Archive | October 25th, 2016

BRICS: Building Solidarities for Social, Economic and Environmental Justice

NOVANEWS

Goa Declaration of the People’s Forum on BRICS

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The People’s Forum met from 13-14 October 2016, ahead of the BRICS 2016 heads-of-state summit which was hosted in India at a time when humanity and the planet face severe, overlapping crises that were analysed in our Forum.

Global Research brings to the attention of its readers this important declaration of the People’s Forum on BRICS held in Goa, India, 14 October 2016.  

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Building Solidarities for Social, Economic and Environmental Justice:  
Goa Declaration of the People’s Forum on BRICS 
Alto Porvorim, Goa, India 
14 October 2016

·         democracy is under threat, as the illegitimate Brazilian ‘President’ Michel Temer’s presence reminds us, along with attacks on democratic space in the other BRICS;

·             state repression is rising, such as in India where movements’ dissent is met with brutal repression, and in South Africa where university students have been brutally victimised by local police in recent days;  

·             ecological destruction is widespread, with catastrophic rates of species loss, pollution of land and air, freshwater and ocean degradation, and public health threats rising, to which no BRICS country is immune;

·             in particular, climate change is already having disastrous effects –for example, in India and Southern Africa where large regions face extreme drought – with no relief expected from the Paris COP21 agreement in which negotiators regrettably agreed to non-binding commitments that benefit mainly the North and the BRICS corporations;

·             the world economy is teetering on the brink of a financial meltdown, reflected in the chaos that several BRICS’ stock and currency markets have been facing, as well as in our countries’ vulnerability to crisis-contagion if major European banks soon fail in a manner similar to the US-catalysed meltdown in 2008-09;

·             the longer-term crisis of capitalism is evident in the marked slowdown in international trade and in declining global profit rates, especially evident in the three BRICS countries (South Africa, Russia and Brazil) which have negative or negligible GDP growth;

·             in addition to commodity crashes, one cause of the economic crisis is the deregulatory, neoliberal philosophy adopted by BRICS governments, which puts corporate property rights above human and environmental rights; in the guise of development

·             in the World Trade Organisation, BRICS’ contributions to negotiations were disastrous in the latest round, where food sovereignty was lost because India and Brazil joined the US and EU to reinforce liberalisation;

·             the new generation of Bilateral Trade and Investment Treaties will potentially have adverse impacts on lives and livelihoods of people across the BRICS and their hinterlands, and need complete rethinking.

·             the world’s workers are losing rights, farmers are suffering to the point of suicide,and labour casualisation is rampant in all our countries, with the result that BRICS workers are engaged in regular protest, including the strike by 180 million Indian workers which inspired the world on 2 September 2016;

·             on the social front, the threat to our already-inadequate welfare policies is serious, especially in Brazil’s coup regime but also across the BRICS where inadequate social policies are  driving people on the margins to destitution;

·             the commodification and privatisation of public services is causing misery, such as in South Africa where university students are fighting hard for a fee-free, decolonised tertiary education;

·             patriarchy and sexual violence, racism, communalism, caste discrimination, xenophobia and homophobia run rampant in all the BRICS, and because these forces serve our leaders’ interests, they are not addressing the structural causes, perpetuating divide-and-rule politics, and failing to dissuade ordinary people from contributing to oppression;

·             unsustainable energy options such as nuclear power and large infrastructure projects are being undemocratically pushed in BRICS countries. The spirited resistance from peoples movements is being met with brutal repression of those fighting against land appropriation, loss of livelihoods and environmental and health hazards

·             the destructive arms trade is rampant in the BRICS, such as India’s with Israel, or South Africa’s notorious corrupting arms deal with Northern firms; and

·             the whole world is concerned about geopolitical tensions in West Asia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Haiti.

Everywhere that people’s movements have made alternative demands – such as democracy, peace, poverty eradication, sustainable development, equality, fair trade, climate justice – the elites have co-opted our language and distorted our visions beyond recognition. Many of our leaders are hopelessly corrupt, and so while BRICS spin-doctors claim that their work in Goa will “build responsive, inclusive and collective solutions,” we have spent two days looking beyond the pleasing rhetoric and have found a very different, harsh reality.

While we criticise the way world power is created and exercised, the BRICS leaders appear to simply want power sharing and a seat at the high table. For example, the BRICS New Development Bank is working hand-in-glove with the World Bank; the Contingent Reserve Arrangement empowers the International Monetary Fund; and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank serves mainly corporate interests – and all these financial institutions, despite their rhetoric of transformation, are opaque and untransparent to people in BRICS countries, with no accountability mechanisms or space for meaningful participation by our movements

Whether or not these crises are resolved in coming decades, or degenerate into full-blown catastrophes, the BRICS governments and peoples will be central to most, if not all. The need for our popular movements to focus on how the BRICS as a bloc contribute to these global problems or could address these, and to combine our forces across borders, is the reason the People’s Forum was convened.

Building on the work of prior meetings of progressive movements in Durban (2013) and Fortaleza (2014), the Goa BRICS People’s Forum brought together more than 500 representatives of movements from numerous countries in two plenaries, 14 workshops and countless informal collaborations, apart from 8 workshops in the run up in the host State of Goa and in Delhi.

We heard testimonies confirming that the BRICS countries and corporations are reinforcing the dominant neoliberal, extractivist paradigm. Negative trends in the areas of global and local politics, and on issues of economics, environment, development, peace, conflict and aggressive nationalism, or social prejudice based on gender, race, caste, sexual orientation are not being reversed by the BRICS, but instead are often exacerbated. The BRICS speak of offering strong alternatives to the unfair North-dominated regimes of trade, finance, investment and property rights, climate governance, and other multilateral regimes. But on examination, we find these claims unconvincing.

Consider the way the BRICS leaders bulldozed their way into Goa. The summit was thrust on our society, the environment was damaged during road-widening, fisherfolk were prevented from pursuing their livelihood during the summit and ordinary people who make a living along the roadside have been displaced – to give the visitors a false impression of our state. Tibetans who wanted to raise the status of Tibet with China were arrested and imprisoned.

We have raised constructive critiques of BRICS in our plenaries and workshops. But beyond the analysis, we understand that only people’s power and activism, across borders, can make change. Some of our most successful struggles – such as access to life-savings medicines or ending apartheid – required and were strengthened by international solidarity. This Forum found many routes forward for cross-cutting BRICS internationalism on various issues.

We recognise the need for a just solution to the Syrian crisis in accordance with the principles of international law, and condemn the US-backed aggression and the Pentagon/NATO doctrine of regime change. We reaffirm our solidarity with the Palestinian struggle against colonialismand occupation, and we endorse Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions against apartheid Israel, including opposition to Israel’s attempted export of its unsustainable water and agricultural technologies to BRICS countries.

We intend to win our demands for social, economic and environmental justice. The victories we have won already on multiple fronts – such as halting numerous multinational corporations’ exploitation, gaining access to essential state services, occupying land and creating agricultural cooperatives,  and generating more humane values in our societies – give us momentum and optimism.

In 2017 and beyond, the BRICS People’s Forum will reconvene, and redouble our efforts with new-found allies and united transcontinental movements in solidarity and struggle from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

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Washington’s ‘Pivot to Asia’: A Debacle Unfolding

NOVANEWS
 
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In 2012 President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter launched a new chapter in their quest for global dominance:  a realignment of policies designed to shift priorities from the Middle East to Asia.  Dubbed the ‘Pivot to Asia’, it suggested that the US would concentrate its economic, military and diplomatic resources toward strengthening its dominant position and undercutting China’s rising influence in the region.

The ‘pivot to Asia’ did not shift existing resources from the Middle East, it added military commitments to the region, while provoking more conflicts with Russia and China.

The “pivot to Asia” meant that the US was extending and deepening its regional military alliances in order to confront and encircle Russia and China.  The goal would be to cripple their economies and foster social unrest leading to political instability and regime change.

The US onslaught for greater empire depended on the cooperation of proxies and allies to accomplish its strategic goals.

The so-called ‘pivot to Asia’ had a two-pronged approach, based on an economic trading pact and various military treaty agreements.  The entire US strategy of retaining global supremacy depended on securing and enhancing its control over its regional allies and proxies.  Failure of the Obama regime to retain Washington’s vassal states would accelerate its decline and encourage more desperate political maneuvers.

Strategic Military Posturing

Without a doubt, every military decision and action made by the Obama Administration with regard to the Asia-Pacific Region has had only one purpose – to weaken China’s defense capabilities, undermine its economy and force Beijing to submit to Washington’s domination.

In pursuit of military supremacy, Washington has installed an advanced missile system in South Korea, increased its air and maritime armada and expanded its provocative activities along China’s coastline and its vital maritime trade routes.  Washington has embarked on a military base expansion campaign in Australia, Japan and the Philippines.

This explains why Washington pressured its client regime in Manila under the former President ‘Nonoy’ Aquino, Jr., to bring its territorial dispute with China over the Spratly Islands before a relatively obscure tribunal in Holland.  The European ruling, unsurprisingly in favor of Manila, would provide the US with a ‘legal’ cover for its planned aggression against China in the South China Sea.  The Spratly and Paracel Islands are mostly barren coral islands and shoals located within the world’s busiest shipping trade routes, explaining China’s (both Beijing and Taipei) refusal to recognize the ‘Court of Special Arbitration’.

Strategic Economic Intervention: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

The US authored and promoted Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) is a trade and investment agreement covering 12 Pacific countries designed to ensure US regional dominance while deliberately cutting out China.  The TPP was to be the linchpin of US efforts to promote profits for overseas US multi-nationals by undercutting the rules for domestic producers, labor laws for workers and environmental regulations for consumers.  As a result of its unpopular domestic provisions, which had alienated US workers and consumers, the electorate forced both Presidential candidates to withdraw their support for the TPP – what one scribbler for the Financial Times denounced as “the dangers of popular democracy”.  The Washington empire builders envisioned the TPP as a tool for dictating and enforcing their ‘rules’ on a captive Asia-Pacific trading system.  From the perspective of US big business, the TPP was the instrument of choice for retaining supremacy in Asia by excluding China.

The Eclipse of Washington’s “Asian Century”

For over seventy years the US has dominated Asia, ravaging the continent with two major wars  in Korea and Indo-China with millions of casualties, and multiple counter-insurgency interventions in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Timor, Myanmar, Pakistan and Afghanistan.  The strategic goal has been to expand its military and political power, exploit the economies and resources and encircle China and North Korea.

Under the Obama-Clinton-Kerry Regime, the imperial structures in Asia are coming apart.

Washington’s anti-China TPP is collapsing and has been replaced by the Chinese sponsored Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) with over fifty member countries worldwide, including the ten nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASAEN), plus Australia, India, South Korea and New Zealand.  Of course, China is funding most of the partnership and, to no one’s surprise, Washington has not been invited to join…

As a result of the highly favorable terms in the RCEP, each and every current and former US ally and colony has been signing on, shifting trade allegiances to China, and effectively changing the configuration of power.

Already Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Indonesia have formalized growing economic ties with China.  The debacle of the TPP has just accelerated the shift toward China’s new trade pact (RCEP).  The US is left to rely on its ‘loyalist four’, a stagnant Japan, Australia, South Korea and its impoverished former colony, Philippines, to bolster its quest to militarily encircle China.

The Dangers of ‘Popular Democracy’: President Duterte’s Pivot to China and the End of US Supremacy in SE Asia?

For over a century (since the invasion of the Philippines in 1896), especially since the end of WWII, when the US asserted its primacy in Asia, Washington has used the strategic Philippine Archipelago as a trampoline for controlling Southeast Asia.  Control of the Philippines is fundamental to US Imperialism: Washington’s strategic superiority depends on its access to sea, air, communications and ground bases and operations located in the Philippines and a compliant Philippine ruling class..

The centerpiece of US strategy to encircle and tighten control over China’s maritime routes to and from the world-economy is the massive build-up of US military installations in the Philippines.

The US self-styled “pivot to Asia” involves locating five military bases directed at dominating the South China Sea.  The Pentagon expanded its access to four strategic air and one military base through the ‘Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement’ signed by the Philippine President Aquino in 2014 but held up by the Philippine Courts until April 2016.  These include:

(1) Antonio Bautista Airbase on the island of Palawan, located near the contested Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

(2) Basa Airbase 40 miles northwest of the Philippines capital of Manila, overlooking the South China Sea.

(3) Lumbia Airbase located in the port of Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao, a huge US facility under construction.

(4) Mactan – Benito Ebuen airbase located on Mactan Island off the coast of Cebu in the central Philippines.

(5) Fort Magsaysay located in Nueva Ecija, on Luzon, the Philippine Army’s Central Training and command center, its largest military installation which will serve the US as the training and indoctrination base for the Philippine army.

Pentagon planners had envisioned targeting Chinese shipping and air bases in the South China Sea from its new bases on western shores of the Philippines.  This essentially threatens the stability of the entire region, especially the vital Chinese trade routes to the global economy.

Washington has been intensifying its intervention in the South China Sea relying on decrees issued by its previous proxy President Benigno (Noynoy) Aquino, III (2010-2016).  These, however, were not ratified by the Congress and had been challenged by the Philippine Supreme Court.

Washington’s entire “pivot to Asia” has centered its vast military build-up on its access to the Philippines.  This access is now at risk.  Newly elected President Rodrigo Duterte, who succeeded Aquino in June 2016, is pursuing an independent foreign policy, with the aim of transforming the impoverished Philippines from a subservient US military colony to opening large-scale, long-term economic trade and development ties with China and other regional economic powers.  Duterte has openly challenged the US policy of using the Philippines to encircle and provoke China.

The Philippine “pivot to China” quickly advanced from colorful rhetoric to a major trade and investment meeting of President Duterte and a huge delegation of Philippine business leaders with his Chinese counterparts in Beijing in late October 2016.  During his first 3 months in office Duterte blasted Washington for meddling in his ongoing campaign against drug lords and dealers.  Obama’s so-called ‘concerns for human rights’ in the anti-drug campaign were answered with counter-charges that the US had accommodated notorious narco-politician-oligarchs to further its military base expansion program.  President Duterte’s war on drugs expanded well beyond the alleged US narco-elite alliance when he proposed two strategic changes: (1) he promised to end the US-Philippine sea patrols of disputed waters designed to provoke Beijing in the South China Sea; and (2) President Duterte announced he would end military exercises with Washington, especially in Mindanao, because they threatened China and undermined Philippine sovereignty.

President Duterte, in pursuit of his independent nationalist-agenda, has moved rapidly and decisively to strengthen the Philippines ‘pivot’ toward China, which in the context of Southeast Asia is really ‘normalizing’ trade and investment relations with his giant neighbor.  During the third week of October (2016) President Duterte, his political team and 250 business leaders met with China’s leaders to discuss multi-billion-dollar investment projects and trade agreements, as well as closer diplomatic relations.  The initial results, which promise to expand even more, are over $13 billion dollars in trade and critical infrastructure projects.  As the Philippine’s pivot to China advances, the quid pro quo will lead to a profound change in the politics and militarization of Southeast Asian.  Without total US control over the Philippines, Washington’s strategic arc of encirclement against China is broken.

According to a recent ruling by the Philippine Supreme Court, the controversial US military base agreement (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement) imposed by the former President Aquino by fiat without congressional ratification can be terminated by the new President by executive order.  This ruling punches some major holes in what the Pentagon had considered its ‘ironclad’ stranglehold on the strategic Philippine bases.

The Duterte government has repeatedly announced its administration’s commitment to a program of economic modernization and social reconstruction for Philippine society.  That agenda can only be advanced through changes that include multi-billion dollar infrastructure investments, loans and technical cooperation from China, whereas remaining a backward US military colony will not only threaten their Asian economic partners, but will condemn the Philippines to yet another generation of stagnation and corruption.  Unique in Southeast Asia, the Philippines has long been mired in underdevelopment, forcing half of its qualified workforce to seek contract servitude abroad, while at home the society has become victims of drug and human trafficking gangs linked to the oligarchs.

Conclusion

Washington’s ‘pivot to Asia’, enshrined in its effort to corral the Asian countries into its anti-China crusade is not going as the Obama-Clinton-Kerry team had envisioned.  It is proving to be a major foreign policy debacle for the outgoing and (presumably) incoming US presidential administrations.  Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton has been forced to denounce the Transpacific Trade Partnership (TPP), one of her own pet projects when she was Secretary of State.  The Pentagon’s military base strategy stuck in a 1980’s time-warped vision of Southeast Asia is on the verge of imploding.    The Philippines, its former colony and vassal state, is finally turning away from its total subservience to US military dictates and toward greater independence and stronger regional ties to China and the rest of Asia.  Southeast Asia and the South China Sea are no longer part of a grand chessboard subject to Pentagon moves for domination.

In desperation, Washington may decide to resort to a military power grab– a coup in the Philippines, backed by a coalition of Manila-based oligarchs, narco-bosses and generals.  The problem with a precipitate move to ‘regime change’ is that Rodrigo Duterte is immensely popular with the Philippine electorate – precisely for the reasons that the Washington elite and Manila oligarchs despise him.  The mayor of Manila, Joseph Estrada, himself a former victim of a Washington-instigated regime change, has stated that any US backed coup will face a million-member mass opposition and the bulk of the nationalist middle and powerful Chinese-oriented business class.  A failed coup, like the disastrous coup in Venezuela in 2002 against Hugo Chavez could radicalize Duterte’s policy well beyond his staunchly nationalist agenda and further isolate the US.

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Washington’s Intent is Economic Destabilization and “Regime Change” In Venezuela

NOVANEWS
 
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Venezuela’s oil-dependent economy suffers greatly from low crude oil prices and US economic warfare – waged to destabilize the country, create enormous hardships, mobilize majority opposition to President Nicolas Maduro’s leadership, and end nearly 18 years of economic and social progress. The collapse in the price of crude oil was the result of a carefully designed speculative operation. 

Neocons in Washington want control over Venezuela’s vast oil reserves, among the world’s largest. With full US support and encouragement, the right wing opposition which controls the National Assembly want Maduros ousted – its latest tactic by recall referendum as constitutionally permitted.

On October 18, Venezuela’s Supreme Court ruled valid signatures of 20% of voters in each of the nation’s 24 states must be collected to proceed with a process against Maduro.

“(F)ailure…will render the call for the presidential recall referendum as nullified,” the High Court said in its ruling.

On October 21, Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) suspended the referendum until further notice, following Supreme Court allegations of fraud. Over 30% of signatures collected had irregularities – including listing over 10,000 deceased persons.

A previous article explained how Venezuela’s recall referendum works. Article 72 of Venezuela’s Constitution states “(a)ll magistrates and other offices (including the president) filled by popular vote are subject to revocation.”

“Once half (their) term of office…has elapsed, 20% of (registered) voters (by petition may call for) a referendum to revoke such official’s mandate.”

“When a number of voters equal to or greater than the number of those who elected the official vote in favor of revocation (provided the total is 20% or more of registered voters), the official’s mandate shall be deemed revoked…”

Signatures collected must be verified for authenticity before proceeding further with the recall process. If achieved, it’ll be organized within 90 days. Removing Maduro requires support from more than the 50.6% of voters supporting his 2013 election.

Timing is important. If held by January 10, 2017, a new election will be called if Maduro loses. If things go against him after this date, Vice President Aristobulo Isturiz will serve as president until January 2019, when his term expires.

In response to CNE’s suspending the recall process, the factions controlling the National Assembly barely stopped short of urging coup d’etat action to remove Maduro forcefully.

Last Sunday, they said they’ll impeach him for “violating democracy.” The body has no legal standing after ignoring the Supreme Court’s October 18 ruling.

United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) leader Hector Rodriguez mocked them, saying parties violating the “rules of the game come and talk about democracy…There will be no recall referendum in 2016 because of fraudulent signatures collected.”

Violent demonstrations may follow, similar to what occurred in 2014 – perhaps another US coup attempt.

On October 24, WaPo editors disgracefully headlined “How to derail Venezuela’s new dictatorship.” What followed was a disgraceful litany of misinformation, exaggeration and Big Lies.

WaPo: Maduro “made clear (he and his government are) prepared to shred what remained of the country’s constitutional order…(They) stripped the opposition-controlled national assembly of its powers, imprisoned several top leaders and tried to slow” the recall process.

Fact: Maduro and Venezuela’s CNE observe the letter of constitutional law. No opposition powers were “stripped.” Their imprisoned officials plotted to remove Maduro by coup d’etat.

Collecting fraudulent signatures “slow(ed)” the recall process, not administration officials.

WaPo: Opposition National Assembly members “issued a declaration saying Mr. Maduro had staged a coup. That is accurate – and it ought to provoke a consequential reaction from the United States and Venezuela’s Latin American neighbors.”

Fact: No Maduro “coup” occurred, nor is one in prospect. WaPo calling for “consequential” action sounds ominously like urging Washington to oust him forcefully.

WaPo: “The recall referendum the opposition was pursuing offered a democratic way out of what has become one of the worst political and humanitarian crises in Latin America’s modern history.”

Fact: US dirty tricks and economic manipulation leading to disruptions in the distribution of food, bear much responsibility for hard times in Venezuela. Real problems exist. Hunger isn’t one of them. WaPo lied claiming “(t)he vast majority of low-income families say they are having trouble obtaining food.”

Venezuelans changed their dietary practices because of the scarcity of commonly eaten foods, at times consuming less than earlier. Profiteers hoarding and diverting foodstuffs for resale are responsible, along with high inflation resulting economic manipulation.

WaPo: “(T)he United States should be coordinating tough international action.”

Fact: Neocon WaPo editors want Maduro toppled and replaced. Do they mean by coup d’etat by calling for “tough international action?”

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Syria: US Backed Al Qaeda Rebels Suffer Major Losses In Western Ghouta

Advance of Turkish Armed Forces in Northern Aleppo Province
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US-backed militants launched a wide scale attack on the Syrian army’s positions near Khan Al Sheh in the Western Ghouta region, but failed to achieve a success in the battle.

The militants lost up to 25 fighters and some 8 units of heavy military equipment in the failed attack. 4 units of heavy military equipment belonging to terrorists were destroyed by 1 Syrian soldier with the Russian-made Kornet guided missile launcher. The military situation of militant groups remains critical in the region.

The Syrian government forces, led by Maj General Suheil Al Hassan and his Tiger Forces, liberated more areas from the joint terrorist forces led by Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar ash-Sham in the northern part of Hama province. They took control of few checkpoints at the western outskirts of Ma’an and advanced in the eastern countryside of Souran and Taybat al-Imam.

A large number of militants of Jabhat al-Nusra militants, including their commander Ahmad Abdu Razaq al-Henesh, were killed in the recent air raids in the province.

Turkish air strikes and artillery shelling have killed 96 civilians, including 22 children, since the start of Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield on August 24, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed on October 24. The UK-based monitor provides a wide range of anti-Assad and pro-Western views and is constantly quoted by the mainstream media. So, such claims show the attitude of the UK, the US and their partners over the ongoing Turkish military operation in Syria.

The Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Turkish Armed Forces launched a full-scale advance on the direction of strategic ISIS-controlled town of Al-Bab in the northern part of Aleppo province. They took control of the villages of Tuways, Jub al-As and Thalthanah. The crossroad town of Ebla will become the next target of the pro-Turkish forces. If Ebla is captured, the Ankara-led military grouping will be deployed in a striking distance from Al-Bab.

This move could indicate that the Turkish military and their proxies temporarily suspended the idea to purge Kurdish units in southeast of Mare.

The ISIS-linked Amaq news agency released a video on October 24 that depicts a destruction of the US-made Abrams M1 main battle tank at the Qarayyah crossroads, south of Mosul. The battle tank was reportedly blown up with the Kornet anti-tank guided missile. It is not clear to whom – the Iraqi army or the US military – the tank belonged.

The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) liberated the villages of al-Khastan, al-Harrah, Ain al-Nimrudand and the Mishraq Thermal Plant. The town of Hammam Ali is a mid-term target of the ongoing ISF advance.

The Iraqi Air Force’s Mi-35M attack helicopters carried out a series of air raids near the ISIS stronghold of Mosul, killing a top adviser to the group’s ringleader. Abu Usama was a top adviser to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the second-in-command to the ISIS shadow governor for Mosul. The air raids took place at the town of Tal Kayf last weekend.

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Building Anti-Imperialist Solidarity in the United States: The Need for Internationalism

NOVANEWS
Address delivered to the International League of Peoples Struggle (ILPS) U.S. Chapter Conference
 
Abayomi Azikiwe Speaks at the International League of Peoples Struggle US Chapter National Conference, Chicago Oct. 22, 2016 (Photo by Danielle Boachie)

There is a fundamental weakness in the peoples’ movement in the United States and that is the necessity for anti-imperialist internationalism.

The struggles against racism, national oppression and class exploitation cannot be separated from the need to end Washington’s and Wall Street’s interference in the internal affairs of most states throughout the world.

In order to win recognition in these monumental struggles it is heavily dependent upon the degree to which we can create widespread awareness of the plight of the people of color communities and the working class in general. There are efforts underway to achieve these objectives although much more work has to be done.

Racist State Violence

International consciousness in regard to the character of the U.S. state is growing immensely. This is in part due to the mass demonstrations and urban rebellions which have sprung up by and large spontaneously in response to the vigilante death of Trayvon Martin in 2012 and the not-guilty verdict handed down in the trial of George Zimmerman. When Zimmerman’s acquittal was announced it did more to turn public opinion domestically and internationally against institutions which devalue African American life and democratic rights. It was during this period that the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter began to trend. Since then there have been efforts to build BLM chapters across the U.S., spreading internationally into the United Kingdom and Latin America.

Later on August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri, 18-year-old Michael Brown was gunned down by a white police officer. Immediately demonstrations erupted in Ferguson both nonviolent and violent. These manifestations spread nationally bringing attention to the false notion that America had become a so-called “post-racial society” in the period following the election of President Barack Obama in 2008.

Obama, who was forced to address the problems of the “special oppression” of African Americans after the unrest in Ferguson, the situation of African Americans gained international attention prompting editorials in leading periodicals both in the U.S. and internationally questioning this false assertion of post-racialism.

The administration responded in its signature dubious fashion leaning in favor of maintaining the status-quo of national oppression. Obama, of course, gave his view of what “African Americans feel” and in the next instance denounces violence saying it will not accomplish anything. This is a blatant falsehood because the U.S. state was born in violence and maintains its existence through brute force and coercion inside the country and abroad.

What these developments further exposed was the failure of the Obama administration to not only have refused to address the special oppression of African Americans but to also advance a policy of public avoidance in the face of worsening social conditions.

It was the African American masses and other oppressed groups who suffered the brunt of the economic crisis beginning in 2007. Detroit was one of the hardest hit urban areas and when Obama came into office in 2009, there was considerable “false hope” that these difficulties would attract the attention of the White House and the-then majority Democratic House and Senate (2008-2010).

Subsequent rebellions and waves of mass demonstrations in the streets, campuses, and now athletic fields, have stripped the administration of any pretense of political legitimacy. Colin Kapernick and others within professional, college and high school sports settings illustrated that no matter how they are classified as “privileged”, the specter of racist violence remains within their purview. No matter how “privileged” these people are the threats from the armed agents of the state remains with them at all times. Racism is on the increase in the U.S. and the refusal of the ruling class and the capitalist state to advance any reforms in this regard speaks volumes about the current phases of imperialism and its public posture.

The Crisis of U.S. Capitalism and Its Global Implications

The degree to which the capitalist class can claim any semblance of a “recovery” is related to the expansion of low-wage labor and the mega-profits of transnational corporations. This is reinforced by the systematic defunding of public education, municipal services and environmental safeguards.

There are examples too numerous to outline within the context of this presentation. We could speak about the undemocratic system of emergency management and forced bankruptcy in Detroit and other Michigan cities that have majority African American populations. There is also the water crisis in Flint and the near collapse of public schools in Detroit, Highland Park, Inkster and other cities.

A nationally-coordinated movement led by trade unions demanding a minimum wage of $15 per hour is growing immensely across the country. People of all generations are working more for less money.

The prison-industrial-complex, now encompassing approximately 2.2 million people, with millions more under judicial and law-enforcement supervision, represents another form of super-exploitation and social containment that is connected to racial profiling and the unjust court system.

These are some of the principal issues we must take up in the U.S. Our internationalism must be informed by the specific conditions of the workers and oppressed and the movements that have sprung up in the last four years.

Drawing the Links Between Domestic Oppression and the International Situation

In conclusion we would like to point to some of the major areas of U.S. imperialist interventions and the need to make comparisons to what is happening domestically.

Perhaps the most profound crisis today of displacement is starkly revealed by the migration from North Africa into Southern Europe. This movement of dislocated persons has been documented by the United Nations Refugee Agency as the largest since the conclusion of World War II. There are 60 to 75 million people who have been internally and externally displaced in the modern world.

These forced removals stem directly from the foreign policy imperatives of war and economic exploitation engineered by Washington and Wall Street. The interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Libya, Yemen and Somalia are fueling underdevelopment and balkanization.

Many of these wars remain largely hidden from people in the U.S. Much of the social impact of these wars of regime-change and genocide are being manifested inside these geo-political regions and in Southern, Central and Eastern Europe.

Nonetheless, the crisis of imperialist war has its economic components. The overproduction of oil and other commodities are driving down prices and consequently engendering higher rates of joblessness, poverty, food deficits, class conflicts and civil war. Countries such as Somalia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria, rich in natural resources, land and strategic waterways are facing varying levels of recession, depression and further enslavement to international finance capital.

Finally, it is our task at present to point to the direct relationship between U.S. domestic and foreign policy. A policy of national oppression inside the U.S. is reflected in the military and economic destruction of countries from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, extending across Africa, the Middle East, the Asia–Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean.

The problems we are facing in North America cannot be effectively tackled or solved independent of the people of the international community. The world’s peoples must unite in a program of anti-imperialism aimed at ending all forms of oppression and exploitation.

The above text is is a paper delivered at the ILPS U.S. Chapter national conference held on October 22, 2016 at Teamster City in Chicago, Illinois. The event was attended by several hundred delegates who participated in the panels, workshops and cultural presentations as well as an evening march through the Magnificent Mile retail district in the Loop opposing police brutality in honor of Laquan McDonald who was gunned down by the police prompting a citywide civil disobedience campaign during November and December 2015. The author attended the founding ILPS U.S. Chapter congress in May 2012 also held in Chicago. Azikiwe began his presentation acknowledging the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense in October 1966.

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Vučić Scandalises the Region with Revelations about a Plot against Montenegro

NOVANEWS
Published on 25 October 2016 15:48, Adelina Marini, Twitter: @euinside
Last change on 25 October 2016 15:48

After a short break, we return again to reviewing the press in the countries of former Yugoslavia. Today, we singled out two hot topics – the refugee crisis, which made first page of the CroatianVecernji list, and the thwarted attempt in Serbia for executing a terrorist attack in Montenegro, which is among the topics of most media in the region, including in Macedonia. At a press conference last night, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić announced that several people were apprehended in Serbia because of illegal actions aimed at Montenegro, including surveillance on the Prime Minister of Montenegro Milo Đukanović, reports Serbian national televisionRTS. Money and uniforms were found in the apprehended people’s possession. The Serbian PM admitted that in Serbia there is an increase of the activity of intelligence agencies from both Eastern and Western countries.

The TV channel quotes Mr Vučić, who stated that it does not matter what the personal price that he will have to pay is, but Serbia will prosecute those “who think they are allowed to give operative data to foreign embassy personnel”. Vučić also said that some people are unable to respect small freedom-loving nations and do not distinguish between the large ones. He did refuse, however, to name the agencies envisaged. Danasnewspaper is more specific in reporting that among the apprehended is a high-ranking official from the Serbian Criminal Police, who has been giving information to foreign agencies. The curious thing is that Vučić has stated that in this case it is not important whether the apprehended people will be sent to prison, but that their plans were thwarted.

Some media in Montenegro replied with a song. Predrag Lucić composed a poem for the Montenegro office of Deutsche Welle, quoted by Vijesti, which begins so: “You have no idea, my Milo, who is playing you, who took euro to deal with you. You don’t know how much a foreign power paid to film the reality show ‘Not a day without Milo’”. The song ends with: “Now that you know who’s got your back, who’s your true friend, are you ready for a new reality like back in the day, two eyes on the head?”. The expression “two eyes on the head” is used in the region as a metaphor for the former union between Montenegro and Serbia.

According to Cafe Del Montenegro, there was a terrorist attack on Montenegro soil being planned in Serbia. Most comments in Montenegrin media are diverse – some are ironic, hinting at a well played move by Milo Đukanović, while others are more serious. The subject is tackled by Macedonian Utrinski vesnik as well, which reports that there was a plot against Montenegro being prepared in Serbia.

The subject is totally missing from Croatian media, where the headlines are about the new government, headed by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and the first quakes due to the upcoming resignation of a minister without portfolio, Goran Marić. Vecernji list’s headline, however, is occupied by a different subject: “Turkey will start letting refugees towards the EU”. The newspaper’s correspondent reports from Ankara that Turkey will no longer detain the refugees, who are attempting to cross the Aegean sea in order to get to Europe. The newspaper quotes the adviser to the Turkish Prime Minister Mehmet Akarca, who stated that Turkey has kept its part of the deal with the EU, but the Union has defaulted on visa liberalisation. The newspaper further reports that Slovenia is already busy preparing to build again wire fences along its border with Croatia. Bulgaria is also planning on building an additional 100 kilometres wire fence along its border with Greece and Turkey, for it fears a new wave of migrants from Turkey, reportsVecernji.

The Turkish subject is present in the other highest circulated newspaper in Croatia, Jutarnji list. Newspaper columnist Inoslav Bešker writes about the ambitions of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for a re-Ottomanisation. “Erdoğan’s ambitions are great and are now evident – Neo-Ottomanism” is the headline of Bešker’s commentary. Turkey is not guided by care for a Turkish national minority, but rather by “historic borders”. This is an adventurist concept, which has rendered damage to Croatia, behind which stands real policy of spheres of influence, re-Ottomanisation, intervention in former territories, writes the author. He is concerned that Bosnia and Herzegovina will once again turn into a key to stability and peace in Europe.

Serbian Blic reminds in a lengthy commentary what Serbia’s commitments are under Article 35 of the EU membership negotiations, which covers relations with Kosovo. Text author Lana Gedošević writes that Serbia has 13 benchmarks to implement in the Kosovo dialogue with the negotiations growing more complex and difficult every day. In her opinion, the 13 points that need to be implemented so that negotiations could go forward are the union of Serbian municipalities, energy, telecommunications, elections (Serbia is expected to quit financing and supporting Serbian political structures), police force (payment of pensions to the members of the Serbian police force in Kosovo), justice, civil protection, liaison officers, customs office, freedom of movement, regional cooperation, recognition of university degrees, cooperation with the EU civil mission in Kosovo EULEX.

Translated by Stanimir Stoev

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Howard Jacobson’s blindness to Zionist racism in the cause of fake anti-Semitism

NOVANEWS
As the Guardian’s ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign against Corbyn continues its time to BOYCOTT the Guardian

 Howard Jacobson


There was a time when the Guardian had the best Middle East correspondent of any paper, David Hirst, who wrote an excellent book, The Gun and the Olive Branch.  Now they have Jonathan Freedland, a thriller writer, who cannot see beyond his Jewish identity to understand that Zionism is a murderous,  racist settler colonial movement.

Zionist lobby group boasts of its success in neutering Guardian coverage of Zionism & Palestine
The Guardian carries Jacobson’s junk article which speaks about support for Israel and omits to mention the Palestinians
Where once the Guardian and its Comment is Free column was an arena of lively debate, today anti-Zionists are effectively barred.   A decade ago I contribute a number of articles such as an article on the Royal Family’s reception for the Jewish National Fund [Israel’s Royal Welcome]  Such is the state of affairs at the Guardian, that the Zionists openly boast about how they have cleansed CIF of anything remotely opposed to Zionism and the Israeli state.

French fascist leader Marine Le Pen, combines anti-Semitism with a devotion to Israel

‘partly due to our efforts, the Guardian’s malign obsession with Israel had somewhat abated, and their legitimization of antisemitic tropes (above and below the line) had at least diminished.UK Media Watch, formerly CIF Watch, which is devoted to suppressing favourable coverage of the Palestinians or unfavourable coverage of Israel and Zionism in the media, boasts of its success with the Guardian.

The latter improvement in editorial decisions… occurred both as the result of our relentless naming and shaming of Guardian contributors who expressed such Judeophobic views, and at least two important decisions by the paper’s readers’ editor which had the effect of institutionally delegitimizing these narratives.  The readers’ editor we’re referring to is Chris Elliott .”

Geert Wilders – leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, virulently anti-Islamic and sees Israel as a bastion of the West
In its latest propaganda article, The Guardian has commissioned an article, Let’s be clear – antisemitism is a hate apart, from Howard Jacobson.  In his attempt to show that anti-Zionism is really a modern form of an ancient plaint, anti-Semitism, Jacobson’s literary talents seem to desert him.  His arguments are wooden and stilted as his hackneyed phrases betray a poverty of imagination. The one newspaper which could be relied on for objective coverage of Palestine and Zionism has now gone over to the dark side.  It is time that socialists and supporters of the Palestinians boycotted the Guardian.  In many ways its coverage is worse than paper such as The Daily Mail precisely because people expect The Guardian to be more balanced and fairer.

Heinz Christian Strache – leads the Austrian Freedom Party, which was formed to rehabilitate Austrian Nazis – a welcome guest of Likud to Israel recently

Jacobson may be a distinguished novelist but there is nothing original in what he writes about anti-Semitism and Zionism.  Jacobson offers us no special insights that cannot be gained from Israeli hasbara (propaganda).  For Jacobson criticism of the Israeli state can be explained by the fact that ‘in the matter of the existence of the State of Israel… all the ancient superstitions about Jews find a point of confluence.’  Apparently criticism of Israel and Zionism has nothing to do with land discrimination and theft, the underfunding of the Arab education sector, the Judaisation of areas of Israel where there are not enough Jews, extra-judicial executions, torture of children or house demolitions.  It’s all because we are anti-Semitic!How can one write about Israel without once mentioning the Palestinians?  Israel is a state that receives the largest amount of aid of any country, despite its small population, from the United States.  It is a state armed to the teeth, with nuclear weaponry, whose military has ruled over 4.5 million people for 50 years.  Palestinians live in the same territory as 600,000 settlers yet unlike them they are subject to a different legal system of Military Law.  By any definition this is Apartheid.  At the hundreds of checkpoints that cover the West Bank there are separate entrances for Jewish settlers and Palestinians,  yet Jacobson has convinced himself that our reasons for opposing Israeli Apartheid is because of anti-Semitism!

Jacobson though is but the latest Guardian sock puppet.  In the past year it has run a series of articles about ‘anti-Semitism’ with the aim of portraying Labour under Jeremy Corbyn as a party in the grip of a tsunami of anti-Semitism.  Articles it has printed include The Left’s Jewish Problem: Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Anti‑Semitism and Why I’m becoming a Jew and why you should, too which is a rewrite of an earlier article in the Jewish Chronicle  Hatred is turning me into a Jew by Nick Cohen, Why Jews in Labour place little trust in Jeremy Corbyn by Joshua Simons,  Labour and the left have an antisemitism problem and My plea to the left: treat Jews the same way you’d treat any other minority by Jonathan Freedland Antisemitism is a poison – the left must take leadership against it by Owen Jones, which he rewrites annually.  The Guardian has refused to print articles rejecting the idea in the above articles that anti-Zionism is a modern form of anti-Semitism.

Howard Jacobson made his name as a comic novelist.  It is a genre that he should have stuck to because there is little that is amusing or revealing in his discursions into anti-Semitism.  Jacobson pronounces that the Chakrabarti Report into racism and anti-Semitism in the Labour Party was ‘a soft inquiry’ and ‘was stillborn’.  Instead of explaining what it is he disagreed with in the Report he insinuates that the elevation of Shami Chakrabarti to the House of Lords was the payment of a bribe .  The Chakrabarti Report was a serious attempt to investigate the spurious anti-Semitism allegations of the Labour Right, the Tory press, and the Zionist movement.  Chakrabarti found that the Labour Party was not overrun by anti-Semitism.

Indeed it is one of the curious aspects of the anti-Semitism allegations that no hard evidence has ever been produced.  The one serious attempt to investigate these allegations by Asa Winstanley How Israel lobby manufactured UK Labour Party’s anti-Semitism crisis showed that the evidence for the allegations was spurious, fabricated and in the specific case of Oxford University Labour Club, set in motion by a former intern, Alex Chalmers, for BICOM, Britain’s main Israeli propaganda organisation.

Howard Jacobson’s theme is anything but novel.  It is that anti-Semitism is ‘unlike other racisms’.  It ‘exists outside time and place and doesn’t even require the presence of Jews.’  In response to the Russian pogroms of 1881, Leo Pinsker, the founder of the Lovers of Zion, likewise wrote that ‘Judaephobia is then a mental disease, and as a mental disease it is hereditary, and having been inherited for 2,000 years, it is incurable. [Pinsker, Autoemancipation,  Berlin 1882 p.5.]

The logical conclusion is that if anti-Semitism cannot be explained then it cannot be fought.  It doesn’t even require Jews.  It exists in the realm of the metaphysical like all those other racial myths.  After all ‘when Marlowe and Shakespeare responded to an appetite for anti-Jewish feeling in Elizabethan England, there had been no Jews in the country for 300 years.’  Jacobson is wrong, there were Jews in England but the memory of the Jews and the roles they performed in society had not disappeared.  It is all too easy to characterise Marlowe and Shakespeare’s productions as anti-Semitic when they simply reflected not only popular perceptions but the actual role that Jews played in medieval society.

As Abram Leon, the Trotskyist leader who died in Auschwitz observed:

‘Zionism transposes modern anti-Semitism to all of history and saves itself the trouble of studying the various forms of anti-Semitism and their evolution.’..[Abram Leon, The Jewish Question – A Marxist Interpretation, p. 245. Pathfinder, New York, 1970]

Anti-Semitism was seen by Zionism as a permanent feature of Jewish relations with non-Jews, an immutable fact beyond history and time itself.  In June 1895, barely six months after the framing of the French Jewish Captain Alfred Dreyfuss for treason, Theodor Herzl, the founder of Political Zionism wrote in his Diaries (p.6) that ‘In Paris …I achieved a freer attitude towards anti-Semitism, which I now began to understand historically and to pardon. Above all I recognise the emptiness and futility of trying to ‘combat’ anti-Semitism.   Since anti-Semitism was a natural phenomenon, it could not be fought.  You might as well fight the tides.

Jacobson’s claim that anti-Semitism is a unique form of racism is a truism.  All forms of racism have unique characteristics but anti-Semitism is not a unique form of racism.  There has always been racism against groups who were seen as better off and prosperous, be it the Huguenots, the Biafrans, the East African Asians or Koreans in the United States.  The Chinese of South-East Asia were known as the ‘Jews of the East’.  Racism against the Roma is just as persistent and deadly as anti-Semitism if not more so.

Jacobson tells us apropos of anti-Zionism that ‘The presence of a Jew in any movement no more guarantees it to be innocent of antisemitism than guilty.’  The same can be said, with somewhat more justification of Zionism.  Anti-Zionism was a product of Jews not non-Jews.  It is noticeable that far-Right and fascist groups are some of the most ardent supporters of Zionism.  As Ruth Smeed, a spokeswoman for the Board of Deputies of British Jews admitted ‘‘The BNP website is now one of the most Zionist on the web – it goes further than any of the mainstream parties in its support of Israel.  Members of theEnglish Defence League combine the Hitler salute with flying the Israeli flag at its demonstrations.[2]

Far-Right European parties such as Geert Wilder’s Dutch Freedom Party, Heinz-Christian Strache’s Austrian Freedom Party and Marine Le Pen’s Front Nationale all combine virulent Islamaphobia and anti-Semitism with support for Zionism, without a murmur of concern from Jacobson and the witch finder generals of Zionism.   Was it not Pastor John Hagee, President of Christians United for Israel who informed us that Hitler was a hunter sent by God to drive the Jews to Israel?  Although John McCain was forced to disavow Hagee when he ran against Barak Obama in the 2008 Presidential election this did not stop Abe Foxman, of the Anti-Defamation League praising Hagee. ‘We are grateful’ Foxman said, ‘that you have devoted your life to combating anti-Semitism and supporting the State of Israel,”

Nor was Foxman alone.  One of the leaders of the ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign is the neo-con editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Stephen Pollard.  Pollard sees no contradiction between attacking Corbyn for ‘anti-Semitism’ and defending Michal Kaminski, former MEP for Poland’s far-Right Law and Justice Party.  Kaminski opposed, in 2001, a national Polish apology for the burning alive of up to 900 Jews by fellow Poles in the village of Jedwabne in 1941.  Kaminski suggested it was the Jews who owed the Poles an apology.  Pollard however insisted that Kaminski was one of the greatest friends to the Jews’ because ‘Far from being an antisemite, Mr Kaminski is about as pro-Israel an MEP as exists.’

Far from anti-Zionism being a disguise for anti-Semitism it is Zionism which has most in common with anti-Semites. From Edouard Drumont, the leader of the anti-Dreyfussards to Alfred Rosenburg to the BNP’s Nick Griffin, anti-Semites saw no contradiction in supporting Zionism.

Jacobson and the Guardian have great difficulty in accepting that criticism of the State of Israel is not on account of some ancient hatred of Jews but because it is a state that has racism woven into its DNA.  A ‘Jewish’ state in the context of settler colonialism means a Jewish supremacist state.  Whereas Britain being a Christian state is a constitutional adornment, in Israel Jews have real privileges over non-Jews.  Israel is a state where the ‘demographic question’ is the engine of Israeli policy towards the Palestinians. [see When will Israel stop seeing Palestinians as a ‘demographic threat?‘]

Jacobson is not above deploying his literary skills in order to misrepresent his adversaries.  He says that according to anti-Zionists ‘Jews have only one motive in labelling anti-Zionism antisemitic and that is to stifle legitimate criticism of Israel. This assertion defames Jews’.  Well it would if it were true but it ignores that foremost amongst these defamers are Jews themselves!  It is the Zionist movement, Jewish and non-Jewish, who use ‘anti-Semitism’ as a weapon to deflect criticism of Israel.  Just as anti-Semites use the term ‘Zionist’ and ‘Jew’ interchangeably so too do Zionists.

Jacobson says that ‘Zionism originated as a liberation movement’.  Perhaps he could enlighten us as to when Zionists first described themselves so?  When Herzl founded the Zionist movement he wrote to Cecil Rhodes, the British imperialist after whom Rhodesia was named asking ‘‘how then do I happen to turn to you since this is an out of the way matter for you.  How indeed.  Because it is something colonial.’ [Diaries of Theodor Herzl, p.1,194].  In ‘Rebirth and Destiny’ [New York 1954] David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, refers throughout to colonization and colonies.  This was because, in the first half of the last century, colonialism was seen as a good thing.  Today’s zeitgeist demands that colonialism is transformed into national liberation.

Jacobson says we need to talk of Zion.  I disagree.  We need to talk about Zionism and what it has done to the Palestinians.  The Holocaust is no excuse for the dispossession of the Palestinians.

Tony Greenstein

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Bulgaria Is Testing the Ground for Euro Area Accession

NOVANEWS
Adelina Marini

Bulgaria is cautiously preparing to join the euro area. This was confirmed by Prime Minister Boyko Borissov after it became evident last week from his letter to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (Luxembourg, EPP) that there are ongoing negotiations. In the letter, which euinside got its hands on, PM Borissov expresses gratitude for the European solidarity demonstrated in dealing with the migrant crisis. In the end of the text, however, it says that joint efforts will continue on the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), the accession to Schengen, and “the ongoing negotiations for joining to the Eurozone”. According to the European Commission, however, there is currently not a single state of those outside the currency club, but which have committed by treaty to join when they fulfil the criteria, to have officially announced plans to start preparing for membership.

Neither of them – Bulgaria, The Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, or Sweden – is in the exchange rate mechanism (ERMII), the so called euro area waiting room. The European Central Bank (ECB) refused comment, but pointed us at the reply of governor Mario Draghi to MEP  Jonas Fernández (Socialists&Democrats, Spain) of June 17, 2015. The accession procedures are listed in detail in this reply, also reminding that a key element of the accession process is economic convergence. It also recalls that entering the euro area’s waiting room requires the approval of all finance ministers from the euro area and the ECB.

Bulgaria is currently in consultations with the key members of the euro area, announced PM Borissov before the start of the October EU summit in Brussels. In his words, there are ongoing talks with Germany, France, the ECB, and the European Commission. “This is one topic they do not like to have too much talk and noise about, because we have fulfilled the requirements, but a political decision is required after all. And if you start boasting too much about what you are going to do, it will not happen. This is why we are having these negotiations”, explained the prime minister. He added that Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov already visited France on this subject and also has a scheduled meeting with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. According to Mr Borissov, entering the euro area waiting room would be very beneficial for Bulgaria, because interest rates on loans will drop and the Lev will be guaranteed even firmer.

The EC published this year its Convergence Report, which is done every two years, unless a country requests to start the process of joining the euro area. At that point a separate report is done for it. The regular document shows that Bulgaria does not yet fulfil all accession criteria, although all are doable and in short terms at that, provided there is political will to do so. The most serious problems concern legal consistency. The report further demands more changes in the law for the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB), so that it gets fully harmonised with the ECB statute. Several points in the Bulgarian law are problematic to the EC. The first one is that the BNB Governor and his deputies can be removed from their posts for reasons not in line with the ECB statute.

An amendment is required in article 44 of the BNB Law, guaranteeing the independence of the Governing Council of the BNB from political influence by the government or other institutions. What worries the European Commission is that the BNB Law states that when forming the general guidelines of monetary policy, the BNB and the Council of Ministers should inform each other. This procedure allows for meddling by the government in the monetary policy of the BNB, says the document. There are also problems in Article 45 (paragraphs 1 and 2), which concern allowing credits and guarantees to the government, municipalities, governmental and municipal institutions, organisations and enterprises. The EC insists that the amendment introduces the word “direct” aid to such institutions, for the purchase of public debt at the secondary markets is not prohibited. This is exactly the mechanism, by which the ECB currently implements its monetary policy with the so called“non-standard” monetary policy.

Bulgaria meets the inflation criteria and is expected to continue to do so in the long run. With regards to price stability it is doing well also. Regarding convergence, the level of consumer prices in Bulgaria was at 47% of the euro area average in 2014. In the long term, the EC sees considerable potential for even greater convergence, adding to the process of catching up by the Bulgarian economy. Bulgaria’s income level was at about 44% of the euro area average in Purchasing Power Standard terms in 2014. In fiscal terms, Bulgaria is doing well too and is even overly cautious. Even the KTB crisis effect has already subsided.

The sector where Bulgaria is not doing so well, and it is an important part of the assessment on readiness to start an accession process, is the business environment. According to the report, Bulgaria is generally doing worse than most euro area member states in international ratings. The difference with the currency club average is far greater according to the Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum, than on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business indicator. There was, however, deterioration  registered in 2015 on the second indicator as well. Public administration in general is performing poorly, according to the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators.

The banking sector generally is in a very good shape. Average capital adequacy is considerably higher than the euro area average – in September of 2015 it was almost 22%. The share of non-performing loans, however, remains considerably higher than currency club average – 13% at end September of last year. By contrast, profitability of banks is considerably higher than in the euro area, which Mario Draghi often points out as a serious problem for the economic revival in the euro area..

The prime minister stated that at this stage there is no set date for the start of the process. The European Commission underlined that setting targets and linking them to dates could help catalyse reforms, but they have to be credible and backed by specific commitments. The last country to join the euro area was Lithuania. It introduced the common currency on January 1st of 2015. Thus the number of members of the currency club member states has become 19. There are currently no appetites for euro area enlargement due to the debt crisis, which caused serious fractures between member states. ECB President Mario Draghi also hinted about restraint in future expansions last year. Plans have been discussed for several years of deepening the integration of the currency club, but there are no great appetites for that either due to the decision of Great Britain to leave the Union, the upcoming elections in France and Germany next year and the ever growing Euroscepticism.

Translated by Stanimir Stoev

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ISLAMIC Militants Cut 9 Christian Children In Half With Chainsaw In Accordance With Sharia Court Verdict

NOVANEWS

Iraqi News is reporting that 9 teenagers, alleged to belong to an anti-Islamic State resistance group, were sentenced to be cut in half with a chainsaw by a sharia court in Mosul, Iraq.

Iraqi News cites “a well placed source” as their informant about the gruesome act. The source said:

Saudi Zio-Wahhabi ‘ISIS’ RAT’s have executed nine Christian youths of Mosul. The outfit accused that these youths belonged to an anti-ISIS resistance faction called “The Crusaders”.

The death sentence pronounced by Zio-Wahhabi ‘ISIS’ ‘sharia’ court stated that the men should be tied to an iron pole in the center of Tal Afar Square in Mosul and then sliced into two with an electric chainsaw.

According to The Inquisitr, the chainsaw executions come just a week after 6 alleged spies were killed by “lowering the then still living men into boiling vats of tar,” also in Mosul.

Details on life inside the major metropolitan city controlled by Saudi Zio-Wahhabi ‘ISIS’ have been extensive. A report carried out in secret by the BBC’s Ghadi Sary in the city lets outsiders have a look inside Mosul. BBC writes:

Since IS took the city, it has been applying the ‘Laws of the Caliphate’, as it calls them.

The minimum punishment is flogging, which is applied for things like smoking a cigarette.

Theft is punished by amputating a hand, adultery by men by throwing the offender from a high building, and adultery by women by stoning to death.

The punishments are carried out in public to intimidate people, who are often forced to watch.

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Nazi army closes news site focusing on Al-Aqsa

NOVANEWS

al-aqsa-mosque-southern-wall

 

Qpress, a media centre specialising in Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa affairs, has been closed by the Nazi Jewish regime.

After being questioned and banned from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque last week, the head of the news organisation, Dr Hekmat Na’amna, was informed that Qpress was being shut down in accordance with a military decision issued early this month.

He was also informed that the use of the website has been banned, in addition to the use of the Facebook page. He was warned by the Nazi intelligence that any use of Qpress would result in prosecution.

These orders issued by the Nazi Jewish military and security forces indicate that the Qpress agency has been banned and completely shut down.

Commenting on this decision, Mahmoud Abu Ata, a journalist specialising in Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa and holy site affairs and a former employee of Qpress said that “this closure aims to silence the voice of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem and the holy sites and to censor true facts and the true situation on the ground in occupied Jerusalem.”

“The occupation wants to cover up its crimes and plans against Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa and the Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem as well as across Palestine. Qpress has always exposed such crimes as part of its media duty in a professional and transparent manner. However, it seems that such objectivity and honourable professionalism that portrayed the events, pictures and videos exactly as they occurred did not please the Israeli administration.”

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