Archive | December 9th, 2013

Britain edges towards boycotting I$raHell

NOVANEWS

For the first time, the British government has issued guidelines warning businesses of the risks of trading with Jewish colonies in the occupied Palestinian territories, including potential damage to a company’s reputation.

New guidance, published on 3 December by UK Trade & Investment, a government body that works with British businesses in international markets, warns there are “clear risks related to economic and financial activities in the settlements, and we do not encourage or offer support to such activity”. It says:

The UK has a clear position on Israeli settlements: the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan Heights are territories which have been occupied by Israel since 1967. Settlements are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict impossible. We will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties.

There are therefore clear risks related to economic and financial activities in the settlements, and we do not encourage or offer support to such activity. Financial transactions, investments, purchases, procurements as well as other economic activities (including in services like tourism) in Israeli settlements or benefiting Israeli settlements, entail legal and economic risks stemming from the fact that the Israeli settlements, according to international law, are built on occupied land and are not recognised as a legitimate part of Israel’s territory. This may result in disputed titles to the land, water, mineral or other natural resources which might be the subject of purchase or investment.

EU citizens and businesses should also be aware of the potential reputational implications of getting involved in economic and financial activities in settlements, as well as possible abuses of the rights of individuals. Those contemplating any economic or financial involvement in settlements should seek appropriate legal advice.

According to the Guardian newspaper, this is

the first time the UK government has explicitly stated its position on settlements… in advice specifically directed at businesses. It is part of a steadily stiffening position by the UK on settlements and their produce, an indication of frustration and anger at Israeli intransigence on its activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Welcoming the guidance as “a step in the right direction”, a spokesman for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, Rafeef Ziadah, said:

The UK government has realized that its condemnations of illegal settlements are falling on deaf ears and has started to address the huge amount of economic support that the illegal settlements receive from UK businesses…

The government should now make it absolutely clear to companies like G4S that it is unacceptable to participate in Israel’s illegal settlements or in Israel’s other human rights abuses…

It isn’t enough to simply warn businesses about the economic and legal risks of doing business with settlements. The UK government and all EU member states have a duty to take a proactive approach to preventing businesses from contributing to Israeli violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.

Until that happens, we, as individuals, all have a duty to boycott Israeli goods whenever we see them.

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On Intellectuals and Their Duties in the 21st Century: “To Speak the Truth and Expose Lies”

NOVANEWS

On Intellectuals and Their Duties in the 21st Century: “To Speak the Truth and to Expose Lies”
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Devon DB | Thursday, September 6, 2012, 7:26 Beijing
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“It is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and to expose lies.”

~Noam Chomsky [1]

Intellectuals have always played a major role in society, from the philosophers of old such Plato and Aristotle who articulated thoughts about government, science, and biology to modern intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky and Cornel West who go about speaking truth to power and working toward informing and empowering average people.

Yet, the role of the intellectual has changed over time and thus the time has arisen to reexamine and redefine the duties and responsibilities of the intellectual for this new century.

 

Before going into what the duties of intellectuals are, one must first define what an intellectual is. The tem intellectual can be defined as “a person who primarily uses intelligence in either a professional or an individual capacity.” [2]

This application of intelligence can be for almost anything, but it is more popularly viewed as applying intelligence to social, economic, and political issues.

Furthermore, the intellectual goes beyond focusing on newsworthy items and goes into the realm of theory, from thinking and formulating theory to articulating as to how that theory would potentially work in reality.

Currently, it seems that intellectuals are split into three camps: public, private, and dual intellectuals.

The public intellectual is usually a university professor who goes about researching, writing, and sharing their ideas in the public sphere via books, conferences, and being guests on radio and television shows.

While this may seem to be a positive occurrence, much of this information remains in the realm of academia or academia-related areas with little of it becoming truly disseminated to the mainstream public.

The books may be published and the conferences occur, but the only people who know about them are mainly people who are either in that field professionally or already have an interest in that area of study.

Of the little information that does get disseminated on a mass scale, it is mainly done by well-known intellectuals such as Chris Hedges.

Thus, there is currently a problem concerning public intellectuals where the information isn’t truly getting out to the people at large and because of this the majority of people are unaware of what new theories or discoveries are occurring and thus more vulnerable to misinformation and less likely to become active and involved in the current economic, social, or political situation.

The private intellectual is one who uses their intellect for the benefit of private groups, foundations, or individuals. One such example is Martin L. Leibowitz, the managing director of the Rockefeller Foundation.

Leibowitz uses his intellect for the betterment of the Foundation by managing its assets and investments in order to make the most profit, thus allowing the Foundation to continue its work.

Dual intellectuals are members of the intelligentsia that have one foot in both worlds, occupying the space of a public intellectual and also being or having been a private intellectual.

Arguably the most prominent dual intellectual in American politics today is Zbigniew Brzezinski. While he has been a professor at Harvard and Columbia and is currently employed by John H. Hopkins University, Brzezinski was also the co-founder of the Trilateral Commission, which concerns itself with increased cooperation among the United States, Europe, and Japan. Intellectuals such as these are arguably the most powerful as not only do they have the connections and power that comes from being in the private sector, but they also have major sway over the collective consciousness of a society.

Dual intellectuals can make their ideas public, put them out into the mainstream society, and because they also have a background as a public intellectual, the public is much more willing to trust them as they see such people as experts.

There are further differences between intellectuals when one breaks them down into their relationship with the current political, economic, and social system. There are three types: loyalist, reformist, and radical.

Loyalist intellectuals are those who uphold and are in favor of perpetuating the current structures. Intellectuals such as these are often deeply embedded within the system and hold government posts or are in think tanks that are quite instrumental in forming policies, such as the Council on Foreign Relations and its relation with the US State Department.

Once again, an example of a mainstream loyalist intellectual would be Zbigniew Brzezinski. He has a history of favoring the current global political and economic system, atop which the United States is perched, and wanting to preserve that system for as a long as possible.

Intellectuals such as these are highly touted in their societies and may command great influence and respect among the society at large and are used by elites to formulate policies that continue the present state of affairs.

Reformist intellectuals support the overall system but would prefer to see certain reforms to the current system as to promote certain values of equality, justice, and human rights.

University professors appear to make up a large percentage of reformist intellectuals. Reformist intellectuals are used by the elites to produce new generations of intellectuals that support the status quo and can be co-opted by elites to promote policies that are favorable to them.

Radical intellectuals find fault with the system and criticize it, often offering alternatives that would break down the current structure. Intellectuals of this type tend to be the most useful in terms of going beyond what is spoon-fed to the public by elite-owned media that ignore, distort, and in many cases outright lie about ongoing situations, both domestic and international, and getting to the heart of the matter by telling what the true reasons policies are chosen and exactly whose interests are served.

Radical intellectuals are often among those few intellectuals that have a moral conscience and believe in wholly changing the system if not uprooting and replacing it entirely. While most radical intellectuals are in the fringes, some have gained mainstream attention such as Cornel West and Chris Hedges.

While there are three main sets of ideological stances in relation to the current societal structure, there is a subset of intellectuals in the radical circle: underground radicals. These are intellectuals that are radicals (sometimes even more so than the mainstream radicals), but have had little mainstream notoriety.

There are many current-day examples of these intellectuals such as Andrew Gavin Marshall and Allison Kilkenny. Underground radicals often harbor views that are outside the mainstream political system and have no trust whatsoever within the political elite to change society for the better. Such intellectuals are greatly needed as they are often independent voices, not tied to any organization or entity that would censor them and thus they are more likely to be committed to the truth.

While there are different types of intellectuals, they all have the same types of duties.

The intellectual first and foremost has a duty to themselves to be honest in their research and work, honesty being objectivity and avoiding distortion of facts. Objectivity plays a major role as if one is going to espouse policy ideas that are contrary to the actual reality of the situation, no one is helped as the policy will be incorrect and potentially make a situation even worse. This is not to say that intellectuals cannot have any political or ideological leanings, but rather when conducting research or proposing policy, one should keep such things separate.

Empowering ordinary people should be the overall goal of the intellectual. On the local level, intellectuals should work with community organizations with the goal of addressing the problems of the community in a constructive manner.

If it requires working with the state, so be it, but one must be aware that the problems that are in a town are best known and felt by those who reside within it, thus working with the local populace and local organizations should be at the center of any plan to quell problems within a community.

On the national level, the intellectual class should work much more to put its research and findings out to the general public, as this increase in information access may allow the general public to become aware of political theory and policy and will allow them to make more informed political decisions.

The empowerment of people has a different role in the economic and sociological spheres. The economist should aid in the creation of policies that create economic wealth for the nation, but not at the expense of the many to the benefit of the few.

Depending on the situation as well, the economist should also push for policies that would free the nation from dependence on external sources of income such as the IMF or the World Bank and rather support policies of internal economic development which will enrich the nation in the long-term. The sociologist should work to dispel myths and stereotypes of minority races/ethnicities and work to understand different cultures.

The intelligentsia must also combat old and outdated ideologies that hold people back. The current societal structure of the United States is such where it favors heterosexual gender-conforming upper-class white men. This system ostracizes and ignores those who do not fit into that narrow framework.

Intellectually, the conversation is twisted and distorted with outright fabrications and myths continuing about Native Americans, blacks, and other minorities while white men are upheld as essentially the creators of modern society and other thinkers, activists, and the like that rebelled against the system are either ignored entirely or viciously distorted.

Thus, it is up for the intellectuals to work with other organized groups to combat not only the historical distortions and omissions in the general historical narrative, but also the very system itself that favors one group of people over another.

The intellectual has a duty to the youth, specifically to the students in the classroom. Professors must go beyond the dull repetitiveness of the classroom, from having students memorize facts and figures, to doing serious critical analysis and having them apply the skills they are learning to current, real-world problems.

Intellectuals should be willing and ready to go off the set curriculum and tell students about the true history of their area of study; they should willingly reveal such important and relevant information such as that the educational system itself comes from a drive by the elites for social control [3] that is still being used today. [4]

Revealing the true nature of the study will allow students to be even more critical in their thinking of current problems in the field and will be more inclined to speak truth to power as they know the underpinnings of the current social structure and how it has and continues to effect the lives of ordinary people.

The intellectual need to allow themselves to be challenged by students and ordinary people. Currently, there is so much trust in the intellectual elite that any ordinary person who challenges them is dismissed as a fool and uninformed. Such thinking leads to the public trusting rather unscrupulous people such as dual loyalist intellectual Henry Kissinger, a wanted war criminal. [5]

Allowing intellectuals to be challenged will create an opportunity that will allow people to be exposed to those who have differing opinions and alternative viewpoints. It can foster discussion among individuals and allow people to learn from one another and in this vain of expanding knowledge and being open-minded, intellectuals should welcome challenges and critiques of their work from alternative viewpoints.

Intellectuals should be willing to aid in peaceful revolutionary political activity that advocates the transformation of the current social, economic, and political structures as to break down oppression and work towards true freedom and equality for all peoples, no matter race, sex, gender identity, socio-economic background, sexual orientation or any other form of oppression that holds people back.

Yet, they must be careful in involving themselves in revolutions as they must be conscious of what they are doing as to ensure that they do not lead the revolution. The revolution cannot be led by the intellectual class, they can only guide it.

Only the people can lead the revolution. However, this is not simply on the national level. We are living in a globalized society where revolutions against established elites have occurred all over the world [6] and grass-roots organizations have sprung up all over the world and are working together.

A global revolution is occurring and, just like the protest groups are organizing and working together (to differing extents and success to be sure), intellectuals from all over the world should organize and work to think, research, and articulate a new system in which the current institutions of power and control are abolished and new systems that do not seek to dominate and oppress come into being.

The intellectual class has the responsibility to stand up for the people and against the systems of oppression for in doing this not only do they free others, but they also free themselves and allow the creation of a new world in which all peoples can be truly free.

It is either that or aiding in the continuation of a system that oppresses, exploits, and controls the very many for the benefit of the very few. Thatis the choice intellectuals face in today’s world. Let us hope they make the right decision.

Endnotes

1: Noam Chomsky, “The Responsibility of Intellectuals,” Noam Chomsky, February 23, 1967 (http://www.chomsky.info/articles/19670223.htm)

2: Wikipedia, Intellectual, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellectual

3: Andrew Gavin Marshall, “The Purpose of Education: Social Uplift or Social Control?” Andrew Gavin Marshall, April 8, 2012 (http://andrewgavinmarshall.com/2012/04/08/the-purpose-of-education-social-uplift-or-social-control/)

4: James F. Tracy, “The Technocratization of Public Education,” Global Research, June 14, 2012 (http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=31422)

5: Christopher Reilly, “Henry Kissinger, Wanted Man,” Counterpunch, April 28, 2002 (http://www.counterpunch.org/2002/04/28/henry-kissinger-wanted-man/)

6: Andrew Gavin Marshall, “Welcome to the World Revolution in the Global Age of Rage,” Andrew Gavin Marshall, July 30, 2012 (http://andrewgavinmarshall.com/2012/07/30/welcome-to-the-world-revolution-in-the-global-age-of-rage/)

Posted in WorldComments Off on On Intellectuals and Their Duties in the 21st Century: “To Speak the Truth and Expose Lies”

Welcome to the World Revolution in the Global Age of Rage

NOVANEWS

Welcome to the World Revolution in the Global Age of Rage

By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

MASS PROTEST IN SPAIN

I am currently writing a book on the global economic crisis and the global resistance, rebellious and revolutionary movements that have emerged in reaction to this crisis. Our world is in the midst of the greatest economic, social, and political crisis that humanity has ever collectively entered into. The scope is truly global in its context, and the effects are felt in every locality. The course of the global economic crisis is the direct and deliberate result of class warfare, waged by the political and economic elites against the people of the world. The objective is simple: all for them and none for you. At the moment, the crisis is particularly acute in Europe, as the European elites impose a coordinated strategy of class warfare against the people through “austerity” and “structural adjustment,” political euphemisms used to hide their true intention: poverty and exploitation.

The people of the world, however, are beginning to rise up, riot, resist, rebel and revolt. This brief article is an introduction to the protest movements and rebellions which have taken place around the world in the past few years against the entrenched systems and structures of power. This is but a small preview of the story that will be examined in my upcoming book. Please consider donating to The People’s Book Project in order to finance the completion of this volume.

Those who govern and rule over our world and its people have been aware of the structural and social changes which would result in bringing about social unrest and rebellion. In fact, they have been warning about the potential for such a circumstance of global revolutionary movements for a number of years. The elite are very worried, most especially at the prospect of revolutionary movements spreading beyond borders and the traditional confines of state structures. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter’s former National Security Adviser, co-founder with banker David Rockefeller of the Trilateral Commission, and an arch-elitist strategic thinker for the American empire, has been warning of what he terms the ‘Global Political Awakening’ as the central challenge for elites in a changing world.

In June of 2010, I published an article entitled, “The Global Political Awakening and the New World Order,” in which I examined this changing reality and in particular, the words of Zbigniew Brzezinski in identifying it. In December of 2008, Brzezinski published an article for the New York Times in which he wrote: “For the first time in history almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive. Global activism is generating a surge in the quest for cultural respect and economic opportunity in a world scarred by memories of colonial or imperial domination.” This situation is made more precarious for elites as it takes place in a global transition in which the Atlantic powers – Western Europe and the United States – are experiencing a decline in their 500-year domination of the world. Brzezinski wrote that what is necessary to maintain control in this changing world is for the United States to spearhead “a collective effort for a more inclusive system of global management,” or in other words,more power for them. Brzezinski has suggested that, “the worldwide yearning for human dignity is the central challenge inherent in the phenomenon of global political awakening.” In 2005, Brzezinski wrote:

It is no overstatement to assert that now in the 21st century the population of much of the developing world is politically stirring and in many places seething with unrest. It is a population acutely conscious of social injustice to an unprecedented degree, and often resentful of its perceived lack of political dignity. The nearly universal access to radio, television and increasingly the Internet is creating a community of shared perceptions and envy that can be galvanized and channeled by demagogic political or religious passions. These energies transcend sovereign borders and pose a challenge both to existing states as well as to the existing global hierarchy, on top of which America still perches…

The youth of the Third World are particularly restless and resentful. The demographic revolution they embody is thus a political time-bomb, as well. With the exception of Europe, Japan and America, the rapidly expanding demographic bulge in the 25-year-old-and-under age bracket is creating a huge mass of impatient young people. Their minds have been stirred by sounds and images that emanate from afar and which intensify their disaffection with what is at hand. Their potential revolutionary spearhead is likely to emerge from among the scores of millions of students concentrated in the often intellectually dubious “tertiary level” educational institutions of developing countries… Typically originating from the socially insecure lower middle class and inflamed by a sense of social outrage, these millions of students are revolutionaries-in-waiting, already semi-mobilized in large congregations, connected by the Internet and pre-positioned for a replay on a larger scale of what transpired years earlier in Mexico City or in Tiananmen Square. Their physical energy and emotional frustration is just waiting to be triggered by a cause, or a faith, or a hatred.

Important to note is that Brzezinski has not simply been writing abstractly about this concept, but has been for years traveling to and speaking at various conferences and think tanks of national and international elites, who together form policy for the powerful nations of the world. Speaking to the elite American think tank, the Carnegie Council, Brzezinski warned of “the unprecedented global challenge arising out of the unique phenomenon of a truly massive global political awakening of mankind,” as we now live “in an age in which mankind writ large is becoming politically conscious and politically activated to an unprecedented degree, and it is this condition which is producing a great deal of international turmoil.” Brzezinski noted that much of the ‘awakening’ was being spurred on by America’s role in the world, and the reality of globalization (which America projects across the globe as the single global hegemon), and that this awakening “is beginning to create something altogether new: namely, some new ideological or doctrinal challenge which might fill the void created by the disappearance of communism.” He wrote that he sees “the beginnings, in writings and stirrings, of the making of a doctrine which combines anti-Americanism with anti-globalization, and the two could become a powerful force in a world that is very unequal and turbulent.

In 2007, the British Ministry of Defence issued a report looking at global trends over the following three decades to better plan for the “future strategic context” of the British military. The report noted that: “The middle classes could become a revolutionary class, taking the role envisaged for the proletariat by Marx… The world’s middle classes might unite, using access to knowledge, resources and skills to shape transnational processes in their own class interest.” In my April 2010 article, “The Global Economic Crisis: Riots, Rebellion, and Revolution,” I quoted the official British Defence Ministry report, which read:

Absolute poverty and comparative disadvantage will fuel perceptions of injustice among those whose expectations are not met, increasing tension and instability, both within and between societies and resulting in expressions of violence such as disorder, criminality, terrorism and insurgency. They may also lead to the resurgence of not only anti-capitalist ideologies, possibly linked to religious, anarchist or nihilist movements, but also to populism and the revival of Marxism.

In December of 2008, the managing director of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn warned that the economic crisis could lead to “violent unrest on the streets.” He stated that if the elite were not able to instill an economic recovery by 2010, “then social unrest may happen in many countries – including advanced economies,” meaning the Western and industrialized world. In February of 2009, the head of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Pascal Lamy, warned that the economic crisis “could trigger political unrest equal to that seen during the 1930s.” In May of 2009, the president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, stated that if the economic crisis did not come to an end, “there is a risk of a serious human and social crisis with very serious political implications.”

In early 2009, the top intelligence official in the United States, Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence (who oversees all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies), stated that the global economic crisis had become the primary threat to America’s “security” (meaning domination). He told the Senate Intelligence Committee: “I’d like to begin with the global economic crisis, because it already looms as the most serious one in decades, if not centuries… Economic crises increase the risk of regime-threatening instability if they are prolonged for a one-or-two-year period… And instability can loosen the fragile hold that many developing countries have on law and order, which can spill out in dangerous ways into the international community.” He also noted that, “there could be a backlash against U.S. efforts to promote free markets because the crisis was triggered by the United States… We are generally held responsible for it.”

In December of 2008, police in Greece shot and killed a 15-year old student in Exarchia, a libertarian and anarchist stronghold in Athens. The murder resulted in thousands of protesters and riots erupting in the streets, in what theNew York Times declared to be “the worst unrest in decades.” Triggered by the death of the young Greek student, the protests were the result of deeper, social and systemic issues, increasing poverty, economic stagnation and political corruption. Solidarity protests took place all over Europe, including GermanyFrance, and the U.K. But this was only a sample of what was to come over the following years.

In the early months of 2009, as the economic crisis was particularly blunt in the countries of Eastern Europe, with increased unemployment and inflation, the region was headed for a “spring of discontent,” as protests and riots took place in Lithuania, Bulgaria, and Latvia. In January of 2009, more than 10,000 people took to the streets in Latvia in one of the largest demonstrations since the end of Soviet rule. A demonstration of roughly 7,000 Lithuanians turned into a riot, and smaller clashes between police and protesters took place in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Hungary, while police in Iceland tear gassed a demonstration of roughly 2,000 people outside the parliament, leading to the resignation of the prime minister. The head of the IMF said that the economic crisis could cause more turmoil “almost everywhere,” adding: “The situation is really, really serious.” A mass strike took place in France, bringing hundreds of thousands of workers into the streets and pushing anti-capitalist activists and leaders to the front of a growing social movement.

May 1, 2009 – the labour activist day known as ‘May Day’ – saw protests and riots erupting across Europe, including Germany, Greece, Austria, Turkey and France. In Germany, banks were attacked by protesters, leading to many arrests; there were over 150,000 demonstrators in Ankara, Turkey; more than 10,000 people took to the streets in Madrid, Spain; thousands took to the streets in Italy and Russia and social unrest continued to spread through Eastern Europe. Results from a poll were released on early May 2009 reporting that in the United States, Italy, France, Spain, Britain and Germany, a majority of the populations felt that the economic crisis would lead to a rise in “political extremism.”

In April of 2009, the G20 met in London, and was met there with large protests, drawing tens of thousands of people into the streets. In London’s financial district, protesters smashed the windows of the Royal Bank of Scotland, which was the recipient of a massive government bailout during the early phases of the financial crisis. One man, Ian Tomlinson, dropped dead on the streets of London following an assault by a British police officer, who was laterquestioned under suspicion of manslaughter.

In November of 2011, a month of student protests and sit-ins erupted in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, triggered by budget cuts and tuition fees. The protests began in Austria, where students occupied the University of Vienna for over a month, quickly spreading to other cities and schools in Germany, where roughly 80,000 students took part in nationwide protests, with sit-ins taking place in 20 universities across the country, and the University of Basel in Switzerland was also occupied by students.

The small little island-country of Iceland has undergone what has been referred to as the “Kitchenware Revolution,” where the country had once been rated by the UN as the best country to live in as recently as 2007, and in late 2008, its banks collapsed and the government resigned amid the mass protests that took place. The banks were nationalized, Iceland got a new prime minister, a gay woman who brought into her cabinet a majority of women, fired bank CEOs; the constitution was re-written with significant citizen participation and the government took steps to write off debts and refused to bailout foreign investors. Now, the economy is doing much better, hence why no one is talking about Iceland in the media (woeful is power to the ‘tyranny’ of a good example). Iceland has even hired an ex-cop bounty hunter to track down and arrest the bankers that destroyed the country’s economy. As the debt burdens of a significant portion of the population of Iceland were eased, Iceland was projected in 2012 to have a faster growing economy than those in the euro area and the developed world. As reported by Bloomberg, the main difference between how Iceland has dealt with its massive economic crisis and how the rest of the ‘developed’ world has been dealing with it, is that Iceland “has put the needs of its population ahead of the markets at every turn.” Instead of rewarding bankers for causing the crisis, as we have done in Europe and North America, Icelanders have arrested them, and protected homeowners instead of evicting them.

As Greece came to dominate the news in early 2010, with talk of a bailout, protests began to erupt with more frequency in the small euro-zone country. In early May, a general strike was called in Greece against the austerity measures the government was imposing in order to get a bailout. Banks were set on fire, petrol bombs were thrown at riot police, who were pepper spraying, tear gassing, and beating protesters with batons, and three people died of suffocation in one of the bombed banks.

In May of 2010, British historian Simon Schama wrote an article for the Financial Times entitled, “The world teeters on the brink of a new age of rage,” in which he explained that historians “will tell you that there is often a time-lag between the onset of economic disaster and the accumulation of social fury.” In act one, he wrote, “the shock of a crisis initially triggers fearful disorientation” and a “rush for political saviours.” Act two witnesses “a dangerously alienated public” who “take stock of the brutal interruption of their rising expectations,” which leads to the grievance that someone “must have engineered the common misfortune,” which, I might add, is true (though Schama does not say so). To manage this situation, elites must engage in “damage-control” whereby perpetrators are brought to justice. Schama noted that, “the psychological impact of financial regulation is almost as critical as its institutional prophylactics,” or, in other words: the propaganda effect of so-called “financial regulation” on calming the angry plebs is as important (if not more so) as the financial regulations themselves. Thus, those who lobby against financial regulation, warned Scharma, “risk jeopardizing their own long-term interests.” If governments fail to “reassert the integrity of public stewardship,” then the public will come to perceive that “the perps and the new regime are cut from common cloth.” In the very least, wrote Scharma, elites attempting to implement austerity measures and other unpopular budget programs will need to “deliver a convincing story about the sharing of burdens,” for if they do not, it would “guarantee that a bad situation gets very ugly, very fast.”

As French President Nicolas Sarkozy began implementing austerity measures in France, particularly what is called “pension reform,” unions and supporters staged massive strikes in September of 2010, drawing up to three million people into the streets in over 230 demonstrations across the country. Soldiers armed with machine guns went on patrol at certain metro stations as government officials used the puffed up and conveniently-timed threat of a “terrorist attack” as being “high risk.” More strikes took place in October, with French students joining in the demonstrations, as students at roughly 400 high schools across the country built barricades of wheelie bins to prevent other students from attending classes, with reports of nearly 70% of French people supporting the strike. The reports of participants varied from the government figures of over 800,000 people to the union figures of 2-3 million people going out into the streets. The Wall Street Journal referred to the strikes as “an irrational answer” to Sarkozy’s “perfectly rational initiative” of reforms.

In November of 2010, Irish students in Dublin began protesting against university tuition increases, when peaceful sit-ins were met with violent riot police, and roughly 25,000 students took to the streets. This was the largest student protest in Ireland in a generation.

In Britain, where a new coalition government came to power – uniting the Conservatives (led by David Cameron, the Prime Minister) and the Liberal Democrats (led by Nick Clegg, Deputy PM) – tuition increases were announced, tripling the cost from 3 to 9,000 pounds. On November 10, as roughly 50,000 students took to the streets in London, the Conservative Party headquarters in central London had its windows smashed by students, who then entered the building and occupied it, even congregating up on the rooftop of the building. The police continued to ‘kettle’ protesters in the area, not allowing them to enter or leave a confined space, which of course results in violent reactions. Prime Minister David Cameron called the protest “unacceptable.” The Christian Science Monitor asked if British students were the “harbinger of future violence over austerity measures,” There were subsequent warnings that Britain was headed for a winter of unrest.

Tens of thousands again took to the streets in London in late November, including teenage students walking with university students, again erupting in riots, with the media putting in a great deal of focus on the role of young girlstaking part in the protests and riots. The protests had taken place in several cities across the United Kingdom, largely peaceful save the ‘riot’ in London, and with students even occupying various schools, including Oxford. The student protests brought ‘class’ back into the political discourse. In November, several universities were occupied by students, including the School of Oriental and African Studies, UWE Bristol and Manchester Metropolitan. Several of the school occupations went for days or even weeks. Universities were then threatening to evict the students. The school occupations were the representation of a new potential grass-roots social movement building in the UK. Some commentators portrayed it as a “defining political moment for a generation.”

In early December of 2010, as the British Parliament voted in favour of the tripling of tuition, thousands of students protested outside, leading to violent confrontations with police, who stormed into crowds of students on horseback, firing tear gas, beating the youth with batons, as per usual. While the overtly aggressive tactics of police to ‘kettle’ protesters always creates violent reactions, David Cameron was able to thereafter portray the student reactions to police tactics as a “feral mob.” One student was twice pulled out from his wheelchair by police, and another student who was struck on the head with a baton was left with a brain injury. As the protests erupted into riots against the police into the night, one infamous incident included a moment where Prince Charles and his wife Camilla were attacked by rioters as their car drove through the crowd in what was called the “worst royal security breach in a generation,” as the royal couple were confronted directly by the angry plebs who attacked the Rolls-Royce and Camilla was even ‘prodded’ by a stick, as some protesters yelled, “off with their heads!” while others chanted, “Whose streets? Our streets!” As more student protests were set to take place in January of 2011, Scotland Yard’scounter-terrorism command contacted university officials requesting “intelligence” as students increased their protest activities, as more occupations were expected to take place.

In December of 2010, a Spanish air traffic controller strike took place, grounding flights for 330,000 people and resulting in the government declaring a state of emergency, threatening the strikers with imprisonment if they did not return to work.

Part way through December, an uprising began in the North African country of Tunisia, and by January of 2011, the 23-year long dictatorship of a French and American-supported puppet, Ben Ali, had come to an end. This marked the first major spark of what has come to be known as the Arab Spring. Protests were simultaneously erupting in Algeria, Jordan, Egypt, Yemen, and elsewhere. In late January of 2011, I wrote an article entitled, “Are we witnessing the start of a global revolution?,” noting that the protests in North Africa were beginning to boil up in Egypt most especially. Egypt entered its modern revolutionary period, resulting in ending the rule of the long-time dictator, Hosni Mubarak, and though the military has been attempting to stem the struggle of the people, the revolutionary struggle continues to this day, and yet the Obama administration continues to give $1.3 billion in military aid to support the violent repression of the democratic uprising. The small Arab Gulf island of Bahrain (which is home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet) also experienced a large democratic uprising, which has been consistently and brutally crushed by the local monarchy and Saudi Arabia, with U.S. support, including the selling of arms to the dictatorship.

In early 2011, the British student protests joined forces with a wider anti-austerity social protest against the government. As protests continued over the following months all across the country, banks became a common target, noting the government’s efforts to spend taxpayer money to bailout corrupt banks and cut health, social services, welfare, pensions, and increase tuition. Several bank branches were occupied and others had protests – often very creatively imagined – organized outside closed bank branches. On March 26, roughly 500,000 protesters took to the streets of London against austerity measures. As late as July 2011, a student occupation of a school continued at Leeds.

Throughout 2011, protests in Greece picked up in size and rage. In February, roughly 100,000 people took to the streets in Athens against the government’s austerity measures, leading to clashes with riot police that lasted for three hours, with police using tear gas and flash bombs and some protesters reacting with rocks and petrol bombs. In June of 2011, Greece experienced major clashes between protesters and police, or what are often called “riots.” During a general strike in late June, police went to war against protesters assembled in central Athens. Protests continued throughout the summer and into the fall, and in November, roughly 50,000 Greeks took to the streets in Athens.

In March of 2011, as Portugal plunged forward into its own major crisis and closer to a European Union bailout,roughly 300,000 Portuguese took to the streets of Lisbon and other cities protesting against the government’s austerity measures. Driven by the youth, calling themselves Portugal’s “desperate generation,” in part inspired by the youth uprisings in North Africa, the Financial Times referred to it as “an unexpected protest movement that has tapped into some of Portugal’s deepest social grievances.”

The Portuguese protests in turn inspired the Spanish “Indignados” or 15-M movement (named after the 15th of May, when the protests began), as youth – the indignant ones – or the “lost generation,” occupied Madrid’s famous Puerta del Sol on May 15, 2011, protesting against high unemployment, the political establishment, and the government’s handling of the economic crisis. The authorities responded in the usual way: they attempted to ban the protests and then sent in riot police. Thousands of Spaniards – primarily youth – occupied the central square, setting up tents and building a small community engaging in debate, discussion and activism. In a massive protest in June of 2011, over 250,000 Spaniards took the streets in one of the largest protests in recent Spanish history. Over the summer, as the encampment was torn down, the Indignados refined their tactics, and began to engage in direct action by assembling outside homes and preventing evictions from taking place, having stopped over 200 evictions since May of 2011, creating organic vegetable gardens in empty spaces, supporting immigrant workers in poor communities, and creating “a new social climate.”

The Indignados spurred solidarity and similar protests across Europe, including Greece, Belgium, France, Germany, the U.K., and beyond. In fact, the protests even spread to Israel, where in July of 2011, thousands of young Israelis established tent cities in protest against the rising cost of living and decreasing social spending, establishing itself on Rothschild Boulevard, a wealthy avenue in Tel Aviv named after the exceedingly wealthy banking dynasty. The protest, organized through social media, quickly spread through other cities across Israel. In late July, over 150,000 Israelis took to the streets in 12 cities across the country in the largest demonstration the country had seen in decades, demonstrating against the “rising house prices and rents, low salaries, [and] the high cost of raising children and other social issues.” In early August, another protest drew 320,000 people into the streets, leading some commentators to state that the movement marked “a revolution from a generation we thought was unable to make a revolution.” In early September, roughly 430,000 Israelis took to the streets in the largest demonstration in Israeli history.

In May and June of 2011, a student movement began to erupt in Chile, fighting against the increased privatization of their school system and the debt-load that comes with it. The state – the remnants of the Pinochet dictatorship – responded in the usual fashion: state violence, mass arrests, attempting to make protesting illegal. In clashes between students and riot police that took place in August, students managed to occupy a television station demanding a live broadcast to express their demands, with the city of Santiago being converted into “a state of siege” against the students. The “Chilean Winter” – as it came to be known – expanded into a wider social movement, including labour and environmental and indigenous groups, and continues to this very day.

The Indignados further inspired the emergence of the Occupy Movement, which began with occupy Wall Street in New York City on 17 September of 2011, bringing the dialectic of the “99% versus the 1%” into the popular and political culture. The Occupy movement, which reflected the initial tactics of the Indignados in setting up tents to occupy public spaces, quickly spread across the United States, Canada, Europe, and far beyond. There were Occupy protests that took place as far away as South Africa, in dozens of cities across Canada, in countries and cities all across Latin America, in Israel, South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and in hundreds of cities across the United States.

On October 15, 2011, a day of global protests took place, inspired by the Arab Spring, the Indignados, and the Occupy movement, when over 950 cities in 82 countries around the world experienced a global day of action originally planned for by the Spanish Indignados as a European-wide day of protest. In Italy, over 400,000 took to the streets; in Spain there were over 350,000, roughly 50,000 in New York City, with over 100,000 in both Portugal and Chile.

The Occupy movement was subsequently met with violent police repression and evictions from the encampments. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was busy spying on various Occupy groups around the country, and reportedly was involved in coordinating the crack-downs and evictions against dozens of Occupy encampments, as was later confirmed by declassified documents showing White House involvement in the repression. The FBI has also undertaken a “war of entrapment” against Occupy groups, attempting to discredit the movement and frame its participants as potential terrorists. Following the example of tactical change in the Indignados, the Occupy groups began refurbishing foreclosed homes for the homeless, helping families reclaim their homes, disrupting home foreclosure auctions, and even take on local community issues, such as issues of racism through the group, Occupy the Hood.

In late November of 2011, a public sector workers’ strike took place in the U.K., with tens of thousands of people marching in the streets across the country, as roughly two-thirds of schools shut and thousands of hospital operations postponed, while unions estimated that up to two million people went on strike. The host of a popular British television show, Jeremy Clarkson, said in a live interview that the striking workers should be taken out andshot in front of their families.

In January of 2012, protests erupted in Romania against the government’s austerity measures, leading to violent clashes with police, exchanging tear gas and firebombs. As the month continued, the protests grew larger, demanding the ouster of the government. The Economist referred to it as Romania’s “Winter of Discontent.” In early February, the Romanian Prime Minister resigned in the face of the protests.

In February of 2012, a student strike began in the French-speaking Canadian province of Quebec against the provincial government’s plan to nearly double the cost of tuition, bringing hundreds of thousands of students into the streets, who were in turn met with consistent state repression and violence, in what became known as the ‘Maple Spring.’ Dealing with issues of debt, repression, and media propaganda, the Maple Spring presented an example for student organizing elsewhere in Canada and North America. The government of Quebec opposes organized students but works with organized crime – representing what can be called a ‘Mafiocracy’ – and even passed a law attempting to criminalize student demonstrations. The student movement received support and solidarity from around the world, including the Chilean student movement and even a group of nearly 150 Greek academics who proclaimed their support in the struggle against austerity for the “largest student strike in the history of North America.”

In the spring of 2012, Mexican students mobilized behind the Yo Soy 132 movement – or the “Mexican Spring” – struggling against media propaganda and the political establishment in the lead-up to national elections, and tens of thousands continued to march through the streets decrying the presidential elections as rigged and fraudulent. TheEconomist noted that Mexican students were beginning to “revolt.”

In May of 2012, both the Indignados and the Occupy Movement undertook a resurgence of their street activism, while the occupy protests in Seattle and Oakland resulting in violent clashes and police repression. The protests drew Occupy and labour groups closer together, and police also repressed a resurgent Occupy protest in London.

In one of the most interesting developments in recent months, we have witnessed the Spanish miners strike in the province of Asturias, having roughly 8,000 miners strike against planned austerity measures, resorting to constructing barricades and directly fighting riot police who arrived in their towns to crush the resistance of the workers. The miners have even been employing unique tactics, such as constructing make-shift missiles which they fire at the advancing forces of police repression. For all the tear gas, rubber bullets and batons being used by police to crush the strike, the miners remain resolved to continue their struggle against the state. Interestingly, it was in the very region of Asturias where miners rebelled against the right-wing Spanish government in 1934 in one of the major sparks of the Spanish Civil War which pitted socialists and anarchists against Franco and the fascists. After weeks of clashes with police in mining towns, the striking workers planned a march to Madrid to raise attention to the growing struggle. The miners arrived in Madrid in early July to cheering crowds, but were soon met with repressive police, resulting in clashes between the people and the servants of the state. As the Spanish government continued with deeper austerity measures, over one million people marched in the streets of over 80 cities across Spain, with violent clashes resulting between protesters and police in Madrid.

 

This brief look at the resistance, rebellious and revolutionary movements emerging and erupting around the world is by no means an exhaustive list, nor is it meant to be. It is merely a brief glimpse at the movements with which I intend to delve into detail in researching and writing about in my upcoming book, and to raise the question once again: Are we witnessing the start of a global revolution?

I would argue that, yes, indeed, we are. How long it takes, how it manifests and evolves, its failures and successes, the setbacks and leaps forward, and all the other details will be for posterity to acknowledge and examine. What is clear at present, however, is that no matter how much the media, governments and other institutions of power attempt to ignore, repress, divide and even destroy revolutionary social movements, they are increasingly evolving and emerging, in often surprising ways and with different triggering events and issues. There is, however, a commonality: where there is austerity in the world, where there is repression, where there is state, financial and corporate power taking all for themselves and leaving nothing for the rest, the rest are now rising up.

Welcome to the World Revolution.

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Nelson Mandela’s Inspiration

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by Richard Falk

Fifteen years ago I had the extraordinary pleasure of meeting Nelson Mandela in Cape Town while he was serving as President of South Africa. It was an odd occasion. I was a member of the International Commission on the Future of the Oceans, which was holding a meeting in South Africa. It happened that one of the vice chairs of the Commission wasKader Asmal, a cherished friend and a member of the first Mandela cabinet who himself played a major role in the writing of the South African Constition. Kader had arranged for Mandela to welcome the Commission to his country, and asked me if I would prepare some remarks on his behalf, which was for me an awesome assignment, but one that I undertook with trepidation, not at all confident that I could find the words to be of some slight help to this great man. Compounding my personal challenge, the Brazilian Vice Chair of our oceans commission who was supposed to give a response on behalf of the Commission became ill, and I was asked by our chair to respond to Mandela on behalf of the commission. I did have the thrill of hearing 90% of my text delivered by Mandela, which years later I remember much better than my eminently forgettable words of response to the President.

What moved me most, and has led me to make this rather narcissistic introduction, is the conversation after the event. Mandela thanked me for my efforts and proceeded then to talk with each of our 40 commission members, making a specific reference to circumstances of relevance and concern in each of their particular countries. He went from person to person with such grace and composure as I had never encountered before on the part of a public figure of renown. It was above all Mandela’s spiritualpresence that created such a strong impression of moral radiance on the part of all of us fortunate enough to be in the room. I was reinforced in my guiding belief that political greatness presupposes a spiritual orientation toward the meaning of life, not necessarily expressed by way of a formal religious commitment, but always implies living with an unconditional dedication to values and faith that transcend the practical, the immediate, and the material.

The political imaginary that accompanies such a life also has an integrity that challenges the proprieties and associated boundaries of conventional liberal thought. It is easy for almost everyone now to celebrate Mandela for his long struggle against South African apartheid that included 27 years in jail. It is less common to recall that as late as the 1980s leaders in Britain and the United States were condemning Mandela as ‘terrorist’ and ‘revolutionary’ who deserved to be indefinitely jailed, if not worse. It is even less often remembered that Mandela rejected early offers to obtain his release from prison if he would ‘renounce violence’ and call for an end to ‘armed struggle.’ Although Mandela is justly honored for his role in achieving a non-violent transition to multi-racial constitutionalism in South Africa, he was never willing to say that those who were oppressed must renounce whatever means was available to them to gain their freedom. Indeed, Mandela as leader of the African National Congress, endorsed the creation of its military wing, and at one stage was supportive of armed resistance to obtain liberation and overcome the racist crimes being committed by the apartheid regime on a massive and systematic basis.

The Palestinian people, in the midst of their seemingly endless ordeal, have particularly reason to esteem the exemplary life and solidarity exhibited byNelson Mandela for their cause. Mandela’s words reflected a deep intuition that what the Palestinians were seeking had a deep affinity with his own struggle: “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.” In a comment with a strong present resonance in the debate about whether Israel is not responsible for repeating the crime of apartheid in its occupation of the West Bank, Mandela words are strong: “Never in the darkest days of South Africa’s apartheid have there been separated roads for blacks and whites.” In Israel’s apartheid there exist a network of separated roads for Israeli settlers and the Palestinians, as well as a discriminatory dual legal administrative structure.

Mandela regarded Yasser Arafat as a ‘comrade in arms,’ identifying him as “one of the outstanding freedom fighters of his generation,” adding that “it is with great sadness that his and his people’s dream of a Palestinian state has not been realized.” By affirmations of Arafat, Castro, and even Qaddafi, Mandela made plain to the West in reaction to criticism, “Our enemies are not your enemies.” Such a voice of peace that never submitted to Western liberal notions of good behavior was fully appreciated by Indian followers of Gandhi who regarded Mandela as a natural political heir to their national hero because, like Gandhi, Mandela stood so firmly for dignity, independence, and the end of colonial domination in all its manifold forms.

It is also notable that Marwan Barghouti confined to an Israeli jail for five consecutive life sentences looked to Mandela for inspiration, writing an open letter from his prison cell not long ago. He wrote, “And from within my prison, I tell you that our freedom seems possible because you reached yours.”  Beyond this he hailed Mandela whose torch of freedom burned so brightly as to cast universal light: “You carried a promise far beyond the limits of your country’s borders, a promise that oppression and injustice will be vanquished, paving the way to freedom and peace..All sacrifices become bearable by the sole prospect that one day the Palestinian people will also be able to enjoy freedom.” Barghouti is for Palestinians their strongest symbol of collective identity in resistance and struggle, and a comparison to Mandela’s lifelong journey is inevitable, including Barghouti’s clear turn toward the embrace of militant forms of nonviolent resistance.

I believe that when Israel is ready for a sustainable and just peace it will signal this to itself, to the Palestinians, and to the world by releasing Barghouti from prison and by treating Hamas as a political actor with genuine grievances and aspirations that needs to be included in any diplomacy of accommodation that deserves the label of ‘peace process.’ Until that most welcome moment arrives, the Palestinian march toward victory in the ongoing Legitimacy War must be continued with renewed vitality and dedication.

Mandela’s journey, like that of Gandhi, was not without its major disappointments. To gain the political end of apartheid, Mandela deferred challenges to social and economic apartheid. Part of his legacy to South Africa is to carry forward this mission to free the great majority of the country from the many disadvantages and burdens of their still segregated, subordinated, and humiliating reality.

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International Human Rights Day…. Palestinian People’s Suffering Continues

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On 10 December, the world celebrates the Human Rights Day, which was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1950 to review the international achievements in the field of universal respect, promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental liberties that are the core principles of International Bill of Human Rights,  which States have repeatedly emphasized their legal and moral commitment, in cooperation with the United Nations (UN), to promote and respect for all human beings.  This anniversary coincides with the 20th anniversary of signing the Oslo Accords, under which human rights were sacrificed under the pretext of achieving peace and security that have not been achieved yet.  As a result, the Palestinian people have been paying the price of those policies as their fundamental liberties and rights are abused, especially the ongoing denial of their right to self determination and all their civil and political rights as well as their economic, social and cultural rights.

The Universal Day of Human Rights comes this year while the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) is continuously deteriorating, and the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the rules international human rights law derived from it and international humanitarian law are violated.  This year may be considered the worst at the level of the catastrophic deterioration of the Palestinian human rights situation resulting from the continued Israeli violations against Palestinians’ right of self-determination as a collective right, including undermining the international community’s efforts to implement the resolutions of international legitimacy, the most recent of which is recognizing Palestine as a non-member State in the UN and denial of Palestinians’ right to establish their independent state that allows them to control their economic resources and wealth and build the Palestinian entity that will undoubtedly support and strengthen the UN purposes at the levels of international peace and security and will end more than 65 years of Palestinian suffering resulting from the Nakba (the uprooting of the Palestinian people from their land in 1948) and the subsequent serious and systematic violations of human rights that have amounted to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity according to the international humanitarian law.

The Israeli systematic policies have perpetuated a situation where different parts of the oPt are separated from one another.  Israeli occupation authorities have continued to commit crimes against Palestinians and their property to taking the Palestinian situation up to the level of a newNakba.  In the West Bank, including Occupied Jerusalem, Israeli forces continue settlement activities, and confiscation of Palestinian property and lands as well as supporting extremist settler groups.  All of this comes with approving the construction of annexation wall, which has seized about 58% of the Palestinian lands and property and has turned Palestinians’ life on the rest of their lands into ghettos and Bantustans.  Meanwhile, the ethnic cleansing in East Jerusalem and forced displacement of its Arab residents continue in absence of the simplest mechanisms of international protection for Palestinians and their property.  The precise description of the current situation in East Jerusalem is a unique apartheid.  In the Gaza Strip, the picture is even darker in an area inhabited by 1.8 million people and classified as one of the most densely populated areas in the world.  Israeli authorities continue to disrupt the geographical contiguity between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.  Israeli forces continue to commit crimes in the Gaza Strip through full-scale military attacks and through imposing an illegal total closure on the civilian population as these crimes constitute collective punishment and crimes against humanity under the international humanitarian law.  Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been suffering from the ongoing violations of their fundamental liberties and rights due to the serious violations of human rights, as a result of which thousands of Palestinians have been killed or injured, and their property and civilian objects, including residential buildings, vital facilities and infrastructure of the Gaza Strip cities, villages and refugee camps, have been systematically destroyed.  The humanitarian conditions have been aggravating and deteriorating due to the tightened restrictions imposed on the freedom of movement of people and goods from and to the Gaza Strip.  Meanwhile, people’s economic and social rights have unprecedentedly deteriorated to reach the edge of a disaster due to the severe lack of power and fuel supplies and basic services needed by the population in the Gaza Strip. Thousands of persons in the Gaza Strip feel frustrated and desperate as they are not able to obtain the most basic human necessities of life, including food, medicines and adequate shelters due to unemployment and extreme poverty among its population.  There seems to be no real hopes in the near future for an urgent intervention of the international community to stop the bleeding and human suffering. This suffering has never been a result of a natural disaster or an epidemic, but of continuous Israeli systemic policies that fight Palestinians in their livelihoods in a unique phenomenon of escaping punishment and accountability due to the impunity granted by some countries that protect those who are accused by the international community of perpetrating war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Human Rights Day comes while the obnoxious Palestinian political split and its painful consequences are still persistent leading to more deterioration of economic and social conditions as well as the civil and political rights in the oPt over the past 7 years.  This time last year, Palestinian had hopes when Fatah and Hamas movements took some positive steps to move forwards in order to end the worst era in our people’s history, achieve national reconciliation and focus on continuing the Palestinian struggle to end occupation and achieve self-determination. However, that optimism has diminished as the Palestinian public opinion has become certain that the Palestinian national reconciliation is farther than ever due to the absence of the real political will.  Palestinians have to pay the price of being pushed into the political conflict, so their political and civil rights, as well as their economic, social and cultural rights have further deteriorated.

There have been concerns that these distinctive marks of the Palestinian people’s history may turn into a systematic conduct that will create the worst ends for a people who have struggled for the triumph of international justice and peace according to the international legitimacy resolutions and human rights principles proclaimed by the Universal Declaration of Human rights.  Palestinians have always fought in support for the values of equality, human dignity and justice to tear down the last fort of colonization and occupation of others’ land by force, to reinforce their right to self-determination, and to end the last universal form of occupation that has been ongoing for decades causing more suffering for millions of Palestinians.  Today, it is disgraceful that Palestinians have taken down these years of their history and struggle for freedom and self-determination into begging for their rights to life, food, health care and living conditions that preserve their dignity, while their natural right to freedom and enjoyment of all civil and political rights as well as their cultural, social and economic rights continue to be denied.

To challenge this painful reality, Palestinians and all those who believe in the values and principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights all over the world are required to continue their struggle to support victims and defend human rights and human dignity inherent in all human beings.  So, the international community has legal and moral obligations to enforce the UN Charter and human rights principles.  Therefore, the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council:

  • ·         Calls upon the international community to immediately stop its policy that grants Israel impunity for all violations of the international humanitarian and human rights law and to stop such crimes to ensure international protection for the Palestinian civilians in the oPt;
  • ·         Calls upon all the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War to urgently consider steps to implement the Convention in the oPt as a prelude to end the belligerent occupation and support the establishment of an independent Palestinian State according the UN resolutions;
  • ·         Calls upon the international community and Israeli authorities to stop the deterioration of humanitarian conditions in the oPt and provide the civilian population with all basic needs;
  • ·         Calls upon the Palestinian leadership to immediately start the procedures of acceding to and signing international human rights Instruments, including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as a first step to ensure accountability and end impunity;
  • ·         Calls upon the Palestinian leadership to insist on adopting the principles of international law as the basis for any future political process in order to achieve self-determination for Palestinian people and establish the independent State; and
  • ·         Calls upon Fatah and Hamas movements to immediately stop all measures that obstruct achieving the Palestinian national reconciliation, including political bickering and human rights violations, and to take serious steps that will restore the wasted dignity of Palestinians and correct the direction towards struggle for their fundamental right to freedom and self-determination in order to promote respect for the values of human rights and justice for the next Palestinian generations.

 

 

 

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No More US Boots at Afghan Doorsteps?

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By Dr. Ismail Salami
Global Research

In his refusal to sign the Afghan-US security pact which would enable some US troops to stay in Afghanistan after 2014, Afghan President Hamid Karzai is signaling a clear message to the United States: Afghanistan does not need US troops on its ground any more.

Unlike the US claim that the presence of its troops is meant to safeguard security and safety in the country, Karzai is manifestly no longer capable of bringing himself to envisage a safe country with American boots at its doorsteps. On the contrary, in the presence of US troops lingers an overriding sense of insecurity which has cast its phantasmagorical dark shadows over the entire region.

The NATO now has some 84,000 troops in Afghanistan, the majority American. In a tone which clearly sought to underestimate the authority of the Afghan President, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday that Afghanistan’s defense minister or government could instead sign the pact.

The controversial Bilateral Security Pact will determine how many US troops can stay in Afghanistan after the planned withdrawal of foreign forces at the end of 2014. Further to that, it will give legal immunity to American soldiers who remain in Afghanistan, an issue which has become a sticking point.

On November 19, Afghan President Hamid Karzai rejected a key provision of the pact which allowed the US forces to enter homes and said it was an act of aggression.

Besides, US troops in Afghanistan are disrupting order in the country as they interfere in the affairs of the Afghan police and military forces.

On Sunday, Karzai issued a statement claiming that US-NATO forces were withholding fuel and other material support from their Afghan counterparts in an effort to force him to sign the security agreement.

“This deed is contrary to the prior commitment of America,” Karzai’s statement said. “Afghan forces are facing interruption in conducting of their activities as a result of the cessation of fuel and supportive services.”

“From this moment on, America’s searching of houses, blocking of roads and streets, military operations are over, and our people are free in their country,” he said.

“If Americans raid a house again, then this agreement will not be signed,” he said, with the American ambassador, James B. Cunningham, in the audience.
Karzai has come under severe attacks by many in the US and in the West.

A senior US official has even warned that Afghanistan will eventually lose global support if Karzai keeps contributing to this recalcitrant attitude.

Tom Donilon, Obama’s national security adviser until earlier this year, has said Karzai was “reckless” for risking a situation in which no US or allied troops would remain in his country after next year.

“I think it’s reckless in terms of Afghanistan, and I think it also adversely impacts our ability to plan coherently and comprehensively for post-2014,” Mr. Donilon told ABC News.

In another diatribe on Karzai, Dianne Feinstein, a senior Democratic senator, described the Afghan president as “a cipher”. She said Karzai is “the victim of what thought occurs to him right at the moment based on some anger that he feels about something that may not even be related.”

An ill-founded observation in this regard also comes from Omar Samad, former Afghanistan ambassador to France (2009-2011) and to Canada (2004-2009) and spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry (2002-2004). In his article titled: Be patient, the Afghans are fed up with Karzai which he has penned for CNN, he argues, “What lies at the heart of his aggressive posturing is the future of his family’s political and financial interests after his second term ends in 2014. That strategy has also been markedly shaped by 12 long and strenuous years of Machiavellian exploits, insecurity and frustration with his Western backers.”

Certainly Samad has been exposed to frequent political rote learning by the Westerners. And he wishes to hammer home an idea which hardly fits into any logical argumentation.

In other words, the only reason he sees behind Karzai’s opposition to the security pact is purely personal rather than anything beyond.

Karzai who was even awarded an honorary knighthood by the British Queen at Windsor Castle is no longer an asset, a friend as he now stands in the way of the very pivotal forces which used to prop him up.

The deferment in signing the pact on the part of Afghan President has naturally frayed Washington’s nerves and exhausted their patience. No doubt, the pact is of utmost significance to the US as it guarantees the success of any future military or intelligence operations in the region. That is why Iran has responded negatively to the pact. On Sunday, Iranian Foreign Ministry said Iran does not believe the security deal will prove beneficial to the Afghan government and nation.

The pact, if signed, will allow the US to maintain their nine permanent military bases in Afghanistan, which borders on China, Pakistan, Iran and the former Soviet republics of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

As the situation stands, pressure is piling up on the weakened Afghan government and the Americans apparently seek something more than a sheer presence in the war-weary country. Viewed as an American blank check, the agreement can well serve long-term military and intelligence purposes in the region.

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Ukrainian people being used as pawns by the EU and US

NOVANEWS


Patrick L Young is expert in global financial markets working in multiple disciplines, ranging from trading independently to running exchanges.

People climb up to the top of a pedestal after a statue of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin was toppled by protesters during a rally organized by supporters of EU integration in Kiev, December 8, 2013. (Reuters / Vasily Fedosenko)People climb up to the top of a pedestal after a statue of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin was toppled by protesters during a rally organized by supporters of EU integration in Kiev, December 8, 2013. (Reuters / Vasily Fedosenko).

The people of Ukraine who want jobs and employment are being manipulated by politicians in the EU and the USA in an ‘economic land grab’ to further Western influence at all costs, Patrick Young, a political and financial commentator, tells RT.

If Ukraine joined the EU, he says, Ukrainian manufactured goods would not be competitive with those produced in the EU and nor would it be possible to export them to countries outside the EU like Russia, which would impose import duties, meaning a loss of jobs and industrial output.

RT: Let’s start with a recent development, its being reported that the US would like the EU to grant Ukrainians visa free travel as a measure of integration. What are your thoughts on that, do you think the EU would ever agree to it?

Patrick Young: This is a fascinating idea, and it demonstrates a couple of things, first of all how completely and utterly out of touch with the politics of the European Union the United States of America is, but then on the other hand, given that President Obama has invariably been looking towards Asia, we probably shouldn’t be surprised. Second of all, I think is the pure practicality. There is an incredibly powerful and emotive debate going on within Europe at the moment, particularly in the UK for instance, over the issue of migrant labor within the EU. On January 1st next year, there is the possibility that many Bulgarians and Romanians may start to move across to the west because they’ll be allowed to go and work. I think that within the European Union there would be an outrage, an outcry indeed, if suddenly the gates were to be opened because obviously millions of Ukrainians want a better life and they want a better economy but to simply let them loose on the western European economy, when it is already ravaged by inflation, by unemployment, by all sorts of problems, is going to be a huge political no-no.

RT: Let’s talk about the EU politicians for a moment because we have seen them in Kiev as well taking part in the demonstrations, people are asking why are they taking part in these demonstrations, why aren’t they actually talking with the government to see if they can strike some sort of deal?

PY: It has to be said that the extra territorial aggressive ambitions of western states, whether it’s the European Union or the USA is absolutely crazy, also though I would bear in mind another thing, which is the simple electoral cycle. MEPs are terrified that they are about to be outflanked by anti-European forces in elections in 4-5 months’ time. Therefore they’re doing anything to try and get a tinge of popularity and of course the way they do that in the socialist European super state of the EU is try and be seen around liberal demonstrators at all times, because it kind of inflates their credentials of looking like hippy liberals. The truth is, they have no coherent concept of why or what they could do with Ukraine. And in-fact the worst thing that could happen in many senses in that Ukraine now signs this economic deal, because if it did allow free movement of labor it would be chaos for Europe. As usual the European Union, a super state of humbug and hypocrisy.

People wear helmets and masks as they line up during a rally organized by supporters of EU integration in central Kiev, December 8, 2013. (Reuters / Vasily Fedosenko) People wear helmets and masks as they line up during a rally organized by supporters of EU integration in central Kiev, December 8, 2013. (Reuters / Vasily Fedosenko)

RT: But there must be some benefit surely because this is something that has been considered by Ukraine for some time now. Now OK, it’s decided to go the other way, but surely there must be some benefits?

PY: Absolutely, let’s look at two things. First of all, do the people protesting in Kiev today have a reasonable understanding and a realistic idea of what they want in their future? Well in one sense they do. They want jobs, they want employment, they want a fair reasonable organized state. The difficulty is, will they get that delivered to them by simply becoming supplicant to the European Union. And the problem with that is ‘no’, because if we look to the east of Ukraine, we arrive at the famous city of Donetsk, founded by a Welshman in 1869, a hub of industry. It happens to be the political capital also for Mr. Yakukovich, the president, but more importantly look at what goes on in places like Donetsk. There, they build fridges; they build all sorts of mechanical equipment. What do they do with it? They export it to places like Russia, Turkey and actually outside the EU entirely. The difficulty is, with a free association agreement, with this free trade pact, which is being proposed, suddenly these exports would be entirely uncompetitive in terms of going to Russia or other countries, and indeed they wouldn’t be competitive with cheaper western imports. In that respect the EU has tried to make an economic land grab to essentially have a leveraged buyout of the Ukrainian economy, and in the long term that is not what anybody should really be looking for.

RT: Now, interestingly, this debate has gone beyond the EU borders because America has got involved, we’ve heard from the US Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, just this week, saying that an EU association would bring Ukraine back to economic health. Why do we have this involvement from America do you think?

PY: Well, of course when you’ve got a situation where the mayor of Toronto in Canada has been found smoking crack cocaine and he’s twice as popular in opinion polls locally as the US president is nationally in the United States of America, you have of course the fundamental reason why again in the political cycle the Obama government is discredited. They cannot implement health care, they have managed to have a string of failures in foreign policy, now what they’ve gone to, is they’ve gone back to the old neocon model of regime change one point zero. And that is absolutely disgraceful because we of course had great hope, the happy change thing of Obama has now become a myth and ultimately the terrible tragedy is that the people of Ukraine, the innocent, reasonable people who want to work for a better life, have become pawns in an extra-terrestrial supra national game, being led by the European Union and the USA in order to try and make it look to their domestic constituencies as if they’re capable of doing something in foreign policy.

Posted in EuropeComments Off on Ukrainian people being used as pawns by the EU and US

At least 39 killed, 120 wounded in string of Iraq bombings

NOVANEWS
Iraqi security forces inspect the site of car bomb attack in Baghdad's Sadr city December 8, 2013. (Reuters / Wissm al-Okili) Iraqi security forces inspect the site of car bomb attack in Baghdad’s Sadr city December 8, 2013. (Reuters / Wissm al-Okili.

Several bombings in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Sunday have left 39 people dead and over 120 wounded in crowded markets, commercial districts and car repair shops.

Follow RT’s timeline of Iraq violence in 2013.

In the deadliest attack, a bomb in a parked vehicle in the Shiite Muslim suburb of Bayaa in Baghdad was detonated near car workshops killing seven people and wounding 14, according to police sources.

In a separate incident a car bomb exploded in a busy square in central Baghdad killing at least five people and wounding 15.

In Radhwaniya, a predominately Sunni area of Baghdad, a roadside bomb killed two people and wounded eight.

Other Shiite districts of the city saw more attacks, including Amel, Ghadir, Sadr City and Hussainiya.

While in Baquba, 65 km east of Baghdad another car bomb blew up inside a crowded market killing two and wounding seven.

A man looks at a damaged vehicle after a car bomb attack at Bayaa district in Baghdad December 8, 2013. (Reuters / Ahmed Malik)A man looks at a damaged vehicle after a car bomb attack at Bayaa district in Baghdad December 8, 2013. (Reuters / Ahmed Malik)

 

Another four people were killed when a car bomb went off near a line of shops in the Shiite village of Sabaa al-Bour, 30 kilometers north of Baghdad.

No group has immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks but Sunni Muslim insurgents with links to Al Qaeda have carried out the majority of the bombings in Shia areas.

The last wave of large scale bombings was on November 21, and since then there has been a steady stream of smaller attacks.

At least 127 people have died in violence so far this month in Iraq according to the Associated Press.

Dirk Adriansens, an Iraq activist and author, told RT that Iraqis were better off when they were under some of the harshest sanctions ever imposed on a nation than they are now.

“I was there six months after the bombings [the first Gulf War] in 1991, there was electricity, there was the telephone, and there was a fair distribution of rations, so people didn’t die of hunger. But there were basic services, it’s not like the situation now after ten years of occupation there are no basic services,” he said.

Posted in IraqComments Off on At least 39 killed, 120 wounded in string of Iraq bombings

Naziyahu nixes trip to Mandela’s memorial

NOVANEWS

Unfortunately impossible’ for prime minister to attend Tuesday’ ceremony in South Africa, official says.

Times of I$rael

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not fly to South Africa on Monday to pay his respects to the late South African civil rights legend Nelson Mandela, a government official told the Times of Israel on Sunday.

Earlier in the evening Netanyahu was “seriously considering going” to the memorial service in Johannesburg, but “when it was clear what the financial and logistic outlays” of a trip would entail, it was decided that it was “unfortunately impossible,” the official said.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the Prime Minister’s Office had no immediate statement regarding Netanyahu’s non-attendance.

President Shimon Peres is reportedly considering attending Mandela’s memorial service in Johannesburg on Tuesday, a ceremony which will be attended by at least 70 world leaders, including US President Barack Obama.

All living American presidents will be in attendance, as well as 26 members of Congress, according to NPR, quoting South African officials.

The former South African president, who died on Thursday after months of illness, will lie in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria from Wednesday to Friday. During these days, official memorial services will also be held in all provinces and regions.

On Sunday, December 15, Mandela will be laid to rest in a state funeral and burial at Qunu, in the Eastern Cape province where he was born.

Posted in AfricaComments Off on Naziyahu nixes trip to Mandela’s memorial

Venezuela’s Maduro to raise pressure on business after local vote

NOVANEWS

BY BRIAN ELLSWORTH


Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro talks to supporters during a meeting at Plaza Bolivar in Caracas December 8, 2013. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

1 OF 11. Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro talks to supporters during a meeting at Plaza Bolivar in Caracas December 8, 2013.

(Reuters) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro pledged to deepen his “economic offensive” to force businesses to cut prices after his ruling Socialist Party won most votes in Sunday’s municipal elections.

A partial count showed government allies won 49 percent of the votes in 337 mayoral races, compared to 42 percent for the opposition coalition, derailing efforts by Maduro’s critics to turn the vote into a plebiscite on his government and the legacy of late socialist leader Hugo Chavez.

Maduro’s candidates benefited from his crackdown in November to force merchants to slash prices of goods such as TVs, car parts and home hardware.

“This week we are going to deepen the economic offensive to help the working class and protect the middle class,” Maduro told supporters in a rally after the results were announced.

“This week it’s going to be the housing and food sectors. We’re going in with guns blazing, keep an eye out.”

Maduro’s personal approval rate jumped sharply after the economic measures that won over consumers weary of the country’s 54 percent annual inflation, which Maduro blames on an “economic war” he says is financed by political adversaries.

The initial steps focused on home appliances, and later extended to controls on rent of commercial buildings such as shopping malls, to try to lower prices.

Sunday’s election was the biggest political test for Maduro since he narrowly won a presidential election in April following Chavez’s death from cancer. He called the results a tribute to the late leader whose 14-year rule polarized the OPEC nation.

“Here it is, commander, the gift of your people … the gift of loyalty and love,” he told a crowd, whose mostly bored and listless expressions broke into joyful chanting at the mention of Chavez’s name.

The results may help Maduro to enact unpopular economic measures such as a currency devaluation that Wall St. investors call widely necessary to close the government’s fiscal gap and reduce capital flight.

But extending the price cuts may worsen product shortages and reduce the productivity of a private sector already battered by years of nationalizations.

Nor does the majority in the local polls help him address the structural imbalances of a state-driven economy struggling with slowing growth, the highest inflation in the Americas, and embarrassing shortages of goods such as toilet paper.

Critics say he needs to scrap exchange controls and lift restrictions on private businesses.

OPPOSITION GAINS

The Socialist Party had been widely expected to win a majority of the total number of seats because the distribution of voters makes it dominant in rural, sparsely-populated constituencies.

But opposition leader Henrique Capriles had previously said the opposition would win a majority of the total votes. The results showed the continuing division over Chavez’s legacy, he said.

“Nobody should feel defeated, we have a country that is divided and we want Venezuela to be united,” a crestfallen-looking Capriles said in a late-night press conference.

The Socialist Party’s majority overshadowed opposition gains in crucial areas such as the industrial city of Valencia, where the party’s mayor was recently arrested on corruption charges.

The opposition also won in Barinas, capital of the late Chavez’s home state that has for years been dominated by his family – even though Maduro had decreed December 8 a day of “Loyalty and Love” to the former president.

The opposition is also expected to increase the total number of mayors’ seats it controls. Full results have not yet been released.

With no obvious threats to Maduro completing a term that ends in 2018, even a better showing for the opposition would have been largely symbolic. The next polls are for a new National Assembly in late 2015.

Despite an unexpectedly strong showing in the April presidential vote, Capriles has struggled to influence national politics. Some anti-government activists are pressing for more action, such as street protests.

Posted in VenezuelaComments Off on Venezuela’s Maduro to raise pressure on business after local vote

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