Friday, February 20, 2009

News of Interest 2/20/09

Experts say Mexico ripe for insurrection

The Mexican government is not aware of an armed movement that presents a threat to Mexico's security, but officials are monitoring whether the self-styled Movimiento Armado del Norte (Northern Armed Movement) resorts to more than online rhetoric in the future.

Experts said Mexico's instability, due to widespread killings and economic woes, could give rise to a new insurrection, at least in parts of the country.

The alleged organization issued two communiqués this year, the second with a Chihuahua state dateline. It claims to exert influence in the states of Chihuahua, Baja California, Sonora, Coahuila and part of Durango.

-El Paso Times

Trees Absorb a Fifth of Carbon Emissions Pumped out by Humans

Dr Simon Lewis, a Royal Society research fellow at the University of Leeds and author of the paper, said: "We are receiving a free subsidy from nature. "Tropical forest trees are absorbing about 18 per cent of the CO2 added to the atmosphere each year from burning fossil fuels, substantially buffering the rate of climate change."

Dr Lewis said the trees could be mopping up even mor

e carbon dioxide than before because CO2 already in the atmosphere is acting like a fertiliser, but man could not rely on them forever.

"Even if we preserve all remaining tropical forest, these trees will not continue getting bigger indefinitely," he added.


Starting at home, Iran's women fight for rights

In a year of marriage, Razieh Qassemi, 19, says she was beaten repeatedly by her husband and his father. Her husband, she says, is addicted to methamphetamine and has threatened to marry another woman to "torture" her.

Rather than endure the abuse, Qassemi took a step that might never have occurred to an earlier generation of Iranian women: she filed for divorce.

Women's rights advocates say Iranian women are displaying a growing determination to achieve equal status in this conservative Muslim theocracy, where male supremacy is still enscribed in the legal code. One in five marriages now end in divorce, according to government data, a fourfold increase in the past 15 years.

-International Herald Tribune

The collapse of manufacturing

$0.00, not counting fuel and handling: that is the cheapest quote right now if you want to ship a container from southern China to Europe. Back in the summer of 2007 the shipper would have charged $1,400. Half-empty freighters are just one sign of a worldwide collapse in manufacturing. In Germany December’s machine-tool orders were 40% lower than a year earlier. Half of China’s 9,000 or so toy exporters have gone bust. Taiwan’s shipments of notebook computers fell by a third in the month of January. The number of cars being assembled in America was 60% below January 2008.

The destructive global power of the financial crisis became clear last year. The immensity of the manufacturing crisis is still sinking in, largely because it is seen in national terms—indeed, often nationalistic ones. In fact manufacturing is also caught up in a global whirlwind.

-The Economist

Obama’s War on Terror May Resemble Bush’s in Some Areas

Even as it pulls back from harsh interrogations and other sharply debated aspects of George W. Bush’s “war on terrorism,” the Obama administration is quietly signaling continued support for other major elements of its predecessor’s approach to fighting Al Qaeda.

In little-noticed confirmation testimony recently, Obama nominees endorsed continuing the C.I.A.’s program of transferring prisoners to other countries without legal rights, and indefinitely detaining terrorism suspects without trials even if they were arrested far from a war zone.

The administration has also embraced the Bush legal team’s arguments that a lawsuit by former C.I.A. detainees should be shut down based on the “state secrets” doctrine. It has also left the door open to resuming military commission trials.

-New York Times

Friday, February 13, 2009

John Gibler, author of "Mexico Unconquered: Chronicles of Power and Revolt" speaking in Tempe

Phoenix Class War Council recommends readers of this blog in the Phoenix metro area make plans to attend the following event. Author John Gibler is touring the U.S. to promote his new book Mexico Unconquered: Chronicles of Power and Revolt, he'll be giving a talk at Changing Hands bookstore in Tempe on March 4. PCWC members have followed Gibler's analysis and record of Mexican politics "from below" with some interest and are currently reading this new work. Narco Sphere's Kristin Bricker has written a review of Mexico Unconquered, in addition to an interview with Gibler. This is some great insight into the other side, his talk in Tempe promises to give us even more. Mark your calendar.

Wednesday, March 4th, 7:00 pm Tempe, AZ:
Changing Hands

Changing Hands Bookstore presents Speaker John Gibler to discuss his new book, Mexico Unconquered: Chronicles of Power and Revolt.

6428 S McClintock Dr
Tempe, AZ 85283

For more info, contact Pinna Joseph


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tonight! Free show against Arpaio and immigrant detention camps!

Come out tonight and help Arizona Hip Hop organize itself to fight Arpaio and white supremacy. Help build an autonomous and politically self-aware hip hop movement and say "No!" to the forces of reaction and oppression. We stand together. See you at the Stray Cat on University tonight.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Alan Moore on V For Vendetta

This is an interesting talk on V For Vendetta by legendary comic writer Alan Moore, he's sitting down with the BBC discussing his works in a series of videos. In this part, Moore breaks down some of the history to on his (and artist David Lloyd's) work V For Vendetta to put it in a proper context, especially when it comes to the story's politics. The American film adaptation is notorious amongst fans of the comic series, as well as anarchists, for gutting most of the best bits of dialogue in addition to the very anarchist politics that define V, not the shallow libertarianism of the American film.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Spring Initiative: Arizona Anarchist Assembly

Spring 2009 Arizona Anarchist Assembly:
A Culmination of lengthening days and struggles.

A gathering for friends, comrades, and those with affinity: Ye
s, you, you, you, and you too.

The Phoenix Class War Council is celebrating the spring, a time for passion and love, the erection of the Maypole, and shedding dead weight for the birth of the all that is new.

In our celebration, we must also renew our energies and focus on that which hinders human happiness, freedom, and a balance with the natural world. Arizona is a complex of oppression: a system of walls, barriers, cameras, and regulated movements, all of this enforced by the authorities of capital and bureaucracy, matching the blood thirst of a reactionary public.

Anarchists, we challenge these regulations! We've challenged them before there was a name for those who seek total liberation, through the wars and strikes, migration and deportation, the firing squad and the noose, the state and capitalists, the left and the right, we have fought for a world worth living in, it is our history and future.

Arizona is a haven for those seeking the other way, once the home of the indigenous and natural ways, later murderously seized by settlers manifesting their white supremacist "destiny". A centuries old nightmare for those who dream of freedom for all, we know as well there has always been resistance.

The ball is in our court. Let’s chat.

This is an invitation to anarchists from all corners of the state to come to Tempe.
This meeting will be held on the final day of the Local to Global Justice, however this event is not affiliated with the conference, meaning this is not a scheduled workshop. This event is an initiative of the Phoenix Class War Council and is the result of discussions between a handful anarchists who desire a dialogue between those of us in struggle in Arizona. We are not calling for this event with the intent to build a new organization, or to make a series of big decisions, we see this gathering as a mere step in (re)building our presence and our collective strength.

Contact the Phoenix Class War Council with comments, concerns, questions, and complaints at:

3 PM
Sunday March 1, 2009

Meet at the Farmer Atrium

ASU Main Campus
Tempe, Arizona

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Immigrants get one camp. But which one is for you?

I want you to look at these two photos, especially if you're white. This one is from the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. The Nazis built the Sachsenhausen camp outside Berlin to hold primarily political prisoners. Generally, that meant anyone who didn't agree with the Nazi regime and had the nerve to say or do something about it, but not exclusively so. Sometimes just having the wrong associations was enough. Like being in a union, or in a particular political party. Or helping Jews. Further east lay the death camps, where Jewish prisoners, held for no other reason than their ethnicity and their convenience as a scapegoat for Germany's economic situation, and dressed almost the exact same way were murdered by the millions behind electrified fences.

The next photo is from today's Arizona Republic and shows Mexican migrants being transferred into segregated housing at Sheriff Joe Arpaio's tent city, where they will be housed behind electrified fences in a special section just for them. One camp for brown-skinned workers from south of the border and another for everyone else.

The photos bear a striking resemblance, don't they? Indeed, the comparisons couldn't be more clear. Singled out by race and ethnicity and marched under armed fascist guard to linger behind fences in concentration camps awaiting an uncertain future.

This is a point that I feel must be particularly aimed at white folks, so I want them to listen up in as I address this to them. If you think that you can support cameras on the borders without them coming North and targeting you, you're wrong. If you think that you can support eVerify and other government controls on work without it coming back to regulate your work and whether you can have any, think again. If you think that you can support a crackdown on one kind of worker, immigrant or migrant workers, without setting yourself up for an attack on all other workers, you're wrong. And if you think you can support putting one kind of people behind electrified fences without making a reservation for yourself, think again.

Because the infrastructure for one is just as useful against the other. The police state you have supported in exchange for the relative immunity of your white skin privilege can just as easily take your rights away. Those SWAT teams that round up immigrants can just as easily kick in your door. The camps you support for brown folks can just as easily house you. Right now making its way through the Congress is National Emergency Centers Act or HR 645. This bill will set up what are euphemistically known as "Emergency Centers", otherwise known as concentration camps to be used in the case of emergency.

Well, have you looked around lately? I think we're in a emergency. Who do you think is going to be in those camps? You didn't complain about those billions going to Bank of America, did you? I hope not! You didn't complain about the war in Iraq, did you? I hope not! Otherwise those camps may be in your future, or the future of someone you know and love.

Did you happen to catch the article in the Phoenix Business Journal in December about how the Phoenix Police are getting ready to put down insurrections in the Valley, in cooperation with the military. That's not for immigrants, my friend. That's for in case you and your friends get sick of the banker bailout or the foreclosures or whatever else the capitalist elite have in store for you. Maybe you think you deserve something other than slave wages and decide to organize at work with some of your fellow workers. Did you happen to see how the government has created NorthCom and deployed veteran units from Iraq to put down similar uprisings across the country? What do you think those riots are going to be about? What will those insurrectionaries be demanding? Work? Food? Respect? Might you be one of them when the food runs out? Or when a member of your family is unjustly beaten or shot by the police?

You see, white people have made a major mistake. They have operated under the assumption that the privileges that they receive, petty though they might be in comparison to those enjoyed by the wealthy capitalist elite, were worth turning a blind eye to the crackdown on people of color. In fact, they've ignored it for a long time.

And for a long time they did get special benefits. I know they don't like to hear this, but it's true. White folks got higher wages, less exposure to the police and prisons, better schools and better job security. And taking those benefits created a relationship between the rich and powerful and white folks in general. A bastard cross-class alliance that has stood in the way of true progress in this country for quite some time. But now the piper has to be paid and with the economy crashing down all around us, and with the government threatening martial law over the banker bailout, and with the infrastructure now in place to execute it, their days of exemption and special treatment may just be over. And they let it happen.

No, they may not wind up having to speak Spanish in one of Arpaio's segregated immigrant concentration camps. But they might wind up in Sachsenhausen. And their fate will be the same. It is in everyone's best interest to prevent the construction of concentration camps and the dry run for a police state that they allow. Don't you see it? Arpaio is just doing the warm up. Immigrants are the appetizer, my friend, but you are the main course.

Austrian prisoners, marked with triangles and identifying patches, in the Dachau concentration camp. Germany, April 1938.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Is that a singularity in your pocket or are you just happy to see me enslaved?

Transhumanism's class problem.

By Phoenix Insurgent

Larry Page, transhumanist and full time cool dude.

The Financial Times reports today that well-known technophiliac and Google co-founder Larry Page has gotten together with X-Prize top dog Peter Diamandis to form what they are dubbing the "Singularity University". The SU, to be headed up by longtime technology writer (and originator of the Singularity concept) Ray Kurzweil, aims to prepare society for the day, not far off they claim, when the pace of technological and scientific change will increase to such a point that machines themselves will take over their own development, ushering in a very religious-sounding era of allegedly benevolent social change in which poverty, war and other problems will finally be solved by technology -- rather than exacerbated (the prevailing sad state of affairs).

I'm often quite amused by the religious nature of the technophiliac view, not leastwise because its advocates masquerade so often as the emissaries of pure, logical thought. And yet, despite the obvious fact that human social systems impact both the development, distribution and application of technological "advances", the vast majority of transhumanists develop their theories of technological change as if class, empire and governments (among other things) simply don't exist. As if when this "new" era comes, it won't reflect the class interests of the people who developed it, as it does now. Somehow we're to believe that the product of a hierarchical class society will somehow, and quite magically it seems, produce a technological utopia that liberates the whole of humanity from tyranny and want -- even though it's being developed by the very people who benefit from a system of tyranny and want.

Thus, their faith (and it's hard to use another word for it) in the benevolence of technological change is an interesting position to take because it is quite clear that we live in an era in which all the global apocalypses that hang over our heads are not waiting to be conquered by technology, but are in fact the direct result of technology. Nuclear war, industrial war, famine, ecological collapse and so much else have resulted precisely because of the interactions between the state, capitalism and technology, not despite them. And continuing scientific and technological advancements have not solved our social problems. In fact, most problems in the world await relatively simple solutions, not technological in the least, which the boosters of technological change, namely corporations and governments, oppose. For instance, the expropriation of the wealth and power of the elite requires no new technology.

Indeed, there is a larger gap between rich and poor in the world now than there was a hundred years ago. Likewise in the US. Hell, there's greater disparity in the US now than there was 35 years ago, the dawn of the computer age. In order to support the transhumanist position, one has to ignore the evidence that surrounds us every day.

GMO has not fed the world. People starve (or in India kill themselves with pesticide) because GMO dispaces them from their lands and livelihoods. People are more alienated than ever before, even though they are Twittering and MySpacing away at record pace. Highly technological warfare has killed a million in Iraq alone in the last six years while the Iraqis demand not a high tech society, but one free from imperial domination. Their problem would be solved by US withdrawal, not by smart bombs and retina scans. The easiest way to defeat malaria in southeast Asia is with mosquito netting, but instead anti-malaria drugs have created super strains. The emergence of the internet has allowed for the large scale tracking of humans as never before, truly a benefit to tyranical regimes everywhere, such as the one in China with whom Google has so avidly cooperated with, complying with the so-called Great Firewall of China. The development of cheap cameras and wireless internet has brought us a surveillance society constantly under the watchful eye of authority. And yet the cameras somehow do not record when an unarmed Black man is executed by the police in plain view. And on and on.

The truth is, the failings of technology are myriad and everywhere to see, and yet its boosters, technological fundamentalists, continue to point to the future and say that someday it will finally deliver, even though they indicate no mechanism that will guarantee such an outcome. But the distribution of technology reflects class lines, just like the distribution of money. If the social relationships between classes don't change, why would the application of power (technology) change? Diamandis, perhaps, hopes that we'll all just forget to notice the relationship between the spaceships in his X Prize competition and nuclear missiles. But the fact is, if the class system remains, the result will benefit the class. His project doesn't exist in a vacuum, an neither does technology as a whole. If he researches rocket systems, he is benefiting from and contributing to nuclear warfare. Not surprisingly, both these two characters in particular sit atop the financial pyramid.

So, do Page and Diamandis imagine a world, not far off, when the power of technology will shake the capitalist system to its core, overturning class relations and freeing all of humanity? Do they hope for a world in which they can be free of their billions? Again, it doesn't require any technological advancement to accomplish a better redistribution of wealth, but if Diamandis hopes for an age without his abundant largess, it wasn't evident at a talk he gave at a forum hosted by the The Center for Technology Commercialization at the USC Business Masters Program, entitled "Space Billionaires: Educating the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs."

And it doesn't take too much of an imagination to understand the implications for human freedom that would come from Page's pet project, artificial intelligence. Page described AI as "the ultimate search engine -- it would understand everything on the web. It would understand exactly what you wanted (my emphasis)." While he smiles as he delivers the line, perhaps imagining his own post singularity God-being in whatever second life he hopes to create, he obviously forgets what such a system would mean for those of us living our real lives in the real world dominated by powerful states and greedy capitalists made more powerful by their all-knowing computers (assuming the computers wouldn't just kill us all to begin with).

It's worth asking, would social change be possible at all in a world dominated by omniscient AI, or would an all-knowing elite be able to track everything, preventing any opposition and therefore transferring all power in the system to themselves? In such a situation, would everyone who wasn't in the Singular Elite become total slaves? Not having a countervailing force to compel them to relinquish even a little bit of their power, what possible reason would the elite have for providing the rest of us any rights at all under their technological "utopia"?

In an interview with Fortune Magazine, Page lamented,
If you ask an economist what's driven economic growth, it's been major advances in things that mattered - the mechanization of farming, mass manufacturing, things like that. The problem is, our society is not organized around doing that. People are not working on things that could have that kind of influence.
Not surprisingly, he has a one-sided view of the events he describes even as he expresses every capitalists dream: to reorder society according to his needs. Firstly, he uses the passive voice to describe what in reality was a very violent attack by the capitalists on the lives of what would become workers. Secondly, the decomposition of the emerging working class that capitalists imposed through the rise of mass manufacture can only be ignored if, like Page, you don't recognize the hand of Capital at all in relation to the application of technology. This despite the many ways in which Google itself both creates and bends to the will of Capital, whether in its ad placement or in its censorship and regulation of YouTube, one of its many properties. Content on the internet must reflect the constraints of Capital like any other resource.

For instance, taking one of Page's examples, beyond just workers, mass manufacture changed all our lives, including those sometimes left out of the system of waged work like women and children, who found their lives, too, reorganized around the capitalist ethic of consumerism and later manufacture and commodity capitalism. Like the Singularity, consumerism and mass production promised the workers of the world great things, too. And so, the suburbs grew and the cars rolled off the assembly lines. And families were fragmented and lives became empty. But this new form of organization served the needs of Capital just fine.

Page also doesn't seem to remember that people resisted, often violently, those interventions into their lives. He doesn't realize that capitalists use technology as a means for the maintenance of their power through the reorganization of the working class to better suit the needs of Capital and that those actions have far-ranging affects that are very often not positive for the bulk of people affected by them. Affects that, like the Singularity, do not have in-built mechanisms for the democratic participation of the great mass of people. Lacking them, how can we expect democratic tendencies to manifest? Since Capital is a dictatorship, isn't it much more likely that a high tech society like the one transhumanists desire would much more likely resemble tyranny than freedom?

What democratic mechanisms exist in modern technological development lie primarily in the realm of one dollar one vote, a playing field that obviously privileges the opinions of people like Page and Diamandis over those of regular people and probably explains their comfort with that as a standard. Further, those without access to massive amounts of capital find themselves entirely out of the game when it comes to technological development.

Whatever other democratic mechanisms may exist in the future -- assuming any would emerge -- would have to be imposed by the rest of society, much the way that workers fought to impose some sort of democratic structure on industrial capitalism through their self-organization and resistance. And, given the class position of these two capitalists in particular, we can be safe in betting that they would oppose such means were they to arise.

In fact, there is little reason to believe that Page and Diamandis really believe in liberation for the masses via technology. Consider comments made, and later retracted under pressure, by Diamandis at a talk on examples from history with regard to his alleged goal of opening up space to more people. One unfortunate example he chose: the German V2 program under the Nazis.
DIAMANDIS: If you look back at what von Braun did in Nazi Germany It was incredible what you can do with literally a dictatorship. Look at the numbers. 6,000 V-2s built. 6,000 missiles were built in Nazi Germany. The recurring cost was $13,000 a launch for those vehicles. You can bring the cost down with mass production. We'll come back to what will drive ...

[Multiple audience comments - including me - "SLAVE LABOR"]

DIAMANDIS: Yea, and slave labor, Sorry.


DIAMANDIS: But you know - again to you the rest of us would happily be slave labor for that mission. Can you erase that from the video tape?


DIAMANDIS: But the fact of the matter is that mass production of rockets is possible if you have a real marketplace. And war is not a good one. Moving forward though ...
Yeah, that's right, he said it. Slave labor. But it's not a bad example, really, is it? It certainly is a revelatory one. And it goes not just for Nazi Germany. Although Diamandis nervously claims at the end of that excerpt that war is not a good market, he knows he's lying. After all, if slavery was good for the development of the Nazi missile program, surely the Nazi state was as well. High technology depends on the nanny state for guaranteed markets for its goods and services. And the state, always looking for a way to expand its power and to defend its class constituency, happily provides. After all, once WWII was over the US fought hard to gather as many Nazi scientists as possible for it's own Cold War nuclear missile program, sometimes referred to in popular discourse by its doublethink titles of the Space Program or the Energy Department. You see, tyranny and holocaust (both racial and global) are never far removed from these kinds of programs. For more on this, I recommend reading Kirkpatrick Sale's excellent book "Fire of His Genius : Robert Fulton and the American Dream" which describes the link between the steamboat and the genocidal war against Native peoples in the North America.

Peter Diamandis: not a dork in High School

But these comments also reveal a colossal disconnect in the heads of transhumanists like Diamandis and Page. They indeed mistake their own position, tremendously privileged both in terms of wealth and power, for the class position of everyone else. Note his statement about being happy to be slave labor for a space mission. Really? Does he think that goes for the rest of us, too? These are the people who will deliver us technological liberation.

Just consider the term "transhumanist." It's hard to imagine a term more fitting for a group of wealthy nerds uncomfortable in their own skin, isn't it? Like any good fundamentalist, they are ready to let slip this mortal coil for their reward in the great beyond. Still trying to escape from their dork high school personas, these new Masters of the Universe have mistaken their rewards under the capitalist system for a glimpse of our common liberation rather than what it really is -- a snapshot of our current misery. They hope to impose their uncomfortableness and their own desire for liberation from their sad human lives onto us. But their liberation comes at our expense, in this world and in the Singularity.

Their Singularity isn't big enough for the rest of us. Perhaps that's the real reason behind the name.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Daily Show: George W. Obama's Speech (or "Meet the new boss, the same as the old boss")

News of Interest 2/2/2009

China birth defects 'up sharply'
Jiang Fan, from China's National Population and Family Planning Commission, said environmental pollution was a cause of the increase.
-BBC News

In Paris, an anti-ad insurgency

The Dismantlers, as a nationwide group of anti-ad crusaders call themselves, aren't violent or loud or clandestine. In fact, they invite the police to protest rallies where they deface signs. With a copywriter's flair, one of their slogans warns: "Attention! Avert your eyes from ads: You risk being very strongly manipulated." The goal of the Dismantlers is to get arrested, argue the righteousness of their cause in court and, you guessed it, gain publicity.

"We challenge the mercantile society that destroys all human relationships, professional relationships, health, the environment," said Alexandre Baret, 35, a founder of the group. "It's a message that proposes to attack advertising as the fuel of this not very healthy society."
-LA Times

Skateboarding in Afghanistan Provides a Diversion From Desolation
It looked like an ordinary neighborhood playground: six children tumbling off their skateboards to the tune of laughter. But only hours before, just 20 yards away, the body of a suicide car bomber was sprawled beside a glistening pool of blood.

Afghan youth have learned to recover almost instantly from such routine violence. One person determined to inject some normalcy into their lives is Oliver Percovich. A 34-year-old from Melbourne, Australia, he plans to open this country’s first skateboarding school, Skateistan, this spring. He sees sport as a way to woo students into after-school activities like English and computer classes, which are otherwise reserved for the elite.
-New York Times

One last chance to save mankind

I'm an optimistic pessimist. I think it's wrong to assume we'll survive 2 °C of warming: there are already too many people on Earth. At 4 °C we could not survive with even one-tenth of our current population. The reason is we would not find enough food, unless we synthesised it. Because of this, the cull during this century is going to be huge, up to 90 per cent. The number of people remaining at the end of the century will probably be a billion or less. It has happened before: between the ice ages there were bottlenecks when there were only 2000 people left. It's happening again.
-New Scientist

Chinese earthquake may have been man-made, say scientists

The 511ft-high Zipingpu dam holds 315 million tonnes of water and lies just 550 yards from the fault line, and three miles from the epicentre, of the Sichuan earthquake.

Now scientists in China and the United States believe the weight of water, and the effect of it penetrating into the rock, could have affected the pressure on the fault line underneath, possibly unleashing a chain of ruptures that led to the quake.
-London Telegraph

NATO: Members may use Iran for Afghan supplies

NATO would not oppose individual member nations making deals with Iran to supply their forces in Afghanistan as an alternative to using increasingly risky routes from Pakistan, the alliance’s top military commander said Monday.

Gen. John Craddock’s comments came just days after NATO’s secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, urged the U.S. and other members of the Western military alliance to engage with Iran to combat Taliban militants in Afghanistan.
-Air Force Times

Turkey and the army: Conspiracy theories

Mr Aygan’s confessions are the latest in a series of sensational revelations unfolding in a case that takes its name from Ergenekon, a supposedly clandestine organisation. Some 86 people, including retired generals, journalists and politicians, who purportedly planned to carry out a string of high-profile murders, sow chaos and provoke a military coup in Turkey, have been on trial. Some defendants are said to have ties with the mafia and drug gangs.

On January 22nd a further 39 people (five of them serving army officers) were rounded up in pre-dawn raids across the country. These arrests have turned Ergenekon into what many say is the most significant criminal investigation in Turkey’s history. The prosecutors are now exploring links with the 2007 murder of Hrant Dink, a Turkish-Armenian editor, who had been threatened by a retired general, Veli Kucuk, before his death. Mr Kucuk was arrested in January 2008 and is alleged to be among Ergenekon’s ringleaders.
-The Economist

Mayor Gets Tough, Goes on Trial

On Monday, Mr. Melton is scheduled to go on trial -- for the third time since taking office -- on felony charges related to his hard-line, gun-toting tactics. Mr. Melton is battling three counts in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi on civil-rights and related weapons charges after he and two police bodyguards, and a group of young acquaintances wielding sledgehammers, allegedly destroyed a home where the mayor has claimed occupants used and sold crack cocaine.
-Wall Street Journal