April 2, 2016 - No. 14

Liberals' Program for Real Change

The More Counterfeit the Measures,
the Deeper the Crisis

Open Dialogue Forum 2016
Government's Attempt to Resuscitate Discredited "Third Way" Reveals the Extent of Its Bankruptcy
- Pauline Easton and Sam Heaton -

For Your Information
What Is a Stakeholder?
- TML Weekly, 1997 -
Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein
- Book Review by Kevan Hunter -

Government Steps Up Anti-Social Anti-National Offensive
Government's Use of Behavioural Economics
Against the Public Interest

Fraudulent Government Consultations on
Trans-Pacific Trade Deal Exposed

Government Opposes UN Appointment of Canadian Professor to Investigate Human Rights Violations in Palestine
French Workers Go All Out to Oppose Reforms
Protests Against Neo-Liberal Changes to Labour Legislation

Discussion on Significance of
Obama's Visit to Cuba and Upcoming Party Congress

Brother Obama
- Fidel Castro Ruz -
Party Congress Less Than a Month Away
- Granma -

Anniversary of U.S.-Backed Military Coup in Brazil, March 31, 1964
Brazilians Say No! To Another Coup

Japan's Pro-War Security Laws
Japan Broadens Its Military Alliance with U.S. Imperialism

Bombing in Pakistan
The Need to Strengthen the People's Political Movements All Over the World to Counter Terrorist Assaults

Anniversary of Palestinian Land Day, March 30, 1976
Long Live Palestine's Heroic Resistance! End the Occupation!
Israeli Settlement Expansion and Settler Terror
- Dr. Riyad Mansour, Palestinian Ambassador to the UN -
How Impunity Defines Israel and Victimizes Palestinians
- Ramzy Baroud -

Liberals' Program for Real Change

The More Counterfeit the Measures,
the Deeper the Crisis

The program called Real Change that the Trudeau Liberal 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 advocated by Indigenous communities themselves for the long-awaited Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. They are the ones who 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' revolt.

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 Canadians themselves. 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 nowadays 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 government 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.

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Open Dialogue Forum 2016

Government's Attempt to Resuscitate Discredited "Third Way" Reveals the Extent of Its Bankruptcy

Canadian Open Dialogue Forum 2016 was held in Ottawa from 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.[1] Media reported that the Forum 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 in 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 another story.

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 Progressive Movement.[2] On 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 ideas is global."[3]

One can only understand this to mean that the ideas hawked by 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 "Third Way" 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 rich 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 All!


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 Update, March 28, 2016 - No. 10.

2. The booklet is a collection of essays by has-beens such as Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and other former 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 in 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 childhood 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 Canadian 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.

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For Your Information

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, problems 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 composed 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 can have 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 "stakeholders" 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 they 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 to get 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 an 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 progress.

(TML Weekly, Vol. 02 No. 17, November 16, 1997.)

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Book Review

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health,
Wealth, and Happiness,

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, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein,[1] begins from the premise that humans are not always 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."[2]

Classical economics, they claim, assumes that people always 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 impulsive.

However, the choices people make are often shaped by others. 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 power to 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 rationally 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 onerous process.

The authors believe the free market works for the most part, 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 savings rate.

The authors compare defined-benefit and defined-contribution 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 about.

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 portfolio.

A possible "choice architecture" for 401(k) plans could have 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 approaches.

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 advantage of.

They say the market, left alone, will solve the problems 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 security, a 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 Keller 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.

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Government Steps Up Anti-Social Anti-National Offensive

Government's Use of Behavioural Economics
Against the Public Interest

It is now confirmed that the Trudeau government has adopted 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) held 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 regulatory compliance."

Bill Curry, the Globe and Mail's parliamentary 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 the 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 explains.

In 2013, "David Barnabe, a spokesperson for Finance Canada, 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 Oreopoulos 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 [2013] 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.

(Sources: "Public servants flock to PCO's first-ever behavioural economics briefing," Derek Abma, Hill Times, March 14, 2016; "Canada studies Britain's 'nudge unit' for ways to give the public a push," Bill Curry, Globe and Mail, Aug 1, 2013.)

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Fraudulent Government Consultations on
Trans-Pacific Trade Deal Exposed

TML Weekly is publishing below an article by Council of 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 of 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 that 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 university students.

There, a panel of experts talk about the TPP's benefits. 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 consultation."

Here are some of the highlights of the open consultations:

Vancouver, January 13: The event was billed as "part of a 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 Quebec 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: three 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 received less than 24 hours' notice, as noted by Council of Canadians member Jim Elliot in the Regina Leader Post and the Regina CTV.


Winnipeg, January 22: Just the next day, again, with less 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 Lametti.

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 show.

St. John's

Guelph, March 17: Again, the night before. Mostly people from the agri-business sector attended. Participants were predominately private sector, with a few public servants and one small NGO. Our activists 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 these consultations.

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 not 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 consultations. 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 Committee's 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 for full 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 let 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.

(Huffington Post, March 29, 2016)

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Government Opposes UN Appointment of
Canadian Professor to Investigate
Human Rights Violations in Palestine

In a March 26 letter, Choi Kyong-lim, President of the United 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.[1] 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 Albania.

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 Rapporteurs."

Mouthpieces for the state of Israel and pro-Israel fanatics came out 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 removed.[2]

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 extensive 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 conclusions 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 anathema.

Former Special Rapporteur Richard Falk, writing about the 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 law in 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 philanthropic groups.

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French Workers Go All Out to Oppose Reforms

Protests Against Neo-Liberal Changes to
Labour Legislation

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.

(Photos: Force ouvrière, CGT)

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Discussion on Significance of
Obama's Visit to Cuba and Upcoming Party Congress

Brother Obama

The Spanish kings brought us the conquistadors and landowners; their 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 the country.

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. None of us are designed for the role that must be taken on in a revolutionary 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 that I 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 that moment.

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 Cuban people."

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 colonial yoke.

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 Alicia Alonso.

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 African episode. 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 weapons and 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 policies.

There is one important matter:

Obama gave a speech where he used saccharine words to express: "It's 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… together."

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
10:25 p.m.

(Edited slightly for grammar by TML)

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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 a full report on 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 received, by 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 Revolution.

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 population."

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 eternal Baragua.[1]

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 People's Power.

The Congress agreed on procedures to ensure that the approved 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 Plenums and the 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 easy task, 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 he 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 needed."

And this is how it has gone. The balance sheet on what has 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 launching another process 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 Congress.

In this way, the 7th Congress will culminate discussions held 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 the 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 Plenums of December 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 delegates, nominated at 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 were more than 3,500 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 economy's 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 importance is the 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 implementation 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 these documents, which in some cases required more time than initially supposed.

They are all closely interrelated, analyzing what has been 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 the previous 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.

TML Note

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 independence.

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)

(March 28, 2016)

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Anniversary of U.S.-Backed Military Coup in Brazil, March 31, 1964

Brazilians Say No! to Another Coup

São Paulo

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.




São Paulo

Porto Alegre

Buenos Aires, Argentina; New York, U.S.

Ottawa, Canada; London, UK

Paris, France; Berlin, Germany

(Photos: Vermelho, TML)

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Japan's Pro-War Security Laws

Japan Broadens Its Military Alliance
with U.S. Imperialism

Anti-war 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, approved 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 attack.

The government of Shinzo Abe insists external forces are 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 needed 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 occupiers.

Demonstration in Tokyo, August 30, 2015, as the security bills were before parliament.
(Asahi Shimbun)

The ruling elite insist their national interests are so 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 alliance 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 of its 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 Japanese 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 occupation of 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 forward out 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 their sake 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 from all U.S.-led military alliances such as NATO, NORAD and the U.S. Northern Command.


Previous to this latest reinterpretation of the constitution, 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 defeated 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 using 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 station in 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 territory surrounding Japan and 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 South China 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 United States."

(With files from news agencies)

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Bombing in Pakistan

The Need to Strengthen the People's
Political Movements All 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 movement of the people which opens the path to progress, state terrorism, anarchy and violence prevail.

Who carries out such acts and for what purpose? What is the aim?

All evidence from past experience has shown beyond the 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 mind.

CPC(M-L) calls on the citizens and residents of Canada to 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.

News from Pakistan

A review of the news coverage on the suicide bombing in 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."

Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reported "there were clear 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 saying that 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 initiate 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.

Dawn quoted an intelligence source as saying that "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."

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Anniversary of Palestinian Land Day, March 30, 1976

Long Live Palestine's Heroic Resistance!
End the Occupation!

Palestinians celebrate Land Day in the Gaza Strip.

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Land Day, the 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.

On March 30, 1976, Palestinians living in villages in the 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 time.

Since then, the land confiscations and other heinous crimes 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 notes.

This year's Land Day actions come amidst intensifying land confiscations, state terrorism and other violations of rights that Israel carries out with impunity.

Click to enlarge

Earlier this month, Israel declared 2,342 dunams of land to 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.

Arab Member of the Knesset Aida Touma-Sliman explained 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.

The High Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens in Israel 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 Galilee.

This year, Land Day marches were held in the West Bank 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 territory.

CPC(M-L) calls on all justice-loving people to take part in 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.

Land Day Calendar of Events

The Day of the Land
Saturday, April 2 -- 5:00 – 8:00 pm
Concordia University, Hall Building H110
Organized by: Palestinian Cultural Club of Montreal

Annual Commemoration of Land Day
Saturday, April 9 -- 7:00-11:00 pm
Capitol Banquet Hall -- 6435 Dixie Rd.
For information: Palestine House, 905-270-3622

Click to enlarge.

Day of the Land Potluck Dinner
Sunday, April 3 -- 5:30 pm
Edmonton Islamic Academy 14525 127 Street
For information:
CPCA website

Picket the Jewish National Fund JNF Dinner 
Sunday, April 10 -- 4:45 pm
For information: Facebook
Sponsored by: BDS Vancouver-Coast Salish and Canada
Palestine Association-Vancouver

(With files from Maan News, Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Mondoweiss. Photos: Palestine Info, M. Asad, Anadolou Agency)

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Israeli 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 March 22.



I regret to inform you that the situation in the Occupied 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 other 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 committed 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 inhalation.

As Israeli settlers continue their rampages, terrorizing and 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 is the 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 flagrant 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 condemns 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 announcement 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 possible.

In this regard, we recall the reaction by Your Excellency in 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 that 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 occupying 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 children in 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 machine.

In this regard, before concluding, I draw attention to some of the most recent crimes perpetrated by Israel, the occupying Power, in the period since our last letter to you:

11 March 2016:

- In a pre-dawn raid, Israeli occupying forces stormed the 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.

12 March 2016:

- Occupying forces launched aerial attacks against Gaza, killing two Palestinian children, Yassin Abu Khoseh (age 10) and his sister Isra'a (age 6), and injuring their brother Ayyoub (age 13).

- Israeli naval boats targeted Palestinian fishermen's boats with missiles, despite the fact that they were sailing within the permitted fishing zone offshore northwest of Gaza City.

13 March 2016:

- Israeli occupying forces detained at least 15 Palestinians in West Bank raids.

- A Palestinian child, Adi Kamal Salameh (age 14), was shot and seriously injured by a live bullet to the chest in Al-Mazraa Al-Gharbiya village, northwest of Ramallah.

14 March 2016:

- Occupying forces shot and killed three Palestinians, Qassem Jaber (age 31), Ameer Juneidi (age 22), and Yousef Tarayrah (age 18) outside the illegal "Kiryat Arba" settlement east of Al-Khalil.

- 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 Palestinians from the West Bank overnight.

15 March 2016:

- Occupying forces broke into the campus of Qaduri University in Tulkarem and raided the College of Engineering and other offices, damaging contents and seizing students' belongings.

- Israeli occupying forces notified Palestinians in Bethlehem district to stop the construction of several residential structures, under the pretext of construction without an Israeli permit.

- Palestinian students suffocated from teargas inhalation, while a teacher was injured by a teargas canister, when occupying forces fired towards a school in Hosan village, west of Bethlehem.

- Nahed Mteir (age 24), succumbed to wounds sustained two weeks earlier during an Israeli raid into Qalandiya refugee camp.

- Israeli occupying forces demolished four Palestinian-owned stores and the foundations of a building in Beit Hanina, on the outskirts of Occupied East Jerusalem.

- Israeli bulldozers demolished a Palestinian house and an agricultural structure in Al-Sharafeh locality and Wadi Rahhal village, in Bethlehem.

16 March 2016:

- Israel, the occupying Power, rendered a decision for the expropriation of over 2,343 dunums of Palestinian land south of Jericho in the West Bank for the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements.

- The occupying Power issued and renewed administrative detention orders against 43 Palestinian detainees. 19 of the detainees received administrative orders for the first time, while the rest received renewed administrative detention orders.

- Israeli occupying forces overnight detained 10 Palestinians from Al-Khalil, Nablus and Salfit.

17 March 2016:

- 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 from the West Bank.

19 March 2016:

- 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 occupying forces and a truck was seized from Wadi Burqin and Yaabad town, west and south of Jenin.

20 March 2016:

- Terrorist Israeli settlers set fire to the home of Ibrahim 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 interrogation.

21 March 2016:

- The occupying Power punitively demolished the home of 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 dunums of Palestinian-owned land outside the villages of Sawiya, Lubban Esh-Sharqia, and Qaryout, south of Nablus.

- Israeli occupying forces raided and wreaked havoc inside 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 occupying 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 illegal, 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 reality.

This letter is in follow-up to our 578 previous letters 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.

I 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 highest consideration.

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How Impunity Defines Israel and
Victimizes Palestinians

Israeli security forces confront Land Day protest near Nablus, March 30, 2016.

Abed al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif was killed. In the style 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 road, and 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 Palestinians.

The soldier walks to Abed, lying on the ground and clearly 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 annals of 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.

Culture of Impunity

The incident once more highlights a culture of impunity that exists in the Israeli army which is not a new phenomenon.

Decades ago, there was no equivalent to media such as 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 Palestinian towns and villages, armed with a mandate to ethnically cleanse an entire nation within months.

Thousands of Palestinians were killed in the "cleansing" 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 world":

"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 had time
When his blood on the wall was sprayed."

The poem entitled "About This" was published on November 19, 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 the silence" on Israeli impunity.

No Accountability

Land Day mural in Gaza, depicts life and resistance of the Palestinian people.

Since then, despite their insistence on embracing life with hope, Palestinian history continues to be delineated by charts crowded with endless bloody statistics.

Palestinians are under attack -- systematic, government-led, ordered, or encouraged attacks that point at only one unmistakable conclusion: Israel strives to perpetuate violence and war.

This is grounded in the fact that Israel has been created through war, and has convinced itself that it can only survive through war.

The result is a terrifying culture of violence and impunity -- 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 Yosef had called on Israelis to kill any Palestinian they believe poses a threat, with no regard for the law or the High Court of Justice.

But, for Yosef, the "High Court of Justice", is already on 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 (PCHR), 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 routinely by 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 West Bank 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, Human Rights Watch senior researcher, Bill Van Esveld, wrote:

"Settlers attack Palestinians and their property on a 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 with convictions."

These settlers complete the violent rule expected of them, alongside the more violent Israeli army.

In December 2015 Israel's 972Mag wrote about the hundreds of 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.

No 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 accused 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 for yet 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 elected peers.

While Israel's culture of license to do as it pleases is older than the state itself, it is fed by a right-wing ruling elite that incessantly promotes fear and disseminates a confining siege mentality.

"At the end, in the State of Israel, as I see it, there will be a fence that spans it all,"said Netanyahu in February. "In the area that we live, we must defend ourselves against the wild beasts."

Netanyahu is, of course, never a fan of the truth or common 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 Rights Council.

During that war, only six Israeli civilians were killed, and 60 soldiers. Who, then, is truly the "wild beast"?

The majority of Israelis have long been sold on the idea that 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 ancestral homeland.

In the government, the judiciary, the army, society and the 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 not end without international intervention, and concerted efforts to hold Israel accountable and bring the agony of Palestinians to a halt.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for 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.

(Palestine Chronicle, March 28, 2016. This article was first published in Al Jazeera. Photos: Xinhua.)

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