Archive for January, 2014

Red Army broke siege of Leningrad 70 years ago

January 28, 2014

By Workers World on January 27, 2014
Red Army snipers, Leningrad 1944: Snipers Faina Yakimova, Roza Shanina and Lidia Volodina

Red Army snipers, Leningrad 1944: Faina Yakimova, Roza Shanina and Lidia Volodina

Editor’s note: The imperialist ruling class puts its plentiful resources into making humanity forget the enormous contribution of the Soviet Union toward defeating Nazi-led German imperialism in World War II. The people of Leningrad made historic sacrifices in that effort that should be commemorated by all supporters of socialism.

Jan. 27 — Seventy years ago today, the Soviet Union’s Red Army broke through the ring of German imperialist troops that had surrounded  Leningrad — now called St. Petersburg — for 900 days. During the siege, 1 million people trapped in the city died from disease, starvation and enemy action. The city’s liberation came less than a year after Soviet troops stopped Nazi-led Germany’s advance in Stalingrad and forced the retreat that would end with their surrender in Berlin.

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Aam Aadmi, Aam Aurat (Common Man, Common Woman)

January 25, 2014

 —Badri Raina

Clearly, you are the bulk of the nation,

Forgotten much of the time, except

When  you are invoked to deride

Or justify this or that political fashion.

Indeed, when need be, even

Dalal street sings paeans to the ordinary.

O hoi polloi, throughout human history,

Denied  dignity or education, you  have

Much  of the time stood up to save

Whole civilizations from  the cruelty

Of those who assumed godhead of one  

 Kind or another, often in your name,

Spreading greed, lust, and shame,

Generation after generation.

Yet, you must admit it is also true

That  in dire times, you have not  always

Known  the  wicked chaff from the maize,

Empowering  the cunning desperado,

Only to be betrayed in the extreme

Into  hunger, oppression, war, and the dream

Of some perfection of time to ensue.

Now, in this land of togetherness,

Another test awaits your common instinct;

Either to fall to some sanctimoniousness,

Loud and red in blood, but enticing,

Or to read beyond the  disingenuous rant

And  trust your faith in those whose

Syllables may be scant but deceptions few.

Some Remarks On Belief In God

January 23, 2014


Nasir Khan,  January 23, 2014

[The following remarks are part of the discussion that started on Facebook with a quotation of English philosopher, Bertrand Russell.]

First of all, there are many people who believe god, devil, angels, etc., are not mere fantastic ideas but they really exist. One proof: they are mentioned in some holy books. And in some holy books god is reported to have spoken to his selected few. The holy books that are revealed are from god; therefore they represent the obvious truth which no one can or should find fault with. In fact, the believers in god have internalised such mode of thinking that any critical look at it is regarded as wrong and a result of mental confusion. At the same time, the term ‘god’ means different things to different people. But the idea of god entails some sort of belief in a ‘supernatural being’ or ‘power’. In monotheistic religions, starting with Judaism, many deities were finally reduced to only one god (this is despite Akhenaton’s early attempt to introduce Aton as the sole god but the project collapsed after his death).

Secondly, the believers in god have offered some well-known arguments in support of the existence of god. At present, I’ll only briefly mention their names: the ontological argument, the causal argument, the argument from contingency, the teleological argument or argument by design, the argument from religious experience, the argument from miracles and the utility argument. These arguments have been subjected to a closer look by philosophers. None of these has stood the test of analytical scrutiny. All of them have been refuted and put aside.

Ariel Sharon, war criminal (February 26, 1928-January 11, 2014)

January 13, 2014

By Jean Shaoul, WSWS, 13 January 2014

Former Israeli prime minister, general and unindicted war criminal Ariel Sharon was pronounced dead on Saturday, January 11 at the age 85. He had lay for eight years in a comatose state after suffering a series of strokes in January 2006.

Ariel Sharon [Photo: Jim Wallace (Smithsonian Institution)]

Under investigation for corruption at the time, he had been kept alive on the insistence of his family, despite the advice of the doctors treating him, while relatives sorted out his financial affairs.

Sharon is justly reviled by millions for his policies of provocation, murder and ethnic cleansing. His entire military and political career, for which he earned the nickname “butcher of the Palestinians,” was marked by a series of atrocities carried out against both the Palestinians and Israel’s Arab neighbours. The most notorious was his collusion with the Lebanese fascist Phalange in the September 1982 massacre of over 3,000 Palestinians in the Beirut refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila, following the Israeli invasion and occupation of Lebanon.

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Gaza Loses an Underground Lifeline

January 11, 2014

, IPS,     | Print |
Underground trade tunnels destroyed on the Egyptian side of the border with Gaza. Credit:  Khaled Alashqar/IPS.

Underground trade tunnels destroyed on the Egyptian side of the border with Gaza. Credit: Khaled Alashqar/IPS.

GAZA CITY , Jan 10 2014 (IPS) – The border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip used to buzz with activity until a few months back as traders brought in an array of Egyptian goods – from food supplies to raw material – through hundreds of tunnels.

But these underground structures, located 40 km from here, between Rafah in Gaza and Sinai in Egypt, have fallen silent.

Things came to a grinding halt after the Egyptian army came to power in Cairo. Calling them a security threat, it launched a systematic military campaign against the tunnels, destroying them, along with the houses under which they were built on its side of the border.

“Never before have we faced this kind of pressure from the Egyptian army.”

For people in Gaza, home to 1.7 million people, the closure of the tunnels has choked a lifeline. Thousands of tunnel operators, traders and workers have been hard hit.

“Never before have we faced this kind of pressure from the Egyptian army and, it seems, things are going to get worse,” said Abu Nabil, a Gaza resident who gave only his nickname for security reasons. He had operated a tunnel on the Palestinian side since 2007.

Nabil said more than 90 percent of the passages, most of which are privately operated, have been destroyed by the Egyptian military, completely paralysing trade through the tunnels.

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Icicles, a poem by Badri Raina

January 11, 2014

Niagra Falls
Photo of frozen Niagara Falls by Aaron Harris/Reuters

Icicles

by Badri Raina

When icicles hang by the beard,Know that this may well be the last wordIn a saga that, regardless of modernity,

Goes way back into some initial sea.

After all, the greater the heat we generate,

The colder Nature must reciprocate

To keep the world somewhat temperate.

O Picco de la Mirandola, how you

Held forth on the dignity of man

After dark centuries of admonition to remain

As still as we can.

Through some six or seven hundred years of doing

We have managed to overthrow

As many chains of being as kept us below

Our manifest destiny of ruling the universe

For better and better, never for the worse.

Tell us, then, why it is that we have made

Of things veritable gods, but reduced human beings

To mechanical, unfeeling, uncaring sods,

The more helpless the more puissant we seem,

Like a horribly distorted swagger of a dream.

Is it still open to the icicle in the beard

To freeze us into a self-rebuke that may redeem?

 

First world war: an imperial bloodbath that’s a warning, not a noble cause

January 9, 2014

Tory claims that 1914 was a fight for freedom are absurd – but then history wars are about the future as much as the past

  • The Guardian, Wednesday 8 January 2014

They were never going to be able to contain themselves. For all the promises of a dignified commemoration, the Tory right’s standard bearers held back for less than 48 hours into the new year before launching a full-throated defence of the “war to end all wars”. The killing fields of Gallipoli and the Somme had been drenched in blood for a “noble cause”, declared Michael Gove. The slaughter unleashed in 1914 had been a “just war” for freedom.

Hostility to the war, the education secretary complained, had been fostered by leftwingers and comedians who denigrated patriotism and painted the conflict as a “misbegotten shambles”. Gove was backed by the prime minister, as talk of international reconciliation was left to junior ministerial ranks.

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Blasphemy Laws of Pakistan and Religious Minorities

January 5, 2014

Nasir Khan, January 5, 2014

Mr Salaman  Taseer opposed the infamous blasphemy laws and stood for the rights of the underprivileged, socially downgraded and politically powerless Christians in a predominantly Muslim country, who have been frequently targeted by anti-social Muslim religious extremists. For his bold political stand and public views, his life was in danger; he was apprehensive of an attempt on his life at the hands of any misguided extremist. As we know, a vicious and brainwashed extremist goon killed him. His death reminds us of the deplorable fanaticism, intolerance and apathy in Pakistan.

But the best way we can pay our respects to this noble son of Pakistan is that all democratic, revolutionary and politically active people unite on some common points and struggle against miscreants and religious extremists who personify evil and inhumanity. They are not only a constant threat to the level-headed and just people who dare to speak against the injustices inflicted upon the people under the blasphemy laws but also a insult to the glorious and tolerant religion, Islam.

The so-called blasphemy laws of the brutal dictator General Zia strengthened the hands of religious maniacs in Pakistan. We demand that all these barbaric laws be annulled and all people of Pakistan irrespective of religion, creed, or ethnicity be treated equal in law and in society. This should happen not by pious wishes but in practice. At present religious persecution, oppression and religious discrimination in Pakistan is growing. This destructive and insidious phenomenon violates basic human rights of the citizens of Pakistan and also violates the  UN Charter.

Asa Winstanley: Israel’s West Bank torture regime

January 3, 2014
Asa Winstanley, Middle East Monitor,  January 2, 2014

Asa Winstanley

The slow disintegration of living conditions in the West Bank continues apace. But this is no natural disaster or complicated economic malaise. This is a very deliberately created policy, one designed and implemented by a state – the occupying power Israel.

The Zionist project in the land of Palestine shares much with the toppled South African apartheid regime. But there are important differences. Unlike South Africa, which relied on the black masses as a subservient labour force, ideologically, Israel would simply wish for Palestinians to disappear.

Hence the project of Zionist colonisation that began even before 1948, but reached a peak then, with the Nakba – the deliberate ethnic cleansing of the majority of the Palestinian population through force of arms. This project never ended and continues today.

Palestinians on both sides of the “Green Line” ceasefire line (drawn in 1949) constantly face down direct expulsions from the Israeli terrorist army. A new project of Israeli ethnic cleansing the in southern desert, the Naqab, has been thwarted by a concerted Palestinian protest movement. Or thwarted for now, we should say, since the Prawer Plan is likely to return to the Knesset in another form.

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2014: International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

January 2, 2014

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Professor Richard Falk, December 31, 2013 

In a little noted initiative the General Assembly on November 26, 2013 voted to proclaim 2014 the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People was requested to organize relevant activities in cooperation with governments, the UN system, intergovernmental organizations, and significantly, civil society. The vote was 110-7, with 56 abstentions, which is more or less reflective of the sentiments now present in international society.  Among the seven opponents of the initiative, in addition to Israel, were unsurprisingly its three staunchest supporters, each once a British colony: the United States, Canada, Australia, with the addition of such international heavyweight states as Micronesia, Palau, and the Marshall Islands. Europe and assorted states around the world were among the 56 abstentions, with virtually the entire non-West solidly behind the idea of highlighting solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for peace with justice based on rights under international law.

 Three initial observations: those governments that are willing to stand unabashedly with Israel in opposition to the tide of world public opinion are increasingly isolated, and these governments are under mounting public pressure from their own civil societies that seeks a balanced approach that is rights based rather than power dominated; the West, in general, is dominated by the abstaining governments that seek the lowest possible profile of being seen as neither for or against, and in those countries where civil society should now be capable of mobilizing more support for the Palestinian struggle; and the non-West that is, as has long been the case, rhetorically in solidarity with the Palestinian people, but have yet to match their words with deeds, and seem ready to be pushed.

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