Thursday, July 02, 2020

Pure Water? Pure Profit

When Margaret Thatcher sold off the water industry in 1989, the government wrote off all debts. But according to the analysis by David Hall and Karol Yearwood of the public services international research unit of Greenwich University, the nine privatised companies in England have amassed debts of £48bn over the past three decades – almost as much as the sum paid out to shareholders. The debt cost them £1.3bn in interest last year. In the past 10 years, the companies have paid out £17bn in dividends and directors’ pay has soared. The earnings of the nine water companies’ highest-paid directors rose by 8.8% last year, to a total of £12.9m. The highest paid CEOs were at Severn Trent, with a salary package of £2.4m, and United Utilities, a salary package of £2.3m. In comparison, the highest paid director of publicly owned Scottish Water earned £366,000. Scottish Water, which is publicly owned, has invested nearly 35% more per household in infrastructure since 2002 than the privatised English water companies, according to the analysis. It charges users 14% less and does not pay dividends.

Dieter Helm, a professor of economic policy at Oxford University, said water companies could not be blamed for exploiting the system.
“The water companies behaved exactly how we believe a commercial company does behave,” he said. “The question is, do we expect capitalists to behave like capitalists? What we have seen is a complete regulatory failure to control the companies.”

English water companies have handed more than £2bn a year on average to shareholders since they were privatised three decades ago, according to analysis for the Guardian.
The payouts in dividends to shareholders of parent companies between 1991 and 2019 amount to £57bn – nearly half the sum they spent on maintaining and improving the country’s pipes and treatment plants in that period. Hall concludes the companies have borrowed to pay dividends, rather than to invest in infrastructure projects. The £123bn of capital expenditure spent by the companies has all been financed by customer bills, the analysis states.
“A large amount of debt has been borrowed. But since the revenue from user charges covered capital expenditure, this debt has been used to finance dividends rather than capital expenditure,” Hall said.
Critics say while continuing to pay huge dividends they have failed to carry out significant national infrastructure works to improve the water and sewerage system. Rather than improving, it had deteriorated, with more serious pollution incidents that damaged wildlife, the local environment and in the worst cases public health.
Water companies in England discharged raw sewage into rivers on more than 200,000 occasions last year. The analysis reveals untreated human waste was released into streams and rivers for more than 1.5m hours in 2019. The scale of the sewage releases in 2019 reveals what one industry insider said was the frequent and routine nature of discharging untreated effluent from storm overflows.  According to this insider, the discharges released “a horrible septic mix of nasties into the rivers”. He said the industry had for years ignored warnings about the growing scale of spills from combined sewer overflows (CSOs) – storm pipes that allow rainwater, untreated sewage and runoff to discharge into waterways. A recent study revealed the quantity of E coli coming out of CSOs was between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than that coming from treated sewage from wastewater treatment plants.
The Environment Agency issues permits to allow water companies to release untreated human waste, which includes excrement, condoms and toilet paper, from CSOs after extreme weather events, such as torrential rain, to stop water backing up and flooding homes. More than 60 discharges a year from a storm overflow should trigger an investigation by the agency but the data reveals some storm overflows have released discharges hundreds of times. The Environment Agency relies on water companies to self-monitor their CSOs. The campaign group Windrush against Sewage Pollution said the system was little more than a “licence to pollute”.
Campaigner Ashley Smith said: “The industry has been given a way to prop up failed infrastructure and it has exploited this enthusiastically. The inability of the Environment Agency to prosecute or even drive improvement has led us to where we are today – in a complete shambles with pollution rife and unchecked.”
Dr Andrew Singer, a senior scientist at the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, said the pollution impact of CSO discharge was a risk to ecological and human health.

"morally bankrupt" and "devoid of humanity."

 A suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) to block Minnesota's Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act. The law in question is named for an uninsured 26-year-old diabetic who died in 2017 of complications from rationing his insulin because he couldn't afford the medicine and related supplies after aging off his mother's health insurance.

Under the law, people with diabetes who can't afford the essential medicine will be able to get 30-day supplies with no more than a $35 co-pay. A separate income-based program is established for those with needs that extend beyond that. Drug makers are required to participate. If they don't, they would face a series of escalating fines.

State Sen. Matt Little, a member of the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL), decried the move as "morally bankrupt" and "devoid of humanity." In a tweet, Little also vowed: "I will spend my entire life fighting these soulless companies. No one should get sick or die from an inability to afford life-sustaining insulin."

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Socialist Party Badges


Women's Liberation?

Emily Thompson, the first woman to pilot the F-35 jet in combat. At an unspecified time earlier this month, Thompson took off from her base in the United Arab Emirates to bomb an unnamed country.  It has been hailed as a step forward for women, "inspirational", "empowering" and “breaking the glass ceiling". 

Thompson’s ground crew was also all-female.  Her bomb loader, advised young girls: “Be confident and never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something because you can.”

Few in the media questioned whether this was really a victory for female equality that Thompson and her sisters in the American military are contributing to a campaign that has killed huge numbers of women and children.

 The CIA is now a feminist institution according to the logic that women head its key directorates.

The feminine touch has been placed upon the merchants of death. Four of the five largest weapons manufacturers in the United States are headed by female CEOs.

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/06/29/bombing-people-not-feminist-no-matter-how-you-spin-it

Poverty and Inequality

Black and minority ethnic (BAME) households in the UK are over twice as likely to live in poverty as their white counterparts, leaving them disproportionately exposed to job losses and pay cuts caused by the coronavirus pandemic, an independent study  by the Social Metrics Commission has found.
Nearly half of Black African Caribbean households were in poverty, compared with just under one in five white families, while BAME families as a whole were between two and three times as likely to be in persistent poverty than white households.
The commission said all people in poverty – particularly those classed as in “deep poverty”, meaning they lived at least 50% below the breadline – had been far more likely to suffer reduced incomes since lockdown, increasing the risk that the pandemic would drive a “significant” increase in the incidence and severity of poverty.
Overall, 14.4 million people in the UK were living in poverty in 2018-19, up by 100,000 on the previous year, of which 4.5 million were children. About 4.5 million people – 7% of the population – were in deep poverty, and 7.1 million people (11%) were in persistent poverty, meaning they had lived below the breadline for at least two of the last three years.
The commission said BAME households were more likely to be in deep poverty than white families – around one in 10 adults from a Black British, Pakistani, Bangladeshi or mixed background were unemployed, compared with one in 25 white British people – and so were more likely to suffer heightened financial exposure to the pandemic.
It found that 19% of people in families where the head of the household was white lived in poverty in 2018-19. This compared with 32% of mixed ethnicity families, 39% of Asian/Asian British families, 42% of families classified an “other ethnic” and 46% for Black/African/Caribbean/Black British.
 65% of those people in deep poverty prior to the crisis had suffered reduced earnings, job losses or furlough. This compared with 35% of those living in families with incomes more than 20% above the poverty line.
“These impacts on those already in poverty and just above the poverty line threaten to increase the number of people in poverty and deepen poverty for those already experiencing it,” the commission said.
Half of all people in poverty lived in a family that included a disabled person, the commission found. The rise of in-work poverty meant 68% of working-age adults (5.6 million people) were in families where at least one person worked part time. Just over one in 10 pensioners were in poverty.
Child poverty rates varied significantly between regions, with London (40%) and north-east England (39%) worst affected and south-east England and Scotland (both 27%) least affected. Child poverty rates for England were 33%, Wales 31% and Northern Ireland 29%.
“With the economic and social impacts of the coronavirus likely to last long after the health crisis is over, these results show how far we have to go to improve the lives of the most disadvantaged in society,” said the commission’s chair, the Conservative peer Philippa Stroud.
Helen Barnard, acting director of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and a member of the commission, said: “For a society that values compassion and justice, news that the proportion of people locked in deep poverty has increased over the last 20 years must act as wake-up call. That the pandemic has also hit those living in deep poverty hardest only sharpens the need for urgent action.”
Sam Royston, director of policy and research at the Children’s Society, said: “These new figures – which show that nearly a third of people in poverty are living on less than half what they would need simply to get above the poverty line – should appal us all.”
[The poverty line is set at 60% of the median UK income, which equates to £325 a week for a single parent with two children, £439 a week for a couple with two children, and £239 a week for a pensioner couple.]

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/jul/01/nearly-half-of-black-uk-households-are-living-in-poverty

American Despair (book review)


Life expectancy in the United States has recently fallen for three years in a row—a reversal not seen since 1918 or in any other wealthy nation in modern times. 

In the past two decades, deaths of despair from suicide, drug overdose, and alcoholism have risen dramatically, and now claim hundreds of thousands of American lives each year—and they’re still rising.

In their book 'Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism'  Anne Case and Angus Deaton paints a troubling portrait of the American dream in decline. For the white working class, today’s America has become a land of broken families and few prospects. As the college educated become healthier and wealthier, adults without a degree are literally dying from pain and despair. 

Case and Deaton tie the crisis to the weakening position of labor, the growing power of corporations, and, above all, to a rapacious health-care sector that redistributes working-class wages into the pockets of the wealthy. Capitalism, which over two centuries lifted countless people out of poverty, is now destroying the lives of blue-collar America.

https://press.princeton.edu/books/hardcover/9780691190785/deaths-of-despair-and-the-future-of-capitalism

Who Judges the Judges?


State and local judges draw little scrutiny even though their courtrooms are the bedrock of the American criminal justice system, touching the lives of millions of people every year. The country’s approximately 1,700 federal judges hear 400,000 cases annually. The nearly 30,000 state, county and municipal court judges handle a far bigger docket: more than 100 million new cases each year, from traffic to divorce to murder. Their titles range from justice of the peace to state supreme court justice. Their powers are vast and varied – from determining whether a defendant should be jailed to deciding who deserves custody of a child. Each U.S. state has an oversight agency that investigates misconduct complaints against judges. The authority of the oversight agencies is distinct from the power held by appellate courts, which can reverse a judge’s legal ruling and order a new trial. Judicial commissions cannot change verdicts. Rather, they can investigate complaints about the behavior of judges and pursue discipline ranging from reprimand to removal. the clout of these commissions is limited, and their authority differs from state to state. To remove a judge, all but a handful of states require approval of a panel that includes other judges. And most states seldom exercise the full extent of those disciplinary powers. As a result, the system tends to err on the side of protecting the rights and reputations of judges while overlooking the impact courtroom wrongdoing has on those most affected by it

State and local judges have repeatedly escaped public accountability for misdeeds that have victimized thousands. Nine of 10 kept their jobs, a Reuters investigation found – including an Alabama judge who unlawfully jailed hundreds of poor people, many of them Black, over traffic fines. He once sentenced a single mother of three to 496 days behind bars for failing to pay traffic tickets. The sentence was so stiff it exceeded the jail time Alabama allows for negligent homicide. Johnson’s three children were cast into foster care while she was incarcerated. One daughter was molested, state records show. Another was physically abused. 
“Judge Hayes took away my life and didn’t care how my children suffered,” said Johnson. “My girls will never be the same.”

In 2016, the state agency that oversees judges charged Judge Les Hayes with violating Alabama’s code of judicial conduct. According to the Judicial Inquiry Commission, Hayes broke state and federal laws by jailing Johnson and hundreds of other Montgomery residents too poor to pay fines. Among those jailed: a plumber struggling to make rent, a mother who skipped meals to cover the medical bills of her disabled son, and a hotel housekeeper working her way through college. Hayes, a judge since 2000, admitted in court documents to violating 10 different parts of the state’s judicial conduct code. One of the counts was a breach of a judge’s most essential duty: failing to “respect and comply with the law.”

Despite the severity of the ruling, Hayes wasn’t barred from serving as a judge. Instead, the judicial commission and Hayes reached a deal. The former Eagle Scout would serve an 11-month unpaid suspension. Then he could return to the bench. Until he was disciplined, Hayes said in an interview with Reuters, “I never thought I was doing something wrong.” 

Hayes is among thousands of state and local judges across America who were allowed to keep positions of extraordinary power and prestige after violating judicial ethics rules or breaking laws they pledged to uphold, a Reuters investigation found. Judges have made racist statements, lied to state officials and forced defendants to languish in jail without a lawyer – and then returned to the bench, sometimes with little more than a rebuke from the state agencies overseeing their conduct. Recent media reports have documented failures in judicial oversight in South Carolina, Louisiana and Illinois. Reuters went further. In the first comprehensive accounting of judicial misconduct nationally, Reuters reviewed 1,509 cases from the last dozen years – 2008 through 2019 – in which judges resigned, retired or were publicly disciplined following accusations of misconduct. In addition, reporters identified another 3,613 cases from 2008 through 2018 in which states disciplined wayward judges but kept hidden from the public key details of their offenses – including the identities of the judges themselves.

All told, 9 of every 10 judges were allowed to return to the bench after they were sanctioned for misconduct. They included a Maryland judge who, after his arrest for driving drunk, was allowed to return to the bench provided he took a Breathalyzer test before each appearance. In Indiana, three judges attending a conference last spring got drunk and sparked a 3 a.m. brawl outside a fast-food restaurant that ended with two of the judges shot. Although the state supreme court found the three judges had “discredited the entire Indiana judiciary,” each returned to the bench after a suspension. In Texas, a judge burst in on jurors deliberating the case of a woman charged with sex trafficking and declared that God told him the defendant was innocent. The offending judge received a warning and returned to the bench. The defendant was convicted after a new judge took over the case.

“When you see cases like that, the public starts to wonder about the integrity and honesty of the system,” said Steve Scheckman, a lawyer who directed Louisiana’s oversight agency and served as deputy director of New York’s. “It looks like a good ol’ boys club.”

Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University who writes about judicial ethics said, the public “would be appalled at some of the lenient treatment judges get” for substantial transgressions. 

Judge Cullman Kim Chaney, remained on the bench for three years after being accused of violating the same nepotism rules he was tasked with enforcing on the oversight commission. In at least 200 cases, court records show, Judge Chaney chose his own son to serve as a court-appointed defense lawyer for the indigent, enabling the younger Chaney to earn at least $105,000 in fees over two years.

In Pennsylvania, the state examined the convictions of more than 3,500 teenagers sentenced by two judges. The judges were convicted of taking kickbacks as part of a scheme to fill a private juvenile detention center. In 2009, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court appointed senior judge Arthur Grim to lead a victim review, and the state later expunged criminal records for 2,251 juveniles.  

Most states afford judges accused of misconduct a gentle kind of justice. Perhaps no state better illustrates the shortcomings of America’s system for overseeing judges than Alabama. As in most states, Alabama’s nine-member Judicial Inquiry Commission is a mix of lawyers, judges and laypeople. All are appointed. Their deliberations are secret and they operate under some of the most judge-friendly rules in the nation. Alabama’s rules make even filing a complaint against a judge difficult. The complaint must be notarized, which means that in theory, anyone who makes misstatements about the judge can be prosecuted for perjury. Complaints about wrongdoing must be made in writing; those that arrive by phone, email or without a notary stamp are not investigated, although senders are notified why their complaints have been summarily rejected. Anonymous written complaints are shredded. These rules can leave lawyers and litigants fearing retaliation, commission director Jenny Garrett noted in response to written questions.

“It’s a ridiculous system that protects judges and makes it easy for them to intimidate anyone with a legitimate complaint,” said Sue Bell Cobb, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court from 2007 to 2011. In 2009, she unsuccessfully championed changes to the process and commissioned an American Bar Association report that offered a scathing review of Alabama's rules.   In most other states, commission staff members can start investigating a judge upon receiving a phone call or email, even anonymous ones, or after learning of questionable conduct from a news report or court filing. In Alabama, staff will not begin an investigation without approval from the commission itself, which convenes about every seven weeks. By rule, the commission also must keep a judge who is under scrutiny fully informed throughout an investigation. If a subpoena is issued, the judge receives a simultaneous copy, raising fears about witness intimidation. If a witness gives investigators a statement, the judge receives a transcript. In the U.S. justice system, such deference to individuals under investigation is extremely rare.

 “Why the need for special rules for judges?” said Michael Levy, a Washington lawyer who has represented clients in high-profile criminal, corporate, congressional and securities investigations. “If judges think it’s fair and appropriate to investigate others for crimes or misconduct without providing those subjects or targets with copies of witness statements and subpoenas, why don’t judges think it’s fair to investigate judges in the same way?”

https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-judges-misconduct/

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

America First

The US has bought up virtually all the stocks for the next three months of one of the two drugs proven to work against Covid-19, leaving none for the UK, Europe or most of the rest of the world. Buying up the world’s supply of remdesivir is not just a reaction to the increasing spread and death toll. The US has taken an “America first” attitude throughout the global pandemic.
Experts and campaigners are alarmed both by the US unilateral action on remdesivir and the wider implications, for instance in the event of a vaccine becoming available. The Trump administration has already shown that it is prepared to outbid and out-manoeuvre all other countries to secure the medical supplies it needs for the US.
“They’ve got access to most of the drug supply of remdesivir, so there’s nothing for Europe,” said Dr Andrew Hill, senior visiting research fellow at Liverpool University. “This is the first major approved drug, and where is the mechanism for access?” said Dr Hill. “Once again we’re at the back of the queue.” There was no mechanism to ensure a supply outside the US. “Imagine this was a vaccine,” he said. “That would be a firestorm. But perhaps this is a taste of things to come.”
The drug, which was invented for Ebola but failed to work, is under patent to Gilead, which means no other company in wealthy countries can make it. The cost is around $3,200 per treatment of six doses, according to the US government statement.
In May, French manufacturer Sanofi said the US would get first access to its Covid vaccine if it works. Its CEO, Paul Hudson, was quoted as saying: “The US government has the right to the largest pre-order because it’s invested in taking the risk,” and, he added, the US expected that “if we’ve helped you manufacture the doses at risk, we expect to get the doses first”. Later it backtracked under pressure from the French government.
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau warned there could be unintended negative consequences if the US continued to outbid its allies. “We know it is in both of our interests to work collaboratively and cooperatively to keep our citizens safe,” he said. 
The Trump administration has also invoked the Defense Production Act to block some medical goods made in the US from being sent abroad.
Hill said there was a way for the UK to secure supplies of this and other drugs during the pandemic, through what is known as a compulsory licence, which overrides the intellectual property rights of the company. That would allow the UK government to buy from generic companies in Bangladesh or India, where Gilead’s patent is not recognised.
The UK has always upheld patents, backing the argument of pharma companies that they need their 20-year monopoly to recoup the money they put into research and development. But other countries have shown an interest in compulsory licensing.

Socialist Standard No. 1391 July 2020

No. 1391 July 2020

index link

Socialist Standard No. 1391 July 2020 PDF


Click on image for Contents page .

Torture in Yemen

Between May 2016 and April 2020, Mwatana, a leading Yemeni human rights group, documented 1,605 cases of arbitrary detention, 770 cases of enforced disappearance, and 344 cases of torture carried out by all of Yemen’s warring parties.

The Houthi rebels were responsible for the majority of cases, with 904 of the arbitrary or abusive detentions, 353 of enforced disappearance, 138 of torture and 27 deaths in detention, the report’s authors found. The Yemeni government, including the Islah party, were responsible for 282 detentions, 90 disappearances, 65 cases of torture and 14 deaths in detention, Mwatana said.

Deprivation of food and water, beatings and electrocutions were common practices in all 11 unofficial centres under investigation, Mwatana said. UAE forces and affiliated armed groups were responsible for some of the most shocking treatment of prisoners, including being hung upside down for hours and sexual torture such as the burning of genitals.

The highest number of detentions was documented at the Houthi-run Security and Intelligence Agency in Sana’a, formerly Yemen’s Political Security Agency, where former detainees told Mwatana people were subjected to torture including nail removal, severe beatings and electric shocks. 

At the 7 October prison in Abyan, controlled by the Security Belt, detainees faced some of the worst conditions outlined in the report, including a lack of food and water, being forced to drink urine, beatings with hammers, stress positions and sexual torture. Witnesses said detainees’ bodies were dumped in the yard of a nearby hospital.

The report only highlights the case of one female detainee, who miscarried as a result of her treatment in Hodeidah by the Houthis. It is extremely difficult for women to come forward with allegations of mistreatment and rape in the conservative country, but reporting by the Associated Press suggests forced disappearances and abuse of female activists is rife in rebel-held areas.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/30/scale-of-torture-and-deaths-in-yemens-unofficial-prisons-revealed

America - 121 out of 163 countries for peacefulness

The 2020 Global Peace Index is now in its fourteenth year of ranking 163 states and territories according to their level of peacefulness. It defines peace “in terms of the harmony achieved by the absence of violence or the fear of violence… described as Negative Peace.” Its complement is Positive Peace, which are the “attitudes, institutions and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies.”

The GPI measures peace in three domains: Societal Safety and Security, Ongoing Domestic and International Conflict, and Militarization.

Iceland is ranked first in peacefulness, a position it has held since 2008, while Afghanistan is ranked the least peaceful country in the world for the second year in a row. Afghanistan, after trillions in spending and two decades of American military presence — the longest war in U.S. history — has the highest total number of deaths from internal conflict in the world.

The United States is ranked 121st in peacefulness out of 163 countries for the second year in a row. Culturally similar, Canada, is ranked the 6th most peaceful country in the world.

The United States’ military spending accounts for 15 percent of all U.S. federal spending and more than half of the discretionary budget. Only North Korea, Russia, and Israel are higher on the GPI’s “militarization” ranking. 

The report uses seven indicators to measure the degree of militarization of a society, including military expenditure as a percentage of GDP and the volume of arms exports and imports per 100,000 people. Though the militarization domain did improve globally in the last year due to reductions in military expenditure, the U.S., Russia, Germany, France, and China still account for 75 percent of total weapons exports, while the U.S. alone accounts for 32 percent.

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/06/29/how-reverse-uss-shockingly-low-global-peace-index-ranking

Big Pharma Price Gouging

Gilead Sciences that it will charge U.S. hospitals around $3,120 per privately insured patient for a treatment course of remdesivir, a drug which has proven modestly effective at speeding Covid-19 recovery times. Gilead's pricing works out to around $520 per dose for non-government buyers like hospitals. 

The Wall Street Journal reported that the United States is "the only developed country where Gilead will charge two prices"—one for government buyers ($390 per dose) and one for non-government buyers like hospitals ($520 per dose). The typical remdesivir treatment course consists of around six doses.

The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review research show Gilead could still make a profit by pricing remdesivir at $310 per course.

"Gilead has priced at several thousand dollars a drug that should be in the public domain. For $1 per day, remdesivir can be manufactured at scale with a reasonable profit," Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen's Access to Medicines Program said in a statement. "Gilead did not make remdesivir alone. Public funding was indispensable at each stage, and government scientists led the early drug discovery team. He called the price "an offensive display of hubris and disregard for the public"

Universal Credit - Sanctions to return

In March the government announced that the requirement for people receiving universal credit to prove that they are looking for work – which would currently apply to more than 2 million people on the benefit – would be paused for three months due to the coronavirus pandemic. The government has now refused to extend the suspension on benefit sanctions beyond June.

 Lifting the ban now threatens to place millions of people in an “untenable situation”.  People who were shielding or suffered from underlying health conditions would face an “uphill struggle” to find suitable work – and may potentially accept jobs that place their health at risk in order to avoid benefit sanctions.

There were also mounting concerns that ongoing disruption to schools and childcare options mean people may need to care for their children during the time they could otherwise spend working or applying for jobs, which could result in them being sanctioned.
Alison Garnham, chief executive of Child Poverty Action Group, told The Independent that it was “way too soon” to end the suspension of conditionality and sanctions for people claiming universal credit.
“The assumption that people need to be pushed into job search through the threat of reducing their already low income is ridiculous when what they really need is support.” 
Brian Dow, deputy chief executive at Rethink Mental Illness, echoed her concerns, and added, “Given the sharp rise in unemployment and substantial fall in job vacancies, reinstating it would only exacerbate the anxiety and stress of those who have been supported by universal credit during the pandemic, including those managing long term health conditions or a severe mental illness.”

Monday, June 29, 2020

Genocide of the Uighur?

China is forcing women to be sterilised or fitted with contraceptive devices in Xinjiang in an apparent attempt to limit the population of Muslim Uighurs, according to a new report by China scholar Adrian Zenz. 
 "Since a sweeping crackdown starting in late 2016 transformed Xinjiang into a draconian police state, witness accounts of intrusive state interference into reproductive autonomy have become ubiquitous," the report says.
It has prompted international calls for the United Nations to investigate.
 Zenz's report was based on a combination of official regional data, policy documents and interviews with ethnic minority women in Xinjiang. It alleges that Uighur women and other ethnic minorities are being threatened with internment in the camps for refusing to abort pregnancies that exceed birth quotas. It also says women who had fewer than the two children legally permitted were involuntarily fitted with IUDs, while others were coerced into receiving sterilisation surgeries.
According to Mr Zenz's analysis of the data, natural population growth in Xinjiang has declined dramatically in recent years, with growth rates falling by 84% in the two largest Uighur prefectures between 2015 and 2018 and declining further in 2019.
"This kind of drop is unprecedented, there's a ruthlessness to it," Zenz told the Associated Press. "This is part of a wider control campaign to subjugate the Uighurs."
Former detainees in internment camps in Xinjiang said they were given injections that stopped their periods, or caused unusual bleeding consistent with the effects of birth control drugs.
According to a report by the Associated Press published on Monday, women in Xinjiang have faced exorbitant fines and threats of internment for breaching childbearing limits.
"Overall, it is likely that Xinjiang authorities are engaging in the mass sterilization of women with three or more children," the report said.
The Interparliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), an international cross-party group of politicians including Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC and US Republican senator Marco Rubio, called on the UN to "establish an international, impartial, independent investigation into the situation in the Xinjiang region".
"A body of mounting evidence now exists, alleging mass incarceration, indoctrination, extrajudicial detention, invasive surveillance, forced labor, and the destruction of Uyghur cultural sites, including cemeteries, together with other forms of abuse," the statement said. "The world cannot remain silent in the face of unfolding atrocities. Our countries are bound by solemn obligations to prevent and punish any effort to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group 'in whole or in part'."
Zenz's report characterises the alleged campaign of coercive birth control in Xinjiang as part of a "demographic campaign of genocide" against the Uighurs.
"These findings provide the strongest evidence yet that Beijing's policies in Xinjiang meet one of the genocide criteria cited in the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide," he writes.
Joanne Smith Finley, a China expert at Newcastle University in the UK, said the alleged programme was "genocide, full stop".
"It's not immediate, shocking, mass-killing, on-the-spot type genocide, but it's slow, painful, creeping genocide," she told the AP. "These are direct means of genetically reducing the Uighur population."

The time for change has come


People have had enough. People have been standing up for what's right. Those who would oppress others and divide us against each other for the sake of profit and power are being challenged. We are beset by wars, climate chaos, disease, racism and massive inequality. It is time to press the reset button. We're at a turning point. We cannot go back to "normal". Our normal was not normal by any standards. It's time for us to be part of the solution to the multiple crises we are suffering. The pandemic, the constant wars and global warming are forcing great changes in the lives of people all over the Earth. No part of our lives is immune. All these crises are caused by an outdated system that prioritise profits over well-being. We cannot continue to ride on the merry-go-round of consuming throw-away goods, consuming more and more, powered by the gigantic global advertising, media and entertainment industries. However, protests and demonstrations alone will not bring the change society desperately needs. Let’s be clear, to ignite a global vision, to inspire hope, it's not enough to call out injustice. We require a revolution. Exploitation and oppression are everywhere. Socialism is about building a pathway to a truly egalitarian, democratic and ecologically sustainable planet.

It is not the question of violence that divides the revolutionary from the reformist. Reformism, that is attempts to modify the exploitative relations characteristic of capitalism, still remains reformism no matter how violent the means embraced to that end; and revolutionary activity, that is, activity directed to the termination of capitalist exploitation once and for all, still remains revolutionary even though conducted by the methods allowed by the capitalist state. The immediate task with which socialists are faced is to popularise socialist ideas and understanding with the aim of developing a political party strong enough to effect working class emancipation. As long as conditions permit, we shall pursue this course without deviating, but should subsequent developments unhappily render socialist propaganda illegal, we shall certainly do what we can, but let no one imagine for a moment that theatrical and heroic declarations before the event are in any sense a guarantee of effective action after it. The unpalatable, but nevertheless inescapable fact is that in modern society the suppression of those democratic facilities to which all politically conscious workers quite rightly attribute enormous importance, can only occur because of the approval or indifference of the masses. A working class which allows its political life generally to be determined for it by an absolutist government—no matter what that government may call itself nor what its alleged motives may be—is certainly not the kind of working class to provide a background favourable to socialist propaganda. Socialism will not be the work of a working class prepared to accept tutelage from any quarter; it can only be the work of one that is self-reliant, critical, and politically informed. From this it should be obvious that if freedom of speech, of the press and of association is suppressed, there is precious little that socialists can do about it until developments—notably the corruption which is an inevitable by-product of dictatorship—produce the desire and the determination in the working class to regain the right to openly discuss and consider political affairs. To think otherwise is not only to fool oneself, but to fool others as well.

There can be no socialism until a socialist majority have organised politically for and have achieved the conquest of the machinery of government.  Socialism is the only solution, and that independent democratic political action is the method. If the workers do not like the effects of this system upon themselves, it is up to them to change it to one which is based upon the common ownership of the means of production, i.e., socialism.

Socialism involves the abolition of the wages system. This entails that our ability to use our labour power is no longer subjected to the power of the capital social relationship, to be used only when capital sees a profit. Rather our labour power becomes ours, to be used voluntarily as part of our relationship with others, working in association towards our goals—to production for use to meet our needs.

Socialism also involves:
 · The abolition of useless production, freeing up of millions of people from producing products and services necessary only for capitalism.
· Social decision-making on what is useful—no tat, built-in obsolescence or environmental damage.
· Breaking up of the division of labour, having multiple roles in society.
· Voluntary work—from each according to their ability; less emphasis on efficiency so people can work as much as their competence allows
· Co-operation between user and provider: not a commodity relationship; providers doing it because they want to—so less likelihood of abuse; no power differential between providers and users but partners; emphasis on building competencies.

The case for socialism as more than an opposition to the economic exploitation of the working class. Throughout their writings, Marx and Engels criticised capitalism because of its effects on the working class as human beings.