Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak dies


This 25 February 2020 video says about itself:

Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s president for almost 30 years who stepped down after a popular revolution in 2011, has died. He was 91.

State television reported on Tuesday he died weeks after undergoing surgery.

Mubarak served as Egypt’s fourth president starting in 1981 until his ouster in what became known as the Arab Spring revolution. He was jailed for years after the uprising, but was freed in 2017 …

The Arab Spring protests convulsed autocratic regimes across the Middle East.

Mubarak’s military dictatorship was supported by United States governments, eg, the George W Bush administration.

Mubarak and George W Bush in 2002, AFP photo

Like the present Sisi military dictatorship in Egypt has the support of the US Trump administration.

EGYPT’S HOSNI MUBARAK DIES AT 91 Former Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak, whose decades-long grip on the presidency was pried loose by the Arab Spring protests in 2011, died in a Cairo hospital. [HuffPost]

Hosni Mubarak, US-backed dictator of Egypt for 30 years, dead at 91: here.

Indian photographer helps tigers to return


This 21 February 2020 video says about itself:

Meet the Indian photographer who turned his land into a tiger and animal sanctuary

What happens when you buy a plot of land and just let it grow? For Aditya Singh, an Indian photographer, it brought tigers. Singh left his job in the Indian Civil services and moved to Rajasthan near the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve. Over 20 years, he bought 35 acres of land.

Now, the untouched land has blossomed into a lush green forest patch where tigers have been spotted.

Read more here.

Right wing defeated in Hamburg, Germany election


This 21 February 2020 video from Germany says about itself:

Greta Thunberg joined by 60,000 at Hamburg climate protest

Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg addressed a crowd of over 60,000 people at a Fridays for Future protest in Hamburg, Germany on Friday, where she marched with the demonstrators to push local governments for climate change policy.

“I’m just so happy that we are here together despite the horrible events that took place the other day,” she told the crowd, referring to Wednesday’s deadly shooting in Hanau.

Thunberg began protesting on Fridays outside of the Swedish parliament when she was 15 to push her government to curb carbon emissions. Her campaign gave rise to a grassroots movement that has gone global, inspiring millions of people to take action.

The fight against climate change was a big theme in the 23 February 2020 Hamburg state election.

By Peter Schwarz in Germany:

German right-wing and far-right parties suffer defeat in Hamburg state election

25 February 2020

The Hamburg state election on Sunday gave a distorted expression to the widespread opposition to right-wing extremism in Germany. Four days after a right-wing terrorist attack claimed nine lives in Hanau, the Christian Democrats (CDU) and Free Democrats (FDP), the parties that formed an alliance with the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) to elect the minister-president in Thuringia, lost large numbers of votes.

The Christian Democratic Union was hit hardest, recording its second-worst state election result in history, with just 11.2 percent of the vote. The only time the party received a lower percentage of the vote was in Bremen in 1951, when it secured 9.1 percent of the ballots. Compared to its 2016 result of 15.9 percent, which was its worst ever in Hamburg until Sunday, the CDU lost another 4.7 percentage points. The CDU’s best result ever came in 2004, when the party won 47.2 percent.

The CDU federal leadership responded to the electoral debacle Monday by calling an extraordinary party congress for 25 April to choose a successor to outgoing federal party leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. The new CDU leader is likely to become the candidate to replace Angela Merkel as chancellor in 2021 at the latest.

The Free Democrats lost 2.4 percentage points, meaning the party narrowly missed out on being represented in the new state senate.

Actually, in the new senate there will be one FDP MP; down from nine.

With 5.3 percent of the vote, the AfD just made it over the 5 percent hurdle for representation in the senate. In 2015, the AfD took 6.1 percent.

The Social Democrats (SPD) emerged as the strongest party, with 39 percent of the vote. But with a 6.6 percentage point decline in its vote, the SPD suffered the biggest drop of any party. Nonetheless, it celebrated the result as a victory. Polls several months ago had projected much larger losses, and the SPD at the federal level is currently polling at just 14 percent.

The biggest winners were the Greens, who increased their vote from 12.3 percent to 24.2 percent. The Left Party also recorded a slight increase of 0.6 percentage points, finishing with 9.1 percent of the vote. Voter turnout was relatively low at 63.3 percent, but this was still a significant increase from 2015, when just 56.5 percent of eligible voters went to the polls.

The Greens were able to benefit from being perceived as opponents of the AfD … . Among first-time voters, aged 16 to 21, the Greens were by far the strongest party, finishing with 35 percent, compared to the SPD’s 24 percent and the Left Party’s 12 percent. Among this group, the AfD received just 3 percent.

The Greens also benefited from the urgency of the climate change issue. Two days prior to the election, Fridays for Future organised a large demonstration attended by Greta Thunberg from Sweden. The police estimated the crowd at 20,000, while the organizers said 60,000 attended.

By contrast, the SPD is largely a party of retirees. It obtained its best result, 59 percent, among voters over the age of 70.

Hamburg has long been considered an SPD stronghold. Since the end of World War II, the SPD has always held the position of mayor, apart from 1953-1957 and 2001-2011. The Hamburg SPD was typically more right-wing than the federal party and enjoyed the backing of the city’s bourgeoisie.

The party’s dominant figure for many years was Helmut Schmidt, who as German chancellor in 1975 initiated the turn towards gutting public spending and social services that has continued until today, and enforced NATO’s decision to station nuclear-capable intercontinental missiles in Germany in the face of widespread opposition in 1979.

Peter Tschentscher, the outgoing and incoming mayor, took over the post two years ago from Olaf Scholz, who joined the federal grand coalition government as finance minister and vice-chancellor and has implemented the same strict austerity agenda as that imposed by his predecessor Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) ever since.

Scholz ordered a ruthless police crackdown against anti-G20 protesters in July 2017 and initiated a European-wide campaign against alleged “left-wing extremists”, which put several young people behind bars for acts of petty crime.

The Greens, who have governed in a coalition with the SPD over the past five years, supported all of this. Deputy Mayor Katharina Fegebank, who led the Green Party’s campaign, explicitly endorsed the police intervention to impose the return of AfD founder Berndt Lucke to Hamburg University in the face of student resistance. She condemned the student protests against Lucke as “injustice in its purest form”.

The Greens are a party of the privileged middle class. The party gained most in well-off inner-city neighbourhoods, as well as some districts associated with alternative lifestyle milieus. In some wealthy areas, they beat the SPD to become the strongest party. However, they won little support among workers and poorer sections of the population.

The Greens’ reputation as an environmentally friendly, democratic party is a myth. In the state of Hesse, where the terrorist attack in Hanau and the murder of Kassel District President Walter Lübcke took place, and where neo-Nazi groups are closely intertwined with the intelligence service, the Greens have governed in a coalition with the CDU for five years and helped conceal the right-wing conspiracy within the state.

Zambian leopard eats out of crocodile’s mouth


This 25 February 2020 video says about itself:

Leopard Eats Food Right Out a Crocodile‘s Mouth

Watch the incredible moment a leopard builds up enough courage to go up to crocodile and eat right from its mouth!

This incredible moment of an opportunistic leopard stealing a croc’s meal right out of its mouth was filmed by Nicole Dangoor, a ranger at the Bush Camp Company.

She shared this incredible sighting with LatestSightings.com, and tells the story.

Nicole was joined by a group of safari visitors on a night drive in the South Luangwa National Park. They stopped to watch a couple of crocodiles who were in the middle of a feast when a leopard crept closer to the crocodile with the bulk of the food, seemingly interested in what the crocodile had in its mouth.

As the light was shining on the crocodile for a better view for the guests, the opportunistic leopard risked the chance and started biting and clawing at the pieces of meat dangling from the croc’s mouth, pulling out pieces of the meat and eating it!

After a few mouths-full, the leopard attempted one final claw, grab and bite and managed to pull what looks like a whole impala leg from the crocodile. This seemed like a fair enough portion for the leopard as it ran off into the distance to eat in peace. As the light from the safari visitors followed the leopard into the thicket, the crocodiles took the opportunity to make a break for the bushes to eat what was left of the meal.

Big German demonstrations against murderous neonazis


This 23 February 2020 video says about itself:

Germany: Thousands march in memory of shooting victims in Hanau

Thousands of people marched through the streets of Hanau on Sunday, to protest against right-wing extremism and racism in the wake of the deadly Hanau shooting.

Demonstrators could be seen holding Turkish flags and banners reading “together against terror and anti-muslim racism” as they marched through Kessel and Heumarkt, districts of Hanau.

A speaker on stage addressed the crowd saying “We came here today to mourn together and to remember the victims of the terror attack. The last few days have not been easy for us. Such a terrorist act in Germany leaving 9 victims, has torn our lives.”

He added, “For us, our world, a piece of our home collapsed. They were not Turkish, Bosnian, Afghans or Romanians who were stripped from us, they were nine citizens of Hanau, children of this society. We lost our children, our siblings.”

On Wednesday, February 19, a 43-year-old German citizen from Hanau opened fire outside a shisha bar at Heumarkt district, driving off to a second location in Kesselstadt district, where he opened fire again.

The double shooting left at least 10 people dead, with five injured, before the suspect and his 72-year-old mother were found dead at his address in the early hours of Thursday morning.

From the World Socialist Web Site in Germany:

Germany: Tens of thousands take to the streets against right-wing terror

By our reporters

25 February 2020

Over the weekend, tens of thousands of people again took to the streets in dozens of German cities to demonstrate against right-wing terror. Many demonstrators addressed the complicity of the security authorities and the right-wing policies of … the parties in the Bundestag (federal parliament), which paved the way for right-wing terrorism.

A section of the demonstration in Hanau

The largest demonstration took place in Hanau on Saturday, with 7,000 participants. Only three days before, nine immigrants were shot to death there in a right-wing terrorist attack. The rally was dominated by the mourning for the young people whose lives the murderer so brutally ended.

Eslem, Lilli, and Chaymaa came to the rally together. “We are here because we want to support the relatives and show them that we are strong together,” said Chaymaa. “To call the perpetrator ‘mentally ill’ downplays the danger,” says Lilli. “The attack was clearly directed against Muslims and immigrants.

Eslem, Lilli and Chaymaa (from left)

When foreigners commit murders, the media likes to talk about a terrorist attack,” Chaymaa added. “In this case, however, they have avoided the word. Yet it is almost as bad as last year in Christchurch.” Eslem, who knew some of the victims by sight, explained that she finds it “incomprehensible how racism can still exist in the 21st century.”

Seda

Seda, who also lives in Hanau, knew one of the victims personally. “I am at a loss for words,” she says, “Hanau is such a multicultural city, I never thought that something like this could happen in my circle of friends. He was educated here, we often went out together. He was such a good man.”

Eylem, who came with her family, said, “I am here because it could have been any of us. Those killed have fallen victim to a morbid and poisonous ideology that seeks to set people of different nations against each other. For me, the [far-right Alternative for Germany] AfD is primarily responsible, but in reality, this is politics in Germany today. This ideology also dominated under the Nazis and it never really ended. This fact should not be swept under the carpet, I think.”

In the past few days, several state and federal politicians had laid flowers in Hanau and voiced words of sympathy to the press. Eylem had “not a bit of confidence in them,” she said, “They appear here briefly and that’s it. That’s it for them.”

Eylem (right) with family

She continued, “Nationalism and racism do not simply come out of people. Both are constantly being encouraged in the background. This is how people are to be set against each other. Those who ultimately carry it out are not the main culprits.”

When asked who bears political responsibility for the murders, Seda replied, “Somehow, everyone is responsible. I feel abandoned by all the parties. Of course, the left-wing parties say they are against it. But still something like this happens! They should do something about it and not just talk.”

Birgit, a pensioner from Hanau, carried a self-made sign. For her, the appearance of leading politicians in Hanau was nothing but “mendacious chatter.”

Birgit with poster

“In reality, the killer was picking up what the politicians have been sowing for years. It’s not just about the AfD, it goes much deeper. The rise of the AfD is a result of the right-wing policies that the major parties have been pursuing for decades. For me, this includes the inhuman practices of the immigration authorities, the right-wing hate speech about ‘problems’ with immigration, the talk of alleged ‘overpopulation’ and, above all, the social policy of the last 30 years. This began with [Social Democratic] Chancellor Schröder and his Agenda 2010, a ‘social policy’ that has led to endless divisions.”

Ben, who was demonstrating together with Markus and other friends from the youth movement “Fridays for Future”, raised the question about the role played by the security authorities. “These murders took place just two days after a major operation allegedly aimed at undermining right-wing terrorism. While the government fights against so-called ‘left-wing extremism’, right-wing violence continues to kill people.”

Markus

In reality, “the right wing is encouraged at every level,” said Ben. “The AfD is increasingly being legitimized—under Höcke, but also overall. Meanwhile, there’s general agreement about so-called ‘left-wing extremism’.”

“I’m afraid this attack may encourage more copycats. In my opinion, the media, such as [the tabloid] Bild are partly to blame. They have ruthlessly spread right-wing propaganda for years. Of course, no one among the politicians wants to be blamed for the terror. Everyone says: We don’t make common cause with Nazis. But then they do, as they did recently in Thuringia. [Thuringia FDP politician] Kemmerich’s statement that he knew nothing is completely unbelievable.”

Christoph, who has to commute between Frankfurt and Hanau every day for work, added with regard to Thuringia and the Free Democratic Party (FDP): “Lindner’s party has also fanned the flames of the right wing. Their cooperation with Höcke’s AfD in the East has ensured that these people now feel strengthened.”

“If the security authorities are to be given even more powers, then this is not a preventive measure,” says Markus. “On the contrary.” The case of the right-wing radical former head of the secret service, Hans-Georg Maassen, had shown this. “Even now that Maassen is gone, the dangerous structures in the secret service remain.”

Joachim is a philosophy teacher and adult education lecturer in Hanau. In discussion with Christoph and the WSWS, he recalled the case of the neo-Nazi Thuringia Homeland Security and the series of murders committed by the National Socialist Underground (NSU), “In Thuringia, the secret service fomented the fascists and financed the right-wing scene. It can’t be that, as in the case of Halit Yozgat, official files are shredded.

This 13 February 2020 classical music video is called Holland Festival 2020: The Murder of Halit Yozgat.

Actually, there should be no secret service at all, the whole concept must be completely restructured.”

'Dismantle the Domestic Intelligence Agency'—A banner at the demonstration in Hanau

“In my opinion, you have to get down to the causes,” said Christoph. “One must ask oneself, How did xenophobia develop? How are people played off against each other? And how was this prepared?”

Markus sees things similarly. “Germany obviously has a racist problem again,” he says. He sees the main cause in capitalism. “Without capitalism, there is no racism. You have to ask yourself the question, Where does it come from if it’s not about dividing and exploiting people? Capitalism is the key. You have to start there.”

Chiara is a ninth-grade student in Miltenberg. In her eyes, the reason for the rise of right-wing forces is that “the gap between rich and poor is widening.”

Chiara

The richest 1 percent at the top owns as much as all the others combined. And then the right-wing projects the bogeyman image of refugees to divide people so that they don’t rebel against capitalism but attack refugees.”

Despite all the dangerous parallels to the rise of the National Socialists (Nazis), Seda also sees important differences from the 1930s. “Back then, you could almost believe that everyone was behind the Nazis,” she explained. “Today, everyone is against them and yet these murders happen!”

That the shift to the right actually comes from above, “I can well imagine,” she said. “That would suit the government well. The way I see it, either they don’t care what happens here or they think it’s really quite all right. Why else would they allow this to happen?”

Demonstrators in Hanau, with slogan Against racism, poverty, war and crisis!

Only a few days before the massacre in Hanau, the right-wing extremist history professor Jörg Baberowski (“Hitler was not vicious”) had physically attacked a socialist student and was subsequently defended by the university leadership. “I can’t stand it when I hear that someone is publicly trying to celebrate Hitler,” says Chiara. “It’s really irresponsible.”

Seda adds, “It is precisely such statements that lead to the crimes of the Nazis being downplayed. Such a thing should not exist at a university. If this chapter of history is no longer discussed with shame, it will lead to its repetition one day.”

Duisburg

In Duisburg, about 500 people marched through the city centre to commemorate the victims of Hanau and to demonstrate their willingness to stand up against the fascist terror.

Demonstrators in Duisburg

Many of the participants were aware that the right-wing terrorist attack in Hanau was not the result of a mentally ill individual. They also were not seduced by the official announcements of the Berlin parties to look for the guilt of the fascist terror only in the AfD. No one has been oblivious to the role of other parties, the state apparatus and the media in recent years.

Cihan has been a steelworker at ThyssenKrupp for about three decades. For him, it is not only “against the fascists” but also “for more humanity”, he said. He sees politicians and the media as bearing a major responsibility, which made the AfD socially acceptable in the first place. “The AfD was made popular by politicians and the media. No matter what news programme you watch, the AfD always gets a say.” The same was the case with the press. “The AfD is being given far too much space.”

Cihan

He was stunned by how one person could kill nine humans and then his mother and himself. “For 200 years, Hanau has been associated with fairy tales,” he says—the Brothers Grimm were born there. “Now, like other cities, it stands for racist murders.”

The steelworker was not sure whether everything has really been uncovered. “In the attack in Keupstrasse in Cologne, it was also only years later that it was discovered that the NSU had done this. Who knows what else will come out of this case. Maybe the bomber had accomplices or backers.”

“Unfortunately, this is not simply a problem in Germany either,” he said. “Nationalism is also popular again in Turkey, France, the USA and in many countries. We must stand up against it everywhere.”

Twenty-six-year-old Oliver told the WSWS he came to the demonstration because he feared “that history will repeat itself and that what happened before will happen again. We should learn from history so that such brutal crimes do not happen again,” the worker said.

Oliver

When asked who was responsible for the resurgence of fascism, he said, “The entire political establishment. Now they are trying to distance themselves from the AfD, but they don’t do anything for the enlightenment of society.”

He comes from Hannover and had previously lived in Luckenwalde in eastern Germany. “There, I met people who said that politics had failed. So they voted for the AfD in protest. I am completely against the AfD and its anti-refugee policy. My grandmother was a refugee. I don’t want to become a refugee and I want to help refugees so that everyone can live well.”