided to vote, if only to stop the re-election of the incumbent. On polling day the regime's unelected leaders basked in the euphoria of a large turnout, yet they were already facing a dilemma: how to keep control in the post-election era.

If Mir-Hossein Moussavi did become president, those who voted for him would expect serious change and the supreme leader was well aware that neither he nor the new president would be able to meet expectations. That is why he and the senior religious figures around him decided to do what most dictators do: rig the elections and declare Ahmadinejad the winner. Nothing new in
such measures; but the supreme leader and his inner circle made two major miscalculations: they underestimated the anger and frustration of the majority of the population; and they failed to realise that the high turnout could only mean a massive 'no' to Ahmadinejad and, by proxy, to the entire Islamic order.

Added to this was the sheer incompetence of the vote-rigging. In previous presidential elections, the vote had been announced province by province. This time the results came in blocks of millions of votes. Throughout the night the percentage of votes going to all four candidates changed very little. It seemed obvious that the interior ministry was playing with the figures to make sure the overall percentages remained constant.

Early on Saturday morning, the supreme leader congratulated Ahmadinejad, which was seen as official endorsement of the results. But by Sunday afternoon, under the pressure of impromptu demonstrations, he was forced to reverse this decision, and called on the council of guardians to investigate the other candidates' complaints. By the afternoon of Monday June 15, with a massive show of force by the opposition - over a million demonstrators on the streets - he was instructing the council of guardians to call for a recount. By Tuesday there was talk of new elections.

Had our supreme leader studied the fate of that other Iranian dictator, the shah, he would have known that at a time of great upheavals, as in 1979, once the dictator hesitates and dithers he loses momentum, and the thousands on the street become more confident.

The slogans and militancy of demonstrators in Tehran and other Iranian cities is today the driving force in Iran - and not only for the supreme leader and his entourage. These slogans also dictate the actions of the so-called 'official opposition'. The meek, scared Moussavi, whose initial response to the vote-rigging was to seek a reversal of the results by the
"centres of Shia religious guidance", suddenly gained courage and appeared at Monday's protests. After promising that he would protect people's votes, he could not ignore the tens of thousands who on Saturday and Sunday were shouting, "Moussavi, return my vote", "What have you done with our vote?" and even one of the students' slogans, "Death to those who compromise".

There can be no doubt that Ahmadinejad's press conference and victory rally on Sunday played a crucial role in increasing the size of the anti-government demonstrations on Monday and Tuesday. As riots were taking place all over the capital, the reference to Iran as a "very stable country" reminded many of the shah's claims that Iran was an island of tranquility, less than a year before he was overthrown. In response to a reporter's question about protests in Tehran, the president referred to his opponents as "dust and tiny thorns". A comment that he will regret forever, as the huge crowds on Monday and Tuesday kept taunting him.

Demonstrators in Tehran are also shouting slogans adapted from those of 1979, often prompted by leftists and students: "Tanks, guns, Bassij are not effective any more", "Death to the dictator", "Death to this regime that brings nothing but death". Clearly the supreme leader's standard response of bussing in supporters from the countryside to put up a well-orchestrated
show of force (as they did for Sunday's and Tuesday's pro-Ahmadinejad rallies) does not work any more. Sunday's event failed miserably, with reporters claiming that many of those arriving by bus could only speak Arabic. By Tuesday some of Ahmadinejad's non-Iranian supporters arrived at the rally with yellow Hezbollah flags. As Mr Ahmadinejad has no supporters amongst Sunni Arabs in the Khouzestan province of Iran, if these reports are correct one could guess that participants at the state-organised rallies included the thousands of Shias invited in June every year from Iraq, Lebanon and Pakistan to participate in the events commemorating the anniversary of the death of Khomeini.

It is difficult to predict what will happen in the next few days. However, one can be certain that nothing will be the same again. No-one will forget the fact that both factions crossed many 'red lines', exposing each other's corruption, deceit and failure. No-one will forget the obvious vote-rigging that makes a mockery of 'Islamic democracy' - when Moussavi called it a
"charade" he was only echoing the sentiments of the masses.

On Tuesday another presidential contender, Mehdi Karroubi, said: "This week 'the republic' was taken out of the Islamic regime". No-one will forget that the immediate response of the regime to peaceful protests was to arrest, beat up and shoot opponents. No-one will forget that at least seven people have been killed in these protests.

There is little doubt that Moussavi /Karoubi/Khatami and Mohsen Rezaii will look for compromises and will ultimately sell out. However, these protests have gained such momentum that already in Tehran people compare the plight of Moussavi (if he does become president) with that of Shapour Bakhtiar - the last prime minister appointed by the shah, whose government lasted a few
short weeks before the revolution overthrew the entire regime.

However, before the British left gets too excited and starts sending its blueprints for revolution to Iran, let us be clear about some facts: working class organisation remains very weak during this crucial period; most of the Iranian left is as confused and divided as it was in 1979, but now, of course, it is much smaller. Repression against labour activists and leftist
students is harsher than ever.

Yet students' and workers' organisations have been very active in the anti-government demonstrations and they have managed to change some of the slogans of the protests, turning anti-Ahmadinejad slogans into slogans challenging the entire Islamic 'order'. There was talk of a one-day general strike. However the organisations discussing this decided to try to improve the left's intervention in current events before contemplating such ambitious calls. We should not expect miracles, but one can see that unlike the Iranian exile left (some of whom have benefited from the largess of organisations offering regime-change funds, while others have tailed rightwing-controlled international trade unions) the left inside Iran has been conscious of the revolutionary potential of this period and, given its relative weakness, is doing what it can to make an independent, principled, but systematic intervention. That is precisely why the authorities' attacks on university campuses, where the left is strongest, have been so severe; and why we must do all in our power to support comrades in Iran.

When it comes to predicting Iranian politics, no one can claim to have a crystal ball. However, it is reassuring to see that the unique position Hands Off the People of Iran took - against imperialism, against the threat of war and for the overthrow of Iran's Islamic regime - has been vindicated by the events of the last two weeks. Imagine what would have happened if during the last year we had witnessed a military strike by Israel against Iran's nuclear industry, or various US plans for regime change from above had materialised. Political Islam in Iran and the region would have been the undisputed winner of such a scenario. We were right to argue that positive change can only happen from below and from inside Iran and we will continue to maintain this position.

At the same time, these events have exposed the ignorance of groups such as the Socialist Workers Party, whose leaders kept informing us about the virtues of Islamic democracy in Iran. We have seen the selection of candidates by an unrepresentative nominated council of guardians; the role of the supreme leader in inventing the results of an election; and the brutal repression of legal and official opponents. If that is what the regime can do to its own, one can imagine the kind of treatment reserved for its opponents.

But even under the threat of beatings and executions, an overwhelming majority of the Iranian people have shown that they do not believe SWP-type apologia. No-one in their right mind should ever make such claims again. Hopi's judgement was correct and we did not compromise our principles; that is why, now that the Iranian working class is in need of international solidarity more than ever, we are in a good position to help deliver it.


Soros, the CIA, Mossad and the new media destabilization of Iran

Soros, the CIA, Mossad and the new media destabilization of Iran
James Corbett The Corbett Report June 23, 2009

It’s the 2009 presidential election in Iran and opposition leader Mir-Houssein Mousavi declares victory hours before the polls close, insuring that any result to the contrary will be called into question. Western media goes into overdrive, fighting with each other to see who can offer the most hyperbolic denunciation of the vote and President Ahmadenijad’s apparent victory (BBC wins by publishing bald-faced lies about the supposed popular uprising which it is later forced to retract).

On June 13th, 30000 “tweets” begin to flood Twitter with live updates from Iran, most written in English and provided by a handful of newly-registered users with identical profile photos. The Jerusalem Post writes a story about the Iran Twitter phenomenon a few hours after it starts (and who says Mossad isn’t staying up to date with new media?). Now, YouTube is providing a “Breaking News” link at the top of every page linking to the latest footage of the Iranian protests (all shot in high def, no less). Welcome to Destabilization 2.0, the latest version of a program that the western powers have been running for decades in order to overthrow foreign, democratically elected governments that don’t yield to the whims of western governments and multinational corporations.

Soros henchman Evgeny Morozov is extolling the virtues of the new Tehran Twitter revolution.

Ironically, Iran was also the birthplace of the original CIA program for destabilizing a foreign government. Think of it as Destabilization 1.0: It’s 1953 and democratically-elected Iranian leader Mohammed Mossadegh is following through on his election promises to nationalize industry for the Iranian people, including the oil industry of Iran which was then controlled by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. The CIA is sent into the country to bring an end to Mossadegh’s government. They begin a campaign of terror, staging bombings and attacks on Muslim targets in order to blame them on nationalist, secular Mossadegh. They foster and fund an anti-Mossadegh campaign amongst the radical Islamist elements in the country. Finally, they back the revolution that brings their favoured puppet, the Shah, into power.

Within months, their mission had been accomplished: they had removed a democratically elected leader who threatened to build up an independent, secular Persian nation and replaced him with a repressive tyrant whose secret police would brutally suppress all opposition. The campaign was a success and the lead CIA agent wrote an after-action report describing the operation in glowing terms. The pattern was to be repeated time and time again in country after country (in Guatemala in 1954, in Afghanistan in the 1980s, in Serbia in the 1990s), but these operations leave the agency open to exposure. What was needed was a different plan, one where the western political and financial interests puppeteering the revolution would be more difficult to implicate in the overthrow.

Enter Destabilization 1.1. This version of the destabilization program is less messy, offering plausible deniability for the western powers who are overthrowing a foreign government. It starts when the IMF moves in to offer a bribe to a tinpot dictator in a third world country. He gets 10% in exchange for taking out an exorbitant loan for an infrastructure project that the country can’t afford. When the country inevitably defaults on the loan payments, the IMF begins to take over, imposing a restructuring program that eventually results in the full scale looting of the country’s resources for western business interests. This program, too, was run in country after country, from Jamaica to Myanmar, from Chile to Zimbabwe. The source code for this program was revealed in 2001, however, when former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz went public about the scam. More detail was added
in 2004 by the publication of John Perkin’s Confessions of an Economic Hitman, which revealed the extent to which front companies and complicit corporations aided, abetted and facilitated the economic plundering and overthrow of foreign governments. Although still an effective technique for overthrowing foreign nations, the fact that this particular scam had been exposed meant that the architects of global geopolitics would have to find a new way to get rid of foreign, democratically elected governments.

Destabilization 1.2 involves seemingly disinterested, democracy promoting NGOs with feelgood names like the Open Society Institute, Freedom House and the National Endowment for Democracy. They fund, train, support and mobilize opposition movements in countries that have been targeted for destabilization, often during elections and usually organized around an identifiable color. These “color revolutions” sprang up in the past decade and have so far successfully destabilized the governments of the Ukraine, Lebanon, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan, among others. These revolutions bear the
imprint of billionaire finance oligarch George Soros. The hidden hand of western powers behind these color revolutions has threatened their effectiveness in recent years, however, with an anti-Soros movement having arisen in Georgia and with the recent Moldovan “grape revolution” having come to naught (much to the chagrin of Soros-funded OSI’s Evgeny Morozov).

Now we arrive at Destabilization 2.0, really not much more than a slight tweak of Destabilization 1.2. The only thing different is that now Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social media are being employed to amplify the effect of (and the impression of) internal protests. Once again, Soros henchman Evgeny Morozov is extolling the virtues of the new Tehran Twitter revolution and the New York Times is writing journalistic hymns to the power of internet new media…when it serves western imperial interests. We are being asked to believe that this latest version of the very (very) old program of U.S. corporate imperialism is the real deal. While there is no doubt that the regime of Ahmadenijad is reprehensible and the feelings of
many of the young protestors in Iran are genuine, you will forgive me for questioning the motives behind the monolithic media support for the overthrow of Iran’s government and the installation of Mir-Houssein “Butcher of Beirut” Mousavi.


Monday, June 22, 2009

GR 05-06

GR 05-06 101.9 FM 104.3 Cable ''
Monday June 22, 2009
5:00:00 3:00 Welcome to GR, etc. Canada the Good. We've heard it a million time, and polls reveal: More than 95% of otherwise intelligent Canadians believe this country's foreign policies, both corporate and governmental, are generally a force for Good in the world.

That this belief flies in the face of well-documented reality seems to matter little. Year after year after bloody year, Canada's business caste, ably represented in government and armed with generous tax write-downs predate the world's poorest nations, bringing death and misery to the people there.

This they do whilst bearing the Maple Leaf and pretending to represent "Canadian" values. Nowhere is this horrendous hypocrisy more blatant than in countrysides of South and Central America, where Canadian-listed mining and resource companies despoil the lands and people with impunity.

Yves Engler is a Canadian author and freelance journalist, currently touring the country to promote his latest book, 'The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy.' Engler's other book titles include: 'Playing Left Wing: From Rink Rat to Student Radical,' and, with Anthony Fenton, 'Canada in Haiti: Waging War on the Poor Majority.'

Yves Engler in the first half.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Uprisings and the Challenge of the New Media

The Iranian Uprisings and the Challenge of the New Media


As the uprisings in Iran illustrate, the new electronic technologies and social networks they have produced have transformed both the landscape of media production and reception, and the ability of state power to define the borders and boundaries of what constitutes the very nature of political engagement. Indeed, politics itself has been increasingly redefined by a screen culture and newly emergent public spaces of education and resistance embraced by students and other young people.1 For example, nearly 75 percent of Iranians now own cell phones and are quite savvy in utilizing them.2 Screen culture and its attendant electronic technologies have created a return to a politics in which many young people in Iran are not only forcefully asserting the power to act and express their criticisms and support of Mir Hussein Moussavi but also willing to risk their lives in the face of attacks by thugs and state sponsored vigilante groups. Texts and images calling for “Death to the dictator” circulate in a wild zone of representation on the Internet, YouTube, and among Facebook and Twitter users, giving rise to a chorus of dissent and collective resistance that places many young people in danger and at the forefront of a massive political uprising. Increasingly reports are emerging in the press and other media outlets of a number of protesters being attacked or killed by government forces. In the face of massive arrests by the police and threats of execution from some government officials, public protest continues even, as Nazila Fathi reports in the New York Times, the government works “on many fronts to shield the outside world’s view of the unrest, banning coverage of the demonstrations, arresting journalists, threatening bloggers and trying to block Web sites like Facebook and Twitter, which have become vital outlets for information about the rising confrontation here.”3

It is impossible to comprehend the political nature of the existing protests in Iran (and recently in Moldova) without recognizing the centrality of the new visual media and new modes of social networking. Not only have these new mass-and image-based media—camcorders, cellular camera-phones, satellite television, digital recorders, and the Internet, to name a few—enacted a structural transformation of everyday life by fusing sophisticated electronic technologies with a ubiquitous screen culture; they have revolutionized the relationship between the specificity of an event and its public display by making events accessible almost instantly to a global audience. The Internet, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook have reconstituted, especially among young people, how social relationships are constructed and how communication is produced, mediated, and received. They have also ushered in a new regime of visual imagery in which screen culture creates spectacular events just as much as they record them. Under such circumstances, state power becomes more porous and less controlled and its instability becomes evident as the Iranian government points to the United States and Canada for producing “deviant news sites.” As if such charges can compete with images uploaded on YouTube of a young man bleeding to death as a result of an assault by government forces, his white shirt stained with blood, and bystanders holding his hand while he died.4 Or for that matter suppress images of militia members along with other identifying information about the police and other thugs attacking the protesters. The Internet and the new media outlets in this context provide new public sites of visibility for an unprecedented look into the workings of both state sponsored violence, massive unrest, and a politics of massive resistance that simply cannot be controlled by traditional forces of repression.

The pedagogical force of culture is now writ large within circuits of global transmission that defy the military power of the state while simultaneously reinforcing the state’s reliance on military power to respond to the external threat and to control its own citizens. In Iran, the state sponsored war against democracy, with its requisite pedagogy of fear dominating every conceivable media outlet, creates the conditions for transforming a fundamentalist state into a more dangerous authoritarian state. Meanwhile, insurgents use digital video cameras to defy official power, cell phones to recruit members to battle occupying forces, and Twitter messages to challenge the doctrines of fear, militarism, and censorship. The endless flashing of screen culture not only confronts those in and outside of Iran with the reality of state sponsored violence and corruption but also with the spread of new social networks of power and resistance among young people as an emerging condition of contemporary politics in Iran. Text messaging, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the Internet have given rise to a reservoir of political energy that posits a new relationship between the new media technologies, politics and public life. These new media technologies and Websites have proved a powerful force in resisting dominant channels of censorship and militarism. But they have done more in that they have allowed an emerging generation of young people and students in Iran to narrate their political views, convictions, and voices through a screen culture that opposes the one-dimensional cultural apparatuses of certainty while rewriting the space of politics through new social networking sites and public spheres.

A spectacular flood of images produced by a subversive network of technologies that open up a cinematic politics of collective resistance and social justice now overrides Iran’s official narratives of repression, totalitarianism, and orthodoxy–unleashing the wrath of a generation that hungers for a life in which matters of dignity, agency, and hope are aligned with democratic institutions that make them possible. Death and suffering are now inscribed in an order of politics and power that can no longer hide in the shadows, pretending that there are no cracks in its body politic, or suppress the voices of a younger generation emboldened by their own courage and dreams of a more democratic future.

In this remarkable historical moment, a sea of courageous young people in Iran, are leading the way in instructing an older generation about a new form of politics in which mass and image-based media have become a distinctly powerful pedagogical force, reconfiguring the very nature of politics, cultural production, engagement, and resistance. Under such circumstances, this young generation of Iranian students, educators, artists, and citizens are developing a new set of theoretical tools and modes of collective resistance in which the educational force of the new media both records and challenges representations of state, police, and militia violence while becoming part of a broader struggle for democracy itself.

Any critical attempt to engage the courageous uprisings in Iran must take place within a broader notion of how the new media and electronic technologies can be used less as entertainment than as a tool of insurgency and opposition to state power. State power no longer has a hold on information, at least not the way it did before the emergence of the new media with its ability to reconfigure public exchange and social relations while constituting a new sphere of politics. The new media technologies are being used in Iran in ways that redefine the very conditions that make politics possible. Public spaces emerge in which data and technologies are employed to bypass government censors. The public and the private inform each other as personal discontent is translated into broader social issues. Global publics of opposition emerge through electronic circuits of power offering up wider spheres of exchange, dialogue, and resistance. For example, protesters from all over the world are producing proxy servers, “making their own computers available to Iranians,” and fuelling worldwide outrage and protests by uploading on YouTube live videos exposing the “brutality of the regime’s crackdown.”5

Demonstrations of solidarity are emerging between the Iranian diasporia and students and other protesters within Iran as information, technological resources, and skills are exchanged through the Internet, cell phones, and other technologies and sites. The alienation felt by many young people in an utterly repressive and fundamentalist society is exacerbated within a government- and media-produced culture of fear, suggesting that the terror they face at home and abroad cannot be fought without surrendering one’s sense of agency and social justice to a militarized state. And yet, as the technology of the media expands so do the sites for critical education, resistance, and collective struggle.

The uprising in Iran not only requires a new conception of politics, education, and society; it also raises significant questions about the new media and its centrality to democracy. Image-based technologies have redefined the relationship between the ethical, political, and aesthetic. While “the proximity is perhaps discomforting to some, ... it is also the condition of any serious intervention”6 into what it means to connect cultural politics to matters of political and social responsibility. The rise of the new media and the conditions that have produced it do not sound the death knell of democracy as some have argued, but demand that we “begin to rethink democracy from within these conditions.”7 These brave Iranian youth are providing the world with a lesson in how the rest of us might construct a cultural politics based on social relations that enable individuals and social groups to rethink the crucial nature of what it means to know, engage civic courage, and assume a measure of social responsibility in a media-saturated global sphere. They are working out in real time what it means to address how these new technologies might foster a democratic cultural politics that challenges religious fundamentalism, state censorship, militarism, and the cult of certainty. Such a collective project requires a politics that is in the process of being invented, one that has to be attentive to the new realities of power, global social movements, and the promise of a planetary democracy. Whatever the outcome, the magnificent and brave uprising by the young people of Iran illustrates that they have legitimated once again a new register of both opposition and politics. What is at stake, in part, is a mode of resistance and educational practice that is redefining in the heat of the battle the ideologies and skills needed to critically understand the new visual and visualizing technologies not simply as new modes of communication, but as weapons in the struggle for expanding and deepening the ideals and possibilities of democratic public life and the supportive cultures vital to democracy’s survival.

As these students and young people have demonstrated, it would be a mistake to simply align the new media exclusively with the forces of domination and commercialism as many do in the United Sates–with what Allen Feldman calls “total spectrum violence.” The Iranian uprising with its recognition of the image as a key force of social power makes clear that cultural politics is now constituted by a plurality of sites of resistance and social struggle, offering up new ways for young people to conceptualize how the media might be used to create alternative public spheres that enable them to claim their own voices and challenge the dominant forces of oppression. Theorists such as Thomas Keenan, Mark Poster, Douglas Kellner, and Jacques Derrida are right in suggesting that the new electronic technologies and media publics “remove restrictions on the horizon of possible communications” and, in doing so, suggest new possibilities for engaging the new media as a democratic force both for critique and for positive intervention and change. The ongoing struggle in Iran, if examined closely, provides some resources for rethinking how the political is connected to particular understandings of the social; how distinctive modes of address are used to marshal specific and often dangerous narratives, memories, and histories; and how certain pedagogical practices are employed in mobilizing a range of affective investments around images of trauma, suffering, and collective struggles. The images and messages coming out of Iran both demonstrate the courage of this generation of young people and others while also signifying new possibilities for redefining a global democratic politics. What the dictatorship in Iran is witnessing is not simply generational discontent or the power of networking and communication sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube but a much more dangerous lesson in which democracy implies an experience in which power is shared, dialogue is connected to involvement in the public sphere, hope means imagining the unimaginable, and collective action portends the outlines of a new understanding of power, freedom, and democracy.

Henry A. Giroux holds the Global TV Network chair in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University in Canada. His most recent books include: "Take Back Higher Education" (co-authored with Susan Searls Giroux, 2006), "The University in Chains: Confronting the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex" (2007) and "Against the Terror of Neoliberalism: Politics Beyond the Age of Greed" (2008). His newest book, "Youth in a Suspect Society: Democracy or Disposability?" will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2009.


1 . I take up the issue of screen culture and the challenge of the new media in Henry A. Giroux, Beyond the Spectacle of Terrorism: Global Uncertainty and the Challenge of the New Media (Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2006).

2. I want to thank Tony Kashani for these figures.

3. Nazila Fathi, “Protesters Defy Iranian Efforts to Cloak Unrest,” New York Times (June 18, 2009), p. A1.

4. Brian Stelter and Brad Stone, “Stark Images of the Turmoil in Iran, Uploaded to the World on the Internet,” New York Times (June 18, 2009), p. A14.

5. Ibid., Stelter and Stone, “Stark Images of the Turmoil in Iran,” p. A14.

6 . Thomas Keenan, “Mobilizing Shame,” South Atlantic Quarterly 103, no. 2/3 (2004), p. 447. Keenan explores the relationship between ethics and responsibility in even greater detail in his Fables of Responsibility (Stanford: Stanford University Press,1997).

7. . Jacques Derrida cited in Michael Peters, “The Promise of Politics and Pedagogy in Derrida,” Review of Education/Pedagogy/Cultural Studies (in press).

8. . Allen Feldman, “On the Actuarial Gaze: From 9/11 to Abu Ghraib,” Cultural Studies 19, no. 2 (March 2005), p. 212.

9 . J├╝rgen Habermas, Theory of Communicative Action, Vol. 2. Lifeworld and System: A Critique of Functionalist Reason, trans. Thomas McCarthy (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 1987), p. 390.