Monday, November 28, 2016

Music Video - The Chainsmokers - Closer ft. Halsey

Trump ghostwriter: Working with Trump was a mistake

‘Castro will stay in the history of mankind’ - head of Federation Council’s Intl Affairs Committee

Video - Noam Chomsky on the new Trump era

Discussion:Life and legacy of Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro -The voice of the Third World

By Vijay Prashad.

Fidel Castro was the mirror of Africa, Asia and Latin America’s aspirations/blockquote>

The room went silent at the UN’s 2001 World Conference Against Racism whenFidel Castro entered. He took the podium and firmly denunciated not only racism, but also the deep scars inflicted by capitalism. “The inhuman exploitation on the peoples of three continents,” he said in reference to Africa, Asia and Latin America, “marked forever the destiny and lives of over 4.5 billion people living in the Third World today.” It was this history, he said, that left “the current victims of that atrocity” in poverty, unemployment, illiteracy and sickness. Castro’s words mirrored reality. He would not end there. It was hope, not despondency, that captured his personality. “I believe in the mobilisation and the struggle of the peoples!” he said. “I believe in the idea of justice! I believe in truth! I believe in man!” It was hard to contain the applause. Castro, in his customary green fatigues, took in the adulation. There was nothing insincere about it: the leaders in the room admired the guerrilla. He said things that many of them believed, but had come to set aside. These were the ideas of their youth and of their anti-colonial traditions. But they had set them to mute. Never would we hear such honesty from these leaders of the Third World. But their applause suggested something important. Castro spoke for their suppressed values. His words rang true, even as their articulation would be sneered at by the Global North and their representatives in the Global South. The most severe mockery would be reserved for Castro’s hopefulness, his talk of mass mobilisation and struggle. Words like ‘justice’ and ‘truth’ had been emptied of their content. They would now mean the opposite. Commitments to mass mobilisation and struggle evoked excitement in some, condescension in others. It was the part of Castro’s resilient message that set him apart. Confronting imperialism
Castro, who represented a beleaguered revolution in a small island, stood for otherwise suppressed historical forces. Against all odds, the guerrillas of the Sierra Maestra defeated the mafia leadership in Havana and defended itself from the Yankees of Washington, D.C. At the inauguration of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in 1961, Cuba’s president Osvaldo Dorticós Torrado spoke in a language that irked the more staid leadership of Gamal Abdel Nasser, Jawaharlal Nehru and Josip Broz Tito. Underdevelopment, he said, can be “overcome only through a struggle against and by total victory against imperialism”. Determined that imperialism needed to be confronted, Cuba hosted the Tricontinental meeting fifty years ago. It was here that Castro said that his government would “coordinate support for revolutionary wars of liberation throughout the colonised world”. Che Guevara was already in the Congo, working with African revolutionaries. Cuban material support — in terms of military and medical training — came to Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Angola. It was the Cuban assistance to the militants in these struggles that helped defeat Portugal and summon Portugal’s own Carnation Revolution against its fascist state in 1974. It was the Cuban intervention in Angola that helped defeat the South African military at the 1988 Battle of Cuito Cunavale, which broke the back of the South African apartheid regime and contributed to its demise in 1994. Cuba did its work and then withdrew. It did not seek to occupy — to get business deals or to create military bases. It came to help and then, having helped, it left.
In 1983, Castro arrived in New Delhi to hand over the presidency of NAM to India. He was received like a folk hero, the triumphant leader of a Third World then in great distress. The debt crisis had ended whatever hope had been kindled from the anti-colonial movements. Finance ministers lined up at the International Monetary Fund and at the various commercial lenders to raise funds for depleted treasuries. The will to fight for another world had been squashed. Fidel Castro had other ideas. He was not ready to bend his knee. What about a debt strike, he asked? What if every one of the NAM states refused to service their debts and what if they demanded that their debts be renegotiated? Castro received a standing ovation. But no one decided to follow him. There was no debt strike. Instead, country upon country faced a policy slate (neo-liberalism) that cannibalised their resources.
Castro continued to beat the drum, warning against the direction taken by the planet. He spoke about the failure of the world’s leaders to craft a global response to the perils that faced us all: a financial system that had become a casino, a social project that created perilous levels of inequality, a consumption pattern that would devour the earth’s resources, wars that are the child of greed and hunger. New ideas had crept in to corrupt thought. “The market has become today an object of idolatry,” he said in 1999, “a sacred word pronounced at all hours.” The richest 10 per cent of the world’s population today controls 89 per cent of the world’s wealth. This kind of thinking, Castro said, has “impaired the human mind”. Nothing held Castro back. When journalist Ignacio Ramonet accused him of being a dreamer, Castro responded, “There’s no such thing as dreamers, and you can take that from a dreamer who’s had the privilege of seeing realities that he was never capable of dreaming.” Solutions to such grotesque inequalities were needed. They cannot be found in apps and in microcredit. Much grander thoughts are required. Castro persisted with that ambition. It was his boldness that allowed so many people to breathe.
In 1953, a lieutenant and his squad captured Castro and some of his comrades. Castro hid his identity for fear of execution at the spot. The soldiers wanted to kill the guerrillas. The lieutenant walked about calming them down. “You cannot kill ideas.” He repeated, “you cannot kill ideas.” Later Castro wondered what made the lieutenant save his life and repeat that statement. “Our ideas did not die,” Castro said. “No one could kill them.” Without the long period of struggle and experimentation, without the years “we had to educate, sow ideas, build awareness, instil feelings of solidarity and a generous internationalist spirit, our people would not have had the strength to resist.” You cannot kill ideas. Castro, for the Third World, was not merely another leader. He was the mirror of its aspirations. That mirror is now shattered. Vijay Prashad is Professor of International Studies at Trinity College and Chief Editor of LeftWord Books.

Syrian govt forces liberate ten districts of east Aleppo from rebels

Video - First Lady Michelle Obama Welcomes the Official White House Christmas Tree to the White House

Pakistan's Census -Another Excuse

Speak to any development practitioner or governance expert, and they’re invariably likely to emphasise the need of reliable data for sound decision-making. However, our less-than-competent state can do well enough with population data collected over 17 years ago! And the present government’s continued equivocation on the issue suggests that it has little interest in changing the situation.The refusal to carry out the census has been justified by one excuse after another. 

The army’s inclusion into the exercise has been made a precondition, which is fine, but not being able to agree on the numbers being supplied for the exercise is no reason for this inordinate delay. First, it was Zarb-e-Azb, and now its cross-border violations from the Indian side.At this rate, there is never likely to be a perfect time for supplying troops for the census. Pakistan is embroiled in conflict on all fronts, and this situation is not likely to change in the near future. And is the government really telling us that all of our troops our currently not available? Pakistan’s army was never short of manpower, sparing some troops for this should not be as difficult a task as it is made out to be.

And while we are quick to dismiss our other law enforcement agencies such as the provincial police forces, using them in areas which are not as much of a security risk as others should also be perfectly acceptable. Areas in Balochistan and Karachi which already have a strong military presence should make use of the troops already present.Pakistan’s developmental priorities will continue to be skewed until the state actually has a real estimate of how many people it is to cater to. Nineteen years is a long time with a country that already had an overpopulation problem, long before this uncalculated exponential increase. Carrying out the census should be made one of the highest priorities.

‘Zardari’s return not linked to army chief’s retirement’

Former president Asif Ali Zardari’s return from self-imposed exile – expected next month – has nothing to do with Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif’s retirement, party leaders have said.

General Sharif will hand over command of the army to Lt-General Qamar Javed Bajwa on November 29 after completing three years at the top.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appointed Lt-Gen Bajwa over the weekend.
He also elevated Gen Zubair Hayat as the chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.
Zardari had flown abroad in June 2015, after his controversial speech in which he had criticised the country’s military leadership without clearly mentioning any names.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) however, claimed that Zardari was abroad for treatment purposes.
Senior PPP leader Nadeem Chan, who was appointed party’s general secretary for central Punjab, said Zardari’s return was not linked to Gen Raheel Sharif’s retirement.
“We take General Raheel Sharif as a good soldier. We have nothing against him. We respect him. Zardari’s return has nothing to do with his retirement. He is coming on his own sweet will,” he said.
Chan said Zardari would most likely attend the December 27 gathering on the death anniversary of late former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
“You will see both the father and the son together hopefully. There is no leadership struggle in the party,” he added.
Chan said Bilawal would continue the lead role in the party even after Zardari’s return.
“Now Bilawal is the party chief and he will continue in that role. Zardari will be more like a guide and we will consult him over national affairs. Bilawal will be the chief executive from now on for the PPP,” he maintained.
According to reports, Zardari would be returning to Pakistan between December 10 and 15.
He is likely to declare next game-plan of the PPP regarding the PML-N government. The city of return is also yet to be decided as the party leaders believe it could be Lahore, Karachi or Larkana.
Reportedly, the PPP co-chairman will himself announce the final date of return. Party leaders say a truck was being prepared on which the party’s co-chairman would travel.  The former president had earlier said he was not living in exile and he would come back to Pakistan in few weeks.
As Zardari prepares to return, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif feels the PPP might be in a mood to take on the government.
The prime minister had recently said the PPP was returning to the politics of the 1990s when his Pakistan Muslim League and the PPP took turned to rule the country and remained engaged in a fierce battle.
Nawaz had said the Charter of Democracy signed between the PML-N and the PPP in June 2006 was “not working”. The premier had said the revival of the politics of the 1990s would not benefit any pro-democracy party.
On the other hand, Asif Ali Zardari has been categorical in his support for democracy. 
In a recent interview, he said that democracy would develop in the parliament, and not in courts.
The former president said that what if a commission set up by the Supreme Court could not produce any fruitful result over the Panama Leaks case, then “what [would be] the advantage of establishing such a commission.”
Zardari reiterated he was not exiled, and was abroad on his own free will, and would soon return to Pakistan.
PPP lawmaker Senator Farhatullah Babar said that there was no infighting over party leadership upon Zardari’s return.
“Bilawal is the PPP chairman and Zardari is the co-chairman. Both have their jobs to do and have been doing this for a while now. There is no confusion in the PPP about their roles,” he added.
Senator Babar said Bilawal had been taking important decisions in the recent weeks indicating his control over the party.
“Bilawal is the chairman for a reason and Zardari is not interested to clip his powers. Everybody in the PPP respects Zardari and accepts Bilawal as the chief,” he remarked.
Fuelling the heat, PPP Central Punjab President Qamar Zaman Kaira has warned Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to accept the four points laid by Bilawal, “if he wants to save his government.”
Kaira claimed that in case the prime minister did not surrender to their demands, then his party would lead such a campaign that the government would not be able to stand it.
Bilawal had asked the federal government to meet his four demands - passage of the draft Panama bill, immediate appointment of a permanent foreign minister, reconstitution of the parliamentary committee on national security, and implementation of the resolution on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor passed in a multi-party conference - till December 27.