Friday, May 31, 2013

ExxonMobil Shareholders' Mantra - Vote for Profits

ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson set a new standard for stupidity and greed at a shareholders’ meeting in Dallas on May 29. Opposing a resolution that called on the company to cutting greenhouse gas emissions, he said:

“What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?”

As Ryan Koronowski commented on Climate Progress, what Tillerson really meant was:

“What good is it to save humanity if profits suffer?”

At Wednesday’s meeting for ExxonMobil shareholders in Dallas, CEO Rex Tillerson told those assembled that an economy that runs on oil is here to stay, and cutting carbon emissions would do no good.
He asked, “What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?”
One good would be that humanity has a habitable place to live. And in acting to stop the increasingly dangerous effects of climate change, we could avoid a great deal of suffering. Tillerson missed the billions of dollars in damages, thousands of lives lost, millions displaced, and rampant ecological destruction due to the carbon emissions that cause climate change.
Exxon does not see carbon emissions falling significantly until 2040. Staying on this path will mean more suffering: heat waves, conflict, food insecurity, Dust Bowl-like drought, extreme flooding, sea level rise, increasingly destructive storms, and worsening refugee crises.
A Carbon Disclosure Project Report noted that “ExxonMobil noted that the company’s ‘operations around the world include remote and offshore areas that present challenges from existing climate extremes and storms. These severe weather events may disrupt supplies or interrupt the operations of ExxonMobil facilities.’ ” Even so, A 2011 study found that “9 out of 10 top climate change deniers [were] linked with Exxon Mobil.”
So what Tillerson probably meant to ask shareholders yesterday was “What good is it to save humanity if profits suffer?” Last year he had told the Council on Foreign Relations about the “manageable” risks of climate change: ”As a species that’s why we’re all still here: we have spent our entire existence adapting. So we will adapt to this. It’s an engineering problem, and it has engineering solutions.”
The beauty of this approach is that Exxon makes money on both ends — they get to sell all their climate-destroying fossil fuels, and then, no doubt, they will sell their engineering skills dealing with the ever-worsening climate extremes. Now that’s win-win.
For the seventh time, almost three-quarters of Exxon shareholders voted down a resolution that would require the company to set goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from using Exxon products. Shareholders also rejected a resolution that would ban discrimination against gays.

The sharks circle the poor

Nottingham has the lowest household disposable income of anywhere in the UK. The average income per household after tax, but including benefits, is £16,034 a year. In Nottingham it is £10,834.
The Meadows estate on the edge of Nottingham and on On an estate such as the Meadows, a loan shark is everybody's friend.
Sharon Mills, of the Meadows Partnership Trust, explains why. "If you are desperate, and the kids have not eaten for three days, if a person comes to the door offering a loan, they'll seem like the Messiah," she says. But she also describes them as "a pack of wolves", who can resort to intimidation to get their money back. "They know when your payday is. They they'll come and kick the door in. It can be that, literally."
The Office of Fair Trading, which is responsible for regulating the UK's payday lenders has been "ineffective" and "timid", and has failed to identify risks of malpractice which have cost consumers at least £450m a year, according to Parliment’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

It had failed to invest enough in regulation, had never fined a firm for bad practice, was too slow to revoke credit licences, and on the occasions it did take licences away it failed to stop unscrupulous lenders restarting under different names, the committee of MPs said.
Some consumers have seen small debts spiral out of control as a result of late payment fees, roll-over loans and interest rates often in excess of 4,000% a year. The report called for the cost of borrowing to be expressed as a total amount repayable rather than an annual percentage rate, saying this was outdated and misleading to borrowers taking loans for less than 12 months.

"Some of these lenders use predatory techniques to target vulnerable people on low incomes, encouraging them to take out loans which when rolled over with extra interest rapidly become out of control debts," the committee's chair, Margaret Hodge, said. "Meanwhile, the OFT has been ineffective and timid in the extreme. It passively waits for complaints from consumers before acting."

Richard Lloyd, executive director of the consumer group Which?, said the report should serve as a final warning to lenders. "This is a damning verdict on the credit market and the OFT's failure in the past to step in and protect consumers. It underlines once more why a crackdown is urgently needed to tackle unscrupulous high-cost lenders,"

Buying a civil war

Although it would be a mistake to ascribe to all wars immediate economic causes  it can be generally accepted that they are more often than not fought over control of natural resources.

The civil war in Syria for some participants is no exception.

 Qatar has spent as much as $3bn over the past two years supporting the rebellion in Syria, far exceeding any other government. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Qatar has sent the most weapons deliveries to Syria, with more than 70 military cargo flights into neighbouring Turkey between April 2012 and March this year.Qatar provides generous packages to defectors (one estimate puts it at $50,000 a year for a defector and his family.) Many rebels in Syria’s Aleppo province received a  monthly salary of $150 courtesy of Qatar. Qatar is doing everything it can to promote bloodshed, death and destruction by using mercenaries who are paid handsomely. Regional rivals contend it is using its financial firepower simply to buy future influence and that it has ended up splintering Syria’s opposition. Against this backdrop Saudi Arabia has stepped up its involvement.

Why would Qatar want to become involved in Syria? Gas, or, rather, gas pipelines, to be exact.

The kingdom is a geographic prisoner in a small enclave on the Persian Gulf coast. It relies upon the export of LNG, because it is restricted by Saudi Arabia from building pipelines to distant markets. In 2009, the proposal of a pipeline to Europe through Saudi Arabia and Turkey to the Nabucco pipeline was considered, but Saudi Arabia thwarted Qatar and has blocked any overland expansion.

The discovery in 2009 of a new gas field near Israel, Lebanon, Cyprus, and Syria opened new possibilities to bypass the Saudi Barrier and to secure a new source of income. Pipelines are in place already in Turkey to receive the gas. Qatar has proposed a gas pipeline from the Gulf to Turkey in a sign the emirate is considering a further expansion of exports from the world's biggest gasfield after it finishes an ambitious programme to more than double its capacity to produce liquefied natural gas (LNG).

"We are eager to have a gas pipeline from Qatar to Turkey," Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the ruler of Qatar, said following talks with the Turkish president Abdullah Gul and the prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Only Assad is in the way. Qatar along with the Turks would like to remove Assad and install the Syrian Moslem Brotherhood. It is the best organized political movement in the chaotic society and can block Saudi Arabia’s efforts to install a more fanatical Wahhabi based regime. Once the Brotherhood is in power, the Emir’s broad connections with Brotherhood groups throughout the region should make it easy for him to find a friendly ear and an open hand in Damascus.

At the end, there will be contracts for the massive reconstruction and there will be the development of the gas fields. In any case, Assad must go. There is nothing personal; it is strictly business.
Extracted from an article here

Papal Truths

It is not often that socialists will agree with the Roman Catholic church but on this occasion we are in accord with their position.

Archbishop Chullikatt, the Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations, in an speech to the general assembly, said:-
 “Hunger is one of the world's most solvable problems," and pointed out that "per capita food production has steadily risen and total world food production now exceeds what is needed to give every person sufficient food and nutrition." He said that ending hunger -- which can be addressed today -- is not the same as providing better health care, which often depends on "looking toward technologies or cures yet to come or not currently available."

The problem, he said, is not a lack of food production.

"In face of the world's hungry, the grotesque spectacle of foodstuffs being forcibly destroyed in order to preserve higher market prices for producers, primarily in developed countries, constitutes a reprehensible practice which prioritizes economic profit over the needs of those starving," Archbishop Chullikatt said.
The lack of access to adequate food and nutrition was "a moral and humanitarian crisis exacerbated by man-made policies and practices" such as failing to provide access to markets for producers in developing countries, diverting food resources from consumption to energy production, waste of food resources and armed conflicts.

In a speech the Pope explained that  "We have created new idols. The worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal."

The economic crisis had created fear and desperation, diminished joy of life and increased violence and poverty as more people struggled to get by in "undignified" ways, the pope said. In many cases, the value of people was judged by their ability to consume.

"While the income of a minority is increasing exponentially, that of the majority is crumbling." Speaking of financial markets he said: "A new, invisible and at times virtual, tyranny is established, one which unilaterally and irremediably imposes its own laws and rules."

In the same month that Pope Francis was offering all us atheistic materialists a place in Heaven (later to be overturned by his Papal handlers - so much for infallibility!) we now have the Catholic church exposing the capitalist system as the cause of misery and the  culprit in the global murder of the innocents.

The anarchist Emma Goldman once said “I do not believe in God, because I believe in man. Whatever his mistakes, man has for thousands of years been working to undo the botched job your god has made.”
Perhaps we now have an ally in the task of undoing god's work in the pope !!

Facts of the Day - Bill Gates

Bill Gates’ estimated net worth is $72.7 billion.

If Bill Gates were a country, he would be the 37th richest country on earth.

A 6% rate of return would earn Gates roughly $114.16 per second.

Bill Gates age is 57. If we assume that he will live for another 33 years, he has to spend $6 million per day to use up all of his wealth.
If he gave everyone on Earth $10 this Christmas, he’d still have $2.26 billion left.

If Microsoft Windows’ users could claim $1 for every time their Microsoft Windows freezes, Bill Gates would be bankrupt in about three days.

Capitalists - Never had it so good

As if we needed to be told, the lack of protection from a union increases employers profits.

The study, "The Capitalist Machine: Computerization, Workers' Power, and the Decline in Labor's Share within U.S. Industries," by Tali Kristal, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Haifa in Israel, appears in the June issue of the American Sociological Review.
Kristal found that from 1979 through 2007, labor's share of national income in the U.S. private sector decreased by six percentage points. This means that if labor's share had stayed at its 1979 level (about 64 percent of national income), the 120 million American workers employed in the private sector in 2007 would have received as a group an additional $600 billion, or an average of more than $5,000 per worker, Kristal said:
"However, this huge amount of money did not go to the workers," Kristal said. "Instead, it went to corporate profits, mostly benefiting very wealthy individuals."

The question is: why did this happen?

“...what we have is a large decrease in labor's share of income and a significant increase in capitalists' share in industries where unionization declined, and hardly any change in industries where unions never had much of a presence. This suggests that waning unionization, which led to the erosion of rank-and file workers' bargaining power, was the main force behind the decline in labor's share of national income."

Kristal also found that rising unemployment as well as increasing imports from less-developed countries contributed to the decline in labor's share. "All of these factors placed U.S. workers in a disadvantageous bargaining position versus their employers."
"Some economists contend that computerization is the primary cause and that it has increased the productivity of machines and skilled workers, prompting firms to reduce their overall demand for labor, which resulted in the rise of corporate profits at the expense of workers' compensation," Kristal said. "But, if that were the case, and computerization was the principal cause for the decline in labor's share of national income, then labor's share should have declined in all economic sectors, reflecting the fact that computerization has occurred across the board in the past 30 to 40 years."

Kristal conclusion is:
 "In short, my study shows that capitalists have rarely had it as good as they did from 1979 through 2007. The empirical analysis of this study ends at 2007, but updated data reveal that although the great economic recession reduced corporate profits as a share of national income, it was only a short-run effect (of about 2 years) and the golden age of corporate profits has continued well into 2010 and beyond."

According to this report in the Irish Times, workers’ share of national income has been in decline in most countries for more than three decades, but the decline has been concealed by growth.

Only 26.7 per cent of the income of the top 1 per cent is from working (CEO salaries and bonuses). The rest comes from ownership of capital.

60 per cent of Americans  on middle incomes, saw their shares of after-tax income fall since 1979. The top 20 per cent did very well, but the top 5 per cent did even better. But it was the top 1 per cent who did extraordinarily well.

 On all continents, labour’s share of national income has been falling. The share in developed countries has fallen from about 75 per cent in the mid 1970s to 60-65 per cent, with some, like the US, at 59 per cent. Labour’s share in Asia is down 20 per cent since 1994, including a fall in China. For Ireland, the labour share is exceptionally low at 50 per cent in 2012.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The cost of war

When it comes to wars the price paid is in the blood and suffering of those who are victims of it. However, capitalism understands only pounds and pence in evaluating the cost of its ventures, not the human costs.

Frank Ledwidge, author of "Investment in Blood" has calculated that The war in Afghanistan has cost Britain at least £37bn and the figure will rise to a sum equivalent to more than £2,000 for every taxpaying household.

Since 2006, on a conservative estimate, it has cost £15m a day to maintain Britain's military presence in Helmand province. The equivalent of £25,000 will have been spent for every one of Helmand's 1.5 million inhabitants, more than most of them will earn in a lifetime.

British troops in Helmand have killed at least 500 non-combatants. About half of these have been officially admitted and Britain has paid compensation to the victims' families. The rest are based on estimates from UN and NGO reports, and "collateral damage" from air strikes and gun battles.

Helmand is no more stable now than when thousands of British troops were deployed there in 2006. Opium production that fell under the Taliban, is increasing, fuelling corruption and the coffers of warlords.

By 2020, the author of a new book says, Britain will have spent at least £40bn on its Afghan campaign, enough to recruit over 5,000 nurses and pay for them throughout their careers. It could fund free tuition for all students in British higher education for 10 years.

MoD officials said that British troops were in Helmand to protect British national security by helping Afghans build up their own security forces.
 "...of all the thousands of civilians and combatants, not a single al-Qaida operative or 'international terrorist' who could conceivably have threatened the United Kingdom is recorded as having been killed by Nato forces in Helmand," Ledwidge writes.
 It was a serious mistake, the author adds, to treat al-Qaida as a military problem – the problem was primarily an intelligence one. Reflecting the widespread view across Whitehall and among defence chiefs, he says the real reason Britain has expended so much blood and money on Afghanistan is simple: "The perceived necessity of retaining the closest possible links with the US."

The real beneficiaries of the war, he suggests, are development consultants, Afghan drug lords, and international arms companies. Much of British aid to Afghanistan is spent on consultancy fees rather than those Afghans who need it most.

 Ledwidge explained: "Once the last British helicopter leaves a deserted and wrecked Camp Bastion, Helmand – to which Britain claimed it would bring 'good governance' – will be a fractious narco-state occasionally fought over by opium barons and their cronies."

Too poor to eat in the UK

More than half a million Britons have resorted to using food banks to stave off hunger and destitution.

Major charities signalled their alarm over a dramatic rise in the nation's "hidden hungry" – families who are forced to ask for help to feed themselves – because of wage cuts, the squeeze on benefits and the continuing economic downturn. The numbers have trebled in the past year alone and are likely to continue rising rapidly despite Britain's status as one of the world's wealthiest nations, according to a joint report by Oxfam and Church Action on Poverty.

They say cuts to welfare payments – including below-inflation rises in benefits, new Jobseeker's Allowance sanctions and reassessment of entitlement to invalidity benefits – are the biggest cause of the surge in demand for food banks in all parts of the country. The charities are also fiercely critical of the numbers of mistakes and delays in benefits payments, which leave claimants without cash through no fault of their own and lead to "food uncertainty" among Britain's poorest families. The hunger crisis has been exacerbated by the falling living standards of many people in employment, who have seen their wages trimmed or their working hours cut. Rising food and fuel prices are also driving families into poverty, the charities add. The cost of basic foodstuffs has leapt by 35 per cent and the cost of heating a home has jumped by 63 per cent in the past five years – a period in which many incomes have risen only marginally or not at all.

Mark Goldring, the chief executive of Oxfam, said last night: "The shocking reality is that hundreds of thousands of of people in the UK are turning to food aid. Cuts to social safety-nets have gone too far, leading to destitution, hardship and hunger on a large scale. It is unacceptable this is happening in the seventh wealthiest nation on the planet."

Niall Cooper, the chief executive of Church Action on Poverty, said: "The safety net that was there to protect people is being eroded to such an extent that we are seeing a rise in hunger. Food banks are not designed to, and should not, replace the 'normal' safety net provided by the state in the form of welfare support."

Tim Lang, a former adviser to the World Health Organisation and one of Britain's leading food policy experts, told The Independent that he feared food banks were becoming "institutionalised" and taking Britain back to a "Dickensian" model of welfare.
Imran Hussain, the head of policy for the Child Poverty Action Group, said: "It is a national scandal that half a million British people are now having to turn to food aid. It is a problem that has quickly escalated and shows that something has gone badly wrong with the safety net that is supposed to help families in need."


The following is a chronology of interventions and creation of U.S. military bases that have been made in various countries of Latin America. As well, year by year, idéa gives the magnitude of the imperialist policy through the use of military force, not only to annex territories but also partners, accomplices to their plans of domination.

- 1823: The Monroe Doctrine states that Latin America is considered "sphere of influence" for the United States.

- 1846: United States wages a war against Mexico, which eventually is forced to cede northern neighbor half its territory, including today's powerful and wealthy U.S. states of Texas and California.

- 1854: The American Navy bombards and destroys the Nicaraguan port of San Juan del Norte. The attack occurred after an officer attempted to tax the American millionaire yacht Cornelius Vanderbilt, who had led his ship to that port. The bombing paved the way for William Walker.

- 1855: The American adventurer William Walker, operating in the interest of bankers Morgan and Garrison, invades Nicaragua and proclaimed himself president. During his two years in office also invade the neighboring countries of El Salvador and Honduras, also proclaimed head of state in both countries. Walker restored slavery in the territories under its occupation.

- 1898: The United States declares war on Spain at the time that had almost defeated Cuban independence to colonial military force. American troops occupied the island of Cuba, the Patriots know and Spain was forced to cede to the United States territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, the Philippines and Hawaii.

- 1901: The U.S. occupation forces do include in the Constitution of the new Republic of Cuba the infamous Platt Amendment, whereby the United States arrogated to itself the right to intervene in Cuban affairs whenever deemed appropriate. Cuba also was forced to lease in perpetuity of a piece of the country for the use of the U.S. Navy: The Guantanamo Naval Base.

- 1903: The United States "stimulates" the segregation of Panama, then part of Colombia, and acquires rights to the Panama Canal. Years later, former President Theodore Roosevelt, the Panama-Real-secreting say: "I took the Canal Zone as Congress debated." Colombia had subsequently paid the ridiculous sum of $ 25 million in compensation.

- 1904: Panama is promulgated in the Constitution. It has a section that includes the U.S. military intervention when Washington deemed necessary. Immediately you start building the Panama Canal. Later, the United States will fill the area military bases and in 1946 founded the notorious School of the Americas, by whose classrooms will almost all Latin American dictators.

- 1904: The U.S. Marines landed in the Dominican Republic to quell an armed opponent. A year later, regarding intervention in that country, President Theodore Roosevelt declared that the United States would be "policeman" of the Caribbean.

- 1906: The U.S. investments in Cuba, which in 1885 accounted for 50 million pesos, reached the figure of 200 million. In August of that year an insurrection broke out against President Estrada Palma puppet, who requested U.S. military intervention. The Americans landed and appointed as auditor to William Taft.

- 1907: Dominican Republic: United States got the Dominican government granted him the collection of customs revenues, status would be maintained for 33 consecutive years.

- 1908: U.S. troops involved in Panama. In the next decade will fourfold.

- 1910: The US Marines occupy Nicaragua to support the regime of Adolfo Díaz.

- 1911: Mexico: To "protect" American citizens, President William Taft ordered the displacement of 20 000 troops to the southern border eight warships off the coast of California.

- 1912: U.S. Marines invade Nicaragua and started an occupation that would remain almost continuously until 1933. That same year (1912) the President Taft declares "No day is distant when three stars and three stripes at three equidistant points delimit our territory: one at the North Pole, another at the Panama Canal and the third at the Pole South. indeed the whole hemisphere will be ours under our racial superiority, as has become our morally."

- 1914: The U.S. Navy bombarded the port city of Veracruz, an attack apparently motivated by the arrest of U.S. soldiers in Tampico. The Mexican government apologizes, but President Woodrow Wilson ordered that the armed attack on Veracruz. One hundred Mexican soldiers, several cadets from the Naval Academy and civic groups resist heroically. There are 300 dead. The occupants remain for several months.

- 1915: The Marines occupy Haiti to "restore order". It establishes a protectorate and remained until 1934. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, reporting on the situation in Haiti said: "Imagine this: blacks speaking French"

- 1916: Marines occupy the Dominican Republic and remain there until 1924

- 1918: In Panama the Marines occupy the province of Chiriqui, to "maintain public order".

- 1924: The U.S. Marines invade Honduras to "mediate" a civil war. A Honduran military assumes the provisional government. Honduras ranks first worldwide in the export of bananas, but the gains are for the United Fruit Company.

- 1925: U.S. Army troops occupy Panama City to end a strike and maintain order.

- 1926: United States decides to create in Nicaragua National Guard. Augusto Cesar Sandino aims to create a people's army to fight the foreign occupiers.

- 1927: In Nicaragua a captain of American marines Sandino urges to surrender. The rebel says, "I want a free country or die." United States then made the first aerial bombardment in Latin America. It attacks the village El Ocotal. 300 Nicaraguans killed by bombs and machine guns .

- 1930: In the Dominican Republic begins the dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, a soldier emerged from the National Guard, encouraged and trained by the United States.

- 1933: Nicaragua and the United States abandoned the country leaves the control Anastasio Somoza and the National Guard.

- 1934: In Nicaragua is killed Cesar Augusto Sandino, who had laid down their arms. The murder was ordered by Somoza, with the complicity of U.S. Ambassador Arthur Bliss Lane.

- 1941: In Panama President Arias was deposed by a military coup led by Ricardo Adolfo de la Guardia, who first consulted his plan with U.S. Ambassador. The Secretary of War Henry Stimson commented: "This was a great relief for us because Arias had been very problematic and very pro-Nazi"

- 1946: United States opened in Panama the notorious School of the Americas, for the military training of the hemisphere. There he formed the main protagonists of the military dictatorships in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Central America and other countries.

- 1947: United States begins to gradually impose American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (Rio Treaty).

- 1952: In Cuba, with the consent and pleasure of the U.S. government, General Fulgencio Batista's ouster occurs Carlos Prio and inaugurates a bloody tyranny.

- 1954: The CIA orchestrated the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala. A Guatemalan poet described the Arbenz government as "years of spring in a country of eternal tyranny." Followed almost 40 years of violence and repression that led to the policy of "scorched earth" of the 80s. Over 150 000 people were killed.

- 1956: In Nicaragua the poet Rigoberto Lopez Perez kills the dictator Anastasio Somoza, who had 20 years in power with U.S. support. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had defined it: "It is a bastard, but he's our son of a bitch". His son Anastasio Somoza Debayle tyrannical dynasty lasted for several years.

- 1960: President Eisenhower authorized the implementation of large-scale covert action to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro, who had come to power in January 1959 and immediately began a work of extraordinary scope revolutionary social and popular support. Covert actions included the assassination of Cuban leader striping the counterrevolutionary and sabotage of the main sectors of the island's economy.

- 1961: mercenary forces recruited, organized, financed and directed by the United States invaded Cuba at the Bay of Pigs (Playa Giron). In less than 72 hours are defeated in what was the first major military defeat of U.S. imperialism in Latin America.

The CIA coup against the elected president of Ecuador J. M Velazco Ibarra, who had shown too friendly with Cuba.

- 1964: Brazilian President Joao Goulart, who intended to carry out a land reform and nationalization of oil, is the victim of a coup supported and promoted by the United States.

- 1965: United States sent thousands of troops to the Dominican Republic to suppress a movement trying to restore power to the previously ousted democratically elected progressive President Juan Bosch.

- 1966: U.S. sends arms, advisors and Green Berets to Guatemala, to implement a counterinsurgency campaign call. In a State Department report acknowledged that "to eliminate a few hundred guerillas will be killed perhaps 10,000 Guatemalan peasants."

- 1967: A group of Green Berets were sent to Bolivia to help find and kill Ernesto Che Guevara.

- 1968: CIA organized a paramilitary force regarded as the precursor of the dark "Death Squads".

- 1971: The Washington Post confirms that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had tried several times to assassinate the Cuban Revolution leader Fidel Castro. Years later, and to the extent that the secret documents were declassified CIA has known that attempts are dozens and plans hundreds.

- 1973: The military took power in Uruguay, supported by the United States. The subsequent repression reach very high prison population figures for political reasons.

A coup instigated and organized by the United States overthrew the elected government of President Salvador Allende in Chile, and is installed in power General Augusto Pinochet who led a bloody and long tyranny.

- 1976: Takes power a military dictatorship in Argentina. Years later were declassified in America nearly 5000 secret documents that revealed the close collaboration and support given from the highest levels of power in Washington to the Argentine military, responsible for the deaths of at least 30,000 Argentines, a large proportion of them young students and workers. Recently, the U.S. State Department has declassified documents directly involving the former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and other senior U.S. officials for crimes committed by Argentina's dictatorship, which launched a campaign of murder, torture and "disappearances" after assume power. Kissinger was involved in the operations of Plan Condor, a cooperation network to capture and execute political opponents in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia.

- 1980: United States massively increases military assistance to El Salvador who face FMLN guerrillas. The death squads proliferated, Archbishop Romero was assassinated by
right-wing terrorists; 35 000 civilians are killed between 1978 and the rape and murder of four nuns by gunmen from the military makes the American government suspend military aid for a month.

- 1981: The Reagan administration started the war of the "contra" to destroy the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

The CIA advances in the organization of the "Contras" in Nicaragua. They had begun the previous year with a group of 60 former Somoza guards. Four years later come to be grouped in the "against" almost 12 000 former guards. Of the 48 most important military leaders of "against", 46 had been officers of the National Guard. United States also advanced in the economic war against Nicaragua and pressure from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Mines are laid to block Nicargua's ports

Gen. Omar Torrijos, president of Panama, dies in a plane crash. Since then there has been a suspicion that the CIA had to do with the disaster, due to Torrijos patriotic nationalism and friendly relations with Cuba held its government.

- 1983: the invasion of five thousand Marines United States to the tiny Caribbean island of Granada. Yankee troops came shortly after a conspiracy was ousted Maurice Bishop, a leftist and nationalist leader.

- 1989: United States invades Panama to arrest his former protégé, Manuel Noriega. The operation left no less than 3000 civilian casualties.

- 1990: United States intervenes massively in the electoral process in Nicaragua through covert actions and public. Washington openly consolidated opposition coalition, although such practices are illegal under U.S. law.

- 2000: As part of the "War on Drugs", the United States launched the Plan Colombia, a program of massive civilian and military aid to a country that may have the worst human rights record in the hemisphere. U.S. Funding for this Plan is 1 300 million, of which 83 percent goes to military spending. After Plan Colombia has been subsumed in the "War on Terror".

- 2002: The U.S. supported and financed the elements that organized the failed coup of April 11 in Venezuela.

The Genocide Policies of Brazil

"There is a fabulous Indian heritage and it is well-managed. They do not require a penny of government assistance to live a rich and healthy life in their vast dominions"

A newly re-discovered report points out that the Brasilian authorities operated with impunity to deny Indians what should have been a life of plenty.

In 1967 the public prosecutor Jader de Figueiredo Correia, produced the document detailing horrific abuse by the Indian Protection Service (widely known as the SPI), which was set up to improve the livelihoods of indigenous communities but often ended up as a mechanism to rob them of land or wipe them out with guns or poison. However, the revelations failed to jail a single person despite initial charges against 134 officials alleged to be involved in more than 1,000 crimes.

"The Indian Protection Service has degenerated to the point of chasing Indians to extinction," the prosecutor writes in an introduction.

Figueiredo describes how officials and landowners lethally introduced smallpox into isolated villages and donated sugar mixed with strychnine, dropped dynamite from planes on small villages. Torture was common. People were traded like animals.

The report was highly embarrassing for the military regime and a censored press ensured it was rarely mentioned again. Powerful vested interests are already trying to undermine the report because they fear they may appear in it. The SPI was replaced by another agency, Funai, but tribes continue to struggle against illegal loggers, miners, government dam-builders and ranchers. This is particularly true in Mato Grosso do Sul, which has the highest rate of murders of Indians in Brazil. The estimated 31,000 Guarani-Kaiowá Indians in the area are now confined to tiny areas, completely surrounded by fields of soy or sugar cane.

Survival International's director, Stephen Corry, said nothing has changed when it comes to the impunity regarding the murder of Indians. "Gunmen routinely kill tribespeople in the knowledge that there's little risk of being brought to justice – none of the assassins responsible for shooting Guarani and Makuxi tribal leaders have been jailed for their crimes. It's hard not to suspect that racism and greed are at the root of Brazil's failure to defend its indigenous citizens' lives," he said.

Lawyers, politicians and NGOs warn the influence of the "ruralista" landowners' lobby is once again on the rise.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Poverty Levels in USA Worsening at a Faster Rate

DollarFINALThe Census Bureau has reported that 15% of Americans live in poverty. A shocking figure. But it's actually much worse. Inequality is spreading like a shadowy disease through our country, infecting more and more households, and leaving a shrinking number of financially secure families to maintain the charade of prosperity.

1. Almost half of Americans had NO assets in 2009

Analysis of Economic Policy Institute data shows that Mitt Romney's famous 47 percent, the alleged 'takers,' have taken nothing. Their debt exceeded their assets in 2009.

2. It's Even Worse 3 Years Later

Since the recession, the disparities have continued to grow. An OECD report states that "inequality has increased by more over the past three years to the end of 2010 than in the previous twelve," with the U.S. experiencing one of the widest gaps among OECD countries. The 30-year decline in wages has worsened since the recession, as low-wage jobs have replaced formerly secure middle-income positions.

3. Based on wage figures, half of Americans are in or near poverty.

The IRS reports that the highest wage in the bottom half of earners is about $34,000. To be eligible for food assistance, a family can earn up to 130% of the federal poverty line, or about $30,000 for a family of four.

Even the Census Bureau recognizes that its own figures under-represent the number of people in poverty. Its Supplemental Poverty Measure increases, by 50%, the number of Americans who earn between one-half and two times the poverty threshold.

4. Based on household expense totals, poverty is creeping into the top half of America.

A family in the top half, making $60,000 per year, will have their income reduced by a total tax bill of about $15,000 ($3,000 for federal income tax and $12,000 for payroll, state, and local taxes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau agree that food, housing, transportation, and other household expenditures will consume about $50,000. That leaves nothing.

Nothing, that is, except debt. The median debt level rose to $75,600 in 2009, while the median family net worth, according to the Federal Reserve, dropped from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010.

5. Putting it in Perspective

Inequality is at its ugliest for the hungriest people. While food support was being targeted for cuts, just 20 rich Americans made as much from their 2012 investments as the entire 2012 SNAP (food assistance) budget, which serves 47 million people.

And as Congress continues to cut life-sustaining programs, its members should note that their 400 friends on the Forbes list made more from their stock market gains last year than the total amount of the food, housing, and education budgets combined.

Arguments about poverty won't end - at least not until the working class ends capitalism.

Inequality - Facts of the Day

The lead research economist at the World Bank, Branko Milanovic, has found that the top 8% of global earners are drawing 50% of all of this planet's income. Wealth-inequality is always far higher than income-inequality, and therefore a reasonable estimate of personal wealth throughout the world would probably be somewhere on the order of the wealthiest 1% of people owning roughly half of all personal assets.

Milanovich says: "Among the global top 1 per cent, we find the richest 12 per cent of Americans, ... and between 3 and 6 per cent of the richest Britons, Japanese, Germans and French. It is a 'club' that is still overwhelmingly composed of the 'old rich'," who pass on to their children...”

Milanovic finds that globally, "The top 1 per cent has seen its real income rise by more than 60 per cent over those two decades [1988-2008]," while "the poorest 5 per cent" have received incomes which "have remained the same" - the desperately poor are simply remaining desperately poor.

The World Bank's list of "GDP per capita (current US$)" shows that in 2011 this annual-income figure ranged from $231 in Democratic Republic of Congo at the Equator, to $171,465 in Monaco within Europe. The second-poorest and second-richest countries respectively were $271 in Burundi at the Equator, and $114,232 in Luxembourg within Europe. For comparisons, the U.S. was $48,112, and China was $5,445. Those few examples indicate how widely per-capita income ranges between nations.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Who are the Real Parasites?

Jason Read is a professor of philosophy at the University of Southern Maine.

From the Treadmill of Defeat to Revolution

Americans (and the vast majority of the world's population) are on a treadmill of defeat. That's why things are getting worse, not better. Working class and "middle class" Baby Boomer parents know that things are getting worse. They know that that life is a lot harder today for their children than it was for themselves back when they were young adults looking for their first real job. Good-paying jobs are more scarce. Expectations in life are lower. Student college debts are now so oppressive that they render new college graduates virtual debt slaves forced to work a job they don't like just to pay back the debt. 
Regardless of the political party in office, trillions of dollars get taken from uses that would make life better for regular people and placed instead in the pockets of the owners of a military industrial complex that needs, and when necessary creates, a bogeyman enemy to justify itself. Many Americans lack adequate health insurance, are unemployed or are homeless because the plutocracy that controls the United States wants the American working class to feel so insecure and desperate that it will be grateful for low-paying jobs with lousy benefits. And virtually all our politicians pretend we have a government of, by and for the people and tell us that if we just vote the right way things will get better.

The treadmill of defeat operates by persuading us to accept, as a permanent fact of life, that our society must remain one in which money is power and most people don't have any, in which making a profit for an employer is the highest priority in life, before which all other considerations must bow. Being on the treadmill of defeat means having no vision of a better society. It means limiting one's aspirations to whatever crumb a politician or employer may throw us, feeling grateful for it because a crumb is better than no crumb, and then seeing even the crumb get taken back before too long, as Social Security is now being cut back, and savage budget-cutting is taking back social services we once took for granted.

Jumping off the treadmill of defeat means building a revolutionary movement--revolutionary in the sense that it has the revolutionary goal of creating a much better kind of society, one in which there are no rich and no poor because everybody who works according to ability (and those not expected to work because of age or disability) shares equally, according to need, in the fruits of the economy; and in which social order on a national or even global scale is achieved by voluntary federation of autonomous local communities where all the people who support equality and mutual aid are welcome to participate as equals in writing the laws of their local community, and there is no central government of a few hundred individuals in a faraway capital writing laws and ordering everybody to obey them. This is the goal of democratic revolution. 

Jumping off the treadmill of defeat means using every opportunity to challenge what IS with a revolutionary vision of what COULD BE. Here are just a few examples:

  • IS: Many people who are able and willing to work cannot find a job and thus suffer great economic hardship, simply because no employer finds it profitable to hire them. People unable to work (because of their age or a disability) must live in poverty on "welfare."
  • COULD BE: To get a job requires nothing more than a) pitching in wherever people are doing work or b) learning a skill so as to be able to pitch in later, because the economy is not a capitalist economy based on profit, but a sharing economy in which all who pitch in reasonably according to ability (and all who are unable to work) share in the fruits of the economy with equal status according to need--no rich and no poor.
  • IS: College costs a fortune so only the wealthy or those willing to take on a huge debt can get a higher education.
  • COULD BE: College is free; the cost is borne by society because society benefits from having people well educated. 

  • IS: 30 million Americans will have no health care insurance under Obamacare.
  • COULD BE: All people who contribute reasonably to society have an equal right to the health care they need for free.
  • IS: Big Pharma, to make its Big Profits, needs sick people to buy (via steep health insurance premiums) its drugs; if an inexpensive cure or treatment for a disease (such as eating a certain diet or being treated with a common inexpensive substance) is discovered, it would threaten Big Pharma's profits, thus causing the entire health care industry to be biased against such cures or treatments.
  • COULD BE: The economy is not based on profit and everybody benefits if a cure or treatment for a disease is discovered.

  • IS: Public K-12 schools are controlled by and run for the benefit of the richest and most powerful Americans for the purpose of making working class children blame themselves for failing standardized tests (which are a form of child abuse designed to fail a set percentage of children no matter how well students learn the material). In this way schools are used by the very rich to make working class children accept their place at the bottom of an increasingly unequal society and feel unworthy of having a good paying job or even a job at all because they are not "smart enough" or didn't work "hard enough" to score higher on the standardized test.
  • COULD BE: Teachers and parents, who want to instil in all our children the confidence, skills and joy of learning that can enable them as adults to take charge of society and make it more equal and democratic and caring for all, run the schools in a genuine democracy.
 The treadmill of defeat makes us choose from various bad alternatives that politicians and employers offer us. It's "Choose your poison!" Choose higher pay and better benefits that will make businesses leave and seek cheaper labor elsewhere, or choose to "race to the bottom" to keep your jobs but with wage and benefit concessions. Choose ending wars based on lies and the resulting loss of defense industry jobs, or choose to keep waging wars based on lies. Choose jobs and pollution or choose clean air and water but no jobs. To pay back a debt we don't rightfully owe in the first place, choose higher fares for public transportation or choose to lose public transportation. Choose news reporting and opinions--with a liberal NPR slant--that don't challenge the "money is power" basis of our society, or choose news reporting and opinions--with a conservative talk radio slant--that don't challenge the "money is power" basis of our society. 

We need to jump off the treadmill of defeat. Let's start Thinking about Revolution. (pdf)

from here

Hunger starves the brain, too

A quarter of the world's children are at risk of underperforming at school because of chronic malnutrition, says Save the Children. Missing out on a nutritious diet could severely damage a child's ability to read and write, it said.

Malnourished children suffered irreversible damage; they grew up smaller and weaker, and their brains might not develop fully.
"A quarter of the world's children are suffering the effects of chronic malnutrition, putting millions of young lives at risk." said Jasmine Whitbread, Save the Children International's Chief Executive.

The Naxalite Insurrection

Take a map of India which shows its mineral resources – iron, bauxite, coal. Take another map which shows regions affected by extreme poverty. Take yet another map which shows areas where Naxalite guerrillas hold sway. Now compare these three, and you’ll realise they are the same. Corrupted politicians who are hand in glove with business and corporates, who exploit poor, who amassed huge land and other natural resources, hail from these regions.

In more than 60 years since its independence, this natural wealth has fuelled India’s growing GDP. But for the people in the areas that provide it, little has changed. In the absence of help from the state, people died of hunger and disease. There has been rampant exploitation by businessmen from cities.

Radicals inspired by failed peasant uprisings of the 1960s in West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. believe in Maoist-type ideology and want to create guerrilla zones that would lead them to overthrow the “imperialistic” Indian state. The Naxalite movement began in 1967 as a network of left-wing ideologues and young recruits in the village of Naxalbari outside Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal state. Two of the main factions merged in 2004 to form the Communist Party of India (Maoist). They speak of uplifting the poor. The rebellion has grown so big that 11 of India’s 28 states are affected, five suffering near-civil war. As the security forces combat the rebels innocent people will become the collateral damage.
In the central state of Chhattisgarh up to 200 guerrillas fought a 2 hour battle that left leading Congress Party politicians dead, wounded or kidnapped. Human rights campaigners, while denouncing their attacks, have argued that exploitation by corporations and grinding poverty create conditions which allow the Maoists to recruit from tribal communities. The pro-government militias, called the Salwa Judum, created to fight the Naxalite insurgents are repeatedly accused of human rights abuses. They have been termed as illegal and directed to be disbanded by Supreme Court, but State government responded by making them part of the regular police. Salwa Judum burnt houses, raped women, maimed and killed adivasis.

Much less publicity has been given to the case of the brutal killing of 8 Adivasis by the security forces in an alleged encounter took at Aarespeta village of Bijapur district in Chhatisgarh. As the villagers were celebrating seed festival all of sudden without any signal, the security forces fired on them. Consequently, 8 Adivasis/Tribals including three children got killed in the massacre as a result of the cross firing among the Security forces. Nor was the world’s press interested on 28 June, 2012, when in a similar incident 17 Adivasis/Tribals of Kottaguda, Sarkeguda and Rajpenta village of Bijapur district had been killed by the Security Forces.

If hundreds of districts of India are under Naxalite influence then who stops them from contesting elections. If they think they have the people’s support without the need of a AK 47 then why not engage in the political process. Those who pick up the gun can only expect the state to respond in kind. The Maoist violence can only strengthen the military minds in the government and make it more difficult for all those whose rights are violated particularly on the most marginalized sections of society. The latest Maoist action will only invite even more state repression in the area. The CPI(Maoist) leadership seem to have cynically calculated that such increased repression will swell their numbers and help their movement grow.

The Exclusion Zone

Just under a third of people in Britain are excluded from mainstream society because they cannot afford to join in cultural activities such as going to the cinema, taking a holiday or buying consumer goods.

Research for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that the poorest 30 per cent are also prevented from “participating in society” because they have fewer social relationships and less trust in other people.

“Participating is about belonging. Many of society’s expectations require individuals and families to spend money,” the report, Poverty, Participation and Choice, says. “Like it or not, Britain is a consumer society in which people are assessed according to the income that they have, how they spend it and what they do with their time.”

Participation is defined by the report’s authors as “social relationships, membership of organisations, trust in other people and purchase of services”.

It confirms the work done by sociologist Peter Townsend who said that “poverty is relative” – ie, it prevents people from being full members of society.

Participation in society falls as income falls, as might be expected. But participation bottoms out for the 30 per cent of households with the lowest incomes, for whom additional income then makes no difference. In other words, there is a cut-off point for being a full member of society Below this “participation floor” incomes may vary wildly. But extra money is spent on replacing worn-out goods or upgrading services, rather than buying extra things.

“Those [within the 30 per cent] with higher incomes do not have measurably increased living standards, greater social participation or higher levels of trust,” the report says. “The 30 per cent of people with the lowest incomes are forced to choose between the basic necessities of modern life; they must decide which needs to neglect.”

Such social exclusion doesn’t affect the way children socialise, but means they perform less well at school.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Jihad Sponsors

France and the UK have finally got the escalation of the Syrian civil war they have been pressing to obtain for some months.

While Cameron in London condemns the Woolwich Jihad murderers, William Hague condones providing weapons to the Jihad terrorists in Damascus.

The Canadian foreign affairs minister made this liklihood explicit. John Baird opposes the idea of funding militants due to “radical Jihadists” making their way into the movement. His government was growing “increasingly alarmed” by the number of “radical jihadists” joining the opposition rebel forces. He had been given information showing that “it’s real and substantial.”

“Canada is one of the only Western countries who hasn’t recognized the Syrian opposition and this is one of the reasons why: It’s no longer just a few hundred al Qaeda affiliated people. It’s a substantial number of radical extremists that have come from all over the world,” he said. Baird said it’s in everyone’s interest that the group does not obtain weapons.

 He also added that the Canadian government has become increasingly concerned over the possible fate of religious minorities in a post-Assad Syria.

The Austrian Foreign Minister said  "We are a peace movement and not a war movement"

Oxfam has warned of "devastating consequences" if the embargo ends and more arms are sent into Syria.

Rather than advocating a peace policy by peaceful means, the British government wants to fan the flame of violence, add fuel to the fire and potentially turn the conflict into a raging conflagration for the whole region.

Struggling to survive

British families have suffered the worst deterioration in their spending power in 12 months because of a sharp decline in wage growth, it is reported.

After paying essential bills, the average household now has just £155 left over in spare cash each week. Families are now £1 a week worse off than the same month last year and have £10 a week less than they did during a peak in February 2010.

Weak income growth was the "primary driver" behind people's budgets taking a turn for the worse, with wage growth falling at the fastest rate since the start of the economic crisis.

 ment prospects have weakened and average pay rose to just 0.8% over the year to April, marking the lowest rise since comparable figures began in 2001. The cost of utilities such as electricity and gas was also a strong factor behind the decline in people's budgets, with gas prices up 8.3% year-on-year, marking the highest rate since August 2012.

Rob Habron, Economist at the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), which compiles the report, said: "...ongoing very slow wage growth and high unemployment are preventing any real gains to discretionary spending power. The squeeze on household incomes has returned in 2013 despite the gradually improving economy."

Fact of the Day

How many wars is the US fighting today?

74 nations where the US is fighting or “helping” some force in some proxy struggle that has been deemed beneficial by the nation’s masters of war. Those are just the public operations.

From here

Blue Labour

We have had New Labour and their third way. Now it is Blue Labour and the end of the way.

The idea of freedom is shoved down our throats through the education and media systems. “National” security is a term related only to security of the state. Food security, health care security, housing security is a whole different matter. The capitalist dream has a malicious and selfish intent. The owners of wealth can control access to human needs and they may demand a price for whatever it is the individual needs. It’s all about the class that benefits. Those that are privileged of set the agenda, enact the legislation, and defining what is important and what is not.The wealthy class not only own everything, they also control everything. No human being should suffer and die due to lack of access to vital needs such as medicine, shelter, or food. This is a quiet and pernicious violence perpetrated against those most in need. A poor person is certainly neither free nor secure.

According to UNICEF, nearly half the world's population lives on less than $2.50 a day. One billion children live in poverty, and 22,000 of them die each day because of it. More than one billion people lack access to adequate drinking water, and 400 million of those are children. Almost a billion people go hungry every day. A report early this year by Oxfam International revealed that the combined income of the richest 100 people in the world is enough to end global poverty four times over. That is worth repeating - the incomes of a hundred people out of the seven billion on the planet could fix that, and then fix it again, and then fix it again, and then fix it again. At the same time companies are sitting on a cash stockpile of $1.73 trillion. That's "trillion."

According to WHO of the 39 million people living with HIV only eight million have access to antiretroviral drugs, 660, 000 died from malaria in 2010, and in 2011 8.7 million people fell ill with tuberculosis. All of this despite comparatively easy technological fixes being available. Around the world, for millions of people, the cause of their illness is poverty; lack of nutritious food and clean water, poor sanitary conditions in which to live, and lack of education and employment. Poverty is the cause, and sickness is the result. But of course we already know that. Everyone knows that poverty and poor health are closely connected. Perhaps what we don't always remember quite so well is that it doesn't need to be this way.

It's estimated that the wealthiest 0.1% of people in the world own 81% of the financial wealth in the world. In fact, the richest 300 individuals in the world have the same amount of wealth as the poorest 3 billion. Capitalism is a poverty creation business.

There is no evidence that awareness of injustice will automatically lead anyone to correct it. There has been no social movements like the Civil Rights struggle despite all we hoped for in Occupy Wall St, Occupy St Pauls and other protests but having raised the question of the greed of the “bad” corporations, they fell short of challenging the system of capitalism itself.
Politicians continue to protect existing systems of power. Capitalists continue to maximise profit without concern, and the majority of people decline to question the status quo. In response to the recession and the imposition of the stern austerity measures there are no mass demonstrations. Homelessness and actual hunger is something left to religious pray-to-eat charities and food banks. No nationwide strikes. Government departments sharpen each others knives to begin slashing social security and welfare benefits. Where’s the collective outrage and anger? The environment is being raped and ravaged and pillaged, and we look in vain for a popular real rebellion.

We need a revolution. In the struggles that lie ahead, the workers in the labour movement have to recognise that it is no use tinkering with capitalism, it must be overthrown and replaced by a new system of society. Instead, we are offered the Labour Party out-doing the right-wing with their “family, flag and faith” rhetoric. The outstanding feature of the Labour Party is that they intend to continue with the present policy of the ConDem Coalition. They openly advocate class collaboration, no longer camoflaging IT with the pretence of being the protectors of the welfare state.

Memorial Day - The Class War Fallen

Never look a gift horse in the mouth. A day free from wage slavery may be just a day but it is to be savoured and enjoyed.

Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the armed forces of the United States. Memorial Day is marked by many solemn ceremonies.

Socialists will be remembering Memorial Day 1937.

“It was a day for parades, picnics and boat-rides - and tear-gas, bullets and death.” - Howard Fast

During what was called the “Little Steel Strike” ten unarmed protestors were shot and killed while another 105 wounded or clubbed by the Chicago police. No policeman was ever prosecuted. A Coroner's Jury declared the killings to be "justifiable homicide".

The Steel Workers Organizing Committee (SWOC) was attempting to organize the steel workers into an industrial union. When the company refused to recognize the union the workers went out on strike. Strikers and sympathizers from all around Chicago had gathered on Memorial Day at Sam's Place on 112th and Green Bay Avenue , where the strike headquarters was located. The strike was less than a week old; the strikers had not yet felt the pinch of hunger, and there was a good sense of solidarity everywhere. Because it was such a fine summer day, many of the strikers brought their children. After a round of speeches, it was decided to picket in front of the Republic steel main gate and the crowd began a march across the prairie and toward the Republic Steel mill. They were stopped midway on 116th Street by a formation of Chicago police. "Stand fast! Stand fast!" the line leaders cried. "We got our right! We got our legal rights to picket!" The cops replied "You got no rights. You Red bastards, you got no rights."

While demonstrators in front were arguing for their right to proceed, police fired into the crowd and pursued the people as they fled.

Of the total of forty injured by gun shots two-thirds were shot in the back, according to medical testimony. As a union pointed out, if the marchers charged the police, they must have charged them backside forward! Witness after witness and report after report testified to the callousness and indifference of the police. The wounded were piled high on top of one another in patrol wagons.

Memorial Day in Chicago settled nothing. There as elsewhere the strike dragged on. Violence, disorder, unrest, loss of life accompanied it. In all the communities in the five states affected by the steel labor walkout the violent pattern of Chicago repeated itself. Before the strike ended eight more persons died. In Ohio the governor called out the National Guard, the steel mills were reopened and Guardsmen protected the few employees who wished to return to work as well as the strike breakers imported to crush the union. In Monroe, Michigan, the mayor called for civilians with military experience to enlist as special policemen and help break through what he called the illegal picket line. Many of Republic's mills and plants were under virtual siege as SWOC attempted to keep them from operating. The strike was eventually broken and early in July, 1937, the union called upon its members to return to work.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The good capitalism of Sweden turns sour

Sweden is often held up as an example of "good capitalism" in which there is relatively little economic inequality and there is a comfortable living guaranteed to all. The "good capitalism" of Sweden is offered by some as evidence that there is no need to abolish capitalism to achieve a good and decent society.

The problem, however, with "good capitalism," is that the people who act in accordance with capitalist values are, just as in "bad capitalism," allowed to do so. This means that the people who aim to make employees work for the goal of making a profit for the employer rather than to produce goods and services to be shared with others according to need -- these people have a free hand in a "good capitalist" society.

These people acting on the basis of their capitalist values, grow richer and thereby become more powerful than others. These people protect their wealth and power by doing what such people always do--by using divide and rule to control people, by using lies and manipulation to make people accept the rightness or naturalness or inevitability of economic inequality. Eventually these people gain so much wealth and power and privilege that it is no longer "good capitalism".

The working class did indeed win very substantial gains in Sweden after World War II. They made Sweden a "good capitalist" nation. They did not, unfortunately, abolish capitalism. They did not challenge inequality instead of equality, competition instead of mutual aid, top-down control instead of democracy- that legitimise the power, wealth and privileges of the capitalist class.

Now we can see what "good capitalism" turns into in the absence of a democratic revolution to abolish capitalism and class inequality. It turns into what we can see Sweden turning into before our very eyes.
Taken from this article

Capitalist Criminals

The lead industry, the asbestos industry, and the tobacco companies all knew the dangers of their products, made efforts to suppress the information or instill doubt about it even as they promoted what they made, and went right on producing and selling while others suffered and died. With all three industries, the negative results conveniently arrived years, sometimes decades, after exposure and so were hard to connect to it. Each of these industries knew that the relationship existed. Each used that time-lag as protection.

The most profitable corporations in the world, giant energy companies like ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP, and Shell, certainly know what they were doing. These companies have been extracting fossil fuels from the Earth in ever more ingenious ways. The burning of those fossil fuels, in turn, has put record amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. Only this month, the CO2 level reached parts per million for the first time in human history. A consensus of scientists has long concluded that the process was warming the world and that, if the average planetary temperature rose more than two degrees Celsius, all sorts of dangers could ensue, including seas rising high enough to inundate coastal cities, increasingly intense heat waves, droughts, floods, ever more extreme storm systems, and so on. None of this is exactly a mystery. It’s in the scientific literature. Those who run the giant energy corporations know perfectly well. Its top executives continue to plan their futures knowing that their extremely profitable acts are destroying the very habitat, the very temperature range that for so long made life comfortable for humanity.

These companies have even begun taking advantage of climate change itself -- in the form of a melting Arctic -- to exploit enormous and previously unreachable energy supplies. Oil and gas companies evidently has no qualms about making its next set of profits directly off melting the planet. With their staggering profits, these industrial barons could have decided anywhere along the line that the future they were ensuring was beyond dangerous. They could themselves have led the way with massive investments in genuine alternative energies (solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, algal, and who knows what else), instead of the exceedingly small-scale ones they made, often only for publicity purposes.

To destroy our planet with malice and forethought, with profits as motive, isn’t that the ultimate crime against humanity?
Adapted from here

Sunday Sermon - The Taborites

Many have challenged the Socialist Party’s refusal to permit membership to those who are of a religious persuasion. They say “Religion does not prevent my being a socialist. I believe both in God and in socialism. My faith in God does not hinder me from fighting for the revolution.” They are wrong. Religion and socialism are incompatible and mix about as well as oil and water.

Socialists regard social phenomena (the relationships between human beings, revolutions, wars, etc.) as processes which occur in accordance with definite laws on the basis of the theory of historical materialism. This theory explains that social development is not brought about by any kind of supernatural forces. The same theory has demonstrated that the very idea of God and of supernatural powers arises at a definite stage in human history, and at another definite stage begins to disappear as a childish notion which finds no confirmation in practical life and in the struggle between man and nature. But it is profitable to the exploiting predatory class to maintain the ignorance of the people and to maintain the people's childish belief in miracles and this is why religious prejudices are so tenacious, and why they confuse the minds even of persons who are in other respects able.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Facts of the Day

Nearly a quarter of Americans (24%) say they had trouble putting food on the table in the past 12 months. This is up from just 16% who reported such deprivation in 2007, the year before the Great Recession began. Americans’ reported level of deprivation is closer to that experienced by Indonesians or Greeks than it is the British or the Canadians. In fact, the percentage of Americans who say they could not afford the food needed by their families at some point in the last year is three times that in Germany, more than twice that in Italy and Canada.New research shows that one in seven of America’s senior citizens live in poverty, not one in ten as the Census Bureau earlier measured. Almost 5 million (4.8) elderly American live in food insecurity.
National holidays in the United States are not really national holidays. Unlike the rest of the developed world, the US doesn't guarantee every worker paid time off. Not for annual vacations. Not for Christmas. Not for Memorial Day.

Paris...London...Now Stockholm

 It was London two years ago and it was Paris in 2005. Now it is Stockholm.

Days of protest riots in Sweden began on May 19, after police shot dead a knife-wielding 69-year-old man who had locked himself in an apartment in Husby, a poor district in western Stockholm. The anger spread to other immigrant-dominated suburbs that ring the city, and soon reports flared up of burning cars, stone-throwing and confrontations with police. Disturbances spread to 23 suburbs. Housing segregation is rampant. Many of the riots have occurred in crowded  run-down housing estates, which were constructed as part of Sweden's "million homes" project in the 1960s and 1970s when Stockholm was in the grip of one of a housing crisis. Long-since abandoned by almost all of their original inhabitants, they are often the only source of available housing for migrants and asylum-seekers.

In a country that prides itself on a reputation for social justice, that prides itself, and rightfully so, on its willingness to take in refugees, proud of its past efforts to instill equality regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race and other qualities, it has fuelled a debate about how Sweden is coping with both youth unemployment and an influx of immigrants. The world’s image is of a Sweden filled with blond, blue-eyed Vikings but as many as two million Swedes (out of a population of 9.2 million) have immigrant backgrounds which has had a long tradition.
Some 15 percent of the population are foreign-born, and unemployment among these stands at 16 percent, compared with 6 percent for native Swedes, according to OECD data. The jobless rate in Husby stands at 8.8 percent, much higher than the 3.3 percent in Stockholm.

 Many of the jobs that people with immigrant backgrounds do have would be classified as “menial”. If you live in Sweden, the odds are high that the people cleaning your home or office, baking your pizza, dry-cleaning and pressing your clothes, driving your taxi, or running your kebab-and-hot dog stand have immigrated to Sweden. The public transport out of Stockholm center late at night are full of exhausted-looking immigrants returning home from work. Even second generation immigrants struggle to find white collar employment.

In general, someone born in Sweden, with a Swedish last name, stands a much better chance of landing a job than someone who is darker and whose name is not Svensson. It’s not unknown for people with non-Swedish names, especially from non-western regions, to change their last names via marriage or legal process: this, they hope and believe, will help them to get a foot in the employment door.

“We see a society that is becoming increasingly divided and where the gaps, both socially and economically, are becoming larger,” said Rami Al-khamisi, co-founder of Megafonen, a group that works for social change in the suburbs. “And the people out here are being hit the hardest. ... We have institutional racism.”
After decades of practicing the “Swedish model” of generous welfare benefits, the government has been reducing the role of the state since the 1990s, spurring the fastest growth in inequality of any advanced OECD economy.

According to Sweden’s state television, the average income in Husby is 195,000 SEK (USD 29,300) compared to 327,000 SEK for Stockholm.

Police in Husby are accused of used racist language: words such as ‘nigger’, ‘blackheads’ and ‘monkeys’”. (The ethnic slur “svartskallar” or “blackheads” is directed often at dark-haired people who are perceived as having Middle Eastern backgrounds).

Friday, May 24, 2013

Remembering our past

150 years ago in the May of 1863 The General German Worker Association (ADAV) came into being.

It is considered the first independent workers’ party on continental Europe. It later merged with the Social-Democratic Workers' Party (SDAP) in 1875 to become the Socialist Workers' Party of Germany (SAPD), and was renamed the Social-Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) in 1890.

Deporting Strikers in Dubai

Backed by security forces, bosses at Arabtec broke a strike in Dubai. Arabtec, Dubai's largest construction firm, has tens of thousands of employees and contracts to work on the city's airport, the Abu Dhabi branch of the Louvre museum, and other high-profile projects.

Unions and strikes are illegal in Dubai and across the Gulf and rather than demonstrating or holding placards, a few thousand workers simply stayed in their accommodations last weekend and didn't show up for work.

The strike ended after management refused to accept demands for increased wages from people earning about $200 a month to complete mega-projects in 40 degree Celsius heat. Worker demands varied from a monthly pay raise of between $100-$135, while others wanted free food that they say was promised to them. It's unclear how many workers downed their tools.

Now many of those who took part in the strike are being deported.

Dubai is an autonomous city and part of the United Arab Emirates, a federation run by an unelected emir where the press is censored and public demonstrations are illegal. Less than 20 percent of the UAE's roughly 7.9 million residents are citizens. To attain citizenship, a person must usually demonstrate a blood connection on the father's side to the Emirates' original inhabitants.

Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, said many workers are "effectively living in 21st-century slave states...Most companies are forcing their workers to live in squalor. An unconscionable number of workers die due to unsafe conditions. These governments are using and abusing migrant workers."

Under the kefala system, a worker's legal status in the country is tied to his employer. Foreigners cannot change jobs without permission from their company. Supporters say these rules allow citizens to retain their rights while creating economic stability, while critics say they are a form of modern servitude. Many labourers arrive in Dubai saddled with debt, usually a result of visa fees and other charges imposed by local labour agents in their home countries. The Dubai model of cheap, imported labour and no union recognition has been a boon. If hundreds of Arabtec employees are deported, there will be thousands of new recruits to take their place.
Full Story Here

Thursday, May 23, 2013

On "Mindless" Violence

We are sure you have heard the tale of the thief who stole a purse and then ran down the street shouting out, “Stop Thief! Stop Thief!”
Well, that is capitalism. With its hands covered in blood from doing violence and imposing terrorism around the world, capitalism runs amok shouting “Violence! Terrorism!” pointing the finger at the workers it hates most and we are all taken in.

The media does not reflect the real world. They give their own dominant version, the version of the ruling class. A version that suits them. Militarism, terrorism, racism, bigotry are headline news but do not have a firm place deep down in the minds of the majority of the people. The vast majority of the people are more altruistic, more peace loving, more egalitarian and more freedom-loving than governments and the media would like to credit.

Ending terrorism is one of the tasks of the Socialist Party. Terrorism must be eradicated by putting an end to the hardships, discrimination, exploitation and oppression that lead people to desperation and make them fall prey to reactionary ideas and inhuman organisations. There are important economic, social and political problems behind such an event as we witnessed in Woolwich that have pushed people into this direction. These problems and issues must be addressed by exposing religion and racism and nationalism. Our response to terrorism is to continue to fight for the creation of socialism, an open, free and equal society in which people, their lives, dignity and well-being are fully valued. Until then, this sad state of affairs will carry on relentlessly and regardless of our wishes and hopes.

Can science be trusted?

Activists are uniting in a global day of action on May 25th to "take back the food supply," in a worldwide March Against Monsanto this coming Saturday. Environmentalists and opponents to genetically modified (GM) crops have planned over events in more than 45 countries. In the United States, actions in 47 states.
The protesters are marching against the dangers of GM crops in addition to the "cronyism" which has enabled the biotech giant to dominate the global food supply.

"Monsanto has no intention of serving the people. They betray humanity, they betray life, they belie mother nature—and they do so at the expense of all of us." said Tami Monroe Canal, a protest organizer.

 She adds that a large part of the problem is the "cronyism that exists between the government and Monsanto," specifically referencing Michael Taylor of the Food and Drug Association and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas—both of whom had longtime affiliations with the company. For too long, Monsanto has been the benefactor of corporate subsidies and political favoritism. Organic and small farmers suffer losses while Monsanto continues to forge its monopoly over the world’s food supply, including exclusive patenting rights over seeds and genetic makeup. Recently, the U.S. Congress and president collectively passed the nicknamed “Monsanto Protection Act” that, among other things, bans courts from halting the sale of Monsanto’s genetically-modified seeds.

Dr. Vandana Shiva explained "And it is our deep love for life on Earth in freedom that makes all of us march against Monsanto and we stand in solidarity with everyone.This dictatorship must end. The March against Monsanto is a call to end the dictatorship over seeds, over life, over food and over our freedom."

Roberta Gogos, who organized the march in Athens, Greece describes how “Monsanto is working very hard to overturn EU regulation on obligatory labeling (questionable whether it's really enforced in any case), and no doubt they will have their way in the end."
Scientific peer-reviewed journals have a lot of power and influence. Big Business is well aware of this. In 2009, the scientific publishing giant Elsevier was found to have invented an entire medical journal, complete with editorial board, in order to publish papers promoting the products of the pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck. Merck provided the papers, Elsevier published them, and doctors read them, unaware that the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine was fake.

In September 2012, the scientific journal Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT) published a study led by Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini of the University of Caen, France, suggested a Monsanto genetically modified (GM) maize, and the Roundup herbicide it is grown with, pose serious health risks. The two-year feeding study found that rats fed both suffered severe organ damage and increased rates of tumors and premature death. Both the herbicide (Roundup) and the GM maize are Monsanto products.

Subsequently, an orchestrated campaign was launched to discredit the study in the media and persuade the journal to retract it. Many of those who wrote letters to FCT had conflicts of interest with the GM industry and its lobby groups, though these were not publicly disclosed. The journal did not retract the study. But just a few months later, in early 2013 the FCT editorial board acquired a new “Associate Editor for biotechnology”, Richard E. Goodman. He is professor at the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program, University of Nebraska. But Goodman is also a former Monsanto employee, who worked for the company between between 1997 and 2004. While at Monsanto he assessed the allergenicity of the company’s GM crops and published papers on its behalf on allergenicity and safety issues relating to GM food. Goodman has an active and ongoing involvement with the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI). ILSI is funded by the multinational GM and agrochemical companies, including Monsanto. It develops industry-friendly risk assessment methods for GM foods and chemical food contaminants and inserts them into government regulations. In 2005 US-based non-profits and trade unions wrote to the World Health Organization (WHO) protesting against ILSI’s influence on international health standards protecting food and water supplies. As a result, the WHO barred ILSI from taking part in WHO activities setting safety standards, because of its funding sources. And in Europe in 2012, Diana Banati, then head of the management board at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), had to resign over her undisclosed long-standing involvement with ILSI.
Is this part of an attempt by Monsanto to seize control of science? FCT fast-tracked Goodman’s appointment, a former Monsanto employee and well-known supporter of industry viewpoints, immediately following the publication of a controversial paper that was critical of Monsanto’s principal products. In doing so, FCT senior management bypassed the normal scientific editorial culture of gradual promotion from within. The FCT journal already has expertise in GM food safety. Of the four senior editors, José L. Domingo is a professor of toxicology and environmental health and author of two comprehensive reviews of GM food safety studies . Both reviews expressed skepticism of the thesis that GMOs are safe. Consequently, it is far from clear why FCT needs an “associate editor for biotechnology”, but it is clear why Monsanto would have an interest in ensuring that the “Séralini affair” is never repeated.
The threat to science and its supposed impartiality and objectivity from industry and commercial influence is real. This directly affects the quality of the science produced. Nor is it is not just restricted to Monsanto and GM but also to pharmaceutical research and energy developments amongst others. Capitalism manipulates the science. Capitalism corrupts the regulators.

Obama appointed a Monsanto lobbyist, Michael Taylor, as the "food czar" (officially the deputy commissioner for foods) - avoiding the Senate confirmation process, which would have brought public attention to the appointment - it was one more example of how corrupted both parties have become by corporate influence. Monsanto is one of the biggest spenders in Washington. It spent $6 million lobbying in DC in 2012, the biggest agribusiness spender. At least seven Monsanto officials have served in government positions. Michael Taylor left the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1984 to join King & Spalding, a law firm that lobbies for Monsanto. He returned to the FDA in 1991 and then left again to return to Monsanto in 1994 as their vice president for public policy, only to return to the FDA again as the current "food czar," where he has led major advances for genetically modified foods. Taylor played the lead role in introducing rBGH (bovine growth hormone), which was used to increase cows' milk production, into the US market in the early 90s along with two other Monsanto-FDA door revolvers, Dr. Margaret Miller and Susan Sechen, both from the Office of New Animal Drugs.

Other door revolvers include high level officials: Arthur Hayes, commissioner of the FDA from 1981 to 1983 and consultant to Searle's public relations firm, which later merged with Monsanto; Michael A. Friedman, former acting commissioner of the FDA, who later went on to become senior vice president for clinical affairs at Searle; and Virginia Weldon, a member of the FDA's Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee, after retiring as vice president for public policy at Monsanto.

It is not only the FDA where the Monsanto revolving door has influence. On the Supreme Court, Justice Clarence Thomas used to be a lawyer for Monsanto. Recently, the Supreme Court ruled against a farmer who was sued by Monsanto, ordering the farmer to pay $84,000 in damages.

During the Clinton administration when the French government was reluctant to allow Monsanto's seeds on French soil. First the US Trade Representative Charlene Barschefsky urged the French government to allow the seeds. When that did not work, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright lobbied for Monsanto in France. When that failed, President Clinton himself took up the task of giving Prime Minister Lionel Jospin "an earful" about Monsanto. Even that did not work. Finally, Vice President Gore pushed Jospin - who finally gave in.

This is just one example of many in which the US government foreign policy apparatus operated on behalf of Monsanto. WikiLeaks diplomatic cables during the Bush and Obama administrations reveal that the State Department lobbied for Monsanto products worldwide and pushed genetically modified foods wherever it could. Indeed, in August 2011, WikiLeaks exposed that American diplomats requested funding to send lobbyists for the biotech industry to hold talks with politicians and agricultural officials in "target countries" in areas like Africa and Latin America.

 The US government acts as a marketing arm for Monsanto and genetically modified foods. However, although lacking concise analyses of how capitalism works, popular resistance to the concentrated wealth of the corporations is growing as more people demand the right to control their own lives
More details in the full article here