Thursday, 31 December 2009

Chinese mass media building int'l communication capabilities 2009-12-31

BEIJING, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) -- China Xinhua News Network Corporation (CNC), a TV news network owned by Xinhua News Agency, will broadcast in the Asia-Pacific region and some European countries, starting from Jan. 1, 2010.

"The launch of the CNC is an important move for Xinhua to enrich the agency's business sectors, and embrace the multi-media world," Xinhua President Li Congjun said at a launching ceremony in Beijing Thursday.

The newly launched CNC World News channel will broadcast TV programs in Chinese around the clock, including news events and special news bulletins. The CNC Finance and Business channel will be launched simultaneously.

The CNC will develop to include news-related interviews, news analyses, documentaries and other information services.

The CNC World News also plans to broadcast English programs from July, 2010. News pieces in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and Russian will also be broadcast in the future.

Xinhua is working to transform itself into a multi-media world news agency. It started to provide multi-media services in Chinese in December 2008 and English multi-media services in July 2009.

"Xinhua's expanding multi-media services makes it possible to set up a TV network," Li said. "We will make efforts to expand both domestic and overseas services using all kinds of networks and media including overseas TV channels, the Internet, mobile phones and LED screens."

"We oppose the pursuit of commercial value at the cost of media's social responsibility and strive to provide quality products so as to build an international news network with Chinese characteristics and global impact."

Xinhua will work closely with world-class media, such as CNN and BBC, and draw on their experiences. But "CNC is not CNN," said Li.

To Build Modern Communication System

To build a well-off society, "we should build a modern communication system, further promote communication capacity both at home and abroad, and create a sound social environment," Chinese President Hu Jintao said in his letter to commemorate the 50th anniversary of establishment of China Central Television (CCTV) at the end of 2008.

The year 2009 witnessed multiple efforts by Chinese media to strengthen their capabilities of international cross-cultural communication.

Xinhua launched, together with eight other world media organizations, and hosted the World Media Summit from Oct. 8 to 10,2009, with representatives from more than 170 media organizations gathering in Beijing.

President Hu said at the summit that the Chinese government support Chinese media to cooperate with their foreign counterparts on news coverage, human resources, and information technology, etc.

Xinhua and the United Nations Children's Fund co-sponsored the "Global News Day for Children", a global media campaign to launch a 24-hour multimedia "relay" coverage of children's well-being on six continents on Nov. 20.

Xinhua has set up 35 LED screens in Europe to broadcast live news and special coverage and the number of LED screens is expected to reach 100 in the first quarter of 2010.

Chinese media's cross-cultural communication capabilities still can not meet the demand of foreign audience for the comprehensive and objective coverage of China.

Some domestic events were distorted in other countries because of the inadequate cross-cultural communication capacity, said MingAnxiang, media researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"A country without its own voice cannot ensure its national image is not distorted by foreign media. So it is necessary to build our own media with international communication capabilities to make our own voices heard and present a true national image," Ming said.

To Improve Awareness of Dialogue

The World Media Summit calls on media organizations to provide accurate, objective, impartial and fair news coverage, promote transparency and accountability of governments and public institutions, and thus facilitate the mutual understanding as well as exchange of views and ideas among peoples from different countries and regions, as stated in the joint statement.

According to Professor Chen Weixing with the research center of international communication under the Communication University of China based in Beijing, those challenging China in its international communication include differences in political system and culture. China needs to improves its awareness of dialogue in international cross-cultural communication.

Li Congjun said that to use different frequently-spoken languages is an important step in cross-cultural communication. The CNC World News would provide overseas audience with international news stories from a Chinese prospective and China's domestic news stories from international prospectives, Li noted.

Over the past three decades, Chinese mass media gained momentum in development and also gained more strength. Some media organizations are now able to explore international markets.

The Global Times, which is affiliated to the People's Daily, the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), put on market its English version in April this year.

Zhang Yong, the executive editor-in-chief of the English version of the Global Times, told Xinhua that his newspaper, as the second nationwide English newspaper after China Daily, would reflect voices from common people and try to integrate them with those from officials.

China Central Television, or CCTV, kicked off an Arabian-language and a Russian-language channel this year and plans to start a Portuguese-language channel.

China Radio International opened many new channels in Australia, the United States and Mongolia this year. It plans to expand its English broadcasting services in Houston, the United States, from six hours to 24 hours a day in 2010.

In September, Qiushi, or Seeking Truth literally in Chinese, which is the official publication of the Central Committee of the CPC, began to issue its English-version quarterly journal.

Telling Chinese Stories in Internationalized Way

Zhao Qizheng, head of Journalism School under the Renmin University in Beijing, said since foreigners differ from Chinese in both languages and ways of thinking, to let foreigners understand thoughts, behaviors and values of Chinese people, both the language and culture should be "translated". That is to say, to tell Chinese stories to the outside world, languages and manners that are understandable and acceptable to foreign audience should be employed.

It is believed that the foreign language channel of SMG, the broadcasting and television station of Shanghai, has set an good example in this respect.

This year the channel produced a reality TV program featuring foreigners in Shanghai, which was the first of its kind in the Chinese mainland. The program, dubbed Shanghai Rush, allowed foreign participants from different countries and regions to "travel" among different tourist destinations of the metropolis during their contests, which demonstrated the city's cultural attractions to the outside world.

Rebecca Jane Miller, a 20-year-old from Newcastle of Britain, told Xinhua that she loves TV programs that are full of sense of reality and Shanghai Rush is of the same style as those in her hometown.

Twelve episodes of Shanghai Rush, according to its producer XiaJing, have been sold to WaTV of Malaysia, which covers two million households. New York City TV has also expressed intention of buying the program.

Editor: Wang Guanqun

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Chinese people cool-headed as China poised to be the world's 2nd largest economy 2009-12-26 15:26:07

by Xinhua writer Zhang Zhengfu

BEIJING, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- China revised its 2008 gross domestic product (GDP) to 4.52 trillion U.S. dollars at the average exchange rate of 2008, narrowing the gap with Japan, the world's second largest economy with a GDP of 4.9 trillion U.S. dollars for the same year.

The revision resulted from China's second economic census which raised the country's 2008 economic growth rate to 9.6 percent from9 percent.

Given an estimate of more than 8 percent growth rate for China in 2009, accompanied by Japan's shrinking economy amid the global economic downturn, the country, currently the world's third largest economy, was poised to overtake Japan as the second largest.

"It is only a matter of time before China's total economic volume surpass that of Japan given China's robust growth," said Xu Lianzhong, a researcher with the National Development and Reform Commission.

However, Xu said the new figures coupled with the prospect of catching up with Japan in terms of total economic volume next year should serve as no cause for self-complacency.

"It is not so important to compare the total GDP with that of the Japan or other developed nations," said Zuo Xiaolei, chief economist with the Galaxy Securities.

"What matters more is the per capita figure, and in the case of China, the total figure has to be divided by 1.3 billion," said Xu.

In 2008, China's per capita GDP was 3,200 U.S. dollars, less than a third of the world's average or a tenth of Japan's 38,000 U.S. dollars, according to the World Bank's estimates.

Eclipsing Japan in total economic volume wouldn't change the fact of China being a developing country, not least because China lagged far behind the developed nations in many areas, said Zuo

"There are still wide gaps between China and the developed countries in per capita GDP, the quality of economic development, and science and technological levels," said Xu.

Zuo said China should place more emphasis on lifting the quality of economic development and solving structural problems in the economy.

These cool-headed interpretations were echoed by ordinary people in Beijing.

Zhang Ning, a civil servant at the Beijing Municipal Government, said, "the total amount may be pleasing to the ear, and I feel proud of China becoming more economically advanced, but you had to divide that by a huge denominator."

"We should not be misled by the absolute figures and the ranking. China still has a lot of work to do in improving the people's living standards and building a better social security system," said Gao Shan, a college student in China's Foreign Affairs University in Beijing.

China currently has 150 million people living in poverty and is faced with daunting challenges in poverty alleviation, according to the National Development and Reform Commission.

A report released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Thursday ranked China the 7th in the world in overall strength. The relatively low ranking came as no surprise to most Chinese people.

"China has a long way to go before its education, science and technology could match with developed countries," said a netizen by the name Guxin at the online forum of, a leading Chinese portal website.

China was also burdened with the daunting task of cutting greenhouse gas emissions per unit of GDP by 40 to 45 percent by 2020 from the 2005 level, and the marginal cost was set to rise in the future, said Zou Ji, a professor with Renmin University of China.

Editor: An

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

‘Ceausescu looked in my eyes, and he knew that he was going to die’

A former soldier is haunted by the memory of the Christmas Day firing squad that killed Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena

Roger Boyes - THE TIMES

Christmas Day memories are made of this: a turkey dinner, exchanging gifts, watching television, family togetherness, peace on Earth and goodwill to all men. Dorin-Marian Cirlan’s abiding memory is of the Christmas Day he shot a dictator.

“I know what I would rather have been doing,” said Mr Cirlan, who was a member of the three-man squad that killed Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, on December 25, 1989. “As a Christian it is a horrible thing to have to take someone’s life — and that on Christmas Day, that holy holiday.”

Mr Cirlan was in the elite 64th Boteni parachute regiment when Romania crumpled in the 1989 revolution. Unlike the upheavals in Poland, East Germany, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, blood was spilt — some of it on Mr Cirlan’s paratrooper boots.

“You have to picture how it was then,” Mr Cirlan said. “Rumours were swirling — there was panic everywhere on the radio, on television, even on the army radio frequencies. It was like the coming of the Apocalypse.”

Related Links
Dictator who was blind to his fate
The paratroopers had gone over to the side of the revolutionaries; some of their units were fighting agents of the Securitate secret police around the Bucharest television tower. But Mr Cirlan — 27 at the time and a non-commissioned officer — was at regimental headquarters in Boteni, about 30 miles (50km) outside the capital.

“Many army leaders were beginning to break down under the intense pressure.” Someone, it was never clear who, had placed Soviet-made electronic devices around their barracks, creating a loud drone, the sound of explosions. It was psychological warfare at its crudest. Was it a revolution, a Russian-backed coup d’état? Even now there is not much clarity about who was pulling the strings.

Into this maelstrom, early on Christmas Day, came two helicopters. “Our commander needed eight volunteers. We didn’t know where we were going, which is against the military code — every soldier should be told his mission.”

Mr Cirlan has put on weight — his stomach pushes against the waistband of his grey suit — but he still has a military bearing; a sergeant’s ashen moustache. He is a lawyer now, vetting contracts for foreign property dealers. As we sat chatting for three hours in a draughty Bucharest café near Ceausescu’s former Palace of the People, my eye was drawn constantly to his right hand, to the trigger finger.

“We flew at high speed, very low, zig-zagging in our Puma helicopters to avoid radar.” They touched down in Bucharest near the military cemetery and were joined by officers from the military justice department. Mr Cirlan recognised only one man, General Victor Stanculescu.

“He was just like an English gentleman — very elegant.” General Stanculescu had been the favourite of Elena Ceausescu, had briefly taken over command of the army and had now changed sides. “We had a lot of time for him. He knew how to talk to soldiers, had looked after us, arranged coffee and cigarettes for the troops.”

This week the general, undergoing treatment in a prison hospital, has argued in interviews with the Romanian press that the Soviet KGB had helped to plan the toppling of Ceausescu for almost a year, that the United States was aware of a plot and that Russian GRU (military intelligence) were among those firing in Bucharest and Timisoara to increase the sense of menace and accelerate a popular uprising. Twenty years ago though, to Mr Cirlan and his comrades, General Stanculescu seemed to be the only officer who knew what he was doing.

To reassure the garrison in Tirgoviste, where the Ceausescus were being held, one of the officers had unfurled a long yellow scarf that had briefly got caught in the rotors — a code that they were on the side of the revolutionaries. General Stanculescu barked out: “Paratroopers to me!” The Ceausescus, he said, were about to be “judged by the people”. If the verdicts were to be death, he needed soldiers ready to carry out the sentence.

“Who is ready?” All eight men stepped forward. “Those ready to shoot, raise your hands!” All eight raised their hand. Impatient, the general barked: “You, you and you!” The three men were Captain Iomel Boeru, Sergant-Major Georghin Octavian and Mr Cirlan.

The captain was ordered to sit in the makeshift courtroom and shoot the Ceausescus if anyone tried to break in and rescue them. Mr Cirlan and Mr Octavian were supposed to stand guard outside the room.

“I could hear everything through the door,” Mr Cirlan said, “and I knew then that there was something wrong with the trial. Elena was complaining, refusing to recognise the court. The so-called defence lawyers were acting like prosecutors. But I was a soldier obeying orders. It was only later that I realised what a mockery it all was.”

The verdict was read out after a few hours. The Ceausescus were sentenced to death. They had ten days to appeal, but the sentence was to be carried out immediately. A nod to Kafka.

There was a confused silence. Death — now? The dictator and his wife were tied up but not blindfolded. As Mr Cirlan helped to frogmarch the dictator along the corridor, he heard a shout: “Get on with it! The US Sixth Fleet has just sent a helicopter force to rescue them! Move! Move! Do it!”

“Take them to the wall,” General Stanculescu said. “First him, then her.”

But the Ceausescus did not know what was happening until they were led past the helicopters to an outbuilding. “He looked in my eyes and realised that he was going to die now, not at some time in the future, and he started to cry,” Mr Cirlan said. “It was very important to me, that moment. I still have nightmares about it. That look.”

The dictator was lined up with his wife — she had insisted on their dying together — and yelled: “Death to the traitors!” He puffed out his chest and started to sing the Socialist Internationale: “Arise, wretched of the Earth! Arise prisoners of hunger!”

He never reached the fourth line: “This is the eruption of the end / of the past, let us wipe the slate clean.”

“We were told to fire 30 rounds each into them. From the hip. As paratroopers. Not as a firing squad, where some of the shooters have real bullets, some blanks, so that no one has to live with the feeling of being an executioner. We fired live,” Mr Cirlan said, his thick trigger finger unconsciously mimicking his actions of 20 years ago.

“After shooting seven rounds into Ceausescu, the gun jammed. I changed magazines and shot a full 30 rounds into Elena. She flew backwards with the force of it all. We started at about a metre range and then walked steadily backwards, still firing, so that we wouldn’t be caught by a ricochet.”

Elena’s blood splattered on his uniform. The back of her skull had fallen away. “She didn’t die easily. She was in spasms,” Mr Cirlan shook his head at the memory. “I had never even killed a chicken before.”

Behind the three-man squad, two other soldiers had joined in the shooting. One had lost his brother in the Timisoara rising a few days earler and wanted revenge.

“I was angry too when I shot Ceausescu. Until the Timisoara revolt in mid-December, I had been a true- believing communist. What else? Even in kindergarten we hadn’t sung songs about nature and sunsets but about the genius of Ceausescu and how he was our national father. But then the army was used to shoot civilians and it made me, many of us, question everything. I was furious with Ceausescu for betraying socialism.”

After the executions — “it wasn’t a trial, it was a political assassination in the middle of a revolution” — Mr Cirlan was edged out of his army career. He studied law.

Captain Boeru later rose to the rank of colonel and retired. Mr Octavian became a taxi driver. “We don’t meet up any more,” Mr Cirlan said, “because we always end up talking about the same thing.

“Now I try to live according to the teachings of the Bible. But I can’t be happy on Christmas Day, not ever. Across the world, Christians are celebrating. But not me. Not me.”

An edited transcript of the Ceausescus' trial

Chief prosecutor

Esteemed chairman of the court, today we have to pass a verdict on the defendants Nicolae Ceausescu and Elena Ceausescu, who have committed the following offences: crimes against the people. They carried out acts that are incompatible with human dignity and social thinking; they acted in a despotic and criminal way; they destroyed the people whose leaders they claimed to be. Because of the crimes they committed against the people, I plead, on behalf of the victims of these two tyrants, for the death sentence. [He then reads from a bill of indictment, listing genocide, destruction of state buildings and undermining the economy].


Did you hear the charges? Have you understood?


I do not answer, I will only answer questions before the Grand National Assembly. I do not recognise this court. The charges are incorrect, and I will not answer a single question here.


Note: he does not recognise the points mentioned in the bill of indictment.


I will not answer any question. Not a single shot was fired in Palace Square. Not a single shot. No one was shot.


By now, there have been 34 casualties.

Elena Ceausescu

Look, and that they are calling genocide.


In all district capitals there is shooting going on. The people were slaves. The entire intelligentsia ran away.

Elena Ceausescu

The intelligentsia of the country will hear what you are accusing us of.


Nicolae Ceausescu should tell us why he does not answer our questions. What prevents him from doing so?

Ceausescu I will answer any question, but only at the Grand National Assembly, before the representatives of the working class. Tell the people that I will answer all their questions. All the world should know what is going on here.

Prosecutor What are you really?


I repeat: I am the President of Romania and the Commander in Chief of the Romanian Army. I am the president of the people. I will not speak with you provocateurs any more, and I will not speak with the organisers of the putsch and with the mercenaries. I have nothing to do with them.


Please, make a note: Ceausescu does not recognise the new legal structures of power of the country. He still considers himself to be the country’s President and the Commander in Chief of the Army. Why did you ruin the country? Why did you export everything? Why did you starve the people?


I will not answer this question. It is a lie that I made the people starve. A lie, a lie in my face. This shows how little patriotism there is, how many treasonable offences were committed.


We have always spoken of equality. We are all equal. Everybody should be paid according to his performance. Now we finally saw your villa on television, the golden plates from which you ate, the foodstuffs that you had imported, the luxurious celebrations.

Elena Ceausescu

Incredible. We live in a normal apartment, just like every other citizen. We have ensured an apartment for every citizen through corresponding laws.


Mr Chairman, we find the two accused guilty. I call for the death sentence.

Counsel for the defence

Even though he — like her — committed insane acts, we want to defend them. We want a legal trial. [Addressing the defendants:] You have acted in a very irresponsible manner; you led the country to the verge of ruin and you will be convicted on the basis of the bill of indictment. You are guilty of these offences even if you do not want to admit it. Despite this, I ask the court to make a decision that we will be able to justify later as well. We must not allow the slightest impression of illegality to emerge. Elena and Nicolae Ceausescu should be punished in a really legal trial.


I have been one of those who, as a lawyer, would have liked to oppose the death sentence, because it is inhuman. But we are not talking about people.

After the television broadcast is cut off, the speaker announces that the verdict is the death sentence.

Source: Foreign Broadcast Information Service

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Spanish quest to identify black soldier who fought against fascism in civil war

• US volunteer in picture killed in civil war battle
• Authorities plan to present image to Obama next year

Giles Tremlett in Barcelona, Sunday 20 December 2009 16.50 GMT
Unidentified black soldier who died in the Spanish civil war Photograph: Agustí Centelles/El País

As a volunteer in the International Brigades that fought in Spain's civil war, the unidentified black soldier in the photograph was one of the first Americans to die fighting fascism.

Now Spanish authorities want to put a name to him so they can present his picture to President Barack Obama when he visits Spain next year.

The black and white picture of the African American volunteer forms part of an extraordinary collection of civil war photographs that was bought recently by the Spanish state.

"All we know is that he arrived with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade of American volunteers and that he died in the battle at Brunete [in July 1937]," said Sergi Centelles, whose father, Agustí, took the picture.

The soldier is one of more than 90 African-Americans who volunteered to defend Spain's elected Republican government from a 1936 rightwing military uprising that sparked a three-year civil war.

Germany's Adolf Hitler and Italy's Benito Mussolini sent troops to back the rebel army of future dictator General Francisco Franco. Leftwing and anti-fascist volunteers from around the world joined Russians sent by Stalin to help defend the Republic.

Obama defended the concept of waging a "just war" in his Nobel peace prize speech this month.

The New York-based Abraham Lincoln Brigades Association and New York University's Tamiment library have scoured their civil war archives to see if they could identify the man in the photograph, which was probably taken in February 1937. Two possible candidates have emerged: Milton Herndon, whose brother Angelo won a famous supreme court case against a sentence for "incitement to insurrection", and aviator Paul Williams.

"It is one of eight or nine photographs my father took of the Americans marching through Barcelona," said Agustí Centelles.

The photograph remained hidden for four decades after Agustí Centelles, known as the "Spanish Robert Capa", fled Spain as Franco's forces looked set to win the civil war in 1939.

"My father took his photographs with him in a suitcase because he was scared they would be used to identify people and carry out reprisals," said Sergi Centelles.

The photographer used the suitcase as a pillow in a French refugee camp to prevent it from being stolen. He later moved in with a French family in Carcassonne, in southern France, but had to flee again after the second world war broke out and the occupying Germans heard that he was using his camera to take photographs for false passports.

"The Gestapo were chasing him, so he walked back across the Pyrenees into Spain," said Sergi Centelles. "He left the suitcase behind, telling the French family not to and it over to anyone but him.

"It was passed down from the grandfather, when he died, to his son and then, when he also died, to the grandson."

Agustí Centelles sent the French family a present every Christmas as a sign that he was still alive.

Spain did not give the photographer a passport until 1962, when the family travelled to Carcasonne to check the suitcase was still there. It was only in 1976, a year after Franco died, that he dared pick up the suitcase and bring it home.

It contained hundreds of civil war photographs, including one of writer George Orwell with a group of fellow international volunteers.

The mix of races in the International Brigades saw attempts made to observe a degree of racial equality otherwise unseen in western armies in the 1930s.

"We know there were quite a few African American volunteers and that many were treated badly when they went home, as people thought they were communists," said Sergi Centelles.

"We have four or five names of possible candidates, but what we really want to do is to find their family."

• If you know who the man in the main photograph is, or can provide any information that might help identify him, please contact

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Reflections of Fidel: The Moment Of Truth

NEWS arriving from the Danish capital paints a picture of chaos. After planning an event in which around 40,000 people were to participate, the hosts have no way of keeping their promise. Evo, who was the first of the ALBA presidents to arrive there, expressed certain profound truths emanating from the millenary culture of his people.

According to the news agencies, he affirmed that he had received a mandate from the Bolivian people to oppose any agreement if the final declaration fails not meet expectations. He explained that climate change is not the cause but the effect, that we have an obligation to defend the rights of Mother Earth against the model of capitalist development, the culture of life against the culture of death. He spoke of the climate debt that the rich countries must pay to the poor countries, and the return of atmospheric space seized from the latter.

He described as "ridiculous" the figure of $10 billion dollars offered per year up until 2012 when, in reality, hundreds of billions of dollars are needed every year. He also accused the United States of spending trillions of dollars on exporting terrorism to Iraq and Afghanistan and establishing military bases in Latin America.

The president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela addressed the Summit on December 16th, at 8:40 a.m. Cuban time. He made a brilliant speech that received tremendous applause. His remarks were categorical.

Contesting a document proposed to the Summit by the Danish minister chairing the conference, he stated:

"…it is a text that comes from nothing, we do not accept any other text unless it comes out of the working groups which are the legitimate texts that have been discussed with such intensity during these two years."

"There is a group of countries which believe themselves superior to us from the South, to us from the Third World…"

"…we are not surprised: there is no democracy in the world and we are here, once again, in the face of powerful evidence of a world imperial dictatorship."

"…I was reading some of the slogans painted in the streets by the young people…One: ‘Let’s not change the climate, let’s change the system’…Another: ‘If the climate was a bank, they would have saved it already.’"

"Obama… received the Nobel Peace prize virtually the same day that he was sending an additional 30,000 soldiers to kill innocent people in Afghanistan."

"We were raising our hands to accompany Brazil, India, Bolivia and China, in their interesting position … but, well, we were not given the floor…"

"The rich are destroying the Earth… do they have plans to go to another planet?"

"Climate change is, without any doubt, the most devastating environmental problem of the present century."

"The United States could amount to possibly 300 million inhabitants; China has a population that is almost five times larger than the United States. The United States consumes more than 20 million barrels of oil per day. Chine barely reaches 5 or 6 million barrels per day. One can’t ask the same of the United States and China."

"… reducing contaminating gas emissions and achieving a long-term cooperation agreement […] seems to have failed, for now. What is the reason for that? […] the irresponsible attitude and the lack of political will on the part of the most powerful nations of the planet."

"…the gap that separates the rich countries from the poor is still expanding despite the existence of the Millennium Goals, the Monterrey Summit on finance, all of these summits – as the president of Senegal said, denouncing a great truth, promises and promises and promises that have been unfulfilled, while the world continues along its destructive path."

"…The total income of the 500 richest individuals on the planet is greater than the income of the 416 million poorest people."

"Infant mortality stands at 47 per 1,000 live births; but the figure for the rich countries is just 5 ..."

"…For how long are we going to allow millions of children to continue dying from curable diseases?"

"Some 2.6 billion people live without health services,"

"Brazilian Leonardo Boff wrote: ‘that the fittest survive over the ashes of the weakest.’"

Jean Jacob Rousseau [sic] said: ""Between the weak and the strong, it is freedom which oppresses." For this reason, the empire talks of freedom, in order to invade, to murder, to annihilate, to exploit, that is its freedom. And Rousseau goes on: "it is the law which sets free."

"For how long are we going to allow armed conflicts that massacre millions of innocent human beings, with the aim of awarding the resources of other nations to the more powerful ones?"

"Almost two centuries ago, Simón Bolívar, the Liberator said:

‘If nature opposes, we will fight against her and make her obey us.’"

"This planet is billions of years old, and has existed for billions of years without us, the human race: that is to say, it does not need us to exist. Now, we cannot live without the Earth…"

Evo addressed the conference in the morning of today, Thursday. His speech will also never be forgotten.

He very candidly opened his remarks by saying: "I wish to say how upset we are over the lack of organization and the delays in this international gathering…"

His basic ideas were the following:

"When we ask the hosts what is going on, […] we are told it is the United Nations; when we ask the United Nations what is going on, they say it is Denmark, so we don’t know who is disorganizing this international event…" "…I’m very shocked because only the effects and not the causes of climate change are being discussed."

"If we fail to identify where the destruction of the environment is coming from […] we will never be able to solve this problem…"

"…two cultures are under discussion here: the culture of life and the culture of death; the culture of death, which is capitalism. We, the indigenous peoples, say that it is living better, better at the cost of others.’"

"…exploiting others, plundering their natural resources, assaulting Mother Earth, privatizing basic services…"

"…living well is living in solidarity, in equality, in complementation, in reciprocity…"

"These two different ways of life, these two cultures of life are in debate when we it comes to climate change, and if we do not decide which is the better way of living or of life, it is certain that we are never going to resolve this issue, because we have problems with life: luxury and consumerism damage humanity and sometimes we don’t want to admit the truth in this kind of international event."

"…in our way of life being truthful is sacred, and we are not practicing the truths here."

"…in our Constitution it reads ama sua, ama llulla, ama quella, which means do not steal, do not lie, do not be weak."

"…Mother Earth or Nature exist and will continue to exist without the human race, but human beings can’t live without planet Earth, therefore, it is our duty to defend the right of Mother Earth."

"…I applaud the United Nations because this year, it has finally established the International Day of Mother Earth."

"…a mother is sacred, a mother is our life; a mother cannot be rented, cannot be sold or assaulted, she must be respected."

"We have profound differences with the Western model, and that is under discussion at this moment."

"We are in Europe, and you know that many Bolivian families, many Latin American families come to Europe. Why do they come here? To improve their living conditions. In Bolivia, they might be earning $100 or $200 per month; but that family, that person comes here to take care of an elderly European grandfather or grandmother and earns $1,000 a month."

"These are the asymmetries that exist among continents and we are obliged to discuss ways in which to achieve a certain equilibrium, […] reducing these profound asymmetries that exist among families, among countries, and especially continents."

""When […] our brothers and sisters come here to survive or to improve their living conditions they are expelled. There are papers which are known as repatriation documents […] but when those elderly Europeans arrived in Latin America all those years ago, they were never expelled. My families, my brothers do not come here to seize control of mines, nor do they possess thousands of hectares in order to become landowners. In the past, no visas or passports were required to come to Abya Yala, now called, America."

"…the rich nations should welcome all migrants who are affected by climate change instead of forcing them to return to their countries as they are doing at the moment…"

"…our obligation is to save all of humanity and not half of humanity."

"…the FTAA, the Free Trade Area of the Americas, […] is not a Free Trade Area of the Americas, but a free colonization area of the Americas…"

Evo suggested the following questions, among others, for a worldwide referendum on climate change:

"..Do you agree to reestablishing a harmonious relationship with Nature, recognizing the rights of Mother Earth...?"

"…Are you in agreement with changing this system of excessive consumerism and waste, that is, the capitalist system...?"

"…Do you agree that the developed countries should reduce and reabsorb their greenhouse gas emissions…?"

"…Do you agree on transferring everything that is currently being spent in wars to create a budget higher than the defense budget to tackle the problem of climate change…?"

As is widely known, the UN Agreement on Climate Change was signed in the Japanese city of Kyoto in 1997. This protocol obliged 38 industrialized nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by a certain percentage in relation to those emitted in 1990. The countries of the European Union committed themselves to 8%, a move which came into effect in 2005, when most of the signatory countries had already ratified it. George W. Bush, then president of the United States – the largest producer of greenhouse gases and responsible for a quarter of total emissions – had rejected the agreement from mid-2001 onward.

The other members of the United Nations continued with their efforts. The research centers continued with their work. It is now evident that a major disaster is threatening our species. Perhaps the worst aspect is that the blind egotism of a privileged and rich minority is attempting to lay the burden of the necessary sacrifices on the vast majority of the planet’s inhabitants.

That contradiction is reflected in Copenhagen. Thousands of people are there, fiercely defending their points of view.

The Danish police are resorting to brutal methods to crush resistance; many protesters are being preventively arrested. I spoke on the phone with our Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, who was at a solidarity rally in Copenhagen with Chávez, Evo, Lazo and other ALBA representatives. I asked him who those people were that the Danish police suppressed with such hate, twisting back their arms and beating them repeatedly across the back. He said they were Danish citizens and people from other European nations as well as members of the social movements who were demanding from the Summit an immediate solution to deal with climate change. He also told me that debates in the Summit were to continue until midnight. It was already night in Copenhagen when I spoke with him. The time difference is six hours.

Our comrades in the Danish capital have informed us that an even worse situation is expected tomorrow morning, Friday 18th. At 10:00 a.m. the UN Summit is to be adjourned for two hours while the Danish prime minister meets with 20 heads of state invited by him to discuss "global problems" with Obama. That is what they have called the meeting, which is aimed at imposing an agreement on climate change.

Even though all of the official delegations are to take part, only "invited guests" will be allowed to express their views. Of course, neither Chávez nor Evo are among those entitled to express their opinions. The idea is to give the illustrious Nobel Laureate an opportunity to read his previously drafted speech, preceded by the decision to de adopted in that meeting to postpone the agreement until the end of next year in Mexico City. The social movements will not be permitted to attend. After that show, the "Summit" will resume in the plenary hall until its ignominious closure.

As television channels have broadcast the footage, the world has been able to see the fascist methods used against the people in Copenhagen. The protesters, young people in the main, who have been repressed, have earned the solidarity of the peoples.

Despite the maneuvers and unprincipled lies of the leaders of the empire, the moment of truth is drawing closer. Their own allies are increasingly losing confidence in them. In Mexico, as in Copenhagen or anywhere else in the world, they will be met by the growing resistance of the peoples who have not lost the hope of surviving.

Fidel Castro Ruz

December 17, 2009

6:46 p.m.

Translated by Granma International

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Riots break out in Greece on anniversary of police murder of 15 yr old anarchist
Greek police clash with students in Athens as thousands march on anniversary of death of Alexandros Grigoropoulos

Mark Tran and agencies, Sunday 6 December 2009 13.46 GMT Article history

Police fired teargas at rioters who threw rocks and firecrackers in central Athens as thousands gathered to mark the first anniversary of the police shooting of a teenager.

Clashes broke out as about 3,000 people, mostly students, anarchists and leftists, began a march to parliament. More protests were expected tomorrow. An evening memorial service was planned in the Exarchia district, where 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos was shot dead.

Violence also broke out in Thessaloniki, Greece's second-largest city, where demonstrators threw petrol bombs at police and smashed the front of a Starbucks cafe.

More than 6,000 police were deployed across greater Athens amid fears that the demonstrations under way in the capital and other Greek cities would turn increasingly violent. Concern was heightened by reports that far-left groups and anarchists from other European countries have travelled to Greece for the protests.

Grigoropoulos was shot by a policeman on the evening of 6 December 2008, in Exarchia, a central Athens neighbourhood of bars and cafes popular with anarchist groups. Within a few hours of his death, riots spread from the capital to several cities, taking the government by surprise. An embattled police force took a passive approach as rioters looted and burned shops in violence that lasted two weeks.

The new socialist government, which has faced a spate of attacks by far-left and anarchist groups, since coming to power in October, has vowed not to tolerate any violence during today's anniversary.

Police yesterday detained about 160 youths and raided what they described as a firebomb-making hideout in the district of Keratsini, near the port of Piraeus. A memorial gathering last night at the spot where Grigoropoulos was killed began peacefully, although clashes broke out in the area later between rock-throwers and riot police. Police arrested 14 people, including five Italians and three Albanians.

Dozens of police, some in riot gear and others on motorbikes, stood guard throughout the district on Saturday night. Apart from the brief clash, the area was quiet, with heavy rain helping keep people off the streets.

Greece's civil protection minister, Michalis Chrisochoidis, who is also in charge of the police, said earlier this week that people had been right to demonstrate against the teenager's death, but further riots would not be tolerated.

"Without doubt (Grigoropoulos's death) was an act of extreme police violence and misconduct that has scarred our collective memory," Chrisochoidis said. "Young people were right to take to the streets to express their outrage. But we will not tolerate a repeat of the violence and terror in the centre of Athens and other cities. We will not surrender Athens to vandals."

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Berlin and Hamburg attacks an anarchist 'declaration of war'


Anarchists attacks on police stations and political offices in Berlin and Hamburg overnight were a “declaration of war” on the state, head of the German Police Union (DPoIG) told The Local on Friday.

Unknown perpetrators, assumed to be left-wing extremists, threw Molotov cocktails, paint bombs and cobblestones at Berlin’s Treptow district Federal Criminal Police (BKA) office overnight. Meanwhile local offices for the centre-left Social Democrats and the conservative Christian Democrats were also vandalised with anti-war graffiti.

Around the same time in Hamburg, about 10 masked perpetrators attacked a police precinct in the Schanzenviertel neighbourhood, setting a police cruiser alight, damaging other police cars and breaking windows with stones.

On Friday afternoon the Berliner Morgenpost also reported that a southern wing of the Chancellory had also been vandalised with three Christmas tree decoration bulbs full of paint.

Though no one was injured in either of the attacks they are a sign of a “new escalation in the spiral of violence,” DPoIG leader Rainer Wendt told The Local.

According to his assessment, the attacks were coordinated between a growing network of anarchists between the two big cities.

“The attacks were anything but spontaneous, and executed in an almost professional manner,” he said.

The Police Union took the incidents so seriously on Friday that they encouraged the conference of state interior ministers, currently underway in Bremen, to take immediate action, hardening criminal prison sentences for attacks on officers and increasing police personnel.

But Wendt reported that police demands have so far gone unheeded.

“They've done nothing," he said. "We don’t have enough police to conduct a good surveillance of these groups. We need to take them very seriously. They are prepared to kill people. It’s pure coincidence that no officers were killed last night, but we fear that this could still be ahead of us.”

Anarchist violence has been increasing in Berlin and Hamburg for several years, with more reported clashes during demonstrations with police and against neo-Nazi groups, in addition to property damage associated with anti-gentrification sentiments.

An 84-page study presented by Berlin Interior Minister Ehrhart Körting this November detailed left-wing violence in the German capital, describing the anarchists as “willing to hazard the consequences of major property damage and severe injury to people.”

In 2009, some 125 cars – many of them luxury status-symbol models – were purposely burned by so-called Autonomen in Berlin. The number has more than doubled since last year, when 72 cars were targeted. Police in Hamburg reported 150 burned cars – 16 of which were proven to be politically motivated. This number was up from a number insignificant enough not to have been reported the year before, news magazine Der Spiegel reported on Friday.

“There is lots of talk when it comes to their alleged goals. Gentrification, for example, is a catch word in Berlin,” Wendt told The Local. “Allegedly they don’t want the rich to move into their city districts. I think that’s all wrong. They don’t have any goals at all aside from blind hate against the state and order.”

According to daily Berliner Morgenpost on Friday, left-wing extremists issued a statement of admission for the Thursday night attacks on the Berlin political offices in Berlin’s Charlottenburg and Zehlendorf districts. The statement, sent to a CDU parliamentary group email address, explained that the attacks were an answer to the Bundestag’s Thursday vote to extend their mandate to provide troops for the NATO operation in Afghanistan. The email accused the politicians of being “warmongers,” and ended with the threat, “There is no safe place!”, the paper reported.

Police are investigating a possible connection between these attacks and those on the police and customs property in Hamburg and Berlin, but Wendt said without government support, such incidents will continue to occur.

“The investigation goes on, but I have little hope it will be successful,” he said. “This is a declaration of the war on the police and on the state.”

Kristen Allen (

Friday, 27 November 2009

Poland clamps down on communist symbols


By MONIKA SCISLOWSKA (AP) – 9 hours ago

WARSAW, Poland — Poland's president has approved legislation that allows for people to be fined or even imprisoned for possessing or buying communist symbols, two decades after communist rule ended.

The new law says that people who posses, purchase or spread items or recordings containing communist symbols could be fined or be imprisoned for up two years.

The new law has drawn criticism from left-wing lawmakers and other observers who say it is ill-defined and will be hard to implement. The law does not list the banned symbols and it also exempts from punishment their use for artistic, educational or collectors' purposes.

The legislation was initiated by Law and Justice, a right-wing opposition party that President Lech Kaczynski helped found and which has sought to purge Poland of the legacy of four decades of communist rule. The law was also supported by the governing Civic Platform party.

The law expands on legislation that already made it a crime to promote Nazism or other totalitarian systems. Communist symbols, however, were not specifically named in the earlier legislation.

A Law and Justice senator, Zbigniew Romaszewski, said the law was needed because the atrocities committed by communist regimes are being forgotten, allowing the flourishing of businesses that sell images of Soviet leaders, state symbols like the hammer and sickle and the red star.

"Communism should be treated just like Nazism," Romaszewski, who promoted the legislation, told The Associated Press.

"The numbers of their victims are comparable, taking into consideration the famine in Ukraine under Stalin and deportations to Siberia" that caused tens of millions of deaths, including Poles, he said. "We in Poland lived between these two extreme systems and we know what they were."

Communism was imposed on Poland after World War II and overthrown peacefully in 1989.

Marcin Krol, a prominent historian and philosopher with Warsaw University, said he believes scientific research or widely accessible information about the communist era would be more effective in keeping alive the memories of communist crimes.

He said the law would be hard to implement, given the imprecise definition of communism and the numerous exemptions it grants.

"The cruelty of that reality should be clearly described to the wide public, but banning and punishing seems artificial and ineffective," Krol said.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Anti-fascist fighter shot dead in Moscow

The young man died from head wounds after being shot during a clash with ultra-nationalists in eastern Moscow on Monday evening.

It is reported that he was the informal leader of a committee called Collective Action and is the sixth anti-fascist to be killed in the capital since 2006.

A spokeswoman from the committee identified the victim as 26-year-old Ivan Khutorskoy during an interview with a Moscow-based radio station.

Mr Khutorskoy's role in the group included organising security at anti-fascist rock concerts and he also ran free-style fighting tournaments.

He was nicknamed "Bonebreaker" and had reportedly taken part in street battles with Russian nationalists.

This was not the first time Mr Khutorskoy had been attacked by nationalists.

It is thought he had survived attacks involving a knife, a baseball bat and a screwdriver on three previous occasions.

Fascist gangs have become a growing problem in Russia in recent years and as a result anti-fascist youth groups have raised their profiles.

The fascist gangs typically target non-Slavic migrants and people they perceive as anti-Russian.

Confrontations in Moscow have become increasingly common and violent.

Experts have linked the killing to the arrests earlier this month of two nationalists suspected of the high-profile shooting of human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova in January.

Antiracists and far-right youths battle in Moscow

MOSCOW — A simmering confrontation between far-right youths and ant-racist activists has erupted into Moscow's streets after the fatal shooting of an anti-racist activist known as the Bonebreaker.

The violence stems from deep animus between two aggressive camps with starkly different visions of Russia's future — neo-Nazi skinheads who rank in the tens of thousands and militant anti-racist groups that call themselves Antifa, short for anti-fascist.

Former punk rocker Ivan Khutorskoi, 26, provided security for meetings of antifascists. He also was known for organizing underground bare-knuckle boxing matches among them, and taking part in violent attacks on ultranationalists.

Khutorskoi was gunned down in his apartment building on the city's outskirts Monday night. A day later, dozens of masked men pelted the headquarters of the pro-Kremlin youth group Young Russia with stones, trash and steel rods, Young Russia's leader said.

Kremlin critics say Russia's leadership created Young Russia and similar youth organizations to keep its political opponents in check and provide support, and sometimes muscle, on the streets. Anti-racist groups claim they have close ties with the ultranationalists they call fascists or Nazis.

Nobody was hurt in the attack late Tuesday on the office of Young Russia. But its message, delivered first with projectiles and then over the Internet, seemed clear.

"If no one but us tries to stop Nazis and those who provide cover for them, we will act by all means necessary," blogger Anarcho Punk wrote Wednesday. Other anti-racist bloggers said the attack was retaliation for what they claimed were the group's links to Russian neo-Nazis. They "dedicated" the assault to their leader, Khutorskoi — an outsized figure and a role model among antifascists, who say he had survived three previous assassination attempts. He was shot twice in the back of the head near the door to his apartment on Moscow's eastern outskirts, police said.

Khutorskoi sometimes provided security at press conferences of Stanislav Markelov, a human rights lawyer hated by ultranationalists — but not at the one last January after which Markelov and a journalist were fatally shot on the street.

Antifa groups have been rapidly adding to their ranks in Russia in recent years, said Galina Kozhevnikova, the director of Sova, a respected independent hate-crime watchdog monitoring group. She said their ideology attracts leftist-minded youth and people concerned about persistent hate crimes and xenophobia in today's Russia.

"The army of ultranationalists is definitely bigger, as the movement is much older," Kozhevnikova said.

Pro-Kremlin youth groups like Young Russia are also a significant force. Experts believe their emergence was a Kremlin response to the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine, where youth groups played a key role in street protests that ushered a pro-Western presidential candidate to power.

Young Russia is known for street rallies and pranks against anti-Kremlin politicians. The group has also been involved in attacks on anti-government protesters and opposition youth activists.

Young Russia's leader, Maxim Mishchenko, said about 80 masked men attacked the office in central Moscow. A 22-year old attacker was seized by Young Russia activists and handed over to police, he said.

Anti-fascist bloggers claimed Mishchenko, a Russian parliament member with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's United Russia party, has close ties with Russky Obraz, a radical ultranationalist group that antiracists claim was behind Khutorskoi's killing.

Mishchenko denied the allegations, calling them "as absolute lie."

A spokesman for Russky Obraz, Yevgeny Valayev, told The Associated Press that the group had "no Kremlin-appointed supervisors" but had cooperated with Mishchenko on several initiatives, including an extreme nationalist march in Moscow early this month.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Monday, 16 November 2009

‘Not Here’: English Defence League humiliated in Glasgow

‘Not Here’

Police officers far outnumber the marchers from the Scottish Defence League in Cambridge Street Photographs: Mark Mainz and Ross Gilmore

Published on 15 Nov 2009 SUNDAY HERALD

Thousands turn out to deliver message to fascists

Standing precariously on a bin as thousands of people swarmed into George Square banging drums and chanting, anti-racist campaigner Aamer Anwar yesterday proclaimed a victory for the people of Glasgow over “racism, fascism and the Scottish Defence League (SDL)”.

His celebration followed a day in which the far-right group’s threat to march on Glasgow Central Mosque came to nothing, as police penned its members into a pub before bussing them to various spots on the periphery of the city, extinguishing the chances of a conflict before it had the chance to ignite. There were a few minor skirmishes in and around the city centre between the tiny SDL contingent and rival demonstrators, who were out in their thousands. Five people were arrested.

Although both sides claimed to have achieved their aims, the sheer numbers that mustered under the banner of Scotland United, a broad-spectrum alliance of political parties, trade unions and civil society groups, demonstrated that most of Glasgow has little truck with the “anti-Islamic” policies of the SDL and its English counterpart.

Mr Anwar, speaking at the head of a thousand protesters as they marched into George Square, said: “Just over 100 members of the Scottish and English Defence Leagues came to Glasgow today, skulked in a pub and were then bussed off away from the city centre. We proved that the only group that the people of Glasgow would tolerate on their streets were Scotland United. I would call this a victory.”

We have enough problems in this city without them stirring up hatred. They have no place here Daniel O’Donnell, SNP member
The SDL, announced plans to march in Glasgow several months ago after the English Defence League (EDL) attracted hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of supporters to rallies in cities including Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham.

The groups formed to protest exclusively against what they view as Islamic extremism, and claim to be a new political movement which has dispensed with the racist policies of far-right parties like the British National Party (BNP).

But critics, such as Mr Anwar, claim they are nothing but “a violent wing of the British National Party”.

Yesterday, the first protest in a day of political action in Glasgow took place at St Enoch Square at 10am.

Organised independently of Scotland United, the demonstration was made up of socialists, left-wing students and anti-fascists, who gathered outside the underground station before marching up Buchanan Street, chanting “Nazi scum off our streets” and “we’re black, white, Asian and we’re Jews”.

Daniel O’Donnell, a 61-year-old member of the Scottish National Party and veteran of anti-fascist protests, said: “Far-right and fascist movements have got more publicity now than I remember them ever having before, particularly after the BNP were allowed to speak on Question Time.

“The Scottish Defence League claims to be different from the BNP, but on paper, say critics, they look the same.

“This is not about showing the SDL who’s boss,” said O’Donnell, “but showing them that they are not welcome in Glasgow. We have enough problems in this city without them stirring up hatred. They have no place here.”

This splinter protest was organised by people who backed the aims of Scotland United but felt a bulwark against the Defence League was needed early in the day. Scotland United’s Glasgow Green rally was not until noon, which gave the SDL all morning to march the streets.

Sam Beaton, a 21-year-old student, said he and his fellow protesters had gathered to make sure the SDL demonstrators knew there would be someone to stand up against them if they took to the streets of Glasgow.

He said: “We’re mobilising here against the SDL, to make sure there is an anti-fascist presence in the town centre all morning. We have to be prepared for them, even if they decide to use violence. We’re not scared because we are a bigger, broader movement than them. They will not cause the same trouble they did in Leeds and Manchester.”

An hour after the protest started in St Enoch Square, the SDL gave out information about its meeting point on a phone number it had advertised on internet bulletin boards. Its members had organised the demonstration in secrecy on Facebook, other social networking sites and online discussion forums, withholding their exact plans from police and the city council.

The Sunday Herald was at the meeting point, a small pub in the city centre called The Cambridge where around 150 activists gathered, although police claimed there were only 70. Some covered their faces with scarves as they chanted and waved banners in the street.

Several key members of the SDL and EDL had been stopped on their way to the pub and some claimed to have been visited by officers from Strathclyde Police and banned from the city centre for the day.

Hundreds of police had formed a cordon around the pub, refusing to let anyone in or out. Inside,the leader of the SDL, who would only give his name as Don, attacked the anti-fascist protesters, claiming they were “spouting tired old rubbish” by labelling the SDL Nazis or racists.

Don said: “As soon as you say anything you’re labelled a racist, a Nazi, a fascist or a knuckle-dragging skinhead. We’re none of those things. We just want to highlight the Islamification of the country and show people that some, not all, young Muslims are having hate and militancy preached to them.

“People say that this sort of thing doesn’t happen in Scotland, but it is. I bet they didn’t think someone would try to blow up Glasgow Airport. We don’t want young Muslim schoolboys to be radicalised, go away to train and then come back to blow up the city.”

In The Cambridge, there was a febrile atmosphere. The curtains were closed but the bar stayed open, serving pints to the SDL contingent, who mostly resembled old-school skinheads, replete with tattoos. They were loath to give their names, and insisted we took no photos.

One member from the Airdrie branch said: “We’re just here to protest against extremist Islam and Republican terrorists, who have tried to take over our country for 40 years and failed. We’re not racist, we’re not Nazis and we’re not the BNP. I’ve got black friends and Muslim friends – race doesn’t bother me.”

He added: “Our great-grandfathers fought and fell against the Nazis in two world wars. It’s a slur on our grand-fathers to call us Nazis.”

There was a brief stand-off as the anti-racist protesters from St Enoch Square marched near the pub, after using the SDL’s phone line to find out its location. They rallied for a few minutes before heading down to Glasgow Green to the mainstream Scotland United event to listen to the speakers.

After being penned into the bar from 11am until about 12.30pm, police briefly allowed the SDL members out to protest, giving them the opportunity to chant slogans like “no surrender to the IRA” or sing Rule Britannia.

Police tolerated their protest for barely 20 minutes before packing them off in a bus. They were dumped at the Red Lion, a pub on Paisley Road West, and warned that anyone who tried to go back into town would be arrested.

The SDL’s original plans to march on Glasgow Central Mosque were thwarted at the point of application. Glasgow’s policy on marches is “somewhere between Northern Ireland and England” said a city council source, with special legislation designed to manage Orange marches. This means that while a static demonstration requires no permission from the council or police, any moving procession needs to be given the go-ahead by the authorities.

However, the SDL’s application for a moving procession was made using only the first name, Donald. The council’s request for more information was rejected. When the SDL was warned that its members would not be allowed to use the streets to protest, it replied that they would be happy to use the pavement – something a council source said would still be illegal.

At the same time as the SDL’s brief protest, the Scotland United rally at Glasgow Green heard speakers including Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie, Labour MP Mohammed Sarwar and the Rev Ian Galloway from the Church of Scotland.

They praised Scotland’s multiculturalism and slammed the SDL, with Mr Sarwar labelling its members “nuts”.

He said: “The message from here is loud and clear: BNP, Scottish Defence League, English Defence League are not allowed to march on the streets of

Glasgow. Scotland is united against these thugs and fascists.

“I want to congratulate Glasgow City Council for rejecting the application from these nuts to march on the streets. I am proud to be a

Glaswegian and a Scot, because we are different. There were confrontations in Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, but we are having a peaceful rally. People in England and Europe can learn a lot from us.”

In a rousing speech, Ms Sturgeon said: “I’m proud to be standing shoulder to shoulder with Scotland’s Muslim communities, with all of Scotland’s communities. We are a diverse county, a multicultural county and that is what makes us strong. We are proud to defend that multiculturalism every single day or whenever it is put under attack.”

Ahead of the Scotland United event Osama Saeed, chairman of the Scottish Islamic Foundation, said that the only people missing from the coalition were Muslim elders themselves. There had been frantic wrangling behind the scenes as Mr Saeed and Mr Anwar tried to persuade mosque elders to take part.

Mr Saeed said: “The people running mosque don’t get involved in anything and tend to be very reclusive – this is another manifestation of it. A lot of them are immigrants and don’t see themselves as part of society, not the prominent actors they could and should be. It requires a huge change of mindset.”

After the Scotland United rally had finished, some 3500 people marched through the city towards George Square, where a minute’s silence was observed for the victims of racist killings in Scotland, including Indian naval officer Kunal Mohanty and Pollokshields teenager Kriss Donald.

Afterwards, Aamar Anwar claimed his coalition had inflicted a “humiliating defeat on the Nazi defence league”, but Don, the organiser of the SDL protest yesterday, gave one final warning: “He may say it’s a victory, but it’s hollow, because we’re not going nowhere. The next victory will be ours. We will stage demonstration after demonstration after demonstration. Today has gone well. We’ve had a peaceful protest, we’ve not hurt anybody. We’ve had the real victory today and won many more supporters. It’s been a big day for us.”

But not all SDL members agreed with Don. On the group’s Facebook site, even supporters were questioning the success of the Glasgow demonstration. In a post called Demo Today, one SDL member wrote: “I’m embarressed (sic).”

Another wrote: “People were literally laughing at us like we were clowns.” He added: “What demo in Glasgow? People were too scared to leave the pub. What a f******* shambles wae people laughing at us?”, while another claimed: “It was an absolute shambles. ‘SDL’ is utter pish.”

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Armed tradition on the British left

Thursday 05 November 2009
Keith Flett

Looking back over the history of the British labour movement for the last couple of hundred years and more, the idea of an armed tradition is perhaps not what immediately comes to mind.

The English civil war certainly did involve arms and was very bloody indeed, but that was 350 years ago.

In recent times, the left has had to occupy itself with opposing the armed activities of its own state across the globe and demanding peace and nuclear disarmament.

Yet there is an armed tradition.

The last armed battle on English soil was at Bossenden Wood in Kent on May 31 1838. But this involved millenarians who believed that the end of the world was near.

The final armed confrontation on British soil took place in the centre of Newport, south Wales, 170 years ago on November 4 1839.

Funnily enough, the state is generally not keen to encourage the idea that armed revolts against it are a good thing. Until very recently, the events in Newport on that wet November day have had a bad historical press.

It has been argued that the Chartists who organised the uprising were ill-prepared, muddled in ideas and strategy and easily defeated by the British army.

But careful consideration of some of the evidence, which is now available online at, suggests that other conclusions are possible.

Of course, we can't claim that Newport was a success for our side. It remains a significant defeat.

The issue is how close the rising went to being the reverse - a victory that led to a wider revolt.

The Chartist movement focused on political representation for working people and tried a variety of means to achieve it, from petitions and demonstrations to general strikes and, as at Newport, armed risings.

Those involved at Newport, many of whom were miners in the crucible of the development of 19th century British capitalism, no doubt had other economic demands as well.

History books tell us that the weather in the valleys around Newport in November 1839, as the Chartists gathered in three separate locations to march on the town, was wet.

So those marching would have been cold and bedraggled. One might venture that they were almost certainly used to it.

The leaders of the march, Frost, Williams and Jones, were experienced leaders.

Other leaders such as John Rees, also known as Jack the Fifer, had military training. Rees had fought with the Texan People's Army at the Alamo in 1835.

It is likely then, that some of the leaders had previous experience of what they would have to do to secure control of Newport and send the signal for a national Chartist rising.

At the same time, it is difficult to discern if what was attempted was a political conspiracy or a genuine popular uprising. Malcolm Chase in his new history of Chartism tends to take the former view.

The British state certainly took the affair seriously.

Whether the Chartists who marched to the Westgate Hotel in Newport just before 9am on November 4 knew it or not, inside were soldiers from the crack 45th Infantry - the same regiment that had smashed Bossenden Wood a year before.

At least 22 Chartists were killed in the fighting and 50 seriously injured. Had greater military and political control been exerted in preparation, matters might have turned out rather differently.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Dalai Lama's grand niece joins Communist Party of China 2009-11-03 21:34:47 Print

LANZHOU, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) -- A grand niece of the 14th Dalai Lama told Xinhua on Tuesday that she had joined the Communist Party of China (CPC).

"I'm proud to join the CPC," said 35-year-old Deying Drolma, grand niece of the Dalai Lama and now a soldier of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). She took her oath to be a member of the CPC on June 26.

"My grandmother Khyi Losel is a cousin of the Dalai Lama. When he fled to India in 1959, he asked her and her family to go with him but she refused. She told us we shall never betray our motherland," said Deying Drolma.

Deying Drolma wrote her first two applications to join the CPC in 1995 and 1998, but didn't submit them out of concerns of her "special relationship" with the Dalai Lama, she said.

"Last year and this year, I filed two more applications to the Party as I felt myself a qualified candidate." And she was accepted.

Deying Drolma joined the PLA after she graduated from high school in December 1993.

"When I was a child, I often saw PLA doctors who traveled a lot and underwent great difficulties to relieve herdsmen in Tibet from diseases," said Deying Drolma. "I was touched and have decided to become a PLA soldier ever since then."

Editor: Wang Guanqun

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Scargill’s socialist fire still burns brightly

By Victor Gordon
Saturday, 31 October 2009

Firebrand former miners’ union leader Arthur Scargill proved in Belfast last night that age had not diluted his views on industrial action.

The former National Union of Mineworkers President — speaking to the UNITE Union on a three-meeting tour of Ireland — recalled how the union’s strike brought down Ted Heath’s Conservative Government in 1974 and claimed that Margaret Thatcher’s tactics destroyed the mining industry and damaged the trade union movement.

Scargill — now 71 — showed he had no regrets over his controversial years as head of the NUM, claiming that 25 years ago the Tory Government declared war on the NUM and that New Labour was “worse”.

“We forced a General Election in 1974 and the Tories never forgave us,” he claimed. “The Thatcher Government brought in legislation to ensnare the trade union movement and if that meant the destruction of the coal mining industry their attitude was ‘so be it’.”

He told the meetings that he was under surveillance by MI5. “They even bugged me and my officials in a chip shop as part of a series of snoops that made John Le Carre seem like a Peter Pan writer,” he said.

“Not only did they close pits, but they destroyed villages, ruined a whole culture and pushed people into crime and drugs. And if the Tories were bad, New Labour was worse, as its leadship continued and accelerated the process.”

Mr Scargill was addressing the Belfast UNITE meeting at its offices on the Antrim Road where regional co-ordinating officer Eugene McClone said it was important to realise how the trade union movement was subjected to such abuse at the time.

“Arthur Scargill’s was a fight worth taking on. If he had won, it would have meant so much to the trade union movement. But all sorts of legislation was introduced to oppose him and it is important that unions realise the opposition that he faced. We’re delighted to welcome him,” he said.

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Saturday, 31 October 2009

Janos Kadar: Hungary's man of the people

Thursday 29 October 2009
Zsuzsanna Clark

When communism in Hungary and the rest of eastern Europe ended in 1989, I was not only surprised but sad, as were many others.

But our voices - the voices of ordinary working-class people, the people whose lives were improved by 40 years of communism - are seldom heard.

Instead it seems that only upper and middle-class emigres and dissidents are permitted to express an opinion about communism in eastern Europe.

The reality is that most ordinary people lived well under "goulash communism" in Hungary - certainly much better than they do in the rapacious dog-eat-dog capitalist Hungary of today.

The architect of Hungarian goulash communism was Janos Kadar, who ruled the country from 1956-88.

Kadar won public support with his liberalising reforms and his likeable, modest manner.

He was a popular figure not only in my family but among working-class Hungarians as a whole.

You see, he was one of us. His mother was a washerwoman. He was apprenticed as a typewriter mechanic. He smoked the same cigarettes we smoked. He loved krumpli leves - potato soup. He played chess. He lived in a normal house.

The affection in which Kadar was held by ordinary Hungarians may come as a surprise to many people in the West, because the dominant narrative has been written by those fiercely hostile to communism.

The critics usually claim that their opposition was due to "human rights," but I believe a large part of their anti-communism can be explained by a single word. Snobbery.

Communism in Hungary provided good health care, excellent education, cheap and reliable public transport and subsidised housing, gas, electricity and water.

There was a thriving cultural life which was accessible to everyone. Violent crime was virtually non-existent. There was always enough food and nobody went hungry.

But for the snobs, the wrong class of people was in charge.

As the book One Thousand Years - A Concise History Of Hungary relates, under communism the old aristocratic and financial ruling elites, who had ruled the roost in Hungary for generations, lost their power and influence.

The gentry middle class, which had such a dominant role in pre-second world war Hungary, also lost its powerful position as the whole face of Hungarian society changed.

Leading posts in the government, the public administration and the economy were filled from the ranks of the workers and peasants.

It became the standard practice to promote manual workers from the shop floor to managerial level.

By the early 1960s, 40 per cent of earners in managerial and intellectual occupations came from a working-class background, while 26 per cent came from peasant families.

For 30 years under communism, Hungary was led not by the scion of a famous family but by the illegitimate son of a washerwoman. And how the reactionaries hated it

The snobbery towards Kadar continued even after his death.

In 2000 Endre Aczel, a member of Hungary's journalistic elite, denounced him in a newspaper article as a "ostaba panil proli" (a stupid high-rise flat prole).

Such a statement is not only nasty - I think it tells us far more about Aczel than it does about Kadar - but also inaccurate.

Do "stupid" people play chess with grand masters, as Kadar did?

In his biography of Kadar, George Moldova quotes minister of culture and close associate of Kadar Gyorgy Aczel on the subject.

"Those who believed Kadar to be a primitive person are mistaken. He was outstandingly clever.

"His knowledge of society was way above average. But at the same time he kept what some would consider to be signs of primitivism but which aren't really signs of primitivism.

"For example, the way he spoke. He was warned about his accent, but he kept it because he was conscious of what he was - a worker - and he didn't want to be something he wasn't."

Istvan Katona, the first secretary of Kadar's office, said: "A politician's culture is not measured by how perfectly he can whistle a song from Tannhauser but his achievements and how accepted he is by the people.

"Kadar could talk on the same level with everybody he met, be it Brezhnev, Mrs Thatcher or the King of Spain."

In 1973, Endre Aczel's "stupid high-rise prole" took part in a game of four-handed chess with Hungarian grand master Lajos Portisch, Russian grand master Anatoly Karpov and the Soviet ambassador to Hungary Vladimir Pavlov.

Kadar played alongside Karpov and Pavlov paired with Portisch.

Portisch recalls: "Two games finished a stalemate, but the third the Karpov-Kadar pair won.

"Karpov didn't play better than me, but Kadar played better than Pavlov."

Portisch believes that had Kadar not had to leave school and take up an apprenticeship at an early age, he too could have become a chess grand master.

Kadar's passion for chess also helped to shape his thinking, according to Gyorgy Moldova.

"He learned that every mistake he made was his own and to always be prepared for the opposition's most unpleasant and inconvenient step."

Kadar believed that communism meant doing the right thing by the majority of the population.

"Kadar put the working class and the peasantry first and the intelligentsia second," says Gyorgy Aczel.

A man who always believed that actions spoke louder than words, he had a deep contempt for an overly ideological approach - he thought that it could be harmful.

"The most important thing in his life is that he wanted to know how the people lived in the country. With his endless pragmatism, he concentrated on this."

If ever there was a politician interested in bread-and-butter issues it was Kadar. How different from the so-called democratic politicians of today's Hungary, who seem unconcerned with how ordinary people live.

What good was communism, if the classes of people it was supposed to benefit did not live well?

"Fundamental to his socialism was a desire to raise the living standards of ordinary people," says Gyorgy Aczel.

And raise the living standards of ordinary people is of course precisely what Kadar did, which only increased his popularity among the masses.

I regarded Kadar as a relative, like a favourite uncle or grandfather. I liked the way he talked - he was never pompous or condescending and never arrogant.

A poll organised by several media organisations in late 1999 to discover the greatest Hungarians of the country's millennial history gave Kadar third place after St Stephen and the great 19th-century reformer Istvan Szechenyi.

As the respected British historian Eric Hobsbawn has stated, Kadar was "the most successful ruler of Hungary in the 20th century."

He made sure everyone had food on their table and that people could live good, happy lives, with social security from the cradle to the grave.

What more can a country ask of its leader?

This article is an extract from Zsuzsanna Clark's book Goulash and Solidarity, which is awaiting publication.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Police in £9m scheme to log 'domestic extremists'

Thousands of activists monitored on network of overlapping databases

Paul Lewis, Rob Evans and Matthew Taylor,
Sunday 25 October 2009

Police are gathering the personal details of thousands of activists who attend political meetings and protests, and storing their data on a network of nationwide intelligence databases.

The hidden apparatus has been constructed to monitor "domestic extremists", the Guardian can reveal in the first of a three-day series into the policing of protests. Detailed information about the political activities of campaigners is being stored on a number of overlapping IT systems, even if they have not committed a crime.

Senior officers say domestic extremism, a term coined by police that has no legal basis, can include activists suspected of minor public order offences such as peaceful direct action and civil disobedience.

Three national police units responsible for combating domestic extremism are run by the "terrorism and allied matters" committee of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo). In total, it receives £9m in public funding, from police forces and the Home Office, and employs a staff of 100.

An investigation by the Guardian can reveal:

• The main unit, the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), runs a central database which lists thousands of so-called domestic extremists. It filters intelligence supplied by police forces across England and Wales, which routinely deploy surveillance teams at protests, rallies and public meetings. The NPOIU contains detailed files on individual protesters who are searchable by name.

• Vehicles associated with protesters are being tracked via a nationwide system of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras. One man, who has no criminal record, was stopped more than 25 times in less than three years after a "protest" marker was placed against his car after he attended a small protest against duck and pheasant shooting. ANPR "interceptor teams" are being deployed on roads leading to protests to monitor attendance.

• Police surveillance units, known as Forward Intelligence Teams (FIT) and Evidence Gatherers, record footage and take photographs of campaigners as they enter and leave openly advertised public meetings. These images are entered on force-wide databases so that police can chronicle the campaigners' political activities. The information is added to the central NPOIU.

• Surveillance officers are provided with "spotter cards" used to identify the faces of target individuals who police believe are at risk of becoming involved in domestic extremism. Targets include high-profile activists regularly seen taking part in protests. One spotter card, produced by the Met to monitor campaigners against an arms fair, includes a mugshot of the comedian Mark Thomas.

• NPOIU works in tandem with two other little-known Acpo branches, the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit (Netcu), which advises thousands of companies on how to manage political campaigns, and the National Domestic Extremism Team, which pools intelligence gathered by investigations into protesters across the country.

Denis O'Connor, the chief inspector of constabulary, will next month release the findings of his national review of policing of protests. He has already signalled he anticipates wide scale change. His inspectors, who were asked to review tactics in the wake of the Metropolitan police's controversial handling of the G20 protests, are considering a complete overhaul of the three Acpo units, which they have been told lack statutory accountability.

Acpo's national infrastructure for dealing with domestic extremism was set up with the backing of the Home Office in an attempt to combat animal rights activists who were committing serious crimes. Senior officers concede the criminal activity associated with these groups has receded, but the units dealing with domestic extremism have expanded their remit to incorporate campaign groups across the political spectrum, including anti-war and environmental groups that have only ever engaged in peaceful direct action.

All three units divide their work into four categories of domestic extremism: animal rights campaigns; far-right groups such as the English Defence League; "extreme leftwing" protest groups, including anti-war campaigners; and "environmental extremism" such as Climate Camp and Plane Stupid campaigns.

Anton Setchell, who is in overall command of Acpo's domestic extremism remit, said people who find themselves on the databases "should not worry at all". But he refused to disclose how many names were on the NPOIU's national database, claiming it was "not easy" to count. He estimated they had files on thousands of people. As well as photographs, he said FIT surveillance officers noted down what he claimed was harmless information about people's attendance at demonstrations and this information was fed into the national database.

He said he could understand that peaceful activists objected to being monitored at open meetings when they had done nothing wrong. "What I would say where the police are doing that there would need to be the proper justifications," he said.

Friday, 23 October 2009

When you watch the BNP on TV, just remember: Jack Straw started all this

To set New Labour against Griffin is simply putting the cause against the symptom

Gary Younge, Wednesday 21 October 2009 20.30 BST

Three years ago this month Jack Straw argued his case for urging Muslim women who attend his MP's surgery to remove their niqab. He said that he wanted to start a debate. In this, at least, he was successful.

The French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy said "the veil is an invitation to rape"; the Daily Mail columnist Allison Pearson said women who wear "nose bags on their faces ... have no place on British streets"; the then shadow home secretary David Davis argued that Muslims were encouraging voluntary apartheid.

And 16-year-old Daniel Coine insisted he felt threatened: "I'd go further than Jack Straw and say they should all take off their veils. You need to see people face to face. It's weird not knowing who it is you're passing in the street, specially late at night when someone might jump you."

And so Muslim women passed, in the public imagination, from being actually among the group most likely to be racially attacked to ostensibly being a primary cause of social strife – roaming the land in search of white teenagers to physically harass.

Tomorrow night the conversation that Straw started will follow its logical, lamentable path as he takes his seat alongside the British National party leader, Nick Griffin, on the panel of Question Time.

The issue of whether the BNP should be given this kind of airtime has been debated extensively elsewhere in these pages. But there is little doubt that once the BNP is on Question Time, Jack Straw – or indeed anyone in the New Labour hierarchy – is in no position to take the fight to it. The same is true for most of the rest of the British political establishment that will be represented on the panel – they have either actively colluded or passively acquiesced in the political trajectory of the past decade.

But it is no accident that this happened on New Labour's watch and no small irony that Jack Straw should set himself up as Griffin's opponent.

Economically, its neoliberal policies have resulted in growing insecurity, rising unemployment, child poverty and inequality that have alienated the poor and made the middle class feel vulnerable. Politically, its lies over the war, stewardship of the expenses scandal and internal bickering have produced widespread cynicism with our political culture. The ramifications of its role in the war on terror in general, and Iraq in particular, were to elevate fear of a racialised "other" to a matter of life and death at home. "Terror is first of all the terror of the next attack," explains Arjun Appadurai, in Fear of Small Numbers. "Terror ... opens the possibility that anyone may be a soldier in disguise, a sleeper among us, waiting to strike at the heart of our social slumber."

Meanwhile New Labour's race-baiting rhetoric gave the state's imprimatur to the notion that Britain's racial problems were not caused by racism but the existence of non-white, non-Christian and non-British people. This provided little material solace but plenty of vulnerable scapegoats.

Having inflated racism's political currency, New Labour vacated the electoral market so that others with a more ostentatious style might more freely spend it. Once they had made these ideas respectable it was only a matter of time before a party reached a position where it too would earn sufficient respectability to appear on prime time.

New Labour marginalised the white working class, assuming they had nowhere else to go, only to find some of them rush into the arms of the far right. Peter Hain has made an impressive stand over the last few weeks. But during the last election he slammed those who were abandoning New Labour as "the kind of dinner party critic who quaffs shiraz or chardonnay".

But it was always the beer talking. New Labour extinguished all hope of class solidarity and singularly failed to provide principled anti-racist alternatives, leaving a significant section of the white working class to seek cheap refuge in racism and xenophobia. In their identity they see not the potential for resistance against corruption and injustice, but only a grievance. They don't trust government and don't see any alternatives. The coming election simply provides the choice between two parties that share the intent to slash public spending, after the gift of billions to bankers.

There has always been more to the BNP than racism and always been more to racism than the BNP, which is merely the most vile electoral expression of our degraded racial discourse and political sclerosis. Under such circumstances setting Straw – and the rest of the political class – against Griffin is simply putting the cause against the symptom without any suggestion of an antidote.

This has been New Labour's problem all along. While they have long recognised that racism is a problem, it never seemed to occur to them that anti-racism might be the solution. This should not obscure some of the positive things Labour has done – most notably the Macpherson report and the Race Relations Amendment Act. But in the words of the late African American writer James Baldwin: "What it gave, at length and grudgingly with one hand, it took back with the other."

The BNP's victories are a product of our politics. Its defeat, when it comes, will necessarily be a product of a change in our politics. But since New Labour's politics enabled the BNP, it is in no position to disable it. The BNP is a bottom feeder. But the system is rotting from the head down.