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Castro On The Need to Enrich Our Knowledge

Fidel Castro Ruz
Cubadebate

The filmed scenes of the massacre in Libya, starting to be seen, offend for their total absence of humanism and the crass lies that served as an excuse for invading and taking over the natural resources of that country.

With more than 25,000 combat missions, NATO air forces backed up the monstrous crime.

They stated that the Libyan government had funds abroad exceeding 200 billion dollars. At this time, nobody knows where the money is nor what has been done with it.

A fraudulent electoral process ensured the overthrowing of the presidency of the most powerful country on the side of George W. Bush, an alcoholic without medical treatment nor the most basic ethical principles, who ordered West Point graduates to be ready to attack without warning 60 or more dark corners of the world.

Such a deranged person, with the use of a small black briefcase, could decide on the use of thousands of nuclear weapons; with a minimal percentage of these, he could put an end to human life on the planet.

It is sad to remember that on the opposite side of the Yankee super-power, another deranged person, with three bottles of vodka in his stomach, declared the disintegration of the USSR and the dismantling of more than 400 nuclear bases in whose range were all the military bases threatening that country.

Those events did not constitute any surprise. Throughout many years of struggle, experience garnered, contact with events, ideas and historical processes did not come as a surprise.

Today the Russian leaders are trying to rebuild this powerful State which had been created with so much effort and sacrifice.

When Pope John Paul II visited our country in 1998, more than once before his arrival I talked about several subjects with one or another of his envoys.

I especially remember the occasion when we sat down to dinner in a small room in the Palace of the Revolution with Joaquín Navarro Valls, Papal spokesman, sitting in front of me. To the right was a pleasant and intelligent priest who had come with the spokesman and assisted Pope John Paul II at the Masses.

Curious about the details, I asked Navarro Valls whether he thought that the immense sky with its millions of stars had been made to please the inhabitants of the earth whenever we deigned to look upwards on any given night. “Absolutely” ―he replied. “It is the only inhabited planet in the universe.”

I then turned to the priest and said: what do you think of that, Father? He replied: “In my opinion, there is a 99.9 percent possibility of intelligent life existing on some other planet.” The answer did not violate any religious principle. Mentally I multiplied the figure, who knows how many times. It was the kind of answer that I deemed to be correct and serious.

Afterwards, that noble priest was always friendly with our country. Sharing a friendship does not mean you have to share beliefs.

Today, on Thursday, as it happens with increasing frequency, a European entity with well-known solvency in the subject, textually states:

“There could be billions of planets not much larger than the Earth orbiting around weak stars in our galaxy, according to an international team of astronomers.

“This estimated number of ‘super-Earths’ -planets with up to ten times Earth’s mass – is based on detections already made and then extrapolated to include the population of the so-called ‘dwarf stars’ in the Milky Way.”

“‘Our new observations with HARPS show that around 40% of the red dwarf stars have a ‘super-Earth’ orbiting around it in its habitable zone, where there may be water in a liquid state on the surface of the planet’, stated Xavier Bonfils, team leader at the Sciences of the Universe Observatory in Grenoble, France.

‘“Due to the fact that the red dwarfs are so common – there are around 160 billion of them in the Milky Way – this brings us to the surprising results that there are tens of millions of those planets in our galaxy alone’.”

“Their studies suggest that there are ‘super-Earths’ in habitable zones in 41% of the cases, with a range of 28 to 95%.

“‘40% of the red dwarf stars have a ‘super-Earth’ orbiting them in their habitable zone, where water in its liquid state may exist’.”

“That leads to the obvious question about whether any of those planets may not only be habitable but may also have life.”

“But these stars are prone to stellar eruptions, that can wash over the neighbouring planets with X-rays or ultra-violet radiation, making it less likely that life may exist there.

“‘We have an idea about how to find traces of life on those planets’, stated Stephane Udry, researcher at the Observatory of Geneva.”

“‘If we are able to see traces of elements related to life such as oxygen in that light, then we can obtain indications about whether there is life on that planet’.”

Simply reading these news items shows the possibility and the necessity we have of enriching our knowledge which today is fragmented and scattered.

Perhaps it takes us to more critical positions on the superficiality with which we deal with cultural and material problems. I have not the slightest doubt that our world is changing much more quickly than we are capable of imagining.

Iraq: Inside a Failed State

Farirai Chubvu
New Era

“The development of a genuine anti-war movement directed at the root of war — the profit system — has been systematically blocked by the left liberals, Greens and, above all, the various pseudo-left organizations.”

NINE years ago last week, on March 20, 2003, the US and its allies, including Britain and Australia, launched the illegal invasion of Iraq.

All of the pretexts used to justify the war were lies. There were no weapons of mass destruction and no links between Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda.

The protracted American-led occupation resulted in an autocratic, pro-US regime, the deaths of a million Iraqis, and an enormous social and economic regression.

Today, nine years after US troops toppled Saddam Hussein and just a few months after the last US soldier left the devastated country, Iraq has become something close to a failed state.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki presides over a system rife with corruption and brutality, in which political leaders use security forces and militias to repress enemies and intimidate the general population.

The law exists as a weapon to be wielded against rivals and to hide the misdeeds of allies. The dream of an Iraq governed by elected leaders answerable to the people is rapidly fading away.

The Iraqi state cannot provide basic services, including regular electricity in summer, clean water, and decent health care; meanwhile, unemployment among young men hovers close to 30 percent, making them easy recruits for criminal gangs and militant factions.

Although the level of violence is down from the worst days of the civil war in 2006 and 2007, the current pace of bombings and shootings is more than enough to leave most Iraqis on edge and deeply uncertain about their futures.

They have lost all hope that the bloodshed will go away and simply live with their dread.

Acrimony in the political realm and the violence in the cities create a destabilising feedback loop, whereby the bloodshed sows mistrust in the halls of power and politicians are inclined to settle scores with their proxies in the streets.

Both Maliki and his rivals are responsible for the slide toward chaos, prisoners of their own history under Saddam.

Iraq today is divided between once-persecuted Shiite religious parties, such as Maliki’s Dawa Party, which is still hungry for revenge and secular and Sunni parties that long for a less bloody version of Saddam’s Baath Party, with its nationalist ideology and intolerance of religious and ethnic politics.

Meanwhile, the Kurds manoeuvre gingerly around the divisions in Baghdad.

Their priority is to preserve their near autonomy in northern Iraq and ward off the resurrection of a powerful central government that could one day besiege their cities and bombard their villages, as Baghdad did throughout the twentieth century.

Nine years later, the world is on the brink of even greater disasters as the Obama administration, pursuing the same imperialist ambitions, recklessly intensifies its threats and preparations for war against Iran.

The absence of a mass anti-war movement today raises critical questions about the failure of the 2003 protests and how to renew the struggle against militarism and war.

The development of a genuine anti-war movement directed at the root of war — the profit system — has been systematically blocked by the left liberals, Greens and, above all, the various pseudo-left organisations.

All of these individuals and organisations are deeply hostile to the working class and its independent mobilisation.

Their social base is a narrow layer of the affluent middle class that has shifted sharply to the right under the impact of the worsening capitalist crisis.

This layer increasingly identifies its interests with those of its own imperialist power.
The middle-class leftists who opposed the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 1970s have step by step become advocates for imperialist war.

The process was already evident during the Balkan wars of the 1990s, when a considerable section of former anti-war protest leaders directly supported Nato’s intervention and its phoney humanitarian claim to be protecting first the Bosnian Muslims and later the Kosovars.

What was behind the attack on Serbia was Washington’s determination to exploit the opportunities opened up by the collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Not a few of those who backed the Balkan interventions employed similar humanitarian pretexts to support the US invasion of Iraq in the name of removing the “dictator Hussein.”

More insidious, however, was the political role of the liberals and leftists who dominated the mass anti-war protests of 2003 and promoted the illusion that the invasion could be stopped by appealing to the United Nations or to France and Germany.

The latter had opposed the war in the UN to protect their imperialist interests in the Middle East and quickly fell into line once the US occupation became an established fact.

These renegades used their influence over the protest movement to channel the anti-war sentiment of broad layers of the population behind the Democrats and the election campaigns of John Kerry in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008.

The election of Obama was the prelude to shutting down the anti-war movement altogether.

Behind the eruption of US militarism over the past two decades lies the attempt by successive administrations to exploit the military predominance of US imperialism to offset its historic decline, at the expense of its European and Asian rivals.

Those processes have only been accelerated under the Obama administration by the deepening global economic crisis.

The current drive to war against Iran and Syria threatens to embroil not only the entire Middle East, but to drag in other countries including China and Russia.

A new international movement against war and militarism must be based on the understanding that the fundamental cause of imperialist conflict is not the subjective characteristics of political leaders or mistaken policies.

Behind the criminality and recklessness of leaders in the US, Europe and elsewhere are the fundamental contradictions of capitalism—between world economy and the outmoded nation state system, and between socialised production and the private ownership of the means of production.

A viable movement against war requires national consciousness and a revolutionary force for pro-people policies.

So much for Uncle Sam’s ‘democratisation’ project.

President Bashar al-Assad Visits Homs, Says Restoring Safety and Security “Were A Must”


SANA

HOMS, (SANA) — President Bashar al-Assad paid an inspection field visit Tuesday to Baba Amr Quarter in Homs Governorate.

President al-Assad met the inhabitants of the Quarter, earlier agonized by heavily-armed terrorist groups which terrorized the inhabitants, asserting that the State would never hesitate to carry out its duty and responsibilities in protecting its citizens.

 

“The State has given those who deviated from the path of right the best of possible opportunities to backtrack and return to the Homeland, and to put down their arms; they ,however, rejected seizing these opportunities and further increased their terrorism. So, there was a must as to work for restoring security, safety, and for imposing the rule of law,” underscored President al-Assad to hundreds of the citizens who gathered around him and complained from the heinous acts perpetrated by the armed terrorist groups.

President al-Assad, during his field visit and inspection of the destruction inflicted upon the Quarter by the armed terrorist groups, called for the rallying of efforts redoubling work as to quickly reconstruct destroyed buildings and rehabilitate the infrastructure, especially schools, electricity grids, and medical establishments.

President al-Assad, during his meeting with some army and police force members, lauded the sacrifices and efforts exerted by Syrian Army and Police members in defense of the Homeland and its stability and security.

The inhabitants of the quarter, who chanted slogans of loyalty, and amity to president al-Assad, asserted that the terrorist acts by the armed terrorist groups have but increased the inhabitants’ commitment to their Homeland, and care about its security and stability, highly appreciating the Syrian Arab Army, which restored safety and security to their Quarter and City.

Interview: Without Socialism, There Can be No True ‘Feminism’

venezuelanalysis.com

An interview by Rachael Boothroyd with feminist activist Meglimar Melero from the Insumisas Collective and the Feminist Spider network discussing the feminist movement in Venezuela today.

Can you tell us something about your collective, Insumisas and the Feminist Spider?

MM: The Feminist Spider is a communal space for discussion in which numerous collectives and social movements participate. We at Insumisas are participating as a collective within that space in different ways. The Spider is still not what you could describe as a feminist movement with militants just yet.

For instance, we at Insumisas carry out numerous events in Carabobo state, we participate in Mission Sucre with our student-comrades, with comrades from the communities, comrades who are organized in the communal councils. Basically what we are trying to do is carry out a type of political education with respect to feminism and socialism through the women’s organization processes in the communal councils, that’s to say, using whatever methods possible to promote and build gender equality and justice committees.

Venezuela celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8. Can you comment on the significance of the day and why it is important in Venezuela?

MM: I think it’s necessary to re-conceptualize International Women’s Day from the important perspective of being a working class woman. We need to win the day back from capitalism, which has tried to commercialize it. It’s now a day about buying flowers and saying, “Oh, look how great women are”. I think that we have to rescue its educational meaning, its message of struggle and rebellion, its concept of participation and organization, basically its revolutionary character, no?

On March 8 we celebrated the day (in Venezuela) and the atmosphere of enthusiasm was tangible, really militant. It seemed to me, being in the epicenter of the march with all the other women, from Mission Madres del Barrio and other working women from all over the country, you could really feel the spirit of the politically organized woman, the woman who is participating in the community, the woman who really believes in this revolutionary process.

In short, I think the day is really important on a global level for working class women, and it’s important to give the day its original character back, which is that of class struggle. Because historically, this day started to be commemorated because of working class women’s struggles, from their labor demands.

Can you comment a little bit about the politics of the Bolivarian government with respect to women? Have you noticed a change in terms of this government’s policies and those of previous governments?

MM: It is thanks to the revolutionary process that women’s participation is even taken into account, obviously we are grateful to the revolutionary process, because as women, we have greater participation and greater opportunities, not just in terms of our role but also in practice, because we have all those instances of popular power and participation.

The revolution has generated the spaces for us women to organize, and to respond to, debate and reflect over our reality within capitalist society, in which we are still living, no? I think that the communal councils have gender equality, as well as other spaces such as the governmental federal committees, the party, and in the recognition that social movements can generate policy. All of these are tools for participation in which women are recognized and which try to drive forward the participation of women.

What would you say to the feminists in other countries who criticize Venezuelan feminism for being too class orientated, as opposed to focusing on issues specific to women?

MM: I think it’s really about carrying out a historic revision of feminism. What has happened to feminism as a global movement?

I think that women from other places in the world, especially the West, should reflect at length about what has happened to the Marxist-feminist proposal, socialist-feminism; what has happened to those proposals in their respective countries? Because let’s say that we have had some currents which have broken away and have stayed within the arena of simply making liberal demands. They don’t organize towards the transformation or the surmounting of exploitation or the patriarchy, viewed as the complimentary functional system to capitalism.

Feminism has suffered from, just like the global left, ideological deviations that can’t be hidden. I think, what we are trying to do in Venezuela is to recover all of that material and those feminist proposals, Marxist-feminism with class consciousness. Because without feminism, socialism can’t exist, and without socialism, true feminism cannot exist.

Venezuela is famed for its beauty competitions. As a feminist collective do you have a position with respect to this?

MM: The culture of the media has had a really profound effect on society, and obviously there is a culture, not just in Venezuela but in other countries in Latin America and Europe, which seeks to market women’s bodies. It converts women into an object that is bought and sold, it dehumanizes women completely, it turns them into merchandise.

I think, in this sense, the struggle should be about opening more spaces in the media which reflect how diverse we are as women, in every sense, and that we become more aware. That’s a successful political strategy because (in Venezuela) there is alternative media, which little by little is starting to promote the fact that another type of woman exists, a woman who builds things, creates things and has things to contribute. Not the stereotypical woman that is sold by capitalism.

The Feminist Spider has been organizing workshops from a gender perspective for the new Labor Law which is due to be passed by the government in May of this year. What are the principal proposals that have been developed through these workshops?

MM: We as socialist feminists, with respect to the discussions surrounding the new labor law, are worried and concerned over the issue of women and the work environment. We are conscious that we as women have particular conditions in our work environment, whether we are on a salaried wage or working as part of the informal economy, which is made up of a lot of women.

Those are the kind of issues that we have been discussing at the workshops. We have tried to orientate the discussion towards how to regulate our working environments and what we can do for the huge mass of women inside the informal economy, such as women selling products in a catalogue, street-sellers, hairdressers, etc. This is all indirect work.

Our main preoccupation is how to regulate and guarantee labor rights for the female working population. Because our work also goes above and beyond the working day, our work also includes the intellectual and productive work that women carry out at home. We have a lot of challenges, above all because a lot of responsibilities fall onto the shoulders of women, a lot of social responsibilities.

It’s important to point out that these responsibilities aren’t just women’s responsibilities, but they are in fact social responsibilities; looking after children, the sick, the old, education. These are responsibilities that historically have fallen upon each one of us as women. We have to create, evaluate and socialize the concept of these tasks as social responsibilities, so that these areas become collective spaces of work and education. That is basically the focal point of our proposals towards the new labor law.

Lukashenko: Belarus’ “Fifth Column” Responsible For EU Sanctions

BelTA

MINSK, 22 March (BelTA) – The EU travel ban list has been adopted on the tip of the fifth column in Belarus, President Alexander Lukashenko said in an interview to Alexander Gurnov, head and host of the program Spotlight (Prozhektor) of the TV company Russia Today, on 20 March.

The head of state commented on the information regarding one of Belarusian opposition figures, former chairman of the Belarusian parliament Stanislav Shushkevich barred from leaving the country: “The European Union has adopted a so-called blacklist which includes your obedient servant as well. This list has been approved on the tip of our fifth column led by one of its leaders Stanislav Shushkevich.”

When asked about retaliatory measures, Alexander Lukashenko said: “We have compiled our blacklist in response. We have not introduced it in full yet. But we will certainly do it. These people provide the West with names and companies and suggest imposing economic sanctions.”

The President noted that he has always treated his predecessors with respect. With this, the Belarusian leader pointed out the policy pursued by Stanislav Shushkevich in his time. “As for his policy, one action is enough to describe this person when he together with Kravchuk (Ukraine’s first president Leonid Kravchuk – BelTA’s note) insisted on the dissolution of the Soviet Union,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

Editor’s Note: Stanislav Shushkevich was a contemporary of Boris Yeltsin and was a leading advocate of counterrevolution in Belarus. Today, he is one of the loudest voices calling for ‘regime change’ against President Lukashenko, who has been a vocal critic of NATO and was the sole European country to stand with Libya last year.

South Korean “Nuclear Summit” Targets DPRK

KCNA

Pyongyang, March 21 (KCNA) — The Korean nation has ardently wished to see the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula at an early date as it has been exposed to a more direct nuclear threat for such a long period than any other nation in the world.

However, this ardent desire and wish are facing a new grave challenge due to the Lee Myung Bak group of traitors’ policy of confrontation with the DPRK and moves to provoke a nuclear war.

The south Korean puppet authorities are getting evermore undisguised in their moves to turn “the nuclear security summit” to be held in Seoul into a confab on a nuclear racket against the DPRK.

Coming to the surface is their attempt to put the “nuclear issue in the north” on the agenda of the summit in the wake of such reckless remarks that “the summit is of particularly weighty significance for south Korea being exposed to a nuclear threat” and “it is the first process for building a world free from nukes.”

Lee Myung Bak on March 19 let loose sheer sophism that “the summit may play a big role in expanding the international community’s support for the denuclearization of the north,” disclosing his ulterior motive.

Kim Song Hwan, puppet minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Rim Song Nam, puppet chief delegate to the six-party talks, and others who are responsible for discussing the issue of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula are floating wild rumors that “there may be speeches on the north’s nuclear issue,” “written statements may be presented” and “there may be a message urging the north to scrap nuclear substance” at the summit.

Also heard from the conservative media are outbursts echoing the puppet authorities’ claims that “the nuclear issue of the north is likely to be addressed in depth” and “the parties concerned to the six-party talks will address the nuclear issue of the north in an intensive manner.”

Worse still, even an idea of working out a draft “Seoul communique” on the premise of “nuclear threat from the north” is high on the agenda.

This clearly testifies to the fact that the Lee Myung Bak group of traitors is set to use the forthcoming international forum as a lever for confrontation with the DPRK by availing itself of its position as a host.

The Seoul “nuclear security summit” is a continuation and extension of the group’s frantic anti-DPRK nuclear racket. The DPRK has already clarified its principle stand over this issue and made it clear that international norms are strictly observed in storing and managing nuclear substance.

What should be stated emphatically is that the issue of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is that of denuclearizing the whole peninsula. Accordingly, “the north’s nuclear issue” has never existed, in fact, and there is no justification to bring it up for discussion at the summit.

The Lee group’s persistent efforts to place “the north’s nuclear issue” on the agenda of the Seoul “summit” are nothing but a revelation of its sinister attempt to justify its moves for a nuclear war against the DPRK and a curtain-raiser to the worldwide politically-motivated farce to divert elsewhere public criticism of it and escape a miserable defeat in the forthcoming “election.”

It is a ridiculous attempt and an absolutely unpardonable criminal act for Lee Myung Bak, traitor for all ages, to bring someone’s “nuclear issue” up for discussion. The Lee group is foolish enough to use the “summit” as a card for justifying its military threat and moves for a nuclear war against the DPRK.

Crying out for “coping with the north’s possible terrorism by biological weapons and its attack to disturb GPS”, the group had already staged such war drills as “combined protection drills of civilians, officials, military and police forces” and “combined drill to combat terrorism”.

Kim Kwan Jin, puppet minister of Defense, even issued an order “to shower a ten-fold retaliatory fire” in case the north provokes. He cried out for “retaliating against the north till its full surrender in the spirit of taking revenge upon it for the sunken ‘Cheonan’ warship and the Yonphyong Island shelling case.”

Jong Sung Jo, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also issued an order to “take prompt strong retaliatory strikes.” He said the north should be forced to “deeply regret for its action”.

The Lee group is keen to use the “summit” as a curtain-raiser to its nuclear war against the DPRK.

The DPRK cannot but take a serious note of this fact.

No one can vouch that Lee would not use the “summit” for achieving his sinister aim as he left no means untried to bedevil the inter-Korean relations in the past.

This is proved by the group which behaved so meanly in the wake of the DPRK’s announcement that it would launch satellite Kwangmyongsong-3.

The group is making last-ditch efforts to deny even the DPRK’s right to use space for peaceful purposes and infringe upon its sovereignty. This behavior suffices to guess how reckless it will go with this “summit” as an occasion.

The situation on the peninsula has reached an uncontrollably serious phase due to the group’s thrice-cursed act of hurting the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK.

No one can predict how the situation will deteriorate in the future.

In case “the north’s nuclear issue” is placed on the agenda at the Seoul “summit” and such provocation as “issuing a statement” against the DPRK is perpetrated, this will be recorded in history as an intolerable insult to the wishes of the peerlessly great men of Mt. Paektu who left the denuclearization of the peninsula as their behests and as another thrice-cursed hideous crime.

It is a mockery of the public at home and abroad and shame on the world community to open the “summit” to discuss nuclear security in south Korea, the world’s biggest nuclear arsenal.

To take part in Lee’s indiscreet burlesque is as reckless an act as driving the situation on the peninsula to the worst phase and adding fuel to the flames.

Any provocation will amount to a declaration of a war against the DPRK and result in throwing a stumbling block in the way of discussing the denuclearization of the peninsula.