Saturday, April 28, 2018

Cuba's New President Vows to Defend Socialist Revolution

President Miguel Diaz-Canel said the new period would be characterised by "modernization of the economic and social model."
Cuba's new president, Miguel Diaz-Canel, began his term on Thursday with a promise to defend the socialist revolution led by the Castro brothers since 1959, giving a sober speech that also emphasised the need to modernize the island's economy.
A stalwart of the ruling Communist Party, Diaz-Canel was sworn in to replace Raul Castro by the National Assembly in a carefully managed new chapter for the Caribbean island, aimed at preserving the political system.
"The mandate given by the people to this house is to give continuity to the Cuban revolution in a crucial historic moment," Diaz-Canel, 57, told the assembly in his first speech as president.
He delivered a warm homage to 86-year-old Raul Castro, who took office a decade ago as his brother Fidel Castro's health deteriorated. Fidel Castro died in 2016.
Castro will remain head of the Communist Party until a congress in 2021. Diaz-Canel, praising the reforms he ushered in as president, said Castro would remain the leader of the revolution and would be involved in major decisions.
Stepping to the podium for a 90-minute-long parting speech, Castro criticized U.S. foreign, trade and immigration policy under President Donald Trump.
"Since the current president arrived in office, there has been a deliberate reversal in the relations between Cuba and the United States, and an aggressive and threatening tone prevails," Castro said.
Thursday's session was held on the 57th anniversary of Cuba's 1961 defeat of a CIA-backed Cuban exile invasion at the Bay of Pigs, a victory Havana celebrates as a symbol of its resistance to 'imperialist' pressure for change from Washington.
Diaz-Canel praised Castro's move to renew relations with the United States. He said there would be no compromise in Cuba's foreign policy, but in a repetition of a long-held stance by Havana, he said he would hold dialogue with anybody who treated Cuba as an equal.
"I take that as a signal that the Cuban leadership still sees value in improving relations, even if they have to wait for the next U.S. president," William LeoGrande, co-author of a book on the secret U.S.-Cuba talks that led to detente, told Reuters.
Castro spoke highly of Diaz-Canel and gave his blessing to the younger man to take over from him as the powerful head of the Communist Party in three years. He also said the new president could serve two five-year terms, underscoring restrictions Castro imposed on himself after his brother's decades in power.
Diaz-Canel confirmed expectations the transition would not herald sweeping changes to one of the world's last state-run economies and one-party systems, promising there would be no return to capitalism.
Diaz-Canel, who has risen the ranks of the Communist Party over three decades, said the new period would be characterized by "modernization of the economic and social model," without giving details.
He ended his speech the same way Fidel Castro used to: punching the air and shouting the revolutionary slogans "Motherland or death, socialism or death, we will win."

Sunday, April 15, 2018

UN Palestinian News

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NGO Action News 
13 April 2018

·        On 8 April, Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a statement on the deteriorating situation in Gaza. In it the Prosecutor said that recent violence against civilians in Gaza, given the context, could constitute crimes under the Rome Statute of the ICC as could the use of civilian presence for the purpose of shielding military activities.

Middle East

·        On 12 April, Al Mezan and Adalah, in light of foreseen protests, sent a letter calling on the Israeli military to refrain from firing live ammunition at Palestinian civilians participating in peaceful protests.

·        On 12 April, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) reported continued concern over the wounds sustained by Palestinians during the recent protests in Gaza. The Ministry of Health reported that 35 injuries were life-threatening while 347 may result in temporary or permanent disabilities.

·        On 11 April, Addameer issued a statement to mark Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. Its director Sahar Francis visited female prisoners in HaSharon Prison and reported a lack of teachers and awareness-raising human rights sessions for female minors, following a decision of the Israeli Prisoner Service (IPS). The statement reiterated that education was a fundamental right under International Humanitarian and Human Rights Laws.

·        On 11 April, Adalah issued a statement condemning the imminent demolition of Umm al-Hiran, a Bedouin village in southern Israel.

·        On 8 April, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) organized the panel discussion “Reality of Private Sector Workers’ Rights in the Gaza Strip.” The event was attended by a group of experts representing civil society organizations, the Ministry of Labor, trade unions, professional associations and lawyers.

·        On 7 April, AIDA, a network consisting of more than 70 INGOs operating in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, condemned the unlawful killing of civilians in Gaza the day before, when the latter were holding peaceful demonstrations in proximity of the perimeter fence bordering Israel.


·        On 9 April, U.K.-based Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) organized a meeting in the Houses of Parliament hosted by Labor MP David Drew to discuss the U.S. administration’s recent funding cuts and impact on UNRWA operations in the region. The meeting also underlined U.K. commitment to support Palestinian refugees and the importance of UNRWA work.

·        In a press release dated 9 April, Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign communicated Dublin City Council to vote in support of Palestinian BDS movement and to discontinue, as a consequence, Hewlett-Packard (HP) contracts and its spin-off DXC Technology. This is due to these companies’ provision and operation of Israel’s “infrastructure” used to maintain its occupation over the Palestinian people.

·        On 9 April, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) issued a statement condemning the killing of Palestinian civilians in Gaza by the Israeli forces and called for accountability.


·        On 11 April, the Palestine Forum Japan and other 41 civil society organizations from the Asian region signed a letter calling on United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Al Hussein, and UN Member States to ensure the publication and update of the database on international businesses operating in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which was established following Human Rights Council (HRC) Resolution 31/36.

North America

·        From 12 to 14 April, the Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs at Brown University is hosting a conference on “Future Scenarios in Israel-Palestine”. Speakers include high-level experts, scholars and activists.

United Nations

·        On 10 April, UNICEF issued a statement calling for the protection of children in the Gaza Strip. It describes the dire conditions children in Gaza have been living in for many years and how three children were killed and dozens seriously injured in the previous ten days.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

ALL OUT AGAINST WAR! STOP U.S. Bombing of Syria! Not Another War

The bombing of Damascus is underway.  With no legal authority and in clear violation of international law, the Trump Administration has started its criminal attack on the people of Syria with the largest U.S. Navy task force, including U.S. nuclear aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines, since the attack on Iraq in 2003. Trump and the Pentagon's criminal attack on Syria endangers us all.
It is time for all of us to express our strong opposition to the U.S. bombing of Syria and the endless U.S. wars
Join hundreds of antiwar and social justice groups that are organizing demonstrations in:
  • New York City, Oakland CA, Minneapolis, and dozens of other cities across the country on Sunday, April 15, and 
  • Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit and Washington DC on Saturday April 14 
All organizations are urged make an all out effort to contact friends and activists through social media and other means and encourage them to join the actions this weekend and mobilize to oppose this criminal war.
See for a list of all actions this weekend