Monthly Archives: October 2009

Unity in Latin America

The presidents of Venezuela and Equador are agreed that independence of the region depends on co-operation between them. Presidents Chavez and Correa also spoke of strengthening ALBA across the region their joint interest (“the Bolivarian Alliance for the peoples of Our America (ALBA), which also includes Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Honduras, Nicaragua, and San Vicente and the Grenadines.”)
At the same time Cuban doctors are going to Venezuela to help build primary care services. Venezuela is following Cuba’s example training its own community-based doctors.

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Palestinians harvest tear gas cannisters instead of olives as Obama picks up a peace prize

Rather mixed reactions to the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Barack Obama at this stage. Palestinians resent it deeply wondering why Bush wasn’t offered it. Fidel Castro has acknowledged the changes in international relations with a shift to diplomacy not present before.
The Palestinians can be forgiven for not noticing as my good friend Kamel Hawwash from Birmingham amplifies. News from Bil’in reports the customary peaceful delegation to the apartheid wall which divides the farmers from their crops. Accompanied by a large delegation of French supporters and armed with sacks they go to harvest the olives. They are met with a barrage of tear gas and so the canisters are collected instead of the precious olives.

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Energy bills. More huge profits at our expense from “Treasure Island”

The Independent highlights the great “rip-off” by the big 6 energy suppliers to Britain’s homes. While oil prices have gone down substantially energy bills haven’t.
Is any of this coming out at the major party conferences? If so I didn’t notice as they announce more trivia and fight among themselves who are the best preservers of Capitalism. I have recently changed my supplier (again) following advice from U-Switch which didn’t give any mention of the new alternative providers

Napalm, phosphorus ….someone manufactures this, someone sells it …and someone feels it

I was watching a DVD about the British composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams whose music has recently been re-evaluated. The comments about it expressing rural scenes like “cows looking over gates” is clearly far removed from the Third (“Pastoral”) symphony as possible. First of all the landscape isn’t English, but that of France in the middle of the First World War where VW had volunteered for ambulance duty. In the film use is made of that utterly horrific picture of a naked child ablaze after the use of napalm in Vietnam. I don’t quite know why it was felt necessary to use this to point out what was in the composer’s mind in his violent outburst in the Fourth symphony but we know he was a humanitarian with socialist ideals. Whether he did or he didn’t clearly the lessons of Vietnam were not heeded. Not by the US in Iraq. Not by the Israeli government in Gaza. Some early eyewitnesses spoke of the horrible injuries civilians, including women and children were sustaining – even animals on farms and in the zoo! These are all war crimes and the Hague awaits the perpetrators in time.

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Colombia and human rights

While concern has been expressed about US bases proliferating in Colombia giving rise to concerns in neighbouring countries like Venezuela it has to be said that President Uribe is not getting things all his way from President Obama. Uribe wanted to alter the constitution to gain further time in office to which Obama replied that if two terms were good enough for the US then that was good enough for Colombia. Obama went on to show concern for human rights abuses: extra judicial executions and curtailment of unions for example.
The Union of South American nations (UNASUR) has been holding meetings and giving presidents of countries such as Bolivia support as they seek to free themselves of US domination. Noam Chomsky has written an article speaking of the significance of this.

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If this can happen in California…

California it is assumed is America yet the economic crisis has brought it low with poverty stricken citizens queuing for health care from mobile clinics. As the home of Hollywood, manufacturer of “the American Dream” it is supposed to epitomise the Capitalist success which is emulated everywhere. The ratings of the former film star governor it is said “would make George W. Bush blush”.
As with the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans the internal poverty within the seemingly wealthiest of nations is astounding. Compare this with health care and general concern for well being of the population in those much poorer countries such as Cuba where health care and education is a priority for everyone. This is being translated into the emerging socialist nations of Latin America long dominated by wealthy European elites with the support of the United States and European nations with whom they are connected.

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Are members of the Israeli Defence force human beings?

Reports from Israeli occupation of Palestine is often unbelievable. How sick is this?
Palestinian Youth Murdered by Israeli Army
On Wednesday, 30 September 2009, the Israeli army murdered a Palestinian youth outside his school, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam high school in Yabad village, west of Jenin. This school had been closed from 2001-2006.
Around 11:35am, a military jeep with the license plate number 655474 left the main road to turn into the access road to the school where a group of male students gathered close to the main entrance of the school. The jeep was driving at a fast speed and targeted Foad Mahmoud Naiyf Turkuman (age 17) who was crouching down close to a small concrete wall. According to eye witnesses (one of his teachers and three of his friends), the jeep hit Foad directly and pushed him against the wall. Due to the impact, Foad was thrown 2.5 meters and fell to the ground in front of the vehicle. The driver of the jeep then drove his vehicle forward running two wheels over Foad’s chest and torso of the already injured youth a second time. He then stopped the engine and called for reinforcement, claiming mechanical failure. The driver of the jeep closed the gate of the school and did not allow any of the teachers’ cars to go out and take the injured student from the ground, or help him.
A second jeep with the license plate number 611041 arrived. The newly arrived soldiers threw tear gas at three friends of Foad’s standing nearby as well as into the school court yard to prevent anyone from coming to the scene. About 24 students were injured by the tear gas. Eventually, the second jeep towed the first one away to underline the claimed mechanical failure. While the media portrayed the event as an accident, the Palestinians clearly see it as a deliberate murder. Some witnesses documented the event with their mobile phone cameras.
When Foad’s brother, Mahdi Mahmoud Naiyf Turkuman ran to the scene to help his brother, the soldiers blocked his way. He injured his wrist when he slammed his hand against the jeep in an attempt to get through. As teachers and students tried to come to Foad’s rescue, saying that they will call an ambulance to take him to the hospital, the soldiers allegedly asked what was the problem and if anyone was injured!
Foad, who was seriously injured, was left unattended for 30 minutes because the army prohibited anyone from approaching. Finally, the teachers and a relative were allowed to rescue him and take him to Jenin hospital in a relative’s private car. He died from his injuries at the hospital an hour later. His brother Mahdi had to be sedated by injection since he witnessed the murder of his own brother and was in shock.
Eye witnesses mentioned that the soldiers obviously assumed that the boys were about to throw stones. Since the Israeli army is not supposed to use their guns on stone throwers, they seemed to have opted to use their jeep as a weapon instead.
Most of the students were in their classes, but a few were finishing up and going to their homes.
Foad’s family, who are refugees from Haifa since 1948, decided to file suit for murder against the Israeli army.

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Read what Hugo has to say for yourself. Don’t rely on the western press for a fair view!

Three years ago when Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela, spoke at the United Nations he said he could still smell sulphur. Famously he compared President George W. Bush with “The Devil”! This year he found following President Obama that he could “smell hope”.
There is a whole lot in the interview with Chavez that is worth reading. His view of the situation in Honduras where he speaks of the “fear of democracy” referring to Noam Chomsky’s writing. He refers to US bases in Colombia and to attempts to destabilise governments in Equador and Brazil. What we see is unity on the left which has successfully resisted attempts at a right wing backlash. while Chavez refers to “a revolution” he points out that this has come from the ballot box not the by armed insurrection.

Equador Indians fight against exploitation of land

The Indian population of Equador are fighting back against the government’s proposals to allow companies the rights to prospect oil and minerals on their lands. Deaths occurred in clashes with police. The President called their protests “infantile” but perhaps he ought to remember that the Indian community had a marked effect on the election of presidents in 2000 and 2005.
While socialism is becoming a growing force in Latin America in contrast to trends in western countries where, as in Germany, moves have been to the right in spite of the massive lessons of the collapse of Capitalism, clearly there is still much to be done to support indigenous populations against exploitation bt multinationals.

Peddling death and destruction

I used to visit Farnborough Air Show regularly either by train to Farnborough station to be shuttled by the “Pants and Corsets” (Hants and Dorset) buses to the display. I narrowly missed the day that John Derry’s de Haviland 110 crashed killing a number of onlookers. As a youngster hearing that aircraft breaking the sound barrier (as in the film of that name) was a common occurrence at the time. This was until the practice was banned. (I think of the Palestinians today who have to suffer as Israeli jets deliberately do this as one of the means of making their lives unbearable).
On one occasion my Father took me with a friend to Wattisham air base in Suffolk where we sat in the cockpit of the then new Hawker Hunter. Even the Hunter pilot cowered as we were driven to a nearby farm by the farmer as he drove his large and powerful car at what seemed terrific speed along the narrow lanes! One of the features of Farnborough was the display by the Red Arrows with red, white and blue smoke leaving trails in the sky as they loped and dived over the airfield. Four helicopters from the Fleet Air Arm performed a barn dance and one year we were introduced to the “flying test bed” (obviously nicknamed the “flying bedstead”) which I think itself crashed later on) long before vertical take off became a reality. Aircraft of all shapes and sizes, military and civil took to the skies and skimmed at a;most head height along the runways to roar upwards, afterburners blazing. Valiant, Vulcan Victor were all present and every year there were new surprises, not least the English Electric P1 which some wag renamed the “English Electric Shock”.
The air of romance lingers from these memories, but I am brought crashing to earth with reality of the arms industry and the big business it represents. British Aerospace today manufactures a whole range of deadly arsenal with very little of its output for civil purposes.

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