Archive | December 17th, 2015

V W emissions scandal

NOVANEWS

 

Capitalism will always put the need for maximum profit above the people’s health – or even saving the planet. 
If anyone still held the misguided view that capitalism can be made to work in a way that safeguards the environment and the people’s health, the recent scandal surrounding German car producer Volkswagen (VW) should provide a timely wake up call.

It was recently revealed by the California Air Resources Board that VW has been deliberately producing diesel cars that cheat the emissions test. The cars have been fitted with special software that detects whether the vehicle is undergoing a test – in which case, it turns on an emissions-reducing device. If no test is detected – ie, if the car is simply being used on the road – the vehicles actually pump out up to forty times the permitted amount of nitrogen oxides (NO and NO2, short: NOx).

From initial estimates of half a million affected cars in the US, the number of confirmed cases globally has already surpassed 11 million. Following the US Environment Protection Agency, environment ministers in VW’s European heartlands of Germany and Austria have now also rejected the company’s proposal of a voluntary repairs programme and ordered a mandatory recall of all affected vehicles.

Why should we care?

NOx reacts with chemicals in the atmosphere to create harmful substances such as nitric acid and ozone. In humans, these substances can lead to serious lung problems, causing or worsening various respiratory diseases. These chemicals are, of course, also not good for the planet’s flora and fauna, or for the environment generally.

With countless thousands of cars clogging up the streets of our towns and cities, we should be worried (and angry!) that a large number of them have turned out to be churning out even more poison than previously thought.

Considering that environmental groups have long suspected other car manufacturers of similar scam techniques to those that employed by VW, it is more than likely that these revelations are merely the tip of the iceberg. We are paying dearly with our health for the profits of the monopoly capitalists.

Furthermore, recent tests on various small diesel cars have found that actual emissions in road use vary dramatically from official tests. Some are even pumping out as many toxic fumes as heavy goods vehicles!

As a species, we cannot but have a vital interest in preserving the environment we depend upon for life. The system of capitalist production, however, has its own, altogether different, logic. If there are fat profits to be made from ignoring rules about poisoning the earth’s atmosphere, ways will be found to break the rules. This will be the case even when the very future of humanity’s existence is at stake.

At the end of the day, the VW scandal is just one more incident in the age-old story of capitalists circumventing regulatory laws, whether they be hard-fought safeguards at work or environmental standards adopted as a result of of public pressure.

Such is the insanity of the present system.

Profits and vested interests

The fact that such motivations are built into the fabric of the present system explains why it is that these problems, whose solutions are well known to us, appear to be so very difficult to solve. So long as the production of the necessities of life is governed by the profit motive, the unpleasant side-effects of capitalism – poverty, disease, discrimination, war and environmental degradation – cannot be reformed away.

After decades of bitter experience, it should now be obvious to all that the multinational corporations and the billionaires who control them will always put profit before safeguarding the environment and people’s health. To do otherwise would be to lose out in the battle of competition and face oblivion through bankruptcy.

This monopoly capitalist class rules our society and dictates its terms to governments. The energy monopolies that have cornered the supplies of fossil fuels are a dominant part of that class and put heavy pressure on governments to hinder the development of clean energy. Unless and until they smells a good profit, they will not seriously invest in advancing new technology for providing pollution-free energy and transport, simply because it will have some long-term benefit for humanity.

Saving the planet tomorrow is no compensation for going out of business today, and the ruthless law of competition means that capitalists not only have to make a profit, but must constantly strive to make the maximum profit or be driven out of business by their more cut-throat rivals.

Just look at the cynicism that a society based upon the law of value creates: in an article in the Financial Times, which blamed technological shortcomings rather than human decisions on the polluting practices of VW, an analyst was quoted as saying: “VW engineers must have been striving for a ‘happy medium’ between meeting US emissions standards and achieving reasonable fuel consumption for the company’s diesel cars. ‘The way they were able to find that medium was through a computer programme that changed the way the cars operated between emissions testing and regular driving,’ he adds.”

How can anyone describe the practice of cheating tests and knowingly pumping out dangerous levels of toxic emissions so as to make more money while marketing one’s cars as ‘fuel efficient’ a ‘happy medium’?

This senseless state of affairs is bound to continue – and even to grow worse – while capitalist production remains. Our only salvation lies in replacing it with a sane, planned, socialist system, where production is carried out to meet people’ needs; where the need for daily mass transportation is removed by the simple expedient of giving people work where they live or homes where they work; where all essential services (including transport) are comprehensive and public; and where the need to preserve a habitable environment for ourselves and our children can finally be given the highest priority in all decision-making.

Posted in GermanyComments Off on V W emissions scandal

Follow the road of Great October!

NOVANEWS

Proletarian issue 69 (December 2015)

 

The following message was sent by a comrade in Australia to our party’s celebration of the 98th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution, held on 7 November 2015 
I send you the warmest fraternal greetings on the occasion of the 98th anniversary of the glorious Great October Socialist Revolution.
The October revolution remains, almost a century later, as humanity’s beacon of hope and inspiration. The proletariat and oppressed peoples of the world look forward to a world freed from exploitation, misery, hunger and war, and this golden path is lit by the undiminishable glow of the October revolution.

Before October 1917, the idea of a society and world that worked toward the common goal of freedom for all could be dismissed as utopian daydreaming. By adhering to the revolutionary science of Marxism Leninism, the Russian working class and peasantry showed us for ever more that socialism and communism were within our grasp. The proletariat could never be turned back from this objective, no matter how hard the oppressors tried.

Let Comrade Stalin speak, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Great October, on the significance of that immortal day: “The October revolution cannot be regarded merely as a revolution ‘within national bounds’. It is, primarily, a revolution of an international, world order, for it signifies a radical turn in the world history of mankind, a turn from the old, capitalist world to the new, socialist world.

“Revolutions in the past usually ended by one group of exploiters at the helm of government being replaced by another group of exploiters. The exploiters changed, exploitation remained. Such was the case during the liberation movements of the slaves. Such was the case during the period of uprisings of the serfs. Such was the case during the period of the well-known ‘great’ revolutions in England, France and Germany …

“The October revolution differs from these revolutions in principle. Its aim is not to replace one form of exploitation by another form of exploitation … but to abolish all exploitation of man by man, to abolish all groups of exploiters, to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat, to establish the power of the most revolutionary class of all the oppressed classes that have ever existed, to organise a new, classless, socialist society.

“It is precisely for this reason that the victory of the October revolution signifies a radical change in the history of mankind, a radical change in the historical destiny of world capitalism, a radical change in the liberation movement of the world proletariat, a radical change in the methods of struggle and the forms of organisation, in the manner of life and traditions, in the culture and ideology of the exploited masses throughout the world.

“That is the basic reason why the October revolution is a revolution of an international, world order.”

The poor get poorer and the rich get richer, goes the old adage. Yet why is that? Production levels have risen to unprecedented levels. It is because of the incurable crisis of imperialism.

This crisis is why Syria, Ukraine and Palestine, to name just a few, are in flames; why the world is flooded with asylum seekers escaping the barbarity of imperialism, but yet sees, in the major cities of the imperialist heartlands, people condemned to poverty, unemployment, homelessness, and abuse by the forces of ‘law and order’.

Where can these people seek asylum? They must seek asylum in the science of Marxism Leninism, and in the practical realisation of this science in organisations like the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist). Only socialist revolution can liberate humanity from imperialism and the wars and poverty it inevitably engenders. But imperialism knows it is in crisis and thus throws at the proletariat the suffocating, false illusion of social democracy to paralyse social emancipation.

In this context we have the rise of Jeremy Corbyn, and other such ‘messiahs’ to deliver us from the tyranny of finance capital. Once again, the British proletariat are being led to place their hopes and dreams in a mirage. Yes, imperialism leads this charge (despite unhinged elements in the bourgeoisie equating Corbyn with Lenin!), but it can only achieve this through its paid agents in the proletariat: namely, the Trotskyists, the revisionists, and social democrats.

Fortunately, the British proletariat has the CPGB-ML to expose these plots to divert the socialist struggle into the fatal waters of reformism. As the October revolution has taught, it is only the dictatorship of the proletariat that can destroy imperialism and lead to communism. It is the duty of each communist to imbue the proletariat with the understanding of the absolute, fundamental necessity of this dictatorship.

As Comrade Lenin said: “Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is what constitutes the most profound difference between the Marxist and the ordinary petty (as well as big) bourgeois. This is the touchstone on which real understanding and recognition of Marxism is to be tested.”

I wish my dear comrades in the CPGB-ML all the best in this endeavour, which your party has the historical privilege of carrying out. Raise a toast on my behalf, comrades, for all the proletarian and oppressed peoples, in the spirit of Great October, fighting imperialism, with mind and body, as we speak. Victory will be ours!

Eternal glory to the Great October Socialist Revolution!

Eternal glory to the Soviet Union of Lenin and Stalin!

Death to imperialism!

Posted in RussiaComments Off on Follow the road of Great October!

Reflections on a first-time visit to Cuba

NOVANEWS

 

A CPGB-ML member reports on his visit to the island of freedom. 
I recently joined a Cuba Solidarity Campaign (CSC) study tour to the first socialist state in the western hemisphere. What most struck me as a first-time visitor to Cuba was the confidence and openness of the Cuban people, coupled with a complete lack of deference towards anyone at all.

Towards the end of the trip, our young tour guide casually revealed that one of his parents was in the diplomatic service, whilst one of his brothers was a professional operatic baritone, yet all his family were on the same modest salary.

Earlier, at the Tomas Aceay cemetery in Santa Clara, the chief historian and archivist of the cemetery was half-way through her explanations when she was cheerfully and noisily greeted by a gardener shoving a wheelbarrow full of tools – a greeting which she amiably reciprocated before returning to her theme. As he briskly exercised his right of way through the assembled throng, it was clear that archivist and gardener related one to the other on terms of complete and unquestioned equality.

And when we went along to a block party thrown by one of the many neighbourhood-based committees for the defence of the revolution (CDRs) – an open-air party which took place in front of what at first glance looked like a somewhat dilapidated council estate in Britain – we rapidly discovered that the community included people from all walks of life, with what in the West would be regarded as middle-class professionals living cheek by jowl with other workers.

One young man I spoke to was pursuing a career in computer software design, his fiancée was studying law and his prospective mother-in-law was running a driving school. And whilst the flats in which this community lived could have done with a lick of paint, there was no doubting the pride and solidarity of the people of the CDR – captured most movingly in the songs, dances and recitations performed by local youngsters.

What through western eyes might have looked at first like a deprived council estate, haunted by unemployment, drug abuse and small-scale criminality, turned out to be the abode of a positive and thriving community, proud of Cuba’s revolution and defiant of the blockade that strives to set limits to its development.

I thought about all this again whilst standing in the queue to check in for the return flight to Gatwick, when the man in front of me passed some witless remark about there being a few very rich people in Cuba and very many poor people. The reality is that everyone in Cuba lives modestly but securely, and on the basis of an equality so thoroughly grounded in the social fabric that nobody thinks to question it. Nobody starves (food rationing ensures that) and nobody is denied a home, education, health care or a pension.

A corollary of this is that the highest rewards are not material but moral; and often not individual but collective (like being able to let one’s children out on the streets in safety, for example). So when pupils in Santa Clara achieve very high standards in their work, they are rewarded, not by financial reward or material privileges, but by being selected to come and lay flowers on the graves of Che Guevara and the other internationalist revolutionaries martyred with him in Bolivia.

Everywhere the flame of revolution is kept burning. When I walked into one old people’s home, the first thing I noticed was the portrait of a female guerrilla, probably Celia Sánchez, guarding the entrance. Carry on through and we were in an open quadrangle ringed with thirty or so old ladies chatting away nineteen to the dozen. A tall black woman in her eighties stood up with a half dozen of her comrades to give a spirited rendition of Guantanamera, followed by lively songs and poems celebrating love and revolution, delivered with furious and plaintive gestures. Nobody was isolated; nobody was staring blankly at a wall or a TV screen.

More songs and poems greeted our solidarity tour when it dropped in on a school for younger children with visual and/or hearing impairments. A tall girl sang beautifully, then the boys (two of them tiny brothers with spiky hair and cheeky exuberance) performed more poems and songs.

At first, this emphasis on what are termed ‘cultural moments’ can be disconcerting: who are we to come here from the privileged West demanding entertainment? But then the penny drops: these performances are not deferential offerings to a jaded western palate, but powerful assertions of social solidarity from which those of us living in the belly of the beast can learn more than we can ever teach.

This school is named for Comrade Fructuoso Rodríguez, a partially-sighted student at the University of Havana who led protests against the coup of Fulgencio Batista in 1952, going on to become general secretary of the revolutionary directorate. After participating in the abortive assault upon Batista’s palace in 1957, Fructuoso was betrayed and assassinated. A portrait of the brave young man who overcame his handicap and sacrificed his life for the revolution is painted on the classroom wall – an inspiration to today’s young students.

The teachers, doctors and social worker explained that a team of specialists, including psychiatrists and social workers, meet with parents to determine the best course of action for each individual pupil – be it educational support in the mainstream or entry into a specialist school. Cuba uses a form of signing which is different from US sign language, though there are some overlaps.

We were told that there are four schools in Santa Clara for children with learning difficulties. Those with a certain level of difficulty are the responsibility of the ministry of education, whilst those with more severe difficulties fall under the remit of the ministry of health. The two ministries cooperate closely.

In galling contrast to Britain, where further education opportunities for adults with learning disabilities are in the process of receiving the chop, adults with learning difficulties in Cuba continue to receive care and attention from the state, and parents who look after them are paid a carer’s salary.

As with everything, the blockade poses challenges. For example, the computers and Braille typewriters are out of date, but staff have learned to squeeze a bit more life out of them with some low-tech workarounds. We were shown impressive-looking Braille books printed in Havana. Electric wheelchairs cannot be had, but manual ones can.

One of the solidarity visitors summed it up well: the West has all the gear but no idea; Cuba has all the ideas but no gear – or at any rate not enough of it. Yet despite all the difficulties, Cuba continues to make progress in this field – for example, successfully carrying out cochlear implants to restore hearing.

Agriculture

The comrade who showed us around the Organoponica la Rivera, in Santa Clara, was a former military man. He explained that 80 percent of Cuba’s imports and exports had formerly been with the USSR, so that when the Soviet Union collapsed the economic consequences for the Cuban economy in the 1990s were catastrophic. Sometimes, there would be no more than two hours of power a day. Many industries closed down and many industrial workers flooded into the agricultural sector.

But there were big problems there too: the price of sugar plummeted and half the sugarcane mills closed down. With the lack of agricultural machinery and the loss of markets dealing a body blow to agriculture, something had to be done fast. On the larger-scale farms, the shortage of machinery necessitated a reversion to more labour-intensive techniques, with oxen and ploughs supplementing the diminishing stock of tractors.

However, this did not supply the towns with sufficient fresh produce, so a radical rethink was called for. This was where the decision was made to take a leaf out of the army’s book. All males serve the people by being conscripted into the army for a spell, and it is out of revolutionary army traditions that the urban market gardens, or ‘organoponicas’, originated.

Just like the People’s Liberation Army on the Long March in China, Cuba’s revolutionary forces learned to grow their own food on camp, refusing to become a burden on the peasant masses. Following this example, Cuba turned to the cultivation of relatively small-scale market gardens to supplement the diet of local inhabitants. The comrade reckoned that the group of five organoponic farms of which his formed part fed some 20,000 people.

Since those early days of the Special Period, the situation has improved somewhat – with, for example, watering cans giving way to piped irrigation – and the comrade made it clear that as mechanisation becomes available then it will be embraced.

He also made it clear, though, that some of the practices which had been developed within the organoponic movement will be retained. For example, there is a by-product of sugar-refining which has proved an excellent substitute for manure (draught animals being unsuited to small-scale farming) or other artificial fertilisers.

There have also been advances in ecological science. There are now five laboratories in Santa Clara dedicated to countering disease pests without resorting to harmful pesticides. As well as dealing with naturally-occurring pests, these laboratories also had to cope with the deliberate biological contamination of crops by aerial spraying of pests, courtesy of the United States.

So it is that necessity breeds invention. The farmer pays a regular visit to his local lab to pick up a packet of ‘friendly’ wasp-like insects, which he then releases onto his field where they munch up the farmer’s enemies.

The soldier-turned-farmer explained that 70 percent of the cooperative’s workforce are retired like himself. Everyone is on the same modest basic salary, paid in addition to the state pension.

Health care

The Cuban health system is comprehensive and integrated, with a strong emphasis on prevention.

At the most local level, the family doctor clinics, the doctor lives nearby (sometimes ‘over the shop’) and routinely checks up on everyone on his or her patch. Most afternoons are taken up with home visits, with mornings reserved for clinic treatment.

At the family doctor clinic we visited, someone asked about internationalist medical service. Without batting an eyelid, one of the doctors matter-of-factly listed her own track record of service: Haiti, Mozambique, Angola and El Salvador. Just about every Cuban doctor has completed at least one tour of internationalist duty.

Meanwhile, thousands of budding doctors come to Cuba to get trained. One doctor we met at the clinic had come from Pakistan, married a Cuban girl and stayed on to serve the Cuban people in turn! (In Cuba, the ethnic mix is so eclectic that no skin coloration or racial feature causes any heads to turn.)

We found out more about Cuba’s mission to train doctors to serve the developing world’s people when we visited the University of Medical Sciences in Santa Clara. The university recruits foreign students on the basis of national quotas, with each country deciding whom to send.

In the case of some countries – for example, Haiti – fees are waived altogether, whilst for other countries payment may be required towards the $85,000 bill for the six-year course. It was noted that some trainees even hailed from the US – a circumstance which, it was acknowledged, brought with it certain risks.

At the university visit, Dr Juan Carlos Ruíz spoke about the Henry Reeve Brigade. This brigade, with a proud record of giving assistance in major disasters, is named for a hero of Cuba’s first war of independence, who left his home in Brooklyn to fight and die in the anti-colonial struggle against Spain.

When a massive earthquake struck Pakistan, Dr Ruíz was pulled from his job at the blood bank and asked to go and help with disaster relief. No less than 32 field hospitals were deployed around the quake site. Then, in 2013, the Henry Reeve Brigade answered a call from the World Health Organisation (WHO) to help deal with the major Ebola crisis in West Africa. An initial team of 53 was dispatched to Liberia, undergoing intensive training in the use of personal protection equipment.

In the end, a total of 256 medical personnel went to fight Ebola – out of some 10,000 who had volunteered. The team suffered one fatality, from malaria, but helped to save many thousands more lives, winning praise from the WHO.

Economy

Dr Morales, president of the economics faculty of the central university in Santa Clara, took time out from advising the government on economic policy to lead a discussion on the Cuban economy with the solidarity visitors. He drew a distinction between what he termed the ‘economic model’ and the ‘economic system’, stressing that the purpose of current economic reforms was to change the model, not the system (namely socialism).

Noting that Cuba’s model was distinct from, for example, the model adopted by other socialist countries like China or Vietnam, Dr Morales warned that, whilst Cuba’s social indices invited favourable comparison even with those in modern industrialised societies, indices for economic growth lagged behind.

The need now was to increase productivity, hampered as it had been by the Special Period and continuing blockade. The result was too great a reliance on food imports and too little self-sufficiency. There were hopeful signs however, with technical improvements in the sugar industry, and economic cooperation with Brazil, Venezuela and China continuing to develop.

Dr Morales explained that, within clear political guidelines set by the government, and whilst ensuring that the state sector remained the mainstay of the national economy, elements of private-sector development had been opened up. This covered things like private restaurants, taxis, private gymnasiums and some cooperative developments. The intention was to let the private sector mop up some unemployment.

On a broader view, Dr Morales suggested that Cuba needed foreign investment, but on its own terms. For example, the tourist industry, through joint ventures, could provide the state with a ready source of investment whilst maintaining its stake in hotel ownership. Britain and other European countries had shown interest in investment opportunities. Japan had shown an interest in buying Cuban nickel, until the US had dissuaded it. For that matter, business interests in the US itself might jump at the chance of investment. As Dr Morales put it: Cuba does not need US investment, but would happily accept it – on Cuba’s own terms.

On the question of the dual currency, originally introduced in an effort to prevent the growth in tourism from distorting the rest of the economy, Dr Morales frankly admitted that this approach had many negative consequences and would certainly be ended as part of the reform programme. He expressed the hope that, by expanding productive development, salaries could be raised overall, thereby helping motivate workers to greater efforts.

Revolutionary morality

For most Cubans, the prime goal in life is not self-enrichment, and it is clear that the experience of building socialism under blockade and against all the odds has had an incalculable effect on the nation’s collective psychology.

Whilst it is true that at the socialist stage of development the worker can only be guaranteed to be paid according to his work, meaning that wage differentials may need to assert themselves, in socialist Cuba the moral incentive of serving the people and advancing socialism has to a remarkable degree already proved itself to be the chief mainspring of productive development, increasingly overriding the material incentive.

The Soviet labour hero Stakhanov did not work to live, but lived to work. Similarly, the Henry Reeve brigadistas did not expose themselves to mortal danger fighting Ebola in Africa to boost their pay. And the Miami Five did not undergo all those years of incarceration by US imperialism so as to secure a pay rise. There can surely be few finer examples today of the fact that the proletarian revolution gives rise to men and women of a new and different character, ready to sacrifice their very lives to serve the people and advance the red flag.

Two of those Cuban heroes, Fernando Gonzales and Gerardo Hernández, for many years imprisoned in US hellholes for their efforts to prevent terrorist attacks on Cuban soil, made the time to meet with the solidarity group. Characteristically, they spoke, not about their own privations, but about their great hopes for the Cuban future.

At the same meeting, Comrade Luis Marrón, formerly of the Cuban embassy in London and now organising internationalist work in Havana, explained that Cuba stood ready to deal with whatever changes might spring from the renewal of diplomatic relations with the US. Regardless of fine words, the blockade remained in place, and whatever might be Obama’s good intentions, he was himself surrounded by hostile forces. To sum up, Marrón pressed the tip of his forefinger to his thumb and said Cuba trusted imperialism “just this much”.

Victory – and vigilance

Whatever the final outcome of Washington’s apparent change of heart over Cuba, this development is a victory for Cuba’s undaunted struggle, and reflects the degree to which the US has become isolated.

On 27 October, the United Nations voted 191 to 2 in favour of lifting the US blockade, with only Israel still standing with the US, and with, for the first time, no abstentions. With European banks stung by US for the ‘crime’ of dealing with Cuba, and Washington’s ‘allies’ fed up with missing out on the benefits of normal trade relations in the Caribbean, Obama’s belated grand gesture is looking more like a panic reflex.

Meanwhile, Comrade Marrón’s stress on vigilance is well-advised, given the increasing momentum of destabilisation and conspiracies launched by imperialism against Cuba’s Latin-American neighbours – including in Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil and Argentina.

The attempted coup against Venezuela’s President Maduro in February, nipped in the bud thanks to the vigilance of the Bolivarian revolution, is being followed by a new campaign of destabilisation in the run-up to the 6 December parliamentary elections. Opposition forces, amply funded by their western backers, are inundating the media with phony opinion polls to create the impression in advance that Maduro’s team are bound to lose, as Cuba’s daily newspaper Granma recently explained.

“This seeks to sow, in the minds of citizens, the feeling that the opposition has already won the elections, so that any different result emerging from the December vote is considered fraudulent … But the most audacious resource manipulated by opposition advisers is an intense publicity barrage, every day, revealing supposed Chavista defections … [to] the opposition coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), in order to create confusion …

“The main backing comes from US ultraconservative organisations, powerful lobbies and investors. The pot to fund the last-minute electoral onslaught is full … What is the real reason why the opposition refuses to sign an agreement to respect the outcome on 6 December? The answer is simple: because it is not sure of winning and if it loses it can declare fraud and resort to violence. (Everything indicates that Latin America is undergoing a new period of coup attempts by Jose Vicente Rangel, 30 October 2015)

It is clear that in Cuba, as in the rest of Latin America, the struggle against imperialism and for socialism continues.

Posted in South AmericaComments Off on Reflections on a first-time visit to Cuba

We’re all terrorists now

NOVANEWS
By Sam Gerrans | RT 

The concept of terrorism has been extended from carrying out physical acts in which innocent people are killed, to wrong opinions, sweaty palms and disagreement with government. If you want to find a terrorist, soon all you will have to do is look in the mirror.

Words are political. They change shape to suite agendas.

In the 1970s, ‘terrorist’ meant a paid-up member of the IRA, the Irgun, ETA and the like. These were bad people perpetrating evil and indiscriminate deeds upon a defenceless public. They used bombs, worked in cells, and killed people without warning before fading into the shadows.

Although the UK had legislation specifically geared to deal with what is called terrorism on the books, people deemed terrorists, when they were caught, were prosecuted under existing laws – i.e. for actual crimes they had committed.

Bobby Sands, for example, who fought and died for the IRA cause, was incarcerated for nothing more sinister than owning illegal firearms.

Since 9/11 and the implementation of the so-called Patriot Act (and equivalent legislation in other countries), the definition of terrorism is itself becoming a source of terror.

As part of this process, we are being taught to live with the new nomenclature of ‘terror suspect’; that is you haven’t done anything wrong, but you might.

The Independent reports that: “315 terror suspects were arrested between September 2014 and September 2015, according to new figures from the Home Office.”

The same article continues: “[…] it seems what we are seeing is an increase in terrorism-related fear rather than terrorism itself – totally understandable of course in itself, but not when it leads to the kind of heavy-handed policing that can actually radicalize more people.”

Read another way: the British Government is harassing increasing numbers of innocent people and generating both fear and the chance of more ‘radicalization’ thereby.

The no-fly list

The Huffington Post reports that one can be identified and placed on a ‘no-fly list’ for any number of reasons.

It tells us: “government officials have secretly characterized an unknown number of individuals as threats or potential threats to national security. In 2013 alone, 468,749 watch-list nominations were submitted to the National Counterterrorism Center. It rejected only one percent of the recommendations.”

This is nearly half-a-million US citizens in one year; this means they are finding almost 1,400 new American enemies a day.

The article goes on to list seven criteria government agencies use to put a person on a list. These criteria are vague and admit to the broadest and most subjective interpretation; in short they break down to: we don’t like the cut of your jib.

Yes, some life-failed bureaucrat you will never meet can decide – extra judicially – that you may not travel on an aeroplane.

The no-gun list

If there is to be no due process, why stop there?

Obama certainly agrees. The Guardian tells us: “Closing the No-Fly List loophole is a no-brainer,” Barack Obama tweeted on Tuesday, arguing that Congress should pass laws to prevent anyone on the government’s terrorist watch list from buying a gun.”

I see: the president calmly tweets that revoking the Constitution he swore to uphold is a “no brainer,” and we can all go about our business.

Terrorist events

Since Obama is so concerned with guns, he might want to do something about all the smoking guns that feature so prominently in the so-called terrorist attacks on US soil.

RT’s Marina Portnaya did a piece on the release of a report, which identifies the FBI as the mastermind of 95 percent of all domestic terrorism in the US.

Judge Andrew Napolitano, senior judicial analyst for Fox News, concurs. He tells us that of the 20 terrorist attacks the FBI claims to have foiled on US soil, three were thwarted by members of the public and the remaining 17 were masterminded and carried out by the FBI itself.

Who is a terrorist?

The so-called War on Terror is worldwide.

For its part, the French government is educating its population to spot a terrorist.

The Independent gives us these bonmots: “The French government has launched a campaign which appears to warn parents that their children may have been recruited by terrorists if they stop eating baguettes.”

Other tell-tale signs of nascent radicalism include deciding not to watch television.

US airport security staff operate on a much more scientific basis. The Telegraph reports on a leaked document revealing: “Excessive yawning, strong body odour and arrogance are among the suspicious signs that US airport staff are trained to associate with potential terrorists.”

Excessive yawning? Remember that if find yourself on a stopover in a US airport on a long-haul flight.

Other warning signs include: “protruding or throbbing neck arteries, whistling, excessive laughter, and verbally expressing contempt for the screening process.”

The full list of 17 ‘fear factors’ staff are trained to spot include: arriving late for a flight, sweaty palms, and a pale face indicating the recent shaving of a beard.

More government

Naturally, the only rational response to this exploding bomb of suspicion is more government. Was there ever any doubt?

The UK government’s website tells you exactly what to do in the event of a terrorist attack: Step 1: run. Step 2: Hide. Step 3: Tell the authorities. Step 4: Wait for armed police to arrive (and keep your hands where they can see them). Step 5: Be ready for those authorities to point guns at you and treat you ‘firmly’ (i.e. brutalize you).

No mention of repealing UK gun laws so that British adults can defend themselves, of course.

Imagine what would happen to any real terrorist threat in Britain if one in three Britons carried a handgun.

No. What we need is more government; more intrusion by the very agencies that not only benefit from the events they pretend to protect us from (and use said events to take away our rights), but which – according to all objective analysis – are also central in bringing those events to pass.

So terrorism has morphed from real actions which killed people – the destruction of the King David Hotel by the Irgun or the Iranian Embassy siege – to intuitions about people, sweaty palms and the non-eating of French bread.

The simple definition for such a subjective and arbitrary application of power is this: tyranny.

Why stop there?

Since there is no place for principle or due process in this new tyranny, insanity must follow.

Under such a regime things just are because someone – in this case an opinion-leader – says they are.

For his part, supposed science guy Bill Nye makes a strong connection between what he calls ‘climate change’ and what he terms ‘terrorism’.

The Huffington Post reports: “Nye’s reasoning hinges on a water shortage in Syria, which researchers have blamed on climate change. As Nye explained, the shortage has stunted farming and pushed young people to look for work in more densely populated areas.

“Young people have gone to big cities looking for work. There’s not enough work for everybody, so the disaffected youths, as we say – the young people who don’t believe in the system, believe the system has failed, don’t believe in the economy – are more easily engaged and more easily recruited by terrorist organizations, and then they end up part way around the world in Paris shooting people,” Nye asserts.

The Independent breathlessly informs us that one of the country’s most senior advisers on health has warned: “Obesity is such a threat to women it should be treated as a “national risk” – like terrorism, natural disasters and cyber attacks.”

And Obama claims that the ‘climate change’ conference in Paris (the only outcome of which will doubtless be more government control for them and more taxes for us), offered the chance to show the ‘terrorists’ that the world was standing together against them.

Sound insane? That’s because it is; until we realise that none of this has anything to do with genuine science or actual terrorists – or if there is any correspondence it is purely coincidental.

We are living through a revolution, a play for total power; or in modern parlance: full-spectrum dominance.

And we have been here before. Last time round it was called Communism. It accused its critics of being counter-revolutionaries or reactionaries. And it murdered those people – and many besides – in their tens of millions.

This time round it is called Freedom.

And if you disagree with it, or don’t smile fast enough or wide enough – or suffer from body odour or weigh too much – today it can stop you from getting on a plane. Tomorrow it may deny you the right to defend yourself.

After that, it may decide on some new arbitrary method of protecting everyone else from you.

Still think your government is there to protect you?

I hope so.

Or you may be a terrorist.

Posted in UKComments Off on We’re all terrorists now

The Global State of HUMAN RIGHTS in 2015: And Why the Narrative Needs to Change

NOVANEWS

humanrightsday

A few days ago, the annual Human Rights Day marked the United Nations‘ adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948; the first global  enunciation of human rights and one of the first major acts of the then newly formed UN.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights called upon the entire world to recognise and respect every human being’s inalienable rights “without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status”.

It is without question one of the most important documents ever created.

So, all these decades later, what is the true state of human rights across the globe? And how close are we to anything resembling the attainment of a universal human rights observance? Well, the sad fact is that the number of countries thought to be committing human rights violations has actually increased  in recent years, rather than diminished.

A UK company called Maplecroft has been annually evaluating human rights violations across the world since 2008, assessing and ranking nations for the most serious human rights offenses. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Scandinavian countries, the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Austria and Germany are the countries generally rated the most favourably when it comes to the human rights and liberties of its citizens, with the United States featuring slightly behind.

But in its 2014 Human Rights Risk Atlas, Maplecroft revealed that in the past six years, the number of countries with an “extreme risk” of human rights offenses had risen  dramatically.

Freedom House‘s ‘Freedom in the World 2015’ interactive map is interesting to examine. The Northern Americas and even most of South (or Latin) America seems to fare very well, along – predictably – with Western Europe, the UK, Australia, India, South Africa and a few other locations.

But, again, countries with declines  in freedoms and human rights appear to outnumber those with rises in the last several years. All of this strongly demonstrates that, on a global level, human rights and human dignity are actually in decline. Last year, Amnesty International  investigated human rights abuses in 160 countries and territories across the globe and reported that nearly three-quarters of governments, around 119 countries out of 160, arbitrarily restricted freedoms, with 82% (131 out of 160) of countries torturing or otherwise ill-treating their people.

human-rights-declaration-un

This time last year, an estimated 27 million people were believed to be enslaved in human trafficking across the world. As of 2012, 112 countries are estimated to have tortured their citizens and over a hundred countries repressing freedom of expression. Meanwhile more than 300,000 children are thought to be being exploited as child soldiers in the armed conflicts that are currently tearing apart once stable nations. 80% of all refugees are women subject to sexual violence and sex trafficking. At least 20.9 million people are victims of forced labour worldwide. Even a cursory glance at the reports and findings of Human Rights Watch  at any time reveals the extent of human rights offenses occurring all around the world at any given time; it honestly seems like there’s barely a nation on earth that isn’t committing human rights abuses, though obviously some nations and governments have a far worse record in both amount and in nature, depending on the nature of their societies.

Last October the International Labour Organisation  estimated that although the figures for forced child labour had dropped by a third since the turn of the century, the estimate still stood at some 168 million children. Further, according to Unicef22,000 children worldwide die each day due to poverty. Around 15 million girls are reported to be forced into child marriages around the world every year. One in three girls in the developing world is forcibly married by the age of 18, curtailing their chance to an education.

All of that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Of course any day would be a day in which human rights abuses are going on in numerous nations, cities, towns or villages all over the world. But North Korea, China, the Central African Republic or Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Pakistan and countless other countries where such abuses or oppression may occur with matter-of-course regularity are one thing; but when perceived human rights violations are also occurring in ostensibly ‘civilised’ societies, including the professed shining beacons of liberty and democracy in the world, it demands even greater pause for thought and examination.

We could talk at length about human rights abuses that go on in various African nations or in various South American or Central Asian societies, for example; but what about the spiraling human rights violations in ‘democratic’ NATO-member Turkey, where opposition supporters are harassed, attacked or killed and where journalists are put in jail? What about the maltreatment or violation of the rights of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers in, for example,European nations like Hungary and Bulgaria, or even in Australia?

And as modern, liberal nations like France and the United States manuever towards more and more Orwellian practises and laws under the guise of the manufactured, phoney ‘War On Terror’, what is going to happen to common ‘human rights’ in the modern, civilised West?

The United States’ NSA surveillance state was enabled via 9/11, along with the ‘Patriot Act’, both of which were major game-changers in American society. Following that example, Francois Hollande has said the French constitution may need to be altered in order to deal with this terrorist threat (following the Friday 13th Paris attacks), as the country is being prepared for potentially draconian policies, including the possibility of expelling foreigners considered a threat. With the state of emergency stated to extend over three months, the president seeks to expand his own powers and the powers of the state. This is potentially Europe’s 9/11 style police state in the making.In France, the talk is already of people being legally arrested without trial or charges and about law-enforcement agencies being allowed to break into people’s houses at any time of night and without any search or arrest warrants.

Even in the UK, this year, senior Tories have been telling David Cameron he must abandon his threat to withdraw from the European convention on human rights, particularly given his government’s stated, parallel desire to repeal the Human Rights Act.

human-rights-act

Is this the direction Western, democratic societies are headed in? It is difficult to imagine countries like the UK, America or France ever becoming as inherently  oppressive as, say, China or Russia; but all things are relative, and the degradation of liberties and rights in the first-world West doesn’t only effect citizens of those societies but has a potential knock-on effect throughout the world.

Last year at this time, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called “on people to hold their governments to account” in regard to human rights violations.

Surely ‘holding governments to account’ is a universal principle, referring to any government, no matter how ‘untouchable’, and referring to the human rights of any citizens of any country; not just countries it is strategically in the best interests of a few select powers to ‘condemn’. Yet we watch our leaders line up to condemnBashar Assad in Syria while remaining silent on the Saudi state, to cite one recent, ongoing example. Certainly there is a scale of human rights abuse, if we can put it that way, whereby the nature of the violations in some countries are far worse than in other countries; for example, child slavery, genital mutilation, extra-judicial killing, torture, etc, all of which occur in, for example, some African nations, are much more serious than first-world violations like data privacy violations or mass surveillance.

There’s no question that someone living in the UK, for example, is absolutely more free and has more rights and more dignity than someone being more overtly oppressed in China or Cuba or Iran. But surely it is for the most civilised, developed nations to maintain high standards and to continue to try to lead by example? A world in which the more civilised nations fail  to lead by example is a world in which other societies get more of a green light for their own abuses and are able to play the ‘hypocrisy’ card when they’re called to account for their lack of standards.

This can be seen, for example, in the US military’s abuses of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib – a disgrace that is still to this day cited by jihadists and Islamists in Iraq as a rallying call and as evidence of the ‘evils’ of Western imperialist invaders. The same applies to the long-term and widely publicised abuses of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, which is now echoed by ISIL militants dressing their victims in the orange, Guantanamo jumpsuits when they execute them: a disturbing element of deliberate symbolism that Americans should find upsetting not only for the barbarity of the terrorists, but for the mirror it is designed to hold up to the American government’s own behaviour.

cia-torture-iraq

Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 1.23.35 PM.jpg

It can also be seen on the CIA’S torture program. 30 years after the UN Convention Against Torture established measures to eradicate the practice of torture, it is in fact still going on in at least 141 countries; including countries that are signatories to the UN convention, according to Amnesty International’s  annual report published last year. The 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights is unambiguous: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

In some ways what’s most disturbing was the CIA’s use – through coercion, no doubt – of foreign locations and collaborators to host the torture, as though engaging in unethical practices in someone else’s country makes it that country’s practice and not the CIA’s. The whole idea of establishing foreign locations, like Guantanamo Bay, to conduct harsh practices that are illegal on home soil stinks of tremendous hypocrisy in the first place. If it’s regarded as an un-American activity or something at odds with American principles then an American agency engaging in it is still the same moral quagmire regardless of whether it does it ‘off-shore’. It’s a child’s way of operating; Daddy says I can’t play with scissors in his house – but I’m not in the house, I’m in the yard so it’s okay.

The flourishing of systemised torture by an extraordinarily powerful American institution badly undermines America’s image and its own professed principles and ideologies; it also encourages other countries to continue engaging in immoral and cruel activities all under the banner of ‘fighting terrorism’.

This is particularly the case in the numerous countries where the CIA established its ‘Black Sites’ and in so doing clearly demonstrated to their foreign collaborators that torture is permissible and justified in America’s view.

CIA collaboration with foreign entities for the purposes of torture isn’t even just a post-9/11 issue either. Substantial cooperation between states in the methods and coordination of torture has been documented in the past. Through the CIA’s Phoenix Program, for example, the United States helped South Vietnam co-ordinate a system of detention, torture and assassination of suspected members of the Viet Cong, while during the 1980s wars in Central America, the U.S. government provided manuals and training on how to effectively use interrogation and torture.

When the more ‘enlightened’ civilisations drop their own standards or professed moral codes, they give license for everyone else to do so too – and that’s precisely what plays out. Conversely, when the developed, more ethically upright nations lead the way and set a standard for other societies to pay attention to, the cause of universal, across-the-board human rights and human dignity are best served.

The United States has pretty much lost all of its moral credibility some time ago and are thus no longer in any moral position to comment on human rights violations in Egypt, for example, or in China; and coupled with this, the work of organisations like Amnesty  or Human Rights Watch becomes that much more difficult, as their credibility is undermined when they try to expose or condemn gross human rights violations in other countries and yet are unable to properly attack human rights abuses or torture being conducted by institutions of the American state.

In Libya in 2011, for example, Amnesty International publicly stated that the accusations against Gaddafi and the Libyan state were false, even as the likes of Hilary Clinton, Samantha Power, Susan Rice, William Hague, etc, were propagating all of the false stories of Gaddafi’s alleged attacks on his people. Yet Amnesty’s findings were completely cast aside by the Western governments and international media as they went ahead with their illegal war based on their false narratives. Human Rights Watch  went into Libya and reported on war-crimes and extra-judicial murders and mass killings being carried out by the proxy ‘rebel’ militias that the United States, France and NATO were directly supporting. Lots of people have seen these reports, and lots of people have watched while the French, American, Saudi, NATO and other officials have walked away without official censure or investigation, all while Saif Gaddafi and other members of the old Libyan state *remain* internationally charged with War Crimes in spite of the falseness of those charges being common knowledge.

libya-Rebels-arrest-Nigerian-in-Mahruga-Libya-091711-by-Francois-Mori-AP

Something similar can be said for countries like the UK and France and their own moral decline during the course of ‘anti-terror’ operations or legislation. And more than this, there is the unavoidable hypocrisy in the vast sale of arms and other corporate dealings with brutal or corrupt governments or dictatorships who repress their own populations. The levels of hypocrisy are extraordinary, given the blanket support of Israel in its long-term oppression of the Palestinian people, to cite just one example.

In 2011, NATO and the international community, led by France and the United States, bombed and destroyed the nation of Libya, overthrowing its state by force and helping murder its figurehead – this being just weeks afterMuammar Gaddafi had been nominated for Amnesty International’s  ‘Human Rights Hero’ award and just months after the UN Human Rights Council had written up a broadly positive report on the human rights situation in Libya. Libya now is a ‘failed state’ and collapsed society where human rights abuses are rampant, with no governing bodies to properly police the country. In the very same year that the Western governments destroyed Libya (supposedly to protect the population from its own government), a little east of Libya a popular civilian uprising in Bahrain was completely ignored by Western governments even as it was being harshly cracked down on by both the Bahraini state and its Saudi Arabian backers. Thus in 2011 alone we saw the immense hypocrisy and double-standard in international relations and in the so-called ‘principles’ or ideals that the most developed and democratic governments in the world claim to cherish.

Read the full, comprehensive truth about the 2011 Libya intervention here

_______________________

The Powers That Be, in all their forms, identities and locations, are invested in industries and agendas contrary to the common good of common humanity; a world where arms deals, oil pipelines and a permanent war economy take permanent precedence and the work of humanitarianism falls on to the shoulders of beleaguered charities and agencies, donations from sympathetic average-income people and the kindness of volunteers, individuals and activists, many of whom risk (and even lose) their lives in the process. Indeed, it seems that humanitarian agencies, activists, aid workers and the like are fighting a permanent uphill struggle not just against oppressive or corrupt state elsewhere in the world, but against the shady activities and dealings of their own governments and the multi-national corporations.

Something is seriously, seriously wrong in the world.

This year in particular has exposed how even some of the so-called first-world nations have limited regard for the rights of human beings – in this case, refugees in particular. We have so-called civilised first-world nations like Denmark, Hungary, the Czech Republic and other European nations utterly withdrawing from international agreements and principles regarding treatment of refugees, and we have massive maltreatment of refugees and asylum seekers going on in various central and eastern European nations, while even high-profile American Presidential candidates openly propose mass racial/religious profiling and discrimination.

The 1951 Refugee Convention (also amended in 1967, in part to include refugees from all over the world) was signed up to by 142 nations (including now highly anti-refugee nations like Hungary, by the way); yet as events this year have shown, various governments have chosen not to abide by its responsibilities to refugees, and in many cases refugees have been grossly mistreated.

According to an Amnesty  report, thousands of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants – including children – making dangerous journeys across the Balkans have been suffering violent abuse and extortion at the hands of the authorities and criminal gangs for some time. Even governments and heads of state have in recent months been adopting entirely anti-refugee positions, openly talking about setting up concentration camps.

refugee-crisis-child5-reuters

This is the extent to which human rights and common humanity are in decline even in the developed West, where a reversion to tribalism and racial self-interest have meant a vastly diminishing concern for common human well being and dignity.

The UN’s ability, meanwhile, to hold governments or nations to account for human rights violations has waned and waned to a point of impotence. Furthermore, while some governments and states can be exposed and/or prosecuted, others are no-go areas for investigations, with various nations enjoying permanent immunity, thus undermining or invalidating the entire principle of universal human rights or accountability. Added to this is the fact that various states fund or orchestrate wars, murder and mass human suffering via proxy organisations in covert operations, and therefore are able to officially deny any wrongdoing and escape investigation or censure. Among such nations are the United States, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Israel, France, Qatar and others.

This double standard in international affairs was something very powerfully hit upon by the late Muammar Gaddafi in his address to the UN General Assembly in 2009. In the now-famous speech, Gaddafi lashed out at the dictatorial powers of the UN Security Council and its five permanent members with their use of vetoes to protect their own self interests. Gaddafi in fact may have gotten to the very heart of the reason for the continual hypocrisy, complaining that “the super-powers have their own interests and they use their vetoes to protect those interests”. Gaddafi had called for the UN to be made democratic by power being removed from the Security Council and distributed equally among the broader 192 member-states of the General Assembly. “How can we be happy with global security if the world is controlled by just five countries?” he asked. He was dead two years later.

We now live in a time where the ‘rulebook’ has become increasingly redundant, thrown out of the window by various states and powers. Hence a nation like Saudi Arabia can violently, almost sadistically repress or execute its own citizens and yet be invited to sit on the UN Human Rights Council. The same Saudi Arabia can wage months of destructive bombing against the small nation of Yemen, commit War Crimes, and yet have the investigation of its actions quietly scrapped and in fact be allowed to conduct it’s own investigation into its own crimes. It is a perversion that makes an utter joke of international law, the UN and so-called universal principles. At the same time we have Israel’sBenjamin Netanyahu awarded a human rights prize, despite the Israeli state being virtually universally condemned for its oppression of Palestinians and illegal occupation of Palestinian land. We have the British and American arms trade fueling the Saudi destruction of Yemen and the Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestine in the meantime, as well as various Western and Middle-Eastern states arming terrorists and militias in Syria and prolonging the violent civil war.

Corrupt or oppressive regimes have been propped up by the United States and some of its allies for decades, usually in exchange for favourable corporate dealings or the hosting of military installations, allowing corrupt dictators with the worst human rights records in the world to do as they please domestically and remain immune from condemnation.

The iconic Pakistani teenager and activist Malala Yousafsai touched upon this during her acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize last year. “The so-called world of adults may understand it, but we children don’t,” she said. “Why is it that countries which we call ‘strong’ are so powerful in creating wars but so weak in bringing peace?”

It is also curious the amount of both governmental and media coverage or ‘outrage’ focused on the abuses or crimes of criminal groups like ISIL or Boko Haram, yet the lack of comparable outrage over government/state abuses of civilian populations or violations of human rights all over the world. It’s often as if the former provides useful distraction away from the latter, even though in the broader picture and the longer run it’s the latter that is more important to address.

The more extreme, dramatic and sensationalised excesses and crimes of rag-tag, ultra-violent criminal organisations like ISIL and Boko Haram will sooner or later be brought to an end; but the crimes of actual states, governments and state institutions across the world are frequently swept aside or hidden, never to be addressed.

Human Rights Watch  director Kenneth Roth argues that human rights violations were in fact fuelling the rise of groups like ISIL, Boko Haram and others, in the first place. The several hundred page report can be read here.

As for countries that systematically engage in state-sponsored executions of its own citizens, the United States ranks within the top five worst offending nations in the world on a yearly basis, led by the state of Texas. However, Amnesty International  reports that China puts more people to death than the rest of the world combined, including even Saudi Arabia and Iran.

___________________

2014, various observers have acknowledged, was an abysmal year for human rights across the world, and 2015 has almost certainly been worse; it has, in fact, been an abyssal year for human beings and human dignity, with a perceived diminishing of compassion and brotherhood, exemplified in many ways by the very mixed response to the refugee crisis and the thousands of people who’ve drowned in the Mediterranean. As someone who grew up in the 80s and 90s, I am astonished that I have witnessed society in general go from a position of apparent progress to a post 9/11 downward spiral in which illegal wars, manufactured terrorism, and corporate excesses have wrecked several countries, caused an enormous amount of death and destruction, unleashed sectarian, ultra-violent conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, and led to a reversion to tribal, racial attitudes in Europe and the West.

And I say ‘post 9/11’, because 9/11 is where much of it seemed to have all accelerated. Illegal wars of aggression in the Middle East haven’t just destabilised that part of the world, but Europe too; and along with this, the quality of human life and dignity has diminished massively, along with a diminishing of general compassion and humanity. This is to the extent that desperate refugees drowning at sea can be openly demonised as ‘the enemy’ by many Europeans and Americans who, even 10 years ago, would’ve felt utterly ashamed to take such a position. In all of this context, it is no surprise that human rights and human quality of life are suffering in much of the world; perversely, even human rights in the civilised, developed nations of the West are in danger of being jeopardised or diminished in the coming years.

The issue, to be clear, is not that countries like the United States are among the worst human rights offenders: the opposite is the case, and the U.S, like most developed, Western nations, is nothing like the worst offender – there are far, far worse offenders all over the world, compared to whom the United States is virtually Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek Federation. The issue I’m raising is that when the U.S and other high-minded, democratic nations become dens of utter hypocrisy and dirty-dealing, the equation worsens all across the world, dragging everyone down instead of raising everyone up.

burningbloggerofbedlam-occupy-parliament-protesters-forcefully-evicted--london_6049877

The issue, as demonstrated here, is not that the laws, precedents and ideals don’t exist in international law to protect human rights and freedoms, it’s that the hypocrisy, double standards, double dealings, secret or corporate agendas and special interests make it impossible for those laws or those ideals to be honoured or implemented fully or even effectively. When you have high-minded, sophisticated nations talking the talk on human rights and accountability in one breath and then in the other breath aiding and abetting a total dictatorship like Saudi Arabia to oppress its own people or to wage illegal war on a neighbouring population, the entire moral equation falls apart and the world begins to spiral slowly towards a Wild West type scenario where every one is out for themselves and the law of the gun replaces common law.

As far as the violation of human rights on a global scale is concerned, it seems illogical to think that these widespread abuses will ever be dealt with or eliminated until a radical change in the official world-view or mainstream narrative occurs; in other words, until the secret and unofficial operations of covert powers and agencies are formally addressed and until the truth emerges concerning double-dealings, the propping up of repressive, immoral regimes, the funding of proxy militias and terrorists, the crimes of the arms trade and military-industrial complex and so on.

The United Nations, meanwhile, has become an increasingly impotent institution, just as Gaddafi said it was and just as he quickly found out to his cost. A restructuring of the outdated UN is sorely in need. Otherwise, as Gaddafi said in 2009, “we will all become sacrifices and every year it will be the turn of someone.”

There needs to be a total shift in the official narrative and official paradigm, because those official paradigms and narratives are false and do not reflect reality.

Criminal offices and institutions need to be properly exposed and held to account for their actions: and it shouldn’t matter whether those criminals are in Beijing, Tehran, Washington or Damascus – they should all be equal before international law. Until the narrative shifts to accommodate that kind of genuine, real justice and accountability, the cause of human rights and human dignity won’t be furthered or improved.

__________________

Finally, these are some extracts from Eleanor Roosevelt’s 1948 speech in Paris, called ‘The Struggle For Human Rights’, which are as relevant now as they were decades ago. “We must not be confused about what freedom is. Basic human rights are simple and easily understood: freedom of speech and a free press; freedom of religion and worship; freedom of assembly and the right of petition; the right of men to be secure in their homes and free from unreasonable search and seizure and from arbitrary arrest and punishment. We must not be deluded by the efforts of the forces of reaction to prostitute the great words of our free tradition and thereby to confuse the struggle. Democracy, freedom, human rights have come to have a definite meaning to the people of the world which we must not allow any nation to so change that they are made synonymous with suppression and dictatorship.”

“People who continue to be denied the respect to which they are entitled as human beings will not acquiesce forever in such denial. The Charter of the United Nations is a guiding beacon along the way to the achievement of human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the world. The immediate test is not only to the extent to which human rights and freedoms have already been achieved, but the direction in which the world is moving. Is there a faithful compliance with the objectives of the Charter if some countries continue to curtail human rights and freedoms instead of to promote the universal respect for an observance of human rights and freedoms for all as called for by the Charter?”

“The future must see the broadening of human rights throughout the world. People who have glimpsed freedom will never be content until they have secured it for themselves…”

refugees-child-budapest_KeletiRailwayStation_ap

Fully Exposing the Racist Lies/Propaganda of the REFUGEE CRISIS in 15 Easy Points…

TURKEY130628

Turkey’s Crisis: The Ankara Attacks, the ‘Kurdish Problem’ & the All-Purpose ISIL Monster…

Posted in Middle East, Politics, WorldComments Off on The Global State of HUMAN RIGHTS in 2015: And Why the Narrative Needs to Change

Ghassan and Oday Abu Jamal: The Red Eagles of Palestine

NOVANEWS

Ghassan and Oday Abu Jamal’s grave in Sawahreh © Reham Alhelsi

Ghassan and Oday Abu Jamal’s grave in Sawahreh © Reham Alhelsi

Ghassan Kanafani once said: “Eagles don’t care where they die” … for all of Palestine is theirs: her fertile land, her blue sky, her calm water. All of Palestine is theirs from the River to the Sea, from Jerusalem to Gaza to Safad, and from Ras Il Naqura to Im Il-Rishrash. Palestinian eagles decorate the sky of Palestine; they rise every morning with the first light to safeguard the sacred home, mark the path towards the free horizon with their blood, and paint the sky a reflection of a homeland eternal and undividable.

Ghassan and Oday Abu Jamal are two Palestinian eagles… they chose freedom over slavery, chose resistance over subjugation, chose action over apathy… they now roam the sky over Jerusalem Al-Quds…. two red eagles watching over Palestine, protecting Al-Aqsa… they are the guardians of Jerusalem Al-Quds, joining Mohammad, Mu’taz, Ibrahim, Abdel Rahman, Mahmoud, Mustafa, Hanadi and thousands others before them…. and joined by Ala’, Diya’, Mohannad, Fadi, Mu’taz, Bayan, Iyad, Fadel, Dania, Iyad, Mohammad, Ra’ed, Fadel, Amjad, Ihab and many more others after them who gave their lives freely so Jerusalem Al-Quds can live, so Jerusalem Al-Quds can remain as it should be: Palestinian: from Sawahreh, Abu Dees and Izariyyeh to Beit Mahsir, Deir Rafat and Sar’a, from Rafat, Beit Diqqo and Beit Inan to Jrash, Beit Itab and Deiraban.

Ghassan and Oday Abu Jamal’s grave in Sawahreh © Reham Alhelsi

Ghassan and Oday Abu Jamal’s grave in Sawahreh © Reham Alhelsi

They wanted to “banish” you from your hometown, “exile” you from Jerusalem Al-Quds, they wanted to deny you your birthright and the collective birthright of every Palestinian, they wanted to deny you a burial with your ancestors, and separate you from your loved ones…..
Instead your roots go deep into the land and surpass the Zionist barrier and the military checkpoint … you re-connected east and west Sawahreh, removed the fake barrier placed within your hometown by the Zionists, united every village and every neighbourhood in Jerusalem Al-Quds, showed them that Jerusalem Al-Quds is truly one and undivided, sacred and beloved, unforgotten, Palestinian… Your final resting place overlooks the valleys and hills of Jerusalem Al-Quds, overlooks your parents’ houses, the houses you grew up in, where you learnt the love of Palestine… your final resting place overlooks the streets where you ran as children, where you played football and flew kites in the spring. In this final resting place, on a hill overlooking Jerusalem Al-Quds, overlooking where the freedom fighters once stood to defend Jerusalem Al-Quds in 1948 and in 1967, you yourselves often stood, watched the city with its golden dome fading amongst the colonial fog, watched Al-Aqsa stand alone in the face of the invaders, and watched your beloved city defaced with a colonial cancer, eating away her beauty and painfully erasing her features. In this final resting place, overlooking the landscape of your hometown, you watch over us, over your children and siblings… you watch us bake bread in the morning, drink coffee and read the daily newspaper, you watch us go to work, to classes or the market place, open our shops in the Old City and in Salah Iddin Street, sit at the steps of Damascus Gate, you watch us defy the occupation with every breath we take, you hear us defy the oppressors with songs of promised freedom, longing and long-awaited return…. you watch your children and siblings play, run through the streets as you once did, race to the house after a long school day as you once did, play football and fly a kite in the spring…. you watch young and old, men and women, from the Old City to Issawiyye, from Al-Mukabbir to Silwan rise up as one, shake the ground under the feet of the occupiers, declare that Jerusalem Al-Quds refuses to be anything but Palestinian, anything but the beating heart of Palestine. In your final resting place, you are not alone, you have as comrades and companions heroes like yourselves… resistance fighters like you, your townsmen who grew up in Sawahreh and loved to sit up the hill and watch the sunset over Al-Aqsa and the Old City of Jerusalem Al-Quds … you marched in their Palestinian wedding, where proud of their heroism, carried them to their final resting place… and today, you join them… you rest your bodies among the red poppies, handover your guns to your comrades and lie on the hill overlooking Jerusalem Al-Quds…

In your final resting place, you returned to your homeland, you became one with Palestine.

Funerals for Ghassan and Oday Abu Jamal © google

Funerals for Ghassan and Oday Abu Jamal © google

They wanted you to be buried in the cold, in the middle of the night, under the cover of darkness… they wanted you to be taken to your final burial place with no companion or comrade, alone, forgotten….

Instead you received a Palestinian wedding fit for heroes; despite the cold, they left their warm beds and they came; despite the late hours, they left the comfort of their homes and they came. The mosques declared your wedding with an Eid calling… a celebration only worthy of the eagles of Palestine. They came, young and old, they came from near and far, they came the minute they heard the call. They gathered on either side of the Zionist barrier separating Sawahreh from Sawahreh, they came to celebrate your wedding, to celebrate your heroism, to celebrate you… they came to accompany you on your final journey towards the land you love, to hand you over to the land you sacrificed your lives for, to implant you in the beloved land so you may become one with the hand. They wrapped you in the Palestinian flag, the red kuffiyeh embracing you… and as they carried you on their shoulders, hands raced to touch you, to have the honour of carrying you on your journey to be one with the land you so much cherished… All hands trying to reach you, touch your faces as if wanting blessing from you, as if your touch was a spell that will grant them a place near you, a spell that will lead them on the same path, a spell that will direct them towards liberation and freedom. As they marched, your spirits guiding them, you lit the darkness of the night, and spread warmth in the heart of the storm… the Palestinian flag rose high in your wedding, above the heads of your family members, friends and comrades… it was the lighthouse that shone in the darkness and led the way. They were all proud of you, your fathers held back the tears, your siblings chanted your name, your comrades swore to continue on your path… and Ghassan, you son kissed your forehead, the forehead of a hero, looked at your face one final time: he will always remember you as you always were; the kind eyes that shone and the smile that never ceased… but he will also remember this moment, he will remember how they distorted the kind face, how they smashed the smile and how they burned those eyes… he will always remember what they did to you, he will never forget …

You are never alone, for you have been planted in the hearts of every Palestinian.

Mural in Dheisheh refugee camp of Ghassan and Oday Abu Jamal © Reham Alhelsi

Mural in Dheisheh refugee camp of Ghassan and Oday Abu Jamal © Reham Alhelsi

They kept you captive for 36 days, thinking people will forget you…. They wanted to punish you further by punishing you family, by holding you captive, by denying your families a final farewell, by threatening your families with nameless graves in a nameless spot, by threatening to demolish your homes and to revoke your families’ residency right in their hometown… They wanted to “make an example” out of you, to collectively punish your family, to collectively punish your hometown, to scare others, to extinguish the flame of revolution, to kill the resistance, to kill the spirit of every Jerusalemite…

Instead, your names were written on every wall and in every book, your faces became symbols of resistance and courage, your heroism was celebrated from Ras Al-Naqura to Rafah and from Ariha to Yaffa…. Your children became the children of Palestine, your house is the house of every Palestinian… despite the pain of departure, you were celebrated, and received a Palestinian wedding only fit for you… Your final resting place became a place of pilgrimage, a temple for those who believe that resistance alone will liberate Palestine, resistance alone will bring justice and resistance alone is our promise to all the martyrs of Palestine… Your children became our children, and your parents our parents… Your home is all of Palestine, every stone has your names engraved on it, every tree has your names carved on it, every valley whispers your names and every hill shouts it with every dawn and every sunrise. They wanted you to become nameless, and you became the name of every one of us. Their threats scared no one, and the collective punishment of your families only contributed to exposing their racism and their flagrant violation of human rights; the collective kidnapping and detention of your elders, the brutal beating of your siblings while held illegally in interrogation cells, the wanton destruction of your properties, aimed at pressuring your family members into denouncing you, denouncing your heroism… instead, your heroism was celebrated; your heroism ignited the revolution and strengthened the belief in the inevitability of liberation… your sacrifice revived our spirits and restored our belief in the armed struggle towards total liberation… you showed us that our weapon is mightier than their might, our weapon is more powerful than all their combined power, you showed them that weapon is our just cause, our weapon is our love of Palestine… it leads the way and guides us through every stage of the struggle towards the freedom of the land and the people. You proved to us that we are mightier than their highly sophisticated weaponry, that a fully armed army is no equal to a Palestinian child holding a stone in the hand, that F16 and drones and warships are no equal to the sling of a Palestinian youth, that phosphorous bombs and merkavas are no equal to a Palestinian freedom fighter’s Kalashnikov and knife… you proved to us that resistance is the one and only way to regain our freedom and liberation our land…
A thousand homes will be built for you from Im Al-Rashrash to Ras Il-Naqura and a thousand Ghassan and Oady will rise every day to remind the oppressor that resistance is our salvation.

Posters of Ghassan and Oday Abu Jamal in a march in Gaza © pflp.ps

Posters of Ghassan and Oday Abu Jamal in a march in Gaza ©pflp.ps

They named you “terrorists” …. The Zionist and their Arab slaves called you “terrorists”, they wanted the world to denounce you, wanted the supporters of Palestine to denounce you, wanted the Palestinians to denounce you, wanted your families to denounce you….
They named you “terrorists” for loving your homeland and for defending your birthplace, and named the usurpers of your land the “victims”. They mourned those who came from faraway lands to claim your home theirs, when it is the morality of the world that should be mourned for its silence over the crimes committed by the usurpers of Palestine. They doubted your humanity to justify executing you extra-judicially, when it is the humanity of the world that is to be doubted since the day it allowed the creation a terrorist entity in the heart of Palestine. They executed you in cold blood; 33 bullets to silence you Ghassan and 17 bullets to silence you Oday
Instead, your names were celebrated everywhere…. You were named heroes by your people, Palestine embraced you and welcomed you, your comrades carried you with pride…. You became Palestine. Your voice reached every corner of Palestine and beyond, your message was heard by those near and those faraway, and your chosen path is a pilgrimage for Palestine. They accused you of everything that they are and you are not; they accused you of being a “terrorist”, when it is they who stole our land and claimed it their own… it is they who come from every foreign country, continent and planet to colonize our land… it is they who ethnically cleansed our homeland and forcefully expelling our people out of their homes… it is they who created a fake entity built on the pillars of racism, exclusion, hate and terror…. It is they who created a “nation” based on the religious belonging and called it an ethnicity… it is they who kill us, demolish our homes and imprison us every single day, it is they who plant and spread hate and terror with every breath they take, with every word they utter, with every move they make. They called you fanatics, when it is they who demolish our holy places, create discos where worshippers once knelt in prayer, build intolerance museums where generations of Palestinians are laid for their final rest, build wineries where mosques once stood tall… it is they who demolish, vandalize and burn houses of worship, deface Muslim and Christian graves… it is they who besieged the Nativity Church, the birth place of Jesus Christ… it is they who divided the Ibrahimi Mosque after massacring peaceful worshipers… it is they who want to destroy Al-Aqsa Mosques to uproot Palestinian existence in occupied Jerusalem Al-Quds… it is they who prevent worshippers from reaching their holy sites… it is they who steal other religion’s holy places and claim them for themselves to create a fake history to fit their lies.

And here a word to Arab Zionists; to those “Arabs” and “Palestinians” who claimed “moral superiority”, to all those who called you “terrorists”, to all those who sympathized with your killers, sent them condolences and ignored the millions of Palestinians denied their homes, ignored the tens of thousands of Palestinians suffering from the brutality of a most brutal military colonial regime… they ignore the martyrs whose blood did not dry yet, they ignore the maimed and handicapped, they ignore those buried alive in Israeli dungeons… to these Arab Zionists, to those claiming a “higher moral standard” than morality itself: there is no morality in occupation, there is no morality in colonization, there is no morality in stealing one’s land and killing one’s family, demolishing one’s home, they is no morality in denying one’s freedom and then crying “humanity!”.
It is you, Ghassan and Oday, who have a moral superiority over all of us; for you refused to be subjugated, you refused to bow, you refused to turn a blind eye to what is being done to your people, your homeland, your birthright… you refused to accept occupation and colonization, you refused to accept foreigners from far away land stealing your neighbour’s house, killing your countryman’s child, demolishing your cousin’s house, uprooting your friend’s olive trees, you refused to be silent, refused to go on with your daily life and ignore the suffering of your people… you refused to watch Palestine suffer … you acted for your children’s future, for our future, you acted for Palestine….

Poster of Ghassan and Oday Abu Jamal © google

Poster of Ghassan and Oday Abu Jamal © google

Dear Ghassan and Oday, a year has passed. The flame you started has grown into an Intifada. With every passing day, with every passing month and with every passing year; we will carry on the flame, we will continue the struggle, and we will never betray the sacrifices of our comrades. The flowers will blossom again over the hills of occupied Jerusalem Al-Quds, the birds will sing again songs of freedom and the children’s laughter will echo again where you used to run and play. Your comrades will continue to visit you, watch Jerusalem Al-Quds rise majestically over the hills, tell you stories of heroism and courage, and listen to you say: never cease until total liberation… never cease until total liberation. Rest in power with martyrs as your companions; for there is no better companion than the sons and daughters of Palestine who paid the highest price on the road towards liberation and justice.
The great Ghassan Kanafani wrote: “Men’s shoulders were created to carry rifles… either mighty above the ground or bones in it”. Ghassan and Oday Abu Jamal made their choice; on 18.11.2014 they carried their weapons and chose to be eagles ruling over the sky of Palestine, they chose to defend the dignity of every Palestinian, they chose freedom.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on Ghassan and Oday Abu Jamal: The Red Eagles of Palestine

Hope after ‘Heart of Asia Conference’

NOVANEWS

Image result for Heart of Asia Conference’ PHOTO

 

By Sajjad Shaukat

On December 9, this year, the fifth ministerial Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process Conference was

held in Islamabad in which high-level representatives of supporting regional and international

organizations from over 30 countries including especially the US, China and Indian Foreign

Minister Sushma Swaraj participated. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan

President Ashraf Ghani addressed the opening ceremony of the conference.

The participants realized the importance of the conference as an important regional platform

aimed at a stable, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan which was not only in its own interest,

but also vital to peace, stability and prosperity of the ‘Heart of Asia’ region as a whole—it was

collective responsibility to help Afghanistan in combating the challenges it faced.

In the joint declaration, the participants reaffirmed the respect for each other’s sovereignty,

territorial integrity and reiterated their commitment to refrain from the threat or use of force

against each other’s territorial integrity and reaffirmed the objectives, aimed at promoting

regional peace and prosperity and enhanced cooperation for countering security threats

And a series of meetings were held in Islamabad between Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the

US to develop an understanding of the earliest possible resumption of stalled talks between the

Afghan government and Taliban. A trilateral meeting was also held among Pakistan, Afghanistan

and the America. Besides, President Ashraf Ghani, Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj also

met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. In a brief news conference, she said that India and Pakistan

have decided to restart composite dialogue. According to the joint statement, all issues

like Kashmir, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage, economic and commercial cooperation,

counterterrorism, anti-narcotic efforts etc. will be discussed in the comprehensive dialogue.

Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Raheel Sharif also met Afghan President Ghani and ensured full

support for peace and stability in Afghanistan. He stated, ‘We are committed to work together

with Afghanistan on the basis of mutual interest and respect…both the countries should pursue a

strategic relationship that could enhance the security and mutual prosperity.”

President Ghani vowed to work together to eliminate the common threat of terrorism, which

Pakistan and Afghanistan are facing, and emphasized on the need to enhance bilateral relations

between the two countries. Earlier, both the countries acknowledged the need to undertake

confidence-building measures to engender trust and agreed to enhance the continuing Pak-

However, much hope has been created for regional peace after the Heart of Asia Conference.

Question arises about the implementation of the joint declaration. In this regard, there are a

In this respect, in the recent past, cordial relations were established between Pakistan and

Afghanistan when Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had realized that Afghanistan and Pakistan

were facing similar challenges of terrorism and would combat this threat collectively. They also

set up a mechanism to check infiltration of the militants through Pak-Afghan porous border.

While, it is misfortune that on direction of New Delhi and like the former regime of Afghan

President Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s present rulers have also started accusing Pakistan of

cross-border terrorism. In this context, after hours of the Taliban captured Kunduz city, on

September 28, 2015, during his address to the UNO General Assembly, Afghanistan’s chief

executive Abdullah Abdullah blamed Islamabad for carrying out cross-border attacks and

Differences exist between chief executive Abdullah Abdullah and President Ashraf Ghani, as the

former wants cordial relations with New Delhi at the cost of Afghanistan and the latter prefers

Islamabad, because Pak-Afghan stability is interrelated.

It is notable that on December 10, President Ghani accepted the resignation of Rahmatullah

Nabil as director of the Afghan intelligence agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS),

after developing differences of the spymaster with him over Ghani’s move to attend the regional

conference in Islamabad. In his statement, Nabil said President Ghani had asked him to

relinquish charge of the NDS.

In fact, in collusion with Afghanistan’s spy agency NDS, Indian secret agency RAW has well-

established its network in Afghanistan, and is fully assisting cross-border incursions and terror-

activities in various regions of Pakistan through Baloch separatist elements and anti-Pakistan

groups like Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA), Jundullah (God’s soldiers) and Tehreek-e-

Taliban Pakistan (TTP). In this connection, on September 18, this year, the TTP militants

attacked a Pakistan Air Force camp in Badaber area, Peshawar and martyred 29 people including

army personnel. In this regard, Pakistan’s civil and military sources pointed out that those TTP

terrorists came from Afghanistan, having connections with Indian RAW.

On December 13, 25 people were killed in a bomb explosion in Parachinar, headquarters of

Kurram Agency. RAW was behind this subversive act.

Notably, RAW is making efforts to weaken Afghanistan, Tibetan regions of China and Pakistan,

especially Balochistan by arranging the subversive activities, promoting acrimonious sense of

dissent, political volatility, sectarian violence and arousing sentiments of separatism.

It is mentionable that New Delhi which has already invested billion of dollars in Afghanistan,

also signed a wide-ranging strategic agreement with that country on October 5, 2011. And, the

then President Karzai had also signed another agreement with India to obtain Indian arms and

weapons. While, under the cover of these agreements, India has further strengthened its grip in

Afghanistan. By taking advantage of lawlessness in Afghanistan, India is up to its usual tirade to

foment an environment by conducting terrorist attacks in that country to prove that Pakistan is

creating trouble for Afghanistan.

Besides, Prime Minister Sharif and President Ghani also showed their determination that their

countries would cooperate in fighting the threat of ISIS (Daesh). But, RAW agents are well-

penetrated in ISIS and are weakening both Afghanistan and Pakistan through this terror-outfit.

It is worth-motioning that Gen. Raheel accompanied by the DG of ISI went to Kabul on

December 17, 2014. During his meeting with his Afghan counterpart, President Ashraf Ghani

and the ISAF commander, he presented the evidence of linkage between the massacre of children

at Peshawar school and TTP sanctuaries in Afghanistan. He also asked about action against the

TTP and handing over of its chief Mullah Fazlullah to Pakistan.

Nevertheless, Indian desperation in Afghanistan is increasing in the backdrop of growing

engagements of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and US. Therefore, by arranging terror-assaults in

Pakistan and Afghanistan, India is also thwarting the peace process between the Afghan officials

and representatives of Tehreek-e-Taliban Afghanistan, which started in Murree, Pakistan, on July

8, 2015 through a meeting, hosted by Islamabad, and in it, Chinese and American

representatives, also participated. While, the US, China and Pakistan are jointly working to

facilitate the process so as to bring peace both in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the whole

Moreover, New Delhi is also trying to sabotage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

and is targeting growing Pak-China-Afghanistan relations.

Furthermore, on the instruction of the Indian leader of the fundamentalist party BJP and Prime

Minister Narendra Modi, Indian forces have accelerated unprovoked shelling across the Line of

Control and Working Boundary, while creating war-like situation between Pakistan and India.

Meanwhile, Pakistan raised the question of Indian cross-border terrorism and RAW involvement

in Pakistan at the UNO forum, with strong evidence in light of open statements of Indian defence

minister and prime minister who recently confirmed assistance to anti-Pakistan elements

including separation of East Pakistan. Islamabad also raised the issues of Indian cross-border

shelling and human rights violations in the Indian occupied Kashmir.

It is of particular attention that waging a prolonged war in Afghanistan, the US and other NATO

countries have realized that after the withdrawal of foreign troops, Afghanistan would be thrown

in an era of uncertainly and civil war. They realize the fact that there is a co-relationship of

terrorism or stability in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Therefore, US-led developed nations which

also spent billions of dollars for the development of Afghanistan have repeatedly agreed that

without Islamabad’s help, stability cannot be achieved there. Unfortunately, India does not

intend to see peace in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Hence, India is undermining Pak-Afghan

stability by creating unrest, and by sabotaging their cordial relations.

So, the US-led developed countries must also show realistic approach by realizing that unlike

India, Pakistan shares common geographical, historical, religious and cultural bonds with

Afghanistan, while Pak-Afghan stability is inter-related, which is essential for their global and

regional interests. Especially, America must abandon its faulty strategy in this region and double

standard, and must check Indian secret strategy against Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, America,

Russia and other Asian countries. Otherwise, hope created for regional stability at the Heart of

Asia Conference will fail, as in order to obtain its cover aims, India has been destabilizing South

Asian security which is equally essential for American and other major powers’ global interests.

 

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants,

Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

Posted in South AsiaComments Off on Hope after ‘Heart of Asia Conference’

Assad wants to negotiate with Syrians, not with foreign mercenaries

NOVANEWS
RT en FrançaisTranslated from French by Tom Winter

Syria will not negotiate with the terrorists to put an end the conflict on their terms, even if the West tries to present the armed groups as political opponents, said the Syrian president to EFE.

For Bashar Assad, the problem is due to the fact that a large part of armed fighters and terrorist groups in Syria are foreign mercenaries, mercenaries that the United States and its allies in the Persian Gulf region are eager to include in the negotiation process.

Opposition is a political term, not a military one. Thus, the talk about the concept does not mean actuating it, because we have seen that some countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United States, and other Western countries would like certain terrorist groups to participate in negotiations. I.e. they want the Syrian government to negotiate with terrorists. This is something that no country would accept, “said the leader.

At the same time, Assad reaffirmed that his government was still open to negotiations with the real opposition, but stressed that it must first be defined. “An opposition, for every country in the world, does not mean fighters,” he said. The President recalled that Damascus was already engaged in dialogue with certain armed groups, not the organizations, to lay down their weapons in exchange for “the government’s amnesty” and the chance to take up a “normal life.”

“This is the only way to deal with the fighters in Syria. When they want to change their approach, disarm, we are ready, but negotiate with them as a political entity, we categorically refuse to do,” clarified the Syrian leader. The agreement on a peaceful resolution to the crisis, according to Assad, can not be achieved, except by “a true patriotic and political opposition,” which is bound to Syria, “but not to some other state or regime of the world.”

In the government’s fight against extremists, including the Islamic state, al Qaeda and its affiliate the Al-Nusra Front, more than 100 nationalities are included.* For the long term, fighting these jihadist groups requires concentration on the fight against the Wahhabi ideology of the fighters, said Assad.

“This ideology has been instilled into the minds of peoples and society in the Muslim world for decades, by the Wahhabi institutions, with money from Saudi Arabia that was spent to support an ideology that is dark and full of resentment,” he said. For Assad, it is Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which are “most responsible for the Daesh atrocities.”

In the short term, efforts to fight Daesh, according to the Syrian president, must be focused on neutralizing the jihadist supply routes and financing along the Turkish border. “Solving the problem means to stop the inflow of terrorists, most notably through Turkey to Syria and Iraq, and of course halting the money transfers and arms … reaching the terrorists via Turkey,” he continued.

In the interview, Assad also confirmed the authenticity of the data provided by Russia on the Daesh oil smuggling, explaining that the illegally operated oil had no other place to go, if not to Turkey. “Most of the Syria oil fields are located in the northern part of the country. If they want to export to Iraq, it would be impossible because everyone in Iraq is fighting Daesh. In Syria, it is the same. In Lebanon, it’s too far. Jordan to the south is also very far. Thus, the only lifeline for the Islamic state is Turkey. These trucks carry oil from Syria to Turkey and Turkey sells oil cheap to the rest of the planet, “he replied.

Thus, the Syrian leader concluded that if we continue to put pressure on Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, “the conflict will certainly end in less than a year,” seeing as the Syrian army has made impressive progress on the ground. Commenting on the Russian air campaign the terrorists in Syria, Assad attributed the success to the coordination with the Syrian forces on the ground. He also explained why Washington has failed to deliver a similar result. “We must fight Daesh on the ground, and that’s why since the Russians came and began participating in the war against terrorism, the successes recorded by the joint Russian and Syrian forces after just a few weeks were more than those of the allies after more than a year of bombing,” he said.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Assad wants to negotiate with Syrians, not with foreign mercenaries

President Assad interviewed by Czech TV ”VIDEO”

NOVANEWS

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem;Sr

Bashar Hafez al-Assad (Arabic: بشار حافظ الأسد‎ Baššār Ḥāfiẓ al-ʾAsadAbout this sound pronunciation (help·info) Levantine pronunciation: [baʃˈʃaːr ˈħaːfezˤ elˈʔasad]; born 11 September 1965)  is the President of Syriacommander-in-chief of the Syrian Armed Forces, General Secretary of the ruling Ba’ath Party and Regional Secretary of the party’s branch in Syria. In 2000 he succeeded Hafez al-Assad, his father, who had led Syria for 30 years until his death. He was confirmed by the Syrian electorate twice in 2000 and 2007.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on President Assad interviewed by Czech TV ”VIDEO”

Developing Politics’s

NOVANEWS
Developing Politics's photo.

Inclusive Growth and its Application on Rural and Urban Development in India by Nhan “Nathan” Tri Tran

I. Introduction

When we mention about sustainable development in South Asia, India is one of the earliest countries that applied it into their development scheme. In respect and abide to the Millennium Goals of the United Nations (UN), India set their national plan to focus on sustainable development by greening their economic structure and by applying inclusive growth to link the development between rural and urban areas.

But it has not been a successful and flawless progress due to the failure of the institution framework to integrate and allocate resources and technologies that lead to both failure in urban development and disparities of growth in India. The content of this paper will be dedicated to examine India urban and rural development in respect to the inclusive growth to point out their success and flaws in both sectors and the trend of disparity of wealth. This paper will also provide some recommendation for improvement.

II. Overview of India Inclusive Growth

a. Inclusive Growth in India

Rural and urban areas are two interdependent factors in a country economic, political and social structure. Inclusive growth aims to bind the urban and rural livelihood and resources together to create a united development body that prosper the country. The main purposes are to relocate technologies, intellectual workforces and capital from urban areas to rural areas in exchange for its resources and labors to bring equal opportunities, development and benefit for both (Inclusvie Growth).

Therefore, governments and states should not treat urban and rural areas as too distinctive bodies. Because urban areas can as a rural areas’ main market and producer, rural sector can act as a buffer zone to partly absorb the macroeconomic affects/crisis for the urban areas (Rural China – Transition and Development, 1999). However, the application is another story as many developing countries have done the exact opposite. They concentrated countries’ resources and development projects into the urban areas, which consequently create a vacuum of capital and labor that widen the development gap between urban and rural areas. As the result of this, the poverty will continue to increase and the disparities of wealth will continue to expand (Fan, Chan-Kang, & Mukherjee, 2005).

And India is somewhat following this path. This is the reason why, even though India applied for inclusive growth since 2006 and the new administration lead by President Modi since May 2014 announced some potential development policies and initiatives that brought forth some short term successes, India is still rank 71 out of 144 countries in the Global Competitiveness Index 2015 (GCI) with a third of the population lives under extreme poverty and the urbanization ratio is only 32% (The Future of Urban Development & Services: Urban Development Recommendations for the Government of India, 2015). An overview of India urban development and rural development will be provided below to help gaining in-depth understanding of the current circumstances.

b. India Urban Development

The urban development in India leads by President Modi, High Powered of Expert Committee (HPEC), the Ministry of Urban Development (Minister Venkaiah Naidu) and the Central Bank of India. It has been included and highlight in India Fifth Year Plan since 2010 with focus on the upgrade of urban infrastructure and services. India also create a lot of legal framework, institution, guideline and mechanism to conduct it. And the budget for urban development projects keeps increasing by $20 billion annually with an estimation of $640.3 billion needed till 2030 for maintaining and renewing urban infrastructure and services to boost economic growth (The Future of Urban Development & Services: Urban Development Recommendations for the Government of India, 2015).

India urban development focus on eight major sectors of urban development (roads, transport, traffic support, street lighting, water supply, sewerage, storm water drains and solid waste management), the elimination/the improvement of the slum area, and the efficiency of urban service. Typical example can be found in Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), which state, governmental agencies and urban development team work together since 2005 to encourage fast track development in India or in Clean India Mission (SBM), which improve the urban waste management and enhance people awareness about public health and environment (The Future of Urban Development & Services: Urban Development Recommendations for the Government of India, 2015).

Besides, India sets up 5 industrial corridors surrounding the country in order to modernize and industrialize the country (Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), Chennai-Bangalore Industrial Corridor, Mumbai-Bangalore Economic Corridor, Amritsar-Delhi-Kolkata Industrial Corridor (ADKIC) and Vizag–Chennai Industrial Corridor). And President Modi recently signed partnership with Japan to establish/renovate current cities into “100 smart cities” across India with focus on improving mobility, energy efficiency, urban services, living standard and ICT (information and communication technologies) (What is Smart City?, 2015)

c. India Rural Development

The rural development in India leads by President Modi, High Powered of Expert Committee (HPEC), the Ministry of Rural Development (Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh) and the Central Bank of India. It has been included and highlight in India Fifth Year Plan since 2010 with focus on the upgrade of rural livelihood, rural housing, job training and job opportunities, and the allocation of budget. India also create a lot of legal framework, institution, guideline and mechanism to conduct it. And the budget for rural development projects keeps increasing by $7 billion annually with an estimation of $10.9 billion needed for the year of 2016 to invest in rural employment, rural housing, irrigation system and disaster prevention (Annual Report 2014-2015, 2014).

Typical example can be found in Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (GNREGA) where they provide guarantee wage employment to 576,000 people to help promote rural livelihood and security since 2005 or in Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Rurban Mission where they improve the living condition and the quality of life in rural villages (Annual Report 2014-2015, 2014). Besides, they successfully manage to shift 36% of the rural employment from farm-sector to non-farm sector (manufacturing, construction, trade, hotels and restaurants and transport).

III. India Development Challenges

Despite the claim of applying inclusive growth in the Twelfth Five Year Plan (2012 – 2017), there are very few projects or linkage between urban and rural development in India. There is a significant gap between the amount of budget for urban and rural development as showed above. And it will create a lot of social and economic problems if India does not change it strategy and planning soon.

Common challenges that can be found is the overwhelming of India mega cities and the high poverty rate of rural areas. The Indian urban population is rank second in the world in term of size, from 222 million (26% of the population) in 1990 to 410 million (32% of the population) in 2014, but the urbanization ratio still remains considerably low with only 32% compared to other countries (The Future of Urban Development & Services: Urban Development Recommendations for the Government of India, 2015). However, with the declining from 79% in 1960 to 42% of population residing in the rural village (Annual Report 2014-2015, 2014), India is witnessing a trend of rural people migrates to urban areas that will further overwhelm the urban areas of India. Besides, it is very difficult for urban people to afford housing and serviced land, to access to urban services such as transit system, road networks, health care, etc. and to start-up or grow a business. The reason behind it are the complicated bureaucracy system, the lack of stable and standard urban services and the opaque financial policies. While urban areas is overwhelming with migrants and downgrade in urban services, one third of the rural areas population still lives under extreme poverty (Annual Report 2014-2015, 2014).

It is worth noticing that India manages to reduce poverty by 2.9% annually in rural areas and 5.2% in urban areas (Annual Report 2014-2015, 2014), the poverty rate is still remain high with increasingly reported rate on Schedule Tribe (42%) and Schedule Castes (31%). This shows the high rate of inequality in social classes still happen and this combines with the concentrated resources into urban areas are the main reason why India social disparities are increasing by 7% among states and the rural – urban inequality is widening by 2% annually (India Rural Development Report 2012 – 2013, 2013)

IV. Conclusion and India Development Recommendation

Even though India has initiated a lot of frameworks and projects for their urban and rural development in order to achieve inclusive growth, the outcome is not on par with the money and efforts that they have invested. The Indian government usually reports managerial, financial and technical constrains as main challenges of their urban and rural development projects. But, the real reasons behind these challenges can be contributed to the complicated and the inefficient bureaucracy and development institutions, to the wrong policy of focusing resource in urban areas rather than whole areas, to the fail to integrated spatial planning at all level across India and to the lack of effective monitoring and controlling system. With the new administration under Prime Minister Modi and a more inclusive development projects to achieve low carbon economy and inclusive growth, hopefully India will be able to bridge their urban and rural development to prosper their country.

References

Annual Report 2014-2015. (2014, December 3). Retrieved from Ministry of Rural Development – India: http://rural.nic.in/…/ann…/Annual_Report_2014_15_English.pdf

Fan, S., Chan-Kang, C., & Mukherjee, A. (2005, August). Rural and Urban Dynamics and Poverty: Evidence from China and India. Retrieved from Research in Agricultural and Applied Economics: http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/59598/2/fcndp196.pdf

Inclusvie Growth. (n.d.). Retrieved from Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development: http://www.oecd.org/inclusive-growth/

India Rural Development Report 2012 – 2013. (2013). Retrieved from IDFC Rural Development Network: http://orientblackswan.com/…/9788125053927/content/irdr%20f…

Rural China – Transition and Development. (1999, May 28). Retrieved from Rural Development and Natural Resources Unit – World Bank: http://www-wds.worldbank.org/…/…/Rendered/PDF/multi_page.pdf

The Future of Urban Development & Services: Urban Development Recommendations for the Government of India. (2015, April). Retrieved from World Economic Forum: http://www3.weforum.org/…/WEF_IU_FUDS_Urban_Development_Rec…

What is Smart City? (2015). Retrieved from India Smart Cities Challenges: http://www.smartcitieschallenge.in/what-is-a-smart-city

Posted in IndiaComments Off on Developing Politics’s

Shoah’s pages

www.shoah.org.uk

KEEP SHOAH UP AND RUNNING

December 2015
M T W T F S S
« Nov   Jan »
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031