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Eye on Civil Society


Ukraine war leaves a long shadow of pollution, ill-health and ravaged industries
By Nickolai Denisov and Otto Simonett, with Doug Weir & Dmytro Averin (The Ecologist) 24 May 2015

Over one year after violent conflict began in East Ukraine, indications are emerging of its severe environmental impacts in the highly industrialised Donbas region, and the grave health risks to civilians that will endure long into the future. The area will need international assistance both to reduce the hazards, and to ‘green’ the region’s often polluting industries.

China resets Latin America
Lyuba Lulko (Pravda.Ru) 26 May 2015

China is busy doing the things that Russia can not do for economic reasons - the Celestial Empire is changing the world order. One can say that China is conquering the world with loans. Latin America is of special importance for China at this point. Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang is touring South America and signed landmark agreements with Brazil.

Fortress South Africa
Jane Duncan First Published in Pambazuka 22 May 2015

Like the richer countries of the North that are adopting tougher controls to stem the migration of people from the more impoverished, conflict-ridden South, South Africa is employing similar tactics. But this approach is futile, unsustainable and anti-people.

The Mandela Complex
Harry Stopes 17 April 2015

In December 2013, a group of people living in shack settlements in Newlands West, Durban, entered and squatted a development of 16 nearly complete apartment blocks on Castle Hill, about ten miles north-west of the city centre. They stayed for more than a year before they were evicted on 17 December 2014. The developer calls the site Hilldale; the squatters called it the Mandela Complex.

Since 1994 the main government policy for housing the poor in South Africa has been to provide free homes, for private ownership, through the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP). To be eligible for an RDP home, your total household income mut be less than 3500 Rand a month. That isn’t much (currently around £200), but there are millions of South Africans who earn less, or nothing at all – a quarter of the workforce is unemployed. Around 180,000 RDP units have been built in Durban since 1994.

TRNN Debate: Are GMOs Safe?

Dr. Thierry Vrain and Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam discuss the science behind genetically engineered crops and the significance of GMO restrictions in more than 60 countries
The Real News Network 22 May 2015

Ukraine's Soil Changes Hands
Foreign Investors Grabbing Arable Lands
Sputnik News 21 May 2015

Ukraine's rich black soil is changing hands: foreign corporations and Ukrainian tycoons continue "grabbing" the country's arable lands; the question remains open whether such a policy can benefit the Ukrainian people, Elizabeth Fraser stressed.

China: violent protests reveal instability
Jack Rising 20 May 2015

Thousands of protesters violently clashed with authorities last Saturday in Linshui County, located in eastern Sichuan province. The protesters demanded that a proposed high speed railway pass through Linshui. They were met with batons and rubber bullets, with hundreds reportedly being injured by the police and tactical units. The heavy handed response of the Chinese state to these protests reveals the instability and weakness of the regime.

India: No place for dissent in world’s biggest democracy
RTCC News 19 May 2015

Is Greenpeace crackdown a plan of Modi government to stifle alternative voices under the cover of national interest?

India prime minister Narendra Modi addresses the 2014 General Assembly (Pic: UN photos)
By Avik Roy in New Delhi

“You can’t muzzle dissent in a democracy”, said the Delhi High Court while delivering a verdict against the federal government’s attitude towards civil society.

India Gangrened!
Jagadish G Chandra 16 May 2015

India’s capitalist democracy has surely turned a page in the 21st century. A thousand headed Cobra has come-off its age and has started vexing its fangs, spewing out the deadly venom of communalism in all directions.

Fifteen Years of Community Controlled Water in Cochabamba
Marina Sitrin (teleSUR English) 15 May 2015

Marina Sitrin interviews Marcela Olivera, an activist in Bolivia’s water wars of 2000 and their ongoing legacy.

This year marks fifteen years of the victory of the communities of Bolivia over private water corporations. Not only did popular power reverse the plan to privatize the water, but the many hundreds of communities surrounding Cochabamba managed to keep their water as a common, controlled and managed by the community directly and democratically.

Countries Around the World Are Revoking Freedom of Assembly
Willie Osterweil (Aljazeera America) 15 May 2015

On March 26, without much fanfare or attention from U.S. media, the Spanish government ended freedom of assembly. In the face of popular opposition (80 percent of Spaniards oppose it), the upper house passed the Citizens’ Security Law. Under the provision, which goes into effect on July 1, police will have the discretionary ability to hand out fines up to $650,000 to unauthorized demonstrators who protest near a transport hub or nuclear power plant. They will be allowed to issue fines of up to $30,000 for taking pictures of police during protest, failing to show police ID or just gathering in an unauthorized way near government buildings.

Mexico: Socialism or Barbarism? - part one
Carlos Ricardo Marquez, Izquierda Socialista, Mexico 11 May 2015

Over the past couple of years Peña Nieto's government in Mexico has taken giant steps in carrying out reforms which the big bourgeoisie for a long time could only dream of. It presented itself as an unstoppable government which the workers' movement could not confront in a serious manner. But decades of such attacks and struggles have led to a build-up of pressure below the surface that constitutes a great challenge to the system and the regime that supports it. A feeling that things are not going well and that we must act to radically transform the system is taking root in Mexican society.

Zwelithini's lice comment only deflects attention for parasitic royal households
Alexander O'Riordan 12 May 2015

The real parasites in South Africa are institutions such as the moribund royal households that are maintained in luxury by taxpayers without delivering any meaningful public good.

Will the world remain silent with Rwanda and Uganda in DR Congo again?
An interview with international criminal defense attorney and former law professor Peter Erlinder
Ann Garrison First Published in Pambazuka 5 May 2015

While international attention is focused on the constitutional crisis in Burundi, Rwandan and Ugandan soldiers have again violated the territorial integrity of DR Congo by sending troops into the country. What are they up to?

Widen the Circle, Broaden the Left
Badri Raina 10 May 2015

The Communist Party of India-Marxist has a new helmsman. Sitaram Yechury, a less forbidding man than his predecessor, carries with him the sunny goodwill of many inside and outside the Party. Many among the general middle classes, who view politics rather exclusively in terms of “leadership”, even those who are more familiar with the structures of Left politics than most, sense some sort of a paradigm shift in the offing with regard to both the substance and the style of the Party’s operations and intervention in the coming years. To the best of my acquaintance and education, such a climate of anticipation might flatter and forewarn, if not scare, the new General Secretary in equal measure. Communist Parties, after all, subordinate individuals to collective decisions (remember Jyoti Basu?) and any change of leadership there does not carry the same probabilities as it may and usually does in what are called bourgeois formations.

Britain: Tories win, but Scotland turns left
Stuart Munckton 11 May 2015

Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party won a clear victory in Britain’s May 7 general elections. In Scotland, however, the Scottish National Party dramatically rose from six seats to 56 out of 59, in a clear sign of opposition to the brutal austerity backed by the major parties in Westminster.

Burundi: mass protests shake the regime
Ben Morken 5 May 2015

The fragile Great Lakes region of central Africa has been thrown into turmoil over the the past few days. Police unleashed violence against protesters in Burundi after the current president, Pierre Nkurunziza announced on Saturday, 25 April, that he intends to run for a third term as president. This unconstitutional move is undermining the Arusha Peace Agreement, which ended the 13 year civil war. It risks pushing the entire Great Lakes region into chaos and instability, and a possible return to another war.

Angela Merkel’s NSA Nightmare Just Got A Lot Worse
Don Quijones 4 May 2015

Angela Merkel, Germany’s most successful and popular politician, could be in serious trouble, after revelations that Germany’s national intelligence agency, the BND, has been spying on key European assets on behalf of US intelligence. Those “assets” include top French officials, the EU’s headquarters, the European defense corporation EADS, the helicopter manufacturer Eurocopter and even German companies.

“China is in a hard landing now”
Stock market frenzy and fabricated GDP figures cannot hide the reality of an economy in deep trouble
China Worker 3 May 2015

For China’s one-party dictatorship (CCP), 2015 is turning into quite a dangerous year. After years of rapid debt-driven growth and the world’s biggest construction boom, China’s economy faces a multitude of serious problems. Overcapacity, deflation, a housing slump and local government debt crisis are all acting as a drag on economic growth which by several measures has slowed to a crawl.

Zuma’s son is a bitter boy who shames his father and his people
Bandile Mdlalose 29 April 2015

For two weeks, I have been sitting back and watching one of our country’s most prominent children. What impact does raising one of more than 20 kids, many before 1994 in exile, have on their morality? It is quite overwhelming to see the grown son of the most powerful man in South Africa act like a child that grew up in a home without discipline or education.

South Africa and the DRC: Has Rhodes passed on the baton?
Shawn Hattingh 29 April 2015

In the heat of the struggle for statues like that of Rhodes – the arch-symbol of British imperialism – to be pulled down, and in the midst of the horror of the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa, few people seemed to notice an announcement by Jacob Zuma that South African troops will remain at war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for another year.

No more war on the poor!
Raphael Mota Translation Bing 29 April 2015

In the middle of Holy week, the community of Complexo do Alemão returned to mourn the death of innocents. Four people, among them a municipal network educator, Elizabeth Francisco de Moura, of 40 years, dead inside the House, and Eduardo Jesus, of 10 years who died brutally while playing. The Governor's response to these crimes is Bigfoot promise to increase the occupation in the community. In the neighboring community, the tide, the military occupation Government Dilma plaguing residents with violence in approaches.

Xenophobia requires root-cause critique and strategic resistance
Patrick Bond 28 April 2015

Political symbols in South Africa are here today, gone tomorrow, but oppressive political economy endures. At surface level, an explosion of anti-racist activism amongst the most enlightened South Africans – up-and-coming black scholars trying to break various ceilings of residual apartheid power – is occurring at the same time a xenophobic implosion is wreaking havoc on the bottom socio-economic ranks.

“China-Pakistan friendship”: between whom?
Lal Khan 27 April 2015

There was a great pomp and show. There was a din of “eternal Pakistan-China friendship” broadcast from every media channel and newspaper incessantly for almost two days. A Chinese head of state was paying a desperately awaited visit to Pakistan for the first time in many years.

Durban and the 2022 Commonwealth Games?
Is Durban capable – and deserving – of hosting 2022 Commonwealth Games?
Bandile Mdlalose First Published in Pambazuka 25 April 2015

Durban has made a bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games. However, the city is built on a foundation of race and class inequality, leading to xenophobic attacks and unrest. Before Durban is ready to host any international events, it must become the strong African citizen it has promised to be by treating all of its citizens equally.

The past and the present have drawn us into a future of unfortunate and incalculable depth. How low will our society go?

Crushing dreams will not stop the rush from Africa
Vijay Prashad 23 April 2015

Two sides of Africa plunge migrants into deep despair. Thousands from the continent’s central belt head to Libya, load themselves on boats bound for Europe, and never reach their destination.

Meanwhile, the Islamic State group abducts Ethiopian migrants and murders them. The militants of the IS do the work of European fascists, who would rather see these forlorn men and women dead than on their shores.

Alone, With Nowhere To Go
The Con 22 April 2015

“I don’t agree with violence, but I did participate because there was the safety of a group situation,” says Kabelo* last week in Durban.

Standing near a peach-coloured house recently defiled in Chatsworth’s Bottlebrush area, Kabelo says the house was previously inhabited by Zimbabwean nationals before they were violently hounded out. Kabelo surveys people attempting to fix the damage that he admits to being a part of, his Figaro gold chain resting high on his T-shirted sternum.

Mandela Led Fight Against Apartheid, But Not Against Extreme Inequality
Patrick Bond (The Real News Network) 20 April 2015

Patrick Bond is the director of the Center for Civil Society and a professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. Bond is the author of the recently released books, South Africa – The Present as History (with John Saul) and the 3rd edition of Elite Transition.

Debt sentences
Almost 50 million people in the U.S. are carrying student debt. The level of debt is vast, now over $1 trillion, and is a drag on the entire economy.
Vijay Prashad 21 April 2015

IN FEBRUARY, 15 students of Corinthian Colleges, a private education company in the United States, decided to refuse to pay back their student debt. Within a month, the students on debt strike swelled to 100. These are among the 400 students who took out predatory loans to attend the for-profit Corinthian Colleges—part of a landscape of moneymaking private institutions.

Depoliticization and False Polarization in Brazil
Sabrina Fernandes (The Bullet) 13 April 2015

In a recent essay (see “Brazil: The Débâcle of the PT”), Alfredo Saad-Filho writes of the dilemmas the Workers' Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores – PT) now faces in Brazil. His analysis helps decipher some of the dynamics that have led to the current crisis of the PT regime and President Dilma Rousseff. This essay complements Saad-Filho's contribution by further contextualizing the radical Left in relation to the PT; and by identifying where the right-wing opposition stands (beyond its relation to the failure of the PT to maintain hegemony through neoliberal conciliation).

Mass strike in Paraná: the limits of trade unionism
Fabiano Stoiev Translation Bing 1 April 2015

The expectation was rain. But the day 19 February dawned sunny. Only on praça Rui Barbosa, began to leak here and there, educators (as) on strike. In a short time, the square overflowing of teachers and employees of Curitiba and Metropolitan Region. A recurring speech among the associated (as) the APP-Union is that the people of the interior is that ensures, with its presence, mass mobilizations of category. But on this day, the people of the capital shattered the myth and showed all its value. The narrow streets leading to the Tiradentes square, channeled this human torrent. In waves of colorful umbrellas and parasols, which protected the marchers from the Sun, the demonstration progressed slowly through the city accompanied by an improvised Safety Commission by protesters, in the absence of the police escort to latch onto the busy streets.

Washington Frets as Beijing Steps Up Multilateral Initiatives
Walden Bello 1 April 2015

“With friends like this, who needs enemies.” This must be what Washington policymakers muttered to themselves following the decision of London, Paris, Rome, and Berlin to join a new development bank proposed by Beijing.

The anger in Washington most likely mounted when its main Pacific allies, Japan, Australia, and South Korea, also gave strong indications that they would join the bandwagon. By the end of March, more than 35 countries are expected to be enlisted as founding members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Saudi war on Yemen
Rising tensions in the Middle East and the crisis of Imperialism
Hamid Alizadeh 31 March 2015

Since early Thursday morning hundreds of fighter jets from Saudi Arabia and a wide coalition of Arab states have been bombing targets across Yemen, killing dozens, destroying all major runways and much of the key infrastructure of the country. Yet again Yemen, which is the poorest Arab country, has become a target for savage attacks by the Saudi regime.

China’s Bank & Waning USA Hegemony
Jack Rasmus 29 March 2015

Two events occurred last week that mark a further phase in the waning of US global economic hegemony: China introduced its own Economic Development Bank, the ‘Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’ (AIIB); and the IMF simultaneously announced it will decide in May to include the Chinese currency as a global reserve-trading currency alongside the dollar, pound, and euro—an almost certainly ‘done deal’ as well.

What’s South Africa’s anti-human rights game at the UN?
Rebecca Davis 29 March 2015

This week, the United Nations human rights council announced the establishment of a special new role to look into issues pertaining to privacy, in the wake of the Edward Snowden surveillance revelations. Information activists argue that such an individual could play a vital role in protecting citizens’ right to privacy. Guess which country said it couldn’t support such a resolution? South Africa.

Nigerians Head to the Polls Amid Rising Tensions

With several court challenges in the works, the elections are highly contested and posses a threat to the PDP rule, says Associate Professor Zachariah Mampilly of Vassar College
The Real News Network 27 March 2015

A Multi-Faceted Crisis Surrounding Turkey
Taylan Tosun 26 March 2015

A multi-faceted crisis has been emerging and has begun to surround Turkey for the last few months. There is a growing crisis on the political scene, i.e., concerning the classical political parties and representative system. There is a growing social crisis underlying the one on the political level. The Kurdish question is exerting an increasing pressure on the political scene. And lastly a very serious economic crisis is on the horizon. Indeed this has been a familiar pattern in Turkey, at least in recent history. Political and economic crises have been always overlapped and triggered each other.

Secretive and seedy: how aid donors are opening the agribusiness flood gates
When big agribusiness teams up with international aid organisations to corner the market on seeds, everyone loses.
Ian Fitzpatrick 23 March 2015

A secretive conference, co-organised by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), one of the world’s largest donors, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) takes place in London today, 23 March 2015.

Real unemployment is double the ‘official’ unemployment rate
Pete Dolack 23 March 2015

How many people are really out of work? The answer is surprisingly difficult to ascertain. For reasons that are likely ideological at least in part, official unemployment figures greatly under-report the true number of people lacking necessary full-time work.

Can You Say “Blowback” in Spanish?
Rebecca Gordon 23 March 2015

They behead people by the hundreds. They heap headless, handless bodies along roadsides as warnings to those who would resist their power. They have penetrated the local, state, and national governments and control entire sections of the country. They provide employment and services to an impoverished public, which distrusts their actual government with its bitter record of corruption, repression, and torture. They seduce young people from several countries, including the United States, into their murderous activities.

Call to Impeach Dilma Not As Popular As Portrayed
Danica Jorden 20 March 2015

Reminiscent of the popular movement that led to the resignation of former Brazilian president Fernando Collor de Mello in 1992, instead of “Fora Collor,” (“Get Out Collor”) protestors are now waving banners with the words “Fora Dilma” and favouring the same English word “impeachment” in a bid to oust the South American country’ current president, Dilma Rousseff. Both leaders were accused of mismanagement and corruption, with Petrobras, the national petroleum company, at the centre of the criticism against Dilma. Likewise, protestors are numbering at least a million. But the similarity is deceptive. Collor was a member of the wealthy élite who ostensibly ran afoul of the interests controlling Brazil at the time, whereas Dilma, the former revolutionary now at the helm of the country as head of the PT, the leftist Workers Party, is a populist who continues to inspire more wide-spread, albeit less reported, manifestations of support outside of the country’s affluent city centres.

Netanyahu's victory - what does it mean?
Francesco Merli 19 March 2015

With a defiant right-wing turn promising that no Palestinian state would be established as long as he remained in power, Israeli prime minister Netanyahu has managed to overturn unfavourable opinion polls at the last minute and emerge as the winner of the Israeli elections on Tuesday. His appeal was aimed - and successfully so - at rallying the right wing around his figure and firm leadership by appealing once again to the historically deeply rooted fears of ordinary Israeli citizens over external threats to Israel. What are going to be the consequences of his victory within Israel and internationally?

N Ireland: Public sector workers strike against austerity
For a second day of strike action in the run-up to the May general election!
Kevin Henry, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast 18 March 2015

Friday 13 March saw tens of thousands of workers in education, health, civil services and, importantly, public transport, take part in coordinated strike action against a Stormont austerity agenda.

USA orchestrates mass demonstrations in Brazil
Pravda 17 March 2015

On Sunday, March 15, flames of mass protests started burning in several Brazilian cities. Thousands of people took part in demonstrations against Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and government corruption. The rallies were held in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais), Salvador (Bahia), Recife (Pernambuco) and many other cities.

The Failure of Modern Industrial Agriculture
John Ikerd 17 March 2015

Americans are being subjected to an ongoing multimillion-dollar propaganda campaign designed to “increase confidence and trust in today’s agriculture.” Food Dialogues, just one example of this broader trend, is a campaign sponsored by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance—an industry organization whose funders and board members include Monsanto, DuPont, and John Deere. The campaign features the “faces of farming and ranching”—articulate, attractive young farmers, obviously chosen to put the best possible face on the increasingly ugly business of industrial agriculture, which dominates our food- production system.

Brazil 2015: crises, attacks and fights
LSR - Liberdade, Socialismo e Revolução, Translation Bing 16 March 2015

The Finance Minister, Joaquim Levy, admits that Brazil's GDP should have shrunk last year. But the austerity policy of the Government, along with the crisis of Petrobras and hydro electric and crises, can lead to a 2015 much worse. Who no doubt will come out losing, if you don't set up a strong resistance, are workers and young people.

Disconnecting the minerals-energy-climate dots
Patrick Bond 13 March 2015

Sometimes a single event reveals crucial stories about our strengths and weaknesses in advancing progressive social change and ecological sanity. Early last month I sought out intersections between three simple phenomena: the predatory extractive industries now looting Africa; our energy access crises (especially here in South Africa); and climate change.

Caught in the Middle
Boko Haram Insurgency Highlights the Vulnerable Condition of Women and the Girl - Child in Nigeria
H.T Soweto 13 March 2015

A few years ago, precisely in 2013, the Ejigbo Sodomy (a shocking case of brutalization of three women in the Ejigbo community of Lagos for allegedly stealing pepper) hallmarked the gender inequality and the unspeakable violence the female gender experience in a patriarchal Nigeria.

Why the UN climate talks have wasted 23 years
George Monbiot (The Guardian) 11 March 2015

If you visit the website of the UN body that oversees the world’s climate negotiations(1), you will find dozens of pictures, taken across 20 years, of people clapping. These photos should be of interest to anthropologists and psychologists. For they show hundreds of intelligent, educated, well-paid and elegantly-dressed people wasting their lives.

The celebratory nature of the images testifies to the world of make-believe these people inhabit. They are surrounded by objectives, principles, commitments, instruments and protocols, which create a reassuring phantasm of progress while the ship on which they travel slowly founders. Leafing through these photos, I imagine I can almost hear what the delegates are saying through their expensive dentistry. “Darling you’ve re-arranged the deckchairs beautifully. It’s a breakthrough!

We’ll have to invent a mechanism for holding them in place, as the deck has developed a bit of a tilt, but we’ll do that at the next conference.”

Community protest levels reach new record highs
D.D. de Bruyn 10 March 2015

The number of civic protests in South Africa has skyrocketed to new record highs. New figures which were released by the Civic Protest Barometer of the University of the Western Cape on 19 February 2015 show that the number of protests by communities, so-called ‘’service delivery’’ protests, more than doubled between 2007 and 2014. The researchers also show that 2014 was the year with the highest number of these protests on record.

Are Inter-Capitalist Rivalries Intensifying?
Jack Rasmus 10 March 2015

Capitalism is by nature based on intense, and often destructive, competition. Not only between capital and labor, but between capitalists themselves. But not all competition is the same. There is competition when the global economic pie is growing; and there is competition when it is stagnating or declining. And in recent months signs are growing that new forms of more intense, aggressive inter-capitalist competition are emerging as the global economy continues to slow in general, and even stagnant and slide into recession in a growing number of countries.

We don't want flowers, we demand rights!
The women's struggle is the struggle of the working class!
Flávia Ribeiro and Juliana Meatus Translation with Bing 8 March 2015

Currently we live a world crisis, in which, in several places of the planet we see how the capitalist system has explored further the working class from the austerity measures. We women are the first to suffer with the investment cuts in public policies, we have the worst wages, and we're at the top of the list of discarded from the labour market, with unemployment.

India: Kashmir - Betrayal through coalition
Lal Khan 6 March 2015

If the armed struggle, religious fundamentalism, nationalism and other such notions of people’s freedom in Indian occupied Kashmir have failed to deliver any respite to the oppressed masses, the rhetoric of ‘democracy’ and ‘development’ are equally no solution. In reality they are mere deceptions. The PDP’s coalition with BJP is nothing but a blatant betrayal and an insult added to injury for the Kashmiri masses that voted for the PDP in the recent elections, making it the largest party in the Kashmir state assembly.

China: Capitalism is pushing back women's rights
Wage gap has widened and sex discrimination in the job market is rampant
Vincent Kolo ( 4 March 2015

China Central Television's gala to celebrate the Lunar New Year is reportedly the most watched television programme in the world. It is broadcast live on 189 state-run channels and the viewing audience, despite falling in recent years, is more than 600 million people. The four-and-half hour spectacle is also shamelessly sexist, with this year¡¯s programme aired on 18 February hitting a new low in the opinion of women¡¯s rights activists and many others who have spoken out on China¡¯s vast but tightly policed social media.

Occupations mark the beginning of a new wave of Dutch student struggle
Zowi Milanovi 4 March 2015

The student struggle has flared up in Amsterdam. In a period of a few weeks, two university buildings have been occupied. At the moment of writing, the building of the executive board of the University of Amsterdam (UvA), the famous Maagdenhuis, is being occupied by students. Their struggle is against the efficiency-oriented top-down management, for which the profit motive is more important than the interests of students and lecturers.

Boris Nemtsov – a symbol of the Right
Artem Kirpichenok 2 March 2015

Mainstream media have presented Boris Nemtsov as an anti-Putin “liberal” oppositionist. In reality he was part of the oligarchy that began to emerge after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but had fallen out of grace with the main clique that took over. Here Artem Kirpichenok in St. Petersburg gives a very different point of view from within Russia.

China’s NPC meets with the super-rich in the spotlight
More than a third of China’s top 100 billionaires sit in the national ‘parliament’
David Hundorf (China Worker) 3 March 2015

China’s ornamental ‘parliament’ the National People’s Congress (NPC) opens its annual session on Thursday in Beijing. The meeting will be followed assiduously by global media for signals about future economic policy as the world’s second largest economy slows down amid mounting debt problems and industrial overcapacity. Rather than real debates and deliberations, the NPC and its ‘twin’ chamber the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) will merely rubber stamp decisions already thrashed out in the inner circles of the ‘Communist’ (CCP) dictatorship.

South Africa's Austerity Meets Opposition
Patrick Bond 3 March 2015

Twenty-five years ago this month, Nelson Mandela was freed from jail. But his party, the African National Congress (ANC), is having a miserable time. On February 12, President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address was heckled – “Pay back the money”, referring to state subsidies to his rural mansion – by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) opposition party. In the melee, police goons broke the jaw of one EFF member of parliament.

Nemtsov’s death: ‘Putin is the last person to be interested’
Interview with Dmitry Babick, ( 28 February 2015

Dmitry Babich: It’s clearly a huge tragedy. It’s a very cruel murder. But certainly I would not say that Mr. Nemtsov was in any way a threat to President Putin. He had absolutely zero chances of winning any elections at least since the 1990s, when he had some electoral successes. So to say that Nemtsov was killed in order to influence Russian policy on Ukraine, I think it’s clearly an exaggeration.

Libya: War-torn country becoming new hub for IS activities
Libyan people bearing the brunt of NATO’s fiasco
Serge Jordan (CWI) 27 February 2015

On February 15, a Libyan group acting allegedly on behalf of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS), released a gruesome video. It was of the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christian workers held hostage by them since last December. While some technical experts have since argued that parts of the video, such as the backdrop of the beach of the port city of Sirte where these beheadings appear to have been staged, have been faked, the fate of these workers is likely sealed. Recent events have in any case brought to light how the Libyan territory has become a new ground for the IS project of geographical expansion.

Keep South Africa’s lights on with renewable energy
Patrick Bond, (Counterpunch )16 February 2015

After an explosive start to his State of the Nation Address last week, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma turned to nuclear, coal, fracking and offshore drilling projects – but what about the country’s free sunshine, wind and tides?

Our Cherished Freedom of Speech Myth

Daniel Morley 20 February 2015

On February 17th Peter Oborne, one of the UK's most respected journalists, resigned from the Daily Telegraph and publicly condemned its practice of placing advertisers interests above those of the truth. As a conservative liberal, Peter Oborne is concerned that our famed and cherished 'freedom of speech' is being undermined by business interests. Freedom of expression is routinely and uncritically heralded as our society's proudest achievement to be defended at all costs. It is always assumed that, essentially, we possess this freedom, and it is only necessary to preserve it in one way or another. In truth, under capitalism there is no such thing as free expression nor a free press, for capital decides everything.

#AAPSweeps Delhi
Anand Kumar (CWI-India) 19 February 2015

The hashtag in a way symbolizes AAP’s stunning victory in the Delhi Elections winning 67 out of 70 seats in the state assembly. It shows that neither corporate money nor media influence is a guarantee to victory, especially in times of heightened expectations amongst the working people. While opinion polls and critics alike clearly saw an AAP victory coming, but nobody expected such a near decimation of the BJP, left with just 3 seats and a duck for Congress!

Chinese New Year highlights extreme class divisions
Four billionaires ‘created’ every week while workers fight to collect their wages
China Worker 19 February 2015

The world’s biggest annual migration is under way with the majority of China’s 270 million migrant workers making their way home to provinces far from the cities where they live and work. According to official data more than 2.8 billion trips will be made in the next few weeks as China celebrates the arrival of the Year of the Goat. But while primarily a time of family reunions and celebrations, the holiday period also casts a light on social divisions and the extremes of wealth and poverty in modern China.

Egypt: Regime brutality on fourth anniversary of revolution
Masses will regain confidence and willingness to fight
David Johnson, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales) 11 February 2015

January 25th marked the fourth anniversary of the start of the revolutionary uprising in Egypt in 2011. Demonstrations of a few thousand quickly grew into a mighty nationwide movement of hundreds of thousands and then millions that swept aside Hosni Mubarak’s corrupt dictatorial rule.

Who profits from killing Charlie?
A pro-style jihadist commando attack in Europe’s heart. Cui bono?
Pepe Escobar (Russia Today) 10 January 2015

Careful planning and preparation, Kalashnikovs, rocket-propelled grenade launcher, balaclavas, sand-colored ammunition vest stuffed with spare magazines, army boots, easy escape in a black Citroen…

It’s the annual university strike season
The funding dilemma obscures the need for a road map towards free higher education
Lukhona Mnguni (The Mercury) 10 February 2015

STUDENTS and journalists alike are dusting off their sneakers as they prepare for strikes. This has become an annual ritual in many universities. Clearly, something is wrong. The issue is funding for students who come from underprivileged backgrounds but are academically capable of pursuing their studies.

It is easy to dismiss these students as hooligans. At times students do not exhaust internal options to get answers; however, there are no solutions coming from management in the different universities.

Ominous signs for the world economy as Chinese slowdown gathers pace

Guy Howie 9 February 2015

Newly released figures show that the Chinese economy in 2014 experienced its lowest economic growth since 1990. Furthermore, the International Monetary Fund downgraded its 2015 growth projection for China from 7.1% to 6.8%. According to the Financial Times, 30 out of China’s 31 provinces had missed their growth targets for 2014 – the only one which didn’t was Tibet, by far the country’s smallest regional economy.

The media landscape in Brazil through the lens of Ukraine
Pedro Marin, Editor-In-Chief of Opera Revista, article published in January 26, 2015

Fourth estate, watchdog, ideology perpetuator – there are many labels for “media.” In Brazil, the problem of the media is very similar to that in most countries. According to a Brazilian research study in 2014, about 65 per cent of Brazilians watch television every day. According to the same research, they watch about three and a half hours per day. We are the fourth highest country in per capita internet access; still, only 28 per cent trust websites. Twenty four per cent trust news shared in social media networks. Only 22 out of 100 trust blogs.

Syriza vs. the ‘Troika’: Greek Debt: Negotiations Heat Up
Jack Rasmus 5 February 2015

After barely a week following the Greek elections and Syriza’s victory, negotiations between the EU’s “Troika” of debt collectors — the International Monetary Fund (IMF), European Central Bank (ECB), and the European Commission (EUC) — and Syriza’s representatives have already begun to intensify.

AP Under Naidu: Smart City Delusions
Vinay Chandra 3 February 2015

CWI-India Leave a comment TweetIn 2004, The Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which was in power for nine years was utterly routed by the people. It managed to win just 47 out of 294 seats. The rout reflected the utter disenchantment of the electorate with Naidu’s policies and his neoliberal model of development. During Naidu’s misrule, rural Andhra Pradesh sunk into deeper depths and saw some of the highest rates of farm suicides in the country. Cutbacks in the public sector triggered massive loss of jobs in the state while Naidu played fiddle with his “IT revolution” in Hyderabad. After 10 years, riding on the back of discontentment of Andhra people with the partition of the state, an utterly discredited Congress, and the promise of a massive farm loan waiver (that won’t be kept), Naidu is back as the Chief Minister in the new divided Andhra Pradesh.

Panic About Panic:Russia and the World-System Today
Immanuel Wallerstein 3 February 2015

Visiting Russia, which I recently did, is a strange experience for someone coming from the Global North. As we know, most Russians have an entirely different reading of recent world history from most persons in the Global North. In addition, however, they are concerned about things other than what visitors expect them to be concerned about.

From #Takethesquare to São Paulo’s #FreeYourPark
Bernardo Gutiérrez 1 February 2015

There was a time when the occupied square was the city. The initial camp of Spanish 15M Indignados in Puerta del Sol in Madrid became a city per se. In this square-city a kindergarten, libraries, clinics, and cultural spaces emerged.

DRC: Tensions boil over into mass student protests against Kabila
Ben Morken 29 January 2015

Over the last couple of days Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has been rocked by a series of protests against the weak, reactionary and corrupt government of Joseph Kabila. Through mass mobilisations, the predominantly student movement has dispelled any notion of the democratic credentials of the Kabila regime and has exposed its true dictatorial nature.

China: Significant upsurge in workers’ strikes and protests in 2014
Congyue Dai 28 January 2015

Despite all the Keynesian experiments and the monetary stimulus, China has failed to escape the global economic crisis. In 2014 its economic growth dropped to 7.4%, the weakest in 24 years. For the first time in 16 years growth missed the government’s annual target (7.5%).

US-India Nuke Deal A Big Win for Corporations

Author and scholar Vijay Prashad says the US-India nuclear deal will protect US corporations from liability in case of an industrial disaster like India faced in the 1984 Bhopal gas leak

Vijay Prashad interviewed by Jaisal Noor on the Real News Network27 January 2015

JAISAL NOOR, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jaisal Noor in Baltimore.

The nuclear agreement reached between the U.S. and India during President Obama's visit this weekend is being hailed as a historic breakthrough. It follows up on the 2006 nuclear deal between the two countries that was stalled on the issue of liability for U.S. corporations. That hurdle was cleared by eliminating the financial responsibility for U.S. companies in case of a disaster like what happened to Japan at Fukushima. Obama's visit also witnessed the bolstering of defense ties with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

China’s GDP slowest since 1990
The Chinese economy has decelerated by 30 percent in the past five years
China Worker 23 January 2015

The release this week of official 2014 GDP data confirmed expectations that China’s economy recorded its slowest pace in 24 years. Most economic forecasters point to even slower growth in the coming years as China grapples with deflation, overcapacity, a surge in debt levels, and the increasing “zombification” of overinvested economic sectors including the housing market which has been the economy’s main engine of growth for the past decade.

The Greek Election
Leo Panitch 26 January 2015

As we enter the eighth year of the long-lingering global economic crisis, it is sobering indeed that it is only in Greece that a political party putting forward a clear, radical democratic alternative to the perverse policies of neoliberal austerity stands on the doorstep of entering the state.

Russia/Ukraine: Facing a turbulent 2015
As death toll rises, economies plunge into freefall
Rob Jones (CWI, Moscow) 22 January 2014

President Putin entered 2014 on a high: the movement against the falsification of elections in Moscow in 2012-3 was led into a political dead-end by the pro-western liberals, was finished off using minor concessions and more serious repression. Internationally, growing tension between the western imperialist powers and the Russian imperialism saw the latter winning tactical victories, particularly in Syria. The Sochi Olympics, the most expensive games in history, were used as a showcase to temporarily divert attention from the huge corruption eating away at the Russian economy.

Hindutva Attack on Science

Alok Laddha (CWI-India) 21 January 2015

Leave a comment TweetIndian Science Congress Association was formed in 1914, and holds it’s meet in the first week of January every year. However this year for the first time in its history it held a session on Scientific practices in ancient India, which roughly covers the period from 2000BC to 500AD. The session had talks on Engineering applications of ancient Indian Botany that rather remarkably started with an attack on contemporary medical research by claiming how ancient Indian doctors claimed cancer cells were present in every human body and how today we do not even understand diabetes properly!

Can Podemos Win in Spain?
Bécquer Seguín and Sebastiaan Faber 20 January 2015

If the current poll numbers hold, Spain’s next prime minister will be Pablo Iglesias, a pony-tailed 36-year-old political scientist who cut his teeth in the Communist Youth and the anti-globalization movement—but whose party, Podemos, wants “to change the rules of the political game,” Iglesias told the journalist Jacobo Rivero. Left and right, he added, are metaphors that are no longer “useful in political terms”: “the fundamental divide now [is] between oligarchy and democracy, between a social majority and a privileged minority.” Or, as Podemos likes to put it, between la gente and la casta, the people and the caste.

Nigeria:2015 general elections and the working masses
Boko Haram and the war in the north-east
Aj. Dagga Tolar and Kola Ibrahim, DSM (CWI in Nigeria) 17 January 2014

Elections have become a periodic ritual, mandated and made compulsory by law, at least to keep the pretence of the so called civil rule in motion. In 2015, there is a sharper division among the ruling elites who, despite current economic and social hardships, are turning to the poor working peoples for votes. Indeed, the 2015 general elections are taking place against the background of the past 16 years of civil rule which has meant nothing but worsening living conditions for the working masses.

Making Sense of Boko Haram Attacks on Nigerian Civilians

Nii Akuetteh, analyst of African and international affairs, says it is difficult to decipher what Boko Haram is expecting to achieve by mass killing of civilians (Part 1)
Nii Akuetteh interviewed on the Real News Network 15 January 2014

China, the CELAC, and Venezuela
Luis Britto Garcia ( 12 January 2015

In previous articles I observed how recent radical changes had occurred in the economic structure which in turn affected political and cultural spheres in the world. I pointed to the Popular Republic of China, who became the primary economy on the globe in October of 2014 with a GDP of 17.6 billion dollars, exceeding the 17.4 billion of the United States. I added that it had been predicted this would happen by the year of 2020, but the powerful socialist economy got six years ahead, causing the IMF to calculate that by 2019, the Chinese GDP will be USD$26.9 billion while that of the US will be $22.1 billion. Keeping in mind that for Anglo Saxons [and most anglophones], a billion is one thousand millions. Additionally, China systematically buys gold, in a possible attempt to free itself from the hegemonic dollar which has no other backing other than its value printed in green ink.

Silver Lining in Kashmir Elections
Lal Khan 13 January 2015

Some of the most deceitful forms of elections and ‘democracy’ are to be found these days in countries that are suffering direct or indirect military aggression and occupation by world and regional imperialist powers. The elections and governments in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries under imperialist occupation are, in the last analysis, a tragic farce. Indian-controlled Kashmir is no different because it is directly under the boot of the imperialist Indian military – an occupation enforced by the so-called ‘largest democracy’ in the world using one of the largest military deployments on earth and draconian laws like The Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 (POTA) to infringe the basic rights of the Kashmiri oppressed masses.

Freedom of expression!
No to racism! no unity behind the Valls-Merkel-Cameron-Sarko, etc...
Gauche Revolutionnaire 12 January 2015

The attack and the murder of 12 people by heavily armed men in the premises of the newspaper Charlie Hebdo Wednesday 7 January is a dramatic event which we condemn firmly as a cowardly and barbaric attack.

Transnet oil spill pollutes wealthy gated village

A suburban Durban disaster reveals wider planetary abuse and eco-racism
Patrick Bond 12 January 2015

Over the holiday season, the front pages of the newspapers in Durban screamed out again and again about a major diesel spill. In the suburb of Hillcrest on December 23, a Durban-Johannesburg pipeline operated by Transnet gushed 220 000 liters into wealthy white residents’ gardens.

Repression as big business in pre-Olympic Rio de Janeiro
Jason O'Hara 11 January 2015

Editor’s note: For four years, Canadian documentary filmmaker Jason O’Hara has been working with communities in Brazil to document human rights abuses in advance of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games, focusing specifically on the illegal forced evictions that have been taking place in Rio.

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