Archive | August 12th, 2017

China’s Economy Shows Strong Resilience


China’s better-than-expected economic performance in the first half of this year was applauded by overseas organizations who believe that China will continue to be a stabilizer of the global economy. Analysts pointed out that China’s satisfactory answer sheet on the economy is closely related to its strong resilience.

In the first half of the year, China posted a forecast-beating GDP increase of 6.9 percent, higher than the global average.

Global expectations on China’s economic performance are high. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) raised China’s 2017 growth forecast to 6.7 percent, its third increase this year. Bloomberg projected China’s GDP in the third and fourth quarters at 6.6 and 6.7 percent respectively, both projections 0.1 percent higher than its previous forecasts.

The Standard Chartered Bank revised China’s growth this year from 6.6 percent up to 6.8 percent, saying China will achieve an accelerated annual growth for the first time since 2010.

The more resilient economy results from an optimized structure bolstered by further expansion of the consumer market and the services sector. According to a report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), China’s consumer market is growing by 10 percent a year on average, faster than in any other country.

In the first half year, final consumption expenditures contributed 63.4 percent and the services industry contributed 59.1 percent to economic growth. The continuation of consumption’s fundamental role and the service industry’s role as a main engine of growth is vital to China’s economic resilience.

Bob Carr, director of the Australia-China Relations Institute, thinks consumption is relatively sticky and stable. Final consumption, as the largest contributor to GDP growth, has further stabilized China’s economic growth, he said.

China has a burgeoning middle class and it is estimated an additional 850 million people will join in the middle class by 2030, Carr said. By then, China’s spending will reach $14.3 trillion, accounting for 22 percent of the global total, higher than that of the US at 7 percent, he continued.

The emergence of new impetus produces economic resilience as well. The implementation of the strategy of innovation-driven development since the beginning of this year has fostered new technologies, new industries and new forms of business. The rise of new impetus represented by strategic new industries and sharing economy has become new growth drivers.

European think tank Bruegel holds that China is now speeding up to surpass many developed countries in terms of scientific innovation.

According to a recent study by Bruegel, China has already spent more on research and development, as a percentage of GDP, than the European Union, and it now produces as many scientific publications as the US and more PhDs in natural sciences and engineering.

Bruegel believes China is fully capable of becoming a leader in scientific innovation and pushing forward a multi-polarized global scientific research pattern by 2050.

China’s economic resilience cannot be achieved without sound fundamentals. As the largest developing country and the second-largest economy in the world, China is in the process of new-type industrialization, informatization, urbanization and agricultural modernization.

The country’s solid material foundation, abundant human resources and vast market potential will continue to provide a sound basis and condition for sustained economic growth.

Supply-side structural reform facilitates economic resilience as well. The reform has promoted economic transformation, stimulated vitality, defused risks and boosted confidence.

In the first half of 2017, about 16,000 new businesses were registered every day on average, more than two times before China’s business system reform, strongly driving innovation and entrepreneurship.

In the second quarter, the prosperity index among small and micro enterprises reached 96.5 percent, the highest in the past two years. A 6.9 percent increase in above-scale industrial added value was registered, the best performance since 2015, indicating that policies to support the development of the real economy have begun to yield results and the quality of development has been improved.

Deloitte said in a report that the Chinese government is proactively taking measures to meet the challenges brought by urbanization and aging of population, forging “one-hour economic circles” to strengthen transportation and trade links between rural and urban areas.

The country is also accelerating development of pension and medical services and exploring development opportunities as the population ages rapidly. In addition, it is also devoted to automation and artificial intelligence as a way to pursue the transformation from a labor-intensive goods exporter to a high value manufacturing country.

As the Forbes pointed out, “The China miracle isn’t over –It has entered its second phase.”

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Colombia Peace Deal Inches Forward


Indigenous, Afro-Colombian leaders fear the state has not shed its violent past


The peace accords signed in November 2016 by the government of Juan Manuel Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, Colombia’s largest guerrilla army) ended a half-century-long conflict that killed 260,000 people and displaced another six million. Under the terms of the deal, the FARC was supposed to hand over its weapons by June 20. Despite its accusations that the government was violating the deal, FARC met this deadline on June 16.

Still, factors are threatening to delay demobilization. One of them is the important issue of land reform. Though the main cause of the conflict was the concentration of land ownership in the hands of the Colombian elite, President Santos has pushed that conversation into the future. A resolution may not even be possible as long as the Colombian government remains committed to an extractivist economic model benefitting the private mining and energy sectors. For Santos, a key benefit of peace is to get the FARC out of the way of multinational corporations that want to exploit Colombia’s natural resources in the countryside.

FARC guerrillas marching in formation during the Caguan peace talks (1998–2002) (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Meanwhile, the violence continues. Most of the killings during the civil war were carried out not by the FARC but by paramilitaries linked to the state. Human Rights Watch called these public-private militias “the sixth division” of the Colombian army. The peace accords do not disband the paramilitaries, who killed 156 human rights activists between January 2016 and March 2017, according to Colombia’s ombudsman Carlos Alfonso Negret. In April, two FARC members were murdered by paramilitaries within 10 days, even as the guerrilla army was in the process of laying down its arms—an ominous reminder of the right-wing massacre of 3,000 former FARC members after their successful 1985 election showing under the Patriotic Union party.

“Unfortunately, I believe that these accords will not bring peace because they were not made to resolve the root of the social conflict that brought FARC into existence,” says Olimpo Cárdenas, spokesperson for the Social Roundtable for Peace, a coalition of unions, social movements, political organizations and NGOs that promotes the participation of civil society in the Colombian peace process. “The worst thing is the lack of political will on the part of the government to open politics to the FARC or to any other political view.

“Violence is a structural element of the Colombian regime,” he adds. “Historically every peace agreement has led to the mass assassination of the opposition. The establishment is playing good cop and bad cop, but together they have actually managed to disarm the most powerful guerrilla army of the continent, basically for nothing in return.”

Cárdenas is not entirely negative about the accords. Despite the bleak present situation, he says the FARC “is going to open a space” in the political landscape. “It might not be a success in the first year but they should be an important political and social actor in the future.” The Colombian peace accords also include an “ethnic chapter” that provides specific safeguards for the rights of Indigenous and Afro-Colombians, both of whom have been disproportionately affected by the armed conflict.

Cárdenas’s concerns are shared by Luis Fernando Arias, Indigenous leader of the Kankuamo people and general counsel of the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), which represents 47 Indigenous organizations.

“This process of paramilitarization of the countryside in Colombia has led to the murders of 27 social, Indigenous and peasant leaders between January and March,” he tells me. “This paramilitary offensive obeys an economic logic because following it, the large corporations arrive, especially extractive industries.”

According to Fernando Arias, Indigenous people in Colombia have legal rights to 33 million hectares of land, about 27% of the national territory. Furthermore, 87% of Indigenous lands are legally protected as conservation areas, yet 95% of Indigenous territory has been conceded to extractive industries without consultation with Indigenous people.

“Essentially what the government has managed to do is get the FARC out of the way so that extractive industries can come into Indigenous lands and elsewhere,” he says. “So while it is good that they resolved the armed conflict, on the other hand it will create deeper social, environmental and economic conflicts for us, especially with private companies.”

Fernando Arias emphasizes that Indigenous peoples are the most directly affected by the government’s conflict with the FARC. His grandfather and uncle were both killed, in 2001 and 2004, along with 386 Indigenous leaders from his community. But he says these recent killings cannot be separated from “a process of historical genocide and this genocide has a master which is capitalism.” Then, as now, the objective is “to take our riches, our natural resources such as gold. The European invasion of South America, started by Columbus, is now being carried on by corporations and their big extractive projects.”

A report published in May by the National Security Archive in Washington, D.C., based on declassified documents, found that Chiquita Brands paid armed groups in Colombia, including paramilitaries, to protect its operations. In 2015, murder charges were laid in Colombia against an executive of Drummond Coal, a mining company based in Arizona. Charo Minas Rojas wonders how Colombians can talk about a lasting peace under such a brutal extractivist economic model.

“As Afro-Colombians who have endured the armed conflict in flesh and blood, we demand a peace process that confronts and addresses the racism, inequality and violence directed against us,” says the Afro-Colombian human rights defender, and member of the Black Communities Process in Colombia, who helped write the ethnic chapter of the Colombian peace accords. “When we look for the source of the conflict, we find that we are not really victims of the armed conflict, we are victims of capitalism—this is what is killing us. This is what is massacring us and committing genocide against us.”

One-third of the six million people who have been displaced by armed conflict in Colombia are Afro-Colombians. In May, over 150,000 Afro-Colombians from Buenaventura declared a general strike that shut down the country’s important port city. Traffic was stopped by roadblocks, halting all economic activity. The strikers demanded basic rights from the government, including increased health care coverage, clean drinking water, more education spending, basic sanitation (there is no sewage system) and adequate employment.

Image result for killings in colombia

Source: teleSUR

Buenaventura has the highest poverty rate in Colombia (close to 66%) and its people have been subjected to years of armed conflict and paramilitary violence. In response to the strike, on May 19 the Santos government sent in the military and police, and the city has been placed under curfew. Strikers have been teargassed, pepper-sprayed and attacked with rubber bullets; 80 people have been arrested and more than a dozen injured.

Sheila Gruner, a professor at Algoma University who has been following the work of the Black Communities Process in Colombia for many years, tells me Buenaventura can be considered “a test case for ‘post accord’ Colombia.” She says the state repression of the peaceful mobilizations in the city “raises questions about the peace accord in relation to political participation and the right to peaceful dissent.”

Gruner says the peace process is very important for Buenaventura.

“If the issues are not addressed as raised during this strike, if Black leaders who have been working on these issues for decades are not allowed to lead efforts for peace in their jurisdictions, as they have every right to do in the implementation phase of the peace process, if the issue of increased paramilitary activity in Buenaventura is not addressed, then there will be even more fertile ground for the continuation of war, displacement and violence against Black communities.”

Even if the deadline for demobilization is met in June, Fernando Arias, like Cárdenas, says the Union Patriotica massacres of the 1980s could easily be repeated.

“How can there be peace when killings on such a large scale are continuing? We want the whole world to know that Colombia is not a paradise where peace has been achieved. Paramilitarism is strong in Colombia and as long as it is not dismantled, we cannot have peace in the country.”

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Statement From Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on Current U.S.-North Korea Relations


The harsh rhetoric from Washington and Pyongyang during recent months has exacerbated an already confrontational relationship between our countries, and has probably eliminated any chance of good faith peace talks between the United States and North Korea. In addition to restraining the warlike rhetoric, our leaders need to encourage talks between North Korea and other countries, especially China and Russia. The recent UN Security Council unanimous vote for new sanctions suggests that these countries could help. In all cases, a nuclear exchange must be avoided. All parties must assure North Koreans they we will forego any military action against them if North Korea remains peaceful.

I have visited North Korea three times, and have spent more than 20 hours in discussions with their political leaders regarding important issues that affect U.S.-DPRK relations.

In June 1994, I met with Kim Il Sung in a time of crisis, when he agreed to put all their nuclear programs under strict supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency and to seek mutual agreement with the United States on a permanent peace treaty, to have summit talks with the president of South Korea, to expedite the recovery of the remains of American service personnel buried in his country, and to take other steps to ease tension on the peninsula. Kim Il Sung died shortly after my visit, and his successor, Kim Jong Il, notified me and leaders in Washington that he would honor the promises made by his father. These obligations were later confirmed officially in negotiations in Geneva by Robert Gallucci and other representatives of the Clinton administration.

I returned to Pyongyang in August 2010, at the invitation of North Korean leaders, to bring home Aijalon Gomes, an American who had been detained there. My last visit to North Korea was in May 2011 when I led a delegation of Elders (former presidents of Ireland and Finland and former prime minister of Norway) to assure the delivery of donated food directly to needy people.

During all these visits, the North Koreans emphasized that they wanted peaceful relations with the United States and their neighbors, but were convinced that we planned a preemptive military strike against their country. They wanted a peace treaty (especially with America) to replace the ceasefire agreement that had existed since the end of the Korean War in 1953, and to end the economic sanctions that had been very damaging to them during that long interim period. They have made it clear to me and others that their first priority is to assure that their military capability is capable of destroying a large part of Seoul and of responding strongly in other ways to any American attack. The influence of China in Pyongyang seems to be greatly reduced since Kim Jong Un became the North Korean leader in December 2011.

A commitment to peace by the United States and North Korea is crucial. When this confrontational crisis is ended, the United States should be prepared to consummate a permanent treaty to replace the ceasefire of 1953. The United States should make this clear, to North Koreans and to our allies.

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Trump and Mad Dog Mattis: Ultimatum to North Korea, Miscalculations Could Lead to Catastrophic War


Inflammatory rhetoric by Trump and Mattis risks turning a war of words into something much more serious. Miscalculations on both sides could lead to catastrophic war.

On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Mattis issued an ultimatum to North Korea, saying “cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and destruction of its people.”

His warning came in response to Pyongyang suggesting plans to fire ballistic missiles to within 30 – 40 km from Guam by mid-August.

On Thursday, Trump said his “fire and fury” warning perhaps wasn’t “tough enough.” The DPRK should “get (its) act together (or it’ll) be in trouble like few nations have ever been.” Its leadership should be “very, very nervous” if it does anything harmful to America or its allies.

Kim Jong-un “disrespected our country greatly. He’s not getting away with it.”

On Friday, China warned Washington, saying if it tries to forcefully topple North Korea’s government, it’ll intervene to stop it.

It repeated calls for calm and diplomatic outreach – easing tensions, not escalating them further. China’s People’s Daily said

“(a) way out of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula cannot be found in the latest exchange of tough words between Washington and Pyongyang.”

“(T)he bottom line on the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula is that there must not be any armed conflict there. There is no room for any related party to play with fire on the issue.”

China’s Global Times (GT) said

“when…actions jeopardize (Beijing’s) interests, (it’ll) respond with a firm hand.”

GT repeated the warning issued in the People’s Daily, saying

“(i)f the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.”

Beijing firmly opposes war on the Korean peninsula, threatening its national security. Its warning against the possibility is the strongest issued so far, a clear message telling Washington to back off.

Beijing won’t tolerate US East Asia aggression. It’s committed to regional peace and stability and will do whatever it takes to achieve these objectives – America’s meddling in a part of the world not its own the main obstacle.

Schulz, Martin-2050-2.jpg

Martin Schulz (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

German SPD head Martin Schulz, a candidate for chancellor in September federal elections, blasted Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric on North Korea, saying

“(w)e are in a situation when we need to tell the US government clearly that verbal saber rattling leads to the exacerbation of the conflict.”

“We need to use all channels to achieve de-escalation, to get the message across to the US president that his rhetoric is dangerous.”

Separately, China’s Defense Ministry warned Washington “to immediately correct its wrongdoing and stop provocations under the pretext of so-called ‘freedom of navigation,’ “ in response to a US guided-missile destroyer entering waters near China’s Nansha Islands without permission, adding:

“(S)uch provocative actions of the United States significantly hinder bilateral strategic trust, and also create difficulties and obstacles for enhancing relations between the armed forces of the two countries” – exacerbated by Beijing’s frustration over Washington’s tough talk on North Korea, risking war on the peninsula.

Regional conditions remain tense. Unthinkable nuclear war could follow by accident or design.


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Khirbet Tana in the West Bank: A Silenced Struggle Against Nazi Occupation and Expulsion


Khirbet Tana has been under Israeli attack for long in the attempt to expel the Palestinian population from their lands and colonise the areas with settlements. Challenging Israeli home demolition, residents have taken to reform and inhabit caves and are leading an inspiring struggle for dignity and rights.


Featured image: Khirbet Tana Tea 

Representatives from the Land Defense Coalition spent the afternoon of July 5th driving through the winding hills of the surrounding Nablus Governorate area, and standing under trees to escape the ceaseless heat as we visited Khirbet Tana, a herding and agriculturally based community of families that reside in the some forty plus caves dotting the sloping hills.

The Land Defense Coalition members were visiting the local popular committee that organises the daily resistance and steadfastness of the community.

The most recent internationally released report Khirbet Tana was in January of 2017, when the village made news for being one of the first demolitions of the new year. The Israeli occupation forces demolished 49 structures during this encounter. In 2016, Khirbet Tana was demolished over four times.

Similar efforts of displacement are ongoing in other regions of the West Bank: the Israeli project to develop settlements in the E1 corridor of Jerusalem threatening the Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar is only one other example. In the South Hebron Hills people are in daily struggle for their survival on their land.

These communities also face settler violence. For example in 2011, there was an incident where settlers beat a Tana shepherd and slaughtered 15 of his animals.

A historic village struggling for their future

The Ottoman-era mosque built in the 1850s is material evidence of the longevity of the Khirbet Tana community, where families have lived and farmed on the land since before 1948, before the territory was declared a ‘firing zone’. With the crest of the hills towering over, and the valley dipping and curving alongside the road to the caves, the Animal

Husbandry Cooperative members pointed out how the features of the hills are defined by intimidation and violence from the Israeli military and the nearby settlements of Itamar and Mikhora.

Before 1967, the community was in control of 18,000 dunams of land of which 14,000 were seized by the Israeli military. This has left only 4,000 dunams of crucial shepherding and grazing area for this farming dependent community. The Israeli state’s confiscation and occupation of this land physically and symbolically disconnects Tana residents from an extensive swath of land that holds ancestral significance and necessary resources for their livelihood.

Despite recorded history of the Khirbet Tana community in the Nablus Governorate area, Khirbet Tana has been declared by Israeli Courts an unauthorized village because of its proximity to a closed military training zone (Firing Zone 904A).

According to POICA, the total area of the West Bank classified as firing zone amounts to 998,185 dunums and constitutes 17.6 % of the West Bank total area. A ramification of this “firing zone” decree is that any type of building, which could range from a rudimentary tent or full cement buildings, is restricted, building permits are denied and there exists quasi-juridical justification that holds up in Israeli courts for random demolitions.

The entirety of the community therefore lives in caves. In order to expand any community shelters, be it another room for a family to sleep in or another place to house the animals, another cave must be dug out and cleaned.

Another challenge the community faces is access to electricity. There are no water or sewage lines and no electricity grid that reaches the families in the caves. The Israeli authorities refuse to connect the village to the extensive electricity and water grids they readily offer to nearby settlements. The residents use solar panels to generate rudimentary electricity, “only enough for one light bulb”, as quoted by the Animal Husbandry Collective.

In an extreme show of violence and disregard for international intervention, the Israeli army’s Civil administration has confiscated solar panels in other Bedouin communities, despite being donated through international aid. The community school now rests close to the Mosque and is a two room white structure donated by international aid. It has been demolished over 5 times since 2005, in a clear violation of international law, such as Article 48 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, prohibiting an occupying power from destroying or confiscating the private property of the civilian population and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child where children’s right to education and play are protected.

Sumud – steadfastness in the face of injustice

The families continue despite the obstacles and violence cited. During this visit the families were absent because they have escaped the unencumbered heat in the hills by posting temporary tent to complete the seasonal wheat farming in another area of Beit Furik.

The caves feel ghost-like and the delegation is reminded of the danger the unrenovated caves can pose. While some of the Israeli military’s violence can be dramatic and highly visible such as the demolitions, the darkness of the caves serve as a reminder that other perpendicular forms of Israeli violence, such as restricting access to electricity, are disruptive to daily living.

There are signs of life: be it the school, children’s art projects hung up decorating the caves, or the simple existence of a bread oven, signs of the families strength and courage persist.

The Land Defense Coalitions project and goal is to give the community a living situation deserving of their endurance and perseverance, to make the cave-living sustainable through renovations and investment in an expanded electricity system of solar panels.

The hope is that these projects will be complete before the families return after the harvest season and the beginning of the school year.

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US Sponsored Coups and Regime Change, NATO Expansionism, Washington Interferes Globally. Ukraine, Mexico, Korea, Venezuela

From Vietnam to Venezuela, the US consistently interferes in the sovereign affairs of nations. Russia, by contrast, simply wants security on its borders.

On February 2014, a United States-sponsored coup was initiated in the Ukraine in which President Viktor Yanukovych was illegally ousted from power. (1) Over three years later, the putsch has done nothing but plunge the Ukraine, a tortured country plundered throughout modern history (by the West), into another abyss. In a 2015 interview with CNN, then US president Barack Obama openly confessed that “we had brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine”.

Around 10,000 people have been killed in the time since, with the conflict generating 2.5 million refugees who relocated to Russia. The putsch led to Crimea’s annexation a month after the coup, with a 96% vote in favour of joining the Russian Federation – the majority of Crimeans already considered themselves ethnic Russians. (2)

The new Western-backed government, led by billionaire Petro Poroshenko, has been riddled with corruption and sees meagre support from the Ukrainian people. (3) Just 1.9% fully trust Poroshenko personally, according to an unreported survey conducted in June. (4) Poroshenko’s dismal backing is hardly surprising considering the disastrous economic conditions millions are enduring in the country. What’s more, the 2014 coup has led to an unseemly rise in far-right groups.

In contrast, the Russian president Vladimir Putin has an 87% approval rating according to a poll also in June. (5) This makes Putin “one of the most popular leaders in the world”, with even mainstream networks like CNN reporting on his consistently high approval ratings.

Thinking objectively one can quickly identify the enormous pretense at work here. Picture the Western reaction had Russia performed a key role in, say, toppling governments on the US border, in Canada or Mexico. What would the superpower’s reaction be? To adopt CIA lingo, any efforts to install pro-Russian governments on the US frontiers would be “terminated with extreme prejudice”.

Examining Mexico’s case, it’s worth remembering that the US is illegally sitting on half of its territory. (6) After the Mexican-American war in 1848, the US stripped of Mexico lands that later became known as California, Arizona, New Mexico, etc. This is already taking into account the annexation of Texas from Mexico in 1845. Such huge land-grabs have been wiped from memory, except from the minds of Mexicans that is.

The West has acted with seeming abhorrence on what they deem as Russian interference in eastern Ukraine, the majority of whose people view Russia positively. One of the West’s principal goals in initiating the 2014 putsch, was to integrate the Ukraine into NATO – a hostile, expansionist foreign entity receiving three-quarters of its funding from Washington. George Kennan, former US Ambassador to the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, described NATO enlargement as “a tragic mistake”. (7) Kennan later joined other American statesman in penning an open letter to the White House condemning NATO expansionism as “a policy error of historic proportions”. To no avail.

NATO is simply one arm of American imperialism. Since 1945 the CIA, with US government and military support, has toppled numerous foreign regimes and installed military dictatorships. (8) Around the world, the US has violated international law at will. Right now, for example, the US is conducting aggressive military exercises to intimidate an isolated and threatened North Korea. There are almost 30,000 American troops in South Korea, and another 50,000 in another client state slightly further east, Japan. On top of this is a significant American air and naval presence in south-east Asia.

It seems reasonable to query the presence of tens of thousands of US soldiers situated 11,000 km from Washington. It can be safely called imperialism. With this state of thinking, US military personnel have no qualms about telling China how to behave in the South China Sea, or the East China Sea. (9) The problem being that China is thousands of years old and difficult to intimidate. The West might have reacted differently if, for example, Russia was rebuking Japan for conducting exercises in the Sea of Japan.

US policy towards North Korea can be put under the grill too. What right does the US have to bully a poor, deprived country, and in doing so provoke inevitable responses? North Korea has a duty to protect itself, seeing as it was utterly levelled by the US Air Force during the seldom-mentioned Korean War. This past aggression can largely explain why the North developed nuclear weapons to begin with: as a deterrent against further invasion. Under current circumstances, it seems certain Kim Jong-un and company are glad they have their small nuclear arsenal. After all, the US have never invaded a nuclear-armed country, just weak, vulnerable ones like Vietnam, Iraq or Libya.

It sends a dangerous message to the world: arm yourself with nuclear warheads if you want security from US aggression. Yet, in the Western mainstream, it is North Korea who are continuously portrayed as the villains in all this. The main reason the US are maintaining a presence in south-east Asia, is that it’s one of the richest energy producing areas on earth. (10) To stall their long-declining power, and thwart a rising China, the US wants desperately to retain a presence in this region.

Switching 14,000 km westwards, the US is again inciting conflict in Venezuela, a country with a long troubled history. As the superpower has lost much influence in South America this century, the Trump administration are supporting right-wing groups with the aim of removing president, Nicolas Maduro. The US have imposed various sanctions on a country rich in oil reserves, hence the superpower’s interest. The corporate media are portraying the “dictator” Maduro as the antagonist, much as they did with Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro. US military figures like General H. R. McMasterhave voiced concern that democracy is being lost in Venezuela (and reported seriously it appears). (11) As history portrays, American concern for democracy goes down as one of the more grotesque myths mankind has ever conjured.

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Nepal: Women’s Art and Politics

Part III

Featured image: Nepal Limbu worker

Aama disappears into the darkened house to light the fire. Flames ignite from hot coals stirred out of the ash and Aama eases a pot of kodo onto the rock grill. Neither an announcement nor a spoken invitation is needed. We rise from our workplaces and move inside, seating ourselves around the hearth. Danamaya takes a ladle, stirs the brew, and pours a spoon of the steaming liquor in each brass bowl set on the ground in front of us.

Mylie follows laying small leaf plates on the ground near our bowls, then places on each plate a back, spicy sauce. I recognize this, a sharp lemony pickle– a typical popular Limbu achar that accompanies every Nepali’s meal whether we’re eating rice or vegetables or drinking liquor. Some of the workers prefer kodo; others choose raxsi, also warmed to taste.

‘I’m surprised”, I remark. “My friend Monamaya isn’t with us. She promised to help with my naugiri.”

“Monamaya will arrive soon”, murmurs Danamaya, adding “when the raxsi is warmed.”

Just then Monamaya struts into the room and seats herself beside me, gleefully accepting an immodest portion of raxsi from Aama and turning to me says, “Ah, Didi; so you’ll have your very own Limbu jewels; eh eh.” She leans closer, lifts my cigarette from my hand and holds its glowing tip to light her own.

“What a day! A sheep got loose so sisters and I spent the whole morning searching for it,” complains this unapologetic latecomer. Everyone takes a sip of their drink without comment.

Limbu Danamaya

In my presence people withhold their opinion of Monamaya. They know she and I have become friends since my arrival here and they seem to respect our closeness. Monamaya is the only unmarried woman her age that I know in Kobek. She’s the most audaciously raucous and bold, even by Limbu standards. I recognize that she’s a social oddity. She doesn’t like to work in the fields, behavior which in this rural community is interpreted as irresponsible. Like me, she doesn’t feel the need for a companion when traveling through the hills. If she needs to go to town, she fearlessly sets out alone on the three-hour walk. I was never able to discover the reason for my friend’s unpopularity and I was left to enjoy her companionship as I pleased.

After everyone has consumed at least three bowls of kodo, we return to the veranda where we’ll stay until our task is complete, now joined by Monamaya. The alcohol seems not to have reduced anyone’s capacity for the delicate work.

“Kodo and raxsi are nourishment for us,” explains my friend. “Without it we can’t work at all; drinking this we don’t need any other food.”

Our workforce is augmented by two newcomers, elderly women from Salaka lineage, thus clanswomen of my host. Buddhamaya is a tall, dry-witted lady with aristocratic features set in a heavily wrinkled face. We adjust our seating to make space for Buddhamaya on the mat; Danamaya hands her a nylon thread to which she replies, “Who is this for?”

“White Didi here,” explains my host.

“Why do you want this?” the old woman demands of me. “This is for poor farmers. You should have solid gold pieces– here, here, here,” she shouts, stroking me to indicate just where gold might encase my head and arms–like some Limbu-Aztec warrior princess. (Ugh, the thought is itself an encumbrance.)

Monamaya comes to my defense.

“No, no. white Didi is going to wear this to the Chatrapati feast next week; then she’ll take it with her to America. Everyone there will admire it. And Didi will tell Americans all about our poor land.”

I remain silent. I have already passed hours fruitlessly arguing with my hosts about my devotion to their lifestyles. I’ve had no success explaining how this necklace is an example of their art, or their beauty. They insist that my interest is only curiosity, and this naugiri will be presented outside as a curio, and will stimulate discussion of Nepal’s economy, an economy they expect to be viewed as poverty.

It’s probably true that I’m interested in the naugiri for what it might (or might not) represent about the economy here. I’ve never understood how an average hill farmer affords jewelry like the naugiri and the gold earrings, items which seem extravagant to me, yet which, while essential, are not a sign of wealth. A naugiri is the price of a valued plowing bullock. While every woman wears a naugiri, fewer than ten percent of households possess a pair of oxen.

Certainly one can’t equate the cost of this necklace to the price of an ox. A naugiri is not in the same class as animals or land. Land is highly valued and people work hard to save to buy land and prepare new paddy fields. A naugiri is hard to put a cash price on. It’s an obligatory expense for a family, like a wedding or funerary feast—an integral part of family social and economic obligations.

A Limbu naugiri embodies a whole set of sentiments which I cannot possibly untangle, identify and comprehend. It’s not a dowry. It does not in itself mark one’s marital status. My naugiri it does not reflect a personal indulgence in ornamentation. I myself wear no bangles, bracelets or earrings. (My neighbors had already noted this, with some dismay.) Nevertheless these Limbu companions really want me to take this piece of jewelry with me when I depart. Curio or art, it is a gift to me wrapped in their memories. It symbolizes our bond and the cooperative spirit of our months together.

My Limbu naugiri

As for myself? Why am I determined to have a naugiri? Well, from when I first set eyes on one, it symbolized the vigor or Limbu womanhood. I like its combination of a coarse, chunky, undazzling weightiness, and its dull gold luster. It may not be refined, but it’s nevertheless beautiful, somehow more precious because every woman owns one. It’s not for special occasions but an everyday thing she carries on her chest– as she suckles her baby, stirs pots of kodo and rice, cleans the hearth and sweeps the yard, and plants potato or millet. It’s a well made object requiring intense labor and constructed to last a lifetime.

Where is my naugiri today? Well, it seemed so precious that I made it a wedding gift to the young woman who married my son. Sadly, they divorced after only two years and I’ve lost track of both her and the necklace. I wonder what Danamaya or even Monamaya would think of its fate.

Posted in Far EastComments Off on Nepal: Women’s Art and Politics

Naziyahu and Family Investigated on Corruption Charges

Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister with Whom Theresa May and the CFI Are Happy to Arrange Bilateral Trade and National Security

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his family are currently being investigated on various, serious corruption charges. They are:

1. Netanyahu is accused of entering into corrupt arrangements with various billionaires by taking expensive gifts and bribes, in return for taking action on their behalf. Gifts alleged to include hotel accommodation, air flights and champagne etc. from film producers and powerful, rich casino operators.

2. Netanyahu is accused of conspiring with newspaper owners to advance legislation that would work against their competitors. Recordings of the alleged conspiracy are apparently available.

Screenshot: ABC News Australia

3. This is an extraordinarily serious charge that the delivery of German submarines to the Israeli navy by Chancellor Angela Merkel involved corruption by Netanyahu’s personal lawyer who negotiated the military deal with the German government (and which subsequently altered the balance of power in Europe and the Middle East when the fleet of underwater military vessels were modified by the Israeli state to carry nuclear-armed Cruise missiles).

4. The Israeli Director General of Communications, who is a Minister in the Netanyahu government, is accused of illicit share dealings.

5. Sarah Netanyahu, the wife, is accused of the misuse of public funds in the improper payment for family events and also building works at their private residence.

6. Yair Netanyahu, the eldest son, is being sued for libel by an NGO Israeli think tank.

As yet, no indictments regarding the Netanyahu family have been issued by the Attorney General, who is presently awaiting the recommendations of the investigating police.

Screenshot Haaretz

There is, of course, a precedent for high level corruption scandals in Israel. A previous Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was sentenced to a prison term in 2015.

Posted in ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Naziyahu and Family Investigated on Corruption Charges

Peru Forced Sterilizations Victims Oppose Fujimori Pardon


Protests against the Fujimoris.

Protests against the Fujimoris. | Photo: EFE
By Neil Giardino 

Human rights activists and victims of forced sterilizations in Peru under former president Alberto Fujimori are expressing outrage over the possibility of his pardon by current Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.

“They’d be mocking the people and mocking Peru, because (Fujimori) has committed crimes,” said Obdulia Guevara, Director of the Association of Women of Huancabamba, a group representing victims of forced sterilizations.

More than 200,000 mostly poor, Indigenous Quechua-speaking women in Peru are said to have been forcefully sterilized between 1996 and 2000 under Fujimori, who is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence for unrelated human rights violations.

During his 2016 campaign Kuczynski said he would oppose pardoning Fujimori, but in a recent radio interview, he indicated he’s now considering a medical pardon of the 78-year-old ex-president, who led from 1990–2000 and has been in prison since 2009.

Kuczynski’s reversal is widely seen as an attempt to appease the strong opposition party led by Fujimori’s daughter, Keiko Fujimori. Her party, Fuerza Popular, holds a solid majority in congress and lost the 2016 election by a narrow margin.

The political about-face by Kuczynski isn’t sitting well with Guevara and members of her organization representing women claiming to have been sterilized without consent in the late 90s.

“He isn’t representing Fujimori. He’s representing the Peruvian people, including these sterilized women,” said Guevara.

Kuczynski wouldn’t be the first recent Peruvian leader to open a national dialogue on pardoning Fujimori; his two predecessors also weighed the option.

“Every time they raise the issue of a pardon, it re-victimizes, because once again they publically debate the possibility of liberating someone responsible for such serious crimes,” said human rights activist Francisco Soberon, whose NGO Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos (APRODEH) has advocated for victims of state violence in Peru since the 90s.

While Fujimori’s critics label him a dictator, supporters say his policies stabilized a reeling economy and helped put down a violent terror campaign that nearly brought the country to its knees in the 90s.

The sterilizations were part of a national reproductive health and family planning program meant to reduce rural poverty. But testimonies by victims said the sterilizations were performed under verbal and sometimes physical threat. At least 18 are said to have died as a result of the tubular litigation surgeries, many of which were performed in rustic clinics lacking proper medical equipment.

Fujimori has maintained the surgeries were voluntary.

But government documents unearthed in 2015 suggest the sterilizations were ordered to be carried out, that doctors were made to keep sterilization quotas, and that Fujimori himself was briefed monthly on the progress of the program.

Investigations into the sterilizations have been opened several times since 2003, but were each rejected by the courts, which decided the sterilizations were not performed under official state policy or carried out in a systematic fashion.

The government has not issued an official apology or offered reparations to victims.

For now, Guevara said her organization of victims of forced sterilizations are waiting for the current president to keep a promise he made during his campaign.

“He’s not shouldering his role as president. He’s looking for consensus, and consensus for what?” she said.

A July 2017 poll suggested that 60 percent of Peruvians support a pardon of Fujimori.

Posted in ArgentinaComments Off on Peru Forced Sterilizations Victims Oppose Fujimori Pardon

Nazi regime to occupy Africa


Nazi Prime Minister Naziyahu greets people during his arrival at James Spriggs Payne Airport in Monrovia, Liberia on 4 June 2017
By Helmi Al-Asmar | Al-Araby Al-Jadeed*

With the exception of the popular efforts made by the Conference for Palestinians Abroad to hinder the rabid Israeli efforts to hold a major conference next October entitled the Israeli-African Summit in Togo, we have barely seen any official or popular Arab efforts in this direction. This is despite the great danger posed by convening such a summit, which Israel has been laying the foundations for for several years, in light of the almost complete absence of the Arabs, which is an unprecedented development in Israel’s tireless efforts to bypass the wide wall of isolation and moral rejection it faces in Africa. It aims to present itself as a trusted partner for the continent’s nations.

The Conference for Palestinians Abroad viewed this summit, rightly so, as an insult to the struggles of the African nations and a disregard for their generations’ fair fight for liberation from colonisation and racism. It is also an attempt on the occupation government’s part to portray itself as a trusted partner for the African countries in order to fabricate its reality. It is not coming to Africa in order to spread love and unity, but instead aims to make Africa a market for the lethal products it produces and a place to export its mercenaries to help the dictators of the continent.

This is despite the fact that the African nations’ true interests and their efforts towards sustainable development, prosperity and growth do not align with the colonial racist occupation government in Palestine, given its record of hostility and terrorism. This is documented by several international and independent reports, including the ESCWA report regarding the escalations of the Israeli apartheid policies issued this year.

In addition to this, Israel, which commits war crimes, mass killings, flagrant violations and intimidation methods, as well as confiscates the Palestinian people’s land and resources and sponsors illegal extremist settler gangs, does not have the right to be a partner to developing nations seeking advancement, prosperity and the combat of terrorism.

The efforts of the Conference for Palestinians Abroad are focused on mobilising governments, official and popular institutions, parties, civil society organisations, public figures, community leaders and the media across Africa and the entire world, in order to rally the efforts against the Israeli government’s actions. These actions are an attempt on Israel’s part to promote itself in the continent in a misleading manner, ignoring the principles of justice, the peoples’ rights and international laws and conventions. The conference summoned its efforts and began taking action, contacting concerned parties, especially the influential forces in the African nations in order to confront Israel’s attempts of exploitation and deception.

These are commendable efforts but of course they are not enough to stop this hateful and racist emergence in Africa. Putting an end to the conference is the duty of all African countries, organisations, committees, and people specifically, and generally the duty of the Arab and Muslim countries. This is because Israel’s presence in the continent will not be in the best interest of the African people, but rather in Israel’s interest as it exports death, mercenaries and tyranny to all the countries of the world. It also supports the totalitarian regimes that commit the ugliest forms of aggression, looting and pillage. Therefore, resisting this conference and sabotaging it by all means available is the duty of all nations on Earth.

It is worth mentioning in this regard that the only Arab action against the convention of this summit was by the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, during his visit to Khartoum in July 2016. In his meeting with Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir, Abbas raised the issue of developing the Arab strategy in the African continent and cooperating in order to stop Israel’s attempts to achieve a breakthrough in Africa.

We do not expect Sudan or the PA to do anything now, as it is too late and their political/diplomatic capabilities are limited. Moreover, their problems and misfortunes are too many to count, according to the former Egyptian Ambassador to Angola, Sao Tome and Niger, Belal Al-Masry, who, in an important article published on the Democratic Arab Centre website, listed five reasons why the Israeli summit in Africa is dangerous. These points should be considered and reflected upon, the most important of which is the fact that the conference’s purpose is to restore and develop the African voting bloc in order to use it to support Israel’s international status.

Israel views the countries of the African continent as a voting bloc consisting of at least 50 votes. This was confirmed by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to seven African leaders with whom he met in Rwanda in July 2016. He also reiterated this in his speech to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Summit in Monrovia in June 2017. Hence, his statement regarding Israel having a bright future in the UN during his speech before the UN General Assembly at its regular session in September 2016, wasn’t too far from the truth. He also stated that his main diplomatic goal was to stop the African states from automatically voting against Israel at the UN and that the day he would achieve this isn’t too far. Therefore, holding the Israeli summit in Africa will mark the end of the Egyptian and Arab role, in general, in Africa and Israel will join the international forces competing for influence in the African continent. These countries include China, the United States, France, India, Russia, Iran and recently, Turkey.

It is not an overstatement to say that the Israeli conference in Togo will pave the way for Israel to reoccupy Africa, or at least a large part of it, politically, economically and militarily. This will further strengthen Israel’s international and regional standing and increase the suffering of the Palestinian people, who are paying the price for the fragmentation of the Arab system and their preoccupation with resisting the effects of the Arab Spring revolutions.

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