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Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin: 'Agent Orange in Vietnam was a crime against humanity'

Appeal of the Second International Conference of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin

Hanoi, Socialist Republic of Vietnam

August 9, 2011 -- The Second International Conference of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin, held in Hanoi from August 8 to 9, 2011, included participants from around the world: Agent Orange victims, victims of other toxic chemicals, scientists, lawyers and social activists. The conference is a significant and important historic event, marking the 50th anniversary of the first spraying of the toxic chemical Agent Orange (1961-1971) by the US forces in Vietnam and Indochina.

The delegates to the conference agree that:

During the Vietnam War, from 1961 to 1971, US forces through Operation Ranch Hand sprayed nearly 80 million litrrs of herbicides over South Vietnam, of which 61% was Agent Orange containing at least 366kg of dioxin, the most toxic substance known to science.

Capitalism is just depressing

By Mark Harris

July 23, 2011 -- Resistance.org.au -- There is no denying it, depression is on the rise across the world. The World Health Organization says depression will be the second largest contributor to the global burden of disease by 2020. For young people this is already the case. Depression leads to about 850,000 deaths every year.

But why is depression on the rise? In some instances it is a product of more readily available methods of diagnosis and public understanding of the disorder. But increases in suicide rates and other indicators suggest that the increase in depression is well beyond this statistical readjustment.

Depression is not always caused by a chemical imbalance or as a result of human biology. It is a result of social factors such as loneliness, lack of social support, financial strain, lack of purpose and unemployment. These are endemic under capitalism.

Even in a wealthy country like Australia, youth often look to a future that is at best unfulfilling. Furthermore, capitalism is based on competition. In all sorts of ways we can only succeed if someone else fails. Obvious examples are job interviews or exams to get into uni.

Capitalist culture

Capitalist culture emphasises competition and individualism. Even the main form of transport — cars — means being physically separated from, and often in competition with, other people travelling on the same road.

Excerpt from 'Revolutionary Doctors: How Venezuela and Cuba are Changing the World’s Conception of Health Care'

July 19, 2011 -- Monthly Review Press has kindly given permission to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal to publish an excerpt from one of their latest books, Revolutionary Doctors: How Venezuela and Cuba are Changing the World’s Conception of Health Care by Steve Brouwer. You can download the excerpt HERE (PDF), or read it on screen below.

Readers of Links are also urged to purchase copies of Revolutionary Doctors; click HERE to order.

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Malaysia: Free Jeyakumar Devaraj, activist doctor

Jeyakumar Devaraj, Sungai Siput MP, is currently detained without trial under the Emergency Ordinance, together with five other Socialist Party members, on suspicion of “causing civil unrest by any means”.

[Protest letters still are urgently needed to be sent to the Malaysian government, please visit http://www.parti-sosialis.org/en/en/articles/1585 for details of where they can be sent. See also "Malaysia: Protests demand release of democracy activists" and "Asia-Pacific socialists demand: 'Free all political prisoners! Democracy for the Malaysian people!'"]

By Khoo Boo Teik

Cuba’s Latin American School of Medicine -- `an example of internationalism and human solidarity’

Students from Latin American School of Medicine march on May Day in Havana 2006. Photo by Bill Hackwell/Havana Times.

“We are one people who share a common history of struggle.” — Cassandra Cusack Curbelo, second-year ELAM student

By Don Fitz

May 18, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, an earlier version of this article first appeared at Monthly Review in March -- A revolution can only be successful when the new generation takes over from the old. When thousands of students come together because of their dedication to helping others at a school that was built to allow them to fulfill their goals, the ground is fertile for students to continue the struggle.

George Monbiot vs Helen Caldicott: Who is right about the Chernobyl death toll?

By Jim Green

April 17, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly -- With the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster falling on April 26, a debate is brewing over the estimated death toll. The debate has erupted with a heated exchange between prominent British columnist George Monbiot and anti-nuclear campaigner Dr Helen Caldicott. Monbiot claims the “official death toll” from Chernobyl is 43. Caldicott puts the death toll at 985,000. Someone's wrong. Perhaps they both are.

The debate over the Chernobyl death toll turns on the broader debate over the health effects of low-level ionising radiation and in particular the risk of cancer. The weight of scientific opinion holds that there is no threshold below which ionising radiation poses no risk and that the risk is proportional to the dose — the “linear no-threshold” (LNT) model.

Sexual self-determination in socialist Cuba: An interview with CENESEX director Mariela Castro Espín

CENESEX director Mariela Castro Espín (centre).

March 23, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In Cuba, there is a LGBTT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transvestite, transsexual] movement whose gestation is found at the intersection of the state and organised civil society. This movement seeks to tackle the main themes of LGBTT reality from the perspective of human rights, health and social integration, while inserting itself into the national project of a just society. Historically, the space for its existence was provided by the country’s women’s movement, which was largely responsible for making Cuba, in 2008, the first country in the Americas to have sex-change operations included in the universal health-care system.  

Climate change: Rupert Murdoch’s 'Australian' peddles damaging bad science

By Renfrey Clarke

March 6, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – Readers of Rupert Murdoch’s flagship, the Australian, will have noticed a flurry of self-justifying articles and editorials in recent months, as the editors try to deflect criticism of the newspaper’s global warming coverage. What has the Australian been saying on the topic, and does this measure up to the responsibilities of a major news outlet?

In Britain in 1998, the medical science journal The Lancet published a study that claimed to identify a link between the mental disorder autism and the administering to children of the widely used measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.

United States: Obama out of touch with the people, State of the Union shows

"What a distance from the White House to the unemployment line. From the Rose Garden to the food pantry."

By Billy Wharton

January 25, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The 2011 State of the Union speech revealed just how far out of touch US President Barack Obama is from the reality of working people in the United States. What a distance from the White House to the unemployment line. From the Rose Garden to the food pantry.

Tonight’s State of the Union sent the message one final time that the Obama presidency was and is designed to protect the privileges accrued by the richest 5% in society. Obama lived up to the characterisation of him as a “hedge-fund Democrat”, a politician assigned the task of deflecting the real demands of the people for a society and economy based on solidarity, peace and justice.

A call for more corporate globalisation

Latin America: For a solidarity `Marshall Plan' with the Cuban Revolution!; Un Plan Marshall para Cuba

[For more analysis and discussion on the economic reforms in Cuba, click HERE.]

By Atilio Boron

January 5, 2011 -- CADTM -- Cuba is currently faced with a crucial dilemma: either it updates, revises and reconstructs its economic model or it runs the risk of succumbing to the combined pressures created by its own errors and the aggression of the US embargo. The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as all of those in Africa and Asia, cannot remain indifferent towards this situation or limit themselves to contemplating how the revolution delivered this decisive battle without any assistance other than their own strength.

Help, however, cannot be confined to verbal support, which is fine but insufficient. Cuba needs something more concrete: that its creditors, and in particular that the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, cancel Cuba’s external debt.

Why does health care in Cuba cost 96% less than in the US?

Claudia Lopez, an intern, with outpatients at 5 de Septiembre Polyclinic, Havana. Photo by Gail Reed/World Health Organisation.

By Don Fitz

January 5, 2011-- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- When Americans spend $100 on health care, is it possible that only $4 goes to keeping them well and $96 goes somewhere else? Single payer health care [government-funded universal health insurance] advocates compare US health care to that in Western Europe or Canada and come up with figures of 20–30% waste in the US.

But there is one country with very low level of economic activity yet with a level of health care equal to the West: Cuba.

Life expectancy of about 78 years of age in Cuba is equivalent to the US. Yet, in 2005, Cuba was spending US$193 per person on health care, only 4% of the $4540 being spent in the US. Where could the other 96% of US health care dollars be going?

1. A fragmented system

Cuban medics in Haiti put the world to shame (UK Independent)

[See also "Cuba: Reversing the medical `brain drain’ – the many faces of ELAM".]

By Nina Lakhani

Castro's doctors and nurses are the backbone of the fight against cholera

December 26, 2010 -- The Independent -- They are the real heroes of the Haitian earthquake disaster, the human catastrophe on America's doorstep which Barack Obama pledged a monumental US humanitarian mission to alleviate. Except these heroes are from [the United States'] arch-enemy Cuba, whose doctors and nurses have put US efforts to shame.

A medical brigade of 1200 Cubans is operating all over earthquake-torn and cholera-infected Haiti, as part of Fidel Castro's international medical mission which has won the socialist state many friends, but little international recognition.

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STOP PRESS: New Henry Reeve Brigade arrives in Haiti

By Juan Diego Nusa Peñalver

Cuba: Reversing the medical `brain drain’ – the many faces of ELAM

ELAM students.

By Don Fitz, Havana

November 7, 2010 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Cuba is doing more than any other country in the world to reverse the “brain drain” of doctors abandoning impoverished areas. A physician who leaves Sierra Leone for South Africa can earn 20 times as much. Higher pay in English-speaking countries lures medical graduates from India (10.6% of doctors), Pakistan (11.7%), Sri Lanka (27.5%), and Jamaica (41.7%). Only 50 of 600 doctors trained in Zambia remained there after independence. There are more Ethiopian doctors in Chicago than in Ethiopia.[1]

The Cuban alternative is the 11year old Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina (ELAM, Latin American School of Medicine). With their educational costs covered by the Cuban government, students focus on returning as doctors to under-served communities in their countries.

The more than 20,000 medical students in Cuba receive much, much more than a free education — they are participating in a project to build a new model of medicine for the world’s poor. Students are well aware that they represent 1 of 100 countries, each of which has a unique relationship to the yoke of imperialism.

Third World health: Video -- Universal access by 20-when? Global leaders renege on promised aid

By the Treatment Action Campaign (South Africa)

September 28, 2010 -- The communities delegation on the Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the Asia Pacific Network of People Living with HIV (APN+) released a video (watch above) on September 28, 2010, as part of the global day of action activities, highlighting the potential effectiveness and achievements of the Global Fund, and pointing out how miniscule the needed US$20 billion dollars is when compared to the amounts of money that has been spent on war and Wall Street banking bail outs.

Michael Lebowitz on the socialist alternative and real human development

Prof. Michael Lebowitz on the socialist alternative from Dangerous Minds at Vimeo.

August 30, 2010 -- Michael Lebowitz is a Canadian Marxist economist. He is the director of the “Transformative practice and human development” program at the Venezuela-based left-wing think tank, the Centro Internacional Miranda. He is professor emeritus of economics at Simon Fraser University and author of Build it Now: 21st Century Socialism and the 2004 Isaac Deutscher-prize winning Beyond Capital: Marx's Political Economy of the Working Class. His latest book is The Socialist Alternative: Real Human Development.

United States: `Clunker' healthcare bill protects private insurers, damages democracy

By Billy Wharton

March 24, 2010 -- Americans desperately need healthcare. The need is so desperate that many are buying into a “something is better than nothing” philosophy to support a healthcare bill that actively works against their own interests. The bill that US President Barack Obama plans to sign into law is being dubbed a “reform”, but actually amounts to a corporate restructuring that will solidify the reliance on the same private insurance companies that have caused the crisis in the nation’s healthcare system.

As single-payer heathcare activist Dr. Margaret Flowers stated, “The Democratic Party has now moved so far to the right that they have just passed a Republican health bill.” This is no surprise, private insurers and pharmaceutical companies have flooded the electoral system with money in order to guarantee their continued ability to accumulate profits.

[In the United States, "single-payer healthcare" refers to universal public health insurance schemes similar to Canada's scheme and Australia's Medicare.]

Malaysian socialists lead protests against full-paying patient scheme

March 1, 2010 -- Malaysiakini -- The Malaysian government’s full-paying patient (FPP) scheme has again come under fire from the Coalition Against Health Service Privatisation, which held simultaneous pickets outside four public hospitals nationwide.

NONEIn the Klang Valley, short pickets by small groups were held at the Serdang and Sungai Buloh hospitals.

A similar protest took place outside the Hospital Sultanah Bahiyah Alor Setar, Kedah, and Hospital Sultan Ismail, Pandan, Johor.

At the Sungai Buloh hospital, Kota Damansara assemblyperson Dr Mohd Nasir Hasim, from the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM, Parti Sosialis Malaysia), led about a dozen people in denouncing the scheme which the government had initiated in 2007.

According to Nasir, the FPP scheme pilot project in Hospital Selayang has proven detrimental to both doctors and patients.

Cuban doctors in Haiti: `The worst tragedy is not being able to do more'

January 18, 2010 -- Since 1998, Cuba's health cooperation with Haiti has made it possible for 6000 doctors, paramedics and health technicians to work there. Besides, 450 young Haitians have graduated as doctors from Cuban colleges, free of charge, in the past 12 years. More than 400 Cuban specialists, 344 of them doctors and paramedics, have been in Haiti, jointly sponsored by the United Nations and the Cuban government. But in the wake of last Tuesday's disaster, the largest earthquake ever to hit the Caribbean Basin, Cuba dispatched another team of 60 doctors, health technicians and medications to join the doctors on the ground in Haiti. Cuba has also sent ten tons of medications.

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By Leticia Martínez Hernández, photos by Juvenal Balán

United States: Healthcare bill -- a nightmare before Christmas

By Billy Wharton

December 25, 2009 -- Call it the nightmare before Christmas or Santa’s lump of healthcare coal. Either title captures the disastrous qualities of the healthcare reform bill passed by US Senate on December 24. After months of media coverage, a summer of wild town hall meetings and all the high-sounding rhetoric one could swallow, a 2000 page monster has been birthed.

Though US President Barack Obama hailed the bill’s passage by declaring, "This will be the most important piece of social legislation since Social Security passed in the 1930s", it carries few of the universal qualities or public control of the social security legislation. For all the political theatre associated with the bill, remarkably little in the bigger picture of healthcare in the United States has changed: private health insurers still run the system; Washington politicians are still gathering in the campaign contributions from the industry; and millions of people will still be left without health insurance.

Bad gets worse in the Senate

United States: Where's the socialism? The good, the bad and the ugly of health-care reform

By Billy Wharton

November 9, 2009 -- Where is the socialism now? Frenetic right-wingers spent a good part of the US summer shouting about the “government takeover of health care” or the “stealth socialist health-care plan”. Now that the Affordable Healthcare for America Act has been passed by a slim margin in the US House of Representatives, on November 8, there are few traces of anything even resembling socialism. Instead, Americans will find the good, the bad and the ugly of health-care reform all contained within the 1990-page bill.

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