Image by Kevin Snyman from Pixabay
He and I decided to go into the old city of Jerusalem yesterday. Because Yasser and his cousin, Lama, were both at work we went via the bus system. From Al-Ram, where Yasser and Lama live, there is no route to Jerusalem without having to pass through the Israeli military checkpoint located near the Qalandiya refugee camp, a well-known center of Palestinian resistance to Israel’s illegal occupation.
The distance between Al-Ram and Jerusalem is about 6 miles. Our journey took us nearly 2 hours. What we experienced is common for Palestinian people without cars. And on that day there were no additional delays imposed by the Israeli military at the checkpoints— just the “usual” waiting in long lines.
We left Yasser’s at around 9:00 am and were walking down the hill to the bus stop located on the town’s main street when a man in a car stopped and asked us where we were heading. We told him, he beckoned us to get in, we did, and he drove us to the bus stop, only a short distance away. A small bus was waiting, and once we learned it was heading to Qalandiya checkpoint, the first leg of our journey, we got on.
The buses that take passengers to the checkpoint are yellow mini-vans that hold up to 7 people. Like the majority of vehicles in the smaller towns in the West Bank, they tend to be battered—dusty inside and out, worn shocks, the upholstery clean but stained. Sometimes there are seatbelts, sometimes none are apparent or are broken or ripped. I never saw anyone wear one.
The driver (who was maybe in his 40’s) didn’t interact with his passengers, except to collect the bus fare and return any change to a hand at the front that passed it back to the paying passenger. Because I had a good view of the driver in the rear view mirror, I could see his face—I thought his dark eyes and face looked worn and tired, maybe bored, too, with deep creases across his forehead and along the sides of his cheeks and mouth. The exception was when a small child got on at one of the stops. His face brightened, his eyes lit up, and a small smile formed at the corners of his mouth. As everywhere, children here offer a spark of life—perhaps it’s even such momentary joy a child’s presence brings that helps keep total despair at bay.
For some unknown reason, the driver didn’t drop He and me off until we were about a ¼ mile past the checkpoint. He asked a man in one of the many shops on the street for directions. With the help of his Arabic phrase book, He managed to ask “How do we to get to Qalandiya checkpoint?”, and with hand gestures waving and pointing, the man directed us.
We turned back and headed down the shop-lined road, crowded with cars, vans, buses and pedestrians. But for one bright splash of a rose bougainvillea, it was dusty and bleak—stone rubble and trash on both sides of the road, a cement-block building with a demolished second floor, exposed rusted spines of steel holding the carcass together. We soon saw many other people heading in a particular way, so we followed.
At first we walked on the right side of the road, directly towards the gates where cars pass, but we heard a sharp whistle to get our attention, and a female soldier waved at us to move to the left side of the area. We climbed over and around temporary cement blocks and barriers and met another soldier—a young man, dark-skinned, small in stature, with a smile that softened the effect of his being fully equipped with weapons used to threaten, wound or kill. He gave us additional directions to the pedestrian Qalandiya checkpoint.
Later I remembered that not so long ago (September 2019) at this same checkpoint, a young Muslim woman had similarly seemed confused about where to go to reach the bus section. Apparently she did not turn back when warned, and so the private security guards hired by Israel chased her, shot her several times and then left her bleeding—medics of the Palestinian Red Crescent were prevented from getting to her to provide first aid. She later died in an Israeli hospital in East Jerusalem. Israel claimed she was carrying a knife.
We continued on to an official looking one-story white building with two Israeli flags flying from the flat roof—the location of the Qalandiya checkpoint that demarcates a boundary between the West Bank and East Jerusalem. With many others, mostly young or old and seemingly poorer Palestinians, we walked up the steps and into the front entrance. We then needed to pass through a winding and walled, single-person-width passageway into a large room that branched into three separate smaller rooms. We stayed in the middle room designated for people going to Jerusalem.
An elderly couple with a battered piece of luggage and large black plastic bags looked around, clearly uneasy, and uncertain about where to go. The woman in traditional Muslim dress with a hijab (headscarf that covers the head and neck) and brown, unadorned thob (a long, full robe-like dress) took the lead and walked around examining the rooms and signs. After a brief and quiet discussion with her husband, the couple moved to the room on the right.
The next step in passing through the checkpoint was to go through a floor-to-ceiling metal turnstile big enough for one person at a time that allowed only a certain number of people to pass through before it stopped turning. As we exited, we were directed to another turnstile (similar to those for getting onto a train in a subway) where we were required to show our passport to an armed guard. Palestinians were required to show their ID card.
We moved through yet another floor-to-ceiling turnstile before we were required to put our backpacks, jewelry and other metal items onto an airport-type conveyor belt that moved through a machine checking for dangerous items stowed in the bags. And we, too, had to walk through a metal-detecting device so the Israeli guards could be ensured that we posed no security threat.
From that point, we were allowed to exit the building and go to the bus station, a large dirt-packed parking area with white coach-sized buses for passengers wanting to travel to the East Jerusalem bus station. Two full buses later, we were able to get onto a bus with vacant seats. And at 11:00 we arrived at the East Jerusalem bus station, 2 hours after leaving Yasser’s.
Such is the daily life for many Palestinians.
Sending this with love and with the commitment to work for the freedom and human rights of the Palestinian people,
The People’s Mobilization to Stop the US War Machine and Save the Planet is two weeks away. The “People’s Mobe” will be held from September 20 to 23 in New York City during the United Nations General Assembly.
Members of the Venezuelan Embassy Protection Collective started organizing the People’s Mobe in May. Organizers sought to bring the issue of US violations of international law, such as when the State Department violated the Vienna Convention by raiding the Venezuelan Embassy on May 16, to the UN General Assembly and began to plan around September 21, the International Day of Peace. Organizers wrote:
At a time when all of the world leaders gather, we will say we’ve had enough of the US War Machine.
We demand the US be held accountable for its destructive acts. It’s time for the US government to obey the United Nations Charter by stopping regime change operations, ending the use of unilateral coercive measures (aka sanctions) and ceasing military attacks.
We demand the US sign the nuclear weapons ban treaty, rejoin the Iran nuclear agreement and Paris climate treaty, disband NATO and close bases and outposts around the world.
We demand an immediate transition to a peace economy that uses our resources to meet human needs and protect the planet.
The People’s Mobe begins with the Climate Strike on Friday, September 20, an international day of action on the climate crisis, and ends with a solidarity evening uniting countries and popular movements around opposition to US intervention and respect for international laws that uphold sovereignty, human rights and protection of the planet.
The weekend will also focus on decolonization joining a protest for the liberation of Puerto Rico and black resistance to racism and militarism in the “Americas.”
Schedule of Events for the People’s Mobilization Against the US War Machine
Friday, September 20 – People’s Climate Strike. Starts at Foley Square at noon, then a march to Battery Park for a rally at 3:00 pm. We’ll bring messages connecting militarism and the climate crisis.
Saturday, September 21 – Puerto Rico Independence Rally at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza at the UN. It’s time to decolonize Puerto Rico! Time TBA.
Saturday, September 21 – Race, Militarism and Black Resistance in the “America’s” from 5:00 to 7:00 pm at the Green Worker Cooperative, 1231 Lafayette Ave in the Bronx.
Sunday, September 22 – People’s Mobilization to Stop the US War Machine and Save the Planet Rally and March, Herald Square near 34th St.and 6th Ave., 2:00 pm. Featuring Cornel West, Roger Waters, members of the Embassy Protection Collective, Chairman Omali Yeshitela, music by Ben Grosscup plus many solidarity, climate crisis, and resistance groups. More special guests to be announced.
Monday, September 23 – Solidarity evening with UN representatives from countries targeted by US sanctions and intervention. “A Path to International Peace: Realizing the Vision of the United Nations Charter.” Location: Community Church of New York 40 East 35th St., New York City, 10016. Hear from UN representatives and social movements. The Peace Memorial Prize will be awarded and David Rovics will perform. Time: 6:30 pm (doors open at 6:00 pm). You must register in advance. Register at http://bit.ly/RSVPapathtopeace. The event is free but we will accept donations to help cover the costs.
People’s Mobilization Shows Interconnections At Historical Moment
The People’s Mobe is connecting the issues of militarism, climate crisis, racism, and decolonization. We cannot achieve economic, racial and environmental justice or peace without forming a united people’s force that demands international law be obeyed by the greatest violator of laws, the United States.
We face multiple crisis issues that are reaching their breaking points. We are in a climate emergency as fires, hurricanes, flooding, and drought are becoming common experiences, destroying communities and causing hundreds of thousands of deaths annually. Even if the US government ignores climate science, people understand it and realize these conditions are worsening. As a result, the Global Climate Strike from September 20-27 was called. Popular Resistance will participate in the Strike in NYC; other peace activists are joining the Shut-Down DC Climate Strike. We urge peace activists throughout the country to support the Climate Strike and demonstrate the connection between militarism and climate.
The role of the US military in climate change is massive as oil is essential for the war machine. There is no such thing as a Green War. We cannot confront climate change without confronting US militarism.
Even though the US military produces more climate pollution than 140 countries combined, the US-made sure the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change from 1997, the first international accord to limit global warming emissions, excluded fossil fuel emissions by the military. Even the Paris Agreement, which Trump withdrew from, still enabled the US to avoid reporting Pentagon emissions.
As a result, the greatest fossil fuel polluter on the planet is excluded despite the fact that the US military accounts for 25% of the total US consumption of oil, which is itself 25% of the total world consumption. US military fossil fuel pollution is equivalent to 25 million additional cars on US roads. The US Air Force is the single largest consumer of jet fuel in the world.
The US and allies learned in World War II that controlling the oil supply and cutting off Germany’s access to oil was essential to defeating Hitler. Since then, domination of oil reserves has been a central goal of US policy to ensure its role as the global superpower. Even with the rapid increase in US fossil fuel production, denying China access to oil from Iran, Venezuela, Russia, and other sources is critical to remaining the world’s dominant power. The US and its war machine drive the rise in greenhouse gases.
The ties between war and racism have been evident throughout US history since the “Indian Wars” of Manifest Destiny and the theft of one-fifth of Mexico during the US war with Mexico, which gave the US control of much of North America. As the US expanded its empire beyond the continent, the US fought wars against people of color all over the world and today is rapidly militarizing Africa.
As happens with empires, the empire turns against its own people to take as much as it can from its poor and working classes for the wealthiest. Not only has this resulted in an immense wealth divide and widespread poverty, homelessness and inadequate education for many people in the US, but it has also led to militarized police forces that use weapons and techniques of war against the people in the United States. The prime targets of domestic militarized police are communities of color, which have been left destitute from neglect and the funneling of wealth upwards in a racially-biased manner.
Part of being the largest empire in world history not only includes an empire of bases and dollar domination of trade and the global economy, but also the US remains a colonizer nation. While decolonization created scores of independent nations from 1945-1960, the United States did not decolonize. As a result states like Hawaii, which was an independent nation throughout most of its history, did not become independent and territories like Puerto Rico, which had broken from Spanish colonization only to be captured as a US colony, remain.
Uniting To End Empire and Militarization, and put People and Planet First
The Peoples Mobilization comes at a time when all of these fronts of struggle are coming together. Climate activists realize that ending wars for oil, closing bases and making serious cuts to military funding are essential for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and financing a global Green New Deal. Anti-war activists recognize that keeping fossil fuels in the ground is essential for stopping endless wars.
It is time to stop the US war machine and for the US government to stop its global gangsterism. The US must obey international law and be held accountable for illegal and destructive acts. The Non-Aligned Movement countries made a commitment to do what they can this past July. Now, we need a global popular movement that pushes to make peace, justice, and a livable future a reality.
If you agree, sign onto the Global Appeal for Peace. We plan to deliver it to the United Nations while they are in session. Beyond that, we will continue to build a global solidarity movement to Stop The US War Machine and Save the Planet.
Private concerns are gutting the Amazon rainforest, contributing to fires, the loss of plant and animal species, and global warming through the release of carbon as trees are cleared. More than 74,000 fires have burned approximately 7,200 square miles this year in the Brazilian portion of the rainforest.
“Brazilian politicians are lobbying U.S. businesses like Cargill and Burger King for contracts by promoting the Amazon region for reckless and exploitative ranching, logging and mining operations,” said Craig Seeman, member of the Green Party’s Animal Rights Committee.
Green Party of the United States
For Immediate Release:
August 28, 2019
Holly Hart, firstname.lastname@example.org | 202-804-2758
Craig Seeman, email@example.com
“The cattle sector of the Brazilian Amazon, incentivized by the international beef and leather trades, has been responsible for about 80% of all deforestation in the region. The lax enforcement of rules and regulations by leaders in Brazil and the United States have set the tone for widespread pillage of protected areas in both countries.”
Among other things, scientists recommend that we restore ecosystems and stop burning fossil fuels to avoid “irreversible loss in land ecosystem services required for food, health and habitable settlements.”
“Greens have been at the forefront in calling for a strong international climate treaty,” said Steve Newman, Secretary of the Green Party of Florida and a member of the Green Party of the U.S. Eco-Action Committee. “The climate treaty reached in Paris in 2015 is inadequate to address the climate change crisis, and the current impasse at the international level displays a dangerous lack of commitment toward addressing a climate emergency. The Green Party calls for legally binding commitments for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2020 and a 95% reduction by 2030 over 1990 levels.”
The Green Party further calls for:
Photograph: https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov using data from August 27, 2019
6 charts show why thousands of fires in the Amazon rainforest matter to the world
Sergent, James; Elizabeth Lawrence, George Petras. USA Today, Aug. 23, 2019
Fires are devouring the Amazon. And Jair Bolsonaro is to blame
Miranda, David. The Guardian, Aug, 26, 201
Amazon: “Global Emergency”
Mendonca, Maria Luisa; Christopher Poitier, Moira Birss. Institute for Public Accuracy, Aug. 27, 2019
GOP Lobbyists Help Brazil Recruit U.S. Companies To Exploit The Amazon
Fang, Lee. The Intercept, Aug 23, 2019
Fires in the Amazon could be part of a doomsday scenario that sees the rainforest spewing carbon into the atmosphere and speeding up climate change even more
Baker, Sinead. Business Insider, Aug. 22, 2019
Cattle Ranching in the Amazon Region
Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Global Forest Atlas
You And Meat Can Save The Planet
Rowland, Michael Pellman. Forbes, Aug. 23, 2019
The Amazon Fires Reveal the Dysfunction of the Global Community
Foer, Franklin. Defense One, Aug. 25, 2019
2018 Outside Spending, by Donors’ Industries
Center for Responsive Politics. OpenSecrets
U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines
Ceballos, Gerardo; Paul R. EHrlich, Rodolfo Dirzo. PNAS, Mar. 28, 2017
With Amazon Rainforest Ablaze, Brazil Faces Global Backlash
Andreoni, Manuela; Leticia Casado, Ernest Londono. NY Times, Aug. 22, 23, 2019
Green Party Platform: Ecological Sutainability
Green New Deal | News Stream
2019 Green Party Annual National Meeting
Green Party of the United States
Green Pages: The official publication of record of the Green Party of the United States
The controversy over Israel’s refusal to allow an official visit by two members of Congress highlights the negative effects of a misguided bipartisan attempt by representatives of both major political parties to attack and smear the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights and freedom. By an overwhelming margin in July, the House of Representatives passed a nonbinding resolution to condemn the BDS movement and to endorse an Israeli-Palestinian two-state solution. Legislatures in more than two dozen U.S. states have passed measures condemning the BDS movement or banning contracts with businesses involved with it.
Letter to the Editor
Published August 25, 2019
Such undemocratic action is divisive and violates free-speech rights. It is outrageous that lawmakers have supported legislation to penalize or vilify anyone who advocates a boycott of Israel for its oppressive treatment of Palestinians under a decades-old occupation.
BDS is a peaceful approach to change — part of the process of negotiation, now stalled — that is desperately needed to bring a just and lasting peace to Israel and Palestine.
Joseph Naham and Jim Brown
Newsday Editor’s note: The writers are chair and secretary, respectively, of the Green Party of Nassau County.
Above photo: Anti-government protesters wave the American flag during a rally in Hong Kong earlier this month © Chan Long Hei/EPA-EFE/Shutterstoc
Hong Kong is one of the most extreme examples of big finance, neoliberal capitalism in the world. As a result, many people in Hong Kong are suffering from great economic insecurity in a city with 93 billionaires, second-most of any city.
Hong Kong is suffering the effects of being colonized by Britain for more than 150 years following the Opium Wars. The British put in place a capitalist economic system and Hong Kong has had no history of self-rule. When Britain left, it negotiated an agreement that prevents China from changing Hong Kong’s political and economic systems for 50 years by making Hong Kong a Special Administrative Region (SAR).
China cannot solve the suffering of the people of Hong Kong. This ‘One Country, Two Systems’ approach means the extreme capitalism of Hong Kong exists alongside, but separate from, China’s socialized system. Hong Kong has an unusual political system. For example, half the seats in the legislature are required to represent business interests meaning corporate interests vote on legislation.
Hong Kong is a center for big finance and also a center of financial crimes. Between 2013 and 2017, the number of suspicious transactions reported to law enforcement agencies rocketed from 32,907 to 92,115. There has been a small number of prosecutions, which dropped from a high of 167 in 2014 to 103 in 2017. Convictions dropped to only one person sentenced to more than six years behind bars in 2017.
The problem is neither the extradition bill that was used to ignite protests nor China, the problems are Hong Kong’s economy and governance.
The Extradition Bill
The stated cause of the recent protests is an extradition bill proposed because there is no legal way to prevent criminals from escaping charges when they flee to Hong Kong. The bill was proposed by the Hong Kong government in February 2019 to establish a mechanism to transfer fugitives in Hong Kong to Taiwan, Macau or Mainland China.
Extradition laws are a legal norm between countries and within countries (e.g. between states), and since Hong Kong is part of China, it is pretty basic. In fact, in 1998, a pro-democracy legislator, Martin Lee, proposed a law similar to the one he now opposes to ensure a person is prosecuted and tried at the place of the offense.
The push for the bill came in 2018 when a Hong Kong resident Chan Tong-kai allegedly killed his pregnant girlfriend, Poon Hiu-wing, in Taiwan, then returned to Hong Kong. Chan admitted he killed Poon to Hong Kong police, but the police were unable to charge him for murder or extradite him to Taiwan because no agreement was in place.
The proposed law covered 46 types of crimes that are recognized as serious offenses across the globe. These include murder, rape, and sexual offenses, assaults, kidnapping, immigration violations, and drug offenses as well as property offenses like robbery, burglary and arson and other traditional criminal offenses. It also included business and financial crimes.
Months before the street protests, the business community expressed opposition to the law. Hong Kong’s two pro-business parties urged the government to exempt white-collar crimes from the list of offenses covered by any future extradition agreement. There was escalating pressure from the city’s business heavyweights. The American Chamber of Commerce, AmCham, a fifty-year-old organization that represents over 1,200 US companies doing business in Hong Kong, opposed the proposal.
AmCham said it would damage the city’s reputation: “Any change in extradition arrangements that substantially expands the possibility of arrest and rendition … of international business executives residing in or transiting through Hong Kong as a result of allegations of economic crime made by the mainland government … would undermine perceptions of Hong Kong as a safe and secure haven for international business operations.”
Kurt Tong, the top US diplomat in Hong Kong, said in March that the proposal could complicate relations between Washington and Hong Kong. Indeed, the Center for International Private Enterprise, an arm of NED said the proposed law would undermine economic freedom, cause capital flight and threaten Hong Kong’s status as a hub for global commerce. They pointed to a bipartisan letter signed by eight members of Congress, including Senators Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, and Steve Daines and Members of the House of Representatives, Jim McGovern, Ben McAdams, Chris Smith, Tom Suozzi, and Brian Mast opposing the bill.
Proponents of the bill responded by exempting nine of the economic crimes and made extradition only for crimes punishable by at least seven years in prison. These changes did not satisfy big business advocates.
The Mass Protests and US Role
From this attention to the law, opposition grew with the formation of a coalition to organize protests. As Alexander Rubinstein reports, “the coalition cited by Hong Kong media, including the South China Morning Post and the Hong Kong Free Press, as organizers of the anti-extradition law demonstrations is called the Civil Human Rights Front. That organization’s website lists the NED-funded HKHRM [Human Rights Monitor], Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, the Hong Kong Journalists Association, the Civic Party, the Labour Party, and the Democratic Party as members of the coalition.” HKHRM alone received more than $1.9 million in funds from the NED between 1995 and 2013. Major protests began in June.
Building the anti-China movement in Hong Kong has been a long-term, NED project since 1996. In 2012, NED invested $460,000 through its National Democratic Institute, to build the anti-China movement (aka pro-democracy movement), particularly among university students. Two years later, the mass protests of Occupy Central occurred. In a 2016 Open Letter to Kurt Tong, these NED grants and others were pointed out and Tong was asked if the US was funding a Hong Kong independence movement.
During the current protests, organizers were photographed meeting with Julie Eadeh, the political unit chief of US Consulate General, in a Hong Kong hotel. They also met with China Hawks in Washington, DC including Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton, Senator Marco Rubio and Rep. Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Larry Diamond, a co-editor of the NED’s publication and a co-chair of research, has been openly encouraging the protesters. He delivered a video message of support during their rally this weekend.
Protests have included many elements of US color revolutions with tactics such as violence — attacks on bystanders, media, police and emergency personnel. Similar tactics were used in Ukraine, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, e.g. violent street barricades. US officials and media criticized the government’s response to the violent protests, even though they have been silent on the extreme police violence against the Yellow Vests in France. Demonstrators also use swarming techniques and sophisticated social media messaging targeting people in the US.
Mass protests have continued. On July 9, Chief Executive Carrie Lam pronounced the bill dead and suspended it. Protesters are now calling for the bill to be withdrawn, Lam to resign and police to be investigated. For more on the protests and US involvement, listen to our interview with K. J. Noh on Clearing the FOG (available on Monday).
What Is Driving Discontent in Hong Kong?
The source of unrest in Hong Kong is the economic insecurity stemming from capitalism. In 1997, Britain and China agreed to leave “the previous capitalist system” in place for 50 years.
Hong Kong has been ranked as the world’s freest economy in the Heritage’s Index of Economic Freedom since 1995 when the index began. In 1990, Milton Friedman described Hong Kong as the best example of a free-market economy. Its ranking is based on low taxes, light regulations, strong property rights, business freedom, and openness to global commerce.
Graeme Maxton writes in the South China Morning Post: “The only way to restore order is through a radical change in Hong Kong’s economic policies. After decades of doing almost nothing, and letting the free market rule, it is time for the Hong Kong government to do what it is there for; to govern in the interests of the majority.”
The issue is not the extradition proposal, Carrie Lam or China. What we are witnessing is an unrestricted neo-liberal economy, described as a free market on steroids. Hong Kong’s economy relative to China’s gross domestic product (GDP) has fallen from a peak of 27 percent in 1993 to less than 3 percent in 2017. During this time, China has had tremendous growth, including in nearby market-friendly Shenzen, while Hong Kong has not.
As Sara Flounders writes, “For the last 10 years wages have been stagnant in Hong Kong while rents have increased 300 percent; it is the most expensive city in the world. In Shenzhen, wages have increased 8 percent every year, and more than 1 million new, public, green housing units at low rates are nearing completion.”
Hong Kong has the world’s highest rents, a widening wealth gap and a poverty rate of 20 percent. In China, the poverty rate fell from 88 percent in 1981 to 0.7 percent in 2015, according to the World Bank.
Hong Kong In The Chinese Context
Ellen Brown writes in “Neoliberalism Has Met Its Match in China,” that the Chinese government owns 80 percent of banks, which make favorable loans to businesses, and subsidizes worker costs. The US views China subsidizing its economy as an unfair trade advantage, while China sees long-term, planned growth as smarter than short-term profits for shareholders.
The Chinese model of state-controlled capitalism (some call it a form of socialism) has lifted 800 million people out of poverty and built a middle class of over 420 million people, growing from four percent in 2002, to 31 percent. The top twelve Chinese companies on the Fortune 500 are all state-owned and state-subsidized including oil, solar energy, telecommunications, engineering, construction companies, banks, and the auto industry. China has the second-largest GDP, and the largest economy based on Purchasing Power Parity GDP, according to the CIA, IMF and World Bank.
China does have significant problems. There are thousands of documented demonstrations, strikes and labor actions in China annually, serious environmental challenges, inequality and social control through the use of surveillance technology. How China responds to these challenges is a test for their governance.
China describes itself as having an intra party democracy. The eight other legal “democratic parties” that are allowed to participate in the political system cooperate with but do not compete with the Communist Party. There are also local elections for candidates focused on grassroots issues. China views western democracy and economics as flawed and does not try to emulate them but is creating its own system.
China is led by engineers and scientists, not by lawyers and business people. It approaches policy decisions through research and experimentation. Every city and every district is involved in some sort of experimentation including free trade zones, poverty reduction, and education reform. “There are pilot schools, pilot cities, pilot hospitals, pilot markets, pilot everything under the sun, the whole China is basically a giant portfolio of experiments, with mayors and provincial governors as Primary Investigators.” In this system, Hong Kong could be viewed as an experiment in neoliberal capitalism.
The Communist Party knows that to keep its hold on power, it must combat inequalities and shift the economy towards a more efficient and more ecological model. Beijing has set a date of 2050 to become a “socialist society” and to achieve that, it seeks improvements in social, labor and environmental fields.
Where does Hong Kong fit into these long-term plans? With 2047 as the year for the end of the agreement with the UK, US and western powers are working toward preserving their capitalist dystopia of Hong Kong and manufacturing consensus for long-term conflict with China.
How this conflict of economic and political systems turns out depends on whether China can confront its contradictions, whether Hong Kongers can address the source of their problems and whether US empire can continue its dollar, political and military dominance. Today’s conflicts in Hong Kong are rooted in all of these realities.
Original article: https://popularresistance.org/hong-kong-in-the-crosshairs-of-global-power-and-ideological-struggles/
Although battles are still raging in Hodeidah, people displaced from the port city have already begun returning to their homes from Sanaa, as they struggle to feed their families in the Yemeni capital.
Since pro-Yemeni government forces began their assault on the highly strategic Red Sea city a year ago, the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) in Sanaa has played the leading role in providing Hodeidah’s displaced with monthly food packages.
However, the WFP suspended aid distribution in Sanaa last month after disputes with the Houthis over the agency’s biometric system introduced to prevent the rebel movement from diverting aid.
The decision affects 850,000 people in the capital Sanaa, including Hodeidah displaced.
Staring at the prospect of starvation in the capital, some Yemenis have returned to their war-torn homes where they are more likely to secure their monthly rations.
Mohammed al-Boraie, 43, fled his house in Hodeidah’s al-Rabasah neighbourhood in June 2018 after hearing there were organisations in Sanaa that could help the displaced there. He left everything behind, prioritising the safety of his seven family members.
“A friend rented a house for me in Sanaa and that was the first step towards stability,” Boraie told Middle East Eye.
WFP aid suspension
displaced back home
With starvation threats looming, Yemenis are trickling back from Sanaa to find a battle-ravaged city
in Hodeidah, Yemen
Published date: 1 July 2019 13:45 UTC
“Then the sheikh of the neighbourhood registered my name as a beneficiary for WFP aid and I have been receiving food aid from the WFP since August 2018.”
Boraie used to work as a bus driver, but when he arrived in Sanaa he could not find any work and his family struggled with basic services and proper healthcare.
“During the last year, we were depending on WFP food aid and the food was enough for the whole month,” he said.
“If not for the WFP aid, my children would starve to death.”
Boraie never thought that the WFP would stop providing his family with the much-needed food – and was shocked when they did.
“When the sheikh told me that the WFP would not provide us with food, I changed all our plans as we cannot stay in Sanaa without it,” he said.
“We knew from the sheikh that the WFP would continue to distribute food aid in Hodeidah and they only suspended it in Sanaa, so there was no choice but to return to our house in Hodeidah.”
Boraie borrowed money for transportation from a friend and took his family back to Hodeidah on 23 June.
When he arrived, he found the city in a better state than it had been last year – regular life has returned to some extent, despite ongoing battles in the outskirts.
In fact, Boraie said, anxiety he faced about the fighting last year has been replaced by fears his family will die of starvation instead.
There are 3.3 million people internally displaced in Yemen, while the humanitarian crisis there remains the worst in the world.
Nearly four years of conflict and severe economic decline have driven the country to the brink of famine and exacerbated needs in all sectors, according to the UN.
An estimated 80 percent of the population – 24 million people – require some form of humanitarian or protection assistance. Some 14.3 million of those are in acute need.
Meanwhile, the number of people in acute need has grown 27 percent over the past year. Two-thirds of all provinces in the country are in a pre-famine state.
A reviving city
Last year the streets of Hodeidah were almost emptied of people, and many shops and companies were shuttered as residents fled the fighting.
Hodeidah’s port is the conduit through which the majority of Yemen’s imports arrive to the country, and fighting there threatened to significantly worsen the humanitarian situation and catapult millions in famine.
UN-led efforts have helped alleviate the fighting, and in turn residents have gradually been trickling back to the city.
Around Hodeidah the sounds of clashes can be heard, and occasional shelling hits residential areas. Yet Yemenis are managing to regain a sense of normalcy all the same.
“Residents of Hodeidah do not care about the battles as they believe clashes aren’t going to stop any time soon. Besides, they are working hard to find food,” said Mubarak al-Otomi, a 35-year-old resident of the city.
“I was displaced but I returned to Hodeidah after suffering in Sanaa because of a lack of basic services and food.”
If the displaced had proper services in displacement, they would not return to the city amid fighting
– Mubarak al-Otomi, Hodeidah resident
Otomi said opportunities for employment in Hodeidah were much greater than before, and relief organisations were doing their best to help people.
“I believe that life in our home is better than displacement – no one thinks about fleeing the city again even if battles arrive at our houses,” he added.
“If the displaced had proper services in displacement, they would not return to the city amid fighting.”
Fighting usually intensifies at night, and for a long time people rarely ventured out after dark.
As things have improved, however, men, women and children are increasingly seen out in the evenings, and have adapted to the ferocious sounds of war in the distance.
Abdulkhaleq al-Sawa, 53, is from Hodeidah but now living in Sanaa.
He told MEE that many displaced people like him haven’t returned home yet, but the suspension meant they could soon head back to Hodeidah
“No one can deny the role of the WFP in helping displaced people in Sanaa and I am one of them – I became dependent on organisations,” Sawa said.
Sawa has been living in his brother’s house in Sanaa since July 2018 but he believes it’s time to go home and resume his regular life.
“In Hodeidah I can find work again as an accountant with a local corporation, as I used to do before the war,” he said.
He added that his return to Hodeidah had been delayed due to the sweltering temperatures in the city. Without electricity to return to, cooling his Hodeidah home would be impossible, so it’s better to wait a couple of months until the climate chills somewhat.
“The battles are not a threat as we have already adapted to them, but it is difficult for children to enjoy their lives in the hot weather,” he said.
Back in Hodeidah, Boraie said he had been pleased to find his hometown so full of people when he returned.
“War changed our life for the worse,” he said. “I hope warring parties stop this war, so we can resume our work and children can resume their studies in a safe environment.”
By Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance
Above photo: Embassy Protection Collective members before they were arrested: Margaret Flowers, Kevin Zeese, Adrienne Pine and David Paul from the People’s Dispatch. All four voted for Stein-Baraka in 2016.
One of the things the final four people in the Venezuelan Embassy who were arrested had in common was that they all voted for Stein-Baraka in 2016. Two of us were Greens (Margaret Flowers and me) and two were independents. The participation of Greens in the Embassy Protection Collective once again shows how the Green Party of the United States is the party of the popular movement in the United States.
The Embassy Protection Collective was a unique event in US history. US peace activists going into a foreign embassy in Washington, DC to protect Venezuela from a US coup. We issued a Declaration of the Embassy Protection Collective that explains why we took the actions we did. Three days before the police violated international law to illegally evict and arrest us we told the State Department there was a legal path to resolving this dispute, i.e. mutual Protecting Power Agreements between the US and Venezuela to allow a third country to protect the vacant US embassy in Caracas and the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC. We still hope such a mutual agreement will be put in place.
Margaret is a co-chair of the Green Party of the United States and ran for US Senate in 2016. I have been a Green since 2000, a member of the Coordinating Committee of the Green Party and a Green Party US Senate candidate in 2006. Margaret and I were not the only Greens involved in the Embassy Protection Collective. Many Greens were involved both inside and outside of the embassy. The Collective included Greens and non-Greens, often the role of Green Party activists goes unnoticed in the media, so I want to highlight some of the work of Greens in this initiative.
The Secret Service allowed a pro-coup mob to surround the embassy, assault, threaten and try to intimidate members of the Collective into leaving, and let them block food entering the embassy. During this siege I noticed there were Greens from multiple states including Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, Greens joined us outside from Connecticut, DC, and Virginia. We were not there as Greens but as people who are part of the movement for economic, racial and environmental justice, as well as peace. The Green Party takes strong positions against militarism and anti-imperialism and many of its members are part of peace and justice movements.
Past Two Vice Presidential Candidates Show Up to Provide Food, Water and Flowers
In fact, both Green Party vice presidential candidates in the 2016 and 2012 elections, Ajamu Baraka the national coordinator of the Black Alliance for Peace and Cheri Honkala of the Poor People’s Economic and Human Rights Campaign, played leadership roles in the Collective outside of the embassy.
Honkala came with the Poor Peoples Army and attempted to get food into the embassy as well as bring us flowers on Mother’s Day. They attempted to put food in a bag we had thrown from a second-floor window. The rope was grabbed by both the pro-coup protesters and the police. The police cut the rope and the food was not able to be delivered. After the attempt, the Poor People’s Army had a confrontation with police outside the embassy where they accused them of violating the human rights of Embassy Protectors. They argued that denial of food, water and electricity was putting people at risk, many of the same challenges poor people face every day.
In addition, the Poor People’s Army protested at PEPCO, the DC power company that shut off the electricity in the embassy, which also resulted in the electric pumps needed for water being unable to operate. The people inside the embassy noted the aggressive action of Honkala and her team. On the morning we were arrested, we heard the Poor People’s Army was making a return visit and we were looking forward to seeing their support and showing our love for their efforts on our behalf. Unfortunately, we were arrested before they arrived.
The Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) played an integral role in the Collective. In the early phases of our living in the embassy when we are holding nightly forums and cultural events, members of the Black Alliance for Peace who are members of Pan-African Community Action(PACA) joined us for a forum on the militarization of Africa and then need to end Africom, the US Africa Command.
Members were regular attendees at the forums and also were part of the outside Collective. They consistently joined activists on a daily basis to show support for stopping the US coup and protecting the Venezuelan Embassy from takeover.
Earlier this year we traveled to Venezuela with Ajamu Baraka as part of a peace delegationorganized by the US Peace Council. Ajamu is a close ally and advisor to Popular Resistance who has been integral in our work that led to stopping the Trump Military Parade, developing the Peace Congress, building the US Coalition Against Foreign Military Basesand with the United National Antiwar Coalition.
Baraka was at the embassy the day that Rev. Jesse Jackson came to support us. Baraka knows Jackson from his two presidential runs and joined him and other members of the Collective in helping to deliver food to the embassy. As you can see in the video below, there was a scuffle with a pro-coup supporter who tried to pull a bag of food out of Jackson’s hands as well as wrapped the rope to pull the bag to the second floor around his arms. Baraka can be seen battling with the pro-couper along with another Maryland Green Party member, Paul Pumphrey of Friends of the Congo, and others in order to successfully deliver four bags of food into the embassy.
Colorado Green, Andrea Mérida Cuéllar, who is also a co-chair of the Green Party of the United States, summarized the role of Greens and our former vice presidential candidates in a Facebook post, writing:
“It was Greens from all over the eastern seaboard who held space outside and fought the police and the Venezuelan expatriate gusano fascists to bring food to the defenders. It was a Green Vice Presidential candidate who fought with the power company to turn the electricity back on. It was another Green Vice Presidential candidate who dragged the fascists away so that Jesse Jackson could deliver sustenance to our defenders.”
Green Presidential Nominee Front-Runner, Howie Hawkins, Speaks Out Against US Imperialism
One of the founders of the Green Party, Howie Hawkins, who is currently exploring a run for president in 2020, wrote three blog posts on his website supporting the Embassy Protection Collective and opposing the US coup in Venezuela.
On April 24, two weeks after we entered the embassy, Hawkins, who is known for being the first candidate to run on a full-fledged Green New Deal, wrote about how the US should not be threatening war against Venezuela for oil especially during a time of climate crisis. Hawkins wrote more clearly than any presidential candidate about the US economic war, theft of Venezuela’s wealth, the impact of sanctions, opposition to the US coup as well as US threats of war. Hawkins strongly opposed US imperialism against Venezuela which he correctly described as bi-partisan. He described Trump’s open comments about stealing Venezuelan oil from early in his presidency and put his false comments on Venezuela in context, writing:
All Trump talk about restoring human rights and democracy in Venezuela are just more lies. Trump doesn’t support them in the US. He orders the violation of human rights against asylum seekers at the US border. He constantly spouts racist tropes and incites violence against minorities and political opponents. He supports voter suppression and opposes verifiable vote-counting laws.
The next day, Hawkins highlighted a study released by the Center for Economic and Policy Research that found that there were 40,000 deaths from 2017 to 2018 as a result of US economic sanctions which are illegal under international law.
The day we were arrested, April 16, Hawkins put out an excellent statement describing how international law had been violated by the US invading the embassy. He mentioned Margaret Flowers and me since we are both volunteering for his exploratory campaign, and put the US action in historical context writing;
The arrests show that the US is a rogue state. Violating the diplomatic immunity of the Venezuelan embassy takes the US back before the 1200s, when Genghis Khan’s Eurasian empire brought the notion of inviolable diplomatic immunity to a West that was riddled at the time with endemic warfare and banditry among the feuding feudal fiefdoms. Trump—and his Republican and Democratic minions alike—have taken us back nearly a millennium to the Dark Ages.
We are grateful that the Green Party is likely to have a nominee in the 2020 election cycle who understands the importance of international law and stands against US imperialism and empire.
In 2020 We Must Make US Regime Change Unacceptable and Work To End US Empire
We intend to build on the action at the embassy so that the political consensus in the United States opposes the US coup and threats of military action against Venezuela. The Green Party will be speaking out in 2020 as they always have been against war, militarism and regime change. We will be calling for cuts to the military budget and putting the necessities of the people and planet before war.
The Embassy Protectors and our allies intend to build a movement that will make it impossible for any candidate of any party to support the US coup in Venezuela. We will be escalating our actions against the US coup and organizing national and international days of action leading to a mass protest on September 21 in New York City when the UN General Assembly is meeting.
This campaign against the Venezuela coup and threats of militarism around the world is part of an ongoing effort to end US empire as quickly and responsibly as possible so the US stops creating global chaos and destruction. The people of the United States need to understand that the Empire Economy does not work for them or the people of the world and needs to come to an end.
Original post: https://independentpoliticalreport.com/2019/05/greens-show-leaderhship-against-us-coup-in-venezuela/
Sign Petition Here: https://www.codepink.org/embassyprotection
This is the 34th day of our living in the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC. We are prepared to stay another 34 days, or however long is needed to resolve the embassy dispute in a peaceful way consistent with international law.
This memo is being sent to the US and Venezuela as well as members of our Collective and allies. We are encouraging people to publish this memo as a transparent process is needed to prevent the US from making a unilateral decision that could impact the security of embassies around the world and lead to military conflict.
To: US State Department
Venezuelan Foreign Ministry
From: Embassy Protection Collective
Re: Exiting the Venezuelan Embassy
Date: May 13, 2019
There are two ways to resolve the issues around the Venezuelan embassy in DC, which we will explain.
Before doing so, we reiterate that our collective is one of independent people and organizations not affiliated with any government. While we are all US citizens, we are not agents of the United States. While we are here with permission of the Venezuelan government, we are not their agents or representatives.
We are here in the embassy lawfully. We are breaking no laws. We did not unlawfully enter and we are not trespassing.
1. Exiting with a Protecting Power Agreement
The exit from the embassy that best resolves issues to the benefit of the United States and Venezuela is a mutual Protecting Power Agreement. The United States wants a Protecting Power for its embassy in Caracas. Venezuela wants a Protecting Power for its embassy in DC. Such agreements are not uncommon when diplomatic relations are severed.
A Protecting Power Agreement would avoid a military conflict that could lead to war. A war in Venezuela would be catastrophic for Venezuela, the United States, and for the region. It would lead to lives lost and mass migration from the chaos and conflict of war. It would cost the United States trillions of dollars and become a quagmire involving allied countries around the world.
We are serving as interim protectors in the hope that the two nations can negotiate this resolution. If this occurs we will take the banners off the building, pack our materials, and leave voluntarily. The electricity could be turned on and we will drive out.
We suggest a video walk-through with embassy officials to show that the Embassy Protection Collective did not damage the building. The only damage to the building has been inflicted by coup supporters in the course of their unprosecuted break-ins.
2. The United States violates the Vienna Convention, makes an illegal eviction and unlawful arrests
This approach will violate international law and is fraught with risks. The United States would have to cut the chains in the front door put up by embassy staff and violate the embassy. We have put up barriers there and at other entrances to protect us from constant break-ins and threats from the trespassers whom the police are permitting outside the embassy. The police’s failure to protect the embassy and the US citizens inside has forced us to take these actions.
The Embassy Protectors will not barricade ourselves, or hide in the embassy in the event of an unlawful entry by police. We will gather together and peacefully assert our rights to remain in the building and uphold international law.
Any order to vacate based on a request by coup conspirators that lack governing authority will not be a lawful order. The coup has failed multiple times in Venezuela. The elected government is recognized by the Venezuelan courts under Venezuelan law and by the United Nations under international law. An order by the US-appointed coup plotters would not be legal.
Such an entry would put embassies around the world and in the United States at risk. We are concerned about US embassies and personnel around the world if the Vienna Convention is violated at this embassy. It would set a dangerous precedent that would likely be used against US embassies.
If an illegal eviction and unlawful arrests are made, we will hold all decision-makers in the chain of command and all officers who enforce unlawful orders accountable.
If there is a notice that we are trespassing and need to vacate the premises, please provide it to our attorney Mara Verhayden-Hilliard, copied on this memo.
We have taken care of this embassy and request a video tour of the building before any arrests.
We hope a wise and calm solution to this issue can be achieved so escalation of this conflict can avoided.
There is no need for the United States and Venezuela to be enemies. Resolving this embassy dispute diplomatically should lead to negotiations over other issues between the nations.
The Embassy Protection Collective
May 13, 2019
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