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Wednesday, 30 November 2016

A fair and balanced article from a very surprising source.

I came to Cuba a commie-hater ready to bury Castro, so why have I ended up praising him as a dictator whose people are in some ways freer than we are? Says Katie Hopkins

Students of Havana University pay tribute to the late leader with a march. They carried signs to thank him for what he done for the country 

The rantings of Katie Hopkins invariably leave me speechless or seething with rage, or even both.
I was therefore stunned and left speechless (but for quite different reasons) when I came across this story in my daily search through the on line newspapers for the stories of the day.
Since the death of Fidel Castro last Friday (25th November 2016), the media and television have be full with reports emphasising every negative aspect of Fidel Castro's life, the dictatorship and his record on civil liberties and human right. Not one of the media reports or the television programmes made any reference to the abuses, corruption and despotism of the Batista regime which Castro and the 26th of July Movement and its allies overthrew. No mention either of education for all children, the reduction of unemployment and corruption, the improvements in hygiene and sanitation. The media have also ignored the introduction of free health care, free education, building schools, hospitals and public utilities together with other reforms introduced by the Castro government which have elevated Cuba to first-world levels of literacy and life expectancy. All this against a background of crippling trade and economic sanctions and embargo's enforced by the United States for almost 50 years as some form of collective punishment for the removal of Batista and Cuba's refusal to toe the American line.
The culmination, for me at least, of this incessant anti Castro, anti Cuba propaganda, was an article in yesterdays (29th November 2016) Guardian by Zoe Williams under the heading of "Forget Fidel Castro’s policies. What matters is that he was a dictator". The blatantly biased and in many ways inaccurate piece of "journalism" moved me to post the following blog:
"We cannot detract from the policies and achievements".
It was therefore equally stunning, surprising and perhaps even refreshing, to read this Mail on line article from a journalist who I have frequently criticised. Katie Hopkins has managed to achieve balance and perhaps more importantly has given a voice to the people of Cuba, who are genuinely and generally, as many of us have always known, appreciative and supportive of the man who overthrew a tyranny to bring improvements and reforms to the people of Cuba, notwithstanding his record on civil liberties and human rights.
Young children were among those who waited through the night in central Havana to pay their respects. Above, a girl in the town of Guanabacoa, on the city's outskirts, leaves a kiss for him at another shrine
Young children were among those who waited through the night in central Havana to pay their respects
The following extract taken from the Hopkins story, says much of the feelings of sadness and mourning amongst the Cuban people for the loss of a man who the vast majority of Cubans considered as a great national hero
"I found the Cuban people to be strong, and fiercely proud of their way of life.
Queuing in their thousands at the Revolution Square, I stood with them through the night as they waited in line. Queuing without complaint. Young and very old. Tiny babies in their Sunday best. Politely joining the back of the line, without hint of wanting to put themselves before others.
Many appeared to shed genuine tears.
'I'm devastated because it's as if my own father had died, he was like my second father. Everything we have, my education as a doctor, it's thanks to him,' said Maria del Carmen, 57, who had been standing in line since before dawn. 'I am very sad. I came to pay homage to our father, friend, commander,' Meireles said. 'He was a man who freed us and sent doctors and teachers everywhere around the world.'

Katie Hopkins poses in front of a shrine to  Che Guevara and Fidel Castro in Havana, where thousands are mourning the latter's death
Katie Hopkins poses in front of a shrine to Che Guevara and Fidel Castro in Havana


Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Syrian government forces make gains in Aleppo

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/28/pro-assad-forces-seize-third-of-east-aleppo-in-rapid-advance-syria



Pro-Assad forces seize third of east Aleppo in rapid advance






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The battle for Aleppo, which has been raging since July 2012, as just one theatre of the Syrian Civil War, seems now to be drawing to a conclusion as Syrian government forces retake vital areas of the East and North East of the city making rapid advances into rebel held areas. Forces loyal to Bashar Al-Assad now control large areas of Syria's second city, having seized much of rebel held East Aleppo, meeting little resistance in their advance northwards.



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The Americans are of course furious. Furious because the rebels now taking huge reversals in Aleppo are the "good rebels" who have been supported and encouraged by America and Great Britain since the start of this civil war back in 2011. It has always been the American objective, supported by the United Kingdom governments of Cameron and now Theresa May, to remove Bashar Al-Assad and the government in Damascus and bring about regime change in Syria. The problem which "the west" has created for itself, is the plethora of "rebel" groups operating in the country, some created and supported by the west, with the objective of removing the Syrian government, some having the same ultimate objective but not supported by the west as they will not accept western influence in a post civil war Syria, most fighting against each other as well as the Syrian regime. Added to this potpourri of conflicting interest, is the continued presence of ISIS intent on creating an Islamic State in the whole of the middle east and is fighting all conflicting sides to achieve that objective.



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The Russians do not have any such difficulties in this complicated labyrinthine mess created and perpetuated by the western powers. They have one very clear, and very credible position. They support the Syrian government and will attack any and all rebels seeking to overthrow Bashar Al-Assad. The west remains intent on bringing about regime change in Syria and will no doubt over the coming months, redouble its efforts to create "no fly" zones over areas of Syria, increase logistic, financial and military support for the "good rebels", and to consolidate the ground it is rapidly losing to government forces.
In the meantime of course, it is the Syrian civilian population who bear the hardship of destruction of their towns and cities, the food shortages, the lack of medical supplies and medicines, the constant fear from the skies and the despair that comes from 6 years of civil war. The west can stop this conflict simply by ending their obsession with regime change (accepting the loss of face that this would involve) and work towards the defeat of all rebel factions including ISIS, opposed to the Syrian government.

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Without such a change of objective in Washington, the end of this tragic civil war seems to be a very distant prospect.






Monday, 28 November 2016

We cannot detract from the policies and achievements.


Forget Fidel Castro’s policies. What matters is that he was a dictator








Zoe Williams says, "Forget Fidel Castro’s policies. What matters is that he was a dictator". In one sense of course, she is right as Fidel Castro was a dictator, albeit that the description could be interpreted in a number of ways. However, to say "forget Fidel Castro's policies", ignores and trivialises the predominant truth of the Cuban revolution and its subsequent social structure.
On the 1st January 1959, the 26th of July Movement and its allies, finally overthrew the corrupt and despotic President Fulgencio Batista and his authoritarian government, after some 6 years of sporadic fighting.


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Fulgencio Batista, Cuban president and crime syndicate chief?

The Batista government had political, financial and military support from the United States after seizing power in a military coup just prior to the 1952 Presidential elections. He quickly established a corrupt and repressive government, profiting from the exploitation of Cuba's commercial interests and establishing very close relationships with American business interests and organised crime in the form of the American Mafia who controlled the drug, gambling, and prostitution businesses, flourishing in Havana and dominating the Cuban economy


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The Batista government was in fact held in office by the military but perhaps more importantly by organised crime. The "Bureau for the Repression of Communist Activities", a state run terrorist organisation employing a number of Mafia operatives, carried out wide scale violence, torture and public executions against the people of Cuba, ultimately killing hundreds of thousands of people, men women and even children.


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The majority of ordinary Cuban people at that time, lived in abject poverty with very low life expectancy, no health care, little education and an illiterate population. In many ways, the Cuban people were in a worse situation than most other "third world" countries.
Following the 1952 coup, Fidel Castro, at that time a young lawyer, petitioned for the overthrow of Batista, whom he accused of corruption and tyranny. However, Castro's constitutional arguments were rejected by the Cuban courts. After deciding that the Batista regime could not be replaced through legal means, Castro resolved to launch an armed revolution.
Following the overthrow of the Batista regime, the Castro government introduced a wide range of social reforms, introducing equality for black Cubans and greater rights for women and implementing improvements to communications, medical facilities, health, housing, and education.
By the end of the 1960's, all Cuban children were receiving education, unemployment and corruption were reduced, and great improvements were made in hygiene and sanitation.
Free health care, free education, building schools, hospitals and public utilities together with other reforms introduced by the Castro government have elevated Cuba to first-world levels of literacy and life expectancy. All this against a background of crippling trade and economic sanctions and embargo's enforced by the United States for almost 50 years as some form of collective punishment for the removal of Batista and Cuba's refusal to toe the American line.

Zoe Williams may well brand him as a dictator and criticise his human rights record, but she cannot detract from Castro's policies or achievements.




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Zoe Williams








New Agenda on Sunday. is out! Edition of 27 November 2016

https://paper.li/f-1346065353



Good morning everyone.




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It has been some time since I commented on that awful television garbage filling many screens on Saturday nights, followed by another shorter slot on Sunday nights for the "Results show". Not that I watch this contrived nonsense of course as I am normally too busy washing my hair, but with the amount of television media coverage through out the week with analysis, instant replays, explanations and "Celeb" interviews etc. coupled with the speculation of press and media as to who will win the "contest" it is difficult if not impossible to avoid any contamination. (I always have a sneaky feeling that the results of each programme, and the ultimate winner are determined at some secret meeting immediately after the first show, and everything following that is just hype and publicity for the celebs). I learn today, that the next show is the quarter finals which may or may not have the former shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer doing his stuff. Last night, (Saturday) apparently had him strutting around "dancing" a Tango to the tune of, "I can't get no satisfaction". A performance which propelled him and his partner to the bottom of the leader board. It is to the constant amazement of thousands around the country that he remains in the contest. Who knows, he may even actually take the trophy in next months final. Those faceless people at the secret meeting may have decided that the former MP for Morley and Outwood is, "good television" whether he can dance or not.





Fidel Castro was a South American revolutionary who together with Che Guevara freed the people of Cuba from the despotic and corrupt Mafia controlled rule of Fulgencio Batista in the late 1950's.
Castro created a socialist society in Cuba building schools, hospitals and public utilities and improving living standards, providing free health care and education and improving adult literacy. Against a background of perpetual American sanctions and embargo's in place for almost 50 years, together with numerous assassination attempts, Castro maintained programmes which have led to Cuba now having first-world levels of literacy and life expectancy.
Loved or hated the world over, Fidel Castro was a giant on the Latin American and world political stage.
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz August 1926 – November 2016 RIP






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Black Friday. An American "event" imported to this country by shops and retail businesses driven by possibilities of making even more profits.
Black Friday soon to be followed by Cyber Monday, yet another American phenomenon rather than "a UK tradition" as the Sun (who else) would have us believe, giving consumers the opportunity to purchase products at ridiculously reduced prices.
However, these two now annual events, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, arise in the middle of November and continue at an ever increasing pace right through until Christmas Eve!
(Read the full story at http://new-agenda2012.blogspot.co.uk/2016/11/black-friday-and-probably-cyber-monday.html. Copy and paste link)





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There will be a recount of the US presidential vote in Wisconsin
The prospect of reliving and having to sit through wall to wall media coverage of huge chunks of the American Presidential election, fills me with dismay. The prospect arises due to a bid from Jill Stein, the Green Party Presidential Candidate, demanding a recount of the votes results reported by Wisconsin as well as Michigan and Pennsylvania. Theoretically of course, this could result in the election results being changed, a reallocation of the electoral college votes and Clinton being declared as winner. The consequent constitutional crisis in America, the backlash from Trump supporters, the celebrations of Clinton supporters will undoubtedly be endlessly and hysterically covered by Sky News (and their sister channel Fox News) and the rest of the media circus. We shall just have to endure the interruption of normal programmes to to bring us a "Special News update from Washington" every 15 minutes.






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Every evening at 10:30pm and again at 11:30 pm Sky News have their preview of the following days papers. There are some "reviewers" seated on the sofa, who actually have sensible and enlightening views or comments to offer on the news on the front pages of tomorrows pages. However, there are other "reviewers" who only ever come across as patronising, arrogant and clearly lacking in any knowledge of the subject upon which they are offering an opinion. Last night's (Saturday) occupants of the sofa were no exception. Arrogant reviewer in chief was the odious Christina Patterson who shared the sofa with Mathew Sayed as they reviewed, amongst other stories, the story covering the death of Fidel Castro. Without once referring to free health care, free education, improved living standards for the people of Cuba or the crippling sanctions and embargoes imposed on Cuba over the last 50 years Patterson especially managed to demonstrate a complete ignorance of the subject particularly when she confused the botched and abortive "Bay of Pigs" invasion of 1961 with the "Cuban missile crisis" of October 1962 describing the Bay of Pigs as the greatest threat of nuclear war the world has ever seen. She did not even mention theCuban missile crisis, which leads me to the view that she has probably never even heard of it. I reiterate my plea to Sky News, that they at least try to invite reviewers onto the sofa who have some knowledge of their subject, are not arrogant and patronising and are able to offer balance rather than bias in their opinions.









Next week it will be December. If anyone finds out where the rest of 2016 has vanished to, please let me know.

The weather is sometimes wet, sometimes cold sometimes mild. The weather forecasters could do with some new seaweed.

Have a nice week.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

The sofa needs different occupants.

Christina Patterson and Mathew Sayed. Patronising and arrogant paper previewers who are very much at home on the Sky News sofa. 













Every evening at 10:30pm and again at 11:30 pm Sky News have their preview of the following days papers. There are some "reviewers" seated on the sofa, who actually have sensible and enlightening views or comments to offer on the news on the front pages of tomorrows pages. However, there are other "reviewers" who only ever come across as patronising, arrogant and clearly lacking in any knowledge of the subject upon which they are offering an opinion. Last night's (Saturday) occupants of the sofa were no exception. Arrogant reviewer in chief was the odious Christina Patterson who shared the sofa with Mathew Sayed as they reviewed, amongst other stories, the story covering the death of Fidel Castro. 

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Bay of Pigs. Invasion collapses
Without once referring to free health care, free education, improved living standards for the people of Cuba or the crippling sanctions and embargoes imposed on Cuba over the last 50 years Patterson especially managed to demonstrate a complete ignorance of the subject particularly when she confused the botched and abortive "Bay of Pigs" invasion of 1961 with the "Cuban missile crisis" of October 1962 describing the Bay of Pigs as the greatest threat of nuclear war the world has ever seen. She did not even mention the Cuban missile crisis, which leads me to the view that she has probably never even heard of it. 







Debate on the Cuban Missile Crisis at the United Nations on 25 October 1962. During the meeting, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Adlai Stevenson confronted Soviet ambassador Valerian Zorin about the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba.
Debate on the Cuban Missile Crisis at the U N on 25 October 1962

I reiterate my plea to Sky News, that they at least try to invite reviewers onto the sofa who have some knowledge of their subject, are not arrogant and patronising and are able to offer balance rather than bias in their opinions.






Saturday, 26 November 2016

The "revolutionary", who brought higher living standards, free education and free healthcare to the people of Cuba.








Fidel Castro dies aged 90







Fidel Castro was a South American revolutionary who together with Che Guevara freed the people of Cuba from the despotic and corrupt Mafia controlled rule of Fulgencio Batista in the late 1950's.



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Ernesto "CheGuevara

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Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz














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Fulgencio Batista Zaldívar


Castro created a socialist society in Cuba building schools, hospitals and public utilities and improving living standards, providing free health care and education and improving adult literacy. Against a background of perpetual American sanctions and embargo's in place for almost 50 years, together with numerous assassination attempts, Castro maintained programmes which have led to Cuba now having first-world levels of literacy and life expectancy.



Havana


Loved or hated the world over, Fidel Castro was a giant on the Latin American and world political stage.

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz August 1926 – November 2016.
 RIP










Friday, 25 November 2016

The dismantling of the Welfare State including the NHS has been Conservative ambition since 1947

Thatcher pushed for breakup of welfare state despite NHS pledge

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The duplicitous Thatcher together with Howe, Rifkind, Hurd, Tebbit and the other accomplices of the Thatcher governments, conspired in secret to destroy our Welfare sate and our National Health Service.

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As I have long argued, this has been the ambition and objective of the Conservative party since 1947 and has over those years, been surreptitiously advanced with piecemeal privatisations of numerous departments and functions of the welfare system and by closures of wards and hospitals where departments and departmental responsibilities have been gifted to the private sector, under the cloak of improving the service and saving money within our NHS. Today, this malevolent aspiration of the conservative party and their business supporters, circling like vultures waiting for their opportunity to swoop and pick over the remains, has become even more frenetic as the present government and the ConDem coalition before them, seek to destroy the very fabric of our country and the basis of a society that has been for the benefit of ordinary people since 1947. "From the cradle to the grave", was a vision for people in the 19th Century, a reality for people in the 20th Century and now faces the stark prospect of being destroyed in the 21st Century.
The difference between the governments of Thatcher, and now Cameron and more recently May, is that the Conservatives now feel emboldened enough to carry out this Philistine destruction in the open and to defy public opinion and the hostility of ordinary people, towards privatisation of these vital and cherished facets of our society which have been part of every day life for everyone for the last 70 years.

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Encouraged and supported by Atos, Virgin Care, G4S and a hundred other private companies all seeking to grab the more lucrative parts of our welfare and health services and thereby amass even more profits at the expense of ordinary people, the government now do in the open what Thatcher sought to do in the secrecy of the shadows in the cabinet room of 10 Downing Street.
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This is a 70 year old Conservative aspiration which we must resist and fight with every means at our disposal. We must never allow a return to the days when the sick, the children, the poor, the unemployed and other vulnerable sections of our society, were passed over and neglected, simply because they did not have the money or the means to obtain services or assistance or essential medications for their everyday needs. We must never allow a return to a 21st Century equivalent of The Poor laws or the Workhouses or any of the other features of a country driven by the greed and corruption of government and the pursuit of private business profits.
The fight is now in the open and we must rise to it.


Thursday, 24 November 2016

Theresa May gives another pathetic performance during Prime Ministers Questions.


Jeremy Corbyn dominates Questions to the Prime Minister.



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There have been some pathetic performances from pathetic conservative Prime Ministers at PMQ's over the years. Theresa May rates as number 1 for pathetic performances which become even more pathetic each week. She is already, after less than 140 days occupying Number 10 as Prime Minister, receiving criticism and "advice" from cabinet and former cabinet ministers regarding her performance at the dispatch box and elsewhere and more importantly in respect of Brexit, Welfare reforms and the NHS to mention just three areas.

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The best advice that these ministers and former cabinet ministers can give to this increasing inept Prime Minister is to stand down, call for a General election and hold a conservative party leadership election. If only they had the backbone to act in the interest of country rather than self.


Wednesday, 23 November 2016

An early 2017 General election?



Chancellor to crack down on letting fees in autumn statement



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Chancellor Philip Hammond, unveils his first "Autumn statement" today and is expected to announce a series of measures which have been described in many sections of the media as seeking to portray the conservative government as "a friend to ordinary working-class people”. The measures are expected to include a ban on letting fees charged by renting agents, an extra £1 billion for universal credit, increasing the national living wage from £7.20 to £7.50 an hour from April 2017, £4.3m a year for strengthening minimum wage enforcement, £1.4bn investment in affordable housing and no doubt other sweeteners to bolster the image of the "caring conservatives" and to pass on a subliminal message to "Vote Conservative" at the next election.

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Why is it that this (almost) give away budget should come now, at this moment of only 18 months into this governments tenure? We have all over the years seen the tactic used by successive governments, where "goodies" are thrown at the electorate in the budget immediately prior to a General election, allowing the government of the day to plead with voters for another term in office to implement the goodies. Frequently, the ploy has worked and the incumbent Prime Minister and their party have been re-elected, only to find that changing circumstances dictate that the goodies cannot be implemented in the time-scales promised.
However, as this government has until May of 2020 before having to seek another mandate from the people, it is difficult to understand why they choose now of all times, to come forward with proposals more suited and probably recognised as a pre-election budget. Theresa May has repeatedly stated that there will be no General election prior to 2020. However, there are those of us who have argued since the middle of this year, that the political advantages as perceived by the Prime Minister, could become so attractive, that she could engineer a vote to call an election, in accordance with the provisions of the "Fixed Term Parliament Act".
The current turmoil as she perceives it, within the Labour party could be an attractive possibility of winning votes and thereby increase her small majority in the Commons. The woeful mess that the government has, by its own dithering, created in respect of Brexit and the Article 50 "negotiations".
The ongoing problems and potential splits in her own party in respect of welfare reforms, the European Union generally, the implementation of austerity and other policy differences make a compelling case for seeking an increased majority to silence critics and restore some disciple to a fractious party.




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The Nation decides


As more time passes towards her self imposed deadline of March 2017, an election must be more and more attractive. Perhaps today's "Autumn statement", marks the opening salvo in the Conservatives General Election campaign.