Feb. 2, 2005

  1. Bush Cabinet
    Mirrors Big Bosses' Drive For Wider War
  2. Former Security Chiefs Press For 500,000 Soldiers
  3. PLP-led D.C. Transit Local:
    Advance Young Black Workers to Leadership in Fight vs. Racist Inequities
  4. World's Auto Bosses' Dogfight Bites Workers
  5. Mexico: Red Ideas Link Community and Factory Struggles
  6. Good Riddance to Private Prison Boss, Exploiter of Inmates
  7. Racist Unemployment Deadly for Workers' Health
  8. GI Morale Could Be Achilles Heel For U.S. Warmakers
  9. Invaders Also Destroyed By Imperialist War
  11. Union Anti-War Motion Ties Fight-Back Here To GI Refusals
  12. Multi-Racial HS Club Takes Post-Election Action
  13. Going Toe To Toe with Garment Boss
  14. Government Using Stewart Trial
    To Silence Dissidents
  15. Fast Food Leads To Super-Sized Profits
  16. Why Is Rulers' Government Attacking Big Drug Firms?
  17. Nazi War Criminals Headed U.S. Space Program
  18. Japan Imperial Army Unit 731: The Other Holocaust
    1. Fighting racism, sexism in the Navy
    2. So long Social Security
    3. Not all Tsunami deaths were preventable
    4. Racist health care kills
    5. CHALLENGE changes Churchgoer's Ideas
    1. Nazis also used religion
    2. Shelter shows hard truth
    3. Abuse points to high-ups
    4. Brutal draft is planned
    5. US health trails Cuba's
    6. US kids: stark poverty
    7. Marx scores again

Bush Cabinet
Mirrors Big Bosses' Drive For Wider War

This issue of CHALLENGE goes to press the day of Bush's second inauguration. The coincidence highlights the real choice confronting workers in the very difficult period our class faces.

We can continue accepting the profit system and all its horrors and keep falling into the trap of electoral circuses that offer only candidates sworn to do the big bosses' dirty work against us. Or we can choose to fight for communist revolution by helping build and joining the Progressive Labor Party. That's the alternative: a status quo of war, police-state terror, racism, unemployment and cultural degradation; or a lifetime of struggle to win workers' rule.

The reshuffling of Bush's closest advisors recalls the old saying: be careful about what you wish for; you may get it. Many who voted for Kerry did so thinking he represented the best chance to stop Bush & Co.'s march toward fascism and war. Throughout the campaign, CHALLENGE warned that Bush and Kerry both served the same class interests and that only minor tactical differences separated them. We warned that a Kerry presidency would bring wider war and a tighter, even more oppressive police state.

Bush's latest moves confirm this. In fact, if anything, Bush's latest choices suggest that the Liberal Establishment, which backed Kerry, is finding ways to win the election after having lost it. Bush's appointment of Michael Chertoff as Homeland Security czar, in the wake of the Bernard Kerik fiasco, is a case in point.

The Kerik nomination reflected business-as-usual in the Bush style -- fascism on the cheap. Kerik comes from former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani's political machine. The Giuliani-Kerik approach to police terror relies on the crude, brutal, but relatively unsophisticated approach of giving small armies of racist cops guns and shoot-to-kill orders. It may work temporarily to terrorize urban neighborhoods and make downtown districts "safe" for business and lucrative tourism. However, it doesn't promote the police-state, pro-war, sacrifice-anything-for-the-flag mentality that the ruling class needs to militarize and therefore brutalize all of society. This was the task set by the Hart-Rudman Commission's 2001 Report on National Security in the 21st Century. It was Bush's assignment in the wake of 9/11.

Much of the Establishment's dissatisfaction with Bush can be explained by his failure to fulfill this task. Kerry was supposed to mobilize the population to endorse it but he flopped. His campaign mobilized anti-Bush sentiment but not the pro-war, pro-fascism wave the rulers needed. So Kerry lost, and some of Bush's initial cabinet choices indicated that he hadn't gotten the message, but the Kerik debacle may have persuaded him otherwise.

When Bush picked Kerik, the New York Times denounced the move. The Times has long backed the "community policing" line endorsed by Giuliani-Kerik rival and former NYC Police Commissioner Bratton (now LAPD Commissioner). "Community policing" takes a page from Hitler & Co. by inducing citizens to work with the cops and snitch on each other. Anyhow, within days of the Times editorial, Kerik found himself embroiled in a widening scandal and quickly withdrew his candidacy.

But the liberal bosses were just getting started. The Chertoff nomination shows how far they've come in forcing Bush to change tactical direction. Chertoff is pure Establishment. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, from 1994-2001 he headed Latham and Watkins, a law firm serving as outside counsel to Exxon Mobil and J.P. Morgan Chase. One of Latham and Watkins' main missions is helping big corporations comply with the new, tougher regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Food and Drug Administration. The big bosses want these regulations to help impose self-discipline on businessmen who haven't yet fallen into line with the plans for war and fascism.

Latham and Watkins represented Exxon Mobil in its 2003 $12 billion deal to produce and market natural gas from Qatar. Qatar, not coincidentally, served as general headquarters for the U.S. high command during the 2003 Iraq invasion.

Chertoff is a typical wolf in sheep's clothing. As a federal prosecutor in the 1990s, he criticized the New Jersey State Police's notoriously crass "racial profiling" of highway drivers. But when push came to shove, he revealed his true colors. From 2001 to 2003, as head of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, he authorized the indefinite jailing of 700 immigrants from Arab countries. Not one has yet been brought to trial.

Another new Bush appointment reveals the extent to which he is becoming "Kerry-ized." He's picked Robert Zoellick as Condi Rice's top deputy in the State Department. Zoellick has no qualms about serving the Eastern Establishment. A favorite of James A. Baker III (Bush, Sr.'s Secretary of State and a Chase Manhattan heir), Zoellick belongs to the Council on Foreign Relations and has advised Goldman Sachs, a financial house with tight ties to the Establishment.

The Chertoff and Zoellick moves are straws in the wind. During the electoral campaign, CHALLENGE declared that regardless of the outcome, state power would remain in the hands of the big bosses, that their agenda wouldn't change. Pressed by events and stung by some of his first-term failures, Bush is now making tactical adjustments. Kerry would have done the same. None of this is good news for the working class. Left to their own devices, the rulers are about to widen their oil war and tighten the vise around workers.

Our job is to build our own forces and to achieve the long-range goal of destroying all the bosses, along with their system. Key to this process is understanding that we must stop relying on the political options the capitalist electoral system offers us. We can rely only on ourselves, on our brothers and sisters around the world, and on class struggle guided by communist principles. PLP's growth will serve to gauge our maturity and our understanding of this crucial truth.

Former Security Chiefs Press For 500,000 Soldiers

Revamping the Homeland Security police state bureaucracy to the Liberal Establishment's taste is proving easier than recasting the tactics of oil war in Iraq. The rulers keep "solving" their problems by creating bigger ones. But that doesn't mean they'll stop trying -- at the expense of Iraqi workers and U.S. working-class soldiers.

As CHALLENGE has stated, Bush, Rumsfeld, & Co. thought they could conquer Iraq, occupy it, and make it safe for Exxon Mobil on the cheap, with air power and 150,000 ground troops. They are learning the hard way that a large infantry remains the key in modern warfare.

Bush or his successors, Republican or Democrat, will eventually have to send more troops to the Persian Gulf. The U.S. may end up occupying the entire Middle East, perhaps not tomorrow, but this is the logic of imperialism. U.S. bosses' strategic need to rule the world requires a hammerlock hold on Persian Gulf oil and the sea lanes to transport it to market. Lurking in the wings are Chinese and Russian bosses, who share the same strategic need and ambition. This is the irresistible force vs. the immovable object, and no electoral circus will make it disappear.

So far in Iraq, Bush's racist tactics have succeeded only in butchering large numbers of civilians. He hasn't secured anything. In the wake of the election, the Establishment is renewing pressure on him to change tactics. U.S. military commanders have basically washed their hands of the upcoming Iraqi "elections," warning of a bloodbath. On January 6, Bush, Sr.'s National Security Adviser, Brent Scowcroft, said that far from providing a "promising turning point" for U.S. interests, the voting fraud Bush, Jr.'s agents are about to carry out in Iraq would launch "a...civil war." (Washington Post) Scowcroft urged turning over the war to the United Nations. This is code language for cutting the U.S.'s European rivals in on some of the oil action.

Scowcroft was seconded by Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Democratic Party's equivalent of Henry Kissinger and an imperialist strategist who was a leading architect of U.S. genocide in Vietnam. At the same forum where Scowcroft spoke, Brzezinski suggested that the U.S. could meet its goals in Iraq only if it "were willing to put in 500,000 troops, spend $200 billion a year, probably have the draft and have some kind of wartime taxation."

Brzezinski is an important Establishment figure. His estimate means he -- and his bosses -- may be setting the stage for a dramatic expansion of this war. They're also telling Bush & Co. to take steps toward this expansion. Kerry ran on a platform to do the same. Many people made the mistake of voting for him because they hated "Bush's war." Well, these wars don't belong to any particular politicians. They belong to the profit system and won't stop until a communist-led working class rises up to take matters into its own hands.

PLP-led D.C. Transit Local:
Advance Young Black Workers to Leadership in Fight vs. Racist Inequities

WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 9 -- Every advance in the struggle leads to a counterattack. Mao Tse-tung once said, "To be attacked by the enemy is a good thing," and Lenin spoke about how the bosses actually fought harder after they were overthrown because they understood clearly what was at stake. Therefore, ruthless struggle against our enemies is necessary.

This process is reflected in a small way here following the election of PLP'er Mike Golash as President of Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 689 (ATU) last June. The mostly black transit workers that keep the capital of U.S. imperialism running chose communist leadership while the bosses are waging imperialist war in Iraq and developing fascism under the guise of Homeland Security. In this sharpening conflict, we are fighting to consolidate and build a larger base for PLP. This leadership, and those who fought for it, promised to fight to meet the needs of the lowest-paid workers, and improve their benefits and working conditions. This means fighting the racist inequities facing younger workers, who've been on the short end of every contract for the last twelve years.

The newly-elected leadership took over two months after the contract had expired. The union was divided and negotiations had gone nowhere. To keep his promise, and gain time to consolidate a political base for a more protracted contract fight, Mike negotiated a one-year contract that shortened the racist wage progression by one year and thereby provided a substantial wage increase to the lowest-paid workers.

A right-wing faction attacked Mike for fighting for equality and organized to defeat the one-year contract, 1,934 to 1,844. The right-wing lied and misled the workers, telling the members we could do better and that the young workers had to pay their dues. These hypocrites criticized the settlement because it did not eliminate promotional testing in Bus Maintenance, but which they themselves had negotiated with management six years ago. In fact, Mike had been the only union leader to fight the unfair testing procedure and the only executive committee member voting against this previous sellout.

Mike invoked the contract's arbitration clause to resolve the dispute. The right-wing mobilized to attack Mike at the December union meeting. One stooge physically charged Mike after Mike exposed his role in supporting the promotional testing procedure. Five other workers defended Mike and drove the attacker back to his seat. Meanwhile, Mike formed a committee of the workers affected by the unfair testing to work on a proposal to present to management in the upcoming contract negotiations.

At the January union meeting, things were different. Dozens of workers had organized garage after garage, talking to hundreds of workers about the attack on the union's new red leadership. About 400 workers attended, including a pretty solid base of 200 young workers to defend the red president.

These young workers, by taking on the old leadership which is also mostly black, dealt a significant blow to nationalism and those who cynically profit from it, demonstrating the mass potential of PLP's internationalism. Supported by many senior workers who have come to know the Party's strategy over the last 30 years, these younger workers are becoming a base for the Party and its friends and creating the conditions necessary for a much more serious fight over the three-year contract that becomes effective July 1, 2005.

Clever negotiating and legal dodges won't cut it. Even militant action cannot guarantee a better life for workers. And being "right" isn't enough. In capitalism's developing crisis of inter-imperialist rivalry, war, fascist Homeland Security and racist terror, the attacks on workers will intensify. Only a politically conscious, well-organized working class will stand a chance against the bosses' strike-breaking threats.

Through sharp political and class struggle, we can show that capitalism is stacked against us, and that communist revolution is the only way out. The bosses' law makes it illegal to strike against Metro, and a strike here would certainly raise the Homeland Security threat level to RED! A walkout would bring the full power of the state -- court injunctions, jailings, fines, arrests, beatings -- against the workers. The transit workers' struggle must increasingly have a vision of a communist world run by workers. The first steps in this process means winning workers to join PLP and win others, mainly by spreading CHALLENGE throughout the Metro system. (For the latest presidential address to the union members, see:

World's Auto Bosses' Dogfight Bites Workers

DETROIT, MI, Jan. 15 -- Beneath the glitz and glamour of the 2005 North American International Auto Show, events reflect the sharpening billionaires' dogfight over the U.S. auto market and fascist attacks against the working class.

First, General Motors will slash about 8,000 jobs, or 7% of its U.S. workforce over the next 12 months. Similar cuts have occurred annually since 2000, when GM had 198,000 workers. Today, it has 153,000 -- down 45,000 in four years under the "job security contracts" negotiated with the UAW. Last fall, GM announced the elimination of 12,000 jobs in Germany, England, Spain and elsewhere at GM-Europe. This sparked wildcat strikes and mass protests among Opel workers, GM's subsidiary in Germany. (See analysis in CHALLENGE, 11/3/2004.)

GM CEO Richard Wagoner said, "...I feel pretty good," but "I don't feel good about the impact that [health-care costs] has on our U.S. profitability." (Detroit Free Press, 1/10) He said GM spent about $5.1 billion on health care for 1.1 million workers, retirees, surviving spouses and dependents, and will top $5.4 billion in 2005.

Secondly, on January 9, a new 6-year contract was ratified between the UAW and Caterpillar covering about 9,000 workers in four states. Caterpillar is the world's largest heavy equipment maker and made record profits last year.

Workers overwhelmingly rejected two earlier tentative agreements, but weren't willing to strike, having experienced a 6_-year standoff and two failed strikes leading to their last contract in 1998. Caterpillar used scabs to break those strikes and was ready to do it again.

Workers have learned the hard way that the pro-capitalist UAW leadership is unwilling to break the bosses' laws, seize the factories, and take on the scabs, cops and courts. Cynical, bitter, fearful and passive, workers nearing retirement sacrificed new and future workers. A two-tier wage system will hire new workers at $10 an hour, less than half the current hourly wage. Current supplemental (temporary) workers who become permanent will make about $17 an hour instead of the current wage of $20 to $22. They agreed to a wage freeze in return for lump-sum payments equaling 2% to 4% of their pay over the next five years plus a $3,000 "signing bonus." This means a new hire starting at $10/hr. this year will be making the same rate in 2009!

For the first time, workers will pay $3,000 a year toward their health insurance and sacrifice $1,500 to $2,500 a year in bonuses to cut retiree health care costs from $135 a month to $60 a month.

Thirdly, the U.S. "Big 3's" domestic market share sank to an all-time low of 58.7%, as Asian automakers captured 31% of the market last year. Big increases by Japan's top automakers boosted U.S. sales to a three-year high of 16.9 million vehicles for 2004.

Sales declined in 2004 for both GM (down 1.3%) and Ford (down 4.5%). The only "domestic" automaker to increase sales was the German-owned DaimlerChrysler AG, up 4%, raising its market share by 0.2 points.

Meanwhile, the Japanese Big Three of Toyota, Honda and Nissan posted record sales in 2004. Over the last 10 years, the U.S. "Big 3" domestic market share fell from 73% to 58.7%, while Japan's "Big 3" rose from 17.6% to 26.4%. (Chicago Tribune, 1/5)

"The Big Three Japanese are taking share from the Big Three U.S. automakers. It's been going on a long time, and it's a steady march," said auto analyst Robert Hinchliffe at UBS Securities in New York. (Detroit News, 1/5)

Toyota sales topped 2 million for the first time, up 10% for the year. Nissan sales rose 24% and Honda's rose 1%.

Ford and GM will start the New Year the same way they finished the last one, with production cutbacks -- and China plans to enter the U.S. market in 2007.

The fight for markets, resources and cheap labor is what defines imperialism, and ultimately, the imperialists settle their scores through war. The world's autoworkers -- with a long militant history of mass fight-backs and being the key to capitalist production, from Sao Paulo to Detroit to Wolfsburg, Tokyo and Beijing -- unfortunately are victims of their union leaders' anti-communism, patriotism and defense of capitalism. The climb out of this hole is long and hard, but the only viable road is to break with all the sellouts and their pro-boss politics and forge a revolutionary communist leadership. Join the PLP and help escape this trap!

Mexico: Red Ideas Link Community and Factory Struggles

MEXICO CITY -- Santa Maria is a working-class colonia (neighborhood) north of here. With 10,000 people, this is one of many poor colonias surrounding this city. It's also full of struggles: workers refuse to accept their oppression and poverty lying down. Even though the electoral parties' reformism manipulates and sells out many of these str xsuggles, the fight-back in the last four years in Santa María has taken another road, influenced by communist politics and the idea that working-class liberation means a fight for communism.

Colonia residents, understanding that bosses get rich from workers' labor, boldly confronted a dozen mid-size companies operating in the area, demanding economic support to improve the local school, an auditorium used for community activities, and payment for community musical and sport events. When the companies refused, the people threatened to block their operations.

When the bosses realized that these workers, many of them women, were serious and determined, they gave in. The workers also pressured local authorities into paving the streets and fixing several drainage systems.

There are many such struggles all across Mexico City, but Santa María was different in that many people involved in the struggle read DESAFIO-CHALLENGE. They are learning from workers' struggles worldwide, from the paper's analysis of the world situation, from the pluses and minuses of the old communist movement, and so on. Some are bringing these ideas to the factories. One brought PLP leaflets to his job at the Social Security office where workers have been fighting a government scheme to screw them out of their pensions.

In the past, PLP'ers led many struggles at the nearby Ford plant. This caused many neighbors to ask help at various workplaces, since they saw that PLP didn't sell out, or fall into narrow reformism, nor were we intimidated by the bosses, cops and union hacks' attacks. In all the struggles, PLP always advanced its politics about inter-imperialist rivalry for markets and cheaper labor leading to wars, plant-closings and mass layoffs. In all these struggles we have always spread the Party's ideas about communist revolution freeing the workers from capitalism.

Although, we were unable to prevent mass layoffs at Ford, we did learn the need to broaden struggles from one plant to many others and to local neighborhoods. Indeed, the fight for a worker-led society is long and hard, but we're taking modest steps in that direction.

There are many ideological barriers to be overcome among workers. One told us, "The struggle you're carrying out is good, but to win we must believe in god." We must show such workers that the way to win is to believe in ourselves, the working class, not in a supreme being.

As the struggle widens and sharpens, many such honest workers will see that the working class has the power to liberate itself. One good sign of this is the many workers now asking us, "When will you give us more DESAFIOS?"

Good Riddance to Private Prison Boss, Exploiter of Inmates

Death finally claimed George Wackenhut, founder of the world's second largest private prison corporation, which owns prisons with 40,000 inmates in the U.S., Britain, Australia and New Zealand. Wackenhut, a former FBI agent, "recruited former members of the CIA, FBI and elite military forces" to company management. (NY Times, 1/8/05) These included former FBI head Clarence Kelley, former defense secretary and CIA deputy director Frank Carlucci and CIA director William Casey.

This motley crew made deals with Federal, State and County governments to contract out inmates to Wachenhut's private prisons at up to $60 per man-day. This prison corporation then turns around and signs contracts with some of the largest corporations in the U.S. -- Boeing, Dell Computer, Lockhardt Technologies (LTI), IBM, AT&T Wireless, Honeywell, Nordstrom, Revlon, to name a few -- for prisoners to manufacture anything these companies sell. The private prison building program is backed by investors like Merrill-Lynch and American Express.

One example of Wackenhut's effect on U.S. workers: in 1995, LTI closed its Austin, Texas plant, laid off 130 workers earning $10 an hour and shifted its circuit board assembly operations to Wackenhut's "Work Program Facility" in Lockhardt, Texas where 180 prisoners make 50cents an hour while Wackenhut pays the state $1 a year rent. (The Nation, 1/29/96) No wonder Wackenhut's "legacy" is a multi-billion dollar industry based on slave labor.

Wackenhut began as a strike-breaking outfit and worked closely with the CIA to take over the Cabazon Indian reservation in California to manufacture explosives, poison gas and biological weapons for shipment abroad. It also developed a list of 4,000,000 U.S. "dissidents" for future use.

Wackenhut's business is based on the selling of human beings -- modern slavery. It is racist through and through. Seventy percent of U.S. prisoners are black or Latino, a majority of them jailed for non-violent crimes for which people are not imprisoned in European capitalist countries. They've now become fodder for the most exploitative profit-making since pre-Civil War slavery. The government auctions off mostly young black men to the highest bidder. Says one private prison company CEO, in promoting the country's biggest growth industry, "You just sell it like you were selling cars or real estate or hamburgers."

Unfortunately, the Wackenhut Corporation didn't die with its founder.

Racist Unemployment Deadly for Workers' Health

"When Fabiola Quitiaquez lost her job in New York City last May, she moved to the Atlanta area, confident she would easily find work there. `I thought maybe if would take two to three months,' she said. But after six months [she] was still unable to find a job, even cleaning houses or caring for the elderly. As her unemployment ran out in November, she found herself at odds with news reports of economic recovery. `I realized what all these people like me were going through,' she said." (New York Times, 1/9/05)

About 3.6 million workers ran out of unemployment benefits last year, the most in three decades. And 60% of the unemployed are not even eligible for any benefits! Since the start of the recession in March 2001, the average length of unemployment has risen to 20 weeks from 13.

But the effect of joblessness goes far beyond just loss of income. It leads to emotional and economic stress, the loss of health benefits, cutting corners on medical care and, as Ms. Quitiaquez told her daughter, put off your car repairs and "use a screwdriver to change gears." She has high blood pressure, "but," she says, "if you go to a doctor, that's a luxury." She says that if she can't find a job, she'll have to return to the Bronx and move in with her parents.

Unemployment leads to "a chain of adversity." As outlined by Michigan University psychology professor, Richard Price, a "cascade of negative events... follow....The family is forced to ration health care. Or you can't send a child to college, or make a car payment -- and then you don't have the transportation to look for a job. Or you can't sell your house because everyone else in the neighborhood is unemployed so property values go down."

A 1976 Congressional study attempted to "estimate the cost in human suffering of people being out of work." (NYT, 10/31/76) It concluded that every 1.4% rise in unemployment led directly to the death of 30,000 workers over the next five years from stress-related ailments, suicide and homicide. In fact, Dr. Harvey Brenner of Johns Hopkins University told the Congressional Joint Economic Committee that, "The national suicide rate...can be viewed as an economic indicator," so close is the link between joblessness and workers' violent deaths. This is in addition to increases in malnutrition, mental anguish and sickness, as pointed out in this study:

Infant mortality rates show dramatic increases within one to two years of an economic recession;
* Brenner testified that, "Short-term general hospital admissions...respond very sharply to adverse changes in the economy as do mental hospital admissions, for an unbroken period of about 127 years in the U.S."
* Death by suicide rises within the first month or two of a recession;
* Heart disease peaks 3 to 5 years after the start of a recession;
* Over 26,000 deaths from 1970 to 1975 from strokes, heart and kidney ailments were linked directly to just that 1.4% increase in the unemployment rate in 1970.

These effects are even worse for black and Latin workers since the racist nature of capitalism doubles their unemployment rate as compared to white workers, as well as lengthening the duration of joblessness.

The millions of workers sent to an early grave out of the tens of millions of workers laid off over the past 50 years could probably rival any mass killing anywhere in the world. But these constantly occurring deaths don't get the headlines that the murder of one hot-shot celebrity gets.

Such is the hidden and unrecorded violence that the capitalist profit system -- the direct cause of unemployment -- metes out to the working class. The only solution to these violent deaths is destruction of that profit system and its replacement by a communist system that bases itself on workers' needs, not bosses' exploitation of the working class.

"They say stress is highest when you don't know what's going to happen next," a jobless computer programmer in Hopkins, MN, told the Times. "That's what I deal with day to day."

GI Morale Could Be Achilles Heel For U.S. Warmakers

Ironically, U.S. imperialism's advantage on the world stage, its staggering military might, could wind up as its Achilles heel. As the war drags on in Iraq, morale in the military worsens.

Recruitment and re-enlistment in the National Guard is dropping to levels causing a crisis for the military. Guard enlistment is down 30% over the last three months, this was after failing to meet its 2004 recruitment goals. The Army is responding to the troop shortage by trying to eliminate the two-year limit on keeping Guard and Reserve soldiers active. This will only worsen morale still further.

The active Army had to push 20% of its 2005 incoming recruits into the military 2004, ahead of schedule, to meet its 2004 recruitment goals. The majority of the drop in enlistment and re-enlistment rates is among black soldiers. The rate of enlistment and re-enlistment among white soldiers in the regular Army is at about its pre-war rate.

Long-term this poses a huge problem for the military because over the last 20 years black soldiers have become the backbone of the Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) corps. Since the advent of the all-volunteer army, black soldiers have re-enlisted and gone on to become NCO's at a much higher rate than white soldiers. In a military that's about 25% black, the majority of NCO's are black. The NCO's are the ones who hold the Army together day to day. Losing these soldiers, and promoting soldiers they wouldn't have wanted to otherwise, will cause more problems.

Another sign of low morale is the 5,500 desertions since the start of the war. Relative to the size of the military, this is a desertion rate comparable to Vietnam, which was a draft Army. Additionally, 1,800 inactive reservists -- out of only about 10,000 that have been called up -- are challenging their activation by the Army in court.

In the short-term the military will offer more money to new recruits and re-enlistees. They're also forcing soldiers who don't re-enlist to serve an extra tour in Iraq. But using a carrot-and-stick approach to a political problem is risky for the ruling class. What will they have to pay if they need more soldiers next year? It can also create tension between higher-paid and lower-paid soldiers, particularly when some soldiers are being paid $1,000/month tax-free to stay in Iraq, while others have been forced into an additional tour there. It also runs the risk of not working. And then what will the military do?

Invaders Also Destroyed By Imperialist War

Herold Noel is an Iraqi War vet whose unit spearheaded the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Today he is homeless and suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

"Honorably discharged with a chest full of medals in August 2003, Noel spent some time in Hinesville, Ga. before packing up his 1994 red Jeep Cherokee and heading to New York last July. But dreams of a sweet homecoming soon dissipated." (NY Post, 1/10/05)

Noel and his family were unable to all squeeze into the small apartments of relatives in Brooklyn, and as the Post reported, "Today he rambles through the an SUV looking for a place to sleep," with his wife and children possibly having to join him shortly.

After seeing "things nobody should ever see," Noel is suffering the mental effects of a war that is destroying both the occupied and the occupiers. While the Army claims there's plenty of assistance available for Noel, anyone who has ever dealt with the VA knows how difficult it is to get help.

Noel is only one of many. A Center for American Progress report estimates that eventually over 100,000 veterans of this war will need mental health treatment. Wars of occupation lead soldiers to question what they have done. Captain Tim Wilson, an Army Chaplain, summed up what soldiers are thinking, "...after shooting someone, [they are] asking, `Did I commit murder?'"

The only one way GI's can prevent U.S. rulers from using them as cannon fodder in their oil wars to kill other workers and their families is to rebel against such orders, as some have done already. GI's can be organized to fight in their own class interests, to unite with workers internationally against U.S. imperialism, which would be powerless without a military to carry out its plans for world domination in its drive for maximum profits.



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Union Anti-War Motion Ties Fight-Back Here To GI Refusals

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, January, 7 -- At this month's union meeting, a mechanic distributed copies of a motion in support of the nineteen reservists in Iraq who refused to carry out their mission to deliver fuel. "If these troops were able find a way to fight back, even under the pressing conditions in wartime Iraq, surely we can find a way to fight back against the bosses attacks here," was one point in the motion.

The union leadership, especially the president, opposed the motion, which also called on the local's executive board and the city Federation of Labor to organize a fight-back against transit service cuts as funds bleed away to pay for U.S. imperialism's oil war.

The president said soldiers must obey orders even if they disagreed with them. Furthermore, he didn't like that the terrorists "had given the U.S. the finger in New York on 9/11" and they had brought the war on themselves. The vice-president spoke as an "old soldier who never refused orders" and then asked why the resolution called for bringing only the nineteen reservists home and not all the troops? He obviously wasn't on the same page and drew a withering glare from the union president. The motion finally didn't pass with some parliamentary "help" from the president.

The membership, on the other hand, wanted to hear about the motion. One worker spoke clearly and passionately as he summarized the existing back-door draft with reserves, National Guard and "stop-loss" GI's trapped into fighting a war they clearly want to get away from. He explained how the demoralization was reducing re-enlistments, that recruitments were falling and that a draft was more likely. "The U.S. isn't about to give up that oil," he concluded. Another, a bodyman, was glad to get the addresses of the 19 GI's in Iraq (as printed in CHALLENGE) on the back of the copies of the resolution passed out at the meeting. The war is an important issue to them.

Even workers who spoke against the motion started by saying they didn't support the war or didn't know why the U.S. had sent troops into Iraq in the first place, and that they respected the sincerity of the member who raised the motion. One thought the language was too sharp. Another wanted to omit the words "murderous nature of imperialist war." Still another asked, "Is the U.S. really imperialist?" saying, "I'm not sure what imperialism is."

However, the introduction could have been much stronger. Only one worker came to the meeting prepared to support the motion. Our Party club, including its leadership, didn't activate our base to see the anti-war motion as a real opportunity to link a weakening U.S. capitalism moving towards world war to the attacks on our class's standard of living. Our modest action hits directly at the bosses' ability to win workers politically to their fascist war economy.

In practice, there was much more positive response than the one we subjectively feared.

At our club meeting we'll struggle to correct this mistake by planning more struggles on the job and in the union to connect the cutbacks on us with the bosses' war economy. Our study groups on dialectics and political economy can help us and our friends understand the situation and the communist solution. That way we can open up a front at the union meetings for the battle between pro-capitalist unionism vs. workers' power. We should be able to both involve more workers in this fight and expand our study groups.

Multi-Racial HS Club Takes Post-Election Action

NEW JERSEY, Jan.17 -- Since September, a group of high school students has become politically active through a local Amnesty international chapter. Starting with just four students and one anti-war teacher, the meetings now draw about a dozen students, discussing issues such as sexism, racism, the war in Iraq and the root of these problems -- capitalism.

Although Amnesty International has been a school club for many years, a new advisor has steered it away from passive actions like letter-writing campaigns, and has struggled with students to participate in more active forms of dissent, such as attending weekly protests with the local Peace Action group and creating a newsletter to distribute throughout the school. Consequently, many other teachers are beginning to show support.

One teacher approached the club advisor and shook his hand enthusiastically after hearing from her friends in town that the students had demonstrated against the war in near-freezing temperatures. "This is great." She said, "This is great that you and the students are getting involved; if there's any way I can help, let me know!" After overhearing that conversation, another teacher said she wanted to attend.

The leaders of this group, who are Asian, white, black, and Latin, mostly women, have been looking for a place to express their frustration over the events around us. Since all of them were too young to vote (although many said they would have if given the opportunity), they didn't feel demoralized after the election, but rather felt even more motivated to spread the word about the club and the anti-war demonstrations. In fact, one student had proposed demonstrating at the military recruitment center, located on one of the town's busiest streets. Many others agreed, and plans are currently in the works.

Although many of them are quick to just blame Bush for current problems, some are open to communist ideas, spending literally two hours after school with the teacher discussing a revolution to smash capitalism and how we, the working class, would carry out a new type of society. Three students are currently reading CHALLENGE and attending local study groups.

With such excitement and activity in the first half of the school year, the second half can only get better. The sharpening imperialist rivalry between the U.S. ruling class and its competitors will affect students and workers here at home. Building a worker/student alliance is an important aspect of workers seizing state power. These are our future leaders. We owe it to the working class to win them to communist ideas, distributing CHALLENGE and struggling with them to take leadership roles among their peers.

Going Toe To Toe with Garment Boss

(Part of the ongoing struggle in a garment factory, continuing from CHALLENGE, 1/19.)

At 10 A.M. on a Monday, two workers who had helped formulate the workers' plan to act together for their demands, betrayed that agreement. They told Tomas, "We've decided to talk to the boss." "But Jaime," said Tomas, "we have a plan and must respect it. Everyone should participate." But Jaime retorted, "Are you coming or not?" Angrily Tomas went along, joined by a fourth worker.

"Sit down," said the boss when they entered. Jaime and his friend sat, but Tomas and the fourth worker preferred to stand, refusing the boss's gesture of "friendship."

"Mister, we've got problems," began Jaime. "What problems?" asked the boss. "Is Marta [the forelady] important for you? asked Jaime. "Yes," said the boss, adding "and also for Lucky" (the brand name for the pants we make). "She seems like Hitler," said Jaime, imitating the Nazi salute. But they couldn't reach an agreement. The workers' demands had stated: "Continuing harassment by any person in charge of a section will cause a work stoppage to seek their firing."

When they began discussing the new rule for punching time cards before and after the half-hour lunch break [with two old time clocks for 250 workers], Tomas supported the fourth worker's proposal that new time clocks be installed which don't force workers to lose time off their lunch period, avoiding the current long lines.

"I'm thinking about guying a time clock you mark with your fingerprints," said the boss, "so no one can punch in or out for anybody else." Nobody opposed this, but it was clear that any change would be used by the bosses to increase control over the workers.

When Jaime proposed a $5 deduction from every paycheck to be returned at the end of the year (as a "savings"), Tomas objected -- "This is not on the agenda. We must stick to the points agreed upon with the other workers."

Next they discussed wages. Workers must be paid at least the minimum wage for every hour worked. We're paid by the piece. On days when work is scarce, we don't make the minimum, but since the boss needs the production, we must stay all day. We don't get paid for waiting. To skirt the minimum wage law, the boss applies our wages on days when there's more work (and we exceed the minimum) to those days when we don't make the minimum but are obligated to stay there for 8 hours.

We didn't win on this point, which affects the boss's profits. No surprise -- capitalism's laws give the bosses the advantage. To win anything, we must break the bosses' laws with strikes and rebellions. Even then, the boss fights to take more and more of the value we produce for their war economy. As the meeting ended, Tomas proposed that we "tell all the workers the results of this discussion." Reluctantly, the boss "agreed" to talk to all of them at 12:30 P.M.

During the lunch break, the struggle continued. "Why are you opposed to a work stoppage?" Tomas asked Jaime. "Because," he replied, "they would close the factory. Everyone needs to work. And the workers won't support it."

"Look," replied Tomas, "we're not asking for much. And the boss can close the factory whenever he wants. If we don't fight back, the boss will take more and more from us and sink us deeper into poverty. True, if we fight, they threaten to throw us onto the street. That's why, in the end, we workers need to get rid of this criminal system. We must have confidence in the workers," he concluded.

"We have to continue with the plan," said a woman worker when told what happened in the boss's office. These expressions of support and struggle continued during lunch.

At 12:30, about 30 workers met to question the boss, but (to avoid stopping production) he said he would talk to everyone at the afternoon break.... (To be continued)

Government Using Stewart Trial
To Silence Dissidents

NEW YORK CITY. Jan. 17 -- The government's attempt to convict criminal defense lawyer Lynne Stewart on charges linked to the Clinton Administration's anti-terrorist laws passed in 1996, opens up another front in the struggle against the growth of U.S. fascism.

Ms. Stewart is currently on trial in Federal Court here. She's facing a 40-year jail sentence, accused by the government of "materially aiding terrorists" and violating Special Administrative Measures imposed by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. The indictment is based on a public press release Stewart passed from her client, Sheik Abdel-Rahman, to Reuters; on overheard, privileged attorney-client interviews; and on wiretapped conversations of the paralegal and interpreter on the case, who've also been indicted. Abdel-Rahman was convicted of conspiracy in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and is currently serving a life-sentence.

Although prosecutors produced no concrete evidence of Stewart's involvement in any terrorist conspiracy from the 8,000+ intercepted phone calls and recorded conversations, the government is driving all out to convict her, using guilt by association to link her to the terrorist acts of her client's Egyptian fundamentalist group.

Her trial is partly similar to the Rosenbergs' case, tried in the same courtroom over 50 years ago, where the government also had no tangible proof but indicted -- and later executed -- the couple for "conspiracy to commit espionage." The ruling class used the trial to whip up anti-communism on behalf of U.S. imperialism during the Cold War, furthering wholesale rounds-ups and imprisonment of communists and other militants.

For 27 years Lynne Stewart has defended black and Latin working people and well-known political activists. This trial is an attack on lawyers who defend those who challenge the system. It's an attempt to silence dissidents.

The courtroom was packed every day with previous clients and political and professional allies. The government's propaganda is having an effect on members of mass organizations who fear attending forums addressed by Lynne Stewart.

PLP disagrees with her client's terrorist tactics, which would just replace U.S. bosses and their lackeys in the Middle East for other local and foreign exploiters. We believe the only way to free workers in the Middle East and worldwide is fighting against all forms of capitalist exploitation, fighting for communism. But in supporting Lynne Stewart, we can expose the sham of the U.S. legal system's claim to "provide justice for all" and reveal its true purpose: a ruling class tool to enforce its class interests.

Fast Food Leads To Super-Sized Profits

Fast Food Nation: the dark side of the all-American meal; by Eric Schlosser, 2001.

Super-Size Me; directed by Morgan Spurlock, 2004.

Both these works concern the growing epidemic of obesity in the U.S., especially in children.

Morgan Spurlock is a writer, director, producer and founder of The Con, this film's production company. He says it is an "examination of the American way of life and the influence it has had on our children, the nation and the world at large."

In this documentary, Spurlock goes on a 30-day McDonald's binge, eating three full meals a day at their restaurants across the country. He gains 24_ lbs., raising his cholesterol count from 165 to 225, becoming addicted to the food, and essentially pickling his liver with fat. Afterwards, it takes him eight weeks on a vegan diet to normalize his cholesterol and liver function and another fourteen to lose the weight.

Throughout his journey to obesity, he interviews many average citizens, health experts, school officials and food-industry lobbyists. He concludes that: fast food is unhealthy; advertising targets children; the No Child Left Behind Act is cutting physical education and recess on behalf of more test preparation; and school districts are allowing sodas and other unhealthy foods into the schools and school lunches.

He gives one great example of how junk food and soda affect students' behavior and performance. A Wisconsin school for students who had problems in other schools contracts for school lunches with Natural Ovens, which provides low-fat, low-sugar meals. The school has also banned soda and candy machines on campus. This led to a marked improvement in behavior and grades. His solution: consumers have a choice and should not choose fast food.

Eric Schlosser is a correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly. His book examines the fast food industry as a whole, from its history to its secret inner workings to its employees to the effect it has on the community.

He exposes the flavoring industry that makes highly-processed fast food taste so good it keeps you buying more. He shows how the chains exploit teenage workers with low pay and little training and get government subsidies to do so. He explains how large corporations have turned family farms into factory farms which churn out cattle and chickens, fed each other's by-products, leading to food-poisoning and Ecoli outbreaks. He looks at the "most dangerous" job, meatpacking, how it exploits women and recent immigrants and flaunts safety and OSHA regulations, both for the food it produces and the workers who do the processing.

The book reveals that none of these industries care about workers, either those it employs or the ones who purchase its products. They are virulently anti-union and have a total disregard for safety and health. Their only concern is making maximum profits.

So what should we do? Schlosser says we should apply the USAS (United Students Against Sweatshops) campaign against Nike sweatshops to the meat-packing industry, using our power as consumers to boycott fast food until they improve its nutrition. In other words, work towards "kinder, gentler" capitalism.

As communists, we can use these statistics and issues to spark discussion about the true nature of capitalism and give concrete examples of its super-exploitation of workers. They demonstrate that the trend of consolidation permeates every industry, including food production and processing. Since there are no new markets to conquer, buy-outs and mergers become necessary for companies to maximize profits.

The idea that a consumer boycott will fix the fast food and meatpacking industries misunderstands how capitalism works. As consumers, workers don't have the power to shut down industry. Only organized at the point of production can workers do that.

To hit the food industry where it really hurts, workers need to organize strikes and work stoppages. But to actually stop the exploitation of workers in all industries they must organize a communist revolution.

Advocating boycotts also implies that some companies do not exploit workers. However, under capitalism companies make profits by exploiting the labor power of workers, by paying them less than the value they add to a product. There are no "good" capitalists, who do not exploit workers.

The bosses' utter disregard for the safety and health of both the workers who produce and those who purchase their products is just another crime in the long list of capitalism's evils. These exposés should not depress us, but should make us angry and even more determined to destroy the system that treats us as disposable.

Why Is Rulers' Government Attacking Big Drug Firms?

Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) attacked industry giant Pfizer for covering up the dangerous side effects of its painkillers Celebrex and Bextra. Late last year, the FDA forced Merck's Vioxx off the market because it could cause heart problems. Now the FDA has set mid-February hearings to rake Merck and Pfizer executives over the coals. But protecting consumers from the abuses of the big drug companies, also called Big Pharma, is not the FDA's purpose. Its crackdown on the drug-makers reflects a general tightening of control over industry by U.S. rulers. Intensifying fascism goes hand-in-glove with their widening imperialist wars.

The drug companies' fabulous profits eat up capital that the rulers need for rebuilding their industrial base and expanding their war machine. Drug sales hit $215 billion in 2002 and are predicted to reach $346 billion in 2007 -- nearly what the Pentagon spends. So the rulers are targeting Big Pharma's biggest moneymaker -- blockbuster drugs, ones that gross more than a billion dollars annually, like Vioxx, Celebrex and many of the cholesterol-lowering statins. In the blockbuster racket, a manufacturer gets swift approval for a product from a compliant FDA, advertises it to the skies, and then bribes doctors to prescribe it. When the patent comes close to running out, the maker (or a rival) tweaks a molecule or two and re-patents the new formula, assuring five more years of megaprofits. The best-selling painkillers and anti-cholesterol drugs are chemical knock-offs of one another. But the rulers are derailing this gravy train.

First, they had to wrest the FDA from the grasp of the drug firms. The London Financial Times reported (1/7/05), "the drug industry finances and controls most of the clinical trials on which FDA decisions are based." So the rulers found a whistleblower within the FDA, David Graham, who "argues that Vioxx was only the most `catastrophic' in a series of lethal regulatory failures in the past decade. He warns that at least five other lucrative blockbuster drugs on the market should be withdrawn." (FT) Supported by the ruling-class Rockefeller family foundations, groups like the Center for Science in the Public Interest and Public Citizen launched a campaign of FDA exposés and pro-regulatory lobbying.

Next came an ideological assault by the rulers on the companies themselves. The year 2004 saw the publication of books like: "The $800 Million Pill: The Truth Behind the Cost Of New Drugs"; "On the Take: How Medicine's Complicity with Big Business Can Endanger Your Health" and many others. Marcia Angell, the Harvard faculty member who wrote "The $800 million pill" decried the squandering of capital. "Drugs are the fastest-growing part of the health care bill -- which itself is rising at an alarming rate. The increase in drug spending reflects, in almost equal parts, the facts that people are taking a lot more drugs than they used to, that those drugs are more likely to be expensive new ones instead of older, cheaper ones, and that the prices of the most heavily prescribed drugs are routinely jacked up, sometimes several times a year." Jerome Kassirer, the Harvard-affiliated author of "On the Take," argues that elite universities (like Harvard, run directly by the ruling class) should steer health care in the U.S.

Merck and Pfizer are in hot water because, as the rulers seek to militarize society, they must become concerned with the long-range interests of their class. While their system is still based on the drive for maximum profits, they must demand obedience from capitalists like those in the pharmaceutical industry whose short-range greed threatens the long-range ability to maintain the system as a whole. So "sacrifice" has become their watchword among sections of the capitalist class, while at the same time demanding enormous sacrifice from the entire working class.

Nazi War Criminals Headed U.S. Space Program

On Oct. 4, 2004, SpaceShipOne won the $10 million Ansari X Prize, completing the required second suborbital flight within two weeks, carrying the equivalence of three adults to outer space. One of the pilots of this first private plane to reach outside the earth's atmosphere told reporters his dream began when he saw a 1950's TV program interviewing Wernher von Braun, the father of the U.S. rocket program.

Who was von Braun? He not only founded the U.S. space program, but Nazi Germany's as well. He held the rank of SS Major, saying later he "did it out of necessity." How did this Nazi, a protégé of Reichführer Himmler, become one of NASA's top guns?

Before he died, President Roosevelt had signed an order banning U.S. use of Nazi war criminals after the war. But when the war ended, the War Department (today's Pentagon) brought 1,500 Nazi scientists to the U.S., naming the undertaking "Operation Paperclip." Eventually 760 German, Austrian and other Nazi scientists were given U.S. citizenship. U.S. bosses were preparing for war against the Soviet Union, their allies during the war, the force which had defeated the bulk of the Nazi war machine. While publicly the U.S. was preparing to try top Nazis for war crimes, they were secretly employing many other Nazis for the coming Cold War against the USSR.

The Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA) was formed in 1945 -- similar to the current Homeland Security Agency -- covering the intelligence services of all military branches. It would run Operation Paperclip. Its director, Bosquet Wev, explained the thinking behind this operation: "To emphasize `picayune details' -- like bringing the Nazis to trial -- means the best interests of the United States have been subjugated to the efforts expended in `beating a dead Nazi horse.'" (Linda Hunt, "U.S. Cover-up of Nazi Scientists," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, April 1985)

The JIOA tampered with the charges against these Nazis to exclude them from war crimes trials. Von Braun and his entire team were brought to the U.S.

SS Major von Braun had began his career in the 1930's, working for Herman Berth, father of the German rocket program. By 1945, von Braun, at 32, was already an SS commander and a member of Himmler's personal command group. He worked on the V2 rockets -- which terrorized London during the war. They were built at the Mittelwerk plant, using 20,000 slave laborers from his exclusive Dora concentration camp.

Von Braun and his team used prisoners for human experiments. Theodor Zobel -- another Nazi scientist brought to the U.S. after the war -- used humans as guinea pigs in his aerodynamics testing tunnel in Chalais-Meudon, in occupied France. After 1947, Nazis already convicted of war crimes were recruited. One was Otto Ambros, an IG Farben boss during the war, who was part of the group authorizing the use of Zyklon B poison gas (manufactured by an IG Farben subsidiary) in the Nazi gas chambers. He chose Auschwitz to build a Zyklon B plant, using slave labor and testing the poison on prisoners at the death camp. He only served eight years for his crimes, and was hired by JIOA immediately upon his release. He was later hired as a consultant for WR Grace, Dow Chemical -- producer of napalm for the U.S. in Vietnam -- and the U.S. Army Chemical Corps.

The Nazi scientists led by von Braun were put to work at the White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico. The first modified V2 rocket was launched in June 1947, built with parts taken from the Nazi Mittlewerk factory, but it failed, changing course and landing in a crowded neighborhood in Ciudad Juarez. Mexico thought it was being invaded by the U.S. The White House had a lot of explaining to do. But though this first try flopped, the Nazi scientists were very successful in helping the U.S. counter "the Sputnik effect" -- named after the first satellite in space launched by the Soviet Union in 1957.

(Information from Red, 1/6/05 and other sources. Next: "Mein Führer, we're going to the moon." How these Nazis, heading NASA, helped put astronaut Armstrong on the moon.)

Japan Imperial Army Unit 731: The Other Holocaust

Some of the Second World War's most gruesome atrocities -- medical experiments on Chinese, Russian, British and U.S. prisoners -- were committed in China by Japan's infamous Unit 731.Sixty years later, the Japanese continue to deny or minimize these wartime barbarisms, refusing demands for a clear apology. In the post-war years, the U.S. conspired in the cover-up. Rather than allow Unit 731 research on biological warfare to fall into Soviet hands, U.S. rulers shielded some of the war's worst criminals in exchange for their knowledge. Only the Soviets' public trial of some of these murderous doctors prevented the U.S. and Britain from hiring them, as they did with Nazi scientists.

But it was the human experiments, more than horrible weaponry, that distinguished Unit 731. Once, in an operation aimed at extracting plague-infected organs, about which the surgeon, a Dr. Kamada, still finds it difficult to talk, he took a scalpel with no anesthetic, to a Chinese prisoner, or "log," as the Japanese euphemistically called their victims. "I inserted the scalpel directly from the log's neck and opened the chest," he told a Japanese interviewer anonymously at the time. "At first there was a terrible scream, but the voice soon fell silent."

Unit 731's sprawling headquarters were at Pingfan, on the outskirts of Harbin, China -- complete with an airport, railway stations and dungeons. Retreating Japanese troops burned down most of Pingfan, attempting to destroy evidence, but even today, a local factory still fires up an incinerator where victims of Unit 731's medical experiments -- at least 3,000 men, women and children -- were murdered. A dank cellar eerily suggests the thousands of white rats once bred there as carriers of bubonic plague and whose release at the war's end triggered an epidemic killing thousands of local Chinese.

Last June, Han Xiao, China's leading expert on Unit 731, confirmed what the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has long denied: in 1943 U.S. POWs in Mukden (Shenyang) were injected with various bacteria to test their immunity. Most survived, but many died.

A Unit 731 member, Nobuo Kamaden, speaking on the record for the first time, told U.S. News & World Report that his main job at Pingfan was to breed plague bacteria. "We would inject the most powerful bacteria into rats. On a 500-gram rat, we would attach 3,000 fleas. When the rats were released, the fleas would transmit the disease." Infected rats and fleas were also loaded into special porcelain bombs designed to keep the rats alive as they descended on a parachute from an airplane.

Such are the "fruits" of imperialist war.



Fighting racism, sexism in the Navy

I have a First Class Petty Officer in my shop who has consistently given me hell since I arrived on the ship. Other sailors have told me he takes exception to me asking questions and attempting to ensure fairness in the shop.

In the Navy, sailors are assigned to duty sections to guarantee safety and the running of the ship on a daily basis. During the holidays, off-going duty sections have been leaving a little early once all tasks are complete. One day, when I was on that section, the rules suddenly changed. 

First, the lead Petty Officer on my duty section told one of my E3 colleagues he could leave early. When the E3 asked about me, the Officer told him not to ask questions, get his stuff and leave, as did the lead Petty Officer. I was left holding the broom.

The E3 asked me if I was told to leave by the lead Petty Officer. "No," I said. Then an E4 Petty Officer, a Latina woman, seeing this injustice, asked the First Class Petty Officer why was I still in the shop. He replied I should check with my supervisor -- a double standard because my E3 colleague didn't have to check with his supervisor (the E4 asking about my liberty). Since my supervisor was getting physical, my E3 colleague suggested that we ask him about my liberty. 

We did and he said he had no tasks for me, that I could leave. When I inquired about the injustice, another sailor with my supervisor said I should just leave and ask no questions.

The next day, I went up the chain of command. My supervisor lied, stating he was charged by the First Class Petty Officer with liberty for duty section. The lead Petty Officer lied, saying that he made a general announcement in the lab for everyone to leave. The First Class Petty Officer lied, stating my supervisor, who's not on our duty section, is responsible for liberty for those on duty. It all adds up to racism and sexism.

I talked with the Senior Chief (E8). I'm filing an informal complaint, to bring all parties coming to the table to discuss this situation. Through this, I hope to win my E3 colleague and those below to realize we don't have to accept this madness, that only through struggling together will we prevent tyrants such as this First Class Petty Officer from singling out sailors based on personal biases. None of this would have been possible without my E3 colleague refusing to go home until I was given liberty and without the E4 Petty Officer challenging the First Class Petty Officer.

This gives me hope that we can win workers' power. Although small, this little struggle shows the inherent potential of our class. We must continue to conduct such struggles, exposing the class contradictions and winning sailors and soldiers to PLP's ideas.

Navy Red 

So long Social Security

Seventy years ago, retirement plans were rare. If our aged parents and grandparents had been able to save a few dollars, or had children to move in with, they might be able to live O.K. If not, anything could happen -- the "old folks' home" or even begging on the street.

It was depression times. Banks closed. Millions were jobless. Entire families went hungry. Across the US, workers sought food on bread lines and in soup kitchens.

Many unions struck in protest. Workers took to the streets or sat down at their machines and refused to work for lousy wages and long hours. New unions were organized on the docks, in auto and steel. Less than 20 years before, workers in Russia had made a communist revolution. In China, they had begun the same process.

The big bosses were awfully scared. These workers' rebellions forced them to pass child labor laws, set minimum wages and shortened hours. And they set up a Social Security system for retiring workers.

It wasn't a great system. It had many faults. But many seniors now had a chance to take care of themselves when they could no longer work. It was a small victory the workers won, with their sweat and blood, and often with guns.

Now the bosses are seeking to bury Social Security without causing another rebellion. (Have you ever heard of a boss really giving a damn whether you have retirement security or not?) The press, TV and radio are talking about it. The bosses call it "privatizing," and everyone's arguing this way and that. But it all amounts to the same thing: They're going to gut Social Security, and use our earnings for their wars to control oil and expand their empire!

Well, let's just make them EAT it, their whole half-assed capitalist system. Including "Social Security"! Then we can build a true workers' society with security built-in: communism.

Old time Red

Not all Tsunami deaths were preventable

While ruling class pundits are solemnly quoting Shakespeare about nature's cruelty (see David Brooks, NY Times, 1/9), CHALLENGE is to be commended for highlighting the "man-made" nature of various aspects of the tsunami tragedy in the Indian Ocean and putting it in political perspective. It's true that, had the tsunami buoys been in place, at minimal expense, "hundreds of thousands" -- as CHALLENGE states -- might indeed have been warned and been able to seek safety. It's also true that, compared even with the devastation wrought by this tsunami, imperialism kills far more people every year. The Indonesian fascists slaughtered a million leftists in the 1960s and have murdered some 20,000 more rebels in Aceh alone over the past two decades. Millions have died in the Congo over the past several years because of imperialist-driven competition over natural resources. A recent study by the World Resources Institute reveals that some 13 to 18 million children -- 12 million under the age of 5 -- die every year because of International Monetary Fund and World Bank structural adjustment policies.

But I think CHALLENGE was wrong to preface the 1/19/05 editorial with the statement by Canadian tsunami expert Dr. Tad Murtry that, "There's no reason for a single individual to get killed in a tsunami...From where the earthquake happened to hit, the travel time for the waves to hit the tip of India was four hours. That's enough time for a warning."

Murtry was talking about India, where in fact "only" a few hundred people died on the mainland. And what he says might also hold for Sri Lanka and Thailand. But the largest devastation occurred on the Aceh peninsula of western Sumatra, very close to the epicenter of the earthquake that caused the tsunami. In Aceh over 100,000 people died almost immediately -- not "just" the "thousands" that CHALLENGE says perished there.

Most of these people would have died even with tsunami buoys in place. A massive wall of water descended on them within a couple of minutes. The prominent highlighting of the Murtry statement leads the reader to conclude that all the deaths in the Indian Ocean were socially caused; that there's no such thing as a "natural" disaster. This is a non-materialist approach to causality.

There's no doubt that the great majority of people who die prematurely in the world every day do so because of capitalist-engendered poverty and devastation, and that the poverty in Sumatra pressured many fishermen to live in crowded, vulnerable, low-lying areas. But even under communism there will be earthquakes and fishing communities; and even the finest architectural safeguards, oceanic warning systems, and provisions of mass evacuation won't prevent tragedies caused by "nature" -- even if we understand that much of what is called "natural" is conditioned by the "social."

So let's not confuse our levels of causality. And let's not create the mistaken notion that once we get rid of capitalism, there'll be no "natural" tragedies, even though their effects will be mitigated, and they won't be compounded by the racism, structural inequality and malign neglect built into class society.

A Comrade

Racist health care kills

According to a report in the December issue of the American Journal of Public Health, more than 886,000 deaths could have been prevented from 1991 to 2000 if black people had received the same health care as whites. Over those ten years, that's more than five times the number of people killed in one day in the recent tsunami tragedy in south Asia. According to Steven H. Woolf, lead author and director of research at Virginia Commonwealth University's Department of Family Medicine, "five times as many lives can be saved by correcting the [racist] disparities than in developing new treatments." (WASHINGTON POST, 12/21)

During that decade, age-adjusted mortality rates for white men and women averaged 29% and 24% lower than those of black men and women. The authors calculated how many deaths could have been averted if the two groups' mortality rates were equal.

The study also emphasized the class basis to this racist inequality, saying, "Socioeconomic conditions represent a more pertinent cause of disparities than race.... An intriguing question is whether more lives are saved by medical advances or by resolving social inequities in education and income."

Racism is the fiber that holds the capitalist cloth together. It will never be eliminated until we eliminate the profit system with communist revolution. That is what we fight for, today and every day.

NJ Comrade

CHALLENGE changes Churchgoer's Ideas

Often when I circulate CHALLENGE in my church, I question how many read it. During the first Gulf War and the years of sanctions afterwards, I received little feedback.

Then one day, a parishioner approached me to say how the facts and perspectives had generated much understanding. He noted especially the deaths of the many children in Iraq and what caused them. This man is in his eighties and holds a most cautious outlook about radical opinions.

When I told him I'd write a letter to the paper explaining that CHALLENGE had altered someone's view of the world, he agreed. This is being written a year after that original exchange, but when I said I'd do it this time, he corrected me: "It's not only thepaper," he said, "but it's been our conversations over the years that have given me these changed ideas."

Yet another red churchmous


Nazis also used religion

Fritz Stern, a refugee from Hitler's Germany and a leading scholar of European history, startled several of his listeners when he warned in a speech about the danger posed in this country by the rise of the Christian right....

He told his audience that Hitler saw himself as "the instrument of providence" and fused his "racial dogma with Germanic Christianity....It was the pseudo-religious transfiguration of politics that largely ensured his success, notably in Protestant areas. . . ."

"When I saw the speech my eyes lit up," said John R. MacArthur, whose book "Second Front" examines wartime propaganda. "The comparison between the propagandistic manipulation and uses of Christianity, then and now, is hidden in plain sight. No one will talk about it." (NYT, 1/6)

Shelter shows hard truth

...Ms.Abbott-Young is the undisputed queen of the $1-million-a-year mission operation, which provides shelter for the homeless....

"This is the most startling...We have people here who have work, but they can't make it on the wages they are paid. We watch the debate about raising the minimum wage to $7 and laugh, as if anyone can survive on $7 an hour." (NYT, 1/11)

Abuse points to high-ups

...Five officers [were] recommended for discipline in a Pentagon report in August....

That report implicated 29 other military intelligence soldiers in at least 44 cases of abuse from July 2003 to February 2004, including one death, beatings, using dogs to threaten adolescent detainees, and having prisoners stripped naked and left for hours in dark, poorly ventilated cells that were stifling hot or freezing cold.

The report said that while the claims of Specialist Graner and other military police soldiers that they had been acting at the behest of military intelligence were "self-serving," they did "have some basis in fact."

Lawyers for the low-ranking soldiers who have been charged say they remain skeptical that higher-ups will ever be charged.

"The higher up they go, the more problems they have....Pappas gives them Sanchez, and they don't want that. Sanchez can give them Rumsfeld, and they don't want that.

"Rumsfeld can lead to Bush and Gonzales, and they definitely don't want that." (NYT 1/17)

Brutal draft is planned

...The Pentagon is also considering plans to further change the rules about mobilizing members of the National Guard and Reserve. Right now they cannot be called up for more than 24 months of active service. That limit would be scrapped, which would permit the Army to call them up as frequently as required.

That's not a back-door draft. It's a brutal, in-your-face draft. (NYT, 1/10)

US health trails Cuba's

Here's a wrenching fact: If the U.S. had an infant mortality rate as good as Cuba's, we would save an additional 2,212 American babies a year. (NYT, 1/12)

US kids: stark poverty

...In 2000, 9.8 percent of French children lived in poverty; in the Netherlands, 8.4 percent; in Sweden, 3.7 percent. But in the United States, 26.3 percent of children were growing up in poverty. (Wash. Post, 1/9)

Vote - armed bandits?

Some say that slot machines are a way of taxing the poor. At least they pay off better than voting machines (Tribune Media)

Marx scores again

[Steve] Nash, a heady, selfless point guard....has led the [Phoenix] the best record in the NBA....

Nash has been doing some light reading on the road, studying a playbook of sorts that outlines team concepts like discipline and sacrifice for the common good.

"I'm actually reading the Communist Manifesto," Nash said with a smile after a recent practice....

Nash explained that he picked up the Manifesto, "only because I was reading the autobiography of Che Guevara and I wanted to get a better perspective." (NYT, 1/19)