April 2, 2016 - No. 14
Program for Real Change
Counterfeit the Measures,
Deeper the Crisis
• Government's Attempt to
Resuscitate Discredited "Third Way" Reveals the Extent of Its
- Pauline Easton and Sam Heaton -
• What Is a Stakeholder?
- TML Weekly, 1997 -
Improving Decisions About
Health, Wealth, and Happiness, by Richard Thaler and Cass
- Book Review by Kevan Hunter -
Government Steps Up
Anti-Social Anti-National Offensive
• Government's Use of Behavioural
Against the Public Interest
• Fraudulent Government
Trans-Pacific Trade Deal Exposed
• Government Opposes UN
of Canadian Professor to Investigate Human Rights Violations in
French Workers Go All
Out to Oppose Reforms
• Protests Against Neo-Liberal
Changes to Labour Legislation
Obama's Visit to Cuba and Upcoming Party Congress
• Brother Obama
- Fidel Castro Ruz -
- Granma -
U.S.-Backed Military Coup in Brazil, March 31, 1964
• Brazilians Say No! To Another
• Japan Broadens Its Military
Alliance with U.S. Imperialism
• The Need to Strengthen the
People's Political Movements All Over the World to Counter
Palestinian Land Day, March 30, 1976
• Long Live Palestine's Heroic
Resistance! End the Occupation!
• Israeli Settlement Expansion and
- Dr. Riyad Mansour, Palestinian Ambassador to the
• How Impunity Defines Israel and
- Ramzy Baroud -
Liberals' Program for Real Change
The More Counterfeit the Measures,
the Deeper the Crisis
The program called Real Change that the Trudeau
government is following is the result of the crisis of
nation-building and imperialism as a whole. The deepening
opposition of workers, women, youth and Indigenous peoples to the
nation-wrecking of the neo-liberal bourgeoisie has created a
legitimacy crisis in which what are called the democratic
institutions are mired. The people's opposition has peeled the
facade from the democracy and revealed the police powers which
remain in lieu of the government of laws. This profound crisis of
legitimacy is evidenced in the Liberals' program for Real
Change advanced to suggest that they have a plan to restore
trust and create a different, progressive relationship between
government and the citizenry. The fact that the Liberals are
attempting to do so using "Third Way solutions" and the same
discredited concepts previous governments campaigned on of
"openness, transparency, accountability"
and more under which corruption, secrecy and police rule have
grown exponentially shows the dangers which lie ahead.
The concerns highlighted in
the Liberal government's Real
Change program and mandate letters to ministers are to
"restore Canadians' trust and participation in our democratic
processes" as well as "make Parliament relevant again and to
ensure that Canadians once again have a real voice in Ottawa."
The Liberal government says it will "restore trust in our
democracy, and that begins with trusting Canadians." They say
"[p]eople know that Ottawa is broken. We have a comprehensive
plan to fix it."
This past week in Ottawa, from March 31 to April 1, a
$795 per ticket private conference called Open Dialogue Forum 2016 was held
which reveals something about what this
electoral promise for Real Change is about. Proponents say
that Open Dialogue will heal what is wrong with policy-making.
According to them, policy-making is not in trouble because it
serves private monopoly interests and has enforced monopoly right
over public right. It is not crisis-ridden because the ruling elites
refuse to analyze the conditions and provide solutions which open
society's path to progress. In lieu of analyzing why the problems
exist, the Liberals say that policy-making has been "deeply affected"
by "the speed of change,
the interconnectedness of events, and a general volatility around
public affairs." They claim that "[m]aking and implementing
decisions in this environment requires new ways of gauging public
support and establishing legitimacy."
To implement these "new ways," the 2016 budget includes
$11.5 million over five years for the Treasury Board Secretariat "to
double [its] budget for open government activities" and $10.7 million
over four years for consultations on reform to the electoral system.
The meaning of the government's dialogue and consultations can be seen
in those it is already touting as examples of its "openness,
accountability and transparency." These include consultations on the
neo-liberal Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada
and the European Union (CETA) after which Minister of International
Trade Chrystia Freeland declared that she heard "no opposition" to the
deal. The ongoing "public" consultations about another free trade deal,
the Trans-Pacific Partnership, have been exposed as nothing more than
private, invite-only meetings predominantly with representatives of
private monopoly interests. Nonetheless these meetings are billed as
"consulting Canadians on the Trans-Pacific Partnership" and everyone
else is invited to "participate" in the "dialogue" by e-mailing a
government address set up for that purpose.
Protests of working people have taken place in Canada
and Europe against CETA. Despite this, the Minister of International
Trade can declare that she heard "no opposition." She will no doubt
declare "overwhelming support" and "some concerns voiced" about the
Trans-Pacific Partnership as well and perhaps even tell us why the
opposition does not merit attention. She can do so because the
government and the private monopoly interests it represents have the
political power to do so. But might does not make right. This process
does not make the decisions legitimate.
So too the government has rejected the process
Indigenous communities themselves for the long-awaited Inquiry
into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. They are the ones
know what is required to bring out the truth and achieve justice.
The process the government has adopted in the name of listening
to the concerns of the Indigenous peoples will bring nothing but
disappointment and more police rule to quell the peoples'
This supercilious effort to
restore an appearance of legitimacy is becoming a main feature of the
Trudeau Liberal government. The Liberals captured
the most seats in the federal election, but despite this the vote
showed a divided polity. Knowing that elections no longer confer
legitimacy, Trudeau clearly feels the need to provide his program for Real Change with legitimacy by
repeating over and again that the Liberals' program comes from
The Trudeau government is going all out to mobilize its social
base within the trade unions, non-government organizations and
within the intellectual strata to endorse and peddle its program
to attempt to make it stick. The mantra is that if the Liberal reforms
and consultation are "done right," everything will be fine. The
role of Canadians is to "hold the Liberals' feet to the fire" and
make sure they are true to their stated aims. What these stated
aims are is not to be questioned. The bafflegab about openness,
transparency, accountability and schemes to reform the electoral
process aims to deprive the people's movement for empowerment of
its consciousness and organization by trying to force it to respond to
the government's agenda for reforms with a "wait-and-see" attitude
instead of elaborating its own program for renewal of the democracy.
The Liberals however have to contend with the fact that
not many people hold illusions about them and their programs.
From one end of Canada to the other the people are working out
how to provide the problems they and society face with solutions.
Liberal illusions will be smashed by the people working out
independent stands which contribute to resolving the crisis of
nation-building in their favour.
What is clear is that the Third Way measures the
is trying to exhume and resuscitate will further lift the veil on
its program to pay the rich and enforce monopoly right over public
right. The new form of government is a new form of police rule
and it will provide no legitimacy whatsoever.
Open Dialogue Forum 2016
Government's Attempt to Resuscitate Discredited "Third
Reveals the Extent of Its Bankruptcy
Canadian Open Dialogue Forum 2016 was held in Ottawa
March 31 to April 1. The Forum was organized by neo-liberal think
tank Canada 2020 and web consulting firm PubliVate. Its keynote
speaker was President of the Treasury Board Scott Brison. Others
featured were Minister of Public Services and Procurement Judy
Foote, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Ontario Deputy Premier Deb
Matthews, former Clerk of the Privy Council Wayne Wouters and
executives from tech monopolies and think tanks. Media reported that the
received $22,100 in funding from the federal government via the
Treasury Board and another $25,000 from the Ontario Treasury
Board. The entrance fee was $795 per person.
The stated aim of the
conference was to bring together "leaders in open government and open
dialogue to share experiences and chart a course towards a more
empowering dynamic between stakeholders and government." Open Dialogue
is supposed to "[transform] the way policy is made in the 21st
century." It is part of the larger umbrella of what is called Open
Government. Open Government theorists claim that its most
successful practitioner is the UK Conservative government and
this is the model proposed for Canada as well. The Liberal
government's enthusiastic endorsement of Open Dialogue and Open
Government shows that these are among the main methods they will
use to claim legitimacy for their decisions and policies.
Covering up that governments are trying to fool their
citizens with a phoney consultation process, Treasury Board President
Brison at the Forum defined Open Dialogue as "the idea that governments
should trust their citizens and engage them at every stage in the
public policy making process" with "the benefit of allowing better
policy to co-emerge with more public support." Open Dialogue "enables
government to engage experts, stakeholders, interested parties and the
broader public in simultaneously identifying the problems and
developing the solutions," Brison said. If citizens "understand why
their government is taking a particular course of action... they'll
have a lot more confidence and trust in the outcomes," he said.
In fact, what the government is doing is using
telemarketing methods where citizens are "focus groups" so as to
facilitate the takeover of public institutions by private interests.
Telemarketing methods have nothing in common with how public opinion is
supposed to be established by a public authority. The aim of
establishing public opinion, as opposed to public relations (PR), is to
unite the polity by establishing standards which serve "the public
good." These standards create an expectation
which is known to the polity. On the basis of this expectation, judgements can be made
the form of decisions and policies which meet the expectation. Such
decisions are generally found to be legitimate by the public if indeed
they coincide with what the conditions require. It gives rise to
acceptance of the measures taken and the authority which takes them.
If, on the other hand, the polices and decisions are not seen to accord
with the conditions, or they are seen to be based on lies, then it is
At one time, the debates on legislation before the Parliament and media
reporting, background material and expert opinion gave rise to a
process which strengthened the link between the citizenry and their
elected representatives and government. The process of creating public
opinion united the polity whether or not individuals were for or
against the policies or legislation. Once legislation was submitted to
a vote and was adopted by majority vote or decisions were announced by
Cabinet, people were connected to the decisions via the governing
process which served to inform, not disinform.
However, today, instead of the creation of public opinion, we have
disinformation which includes self-serving PR. For example, through
self-serving PR lies are spread, such as the big lie that Saddam
Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. This was done to trigger the expectation that if this was the
case, an invasion to overthrow him was legitimate. The U.S.
imperialists did this in the absence of the consent of the Security
Council of the United Nation for their invasion. They formed a
"coalition of the willing" and based their invasion on the creation of
an expectation based on a lie. Since then, they have been triggering
terrorist threats and financing terrorist groups and individual actions
to justify their aggression and regime change abroad and acceptance of
a police state at home. Also on the home front, all kinds of lies are
spread to trigger an expectation that governments are justified to
impose an austerity program. Such programs are in fact aimed at making
more funds available to pay the rich. The self-serving propaganda about
them has only deepened both the credibility and legitimacy crises in
which what are called the democratic institutions are mired.
Policy-making and decisions, whether by governments or the courts,
based on lies will never be legitimate and only deepen the crisis of
credibility in which the so-called democratic institutions are mired.
Brison used the occasion of the Open Dialogue Forum
to announce the start of
consultations "on the development of a new strategy on Open
Government" and that the government is seeking input on Canada's
access to information legislation both of which will see a full
review and government proposals for legislation in 2018. The
Forum also issued a vague statement of four "Core Principles" for
Open Dialogue, whose meaning is covered up by more telemarketing
buzzphrases: "Acknowledge the community," "Focus on impact and
outcomes," "Emphasize transparency and evidence" and "Embrace
innovation and transformation."
Attempts to Breathe Life Into the Third Way
Despite presenting Open
Dialogue and Open Government as the cat's pyjamas, they are in fact a
pathetic attempt to resuscitate the long discredited neo-liberal Third
Way peddled by the likes of Tony Blair, Bill Clinton and others who
campaigned on the slogan of "Change" in the 1990s. The members of this
trend call themselves "progressive" to cover up the fact that they
represent the failed past, not the future. The current attempt to
revive the Third Way not only calls itself "progressive" but "global"
and also claims to be "bipartisan" (allegedly neither "left" nor
"right") which is a flimsy attempt to divert attention from the fact
that the party system of government is in deep crisis. It panders to
the people's hatred for the sectarian competition for power which has
consumed cartel parties which collude and contend to take power. To
restore "public confidence in government" the government touts an
impossible marriage between "social justice" and a "dynamic market
economy" to deliver "shared prosperity." To think there can be a
marriage between the monopoly interests and the people is a joke. The
monopoly interests have already taken over the public institutions and
reduces them to their police powers only. Third Way proponents Tony
Blair in the UK and Bill Clinton in the U.S., joined today by the
Trudeau Liberals are not champions of the people but of making the
biggest monopolies number one on world markets and making their
countries "great again."
Neo-liberal buzzwords such as openness, transparency,
accountability, stakeholder engagement and flexibility are designed to
strengthen class privilege and further concentrate economic and
political power in fewer hands. The result is to exacerbate the crisis
in which the capitalist economic system is mired and, along with it,
engage in nation-wrecking.
The liquidationist essence of the Third Way program was
originally introduced by Margaret Thatcher who did not even
recognize that a society is an objective reality. She replaced
the concept of society with notions of "family values." Third Way
proponents followed suit with their self-serving conception of a
"stakeholder society." Despite sanctimonious phrases about
eliminating the gap between rich and poor, the exponential growth
of riches at one pole and poverty at another under governments
which advocate a "third way," shows that the trend of the rich
becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer continues to operate
and that their current attempt to quell the revolt of the people
is desperate indeed.
Canada 2020, along with its U.S. cousin the Center for
American Progress, published a collection of essays in March 2016,
entitled Global Progress: New Ideas for the Future of the
the rise of the Trudeau Liberals in Canada,
Canada 2020 President Tom Pitfield writes in the preface, "for
the first time in a generation, Canadian progressives have the
opportunity to lead the debate about the future of our global
movement with pride. It is an opportunity that we at Canada 2020
intend to seize." Pitfield gushes, "Today, the marketplace for new
One can only understand
this to mean that the ideas
these "progressives" are so cheap, they can be found in every
bargain-basement and flea-market anywhere the monopolies have
established their stranglehold.
This attempt to breathe life into the discredited
is pathetic as well as dangerous. It is pathetic because it has
already proven how bankrupt it is; dangerous because the new
forms of government to disguise police rule are part of the plan
to quell revolts at home at a time the inter-imperialist rivalry
for world domination is creating the conditions for another
cataclysmic world war which is potentially nuclear.
There is no "third way." We have the program to pay the
and go to war or the alternative to open society's path to
progress by empowering the people on the basis of renewing the
political process and resolving the crisis in favour of the
people. Our security does not lie in the police rule the Liberals
are imposing. Our Security Lies in the Defence of the Rights of
1. Canadian Open Dialogue
Forum 2016 was "a new
initiative for Canada 2020 -- as part of a multi-year project led
by Don Lenihan focused on open government and engagement."
Lenihan was formerly Chair of the Ontario Liberal government's
Open Government Engagement Team which produced a document called
Open By Default -- A new way forward for Ontario. Lenihan has also
authored a number of articles on Open Government and Open
Dialogue including with Carolyn Bennett, now Minister of
Indigenous and Northern Affairs, and Suzanne Legault, Information
Commissioner of Canada.
Participants at the Forum included various other
figures from the federal, Ontario and BC Liberal governments;
representatives of neo-liberal think tanks and the "Open Government
Partnership" NGO; and executives from private business interests
including tech monopolies OpenText, Intuit and Facebook. It was
sponsored by most of the organizations and governments above plus
Rogers, Google and IBM.
For more about the Open Dialogue Forum, read Renewal
March 28, 2016 - No. 10.
2. The booklet is a collection
of essays by has-beens such as Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and other
heads of state from Chile and Denmark; "leaders" from Italy, the
Netherlands and Germany; and Labour Party "leaders" from New Zealand,
Australia and Norway; now joined by Justin Trudeau.
3. Canada 2020
describes itself as "Canada's leading, independent progressive
think-tank." Its founders are Tim Barber, founding partner of
public relations firm Bluesky Strategy Group and former staffer
in the Privy Council Office and the offices of the Deputy Prime
Minister and Minister
of International Trade; Thomas Pitfield, former Senior Policy
Advisor to the Leader of the Government in the Senate under the
previous Liberal government, and former specialist in corporate
governance for IBM; and Susan Smith, a Bluesky Strategy Group
partner and former advisor to a Minister of Transport and
Minister of Human Resources Development.
Barber was called one of the "most influential people
government and politics" in a 2013 Hill
Times profile, which said
"Back in the day, he co-founded the 'Cathay Club' dinners and
annual 'Bluesky' sessions at Meech Lake where he would bring
Ottawa's top people together to deliberate on important public
policy issues. Now he's doing it formally with Canada 2020, but
on a much larger scale, attracting elite international speakers
and hundreds of people to must-attend, sold-out events. Canada
2020 has access to people that other think tanks don't have "
Thomas Pitfield, now President of Canada 2020, is "a
friend of Trudeau and son of former Pierre Trudeau mandarin
Michael Pitfield," Maclean's
writes, calling him part of
Trudeau's "inner circle." Before becoming President of Canada 2020,
Pitfield was Trudeau's chief digital strategist during the
2015 federal election. Pitfield's wife, Anna Gainey, is President
of the Liberal Party.
Canada 2020's "Global Advisors" and "Canadian Advisors"
include a variety of corporate executives. Canada 2020 says its
objective is to "inform and influence debate, to identify
progressive policy solutions and to help redefine federal
government for a modern Canada." It does this by "convening
leading authorities from Canada and abroad, generating original
policy thinking, and prioritizing effective communication."
Its "partners" include: Air Canada, the Automotive
Industries Association of Canada, Biotechnology firm Amgen, the
Association of Petroleum Producers, CIBC, CN Rail, Enbridge, Facebook,
Google, General Electric, Huawei, International Bank of Commerce,
Accounting firm KPMG, Manulife, RioTinto, Suncor Energy, Power
Corporation, Pickworth Investments LP, the Pharmaceutical Research and
Manufacturers of America, TD Bank and Telus.
What Is a Stakeholder?
Capitalism in its decline has come up with all kinds of
theses which claim that capitalism is human. Such theses are part
of an attempt to suggest that capitalism is the most advanced
system human beings are capable of creating. Its only problem is
that it has certain weaknesses. Such theses seek to completely
gloss over the important question of who is to be blamed for the
seemingly unsolvable problems such as unemployment, job
insecurity and poverty, or the crisis in education, health care
and welfare? Instead of going into such issues with the aim of
solving these problems, it is suggested that once these ills,
these weaknesses, are overcome, capitalism will become even more
human than it supposedly already is.
According to these ideologues of the bourgeoisie,
within the capitalist system are only of a policy nature and not
fundamental. The capitalist system is not looked at objectively;
it is viewed from the angle of the aims of the capitalists who
are the dominant force in the society.
Such views ignore the fact that societies follow their
own objective laws of development and decline. Problems exist. They are
the result of the sharpening of class struggle and all people should
work together to solve these problems and thereby open society's door
to progress. But the bourgeoisie and the party in power deal with these
problems by going through the courts. The problem is criminalized; the
struggle of the people and their opinion are "outlawed." At the same
time, the parties in the opposition accuse the party in power of
terrible things. Their aim in doing so is also not to sort out the
problems which exist, but to come to power themselves. The attempt is
made to divert people from solving problems by having them declare that
this or that individual or party is the cause of the problem. Finally,
the thesis of a "stakeholders society" is advanced to hook the people
onto the illusion that somehow they have a say.
According to this vulgar materialism, society is not
of classes but of "stakeholders." The motive force for
development is not the class struggle but the seeking of a
"balance" between these disparate "stakeholders." At the level of
an enterprise or a sector such as education or health care, all
human beings are presented as stakeholders. Class differences
vanish before the commonness of being a "stakeholder."
The problem, of course, is that only the bourgeoisie
a stake in capitalism but it cleverly wants to convince the
working class and people that they also have a stake in
capitalism. In fact, the only stake the working class has in
capitalism is to overthrow it and build socialism. It matters
little to the working class that there are those who do have a
stake in capitalism: stockholders, management, certain consumers
and customers, suppliers, governments, big business and the
enterprises of big labour. A worker knows instinctively that all
of the above have a stake in the capitalist system that they wish
to defend. They all merge and form the "unity of stakeholders"
according to the logic being advanced by the ideologues of the
bourgeoisie at this time.
A worker also knows instinctively that these
work together with the aim of creating "values" in an enterprise
from which they profit, while on a grander scale they work
together to restructure the entire society to fit their schemes
of being competitive in the global market.
Workers are supposed to forget all this, even though
realize it instinctively. Against all logic, they are supposed to
declare themselves as "stakeholders" in the capitalist system. The
capitalist system, which develops through the violent destruction
of the productive forces and has created an ever-increasing
standing army of unemployed and an exploding number of poor, is
now supposedly going to help a worker because that worker has
become a "stakeholder" in capitalism! They are supposed to
abandon class struggle and class antagonisms; they are to believe
that everything will be looked after when a "balance" is struck
between various "stakeholders."
The bourgeoisie applies the same logic to the attempt
teachers, parents and others to declare themselves "stakeholders"
as concerns education; or doctors, nurses and hospital personnel,
as concerns the health care system, and so on. As stakeholders,
parents are supposed to support the deficit-reduction targets and
"pitch in" to make all the changes work smoothly -- all for the
sake of the future of their children and society. The aim of the
bourgeoisie and its governments to completely destroy the system
of public education or public health is supposed to be accepted
by the people under the hoax that they too are "stakeholders." If
they do not do "their bit" to achieve the "balance" between the
various "stakeholders," then they are branded as troublemakers,
or those who "do not want a bright future for society." Every
attempt is made to isolate them.
The intent of this thesis is to make sure that there is
alliance at the base of society of workers and capitalists alike
in whose interest it will be to defend the capitalist system and
go to bat for the bourgeoisie in its campaign to restructure
everything so as to make Canada "the greatest country in the world
in which to live." This is a euphemism for making the Canadian
bourgeoisie competitive on global markets so that it can realize
maximum capitalist profit.
Instead of contributing to overthrowing capitalism, the
working class is supposed to keep busy defending the very system
that is the root of its exploitation and oppression. Instead of
developing antagonism against private property and the
exploitation of persons by persons, the workers are supposed to
develop antagonism against those who wage the class struggle
against the capitalist system and to open society's path to
Improving Decisions About Health,
by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein
The Use of "Libertarian Paternalism" to Activate the
Anti-Human Factor/Anti-Social Consciousness
The book, Nudge:
Improving Decisions About Health,
Happiness by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, begins from the
premise that humans are not
capable of making decisions in their own best interests. People
know that smoking is bad for them and do it anyways, they reach
for the ice cream instead of fruit, they fail to cancel
subscriptions to magazines they never read, and they keep the
television on the same channel all night because they are too
lazy to reach for the remote. In short, people can sometimes be
"mindless, passive decision-makers."
Classical economics, they claim, assumes that people
make choices in their economic best interest. The above examples
illustrate the difference between "Homo economicus" who always make
choices in their economic self-interest, and Homo sapiens who are imperfect and
However, the choices people make are often shaped by
One example given is a person in charge of a school cafeteria,
who notices that children tend to reach for items placed in
certain areas of the cafeteria shelf. She is faced with a dilemma:
she can arrange the food at random and let the chips fall where
they may, arrange to maximize her profits, arrange things to give
the children what they would ordinarily want, or arrange items in
a way that promotes healthy choices. Many would agree that the
latter option is the best choice for her to make. The philosophy
advocated by the authors, "libertarian paternalism," is an
extension of this principle.
Libertarian paternalism holds that people with the
do so, "choice architects" such as the cafeteria worker, should
design their systems in a way that makes it easier for people to
make the choice which is in their best interests. At the same
time, the individual still has the ultimate freedom of choice.
The authors see this as a moderate middle ground between the two
extremes of "one size fits all" government policy-making and the
"Just Maximize Choices" strategy. It is, in their words, "a
promising foundation for bipartisanship" with enthusiastic
support from "conservative Republicans such as Robert Bennett
(Utah) and Rick Santorum (Pa.) And liberal Democrats such as Rahm
Emanuel of Illinois." Rather than force people to behave in a
certain way through legislation, "nudges" should help out the
"least sophisticated" among us, and do minimal harm to the rest
of the people.
The authors present research from the field of social
psychology which shows that human thinking is far from the
perfect rationality that classical economists assume. Real people
overestimate the probability of certain events that they hear
about often, for example the probability of terrorist attacks is
overestimated when people are bombarded with reminders of the
existence of terrorism and have examples fresh in their mind.
Real people are impulsive, they feel the pain of losing money
twice as strongly as the pleasure of winning an equal amount of
money, they go with the status quo, and they follow what others
are doing. This last human weakness, "following the herd" played
"a key role in producing the recent speculative boom and
resulting financial crisis of 2008."
People have busy lives and can't possibly think
every time they are faced with a choice. Often they will become
overwhelmed and fail to even make a choice, even on important
matters such as their pensions. Therefore, one way of giving a
"nudge" is by consciously setting a default. For example, in
the No Child Left Behind Act, children's names were handed
over to military recruitment agencies by default, with the option
for parents to opt out, potentially through a complicated and
The authors believe the free market works for the most
with two caveats: firstly, people are not the perfectly rational
beings that economists assume they are, and secondly, in some
cases "companies have an incentive to cater to people's frailties
and to exploit them."
In "Part II: Money," the authors apply the conclusions
of social psychology to the financial system. Firstly they deal with
pensions. The starting point for their discussion of pensions is the
low rate of personal savings for Americans (net savings was negative in
2005, for the first time since 1933), and the assessment that Social
Security faces the danger of insolvency. "We will eventually have to
bite the bullet in order to make Social Security solvent, through some
combination of tax increases or benefit cuts. Americans would be better
able to deal with this problem if they were saving more on their own."
The question then is how to nudge Americans into increasing their
The authors compare defined-benefit and
pension plans. According to them, defined-benefit plans have the virtue
of being simple for humans to choose -- the only choice is when to
start receiving benefits. Defined-contribution plans (known in the U.S.
as 401(k) plans), on the other
hand, have the advantage of being portable, so workers are free
to move from one job to another. However, more decisions are
required from the individual and they can be overwhelming. They
suggest nudges for increasing participation in
defined-contribution pension plans, such as default enrollment
and the Save More Tomorrow program which automatically increases
contribution rates with each employee pay raise. As well,
employers can adjust their formulas for matching employee
contribution to encourage higher contribution rates. They cite
the Pension Protection Act, passed by Congress in 2006, as
an excellent example of the sort of nudging they are talking
Most people, they say, should be investing more in
stocks and less in bonds, because in the long term (as in the 30-year
period from employment to retirement) stocks are almost
certain to pay more. The practice of issuing company stock to employees
is a problem, as exemplified by the plight of Enron employees. They
acknowledge that an argument can be made for limiting the percentage of
an employee's retirement portfolio that is held in company stock, but a
"more libertarian" alternative is to cease giving company stock
preferential treatment under the law and force employers to treat
company stock like any other investment. To reduce exceptionally large
holdings of company stock, employers could offer employees the Sell
More Tomorrow plan, to sell off shares over a three-year period and
reinvest the proceeds in a more diversified
A possible "choice architecture" for 401(k) plans could
funds organized by maturity date, with funds gradually
shifting from higher-risk investments (stocks) to lower-risk
investments (bonds) as the employee's retirement date
Next the authors deal with credit markets: that is,
mortgages, credit cards and student loans. Of particular
interest is their comment on loans for "the poorest and
highest-risk borrowers, the so-called subprime market." They
recognize two "extreme" views about subprime loans. Some on the
left label all subprime loans as predatory, failing to recognize
that higher-risk loans must have higher interest to compensate
the moneylenders. Some on the other side think the only problem
is with the left's failure to grasp this fact -- in reality
higher-risk borrowers are sometimes unsophisticated and taken
They say the market, left alone, will solve the
created by subprime lending and the subsequent foreclosures, but
markets failed to prevent the problem in the first place. Some
have advocated limiting the set of permissible mortgages, for
example banning mortgages with negative amortization, but this
prohibits contracts which may sometimes be mutually beneficial.
Instead, they suggest better up-front reporting of mortgage
plans, incorporating all the fees and interest rate provisions
into a form "that humans can understand."
Subsequent chapters discuss privatizing social
prescription drug plan, increasing organ donations, reducing
carbon emissions, providing more school choice, allowing patients
to waive the right to sue their physician, and privatizing
"marriage" while retaining a legal category of "civil union."
The concept of libertarian paternalism is an assault on
the right of people to make their decisions as a collective. What
promoters of focus groups call the "top of mind" opinion is considered
unsophisticated. Similarly in Nudge
the authors discuss the automatic and reflective systems of the brain.
The automatic system is prone to error. Since people rely heavily on
the automatic system, they require a facilitator or "choice architect"
to compensate for this deficiency.
1. About the Authors:
A study of legal publications between 2009 and 2013
found author Cass Sunstein to be the most frequently cited U.S. legal
scholar. He taught for 27 years at the University of Chicago Law
School. He is currently the Robert Walmsley University Professor at
Harvard Law School. His fields of expertise are constitutional law,
administrative law, environmental law, and law and behavioural
economics. Sunstein was also U.S. President Barack Obama's head of the
White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs from 2009 to
2012, and he considers Obama a personal friend. In July 2008, he
married Samantha Power, who has been U.S. Ambassador to the United
Nations since 2013. Prior to that, from January 2009, she was Special
Assistant to the President and Senior Director running the Office of
Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights at the National Security Council.
She served as a campaign advisor to Barack Obama during his first
presidential election campaign, but resigned after an interview was
printed where she described Hilary Clinton as "a monster."
Co-author Richard Thaler is the Ralph and Dorothy
Distinguished Service Professor of Behavioral Science and
Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
He was cited in a 2008 University of Chicago profile as a
consultant to Barack Obama's former top economic advisor and
chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Austan Goolsbee.
Goolsbee is now the Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics at The
University of Chicago's Booth School of Business.
2. This is an edited
version of a review first
presented at the National Seminar on Modern Communism held by CPC(M-L)
in December 2009.
Government Steps Up Anti-Social
Government's Use of Behavioural Economics
It is now confirmed that the Trudeau government has
what is called behavioural economics, a nasty, manipulative
marketing method which purports to "nudge" people into making
"the right" choices for themselves. The use of behavioural
economics by government has the basic aim of imposing the
anti-social offensive by getting people to accept its ideological
underpinnings without question. "Ethical concerns" are dismissed
so long as there is "transparency."
The "Innovation Hub" of the
Privy Council Office (PCO)
its first "behavioural economics briefing" on March 8 and 9 at
Ottawa's Shaw Centre. The forum was hosted by Families, Children
and Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos; Stephen Lucas,
PCO's deputy secretary to the Cabinet plans and consultations and
intergovernmental affairs; Ian Shugart, deputy minister of
Employment and Social Development; and Andrew Treusch, the CEO of
the Canada Revenue Agency. PCO spokesperson Raymond Rivet said
the use of behavioural economics is "an emerging tool for
governments seeking to improve the programs and services offered
to citizens." He said that "[c]ombining economics with
behavioural psychology" can "help governments make services more
client-focused, increase uptake of programs, and improve
Bill Curry, the Globe
reporter, explained behavioural economics and its
introduction to Canada in a 2013 article. Behavioural
economics argues there are exceptions to people making rational
decisions which are in their best interests: specifically, that
people "are biased toward choosing the status quo, can be
altruistic in their decisions, are influenced by their peers, and
will often choose a greater short-term gain even when that choice
might be less beneficial over the long run."
In 2013, Michael Horgan, the Deputy Minister of Finance
Canada under the Harper government, was briefed on "behavioural
economics" by a British "Behavioural Insights Team." Curry
described this team as "about a dozen policy wonks, mostly
economists, who employ psychological research to subtly persuade
people to pay their taxes on time, get off unemployment or
insulate their attic." The "goal" was described as "[t]o make
consumers act in their own best interests -- and save the
government loads of money."
The field of behavioural economics was popularized by
2008 book Nudge: Improving decisions
about health, wealth and
happiness, by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. (See Review in
this issue of TML Weekly.)
"The U.K. government called on Prof.
Thaler, a behavioural science and economics professor at the
University of Chicago, to help set up the nudge unit," Curry
In 2013, "David Barnabe, a spokesperson for Finance
confirmed the department is incorporating behavioural economics
in recent policy moves. He pointed to efforts that would make
automatic enrolment the default option for employees under the
Pooled Registered Pension Plans -- a federal proposal for
privately-run voluntary pension plans that require the support of
the provinces. He also noted that federal regulations now force
credit card companies to show on customers' bills "how long it
would take them to pay off the balance owing on their account if
they only make minimum payments."
University of Toronto economics professor Philip
worked on a related project for the Ontario government that
encourages high-school students to enroll in post-secondary
education and student aid programs.
"The Dec. 12  Finance briefing note, written by
assistant deputy minister Benoit Robidoux, praises behavioural
economics as a 'virtually costless' way of making government
policies significantly more effective -- though the note points
out that nudging isn't without some risk," Curry reported.
"There are some ethical concerns about subtly pushing
people's decision making in a certain direction without their
knowledge," Mr. Robidoux's note says. "The opportunity for abuse
on the part of policy makers is a valid concern; however, this
concern is not fundamentally different from concerns over the
abuse of traditional policy tools provided that nudges are
designed to be transparent."
Curry's article concludes as follows: "The briefing
note includes sections called 'implications for Canada' and 'next
steps' -- both of which were blacked out entirely." Now, under the
Trudeau Government, these "next steps" are being implemented and
Canadians will find out about not only "the implications for Canada"
but also the implications for themselves.
Fraudulent Government Consultations on
TML Weekly is
publishing below an article by
Canadians Trade Campaigner Sujata Dey on the International Trade
Minister's consultations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership
neo-liberal free trade agreement, which Canada signed on February
4. The minister's consultations have been widely promoted as an
example of the government listening and responding to Canadians'
concerns although they have already indicated they will agree to
the deal no matter what. The Council of Canadians exposes the
fact that these consultations are with a select few who the
government considers "stakeholders" which happen to be private
monopoly interests in favour of imperialist free trade.
Here's the recipe for a government consultation: first
all, the consultations are by invitation only. A select group of
industry representatives or university professors are invited. No
one else in the local community knows about it.
The night before, through snooping, we get a notice
either Chrystia Freeland or her sidekick, Parliamentary Secretary
David Lametti, will be doing a press conference, generally at a
university the next morning following their consultations. At the
actual event, there will be a small boardroom full of people.
Sometimes, there are more when they stack the room with
There, a panel of experts talk about the TPP's
Then, there is a short question and answer period, where no one
actually answers any questions. There is no record of the
questions, and no report, as far as we can see. Only after the
event does the government put up pictures of the "public
Here are some of the highlights of the open
Vancouver, January 13:
The event was billed as "part of
national consultation tour." Panellists included John Ries, a
professor of business economics at the Sauder School of Business,
Matilde Bombardini, a professor at the Vancouver School of
Economics, and moderator Yves Tiberghien, director of the
Institute of Asian Research. Unfortunately, as our Chapter
activist Tilby notes, "All the panellists minimized the impact of
the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision and made
little or no reference to the impact on our democracy." Nor did
Freeland appear to see ISDS as a major issue. Meghan Sali from
Open Media noted that six people were allowed to ask questions.
None were answered.
Quebec City, January
18 and Halifax, January 20: For
City, we heard about the event hours before. For Halifax, we got
a notice the night before that they would be consulting the
Halifax Port Authority. We were unable to attend.
Montreal, January 14:
The notice was surprisingly long:
whole days in advance! There was a panel of three academics:
Vincent Arel-Bundock, Cléo Paskal and Krzysztof Pelc. Only a few
questions from the audience. No responses. Many students in the
room. I snuck in a question about how this deal was created in
secret between the plutocrats of the world, and how could
Freeland reconcile this with her writing on inequality. We are
all waiting for the answer.
Regina, January 21:
Again, this was an event that
less than 24 hours' notice, as noted by Council of Canadians
member Jim Elliot in the Regina
Leader Post and the Regina
Winnipeg, January 22:
Just the next day, again, with
than 24 hours' notice, they had another "public consultation."
Our Prairies organizer, Brigette Depape, and activist Jobb Arnold
managed to have a conversation with Parliamentary Secretary David
St. John's, March 16:
In this case, it seems that some
activists were able to get invitations through the Harris Centre.
But apparently, no mainstream media showed up, as these tweets
Guelph, March 17: Again,
were able to crash the event, and
invited Lametti to their town hall on the TPP.
So now, we find ourselves asking questions aloud about
Why are we getting notice only a day before? According
to the Independent,
Lametti says, "We can't plan that far in advance
We're all members of Parliament as well. So because we are
sitting, often times the trips are organized, as I said,
relatively quickly and it's hard to plan."
Are they a smoke screen? Why only industry reps, and
citizens? Given that the corporate sector gets consulted first,
does that not set the tone for the rest of the consultations?
Now, it is still not too late to have proper
We hear that the House of Commons Standing Committee on
International Trade, a cross-party committee, will be holding
hearings in Saskatoon, Calgary, Vancouver and Winnipeg. And that
Lametti will be doing his own consulting in Fredericton on March
30 and in P.E.I. on March 31.
But the Committee's press release says, "The
primary objective is to assess the extent to which the agreement,
once implemented, would be in the best interests of Canadians."
Does that mean the government has made up its mind?
It is well documented that, for years, corporate
lobbyists have had their hands [all] over it, in private. Surely, now,
we get to have [a] good look at it: civil society, unions, First
Nations, municipalities and provinces.
We at the Council of Canadians have also been asking
consultations, an independent analysis by the Parliamentary
Budget Officer and also analysis that would include impacts on
the environment and human rights. It is not enough to put up
6,000 pages of legal text or get department cheerleaders to brag
about it. We need to have an impact analysis from independent
sources so we can weigh the pros and cons of the agreement.
In the meantime, we will be consulting you. And we will
the government hear your opinion. With Open Media and other
groups, we are participating in creating a tool that will send
your comments to the Parliamentary Committee on Trade and to your
MP. We will also keep your comments online so that we also can
keep track of your comments.
Use the tool to send your comments, register for the
committee on trade's process and talk to your local MP: many all
over the world have questions about how the deal damages our
public interest, the environment, health care and our democracy.
We are more numerous, and we deserve a hearing.
Government Opposes UN Appointment of
Human Rights Violations in Palestine
In a March 26 letter, Choi
Kyong-lim, President of the
Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) announced that he has
appointed Michael Lynk, an Associate Professor at the
Faculty of Law at Western University in London, Ontario as Special
Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian
territories occupied since 1967.
The appointment of the Special Rapporteur was
part of the work of the 31st session of the UNHRC which took
place February 29 to March 24. Candidates to fill the position
were recommended by a consultative group comprised of
representatives from Egypt, Thailand, Brazil, France and
The previous Special Rapporteur, Makarim Wibisono,
resigned on January 4. He had served since 2014, succeeding Richard
Falk who had served two terms from 2008. In his letter
of resignation Wibisono stated, "Unfortunately, my efforts to
help improve the lives of Palestinian victims of violations under
the Israeli occupation have been frustrated every step of the
way." Wibisono said since he took up the mandate in June 2014 he
has been denied repeated requests for access to the territory by
Israel, the occupying state in Palestine and was therefore unable
to fulfill the mandate of the position. Falk was likewise denied
entry to Palestine by Israel.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Stéphane Dion called
on the UNHRC to "review this appointment" and ensure the Special
Rapporteur "has [a] track record that can advance peace in [the]
region," in an announcement on his official Twitter page on March 25.
Dion's office noted, "this candidate was not put forward by Canada and
does not represent the views of this government." Dion wrote on
Twitter, "Canada will continue to advocate for transparent processes
for the appointment of credible, impartial & objective Special
Mouthpieces for the state of
Israel and pro-Israel fanatics came
fully against Lynk, accusing him of a pro-Palestinian bias and of
being involved in "anti-Israel advocacy" in Canada. Shimon
Koffler Fogel, CEO of the pro-Israel lobby group the Centre for Israel
and Jewish Affairs, "strongly denounced" Lynk's
appointment and called on Ottawa to object, as well. The
opposition Conservative Party has called on Prime Minister
Trudeau to apply pressure on the UNHRC for Lynk to be
Following the government's objections to Lynk's
appointment and attempts to sow doubt about his qualifications, it has
been pointed out that
this reaction, like the government-supported motion to condemn
activists calling for a boycott of Israel, is aimed at silencing
Canadians. Former Member of Parliament Craig Scott, a personal
acquaintance of Lynk wrote in a letter to Dion, "We as Members of
Parliament [me formerly and you currently] may be used to being
targets of politicised personal attacks... But it is not the role
of politicians to dole out the same treatment to Canadian
citizens who are in good faith trying to do their part to achieve
respect for human rights and the rule of law in their area of
interest and competence."
In applying for the position, Lynk wrote, "I have
professional and personal familiarity with the Israel-Palestine
conflict. I served as a refugee affairs officer, based in
Jerusalem, working in the Palestinian refugee camps on the West
Bank with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in 1989. I
have published a number of legal articles on the conflict, and I
have visited the area on six occasions."
Lynk indicated that his work in the position and
would be based on a framework of international law. "The value of
thinking about the Israel-Palestine conflict through the lens of
international law is that it brings an indisputably impartial,
universally accepted and forward-looking perspective on how to
analyze this predicament, how to assess the social and political
facts on the ground, and how to imagine just solutions for the
people who are living through the conflict. In particular, the
heart of modern international human rights and humanitarian law
is meant to protect those who lack the effective power to defend
themselves from arbitrary state conduct, from the denial of their
personal and national dignity," he said.
Since Israel has been found
time and time again to be
violating international law in its occupation of Palestinian
territories and all the crimes contained within it, Lynk's
appointment has raised the ire of the ruling elite for whom a
treatment of the problem on the basis of international law is
Former Special Rapporteur Richard Falk, writing about
resignation of Wibisono, noted that anyone in the position is
"faced with a dilemma between doing the job properly of reporting
on Israel's crimes and human rights abuses and gaining Israel's
cooperation in the course of gathering this evidence." He stated
that Wibisono's resignation after being denied the ability to
fulfill the mandate of the position "doesn't allow Israel to get
away with neutering the position of special rapporteur." Falk
writes that until Palestine's self-determination is recognized,
"the least that UN can do is to keep open this window of
observation and appraisal," and that until Palestinians'
fundamental rights are realized, "the UN should give this remnant
of the colonial era as much attention as possible."
1. Before becoming an academic,
Lynk practiced labour
Ottawa and Toronto for a decade. Professor Lynk is a vice-chair
with the Ontario Grievance Settlement Board, and has served as a
vice-chair with the Ontario Public Service Grievance Board for
the last 15 years. He has written widely on the issues of labour
law and human rights. He served as a refugee affairs officer
based in Jerusalem, working in the Palestinian refugee camps on
the West Bank with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency
(UNRWA) in 1989 and has visited the area on several occasions.
The Consultative Group overseeing the nomination of candidates
for the position noted that Mr. Lynk had a concrete vision for
implementing the mandate whilst aware of the challenges, and that
he outlined his commitment to exploring new ways to work,
including through use of modern technology. The UNHRC president
appointed Lynk based on criteria relating to "(a) expertise; (b)
experience in the field of the mandate; (c) independence; (d)
impartiality; (e) personal integrity; and (f) objectivity."
2. The Centre for Israel and
Jewish Affairs is the advocacy arm of the Jewish Federations of Canada,
which is a registered charity in Canada under the legal name United
Israel Appeal of Canada inc. It lists the following as agents in
delivering of its programs in Israel: American Jewish Joint
Distribution Committee (JDC), the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), the
government of Israel, the Rashi Foundation and other Israeli
French Workers Go All Out to Oppose
Protests Against Neo-Liberal Changes to
More than a million workers and students in France
demonstrated on March 31 against the reforms to the Labour Code
initiated by the government of François Hollande. The government
is trying to justify the changes to the Labour Code in the name of
stabilizing and growing the economy and job creation. The proposed
changes to the Labour Code will enable larger companies to impose new
"flexible" working hours that would compel workers under "exceptional
circumstances" to work up to 60 hours a week with less overtime pay.
The protesters point out that the proposed changes would create more
job insecurity particularly for women and young people. A recent poll
found that almost 60 per cent of those polled opposed the changes to
the labour legislation. Shown here is the action in Paris.
Discussion on Significance of
Obama's Visit to Cuba and Upcoming Party Congress
The Spanish kings brought us the conquistadors and
imprints remained in the circular mounds of earth assigned to the gold
prospectors in the river sand, an abusive and shameful form of
exploitation whose vestiges can be seen from the air at many sites in
Today to a great extent tourism consists in showing off the glories of
the scenery and tasting the food delicacies from our seas; we always
share this with the private capital of the large foreign corporations
whose revenues, if they don't reach the billions of dollars per capita
level, don't even deserve to be noticed.
Fidel Castro surrounded by the Five Cuban Heroes, February 28, 2015,
shortly after their return to Cuba.
I must add, since I am obliged to mention the subject,
and mainly for
the young people, that few people are aware of the importance of such a
condition at this singular moment in human history. I wouldn't say that
time has been lost but I don't hesitate in stating that neither you nor
we are sufficiently well-informed with the knowledge and awareness we
should possess in order to confront the realities challenging us. The
first thing we should be aware of is that our lives are a historical
fraction of a second, that we must also share the necessities of life
of all human beings. One of these characteristics is the trend of
placing too high a value on their role, and this is contrasted on the
other hand with the extraordinary number of persons who embody the
loftiest of dreams.
But nobody is good or bad per se.
society. In part, we Cubans
have the privilege of having the example of José Martí. I
even wonder whether he had to fall or not at Dos Rios when he said "Now
is my time" and he charged against the Spanish in their trenches in a
solid line of fire.
He didn't want to return to the United States and nobody would make him
return. Someone ripped some pages from his diary. Whose perfidious
fault was that? No doubt it was the work of some unscrupulous plotting
soul. We know of differences among the leaders but there were no
instances of indiscipline. Our glorious black leader Antonio Maceo
declared: "Whoever should try to take over Cuba will be covered in the
dust of its earth drowned in blood, unless they perish in battle." We
also acknowledge Máximo Gómez as the most disciplined and
discrete military leader in our history.
Looking at it from another angle, how can we not help but admire the
indignation of Bonifacio Byrne when he declared, from the distant ship
that was bringing him back to Cuba and as he saw the other flag flying
beside our lone star flag: "My flag is the one that has never been a
mercenary one....," immediately adding one of the loveliest phrases
have ever heard: "If fragmented into tiny bits it should again be my
flag someday…the raised arms of our dead will be ready to defend it
still!…" Nor shall I forget the passionate words of Camilo Cienfuegos
that night when several dozens of meters away bazookas and machine guns
of US origin and in the hands of counter-revolutionaries were being
aimed at the terrace where we were standing. Obama was born in August
of 1961, as he himself told us. Over half a century would pass since
Nevertheless, let's see how our illustrious visitor thinks:
"I have come here to bury the last remnant of the Cold
War in the
Americas. I have come here to extend the hand of friendship to the
This is immediately followed by a flood of concepts, entirely new ones
for most of us:
"We both live in a new world, colonized by Europeans." The US President
went on: "Cuba, like the United States, was built in part by slaves
brought here from Africa. Like the United States, the Cuban people can
trace their heritage to both slaves and slave-owners."
The native populations don't even seem to exist in
Obama's mind. Nor
does he say that racial discrimination was swept away by the
Revolution; that pensions and salaries for all Cubans were decreed by
the Revolution before Mr. Barack Obama's tenth birthday. The odious
bourgeois and racist custom of hiring thugs to throw black citizens out
of recreation centers was swept away by the Cuban Revolution. This
would go down in history in the battle that was fought in Angola
against apartheid, putting an end to the presence of nuclear weapons on
a continent of over a billion inhabitants. That wasn't the purpose of
our solidarity; we wanted to help the peoples of Angola, Mozambique,
Guinea Bissau and others to rid themselves of Portugal's fascist
In 1961, just two years and three months after the Triumph of the
Revolution, a mercenary force, with cannon and armored infantry and
equipped with planes, was trained and accompanied by US warships and
aircraft carriers in a surprise attack on our country. Nothing can
justify that premeditated attack which cost our country hundreds of
casualties, both in dead and wounded. Nowhere is it recorded that the
pro-Yankee assault brigade was able to evacuate one single mercenary.
Yankee combat planes were presented at the United Nations as having
been taken by rebel Cubans.
That country's military experience and power is extremely well-known.
They also thought that Revolutionary Cuba would be easily knocked out
of combat in Africa. The attack through southern Angola of the racist
South African motorized brigades brought them close to Luanda, the
Angolan capital. A struggle ensued there, lasting for no less than 15
years. I wouldn't even be speaking of this unless I had the elementary
duty of responding to Obama's speech at the Gran Teatro de La Habana
Meeting in 1990 between Fidel Castro and Nelson Mandela.
Nor shall I attempt to provide details, I will just
emphasize that over
there a glorious page was written in the struggle for the liberation of
human beings. In some way I was hoping that Obama's conduct would be
correct. His humble origins and natural intelligence were obvious.
Mandela was imprisoned for life and became a giant in the struggle for
human dignity. One day a copy of a book telling about part of Mandela's
life ended up in my hands and, what a surprise, the prologue had been
written by Barack Obama. I glanced over it quickly. The size of the
tiny letters used by Mandela to specify information was incredible. It
is worthwhile to have met such a man.
I have to indicate yet another experience in the South
I was really interested to learn more details about how the South
Africans had acquired their nuclear weapons. I only had very precise
information that there were not more than 10 or 12 bombs.
Researcher and Professor Piero Gleijeses would be a trustworthy source,
having written the excellent "Missions in Conflict: Havana, Washington
and Africa 1959-1976." I knew that he was the most reliable source on
what had happened and I communicated this to him. He answered me that
he had not spoken further on the matter because in the text he had
been replying to the questions of comrade Jorge Risquet, a good friend
of his who had been the Cuban ambassador or collaborator in Angola. I
located Risquet; he was involved in some other important matters, in
the final weeks of a course. That task coincided with a rather recent
trip Piero made to Cuba. I had advised him that Risquet was getting on
in years and his health was not the best. A few days later, as I had
feared, Risquet got worse and died. When Piero arrived there was
nothing left to do but make some promises. But I had by that time
gotten hold of information about matters dealing with those nuclear
the help racist South Africa had received from Reagan and Israel.
I don't know what Obama would say about this story. I don't know
whether he knew anything or not, even though it is rather doubtful that
he would know absolutely nothing. My modest suggestion is that he
should reflect and not try to elaborate any theories now about Cuban
There is one important matter:
Obama gave a speech where he used saccharine words to
time, now, to leave the past behind. It is time for us to look forward
to the future together…un future de
esperanza. And it won't be easy,
and there will be setbacks. It will take time. But my time here in Cuba
renews my hope and my confidence in what the Cuban people will do. We
can make this journey as friends, and as neighbors, and as family…
We presume that each one of us ran the risk of having a heart attack
upon hearing those words spoken by the President of the United States.
With a pitiless blockade lasting for almost 60 years, and those who
have died in mercenary attacks on Cuban ships and ports, an airliner
full of passengers exploded in mid-flight, mercenary invasions,
multiple acts of violence and force?
Nobody could be so naive as to think that this noble and
self-sacrificing people would renounce glory and their rights, and the
spiritual richness they have earned with the development of education,
science and culture.
Furthermore I would point out that we are capable of producing the
foods and material wealth that we need, with the efforts and
intelligence of our people. We do not need the Empire to give us any
gifts. Our efforts shall be legal and peaceful because we are committed
to peace and to the sense of brotherhood among all human beings who
live on this planet.
Fidel Castro Ruz
27 March 2016
Party Congress Less Than a Month Away
Less than a month remains before the 7th Party
Congress, which will begin April 16, when the 55th anniversary of the
proclamation of the socialist character of the Revolution will be
celebrated, and also marking exactly five years since the opening of
the 6th Congress. The Congress will continue through the 19th, thus
fulfilling one of the objectives (number 17) approved at the First
National Conference: Maintain the time frame established in the
Statutes for holding Party congresses.
This past February 29, Granma published
the process of electing delegates to the Congress, and the
following day noted the simultaneous beginning in all provinces
of consultation meetings to discuss the documents which will be
submitted to the Party's maximum authority.
The editorial office of this newspaper has
various means, expressions of concern from Party members (and
non-members, as well) inquiring about the reasons for which, on
this occasion, plans were not made for a popular discussion
process, similar to that held five years ago regarding the
proposed Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the Party and
The fact that such opinions and doubts were
expressed is in
no way reproachable, much less when they come from people who are
genuinely concerned about the work of the Party and the country's
destiny. On the contrary, this is a demonstration of the
democracy and participation which are intrinsic characteristics
of the socialism we are building. Army General Raúl Castro
himself, during the closing session of the First National
Conference, called for "fomenting a climate of maximum confidence
and the creation of required conditions at all levels for the
broadest and most sincere exchange of opinions, both in the heart
of the organization and in its interactions with workers and the
And it has been a tradition (or rather, a political
right won) throughout the long history of the Revolution that the
people have always been consulted, when big decisions are made. The
First and Second Declarations of Havana were adopted in José
Martí Plaza de la Revolución, and with similar popular
participation, that of Santiago de Cuba was approved in the 1960s. The
overwhelming vote of approval of the vast majority provided our
Republic with a socialist Constitution. In the most difficult days of
the Special Period, Workers' Parliaments throughout the length and
breadth of the country reiterated that Cuba would continue being an
Still fresh in the memory of all Cubans is the exemplary
fashion in which discussion of the original 291 Guidelines was
organized. They were published November 9, 2010, and over a three-month
period (December 2010 to February 2011) they were debated by the entire
people, in 163,079 meetings with 8,913,838 participants. Some 3,019,471
comments were made, which were grouped in 781,644 areas of opinion. All
were analyzed in detail, and as a result, 94 guidelines (32 per cent)
were maintained as proposed; 197 were modified or incorporated into
others (68 per cent); and 36 new guidelines were added. The resulting
311 were first discussed at the provincial level, and later in Congress
sessions by delegates and invited experts. Eighty-six guidelines were
modified at that time (28 per cent) and two new ones approved. Thus the
definitive 313 Guidelines were written, as a genuine expression of the
people's will, reaffirmed with approval by the National Assembly of
The Congress agreed on procedures to ensure
guidelines would not simply be filed away, advising the
government to create a Standing Commission for Implementation and
Development, which, without derogating the roles of Central State
Administrative Bodies, would guarantee coordination and
comprehensiveness in the complex process of updating the
country's model. The Congress likewise indicated that the Party,
at all levels, would supervise, promote, and demand the
fulfillment of the approved guidelines.
Local party leaders in the eastern Cuban
town of Segundo Frente approve
their representatives to the 7th Communist Party Congress this
coming April. The list included Raul Castro. (Granma)
Since then, both in Central Committee
National Assembly, the practical implementation of what was
approved has been analyzed twice a year, discussions about which
ample information has been provided by different media, as has
been the case with Council of Ministers meetings which have
approved policies to assure the guidelines' implementation.
It has always been clear that this would
not be an
since this was no experiment in a sterile laboratory, but rather
a fundamental transformation at the social level, based on the
unassailable premise of not applying shock therapies, so common
in capitalist countries, or leaving anyone unprotected. All of
this set in the context of an international economic crisis and
the pernicious, ever-present blockade.
Raúl alerted in the Central Report
presented to the
Congress, "We are convinced that the task we have before us, on
this and other issues linked to the updating of our economic
model, is full of difficulties and interrelations which touch, to
one degree or another, all facets of society as a whole, and thus
we know that it is not a question to be resolved in a day, not
even in a year, and that it will require at least five years for
implementation to unfold with the harmony and comprehensiveness
And this is how it has gone. The balance
been accomplished in five years reveals that 21 per cent of the
guidelines have been implemented, while 77 per cent are in the
process. The remaining 2 per cent (five guidelines) have not been
carried out for different reasons. It must be taken into account
that the implementation of a number of the most complex changes
began in 2014 and 2015, and the initial results are just
beginning to be seen.
Given all of the above, rather than
of discussion on a national level, half way along the road, what
is more appropriate is finishing what has begun -- continuing to
carry out the people's will expressed five years ago, and
continuing to advance in the direction charted by the 6th
In this way, the 7th Congress will
in assemblies at the grassroots, municipal and provincial levels.
The reports presented in the provinces were published in full in
local newspapers, and their content debated in hundreds of
meetings around the country.
The documents which will be submitted to
Congress are the
result of a collective drafting process, with the participation
of dozens of officials, researchers in economics and the social
sciences, and professors. They have been analyzed by the
Implementation Commission's Scientific Council composed of more
than 130 highly qualified experts.
Subsequently, in the Central Committee
2015 and January 2016, the documents were discussed, after
several drafts had been perfected. Observations and proposals
made by this Party leadership body were taken into account in new
versions of each of the six texts which were finally submitted to
the consultation meetings of delegates, held simultaneously in
all provinces, the first week of March.
Present at these meetings were all
the grassroots level and elected democratically, representing the
Party's membership and the Cuban people as a whole. Women have a
significant presence (43 per cent), and while for logical reasons
given an event of this kind, many men and women with a great deal
of experience were elected, there are 55 young Party members
under the age of 35 among the delegates.
Also attending the consultation meetings
invited guests who likewise made proposals to enrich the
documents. Among those participating were all National Assembly
deputies, representatives from Central State Administrative
Bodies, university professors, researchers from scientific
centres, veterans, grassroots leaders of mass organizations,
representatives of our civil society, religious leaders,
students, farmers, intellectuals and artists, including
non-members of the Party.
One of the documents evaluates the national
performance during the five-year period, 2011-2015; another,
progress in the implementation of guidelines; and a third, an
updating of these for 2016-2021.
A fourth document of profound theoretical
conceptualization of Cuba's socio-economic model of socialist
development; while the fifth presents the Economic Development
Program through 2030. These last two are both focused on the
country we want, and constitute an expression of the nation's
economic and social strategy -- with the guidelines approved by
the 6th Congress serving as the tactical approach to reach our
aspirations, reflecting their continuity and development. These
documents do not, therefore, represent anything different in
terms of the road taken, but rather a higher level expression
based on what has been discussed and submitted for consultation
to all Party members and the people.
The sixth document evaluates the
status of the
First National Conference's objectives approved in January of
2012. It includes a generally favourable balance sheet, and
projects continued work on these goals.
One can imagine the complexity of drafting
which in some cases required more time than initially
They are all closely interrelated,
accomplished to date, what remains to be done, and charting the
future on the socio-economic and political-ideological planes.
They cannot be seen through a static lens; they will be debated
at the 7th Congress and, as was the case with their antecedents,
they will be submitted to periodic reviews.
The 7th Congress will give continuity to
Congress and the First National Party Conference, and provide a
much more precise definition of the path to be taken by our
country -- sovereign and truly independent since the triumph of
the Revolution, January 1, 1959 -- in order to build a prosperous
and sustainable socialism.
1. Baragua, in present-day
Holguín province, is the site of the historic Baragua Protest.
On March 15, 1878, General Antonio Maceo of the Cuban Independence Army
met with General Arsenio Martínez Campos, Spain's top colonial
authority in Cuba, to discuss peace terms arising from the Zanjon Pact
that ended the 10 Years' War. Maceo expressed his refusal to lay down
arms without having achieved the aims of the people's struggle --
independence and the abolition of slavery, as stipulated in the Zanjon
Pact -- and stated his intention to continue the fight for Cuba's
Thus was manifest the intransigent spirit of the Cuban people who did
not want peace without independence, a spirit which carries on to the
present. Referring to this event, José Martí said, "I
have now before me the Baraguá Protest, which is one of the most
glorious pages of our history." (Website of the Ministry of the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba)
Brazil, March 31, 1964
Brazilians Say No! to Another
Hundreds of thousands of Brazilians took part in
actions across the country on March 31 to defend democracy and oppose
the coup attempt by right-wing opposition forces against President
Dilma Rousseff. The March 31 actions coincided with the anniversary of
the 1964 U.S.-backed coup that overthrew the progressive government of
President Joao Goulart of the Labour Party. That coup ushered in a
military dictatorship which ruled Brazil for more than 20 years and on
this anniversary Brazilians vehemently rejected the possibility of
going back to another coup or anti-people dictatorship.
Social movements, trade unions and student groups mobilized in at least
56 Brazilian cities. In the capital, Brasilia, former President Lula da
Silva presided over an action estimated at 100,000 people strong. The
Communist Party of Brazil estimates that a total of 800,000 people took
to the streets across Brazil. Solidarity actions also took place in
Canada, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain and other countries.
Buenos Aires, Argentina; New York, U.S.
Ottawa, Canada; London, UK
Paris, France; Berlin,
Pro-War Security Laws
Japan Broadens Its
protesters gather outside the Japanese parliament in Tokyo, March 29,
2016 to protest the new security laws that allow its
military to engage in conflicts abroad. More than 37,000
protesters, including members of four opposition parties,
joined the rally. (Xinhua)
The Japanese government's
new pro-war security laws,
in December, came into force on March 29 amidst widespread
opposition. The laws allow the
military to engage in action overseas, defending allies who come
under attack. The new laws are a reinterpretation of Japan's
post-war constitution. Many believe the government is distorting
the original intention of the constitution to promote the
settlement of international disputes peacefully through diplomacy
without resorting to force and war, which prohibits Japanese
military activity beyond its borders. As with all post-war
arrangements throughout the world, so too the constitution
imposed on the Japanese militarists after their defeat is under
The government of Shinzo Abe insists external forces
threatening the national interests of the state and its close
allies. It says those threats need to be confronted abroad before
they reach the homelands of Japan and the United States. The
government and its spokespersons suggest that within the military
alliance with U.S. imperialism even preventive wars or surprise
strikes against declared enemies such as the Democratic People's
Republic of Korea (DPRK) may be necessary.
The Abe government
says force of arms is
beyond its borders if the state's national security is to be
secured. The self-serving reinterpretation of the constitution is
couched in terms of "collective self-defence" in alliance with
other friendly states whose national security is threatened,
which of course in the present situation is the U.S. military
Demonstration in Tokyo, August 30, 2015, as the security bills were
The ruling elite insist
their national interests are
interwoven with those of U.S. imperialism that the Japanese
military must respond anywhere when U.S. national interests are
attacked or threatened. For its part, the U.S. military supports
and even demands this creative or pragmatic reinterpretation of
Japan's constitution so that the significant military strength of
Japan's military, especially its navy, can be brought to its many
active war fronts around the world, and as a show of force to
threaten China, the DPRK and others. The U.S. demand for Japan's
direct military assistance abroad has become more insistent with
President Obama's pivot to Asia of U.S. military forces and
ever-increasing war games surrounding the Korean Peninsula. The
U.S. military is preparing to launch a major war in East Asia
openly threatening and practicing a surprise first-strike nuclear
attack against the DPRK.
The broadening of the
Japan/U.S. aggressive military
to include war games, war preparations and active joint
participation in global predatory wars is strongly opposed within
Japan and throughout East Asia. Constant demonstrations have
taken place outside Japan's Parliament (Diet) in Tokyo since the Abe
government announced its pro-war reinterpretation of the
constitution and drafting of legislation. Most constitutional
experts, scholars and lawyers find the reinterpretation to be
grossly flawed and the subsequent war-enabling legislation in
violation of the country's basic law. Tens of thousands
demonstrated against the pro-war legislation on March 29,
completely surrounding the Diet.
Thousands more demonstrated their opposition to the new war laws
in over 100 cities and towns throughout Japan. Despite the
widespread opposition to the pro-war legislation and the
consistent popular will not to send troops abroad to wage war,
the Abe government used its parliamentary majority to force the
reinterpretation into law.
The continuing denial of the
Japanese ruling elite
past war crimes is integral to the pro-war reinterpretation of
the current constitution and the wrecking of anti-war public
opinion. High school textbooks, the mass media and cinema portray
twentieth century Japanese colonial occupation and aggression
throughout Asia as benign and even beneficial. Glossed over are
the massacres of Korean and Chinese resistance fighters to
Japanese war and occupation, as well as the millions of civilians
who perished. Particularly heinous crimes such as forced sexual
slavery of thousands of captured young women and girls to service
the Japanese occupying army are simply flatly denied despite
overwhelming evidence. The Japanese ruling elite are poisoning
the people's minds especially the youth and preparing them as war
fodder similar to the generations killed during the Japanese
militarists' wars of aggression and inter-imperialist conflict in
the first half of the twentieth century.
Countries throughout Asia
have profound memories of
aggression when Japanese imperialism brutalized Korea, China and
others during its decades-long military occupation and colonial
rule. After the peoples drove out the Japanese aggressors in
1945, the U.S. military occupation force in Japan reinstated the
warmongers of the ruling elite whose descendants and inheritors
continue in positions of state and economic power to this day.
The U.S. military blocked all efforts of the Japanese working
class and progressive people from other strata to hold the ruling
elite to account for its crimes at home and abroad and to open a
path towards a modern and pro-social Japan.
The grip and influence of
the U.S. military
Japan is real and evident in bases throughout Japan and in a
culture glorifying war and the use of force to settle disputes.
In defiance of the U.S. cultural aggression, a growing movement
for an anti-war government and the removal of U.S. military
forces is surging forward. In Okinawa, almost all elected
officials and overwhelming public opinion want the removal of
U.S. military forces and bases from their islands. Despite this
massive opposition, the ruling elite use their majority in the
central Parliament to enforce their imperialist right not only to
continue the U.S. occupation but now with the new legislation to
extend the alliance to active participation abroad in U.S.-led
predatory and inter-imperialist wars.
The Japanese people are
determined to find a way
of this abyss of war and occupation and to deprive the warmongers
of their power to deprive the people of their right to live in
peace. The peoples of East Asia want the U.S. military to leave
and return to the continental U.S. They want to be left to
develop friendly relations amongst themselves without the
constant threat of U.S. imperialist interference.
Canadians wish the peoples
of East Asia well for
and for the benefit of all. Humanity deserves to live in peace
free from the constant danger of U.S.-organized regime change,
subversion and aggressive wars. Canadians are doing their part
organizing for an anti-war government that will withdraw the country
all U.S.-led military alliances such as NATO, NORAD and the U.S.
Previous to this latest
reinterpretation of the
the Japanese ruling elite participated actively in providing
military equipment, other necessary supplies and essential home
ports for the U.S. military in its predatory wars following WWII. Under
the Japan/U.S. military alliance, Japan played a
particularly aggressive role in aiding the U.S. brutal wars in
Korea and Vietnam.
The U.S. occupying force
after WWII reinstalled the
Japanese militarists who became a significant factor contributing
to the Anglo-U.S. aggressive containment of communism and to
their wars to suppress the peoples everywhere fighting to free
their countries from colonialism and imperialism.
The Japanese militarists and
U.S. imperialists are
conflicting territorial claims over islands throughout East Asia
and the mineral riches their monopolies want to exploit as a
means to stir up tensions amongst Korea, China, Vietnam, the
Philippines and Russia and as an excuse for U.S./Japan military
actions throughout East and Southeast Asia.
China has warned Japan over
the launch of a radar
the East China Sea that gives the Japanese militarists a
permanent base to gather intelligence on the surrounding areas.
The base is situated on the island of Yonaguni at the western
extreme of a group of Japanese-controlled islands in the East
China Sea thousands of kilometres from Japan's main island.
Now "we can keep watch on
respond to all situations," said Daigo Shiomitsu, a lieutenant
colonel in Japan's army who commands the new base. According to
Nozomu Yoshitomi, a professor at Nihon University and a retired
military major general, the base can also be used for conducting
military operations in the region. Japan plans to expand its
military forces in the East China Sea over a period of five
years, increasing its personnel to 10,000 and adding to its
missile batteries there to be able to draw a defensive curtain
along the island chain. This will make navigating difficult for
Chinese ships which sail from their eastern seaboard since they
must pass through this barrier to reach the Western Pacific.
According to some policy makers, Japan's move is part of a larger
strategy aiming to keep China at bay in the Western Pacific.
In addition to perceived
U.S. intrusion into the
Sea affair, China is apprehensive about the installation of an
advanced anti-missile Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)
system on the Korean peninsula. According to Chinese Vice Foreign
Minister Zheng Zeguang, during a meeting on the sidelines of the
Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, DC on March 31, Chinese
President Xi Jinping told U.S. President Barack Obama that China was
"firmly opposed" to the U.S. deployment of THAAD. In an online
commentary titled "Japan's excessive nuclear materials pose threat to
world," China's Xinhua news agency writer Sun Ding accuses "warlord"
Prime Minister Abe of threatening peace in the region following the
passage of war enabling legislation and calls Tokyo a "pawn of the
The Need to
Strengthen the People's
Over the World to
Counter Terrorist Assaults
The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist)
denounces the bombing carried out at Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park in Lahore,
Pakistan on Sunday, March 27. Seventy-two people were murdered, news
agencies report, most of them women and children. In the absence of a
strong independent political
the people which opens the path to progress, state terrorism,
anarchy and violence prevail.
Who carries out
such acts and for what purpose? What
All evidence from
past experience has shown
shadow of a doubt that they are sponsored by this or that state
to justify police rule and the concentration of power in fewer
and fewer hands. The purpose is to pursue the economic interests of
competing monopolies in the name of "national interests." Who defines
these "national interests" is an
important matter worthy of consideration. One finds it is
sections of the financial oligarchy which operate under the
auspices of whatever state they belong to or of the police forces
which dominate the imperialist system of states as a whole. Both
the acts of state terror and individual terrorist acts are the
result of the fact that the financial oligarchies in power are
blocking society's path to progress. They have taken
politics out of the political institutions, arrangements and
organizations, and in lieu of strengthening civil society to
eliminate all vestiges of power in the hands of privilege, the
opposite is the case -- all features of the enlightenment
movement which eventually led to universal suffrage and the
involvement of the citizenry in determining the affairs of state
have been obliterated. The alleged clash of civilizations and
tribal wars between religions, beliefs and values are not a
product of the people's resistance and political demands for
justice, equality and the enforcement of rights. All of it is
done to smash the political movement of the people for their own
empowerment and justify police rule in the name of rule of law.
Police rule is always outside the law and this has to be kept in
CPC(M-L) calls on
the citizens and residents of
take a principled political stand in response to the heinous
terrorist attacks conducted by states competing on the basis of
so-called national interests. The anarchy and violence imposed by
the imperialist system of states on the peoples of the world must
not pass! Maximum ideological mobilization is required to work
out the response and stands which favour the interests of the
people. This must be coupled with maximum political mobilization
so that, led by the working people who are favoured by the stands
they themselves work out, the people are united in action to open
society's path to progress.
A review of the
news coverage on the suicide bombing
Pakistan March 27 reveals once again how state terrorism
operates to justify the further imposition of police rule.
Newspaper reports indicate the bombing was a suicide attack
"claimed by the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a faction of the Pakistani
Taliban. However, it was not clear which of the numerous banned
groups in Punjab were being targeted in the ongoing operations."
Note the use of the word Pakistan
when it comes to police
takeover and Punjab when it
comes to identifying the "hotbed
of religious extremism and militancy."
According to news
reports on March 29, soldiers and
paramilitary Pakistan Rangers personnel "have carried out five
operations in Lahore, Faisalabad and Multan since [March 27] and
arrested a 'number of suspect terrorists and facilitators' and
recovered a 'huge cache of arms and ammunition,' chief military
spokesperson Lt Gen Asim Bajwa said. 'Operations continue with
more leads coming in,' he said."
reported "there were
indications that a decision had been taken by the military high
command to expand the operation throughout" Punjab.
The Geo News channel
quoted its sources as
the crackdown had commenced from southern Punjab, "long believed
to be a hotbed of religious extremism and militancy." The
operations in Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan and Muzaffargarh
targeted seminaries and other targets linked to terrorist and
extremist groups, Dawn
reported. Raids were carried out "on
the basis of technical evidence and information gathered by
intelligence agencies," it said.
The army had been
"long pushing the government to
action against Punjab-based extremist and terrorist groups, but
the civilian government was dragging its feet on the matter," the
report said. The government had "asked the military to identify
the problem and leave it to the provincial law-enforcement
agencies to neutralise the threat," it added.
an intelligence source as saying
"orders had been given for expanding the scope of the crackdown
to all parts of the province and against all groups involved in
acts of terror without any discrimination."
of Palestinian Land Day,
Live Palestine's Heroic Resistance!
occasion of the 40th anniversary of Land Day,
Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) sends militant
greetings to the heroic Palestinian people who continue their
steadfast defence of their right to be and their resistance to
the Zionist occupiers.
March 30, 2016 visit to monument to those killed in 1976 Galilee strike.
30, 1976, Palestinians living in villages
Galilee region declared a general strike and protested against
land confiscations. At that time, Israel had embarked on a
national project to construct new Jewish-Israeli localities in
the region that included lands of Palestinian citizens. Israel
responded with state violence, killing six Palestinians. A total
of 20,000 dunams (2,000 hectares) were confiscated at that
then, the land confiscations and other heinous
against the Palestinians have continued. The Palestinian Central
Bureau of Statistics informs that Israel now illegally controls
more than 85 per cent of historical Palestine, an area of about
27,000 square kilometres. Palestinians comprise 48 per cent of
the total population but utilize only 15 per cent of the land, it
year's Land Day actions come amidst
confiscations, state terrorism and other violations of rights
that Israel carries out with impunity.
Click to enlarge
this month, Israel declared 2,342 dunams of
the south of Jericho "state land" to pave the way for the
construction of 358 housing units in the illegal settlement of
Almog. This land confiscation followed another of around 5,000
dunams of Palestinian land in Bethlehem district in 2014.
Member of the Knesset Aida Touma-Sliman
to Mondoweiss at a Land Day
action in the Negev that
"50,000 Arab houses are under demolition orders, villages
are ordered to be evacuated and demolished." In the northern
region near the site of the first Land Day protest, confiscations
often take place by way of bureaucratic zoning procedures --
"it's village by village, and it's house by house," Touma-Sliman
said. "All that can be confiscated [in the north] is almost all
already confiscated, that's why we are focusing on the Negev
now," she added.
Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens in
urged citizens to join rallies and other Land Day activities,
including a major rally in the village of Um al-Heiran in the
Negev and another in the village of Arraba al-Batouf in the
Land Day marches were held in the West
opposing a land grab near the Jordan Valley, with a main march
held in Bethlehem. Israeli military forces harassed and attacked
demonstrators at checkpoints throughout the occupied Palestinian
calls on all justice-loving people to take
actions to mark Land Day and defend the Palestinian people's
right to be.
Meeting March 26, 2016 in Galilee marks 40th anniversary of Land Day.
Calendar of Events
Organized by: Palestinian
Cultural Club of Montreal
Palestine House, 905-270-3622
Click to enlarge.
For information: CPCA
Settlement Expansion and Settler Terror
Land Day 2016 marked in Burka village, Palestine. (Xinhua)
The following is a letter sent by Dr. Riyad Mansour,
Ambassador, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the
President of the United Nations General Assembly on
regret to inform you that the situation in the
State of Palestine, including East Jerusalem, continues to
deteriorate as Israel, the occupying Power, continues with its
illegal and provocative practices, which includes its settlement
colonization enterprise, which brings with it the element of a
racist, radical and violent settler population numbering 650,000,
that has been illegally transferred to the occupied territory by
the occupying Power and that continues to attack Palestinian
civilians with barbarity and with the military protection of
Israeli occupying forces.
The occupying Power also persists with all of its
policies and measures that are in violation of international law
with complete impunity. This includes the killing and injuring of
innocent Palestinian civilians, among them women and children, as
well as collective punishment measures against the entire
Palestinian population living under Israel's military occupation.
Such illegal policies and measures are exacerbating the volatile
situation on the ground and heightening tensions between the two
sides, with dangerous ramifications.
Firstly, I must draw
attention to the heinous crime
on 20 March 2016 by Israeli settler terrorists in the village of
Duma in the West Bank, where Israeli arsonists set ablaze the
home of a cousin and a key Palestinian witness scheduled to
testify against settlers charged with firebombing the home of his
relatives in Duma last summer. It is to be recalled that in
July 2015, Israeli terrorist settlers threw firebombs into the
home of the Dwabasheh family, burning alive an 18-month old baby,
Ali, as he slept in his bed and severely burning his mother and
father, Reham and Sa'ad, who later died from their wounds, and
leaving their son, Ahmed, only 4 years old, severely injured with
burns all over his body and orphaned. In the attack on Ibrahim
Dawabsheh's home [20 March], every room in the home was charred
with black smoke and the bedroom was significantly damaged and
Ibrahim and his wife had to be taken to hospital for smoke
As Israeli settlers continue their rampages,
traumatizing Palestinian families, we call again for immediate
measures to hold accountable all settlers committing crimes
against the Palestinian people. Impunity for Israeli settlers
cannot continue to be the norm and the international community
must demand that Israel uphold its obligations to investigate all
such crimes and hold the perpetrators accountable. Terrorism in
all its forms must be unequivocally condemned and ceased.
The presence of these extremist settlers on our land
direct result of Israel's illegal settlement colonization all
throughout the Occupied State of Palestine, including East
Jerusalem, an illegal campaign that Israel, the occupying Power,
persists with in grave breach of its legal obligations under the
Fourth Geneva Convention. Palestinian property continues to be
confiscated and destroyed and settlements continue to be expanded
by the occupying Power at an accelerated pace, changing the
landscape every single day both geographically and
demographically as Palestinian civilians continue to be forcibly
displaced in high numbers.
Israel carries on with this illegal project in
defiance of world opinion and contempt for international law,
including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court,
which classifies settlement building as a war crime. Without
doubt, the lack of accountability has fostered this Israeli
impunity. It is long overdue for the international community,
particularly the Security Council, to confront Israel's illegal
settlement building as a matter of a legal, political and moral
responsibility, with full knowledge that such illegal actions
have and continue to obstruct the achievement of a peaceful
settlement of the conflict and are destroying any possibility of
the two-State solution.
It is in this regard that the Palestinian leadership
yesterday's decision by the Israeli government to take over 1,200
dunums of Palestinian-owned land outside the villages of Sawiya,
Lubban Al-Sharqia, and Qaryout, south of Nablus, and declare it
as "state property." The land to be confiscated is close to the
so-called settlements of "Eli" and "Shilo", two illegal Israeli
settlements located along Nablus-Ramallah highway.
This decision came on the heels of the Israeli
on 15 March 2016, to seize large tracts of land in the occupied
West Bank near the Dead Sea and the Palestinian city of Jericho.
The occupying Power brazenly declared 579 acres, shockingly
comprising more than 2,343 dunums of land, as so-called "State
lands." This illegal act constitutes one of the largest land
confiscations in the West Bank in recent years, further
destroying the contiguity, integrity and viability of our State.
We call on the international community to go beyond condemning
and to act to compel the occupying Power to rescind and reverse
this dangerous decision. As we approach the monthly Security
Council briefing and consultations in this regard, we call the
Security Council members to go beyond mere verbal expressions of
condemnation of these Israeli decisions and with urgency and
responsibility to take serious measures to halt once and for all
such grave breaches of international humanitarian law,
particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention. A firm, unified
position against settlements is needed now more than ever in
order to resurrect the belief that a two-State solution is still
In this regard, we recall the reaction by Your
which you urged Israel to reverse this illegal decision,
describing the decision as "an impediment to the two-state
solution." Moreover, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric has correctly
stated that "such actions appear to point toward an increase in
settlement activities and demonstrate that Israel is continuing
to push forward in the consolidation of its control of the West
Bank", and that "settlements are illegal under international law
and the Secretary-General urges the government of Israel to halt
and reverse such actions in the interest of a just and
comprehensive peace and a just final status agreement."
The Palestinian leadership has repeatedly cautioned
Israel's illegal settlement campaign is undermining and
fragmenting the contiguity and territorial integrity of the State
of Palestine, including East Jerusalem, and physically threatens
the viability and prospects for the physical realization of the
two-State solution on the basis of the pre-1967 borders. It
should be noted that over the past nearly five decades of
occupation, Israel's confiscation of Palestinian land and natural
resources has forcibly displaced thousands of Palestinian
civilians and resulted in colonization and de facto annexation of
massive areas of Palestinian land, in flagrant breach of the law.
The time has come for the international community to act. Enough
is enough. No more evidence can be provided to prove that lack of
action by the international community has emboldened the
occupying Power, along with the settlers it transfers to our
land, to act without fear of punishment.
In addition to illegal settlement activities, the
Power continues to commit grave violations against the
Palestinian people, violating nearly every human right, including
the right to life. Palestinian civilians, including children,
continue to be killed or seriously injured as the Israeli
occupying forces continue to use excessive, indiscriminate force
against our defenseless, occupied people. It is clear that
without protection for the Palestinian people, more and more
Palestinians will be killed while trying to fight for the
realization of their freedom and rights. Further, Israel persists
with collective punishment measures, such as home demolitions,
mass arrests and detentions, along with its illegal blockade of
the Gaza Strip, imposing policies clearly intended to make the
lives of Palestinian civilians as miserable as possible,
affecting every man, woman and child.
In this regard, I must highlight the fact that
specific continue to being placed in Israeli prisons and
detention centers and are being subjected to widespread and
systematic ill-treatment, including being punished harshly for
alleged acts of resistance, including stone throwing. On 16 March
2016, a so-called Israeli court sentenced seven Palestinian
children to jail time ranging from 12 to 39 months for alleged
stone-throwing. The children included three boys aged 14 years
old, two aged 16, one aged 17, and another whose age was not
specified. We reject such so-called legislation by Israel that
allows for the jailing, for up to 20 years, of Palestinian
children for throwing stones, greatly impacting child rights and
violating various tenets of international law.
As for the illegal Israeli blockade on Gaza, which
continues to affect the entire population of 1.8 million Palestinians,
there is no doubt that children, who comprise half of the population,
continue to bear the brunt in nearly every aspect. Take for example the
fact that more than 44,000 children remain among the over 90,000 people
still displaced as a result of Israel's war on Gaza in 2014. Moreover,
even as our people in Gaza continue to grapple with the war's
aftermath, they are continuously subjected to further violence by the
occupying Power. On 19 March, a Palestinian boy, Yassin Abu Khoussa,
age 10, and his sister, Isra'a Abu Khoussa, age 6, were tragically
killed while in their home in Beit Lahiya, in northern Gaza and their
brother, Ayoub Abu Khoussa, age 13, was injured when their home was hit
by a missile fired from an Israeli war plane. The occupying Power must
be held accountable for these deaths of Palestinian children as well as
all the other Palestinian children who have been killed by Israel's war
In this regard, before concluding, I draw attention
of the most recent crimes perpetrated by Israel, the occupying
Power, in the period since our last letter to you:
In a pre-dawn raid, Israeli occupying forces
headquarters of two media outlets, "Falastin Al-Yawm" (Palestine
Today) and TransMedia Production Company in Al-Bireh, adjacent to
Ramallah, confiscating property, and [detaining] two journalists ...
and issuing orders for the offices to be
shut down. They also detained head of Falastin Al-Yawm, Farouq
Elayyat, from his home in Birzeit, near Ramallah.
Occupying forces launched aerial attacks against
killing two Palestinian children, Yassin Abu Khoseh (age 10) and
his sister Isra'a (age 6), and injuring their brother Ayyoub (age
Israeli naval boats targeted Palestinian
with missiles, despite the fact that they were sailing within the
permitted fishing zone offshore northwest of Gaza City.
Israeli occupying forces detained at least 15
in West Bank raids.
A Palestinian child, Adi Kamal Salameh (age 14),
and seriously injured by a live bullet to the chest in Al-Mazraa
Al-Gharbiya village, northwest of Ramallah.
Occupying forces shot and killed three
Jaber (age 31), Ameer Juneidi (age 22), and Yousef Tarayrah (age
18) outside the illegal "Kiryat Arba" settlement east of
Occupying forces issued demolition notices to two
Palestinian-owned buildings in Al-Issawiya, on the outskirts of
Occupied East Jerusalem.
Occupying forces raided the family homes of two
Palestinians who were shot dead by the occupying forces earlier
in the day.
Israeli occupying forces detained 13
from the West Bank overnight.
Occupying forces broke into the campus of Qaduri
in Tulkarem and raided the College of Engineering and other
offices, damaging contents and seizing students' belongings.
Israeli occupying forces notified Palestinians in
district to stop the construction of several residential
structures, under the pretext of construction without an Israeli
Palestinian students suffocated from teargas
while a teacher was injured by a teargas canister, when occupying
forces fired towards a school in Hosan village, west of
Nahed Mteir (age 24), succumbed to wounds
weeks earlier during an Israeli raid into Qalandiya refugee
Israeli occupying forces demolished four
stores and the foundations of a building in Beit Hanina, on the
outskirts of Occupied East Jerusalem.
Israeli bulldozers demolished a Palestinian house
agricultural structure in Al-Sharafeh locality and Wadi Rahhal
village, in Bethlehem.
Israel, the occupying Power, rendered a decision
expropriation of over 2,343 dunums of Palestinian land south of
Jericho in the West Bank for the expansion of illegal Israeli
The occupying Power issued and renewed
detention orders against 43 Palestinian detainees. 19 of the
detainees received administrative orders for the first time,
while the rest received renewed administrative detention
Israeli occupying forces overnight detained 10
from Al-Khalil, Nablus and Salfit.
Occupying forces killed two Palestinian youth, Ali
Abdulrahman Al-Kar (age 19) and Ali Jamal Taqatqeh (age 19), near
the illegal settlement of "Ariel" near Salfit.
Israeli occupying forces detained 15 Palestinians
Israeli occupying forces shot and killed a young
Palestinian man, Abdullah Al-Ajlouni (identified as in his 20s)
at an Israeli checkpoint, near Al-Ibrahimi Mosque.
At least five Palestinians were detained by
forces and a truck was seized from Wadi Burqin and Yaabad town,
west and south of Jenin.
Terrorist Israeli settlers set fire to the home of
Dawabsheh, the sole witness to the Duma crime, which was carried
out by terrorist Israeli settlers in July 2015 and killed a
mother and father, Reham and Sa'ad Dawabsheh, and their 18-month
old son, Ali Dawabsheh, and left their 4-year old son, Ahmed
Dawabsheh, an orphan.
Israeli occupying forces detained a Palestinian in
Al-Khalil and summoned four others from Bethlehem for
The occupying Power punitively demolished the home
Mohammed Ja'abis; the brother of Isra'a Ja'abis, who is currently
held in Israeli jail. The home was located in Jabal Al-Mukaber
neighborhood, southeast of Occupied East Jerusalem.
The occupying Power decided to take over 1,200
Palestinian-owned land outside the villages of Sawiya, Lubban
Esh-Sharqia, and Qaryout, south of Nablus.
Israeli occupying forces raided and wreaked havoc
the premises of the Husan Village Council, west of Bethlehem,
destroying all contents and removing pictures hung on the wall of
Palestinians killed by occupying forces.
A Palestinian was shot and injured by Israeli
forces and several others suffocated due to tear gas inhalation
in the village of Beit Rima near Ramallah.
The Palestinian leadership condemns all of Israel's
inhumane and destructive actions and calls on the international
community, including the Security Council, to demand an end to
all illegal Israeli policies and practices in the Occupied State
of Palestine, including in East Jerusalem and including all
settlement activities and other violations of international
humanitarian law and human rights law. Left without the
protections of international law, Palestinian lives will remain
endangered by this illegal occupation and their future ever more
uncertain as the situation on the ground further declines and
destabilizes. The international community cannot remain silent as
the cruelty of the Israeli occupation and subjugation of the
Palestinian people continues. Salvaging the prospects for peace
and stability and, equally, salvaging the credibility of
international law and [the] international system itself require urgent
collective action to bring an end to this unjust, unlawful
situation. It can no longer suffice to condemn or simply be
appalled by Israel's illegal actions and settler terrorism; real
international action is needed to bring an end to all such
illegal policies and actions. Israel's occupation that began
nearly a half-century ago in 1967 must come to an end. The
Palestinian people yearn for freedom and the realization of their
long-overdue inalienable rights and look to the international
community to fulfill its duties and obligations to make this a
This letter is in follow-up to our 578 previous
regarding the ongoing crisis in the Occupied Palestinian
Territory, including East Jerusalem, which constitutes the
territory of the State of Palestine. These letters, dated from 29
September 2000 (A/55/432-S/2000/921) to 10 March 2016
(A/ES-10/715-S/2016/236) constitute a basic record of the crimes
being committed by Israel, the occupying Power, against the
Palestinian people since September 2000. For all of these war
crimes, acts of State terrorism and systematic human rights
violations being committed against the Palestinian people,
Israel, the occupying Power, must be held accountable and the
perpetrators be brought to justice.
should be grateful if you would arrange to have
the text of
the present letter distributed as a document of the tenth
emergency special session of the General Assembly, under agenda
item 5, and of the Security Council.
Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my
Impunity Defines Israel and
Israeli security forces confront Land Day protest near Nablus, March
Abed al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif was killed. In the
typical of Israeli aggression against unarmed Palestinians, he
was first wounded after allegedly attempting to stab an Israel
occupation soldier in the occupied city of Hebron.
He lies on his back, his arms stretched across the
his head moving about. A soldier confers with his superior
officer, before moving to "confirm the kill" -- a term used by the
Israeli military in reference to field executions of
The soldier walks to Abed, lying on the ground and
posing no threat to anyone -- and, in full view of onlookers,
shoots him in the head.
The above scene would have been relegated to the
the many "contested" killings by Israeli soldiers, were it not
for a Palestinian field worker with Israel's human rights group,
B'Tselem, who filmed the bloody event.
The incident once more highlights a culture of
exists in the Israeli army which is not a new phenomenon.
Decades ago, there was no equivalent to media such
B'Tselem, Breaking the Silence, or Machsom (Checkpoint) Watch, no
social media to spread the news, and few international groups
that cared to report on Israel's violent birth.
Instead, thousands of Jewish militiamen roamed
towns and villages, armed with a mandate to ethnically cleanse an
entire nation within months.
Thousands of Palestinians were killed in the
process, so Israel could proclaim itself independent. Israeli
poet, Natan Alterman, attempted to convey an instance of the
horror inflicted by Jewish gangs, which later formed the Israeli
army, proclaimed by some as the "most moral army in the
"Across the vanquished city
in a jeep he did speed --
A lad bold and armed, a young lion of a lad!
And an old man and a woman on that very street
Cowered against a wall, in fear of him clad.
Said the lad smiling, milk teeth shining:
'I'll try the machinegun' and put it into play!
To hide his face in his hands, the old man barely
When his blood on the wall was sprayed."
The poem entitled "About This" was published on
1948, when Israel had almost completely secured the self-imposed
borders of its new state, assigning Palestinians to perpetual
exile -- a journey of pain and blood that is yet to conclude.
Natan Alterman, tried, although [he] failed, to "break
silence" on Israeli impunity.
Land Day mural in Gaza, depicts life and resistance of the Palestinian
Since then, despite their insistence on embracing
hope, Palestinian history continues to be delineated by charts
crowded with endless bloody statistics.
Palestinians are under attack -- systematic,
ordered, or encouraged attacks that point at only one
unmistakable conclusion: Israel strives to perpetuate violence
This is grounded in the fact that Israel has been
through war, and has convinced itself that it can only survive
The result is a terrifying culture of violence and
of men and women armed with machine guns, and children who are
taught that violence is the only language that their Arab enemies
understand. The Palestinian, for them, only exists to be subdued,
controlled, "cleansed" and -- when necessary -- killed.
Recently, Israel's chief Sephardic Rabbi Yitzhak
called on Israelis to kill any Palestinian they believe poses a
threat, with no regard for the law or the High Court of
But, for Yosef, the "High Court of Justice", is
his side. Indeed, it was Israel's judiciary that had approved
"targeted killings" of Palestinians suspected of allegedly
committing or planning to commit acts of violence.
According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
between September 2000 and March 2008, 500 Palestinians were
assassinated by the Israeli army; 228 Palestinian civilians were
also killed in what was consigned as "collateral damage." Among
those pulverised by Israeli missiles were 77 children.
No one was ever held accountable for those murders.
If one is to list the crimes that are committed
the Israeli army, the list would be endless. The above statistics
are a mere glance at a culture that has no regard for
Palestinians, thus violating every written or implied rule of war
of military ethics or occupation under international law.
Armed settlers rampage through villages of occupied
and the neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem. The number of their
violent crimes [has] grown tremendously in recent years, and even
doubled since 2009.
In August 2015, months before the current uprising,
Rights Watch senior researcher, Bill Van Esveld, wrote:
"Settlers attack Palestinians and their property on
near-daily basis; there were more than 300 such attacks last
year, but few attackers faced justice. In the past decade, less
than two percent of investigations into settler attacks ended
These settlers complete the violent rule expected of
alongside the more violent Israeli army.
In December 2015 Israel's 972Mag wrote about the
violent incidents of Israeli forces targeting Palestinian medical
staff. Palestinian rights group, Al-Haq, documented 56 cases in
which "ambulances were attacked", and 116 assaults against
medical staff while on duty.
One Is Immune to Violence
In Palestine, no one is immune to violence. Young
and old are
shot for the mere suspicion that they may pose danger to the life
of Israeli Jews; and Israelis who dare report on these very
incidents are shunned by their own society.
Israel's Defence Minister, Moshe Yaalon, recently
Breaking the Silence of committing treason. The supposedly
traitorous act of that small Israeli NGO -- powered mostly by
volunteers -- was collecting testimonies by Israeli soldiers and
whistle-blowers as evidence that the army is violating Israeli
and international law.
Meanwhile, the government is itself actively pushing
new laws that criminalise dissent in Israel. One of such bills,
championed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself, would
allow elected members of the Knesset to vote to oust their own
While Israel's culture of license to do as it
older than the state itself, it is fed by a right-wing ruling
elite that incessantly promotes fear and disseminates a confining
"At the end, in the State of Israel, as I see it,
be a fence that spans it all,"said Netanyahu in February. "In the
area that we live, we must defend ourselves against the wild
Netanyahu is, of course, never a fan of the truth or
sense. His last war on Gaza in the summer of 2014 had killed a
total of 2,251 Palestinians -- including 1,462 civilians, among
them 551 children, according to a report prepared by the UN Human
During that war, only six Israeli civilians were
60 soldiers. Who, then, is truly the "wild beast"?
The majority of Israelis have long been sold on the idea
their country, despite its brutality is a "villa in the jungle."
According to a recent Pew survey, nearly half of Israelis want to
expel Palestinian Arabs -- Muslims and Christians -- from their
In the government, the judiciary, the army, society
country's highest moral authorities, which advocate violence and
ethnic cleansing and promote genocidal activities, what options
are left for Palestinians? The danger of impunity is not merely
the lack of legal accountability, but the fact that it is the
very foundation of most violent crimes against humanity.
This impunity began seven decades ago, and it will
without international intervention, and concerted efforts to hold
Israel accountable and bring the agony of Palestinians to a
Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been
writing about the
over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a
media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of
PalestineChronicle.com. His books include 'Searching Jenin', 'The
Second Palestinian Intifada' and his latest 'My Father Was a
Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story'. His website is: www.ramzybaroud.net.
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