On the same day that the E.U.'s ''parliament'' backed unelected self-proclaimed president Mr. Guaido, the A.U., (African Union) gave their unanimous backing to the elected president, Maduro.. .
...perhaps their experience of colonial looting, helps their understanding?
41st annual "Original"
MLK Jr. Parade held in Houston, U.S. January 22nd, at 2:26pm
Third ward's Jack Yates high school marching band performed in the 41st annual "Original" MLK Jr. Parade, along with thousands of attenbees, in Houston, Texas, in the United States, on January 21st, 2019.
Various activities are held on the third Monday of January each year throughout the United States, to honour Dr Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated on April 4th, in 1968, at the age of 39.
Italian deputy PM calls on EU to sanction France for its 'continued colonization' of Africa January 21st, at 7:48am
The Italian deputy prime minister has blamed France for the European migrant crisis, accusing it of impoverishing African nations, with "colonialist" policies. He promised to take the issue to the EU and other international bodies.
Luigi Di Maio, leader of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and Italy's Deputy PM, launched a scathing attack on France, which he argued is to blame for the inherent causes of the ongoing migrant crisis at the EU's borders.
Di Maio was speaking at a rally on Sunday, when he touched on recent mass migrant drownings in the Mediterranean. It is believed that up to 170 migrants who left Libya and Morocco on ramshackle dinghies, may have drowned in the sea, last week.
Three migrants were saved by the Italian Navy on Friday off the cost of Lampedusa. The survivors said they were a part of a group of 120 people that sailed from Libya on Thursday.
Their boat started to sink, after they were at sea for about 10 hours. The victims, according to migrant organizations, include a two-month-old child and at least 10 women.
Separately, another boat carrying 53 migrants capsized in the western Mediterranean, according to the sole survivor of the incident.
The tragedies have reignited the debate on the hardline migration policy championed by Italy's right-wing government.
"We would be hypocrites, if we just continued to talk about the effects, without looking for the causes. If today, we have people coming from Africa, it's because some European countries, like France, never stopped colonizing Africa in their heads," Di Maio told the crowd.
The politician, who also serves as the minister of economic development, referred to the CFA franc, a currency which is used in 14 former French colonies, in West and Central Africa.
The currency is guaranteed by the French Treasury and has a fixed rate of exchange with the euro. While it is credited for providing African countries with financial stability, it has often been criticized, as a relic of colonial times, by proponents of Africa's full independence from France.
They argue that the CFA franc, created in 1945, impedes their economic development --- as they have no say in French or European monetary policy.
"There are dozens of African states in which France prints its own currency, the franc of the colonies, and with that, it finances the French public debt," Di Maio said, adding that France should be subjected to sanctions by the EU, and potentially, the UN, for "impoverishing those states and triggering those people."
"The place of Africans is in Africa and not at the bottom of the sea," he stated.
Di Maio further argued that France would fall far back in the international economic rankings --- if not for its leverage over its former colonies.
"If France did not have the African colonies, which it is impoverishing, it would be the 15th international economic power and, instead, it is among the first, for what it is doing in Africa," he said.
France is currently the world's seventh-largest economy, according to World Bank data for 2017, and the third- biggest economy in Europe - after Germany and the UK.
Di Maio said that his party would submit a proposal to parliament, to punish France, in the coming weeks.
In a swipe at French President Emmanuel Macron, Di Maio said that he should stop lecturing Italy on morals, while his government continues to exploit African nations.
Last summer, Macron chastized the Italian government for its refusal to pick up migrants stranded at sea, with his spokesman calling the policy, "sickening" and "unacceptable."
Italy brushed off the criticism, accusing the French government of hypocrisy.
Relations between the French and Italian governments were already strained, with Di Maio – along with anti- immigrant Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini – voicing their support for Yellow Vest protests that have plagued Macron's government since November.
(Source - RT)
Fight to replace Frank Field - kicks off in Birkenhead by Marcus Barnett Thursday, January 17th, 2019
The fight to replace Frank Field as MP for Birkenhead kicked off today, as veteran trade unionist Mick Whitley, announced his candidacy.
Mr Whitley, formerly a long-standing convener at the Vauxhall car plant in nearby Ellesmere Port, was born in the area and is the former north-west regional secretary of the Unite union.
He has gained the support of Momentum, which holds a powerful presence in north-west England, while left-wing MPs such as John McDonnell, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Dan Carden, have voiced their support.
The local branches of Unite, FBU, RMT, BFAWU and Aslef have also formally endorsed Mr Whitley’s candidacy.
Sources in the Labour Party have told the Star that right-wing, former MEP, Theresa Griffin, is likely to also contest the seat.
Mr Field, first elected to Parliament in 1979, has been unpopular among local Labour members, since the 1980s.
He lost a vote of no confidence in August last year, before resigning the Labour whip - and thus automatically leaving the party - a month later.
(Source - Morning Star)
John McDonnell: Mass action is essential to ending austerity by Marcus Barnett Thursday, November 29th, 2018.
John McDonnell warned campaigners “we may be the last generation that can save the welfare state” at the launch of a major new anti- austerity campaign.
Appearing by video at the launch of the People’s Assembly’s Britain is Broken: We can’t afford the Tories tour, on Wednesday night, the shadow chancellor reminded an audience of hundreds, that the stakes are high.
“Every day brings new victims of universal credit, homelessness, of overstretched emergency services and councils that can no longer fund even a basic safety net," he said.
“We have a pressing need for us to do everything in our power to defend and extend the services on which our lives and livelihoods depend.”
Mr McDonnell said it was necessary that Labour members, trade unionists and community activists throw their energy into building an anti-austerity social movement.
“A Labour government will play its part — ours will be a Labour government committed to defending our NHS, education and welfare services," he said.
“Any progressive government can only succeed if it has a solid base of active support. We need every single one of you to be active in a mass movement against austerity — right now.
“In the future, every single one of us will be able to reverse austerity, and rebuild the social fabric of our society.”
Labour shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon, who attended the event, said: “Austerity is clearly not over for millions of people when people are in poverty while working, or attempting suicide when their benefits are cut.
“Only by working together with millions of people across the country, will we actually change things.”
Other speakers included PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka, Labour parliamentary candidate Faiza Shaheen, TGI Friday’s striker Lauren Townsend and Green Party deputy leader Amelia Womack.
The launch of the campaign, which will now be toured nationally, coincided with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn writing to Prime Minister Theresa May to warn that rising poverty in Britain, amounts to a “national emergency” and that government policies “shame our nation.”
Britain's enemy is not Russia but its own ruling class, UN report confirms by John Wight November 19th, at 2:48pm
John Wight has written for a variety of newspapers and websites, including the Independent, Morning Star, Huffington Post, Counter- punch, London Progressive Journal, and Foreign Policy Journal.
As the UK political establishment rips itself to pieces over Brexit, a far greater crisis continues to afflict millions of victims of Tory austerity.
A devastating UN report into poverty in the UK provides incontrovertible evidence, that the enemy of the British people, is the very ruling class that has gone out of its way these past few years to convince them it is Russia.
Professor Philip Alston, in his capacity as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, spent two weeks touring the United Kingdom. He did so, investigating the impact of 8 years of one of the most extreme austerity programs among advanced G20 economies in response to the 2008 financial crash and subsequent global recession.
What he found was evidence of a systematic, wilful, concerted and brutal economic war, unleashed by the country's right-wing Tory establishment, against the poorest and most vulnerable section of British society – upending the lives of millions of people who were not responsible for the aforementioned financial crash and recession, but who have been forced to pay the price.
From the report's introduction:
"It…seems patently unjust and contrary to British values that so many people are living in poverty. This is obvious to anyone who opens their eyes: to see the immense growth in foodbanks, and the queues waiting outside them, the people sleeping rough in the streets, the growth of homelessness, the sense of deep despair - that leads even the Government to appoint a Minister for Suicide Prevention - and civil society to report in depth, on unheard of levels of loneliness and isolation."
Though as a citizen of the UK, I respectfully beg to differ with the professor's claim, that such social & economic carnage, seems "contrary to British values,"(on the contrary - it is entirely in keeping with the values of the country's Tory establishment, an establishment for whom, the dehumanization of the poor and working class, is central to its ideology), the point he makes about it being "obvious to anyone who opens their eyes," is well made.
For it is now the case that in every town and city centre in Britain, it is impossible to walk in any direction for more than a minute, before coming across homeless people begging in the street. And the fact that some 13,000 of them, are former soldiers, casualties of the country's various military adventures in recent years, undertaken in service to Washington, exposes the pious platitudes peddled by politicians & the government as reverence for the troops & their 'sacrifice,' as insincere garbage.
As inequality increases, the wealthy and powerful become more desperate to cling onto their gains and distract us - with imagined threats and political sideshows - such as Jingoism, Russophobia and red-baiting...
Overall, 14 million people in the UK are now living in poverty, a figure which translates into an entire fifth of the population. Four million of them are children, while, according to Professor Alston, 1.5 million people are destitute – that is, unable to afford the basic necessities of life.
And this is what the ruling class of the fifth largest economy in the world, a country that parades itself on the world stage, as a pillar of democracy and human rights, considers progress.
The values responsible for creating such a grim social landscape, are compatible with the 18th, not the 21st century. They are proof positive, that the network of elite private schools – Eton, Harrow, Fettes College et al. – where those responsible for this human carnage are inculcated with the sense of entitlement and born to rule ethos that defines them, are Britain's hotbeds of extremism.
Professor Alston:"British compassion for those who are suffering, has been replaced by a punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous approach, apparently designed to instill discipline where it is least useful, to impose a rigid order on the lives of those least capable of coping with today's world, and elevating the goal of enforcing blind compliance, over a genuine concern to improve the well- being of those at the lowest levels of British society."
Here, set out above in bold relief, is the barbarism that walks - hand in hand - with free market capitalism. It is the same barbarism that was responsible for pushing post-Soviet Russia into a decade-long economic and social abyss, in the 1990s, and the values that have pushed 14 million people in the UK into the same economic and social abyss, in our time.
Austerity, it bears emphasizing, is not and never has been, a viable economic response to recession, in a given economy.
Instead, it is an ideological club, wielded on behalf of the rich and big business, to ensure that the price paid for the said economic recession, is borne exclusively by those least able to bear it - namely the poor and working people. It is class war by any other name, packaged and presented, as legitimate government policy.
However in Britain's case in 2018, this is a war like no other, because, as Professor Philip Alston's report lays bare, one side in this war has been throwing all the punches and one side has been taking them.
As the saying goes, wars take place when the government tells you who the enemy is; revolutions take place when you work it out for yourself.
COSATU President Urges S. Africa's Gov't to Downgrade Relations with Israel Friday September 21st, at 12:07pm
FNA - The newly-elected president of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), Zingiswa Losi, has called on South Africa’s ANC-led government to immediately downgrade diplomatic relations with Israel.
Losi - who became the first woman to lead South Africa’s largest trade union federation - made the remarks on Thursday at COSATU’s 13th National Congress in Johannesburg, the Palestine Information Centre reported.
In her first public speech after being elected president, Losi reminded delegates that South Africa had with- drawn its ambassador from Tel Aviv, indefinitely.
She also called on the ANC-led government to be “decisive” and fully implement a resolution made at the ruling party’s December congress that called for the immediate and unconditional downgrade of the South African embassy in Tel Aviv, to a liaison office.
The resolution was a practical expression of the ANC’s support to the Palestinian people, and a means to pressure Israel to comply with international law and end its occupation of Palestine.
Losi also called on the South African government to do more to “push back against the corrupt advances” that Israel was making at the African Union (AU).
Her remarks were a reference to Israel’s attempt at gaining observer status at the AU, in an attempt to improve the Netanyahu regime’s relationship with African states, with the ultimate aim of influencing their voting at the UN, to block resolutions critical of Israel’s occupation.
Palestinian political parties have welcomed Losi’s remarks and COSATU's support.
“Together with the delegates at the COSATU conference, we also call on the South African government to heed the call from the ruling party’s members and downgrade its diplomatic links with the Zionist apartheid state,” said Hamas Spokesperson Hazem Kasim, in an interview with the Afro-Palestine Newswire Service.
Kasim also praised Losi for highlighting Israel’s financial and diplomatic charm offensive in Africa, and at the AU.
Palestinian Authority (PA) ambassador to South Africa, Hashem Dajani, attended the COSATU conference, and reiterated the PA leadership's support for the downgrading of diplomatic relations with Israel.
Speaking on behalf of the National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P), an umbrella body representing more than 40 civil society groups in South Africa, Edwin Arrison thanked Losi and COSATU for urging the government to act on their resolution.
“This is a way to express the South African people’s strong opposition to Israeli apartheid and its military occupation of Palestine,” Arrison said.
Representing over two million workers, COSATU and its affiliates have expressed consistent solidarity with the Palestinian struggle, and support for the world boycott, divestment and sanctions, against the Israeli state.
In 2009, members of the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) in Durban, refused to offload a ship that was carrying Israeli goods.
In 2010, the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) agreed to engage every municipality in South Africa, to boycott Israel.
- fantastic - asks ''why don't we act like Jesus preached - and forgive debt?''
When what we do now, is what led to the slavery of feudalism: by refunding the creditors, instead!
Starts properly, in the 2nd half of this video., at 12':48''
‘the people's vote’ could undermine the Corbyn project by Conrad Landin Monday, September 10, 2018
RMT's Mick Cash issues warning - against joining the Blairite's call.
Unions could undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s agenda for change if they back a referendum on the EU exit deal, Mick Cash warned today.
The RMT leader said the labour movement should refuse to “line up” with Blairites and Tories, in backing a “people’s vote.”
But delegates at TUC Congress voted to ratify a general council statement saying the option of a “final say” referendum should not be “ruled out.”
General union GMB has publicly backed a vote on the Brexit deal, but other unions would prefer to push for an early general election.
Backing the consensus position, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey told the hall: “I understand the argument for a so-called ‘people’s vote’ on the deal — not on leaving the EU. That people’s vote has already happened.”
He said the referendum option “must be left on the table,” arguing: “Let’s focus on the prize — sweeping this government away in a general election and giving a Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn the chance to repair two wasted years of Tory wrangling.”
Mr Cash, whose union represents transport staff, seafarers and oil workers, said: “We need to understand those in the Westminster bubble are calling for a people’s vote for the sole reason of a second referendum on the EU. They are your Chuka Umunnas, your Chris Leslies, your Peter Mandelsons your Tony Blairs, the Lib Dems.”
He said these politicians “want us in the EU so that the EU can stop Jeremy Corbyn’s plans for nationalisation and for state aid and for workers’ rights.”
He stormed: “We, the trade union movement, will be lining up with people who are seeking to force the hand of Jeremy Corbyn and with people who want to attack the socialist leadership of the Labour Party and who want to attack socialist policies.”
But public sector union PCS leader Mark Serwotka argued:
“We are not with Chuka Umunna, but neither are we with Jacob Rees-Mogg.
“We are an independent working-class movement.”
Addressing Congress earlier in the day, TUC leader Frances O’Grady described EU laws as “the rock that national laws and union agreements build on.”
She said the TUC would “throw its full weight behind a campaign” for a “popular vote”, if the government “comes back with a deal that doesn’t put workers’ first.”
Communication Workers Union general secretary Dave Ward said he wanted “a people’s government” rather than a “people’s vote,” warning: “We have got absolutely no reason to support a second referendum that re-runs the debate that divides our country at the moment.”
Royal College of Midwives policy director Jon Skewes suggested an election was unlikely, arguing: “They will change the guard, rather than do that.”
At a fringe meeting, Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union official Sarah Woolley said: “We need to embrace, that the UK is leaving the EU. A decision was made, and we need to be proactive, and make sure that our members are protected.
"The only thing that is certain is that next April we won’t be a member of the EU.”
She said unions should threaten PM Theresa May with a general strike “if you are not going to do the deal we want.”
Mick Whelan, who leads train drivers’ union Aslef, told the same meeting, that the EU Fourth Rail Package could enforce UK-style privatisation across Europe.
“We don’t apologise for being protectionist about where we want to be for our railway,” he said.
And economist Costas Lapavitsas, a former Syriza member of the Greek legislature, said: “There’s considerable ignorance in this country, about what the European Union is.
“[The] Maastrict [treaty] basically created a union, which is a neoliberal machine.
“We need an internationalist position on this ...but the internationalism of labour, is not the same as the internationalism of capital.”
(Source - Morning Star)
TUC 2018: Labour'ready to hit the ground running,' says John McDonnell at IER fringe by Ben Chacko September 10th, 2018.
Packed meeting hears plans to revolutionise the world of work.
Labour is ready to hit the ground running, with a programme to irreversibly shift power and wealth to working people, John McDonnell said last night.
The "depth of insecurity" for millions of working people, means people are crying out for radical change, the shadow chancellor told a packed Institute of Employment Rights (IER) fringe at the TUC Congress, in Manchester.
The party will bring water, transport, postal services and energy into public ownership because "we don't want people being ripped off, the way they are, at the moment."
Mr McDonnell said Labour had plans to double the size of the co-operative sector, and legislate to make companies distribute shares to their workforce, "not individually but on a collective basis," so that, over time, workers would come to own companies, and the economy would be democratised.
While not wishing to rule out a second referendum on Brexit, he said the preferred option, was a general election. "I don't want to let the Tories off the hook," he said.
Since a Jeremy Corbyn government would face "significant opposition from various parts of the Establishment," it was vital that the party was in a position to take radical action quickly, he argued, calling himself the "secretary of the [Keith] Ewing, [John] Hendy and [Carolyn] Jones fan club" because of the effort the IER has put into shaping a legislative programme for workers' rights.
John Hendy QC outlined the legislation by which Labour could get rid of zero-hours contracts, establish a universal definition of "worker" to ensure all workers enjoy equal rights and explained how sectoral collective bargaining could be restored, over several years, via national joint councils for each sector, with equal employer & employee, representation.
Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey said people were crying out for a new deal.
"Four million people are currently in insecure work. I've had families come to me, with both parents in full-time work, asking where the nearest foodbank is.
"We can't go on with Amazon workers feeling they have to urinate in bottles, because they can't afford a toilet break."
Trade unions were "under siege" in a country where even existing employment law, was not enforced, she pointed out.
And she saluted fellow speaker Lauren Townsend, a TGI Friday's worker from Milton Keynes, for showing the way, for a new generation of trade unionists.
Ms Townsend, addressing the rolling strike action by Unite members, at the restaurant chain, over the company's decision to redistribute their tips to kitchen staff, said the difficulties faced by workers in the sector, trying to organise, were formidable.
"Most colleagues had no idea what a trade union was, what a trade union does," she said.
"If things are going to change, unions need to become the norm."
The union had to notify bosses two weeks before holding a strike ballot, she said, meaning management were able to go into stores and use various methods, to talk people out of it.
"There are stories of union members being screamed at, being pulled into freezers or boiler rooms and told by managers'do you know how hard this is making my life'?"
Ms Townsend was herself suspended for three weeks earlier in the year, for a speech she made to Unite policy conference.
"If I hadn't had a supportive family and the support of Unite, I would have quit the job," she said.
"It's scary, being young, in the hospitality industry."
The meeting also heard from RMT general secretary, Mick Cash.
"To thrive as a movement, we've got to make some fundamental changes," he warned.
While most people thought of the railway industry as highly organised, alongside the 39,000 people directly employed by Network Rail, there were 50-60,000 employed indirectly, through contractors, and here, zero-hours contracts and minimum wages, were rife.
When it came to seafaring, just 40 per cent of mariners in EU waters were EU nationals, he pointed out, as shipping employs a race to the bottom, by hiring workers from other parts of the world, on worse wages and conditions. The result was super- exploitation and the severe decline of sea- faring, in countries like Britain.
CWU leader Dave Ward said it was time for the trade union movement to "stand up with Labour.
"We face one of two futures – one where Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft grow in wealth and power, beyond any country in the world, and own work, so they can impose whatever they want.
"Or one where trade unions come together."
Mr Ward paid tribute to Mr McDonnell and Ms Long Bailey for "standing firm behind Jeremy Corbyn."
Hitting back at right-wing MPs out to demonise their leader, he said: "These people are all about themselves.
"They look down their noses at people like me and those I represent."
And he said he was "sick and tired" of figures trying to "make Brexit the biggest issue.
"We sound brave, standing up for rights in Europe, but we need, first, to come together in Britain, and fight here."
He called for a day of action organised by the movement next year, where all unions worked together to promote the idea of a new deal.
"The IER are doing it. Labour are doing it. What are we doing as a movement?" he demanded.
UVW claim victory after RBKC commits to London living wage for cleaners by Sam Tobin Tuesday, September 4th, 2018
Cleaners at Kensington and Chelsea council claimed a major victory today, after the council finally committed to pay them the London living wage (LLW).
The United Voices of the World (UVW) union announced that the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) had agreed that its cleaning staff, currently paid the legal minimum wage of £7.83 an hour, would receive the LLW rate of £10.20 an hour from January 2019.
During a meeting attended by council leader Elizabeth Campbell and chief executive Barry Quirk, RBKC also pledged to “review their current terms and conditions on early termination of a 10-year contract with Amey who the cleaners are currently outsourced to,” the union said.
It added that Ms Campbell had “personally agreed to try to bring about a retrospective payment of the difference in wages from October until the cleaners are paid the LLW.”
In a statement, UVW said: “VICTORY! Last night, UVW met with Kensington and Chelsea council and secured a full commitment to pay all cleaners the London living wage and improved working conditions from January 2019. Direct action works! All power to the workers!”
Former UVW general secretary and current rep Petros Elia said: “UVW has done it again. We have beaten RBKC through unprecedented co-ordinated strike action, which has led to the cleaners securing a 30 per cent pay rise to the [London] living wage.”
Kensington MP Emma Dent-Coad said: “Solidarity with the employees of Amey to RBKC. Your determination (and a bit of salsa) has earned you an impressive victory. Now we fight for justice at the Ministry of Justice! Respect.”
The cleaners’ victory follows three days of unprecedented co-ordinated strike action last month by cleaners at RBKC and the Ministry of Justice, which was well supported by other unions and Labour politicians.
Shadow justice minister Richard Burgon told striking cleaners on the picket line that it was “an absolute scandal that you are not being paid £10.20 an hour.
“£7.83 an hour is the legal minimum they can get away with paying you. They should value you more than that.”
An RBKC spokesman said the council had held “positive talks and we hope that the dialogue continues,” but he was unable to confirm any details of proposed changes to pay and conditions.
(Source - Morning Star)
Thousands of protesters demand higher public sector pay in Polish capital September 22nd, at 4:02pm
"Yellow vest" protest enters 11th week as Macron launches national debate to defuse anger January 27th, at 11:56am
Xinhua - Thousands of "yellow vest" protesters, took to the streets in France on Saturday for the 11th weekend in a row.
Protesters in the high-visibility jackets, gathered on and around the Champs Elysees, some of whom, were waving banners denouncing the government.
Similar situations were reported in France's main cities where about 69,000 people took part in the fresh round of protests, the Interior Ministry estimated, down from last week's 84,000.
In Paris, 4,000 protesters had been counted, compared to the 7,000 on January 19th, signaling that the broader social movement appeared to be waning, days after Macron launched a series of talks on January 15th, to address the protesters' demands.
In Evreux, northern France, demonstrators set vehicles on fire.
On the Bastille square in Paris, a group of hooded men in black, used construction materials to form barricades and set them ablaze. Riot police fired water cannons and tear gas after being pelted with stones, with 52 people arrested.
"I condemn with the greatest firmness the violence and degradation made this Saturday, in Paris and the provinces, by thugs camouflaged in yellow vests," Interior Minister, Christophe Castaner, tweeted.
"The mobilization of the police, again this Saturday, was necessary to contain the excesses and to challenge the troublemakers," he added.
About 80,000 police were mobilized nationwide against protest violence, including 5,000 in Paris.
Officers equipped with armored vehicles secured the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, after it had been vandalized on December 1st, as Paris saw its worst trouble in decades.
As darkness fell, hundreds of protesters converged to the Republic Square, in Paris, to take part in an evening gathering, dubbed "yellow night," proposed by Eric Drouet, one of the movement's representatives.
Scuffles flared once again when rioters torched many motorbikes and overturned several others. Officers fired tear gas to push back demonstrators and clear the square.
The "yellow vest" movement was triggered in November last year amid public discontent with a rise in fuel tax that French President Emmanuel Macron said, is necessary to combat climate change.
The spontaneous movement remains amorphous, with no leader and agenda. Some "yellow vests" have proposed a list of candidates to run in the election for the European Parliament next May, a move other supporters call a betrayal.
The division within the movement coincides with a boost in Macron's approval ratings. A BVA poll, carried out on January 23rd-24th, and released on Friday, found 31% of 1,023 interviewees were satisfied with Macron, up 4 percent from November.
After weeks of violent protests that plunged Paris into chaos, Macron on December 10th, 2018, announced "an economic and social emergency plan," including boosting the minimum wage and easing tax increases on pensioners.
To further defuse the anger, he launched a series of public debates that he promised would lead to concrete measures.
"I think we will come out of this debate only with very strong, powerful decisions, because we need them," Macron said during a recent exchange with a group of mayors and "yellow vests" in the southeastern commune of Bourg-de-Peage. "There must be very deep decisions about the state, about our institutions, about our collective organization."
"We must implement the decisions on the ground. We must get out of aberrant structures in which we have stayed ..." Macron said. "I'm ready to go that far."
French Majority Dissatisfied with President's Administration January 20th at 4:40pm
Prensa Latina - A large majority of French people are said to be dissatisfied with the management of French President Emmanuel Macron, a survey of the French Institute of Public Opinion, released on Sunday, indicates. According to the survey, 72 per cent of citizens are dissatisfied with the president's policy, which includes 40 per cent of very dissatisfied' people.
On the other hand, only 27% say they are satisfied, and only five per cent say they are 'very satisfied'.
In the case of Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, acceptance is at 30 per cent, and the majority of citizens are also dissatisfied with his management.
The poll appears in the midst of a national crisis because of the protests of the yellow vest movement, which demands greater social and fiscal justice for the entire population.
In this context, numerous polls have reflected the collapse of Macron's popularity, which, since 2018, has followed an incessant, downward trend.
1,000s of police on guard as Yellow Vests hit streets in France for 10th week in a row January 19th, at 12:08pm
For the 10th week in a row, Yellow Vest protesters filled the streets of Paris and other cities in France, with thousands of police standing guard. Earlier, President Emmanuel Macron, launched his “national debates” on the crisis.
In what is being called ‘Act 10’ of the nationwide protests, the Yellow Vests gathered in French cities on Saturday.
In Paris, they occupied the Champs-Elysees and the Esplanade des Invalides near the nation’s parliament. People were seen waving national flags and setting off firecrackers.
Some protesters brought cardboard coffins, in memory of the people who have died, since the beginning of the protests (a majority in traffic accidents during road blockades). They marched under a large banner reading “Citizens in danger.”
The Yellow Vest processions took place in Caen and Rouen, both in northern France. The rallies were also held in Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Toulon, Dijon, Beziers, Avignon, among other places.
The authorities deployed 5,000 police officers in Paris, and 80,000 nationwide, according to local media.
Armored police cars were filmed moving through the streets of the southern city of Toulouse.
There were also reports of armored vehicles stationed in the capital.
Twelve people have been detained in Paris for carrying weapons, police told BFMTV. They were apprehended during “random checks.” But overall, the rallies in the capital have so far, remained peaceful, police said.
Some protesters carried placards, reading "Freedom, Equality, Flash-Ball," referring to the type of ‘less- lethal’ guns used by law enforcement to quell the protests.
The placards also contained pictures of Marianne – a national symbol of liberty – with an injured eye.
That was apparently an allusion to a high-publicized incident in December when a young woman was hit in the eye by a projectile the activists say was fired from a Flash-Ball.
The Yellow Vest protests began in November as a movement against planned fuel tax hikes, but eventually grew to include wider demands, including the resignation of President Emmanuel Macron and his government.
Previous rallies have seen violent clashes with police. There have been injuries on both sides, and over 1,000 people have been detained in connection with the unrest, which has, at times, spilled out into street battles.
Saturday’s rallies take place days after President Emmanuel Macron launched “grand national debates,” a series of public discussions about the government’s policies.
He hopes the debates will help in reaching a compromise with the protesters, but many have expressed skepticism regarding the format and intentions. As a result, some protesters appeared with placards denouncing the debates as a “scam.”
(Source - RT)
Police employ tear gas & water cannons- as Yellow Vest protests enter 9th week January 12th, at 3:54pm
Yellow Vest demonstrators returned to the streets of Paris and other French cities on Saturday, and some were met by police, with tear gas and water cannons as the authorities pledged zero tolerance to violence.
Thousands of people, both locals and those coming from other parts of the country, are rallying in the French capital. Around 5,000 riot police with special equipment and armored vehicles oversaw the protests.
Clashes eventually erupted at the iconic Champs Elysees and Arc de Triomphe, with police using tear gas and water cannons, to calm the angry crowds. At least 43 people were detained, for carrying prohibited items, the city authorities confirmed.
"We've come to Paris to make ourselves heard, and we wanted to see for ourselves, at least once, what's going on here," a man, who travelled to Paris from western France to attend the protest, told AFP.
Around 1,000 demonstrators also made their way to the hippodrome and caused a delay of races in the horseracing town of Chantilly, north of Paris.
Outside the capital, major Yellow Vest protests engulfed Marseille, Bordeaux, Lyon, Strasbourg, and other cities.
In Nimes, rioters attempted to storm city hall - and police deployed tear gas against them.
Clashes were also reported in Bourges in central France, where the local authorities said that 5,000 were rallying.
The French government, earlier, vowed zero tolerance for violence at the protests, with 80,000 security personnel deployed across France, on the weekend.
The Yellow Vest movement, which took its name from the high-visibility jackets worn by the demonstrators, kicked off in November over a government-proposed hike in fuel taxes. As the weekend protests saw more people participating and started turning violent, the government dropped the planned increase.
But the demonstrations continued, as the movement morphed into wider discontent with President Emmanuel Macron’s pro-business agenda, a decline in living standards, and growing inequality.
(Source - RT)
‘Elected officials' worst nightmare’? Yellow Vests hope to trigger bank run with financial protest January 9th, at 8:32pm
Yellow Vest protesters are hoping to trigger a bank run with a nationwide coordinated cash withdrawal. By threatening the French financial system, protesters say, they want to peacefully force the government to pass their reforms.
“If the banks weaken, the state weakens immediately,” said Yellow Vest “sympathizer” Tahz San on Facebook.
“It’s elected officials' worst nightmare.”
Protesters plan to empty their bank accounts on Saturday, withdrawing as much money as possible in a bid to undermine the French banks – if not the euro itself.
The plan is to “scare the state legally and without violence,” forcing the government to adopt the movement’s Citizens’ Referendum Initiative, which would allow citizens to propose and vote on new laws.
“We are going to get our bread back…you’re making money with our dough, and we’re fed up,” said protester Maxime Nicolle in a video message,shared on YouTube. ,
A well-coordinated financial action has the potential to bring the French banking system – and by extension the euro – to its knees, as banks always hold only a fraction of the funds the country’s citizens have in their accounts. However, most banks limit ATM withdrawals to a relatively low amount, meaning protesters would have to line up inside the banks to withdraw the rest of their money, giving the state plenty of time to place restrictions on withdrawals: though this would, no doubt, spark further protest.
The financial demonstration is a novel means of circumventing Prime Minister Edouard Philippe’s proposed crackdown on “unauthorized protests,” announced earlier this week - after a particularly violent weekend of clashes with armed riot police – including an unexpected appearance by boxer Christophe Dettinger.
Philippe has promised 80,000 security forces will be deployed for the next protest.
Meanwhile, there is tension within the movement itself, as some former protest leaders call for a political solution.
The government has urged the protesters to make their voices heard in a national debate instead of demonstrating in the streets, as they have done for the last two months. The debate, scheduled for next week, will cover climate change, “democratic issues,” taxes and public services.
(Source - RT)
‘President against his people’: Salvini openly backs Yellow Vest protesters, lashing out at Macron January 7th, at 3:50pm
In an extraordinary public EU feud, Italy’s Matteo Salvini, and his coalition partner, have thrown their support behind France’s Yellow Vest movement, while Salvini also accused President Emmanuel Macron of being against his people.
“I support honest citizens - who protest against a governing president [who is] against his people,” said the Italian deputy prime minister.
However, the leader of the Northern League added that he “firmly” condemns the recent violence that has marred the protests.
Di Maio said that politics, in both France and Italy, "has become deaf to the needs of citizens, who have been kept out of the most important decisions affecting the people."
The cry that rises strongly from French squares, is, ultimately, one of 'let us participate!'
The Yellow Vest movement began in mid-November 2018 as a protest against a proposed hike in fuel costs. It has since grown, to encompass wider discontent among French people, over living standards and Macron’s policies. At its peak, more than 280,000 people gathered to protest on the Champs-Elysees on November 17th.
Macron and Salvini have a well-documented rivalry and history of public name-calling. Most recently, in December, Salvini mocked the French president as a “lab mouse elected to keep the elitist political system in place.”
The pair have often locked heads over immigration policy during the Mediterranean migrant crisis. In typical fashion, the disagreement descended into a war of words, with Salvini calling Macron an “international embarrassment” last October --- after policemen were spotted dropping migrants off in an Italian forest, on the countries shared border.
(Source - RT)
Thousands rally against Hungary’s overtime work law, PM Orban January 5th, at 6:46pm
Thousands have marched through Budapest's city centre, to protest against a new law, that allows employers to ask staff to work up to 400 hours per year, of overtime.
Opposition groups have staged several rallies in the past weeks, in the Hungarian capital and other cities, against what they said, was the authoritarian rule of the conservative nationalist, Viktor Orban.
Saturday's rally, organized by opposition parties, trade unions and civic groups, mainly targeted the new labour law - dubbed by critics, as the "slave law."
The protesters marched in snowfall from the historic Heroes Square to the parliament building on the bank of the Danube river, carrying banners such as "Sweep away the regime."
"We disagree with almost everything that is going on --- since this government got into power (in 2010), from corruption to pseudo-democracy," said 50-year old housewife Eva Demeter.
She said more Hungarians were pouring onto the streets, because the slave law "affects a bigger crowd."
Some of the protesters posted on social media or carried banners calling for a "national strike."
The modification to the labour code passed by parliament last month, has faced intense criticism and sparked the biggest street protests, in over a year.
Potentially, it could add two extra hours to an average work day, or the equivalent of an extra workday per week.
Zoltan Mucsi, head of steelmaker Dunaferr's Vasas trade union, said it was undemocratic, that the government did not discuss the labour code changes, with the unions.
Some of the main trade union groups may resort to a strike, if the government does not sit down with them to negotiate, he told Reuters.
Trade union membership in Hungary is estimated at below a tenth of the workforce, about half the level in Germany, according to data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
The past weeks' anti-government rallies were also against a law that sets up new courts which critics say, could be politically manipulated, and against bias in the state- controlled media.
The earlier protests have been mostly peaceful, though there were some clashes with police who used tear gas.
The ruling Fidesz party reiterated in a statement on Thursday that the protests were part of a campaign for the European Parliament elections in May, to help those who support mass migration into the European Union.
Fidesz won the Hungarian elections with a landslide, last year, with the ticket of resisting mass immigration into the EU.
Scuffles break out as ‘yellow vests’ return to streets, for 1st protest of 2019 January 5th, at 4:04pm
Defiant Yellow Vest protesters have engaged in scuffles with police during the eighth weekend of protests in Paris. Law enforcers hit demonstrators with pepper spray and tear gas, as they tried to breach a police line.
Videos from the scene showed hundreds of protesters in their iconic yellow vests, facing off with law enforcement near the National Assembly building. The crowd then tried to walk through a line of riot police, but was pushed away.
Officers fired several smoke grenades, and tear gas was also used. The cameras caught some of the protesters rubbing their eyes and coughing.
However, police also took beatings, as several protesters were seen punching officers, including one, right in the face --- (although they were protected by a helmet).
Demonstrations in other cities across France have remained mainly peaceful, but some scuffles did break out in the city of Nantes, prompting police to fire tear gas.
French authorities deployed 3,600 officers including riot police to oversee the rallies nationwide.
However, law enforcers in Paris refrained from deploying the water cannon and armored vehicles, that were seen at previous marches.
Ahead of the clashes, several thousand yellow vests marched peacefully through the city from the Champs Elysees singing the national anthem, “La Marseillaise.”
Others held banners calling for President Macron to resign, and to “Abolish the privileges of the elite.”
The Yellow Vest movement started in mid-November as a protest against a proposed hike in the cost of fuel, but quickly broadened, to include wider discontent against the policies of President Emmanuel Macron, and a fall in living standards. At its height, some 282,000 protesters gathered on the Champs Elysee, on November 17th.
After initially refusing to give into Yellow Vest demands, Macron backed down on the proposed fuel hike, as well as promising more money for France’s lowest earners and pensioners.
Yellow Vest organizers hope this year will rejuvenate the movement, following the festive period. In a three-page manifesto addressed to the president on Thursday, they did not mince words, saying:
“Anger will turn into hatred --- if you continue, from your pedestal, you and your associates, to look at little people, like beggars.”
On Wednesday, Eric Drouet – one of the leaders of the movement – was detained over organizing an unsanctioned rally. His supporters called the police action, a sign of “dictatorship.”
(Source - RT)
Arrest of Yellow Vest leader Drouet slammed as‘abuse of power’ & ‘dictatorship’ January 3rd, at 3:06pm
Shouts of “dictatorship” were heard as one of the leaders of France’s anti-government Yellow Vest movement was arrested in Paris late on Wednesday, after authorities charged him with organizing and leading an unauthorized protest.
Eric Drouet was detained by police as some of the movement’s supporters gathered in the capital’s Place de la Concorde, near the iconic Arc de Triomphe monument. People left candles in remembrance of the movement’s wounded in clashes with police.
Drouet was detained while reportedly en-route to the memorial. Footage of the arrest shows several French riot police escort him away from the crowds, while supporters chant his name while he is being led away.
After that, several other protesters were grabbed from the crowd and led away by police, while remaining Yellow Vests sang the national anthem.
Despite having a decentralized structure, Drouet has become one of several key figureheads in the Yellow Vest movement, rallying support on social media and giving media interviews.
Tweeting his support for the man, left-wing politician Jean-Luc Melenchon, called the arrest an “abuse of power,” and the target of political policing.
“Enough of violence, condemnation and arrests against the #YellowVests. Free Eric Drouet. Make peace with the leaders of the people,” he added.
Aside from charges over the unauthorized rally, the activist will also stand trial in June, for carrying a “prohibited category D weapon [includes pepper spray, blank guns]”
So-called because of the high-visibility jackets they wear, the Yellow Vest protesters sprung into action in November.
They initially rallied against a proposed hike in fuel prices by the government of Emmanuel Macron.
The planned increase was later dropped, yet people continue to demonstrate against a decline in living standards and growing inequality. As a result, the movement has morphed to voice wider discontent against Macron’s pro-business agenda, which protesters claim, favour the country's rich.
Actions across the country have frequently seen violent clashes with police, with some demonstrators even attempting to storm Macron’s Mediterranean retreat, last month.
Yellow Vest protests in France planned for Saturday,to continue into new year – sources December 28th, at 11:47am
The Yellow Vest anti-government protests that have rocked France, will be held on Saturday and New Year's Eve, and continue into 2019, AFP reported on Friday, citing several sources in the movement.
The Yellow Vests “are still mobilized,” said Laetitia Dewalle, a spokeswoman of the protest movement which does not have a traditional leadership structure.
Several of the movement’s representatives said a seventh straight Saturday of protests will take place across the country this weekend.
Yellow Vest representative Benjamin Cauchy warned that if the concessions made so far by President Emmanuel Macron did not add up, “we will end up with a large- scale mobilization in late January.”
(Source - RT)
Protests turn violent as Yellow Vests clash with police December 15th, at 3:51pm
The Yellow Vest rally in Paris began relatively calm, but later saw protesters clash with the police. Over 66,000 people gathered nationwide, but Paris saw less than 3,000 people take to the streets - a huge decline from previous weeks.
Several clashes and scuffles broke out at the iconic Champs-Elysees avenue and near the Opera House as protesters called for Emmanuel Macron's resignation.
Police were seen using pepper spray and tear gas, against protesters.
At least 95 people were detained in the capital, with 63 being placed in custody.
More than 66,000 people gathered across the country for protests, the Interior Ministry said. Less than 3,000 of them rallied in the capital – around five times less than last Saturday.
One person was hurt in the head during clashes at the Champ-Elysees.
An RT correspondent suffered an injury to the face and has been taken to hospital, RT's editor-in- chief Margarita Simonyan confirmed on Twitter.
Toulouse and Bordeaux had some of the biggest turnouts in the country, with tens of thousands of demonstrators taking to the streets there, on Saturday.
(Source - RT)
Yellow Vest Rally: 90+ Arrested
in Paris, French Police Use Tear Gas Saturday December 15th, at 3pm
FNA - At least 92 people have been detained and 53 taken into police custody in Paris while the French capital looks less yellow on Saturday, as only several hundred people descended on the avenue, amid a heavy police presence.
French police deployed tear gas at demonstrations in Paris on Saturday, as tens of Yellow Vest protesters swarmed into the heart of the capital on the 5th weekend of unrest, while tens of people were detained prior to and at the rallies, World News reported.
Police had flooded Paris to contain the rallies, and the security forces had placed around 8,000 officers on the streets of the capital to quell fears of rioting.
Armored vehicles belonging to the Gendarmerie – France’s military police – were spotted near the Arc de Triomphe, the site of the fiercest confrontations between yellow vests and police.
A man was trying to drive around the barriers, mounted by protesters in Soissons, and collided with another car in oncoming traffic, France info reported. A 44-year-old woman who was in his car, died, due to the accident.
The organizers, consisting of some 15 groups, had outlined their list of demands on Facebook, saying they will continue their action against French President Emmanuel Macron, until all their demands are met.
“Our organizations support the demands of tax and social justice brought by the movement of yellow vests. They call for demonstrations on Saturday, December 15th, for social justice and tax, for a real democracy, for equal rights, for a true ecological transition…” the planners said, in a statement, as quoted by Le Parisien.
“We need to be prepared for worst-case scenarios,” he added.
Delpuech told RTL that authorities are aiming to be in “better control” of the situation than they were last weekend, when more than 125,000 people hit the streets of France, 10,000 of whom protested in Paris.
Those demonstrations saw clashes between protesters and police, with officers deploying tear gas and water cannon on people who threw Molotov cocktails, burned cars, and vandalized stores. Over 260 people were injured and 1,700 detained across the country.
Ahead of the demonstrations planned for Saturday, Interior Minister, Christophe Castaner, said it was time for the Yellow Vest protesters to scale down their demonstrations, and accept that they had achieved their aims, as Macron has granted concessions, as a result of the rallies.
“I'd rather have the police force doing their real job, chasing criminals and combating the terrorism threat, instead of securing roundabouts where a few thousand people keep a lot of police busy,” he added, just days after an attack at a Christmas market in Strasbourg killed four people and injured around a dozen others.
Earlier this week, Macron spoke to the nation in a televised address, saying he understood the concerns of protesters. In addition to cancel- ing fuel tax increases that were scheduled to kick in next month, he said he would raise the minimum wage by 100 euros a month from January & reduce taxes for poorer pensioners, among other measures.
Even despite those concessions, Macron's critics are still demanding that he resign, continuing to refer to him as “President of the Rich”.
Violence at the protests, especially in the capital, has hit record levels, with several dead and hundreds of protesters injured. Police officers have also suffered injuries.
The number of those detained throughout the protests has surpassed 4,500.
Hungary: 'Anti-Government Protesters' Invade City Centre of Budapest for Third Night in A Row Saturday, December 15th, at 11:53am
FNA - The anti-government demonstrations in Budapest entered into the third day, Friday, which ended with 51 people arrested and 14 policemen injured, according to official figures.
Surrounded by numerous police officers, a few thousand people listened to speeches by opposition leaders in front of the parliament, and began a march in the centre of the Hungarian capital, on Friday, Xinhua reported.
The call for the demonstration was the adoption by the Hungarian Parliament, on Wednesday, of two controversial laws: one on the labour law, increasing overtime of workers from 300 to 400 hours on a yearly basis, and one on the creation of a new administrative judicial system, which would hinder the independence of the Hungarian judiciary.
The protesters complained about low wages, the corruption of government members, and a biased public media.
At the end of the demonstrations, a hard core of a thousand people tried to invade the stairs of the parliament, colliding with the police, who, after being attacked with stones, bottles, and other objects, responded with tear gas.
The protesters, mostly young and liberal, have also marched around downtown Budapest, blocking access to various bridges in the Hungarian capital.
Some of them, wearing masks and football sweaters, have tried to set fire to the massive Christmas tree erected in front of the Parliament's building.
On Sunday, trade unions will participate in a major demonstration, which has already received the support of all the opposition parties.
French Police Heavily Deployed to Contain Rallies Across Country Sunday, December 9th, at 12:44pm
FNA - A massive police operation has got underway across France amid huge protest rallies by tens of thousands of “Yellow Vest” demonstrators, as the number of people detained in nationwide rallies on Saturday, has reached a staggering 1,723.
This Saturday, was the fourth consecutive weekend of protests, with authorities calling in reinforcements to beef up security. That included sending armoured vehicles of the country’s military police (Gendarmerie) to Paris., which deployed near the iconic Arc de Triomphe, the scene of previous clashes, World News reported.
French riot police fired tear gas and water cannon in Paris on Saturday, trying to stop tens of thousands of people from converging on the presidential palace to express their anger at high taxes and President Emmanuel Macron.
Protesters smashed store windows and set fires around Paris and clashed with police, who fired tear gas and deployed water canon throughout the day in the French capital.
At least 135 people were injured in the protests on Saturday, including 17 police officers, while, throughout France, over 1,700 demonstrators were detained.
A total of 1,723 people were arrested across France, during the latest round of "Yellow Vest" protests, in which demonstrators clashed with riot police, the interior ministry said on Sunday, adding that, of these, 1,220 were ordered held in custody.
A total of 136,000 people demonstrated across France, including more than 10,000 in Paris.
Yellow Vest mayhem hit the country for the 4th consecutive weekend. Despite the repeated skirmishes, Saturday’s anti-government protests appeared less chaotic and violent than a week ago, when crowds defaced the Arc de Triomphe, set vehicles ablaze and looted high-end stores in the city’s worst rioting since 1968.
The protest over the tax hike have been plaguing Paris and other major French cities since mid-November. The action, spearheaded by activists wearing yellow vests, has been mired in violence, last Saturday, and has seen over 130 people injured and at least 412 arrested. Four people, ncluding an elderly woman, have died, amid fierce clashes between rioting demonstrators and police.
Following last weekend’s riots in central Paris and dozens of other cities and towns across France, the government decided to abandon its plan to raise a fuel tax next year.
But protesters want the French president to go further to help hard-pressed households, including an increase to the minimum wage, lower taxes, higher salaries, cheaper energy, better retirement provisions.
Some of them have demanded Emmanuel Macron’s resignation. They say he is part of an elitist coterie that neither under- stands, nor cares, how they live.
The Yellow Vests' leader said the French government’s six-month moratorium on fuel tax hikes wasn’t what the Yellow Vests wanted, adding that people want "the baguette", not crumbs, and will take to the streets again on Saturday.
“We didn’t want a suspension, we want the past rise in the tax on fuels, to be canceled immediately," Benjamin Cauchy, the organizer of the Yellow Vests movement, told BFM TV.
By announcing the half-year moratorium, government is “taking the French people for a ride” in an attempt to win time, he stated.
"The French are not sparrows, and don’t want the crumbs the government is giving them. They want the baguette," he stressed.
100s detained, tear gas fired: Yellow Vest mayhem hits Paris on 4th weekend December 8th, at 1:23pm
French police fired the first batches of tear gas on Saturday as massive crowds of Yellow Vest protesters swarmed into the heart of the capital, on the 4th weekend of unrest.
Hundreds were detained, prior to and at, the rally.
Police detained at least 700 people across the country, including 575 in Paris, during the rallies, Secretary of State to the Interior Minister Laurent Nunez confirmed, as cited by French media.
The official added that a total of 31,000 people have been demonstrating in France.
The rally on the iconic Champs-Elysees avenue turned violent right after 10:00 am (local time). Videos from the area show people coughing and sneezing after tear gas canisters were fired into the lines of demonstrators.
Several hours into the protests, trucks armed with water cannon arrived in the heart of the capital.
The violence unfolded in the capital as several Yellow Vest protesters built barricades in the city centre and set them on fire.
Beefing up its presence, law enforcement also deployed armored vehicles belonging to the French Gendarmerie – the military police. The hardware was stationed right next to the Arc de Triomphe,which last week saw one of the fiercest battles between police and rioters.
This is the fourth consecutive Saturday of Yellow Vests protests, with levels of violence between police and demonstrators that has not been seen in decades. Last week, the unrest peaked again, resulting in over 400 arrests. Scores of people were also injured during the heavy-handed police response. Officers also suffered injuries, while trying to handle the situation.
The French government says for now it has abandoned the plans for fuel price hikes and a higher tax, which triggered the rallies. The unrest, however, is still far from losing steam. The demonstrators are billing their action on Saturday, as: “Act IV. Stay on the course” and are demanding more concessions, including lower taxes, a higher minimum wage and, for some, even the resignation of Emmanuel Macron.
(Source - RT)
Paris set for lockdown amid wave of gilets jaunes protests Friday, December 7th, 2018.
Paris and other French cities are effectively under lockdown this weekend, in anticipation of further “gilets jaunes” (yellow vests) protests, that the authorities deem potentially violent.
In Paris, the Eiffel Tower, Louvre and Musee d’Orsay will be closed, as will shops on the chic Boulevard Champs-Elysees.
Among museums affected by closures are tourist magnets such as the Paris catacombs and the Grand Palais, with its Miro exhibition. The Museum of Modern Art and the Science Museum Palais de la Decouverte, will also be closed, while performances in both Paris operas, on Place de l’Opera and Place de la Bastille, will be cancelled.
The National Students Union said that, as of this morning, 700 high schools across the country were swept by protests and 400 of them were closed.
Over 90,000 police officers will be deployed throughout the country.
Police overreaction to protests, was exemplified by social media coverage of masked and armed police in Mantes-la-Jolie, near Paris, standing over dozens of high school students on their knees, hands on heads, some lined up against a wall.
The Violences Policieres (Police Violence) Twitter group attracted thousands of angry comments, suggesting that the images looked like “the execution of children by firing squad.”
Militant trade union centre CGT secretary general Philippe Martinez declared: “You don't beat up kids.”
The CGT urged its energy workers to stage a 48-hour walkout on December 13, adding that its members wanted to join the “yellow vests,” while the farmers’ union said it will hold demonstrations every day next week.
(Source - Morning Star)
French Parliament’s Left Parties to Discuss Vote of No Confidence Against Government Thursday December 6th, 2018, at 1:35pm
FNA - At least three left-wing parties at the French parliament have agreed to discuss a vote of no confidence against the government, amid sweeping protests, against President Emmanuel Macron’s policies, which have gripped the country.
Among those planning to question Macron’s leadership is La France Insoumise party, whose leader, Jean-Luc Melenchon has long been a vocal critic of the current government. The French Communist Party and the Socialist Party, which ruled the country before the 2017 presidential elections, have also confirmed to be in on the plan, RT reported.
“We’ve decided to work together to file a no confidence vote [to the government] next Monday. During the coming days, we will seek to increase the number of signatories. We have to show that other ways, are possible,” First Secretary of the Socialist Party Olivier Faure wrote on Twitter, using the hashtag #GiletsJaunes (Yellow Vests).
France is currently in turmoil, after almost three weeks of unending rallies. What started as a spontaneous rebellion against fuel price hikes and unpopular reforms carried out by Macron, has gradually grown into one of the most stubborn challenges for the president, and swallowed up the whole country.
The rallies held under the motto “on the way to Macron’s resignation”, caught the president off-guard, in his 18 months in the top job. His approval ratings stand at barely 25 percent, as many French citizens view him as elitist and out of touch with the common folk, who are unhappy with many of his reforms, such as tax relief for businesses and cuts to pensioners’ benefits.
A rally on December 1 was mired in violence and saw over 130 people injured and more than 400 arrested.
Four people, including an elderly woman, died amid the fierce clashes between rioting demonstrators and police.
Finally, the French government had to concede and dropped the fuel tax hike plan – at least for the 2019 budget.
Macron’s handling of the protests and his proposed reforms, have angered many opposition parties in the parliament. Melenchon has repeatedly called upon the presidency, to abolish the fuel tax.
“It’s time for the rich to be in solidarity [with people],” he said, earlier.
Faure also lashed out at the government on several occasions, calling for “tax justice” and a “fight against social and territorial inequalities”.
French PM Confirms Fuel Tax Suspensions, Calls for Calm December 4th, at 12:36pm
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced Tuesday new concessions to “yellow vest” protesters, saying the planned increases in the price of fuel would be suspended for six months.
“No tax merits putting the unity of the nation in danger,” Philippe said in a televised address, adding that the anger on the streets “originates from a profound injustice: of not being able to live with dignity from one’s work”.
He added that any future protests should be declared in advance and “take place calmly”.
(Sources - AFP/al Manar)
Fuel Supplies, Schools Hit on Week 3 of ‘Yellow Vest’ Protests December 3rd, at 1:31pm
Dozens of French “yellow vest” demonstrators blocked access to a major fuel depot and several highways on Monday on the 3rd week of anti-government protests which led to major riots in Paris at the weekend.
Around 50 people blocked the fuel depot in the port of Fos-sur-Mer, near Marseille, where police have repeatedly intervened to dislodge demonstrators since small-town and rural France erupted in protests over rising living costs, on November 17th.
Traffic was also backed up on the highways leading to the southern cities of Aix-en-Provence, Orange, Montpellier, Nimes and Sete, as the movement, which began over fuel tax increases, but has morphed into a broader wave of resistance to Macron’s pro-business policies, rumbled on.
On Monday, the protests spread to around a hundred schools nationwide, which were partially or totally blocked by teenagers piggybacking on the demonstrations, to air frustration over new university entrance requirements.
Around 1,000 students shouting “Macron resign!” — some clad in the high-visibility vests that have become the emblem of the movement — demonstrated in the city of Nice, on Monday, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.
(Source: AFP/al Manar)
France to Consider State of Emergency after ‘Yellow Vest’ Protest Turned Violent December 2nd, at 12:21pm
The French government, is to consider imposing a state of emergency to prevent riots, government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said, on Sunday, following the arrest the day before, of more than 400 people, when a “Yellow Vest” protest turned violent.
“We have to think about the measures that can be taken so that these incidents don’t happen again,” Griveaux told Europe 1 radio on Sunday morning.
When asked whether a state of emergency could be imposed, Griveaux replied: “All options will be examined.”
This comes after a dozen cars were set on fire, buildings were torched, tear gas was fired and water cannons were deployed in the French capital on Saturday in scenes reminiscent of guerilla warfare.
The heavy clashes started on the Place de l’Etoile, at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe, when groups of people tried to force their way through a police checkpoint set up to prevent a planned “Yellow Vest” protest from turning violent, like it had the previous week.
The situation escalated quickly, with some of the 1,500 protesters ripping cobblestones out of the paved road, to throw at police officers.
Protesters, who chanted for President Emmanuel Macron to resign, also sat down under the Arc — a significant symbol of the French Republic — to sing the national anthem.
Police wrestled control of the area shortly after lunchtime but groups of men then roamed central Paris, leaving wrecked cars and destruction behind them.
Overall 412 people were arrested and 133 were wounded including 23 law enforcement officers. According to the Ministry of Interior, firefighters dealt with 190 blazes including six buildings which were set on fire, Euronews reported.
Meanwhile, dozens of peaceful protests got underway throughout the country.
The citizen “Yellow Vest” movement wants Macron to reverse his decision to increase taxes on fuel.
The nationwide protest has been ongoing for more than two weeks with protesters setting up road blocks to significantly slow down traffic and the delivery of goods.
Discussions between the authorities and the “Yellow Vest” protesters have been difficult because the citizen movement is not affiliated to any political group or union and has no leadership structure.
Furthermore, what started as a protest over the price of petrol has now mutated into a crisis about spending power and inequalities.
(Sources - Euronews/al Manar)
Dozens injured as Paris turns into battlefield amid fresh Yellow Vest rallies December 1st, at 12:36pm
Police deployed tear gas and water cannons against firecracker-hurling Yellow Vest protesters in Paris. Over 100 arrests have been made and 65 people injured amid mayhem, triggered by fuel price hikes and higher taxes.
December 1st rallies are being held with the slogan “on the way to Macron’s resignation.” As the unrest gained momentum, the area close to the iconic Champs-Elysees avenue, has been covered by thick smoke.
While pelting law enforcement with various projectiles, protesters have also resorted to symbolic yellow paint during the standoff. To their delight, quite a few shots have landed on the shields of riot police.
Adding more symbolism to the rally, a man has been seen on his knees with arms stretched to both sides, in front of the city’s key landmark – the Arc de Triomphe.
Another demonstrator stands right behind him, holding two French flags, while both are facing a line of officers in full riot gear.
As some of the Yellow Vest supporters lined up next to the site, police unleashed a water cannon, knocking down at least two of them, who have been carried away.
Surrounded by smoke both from firecrackers & tear gas, a group of Yellow Vest protesters, grabbed dozens of large pieces of cardboard, to use as a massive ‘shield wall’ against police.
Meanwhile, Lucas Leger, and another RT France reporter covering the rally, have been injured by a tear gas canister and a flash-ball gun. Leger posted a selfie, with a bleeding cheek, on Twitter.
Videos from the unrest, also showed people grasping their legs, presumably injured by the very projectiles.
Hours into the clashes, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, tweeted that at least 1,500 “disruptors” were on the outskirts of the Champs-Elysees.
According to police figures, more than 60 people, including 11 security officers, were injured and 129 arrested during Saturday's chaos.
On Friday, negotiations to settle the issue failed after only two of the protesters’ representatives turned up for a meeting with Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe.
One of them walked out, after he was told he could not have TV cameras covering the negotiations.
A recent poll shows that despite the mayhem, two-thirds of people in France still back the Yellow Vest cause.
The movement has also inspired rallies in neighboring Belgium, where protesters on Friday called on the prime minister to resign. A standoff there, also ended up in clashes with law enforcement.
(Source - RT)
Arrests, water cannon and a burning car:- Yellow Vest protests spread to Brussels November 30th, at 5:46pm
France's ‘Yellow Vest’ protests have now made their way to Belgium, with demonstrators in Brussels calling on the prime minister to resign. Some threw rocks and firecrackers at officers, prompting them to deploy water cannons.
Crowds of people protesting fuel prices and living standards, disrupted traffic and walked the streets for around 3 hours, on Friday.
A total of 60 people were arrested before any violence began, mostly for blocking roads or carrying large fireworks, Reuters cited police as saying.
The violence took place, after several hundred people marched to Prime Minister Charles Michel'S office, demanding that he resign. Some threw rocks, fire-crackers, and road signs at police, prompting officers to deploy water cannons. One photo online showed a police vehicle set on fire.
Responding to the demonstrations, Michel voiced sympathy for people's financial troubles --- but noted that “money doesn't fall from the sky.”
The unauthorized demonstration, news of which spread mostly on social media, was inspired by the ‘Yellow Vest’ protests in France against fuel price hikes imposed by President Emmanuel Macron. The increases are part of the government's effort to reduce emissions causing global warming.
While the ‘Yellow Vest’ protests have taken place across France over the past two weeks, they became violent in Paris, with the French capital being compared to a war zone as demonstrators set barricades alight and clashed with police.
(Source - RT)
Night rage:Furious ‘Yellow Vest’ protesters turn Paris into ‘war zone’ November 25th, at 11:01am
The night descending on Paris has brought no ease of tensions over fuel price hikes. ‘Yellow Vest’ protesters set more barricades ablaze, turning the French capital into a kind of war zone.
The filmed scenes resembled street battles, with rioters engaging in scuffles with police, which struggled to bring the situation under control.
The video shows brazen protesters setting barricades and tents on fire, as well as riot police using tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowds. People have been venting their anger for the past two weeks, over rising fuel prices and a government-proposed fuel tax, which is due to come into force, in January 2019.
(Source - RT)
Flared tension, tear gas, as "Yellow Vests" protests against higher fuel tax reach Paris November 24th at 2:23pm
Xinhua - A new round of "Yellow Vests" movement in Paris on Saturday was marred by violence after several hundred people had converged on the Champs-Elysees, defying a police ban on protests in the capital's main avenue.
A group of protesters removed the cobblestones from the streets and took down constructions barriers to form barricades while trying to move to the Place de la Concorde, which is close to the National Assembly and the Elysee Palace.
Police fired tear gas and used water cannons, to disperse the crowd.
One person was arrested following the standoff, Paris prefecture said, adding that hundreds of far-right extremists infiltrated the demonstration.
Some protesters, waving tricolor flags, sang the national anthem, while others chanted "Macron, resign."
Authorities have permitted a gathering next to the Eiffel Tower, on Saturday, but rejected requests for a demonstration on the Place de la Concorde, for fear of escalating violence.
In this second round the social action, 8,000 of angry motorists and discontented citizens flocked to the French capital to protest against President Emmanuel Macron's plan to introduce high taxes on the most commonly used car fuel in France, the French Interior Minister, Christophe Castaner, said.
The movement is experiencing "a strong weakening", said Castaner, adding that 23,000 people took part in the protests across the country at midday, compared with 124,000 reported for the same period, last week.
Last Saturday the "Yellow Vests" anti-Macron social movement, which got its name from the high visibility vests drivers keep in their cars, drew about 288,000 protesters, who blocked roads across France.
Total’s fuel depots blocked amid nationwide fuel price rallies November 19th, at 9:51am
A number of Total’s fuel depots were blockaded by ‘yellow vest’ protesters, angry over skyrocketing gasoline prices in France, as massive demonstrations continue to rage across the country.
Protesters have blocked access to three fuel depots, a spokesman for the company told Reuters on Monday. Two facilities, one near the north- west city of Rennes, and the other in Fos-sur-Mer in the south, are operated by Total, the spokesman said.
The third depot blocked by the demonstrators is partially owned but not run by the corporation and is located in La Rochelle.
Aside from the fuel depots, France’s major motor- ways and roundabouts remain blocked by dozens of barricades. Other protesters continued to camp out in parking lots, outside supermarkets.
Many demonstrators wear distinctive yellow vests which became a recognizable symbol of a grass- roots movement behind the protests.
A new wave of protests erupted this Saturday with almost 300,000 people taking to the streets of French cities, to spew anger at President Emmanuel Macron and the French government, who recently chose to raise fuel prices, by passing an extra environmental tax.
“Gasoline prices never stop rising. It’s the straw that broke the camel’s back. Macron and his buddies just let… things go from bad to worse,” one protester told RT this weekend.
The measure, meant to combat air pollution, was predictably, met with little praise by the French people. At one point, the protests even turned violent, leaving over 400 people injured, according to France24.
The movement first emerged on social media last month, over a surge in fuel prices this year, and quickly snowballed, into a broader umbrella organization.
Police deployed numerous officers to protests-hit areas, but bringing the situation fully under control, proved to be quite a challenge.
(Source - RT)
Smoke& blood as French riot police chargeunion protest against Macron’s reforms October 9th, at 5:41pm
Violence erupted in the streets of Paris on Tuesday as protesters demonstrating against the French government’s “ideological policies” and its reforms, clashed with a riot police squad.
Dramatic footage captured by RT’s video agency Ruptly, showed people in the crowd turn and attempt to scramble back through the throngs of protesters, as police in riot gear, armed with batons and tear gas, charged into the demonstration to clear a path through the street.
After the charge, several officers of the French anti- riot CRS squad stood guard with shields as others detained a protester. The situation only heated up, as protesters lit flares, while police launched another charge. Running through the plumes of smoke, the police pushed the crowd back, and dragged away another young protester.
The young man appeared to be dazed by what could be a blow to his forehead, with blood pouring down his face, and on to his jacket. People attempting to take photos or offer the man some help, were blocked by police. More scuffles ensued, with demonstrators keeping police back with projectiles, fireworks and flares, before being eventually dispersed.
Organized by trade unions the General Confederation of Labour (CGT) and Workers' Force (FO), as well as student groups and retirees, the marchers were voicing their discontent at government reform policies, which they say damages France’s social model, promotes inequality, & damages workers bargaining rights.
Clashes between riot police and protesters during this year’s May Day rally in Paris, gained world notoriety, after footage emerged, of a presidential aide to Macron, who was videoed, partaking in the beating of a protester.
Alexandre Benalla, who was off-duty at the time, was first given a slap on the wrist by the Elysee Palace, but was later fired, amid public outcry, after the scandal was made public.
(Source - RT)
France’s Macron appoints new environment, sports ministers, in reshuffle September 4th, at 12:35pm
French President Emmanuel Macron appointed a former Green lawmaker as his new environment minister on Tuesday. The president was forced into the move after Nicolas Hulot, a popular eco-campaigner, resigned live on radio last week over “hollow commitments on environmental policy.”
The nomination of Francois de Rugy to replace him, reflected Macron’s desire to give the portfolio, which includes energy, to a career politician, with experience balancing ideals with political realities, Reuters said, citing energy analysts. The president also named Roxana Maracineanu as the sports minister, to replace former Olympic fencing champion, Laura Flessel, who said she was quitting for personal reasons. Hulot’s resignation was a blow for Macron.
The president is still reeling from a bodyguard scandal in July, as he prepares to embark on reforms: to cut public sector jobs, tame the budget deficit and streamline the pension system.
(Source - RT)
French Trade Unions Call Mobilization against Government Policy September 2nd, at 12:20pm
Prensa Latina - Several trade unions have called a mobilization on October 9th, to protest against the French government''s policy, particularly in the social sector, local media reported.
Organizations like the General Labour Confederation, Workers' Force and the National Students' Union, issued the call to stage an inter-professional and students strike, according to the communiqué.
The objective is to express opposition to the government's policy, which implies 'an explosion of inequalities and the violation of collective rights', they denounced.
The demonstration will be the first in this new cycle in which the Executive is trying to implement new and polemic reforms, like the ones on unemployment insurance and pensions.
Over the past few days, polls have shown a drastic fall in the popularity of French President Emmanuel macron, who is supported by 34% of citizens.
Railway workers announce wave of September strikes on Arriva Rail North by Marcus Barnett Saturday, August 25th, 2018
Railway workers in the north have announced a wave of strike action throughout September, as today’s planned walkout goes ahead.
RMT members on Arriva Rail North will be downing tools to defend the role of the train guard, today.
But a new roll-out of strikes will see train conductors striking, on every Saturday in September.
The union says that the threatened expansion of driver-only operations on northern trains poses a threat to jobs, public safety, and the welfare of disabled passengers.
However, the union also says company representatives have “refused point-blank” to enter into meaningful discussions with the union.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said that bosses are frustrating workers with their “pig-headed” attitude, adding that “a genuine opportunity to reach an agreement has been kicked back by the company.”
Mr Cash went on to stress, that the union’s representatives remain open to discussions.
(Source - Morning Star)
Industrial Northern and eastern railway stations take up strike action in defence of train guards May 9th, 2018
Pickets were in action at railway stations in northern and eastern England today as workers took strike action in the long-running dispute to defend the jobs of guards on trains.
Privateer rail operators Northern Rail and Greater Anglia want to remove safety-critical guards to increase profits, despite evidence of guards’ key role in incidents including derailments and violent passengers.
Operators in Scotland and Wales have reached settlements on the issue with the Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT) following involvement of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly.
But in England the Tory government is supporting and encouraging operators’ attacks on the guards’ jobs.
RMT said today’s strikes were “rock solid.”
General secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT members on Northern Rail and Greater Anglia stand rock solid and united once again this morning in separate disputes which are about putting public safety and access before private profit on our railways.
“It is ludicrous that we have been able to negotiate agreements in Wales and Scotland that lock in the guard guarantee, but we are being blocked from reaching the same settlement across the North and Greater Anglia.
“A solution to these disputes is within our grasp, but the rail companies need to stop sticking their heads in the sand, get back round the table and work with the union to bolt it down.
“RMT members have shown extraordinary resilience and determination in the fight for rail safety and we thank the public for their continuing support and understanding.”
(Source - Morning Star)
Neocons have taken over Committee: UK's FCO Committee Report 'Through the Looking Glass' by Neil Clark
''The decision not to intervene in Syria has had very real consequences for Syrians, their neighbours, the UK and our allies. We believe the Government needs to under- stand the role the UK's inaction has had, and learn the lessons from it, for the future.''
Between December 2015 and June 2016 there were a total of 51 British air strikes in Syria. This year, there has been further bombing, including the targeting of military bases near Damascus and Homs in April.
"We believe that the consequences of inaction can be every bit as serious as intervening," the Foreign Affairs committee report states.
How can we explain this extraordinary attempt to portray Britain's extensive and well-documented operations in Syria as 'not intervening'? After all so much is on the public record, including, on the Ministry of Defence website, details of RAF air strikes.
A look at the membership of the Foreign Affairs Committee is illuminating. Its chair, Tom Tugendhat, Tory MP for Tonbridge and Malling, is a hard- core neocon and a former member of the Intelligence Corps. Peter Oborne, the highly respected political commentator, wrote about the 'neocon coup' that took place on the committee last year and warned us of its consequences. But how many were paying attention?
Other members of Tugendhat's committee include Ian Austin, the Labour MP who likened Russia's holding of the World Cup to Nazi Germany's hosting of the 1936 Olympic Games, and who told Jeremy Corbyn to "sit down and shut up" when he was criticizing the Iraq war.
Then we've Chris Bryant, a signatory to the statement of principles of the uber neocon, Henry Jackson Society, and Priti Patel, who stepped down from the Cabinet, in 2017, when it was revealed she had undisclosed, unofficial meetings with Israeli ministers.
In fact, if we look at the composition of the committee and compare it to the far more balanced one under the chairmanship of Crispin Blunt, (which produced a critical report on the UK government's intervention in Libya in 2016) it's no surprise we've got the document we have.
Neocons know that after the disasters of Iraq and Libya, 'interventionist' foreign policies have been utterly discredited. So, the only way out is to portray Syria, however ludicrously, as an example of UK 'non-intervention', in the hope that some people might fall for it and support 'rectifying' the 'inaction' at some point in the near future. Perhaps in response to a non- independently verified chemical weapons attack in Idlib, later this month?
The Foreign Affairs Committee report, which makes George Orwell's 1984 look quite understated, is perfectly timed for that.
(Source - taken from longer article on RT, Beyond Orwellianism') :
Corbyn as PM would overhaul BBC & tax tech giants - in bid to make media ‘hold power to account’ August 23rd, at 1:06pm
Britain’s Labour Party would tax tech giants and shake up the BBC, as part of a media strategy to be announced by leader Jeremy Corbyn.
It aims to build “a free and democratic media for the digital age”, if the party wins power.
Corbyn is expected to outline the plan during a speech at the Alternative MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival on Thursday, where he will call for radical reform of the UK media landscape, and claim journalists are being “held back” by media tycoons or, in the case of the BBC, by excessive state influence.
“We need to set journalists and citizens free, to hold power to account, by breaking the grip of tech giants and billionaires on our media,” Corbyn said, Wednesday night, on Twitter.
Outlining his vision for the future of the BBC, the Labour leader’s speech will promote complete transparency about the diversity makeup of the BBC’s work force, and allow for the election of some BBC board members by the corporation’s staff, as well as license fee payers. Labour would also remove the government’s powers of appointment.
Another measure would see Labour impose a digital top-up to the license fee, payable by tech giants or internet providers in order to supplement the existing licence fee with a view to reducing the cost for poorer households.
Public interest journalism would be supported by Labour, with Corbyn expected to say that, without it, a “few tech giants and unaccountable billionaires will control huge swathes of our public space and debate.”
To this end, Corbyn will advocate that not-for-profit newsorganisations, like the Bureau for Investigative Journalism, should be given charitable status, while “news co-operatives” could be created with a remit to report on local government, private contractors operating public services, and regulated bodies.
“The best journalism takes on the powerful, in the corporate world as well as government and helps create an informed public,” Corbyn’s text says.
“This work costs money. We value it, but somehow, that does not translate into proper funding and legal support.”
The plan has already been slammed by the ruling Tories, with the party’s deputy chair James Cleverly saying the measures were only going to result in more charges for the consumer.
“Tech companies would just put up their prices and pass this internet tax straight onto families and businesses across the country — adding more pressure to weekly bills,” he said.
Labour’s media plan comes amid an ongoing battle between the Labour leadership and British media outlets, including the BBC, which have been accused of bias in their coverage of stories about Corbyn.
Last week, the party filed a complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), over reporting by several British right-wing newspapers, many owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News International, over “misleading” coverage of a wreath-laying event Corbyn attended at a cemetary in Tunis, in 2014.
In March, a report by BBC’s ‘Newsnight’ program was accused of “extreme bias” against Corbyn. after it produced a mocked-up image of him wearing a Bolshevik-style hat, superimposed in front of St. Basil’s Cathedral.
(Source - RT)
Palestinians show solidarity --- with US prison strike by Steve Sweeney Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018.
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Inmates strike across 17 states on anniversary of Black Panther George Jackson's murder.
Palestinian prisoners sent a message of solidarity to their US counterparts who went on strike in jails across 17 states on Tuesday, over conditions that they have branded “modern slavery.”
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) released a statement in support of the US prison strikers “fighting exploitation, racism and capitalism from within the heart of imperialist prisons.”
The Palestinians, who were jailed for their participation “in struggle for the liberation of our land and people from colonialism and occupation,” hailed the prison strike as “a struggle of oppressed and exploited workers, first & foremost, confronting the unmasked brutality of capitalism behind bars.”
The US prison strike started on August 21st, the 47th anniversary of the murder of Black Panthers member, George Jackson, by prison officers, in San Quentin jail.
Organised by Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, a group of prisoners providing help and training to other inmates, the strike aims to end the conditions of “modern slavery” in US penal institutions.
Prisoners across at least 17 US states are refusing to work, holding sit-ins and going on hunger strike to highlight the “human rights abuses” behind bars, where inmates say they are being treated like “animals.”
They issued a list of 10 demands, including improved prison conditions, an end to sentences of life with- out parole - or “death by incarceration,” increased budgets for rehabilitation programmes; an end to the disenfranchisement of roughly six million people who are not allowed to vote, and an immediate abolition of compulsory labour, which the strike organisers describe, as a modern form of slavery.
The US incarcerates more of its population than any other country in the world, with 2.2 million people – one in 110 of the population – in jail, according to government statistics.
Some of the worlds biggest multinational companies, including Microsoft, American Airlines, Starbucks, BP, Victoria’s Secret, Walmart and McDonald's use prison labour schemes, to boost their profits.
Organisers warned that many of the strike leaders are being placed in solitary confinement.
“Other inmates have been warned that if they continue to contact advocacy groups, they will be moved to the most brutal camps,” said Karen Smith, of the Incarcerated Workers Organising Committee.
The PFLP statement said the victory of the US prison strike would be a victory for Palestine, & “for all of the struggles against imperialism, racism and oppression, in the US and globally.”
(Source - Morning Star)
America’s Prisoners Striking in 17 States over Prison Conditions Sunday August 19th, at 12 midday.
FNA - Prisoners across 17 states are planning to strike for nearly three weeks, starting later this month, to protest over prison conditions, according to a report.
The demonstrations are planned to take place from August 21st to September 9th, marking the anniversary of a bloody prison uprising in upstate New York, in 1971, Vox reported.
Protesters are “demanding humane living conditions, access to rehabilitation, sentencing reform and the end of modern day slavery”, according to the web- site for the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC).
Protesters will refuse to report to assigned jobs, engage in sit-ins and begin hunger strikes, according to a press release tweeted out by a group supporting the strike.
“Every single field and industry is affected on some level by prisons, from our license plates to the fast food that we eat to the stores that we shop at. So we really need to recognize, how we are supporting the prison industrial complex through the dollars that we spend,” Amani Sawari, a spokes- person representing organizers of the protests, told Vox.
The strike is in direct response to an April riot at Lee Correctional Institution in South Carolina, in which seven inmates died, according to organizers. The IWOC claims “prison officials turned their backs on a riot they provoked”.
The use of inmate labour has come under closer scrutiny in recent weeks as prisoners have been used to fight California’s most recent wildfires, often for paltry wages. Vox reports that inmate firefighters make $1 per hour plus $2 per day.
The planned strikers also address labour directly, on the strike website, demanding: “An immediate end to prison slavery. All persons imprisoned in any place of detention, under United States jurisdiction, must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory, for their labour”.
Cleaners form a picket line with their UVW comrades
A timely call from John McDonnell for ‘a new Anti-Nazi League’ Tuesday, August 7th, 2018
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John McDonnell’s clarion call for a new wave of nationwide opposition to racism and the rising tide of far-right violence, is timely.
Mainstream media and Labour’s opponents have embarked on a feeding frenzy, with no sign of slackening, over anti-semitism claims, personalised on Labour's leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
All complaints must be examined, of course, but it is clear that, for some, no reply by Corbyn will ever suffice.
While he and his party bear the brunt of this campaign, with its twin goals of forcing Labour to accept a definition of anti-semitism that would diminish criticism of Israel and undermine Corbyn to make him susceptible to replacement, the far right is having a field day.
Why did a group of fascist thugs feel confident of their ability to ransack the Bookmarks bookshop round the corner from the Trades Union Congress headquarters and to video and upload their violent escapade?
Why has Boris Johnson returned to the gutter to make offensive comments about Muslim women who wear clothing they regard as appropriate to their religious views?
Former Tory Party national co-chair Sayeeda Warsi suspects that Johnson believes his Islamophobia will be a vote- winner among the Tory faithful when he bids to replace Theresa May in due course.
While current chair Brandon Lewis has asked Johnson to apologise for his insults, the Prime Minister’s silence has been deafening.
Opposition to anti-semitism, Islamophobia and all forms of racism cannot be left to the Westminster village.
The Anti-Nazi League example that McDonnell cites became a mass movement when the organised labour movement threw its weight behind the group, along with cultural, religious and black and ethnic minority forces.
Working openly and honestly with different forces is the best way to isolate and minimise the noxious influence of those who wish to divide us.
(Source - Morning Star)
Labour calls for new movement since the rise of the far right by Ceren Sagir Tuesday, August 7th, 2018
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Labour spoke out today for the launch of a new nationwide movement: to resist racism and the growth of the far right in Britain.
The move follows an increase in fascist demonstrations, the storming of Bookmarks bookshop and Tory MP Boris Johnson’s Islamophobic comments.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said anti-racists should build on the work of the Anti-Nazi League (ANL), which was founded in the late 1970s in response to the growth of the National Front and was backed by trade unions and leading musicians of the time, such as The Clash.
Mr McDonnell said:“We can no longer ignore the rise of far-right politics in our society. Maybe it’s time for an ANL-type cultural and political campaign, to resist.”
He said the movement successfully combated the far right, through the mass mobilisation of trade unionists and anti-racist campaigners.
“The ANL pioneered highly influential cultural movements like Rock Against Racism [prompted by the racist gestures of the likes of Eric Clapton and David Bowie], which attracted tens of thousands of people of all ages to anti-racist festivals and protests,”he said.
“We should seriously look at emulating the work of the ANL and Rock Against Racism -- at a time when the far right once again poses a genuine threat to our society.”
Mr McDonnell gave the example of Mr Johnson’s inflammatory comments about Muslim women who wear face veils.
Mr Johnson stands accused of stoking Islamophobia for political gain after saying this week that Muslim women wearing burkas look like bank robbers and that it was “absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letterboxes.”
SNP MP Stephen Gethins said the “grotesquely offensive” comments were not an “accidental gaffe” but a “calculated and callous insult” against Muslim women.
“It’s about time the Tory Party heeded the calls from former co-chair Sayeeda Warsi -- and challenged the open Islamophobia being trumpeted within their ranks,” he said.
Party chairman Brandon Lewis has asked Mr Johnson to apologise for the comments.
Mr McDonnell also raised concerns about demonstrations over the jailing of ex-English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson, and pointed to the attack at Bookmarks in central London on Saturday, as proof of a rise of the far right.
Ukip has suspended three party members involved in the incident, including Luke Nash-Jones, who posted a Facebook video condemning the action, in an attempt to shift blame onto “third parties.”
(Source - Morning Star)
RMT calls on our whole movement to mobilise against the far right by Mick Cash Saturday, July 21st, 2018
Last weekend a group of RMT officials and members were attacked by fascist supporters of Tommy Robinson, in a premeditated act of violence, in broad daylight, on the streets of London.
It was a brutal assault that left our senior assistant general secretary, Steve Hedley, in hospital, while others sustained injuries, as bottles, glasses and chairs rained down on them.
I will repeat again, this fascist attack was launched against a group of activists from Britain’s leading transport union in broad daylight on the streets of Westminster, as they were enjoying a quiet drink in the sunshine, after taking part in a peaceful demonstration.
As Steve rightly said this was an attack on the entire trade union movement, proving that the far right have singled out the organised working class as a prime target, as they seek to sow division and hatred in our communities.
As you are recharging your batteries at yet another fantastic Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival this weekend do not be under any illusions — the threat from the enemies of everything that we stand for as a trade union movement is growing, and we need to be stepping up our campaigning and organising work, to stop its poison from spreading any further.
The threat is nothing new. From the Spanish Civil War, Cable Street, the rise of the NF in the 1970s and the BNP in the 1990s, it has always fallen to the trade union movement to educate and mobilise against the far right -- but this modern version comes loaded with cash, from the so-called “Alt- Right” in the USA and with the tools of social media at their disposal. But the traditional tactic of street violence remains at their core.
They hate us because we offer a vision of an inclusive & equal society, where the resources are harnessed for the benefit of the many and not the few; and they particularly hate my union because we demonstrate week in & week out, that workers standing together in a militant and progressive organisation, can win on the issues of jobs, wages and workplace justice.
That threatens the narrow, twisted and divisive agenda that they seek to promote.
From the guards’ rail safety campaign, to the fight for genuine a living wage for cleaner’s across the transport sector and through to the ongoing battle for jobs and for pay justice in the shipping industry, RMT is taking our message out on all fronts, and we are enjoying massive public support.
Just look at the polling on public ownership of the railways where nearly three quarters of the British people have taken a look at the shambles of privatisation, with its rip-off fares and unreliable services, and decided to back the trade union campaign for nationalisation instead. That massive groundswell of public opinion has been won over through sheer hard work and determination.
Our members at the Train Operating Companies who have fought for over two years for the guard guarantee and safe and accessible railways for all, deserve the support and solidarity they have received from across the trade union movement which has helped sustain them in a battle that is far from over. I know that we can rely on you to continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with us.
But I started off with last weekend’s events in plain sight on the streets of London, and I want to ask you to remember, that it wasn’t just a brutal attack on a small group of transport workers — it was an attack on us all.
So I’m using this column in the Morning Star this weekend as an opportunity to send out an appeal to the entire trade union and labour movement: to recognise the threat that confronts us and to call for an urgent united campaign - engaging workplaces & communities the length and breadth of the country - that mobilises in the same way that our forebears mobilised when faced with the same hate-filled mobs.
Splintering the JC9 will only damage Corbyn and the Labour left Thursday, August 2nd, 2018
Labour party supporters of Jeremy Corbyn have a responsibility to vote in a disciplined way, in the ongoing national executive committee (NEC) election for the JC9 candidates.
Comrades may have misgivings about how the group came about or about individuals on it, but the fact is that splintering that list plays into the hands of Corbyn’s opponents.
This reality renders all the more surprising the decision by the Momentum national co-ordinating committee not to support Pete Willsman, a lifelong campaigner for party democracy.
Aside from the consideration that transforming the JC9 into JC8 could weaken the Corbyn-backing left on the NEC, there is widespread and well-justified disquiet over how this decision was taken.
Neither Welsh Labour Grassroots nor Scottish Labour’s Campaign for Socialism, which predate Momentum’s establishment and provide a political home for its supporters in these countries, was consulted.
Nor did this divisive decision win the approval of Corbyn himself.
Failure of democratic consultation isn’t the only problem. Political misjudgement lies at the heart of this wrong decision.
Anyone listening to the brief recording of Willsman’s contribution to the latest NEC meeting would have detected anger and frustration in reaction to wild claims that Corbyn’s Labour poses an existential threat to Britain’s Jews and that there is an inexhaustible well of evidence of serious incidences of anti-semitism in Labour.
There was certainly no anti-semitic prejudice in what Willsman said, yet a small group of people is effectively tarring him with this brush.
Momentum NCG ought to have questioned how Willsman’s comments came to light, and been guided by this awareness.
An NEC member recorded proceedings and then approached the anti-Labour media, which lined up the usual suspects to underline how shocked, appalled, disgusted they were, & to urge Corbyn to accept the false anti-semitism charges, & fall in line with the usual demands --- to couch his opposition to prejudice, in pro-zionist terms.
This member’s disloyalty to the NEC and the wider party has passed, virtually unremarked, in the rush to condemn a Corbyn supporter.
Similarly, Louise Ellman’s declaration that she was “shocked” to find that Corbyn had attended the 2010 House of Commons event addressed by Holocaust survivor Hajo Meyer, passed unchallenged, by the mass media's reporters.
Didn’t they know it could have been no surprise, since she was in attendance for the whole meeting, including its disruption by Zionist Federation hooligans.
These latest instalments in the campaign to smear Corbyn & Labou,r as anti-semitic, have persuaded some anti-Corbyn elements who ducked below the parapet, after last year’s encouraging general election fightback, to raise their heads again.
Stephen Kinnock’s reference to “a full-blown crisis for our party” mirrors BBC correspondents’ comments that the Labour anti-semitism controversy “shows no signs of going away.”
Both he and they have a vested interest in making damn sure the fires of controversy are stoked continually, to ensure the party is paralysed by crisis.
Labour is under unprecedented attack for having elected a socialist leader, for the first time in decades, and powerful interests are ranged against it.
Imagine how the entire Establishment will react when a general election votes to send Corbyn to Number 10 and what would happen if flaky elements bail out at the first broadside.
Labour can only prevail if the left is united. That means not throwing Willsman under a bus, or retaliating, by reciprocating to Jon Lansman.
Every left vote in the NEC election should be cast for the JC9, in their entirety.
Unison says Welsh Labour must democratise leadership contest by Peter Lazenby Friday, July 27, 2018
Labour’s biggest trade union affiliate in Wales is demanding that the party democratise the process of electing its Welsh leader.
At present, there are three blocks of voters in leadership elections – party members, affiliated trade union members and elected members of legislative bodies (the Westminster Parliament, the Welsh Assembly, and the European Parliament).
Each block of votes carries the same weight.
The Labour Party in Wales has around 25,000 individual members and 76,400 affiliated union members.
It has 58 legislators - 29 Welsh Assembly members, 28 MPs and one MEP - whose combined voice counts for one-third in leadership elections.
Unison says the voice of MPs, AMs and MEPs in a leadership election “is completely out of proportion,” compared with party and trade union members.
The union wants a 50-50 split between party members and union members, with legislators simply have one vote each.
Unison Cymru/Wales Labour Link chair, Dan Beard, said:
“We cannot support the disproportionate voting bloc of elected members continuing in its present form.
“The Labour Party is the fastest-growing political party in western Europe, and it’s time we agreed a more democratic method of electing our leaders.
“It’s vital unions retain a significant voice, when electing the leader and deputy leader of Welsh Labour.
“Unions helped establish the Labour Party at the beginning of the last century and we have supported it through some very difficult times.
"Our members help to keep the Labour Party’s feet on the ground, and in touch with its natural supporters.
“Reforming the electoral college will mean that, whoever becomes the new leader of Welsh Labour, will have a firm mandate from the members and trade unions --- to work together, to deliver the policies contained in the manifesto.”
Wales' Corbyn supporter is new Welsh Labour leader by Lamiat Sabin Wednesday, April 25th, 2018.
Darren Williams, a member of Labour’s national executive committee, who jointly founded Welsh Labour Grassroots, said: “I can think of no-one who would make a better Welsh Labour leader and first minister, than Mark Drakeford.”
A pioneering new report argues that thousands more engineering jobs could be created, by stopping the renewal of the Trident missiles system.
The report, Defence Diversification: International Learning for Trident Jobs, was published today by the Nuclear Education Trust. It examines various government and Civil Service initiatives in Britain, western Europe and the United States.
It argues that an internationally led programme to diversify the work of Trident’s workers, would cost far less than it would to renew the cold-war-era nuclear weapons system — estimated to be between £180 billion and £205bn over the next several decades.
The authors claim that further jobs — particularly in the skilled engineering sector — may be created by ditching Trident, and point to the decline in British arms industry employment, in which 263,000 jobs have vanished since 1980.
CND general secretary Kate Hudson said that the report demonstrates, from real-world examples, how the scrapping of unpopular projects such as Trident doesn’t have to mean the loss of high-skill employment.
“Far from it, in fact — if there is the political will to fully engage with defence diversification, far more high- skilled jobs can be created in the engineering sector,” she said.
Shadow minister for peace & disarmament Fabian Hamilton commented that while it is not Labour’s policy to get rid of Trident, “a defence diversification strategy would go hand in hand with Labour’s plan to invest in our economy.
“We do not lack the talent, we simply lack the funding.
“There is no denying that Trident is a major employer in some parts of the country, so proper funding must be made available so those in high-skilled work stay in high-skilled work.
“High-skilled jobs are good for our economy and, if we decide to transition away from Trident, defence diversification is the only way to ensure that the vital skills used in the development of Britain’s nuclear weapons, are not lost.”
The study argues that workers and local communities must be lead decision makers in diversification decisions related to nuclear weapons, and that serious government intervention - at every level - must be taken in their support.
BFAWU Conference ’18
Labour movement urged to double membership by Marcus Barnett Monday, June 11th, 2018
Food workers’ leader Ronnie Draper called on the labour movement today to strive to double union membership.
In his address to the Bakers, Food & Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) conference in Southport, the union’s general secretary called on the movement to recruit six-and- a-half million more members.
The last time that union membership stood at 13 million was in 1979, before the election of Margaret Thatcher’s Tory government.
Mr Draper slammed press attacks on unions, portraying them as wanting to bring back the “winter of discontent” of 1978-9, a period of widespread industrial disputes prompted by pay caps imposed by Jim Callaghan’s Labour government.
He said that there was no mystery why that era was labelled the winter of discontent — “Because we were discontented!
“The Labour Party under Callaghan tried to play at capitalism, and that is why the government fell.”
After lamenting Ms Thatcher’s aggression against the unions, Mr Draper pointed to recent industrial fights to highlight that much more could be done to build up the power of unions and to “struggle for the 24 million workers currently without a union.”
Tipping his hat to the McStrikers, Mr Draper also pointed to the example of Hovis bread workers, who successfully fought zero-hours contracts in 2013.
“When they had their dispute, they were an inspiration, not just to our union, but to the nation,” he said. “Their struggle was something that captured the imagination.”
Union membership in Britain stands at about 6.2 million. Although membership dipped in 2016, the number of union members rose by 19,000 in 2017.
Mr Draper’s rallying cry followed publication in the Star the previous day of research by the Institute for Public Policy Research, revealing that a fall in trade union membership, has seen a massive surge in pay inequality.
Concluding his address to the conference, the centenary meeting of the BFAWU, Mr Draper listed the victorious battles of the union.
From successfully lobbying the government to register asthma as an industrial disease, to fighting for the minimum wage, Mr Draper reminded delegates that “these ideas of justice started their lives in our branches and at our conference.”
He urged delegates to take Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s message of hope from the conference hall, and back into their workplaces, and to fight to rebuild the working- class movement.
(Source - Morning Star)
Unite Community rallies against Universal Credit across Britain by Peter Lazenby Friday, May 25th, 2018
Union activists staged events across Britain today in a day of action against the government’s Universal Credit benefit system creating a “hostile environment.”
Unite Community members were in action in 65 towns and cities raising public awareness of how the system is plunging hundreds of thousands of people into poverty and misery.
Unite Community is a section of the Unite union for those people not in paid employment, including retired people, carers, students and jobless workers.
Universal Credit replaces six different benefits, and involves assessments by private companies who notoriously can, and do, impose “sanctions” on claimants by withdrawing payment.
In areas where Universal Credit has been imposed amid a national rollout, foodbanks have seen a 50 per cent increase in use.
Liane Groves, Head of Unite Community said: “Universal Credit is creating a hostile environment for people who claim it and is not fit for purpose - and should be stopped.
“Despite knowing that Universal Credit causes serious problems for those claiming it, the government is ploughing ahead regardless while claimants are descending further into debt, relying on foodbanks and getting into rent arrears and, in many cases, are being evicted from their homes.”
Among yesterday’s actions was a protest in Old Palace Yard outside Parliament, followed by a march on the government’s Department for Work and Pensions offices.
In Yorkshire and north-east England, union organiser John Coan said: “Our welfare rights activists in the north-east, have seen an increase in poverty, debt and homelessness amongst the people we support --- as a result of this calamitous system.”
Vatican calls for more regulation of markets, financial systems, condemns ‘economic cannibalism’ May 17th, at 10:52am
The Vatican called on Thursday for more regulation of markets and financial systems.
A major document says economic crises showed they were not able to govern themselves, and needed a strong injection of morality and ethics.
‘Considerations for an Ethical Discernment Regarding Some Aspects of the Present Economic-Financial System,’ jointly prepared by the doctrinal office and the department on human development, appeared to take aim at the plans to further de-regulate markets in some countries, such as the US, Reuters said.
The document attacked the “economic cannibalism” of some financial practices, saying profit for the sake of profit and not for the greater good, was “illegitimate.”
The Vatican condemned an “amoral culture of waste” that has created oligarchies in some countries, while leaving great masses of impoverished people “without any means of escape.”
The pronouncement is considered official teachings of the Catholic Church and could affect the attitude of the church’s 1.2 billion members.
Marx's theory still shines with truth: Xi May 4th, at 10:53am
Xinhua - Two centuries on, despite huge and profound changes in human society, the name of Karl Marx is still respected all over the world and his theory still shines with the brilliant light of truth, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Friday.
Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks at a grand gathering in Beijing to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Marx's birth.
Xi said Marx is the "teacher of revolution for the proletariat and working people all over the world, the main founder of Marxism, creator of Marxist parties, a pathfinder for international communism and the greatest thinker of modern times."
"Today, we hold this grand gathering with great veneration to mark the 200th anniversary of Marx's birth, to remember his great character and historic deeds and to review his noble spirit and brilliant thoughts," Xi said at the event.
''With noble ideals and no fear of difficulty or adversity, throughout his life, Marx devoted himself to perseveringly striving for the liberation of humanity, scaling the peak of thought in his pursuit of truth, and the unremitting fight to overturn the old world and establish a new one'', according to Xi.
''Marx is not only a great figure who bore the weight of the world, but also an ordinary person with a passion for life, who was sincere and true to his friends'', Xi said.
''The most valuable and influential spiritual asset that Marx left us is the scientific theory named after him -- Marxism. Like a spectacular sunrise, the theory illuminated the path of humanity's exploration of the law of history, and humanity's search for their own liberation'', Xi said.
"The thought and theory of Marx are of his times and go beyond his times," Xi said. "They are the essence of the spirit of that times and the essence of the spirit of all humanity."
Xi said Marxism is a scientific theory that reveals the rules of human society's development, in a creative manner.
Having developed the materialist conception of history and surplus value theory, Marx showed how humanity would leap from the realm of necessity, to the realm of freedom, and also showed the road for people to realize freedom and liberation, Xi said.
Marxism, the first ideology for the liberation of the people themselves, is a theory of the people.
"Marxism, for the first time, explored the path for humanity's freedom and liberation from the stance of the people, and pointed out the direction, with scientific theory, toward an ideal society with no oppression or exploitation, where every person would enjoy equality and freedom," Xi said.
Stressing that practicality is a prominent characteristic of Marxism that makes it different from other theories, Xi said Marxism is a theory of practices that directs the people to change the world.
It is an open theory that is constantly developing and always stands at the frontier of the times, Xi said.
"That is why it is always able to keep young, explore the new issues in the development of the times and respond to the new challenges for human society."
The general secretary said that over the 170 years since publication of The Communist Manifesto, Marxism had been spread around the world, unrivaled in the history of human ideology in terms of the breadth and depth of its influence.
After the end of World War II, a large number of socialist countries were established, Xi said, stressing that the founding of the People's Republic of China, especially, has greatly increased the socialist strength in the world.
"There might be setbacks in the development of socialism in the world, but the overall trend for human society's development has never changed, and it will never change," Xi said.
"Marxism has not only profoundly changed the world, but also China," Xi said.
The reverberations of the October Revolution in Russia brought Marxism-Leninism to China, pointing out the direction forward, offering a brand new choice for the Chinese people in their struggle to survive, and setting the scene for the birth of the CPC.
Since the CPC's birth, it has combined the fundamental principles of Marxism with the reality of the Chinese revolution and construction, transforming the Chinese nation from "the sick man of East Asia" to one who has stood up, by uniting and leading the people through long-term struggle.
"This tremendous transformation serves as cast iron proof that only through socialism, can we save China," Xi said.
Since reform and opening up, the CPC has combined the fundamental principles of Marxism, with the reality of China's reform and opening up, and the nation who stood up, has grown rich.
"This tremendous transformation serves as cast iron proof that only through socialism with Chinese characteristics, can we develop China," Xi said.
In the new era, the CPC again combined the fundamental principles of Marxism with the reality of China in this new era, uniting and leading the people in "under- taking the great struggle, building the great project, advancing the great cause and realizing the great dream."
The Chinese nation has come to embrace a tremendous transformation, as the one who has grown rich, now, is becoming strong.
"This tremendous transformation serves as cast iron proof that only by adhering to and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics, can we realize national rejuvenation," Xi said.
"It is perfectly right for history and the people to choose Marxism, as well as for the CPC to write Marxism on its own flag, to adhere to the principle of combining the fundamental principles of Marxism, with China's reality, and continuously adapt Marxism to the Chinese context and the times."
China lifts 740 mln rural poor out of poverty since 1978 September 3rd, at 12:57pm
Xinhua - China lifted 740 million people in rural areas out of poverty from 1978 to 2017, roughly 19 million each year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Monday.
The poverty ratio in rural areas dropped 94.4 percentage points during the same time period with an average annual decrease of 2.4 percentage points, according to the NBS.
NBS data shows that China's poverty relief achievements have contributed more than 70 percent to global poverty alleviation work, in the past 40 years.
The average annual income of rural residents in impoverished areas rose an average of 10.4 percent each year from 2012 to 2017, up 2.5 percentage points from the average for rural residents.
Over the past five years, over 68 million people were lifted out of poverty in China. The country aims to further lift 10 million people out of poverty this year and eradicate poverty by 2020.
China recently released guidelines on winning the battle against poverty in the next three years, in order to prepare the nation for eradicating poverty by 2020.
According to the guidelines, the impoverished people should be guaranteed food & clothing, and children from poor families should be guaranteed a 9-year compulsory education. Basic medical needs and living conditions of the impoverished, should also be guaranteed.
People whose annual income is lower than 2,300 yuan (337.3 U.S. dollars), are defined as living below the poverty line, in China.
'Russia is poor' remark causes heated row between father of Russian capitalism & FM spokeswoman January 22nd, 2019, at 9:28am
Maria Zakharova attacked controversial veteran economist, Anatoly Chubais, over his claim that Russia is poor. She said the man, who oversaw the country's switch to capitalism, should know how it happened.
Russia is “one of the most energy-wasting countries in the world” and electricity prices must be raised, to stop this, Chubais, a key member of President Boris Yeltsin's team in the early 1990s, and the current head of Rusnano, the state owned- company, said at an economic forum, last week.
However, he specified that "Russia is a poor country. A significant part of the population lives poorly or very poorly, so raising prices right off the bat, would be wrong."
It was a strong statement from the man regarded as the father of modern capitalism in Russia - as he came up with a swift, but painful switch to a market economy, after the fall of the USSR. The problems currently encountered by the country, are seen by many, as the consequences of the mistakes made by Chubais, back then.
Zakharova, whose job is to defend Russia from attacks coming from aboard, was so outraged by the statement, that she decided to comment on an internal issue... and she didn't mince words.
“Russia is a rich country,” she proclaimed, in a Facebook post before asking Chubais a very inconvenient question:
''As for why 'a significant part of the population lives poorly or very poorly,' I would like to hear a detailed answer from someone, who, for decades, has been a member of the government, and a top manager in key areas of the domestic economy and industry.''
But, after serving as Deputy Prime Minister on two occasions, under Yeltsin, heading the Unified Energy System of Russia, and occupying a host of other important positions, Chubais is no stranger... to inconvenient questions.
The red-headed political veteran issued a wordy response to Zakharova's jab, on his Facebook account.
“I got a chance to work in four or five governments… and in none of them it was acceptable to offend or call to account, their predecessors. It was also not acceptable to sink to the level of populist rhetoric and replace a serious discussion with childish arguments,” he wrote.
The 63-year-old then defended his policies as part of the cabinet, reminding his opponent that “when she started her career, the economy was growing in the country, the ruble was convertible, the inflation sharply decreased and the food deficit was eradicated completely.”
But Zakharova used the argument as a perfect platform for a counterattack, as she informed Chubais that she started working in 1998, when Russia was hit by the harshest economic crisis, and the ruble defaulted.
“I'm shaking when I recall your so-called 'economic achievements,'" the spokeswoman wrote, adding that she still wanted her principal question answered.
At that point, Chubais apparently realized that it was an argument he was unlikely to win. In a short post, the man specified that he wasn't talking about 1998, but about 2003, when, according to his data, Zakharova began working for the government.
“When it comes to falsifying facts – you're the best in your generation. Therefore, I give up in advance,” he wrote, thus leaving the question which started the discussion, without a response.
The internet almost unanimously backed Zakharova during the argument, with one commentator expressing regret - that Chubais was questioned by the representative of the Foreign Ministry, but not the Ministry of the Interior.
The people recalled the horror they felt during the 1998 crisis when all of their saving disappeared in an instant and wondered where the money from the privatization of government property, which was spearheaded by the controversial economist in the early 1990s, had gone.
Chubais's work in the government and in charge of the national electric power holding company, has not only made him one of the most despised politicians in the country, but a hero of folklore jokes as well.
One popular joke was that “Chubais has switched off the light at the end of the tunnel for non-payment”, while another quotes him as saying “Russia must be a strong country, I'll teach it not to be afraid of the dark.”
Of course, these jokes are just a few of the G-rated ones.
(Source - RT)
Almost half of Russians see USSR collapse as shameful – poll January 17th, at 12:11pm
The collapse of the Soviet Union is considered a reason to be ashamed, by 45 percent of Russians, according to a recent opinion poll. The only option that scored higher, is Russia’s failure to eradicate poverty.
The poll, conducted in late 2018, by the Levada Center is its latest study of what Russians are proud and ashamed of, about their nation. The demise of the USSR, saw a rebound in popularity from a low point of 28 percent in mid-2015, and is at a level comparable with the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The only more popular answer is Russia’s failure to eradicate poverty, which was named as a reason to be ashamed, by 61 percent of the people polled. This answer has topped Levada’s polls, for decades.
Russians are also ashamed of fellow countrymen treating each other disrespectfully (37 percent), Russia’s failure to catch up economically with the Western powers (24 percent), the out- come of Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms (24 percent), and Joseph Stalin’s reign of terror (21 percent).
On the opposite side of Russians’ national identity are the qualities and events, people are proud of.
Defeating Nazi Germany in World War II remains the one thing Russians are overwhelmingly proud of (87 percent).
There is also the role that the country played in space exploration – about half are proud to belong to a space pioneering nation.
The third most popular option is accepting Crimea (the breakaway former Ukrainian region) as part of Russia again, which is seen as a point of national pride, by 45 percent.
Many people are also proud of Russian literature, science, and martial prowess, Soviet-era industrialization and the best qualities of the Russian character, like resolve and patience.
A record 75 percent said Russia is definitely, or most likely, a great nation today, while 88 percent believe that it should be one.
There was no apparent correlation between wishing greatness for Russia and regretting the USSR’s collapse, the agency noted, suggesting that Russians expect a great nation to - first and foremost - provide social justice, and protection.
Sixty-two percent said the Russians are a great people.
Levada remarked that about 80 percent of the people polled, identified themselves as Russians.
When asked what makes them feel connected to their people, most respondents named national history (53 percent), Russia’s land (35 percent), their place of birth (33 percent), and the nature that they call their own (25 percent).
The formal national symbols, including the flag, the coat of arms, and the national anthem, was the least popular option (5 percent).
Interestingly, religion is a relatively small factor in Russian national identity (9 percent).
(Source - RT)
More than half of Russians want government to resign over growing prices – poll January 14th, at 1:56pm
Over 50 percent of Russians are disappointed in the government of Dmitry Medvedev, which, they believe, is unable to curb growing prices and provide jobs for people, a new poll has revealed.
Some 23 percent said they were absolutely sure that the government must resign, with another 30% telling Levada-Center that they were also eaning toward this opinion.
This means that a total of 53 percent would like the country to have a new cabinet. Trust in the government has crumbled since September, when only 23 percent advocated its resignation.
Meanwhile, the proportion of people who believed the government should stay in charge, was 40 percent, with 14 percent expressing full confidence in the cabinet, and 26 percent saying that resignation wouldn’t be the best idea.
The 1,600 people who took part in the research were given a chance to provide multiple answers regarding perceived shortcomings in the performance of ministers.
A total of 57 percent were unhappy about growing prices and decreasing household incomes, while 46 percent accused the cabinet of failing to create jobs.
The government was criticized for not caring about social protection (43 percent), its inability to deal with the economic crisis (36 percent), acting solely in its own interests (32 percent), lacking a program for economic development (28 percent), and only caring about corporations (28 percent).
The results of the poll “don’t indicate a political crisis, but speak about the need for the government to change its priorities,” Dmitry Zhuravlev, head of the Institute of Regional Problems, told RIA Novosti.
The cabinet got “carried away solving macroeconomic tasks, filling the budget, in the hope that it’ll automatically lead to an increase of living standards,” he said. “This is going to work in the future, but people have to live now and it’s only fair that they want to see improvements in the present day.”
Zhuravlev pointed out that the public support of 40 percent was a number that “many governments could only dream of,” but urged the Russian cabinet to pay more attention to the lives of ordinary people and better explain its decisions to citizens.
The poll was held in mid-December, shortly after Russian state statistics agency, Rosstat, announced that consumer prices had increased 3.5% in 2018, exceeding the government’s forecast.
The experts warned, that costs would continue to rise in 2019, due to growing fuel prices and the decision to increase the goods and services tax, by 2%.
Complaints regarding a perceived lack of jobs, appear to be misdirected. The Economy Ministry announced in November, that the unemployment rate in Russia, had reached a historic low of just 4.7 percent.
Back to USSR:Record number of Russians regret collapse of Soviet Union December 19th, at 4:14pm
The number of Russians who want to go back to the USSR reached 66 percent in 2018, setting a 15-year record, a fresh poll revealed.
It’s an 8 percent increase compared to last year when 58% of those surveyed said “yes” to the question, if they regretted the fall of the Soviet Union, the Levada- Centre poll said.
The numbers have never exceeded 65 percent since 2004, while the absolute record was set in 2000, when 75% gave an affirmative response. Levada-Centre started asking the population this question in 1992, a year after the USSR fell apart.
The majority of those nostalgic for the Soviet Union were people older than 55. However, in recent years, such moods have also been growing among those aged between 18 and 24 years, the pollster said.
60 percent of the respondents also expressed the belief that the collapse of the USSR could’ve been prevented.
The people mainly miss the Soviet Union because of the destruction of the joint economic system of its 15 republics (52 percent); the loss of a sense of belonging to a great power (36 percent) and the growth of mutual distrust and enmity among former countrymen (31 percent).
The increase in the number of those missing the USSR was triggered by this year’s pension reform, which increased the retirement age by five years, Karina Pipiya, a Levada-CentRE researcher, said.
“The people usually explain their nostalgia for the Soviet Union, with - mainly irrational - perceptions about the strong economy and prosperity during that period, completely forgetting about the lack of essential goods and the food stamp system,” she said.
“A romantic attitude towards everything Soviet and a lack of historic knowledge” among the younger generations may lead to dangerous consequences, including a “rehabilitation of Stalin’s Purge, rewriting history and complete devaluations of the democratic reforms [in Russia],” Pipiya warned.
1,600 people from 136 towns and villages in Russia took part in the survey, which was carried out by Levada- Centre, between November the 22nd and 28th.
Audit Chamber chief says ‘shameful to have such poverty’ under current per capita GDP October 8th, at 11:21pm
TASS - Russia’s current level of poverty is "shameful" given the nation’s current per capita GDP, Chairman of the Russian Accounts Chamber, Alexey Kudrin, said on Monday.
"I would applaud this rather bold plan to reduce poverty that has been put into place in the forecast. This goal and these objectives for the budget, do exist, and I think this is very positive. I have said before, that it is shameful to have such poverty, as we do in our country, at our level of per capita GDP," he stated.
Duma unanimously passes Putin’s amendments to pension reform bill September 26th, at 12:20pm
The Russian parliament has approved amendments by Vladimir Putin to the bill providing for a gradual rise in the age of retirement. The changes are expected to soften the impact of the unpopular measure, for ordinary citizens.
The nine amendments drafted by President Putin reduce the proposed increase in the retirement age for women, guarantee that pensioners keep all current tax benefits until the reform is fully completed, and offer additional payments to several categories of citizens, such as pensioners living in remote rural areas and representatives of indigenous peoples in northern Russia.
The amended bill will see the retirement age for men raised from 60 to 65 years by 2028. The increase for women will be from 55 to 60 years by 2034.
Putin’s initiative also includes the introduction of a pre- retirement age, which will be five years before the retirement age. Citizens who reach this age would get higher unemployment benefits and enjoy additional guarantees of employment, as companies will be punished for sacking or not hiring them without valid reasons.
On Tuesday, the State Duma approved changes to the Criminal Code providing for these penalties.
Along with the presidential amendments, the lower house also passed several alterations to the pension reform bill, drafted by the parliamentary majority party United Russia.
These were mostly technical and concerned such issues as indexing of pensions for inflation, and the interaction between the state and private pension funds.
The State Duma approved the bill ordering an increase in the age of retirement in mid-June this year. The bill has been greeted with public discontent, as expected, and opposition politicians have been fast to capitalize on these sentiments. The motion was criticized in the media and on the internet, while large Russian cities saw several protest rallies, some attended by thousands of participants, mostly organized by Russia’s largest opposition party – the Communists.
Vladimir Putin personally addressed the situation, in a special televised address to the nation on August 29th.
He asked ordinary people to understand the necessity of the reform and also promised to make some changes to the proposals that would soften the impact on the most vulnerable groups of citizens.
As State Duma MPs were discussing the presidential amendments on Wednesday, another protest rally took place near the parliament’s headquarters in Moscow. The event, organized by leftist opposition parties, started as a series of single-person pickets (the only protest format that does not require a license from the municipal authorities), but quickly turned into an impromptu demonstration, with the estimated number of participants, ranging from 30 to 500.
Two Communist Party MPs have also expressed their opposition to the measures, by wearing t-shirts depicting the numbers 63 and 65 crossed out.
However, State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, mocked them, saying that a lawmaker’s salary was much higher than those of ordinary voters and, in his opinion, his colleagues could afford a jacket and a tie.
Also on Wednesday the State Duma passed the bill providing for an increase in the retirement age in the second reading. The third and final reading of the motion, is scheduled for Thursday.
(Source - RT)
Blip or trend? Regional elections suddenly become less predictable in Russia by Bryan MacDonald 25th of September, at 7:35pm
Russia's Far East has given the Kremlin a bloody nose over the past two weekends. It's a reminder to Moscow that the regions can't be taken for granted and blow- back can be expected over the unpopular pension reforms.
In the end, it was a landslide. Nationalist opposition candidate Sergei Furgal of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) defeated President Putin's man Vyacheslav Shport by a margin of almost 70 percent to just under 28 percent in the race to become governor of Khabarovsk.
Meanwhile, contests in Vladimir, Khakassia and Primorye also delivered setbacks to the ruling party, United Russia.
But don't get too excited – or worried – just yet, depending on your political preferences. These were regional elections, fought mainly on local issues, involving personalities barely known in Moscow but well-known in their own backyards. Small town heroes, or villains, as it were.
That said, it's no surprise that United Russia's present troubles have kicked off in the Far East. A vast territory populated by the descendants of dreamers, patriots and forced exiles. And one of the greatest, and unheralded, ethnic melting pots in the world. There, a person can be part-Ukrainian, Jewish, Korean, Polish, Buryatian or Tatar (or even all of them at once, among others) and still feel as Russian as any Ivan Ivanov on the European frontier.
Far Easteners see themselves as a special breed. Nobody's forefathers came for the weather (winters often make St. Petersburg look like the tropics, by comparison) or the tigers or the tundra. Instead, they migrated for adventure and the promise of a better life. And there was also a patriotic warm glow from the feeling they were securing the resource-laden lands for Russia.
And they were the lucky ones who had a choice. Others were forceably exiled by the Tsarist or Soviet regimes.
The district's capital, Khabarovsk, is a city of around 600,000 where Moscow is frequently seen as more of a hindrance than a help. That's partly down to distance (8,400km by car, eight hours on a plane, or six days on a train) but it's also a reaction to observing increasingly well-heeled Asian neighbours. Although this part of Russia is itself prosperous, boasting the highest wages in the country.
Because the world looks very different from Khabarovsk and Vladivostok. While Moscow and St. Petersburg gaze out upon the rest of Europe and feel reasonably content, the Far East is surrounded by some of the most dynamic economies in the world. And it's hard not to feel jealous.
On the other side of the Amur river lies China, Japan is across the sea, and South Korea is "down the road." But the Kremlin is far away. And it's common to meet people in the Far East who have never been west of the Urals but know their way around the backstreets of Seoul, Tokyo, Shanghai or Bangkok.
I know because I lived in Khabarovsk for two and a half years. And my overwhelming takeaway was that Far Easterners both loathe and love Moscow simultaneously. Yet, while they enjoy flipping the bird in its direction occasionally, they also under- stand there's no alternative to being an integral part of the Russian Federation. But this still doesn't mean they are going to conform or play by the rules.
Such as driving cars with the steering wheel on the correct side, for example. When I first arrived in Khabarovsk, it was noticeable that the airport carpark exit terminal was on the "British side."
Or Japanese side, as they would perceive it. Local legend states how, when Moscow dignitaries come to town, the payment points are shifted to the other side, temporarily, and then switched back as soon as the visitors are wheels-up.
The Kremlin has spent years telling Far Easterners to buy Russian cars, rather than imports from Japan, but few have heeded the instructions. "The steering wheel is on the right, the heart is on the left. Where are the passport and the rights?" goes a well-known poem by the Vladivostok writer, Ivan Shepeta.
Nationwide, there is no doubt that one federal issue has emboldened rivals of United Russia: a planned five-year increase in the age of pension eligibility. This move is deeply unpopular, even if the IMF believes it to be absolutely vital.
And it's not just about the money either; many Russians have an a-la-carte attitude to the Soviet legacy. While they don't lament the totalitarian state, or the lack of choice provided by communism, they do miss the "cradle-to-the-grave" social welfare system they once enjoyed. And this reform, no matter how fiscally necessary, is perceived as a further erosion of the state's duty of care.
While most regions are annoyed by the proposals, they don't have the litany of other grievances the Far East harbours. Thus, the pension proposals served as the straw which broke the camel's back there. And, in turn, inspired similar protest votes elsewhere.
The sensational Khabarovsk result came a few days after the previous weekend's contest in adjacent Primorye Krai was rendered null and void amid blatant irregularities. As a result, the outgoing Governor Andrei Tarasenko hasn't been returned and his Communist challenger Andrei Ishchenko is widely expected to win the rearranged election in a few months' time. If so, that would leave the two largest Far Eastern provinces outside United Russia's control.
Elsewhere, the ruling party lost another pair of states at the weekend. In Vladimir (nr Moscow), the incumbent Governor Svetlana Orlova was trashed 57 percent-37 percent by Furgal's LDPR colleague Vladimir Sipyagin.
In Khakassia, Viktor Zimin, who had headed the province for a decade, suddenly withdrew from the race two days before polling, resulting in the run-off being rescheduled for Oct. 6th. Domestic media suggest United Russia ordered him to stand aside because party chiefs knew he'd be defeated by Communist challenger, Andrei Filyagin.
After years of predictability, this month marks the moment when Russian gubernatorial elections ceased to be sterile. Whether it's a blip for United Russia, or the start of a long- term trend, will depend on the state of the economy and the Kremlin's response to the discontent. But one thing is certain: more of the same won't suffice. Especially in the restless Far East.
Candidates trade rigging accusations as polls in Russia’s Far East almost end in a draw September 17th, at 10:09am
Election officials in Primorsky Krai Region, are checking complaints by candidates of violations in the run-off gubernatorial polls, after a preliminary count gave victory to the incumbent governor, by an extremely narrow margin.
Preliminary results show that the Communist candidate, Andrey Ishchenko, lost to the incumbent governor Andrey Tarasenko, by only around half a point – 49.55 percent against 48.06 percent.
This tentative result was unexpected, as Tasarenko garnered almost twice as many votes as Ishchenko in the first round of elections. It was even more striking, as the Communist challenger appeared to be leading the run-off race throughout the day, and only started to lose the advantage, in the closing phases.
The secretary of the regional elections commission told reporters, that the final result of the run-off elections would be announced before September 22nd. The head of the federal Central Elections Commission, Ella Pamfilova, told RIA Novosti that she was not excluding the possibility, that the results of Sunday’s polls could be canceled in some districts or even in the region as a whole, if complaints of violations, prove to be true.
Complaints of rigging and manipulation were made by both sides. Ishchenko accused his opponent of rewriting voting protocols in four major cities in the region: Vladivostok, Nakhodka, Ussuriysk and Artyom.
A representative of Tarasenko’s election HQ retaliated with similar accusations, telling reporters, that monitors had, reportedly, registered violations in favour of the Communist candidate, in Vladivostok & Ussuriysk. The violations allegedly included attempts to bribe voters and obstruct the ballot count.
Ishchenko went on hunger strike on Monday, in protest against the alleged voter fraud.
The Local Public Chamber said that the rigging accusations came a surprise to them, as they had registered no such violations, in the run-off polls.
An exit poll conducted by the Expert Group think tank also indicated victory for Tarasenko, by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent.
In the first round of elections, held on September 9th, incumbent governor, Andrey Tarasenko, got almost double the number of votes accrued by the Communist contender – 46.57 percent to 24.64 percent. However, as none of the candidates got over 50% of the vote, the run-off election, was announced.
In the latest regional parliamentary elections, the United Russia Party took a clear lead, by beating its closest competitors, the Communists, by almost 20% in the party ticket voting. United Russia's lead in the single-mandate constituencies, was even more impressive, as its candidates won in 14 districts, while the Communists gained majority support, in just 3.
(Source - RT)
Why did Yeltsin lie to Clinton about Putin? by Dmitry Sudakov August 31st, at 7:17pm
Boris Yeltsin lied when he said that he had been looking for a successor in the person of Vladimir Putin for a long time, historian Andrei Fursov, told Pravda.Ru.
Declassified transcripts of Bill Clinton's phone conversations with Boris Yeltsin, in 1999, show that the late Russian president says, that it took him a long time, to find the man who would be in charge of Russia in 2000.
"I came across him eventually, this is Putin. You will work with him,"Yeltsin told Clinton, promising that Putin would continue his line of Russia's democratic development, and expand Russia's contacts.
Historian and political scientist Andrei Fursov noted, in an interview with Pravda.Ru, that Boris Yeltsin was reporting his decisions and ideas, to Bill Clinton.
"He informed his boss about his choice. It brings up the memory of Yeltsin's call to George H. Bush, after the decision to disintegrate the Soviet Union. Bush was the first man whom Yeltsin called. Gorbachev was hurt by that. In another episode, Yeltsin tried to assure US Congress, that communism would never be back on the Russian territory. This transcript is another evidence to prove the fact that Russia used to be a semi-colony during Yeltsin's presidency," the expert said.
"I think that Yeltsin lied, when he said that he had been searching for a successor for a long time. From what I know about the events of the late 1990s, Yeltsin did not intend to quit his job, but there were several aspects that forced his US masters to put pressure on him. First, there was a conspiracy in Russia's army led by Rokhlin, to remove Yeltsin from power. Rokhlin's murder ruined the plan, and people in Yeltsin's team realised, that there was serious discontent brewing in the army.
"Secondly, not long before that, the parliament had nearly impeached Yeltsin. In addition, Russia suffered a default, in 1998. Those three events drew the line under Yeltsin's rule, and he had to quickly search for a successor.
''Apparently he counted on Stepashin at first, but then, it turned out that the latter was ready to compromise with the Primakov -Luzhkov team, so the need for another candidate, arose.
"Today, the Russian leadership should give a moral assessment of Yeltsin's rule. In today's Russia, many tend to despise Gorbachev a lot, but they dislike Yeltsin, to a lesser degree.
''Yeltsin was a product of Gorbachev's rule. Yeltsin was working within the corridor of opportunities, set by Gorbachev.
''Gorbachev is still alive, and the man who destroyed the USSR, should be held accountable for that. At the same time, I understand that Putin does not want to criticise Yeltsin, because it was Yeltsin who made Putin his successor," the expert told Pravda.Ru.
(Source - Pravdaa.Ru.)
Putin's defeat on pensions
shows the power of mass protest Thursday, August 30th, 2018.
President Vladimir Putin’s decision to give ground on his government’s plan, to increase the age at which Russians can access their state pension, confirms the value of mass protest.
The Russian leader has previously stood aside from Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev’s unpopular so-called “reform” to increase, in annual instalments, women’s retirement age from 55 to 63 and men’s from 60 to 65, waiting to assess the fallout.
But no-one can believe that close ally Medvedev would have floated this scheme, without checking first with the president or, for that matter, announcing it on the eve of the World Cup football finals taking place in cities across Russia.
If the government had hoped to slip this mimicry of European Union anti-working class state policies in below the radar, it failed, because of the scale of public dissent, largely organised by the Communist Party (CPRF).
Even now, Putin’s determination to stick with the 65 target for men, while cutting the increase for women to 60, may not prove enough to spike discontent.
While other political forces, including the Left Front and the unnamed bloc, known simply as supporters of Alexei Navalny, have organised protests, the CPRF was first out of the blocks, demanding a nationwide referendum and setting in train a petition that gained millions of signatures, together with protest rallies in over 150 towns and cities.
While the Communists have provided the only consistent opposition to Putin and his sponsor, Boris Yeltsin, since the restoration of capitalism in 1991, the mainstream media in Britain & elsewhere, designate Navalny as “opposition leader,” despite him having no party organisation, or parliamentary representation.
Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov’s reference to opinion polls showing that the governing parties’ support had plummeted 12 per cent in a few weeks, while the CPRF gained 5 per cent, illustrated the scale of public anger.
On the rare occasions Britain’s media refers to the CPRF, it is usually to slander it, falsely, as being in the Kremlin’s pocket or to deride it as composed of an older generation nostalgic for Soviet times.
Those old enough to remember that era, before perestroika, may well look back fondly to the days when a state pension was sufficient, to ensure a comfortable retirement.
But younger Russians have mobilised too, recognising that poverty awaits them, also, after retirement, unless they organise.
President Putin’s plea for understanding and his warning that Russia's pension system could “crack & eventually collapse” echoes UK government apologists for the decades-long attacks on the UK pensions’ value, and the age at which they are paid, in Britain.
There is no iron law of economics that makes these policies inevitable.
They are deliberate choices based on neoliberal politics prioritising state expenditure reductions and the encouragement of personal provision, even if the possibility of this, is curtailed, by state policies' holding down salaries.
The plight of Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) - around half of million of whom,will lose out on their entitlements, because of earlier bipartisan parliamentary backing for two separate increases in the pensions payment age — is one of the great injustices of our age.
Trade unionists often state, correctly, that pensions are simply deferred wages, which encapsulates the reality that these workers’ incomes, are being stolen.
Labour under Jeremy Corbyn, recognises the scale of this crime against women deprived of their pension rights, simply because of when they were born.
Righteous resistance has caused the Russian president to take an uncharacteristic step backwards. We can and must, force a similar retreat in Britain.
(Source - Morning Star)
Russian ruble declines in value --- because Russia has no economic sovereignty August 3rd, 2018, at 5:51pm
Russia should end the sanctions war with the United States by creating its own national monetary system, Valentin Katasonov, an economist, told Pravda.Ru.
This week, a group of US senators submitted a bill on the introduction of yet another package of sanctions against Russia. They include, inter alia, a ban on the purchase of Russian debt securities (federal loan bonds, OFZ bonds) by US companies. These securities appear as one of the main lending tools for the economy under the conditions of restricted access to the banking sector.
Given the intention of US Congress to put more and more pressure on Russia for interfering in US elections, one shall assume that President Trump will sign it. If the new sanctions affect Russian federal bonds, the ruble may decline in value by 5-15 percent.
Professor of the Department of International Finance at MGIMO, Doctor of Economics, Valentin Katasonov, wonders why Russia remains so vulnerable to decisions made across the Atlantic.
"Russia is the wealthiest country in the world, but we depend so much on what American politicians say, and do. The ruble declines in value, because Russia has no economic sovereignty. In fact, we must have our own national monetary system, we have an opportunity to create our own money and borrow this money on the domestic market.
A law regulating the activity of the Russian Central Bank says that the Central Bank does not have 'the right' to grant loans to the Russian Federation's government.
Thus, Russia can borrow only from foreign central banks, from foreign ministries, from foreign investors. This is absolutely idiotic! Are we going to establish law and order in our own home, or are we going to adjust to new rules that come from across the ocean?
We have been destroying Russia for 25 years, we do not produce anything - we sell everything."
Russia will light up Africa -Putin July 27th, 2018, at 10:48am
The African continent is in huge need of energy investments, and Russia could become one of its key partners, according to President Vladimir Putin, speaking at the BRICS summit in Johannesburg.
"I would especially like to note that Russia is planning to step up its assistance in development of national energy in African states," said the Russian president during the BRICS-Africa Outreach panel, on Friday.
The leaders of governments of BRICS member states (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) were holding a panel dedicated to economic cooperation between the bloc and African countries. The rationale behind the BRICS Plus concept is to create a platform for greater interaction and partnerships amongst countries, to win more power for the emerging economies, globally.
According to Putin, Russia is now in talks with Angola, Mozambique and Gabon, on implementing promising oil and gas projects. "In the field of nuclear energy, where Russia is the technological leader, we offer African partners to build an industry from scratch,” the Russian president said.
These projects are crucial for Africa--- since about 600 million people on the continent live without electricity.
Energy is not the only sphere where Russia and Africa could cooperate, according to Putin.
"Russian business shows an interest in working with African partners in a wide range of areas:- including agriculture, healthcare, and the development of mass communications, geology, and subsoil use," Putin said.
As examples, Putin mentioned Angola, where Russia’s Alrosa, is interested in mining diamonds; the joint venture between Russia and Burundi, on production of lighting products for exports to East Africa; and agriculture projects in Senegal.
(Source - RT)
Russian miners waging hunger strike receive back wages amounting to $238,000 July 27th, 2018, at 9:23am
TASS - Miners working at the Darasun gold mine in Russia’s Trans-Baikal Region, who suspended their work and went on hunger strike due to unpaid wages, received over 15 mln rubles (about $238,000), and the protest action has been suspended, the Russian Federal Labour and Employment Agency’s press service, reports.
"According to current information, the miners from the Darasun goldmine have received their wages for May, so the protest has been suspended. The total amount paid is over 15 mln rubles. We expect that the remaining debt will be paid in the near future," the agency stated.
It was reported earlier on Friday that the miners had started to receive money, and decided to suspend their hunger strike. However, the miners are still refusing to work, protestor Andrey Mikheichev told TASS.
"On Thursday evening, we started to receive the May wages, but not everyone has got it yet. Nevertheless, we decided to suspend the hunger strike starting 9:00 local time (3:00 Moscow time). However, if the debt is not paid in full, by Monday, the hunger strike will begin again. And our strike is still ongoing," Mikheichev said.
The gold mine’s director Evgeniy Rogalev told TASS that the enterprise had received 16.6 mln rubles (about $264,000) in wages for May. "At the start of next week, we will resolve the issue of June wages, then the workers will receive holiday allowances & advances for July," he added.
According to regional prosecutors, the Darasun Mine Company owes 32 mln rubles ($508,600) to the miners. A criminal case has been launched against the company under Article 5.27 of the Russian Administrative Code (repeated failure of timely payment of wages).
The press service of Russia’s Federal Labour and Employment Agency said on Wednesday that the agency’s regional branch was conducting a probe into possible violations of the payment of wages law. The regional branch of the Russian Investigative Committee, has also initiated a probe.
PUTIN MAKING MOVE FROM NEOLIBERAL ECONOMY - AT LAST!
“On July 25 he mandated that an economic group called the Stolypin Club prepare their proposals to spur growth revival --- to be presented to the government by the Fourth Quarter of this year…
“A broad indication of the kind of proposals the Stolypin group will propose to revive substantial economic growth in Russia and deal with major basic infrastructure deficits that greatly hinder productive enterprise... came in a series of proposals Glazyev made in September 2015 to the Russian Security Council, a key advisory body to the President.
“There, Glazyev proposed a five-year ‘road map’ to Russia’s economic sovereignty & long-term growth. It was aimed toward building up the country’s immunity to external shocks and foreign influence, & ultimately, to bringing Russia out of the periphery and into the core of the global economic system.
“Goals included raising industrial output by 30-35 percent over a 5 year period, creating a socially- oriented ‘knowledge economy’ via the transfer of substantial economic resources to education, health care and the social sphere, the creation of instruments aimed at increasing savings as a percent of GDP, and other initiatives, including a transition to a sovereign monetary policy.”
Number of Russians who regret collapse of USSR hits 10-year high December 26th, 2017, at 7:20am
The number of Russians who regret the collapse of the Soviet Union has reached its highest level since 2009, with almost an equal share saying the event could have been avoided.
A public opinion poll conducted by the independent Levada Center in late November this year found that 58 percent of Russians now regret the collapse of the USSR. Twenty-five percent said they felt no regret about this, and 16 percent could not describe their feelings in one word.
When researchers asked those who regret the end of the USSR what the primary reasons were behind their sentiments, 54 percent said that they missed a single economic system, 36 percent said they had lost the feeling of belonging to a real superpower, 34 percent complained about the drop in mutual trust among ordinary people, and 26 percent said that the collapse had destroyed the ties between friends and relatives.
The same research showed that 52 percent of Russians think that the collapse of the USSR could have been avoided, 29 percent said that the event was absolutely inevitable, and 19 percent did not have a fixed opinion on the matter.
The share of those who regret the demise of the Soviet Union has risen continuously over the past decade, but in 2009 it was even higher than today – at 60 percent. The all-time high – 75 percent – was recorded in 2000.
President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly addressed the issue of the collapse of the USSR in his speeches. In an address to the Russian parliament in 2005 he called the event the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century and a cause of major disruption for the Russian people. In September 2016, Putin said the Communist Party should have transformed the Soviet Union into a democratic state, rather than see it break into separate nations.
At the same time, Putin has always emphasized that he and other Russian officials have no plans to revive the USSR, and has expressed anger that people cannot accept this. He's also accused Western governments of deliberately confusing modern Russia with the USSR and harming the interests of ordinary people, on the pretense of preventing an imaginary threat.
Historian:Russia's October Revolution Was Inevitable, Relatively Bloodless November 10th, at 4:33pm by Ekaterina Blinova
The October Uprising of 1917 became the logical conclusion of the February Revolution, Michael J. Carley, a professor of history at the Universite de Montreal has told Sputnik. According to the academic, the Russian Revolution was inevitable and occurred because evolutionary processes of change to benefit the lives of ordinary people had failed.
"February 1917 marked the beginning of a revolutionary change in power in Russia, that was accomplished in October," Michael Jabara Carley, professor of history at the Université de Montréal and the author of "Silent Conflict: A Hidden History of Early Soviet-Western Relations,"told Sputnik, commenting on the 100th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution.
"The tsarist order was bankrupt and doomed. Almost everyone at the time said so. The immediate cause of the bankruptcy was the Great War [The First World War]," the Canadian academic stressed, adding that "the result was calamity marked by millions of casualties, large territories lost and an economy thrown into chaos, by the unsustainable financial and economic demands of fighting a world war."
Russian Provisional Government: 'Neither Revolutionary, Nor Democratic'
The so-called February Revolution, which is regarded as a combination of a popular uprising with an elitist anti- monarchist plot, led to the abdication of Russian Emperor Nicholas II and the establishment of the Provisional Government.
Still, the Provisional Government"was neither revolutionary nor democratic,"the academic pointed out: The crux of the matter was that it was largely controlled by the "bourgeois" urban and rural elites and old tsarist establishment"that was opposed to the revolution and attempted to block its further development."
October Uprising Was Relatively Bloodless
The professor explained why, contrary to popular belief, the October Revolution of 1917 that took place on November 7 (October 25 in the Julian calendar) was relatively bloodless.
"Well, in the first instance because the Provisional Government was utterly discredited. It had no popular support. It was a head without a body. It could give orders or issue decrees, but had no power to enforce them. In a revolutionary period, power comes from the support of the insurgent masses and the Provisional Government had none,"Carley told Sputnik.
The professor suggested that 1917 could have been averted if old elites as well as their forebears had not blocked"political and economic evolutionary processes"in Russia.
'Provisional Government Became a Cork in the Bottle'
"The Provisional Government became a cork in the bottle holding back the revolution,"the historian said."The revolutionary masses in Petrograd [Saint Petersburg] and elsewhere put pressure on their socialist leaders to blow the cork out of the bottle…. It was the Bolsheviks who put themselves at the head of the mass movement & articulated its demands, essentially peace, bread and land."
He pointed out, however, that"the Bolsheviks themselves were not united on all the big issues and most importantly on the seizure of power in October (the Julian calendar)."
"I would propose that the Provisional Government collapsed of its own rot. The insurgent masses led by the Bolsheviks only had to kick it over,"Carley remarked.
Was the October Revolution of 1917 Inevitable?
"It is a question impossible to answer except in this way: popular revolutions come about because political and economic elites over time are too selfish to share wealth and power with the masses,"Carley responded."Like the tsarist autocracy, they treat the masses as a resource to be exploited and rung dry. When evolutionary processes of change fail, revolution is often the result."
According to the academic, it is wrong to think that such revolutions succeed "because of the evil genius and cruelty of a small revolutionary elite"
"They succeed because of mass support and effective, responsive leadership."
The question then arises as to whether it was possible to follow an evolutionary path, rather than go through a revolution.
"A revolution occurred because evolutionary processes of change to benefit the lives of ordinary people had failed,"the professor responded."Serfdom, inequality, exploitation, violence, continued unabated until 1917."
October 1917: 'Driver of Transformations Across the Globe'. Revisiting the October Revolution of 1917.
Addressing the 14th Annual Meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that"the largely utopian social model and ideology" the Soviets tried to implement initially following the 1917 revolution became "a powerful driver of transformations across the globe, caused a major revaluation of development models, and gave rise to rivalry and competition, the benefits of which were mostly reaped by the West."
The Canadian professor disagrees that the term "utopian" could be used with regards to the "Communist model," for instance.
"Is free, public education for everyone, no matter what their class, nationality or religion, utopian? Is the elimination of illiteracy, utopian? Are women's rights, or universal health care, utopian? Was the desire to create a more equal society, socially, economically and politically, utopian?"Carley asked, adding"in fact, that Soviet society was eventually able to withstand and then to destroy almost single- handedly, the so-called invincible Nazi 'colossus.'"
Still, he believes that the 1917 revolution certainly was"a powerful driver of transformations"around the world since it"inspired successful revolutionary movements in China, Vietnam, Korea, and Cuba."
As Putin noted during his Valdai speech "many Western achievements of the 20th century were an answer to the challenge posed by the Soviet Union," such as"raising living standards, forming a strong middle class, reforming the labour market and the social sphere, promoting education, guaranteeing human rights, including the rights of minorities and women, overcoming racial segregation."
Red October: Allied Intervention and 'Beginning of Cold War'
The October Revolution became the trigger for the Civil War (1917-1922) and prompted the Allied intervention of major foreign powers in Russia.
The Canadian academic pointed out that the October Uprising "produced an immediate violent reaction by the United States, France and Britain, whose elites attempted to overthrow the Soviet government."
"The foreign intervention against Soviet Russia fed a civil war and exacerbated the violence of the counter-revolution by many times over,"Carley said."On its own, the former tsarist elite could never have mounted such violent resistance to the October Revolution."
The professor underscored that after their failure to overthrow the Soviets,"the Western powers spent the next 70 years, with the exception of a truce between 1941-1945, in trying to harm or bring down the USSR and all those revolutions to which it had given birth."
According to the academic, the Cold War started in October (November) 1917.
"Just ask the Chinese, Vietnamese, Cubans, or N. Koreans about the frightful price of resistance to US and Western hegemony,"Carley remarked."Or for that matter, we might ask, if we could, the soldiers, sailors and workers of Soviet Russia, what price they had to pay, to defend their revolution."
(Source - Sputnik)
Communist leader dispels new Russian budget as "oligarch orientated" October 28th, 2017 Fort Russ News - KtovKurse translated by Inessa Sinchougova
Communist Party leader, Gennady Zyuganov, called the draft federal budget for 2018-2020, "a budget of the oligarchy", which will increase stagnation and poverty.
On Friday October 27th, the State Duma considered the first reading of the draft budget for 2018 for the planning period 2019-2020. According to the draft of the Ministry of Finance, the budget deficit in 2018 will be 1.3 trillion rubles or 1.37% of GDP, in 2019 it will be 867 billion rubles or 0.84% of GDP, and in 2020 - 960 billion rubles or 0.87% of GDP.
Such a budget Zyuganov considers "a budget for the oligarchy, where further stagnation and deepening of poverty in the country will occur."
In his opinion, the draft budget does not meet the current challenges and can only aggravate the split in Russian civil society.
The Communist Party leader stressed that incomes and expenditures are constantly declining. Zyuganov noted that "in plain language" this means that the "share of the national pie" created by the working people is constantly shrinking in the budget.
Zyuganov's main issue with the budget was the reduction in government expenses for 14 out of 13 articles listed within. He explained that for eight of these articles, expenses are simply cut, and for four other articles, a small increase is offset by inflation, and as a result, real costs are below the ones prophesized.
According to Zyuganov, the current budget policy "creeps of the old Gaidar-Chubais reforms. It does not smell of modernization, nor a breakthrough for the future."
"I do not know why the president has not reacted to this helplessness, to this impotence of the financial and economic blockade on behalf of the government," Zyuganov said.
President Vladimir Putin does not oversee forthcoming bills until they pass all the stages of parliamentary negotiation - that is until his signature is required. It remains to be said that a majority of Russia's parliament and governmental organs, are liberal representatives, both economically and culturally, whereby it is only the President that stops certain bills being passed.
Without looking at the document in detail (which is not yet available to the public) it makes sense to assume that the Communist Party leader has every right to become concerned at this early stage.
Zyuganov's Communist Party enjoys the second most popular rating in the Russian political sphere, after United Russia (Vladimir Putin.)
And a Record Number of Russians Want Socialism Back !!!
First published in Komsomolskaya Pravda Translated by Kristina Kharlova
The number of those nostalgic for the Soviet Union, is now growing steadily.
According to the findings of sociologists, 56% of respondents now express regret for the collapse of the Soviet state.
A majority of Russians regret the collapse of the Soviet Union, and do not mind if it's restored — conclude the sociologists of "Levada-centre".
2016 sees a record number of respondents nostalgic for the Soviet Union, in the whole history of public opinion surveys.
At the same time, the percentage of those who don't long for the Union, decreases over time: if, in November of last year it was 37%, today only 28% do not feel any pity.
58% of Russians would like a socialist system and the Soviet Union to be restored, and 31% say they don't want the Soviet Union back.
Over half of respondents, 51%, believe that it was still possible to save the country in 1991 while 33% of Russians say the collapse was 'inevitable'.
Experts, meanwhile, note that those most nostalgic for the Soviet Union don't yearn so much for the Soviet ideology, as for the stability, justice, confidence in the future, secure jobs, free education, medical care and housing.
Serbia:Mass anti-NATO demonstrations silenced Nothing has been the same since NATO brutally bombed Yugoslavia 17 years ago. The 5th column, trained by NATO, took over the destroyed country to continue the job that the West had started.
The economy collapsed, the country was ripped apart, and the Army, dismissed.
Year by year, malicious plans brainstormed by NATO, and executed by the government, are pushing all of the Balkans into the deep maw of the West's 'modern' imperialism.
The latest move was the Agreement with NATO about logistics. Parliament has approved, and the President has signed, an agreement which gives NATO soldiers immunity and freedom of movement on the territory of Serbia. The same people who killed thousands of innocent Serb civilians are now given freedom and immunity. NATO personnel rule the roost in Serbia
NATO personnel are exempt from paying taxes, VAT and/or customs duties. The adoption of the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP), lets NATO soldiers use Serbia's infrastructure, with free transit across the whole territory of Serbia, as well as protection from the law -- being given 'special status' while staying in Serbian territory.
However, although almost two decades have passed since NATO's cruel attack, most Serbs have not forgotten how important freedom is -- which is the main problem for the ruling elite.
In the mainstream media, news about signing the agreement with NATO, was published as small & irrelevant. In a couple of sentences, mainstream journalists wrote about it, as if it was tomorrow's weather forecast, but they couldn't fool people.
Boiling situation hidden by Government
The situation was boiling. A few patriotic parties and war veterans managed to organize a protest -- & expected no more than a thousand people in Belgrade, to show their disagreement with the ruling party's decisions.
On the 20th February, more than 15,000 Serbs, mostly youth, came onto the Belgrade streets to join in with the protesters. Even the police were surprised, quickly trying to reinforce -- fearing nonverbal shows of disagreement.
The mainstream media weren't at all interested in massive protests in the capital city. They just reported, after the protest, that there were only a couple of hundred demonstrators.
Amongst all media, just one, the alternative patriotic website, Srbin info, sent reporters to the vicinity, to cover the whole protest.
It was the only media that had pictures and videos of the massive protests, showing the huge number of protesters.
During the protest, over 2,000 readers per second were following their live streaming of the demonstrations. Each minute, their website was gaining more followers.
Just a couple of minutes after the end of the peaceful protest, huge cyber-attacks began.
The weak website couldn't defend itself from the biggest attacks in its history, & the web- site eventually crashed. Attacks continued for 24 hours, never letting the website repair.
The only possible source of the attacks on the website & freedom of the speech, is the ruling elite. There is no one else who would be able to manage such strong attacks.
The main problem for the alternative, free media in Serbia is that the web providers, most of them belonging to the SBB company, part of the Soros foundation, don't want to reveal who was behind the attacks. However, some opposition forces, also attacked by hackers, discovered that the IP address of the hacker belongs to one of the directors of SBB company.
It is also interesting that 25% of web providers and some mainstream media in Serbia - belong to David Petraeus, former director of the CIA.
Despite their crashed website, Srbin info reporters managed to find way to send the real story & used Facebook to spread the truth. A video showing the masses of people protesting, was viewed by over 1,700,000 Facebook users --- a huge number for Serbia, with its 7 million population.
For 48 hours after the attack, the website was closed.
Thanks to its loyal readers, who appreciate Srbin info's fight for freedom of speech, donations were collected to make a new website, with better protection.
But the problem of having a neutral web provider who will not sabotage the website -- after orders from the Government -- still exists. A much worse problem.... is that the once proud and honorable Serbia, is now under the boots of imperialists.
The Glory of Syria is too powerful for the weak hearted to comprehend By Paul Antonopoulos April 17th, 2018.
The victory of Syria only matters to those who refuse to put a smile on the faces of Zionists, terrorists and Imperialists.
Syria is only the concern of those who appreciate its rich culture, its astonishing history & its determined support for the resistances in the region, while the other side’s only concern, is Assad and not Syria.
If you truly cared for Syria you would’ve known what is best for the country and its people and not justify any western aggression there from the same regimes that you and I know want Syria to be another Libya or Iraq.
It amazes me that you think we believe the “I care for Syria” rubbish coming out of your mouth, while we all know it is a disguise to either your sectarian or political loathing for Assad - whom you heard of when Al-Jazeera and CNN orchestrated your daily news consumption.
After seven years of a Global and Destructive war, some still choose to be blind & hold on to their unexplained grudge towards Syria and its people. Yes its people. Because the few refugees you met days ago, with political affiliations & no proof of their allegations against the government, do not represent the resistant people of Syria. It’s just their word against the other. & the 2.5 million Syrians held in “rebel” territories, don’t speak on behalf of the 18 million Syrians in Government held regions.
The people of Syria you claim that you care for, democratically elected Assad as their president (of the 15 million Syrians eligible to vote almost 11 million voted for Assad) legitimately, under UN law, you know -- the same organisation that you refer to as a source, when it came to “Assad's crimes”. Feel like a hypocrite yet?.
And what? You have videos of “Assad's crimes” from Al Qaeda linked groups?
We have videos of “Rebel” crimes against civilians.
So that’s just your evidence against mine. The battle in Syria goes beyond your limited stances on a President, it is a battle between chaos and stability, between the Zionist axis and the resistance axis - whether you believe so, or not.
You choose your camp.
One day you will regret being part of the media war against the liberation of Syria. If you don't question yourself after all these years, then you are either in denial, or an enemy of resistance and you belong in the Zionist camp.
The article originates from a Facebook post made by Hadi Nasrallah, an independent political commentator and researcher.
(Source - Fort Russ)
SALFORD WATER WORKERS STRIKE OVER UNITED UTILITIES PENSION GRAB
WATER WORKERS COULD LOSE UP TO £10,000 A YEAR FROM PENSION
The water workers at the United Utilities plant on Peel Road, Barton, joined the first of two days of strike action in the North West, centred on the company wanting to impose changes to its pension scheme from 1st April, which could see younger staff losing £10,000 a year in retirement.
Full details here... http://salfordstar.com/article.asp?id=4406
As Salford University lecturers concluded 14 days of action in defence of their pensions today, hundreds of North West United Utilities workers began the first of 2 days of strikes in defence of their pensions.
United Utilities' management wants to impose changes to a staff pension scheme from April 1st, which will reduce scheme members' pensions significantly, with younger members of staff due to lose as much as £10,000 per year of their guaranteed income in retirement.
The plan seems particularly ludicrous as the company's pension scheme was reported to have a surplus of £248million in March 2017.
Members of UNISON and Unite unions, who repair pipes, treat waste water and resolve queries from the public were amongst those on strike today. They were joined on the picket line at United Utilities Waste Treatment Plant on Peel Road in Barton by sympathisers, including Salford councillor and UNISON Branch Secretary, Michele Barnes...
"People work hard all their life contributing into pension schemes to be able to enjoy their retirement, as and when they decide" Michele explained "If these proposals are implemented, people may have to reconsider their future plans, which isn't fair given the fact that the defined benefit scheme is still in a financially healthy position."
Vic Walsh, UNISON North West Regional Organiser added:
"United Utilities are making an unnecessary and unjustified grab for the retirement incomes of their workers. The pension scheme is in good financial health and there is no need for these changes to be made. It is not too late for management to see sense and stop the strike action, by halting their plan."
United Utilities has paid out more than £1.25billion to share- holders over the past five years and has a target of increasing its dividend payments each year by at least the rate of inflation. The company paid its Chief Executive, Steve Mogford, £2.8million last year.
All this in the midst of United Utilities having to pay out around £20million in compensation and fines following the crypto- sporidium outbreak at Franklaw in Lancashire in 2015; which left 700,000 people unable to drink tap water for three weeks.
"Our members are asking whether they are being made to pay the costs of the company's failings out of their pensions" said Vic Walsh "While executives and shareholders are doing nicely, attacks are being made on the staff who deliver an essential service to the public. It is wrong that a public utility is being run in this way."
Cleaners at the Daily Mail - all of whom are migrant workers and members of UVW - are set to strike over poverty wages!
They are demanding the London Living Wage of £10.20 p/hour!
Stay tuned for strike dates.
Leftwingers decry the ‘total lack of transparency’ in the NUS March 30th, 2018
Leftwingers condemned a “total lack of transparency” in the National Union of Students (NUS) today, as the organisation’s annual conference came to a close.
The three-day gathering saw the re-election of a number of candidates backed by the organised right wing of the NUS, including the incumbent president, Shakira Martin.
The only leftwinger to win a key position was vice- president for union development Ali Milani, another re-elected incumbent.
Tensions between the union’s factions peaked yesterday afternoon, when scores of activists occupied the stage at the SEC Armadillo conference centre in Glasgow.
The activists were protesting at the refusal of conference organisers to allow extra time to debate motions.
Among the motions dropped from the agenda... were calls for abortion rights in Northern Ireland - where pregnancy terminations remain illegal - and the decriminalisation of sex work.
Supporters of the occupation said that it indicated a wider discontent with the culture of the organisation.
Hope Worsdale, a student activist at the University of Warwick, said: “As well as showing crucial solidarity with sex workers and women in Northern Ireland, the stage occupation clearly demonstrated widespread dissatisfaction with how the NUS is run.”
She said students were “fed up” with NUS chiefs making decisions “behind closed doors, with a total lack of transparency,” and described the leaders as “irrelevant and unaccountable.”
After the occupation, the conference was temporarily suspended, with officials reportedly citing health and safety concerns.
Ms Martin, who was once associated with the student left, was supported by rightwingers when she ousted Malia Bouattia as NUS president last year.
Since then, she has led the union through a turbulent period, including allegations of bullying at NUS headquarters that she denied.
The NUS has expressed support for the recent lecturers’ strikes over pensions, but the leftwingers say that the organisation has failed to offer meaningful solidarity.
Ms Worsdale added: “The left must unite to reclaim the NUS and transform it into a radical, democratic, grassroots organisation.
“The student movement is advancing beneath the NUS’s feet. The National conference is, currently, totally disconnected from what’s going on at a campus level - and this must change.”
(Source - Morning Star)
GMB victory over Amazon sees its delivery drivers paid £20,000 in backpay January 14th, 2018.
Amazon delivery drivers have won up to £20,000 each in back pay after their union challenged the online retailer’s use of bogus self- employment, to deny them rights at work.
General union GMB represents many drivers employed by delivery firm UK Express, which delivers goods for Amazon.
UK Express used bogus self-employment to deny its employees their rights, such as the minimum wage, holiday pay, sick pay, paid rest breaks and employment rights, such as protection from unfair dismissal.
GMB challenged UK Express - and the company backed down before the cases reached an employment tribunal.
The union said the victory meant some drivers would receive up to £20,000 in back pay.
Similar victories have been won against minicab transnational Uber and delivery firm DX, which used bogus self-employment to deny workers their rights.
GMB legal director Maria Ludkin said: “This is yet another brick in the road in GMB’s battle against bogus self-employment.
“Some employers seem to think they can avoid paying the minimum wage or giving their workers the protection to which they are entitled.
“However, as Amazon and UK Express have now realised, this is not optional — it’s the law.
“The drivers delivering for Amazon, like Uber drivers and delivery drivers for DX, are clearly employees and it is gratifying that the company are shelling out 100 per cent of the amounts claimed.
“GMB will continue to fight bogus self-employment wherever it appears.”
Domestic violence worker threatened with the sack for speaking out against council cuts January 3rd, 2018
Louise Harrison received a letter threatening her with dismissal from South Yorkshire Women’s Aid's trustees.
Domestic violence worker Louise Harrison has been threatened with the sack after speaking out against council cuts.
Ms Harrison, who works for South Yorkshire Women’s Aid, which was set up on a small grant from Doncaster Metropolitan Council, received a letter threatening her with dismissal from its trustees, some of whom are on the right of the local Labour Party, campaigners say.
The lifesaving service was set up last January, after Doncaster Women’s Aid was forced to close for lack of funding in March 2016. Ms Harrison campaigned to secure £30,000 from the council and has fought tirelessly to raise extra money to rent space for the service.
She is one of three women who staff South Yorkshire Women’s Aid for a total of 40 hours per week, offering therapy, a free phone line and legal help.
Since the council announced that it would not renew the funding, which ran out in December, because of budget cuts, Ms Harrison has been trying to save the service.
Amy Cousens, who is campaigning on Ms Harrison's behalf, told the Star: “We’ve seen right-wing aspects of the [local] Labour Party completely work against us, saying that the council has no money and that we shouldn't be campaigning against the council.”
Ms Cousens, a former volunteer with the service, says trustees have attempted to silence workers and volunteers, putting pressure on them to stay positive about the council.
Local Labour MP Rosie Winterton has claimed that staff and volunteers waged a “militant campaign, which is off-putting to [potential] funders,” Ms Cousens said, adding that trustees have come under pressure from the council.
Ms Harrison is on a one-year fixed term contract due to finish in the middle of this month and is currently off work suffering from the effects of bereavement and ill health.
She received a letter from service trustees on December 23, insinuating that some of them are unhappy with the service she has been providing for women.
The letter, seen by the Star, is signed by Nigel Walshe, a Labour Party member and trustee.
Ms Harrison said: “I am deeply shocked about the inference in the letter that I have let women down.
“For the past seven months, I have worked largely unpaid to try to secure funding for our service with little or no support from some of the trustees.
“It is deeply upsetting to read that I would do anything that would harm the women who desperately need our services.”
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell passed on his solidarity to the campaign and offered to liaise with local Labour MPs and Doncaster council. He said: “I give this pledge that a Labour government will ensure funding for these vital women’s services will be provided, because women’s lives matter.”
Ms Cousens insisted: “We are completely determined to fight.
“This is silencing a worker who has spoken out against cuts.”
The trustees have not undertaken fundraising, but Ms Harrison has drummed up around £10,000 from trade unions, the Labour Party and supporters, Ms Cousens pointed out.
Ms Harrison intends to “shine a light on the local Labour Party, who have gone out of their way to justify austerity and paint us as bullies and people who don’t understand figures.”
As well as lobbying the council and trustees, she will take her campaign nationwide --- with the aim of persuading other workers in similar services to speak out against austerity and “encouraging women to organise in their workplace.”
To sign a petition supporting the campaign, go to:
We Are All At Risk - Thanks To The Tories’ Continuing Fire Cuts by Diane Abbott Saturday December 2nd
As well as holding back investment in our economy, living standards and growth, it’s important to also point out that the Tories’ ideologically driven austerity, also makes us all less safe.
One example of this is the cuts to our fire and rescue service.
Drastic cuts since 2010 have meant that people are being left running the service on a shoestring and that the UK fire and rescue service needs urgent investment.
The recent Budget was a chance for Phillip Hammond to at least rein in the damaging policies that have caused this to happen. Yet instead, we are now facing a situation where, when we have already seen the worst cuts in the history of the fire service, more will be on the way as part of the continuing austerity confirmed by Hammond’s recent Budget.
Since 2010, the Westminster government has systematically cut central funding to fire and rescue services across Britain.
The National Audit Office report, Financial Sustainability of Fire and Rescue Services, found that, between 2011 and 2015, over 30 per cent of central funding was cut from fire and rescue services in England.
This makes a mockery of Tory promises to protect the front line when it comes to our emergency services.
In terms of the years ahead, in February 2016, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) published its local government settlement, with projections for central funding cuts.
The figures showed that DCLG paid £1.089 billion in central funding to all the fire and rescue services in England in 2015-16, but it planned to cut this to £864 million by 2019-20. This was a planned cut of nearly 21%
Additionally, local government settlement figures published by DCLG earlier this year, covering just metropolitan and combined fire authorities, show that planned central funding for fire and rescue services in England will be cut by 20% over the 2016-20 period.
In a (rejected) amendment to the Tory government’s Queen’s Speech earlier in the year, and again in the run-up to this Budget, Labour made clear our belief that the government needs to act now to protect the fire and rescue service.
In particular, Labour is committed to recruiting at least 3,000 new frontline firefighters, but the Tories are refusing to provide the necessary funding from central government to ensure this.
When it comes to our emergency services, and indeed public services as a whole, the Tories have totally failed to understand that cuts have consequences.
While our firefighters do an amazing job, these unprecedented cuts have resulted in over 11,000 firefighters’ jobs being cut, more than forty fire stations closed and dozens of fire engines axed.
As a result, emergency response times are at their slowest for 20 years, according to the government’s own figures, with official figures for 2015/2016 for example showing 303 people died in fires, up 15% on the previous year.
Response times to all types of serious fires also rose, in some cases by as much as one minute and 8 seconds.
This is vitally important.
As Fire Brigades Union (FBU) Matt Wrack has said, “In an emergency, every second counts. For fire crews, that means having the right number of fire engines and firefighters at the scene of an emergency as soon as possible in order to do the job professionally.”
Additionally, the FBU has explained that cuts mean that fire engines are increasingly sent out without a full complement of firefighters and that this understaffing prevents firefighters from adopting the best professional practices and procedures.
These will all contribute to deaths that are avoidable, since a report published by the Home Office in January this year confirmed that the number of people who have died as a result of fires in the home, has increased.
Alongside this, there has been a drastic reduction in fire prevention work since 2010, with a 25 per cent drop in the number of fire risk checks carried out by fire services in England. Fire and rescue services are also spending 13% less time on public safety campaigns & initiatives.
This is what happens when you prioritise cuts before public safety — cuts have real, human consequences.
In the months and years ahead, we need to make clear the real impact of fire and rescue service cuts on both firefighters’ safety and that of the public as a whole.
The government desperately needs to halt fire service cuts and increase the number of firefighter posts. Above all, it needs to learn the lesson that you can’t keep people safe, on the cheap. You can follow Diane at www.twitter.com/HackneyAbbott and www.facebook.com/DianeAbbott.
(Source - Morning Star)
Defiant Posties Make It Clear They’re Not Licked October 20th by Conrad Landin
Hundreds of mail workers marched on Britain’s most iconic sorting office yesterday, vowing to take their defence of pensions, conditions and daily postal deliveries to the next level.
Royal Mail staff have voted overwhelmingly to strike, but a planned walkout was put on hold after bosses secured a High Court injunction.
The dispute remains live, but a judge ruled that the Communication Workers Union (CWU) will have to enter more mediation with the privatised company before union members can down mailbags.
Before the court judgement, workers had been due to walk out at lunchtime yesterday.
Instead, after a national reps’ meeting at Congress House in central London, union activists marched to the Mount Pleasant sorting office in Farringdon.
Delivery and sorting staff at the depot took breaks to join the rally.
CWU president Jane Loftus told the crowd: “This dispute is not going away and Royal Mail know that.”
General secretary Dave Ward acknowledged that the injunction had been a “setback” but said that, as a result, members’ attitudes had “hardened against the employer.”
He announced that the union is “launching a new phase of our campaign” to apply maximum political pressure on Royal Mail and increase public support for postal workers.
“People in this country have got an absolutely unique relationship with their postal workers,” he said.
He blasted the company’s “race to the bottom,” adding: “We ain’t having that with our members and we ain’t having that with the service.”
Royal Mail staff are up in arms at bosses’ proposals to close its defined benefit pension scheme. They are also seeking a 35-hour week and protections for terms and conditions.
Management argued in court that the union had not gone through a binding arbitration process agreed when the service was privatised in 2013. Such negotiations will now resume, but a strike could still take place once they are over.
CWU deputy general secretary Terry Pullinger said that Royal Mail was “one of the great inventions of our social history. What’s been destroying the postal service is privatisation.
“It can be a massively successful business and still be a public service.”
Mr Pullinger said bosses and shareholders had “taken all the hanging fruit” from the company and were now looking to squeeze the pensions of workers and the guarantee of a universal daily postal delivery.
“If we don’t fight now … it will be too late,” he warned.
(Source - Morning Star)
Strike Action 'Still Inevitable' Unless 'Deluded' Royal Mail Starts To Negotiate Thursday October 12th by Conrad Landin
Posties vowed that their strike would go on yesterday, after a High Court judge slapped them with an injunction - banning them from walking out next week.
Bosses argued in court that the Communication Workers’ Union had fallen foul of the law by not going through dispute resolution procedures agreed at the time of privatisation. Union reps denied this claim.
Granting the injunction, Mr Justice Supperstone said:
"I consider the strike call to be unlawful and the defendant is obliged to withdraw its strike call until the external mediation process has been exhausted."
CWU said it is "extremely disappointed" at the ruling and vowed to call further strike action unless a satisfactory agreement with Royal Mail is agreed, once the mediation process has been completed.
General secretary Dave Ward said: "The company is deluded if it believes its court room politics will resolve this dispute.
“Instead the company’s actions will have the complete opposite effect.
"Postal workers’ attitude towards the company will harden and it makes us more determined than ever to defend our members’ pensions, jobs, service & achieve our objectives.
“Unless the company significantly shifts its position on a range of issues and we can quickly conclude a good agreement for our members, then strike action is inevitable."
He stressed that the union walked into court today with a massive 90 per cent yes vote for strike action and walked out of court with that mandate intact.
"We want an agreement and will comply with the injunction to undertake further external mediation," Mr Ward said.
"But sooner rather than later, Royal Mail Group will have to confront the harsh reality that it is completely out of touch with the views of its workforce.“
Workers at Royal Mail, which was privatised by the Conservatives and Lib Dems in 2013, are up in arms about the proposed closure of the current defined benefit pension scheme.
They have proposed their own alternative pension programme for a “wage in retirement” and are also seeking to protect terms and conditions and shorten the working week to 35 hours.
The CWU brought four live chickens in a mail cage down to the Royal Courts of Justice to await the verdict. Reps said the birds represented Royal Mail bosses Moya Greene, Steve Cameron, Jon Millidge and Sue Whalley – who they said were running scared of negotiations by seeking an injunction.
CWU London divisional rep John Simkins told the Star: “It’s a disgrace [Royal Mail bosses] feel they have to respond by going to the courts. We’ve had a massive turnout and a massive yes vote. They’ve had 18 months to reach an agreement, and it wasn’t for want of trying on our part.
“It’s trying to use the law against its own employees. They should be ashamed of themselves.”
But he said it was no surprise that bosses were using the courts in this way. “The whole legal system is just designed to thwart working people,” he added.
The demonstrators were joined outside the court by Labour’s shadow post and steel minister Gill Furniss, who blasted:
“[Royal Mail] may be working for Moya Greene and her £2 million- a-year pay package, but it’s not working for the workers.
“You can be assured that Labour are behind you every step of the way.”
Campaign for Trade Union Freedom chairman Tony Burke told the Star: "This is unbelievable given the size of the vote in favour and a turnout that passed the 50 per cent mark by miles.
"It's ludicrous that the High Court has granted the injunction."
A Royal Mail spokesman said: "We will now make contact with the CWU as a matter of urgency to begin the process of external mediation. We are very committed to working closely with the CWU in order to reach agreement as a matter of priority."
‘We’re Doing This So We Can Afford The Basics In Life,’ Say Striking McDonald's Workers Monday September 4th by Steve Sweeney
McDonald’s Cambridge branch was unusually quiet yesterday, even for six in the morning.
But the silence was shattered by a group of striking McDonald’s workers walking along the city’s Newmarket Road, chanting: “I believe we can win.”
These were the history makers. Cambridge was one of the two McDonald’s branches hit with strike action for the first time ever in Britain.
Leading the chants, was food workers’ union BFAWU member Tom Holliday, who informed the Star that McDonald’s workers faced appalling treatment including bullying, intimidation and even sexual harassment.
The strike was not something that just happened overnight, he told me, but was the culmination of two years of organising against the poverty pay and zero-hours contracts that blight the fast food industry.
Tom explained: “We’re on strike for £10 an hour and union recognition and the reason we’re doing this, is because living on poverty wages means it’s impossible to do the basics in life, such as feed yourself and find a house to live in.”
His own personal circumstances give an insight into the impact of low pay. He is a father whose son lives in London — almost 60 miles from Cambridge.
The weekend return train fare can be as much as £25 and his £7.55 hourly rate means he has to often sacrifice some of the necessities, such as food.
“It’s not easy to afford the train fare to go and see him on a regular basis. Sometimes I have to choose between meals and going to see him as well.”
As another passing driver beeps their car horn in support of the strike, Tom tells me that management have been trying to break the strike and stop people joining the union.
“Management have been crawling all over the store. We’ve had eight representatives from head office visiting, since the strike was announced.
“They follow us around, break up groups of workers, make sure we’re not talking about the union and that has been pretty much their attitude, since the start of it.”
But he tells me that workers are growing in confidence and he hopes they will inspire others. As for the next steps, Tom says more workers are joining the union.
If McDonald’s fail to listen to the demands of its workers, “we are hoping that the strike spreads across the country.”
A council is taking action against a trade union. And it should be a wake-up call to everyone. September 2nd, 2017. by Steve Topple Please share this article: Facebook Twitter
An ongoing dispute between a council and public sector workers has escalated, with trade unions warning that industrial action could continue into the new year. But the situation is all the more concerning because it is a Labour-led local authority at the heart of the story. And it is demonstrating extremely anti-trade union behaviour.
Bin workers in Birmingham have been locked in a dispute with the city’s Labour-led council since June. At issue is the council’s decision to ‘delete’ 122 lead-hand, or grade three supervisory jobs, and “modernise” the service, saving £5m a year. The council claimed redundant workers will be offered other jobs.
Unite the Union disagreed. Assistant General Secretary Howard Beckett said:
We have legitimate safety concerns about what the council proposes and are concerned that workers on as little as £21,000-a-year could face a pay cut of up to £5,000, if they are downgraded, which is unacceptable.
However, we appreciate that local government has been targeted by the Tory government with swingeing cuts to its budgets and we want to work with the Labour- controlled city council that needs to find extra income to mitigate the harsh effects of austerity.
As LibCom reported on 16 June, Unite announced the result of a strike ballot, showing 90% backing industrial action. So, on 30 June, workers began stoppages resulting in weeks of waste lying uncollected. The council said that the strike was costing £40,000 a day, and it employed agency workers and contractors to clear the backlog.
On 16 August, Unite and the council reached an agreement, with the latter saying it would restore the 122 grade three supervisory jobs – and Unite calling off strike action. But suddenly on 30 August, the council backtracked on the official, ACAS-brokered deal, sending 100 workers redundancy notices. It claimed in a report that the deal was “unaffordable” and cancelled a meeting where it was set to be agreed. The union responded by immediately instructing their members to resume strike action.
Beckett said in a statement:
This is a deeply provocative act that drives a coach and horses through the agreement Unite reached with the council in good faith at the conciliation service ACAS. The last thing refuse workers want to do is resume industrial action and see piles of rubbish accumulating on Birmingham’s streets. This is their city too. Our members want to focus on delivering a safe efficient service to the people of Birmingham.
Sadly it seems the council doesn't want to see that happen. Instead of embracing an agreement that would have seen compromise on all sides, the council seems content to put people on the dole and cut their wages by up to £5,000.
Unite calls on the council to come to its senses and with- draw these redundancy notices, to avoid the disruption of industrial action.
But the Labour leader of Birmingham council, John Clancy, claims he has “not reneged” on a deal with Unite:
The notice for the current strike action expires on 21 September, so Unite will be balloting its members again.
“Labour”. In the loosest sense of the word
In reality, the council appears to have backtracked on the official deal not because it was “unaffordable” in terms of saving money, but because council leaders were concerned about having to fork out money in equal pay disputes with female colleagues (which some believe is disingenuous). All while the council increased its “usable” reserves [pdf p14] by £269m in 2016.
Some claim that it's council officers, not Labour councillors, meting out this action. But a statement from the Labour council leader appears to indicate otherwise. And Unite, at first, claimed that the council’s hands were tied, due to Tory cuts to local budgets. But ultimately, we are witnessing yet another Labour-led council treating public sector workers, and the working class, with contempt.
It has also been witnessed with teaching assistants in Durham and with Labour councils employing staff on zero hours contracts. And it is constantly demonstrated with social cleansing in London.
Now, with the Labour-led council showing some of the most anti-trade union actions witnessed this year, Jeremy Corbyn’s national party should be asking serious questions of its less-than democratic socialist local counterparts. And workers should be asking questions of Corbyn.
– Support the bin workers using the hashtag #BirminghamBinStrike.
Nurses: Scrap The Wage Cap Or We Will Strike Monday August 7th by Steve Sweeney
Nurses will strike unless Chancellor Phillip Hammond ends the public-sector pay freeze in the autumn Budget, the Royal College of Nursing warned yesterday.
RCN general secretary Janet Davies issued the ultimatum to Mr Hammond, saying a failure to lift the cap would leave the union no choice, other than to ballot for industrial action --- for the first time in its history.
Ms Davies said: “We have been working as hard as we can to make the government understand, that if you want a healthy health service, we need a healthy salary for our nurses.
“If the Budget does not show the government’s clear intent to remove that pay cap, then industrial action by nurses is on the table.”
Research by the union has revealed the devastating impact of the pay freeze among NHS staff, with reports of nurses resorting to food banks.
It says there has been a real-terms pay cut of 14 per cent since 2010, which is driving nurses out of the NHS in droves, causing a recruitment and retention crisis.
Figures last month showed a staggering 86,000 vacancies in the NHS from January to March, and the RCN says that nursing remains one of the lowest-paid staff groups of all public-sector professions.
Ms Davies also raised fears that the NHS could “go under” unless European Union staff are given assurances of their future after Brexit.
She said that the government needs to give a clear message both to EU workers already here and to those who want to come and work in the NHS after Britain leaves the EU.
“People will then be able to make a decision, and if they decide that they don’t want to stay, then that is a big cliff-edge — and my big fear is the NHS would go under,” Ms Davies warned.
“In some hospitals one in five members of staff are trained elsewhere in Europe and they just couldn’t cope if suddenly everyone decided to leave.”
A Department of Health spokesman said: “Nurses are the bedrock of the NHS and we understand the need to give certainty to valued staff from the EU.
“That is why we have made clear that the future of EU nationals working in our health and care system should be a priority in Brexit negotiations.”
(Source - Morning Star)
Jeremy Corbyn MP & President Nicolas Maduro discuss legacy of Tony Benn
Venezuela unrest used to targetLabour leader Corbyn August 2nd, at 8:43am
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable & a number of backbench MPs from his own party, have urged Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a lifelong socialist, to condemn Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
Corbyn has previously voiced his support for the Latin American socialist government, but is now being pressured by his opponents and fellow Labour MPs to speak out against Maduro following the arrest of two Venezuelan opposition leaders on Sunday.
Labour MP Angela Smith, who is part of an all- parliamentary group on Venezuela, said she is “appalled” by what is taking place.
“I hope that my party leadership will as soon as possible condemn what’s happening in the country and call for the release of opposition party political prisoners,” she said, the Times reports.
Maduro declared victory in the constitutional assembly vote on Sunday, aimed at giving his government further powers. Critics, however, believe the vote is invalid as it has been carried out against a backdrop of violence and protests.
In a tweet on Wednesday morning, Tory Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson branded Venezuela a “dictatorship.”
“Maduro acting like a dictator of an evil regime and has destroyed Venezuelan economy, eroded human rights + imprisoned thousands,” he tweeted.
In another post, he added: “Hundreds have died during protests against Maduro's actions. Political prisoners must be released + rights, freedoms + democracy respected.”
Maduro’s government has been accused of being responsible for Venezuela’s economic demise over the past four years.
The falling price of oil, Venezuela’s main source of export income, together with widespread corruption, has left people short of basic necessities, such as food and medicine.
When Venezuela was led by Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez, Corbyn praised the country as “the better way of doing things,” and suggested his government was a model of socialism.
In June 2015, before taking part in any leadership contest, Corbyn said Maduro’s policy-making in certain fields, such as health, housing and education, were cause for “celebration.”
When asked that same year about Maduro’s policies, he said: “Venezuela gives every child a future, a school, a doctor – a chance,” according to the Daily Mail.
But he also praised the Venezuelan leader on his website, as he set off on his first leadership contest, saying his radical policies were a “success.”
Maduro has also greeted Corbyn as a “friend of Venezuela.”
Graham Jones, another Labour MP and chair of the all-party parliamentary group, also called on Corbyn to speak up against Maduro.
“I believe everybody in the Labour Party should condemn the Venezuelan regime because the first duty of any state --- is to look after its citizens. Venezuela has failed,” he said.
Sir Vince Cable, Liberal Democrat leader, told the Times: “I think a lot of UK people would be reassured if the Labour Party leadership made it clear, that they had ended their infatuation with the Venezuelan regime.”
However, former Labour leader Ken Livingstone said on Tuesday that the US government and the “establishment elite” should be blamed for Venezuela’s economic collapse, rather than Maduro.
(Source - RT)
Union Demands Open Book On ''Uni'' Bosses’ Sky-High Pay Saturday 15th of July by Peter Lazenby
Lecturers are calling on the UK's universities to reveal the extravagant pay and perks of greedy bosses to the public.
The University and College Union (UCU) says the “murky world” of vice-chancellors’ pay should be made transparent, arguing their pay should be laid bare in a public register.
The union also attacked the decision to allow vice-chancellors to sit on committees which decide their own remuneration packages.
UCU has raised the issue with successive universities ministers, only to be told that the sector could regulate itself. However while lecturers’ salaries are falling, uni' heads are receiving an average salary package of £277,834 a year.
The union says a public register is required to restore public confidence, as top pay is funded by the taxpayer and through students’ tuition fees.
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt says:
“The largesse of those at the top of our universities has long been a source of embarrassment for the sector , and UCU has raised the issue many times, with ministers.
“With the amount of debt students are accruing to fund their education under the spotlight, the time has come to expose the murky world of senior pay in universities.
“The huge disparities in the levels of pay and pay rises, expose the arbitrary nature of vice-chancellors’ pay.
“It is simply wrong that some of them sit on the committee that decide their pay, and that universities can hide behind its shadowy remuneration committee’s decisions --- without releasing minutes from the meeting.”
(Source - Morning Star)
Bakers Vote To Scrap MPs’ Automatic Reselection June 15th, 2017 by Conrad Landin
Labour MPs should face a full reselection process before the next general election, the bakers’ union BFAWU conference heard, on the 14th.
Delegates voted in favour of introducing the “power of recall, reselection &, if necessary, sacking of MPs.”
Currently sitting Labour MPs are automatically reselected to run in an election, if a majority of branches in their constituency approves their candidacy.
The system has been criticised because local trade union affiliate branches have the same voting strength as party branches, regardless of their size.
Party bosses circumvented even this limited system ahead of the snap general election, saying there was no time for such “trigger ballots.”
Bakers voiced their anger at Labour MPs who had “gone out of their way to damage the party” by criticising Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
They argued that MPs should be held accountable by members in their constituencies.
Bristol delegate Adam Brown said: “We have to account for our actions every day, I don’t see why it should be any different for them?”
BFAWU president Ian Hodson stressed unity in the union, telling delegates that “one of the most important things is that we all come together as a movement and when the next election is called, we’re all fighting for one cause.
“That is, Jeremy Corbyn and a Labour government,” he said.
And BFAWU general secretary Ronnie Draper warned that unions must “keep a careful eye”, to ensure there is not “another coup” against Mr Corbyn.
He told the Star that members need “the opportunity of reselecting people who don’t support our leader,” adding that “this is what democracy is about. You can’t create democracy to suit yourself.”
Unite, Labour’s largest affiliate, voted in favour of mandatory reselection contests at its policy conference last year. But a similar motion was lost at the shopworkers’ union, Usdaw, last month.
Under mandatory reselection, MPs would have to face an open contest before each general election — in which other candidates could put themselves forward as alternative choices.
Delegates at BFAWU conference also voted for motions calling for a ban on MPs having “second jobs,” and in favour of replacing MPs’ expenses, with giving them accommodation directly.
(Source - Morning Star)
Tories Bury Miners’ Strike Files Until 2066 April 29th by Peter Lazenby
Campaigners are demanding the release of newly discovered files about the police attack on striking miners at Orgreave in Yorkshire in 1984.
But Tory ministers have said that the “sensitive” files will remain secret until 2066.
Activists said that all the people affected by the police brutality would be dead by then, and any further investigation, or an inquiry, would be fruitless.
The decision brought a storm of protest from the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC), and a call from a Commons committee of MPs for their release.
On June 18 1984, police brutally attacked striking miners peacefully picketing Orgreave coke plant, near Rotherham.For four years, the OTJC has pressed for a public inquiry into the attack and who authorised it.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd promised an inquiry last year, but changed her mind, despite continued campaigning by activists to the Home Office.
The new files were held by the Association of Chief Police Officers, which went out of existence in 2015 and was replaced by the National Police Chiefs’ Council.
The Home Office has “closed” the files until 2066, because they contain “personal sensitive information.”
Home affairs select committee chairwoman Labour MP Yvette Cooper has now written to Ms Rudd calling on her to release the files.
OTJC said: “The constant covering up of the Thatcher government’s involvement in the strike & the conduct and impunity of the police, is deeply disturbing.
“If Amber Rudd is genuine in her claims that lessons have been learned and policing practices have changed since the strike then what has this Tory government got to hide?
“A full public inquiry into government participation and police operations at Orgreave is essential, in order to establish the truth and justice required to enable miners and their communities to move on.”
Former miner Kevin Horne, who was arrested at Orgreave, said: “All the people involved will be dead by 2066.”
OTJC chair Joe Rollin said: “It is becoming clearer every day that this Tory government is protecting the Tory government of the 1980s which engineered & authorised police brutality against striking miners, and used whatever methods they deemed necessary to demonise and undermine workers fighting for their jobs and communities.”
(source - Morning Star)
Wales Moves Closer To Axing Anti-Trade Union Act Saturday 8th of April by Peter Lazenby
Wales came a step closer to throwing out the Tories’ Trade Union Act yesterday, after a key Assembly committee backed a Bill revoking parts of the Westminster law.
The cross-party equality, local government and communities committee decided that the 2016 Act was incompatible with Wales’s “social partnership” model of industrial relations.
The Bill would overturn restrictions on action in the NHS, fire service, schools and other devolved services — scrapping the 40 per cent support threshold for strikes in parts of the public sector.
It would also reverse restrictions on deductions of unions’ membership dues by the employer, and it also attempts to clamp down on 'facility time'.
Only the sole Tory, Janet Finch-Saunders, on the eight- member committee, opposed the principles of the Bill. Even Ukip AM Gareth Bennett joined the Labour and Plaid members in backing its report.
But Finch-Saunders’s masters in Westminster are aiming to have the last laugh, insisting that the Assembly has no devolved power over industrial relations.
Tory Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns said ministers would “act at the earliest opportunity”to“protect the interest of taxpayers and our public services in Wales.”
But the Assembly has warned Westminster not to interfere. In March, Welsh Finance Secretary, Mark Drakeford, said it would be a“democratic outrage”if ministers in London tried to block the Welsh Trade Union Bill.
Committee chair John Griffiths said:“While the partnership approach is not without its tensions and difficulties, it seems to be serving Wales well.”
He said strikes were less prevalent in Wales than in England.
“It is clear to us that the success of the social partnership is dependent on equality between partners and that the relevant provisions in the 2016 Act are likely, to varying degrees, to affect this.
“In view of the above, we support the general principles of the Bill and agree that it is needed to dis-apply the relevant provisions of the 2016 Act.”
The Assembly must now agree to the general principles of the Bill, before it is subject to more detailed scrutiny.
(source - Morning Star)
WASHINGTON CAN TRY But Sanctions Do Not Stop Russian-Venezuelan Relations by Paul Antonopoulos January 30th, 2019
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said on Monday that Venezuela and Russia’s oil and gas business are armoured, and do not run any risk within the frame- work of sanctions, imposed by Washington, against United States-based state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, (PDVSA).
“The business between Russia and Venezuela, in the oil and gas field is armoured,” said the Venezuelan president.
Maduro assured that Russia does not run “any risk” because of Washington sanctioning Venezuela, “...because Russia is an independent and sovereign country, Russian companies are very powerful, have their own financial engineering, logistics, and PDVS is a company of a sovereign country.”
“Just like two independent countries, doing business, investing and developing large oil exploration projects, everything will go well, it’s armoured,” he said.
Maduro then went onto comment about new elections.
In the opinion of the legitimate president, “it would be good, if there were early parliamentary elections, for the Venezuelan parliament, it would be a good form of political debate, and a solution with the popular vote.”
As for the presidential elections, Maduro clarified once again that they had been held only 10 months ago and were carried out in accordance with all constitutional rules. In his words, he has obtained 68% of votes - and, thus, his victory and mandate, are legitimate.
“It is absurd to ignore the institutions, or we would be returning to the new colonialism, where, from a European capital / Washington, they give orders to any country in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, any country in the world,” he said.
In this connection, the Venezuelan president assured, that no foreign country can intervene in the Venezuelan political process.
“We do not accept an ultimatum, from anyone in this world. We do not accept blackmail. The presidential elections in Venezuela, have already taken place and, if the imperialists want new elections, they should wait until 2025,” he said.
Dialogue with the opposition
The Venezuelan president said he supports the dialogue with the opposition, and indicated who could mediate the negotiations.
“I am ready to sit down at the negotiating table, so that we speak for Venezuela, peace and its future,” he said.
According to him, “there are some governments, organizations in the world, that demonstrate their sincere concern for what is happening in Venezuela”. In particular, he pointed to the authorities of Mexico, Uruguay, Bolivia, Russia, the Vatican, and other European governments, as partners who all want to normalize the situation in Venezuela.
Support from the Armed Forces
Despite the attempted military rebellion organized on January 21 in Caracas, Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López reaffirmed the loyalty of the military to the current government of Nicolas Maduro, emphasizing that now is the time to show resistance.
Speaking on the subject, Nicolás Maduro praised the merits of Venezuelan troops and declared that he will continue to play his role as supreme commander of the Armed Forces.
“I am exercising my leadership and duties as Supreme Commander -- according to the Constitution -- consolidating the Bolivarian National Armed Forces. And the Bolivarian Armed Forces will give a lesson in morale, loyalty and discipline to the northern empire and the fascist right in Venezuela, and we will have a great victory: of stability, peace and loyalty,” he said.
Reasons for the US to intervene in Venezuela’s internal affairs
According to the Venezuelan leader, the main objective of the US’s intrusive behaviour, is the desire to gain access to Latin American oil , since it has “the largest proven reserves of oil in the world.”
Moreover, in their view, the US considers all of Latin America to be its “backyard.” However, Venezuela, which has a “200 year history”, does not accept such a development of the situation and that is why Washington intends to weaken Caracas.
(Source - Fort Russ)
Maduro Explains How Russia Protects Venezuela From US Imperialists by Paul Antonopoulos January 30th, 2019
Venezuela’s re-elected President Nicolás Maduro said his country receives military equipment from Russia on a regular basis, saying that he has paid all the loans on time.
Asked about the veracity of requests for aid from Russia, Maduro said that he has always received Russian support in all sectors and that there is, indeed, cooperation.
“President Vladimir Putin has always provided us with Russia’s assistance in every way, and we welcome it with gratitude. What I asked of President Putin, was for us to keep in constant contact, to have all the UN diplomatic and political support, and to protect the Venezuelan truth, at the international level,” said the Venezuelan head of state.
Maduro says that, during his dialogue with the Russian president, Putin said both nations would strengthen cooperation --- in the economic, commercial, oil, military and all sectors.
“In terms of military cooperation, we have Russian equipment of the highest level. In Venezuela, we find the most advanced weapon systems. They are well positioned. All our personnel are working. They have been trained in Russia,” he said.
When asked about the proposal for new arms orders, the Venezuelan leader said that the strategy is, always to improve cooperation, so that progress is made in the country’s security.
“We always have plans to move forward in cooperation to improve air defense, artillery and missile systems. We will always, move forward here... Venezuela will receive the most advanced weapons in the world,” Maduro said, adding that weapons arrive in the country every day, (and have done so) for months.
Venezuela always paid on time
“We have good financial relations with China and Russia, and they will develop --- relations about financing cooperation in the wheat sector, for example. [China and Russia] are financing and we are paying on time,” he said.
Maduro also stated that “Russian wheat has been very successful in Venezuela,” and that this collaboration guarantees that the Latin American country has food independence and security.
“China is financing oil production, and expects to increase funding in the coming months. We have strong support from China and Russia, for the economic development of Venezuela.”
“Venezuela always pays on time,” Maduro said, on whether the loans granted by Russia and China will be repaid.
The Venezuelan political crisis worsened on January 23rd, after Venezuelan National Assembly chief, Juan Guaidó, declared himself to be interim president of the country, during an act carried out in the streets of Caracas, and without any legality.
Russia, China, Iran and Turkey reaffirmed their support for the current Venezuelan government of Maduro, while several Latin American countries, aligned with the US and EU, ignored the current president-elect, expressing support for Guaidó.
Mexico and Uruguay, however, offer assistance in mediating a political solution to the crisis.
(Source - Fort Russ)
Is Venezuela going to become another Syria? by Sawraj Singh January 28th, at 4:04pm
In complete disregard of international law, the western countries have resorted to open intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela. They have left no doubt, that they are calling all the shots in Venezuela.
Within minutes of opposition leader Guaido, declaring himself to be the interim President of Venezuela, the US recognized him ---followed by Canada, the UK, France and all the right wing Latin American Governments which, in reality, are puppets of western imperialist countries, followed suit --- within 2 hours.
However, Russia, China, Iran, Turkey, Cuba, Bolivia and Mexico, have opposed intervention by the western imperialist countries, in the internal affairs of a sovereign country, as a blatant violation of international law, and are supporting President Maduro.
In the strongest condemnation of this move by the western countries, President Putin has warned of grave consequences. Rafael Correa, Ex-President of Ecuador, has warned of a US-backed military action in Venezuela. Such an action is bound to lead to a civil war.
The US and the western countries have a long history of forcibly imposing their will on others. America has always considered Latin America as its backyard, where it can do anything it wants to do.
The Latin American countries, except Cuba, have not been truly independent in the last two centuries. America has used their natural resources for its own benefit rather than in the interests of the people of these countries.
Whenever, there is a conflict between these two interests, America has never hesitated to use force. For example, Dr. Salvador Allende, the elected Marxist President of Chile, tried to use the country's resources for its people, America wasted no time in getting rid of him, by engineering a coup by General Pinochet, in the year 1973.
From the year 1975 onwards, America carried out operation Condor, to systematically eliminate the leftist forces in the Latin American countries, and strengthen the right wing dictatorships.
America repeatedly tried to get rid of Hugo Chavez, who was President of Venezuela from 1999 to 2013. However, Hugo Chavez continued to improve the plight of the people, with the oil revenues. Venezuela is one of the largest oil producing countries in the world.
After his death from cancer (which he blamed on the US), Maduro took over as the President of Venezuela. The US tried, repeatedly,, to get rid of him. However, he survived each time. Crippling American sanctions and falling oil prices have hit Venezulea's economy really hard.
America has used this as an excuse to blame Maduro. This time the military is supporting Maduro. Another factor which makes it difficult to get rid of him, is that Hugo Chavez built a mass base in the working class and also armed his followers with 100,000 AK47 rifles, which Russia provided.
This can make it an extremely bloody battle if an armed conflict starts between Maduro's supporters and the US backed Guaidos supporters. Putin has rightly warned, of a catastrophic conflict.
A conflict of this magnitude, in America's backyard, will probably be the last major conflict of the American era - since no matter what the outcome of this conflict is, America has more to lose than Russia.
If the American side loses then it will be a big - probably a fatal - blow for US prestige. However, even if America wins this battle, the long term results may prove more harmful than helpful. Russia will have to score a major victory in Europe to avenge its defeat and maintain its prestige and credibility. It will have to give a severe blow to a country like Ukraine or Poland.
For America, their defeat in Europe, will be a lot worse, than a victory in Latin America.
Already, a defeat in Syria has done tremendous damage to American prestige and influence in the Middle East.
The consequences of a war in Venezuela, can be lot worse than the Syrian war. If Maduro survives, then just like the survival of Assad, in Syria, it will be counted as a big loss for America. However, even if America succeeds in dislodging Maduro, the damage done to Russia- US relations, will be tremendous, and probably irreparable.
The chance of the conflict moving to Europe, can be very dangerous --- for the whole world. A conflict in Europe, is more likely to escalate into a World War three, than a conflict anywhere else.
The history of the two World Wars, starting in Europe, is before us.
The three countries, Russia, China and India, can play a significant role in countering US arrogance, which can prove to be the main risk factor for starting the most destructive Third World War.
Russia can balance American military power, China can balance American economic power, and India can work in the diplomatic field to build an anti war sentiment.
India played a very positive role when the war started over the Suez Canal. India scored a major victory in the diplomatic field and became the leader of the nonaligned movement. It laid the foundation of Nehru-Nasser friendship and the whole Arab World started looking at India as one of their best friends.
India needs to play a similar role, now, to restore its credibility and prestige in the world, as a real peace maker. India's tilt toward America, has raised questions about its traditional role.
Let us hope that all sides use restraint and do not escalate the conflict to a dangerous level, and the situation in Venezuela does not become like the war in Syria. Let us also hope, that the transition from the US era, to the Post US era (multipolar world), is peaceful.
Sawraj Singh is Chair of Washington State Network for Human Rights, and Chair of the Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice
(Source - Pravda.ru)
Venezuelan People Continue Supporting their Legitimate President January 27th, at 2:25pm
Prensa Latina - Venezuela's people, on Sunday, continue supporting the legitimate president of the country, Nicolas Maduro, over the coup d''état plans driven by the opposition, with the US Government''s backup.
The first Vice President of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, Diosdado Cabello, stated during a popular demonstration in Cojedes, that the only people allowed to elect a president in the South American nation, are Venezuelans, in free elections.
Reiterating the rejection of the self-proclamation of Representative Juan Guaido - head of the National Assembly (Parliament) in contempt - as interim president, Cabello recalled that the Bolivarian Constitution does not include a transitional government.
Guaido self-proclaimed as president in charge, during an opposition demonstration on January 23rd, in an usurping act --- automatically recognized by Washington and other countries in the region, hostile to the legitimate Caracas authorities.
Faced with this scenario, the socialist leader called on the Venezuelan people to be brave and strong to fight in defense of the nation's sovereignty and the continuity of the Bolivarian Revolution.
During the coordination meeting of the Bolivarian Peoples Congress with members of the Bolivarian National Militia in Caracas, Social and Territorial Development Vice President, Aristobulo Isturiz, assured that Venezuela is living at a decisive moment in the struggle for sovereignty and independence.
Isturiz rejected the idea of a coup d'état in full swing 'to impose a model from Washington', accompanied by an international media campaign, aimed at disfiguring, before the world, the real situation of economic war, existing in the country, he said.
The Vice President claimed the Venezuelans' right - to resolve their internal affairs without foreign meddling.
Maduro wants to continue relations with the US, except ‘diplomacy and politics’ January 25th, at 3:38pm
Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro has said that he wants to continue his country’s relationship with the US, just not in the areas of “diplomacy and politics.” Maduro also said he is willing to hold talks with the opposition.
Speaking to the press for the first time since opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself interim president, on Wednesday, Maduro extended an olive branch to his opponent, who encouraged protests against the Maduro regime (sic) before declaring himself, president.
“We are not going to kill each other, the Venezuelan people,” he said. “We will solve our problems without violence.”
“If I have to go to talk with him (Guaidó), I am willing,” Maduro said. “Hopefully, sooner, rather than later, the opposition will get out of the way of extremism, and open a sincere dialogue.”
Maduro severed diplomatic ties with the US on Wednesday, after US President Donald Trump officially recognized Guaidó, as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.
US diplomats were given 72 hours to leave the country. The Trump administration initially rejected Maduro’s ultimatum, claiming he lacked the authority to make such a decision. However, “non-essential” US diplomats and embassy staff... were told to leave Venezuela “for security reasons”, on Thursday.
Maduro then ordered the closing of Venezuela’s embassy and consulates in the US, on Thursday evening.
In his speech to the press, on Friday, Maduro denounced US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s offer of $20 million in 'humanitarian aid' to Venezuela – to be given to opposition figures – and accused Washington of orchestrating a coup, to overthrow his government.
Mass street protests began on Monday, after a National Guard unit in Caracas, staged a mutiny. The soldiers were arrested, but protests swelled in the following days. Several people were killed in the demonstrations, which have since begun to peter out.
Civil unrest in Venezuela has been exacerbated by the country’s dire economic situation. Whereas the country’s oil wealth was once the envy of Latin America, government mismanagement and a global downturn in oil prices, have seen inflation skyrocket, and almost three million Venezuelans flee the country.
The US also sanctioned Maduro and a host of his officials and, before Guaidó’s declaration, it was mulling targeting the country’s oil industry.
Despite the belligerent rhetoric on either side, the United States remains a key customer of Venezuelan oil. The US imported around 17 million barrels per month, from socialist Venezuela, at the end of 2018 --- almost half of the country’s total oil exports.
(Source - RT)
Armed Forces Ratify Commitment to Venezuelan Sovereignty Caracas, January 24th, at 12:15pm
Prensa Latina - The Defense Minister, Vladimir Padrino, ratified, Thursday, the commitment of the Bolivarian National Armed Force (FANB), with the effective preservation of the Venezuelan people''s peace --- in the face of coup plans, led by the US, to violate its sovereignty.
In the Fuerte Tiuna Military Complex, in Caracas, the military leader issued an official statement, expressing absolute loyalty, in civic-military union, to the commander in chief, Nicolas Maduro, for the 2019-2025 term, and ignores any illegal act, adverse to the will of Venezuelans.
'For a long time, a vulgar coup d'état against the legitimately constituted government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, has been plotted, by far-right sectors, shamelessly sponsored by imperial agents', the FANB statement said.
In this regard, they described the acts as criminal, by flagrantly threatening the sovereignty and independence of the South American nation, reaching the limit of trying to establish a parallel government, lacking legality and popular support.
Padrino assured, this is a reedition of the April 2002 events, when, through a self-proclamation, an attempt was made to disregard the Magna Carta, and thus, dismantle the public powers, to leave the citizens in a defenseless state.
The FANB, 'faithful to the traditions inherited from the Liberator Simon Bolivar', assured that it would never accept a president imposed in the shadow of obscure interests, nor self-proclaimed, outside the law, the statement concluded.
Trump's coronation of Guaido as Venezuelan president - Al Capone redux by John Wight January 24th, at 00:18am
John Wight has written for a variety of newspapers and websites, including the Independent, Morning Star, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, London Progressive Journal, and Foreign Policy Journal.
Scour the history books and you will struggle to find an act of imperialism more brazen than US President Donald Trump’s de-recognition of Nicolas Maduro as Venezuela’s president.
In a scathing denouncement of the Mexican-American War of 1846-48, famed US Civil War General (and later president) Ulysses S Grant told a reporter, “We had no claim on Mexico. Texas had no claim beyond the Nueces River, and yet we pushed on to the Rio Grande, and crossed it. I am always ashamed of my country when I think of that invasion.”
The Mexican-American War was a war of plunder and conquest, on the part of a US ruling class, for whom, every country south of the Rio Grande, was then, as if by divine right, deemed subservient to Washington.
From then to now, the US has regarded Latin America as a wholly owned subsidiary, its primary function to serve Washington’s economic interests.
Any Latin American government that dared assert its country’s right to sovereign independence of the US in the years since, has found itself subjected to a campaign of subversion and attack, so blatant in gangsterism, it would have made Al Capone blush.
It was US Marine General Smedley Butler who famously said --- after retiring in 1931: “I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests, in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys, to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics, for the benefit of Wall Street.”
This is the context in which Trump’s public recognition of Venezuelan opposition leader, Juan Guaido, as interim president, should be weighed.
Starting from the beginning, ever since Hugo Chavez dared liberate Venezuela - from the iron grip of a US-controlled local oligarchy in the late 1990s - Washington has engaged in a concerted and unrelenting effort: to return the oil-rich country to its ‘rightful’ status, as a wholly owned subsidiary.
And what with Venezuela possessing the largest proven oil reserves in the world, for a Trump administration that evinces the characteristics of a New York mafia crime family, more than a democratic government, it was always inevitable, that this campaign would be ramped up rather than tamped down, upon the Orange One’s arrival in the White House, in 2016.
Venezuela’s current ‘legally elected’ president, Nicolas Maduro, took over the presidency after his mentor’s death from cancer in 2013, pledging to protect and continue the legacy of radical reforms Chavez inspired and introduced.
And, under the aegis of the Bolivarian Constitution, the achievements of those reforms, cannot be gainsaid.
The mass literacy program. known as Mission Robinson, was the biggest and most ambitious ever undertaken, its success recognized by UNESCO in 2005 when it declared Venezuela ‘illiteracy-free’.
Cuba, crucial to that success, was also involved in the establishment of health clinics, designed to provide free healthcare to the country’s poor.
Additionally, according to the UN, the quality of life of Venezuelans improved at the third highest rate in the world, between 2006-11. Poverty was cut from 48.6 percent in 2002 to 29.5 percent by 2011, while at the time of Chavez’s death, Venezuela had the lowest rate of income inequality, of any country in Latin America.
In order to achieve such outstanding outcomes, the Chavez government moved against the country’s US-backed oligarchy, seizing the assets of over 1,000 companies. It also nationalized oil fields owned by US oil giants Exxon Mobil and Conoco Phillips.
Price controls were introduced in order to ensure the affordability of basic necessities, which along with free education, healthcare and the constitutional right to a home ensured that the Bolivarian Revolution was a beacon of hope to the poor and marginalized, not just in Venezuela, but throughout the region and across the wider Global South.
On foreign policy, meanwhile, Chavez proved a formidable foe of US hegemony, taking every opportunity to denounce the history of Washington’s role in subverting democracy, human rights and national sovereignty throughout Latin America, educating the Venezuelan people, on the history of USA imperialism, in the process.
He sought and forged closer ties with Cuba, China, Russia and Iran – countries that likewise opposed and challenged US domination - and embarked on numerous initiatives throughout the region, to foment closer economic, political and cultural integration.
The fruits of this policy, were the establishment of the Latin American trading bloc, known as Mercosur, the economic, political & cultural integrationist project, known as ALBA, and the pan-Latin American television and media network, Telesur.
Prior to his death, Chavez also had ambitions to set up a regional development bank, in order to end dependence on the IMF and World Bank.
The legacy laid out above, is important to grasp, if serious about understanding why, for Washington - the Venezuela shaped and inspired by Hugo Chavez, could never be allowed to survive.
Since assuming office in 2013, Maduro has had to contend with a sharp drop in the price of oil, which, combined with a determined campaign conducted by a US-supported opposition, plus US sanctions, has plunged the country into a deepening economic, social & political crisis.
The result has been skyrocketing inflation and a shortage of basic goods on supermarket shelves, blamed, by Maduro, on an orchestrated policy by the opposition, of hoarding food supplies, in order to foment social unrest.
Now, with the crisis in the country reaching the point of critical mass, Trump’s coronation of Juan Guaido as interim president, marks the next and most blatant attack on a Bolivarian Revolution, whose only crime, since its inception, has been the crime of a good example.
(Source - RT)
Venezuela Repudiates US Coup Plans January 23rd, at 4pm
Prensa Latina - Venezuela's authorities maintain, on Tuesday, their alert, on the statements made by the Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, to sponsor a coup against the President of the Republic, Nicolás Maduro.
In a joint television and radio broadcast, made yesterday, the head of state, Nicolás Maduro, said that, before the insistent destabilizing actions of the national and international opposition, promoted by Washington, he told the Foreign Ministry to initiate 'a total and absolute revision of the relations - diplomatic and political - with the US authorities and, in the coming hours, we will make decisions. '
The official's statements were also condemned by the vice president of the Republic, Delcy Rodríguez, who stressed that his US counterpart promotes undermining the sovereignty of the South American country.
'Mike Pence appeals to his verbal incontinence, to give orders to Venezuelans, in a clear call to ignore the rule of law and to attempt rising against their legitimate and constitutional authorities!', Rodríguez wrote, in the social network Twitter.
He also noted that Pence believes he governs Venezuela, and stressed that this is not only outdated and retrograde but also - unequivocally - out of reality! 'We Venezuelans exercise national sovereignty, according to our laws, and we respect international law! -'
For his part, the Vice President of International Affairs of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), Adán Chávez, described the statements of the White House official as an act of total interference - to order the ignoring of the legitimately elected authorities.
Venezuelans want to build socialism and are willing to defend the homeland, from criminal actions, he noted.
'The great majority of this people want to continue in peace, building the Bolivarian Socialism, and we are ready to defend our Homeland, in the field, if that is necessary. With the ideas of Hugo Chávez, we will always win! ', he added.
In this regard, the Minister of Communication and Information, Jorge Rodríguez, emphasized that, again, the actions carried out in the last hours by the opposition, respond to the interests of the US government - to generate the scenario of a coup d'état in the South American nation.
'Mike Pence gives them the order to burn, to kill, to perpetuate acts of false positives on January 23rd. The entire hoax that pursues - is to promote destabilization and violence in Venezuela', he said.
Through a video posted on Twitter, Pence again, insisted that the Venezuelan leader is 'a dictator, without a legitimate right to power.'
At the same time he sent a message of support for the march that the Venezuelan right called for today, in order to promote 'the steps of a transitional government.'
Bolsonaro Government Threatens to Close MST Schools January 22nd, at 9:46am
Prensa Latina - The government of President Jair Bolsonaro threatens to close the schools of the Landless Workers'' Movement (MST), despite the recognized quality of these educational centres, Rede Brasil Atual website denounces, on Tuesday.
According to the source, MST schools are at risk and even more so, when the special secretary of the Fundamental Affairs of the Executive, Luiz Antônio Nabhan, stated that he will work to close the schools, called, by him, 'dictators' small factories'.
According to Nabhan, 'Brazil cannot accept Marxists, Leninists, Bolivarians' schools, which teach children to invade and commit crimes. We are going to close those schools, and punish those responsible for indoctrination.'
In contrast, the official, who is also the president of the Rural Democratic Union (UDR), representative of the Brazilian landowners, defended the land- owner's right to react with bullets, when the property is invaded.
Bolsonaro also said that he will not dialogue with the movement and threatened to put an end to agrarian reform processes, a measure, among many, from which, he has had to back down.
The MST has responded that it does not indoctrinate children and all settlement schools are public and comply with the guidelines approved by the Ministry of Education and recognized, for their high results.
Venezuela’s supreme court declares all acts of opposition-led National Assembly, illegal Published time: 21st of January, at 5:57pm
Venezuela’s Supreme Court has declared all acts of the country’s National Assembly null and void, days after the opposition-held assembly declared President Nicolas Maduro’s election illegitimate.
The National Assembly, is a 167-seat legislature - currently headed by Juan Guaidó of the Popular Will party – a fierce opponent of Maduro, who had been taking part in protests against him and has called for the country’s military to depose the president.
Maduro already declared the National Assembly illegitimate in 2017, and created a new legislature - the Constituent National Assembly - to replace it, where all seats are currently held by pro-Maduro parties. As Maduro lacks the Constitutional power to outright dissolve the National Assembly, both houses have functioned alongside each other, since 2017, with the CNA given power to overrule legislation passed by the National Assembly.
Maduro was sworn in last week after winning re-election last May. The opposition-led assembly and a coalition of neighboring countries, declared Maduro’s election illegitimate.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Maduro’s election “illegitimate” and a “sham,” and vowed to keep up diplomatic pressure on the Venezuelan government.
Guaidó was briefly detained by secret police en route to a rally last week. Maduro insisted that Guaidó’s arrest was not government-ordered, and may have been staged for the media.
The Supreme Court’s announcement comes amid news of anti-government demonstrations in the country’s capital, as well as a mutiny by a National Guard unit stationed in a slum neighborhood near the Presidential Palace. Government forces arrested 40 National Guardsmen and fired tear gas at protesters, in the early hours of Monday morning.
Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said on Twitter that the rogue soldiers will “be punished with the full weight of the law.”
Video footage from the neighborhood shows protesters lighting fires, and blocking the streets with barricades.
The ongoing crisis in Venezuela is being closely followed by US media and politicians, the majority of whom are openly anti-Maduro. Vice President Mike Pence has expressed support for Guaidó, calling the National Assembly the “only legitimate body in the country,” while Florida Senator Marco Rubio has repeatedly called Maduro’s government “illegitimate” and pressed for regime change in the Latin American country.
Venezuela has been mired by hyperinflation, starvation, and a refugee crisis, that has seen almost three million Venezuelans flee the country. Washington has blamed the socialist economic policies of Maduro and his mentor, Hugo Chavez, for the deepening crisis, while passing sanctions against the Maduro government officials. The latest major batch of sanctions was in September, signed by President Donald Trump, who once announced he is “not going to rule out a military option” in addressing the crisis in Venezuela.
(Source - RT)
President of Bolivia Calls for Giving the Right a 'Blow' in Elections January 20th, at 8:38am
Prensa Latina - The president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, has called on the people on Sunday to give a ''blow'' to the right in the primary elections on January 27th --- after assessing massive rallies supporting his candidacy.
Morales said that those demonstrations in favor of the ruling Movement Toward Socialism (MAS,) are a warning towards the national elections, and a spontaneous and voluntary reaction against the lies, humiliations and offenses, spread by the opposition.
At a rally to proclaim the Evo-Alvaro candidacy at the Guadalquivir Coliseum in Tarija, Morales described that the worst offense and 'crime' of the right, against Bolivians, is to present candidates for elections, without any government program.
'Politics is a science - of service to the people,' he said.
He affirmed that his political movement will always be, to support the neediest, while announcing his great desire --- of reaching 2025 with 100 percent of the population with water services, and electricity, and continuing to reduce poverty in the country.
The political organizations enabled for the primary and general elections are: Third System Movement (MTS), Bolivian National Action Party (PAN-BOL), Movement toward Socialism (MAS), Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (MNR), Citizen Community Alliance (CC), Civic Solidarity Unit (UCS), 'Bolivia Says No' alliance, Christian Democratic Party (PDC) and the Front for Victory (FPV).
Diosdado Cabello Urges Venezuelan People to Support Maduro January 18th, 2019.
Prensa Latina - Diosdado Cabello, First Vice President of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), on Friday, has called on the Venezuelan people to support President Nicolas Maduro''s administration - in the face of an onslaught from the national and the international right, against constitutionality.
During an act of popular support for the Bolivarian Revolution, held in Sucre state, the political leader stated that:
'imperialism and its lackeys must be very clear - that we will defend what has been achieved and what is about to be achieved'.
In this regard, Cabello evoked Commander Hugo Chavez's request, to remain united, civically and militarily, in the defense of national sovereignty.
''We don't meddle with anybody - we demand respect. We must remember Commander Chavez's command - to remain united - to defend the Homeland. We are forced to defend ourselves', the National Constituent Assembly President stated.
He also affirmed that the socialist militancy, together with the Popular Power, will be aware, and face the opposition pretensions - which called for a mobilization on January 23rd - to 'disregard' the Head of State.
He stressed that the 'right wing wants to frighten us - who have come from the street - where we have learned how to defend what we want. If they cross the line, on January 23rd - we all go to Caracas.
Cabello emphasized that, with the call for gathering, the Venezuelan people will pay tribute to the popular leaders who fought in 1958 for the Marcos Perez Jimenez dictatorship's overthrow, who were later betrayed by the right wing leaderships.
''We are going to the streets on January 23rd, to remind the world, that Venezuela will not be betrayed again. We are going to tell those who sold this country, that they are not going to continue betraying and manipulating this people', the PSUV leader asserted.
He also indicated that the right wing elements lack seriousness in their political actions, which is why they use media shows to post negative arguments against the Bolivarian government.
UN Stresses Concern over Assassinations of Social Leaders in Colombia January 13th, at 9:17am
Prensa Latina - The representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia, Alberto Brunori, has urged the Government of Ivan Duque to urgently take measures --- to halt the increasing number of assassinations of social leaders.
Brunori expressed concern over the rise of crimes against human rights defenders and land claimers in regions of Cauca department, southwestern Colombia.
In the first few days of 2019 there are many dead, most in Cauca, stressed the UN representative alluding to the killing of seven social leaders in the first week of the year.
The Italian political scientist hailed the Government's meeting last Friday, in which a Plan of Timely Action was discussed. It envisions a strategy to counter social violence in Colombia. However, he stressed that urgent measures should be taken quickly, to put up a system aimed at guaranteeing protection for social leaders.
According to the nation's Ombudsman Office, since the signing of the Peace Agreements two years ago, some 358 Colombian have been murdered for their political beliefs or for being linked to social demands.
Human rights organizations believe the figure is higher, tagging it at over 400, including nearly 100 former fighters of the former guerrilla Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces - People's Army.
On Saturday, Colombia's Attorney General, Nestor Martinez, admitted - for the first time - that there is a pattern of systematic killings of social leaders.
Obrador: Fourth Transformation to End Corruption in Mexico January 12th, at 6:55am
Prensa Latina - The Fourth Transformation of Public Life has already begun, not a governmental change, but a change of regime, and this is also going to end Mexico's main problem, corruption, insisted President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, on Saturday.
The president, in a speech in Guerrero's mountains, where he launched the pension increase program for pensioners and senior citizens, he asked: 'why, in such a rich country, with such a working people, there is so much poverty?'
And he answered: 'because of the cancer of corruption. And that's going to end.'
He reflected on the issue and said that Mexico's problem is not a lack of money to budget, it is corruption. 'What is already being done?' He asked again. 'Well, don't allow it,' and he gave as an example, the theft of gasoline, one of his main current battles:
'When I assumed government,' he said, 'from the very first days I was informed of an average of 800 pipes of 20,000 litres of gasoline a day being stolen, they overwhelmed me, and I said, 'It's over'.
'We now have pressures, resistance, but let's see who gets tired first. Corruption will not be allowed,' he insisted.
'Do you know how much was stolen last year, in just fuel? 65 billion pesos (three billion 260 million dollars) and with impunity. That money is no longer going to be stolen -- and that money is going to be used, everything we save, to support the people.'
He announced that luxury in government is also ending.
'I don't live in Los Pinos (presidential houses) and the executive plane is already for sale, in California.'
'We're going to sell the whole aircraft fleet, helicopter fleet, government fleet. We are going to make, in the Santa Lucia military airport, an international fair, for buyers to come and, in sets, we are going to sell 80 airplanes and helicopters - to be used for the senior public service.'
'There can be no rich government with poor people,' he said.
'We have already lowered the salaries of the top, because we are raising the wages of those below. For the first time in thirty years, the minimum wage was increased by 16 percent.'
'We are also going to guarantee health rights, medical attention, free medicines,' although he admitted that this is going to be harder, 'because the national health system is very bad, there are no doctors, there are no nurses, and we have to resolve this situation, step by step.'
China,Russia, Strengthen Ties with Venezuela January 12th, at 6:40am
Prensa Latina - China and Russia's high-level delegations held - on Saturday - meetings with the Venezuelan Vice President, Delcy Rodriguez, to strengthen cooperation ties between their respective countries, and the South American nation.
Representatives of China's Popular Bank, headed one of the meetings with Rodriguez, according to information released in Caracas, by the vice presidency's office. She also exchanged views with Ilyas Umakhanov, VP of the Russian Federation Council of the Federal Assembly, as part of the strategic alliance between both countries.
Delegations from Belarus, Syria, Palestine and other governments and international organizations, met with Caracas Executive authorities, as part of the country's peace diplomacy.
The international delegations are in the country after participating this January 10th, in Nicolas Maduro's inauguration, for his 2019-2025 presidential term.
Ninety-four delegations from countries such as Cuba, Bolivia, El Salvador and Ecuador, attended the swearing-in ceremony.