Palestinian Journalists Tear Gassed Demonstrating on World Press Freedom Day

  • A sound bomb thrown by Israeli forces explodes between the feet of Palestinian journalists following a protest ahead of the World Press Freedom Day in Bethlehem, May 2, 2015.

    A sound bomb thrown by Israeli forces explodes between the feet of Palestinian journalists following a protest ahead of the World Press Freedom Day in Bethlehem, May 2, 2015. | Photo: AFP

Published 3 May 2017 (13 hours 26 minutes ago)

During the Israeli state crackdown, journalists Ashraf al-Nibali and Amin Alariya were detained.

Marching on World Press Freedom day, Palestinian journalists were dispersed with tear gas, while two journalists were detained during the march.

Organized outside the Ofer prison in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah Wednesday, the strike was also held in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners hunger-striking in Israeli cells, as they enter their 17th day of the historic struggle.

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During the Israeli state crackdown, journalists Ashraf al-Nibali and Amin Alariya were detained by police.

Last month, Reporters Without Borders condemned Israeli forces for violating the rights of Palestinian journalists, particularly those that cover demonstrations against the apartheid regime, in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index compiled by the organization.

“Under Israel’s system of administrative detention, Palestinian journalists can be held indefinitely without trial, without formal charge, and without notifying a lawyer. They are often accused of inciting violence, cooperating with terrorist organizations, or otherwise posing a threat to Israel’s security,” the group wrote in the report, which ranks Israel 91 out of 180 countries in terms of press freedom.

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In occupied journalists are exposed to tear gas attacks during their coverage of peaceful protests!

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) in their annual report last year documented 249 press freedoms violations committed by Israeli authorities.

Israeli violations, they wrote, involved the “injuring and arresting of dozens of Palestinian journalists, raiding, confiscating, and sabotaging media outlets, including the shutdown of 12 Palestinian media outlets and printing houses.”

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Ravaged by Vulture Funds, Puerto Rico Files for Biggest-Ever US Bankruptcy

  • Puerto Rico

    Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rossello addresses the audience during a meeting of the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico at the Convention Center in San Juan, Puerto Rico March 31, 2017. | Photo: Reuters

Published 3 May 2017 (2 hours 35 minutes ago)
The move comes a day after major creditors, including usurious hedge funds with “vulture” reputations, sued Puerto Rico over defaulting on its bonds.

Puerto Rico announced a historic restructuring of its public debt on Wednesday, touching off what may be the biggest bankruptcy ever in the US$3.8 trillion U.S. municipal bond market.

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While it was not immediately clear just how much of the U.S.-colonized island nation’s $70 billion of debt would be included in the bankruptcy filing, the case is sure to dwarf Detroit’s insolvency in 2013.

The move comes a day after several major creditors, including usurious hedge funds with “vulture fund” reputations, sued Puerto Rico over defaulting on its bonds.

Bankruptcy will likely impact the daily lives of the people of Puerto Rico, who could face austerity measures such as cuts in pensions, worker benefits, and a reduction in health and education services.

The U.S.-dominated island’s economy has been in recession for nearly an entire decade while the population has fallen by about 10 percent in the past decade.

The bankruptcy process will also give Puerto Rico the legal ability to impose drastic discounts on creditor recoveries, but could also spook the investors who have preyed on the island, prolonging the nation’s lack of access to debt markets.

The debt restructuring petition was filed by Puerto Rico’s financial oversight board in the U.S. District Court in Puerto Rico on Wednesday and was made under Title III of last year’s U.S. Congressional rescue law known as PROMESA.

The Title III provision allows for a court debt restructuring process akin to U.S. bankruptcy protection. Puerto Rico is barred from a traditional municipal bankruptcy protection under Chapter 9 of the U.S. code.

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The filing includes only Puerto Rico’s central government, which owes some US$18 billion in debt backed by the island’s constitution.

On paper, it does not include US$17 billion of sales tax-backed debt, known as COFINA debt, or debt from other agencies.

But those debts are likely to be pulled into the bankruptcy, or included in separate bankruptcy proceedings in coming days, Elias Sanchez, an adviser to Governor Ricardo Rossello, told Reuters on Wednesday.

Puerto Rico’s massive pension debts will also likely get restructured in the bankruptcy.

The previous largest U.S. public bankruptcy, Detroit’s in 2013, covered some US$18 billion in debt. The city was able to reach an agreed debt restructuring with stakeholders, in part by soliciting huge contributions from philanthropic foundations so it did not need to sell the city’s art collection.

But “unlike Detroit, there isn’t billions of unencumbered artwork to fund a restructuring” in Puerto Rico, said David Tawil, whose fund, Maglan Capital, held Puerto Rico general obligation debt but has since sold it.

Rossello’s fiscal plan for the island, approved by the oversight board in March, forecasts Puerto Rico having only US$800 million a year to pay debt, less than a quarter of what it owes. The low figure alienated creditors intent on plundering the island while negotiations toward an out-of-court restructuring foundered.

Nearly half of the people of Puerto Rico live in poverty while child poverty soars at 60 percent. The U.S.-dominated island nation faces a Medicaid funding gap of US$650 million this year, while unemployment is nearly twice the average of the rate in U.S. states.

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Remembering Che Guevara 50 Years After His Assassination

  • Argentine communist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara, who helped lead the Cuban Revolution of 1959.

    Argentine communist revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara, who helped lead the Cuban Revolution of 1959. | Photo: Archive

Published 3 May 2017 (23 hours 26 minutes ago)
In light of a recent upsurge in denunciations of Che and the Cuban Revolution, it is important to separate fact from fiction.

2017 is the 50th anniversary of the CIA-ordered assassination of Che Guevara.

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In light of a recent upsurge in denunciations of Che and the Cuban Revolution, it is important to separate fact from fiction.

Here are five important points to take into account, all in historical context, drawn from countless reliable sources, especially from the “References” section at the end of this article.

First, there is a burgeoning school of professional Cuba bashers, including some self-proclaimed leftists, who in effect seek the overthrow of the Cuban Revolution.

Apparently expecting perfection, they tend to only see the failures of the Cuban Revolution and its historical leaders. In so doing, they distort the truth beyond recognition and base their arguments on such outright lies as describing Che as “an ardent Stalinist” wedded to “authoritarian ways,” or saying the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, CDRs, are used for “spying on and controlling people.”

In reality, however, the CDRs were and continue to be key institutions of the evolving and by no means perfect participatory socialist democracy the young revolutionaries set about trying to establish in 1959 in the face of ongoing U.S. aggression abetted by diehard supporters of the overthrown Batista dictatorship.

And now, 58 years later, by maintenance of the economic blockade, control over Guantánamo, acts of terrorism, military threat, a sophisticated cultural offensive and the budgeting of “dissidents,” CIA agents and NGOs inside Cuba, not to mention the mendacious slanders spewed forth by the mass media of disinformation, including some of the social media.

Second, Che understood the centrality of politics impelled by ethics where subjective factors prevail, leading to the rapid conversion of Cuban society into a giant school of reclaiming Cuban culture and ethical values.

Hence, the literacy and “voluntary labor” campaigns, the advances in education, medicine, people’s participation, agrarian reform, housing reform, and so on that converted idealistic goals based largely on the thoughts of Martí, Mella, Guiteras, and other revolutionaries in Cuban history into evolving on-the-ground realities that even in one’s wildest dreams had never appeared possible.

Third, rejecting the use of capitalist methods to fight capitalism, Che and Fidel used the methods of dialectical Marxism-Leninism to implement the maximum possible option: make a socialist revolution of national liberation that would transform institutions and social and human relations through an organized and conscious “praxis” that — despite errors recognized publicly by each of them and their successors — continues today.

Fourth, as known at the time and revealed in collections of Che’s writings after his assassination ordered by the CIA in 1967, Che repeatedly warned about the dangers of not seeing the deficiencies of “existing socialism” and of mechanically copying Soviet manuals and methods.

He observed that the “intransigent dogmatism of the Stalin era has been succeeded by an inconsistent pragmatism…returning to capitalism.” He saw the actions and proposals of the Cuban Revolution as “clashing with what one reads in the (Soviet) textbooks” and contributed insightful Marxist critiques of both capitalist and socialist societies and their theories.

Fifth, Che, like Fidel, was profoundly committed to the cause of peace, but unfortunately had to take up arms to move the world closer to that ephemeral goal. To make a world without war possible, Che gave his life, even as Fidel did. We can learn much from their examples.
References

Arnold August, Cuba–U.S. Relations: Obama and Beyond (Canada: Fernwood Publishing, 2017)

Che Guevara, Critical Notes on Political Economy (2007) and Philosophical Notebooks: Writings on Marxism and Revolutionary Humanism (Ocean Books, 2008) http://www.oceanbooks.com.au.

Fernando Martínez Heredia, “El pensamiento del Che en la Cuba actual” at CubaDebate, November 25, 2013.

James D. Cockcroft, Praxis (bilingual poem in homage for Fidel Castro Ruz) at  http://www.jamescockcroft.com/ ; Forty years ago I was walking [bilingual poem in homage for Che Guevara, in Cockcroft, WHY? POR QUÉ? POURQUOI?, 2nd ed., Canada:  Hidden Brook Press, 2012]; Cuba and other chapters in Cockcroft, LATIN AMERICA: HISTORY, POLITICS, AND U.S. POLICY (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/International Thomson Publishing, Second edition, 1998), in Spanish as AMÉRICA LATINA Y ESTADOS UNIDOS HISTORIA Y POLÍTICA PAÍS POR PAÍS (México & Buenos Aires: siglo veintiuno editores, 2001; con una nueva introducción del autor, La Habana: Instituto del Libro, Ciencias Sociales, 2004)

Michael Ratner and Michael Steven Smith, Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away With Murder (OR Books, 2011). Read my review of Who Killed Che? in Monthly Review.

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