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This is a translation of my responsibility of a PCP document on Syria situation.

The PCP strongly condemns the dangerous escalation of threats against Syria by the governments of the U.S., France and Britain and its allies in the region.

If implemented, direct military aggression of imperialist powers and NATO against Syria is not only the corollary of the covert war already triggered against the Syrian people, and to all the peoples of the Middle East, but an adventure of unforeseen consequences that threatens to ignite the entire region.

A direct military aggression against Syria would be a qualitative leap in contempt international law and the sovereignty of peoples. The belligerent imperialists powers deliberately affront the principles of international law embodied in the UN Charter – beforehand the repudiation of war and respect for state sovereignty – and the proper UN. The replacement of these principles by the law of force is an undeniable objective of the imperialist powers.

The PCP, reaffirming its position as the frontal condemnation of the use of weapons of mass destruction, stresses that it is impossible to ignore the long history of disinformation, fabrications and lies that have served as a pretext for imperialist wars, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yugoslavia or Libya. Consider also to be equally impossible to ignore the long history of crimes committed by armed terrorist gangs, trained, funded and served the imperialist powers – as those who have performed on the ground aggression against Syrian people.

The PCP, considering the necessary full clearance of facts, draws attention to the gravity to convey or accept uncritically a campaign of manipulation of facts which

not only lack of sound evidence – whether in nature, either as to its possible authorship – as witness the above situations are themselves created by imperialist forces. The PCP register the repeated statements of the Syrian government, which denies categorically any chemical weapons attack and attributed to so-called “rebels” to their use, or the statements of various international authorities on existence of evidence to attribute the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict, not to Syrian army but the so-called “rebels”.

The PCP recalls that the imperialist powers who now say they are shocked by the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria have a long history of use of chemical weapons, biological and even nuclear against civilians, including weapons whose terrible effects if felt on later generations (as the atomic bombs dropped on Japan, the

Agent Orange” which devastated Vietnam or weapons based on depleted uranium in destruction of Yugoslavia). It is an unacceptable hypocrisy that leaders of the U.S., France or England invoke this argument to unleash another war of aggression.

The PCP denounces and condemns the role of the most violent and reactionary regimes in the region – Saudi Arabia and Qatar – in the aggression against Syria, the promotion of more barbaric terrorist groups of Islamic fundamentalism and inciting sectarian conflict in many countries of the region, as well as the military crackdown on popular uprisings in fair countries such as Bahrain (headquarters of the U.S. Naval Fleet V) and Yemen.

The PCP recalls the consequences of previous imperial wars, many of them triggered by invoking pretexts “humanitarian”. Hundreds of thousands dead, millions

refugees, countries destroyed, fragmented and reduced to chaos, dominated by armed gangs often connected to sordid trafficking of arms, drugs and people, are the current reality of  Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya or Kosovo.

(…)

The PCP cannot but underline the prominent role that social democracy has played in the active promotion of the most violent assaults of imperialism, confirmed,

once again, the positions of the “socialist” governments by statements of French responsible of PS regarding Syria.

The real reasons of endless imperialist military aggression have nothing to do with the legitimate aspirations of peoples to freedom, sovereignty, social progress and

economic development of their countries but residing in intensions to recolonize the planet and more immediately this region and theires crucial energy reserves as well as ensuring – through the successive destruction of sovereign states with a history of imperialist resistance domination in the region

The PCP requires the Portuguese Government a posture that not only move away from the current climbing and blackmail warmongers, but that strives, as required by the Portugue Constitution, the peaceful resolution of conflicts, intransigent defense of the sovereignty of

people and for the principles enshrined in the UN Charter and international law.

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Soviet success in launching Sputnik in October 1957 had a dramatic impact on the United States, motivating an unprecedented commitment to place a satellite into Earth orbit as soon as possible. James Clay Moltz’s Asia’s Space Race shows how the same event prompted several nations in Asia to initiate space programs, igniting a race that has added more competitors as it continues into the twenty-first century. Moltz relies on direct and explicit prose to accomplish his purpose of providing “a comprehensive overview of the emergence of Asia’s space programs, their current national trajectories, and their international interactions–both cooperative and competitive,” as well as exposing “the role space activity plays in the specific national politics, cultures, and histories of Asia’s major participants” (pp. 6-7). Editors David C. Kang and Victor D. Cha deserve credit for including this pioneering account in their Contemporary Asia in the World series, which attempts “to address a gap in the public-policy and scholarly discussion of Asia” (p. ii). Moltz describes a neglected rivalry in Asia to exploit space for national advantages in technology, prestige, and security. He warns, however, that increasing spending on military space capabilities risks a catastrophe because “there is resistance to the idea of country-to-country or regionwide negotiations on confidence-building measures” (p. 190).

In his introduction, Moltz contrasts Asia’s treatment of space as a kind of new “Wild West” with the approach in Europe, where eighteen nations jointly finance the European Space Agency. “Asia’s space powers are,” he writes, “largely isolated from one another, do not share information, and display a tremendous divergence of perspectives regarding their space goals and a tendency to focus on national solutions to space challenges and policies of self-reliance rather than on … multilateral approaches” (p. 2). Highlighting another difference, Moltz characterizes the Cold War space race as a “one-hundred-yard dash to the Moon,” while describing Asia’s version as “a long-duration cross-country race” with varied goals motivating more competitors (p. 3). His definition of Asia starts in Japan and moves west to Pakistan, then extends south from the border of the former Soviet Union to Australia. Moltz fulfills his promise at the outset to follow “a bottom-up approach in seeking to understand the role space activity plays in the … national politics, cultures, and histories of Asia’s major participants, including their plans for economic development and their self-perceived regional and security identities” (p. 7).

Chapter 1 identifies and discusses the motivations and trends in Asia’s development of space. During the first space race, Moltz observes, the United States and the Soviet Union practiced strategic restraint and maintained “a culture of ‘managing’ space activities” through the acceptance of bilateral norms, treaties, and regularized contacts on space security matters (p. 15). A second space age began in October 2003 when the People’s Republic of China (PRC) demonstrated significant human space flight capabilities. Thereafter, the competition would be different because multiple “great powers” with “widely disparate perspectives” made reaching consensus difficult (p. 13). Also, a history of regional competition and inexperience with arms control further lowered prospects for cooperation. However, Moltz stresses that cooperative pressures, especially increasing financial interdependence and international trade, have produced mutual dependencies. In addition, more widely spread scientific knowledge has increased cooperation in resolving such problems as the elimination of space debris. Finally, “the dramatic increase of the value of space activity to the societies, economies, and militaries of the world in recent decades suggests that self-interest alone should promote future restraint” (p. 14). Optimistic about the positive impact of Asia’s future space efforts, Moltz references Thorstein Veblen’s logic in stressing “the ability of latecomers to start at a higher level of technological development, without the ‘baggage’ of the old system of cultural organization” (p. 23).

Moltz describes the origins, development, and current status of Japan’s space program in the first of four chapters examining the major contestants in Asia’s space race. The United States “provided it early on with privileged access to space services and technology,” but the antiwar provision of its constitution limited benefits until recently to the commercial side (p. 43). Autonomy and international cooperation have guided Japan’s actions as Asia’s most proficient space developer. The launch of its Kappa 6 rocket came in response to Sputnik, leading to the creation in 1969 of the National Space Development Agency (NASDA). Japan became the fourth nation to send a satellite into orbit the next year. By 1975, annual funding reached $250 million after “the government made a strategic decision to push forward toward making Japan a significant space power” (p. 50). In the 1980s, Japan built the infrastructure for construction and launch of communications and meteorological satellites, as well as participating in the U.S. space shuttle program and sending a journalist to the Soviet Mir space station. But after Japan became the third nation to land an object on the Moon, the East Asian financial crisis halted robust funding for rocket testing that resumed in 2003, but suffered several launch failures. Program reorganization created the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), but flat budgets thereafter limited its operations. In May 2008, the Diet approved military development in reaction to China’s activism in space and North Korea’s missile program. A new “highly fluid situation” confounded a Japanese space program already in transition (p. 57).

In the past thirty years, China’s space program, Moltz explains, has relied on “hard work, reliable state support, and the advantage provided by available foreign technology and know-how” to leap “from a backwater to a leadership position within Asia” (p. 71). But it also has experienced “major discontinuities and changes in direction” because progress has depended on politics, rather than technology and funding (p. 70). Scientists fled to Taiwan during China’s civil war, but a few whom the PRC persuaded to return became “critical to the space program” (p. 74). More important was Soviet investment, technology transfer, construction of facilities, and training. Ironically, the United States added a key component when in 1955 it deported Dr. Qian Xuesen, who had worked for the U.S. military and with German scientists in postwar relocation of V-2 rockets. Tasked with launching a satellite as part of the Great Leap Forward, the disappointing results, combined with Beijing’s split with Moscow, put China’s space program on hold. Development in the 1960s was quixotic, but PRC state council premier Zhou Enlai’s stewardship overcame uncertain funding and political purges, resulting in China’s first satellite launch in 1970. In 1978, Deng Xiaoping initiated a “new push to develop space technology … rooted in a national plan for scientific and technological development,” with the priorities of developing satellites for remote sensing, ground stations, space science research, skylabs, and advanced launch vehicles (p. 84).

In 1984, the PRC established the Ministry of the Space Industry to supervise a program for both military and civilian use of space, setting as a goal putting a human in low Earth orbit. Financial gain motivated both the Soviet and then the Russian governments to provide equipment and technological knowledge critical in China’s skipping of a generational stage in space development. The PRC also established contacts with the U.S. National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) and commercial firms to provide boosters to launch satellites. But Congress objected to the sharing of space technology, promptly ending the collaboration when it passed a law in 1999 naming it a prohibited export. China’s strenuous opposition to the George W. Bush administration abrogating the Outer Space Treaty intensified the Sino-American rift. Nevertheless, the first ten years of the twenty-first century, Moltz explains, “represented a ‘coming out’ party for China’s space program” (p. 93). Developing more advanced satellites and launch vehicles, the PRC offered space services for profit and to boost its influence in the Third World. Outflanking U.S. sanctions, it negotiated profitable contracts for collaborative ventures in Europe. In Asia, Beijing led the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization. By 2011, the PRC had staged 135 space launches, including a televised spacewalk during a three-man mission and a probe orbiting the Moon. But the dominance of military leaders in determining China’s space program worried observers.

“India’s place in the world of major space powers is unique,” Moltz argues, because of its “remarkably peaceful orientation” (p. 110). Rocket testing initiated its program in the late 1700s, but impeding developments thereafter have been inconsistent funding, technological limits, domestic politics, and regional strategic factors. Sputnik inspired India to pursue an independent space capability excluding weapons and intercontinental missiles, which reflected its neutral stance in the Cold War. Ironically, it exploited this middle road to acquire technology and know-how both from the Soviets and the Americans, although Washington withheld equipment to develop a space delivery system because India had tested a nuclear device in 1974. After launching its first satellite in 1981, India relied exclusively on U.S. firms for development and on NASA for its communications network. Rising U.S. support for Pakistan caused India to begin space technology transfer from civilian to military uses, securing hardware and expertise from the Soviet Union. Successful rocket tests in the 1990s gave India a launch capability it exploited commercially in placing German and South Korean satellites into space. After Pakistan’s nuclear test in 1998, India greatly expanded its space collaboration with Europe, the United States, and Japan. By 2000, the space program’s budgetary growth rate was the highest in the world, although the military “had virtually no role” in its operation (p. 127). In 2009, India withheld information about its first lunar mission after a crash landing exposed weaknesses in space technology.

In 1991, the Republic of Korea (ROK) became the new and dynamic competitor in Asia’s space race. Economic recovery from the Korean War delayed its first step toward space until 1972, when it initiated a missile development program as a security measure against North Korea after a partial withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Korea. Redefinition shifted the focus in 1983 to developing space launch capabilities, which received significant funding four years later. Moltz attributes South Korea’s swift progress thereafter to popular determination, government support, exceptional organizational capabilities, national pride, and the “desire to be recognized as an independent, modern, and technologically advanced society” (p. 138). Having accepted a U.S. ban on developing long-range missiles, the ROK initially worked with U.S. firms to develop and launch communications satellites, but North Korea’s failed satellite test in 1998 was “a wake-up call” (p. 144). After paying foreigners for access to space, Moltz reports, Seoul now “sought to develop independent capabilities as a satellite producer, space services provider, and space-launching country” (p. 136). It proceeded cautiously to avoid inciting North Korea, alienating its U.S. protector, or alarming its Chinese rival. After paying Russia for space expertise and to train astronauts, South Korea launched satellites in 2009 and 2010; both failed. Nevertheless, Moltz judges South Korea’s space record “the most politically ‘balanced’ among the developed programs” because it focused on maintaining “ties with a range of countries both to push its technology forward and to prevent its possible isolation” (p. 136).

Chapter 6 discusses alphabetically ten “emerging” Asian space powers. “All operate ground stations to receive foreign satellite data,” the author reports, “some have operated foreign satellites, several have built and operated their own spacecraft, and a few have constructed rockets and attempted space launches of their own” (p. 159). Australia long has had the benefit of access to U.S. space data, but its program is “a loose amalgam of academic-, private-, and government-funded space-related activities, some of which were quite sophisticated, but together lacked a sense of integration or national vision” (p. 162). Indonesia has sought benefits in space with U.S. firms providing communications and Earth observation to monitor “its vast maritime domain” (p. 166). Moltz labels Malaysia the “mouse that roared” (p. 168) because it has maintained an unusually active space program since it established a center for remote sensing in 1988 (p. 168). Maximizing limited resources through international cooperation, in 2002 a Malaysian notably made a ten-day flight to the International Space Station. “North Korea appears to possess no clearly thought-out plan for the development of a space industry, much less for coherent scientific, economic, or military uses of space” (p. 170). Its satellite launch failures indicate that it “has no sophisticated or devoted satellite program or serious plans to develop such an industry” (p. 172). Pakistan “has the [next] weakest space capabilities” because of its lack of “adequate funding, sustained governmental attention, a strong cadre of appropriately trained scientists and engineers, and technology” (p. 173).

Since Spain built a national meteorological observatory in 1894, the Philippines has had interest in space, but “activities have been slow to develop, due to a lack of resources, trained personnel, and adequate high-level political interest” (p. 177). Singapore recently made space activity a priority, contracting in 2009 with India and France to launch a satellite to monitor soil erosion. But Moltz doubts that it will “develop its own launch capability or a full array of space science programs, focusing instead on Earth applications, communications, and, likely, military support activities” (p. 179). Taiwan has worked with the United States and Europe on communications satellites and collaborated closely with Israel on space projects. Only recently has it expanded rocket research. According to Moltz, it “has developed core space capabilities to enable it to assist its military, advance its scientific role internationally, and create a solid basis for future commercial activities in space” (p. 182). Thailand hosted the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF) in 2010, when it was planning to expand its satellite program. It was already “an experienced user of space data and operator of foreign-build satellites, as well as a provider of space service to other countries” (p. 182). Since the 1990s, Moltz explains, Vietnam has had extensive contact with Western capitalist nations to acquire the technology and expertise necessary for creation of “a significant space program” (p. 185). Lockheed built for it a communications satellite that a French booster put into space in 2008.

Moltz has conducted extensive research in published government documents, newspapers, and secondary books and articles. Because his topic deals with recent history, citations of primary sources are few. Less excusable, there are numerous highly speculative conclusions that have no documentation whatsoever. For example, Moltz writes that “President [Barack] Obama’s own experiences as a child in Indonesia and his visit in November 2010 are likely to increase prospects for future joint” ventures in space (p. 167). If China lands a human on the moon before the United States does so again, he argues, quoting former NASA director Michael Griffin, this will have “‘an enormous, and not fully predictable, effect on global perceptions of U.S. leadership in the world’” (p. 5). The Six Party Talks starting in 2004 to end North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, Moltz erroneously claims in quoting another scholar, is an example of northeast Asian countries dealing “‘with new security challenges by collectively pursuing security cooperation as club goods’” (p. 37). The author also observes that it is “too often posited that authoritarian countries like China always have a clear and insidious ‘plan’” (p. 19), explaining that Cold War logic has caused U.S. leaders to substitute Beijing for Moscow. Initially, Moltz urges prudence in U.S. efforts to manage space competition. Contradicting himself, he quotes approvingly another scholar’s advice that “‘Washington should continue to discourage, or in some cases prevent, Beijing’s acquisition of military capabilities … that directly challenge U.S. military superiority’” (p. 36).

Another weakness is the frequent appearance of unremarkable, if not innocuous statements. For example, Moltz makes the obvious point that understanding the “negative global implications” of Asia’s space race requires examining “more carefully the domestic motivations of [the] new space actors, the nature of their regional interactions, and the challenges and opportunities they pose for twenty-first-century space security” (p. 6). Similarly, he concludes that “economic factors and the drive toward both modernization and integration into the world economy have clearly played significant parts in changes throughout Asia” (p. 191). Just as self-evident is his observation that “Japan has the know-how, resources, and commitment to remain a formidable competitor in Asia’s continuing space race” (p. 69). “Thus,” he timidly asserts, “questions remain about China’s commitment to a full-scale space arms race, and it is likely that both domestic economic factors as well as international circumstances will influence [its] future direction” (p. 106). “The key question” for India, Moltz cautiously contends, is “whether [its] geostrategic needs foster the development of offensive military space technology or merely military support functions from space” (p. 131). As for South Korea, his hesitant prediction maintains that “those elements of [its] current space strategy aimed at integration, cooperation, and efforts to prevent the emergence of aggressive foreign military activities seem most likely to serve [the ROK’s] interests as a newly capable ‘middle’ space power within Asia” (p. 157).

These criticisms aside, Moltz deserves praise for producing a study that addresses timely and important issues. His thoughtful examination exposes how economic and political competition among Asian nations has released new “forces that have made space a very different and more complicated environment than it was during the cold war” (p. 189). Now, space activities are critical ingredients in state plans for nation-building and economic development. His comprehensive description of this new pattern demonstrates conclusively that there now is no “set definition of what constitutes a ‘space program’” (p. 158). Another interesting result has been antagonism between old and new competitors. Moltz describes how “Indian representatives” in 2007 at the United Nations “argued that unfairly forcing India and other developing countries to abide by strict debris-mitigation guidelines now amounted to ‘cultural imperialism’” (p. 131). Regrettably, the author’s remark that “few are shying away from space” escapes critical analysis because he believes that these activities contribute importantly to “success in overcoming obstacles in land use, coastal management, disaster prevention, agricultural production, urban planning, and, from a broader perspective, national governance” (p. 188). An Indian space engineer at India’s first national symposium on rocketry in 1967, referring to the U.S. lunar program, asked the central question that Moltz quotes, but leaves unanswered: “‘Is this a valid enterprise? Could not this effort be applied for the teaming, starved, illiterate, ill housed, ill clad, ill cared [for] population of the world?’” (p. 114).

In his conclusion, Moltz warns that the potential for a bad outcome is real in Asia’s space race. The reason is that “space remains a bastion of nationalism” that sustains inertia and inaction (p. 193). Nationalism has produced a “missing middle” which Moltz defines as “the absence of substantive cooperation among the major four Asia space programs … (China, India, South Korea, and Japan)” (p. 33). But his assessment of future questions facing space activities in civil, commercial, and military affairs identifies factors that will promote cooperation. Environmental collaboration, reducing costs, and broader economic globalization provide reason for “guarded optimism” (p. 219). Japan also has acted through APRSAF to encourage regional cooperation, initiating “a series of training efforts for less-developed Asian nations, assistance programs (such as the provision of telescopes, satellite data, and ground stations), and eventually joint development projects” (p. 54). Moltz also praises Tokyo’s low-profile approach in Asia’s space race that seeks to minimize losses while avoiding unilateralism, confrontation, and pursuit of risky gains. By contrast, Asian nations fear that cooperation is not a major priority in China’s space program. Moltz emphasizes that “all capitals need to be cautious not to overreact and not to adopt an assumption that its own country is the bulls-eye for policy decisions by all others” (p. 20).

 

James Clay Moltz. Asia’s Space Race: National Motivations, Regional Rivalries, and International Risks. New York: Columbia University Press, 2011. xii + 274 pp. $35.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-231-15688-2; ISBN 978-0-231-52757-6.

The so-called education reform movement decided long ago that change could come only through confrontation. Teachers figured that out when the secretary of education, Arne Duncan, called Hurricane Katrina “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans”; seven years later the teachers union is washed away and the public schools are mostly charter-ized. They figured that out when the White House celebrated the firing of the entire teaching staff in Central Falls, R.I., because of students’ low test scores. And it became clearer to them when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York published teachers’ names alongside standardized test results of their students.

Now, finally, a unionized group of teachers has decided to meet this confrontation head-on.

If evaluating teachers based on standardized test scores is a bad idea for teaching and learning, then the Chicago Teachers Union strike is good for teachers and students. If small class sizes are good for teaching and learning, then the strike is good for teachers and students. For that matter, if air-conditioning is good for teaching and learning, then the strike is good for teachers and students.

Tying teacher pay, tenure and even employment status to standardized test scores corrupts the teacher-student relationship and inspires no one. This carrot-and-stick routine won’t retain great teachers, and may turn our best teachers into test prep tutors. Any experienced classroom teacher will tell you that punishments and rewards at best encourage obedience, but will not promote creativity, intelligence or initiative.

I taught in three different public schools in New York City. Where I was able to be my best depended as much on the class sizes, the conditions, the financing, the materials available to me, the support staff for teachers, the support for students and the climate created by administration, as it did on my own efforts and abilities.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “reforms” in Chicago will not improve any of those very important factors, and are deleterious to all of them. By confronting the mayor and standing up for things teachers and students desperately need to actually improve our schools, the union is likely to do more to retain the best teachers, and to help more teachers to do their best, than any merit pay scheme ever could.

The fact that the peace process has been long dead is well known and widely recognised. The Palestinian-Israeli dispute has always been about land. “One land for two peoples” is the only possible answer to the problem. For decades, the Israelis refused to acknowledge the existence of the Palestinian people. Theodore Herzl, the spiritual father of Zionism, sent two Austrian rabbis to the holy land in 1897 to explore it. They reported that “the bride is beautiful but she is married to another man”, meaning that there were people living there. Nevertheless, when the Jewish migration started in earnest in the 1920s, the official Jewish line was that Palestine was a land without people for a people without land. The present situation is that there is, in fact, very little land left for one of the two peoples and that too would disappear before long.

When the current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in the American Congress a few years ago that he was ready to accept the principle of a two-state solution, he was applauded in the western world as a great statesman who had made a huge concession for the cause of peace. He has his hand on the pulse of the American people and knows what to say when and where. He says he is ready to talk to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas any time anywhere without preconditions. This sounds very reasonable. However, his conduct ceaselessly imposes conditions which make it impossible for the Palestinians to agree to resume talks. The pace of settlement construction in the occupied West Bank has increased to the extent that it has already become impossible for a viable, secure and geographically contiguous Palestinian state to emerge. The Palestinians argue, reasonably, that they will not talk so long as Israel continues to create facts on the ground in the form of settlements. With great fanfare, Mr. Netanyahu decided to respect the decision of the court to dismantle an illegal outpost with about 30 families in the West Bank but compensated it by ordering the construction of 800 more settlement units.

Sara Roy, an eminent and widely respected scholar of the Palestinian issue with Harvard University, in a recent article in the Journal of Palestinian Studies, has written about the paradigm shifts in international discourse on this subject. For one, the world seems to have reconciled itself to the territorial and demographic fragmentation of Palestine. Secondly, no one talks any more about occupation, the root cause of the problem, declared to be illegal by the United Nations. She points out that settlements control 42 per cent of the West Bank. There are now more than 500,000 settlers in West Bank and east Jerusalem as compared to a little over 200,000 in 1967. This unilateralism of Israel continues unabated, making the two-state solution less and less feasible. The third paradigm shift is the ‘humanitarianisation’ of the problem. By laying stress on the inhuman living conditions of the Palestinian population, especially in the Gaza strip, the problem is reduced only to humanitarian considerations, conveniently ignoring the root cause which is occupation. The Palestinians are being ‘engineered into perpetual beggars’.

Enhanced status

Realising the hugely unequal power relations, and concluding that the Israeli lobby will prevent Democrats as well as Republicans from exercising real pressure on Israel, President Abbas devised a new strategy to inject external pressure, not to undercut negotiations but to enter negotiations from a more balanced position. He applied for an enhanced status for Palestine in the United Nations. His move succeeded in UNESCO but not in New York.

When the phenomenon referred to as Arab Spring broke out at the beginning of 2011, this writer, among others, had expected that the new regimes emerging in the Arab world would be more and more vocally supportive of the Palestinians. This has not happened. On the other hand, every successive ‘revolution’ in Arab countries has greatly strengthened Mr. Netanyahu’s position internally as well as internationally, and weakened domestic Israeli support for any kind of talks or negotiations with the Arabs.

Reacting to the Arab Spring, Mr. Netanyahu said last November that it was Islamic, anti-liberal, anti-secular and anti-democratic. He said history would judge the present leadership very negatively if it engaged in any kind of negotiations. As it happens, in all the countries affected by the new phenomenon — Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen — the Islamists have won the elections. The most consequential of them, the Brotherhood in Egypt, has had the elimination of Israel as a part of its ideology. True, Mohamed Morsi has made statesman-like pronouncements about the peace treaty with Israel; his Defence Minister called up his Israeli counterpart and assured him of Egypt’s continuing commitment to the treaty. The fact that Egypt needs American and western aid and tourists to repair its economy is probably not reassuring enough for Israel, given that the new President of Egypt is a former leader of Muslim Brotherhood. The attack by jihadists in August on an Egyptian military post near the border with Gaza, which caused the death of 16 Egyptian soldiers and who had managed to infiltrate into Israeli territory, even if only for a short while, has convinced the Israeli public that the time is not at all propitious for holding any talks. The events in Syria have further added support to Mr. Netanyahu’s anti-talks stance.

Yossi Beilin, an Israeli left-wing politician, a former minister and someone for whom this writer has high regard for his intellectual integrity, has suggested that the Palestinian Authority should be dissolved. His argument is that the PA has control only over ‘A’ area of the West Bank and even there, Israel has overriding security control. The PA’s writ does not run in the rest of the West Bank. It is widely accepted that according to Mr. Netanyahu, as and when the time comes — and that time is far into the future — the state of Palestine will have no more than 40 per cent of the West Bank. Mr. Beilin believes that it would be better for the Palestinians to make Israel legally responsible to pay salaries of the thousands of PA employees, etc. With the dissolution of PA, foreign funding will cease. The point, however, is that even a person like Mr. Beilin, who advocates the most generous terms of settlement of the problem, seems to have given up on the possibility of a two-state solution.

The Egyptian-brokered reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah has not amounted to anything in practice. However, Israel has categorically stated that there is no question of holding any talks with a government of which Hamas would form a part. The United States has also threatened to cut all aid if Hamas comes into the government. Mr. Abbas has hardly any room for flexibility.

The Quartet, comprising America, Russia, the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the European Union, the self-appointed pilots of the peace process, has given up the pretence of attempting to restart the negotiations and to work towards the two-state solution.

President Abbas comes to India at a time when there is very little hope for his people to realise their dream and the inalienable right to have a distinct, sovereign, viable and contiguous international identity of their own. Mr. Abbas’s visit is principally to obtain India’s political support which, of course, he will receive in full measure. India will also renew its offer of economic and technical support for capacity building, etc. We have built the parliament building for the future Palestinian state. As an additional measure, India could indicate a willingness to ban the import of items produced in the settlements; this would be in keeping with international law.

CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard is on record saying both that CTU leadership is deciding whether or not to strike, and that “everyone knows that a strike would only hurt our kids.”

I just wanted to educate my boss a little on the history of Chicago, as he is relatively new to the area. Chicago is founded on the hard daily struggle of working people. It is the birth of the labor movement—not a movement just for wages and benefits, but a movement that stopped child labor so that each of the kids in CPS schools could attend school instead of working. It was a movement that stopped the practice of working conditions so unsafe that consumers were eating the actual workers who fell into the mix while they were making hot dogs. It was a movement that fought so that workers could have some tiny measure of time with our families rather than spending all waking hours working for the enrichment of their bosses.

But even more importantly, I wanted to educate Mr. Brizard about what it means to “help or hurt our kids”.
When you make me cram 30-50 kids in my classroom with no air conditioning so that temperatures hit 96 degrees, that hurts our kids.

When you lock down our schools with metal detectors and arrest brothers for play fighting in the halls, that hurts our kids.

When you take 18-25 days out of the school year for high stakes testing that is not even scientifically applicable for many of our students, that hurts our kids.

When you spend millions on your pet programs, but there’s no money for school level repairs, so the roof leaks on my students at their desks when it rains, that hurts our kids.

When you unilaterally institute a longer school day, insult us by calling it a “full school day” and then provide no implementation support, throwing our schools into chaos, that hurts our kids.

When you support Mayor Emanuel’s TIF program in diverting hundreds of millions of dollars of school funds into to the pockets of wealthy developers like billionaire member of your school board, Penny Pritzker so she can build more hotels, that not only hurts kids, but somebody should be going to jail.

When you close and turnaround schools disrupting thousands of kids’ lives and educations and often plunging them into violence and have no data to support your practice, that hurts our kids.

When you leave thousands of kids in classrooms with no teacher for weeks and months on end due to central office bureaucracy trumping basic needs of students, that not only hurts our kids, it basically ruins the whole idea of why we have a district at all.

When you, rather than bargain on any of this stuff set up fake school centers staffed by positively motived Central Office staff, many of whom are terribly pissed to be pressed into veritable scabitude when they know you are wrong, and you equip them with a manual that tells them things like, “communicate with words”, that not only hurts our kids, but it suggests you have no idea how to run a system with their welfare in mind.

When you do enough of this, it makes me wonder if you really see our students as “our kids” or “other people’s children”.
And at that moment, I am willing to sacrifice an awful lot to protect the students I serve every day. I am not hurting our kids by striking, I’m striking to restore some semblance of reasonable care for students to this system. I’m doing to tell you, “No, YOU are the one hurting our children, and you need to STOP because what you are doing is wrong, and you are robbing students of their educational opportunities.

I ask anyone who does remotely care about the kids we teach and learn from and triumph and cheer and cry and grow with., to stand with us and fight for a better future for our kids.

See you on the picket line, my friend.

The mass homicide in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater this July had a predictable arc in the media voicebox. Fervently ricocheting, on TV and online, opinionators tried to one-up each other about What’s Really Wrong with, well, just about everything.

That the arguments settled on the matter of assault munitions being as easily purchasable as tennis balls is both inevitable and proper.

But other cultural factors are entangled with James Holmes’ pathologies, including, obviously, movies. The discussion about the shooting’s relationship with violent films and The Dark Knight Rises appeared immediately and was quickly vanquished. Critics, editors and columnists barked en masse—don’t blame the movie!—as if their very industries depended upon it. Which they do, to some degree. And, yes, the vast majority of ticket-buyers for The Dark Knight Rises did not, in fact, hurt anyone.

But so? Amid the dread of having a cause-and-effect line drawn between viewership and berserk action, one reality has been overlooked: Our mass entertainment culture has changed, and we have changed with it. In her new book In Broad Daylight: Movies and Spectators After the Cinema (Verso), Gabriele Pedullà, an Italian professor of literature, builds a cogent and alarming argument about how much change we’re talking about. Pedullà’s concern is with how we watch cinema, and the ways cinema was and is produced to accommodate that process.

In Portuguese, and a translation (a google one, sorry) of this important article on Syria war and Syria resistance

For whatsoever greater the wickedness of the media campaign, this cannot overshadow the truth of the ongoing war in Syria. A war instigated, architected, financed and conducted from abroad, exacerbating the expression of the class struggle internationally.

Without the criminal action of U.S.,powers aligned with NATO (which pontificates in the colonial revival trio Erdogan, Hollande and Cameron fighting for a greater role and higher profit), Israel and the Gulf petrodollar dictatorships, the current terrorist war in Syria would not be possible.

This is the crucial element that overrides the other. So it isn’t odd the cloak of silence of the media about the character, driving forces and regional and international context of this war. We would not assist the bloody escalation, or the framework of “civil war” in Syria without the fresh trail of imperialist wars in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. In Afghanistan the war drags on. More than 2000 soldiers from the United States lost their life only there. But after the inevitable withdrawal of the bulk of NATO military presence, announced in 2014, the U.S. intends to continue using flammable focus of Afghan instability as blackmail directed to the borders of neighbouring states, including the autonomous province of Xinjiang from China.


As we know Beijing is a major concern already assumed by the US. The sinister retroactive gear of Al-Qaeda terrorism  (a culture of greenhouses CIA in the 80s), the barbaric attacks with unmanned devices operated daily in the territory of Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, etc.  constitute an organic soup of not only military’s own projection of U.S. imperialism, as the forces that destroy Libya yesterday and today is dumped into the reckoning caught in Syria.

All in the name of freedom and democracy. Here we see the modus operandi of promoting religious extremism and network of swarming sects of radical Islam, the fostering of fratricide ethnic-confessional divisions, as already seen in the recent occupation of Iraq.

This is the scenario of fragmentation and destabilization sponsored envisaged in Washington for the region called the Greater Middle East, where important interests intersect to control the world economy and its geopolitical. A vision that is nonetheless symptomatic of imperialist megalomania in the limbo of the world capitalist crisis.

The war “without quarter” against Damascus, the obsession with overthrowing the ‘regime’ of Bashar al-Assad does not forget for a minute the legacy of decades of post-colonial Syria, Arab resistance bastion of anti-imperialist solidarity with the Palestine cause, despite the vicissitudes of a nonlinear route.

Trampling and bury the flag of patriotism and dignity of Arabs, violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, is a vital task for the attackers. The sovereignty of Iran emerges as an ‘obstacle’ background (and one should remember the CIA coup that overthrew Mossadegh in 1952). But the ramp propagation of “conflict” Syrian goes further, pointing also to the multinational Russia (see the recent terrorist attacks in the Caucasus and Tatarstan).

Notwithstanding, the incendiary mission led by the U.S. has no hands free. The Syrian patriotic resistance is an example of courage and dignity deserving of wider solidarity; and the summit of the Non-Aligned freshly held in Tehran, despite the contradictory elements it contained, is an important sign of hope for the people.

Low performance begins with American racism. Our society, Delpit writes, has a “deeply ingrained bias of equating blackness with inferiority,” and it “seems always ready to identify African Americans with almost all negative behaviors.” At tender ages, black students undergo a series of “microaggressions…small psychic insults” that debilitate them. Black males perform poorly because “our young men have internalized all of the negative stereotypes.” Sometimes black students are invisible, unnoticed, and disrespected, and sometimes they are “hypervisible,” their normal youth behaviors magnified into pathologies. They end up estranged from school culture (“disidentification”), mistrusting their own capacities and fulfilling belittling expectations.

Teachers misinterpret them again and again, Delpit alleges, mainly by disregarding the culture black students inhabit. This is the second cause of low achievement. The classroom is a white, middle-class space often hostile to African American norms. It downplays collaboration, she notes, even though these students need it to “feel more secure and less vulnerable.” It ignores past contributions to learning and science by African Americans. It neglects spirituality, whereas “traditional African education” incorporates “education for the spirit” into everyday lessons.

Delpit assembles classroom anecdotes, including her daughter’s experiences, with research on “stereotype threat” to prove the point. Voices of black students bespeak the demoralizing results, as with the middle schooler who announces, “Black people don’t multiply; black people just add and subtract. White people multiply.” On the other hand, Delpit provides counterexamples of success, for instance, Afrocentric assignments, inspiring teachers who love and sympathize but maintain rigor, and a beloved white teacher whom the students consider “black” for this reason: when asked “how he felt as a white man teaching black history…tears came to his eyes as he answered that when he learned about Emmett Till and other terrible things white people had done to black people, it sometimes made him ashamed to be white.”

Of course, tales and profiles and selective research don’t amount to proof, nor do they serve as grounds for policy revision. Delpit identifies a significant problem—the clash of school culture with African American out-of-school culture—but her racial lens casts it simply as one of respect and morale, not of effective education. She believes that the former produces the latter, for “African American students are gifted and brilliant,” and they would prosper if schools and teachers became sensitive to their culture.

But this translation of teacher sensitivity into student achievement is precisely what remains to be demonstrated. Delpit praises Afrocentric curricula, but her support focuses entirely on inputs and premises, not on outcomes. A unit that instills math by taking racial profiling as the subject wins her admiration, but her only evidence for its effectiveness comes from a student who professes, “now I realize that you could use math to defend your rights and realize the injustices around you.” But what about the math scores those students attain in 12th grade? What grades do they get in first-year college calculus? Delpit claims that schools impart the message that “you must give up identifiably African American norms in order to succeed,” but she never shows that embracing those norms produces higher college enrollment or workplace readiness.

If that evidence doesn’t exist, then Delpit’s argument isn’t with schools. It’s with U.S. history, society, culture, economics. Many pages in “Multiplication Is for White People” suggest that this is, indeed, the case, such as the indignant section on racist actions after Hurricane Katrina. If society at large is racist, though, then schools should receive more credit than Delpit allows. She asserts that “Typical university curricula leave out contributions of people of color to American culture, except in special courses in African American studies,” a flatly false claim. Syllabi in U.S. history, literature, music, and other areas at nearly every campus amply represent African American creators. Her complaint really is that schools haven’t sufficiently countered popular attitudes.

Delpit’s prescription that schools show more respect for African American culture, then, may have the effect of cultivating an adversarial posture among students. If American society is anti–African American, then a “culturally relevant curriculum” necessarily conflicts with it. If high schools offer an Afrocentric curriculum, will students find university offerings uncongenial and drift toward African American studies and away from STEM fields, where job prospects are brighter? Will a high school teacher ashamed of his whiteness alienate students from white college teachers and employers not so ashamed? Delpit notes that yelling is often assumed in African American culture to be a sign of caring, but won’t failing to inform students of the inappropriateness of yelling in public and in workplaces set them up for future tensions?

These are open questions, and this book doesn’t begin to consider them. We might easily dismiss it as an expression of resentment—the shadow of Jim Crow looms on every page—but we do better to take the starting point seriously: we have a culture clash in the classroom. Rather than expounding the pains and injustices and prescribing a “sensitivity” reform, however, let’s examine various schools and curricula on the standard accountability measure. Do they produce graduates who proceed to college and workplace and thrive?

a text to be read

Texas currently ranks fourth in the US in number of multi-millionaire residents, yet 24 per cent of Texan children live in poverty. In Dallas, home to some of the state’s most affluent families, it is estimated that 80 per cent of children in the Dallas Independent School District live in poverty.

We aren’t creating opportunities for these children when economic policy in the state creates jobs that are low-wage, part-time and devoid of benefits. These children will grow up reliant on government programmes because they don’t make enough money to meet their basic needs. The jobs that provide that are already disappearing.

Imagine what the Texas job market will look like when these children are adults. If we keep following Perry’s economic model and investing in companies that really don’t need government support, Texas will have plenty of jobs. The only problem is that none of them will be any good.

I have spent the last 10 years working with low-wage workers in Texas, most of who labour in the construction industry. These blue-collar jobs used to be thought of as good jobs; they would allow you to earn a decent wage, plan for retirement and support your family.

“Workers in many Latin American countries are guaranteed paid sick and vacation days, and maternity leave… In Texas, rest breaks are considered a benefit, not a right.”
But today, nearly half of full-time construction workers in the state’s capital live below the poverty line. More construction workers are killed on the job in Texas than in any other state. In the Lone Star State, a construction worker is killed on the job every 2.5 days.

Deregulation, a major component of Governor Perry’s economic vision for the Lone Star State, has made life easy on business but hard on families. Texas is the only state in the country that doesn’t require employers to carry workers’ compensation coverage to help those who are injured on the job.

Leaving taxpayers stuck to pick up the tab for employers who don’t have insurance and aren’t willing to pay for expensive hospital bills, and of course neither are the workers that most frequently make $10/hr.

Perry’s policies direct investment away from small businesses, which are the true engines of economic growth. This year Apple, Inc received a $21m incentive package from the Texas Enterprise Fund to build a million square feet campus in Austin. Large businesses do create jobs.

This image of Earth (on the left) and the moon (on the right) was taken by NASA’s Juno spacecraft on Aug. 26, 2011, when the spacecraft was about 6 million miles (9.66 million kilometers) away. It was taken by the spacecraft’s onboard camera, JunoCam. The solar-powered Juno spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Aug. 5 to begin a five-year journey to Jupiter. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI