Guest Blog: Occupy Ukraine?

Today’s guest blogging post (and open thread) is by our friend, TerrytheTurtle.

What is happening in Ukraine is awful, bloody, murderously awful. Depending on where you come from in your world view, there are at least three ways of looking at what is happening:

1. If you follow the Western media, it is about Ukraine wishing to “join the EU” (quotes because there are many sources of this over-simplification) and the coverage is dumbed down to this one point time and again. But the EU trade agreement Yanukovych refused to sign after promising to in his manifesto, is only the catalyst, the problems lie much deeper than that.

2. This is part of the Neo-Cold War, pitting American power against the Czar of All the Russias and his part-dictatorship, part-kleptocracy. If you read the full transcript of the intercepted Nuland phone call two weeks ago, there is no question the US is picking sides, and picking which opposition horse to back, the whole point of which seems to be, to use the violence in Ukraine to win ground in a wider struggle. And for his part, Putin, by blaming ‘entirely, the terrorists and radicals’ for the violence, is shamelessly backing his client, Yanukovych, just like he has backed Syria’s Assad. It seems the US and Putin are both ‘playing cards’ and the people of Kiev are doing the dying.

3. The third thesis is that what we are watching is the Occupy movement of Ukraine. Ukraine’s government is controlled by a very small number of hyper-rich Ukrainians who owe their riches to a perpetuation of the same style of oligarchy and kleptocracy that Vladimir Putin sits atop in neighbouring Russia. They want the massive income inequality and lack of social justice to continue – its good for business. But you won’t hear this in the Western media. That kind of discussion is too close to home and would remind people of what Occupy Wall Street was all about. When Yanukovych returned to power, in 2010, as president (in an election the EU certified as fair), mainly because the Orange Revolution had stalled in the world depression after the financial crisis, he changed the constitution away from the 2004 constitution: more power to him and his cronies. Corruption blossomed again. You know the formula: billionaires, owning politicians for favours, closing and selling off factories, looting the old industries where ordinary people made a living and punishing dissent. The Kochs and Waltons would love these people.

What do Ukrainians think about some of this? The most recent poll I could find (Feb 5th) said:

Showing divisions between Ukrainians on foreign policy, 48% said Ukraine should reconsider its rejection of an EU partnership, but 40.3% said it should not.

Asked if the protests should continue, 48% said yes and 45.1% said no.

These divisions have an ethnic and geographic element to them – west is more likely to be ethnic Ukrainian and east and south more Russian. But like the American south, the Russian-leaning part is voting for more income inequality, more Russian-style “democracy”. But Ukrainians seem to distrust the EU only a little less than Russia, especially when it comes to helping them now. It seems to me they feel like they are on their own.

OK, so all this geopolitics aside, you just have to look at the faces of the people in the streets and in the makeshift hospitals to get an idea of which of these theses is closest to the truth and it is complicated, even if I am getting some coaching.  🙂  That ordinary Ukrainians just want the freedom to have their government represent them and protect their freedoms from foreign powers (all of them!) and from their own “entitled” citizens and corporations.  Just spend some time on the blogs (helpfully translated on request and forwarded to people like me by friends). You will see what I am seeing and hearing directly.

Yes, there are protesters with guns now and policemen have died, but today’s toll of death was far unbalanced to the 10s of thousands of mostly unarmed protesters, shot in the square, or beaten by police or paid thugs, the “tituski”, in the side streets as they try to leave to take care of families or escape the bloodshed. Or as volunteers try to treat them in makeshift hospitals while the police try to arrest them from the bloody floor where they lie.

Take a look at two of Putin's "radicals and terrorists."

Take a look at two of Putin’s “radicals and terrorists.”

Finally, and I wish it was finally, this article I was sent today goes roughly like this: A former policeman has come to Kiev to find his 19-year-old son, a student in Kiev. Like all fathers he wished his son did not go to the protests, but as a Ukrainian he was proud of his son to go. He holds in his hand the helmet he wore, covered in blood, a single sniper bullet hole in the helmet where his forehead was. Facebook posts are full of pictures of young people like this….

And yes, like Zooey said Thursday, this could be us too, someday soon.

Watering Hole: Friday, October 28, 2011 – Occupied and Stolen

When will the US Government’s abuse of Native Americans end?  When they are all dead?  Or is it when they all forget their great heritage?

This week, NPR did a mini series on “Indian Child Welfare”.  Even though the law states that Native American children are to live with a family member within the tribe, South Dakota places Native American children in foster care outside of the reservation.  Fifty percent of the children living in foster care in South Dakota are Native Americans.  In case you missed this story, you can learn more about it here, from Native American Netroots.

From PR-USA:

According to NPR Laura Sullivan is known for her investigative reporting on the plight of the country’s most disadvantaged people. NPR also lists Ms. Sullivan’s 2007 revelation of the widespread rape of Native American women on their reservations, committed largely by non-Native men. This tragic story took place, and continues to take place, on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in the Dakotas.

The Lakota Peoples Law Project (LPLP) has documented the theft and destruction of Indian children. Native children are being taken at an alarming rate. LPLP investigators and attorneys have found that the South Dakota Department of Social Services in a misguided attempt to help the children removes them from their families and places them in non-Indian households, foster-care settings, and state institutions for years. These children often experience sexual and emotional abuse, medical over-drugging, and inadequate education. According to LPLP lead attorneyDaniel P. Sheehan, the current system is a failure. Mr. Sheehan’s research shows that South Dakota, is one of the worst offenders nationwide. Nearly two-thirds of children in state foster care in South Dakota are Native American. By age twenty, over 60% of these children are dead, homeless, or in prison.

The greedy are not content with all the land that they stole over the past 150 + years. They are now going after more land.  So the Dakota Oyate have occupied the Crow Creek Reservation.

The Lakota have struggled for 158 years.  Here is their story which will not be found in any school board approved history book.

The genocide continues and the MSM is quiet.

I remember reading “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” and crying for hours.  It was an awakening.

This is our Open Thread.  Speak Up!

“May you have faith in your worth and act with wisdom”… Yogi tea tag.

Watering Hole: Monday, October 17, 2011 – #Occupy

If you need an explanation for the “Occupy”, then you are part of the problem.  It was a very windy day in the City of Brotherly Love on Saturday which made carrying the banner a bit difficult.

Occupy Philly

This photo was taken in front of Philadelphia City Hall which is a beautiful structure.  The building surrounds a courtyard where many different preaching and protesting activities can be seen and heard any day of the year.  You can’t see it in this photo, but there is a statue of William Penn on the top of the building.  There was a gentleman’s agreement that no skyscraper would be built that was taller than William Penn’s hat.

Philadelphia City Hall was intended to be the tallest building in the world, so there was no reason to suppose anything in Philadelphia would be taller. Gradually, taller buildings in other cities were built, but there grew up a gentleman’s agreement that no skyscraper would be built in Philadelphia that was taller than William Penn’s hat atop his statue on the tower of City Hall. Planning in the city was organized around this premise, which affects subways and other transportation issues in the city center. Because of assassination fears, a similar tradition in Washington DC was enacted into law, and it must be admitted that the flat skyline of that city looks a little dumb and boring. But Philadelphia neglected to pass a law, and so at the end of the Twentieth Century first one and then half a dozen skyscrapers were built that were twice the height of City Hall, immediately destroying the organizing visual center of the city. Pity.

At the end of the twentieth century, the gentleman’s agreement was put aside and the beginning of building skyscrapers began.  Now, the Philadelphia skyline looks like just any other big city skyline.

This is our Open Thread.  Speak Up!