Archive | November, 2016

No Pasaran, Comandante Fidel!

NOVANEWS
fidel-castro

Many years ago, Fidel declared: “Men do not shape destiny. Destiny produces the man for the hour.”

It did; destiny shaped them all, los Barbudos, and threw them right into the center of the whirlpool of world history.

As they fought for the freedom of Cuba, of Latin America and the entire oppressed world, they actually managed to defy their own words: in the end they irreversibly shaped the fate of our Planet, of the entire humanity.

Fidel stood firmly at the forefront of the struggle, from the very outset to his last breath. As always, when the giants get reunited with mother Earth, the entire world shook and the ground trembled on all continents.

For several moments, everything stopped, got frozen.

I was driving through Central Vietnam when the message of Fidel’s death arrived on my phone screen. For several minutes there was absolute emptiness and silence inside me.

Then, on a wide and beautiful river I spotted several marvelous ships belonging to an ancient Vietnamese fishing fleet, and a boat proudly flying both the Communist red flags with yellow stars, as well as several desolate black flags – symbols of mourning.

Fidel

In a remote place in Asia, Fidel’s death managed to disturb the calm, to stir the serene surface of the river.

Later everything fell back to where it was supposed to be, and the sounds returned. The emptiness inside me also evaporated. A great man has left, but the revolution has not stopped. It can never stop, as the very existence; the very survival of humanity now depends on it.

Cuban villagers before the Revolution

What was Fidel’s gift to the world and what did his Cuba achieve?

Results do not always have to be material. Although yes, of course, we could talk for days about the great education, culture, creativity, medical care and equality.

Socialist Cuba gave more, much more than that.

It gave hope, where hope was fading.

It gave strength, where only resignation reigned.

It gave heart to those places where only vulgar mercantile interests were recognized.

It gave optimism to counter the deadly embrace of nihilism.

Once Fidel shouted: “They talk about the failure of socialism but where is the success of capitalism in Africa, Asia and Latin America?”

Cuba, under the leadership of Fidel and his comrades, fought wars of independence in the most devastated parts of Africa; it stood by Vietnam during its most testing moments; and it offered its intellectual and ideological leadership and skills to the latest wave of Latin American revolutions, from Venezuela to Bolivia.

Cuban doctors and teachers were sent to some of the most remote parts of our planet, in order to offer unconditional internationalist help. I saw them in action in places such as Kiribati, Timor Leste, and post-apartheid South Africa. They fought for human lives in the poorest countries, and in those places devastated by natural calamities. They fought with courage and dignity, and also with kindness and respect, learning to communicate in local languages and valuing local cultures.

Fidel’s Cuba never broke down, never surrendered under the pressure. It defended itself when attacked by the mightiest nation on earth. It survived a brutal embargo, ideological propaganda and even biological warfare.

It inspired the world with its determination and its valor, just as it inspired millions worldwide with its music, cinema and poetry.

Playa Giron – first major defeat of Yankie imperialism in Latin America copy

“Patria no se vende!” – “One does not sell the Fatherland!” This is one of the greatest slogans of this marvelous country: a slogan which brought a clear message to all the countries humiliated and plundered by the Western Empire: ‘Not everything is lost. It is worth standing tall. It is better to die than to lose one’s pride and dignity!’

When Hugo Chavez was standing in the rain, bald after chemotherapy, clenching his fist in heroic defiance, and shouting at the enemies of the revolution “Here no one surrenders!” it was clear and obvious where his inspiration had come from: Cuba, and from his mentor Fidel.

Color-blind, passionately internationalist, resentful of all forms of racism and imperialism, Cuba gave itself fully to Latin America and to the world. She did not do it as some sort of sacrifice, but as a revolutionary obligation. She did it with simplicity and humanism, asking for absolutely nothing in return. To quote the closest comrade of Fidel Castro, Ernesto “Che” Guevara:

The sacrifices that one makes should not be exhibited as some ID card, instead they ought to be seen as the completion of one’s duty.

Fidel Castro was very well aware of the fact that “a revolution is not a bed of roses.

A revolution is a struggle between the future and the past.”

Decisions one has to make when changing history are tough. A revolution is not a discussion club, or a charity gala concert, or a managerial meeting of some human rights NGO.

The main adversary, imperialism, has murdered hundreds of millions of people all over the world, and it would not hesitate to slaughter further multitudes.

Any show of weakness is often synonymous with defeat, and defeat means further suffering, hopelessness and humiliation for the masses, which have often for the first time tasted both the sweetness and intoxication of hope. That is why a true revolutionary has no right to show weakness, to back up, or to betray principles. He or she has to always stand at the vanguard, to lead his or her troops into battle, to risk everything, even his or her own life, unconditionally.

Both Fidel Castro and his closest comrades were made exactly of such pure revolutionary stuff: they had both guts and hearts.

They were no saints, definitely not … because sainthood was not what Latin American people truly needed. Saints only pray and periodically sacrifice themselves. Fidel and his comrades were expected to fight and to win, not for themselves and for their personal interests, but for the hundreds of millions of the wretched of this world.

On 1st May 2004, when it appeared that the United States might once again attack Cuba, President Castro spoke in Havana, addressing the then President, G.W. Bush:

You have neither the morality nor the right, none whatsoever, to speak of freedom, democracy and human rights when you hold enough power to destroy humanity and are attempting to install a world tyranny, side-stepping and destroying the United Nations Organization, violating the human rights of any and every country, waging wars of conquest to take over world markets and resources and installing decadent and anachronistic political and social systems which are leading the human race into the abyss.

At the end, Fidel declared that if Cuba was attacked, he would do what he was expected to do, and what he had already done on several previous occasions – he would go and fight! And none of us had any doubt that he would. But he had one regret in regard to President Bush:

My only regret is that I would not even see your face because in that case you would be thousands of miles away while I shall be on the frontline to die fighting in defense of my homeland.

While Cuba is mourning the departure of its great national hero, the President-elect of the United States, Donald Trump, is overjoyed:

Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades. Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights … I join the many Cuban Americans who supported me so greatly in the presidential campaign, including the Brigade 2506 Veterans Association that endorsed me, with the hope of one day soon seeing a free Cuba.

Just to refresh readers’ memories: Brigade 2506 (Brigada Asalto 2506) was a CIA-sponsored group of Cuban exiles/terrorists, formed in 1960. Its mission was the overthrow of the Cuban revolutionary government headed by Fidel Castro. It carried out the abortive Bay of Pigs Invasion landing on 17thApril 1961.

US terrorism – after bombing of Santiago de Cuba passenger airport

The scum that terrorized the Island is now celebrating in Miami and elsewhere. At the same time, the true friends of Cuba and Latin American revolutions have been in deep mourning.

As Xinhua reported:

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Saturday that history and people will remember Fidel Castro, calling the Cuban revolutionary leader “a great figure of our times.

Fidel Castro, founder of the Communist Party of Cuba and Cuba’s socialist cause, was a great leader of the Cuban people, Xi said, adding that he has made immortal historic contributions and devoted all his life to the Cuban people’s great cause of struggling for national liberation, safeguarding state sovereignty and building socialism.

“The late Cuban leader has also made immortal historic contributions to the world socialist development,” Xi added.

“The death of Fidel Castro has made the Chinese people lose a close comrade and sincere friend. His glorious image and great achievements will go down in history,” Xi said.”

President Xi then concluded:The Chinese people have lost a good and true comrade. Comrade Castro will live forever.”

From Uganda to Chile, Kenya to Moscow, people have been writing to me that their nations are in deep shock.

The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, remembered Fidel with warmth and respect:

Fidel Castro was a sincere and reliable friend of Russia. He embodied the high ideals of a politician, a citizen and a patriot sincerely, convinced of the rightness of the cause to which he dedicated his whole life. His memory will forever remain in the hearts of the citizens of Russia.

Nicolás Maduro, President of Venezuela, parted with his friend by sending a revolutionary message to all corners of the world:

To all the revolutionaries of the world, we have to continue his legacy and his flag of independence, of socialism, of homeland.

Here in Vietnam, Fidel Castro is remembered with admiration, love and great respect. Like two brothers, shoulder-to-shoulder, the two countries fought against Western imperialism and colonialism, for many years and decades.

Trân Đai Quang, President of Vietnam, declared:

“For all Vietnamese, Fidel was a great friend, a comrade and a very close brother.”

On November 15th 2016, President Trân Đai Quang was one of the last world leaders to see Fidel, during what was seen as a warm and symbolic encounter.

Now walking through the ancient towns of Central Vietnam, I felt overwhelmed by sadness and an irreversible feeling of loss. But despair did not last for long.

Deep inside I was convinced that Maduro was correct: the revolution has to continue, under those flags, exactly under those flags that were raised by Fidel and his comrades in Cuba and all over the world.

Precisely now, when Western imperialism is showing its horrific fangs, when it is ready to lead its soldiers and mercenaries into the final battle for global domination, there is no time for weakness, for respite, for hesitation.

Fidel has departed, but the revolution goes on!

Instead of mourning, we should celebrate an exemplary, heroic life. A man is mortal, but his great works, his struggle, his victories, can be eternal.

In Vietnam, I recalled a poem by Antonio Guerrero Rodriguez, one of the ‘Cuban 5’ patriots who were imprisoned brutally in Miami, for infiltrating US anti-Cuban intelligence operations.

In this stunning poem written in a Miami prison, Rodriguez argues that love that can pass is not really love. That true love could resist even death itself and is, like nature, eternal.

So is true revolution, comrades. Like true love, true revolution cannot be broken, or extinguished, even by death itself.

Comrade Fidel Castro has just departed … But millions of his sons and daughters are still here, damn it! Therefore nothing is lost. Therefore, everything is just beginning!

Posted in CUBAComments Off on No Pasaran, Comandante Fidel!

Who Are Syria’s White Helmets?

NOVANEWS
Who Are Syria’s White Helmets? Dubious Front Organization, Recipients of the “Alternative Nobel Prize”
But Media Have Begun to Ask Questions
 
white helmets

On November 24 the Swedish Institute of International Affairs hosted an event with the White Helmets.

On November 25, they were awarded the Right Livelihood Foundation’s 2016 Award.

But below you’ll find out who the White Helmets really are.

Why does the Swedish Institute of International Affairs and the Right Livelihood foundation risk their reputation, goodwill and integrity by supporting such a dubious front organisation for less noble goals?

And will media swallow it all with no investigative efforts and make fools of themselves?

Fortunately some media are beginning to ask questions.

The Syrian Civil Defence — or White Helmets — are presented in the media as a genuine humanitarian organisation saving lives in Syria.

But Syria already has a Civil Defence. Since 1953.

The WHs were supported in no time by NATO governments such as the US, the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany with around US$ 100 million.

The WHs are said to be nearly 3000 “bakers, tailors, pharmacists, painters, carpenters, students and many more, the White Helmets are volunteers from all walks of life.”

This down-to-earth bunch however spends millions on super slick websites, on videos and photos that touch the heart, on media strategy and outreach — aimed to get themselves the Nobel Peace Prize!

But perhaps it’s a bit too smart?

What do you say to a Mannequin Challenge video exploiting a seemingly wounded war victim? See it! Morally outrageous or tasteless are not too strong words.

Could it be that the White Helmets is a dual-purpose organisation?

A humanitarian front but a murky back consisting of a network of intelligence, mercenary, oil interests, “people power” NGOs, and smart marketing?

It’s media campaigns are for a No-Fly Zone (we know what that means) and strongly anti-Assad (pro regime change), anti-Russia and anti-UN?

Not a word about terrorists, al-Qaeda, al-Nushra, ISIS etc or the interventionist policies, arms trade and bombings since 2011 by everybody else in Iraq and Syria!

We live in an age of deception and propaganda wars, closely connected to the wars on the ground.

PR merchants of death for millions of dollars — even nice looking NGOs = NEAR-Governmental Organisations.

To help you understand this better the war framing of Syria, TFF has been digging a bit and found interesting stuff, a cobweb of actors.

And the WH are not that white anymore…

Judge for yourself. Begin here and here!

*****

Posted in USA, ZIO-NAZI, SyriaComments Off on Who Are Syria’s White Helmets?

Jimmy Carter: America Must Recognize Palestine

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palestine

We do not yet know the policy of the next administration toward Israel and Palestine, but we do know the policy of this administration. It has been President Obama’s aim to support a negotiated end to the conflict based on two states, living side by side in peace.

That prospect is now in grave doubt. I am convinced that the United States can still shape the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before a change in presidents, but time is very short. The simple but vital step this administration must take before its term expires on Jan. 20 is to grant American diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine, as 137 countries have already done, and help it achieve full United Nations membership.

Back in 1978, during my administration, Israel’s prime minister, Menachem Begin, and Egypt’s president, Anwar Sadat, signed the Camp David Accords. That agreement was based on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, which was passed in the aftermath of the 1967 war. The key words of that resolution were “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East in which every state in the area can live in security,” and the “withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”

Photo

From left, President Anwar Sadat of Egypt, Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel and President Jimmy Carter of the United States in 1978 during the White House announcement of a Middle East peace agreement reached at Camp David. Credit Associated Press

The agreement was ratified overwhelmingly by the Parliaments of Egypt and Israel. And those two foundational concepts have been the basis for the policy of the United States government and the international community ever since.

This was why, in 2009, at the beginning of his first administration, Mr. Obama reaffirmed the crucial elements of the Camp David agreement and Resolution 242 by calling for a complete freeze on the building of settlements, constructed illegally by Israel on Palestinian territory. Later, in 2011, the president made clear that “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines,” and added, “negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine.”

Today, however, 38 years after Camp David, the commitment to peace is in danger of abrogation. Israel is building more and more settlements, displacing Palestinians and entrenching its occupation of Palestinian lands. Over 4.5 million Palestinians live in these occupied territories, but are not citizens of Israel. Most live largely under Israeli military rule, and do not vote in Israel’s national elections.

Meanwhile, about 600,000 Israeli settlers in Palestine enjoy the benefits of Israeli citizenship and laws. This process is hastening a one-state reality that could destroy Israeli democracy and will result in intensifying international condemnation of Israel.

The Carter Center has continued to support a two-state solution by hosting discussions this month with Israeli and Palestinian representatives, searching for an avenue toward peace. Based on the positive feedback from those talks, I am certain that United States recognition of a Palestinian state would make it easier for other countries that have not recognized Palestine to do so, and would clear the way for a Security Council resolution on the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Security Council should pass a resolution laying out the parameters for resolving the conflict. It should reaffirm the illegality of all Israeli settlements beyond the 1967 borders, while leaving open the possibility that the parties could negotiate modifications. Security guarantees for both Israel and Palestine are imperative, and the resolution must acknowledge the right of both the states of Israel and Palestine to live in peace and security. Further measures should include the demilitarization of the Palestinian state, and a possible peacekeeping force under the auspices of the United Nations.

A strong Security Council resolution would underscore that the Geneva Conventions and other human rights protections apply to all parties at all times. It would also support any agreement reached by the parties regarding Palestinian refugees.

The combined weight of United States recognition, United Nations membership and a Security Council resolution solidly grounded in international law would lay the foundation for future diplomacy. These steps would bolster moderate Palestinian leadership, while sending a clear assurance to the Israeli public of the worldwide recognition of Israel and its security.

This is the best — now, perhaps, the only — means of countering the one-state reality that Israel is imposing on itself and the Palestinian people. Recognition of Palestine and a new Security Council resolution are not radical new measures, but a natural outgrowth of America’s support for a two-state solution.

The primary foreign policy goal of my life has been to help bring peace to Israel and its neighbors. That September in 1978, I was proud to say to a joint sessionof Congress, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” As Mr. Begin and Mr. Sadat sat in the balcony above us, the members of Congress stood and applauded the two heroic peacemakers.

I fear for the spirit of Camp David. We must not squander this chance.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, USAComments Off on Jimmy Carter: America Must Recognize Palestine

The Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB): Theft by Deception

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Both the Liberal government and its Advisory Council on Economic Growth are head-over-heels for the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB), announcing with fresh-faced enthusiasm that it will be an innovative route for augmenting infrastructure finance, a flywheel of institutional capital participation, and an economic stimulus boon for the middle class. Beyond the euphoria is deception; there are no sunny ways to be found here, only shadowy figures and cloudy rationale. Let’s decipher the fraudulent hype.

Innovative? Canada’s current system of dysfunctional public infrastructure development would certainly benefit from a source of dedicated, pooled national savings. Yet the CIB’s main ‘innovation’ lies in granting equity ownership rights to private capital through investment vehicles like public-private partnerships (P3s), the self-same model tagged with adding $8-billion unnecessary dollars to Ontario’s long run debt, or where borrowing through partnerships is doubling long run costs for BC taxpayers. Not only is that theft, it is deception. We have seen this innovative movie before, many times over. Canada imported the scheme decades ago from the UK where the much loathed and floundering Private Finance Initiative was masterfully rebranded by Tony Blair by turning privatization into partnerships that augment, rather than replace, public spending. Fast forward a few decades and many there are calling for a complete abandonment of the bankrupt partnership model – a model as bankrupt as their NHS Trusts teetering on the edge of insolvency, saddled by private partners’ exorbitant fees.

A Flywheel for Investment?

For mechanics, a flywheel is a store of energy and a momentum-enabling device. For Canadians, the CIB will be a bargain store offering up revenue streams and guaranteed returns, a veritable game show wheel of asset grabs and giveaways. Once established, secondary market equity sales can bring in up to 50 per cent returns on investment for private owners. Canada has already been host to over twenty such equity sales, and nearly half were captured by tax haven-registered investment funds. A shell game is at play: whether financed publicly or privately, more money spent on public works between 2017 and 2028 means someone’s repayment burden is going up, either taxpayers’ or service users’. Ultimately the public pays, and payments frequently fly offshore cancelling revenue recycling at home.

A boon for the middle class? Smoke and mirrors. Focusing attention on the broad benefits of infrastructure-led economic stimulus diverts scrutiny from the guaranteed windfall profits that await investors. Their investment in our stimulus comes at a price – a 7-9% return at the very least – and their equity means changing how public infrastructure is designed and repaid. The CIB will target ‘commercializable’, revenue-generating infrastructure like transit, highways, and bridges promising dedicated user fees to repay private capital. The middle class must decide quickly if a Canadian landscape dotted with tolls and charges matches its needs and wants because the Liberals pledge to increase total infrastructure spending through this innovation, and they plan to reach deep into municipal-provincial jurisdiction to do so.

Cutting through the deception means seeing the Canada Infrastructure Bank for what it is: the long run theft of public dollars. Historically low interest rates make for less profitable investments, and with unhappy investors on a hunt for yield, our public infrastructure will soon be on offer. Yet low interest rates equally make for happy borrowers. The government’s own 2015 budget trumpets the lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio in the G-7. While we shouldn’t be foolish with excessive debt run up, we also shouldn’t be fooled into buying what investors are selling. •

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UK Independence Party Leader Nigel Farage, Bombast and the US-British Relationship

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Nigel-Farage

“In Washington Lord Halifax Once whispered to Lord Keynes: It’s true they have the money bags, But we have all the brains.— Anonymous verse, noted in Richard N. Gardner, Sterling-dollar diplomacy in current perspective (1980), xiii.

Never accuse the former leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) of being shy. In recent days, Nigel Farage has been reiterating to followers and press outlets that his party was instrumental in electing Donald Trump as US president. Very cocksure is old Farage, and it was confidence that did get a boost from a personal endorsement from Donald Trump that he be appointed Britain’s ambassador to the United States.

“The result of [the EU] referendum has certainly been pretty seismic in terms of British politics. But I think I would argue it may just have had a bit of an effect on the other side of the Atlantic.”[1] This, according to Farage, reversed the usual tendency of New York catching the cold, with London sneezing in response. This time, it was London making New York noses run.

This particular observation is amusing on one level, reminiscent of stages in the US-British relationship when the shaded empire, diminishing before the growth of Washington, longed to be recognised as important. Those in power always hate retiring.

In recent times, students of that relationship have seen the intimacy of the moment forged in the blood and desperation of the Second World War, when a visiting President Franklin D. Roosevelt chanced upon Prime Minister Winston Churchill emerging from the bath soon after the attack on Pearl Harbour. “The Prime Minister of Great Britain,” came the response from Churchill, “has nothing to conceal from the President of the United States.”

What has mattered over the years is the desire, on the part of anxious British policy makers, to convince their US counterparts about the wisdom of their ways. Empire, being their rehearsed and practised domain, was always going to be something to offer in terms of experience.

The current brain box of Britannia, despite failing in Iraq and Afghanistan, is still considered full, happy to offer wise words in a tumultuous, crisis ridden world. That particular cerebral element proved lacking in 1956, when Anglo-French ambitions over the Suez Canal were thwarted by rank US disapproval. And it refused to come to the rescue of the US intervention in Indochina. Such is the nature of these relationships, being at times brutal and indifferent.

The long held strategy of Britain’s policy wonks was laid out, to some degree, in September 1917, with the US freshly engaged in the killing fields of Europe. Lord Robert Cecil’s memorandum expressed the hope that policy makers in Washington would, in time, see the ways of British policy. There was “undoubtedly a difference between the British and Continental view in international matters”; if the United States were to accept “our point of view in these matters, it will mean the dominance of that point of view in all international affairs.”

What developed was the conscious creation of a myth, not so much from the US side of the bargain as a “deliberate British creation,” to use David Reynolds’ terms words, one “invented as a tool of diplomacy” (International Affairs, 1985-6).

Farage has been the latest flicker in this trend of common thought, another fawning builder of the transatlantic relationship. Both Farage and Trump insisted on rubbishing an Establishment deaf and even dumb to populism – for Farage, exiting the European Union, for Trump, the smug, bruising those conceited dynastic powers of the Bush and Clinton families. Both electoral aggressors won their victories against the tide of conformism and the polls.

Farage made his excitement for Trump known by venturing across the pond to the United States. He turned up to Trump rallies. He spoke about Britain’s “independence day”. This has become something of a pastime, an attempt to internationalise his local efforts. Claiming in big-headed fashion to have secured Trump the White House, he now wishes to achieve similar feats for France’s National Front leader Marine Len Pen.

What threw Farage deeper into the news was the suggestion by Trump that he would, in fact, make a good ambassador to the United States. On Twitter, which has become the first organ of finger itchy communication, Trump expressed the view that, “Many people would like to see [@Nigel_Farage] represent Great Britain as their Ambassador to the United States. He would do a great job!”[2]

Despite this aside, Twitter has, as yet, to constitute a formal means of appointing ambassadors between the UK and the US. “There is no vacancy,” came the response form a Downing Street spokesman, a point reiterated by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. “We already have an excellent ambassador to the US.”[3]

Even establishment papers looked with some favour on the Farage-Trump play on ambassadorship. Tim Stanley of The Telegraph suggested that the terrain had so dramatically changed, it was perfectly in order. “We have to ask ourselves what we want in this brave new world of conservative populism. The bromance between Farage and Trump offers opportunities.”[4]

For all of Farage’s confidence, Britain has over the years become even less of an aircraft carrier for the United States. While the Anglophone tunes continue being played to an empty concert hall, with the Brexiteers keen, on some level, to come even closer to the United States, there is no such state of affairs. Britain will continue to do Washington’s bidding – for peanuts. The US, in turn, will do what every hegemon does: dictate terms, and make concessions when required.

Posted in USA, UKComments Off on UK Independence Party Leader Nigel Farage, Bombast and the US-British Relationship

The West’s War on Thailand’s Next King

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thailand-flag

The first fatal mistake Western observers make when attempting to describe Thailand’s monarchy is comparing it to European, or worse yet, Arabian institutions. It is neither.

With the passing of the universally revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej and the upcoming coronation of his successor, Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, Western observers are indulging deeply in this mistake once again – many doing so intentionally for politically-motivated reasons.

Thailand, a nation of nearly 70 million people, and a significant political, military, and economic power in Southeast Asia, remains the only nation in the region to avoid colonization by European powers. It managed this through the leadership of its monarchs and the unity they have historically fostered throughout Thai history.

For nations seeking to subjugate Thailand as a nation and Asia as a region, Thailand’s monarchy poses a significant and formidable obstacle to their ambitions – and an obstacle they have worked for decades to eliminate through every means from propaganda to terrorism.

For nations wishing to create stronger ties with Thailand, understanding the importance of this institution, rather than attempting to judge the nation by Western standards, is key.

During this crucial transitional period, it is important for nations seeking closer relations with Thailand to avoid repeating the torrent of disinformation intentionally put out by the Western media as part of its calculated “pivot to Asia” in which it seeks to undermine regional strength and reassert Western domination by tearing down political leaders and institutions that stand in its way.

The Thai Monarchy 

Thailand’s monarchy – officially a constitutional monarchy – stretches back seven centuries, with the current dynasty reigning for over 230 years. It has developed and currently rules as a uniquely Thai institution with its own history and its own social contract with the Thai people. Contrary to disinformation spread by the increasingly discredited Western media and the circles of lobbyists that have infiltrated and tainted their ranks, the reverence, loyalty, and respect Thai people view this institution with is real.

The most accurate comparison to make between Thailand’s monarchy and any given Western equivalent, would not be with a European monarchy, but with Western “founding fathers.” Thailand’s monarchy over the centuries, made critical reforms to improve life within Thailand, and bolster the nation’s competitive edge regionally and internationally. It was the Thai monarchy under the reign King Rama V (1868-1910) that ultimately abolished slavery – without the necessity of a civil war as seen in the US. It was also King Rama V who ushered in modern technology and administrative reforms.

The late King Bhumibol Adulyadej spent his seventy years as Thailand’s head of state fostering national unity amid a region immersed in divisive war. He also worked for decades to create socioeconomic and political self-sufficiency, recognizing the predatory nature of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the dangers of becoming economically dependent on foreign institutions.

He was also a champion of localization, organic farming, and self-reliance as well as economic diversification for farmers as a means of weathering fluctuating market prices both within Thailand’s borders and beyond them.

Considering this, and the fact that the West’s “international order” is predicated on corporate-financier monopolies and centralized “globalization” – the antithesis of what Thailand’s head of state promoted for decades – it is no wonder the West’s various institutions and media fronts attempted to undermine and overthrow the monarchy.

With King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s passing, he leaves behind him a myriad of official and unofficial institutions, organizations, and national networks dedicated to carrying on his work. He also leaves his successor, Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn – the new target of Western subversion.

The Next King of Thailand 

Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, 64 years old, is a trained jet fighter and jet liner pilot who served in Thailand’s armed forces, taking part in both air and ground combat operations along Thailand’s borders. He has since carried out public duties including presiding over opening ceremonies, university graduations, and other public functions as is expected of the institution.

Because his public service to Thailand is impeccable, Western interests seeking to undermine and overthrow the vital institution he represents have resorted to personal attacks – as they have done with all national leaders and prominent figures impeding Western interests, worldwide.
Despite this superficial attack focused on the Prince himself, Thailand’s monarchy represents more than an individual. It represents a circle of experienced, skilled advisers, and overall, a wider institution with centuries of history, culture, and the unity of the Thai people behind it.

It would be an egregious miscalculation to indulge in Western propaganda rather than rationally map out the current and likely future political landscape of Thailand, one that will be dominated by figures close to the life’s work of Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn’s father, as well as figures pragmatic and in tune with the regional shift away from American hegemony, toward a more independent Asia.

For Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn himself, he need only maintain the dignity of the position he will soon occupy – something he has already spent a lifetime doing by performing his public duties. Time will tell whether he takes on a more active role in Thai society as his father once did, but even if he remains a relatively neutral figure, he will be respected by and inspire unity among the Thai people. It must ultimately be remembered that it will be the Thai people, not Western lobbyists and propagandists, who determine the success and impact of the next king’s reign.

For Western propagandists who insist the Prince is “unpopular” and will bring to an end Thailand’s seven century-old institution, it should be remembered that their “predictions” are part of a wider lobbying campaign, not legitimate, fact-based analysis. These same media organizations and “experts” predicted a “civil war” erupting in Thailand in 2013-2014, and even suggested that the capital of the nation would shift from Bangkok to the northern city of Chiang Mai 680 km away – absurd predictions that never even remotely materialized and upon closer analysis, never could have.

The West is retreating from its position as global hegemon specifically because of a crisis of credibility and the way it deals with developing nations and emerging centers of global power. For nations seeking to establish a new, multipolar world order built upon something more sustainable and equitable, avoiding – even opposing Western narratives aimed at destabilizing and undermining specific nations would be a step in the right direction.

Thailand specifically, as it makes this sensitive transition, will remember the nations who offered them respect and support and those who maliciously took advantage of a perceived moment of weakness.

Posted in Far EastComments Off on The West’s War on Thailand’s Next King

What Has Neoliberal Capitalism Ever Done for India? The Demonetization Heist

NOVANEWS
 
India-economy_0

When India ushered in neoliberal economic reforms during the early 1990s, the promise was job creation, inclusive growth and prosperity for all. But, some 25 years later, what we have seen is almost 400,000 farmers committing suicide, one of the greatest levels of inequality out of all ‘emerging’ economies, a trend towards jobless ‘growth’, an accelerating and massive illegal outflow of wealth by the rich, and, as if that were not enough, now we have the sequestration of ordinary people’s money under the euphemism ‘demonetization’.

Data from the Multi-dimensional Poverty Indexindicates that 20 years ago, India had the second-best social indicators among the six South Asian countries (IndiaPakistanBangladeshSri LankaNepal and Bhutan), but now it has the second worst position, ahead only of Pakistan. Bangladesh has less than half of India’s per-capita GDP but has infant and child mortality rates lower than that of India.

The neoliberal model of development has moreover arguably seen the poverty alleviation rate in India remain around the same as it was back  pre-independent India, while the ratio between the top and bottom ten percent of the population has doubled since 1991. According to the Organisation for Co-operation and Economic Development, this doubling of income inequality has made India one of the worst performers in the category of emerging economies.

Neoliberalism in India has been underpinned byunconstitutional land takeovers and population displacement, with the state using military and para-military forces in the process alongside the suspension of various democratic rights and the wide scale abuse of human rights. For supporters of cronyism, cartels and the monopolization of markets by private interests, which to all extents and purposes is what neoliberalism thrives on in India (and elsewhere), there have been untold opportunities for well-placed individuals to make an under-the-table fast buck from various infrastructure projects and privatisation sell offs.

But PM Modi interprets all of this in a different way, which comes as little surprise, given harsh the reality – not the media misrepresentations – of what he ‘achieved’ in Gujarat as Chief Minister. He recently stated that India is now one of the most business-friendly countries in the world. The code for being ‘business friendly’ translates into a willingness by the government to facilitate much of what is outlined above, while reducing taxes and tariffs and allowing the acquisition of public assets via privatisation as well as instituting policy frameworks that work to the advantage of foreign corporations.

In agriculture, for instance, we are seeing the displacement of a pre-existing productive system. Small and medium-sized enterprises are obliged to produce for global entities, state enterprises are being run down or (semi)privatised and independent agricultural producers are impoverished. The tragedy is that model that is intended to supplant the existing one is based on Cargill/Monsanto’s environment- and livelihood-destroying business models for corporate profit which have become synonymous with the ‘national interest’.

Unfortunately, people like Aruna Rodrigues and Vandana Shiva and certain NGOs who criticise this and offer credible alternatives are regarded by elements of the state as either working against the interest of the nation or colluding with ‘foreign interests’ – when the reality is that the state is doing exactly that!

Seeds, mountains, water, forests and biodiversity are being sold off. The farmers and tribals are being sold out. And the more that gets sold off, the more who get sold out, the greater the amount of cash and credit goes into corporate accounts and the easier it is for the misinformed to swallow the lie of ‘growth’. As the state abdicates it redistributive role and facilitates the World Bank’s agenda, India is suddenly labelled capitalism’s ‘economic miracle’.

The opening up of India to foreign capital is supported by rhetoric about increasing efficiency, job creation and boosting growth. According to the neoliberal ideologues, foreign investment is good for jobs and good for business. But just how many jobs actually get created is another matter, as is the amount of jobs destroyed in the first place to pave the way for the entry of foreign corporations.

For example, Cargill sets up a food or seed processing plant that employs a few hundred people, but what about the agricultural jobs that were deliberately eradicated in the first place or the village-level processors who were cynically put out of business so Cargill could gain a financially lucrative foothold? Hundreds of millions of livelihoods are in danger as foreign corporations and capital smells massive profits on the back of the World Bank-backed commercialisation of rural India.

India’s much-lauded economic growth in recent times has been built on consumer and corporate debt. Corporate subsidies and (real estate) investment bubbles have given the impression of economic prosperity. And it is merely an ‘impression’. For instance, consider the amount of tax breaks and handouts given to the corporate sector and what little it has achieved in return in terms of jobs or exports. And consider too the massive amount of corporate debt written off by state-owned banks, while farmers kill themselves en masse because of debt, partly due to Monsanto’s capture of the cotton sector and partly because of economic liberalisation and increasing exposure to rigged markets courtesy of the WTO.

And so to the latest heist – ‘demonetization’. According to Binu Mathew, banks in India were facing a liquidity crisis and parts of the debt-inflated economy were in danger of imploding. In this respect, Modi’s outlawing of almost 90% of India’s cash notes overnight is basically a bail-out/windfall for the corporate elites/real estate speculators.

This tactic neatly removed the danger of creating inflation by merely printing money. You can forget about Western-style bank bailouts and subsequent ‘austerity’, the Indian government decided to sequester the public’s money directly in an attempt to keep the neoliberal crony capitalism ponzi scheme on course.

As Mathew says:

 The banks will lend out the money ‘confiscated from you’. Who will benefit? Not the poor farmers who are committing by their thousands every month. Not the children who are dying of malnutrition in several parts of the country. Not the small manufacturers who are struggling to keep up their businesses? Who will benefit? The crony capitalists that props up the Modi regime. This demonetization is the biggest crony capitalist neo-liberalist coup that has ever taken place in India. Never doubt it, India will have to pay a heavy price for it.

As in the US, the undermining of a productive economic base – in India’s case, a failure to boost industrial manufacturing performance and jobs and pumping up the economy with credit, while at the same time dismantling its greatest asset – the agrarian base – can only lead to a dead-end. Courtesy of its compliant politicians, India has hitched a ride aboard the wholly corrupt neoliberal bandwagon to nowhere.

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Fidel Castro’s Legacy: The Power of Ideas. Living in Solidarity

NOVANEWS
Fidel Castro

There’s a famous anecdote about the voyage of the Granma, the tiny vessel that left Mexico sixty years before the day that Fidel Castro died this week. As the boat was nearing its destination in the east of Cuba, after two years of preparation, a man fell overboard. Possibly wrecking the entire mission, Fidel Castro refused to leave. The overloaded yacht went round and round in the dark until the man was finally spotted and rescued.

It’s more than a story. It exemplifies a philosophical conception of human beings, and our value, that goes back hundreds of years in Cuba and millennia elsewhere. It is not the view most of us live by, in the North at least. While European philosophers were pushing liberalism, giving centrality to the individual self, early in the nineteenth century, Cuban independence activists expressed indigenous beliefs about the fundamental and powerful interdependence of all peoples and the earth.

We don’t live well unless others live well. We depend for our wisdom, health and capacities upon what we give to and receive back from other beings, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant.

It was the philosophy of José Martí, who led Cuba’s last independence war against Spain. Fidel Castro, in subtle and fascinating ways, always credited nineteenth century Latin American philosophers, especially Martí, with the direction of the Cuban Revolution. Cuba’s humanist ideas explain its long resistance to the US financial, commercial and economic blockade, according to former Argentinean president, Cristina Fernández. The threat of increasingly sophisticated weapons, Castro once said, requires ideas: “Sow ideas, sow ideas, and sow ideas; sow awareness, sow awareness and sow awareness”.

Some will shake their heads. But ideas change how we think, which changes how we speak and how we act. It’s a simple truth, recognizing cause and effect. In Caracus, after Hugo Chávez was first elected, Fidel said people suffer because of “nicely sweetened but rotten ideas … that man is an animal moved only by a carrot or when beaten by a whip.” That is, we suffer because of false ideas about what it means to be human.

Cuba surprised the world when, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cubans continued proclaiming independence and socialism.  Their system was expected to collapse, within months. The world was surprised again, when Castro stepped down because of illness in 2006, and life in Cuba went on as usual. The presumed chaos and disorder did not happen.

Cuba’s foreign policy surprises. It has been called selfless, which is considered impossible by many political theorists and philosophers. Cuban presence in Angola, according to historian Richard Gott, was “entirely without selfish motivation”. Nelson Mandela asked, “What other country can point to a record of greater selflessness than Cuba has displayed in its relations to Africa?”

There’s plenty of documentation about Cuba’s internationalism, which continues. In 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that “Few have heeded the call [to fight Ebola], but one country responded in strength: Cuba.” Cuba sent more than 450 doctors and nurses, chosen from more than 15,000 volunteers, by far the largest medical mission sent by any country. More than 15,000 Cuban medical volunteers identified their personal stake in the West African tragedy.

In 2007, Cuban doctors, working in Bolivia, restored the sight of Mario Teran, the Bolivian sergeant who shot dead Che Guevara. Cuban press reported: “Che returns to win yet another battle”.

None of these events were miracles. There is an explanation. It has to do with ideas. Philosophical ideas. The same ideas that explain why an entire mission, to liberate a country, was put at risk for one man.

In Caracas, Castro said, “We are winning the battle for ideas… They discovered ‘smart weapons’ but we discovered something more powerful, namely, the idea that humans think and feel.” In a speech on December 2, 2001, months after the attack on New York City, he said, “There is no more powerful weapon than an individual who knows who she is and where she is going”.

It’s perhaps true, as Fidel said at his self-defense in 1953, that history will be the final judge. But the philosophical foundations of the Cuban revolution can be known and tried out now. Martí famously claimed that weapons of ideas are more powerful than weapons of steel. Fidel’s ideas are out there, in speeches, interviews and declarations. They can be known, and tested.

The results are certainly known (even though mostly ignored in the North). They’ll be talked about in these sad days, by those who are brave and smart enough to see beyond one of the most massive disinformation campaigns ever. Nonetheless, the ideas get little credit. They are deeply philosophical, having to do with how we know, and who we are, as human beings.

Marx, after all, said human beings are distinct from other animals precisely because we care about what it means to be the species we are:  We don’t just want to live well as human beings. We want to know that we do.

If we take up the challenge, we won’t have to wait for history to judge Fidel Castro. We can know and experience the benefits of living more sensibly, in solidarity with other peoples. The world has lost an example, admired across the planet by those who suffer, and those who care about their suffering. Luckily, the ideas remain, and there are people who care about that too.

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Fidel Castro’s Revolutionary Spirit Inspires the World to Pursue Equity and Justice

NOVANEWS
Fidel-Castro 2

Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro passed away on November 25. People from around the world offered condolences for his loss, paying tribute to his legendary life and immortal spirit.

Over the past half century, Castro has been regarded as a symbol that represented the pursuit of justice.

“He has devoted all his life to the Cuban people’s great cause of struggling for national liberation, safeguarding state sovereignty and building socialism,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said in his message of condolence to his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro.

“He has made immortal historic contributions to the Cuban people and to the world socialism development,” Xi added. Calling Castro “a great figure of our times,” he said that Comrade Castro will be remembered by history and by the people as well.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a statement, lauded Castro’s contribution, saying that “he was a strong voice for social justice in global discussions at the UN General Assembly and international and regional forums.”

Over the past 60 years, Castro has fought for revolution, socialism development, national independence, as well as world justice both in Cuba and the world arena. Speaking of Cuba’s attitude toward the US, Castro said that “Cuba will never kneel down to the US with its people unified together.”

Cuba is not opposed to finding a solution to its historical differences with the US, but no one should expect Cuba to change its position or yield to its principles. Cuba is and will continue to be socialist, he stressed.

The loss of such a legend also drives the world to review history and explore the future. Since equity and justice are always required to realize human development, each nation should strive for these two goals for the sake of civilization of the mankind in each era. However, people have to admit that not all humans are enjoying equity and justice so far.

It’s natural for every country to seek for sovereign equality and its own independent development, but challenges and obstacles still hinder this process. As some countries never give up the ambition and attempt to monopolize international affairs in the global system, there is still a long way to go before the final democratization of international relations.

In terms of human development, the widening gap between the rich and the poor tests the world. About 800 million people are living in extreme poverty, 6 million children under the age of 5 die every year, and nearly 60 million children are left uneducated.

Against those harsh facts, people have to reconsider the global development vision and approach, lay more focus on equity and justice and pursue a more inclusive and mutually beneficial economic globalization process. The world should never stop its exploration of the development path.

Let us remember Castro’s call at the closing of the 7th Cuban Communist Party National Congress several months ago. “We will change what needs to be reformed in the country while maintaining our loyalty and unity just like our independence heroes Marti, Maceo and Gomez,” the veteran leader declared inhis resolution.

The spirit of Fidel Castro lives for eternity. Today, the world is also learning from his wisdom for a better future while mourning over the death of this great fighter.

Our thanks to People’s Daily. Translated from Chinese by People’s Daily, Beijing

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The real link between Nazi forest fires and muezzin bill

The real link between Israel’s forest fires and muezzin bill
Minaret

By Jonathan Cook in Nazareth

Israeli legislation ostensibly intended to tackle noise pollution from Muslim houses of worship has, paradoxically, served chiefly to provoke a cacophony of indignation across much of the Middle East.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared his support this month for the so-called “muezzin bill”, claiming it was urgently needed to stop the dawn call to prayer from mosques ruining the Israeli public’s sleep. A vote in the parliament is due this week. The use of loudspeakers by muezzins was unnecessarily disruptive, Mr Netanyahu argued, in an age of alarm clocks and phone apps.

But the one in five of Israel’s population who are Palestinian, most of them Muslim, and a further 300,000 living under occupation in East Jerusalem, say the legislation is grossly discriminatory. The bill’s environmental rationale is bogus, they note. Moti Yogev, a settler leader who drafted the bill, originally wanted the loudspeaker ban to curb the broadcasting of sermons supposedly full of “incitement” against Israel.

And last week, after the Jewish ultra-Orthodox lobby began to fear the bill might also apply to sirens welcoming in the Sabbath, the government hurriedly introduced an exemption for synagogues.

Discrimination and persecution

The “muezzin bill” does not arrive in a politically neutral context. The extremist wing of the settler movement championing it has been vandalising and torching mosques in Israel and the occupied territories for years.

The new bill follows hot on the heels of a government-sponsored expulsion law that allows Jewish legislators to oust from the parliament the Palestinian minority’s representatives if they voice unpopular views.

Incrementally, Israel’s Palestinian minority has found itself squeezed out of the public sphere. The “muezzin bill” is just the latest step in making them inaudible as well as invisible.

Palestinian leaders in Israel are rarely invited on TV, unless it is to defend themselves against accusations of treasonous behaviour.

And this month a branch of a major restaurant chain in the northern city of Haifa, where many Palestinian citizens live, banned staff from speaking Arabic to avoid Jewish customers’ suspicions that they were being covertly derided.

Incrementally, Israel’s Palestinian minority has found itself squeezed out of the public sphere. The “muezzin bill” is just the latest step in making them inaudible as well as invisible.

Notably, Basel Ghattas, a Palestinian Christian legislator from the Galilee, denounced the bill too. Churches in Nazareth, Jerusalem and Haifa, he vowed, would broadcast the muezzin’s call to prayer if mosques were muzzled.

For Ghattas and others, the bill is as much an assault on the community’s beleaguered Palestinian identity as it is on its Muslim character. Netanyahu, on the other hand, has dismissed criticism by comparing the proposed restrictions to measures adopted in countries like France and Switzerland. What is good for Europe, he argues, is good for Israel.

Except Israel, it hardly needs pointing out, is not in Europe. And its Palestinians are the native population, not immigrants.

Colonial fears

Haneen Zoabi, another lawmaker, observed that the legislation was not about “the noise in [Israeli Jews’] ears but the noise in their minds”. Their colonial fears, she said, were evoked by the Palestinians’ continuing vibrant presence in Israel – a presence that was supposed to have been extinguished in 1948 with the Nakba, the creation of a Jewish state on the ruins of the Palestinians’ homeland.

That point was illustrated inadvertently over the weekend by dozens of fires that ravaged pine forests and neighbouring homes across Israel, fuelled by high winds and months of drought.

Some posting on social media relished the fires as God’s punishment for the “muezzin bill”.

With almost as little evidence, Netanyahu accused Palestinians of setting “terrorist” fires to burn down the Israeli state. The Israeli prime minister needs to distract attention from his failure to heed warnings six years ago, when similar blazes struck, that Israel’s densely packed forests pose a fire hazard.

“Memoricide”

If it turns out that some of the fires were set on purpose, Netanyahu will have no interest in explaining why.

Many of the forests were planted decades ago by Israel to conceal the destruction of hundreds of Palestinian villages, after 80 per cent of the Palestinian population – some 750,000 – were expelled outside Israel’s new borders in 1948. Today they live in refugee camps, including in the West Bank and Gaza.

Many of the forests were planted decades ago by Israel to conceal the destruction of hundreds of Palestinian villages, after 80 per cent of the Palestinian population… were expelled outside Israel’s new borders in 1948. 

According to Israeli scholars, the country’s European founders turned the pine tree into a “weapon of war”, using it to erase any trace of the Palestinians. The Israeli historian Ilan Pappe calls this policy “memoricide”.

Olive trees and other native species like carob, pomegranate and citrus were also uprooted in favour of the pine. Importing the landscape of Europe was a way to ensure Jewish immigrants would not feel homesick.

Today, for many Israeli Jews, only the muezzin threatens this contrived idyll. His intermittent call to prayer emanates from the dozens of Palestinian communities that survived 1948’s mass expulsions and were not replaced with pine trees.

Like an unwelcome ghost, the sound now haunts neighbouring Jewish towns.

The “muezzin bill” aims to eradicate the aural remnants of Palestine as completely as Israel’s forests obliterated its visible parts – and reassure Israelis that they live in Europe rather than the Middle East.

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