Monday, November 30, 2009

Dubai Crisis, Obama's War Protesters Get Ready, Modern Nomadism

From the Yippies Mailing List:

Gary Writes:

Semi-Modern Nomadism, Dubai Crisis, Obama's War
November 29th, 2009 As a youth I was pretty nomadic. I traveled across the country hitch-hiking, driving beater cars and once even on the bus. I grew up on the remnants of a dairy farm. It had been converted to a horse stable by my mother and I was one of those people who was on a horse before I could walk as is the case in all steppe nomadic peoples. But growing up in suburban Connecticut 50 miles from Manhattan made it pretty tough to take on the cowboy values that my parents had and the alternative hunt club culture of the eastern elites did not appeal to my more libertarian instincts. I grew up on westerns. My people were the western horse riders, cattle herders and showmen ie Rodeo performers.

But I did not accept that as a model for my life. There was no future for it that I could see in Connecticut. Instead I was attracted to an urbane bohemian nomadic culture. It was the road and the vehicle of choice for the modern nomad was the car. Hitch hiking or driving, it was the gas guzzling automobile that got me from place to place. Not that I was a raider, I was more of a trader. Although an argument could be made that the traveling protester, hitching from protest to protest could be considered by the local authorities to be a modern day equivalent to the barbarian invaders, crashing the gates of the new Rome. Biker movies and tales have made that analogy more directly but back in the sixties and seventies we had a huge number of youth on the road traveling to concerts, anti war protests and simply places that had a reputation for being simply centers of hippie lifestyle.
I used my contacts on the road to do a small business in illicit substances. Transporting from the urban centers to the suburban milieu where I made a few dollars to provide me with the occasional book or fast food product and of course more substances to indulge my own version of the shamanistic venture into inner space.

I subscribed to the radical politics of my day that emanated out of the urban centers and propagated the ideologies of the urban dispossessed into the suburban hinterlands. It was somewhat comical to see a white teenager with a load of Black Panther Newspapers hawking them at an all white high school. The one black guy there became my buddy once he had decided I was not competition in his constant hunt for female companionship. I was more into ideas than sex, although I did not let opportunities pass when offered. But I often found myself treated with approbation by the parents of said females who saw me as a corrupting influence with my communist notions, long hair and drugs.

But mostly it was the freedom of the road that I liked. Seeing new places, or merely seeing how fast I could get from one point to another. 33 hours hitching from Denver to Connecticut was pretty good in 1974. It was not for the sake of the destination but for the trip. It was all about being on the road, yet it was an effort to get to a destination with speed that counted. I would base myself in Colorado and from there take trips around the country. Eventually I made it to every state except for North Dakota, Alaska and Hawaii.

As I got older I settled into a California lifestyle. I had not intended to move here. My buddy from high school enamored with Joni Mitchell saw California as a promised land. I merely saw it as another place on the map. I wanted the world. But by a fluke I went to San Francisco to visit a friend and his girlfriend a mysterious Turkish woman when I decided I did not want to be part of the New York City Underground. It was a simple matter, when I got stoned the noise of Manhattan got on my nerves. I ran a night club there for the Yippies and managed to sleep through the worst part of the morning rush hours, but I simply could not get used to the sheer volume of noise after living in Colorado for a few years.

When I got to San Francisco I was hooked on the physical beauty, the mystique of the radical culture and the walkable size of the place. It had the culture and intellectual appeal of New York and more of the laid back attitude and calm physical environment of Colorado. I spent about 6 months getting to know San Francisco before my political involvements got me chased out of town with a reward on my head from then mayor now Senator Feinstein. Enough nostalgia.

Obama is about to announce the increase in troop levels in Afghanistan. This is mostly for the sake of domestic consumption. The concern is not for the people of that nation or to chase the Al Qaeda ghost. It is really all about placating the right in America and securing the conservative electorate for the 2010 elections. The peace groups are uniting and calling for protests on December 2nd and 3rd. It was announced on KPFK. But the problem is, Obama is not likely to pay attention. Most likely he will parlay the protests as proof that he is pursuing a middle path. The ANSWER Coalition is calling for protests on December 2. The National Lawyers Guild in Los Angeles is calling for protesters to gather at the Federal Building in Westwood at 5 PM on the day the troop increases are announced.

Today on KPFK Noam Chomsky was quoted as saying that the protests against the Iraq war forced the government to moderate the violence and not use methods like saturation bombing as in Vietnam. In fact the entire policy of Rumsfeld to outsource war and minimize casualties, carried over from Clinton, are all part of the response to the anti war movement from the Vietnam era. They did not want to encourage another massive round of protests. That was one reason why the financing of the war was outsourced to China. Domestically the housing boom and loosening of credit was an attempt to get Americans to consume as if there was no war. We had a dual policy of creating a national security state, largely a propaganda device to keep consumers shopping, while on the other hand we had a war on terror that justified a perpetual war machine. But it could not be the old world war two style war machine because the American people had to be kept consuming. It was the consumption of Chinese products and the consequent Chinese policy of buying US debt that financed the war and if the people did not go along then the policy would not work. Ultimately the balancing act collapsed. But by then Bush and his crew were headed home and the Obama clean up crew would be left to deal with the mess.

Dubai has got financial problems. It has debt that is 107% of its GDP. It is a place that has been built on cheap labor from India and Pakistan. The laborers come there thinking they will make money and end up spending 3 or 4 years paying back the debt of $5000 to $10,000 that they spent to get there. They then live in slums with no sanitation in the surrounding states of the United Arab Emirates. 5% of the population are Emirates natives but most people are virtual slave laborers or westerners who are almost oblivious of the state of affairs.
The Bank of the Emirates is sending money to Dubai to try and bolster the economy and to prevent a run on the banking system. Dubai is one of the most ecologically unsustainable places in the world taking up a huge carbon footprint. It survives on oil and the myth that Dubai is a nation that is run by the rule of law.

The over-leveraged nature of the economy there may be another harbinger of the unstable foundation of modern capitalism and the oil economy in particular. Dubai is one of those unregulated pockets of the world economy where the financial crisis has its gestation.

This is the view from the Hindu Business-Line. Mumbai being a potential rival business center is not likely to be particularly upset with the problems of Dubai.

"Dubai debt crisis will have limited impact'

Mumbai, Nov. 29

Dubai's debt crisis has rattled markets across the world as the problem revived worries about the health of the global financial system. Although the exposure of Indian companies and banks to the Emirate is negligible, concerns linger about the fallout on the broader economy.

Dubai World, the investment conglomerate of the sheikdom at the centre of the crisis, has a debt of $59 billion — a major component of Dubai's total debt of $80 billion.

Authorities from Dubai to New Delhi have tried to play down concerns, but there is fear a sovereign debt default - should it happen – could have a cascading effect on the global financial markets.

Broking firm Geojit BNP Paribas has a large presence in the United Arab Emirates. Its West Asian joint venture Barjeel Geojit Securities LLC is headquartered in Dubai. Mr C.J. George, CEO of the firm, spoke to Business Line on the likely impact of Dubai World's current debt trouble on Indian markets, NRI inflows and on his own business in the Emirates. Excerpts:

Dubai World's debt crisis impacted the Indian markets on Friday. Will it continue to haunt the Indian markets?

The panic reaction we saw during the opening of the market on Friday was on account of the absence of any firm indication from Gulf markets due to Eid holidays. International investors do not perhaps worry too much about the impact on Indian markets. India has never been bracketed with GCC countries in the past and, hence, there will be more mature reaction in equity markets in the days to come.

Do you expect major selling by FIIs in the Indian market?

One of the most significant outcomes of crisis-ridden global financial markets during the last two years has been a growing recognition of India's uniqueness. FIIs have a more balanced and knowledgeable view of India today than in 2008. Hence, there is unlikely to be major FII selling. If that happens, there are others waiting to buy.

Will the crisis impact the NRI inflows?

There will be increase in inflows in the short-term since NRIs may consider India as a safe haven than domestic bank deposits in UAE and perhaps GCC. However, any protracted crisis can lead to job losses and business closures with impact in the medium term. In the long term, Dubai will continue to attract talent from India apart from unskilled workers, as the city will continue to be the centre of a booming GCC as long as oil is a precious commodity and Dubai is a tax haven with modern infrastructure.

What will be the impact on Kerala given the number of people from the State employed in Dubai and other Gulf countries?

During the last one year we have seen some amount of job losses leading to the return of many NRIs from Kerala. However, as Abu Dhabi started massive construction projects, a large number of them have shifted base from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. Today construction workers are shifting to Saudi Arabia as well where there is a real estate boom driven by real residential demand.

I am of the view that the worst is over for Kerala, as the current crisis is likely to be managed between Dubai and the federal government. The UAE and GCC cannot afford to leave this debt restructuring unsuccessful particularly with ample resources in federal hands.

Is Dubai World's trouble just a trigger? Do you think it could lead to a major crisis? Will it escalate to other Emirates?

Fortunately, the real estate bubble was limited to the Emirate of Dubai only and, hence, I am of the view that this will be the end of crisis for Dubai. The other Emirates are relatively stronger in terms of debt obligations. GCC countries are in better shape today after the recovery in oil prices and, hence, Dubai will continue to retain the position as a global centre in the region leveraging the proximity of Indian sub- continent.

India will be to Dubai what China is to Singapore, unless "one day" Mumbai claims that position. In short, this debt crisis will have only sentimental impact on other GCC countries and limited impact on other Emirates. This observation is on the strong circumstantial evidence that the federal government of UAE will have to support Dubai as the domestic banks have a state guarantee.

How do you see it impacting your business in West Asia?

Barjeel Geojit has been operating in the UAE for the last eight years and the customer segment is predominantly Indian expatriates. We see Abu Dhabi booming, while Dubai slowing down with a neutralising effect. After the global financial crisis we are seeing more Indian investors putting money in Indian assets than before. Hence, if there is any panic there will only be improvement in our business in the short-term. However, in the unlikely event of this development leading to a protracted crisis and job losses at higher levels there will be an impact on our business too.

Will it lead to a liquidity crunch in the global economy, given the fact many central banks are planning to exit from accommodative monetary policy?

If this had happened a year ago it would have been perhaps disastrous than today as the amount involved can now be managed within GCC itself with the bounceback of oil. Moreover, the real estate bubble in Dubai was recognised by global financiers sufficiently long ago when the global real estate market started to crack. There is unlikely to be a second leg of liquidity crunch emanating from this event.

What do you make out of Dubai World's move?

Dubai World's move to restructure the debt should be seen as a genuine effort to restructure both debt and business since the announcement talked about just six month's "standstill" whereas the $60 billion consists of different maturities up to even 2014.

Currently, while the media around the world and international investors are showing panic there is relative calm and confidence internally, perhaps originating from the trust that finally it is a problem of the whole country and not of Dubai alone. Dubai has been growing on the strength of its capability to attract capital and talent globally and they know for sure that Dubai has to continue attracting these scarce resources to remain a vibrant non-oil economy surrounded by oil-rich countries.

Nevertheless, when the stock exchanges open for trading on Monday in Dubai, there will be selling pressure from global investors.

What in your view led to the current crisis?

On the strength of the oil boom in the region, Dubai one among seven emirates of UAE, has been positioning itself as a global centre for finance, trade and tourism due to negligible oil resources at home. During the early years of the current decade seeing growing demand for real estate, the Government started marketing housing projects offering 99 years of residence permit. Such a residence offer for investors in housing projects was neither denied by the Government nor approved. This led to an unprecedented boom in real estate, attracting rich investors from India, Russia, Europe and other places.

Both accounted and unaccounted global money started chasing real estate leading to even "day trading" in real estate.

There were even cases of buying in the morning and selling in the evening! Finally, when the global financial system cracked, the Dubai real estate bubble also crashed. The construction-driven economy was slowing down with highly leveraged projects. Dubai World, the real estate and infrastructure arm of the ruler of Dubai, was excessively leveraged during the boom years and when the demand disappeared had to catch up with debt repayments without positive internal cash flows.

While the boom in real estate collapsed, the federal government finally came out with a clarification that the buyers of real estate can only have six months renewable VISA in place of the highly publicised perception of 99 year's VISA. This was a bolt from the blue which was the last nail.

However, while Dubai was declining, Abu Dhabi, the cash-rich Capital city Emirate started booming on investment-driven by own capital. Abu Dhabi has been a lender of last resort for Dubai with vast oil resources and global financial investments of more than a trillion dollars. Abu Dhabi came out with a landmark announcement a year ago by declaring State guarantee on all bank deposits which led to calm in banking sector.

If Dubai announces any investor-friendly revision of VISA period, it can dramatically change the fortunes of domestic real estate market."

NRI - Non-Resident Indian
FII - Foreign Institutional Investor
GCC - Gulf Cooperation Council
UAE - United Arab Emirates
Eid Holidays-Eid al Adha or Feast of Sacrifice
VISA Period - Time allowed for foreigner to stay in country that requires VISA permit.

Tags: Banking Crisis in Dubai, Nomadic Living, Obama's War in Afghanistan
Posted in History, Politics,

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Anti-Mining Activist Mariano Abarca Assassinated in Chiapas

November 28, 2009

Mariano Abarca, a community activist known for his opposition to mining was assassinated last night in Chicomuselo, a town in Chiapas, Mexico.

Abarca was shot in the head and chest by a man on a motorcycle. He had been abducted in August, and again received death threats in the week prior to his death.

In a November 28 email to supporters, Gustavo Castro, an organizer with Otros Mundos AC in Chiapas, wrote:

[Mariano was] a dear friend, admired for his struggle against the Canadian mining company Blackfire, and a member of the Mexican Network of People Affected by Mining (REMA-Chiapas). Yesterday we spoke to him on the phone and he told us he had filed a complaint against the company. Today he's dead.

It is with great sadness that I write these words. I will continue to update here as more news becomes available.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Geneva WTO protest turns violent

GENEVA, Switzerland, Nov. 28 (UPI) --

Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to bust up a violent protest of an upcoming international trade meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, officials said.

Thirty-three protesters were arrested.

About 3,000 people turned out Saturday afternoon in the center of the Swiss city, where a peaceful protest had been scheduled ahead of next week's World Trade Organization conference, Geneva police spokesman Patrick Puhl told CNN.

"The troublemakers quickly began attacking banks, hotels and shops, smashing windows and burning four cars, so we had to stop them using tear gas and rubber bullets," Puhl said.

The BBC reported some anti-capitalist protesters said they believe the WTO works for big business and exploits developing countries

Cars burn in Geneva as police, protesters clash ahead of WTO conference

This video was published to YouTube by user nicluvio on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2009.

Raw Story:

Saturday, November 28th, 2009 -- 4:05 pm

Swiss police fired tear gas and rubber bullets on Saturday at hooded protesters who broke windows and set cars alight during a demonstration ahead of a major WTO conference in Geneva.

Thousands marched in the protest ahead of the World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting beginning on Monday, with the vast majority of demonstrators not participating in the violence.

Organisers later decided to end the demonstration due to the violence and because police prevented the march from continuing to WTO headquarters, the Swiss ATS news agency reported.

Some 200 violent protesters infiltrated the march and "began to inflict damage right from the start of the demonstration," police spokesman Patrick Puhl said. Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to stop them.

Officers had moved in after protesters broke windows at a jewellers, banks and a hotel. Vehicles parked along the march route, particularly luxury cars, were damaged, with at least four set alight, Puhl said.

One young protester dressed as a vampire told AFP he "understood people's anger as the crisis had hit them very hard" while an elderly woman said that the recent economic turmoil gave people "plenty to be angry about."

Organisers put the total number of protesters at 5,000, while police said it was 3,000.

Police spokesman Eric Grandjean told AFP that 33 demonstrators had been arrested, including 14 Black Block members for their involvement in the riots and four others for looting items from local stores.

Three South Koreans had been barred from entering Switzerland for the protest after being accused of violent behaviour at past demonstrations, a police spokesman said.

Dosuk Han, head of the Korean League of Small Farmers, as well as Kangsil Lee and Jejoon Ju from a campaign group for farmers, were being held at the Geneva airport on Saturday, protest organisers said in a statement.

The organisers demanded their immediate release.

Next week's gathering falls on the 10th anniversary of the ministerial meeting in Seattle, which was marked by violent street protests.

More than a hundred ministers will gather for the WTO conference, though there have been concerns linked to the United States and European Union.

Diplomats in Geneva note that the fact that the United States still has no ambassador to the WTO is a sign President Barack Obama's administration has put little emphasis on trade talks at the moment.

Meanwhile, the European Union will lose its Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton on the second day of the WTO ministerial, as she is due to step into her new post as foreign policy chief.

"It is true that the American administration's political calendar is currently more focused on the reform of the health system, the environment and financial regulation than on trade," WTO head Pascal Lamy told AFP.

"But nevertheless, the United States is committed to the negotiations."

As for the European Union, he noted that Development Commissioner Karel de Gucht has been proposed to replace Ashton, calling him a "solid and skillful negotiator."

Vale-Inco Sues Striking Steelworkers for $25 Million for Picket Line Activity

Thursday, November 26 2009 @ 12:38 PM CST
For updates on the strike check out

Vale Inco is suing Steelworkers Local 6500 and 19 strikers for $25 million on the complaint that the union is not following a court injunction, which sets out picket line protocol.
Nov 26, 2009

By: Heidi Ulrichsen - Sudbury Northern Life

Vale Inco is suing Steelworkers Local 6500 and 19 strikers for $25 million on the complaint that the union is not following a court injunction, which sets out picket line protocol.

The two parties are scheduled to be back in court Nov. 27. Vale Inco is complaining about the length of time that vehicles are being held up at picket lines. The lawsuit names many specific instances in which union members failed to follow the court injunction.

Vale Inco spokesperson Steve Ball said the information used in filing the lawsuit was collected by security personnel on the picket lines. Besides the company’s own plant protection officers, Vale Inco has hired an outside company, AFI International, to patrol picket lines. The lawsuit says that Vale Inco is losing $7 million US a day in production because picketers are slowing vehicles down.

“We are incurring costs whether we’re producing or not. Our goal is always to generate revenue. We are being prevented from doing so,” he said.

Local 6500 president John Fera said this isn’t the first time during the more than four-month-long strike that the union has been served papers for a $25 million lawsuit by Vale Inco. They were also sued for $25 million in July, but the lawsuit was dropped when the injunction was imposed.

Ball said the case being brought against the Steelworkers this week is similar to the one brought against the union in July.

Fera said the union doesn’t plan on losing the lawsuit. However, in the case that it does lose, any strikers implicated in the lawsuit will have their fines paid for by the union.

This is the fourth time that Vale Inco has brought the union to court since the strike started July 13.

After an October court date, the judge told both sides to resolve their picket line disputes outside of the courtroom.

Fera said Steelworkers members who are on strike against Vale Inco in Port Colborne, Ont., are also being sued by the company, in their case for $10 million. The workers in Port Colborne are not yet under a court injunction setting out picket line protocol, he said.

Fera said he supposes Vale Inco’s “aim is to try to stop us from lawfully picketing.”

He admitted that, in some cases, vehicles are being held up longer than the 12 to 15 minutes set out in the injunction.

When that happens, it’s because there are unresolved disputes between the company and union members, he said.

Under the injunction, Vale Inco is supposed to provide the picket lines with wood to burn, but that isn’t always happening, Fera said. There are also problems with “mass arrivals” of vehicles at picket lines, he said.

There was also a blockade at the Garson Mine picket line earlier this week because of some allegedly “inappropriate” comments made to a Garson community member by an outside security official hired by Vale Inco, Fera said.

Labour board hearing
Representatives from both the United Steelworkers and Vale Inco were to face off before the Ontario Labour Relations Board in Toronto on Nov. 25.

Steelworkers Local 2020, Steelworkers Local 6500 and the Steelworkers international office complained to the labour board in late September about Vale Inco’s plans to use Local 2020 workers to do the work of Local 6500 members, who have been on strike since July 13.

The parties say it is unsafe for Local 2020 workers, who normally work in office, clerical and technical positions at Vale Inco, to do the work of the striking miners and mill workers because they aren’t properly trained. The company is operating Clarabelle Mill and two mines in the Sudbury area on a limited basis, using workers who aren’t on strike.

At the first hearing before the labour board, on Oct. 19, the Steelworkers tried to convince the board members to impose an interim order upon Vale Inco. The labour board turned down the Steelworkers’ request.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday: The Real reason for the Season

I work retail in a big box store in the D/FW area, a place known also for its big box churches and right wing politics.

They put the Christmas trees and the rest of the cheap crap from China up on Labor Day Weekend so if we are inured to the holiday cheer it is quite possible that we have heard the tacky carols auto played so many times on the Casios that we would love to engage in some sabotage and cut the power cords.

Smile and eat the shit the customers dish out. Welcome to wage slavery in the new servant economy where retail is the only employer since the corporate overlords looted our economy searching for the bottom line and as everyone knows there is no pesky EPA and people work for almost nothing in China or India.

Just try to exercise some patriotic purchasing power by buying American. Man they will shut up your movement and freezer you out of the discourse so fast because those same "fiscal conservatives" for low taxes that talk about "tax and spend" Democrats are a bunch of borrow and spend junkies dependent upon the money they get from India and China.

They gutted out America like a corporate raider guts out a thriving business to pay for his hostile take over.

Then they preach to us workers how we should smile and not even tell the customer that we can't tell them to "fuck off" no matter how outrageously they treat us. They preach a prosperity theology to people that turns them into overly privileged entitled pigs, who think 5that if they can envision it they can have it.

So today is Black Friday and we have asshole right wing infotainers hyping shit about a "War on Christmas" like it is news. Get fucking real... War on Christmas my ass. Christmas ceased having any real meaning about a hundred or so years ago with "Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus".

Selling people crap and getting them to max the credit cards is the reason for the season for those of us on the concrete floor. That's what our corporate owners demand of us and what we do because we have no job security, no benefits and we are scared shitless of joining the 18% unemployed. Trust me the real number is far higher than the official.

The day before "Thanksgiving" someone slapped one of our cashiers. The anger spread as the word spread.

But I wonder if the person who committed the assault was maced, tazed, cuffed and taken away like they would have been if they were caught shop lifting or if the cashier was the one reprimanded for having a bad attitude.

So now I have to play the multi cultural guessing game and decide "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" when I do not believe in god and definately do not believe in the Christian one.

Man, oh man do I ever look forward to the January post-after Xmas sale slump that hits about 01/15. Maybe then I will get enough rest so I do not feel constantly tired and can start feeling happy at work instead of faking it.

Fuck you Bill O'Reilley, Glen Beck and fuck your war on Xmas crap. Thanks for adding more stress, you over privileged media whores.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign Launches Campaign with Successful Blockade

From Chicago Indy Media

From the newswire: "On Tuesday, the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign kicked off its first day with a successful blockade at the home of Lenise Forrest, a community member and mother of two. At 9AM on November 17, supporters began arriving to blockade the house from eviction, and with the increasing police presence circling the block, many people were wondering what would happen next.

Supporters were prepared to stand between Lenise's family and the police to prevent the eviction of the family. Then, just as the corporate news arrived, the police suddenly disappeared. After the press conference the police stayed away most of the time, and the threat of eviction dwindled. In all, the eviction blockade turned out to be not a clash with police, but instead a great community building event in which people from all parts of Chicago came together in solidarity.

France: Teachers and students mobilize to defend education

From World Socialist Web Site
By Antoine Lerougetel
25 November 2009

As many as 40 percent of all primary and secondary education teachers struck yesterday in thousands of schools throughout France and staged demonstrations against staff cuts and the deterioration of educational provision throughout the French education system.

The mobilisation is part of a worldwide resistance by teachers and students to austerity policies in education being implemented by governments throughout the world, notably most recently in Germany, Austria and the United States.

The action was organised by the main education union federation FSU (Federation of Unitary Unions), the CGT (General Confederation of Labour) and SUD (Solidarity-Unity-Democracy) Education. The main college students union UNEF (National Union of Students of France) and organisations of high school students called on students to support the teachers.

Over 15 percent of the country’s postal workers also were out on a separate strike against privatisation and post office closures and rallied 3,000 workers in a separate demonstration.

The FSU counted 8,000 people on the Paris demonstration. There was a large and lively contingent of lycée (high school) pupils and a smaller contingent of university students, mainly from the Sorbonne and central Paris universities. The youth appeared to outnumber the primary and secondary teachers.

Smaller demonstrations were reported in the main cities of France, meaning that many strikers chose to stay at home rather than join the unions on the street.

The principal issues bringing students and teachers into action are the systematic reduction of the teacher workforce and the deterioration of teacher training, along with the shutting down of openings for regular employment in education amid rising unemployment, with youth joblessness reaching 20 percent and over.

Some 16,000 teaching posts are due to be cut in 2010, making 50,000 in five years, nearly half of the 136,000 jobs that are being axed in state services in the same period, in line with the governement’s policy of only replacing one out of two workers who retire from government employment.

The joint statement of the FSU/CGT declares: “The cumulative effect of the job cuts for all categories of staff and the lack of recruitment is bringing about the deterioration of study and work conditions....depriving many young people of access to public service jobs....The reforms being implemented or planned are guided by the will to cut resources and to make the education system market-oriented.” The education unions are also calling for a wage increase for education personnel, whose purchasing power has been in decline for decades.

The UNEF, apart from calling for more student lodgings and an increased grant for those relatively few entitled to one, cites the mass opposition to the “regressive and scandalous reform of teacher training.”

This measure will replace the current postgraduate two-year course, which includes a year of academic study of the subject to be taught and some educational theory, at the end of which the candidate takes a competitive examination, the door to a permanent teaching post. Successful candidates, only five percent of those in contention, teach a few hours per week in the second year, under supervision by an experienced teacher and teacher training staff, and continue with courses on the art of teaching.

Under the planned new system all would-be teachers will be expected to complete a two-year masters course at the end of which they will take the competitive exam for posts in primary and secondary schools. They are then thrown in at the deep end to teach under the same conditions as experienced teachers.

The state will have saved on a year’s wages for these novice teachers. Another advantage for state finances is that many of the failed candidates will nevertheless have masters degrees in education and can constitute a pool of teachers to be employed under short-term contracts with much reduced working conditions, salaries and rights.

The other key issue motivating the protests of high school pupils and teachers alike is the reform of the lycées being imposed by education minister Luc Chatel, a somewhat watered-down version of the one his predecessor Xavier Darcos had to postpone in the face of mass movements in the universities and the lycées last academic year. This reform reduces the obligation of lycées to provide specific amounts of teaching time for school subjects in order to make way for “individualised support” which, the teachers’ organisations maintain, will tend to put lower-performing pupils at a disadvantage while favouring the front-runners.

The union statements omit any assessment of the experiences of the last years, where mass movements such as 2003 (pension cuts), 2006 (against drastic attacks on work rights), 2007/8 (pension rights and working conditions in the public sector) were carried out in the teeth of the opposition of the trade unions, which did everything they could to divide and limit struggles to one day and dispersed protests.

They did not stem the government’s offensive against the rights and conditions of the workers and the youth, but, rather, encouraged it. This enabled the government, in addition to significant reductions in workers’ conditions, to make serious inroads into the right to strike in public transport and education through minimum service legislation.

The union statements ignore the global economic and financial crisis, which is driving governments all over the world to impoverish the working class and the youth to enable their capitalists to compete on the world arena.

The CGT/FSU statement calls for more jobs, better work and study conditions and teacher training and the end of short-term contracts and issues the threat of “a major and lasting conflict” if these demands are not met, a threat mainly for the consumption of their own members, to convince them of the validity of the union perspective of being able to convince the Sarkozy government to act in the interests of the workers and the youth.

The FSU, after reporting a nearly 40 percent participation in the strike, issued the toothless threat: “The minister just carries out a charade of discussions, refusing to listen to the basis of the demands of the staff. If the minister does not take the staff’s opinions into account , the SNES (secondary school teachers branch of the FSU) with the FSU would take more action to impose other policies for education and its staff.”

UNEF, likewise complained that “Luc Chatel did not take advantage of the postponement for a year of this reform so as to open up a real dialogue,” and bemoaned his “scorn for social dialogue.”

None of the “left” political parties—Besancenot’s New Anti-Capitalist Party, Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Left Party and the Communist Party—propose any perspective other than pressure on the government to grant concessions.

Only the statement of the German section of the International Students for Social Equality (ISSE) “For an independent working class movement to defend education,” distributed by ISSE supporters at the Paris demonstration, pointed out that the struggle for a decent education system for all was closely bound up with the fight for the socialist transformation of society, involving the development of a worldwide social movement aimed at replacing capitalism.

WSWS reporters interviewed some marchers.

Amelie, from the Lycée Jacques Decoures in Paris, is in her second year studying literature. She reported that the lycée was blockaded by the students. “If they’re cutting back on teachers and general culture, it’s because they want to get rid of half of the government workers,” she said.

She added that it was good that students were moving in other countries, but thought that demonstrations were enough to stop the attack and placed some hopes in the Socialist Party.

Sofyan from the Lycée Newton in Clichy (Paris) said, “They’re cutting teachers and education provision with the aim of privatising in the interests of big business. Education should be free for everyone, whatever their background. It’s going to be hard to destabilise the right with Sarkozy there. Our future is tough. The present system needs changing. We must do everything for that, then the economic crisis can be managed.”

Bertrand, in his first year at the Lycée Rodin in Paris said, “Pressure from the streets made Darcos back down.” He said the youth were capable of fighting like they did in the past but thought that there could be no solution through the present unions and political parties. “The wars must be stopped and a peace established, but it’s complex, because society is divided, with different interests,” he said.

Morgan is a trainee primary teacher in Paris. He said, “We know about the movements in defense of education in Europe. We’re always comparing situations. The state is trying to economise by getting rid of teachers and general culture. They’re cutting back on special education. That means more teachers on temporary contracts.”

He agreed that street pressure was not enough. “A lot of people don’t realise that trainee teachers won’t be getting practical experience,” he said. “We could have pushed back the university reform last year [LRU, leading to autonomous universities financed by big business]. The unions weren’t much to be seen.”

Although he thought that the crisis could be solved with the existing political parties he was dismayed by the “personality war” in the Socialist Party and said, “We should be opposing the government. We need a real opposition.... I’ve got the impression it’s getting like Italy, where the opposition concentrates on the personality of Silvio Berlusconi and not on his political programme. France is going in the same direction.”

Comments on net neutrality irk AT& T

From the Washington Post
White House official links the issue to censorship in China

By Cecilia Kang
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 25, 2009

AT&T doesn't like the idea of new regulations mandating unfettered access to the Internet, and recent comments from the Obama administration that connected the issue to censorship in China have really gotten under its skin.

The telecom giant responded forcefully this week to remarks by White House deputy chief technology officer Andrew McLaughlin, who said that free speech and network neutrality are "intrinsically linked." Net neutrality rules are being crafted by federal regulators that would restrict Internet service providers such as AT&T from blocking or prioritizing content on the Web.

In an entry published on the Post Tech Blog and in comments at a telecom policy conference last week, McLaughlin compared censorship in China -- where President Obama's recent comments on open Internet values were blocked from Chinese Web sites -- to the need for net neutrality rules so as to prevent corporations from acting as gatekeepers of information and speech.

"If it bothers you that the China government does it, it should bother you when your cable company does it," McLaughlin said at the policy conference. The administration has made net neutrality a cornerstone of its technology agenda.

Those comments did not sit well with AT&T's chief lobbyist, Jim Cicconi, who issued an angry response. He said it was "ill-considered and inflammatory" to connect censorship in China to the practices of American ISPs, whom he said do not threaten free speech.

"It is deeply disturbing when someone in a position of authority, like Mr. McLaughlin, is so intent on advancing his argument for regulation that he equates the outright censorship decisions of a communist government to the network congestion decisions of an American ISP. There is no valid comparison, and it's frankly an affront to suggest otherwise," Cicconi said.

The White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy defended McLaughlin's comments. "A key reason the Internet has been such a success is because it is the most open network in history," the office said in a statement. "Mr. McLaughlin was simply reiterating the Administration's consistent support for the importance of an open Internet -- both at home and abroad."

McLaughlin's comments tracked with remarks he made years ago on net neutrality. Before joining the administration earlier this year, he served as chief of Google's global policy.

Cicconi has been a vocal opponent of net neutrality rules. Last month, he asked AT&T's 300,000 employees to tell the Federal Communications Commission ahead of a critical vote on the issue that the proposed new rules were extreme and could deter future investment in broadband Internet networks.

The agency later unanimously passed a rule-making proposal that could lead to stronger and broader net neutrality rules. Cicconi, former deputy chief of staff to President George H.W. Bush, has since met with a top official at the FCC to push for limitations on its net neutrality proposal.

The Computer and Communication Industry Association, a trade group representing some of the biggest companies in the telecom and high-tech industries, criticized Cicconi's comments and agreed with the link McLaughlin made between net neutrality and free speech.

"The juxtaposition of these free speech issues -- Internet censorship and net neutrality -- pulls away the layer of confusion about net neutrality that opponents have hidden behind for years," said Ed Black, chief executive of CCIA. "Unrestricted, the Internet may be mankind's greatest tool ever to promote individual freedom. We ought to do everything we can to protect that possibility -- and if we aren't careful it can become a tool to censor, surveil and manage captive audiences."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Unemployment rises in 29 US states

From World Socialist Web Site

By Patrick Martin
23 November 2009

Unemployment rates rose in 29 of the 50 US states in October, according to a report released by the federal Department of Labor Friday, with California, Florida, South Carolina and Delaware reporting all-time highs since 1976, when the Labor Department began reporting statewide totals. The District of Columbia also had its highest-ever official jobless total.

The jobless rate in California, the largest US state, hit 12.5 percent, while the jobless rate in Florida, the fourth-largest state, was 11.2 percent. The 29 states showing increased unemployment was itself a rise over September, when 22 states had rising unemployment figures. Eight states showed no change in the unemployment rate, while 13 states reported a drop.

Michigan still had the nation's highest unemployment rate in October: 15.1 percent, slightly below the September rate of 15.3 percent. It was followed by Nevada at 13 percent, Rhode Island at 12.9 percent, California at 12.5 percent and South Carolina's 12.1 percent. All told, 13 states were above the national average of 10.2 percent (the others being Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Oregon, Alabama, North Carolina and Georgia).

Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, all centers of auto production, saw slight increases in the actual number of employed workers, partly as a consequence of the cash-for-clunkers program, which expired in September.

The actual number of jobs reported in Michigan rose by 38,600, the second largest for any state, trailing only Texas, which added 41,700 jobs, largely in education, health care and government. The Texas unemployment rate nonetheless increased, to 8.3 percent.

Every one of the 50 states has a higher unemployment rate than one year ago, and all have a lower total number of jobs than in October 2008. Since the US recession began officially in December 2007, total US unemployment has increased by 8.2 million people.

While the state-by-state variation was quite pronounced—ranging from Michigan’s 15.1 percent down to North Dakota’s 4.2 percent—the regional variation was far less. The Western US had the highest unemployment rate, at 10.8 percent, with the Northeast showing the lowest rate, 9 percent, and the Midwest and South in between.

These figures indicate catastrophic levels of social distress, given that the official unemployment rate is effectively doubled once involuntary part-time and so-called discouraged workers are included.

Several other reports have been released that suggest the human dimensions of the economic and social crisis in the United States.

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that 14 percent of borrowers were in trouble on their mortgages during the third quarter (July to September 2009), a record for the industry. Unemployment, rather than the collapse in home prices, was the biggest factor in delinquencies, the survey found.

The 14 percent rate translates into 7.4 million households, with approximately one third in foreclosure, and two thirds delinquent on payments but not yet in foreclosure. This compares to 5 million households in trouble one year ago.

A Census Bureau survey, based on figures collected in 2007, at the early stages of the current slump, found that 20 percent of Americans needed outside assistance to pay for basic needs like food, mortgage or utilities. Nine percent of households had to resort to food pantries and soup kitchens for food. More than one million households were without a refrigerator or stove.

A report in the Detroit Free Press Sunday found that record numbers of Michigan residents were receiving food stamps, Medicaid and other forms of social assistance, with new applicants, largely workers recently laid off from their jobs, jamming social service offices throughout the state.

Some 1.8 million people were receiving Medicaid benefits in Michigan last month, and 1.65 million receiving food assistance. More than 20 percent of the population was dependent on some form of aid.

Nearly one million people were receiving food or Medicaid in Wayne County, the state’s largest, which includes the city of Detroit. Even in the once largely affluent Oakland County suburbs, some 224,000 people were received food assistance or Medicaid in October.

Meanwhile, the comptroller of New York state, in a report issued November 17, projected that Wall Street profits in 2009 would top the record set in 2006, at the height of the speculative bubble. The four largest investment firms—Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch (now the investment arm of Bank of America), and JP Morgan Chase—made $22.5 billion in profits during the first nine months of the year.

Member firms of the New York Stock Exchange made a record $35.7 billion in trading profits during the first six months of 2009, shattering the previous record, set in 2000, by nearly $9 billion. The top six US banks have already set aside $112 billion for salaries and bonuses in the first nine months of the year, and could easily shatter the 12-month record total of $162 billion set in 2007, once mammoth year-end bonuses are reported.

In his Saturday Internet and radio speech, recorded at the end of his east Asian trip, President Obama rejected any special job-creation measures. Claiming that the US economy was now emerging from recession, Obama declared, “In order to keep growing, we need to spend less, save more, and get our federal deficit under control.”

Obama touted the forum on economic growth he will convene at the White House on December 3, but added, “It is important that we do not make any ill-considered decisions—even with the best of intentions—particularly at a time when our resources are so limited.”

“I will not let up until businesses start hiring again,” he said, language that means new jobs will come only from private capitalists, not through the public sector.

The list of those Obama is inviting to the White House forum was revealing: “CEOs and small business owners, economists and financial experts, as well as representatives from labor unions and nonprofit groups.” Not a single worker or unemployed person will be involved.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Massive Strike at University of California, Berkeley

[And so a new age of progressive activism dawns... I remember 1964 and the Free Speech Movement. Part of the protest then were about the dehumanization of the educational system and how the school was there to prepare students to be cogs in the corporate machine rather than to educate them to be knowledgeable citizens capable of forming well informed opinions as to how the country was run.

Well times have changed and the corporations have decided they can pay slave wages to well educated Indians and Chinese instead of Americans there by stealing even more wealth from the real American citizens to line the pockets of the 1%. They do not want us to have educations as knowledge makes us more disgruntled retail slaves. A barista with a Ph. D and a couple of hundred thousand dollars worth of student loans is probably not going to be a happy camper.

Instead they want us to be semi-ignorant, drugged on sports and American Idol, Pap music that is bland and little more than an excuse for a tittie show or male Pap singers who reinforce the second class status of women.

Action movies that show us super men with millions of rounds of explosives scaring us into a attitude of submission.

Religion the true opiate of the people. Can't have people educated enough to reject the superstition.

And so an age of rebellion starts anew...]

From Epoch Times

Students occupy building in protest of tuition increases and worker layoffs

By Vicky Jiang
BERKELEY, Calif.—Amidst rally cries, a crowd of several hundred students, faculty, workers, and union representatives gathered outside UC Berkeley's Wheeler Hall on Friday—beyond police lines. In protest of the University of California (UC) Regents’ recent decision to raise tuition by 32 percent for the Spring 2010 semester, 40 students had occupied the building. According to school officials, 3,800 students were unable to attend class in Wheeler Hall.

As part of the three-day walkout and strike that began on Nov. 18, students and union workers formed picket lines blocking entrance to the university. Fire alarms were set off continually in buildings all over campus to fuel the protest and rally support. The alarms at the main university library were set off so frequently that it was closed down.

Liz Perlman, a representative from the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees 3299 (AFSCME), a union organization that represents custodians, said they had been on strike since 7:30 a.m. She was there to support the students' demand that the 38 service workers laid off due to budget cuts be reinstated.

“Protestors want to make their voice heard and be shown where they [the school administrators] are spending the money,” Perlman said. “As long as there are about 400 to 500 people out here, police will think twice before acting,” she added.

Many students support the walkout and strike. Matt Koh, a senior student majoring in Molecular and Cell Biology, was present at a march on Thursday. He said that although he agrees with the cause in principle, it it is unclear what exactly people are asking for and that they offer no specific solutions to the tuition increases, faculty furloughs, and worker layoffs, and no alternative in facing the budget crisis.

Berkeley police forces have surrounded the occupied building. Those inside are willing to negotiate with authorities only through an open window on the second floor. According to protestors outside, police refuse to negotiate unless the students inside open the locked doors.

“The state is in a grotesque situation,” said Ann Smock, faculty member in the French Department. The unwillingness of the public to pay taxes, legislators’ unwillingness to levy taxes, and the university’s unwillingness to solve the situation are hurting the weakest, she said. Service workers who have been at the university for 20 or 30 years have been laid off, Smock added.

Though she is not especially in favor of the occupation of Wheeler Hall, Smock is taking part in the protest to support her students, many of whom are “seriously engaged” in the protest.

Due to the California education budget crisis, UC campuses have faced cuts in classes, enrollment, student of color retention and enrollment, staffing, and academic services according to, a Web site dedicated to the movement launched by several UC campuses since the first strike on Sept. 24.

Berkeley City Council Member Kriss Worthington was also present at the Thursday rally. He said that what the university is doing is “irresponsible to students and staff,” and that there is a need to, “get more organized and be more efficient in Sacramento.” In these tough economic times education is getting hit hard in California, Worthington said. He commented that university regents have not put enough pressure on the state and state legislators have not stood up to Governor Schwarzenegger enough to collectively resolve the budgeting issue.

At the end of Friday evening, the 40 students who occupied Wheeler Hall were cited for trespassing and released.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

What is a Fiscal Conservative?

For the last 40 odd years I have heard the phrase "Fiscal Conservative" tossed about and used as though it means something that it doesn't?

If Tea Party Rebels are going to appropriate the Red and Black of Anarcho/Syndicalism perhaps they should start to learn a bit from us about who the real bastards are behind their misery.

Here's a clue... It isn't gays and lesbians and it isn't people of color.

Ever wonder why it is always the poor, both white and people of color who wind up on the front lines dying as cannon fodder?

While Daddy Warbucks just gets richer and richer selling cut rate guns that do not work to the Military at ten times the price you and I would pay from one of those folks working the local gun show.

Remember Dwight David Eisenhower, one of the last Presidents who represented the common American citizen at least as much as he represented the ultra rich. He built the interstate highway system and warned us about military industrial complex.

He knew how to spend money on things that were good for the country. Oh by the way, in those days the ultra rich were taxed at an ultra rate of up to 90% and were still fabulously wealthy.

LBJ too, Texas to the core, a real Texan unlike Bush Jr, whose roots are effete East Coast Elite.

Remember when it all changed? When the Borax salesman and GE huckster Reagan became President. Image replaced substance.

And the phrase "fiscal conservative" entered the language. Now Reagan cut taxes and increased spending. The economy tanked and we had massive unemployment.

We deregulated the Savings and Loans in the name of fiscal conservatism. Ayn Rand in action and they promptly tanked saddling the tax payers with a huge bail out bill because after all the Savings and Loans were too big to fail.

Socialism for the corporations and free enterprise for the working people. None dared call it theft. Nor did they question the actual fiscal conservatism of the Republicans, instead they listened to the newly emerging right wing talk radio pitchmen for the transfer of wealth from working Americans to the rich corporate overlords.

You see fiscal conservatism is an Orwellian code phrase like calling the War Department the Department of Defense instead. Or condemning the Democrats for actually taxing the people who can afford to pay for programs as they function, something that would actually fit the bill of being prudent and "fiscally conservative" in that it would mean living within a budget constrained by income.

But Reagan and his masters actually had a different goal. At the same time the income of both the people of America and the government of America were being cut both started to make up the difference by borrowing money to buy the things they needed and wanted.

Now the cabal behind the conservatives had a goal that was actually articulated by Grover Norquist of shrinking the government that helped the American people down to the size where it could be drowned in a bath tub. One way to do that was to put America so deep in debt that all it could afford without raising taxes was its bloated "Defense Budget". The same newspeak for military industrial complex Eisenhower warned us about.

At the same time borrowing and credit card usage. The supply of rental housing shrank so much through the move to condos and co-ops during the 90s that the price went up to the point where even a slum apartment cost as much as the monthly payment on a house.

So people bought. And found themselves owing so much money they were enslaved to their jobs.

Then the corporations decided that our jobs could be done by someone in India or China where the people worked almost for nothing. We lapped up those goods because they were cheap and we could fiscally conservatively put them on credit cards, after all wasn't that exactly what Uncle Sugar was doing when he bought our votes with promised "tax cuts"

During the last thirty years there has been only one President who might actually have been "fiscally conservative" and that was the neo-liberal free trader Bill Clinton. All the Republican spent like drunken sailors with an identity stolen bundle of credit cards.

Now I know any tea baggers reading this are probably asking themselves, "Why should I trust this Anarcho-Commie dyke?"

Well I too believe we are headed for TEOTWAWKI. I probably believe in just as many conspiracies as you do although different ones. And you know me as a gun loving straight shooter who knows the difference between an automatic actual assault weapon and a semi-automatic civilian evil looking black carbine. I'm the one discussing the merits of .357 SIG over .45 that does a scary form of double tap when I'm next to you at the range.

I'm not asking you to believe me. I'm asking you to hear me out and go back and look at the stuff you have bought into.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pentagon’s contradiction and imperialist decline

From Worker's World

Published Nov 19, 2009 9:28 PM

The following excerpted talk is by WWP Secretariat member, Sara Flounders, at the Nov. 14-15 Workers World Party National Conference in New York.

Twenty million people a year in the U.S. get sick from contaminated water. Forty percent of the water is dangerously polluted. This is a sign of infrastructure decay reaching life-threatening proportions.

The U.S. military budget is larger than the rest of the world’s put together. This is a superprofit subsidy to the wealthiest CEOs and stockholders of the military corporations.

Boiling our drinking water is the real cost of the Pentagon budget, along with the millions who were unemployed, even before the global capitalist crisis. Now, since the global crash, there is more than 20 percent unemployment and over 50 percent for Black and Latino/a youth.

The largest prison population in the world is a byproduct of the Pentagon budget. And so is the one-third of youth who don’t graduate from high school. As Hurricane Katrina exposed in a natural disaster, tens of thousands of people have nowhere to turn and racism is intensified. All of these social catastrophes while 1 trillion dollars this year alone is spent on U.S. wars—past, present and future.

Half of all our federal taxes go to the Pentagon. The total amount and the military proportion of the budget go up, up and up every year. Yet no serious debate, discussion or challenge is allowed.

This is supposedly the richest country in the world. U.S. workers have the highest rate of productivity and yet the workers are becoming paupers. They are getting a smaller and smaller share of what they produce.

Every year while the Pentagon gets more, in order to balance the budget, there are cuts of 10 to 15 percent a year in what goes to states and cities as block grants. This creates crises in health clinics, homeless shelters, schools, transit systems.

Congress or the White House, regardless of who is in office, won’t challenge funds to the largest corporations, or their fraudulent cost overruns—hundreds of billions a year in government handouts or superprofits—without producing anything of value or use.

Corporate power is addicted to it. This is an unsolvable contradiction of imperialism today.

If they don’t get this giant subsidy, the entire capitalist system will go into crisis. They can’t do without it, but it is killing them. The sheer weight of the military is dragging the capitalist system down.

Decades of handing billions of dollars to the military-industrial complex has gone from being a stimulant to the capitalist economy to a sick addiction.

The giant funds to the military are no longer enough to soak up capitalist overproduction, to sponge up huge surpluses. They are no longer enough to restart the capitalist economy the way they once were able to.

Military spending does not create jobs. It destroys millions of jobs in the civilian economy.

When the global capitalist crisis hit last October, the system needed a direct infusion of an additional $700 billion just to provide immediate life-support to the biggest banks.

As our founder Sam Marcy explained, this huge military apparatus and the corporations dependent on it overwhelm all civilian institutions and endlessly press toward military solutions.

The Pentagon is the largest military machine on the planet. There are over 1,000 bases and fantastic high-tech weapon systems that can destroy the planet.

But they can’t defeat the poorest country in world—Afghanistan. Why can’t they pull it off?

They are incapable of improving any of the conditions of life, or bringing any progressive social change. It is impossible to win hearts and minds if you can only destroy. The think tanks and planners can’t solve it or change it.

The imperialist military is built to serve the profit system, to provide superprofits and to enforce exploitation. Now it is so thoroughly corrupt and bloated that it can no longer function effectively to defend the system.

There are more contractors and mercenaries in Iraq and Afghanistan than there are U.S. military forces. A recent Congressional committee couldn’t find out how many contractors there were or where they were or what they were doing, except getting paid.

The Pentagon militarizes the very air we breathe, increasing repression manyfold. Police and military units are everywhere. They intentionally create fear.

The targeting of Muslims in the U.S. and the charges of terrorism and manufactured government stings are all to justify a climate of war, racism and demonization.

On Nov. 13, the big news story was the seizure of four mosques, Islamic schools and an Islamic charity. Federal prosecutors claimed they were secretly controlled by the Iranian government. They bragged it was the biggest collection of counterterrorism seizures in U.S. history. This attack was timed to coincide with new sanctions on Iran.

This is ominously part of the continuing danger of a massive strike against Iran. There are continuing drone attacks on Pakistan that are widening the war. Along with continuing massive military aid to Israel is an effort to stamp out the heroic Palestinian resistance.

But it is not succeeding anywhere. It is igniting more resistance everywhere.

The future of their global system of imperialist domination is unraveling. That makes them more dangerous, desperate and unpredictable. But the Pentagon does not have enough soldiers, and they don’t have enough collaborators or “allies” to fight their wars.

We have to link the fight against endless war and militarism with the fight for jobs, against foreclosures, for health care and the struggle for everything we need and have a right to.

Articles copyright 1995-2009 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Right Wing Inchoate Rage

Since the election last year it seems as though the right wingers have been reduced to sputtering incoherent and often self contradictory angry slogans such as calling Obama a Nazi Communist.

I understand the anger. The last 40 years of mainly right wing Republican rule has destroyed our nation more thoroughly than any enemy from without could possibly do.

For a group that rants on and on about how they love freedom the realization that their party has reduced the freedom of those who work for a living to having the right to pee in the bottle in order to hold the retail job that replaced your high paying manufacturing job must come as a shock.

When one strips away the image of "fiscal conservative" one finds a reverse Robin Hood who steals from the 99% poor to give to the 1% ultra rich. When Republican talk about "waste" they actually mean anything that makes the lives of real Americans better. Wise spending lines the pockets of the rich with money borrowed from China and saddles the nation with paying off the debt that turned the ultra rich in this nation into demigods.

The right wingers have taken a page from "Triumph of the Will". They think that if they appropriate the symbols of revolution from the Boston Tea Party on down to the bumper sticker I saw yesterday then they can direct this anger into furthering their Nazi like ideals.

It may work. Yet one has to wonder when one sses a black bumper sticker with a Red Star on it that reads "Tea Party Revolution" in white type.

Gee nothing like stealing anarcho-commie symbols.

Good thing the right wing media taught their wing nuts to hate France, where the people actually get something for their tax dollars as well as have national health and a month paid vacation.

If people realize that the left offers a better analysis of how we got fucked over by the corporations then they could as easily go left as right. Especially since if that bumper sticker is any sort of sign of the future they won't even have to get a new one.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Athens in siege: police Hq attacked, hundreds detained and many wounded

From Libcon


This is a first posting on the developing situation in Athens where the 36th anniversary of the Polytechnic Uprising against the colonels' junta has been marked by long and sustained battles with the police during which hundreds of people have been detained. At the time of writing all central Athens is off bounds.

21:30 17 November 2009 At the time of writing all central Athens is off-bounds and cordoned off by thousands of police forces as battles between protesters and police are developing after the end of the 36th anniversary march for the Polytechnic 1973 uprising and massacre.

It was perhaps the most massive protest march commemorating the Polytechnic Uprising in the last 25 years. And despite guarantees from the government the presence of the police in the city of Athens was massive and provocative to the extend that the official organising bodies of the march refused to start their long way via the Parliament to the American Embassy (believed to be behind the 7 year fascist junta) if riot police forces did not withdraw. After 16:00 policemen arrested a young man claimed to be in possession of a molotov cocktail, while during the hours preceding the march a dozen of protesters en route to the Polytechneio were detained for carrying gas masks. Police blockades have sealed off large areas of the Athens centre and are all day conducting mass stop and search operations even in the remotest northern and western suburbs of the city.

The march started moving at 16:30, shortly stopped at Syntagma square to commemorate the police assassination of two protesters in the Polytechnic march of 1980, while with some tension built up uproad, at the junction of the Athens Hilton, at 18:15 when riot cops threw a tear gas in the midst of the march attempting to break away the anarchist block. The tension was quickly diffused. The first block of the march reached the American Embassy at around 18:00, where hundreds of riot policemen stood in line guarding the building. After the traditional long stop, the march started dispersing in large blocks. At that time, the anarchist block numbering between 2,500 and 4,000 people (still the numbers are unverified) decided to return to Exarcheia via Alexandras Avenue where the Athens Police Headquarters Tower and the Supreme Court are lined. Upon reaching the Police HQs, the big anarchist block was cut in two by riot police forces, leading the protesters to counterattack against the cops and the glass-n-iron symbol of repression with rocks and nautical flares. The clashes initially forced the police forces to retreat and continued until outside the Supreme Court, with smaller blocks breaking up in the side-streets.

Soon after 19:00, under unspecified circumstances, a 100 strong block of protesters was surrounded at the junction of Alexandras avenue and Spyrou Trikoupi street by large riot police forces that immobilised them and brutally detained them. There are reports of people seriously wounded, as well as of two journalists (one working for the French press, and one for the radio-station Kokkino) detained or arrested. The bourgeois media claim that the people detained were unrelated to violence against the police.

Meanwhile protesters that had managed to reach Exarcheia square engaged police blocking the way to the Polytechnic in battle with use of rocks and molotov cocktails, forming barricades. The area is surrounded by police forces and off bounds even for state and bourgeois journalists. At the same time Exarcheia locals have gathered in a demo demanding the immediate retreat of the police from their area. According to the locals the policemen are extremely violent and bear no insignia of identification.

Up to this moment the countdown is about 250 detentions which the persecuting authorities will decide if they are arrests within the next 24h, while protesters are gathering outside the Police HQ Tower demanding their release.

At the same time, the State Persecutor has published a law-suit against the rector and the three sub-rectors of the Athens Polytechnic for allowing athens.indymedia to use its server. The law-suit is considered an unprecedented violation of academic freedom.

In Salonica, three different protest marches in commemoration of the 1973 Uprising were marked again by massive participation. After the end of the march protesters attacked riot police forces outside the Aristotelian University building barricades across Egnatia street.

In the city of Irakleion, in Crete, the Polytechnic protest march starting at Freedom Square and soon attacked riot police forces surrounding it. During the clashes 5 people were detained, out of which 1 has been upgraded to an arrest. More than 100 protesters have occupied the city hall as a response to the repression, demanding the immediate release of the comrades and the retreat of the cops from the city centre.

The protest march in the city of Larissa was completed with no clashes, detentions or arrests.

Companies Kill 16 Workers A Day

By Robert Greenwald . Posted November 16, 2009.

Sixteen workers are killed a day in the United States because of reckless negligence on the part of their employers.

Under existing laws, these employers get a slap on the wrist, or walk away scot-free. Meanwhile, workers who blow the whistle face threats and retaliation at the workplace. It is time to change the feeble and antiquated rules that fail to protect workers on the job.

Visit and sign the petition protecting American workers' rights.The model isn't the Soviet Union look at how much better people have it in much of Western Europe. Tax the rich, tax the churches. End faith based initiatives and fund government run human services that can not engage in faith based bigotry since they have to meet anti discrimination clauses

Republi-Nazis Reagan, Bush, Bush and Neo-libs like Bill Clinton all gave rim jobs to the corporation that operate with Ayn Randian ethics and use John Galt as a role model.

It's time to wake up people and get back to the real American values of real left wing liberalism. Support the Employee Free Choice Act. Look for the Union Label and stop buying cheap crap produced by slave labor in China, India and where ever the corporations can find slaves to work for almost nothing.

We no longer teach our children the history of workers struggling for a decent wage, the eight hour day and benefits Only those of us who listen to Pete Seeger and Utah Phillips seem to remember who Joe Hill was and why he was murdered.

In 2002 I took some classes at NYU in Greenwich Village across from the site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire where the women who worked as seamstresses in that early sweat shop burned to death because the corporate pigs had locked them in. They jumped from the windows to their deaths rather than be burned alive in an act similar to those leaping to their deaths from the World Trade Center.

Mother Jones was a real person, an agitator known as the "Miner's Friend". We need to remember Lucy Parsons, an anarchist and Emma Goldman too. For they were the real defenders of freedom.

Despite the right wing propaganda it isn't the men and women conned into doing the bidding of the rich and going off to foreign lands to fight in imperialist wars where they become murderers or give their lives to make more profits for the rich who give us our freedom.

No our real freedom fighters, those who do give us our freedom fight for the rights to unionize and strike, they sat down at lunch counters and fought in the streets.

The real defenders of our freedom do not serve the corporate masters. From Ethan Allen on down to the kids waving black flags and wearing black masks the real defenders of freedom stand with the masses against the injustices of the rich and powerful.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

For an independent working class movement to defend education

The powers that be despise the working class of the world. They do not want us to know our history. They want us dulled to slavish submission constantly plugged into opiates such as sports, religion sex and ultra stylized violence that sets up the macho superman who acts outside any recognition of human rights.

All the while we are turned into consumerbots buying cheap crap manufactured by even more poorly paid slaves in what used to be the Third World.

Of course they want us stupid.

Intelligent, educated people refuse to be slaves and demand freedom and rights instead.

The IWW got it right nearly a hundred years ago just as Marx, Bakunin, Goldman and Kropotkin got it right.

Preamble to the IWW Constitution

Direct Action Gets the GoodsThe working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.

Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth.

We find that the centering of the management of industries into fewer and fewer hands makes the trade unions unable to cope with the ever growing power of the employing class. The trade unions foster a state of affairs which allows one set of workers to be pitted against another set of workers in the same industry, thereby helping defeat one another in wage wars. Moreover, the trade unions aid the employing class to mislead the workers into the belief that the working class have interests in common with their employers.

These conditions can be changed and the interest of the working class upheld only by an organization formed in such a way that all its members in any one industry, or in all industries if necessary, cease work whenever a strike or lockout is on in any department thereof, thus making an injury to one an injury to all.

Instead of the conservative motto, "A fair day's wage for a fair day's work," we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword, "Abolition of the wage system."

It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism. The army of production must be organized, not only for everyday struggle with capitalists, but also to carry on production when capitalism shall have been overthrown. By organizing industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old.

From World Socialist Web Site

Statement of the ISSE (Germany)
17 November 2009

The demonstrations taking place all over the world, including the weeks-long occupation of lecture-rooms in a number of European countries, are an important step in the struggle against the profit-oriented restructuring of the education system. These protests are part of social conflicts that are erupting on an international scale as the economic crisis deepens.

The demands raised by students following intense discussions are to be welcomed: an end to the system of study fees that limit access to higher education to all but a wealthy elite, the democratization of schools and universities, and increases in education funding.

It would be completely wrong, however, to believe that such goals can be achieved merely on the basis of protest. Students and workers are confronted not simply with a misguided educational policy, but rather with the deliberate restructuring of the education system in the interest of the profit system. This policy has been supported by all of the main political parties and implemented despite a series of protests and demonstrations by those affected.

At the heart of changes in Germany and throughout Europe is the subordination of education to the direct needs of the capitalist market. Broad education is to be replaced by training aimed at producing in the shortest period of time specialists in a particular field. The introduction of an earlier school age, the shortening of the period at school to 12 years, and the introduction of bachelor’s degrees have served to cut the average study time of students by several years.

The so-called Bologna process, introduced by the European Union, aims to implement the GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services) agreement throughout Europe. According to the GATS agreement, all services, including first and foremost education, are to be strictly subject to the dictates of the free market. The hundreds of billions invested in education by states across the globe are to be diverted to further the interests and balance sheets of big businesses and investors.

This means that the activities of kindergartens, schools and universities will be judged entirely from the standpoint of how much utility and profit they yield. The inevitable result will be an increase in stress for students and the further decay of buildings and facilities. Study courses with a social content and those encouraging critical faculties on the part of students are to be increasingly sacrificed. A comprehensive education system will be the preserve of a tiny elite, which has money and the appropriate contacts.

All of these processes are being intensified as the economic crisis deepens. The collapse of the financial markets has led to an extraordinary increase in social inequality. Under conditions where huge cuts have been made in a broad range of social facilities, wages slashed and entire social welfare systems dismantled, the German government has guaranteed two trillion euro of taxpayer’s money to the major banks. The current German government is now intent on recouping this money by further attacks on the interests of the population at large.

Such policies are not limited to the restructuring of the education system. Following an accelerated phase of study, young people in their early twenties are to be thrown onto a market with insecure jobs and low wages. Most young university graduates are already dependent on a wage and work under permanently uncertain conditions. They are part of the working class.

When it comes to defending our rights, students, alongside the rest of the working population in Germany, confront not only the present coalition government of the conservative union parties and the Free Democratic Party, but also the remaining political parties, together with business interests and the trade unions. They are all working together to save capitalism at the expense of the majority of the population.

During its seven-year term in office (1998-2005), the Social Democratic Party (SPD)-Green coalition carried out unprecedented social attacks, including their Agenda 2010, and led the country into new wars of aggression in violation of international law. It also began to implement the Bologna process in Germany. All of the parties’ pre-election promises of a free and equitable education system dissolved into thin air when the SPD and Greens entered government.

Only the Left Party has outdone the cynicism of the SPD and the Greens. Although the youth and student federation of the Left Party participate in every demonstration protesting education cuts, the Left Party in Berlin together with the SPD has slashed spending in various areas of education in the country’s capital city.

At universities, the so-called “red-red” senate in Berlin has saved 75 million euro by axing 216 professorial posts (almost a quarter of all professors), dismissed 500 other university staff, closed entire faculties and cut 10,000 university places in the city.

Similar cuts were introduced in schools in Berlin, which, like the universities, are run down and urgently in need of financial assistance. The senate introduced new charges for parents (averaging up to 100 euro per year and child) for teaching materials. In addition, the senate axed 400 posts for apprentice teachers in Berlin between 2005 and 2006. The corresponding hole in teaching schedules was then filled by increasing the workload of full-time teachers by two hours per week.

The SPD, Left Party and the Greens have demonstrated that they will not yield in the slightest to public pressure. Numerous major protests against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, against the Hartz IV measures and the 2003 demonstrations in Berlin against education cuts were unable to induce these parties to deviate from their course. They are unshakeable in their defense of the capitalist system in crisis.

The answer to the comprehensive attacks against education must be a completely independent political movement of the working class. In this respect the occupation of lecture-rooms, the broad discussion at student assemblies over demands and perspectives are to be welcomed. The task now is to make this movement the starting point of a general mobilization of the working population.

Such a movement must create bodies that function independently of the old bureaucracies, official parties and trade unions. Above all, it must reject any solution restricted to the framework of capitalism. As an international movement it must adopt a socialist program that gives priority to the principle of social equality instead of the enrichment of a tiny social layer.

The struggle for a comprehensive and free education system plays a huge role in this struggle. It is the vital precondition for a genuinely democratic society. If education is to be oriented to the requirements of the general population and serve the development of all, then it must be freed from the clutches of the free market system and subjected to democratic control. The struggle for a fair and comprehensive education system is therefore closely bound up with the fight for the socialist transformation of society.

The education protests raise questions that cannot be answered simply at the universities. We confront the task of developing a worldwide social movement aimed at replacing capitalism. This is the aim of the International Students for Social Equality, which is affiliated to the Fourth International. We invite students to contact us and join the ISSE today.