News Release

* Hong Kong * Catalonia * Afghanistan

AP50049291633ELI FRIEDMAN, edf48 at cornell.edu, @EliDFriedman
Friedman recently wrote an article for The Nation titled “Why Hong Kong’s ‘Occupy Central’ Movement has Beijing Very, Very Scared.” He is an assistant professor at Cornell University focusing on international and comparative labor. He notes the significant economic aspects of the protests.

THOMAS HARRINGTON, thomas.harrington at trincoll.edu
The Guardian reports: “Catalonia independence referendum halted by Spain’s constitutional court.” Harrington is associate professor of Hispanic studies at Trinity College and a leading expert on Catalonia; his book, Public Intellectuals and Nation Building in the Iberian Peninsula, 1900-1925: The Alchemy of Identity, is coming out this month. See his interview with the Catalan Assembly.

AP reports: “Afghanistan swore in Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai as its second elected president on Monday, embarking on a new era with a national unity government poised to confront a resilient Taliban insurgency by signing an agreement with the United States that would guarantee a continuing American military presence.” President Hamid Karzai had refused to sign such an agreement.

MATTHEW HOH, mphoh at ciponline.org
Hoh is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy. In 2009, he resigned and became the highest-ranking U.S. official to publicly renounce U.S. policy in Afghanistan. He was recently interviewed by Bill Moyers [video and transcript] on ISIS and the parallels with U.S. policy in Afghanistan. Said Hoh: “You look at the state of Afghanistan after we’ve surged 150,000 foreign troops into Afghanistan. You have a Taliban that is stronger, they launch more and more attacks every year, they control a large part of the terrain. You have a political process in Afghanistan that’s completely broken. You have this unity government that has come out of an election that was so fraudulent that no numbers can be released from it. The only thing that has done well in Afghanistan has been the drug trade.” Hoh charges that Ghani’s running mates in this election are war criminals.

SONALI KOLHATKAR, sonali at afghanwomensmission.org
Kolhatkar is co-author of Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords, and the Propaganda of Silence and is co-director of the Afghan Women’s Mission. She is in touch with members of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan and can arrange a limited number of interviews with them.

Kolhatkar said today: “Ashraf Ghani will make a fine Afghan President — for investors and transnational corporations, not ordinary Afghans. He is a former World Bank official. He speaks the language of neo-liberal capitalism, saying ‘Afghanistan should not be approached as a charity, but as an investment.’ In his TED talk on effective state building, he opens with a fawning explanation of why capitalism goes hand-in-hand with democracy. Given Afghanistan’s immense mineral wealth that local strongmen are chomping at the bit to exploit, Ashraf Ghani is poised to oversee the looting of one of the world’s poorest and most war-torn countries.”