Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Address by Neoklis Sylikiotis, member of the Political Bureau and AKEL MEP, to the anti-NATO Cyprus Peace Council event

“Neither Cyprus in NATO, nor NATO in Cyprus”
Larnaca, 26th May 2017
Image result for NO NATO LOGOS
On behalf of AKEL, I would like to send a warm greeting to all of you who have gathered here today to join our voices in conveying a resounding message against NATO, wars and foreign interventions, asserting together peace and social prosperity which the peoples are so much in need.
Unfortunately, interventions and wars have become the rule with tragic consequences for humanity. NATO is constantly bolstering its war machine and, together with the EU, are channeling vast amounts of money into investment in the war and arms industry. The US is proceeding with the conclusion of new agreements with Saudi Arabia, reinforcing the policy of militarization even more, while the EU’s defense policy is increasingly contributing towards perpetuating instability and generating conflicts throughout the world.
Particularly in our area a dangerous and unpredictable war scenario is unfolding due to the imperialist plans in Syria, Iraq, Palestine and the wider Middle East. Through waging wars, they are attempting to re-draw borders, divide again the land, and control the energy sources in order to increase their profits.
Humanity cannot remain indifferent in the face of NATO’s crimes. The peoples have a duty to react in an organized way.
The Cypriot people, in particular, have a duty to demand the dissolution of NATO and an end to wars and foreign interventions. Our homeland and people are unfortunately know very well aware what war means. Cyprus is one of the most tragic victims of NATO.
The tragedy our people suffered in 1974, with the coup d’├ętat which gave the pretext for Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus and the continued occupation and division of our island, was planned in NATO headquarters.
Our struggle today for the withdrawal of the occupation, for the complete demilitarization of the island, for the reunification of Cyprus and our people on the basis of a bizonal, bicommunal federal solution, in a peaceful homeland, without armies, guardians and without barbed wires of division, is essentially a struggle against imperialism and NATO’s war plans.
Our firm position has been and remains that we will not tolerate “Neither NATO in Cyprus, nor Cyprus in NATO”. And we must continue this struggle together with our Turkish Cypriot compatriots to the end.
In recent years, we have hosted thousands of refugees from Palestine, Syria and Iraq in Cyprus. The EU has grave and double responsibilities for the humanitarian crisis in these countries. At the same time as the EU became a tail of the US and NATO in foreign interventions, instead of addressing the refugee crisis with humanity and solidarity, it closes its gates, constructing a fortress Europe. The EU refuses to implement a permanent, fair system for the resettlement of refugees and prefers to see refugees, including young children, dying in the sea.
Dear friends,
We have a duty and an obligation to continue the struggle for peace in our region.
We must turn our neighborhood into a region of cooperation and prosperity. And our Cyprus a bridge of peace of the peoples.
At the same time we have a duty, in the face of the dramatic developments humanity is living through, to strengthen our action and coordination with the peace movements and progressive forces of the EU countries in order to combat the ever-deepening EU-NATO coupling and synergy; to demand the demilitarization of the EU and of its foreign policy. We demand the dismantling of any interventionist mechanisms and the promotion of measures to generate social development and growth.
Today’s event must give an impetus to stepping up our efforts for an enlightenment campaign in societies, but also for the militant mobilization of the peoples.
Together, we can and must dissolve NATO, as well as the system that gave birth to it and maintains it.
Otherwise the peoples will continue to pay the price of their freedom and blood.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

US Military Raids in Yemen Escalate as Humanitarian Crisis Worsens

In this February 3, 2017 frame grab from video, residents inspect a house that was damaged during a January 29, 2017 US raid on the tiny village of Yakla, in central Yemen.

MILITARY & INTELLIGENCE 03:31 25.05.2017(updated 07:05 25.05.2017)

As Yemen teeters on the brink of a cholera outbreak, the US continues to carry out military operations that frequently result in still more civilian deaths. Radio Sputnik’s Loud and Clear spoke with Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, about how US operations are making a bad situation in Yemen even worse.

Kelly stated that 250 people have already died of cholera in Yemen this month, with hundreds of new cases found every day. The roughly 2 million malnourished children in Yemen are particularly at risk for contracting the disease, she added.
Calling the health situation an "artificially created catastrophe," Kelly said a "cholera outbreak knows no borders."

"It’s an extremely alarming situation but it could be prevented from spreading. But right now you’ve got the port of Hodeidah being crippled by the destruction of five cranes that were of great importance for lifting food, fuel [and] supplies and getting in onto trucks that could take it through the country."

She noted that 90 percent of Yemen’s food is imported, and 70 percent of those imports come in through the port of Hodeidah.
"When you look at the aggregate of people who are at risk of starving to death in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Somalia, the United Nations figures are suggesting that it could be as many as 20 million people. That’s an astounding number of people to die. And to slash US contributions to United Nations agencies seems to be at this point so cruel," she said.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Anti-Maduro protestors set man on fire in Venezuela

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says protestors set the man on fire "just because someone shouted out that he was a 'Chavista'." Witnesses to the incident say the crowd had accused the victim of being a thief.                                                                                                                             

About 100 people, who had been participating in anti-Maduro protests, surrounded him, doused him in gasoline and set him on fire in Plaza Altamira in east Caracas, the witnesses said.
Though some in the crowd said he should die, others helped him and the man survived.
Showing a video of the incident on state TV, Maduro identified the man as Orlando Figuera, 21, saying he was being treated in hospital for severe burns.
The incident occured after the 50th day of protestering over food and medical shortages, and the failing economy. The victim is currently in hospital with first and second degree burns to his body and several stabbed wounds.
Photo by: (AFP)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Victory for 1 million acres of public land—and 39 million Californians


MAY 4, 2017
Los Angeles, CA — 
Conservationists have forced the Trump administration to halt plans to open more than 1 million acres of public land and mineral estate in California to oil drilling and fracking. The victory preserves a four-year-old moratorium on leasing federally owned land in the state for oil and gas development.
The legal settlement, approved Wednesday, resolves a lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and Los Padres ForestWatch, represented by Earthjustice. The agreement requires the Bureau of Land Management to rework a resource-management plan that would have auctioned off drilling rights on vast stretches of public land in California’s Central Valley, the southern Sierra Nevada, and Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties.  
“This is a big victory for California and a major blow to Trump’s plan to turn our public lands over to oil companies,” said Brendan Cummings, the Center’s conservation director. “Despite the petroleum industry’s stranglehold on the White House, these beautiful wild places are still off limits to drilling and fracking. That protects our water, wildlife and climate from fracking pollution.”
The BLM has not held a single lease sale in California since 2013, when a federal judge first ruled that the agency had violated the National Environmental Policy Act by issuing oil leases in Monterey County without considering the environmental dangers of fracking. The new settlement will continue that de facto leasing moratorium.
“This agreement ensures that public lands along California’s central coast—and the communities that depend on them—are protected from the harmful effects of oil drilling and fracking,” said ForestWatch Executive Director Jeff Kuyper. “Our region’s wildlife, clean water and scenic landscapes are too valuable to sacrifice to development.”
“Our hope is that this settlement puts the final nail in the coffin for BLM’s illegal practice of rubberstamping fracking in California without environmental review,” said Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie, who represented the groups. “Fracking has no place in California’s clean, renewable energy future.”
The settlement means that the BLM must now complete a new analysis of the pollution risks of fracking, which blasts toxic chemicals mixed with water underground to crack rocks.
The public lands at stake in today’s settlement encompass “numerous groundwater systems that contribute to the annual water supply used by neighboring areas for agricultural and urban purposes,” a federal judge noted last year.
2015 report from the California Council on Science and Technology concluded that fracking in California happens at unusually shallow depths, dangerously close to underground drinking water supplies, with unusually high concentrations of chemicals, including substances dangerous to human health and the environment.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Washington Holds ‘Immortal Regiment’ March to Honor Victory Day

Inline image

Hundreds of people marched down the central streets of Washington DC as part of the "Immortal Regiment" march on Saturday afternoon to honor those who fought against Nazism in the World War II.

SputnikNews.com, 04:12 07.05.2017

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Despite the rain and chilly weather, several hundred young and older people, children and veterans took part in the event. The march was attended by people from the United States, Eastern Europe, Russia and former Soviet republics.
Anna Rozhke, currently living in Maryland, told Sputnik she came to the March to honor her relatives who fought in the WWII.
"I am holding the photos of my father Viktor Konusov who fought in the WWII and came back, his brother Alexander who went missing but most likely was killed, and my grandfather Ivan Zlobin who also went missing and we think he was killed. I came today because it is a big important holiday for everyone in Russia and abroad, who remember history and don't want it to repeat," Rozhke said.
Tim Rush who was carrying the photo of his uncle who took part in the war, told Sputnik that he came to the March to show solidarity with the military of the countries that united during the WWII against fascism.
"This is the photograph of my uncle Alen Pifer who fought in the World War II, and on May 6, 1945 he was part of the US troops that liberated the concentration camp in Austria. I am here in solidarity with soldiers in the United States, Russia and other nations. Today, the fighting against terrorism should bring our nations back together again. I thought it was very positive what [Russian President] Vladimir Putin brought to the United Nations in September a year and a half ago saying ‘Let us reconstruct the kind of cooperation in WWII to confront the terrorism today,’" Rush said.
Anita Gallager from Virginia told Sputnik it was important for her to come to the March because her father participated in the war, and also because she wanted the US-Russia alliance to be restored.
"This is my father Frank Gretz. I am here because he was in the war, he was a soldier, and because I want to rekindle an alliance between American and Russian people. I think we have a lot in common," Gallager said.
The march, held in the US capital for the second time, was accompanied by the songs of the WWII period sung by the participants to the music played by a bayan player.
The group was headed by the WWII veteran and walked from the White House to the World War II Memorial where they laid flowers and wreaths.
People were carrying photos of their ancestors who participated in the war.
The event concluded with a wartime songs concert performed by the children of the Russian language schools both in Russian and English.
This year, 22 US cities are hosting the "Immortal Regiment" marches, including New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and Chicago.
The Immortal Regiment is a patriotic initiative that commemorates those who fought against Nazi Germany during World War II in marches held across Russia and other countries on May 9, celebrated as Victory Day in Russia and the former Soviet republics. During the marches, people carry photographs of their ancestors who participated in the war.
The first US march was held in the city of New York on May 3, 2015.
The number of Soviet Union casualties in WWII are estimated to have exceeded 27 million. The military casualties exceeded 8.7 million, which is more than a half of the total allied death toll.

Friday, May 5, 2017

How many jobs could the AHCA cost your state?

The AHCA’s drag on potential job growth

The report provides a rough estimate of the potential drag on job growth that will occur if Congress enacts the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which repeals the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Specifically, it estimates where we would be on jobs if the AHCA is enacted and everything else stays the same (the “all-else-equal effect”) relative to the jobs picture under the ACA in coming years, by state and congressional district (CD). Our methodology and rationale were explained in detail in a report (Bivens 2017) released in January that estimated the drag on aggregate demand, and hence on job growth, that would have resulted from a partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Our current methodology adjusts for the specific provisions in the AHCA but the overall forces remain the same. In short, by repealing the ACA and enacting the AHCA, Congress would impose a large spending cut as subsidies to purchase health care under the ACA give way to smaller tax credits under the AHCA. The benefit cuts would come mostly out of the pockets of cash-constrained households that will be likely to significantly cut back their spending in response to lower disposable income, while the tax cuts in the ACA repeal would disproportionately go to high-income households who tend to save a significant portion of increases in disposable income. On net, the shortfall in spending (or aggregate demand) would translate into slower job growth. Our full results are provided in Figures A and B.
Key findings are:
  • Nationally, all-else-equal, the AHCA could slow job growth by 409,000 in 2019, by 1.1 million in 2020, by 1.6 million in 2021, and by 1.8 million in 2022.
  • The 15 states with the largest reductions in job growth, ranked by jobs-reduced expressed as a share of the total employed population in 2015 are: New Mexico, Kentucky, Montana, Oregon, West Virginia, Rhode Island, Louisiana, New Jersey, Arizona, Washington, Colorado, Nevada, Vermont, Michigan, and Ohio.
  • The degree to which the AHCA drags on job growth varies dramatically by congressional district. On average, congressional districts experience a potential drag on jobs of 4,000 in 2022, but in a couple of districts there were essentially zero job-growth reductions and in at least one district the job-growth reduction reached 20,000.
  • As a general rule, states and congressional districts with large Medicaid spending fare the worst under the AHCA replacement of the ACA, while states with a high share of rich households do better. This is because the Medicaid cuts drag the most on growth, while the only countervailing stimulus provided by the AHCA is tax cuts that disproportionately boost the incomes for the richest households.

Ellis Act Evictions Now in City Council Crosshairs

DEEGAN ON LA-One of the city’s under-publicized scandals is the long-running shotgun marriage between city council members and developers using the Ellis Act to force tenant evictions throughout the city. 
Anyone that has been caught in this compact between developers and council members knows how devastating these evictions can be. They lead to despair, sometimes homelessness, and definitely serve to shut down affordable housing in neighborhoods since any replacement housing is priced at higher, market rate levels. 
Once today’s affordable housing is removed there will be no substitute -- just new housing at significantly higher prices. Once affordable rent-control housing is taken away, it is gone forever. 
A degree of unscrupulousness is evident and not surprising when you consider that, according to the Coalition For Economic Survival, “Ellis Act evictions are being done by developers who have owned the property less than a year…[and have] “been corrupted by large developers whose sole objective is to acquire rent-control housing, destroy it, evict tenants and replace the existing housing with high-priced luxury housing.” 
The Ellis Act is a three-decade old state law originally intended to help small landlords exit the rental business, but developers have figured out how to use it to drive their profit engines. Twenty-thousand rent-controlled units, home to low and moderate income tenants, seniors, disabled and working families, were destroyed between 2001 and 2016, according to CES. 
The long and abusive use of Ellis Act evictions throughout the city is reflected on this map that was created by the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project and the Coalition for Economic Survival. 
Could that be changing? 
Help may be on the way for tenants at risk of being evicted by landlords that use the Ellis Act, a state law with good intentions enacted in the 1980’s originally intended to help small landlords exit the rental business, but that has morphed into a device to vacate a building so it can be turned by developers into condos or market rate housing. 
Two motions passed by the LA City Council in the past couple of sessions may bring some order, as well as some relief for tenants. One, Motion CF14-0268-S5“to modify the Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO) in order to strengthen provisions relating to the enforcement of the Ellis Act and the preservation of RSO units,” was signed into law by the Mayor on April 19. 
The other is Motion CF17-0203, directing “the HCID (Housing + Community Investment Department) and the Planning Department to track the cumulative net gain/loss of affordable housing units [i.e. covenanted units and RSO units] in the City, and regularly post this information online as a public dashboard that includes cumulative data as well as annual and quarterly accounting.” 
There are currently 630,000 units stabilized with caps on rent increases and additional protections for tenants under the City’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance. That’s what will be tracked. 
Together, these motions and the apparent new understanding by council members of the crisis state of Ellis Act evictions should help ease anxieties by tenants that their housing will be swept away from under them. 
Both motions passed without dissent, although not all council members voted. The motion to modify RSO’s was introduced by Gil Cedillo (CD1) (in the heat of a very tight race to retain his council seat) and seconded by Mike Bonin (CD11). Council members Jose Huizar (CD14) and Joe Buscaino (CD15) were absent for the vote. 
Huizar may have missed one important vote, but was key in the second vote to track housing by introducing the motion that was seconded by Marqueece Harris-Dawson (CD8). All council members voted for that one except Paul Krekorian (CD2), who was absent for the vote. 
This more clearly brings into focus and lets the council members understand what tenants already know: that they are being squeezed out of affordable housing in neighborhoods they call “home.” To tell an evicted tenant there is “affordable housing” at another, more distant location, is not a viable solution. 
Time will tell how serious the politicos are about reining in the out-of-control developers. Council members Huizar and Cedillo serve on the Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) committee (Huizar is chair) so they are in the catbird seats to be among the most vigilant observers and enforcers of land use and development in the city. Now, with these two motions, they have some added resources to protect renters.

(Tim Deegan is a long-time resident and community leader in the Miracle Mile, who has served as board chair at the Mid City West Community Council and on the board of the Miracle Mile Civic Coalition. Tim can be reached at timdeegan2015@gmail.com.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.