Oil and gas lie at the heart of the imperialists' struggle. But the stakes go beyond energy. What's looming is a re-division of the world like the one Lenin described in "Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism," on the eve of World War I. China desperately needs fuel for its rapidly growing economy. Last year it signed a $100-billion 25-year deal with Iran for liquefied natural gas. And for China to control the sea lanes that supply it, "intelligence projections [indicate] that the size of the Chinese fleet could surpass that of the United States Navy within a decade." (New York Times, (2/18)
For European rulers, ending the arms ban represents far more than a business deal. The CIA fears, "A China armed with weapons technologies from Europe facing American forces in the South China Sea could forever change the post-cold war geopolitical order. Growing links with China could eventually shift EU allegiance away from the 60-year-old transatlantic status quo: An EU-China alliance, though still unlikely, is no longer unthinkable." (London Financial Times, 2/10) A nuclear Iran, friendly to the EU and China, would further weaken U.S. rulers' grip on Saudi Arabia and Iraq. U.S. rulers have proved willing to spill barrels of workers' blood to retain these treasures.
The imperialists slaughtered hundreds of millions of workers in the 20th Century, carving up the globe into spheres of influence. This murder for profit will continue until a mass, international PLP leads a communist revolution. For now, the capitalists have the upper hand, and aligning their forces for inter-imperialist battle is the order of the day.
Irwin Seltzer of the Hudson Institute warns, "We are witnessing nothing less than the geo-politicalization of the world's oil and gas industry. Governments rather than traditional commercial enterprises are taking control. And those governments have interests hostile to America's. China is forging closer economic and political ties in the Middle East, and not only because it needs more oil. Its rapidly increasing trade with Iran is not the ordinary buying and selling of profit-driven companies....A new supply of oil and a chance to thumb its nose at the American embargo are an irresistible combination for this emerging superpower."
The Hudson Institute speaks mainly for Wall Street investors worried about dwindling U.S influence in Europe. Seltzer continues, "Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin has been developing a new policy instrument to reassert Russian power, Russian gas and oil-exporting companies that already all but dominate Europe's energy. According to the International Energy Agency, by 2020 natural gas will account for 62% of Europe's energy consumption, and Russia will supply two-thirds of that gas. This has more than commercial consequences. When Gerhard Schroder told a television audience that Putin was a `dyed-in-the-wool democrat,' the German chancellor was indicating he was not prepared to bite the hand that controlled the valves of the pipelines that warmed his country. Germany already gets 35% of its oil and 40% of its gas from Russia, figures that will increase as it pursues its policy of winding down its nuclear power industry." (London Sunday Times, 1/30)
India, predicted to soon surpass China in population, has long been allied politically with Russia. Energy requirements are leading India, like China, into direct competition with the U.S. for cheap Middle East oil. Chevron Texaco's CEO David O'Reilly said in a February 15 speech in Houston, "We're seeing the beginning of alliances between Asian entities and Middle East entities for the long term. It's very important that our government recognize that." By "government" O'Reilly means Bush, the Pentagon, and the entire U.S. war machine.
The working class also has its marching orders: build a mass international revolutionary party -- the communist PLP. Then workers, soldiers and students worldwide can marshal their forces to turn the endless wars leading to another imperialist world war and the plague of capitalism into a revolutionary war for communism. It's a long hard road, but every step we take helps. Marching on May Day and increasing CHALLENGE circulation will shorten that road.
In 1968, the Johnson Administration's spending on the U.S. invasion of Vietnam was spinning the Federal budget into bottomless debt. The Social Security Trust Fund's income from payroll taxes was exceeding the amount paid out to retirees. So the Johnson gang figured out a way to "balance the budget" by "folding" what was then a few billion dollars in Social Security surplus into what would now be called the Unified Federal Budget, even though it was illegal to take money from the Trust Fund and spend it for purposes other than Social Security.
By this sleight of hand, Johnson was able to announce a "surplus," masking the federal deficit generated by the enormous expenses of the Vietnam War. To avoid the appearance of stealing the Trust Fund's surplus, the government gave the Fund Treasury notes equal to what it "borrowed," and promised to pay it back with interest. This scheme laid the basis for what is now a $2 trillion debt owed to Social Security.
By the early 1980's, Reagan's military budget was running wild and the federal deficit was soaring. The Unified Federal Budget meant that any surplus from Social Security could be used "to pay for everything from jet fighters to thumb tacks." (NY Times, 1/21/90)
Reagan set up a commission, headed by current Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, which proposed -- and the Democratic-controlled Congress passed -- an increase in Social Security taxes to 12.4% (6.2% of wages combined with 6.2% of the payroll contributed by employers) so the Baby Boomer generation would be able to collect Social Security when it started retiring. The share paid by employers is actually the workers' money since our labor produced it.
The Greenspan Commission pulled off a neat trick. The Reagan Administration was cutting the income tax rates for the rich -- down from 70% to 28%. While corporate income taxes fell by 23%, Social Security taxes rose 23%. "The burden of taxation was shifted from the income tax to the Social Security tax...[75%] of all Americans now pay more in Social Security taxes than they do in income taxes. [Therefore]...the expenses of government are financed more by a tax on the poor and the middle class and less by a tax on the wealthy." (NY Times, 1/21/90)
The Social Security surplus grew sharply and is now running at $200 billion a year. These surpluses, as part of the "Unified" Federal Budget, help pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and make the federal deficit appear smaller than it really is.
"Since 1983, American workers havebeen paying more into Social Security than it has paid out in benefits, $1.8 trillion more...So what has happened to that $1.8 trillion? The...payments have all been spent." (NY Times, 2/20/04) Another $200 billion of surplus was gobbled up in 2004. According to Bush's 2004 Social Security "reform" proposal, "Surpluses in the Social Security Trust Funds will total $2.6 trillion over the next ten years."(A Blue print For New Beginnings,
That means by 2015 the Federal government will owe the Trust Fund $4.6 trillion in accumulated surpluses.
Now Bush & Co. want to push Social Security further into the hole by setting up private accounts, swelling the coffers of the Wall Street investment houses who'll handle these accounts. This will require either an older retirement age, benefit cuts for future retirees or both, to make up for the shortages this "reform" will create. Bush even had the gall to tell black community and religious leaders they should support his "reform" because black people have a shorter life span than whites, and therefore many never even collect Social Security. These "leaders" didn't even protest Bush's use of U.S. capitalism's racism -- the cause of these shortened lives -- as a "positive" aspect of his "reform" proposal. (See CHALLENGE, 2/16.)
The Democrats are crying "foul," but it was Johnson, Carter and Clinton, just as much as Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes, who spent trillions of Social Security surpluses on wars and corporate welfare instead of preserving them for future retirees who paid for their retirement with the tax increases passed 20 years ago.
Capitalism will always try to solve its crises on the backs of the workers, who produce all value in society. This will continue until the working class, led by its revolutionary communist party, destroys the bosses' state power and establishes a communist society here retired workers will be provided for by the social value produced by our entire class. Profits and imperialist wars will not be part of that picture.
At ARD, Bodman trained under General Georges Doriot. Starting in 1940, Doriot helped plan U.S. industrial mobilization for World War II as deputy director of R&D for the War Department. Bodman later became president of Boston's blueblood Fidelity, the world's largest mutual fund. Mutual funds concentrate scattered wealth into the hands of a few finance capitalists, who in turn, put it to uses -- like imperialist war -- that serve the capitalist class as a whole. After Fidelity, Bodman took the helm of the Cabot Corporation, a chemical and energy company owned by a family synonymous with U.S. imperialism. The first famous Henry Cabot Lodge championed the U.S. invasion of Spanish territories in 1898. The next one helped the U.S. carry out genocide in Vietnam.
Bodman will put the war needs of imperialist giants like ExxonMobil and Chevron Texaco ahead of the interests of the U.S. coal companies and small oil drillers that his predecessor Spencer Abraham tried to serve. Chevron boss David O'Reilly was speaking directly to Bodman when he said, "we need alignment of energy policy with other policies central to our national interest -- environmental, economic, trade, and national security." (Houston speech, 2/15)
"The long-term effects have revealed that DU (uranium oxide) is a virtual death sentence," according to Arthur Bernklau, executive director of Veterans for Constitutional Law. "Of the 580,000 soldiers who served in...the first Gulf War,...11,000 are now dead! By...2000, there were 325,000 on Permanent Medical Disability," reports Bernklau. "This astounding number of `Disabled Vets' means that a decade later, 56% of these soldiers who served have some form of permanent medical problems!" Disability rates in 20th century wars were 5%. In Vietnam it was 10%.
Marion Fulk, a nuclear chemist who retired from the Lawrence Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab and worked on the Manhattan Project that constructed the first atomic bomb, says the new and rapid malignancies in soldiers in the current Iraq war is "spectacular." Bernklau reports that, "This malady [Gulf War Syndrome] from uranium munitions, that thousands...have suffered and died from, has finally been identified as the cause of this sickness." (Preventive Psychiatry E-Newsletter No. 169)
A special report published by scientist Leuren Moret ("Depleted uranium: Dirty bombs, dirty missiles, dirty bullets. A death sentence here and abroad") named DU as the definitive cause of the Gulf War Syndrome.
Of course, these figures of DU-caused deaths of U.S. soldiers in the first Gulf War, the bombing of Iraq throughout the 1990's and the current Iraq war -- put in "harm's way" by the administrations of Bush, Sr., Clinton and Bush, Jr. -- does not include hundreds of thousands of deaths of Iraqi civilians. They will be affected for decades by the DU embedded in the ground from bombs rained down on the country.
When asked if the main purpose of using DU was for "destroying things and people,"Fulk was specific: "I would say it's the perfect weapon for killing lots of people!"
Several speakers, including Stewart, said this case marks a leap forward in fascist moves by the ruling class. The whole post-9/11 atmosphere was used in the trial to "persuade" the jury to railroad Stewart. Prosecutors charged that Stewart's act of issuing a press release on behalf of her client, Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, made her and one of her co-defendants guilty of "supporting terrorism." No violence resulted from the release of this statement. Stewart was really convicted because the prosecution highlighted her anti-U.S. government politics. This verdict is an attack on anyone and everyone who militantly opposes imperialism, racism, and other attacks on the working class.
However, the political outlook of the meeting's organizers is a defensive strategy for fighting back. Although developments in the U.S. were compared to those in Nazi Germany, there was no real attempt to show the historical role of the working class, particularly under communist leadership, in defeating fascism. And growing U.S. fascism was not placed in the context of the worldwide conflicts that give rise to it. So, without such an alternative approach, we're left with liberal outrage and demands for the return of stolen civil liberties.
At least two speakers did point out the connection between this case and U.S. rulers' imperialist war plans. One said the Hart-Rudman report, written before 9/11, devised the concept of "homeland security." He said the bosses need a national security police state in order to mobilize the population to support Mid-East oil wars. Stewart's conviction reflects how the capitalists' control of state power is being used to further these goals. The only real alternative to the police state and endless wars of capitalism is to build a mass communist-led movement to fight for a system without any bosses: communism.
The Stewart case provides a great opportunity -- and responsibility --for PLP'ers to point out to our friends the role of the state under capitalism, and other communist ideas. We should raise this case in all the organizations we belong to and activate many workers and students to participate in the fight back. We can organize Party forums to discuss the case, and all political questions linked to it. We should also try to bring out as many people as possible to a rally outside the U.S. Courthouse in Manhattan on the day of Stewart's sentencing this September.
"We need a little more enthusiasm!" he prodded. Now we were getting angry so he dropped the whole subject and sent us back to work.
This presentation was slick, professional and computerized, indicating it was prepared at the corporate level. No doubt all Boeing workers are being subjected to this nationalist "pep-talk."
Workers Ponder Propaganda Change
The next day a group of us pondered what all this meant. "This has nothing to do with us," said one Machinist, "It's all about Boeing and Airbus corporate [biggest bosses]."
"I was going to say something about those figures," said another, referring to how Airbus reinvests twice as much as Boeing in airplane manufacture.
"Yeah, but maybe that silence was the best answer!" offered a third, to laughs all around.
Usually, the bosses' propaganda focuses on production metrics, promising that our security lies in meeting production goals. This was the most overt attempt ever to whip us up against a foreign rival.
This nationalist appeal fell flat with this group. But have no illusions; the bosses and their labor lieutenants haven't given up. In fact, as reported in the last CHALLENGE, the union leadership plans a big nationalist campaign during the contract fight.
We must increase the circulation of our paper to answer this company/union propaganda. We plan to rebuild our CHALLENGE networks during the contract fight, the summer project and over the next year -- equaling the level we had preceding the recent layoffs. We have our own metrics: CHALLENGE sales indicate internationalist, communist politics are being considered as an alternative.
(Next issue: "How the fight against racism dovetails with the fight against nationalism," and "War reorganization marches on with the sale of the huge Wichita plant.")
"Four months at the country club," was the cynical response of workers at our plant. Even if just four months in the worst dungeon, we should have no illusions that this sentence was motivated by the desire to seek justice.
The bosses have embroiled us in a "stunningly expensive war in Iraq." They've tried to substitute high-tech weapons for larger numbers of committed troops, which, apparently, the bosses don't have and can't recruit any time soon. The ruling class intends to pay for these weapons by mainly attacking the working class, but they're also disciplining their own.
As Paul McNulty, U.S. attorney in Alexandria and leading member of the Procurement Fraud Working Group, sees it, "the government has been pouring enormous sums of money into contracting [for war]." (Washington Post, 2/19)
"Mr. Sears had a clear choice," McNulty said. "Instead of respecting the integrity of the government's procurement system, he chose the financial interests of his company over the best interest of America." (Our emphasis -- Ed.)
We workers can't fall for this "national interest" garbage. The "national interest" is the interest of the biggest bosses. Sears ran afoul of the needs of imperialism. Good riddance to bad rubbish, but let's have no illusions that this represents anything other than more trouble for the working class.
In the short term, we need multi-racial unity and internationalism. In the long run we need all this plus communist revolution. This struggle has produced three more CHALLENGE readers.
During the meeting we drafted a letter for the union to give to the bosses accusing them of institutional racism by deliberately hiring Latin workers for full-time positions and Africans and Asians for part-time work. This color-coding of job categories divides the workers and allows the bosses to reap racist super-profits.
Also, full-time Latin immigrant workers are having their immigration status questioned. Some are being fired, even though they received letters from the Immigration Service giving them a grace period until September to put their papers in order. The bosses want to replace them with more part-timers, to pay lower wages without benefits, which is an attack on all workers.
We want an apology from the company to workers who had their immigration status questioned, and we want all workers who were fired for this to be rehired. One woman was not only fired over her immigration status but was also sexually harassed by her supervisor. We want an end to color-coding of jobs and more full-time jobs. If nothing changes, we'll broaden the struggle and invite others to look at the company's racist hiring and promotion practices.
So commented a member of an audience of over 50 students and faculty at Roxbury Community College (RCC) to Michael Hoffman, Iraq War veteran and co-founder of Iraq Veterans Against the War. Michael explained that he joined the Marines because his friends joined, that his brainwashed mindset was to stay alive and get back home, and that he felt remorseful for having participated in Operation Shock and Awe, the initial invasion of Baghdad.
As soon as he finished, someone in the audience called him a murderer, setting off an intense discussion about the choices soldiers face and the role they play. Michael responded by accepting his guilt but also condemning the guilt of the U.S. ruling class that sent him and other young working-class men and women to kill and maim innocent Iraqis and be killed and maimed for oil.
Owning up to his participation in a genocidal war was the first step toward dedicating his life to building the anti-war movement. A psychology professor further defended Michael, explaining that soldiers must be normal to be accepted into the military, but then the military brutalizes them, making them psychologically abnormal.
Two RCC students who helped organize the event presented a class analysis of the war. One student exposed the real reason for the war as not just for oil for use and profit, but also the strategic power it gives the U.S. ruling class over its imperialist rivals. He said the recent elections in Iraq were a farce, which the U.S. orchestrated to legitimize a layer of Iraqi elite, "a lot of little Saddams," with whom they can wheel and deal.
Another student urged the audience to take a stand against the war by confronting military recruiters who go after "people who look like me." He spoke persuasively for a new kind of anti-war movement that does more than organize marches, but also aims to damage the war machine. He announced a plan to oppose military recruitment and many students signed on.
An RCC faculty member recalled the tens of thousands of soldiers in Vietnam who resisted and rebelled against racism and imperialism, hastening the U.S. defeat and the end of the war. Back then, students were targeting their own colleges' active support of the war, striking, shutting down ROTC programs, chasing military recruiters off campuses. She pointed out that today military recruiters are walking around freely right here at RCC.
The growth of the anti-war movement among soldiers and vets is a big step forward in the fight against U.S. imperialism. PLP is playing an important role in bringing anti-imperialist war consciousness to RCC; its influence is growing modestly here.
A group of students who know from their own life experience that capitalism is a fatally flawed system is now gaining an historical perspective. They're being exposed to a real alternative -- communist revolution. As budding student organizers, they're sharpening the struggle among many other students to see working-class politics as the key to liberation.
Dozens of workers have been fired since the new "reform" union leadership took office two years ago, with three times as many firings as the rest of the County Health System combined! Racist Food Service boss Anjad Ali has fired one-third of these. Just as the union has no plan to answer the County's rejection of almost every contract proposal, it also has had no response to the racist firings except to file grievances. Stroger workers proposed that re-hiring all fired and suspended workers should be a principal contract demand, instead of fighting each individual case one at a time. We should strike to end this reign of racist terror against workers and patients.
In December, Stroger workers led the fight to defeat Local 20's "New Vision" dues increase. Hundreds signed petitions asking to delay the vote until after the new contract is resolved. Instead, the SEIU leadership tried to gift-wrap the dues hike as a "strike fund," even though they aren't fighting anybody! They held special meetings and had their staffers working overtime, distributing expensive, glossy literature pushing the dues hike. They organized rides to the polling places for "Yes" votes, while 40 Stroger workers stood in the lobby waiting for a ride that never came. But the workers had another "vision," and the leadership was defeated.
Last spring, we fought and saved the jobs of 10 black respiratory therapists threatened with mass racist firing. The union's initial response then was that they had no choice but to honor a bad agreement made by the previous leadership. If we have learned nothing else from these struggles, it's that our political understanding and organizational strength determine our ability to fight back.
The bosses are trying to terrorize us so they can force us to pay even more for their imperialist war in Iraq and fascist Homeland Security police state. Bush's new federal budget gives more than $750 billion to the Pentagon and Homeland Security while cutting everything from food stamps to day-care to literacy programs. County President Stroger and the County Commissioners, almost all Democrats, just voted unanimously to cut tens of millions from the new budget.
We will have to fight like hell to hold on to what we can, and to get our fired brothers and sisters back. But the long-term victory is in building a mass PLP and winning many Stroger workers to participate in May Day! That's what we fight for, today and every day.
The topic was Racial Profiling/Police Brutality. I was asked to make the presentation as an African American. I reviewed police brutality against African Americans back to the kidnapping and sale of indigenous Africans into chattel slavery as a criminal act and extreme form of brutality. I covered the Underground Railroad, the catching of runaway slaves, mob violence, the Ku Klux Klan instilling fear and perpetuating racism on behalf of the ruling class, and the complicity of the capitalist state in this brutality. (In 1915, President Woodrow Wilson showed Birth of A Nation at the White House; it portrayed the Klan as heroes, not terrorists.)
I also touched on the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's and all the violent police brutality against protestors in Alabama -- the terror bombing of homes, unleashing vicious dogs on defenseless Civil Rights workers and the Alabama National Guard's attack on 600 protestors on Selma, Alabama's "Bloody Sunday." And I included recent cases, from the killings of Amadou Diallo and Archie Elliott to the rebellions both in Los Angeles and Cincinnati.
My friends enjoyed the discussion. My white buddy from boot camp said he was profiled for entering black neighborhoods and attending parties with friends there. A black friend stressed the need to actively organize. While posing liberal solutions -- voting and lobbying politicians -- it's good he wants to get involved. Through this process, we hope to sharpen the contradictions, demonstrating the uselessness of reform and the ultimate need for working-class revolution.
My buddies are looking forward to the next meeting. We're working to involve more sailors.
My most important points were: police brutality is an extension of ruling-class violence against our class, the workers, in order to discipline us to serve in the rulers' wars and profit machines; that racism is economic super-exploitation of black and Latino workers, plus the ideology to justify it. Police brutality ultimately is used against all workers, especially those who fight racism and class exploitation. No constitutional amendments, no civil rights laws and no liberal politician can change this. Only a mass movement establishing a dictatorship over the bosses will end police violence against workers.
I hope my buddies will one day (after much struggle) join the Party and devote their lives to our class.
City government here is almost entirely run by local Democratic Party politicians. Mayor James Hahn is a Democrat, as is nearly every City Council member. Los Angeles is a "blue city."
The Democrats are just as much servants of the ruling class (big-time bosses) as Bush: more cops and jails, tax breaks for the rich, regressive taxes on the working class, cutbacks in health care and other public programs, wage and benefit cuts for public employees and police attacks on black and Latino youth. In recent months:
* The LA City Council passed an enormous tax cut for local businesses, costing
the city over $100,000,000. Its rationale: give the entertainment industry a
* The City Council gave tax breaks, also worth over $100,000,000, to a billionaire, Phillip Anschutz, to build a downtown hotel / luxury condominium complex.
* To offset this loss of income and long-term budget reductions due to Federal and State government siphoning of funds for imperialist war, many City Council members want a half-cent sales tax increase to hire more cops. In addition, they're regularly piling on increased fees for basic municipal services, such as garbage collection and water.
* They have also stuck it to most City employees. With union leaders' tacit approval, the Mayor and Council have denied City workers a cost-of-living adjustment this year, while the cost of their benefits, like health insurance, creep up every year. Hirings and promotions have been frozen for most of the past 15 years.
Even when pressed, none of these Democrats ever link the cutbacks in local government (which they implemented) to the Iraq war or the mammoth budgets of the Pentagon and the spy agencies to fight the "War on Terror."
The best example is Antonio Villaraigosa, a former teachers' union organizer, Speaker of the California State Assembly, current Council member, and Mayor Hahn's strongest opponent in the election. Villaraigosa is the liberal charmer favored by local "progressives" who remember his union days, but not what he's saying currently. Now he's championing tax cuts for business and more racist cops, paid for by workers, as well as pseudo-progressive talk of "reviving local communities" through powerless community councils. These councils are part of a hidden agenda to build support for community policing and patriotism to support U.S. rulers' military plans.
Villaraigosa's approach, almost word-for-word, comes straight from the liberal ruling class think-tank, the Brookings Institute, in its book "United We Stand." It advances strategies for reviving a military draft that relies heavily on Harvard political scientist, Robert Putnam. His book "Bowling Alone" calls for neighborhood councils to revive a sense of community. They want to persuade local communities in large multi-ethnic cities like LA to believe they have a stake in the system and will accept cutbacks and military service as part of their "civic duty."
This electoral process is a dangerous trap perpetuating the bosses' capitalist system while spreading the illusion we can "reform" it. We shouldn't fall for this or other lies advanced by politicians like Villaraigosa, Parks and Hahn. Their pretense to defend our interests is only a smokescreen to more efficiently implement the bosses' plans for war and fascism. We must win our class to fight for workers' power by injecting our communist analysis into struggles against the bosses, large and small.
One of my friends has a niece who attends Audubon Middle School, where Devin went. She says teachers there remember him as a respectful and well-behaved student, even though he cut classes a lot. These teachers got mad at the reporters swarming all over the school trying to dig up some dirt on Devin after he died. When the reporters tried to talk to students without their parents' permission, some teachers tried to chase them away. Also, teachers and students took up a collection for Devin's mother to show their sympathy and help out a little.
The media are pointing fingers everywhere except at the problem. Besides demonizing Devin, they're blaming his mother, the school and his whole community. The truth is Devin's mom (who lost her husband not long ago) works two jobs trying to keep her family together. She's the kind of mom who's always at the school, checking on her kids. People at the school were talking to Devin and trying to help him get to his classes and deal with the loss of his dad.
Fingers should be pointed at the cops who shot this little boy. The papers are getting more upset about a tiger on the loose that was killed in the Valley this week than they ever were about Devin.
They say that in this black working-class community there's not enough "supervision" so kids "run wild." To me this sounds like an excuse to turn even more cops loose to terrorize black youths. It sounds like former slave-owners saying free black people "needed to be enslaved" to "keep them from running wild."
There's an after-school program at Audubon that's also district-wide. A military officer runs it and has the kids saluting, doing push-ups and all that stuff. They're trying to get the students used to the idea of being in the Army. Remember the Super Bowl commercial with the soldiers marching by and people clapping? "Be a hero, join the military." Every other billboard in the neighborhood has the same thing. Maybe they let the cops get away with killing and terrorizing kids here to try to make sure these future soldiers won't step out of line.
I really liked the CHALLENGE article about Devin's case. I'm making copies for some friends.
While Negroponte has the Republicans in his hip pocket, the Democrats gushed all over him at Senate hearings approving his present post as U.S. ambassador to Iraq, and therefore the real chief of the U.S. occupation there. This, after compiling the following record:
* As U.S. ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985, Negroponte played a key
role in organizing the military repression in that country, and deliberately
falsified State Department "Human Rights" reports, covering up death squad
* The New York Times credited Negroponte with "carrying out the covert strategy of the Reagan administration to crush the Sandinista government in Nicaragua," despite being banned by Congress; this included the trading of guns for drugs on CIA aircraft (which used a special airfield operation in Arkansas set up by Clinton when he was that state's governor in the 1980's).
* According to the Maryknoll Order of Catholic nuns, Negroponte oversaw the notorious CIA-trained Honduran death squads of the so-called Battalion 3-16 who murdered many U.S. church missionaries and religious activists in the early 1980's.
Yet at the Senate hearings on his appointment as U.S. ambassador to Iraq, the Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee asked not one question about his role in promoting death squads and covering up murderous abuses. Delaware's Joseph Biden slobbered all over him and Connecticut's Christopher Dodd said, "I happen to feel he's a very fine Foreign Service officer and has done a tremendous job in many places."
Off of their support for his ambassadorship, liberal Democrats like West Virginia's Jay Rockefeller, Indiana's Evan Bayh and California's Diane Feinstein will no doubt be rubber-stamping him as National Intelligence Director. Both parties will be endorsing him as the point man to spread his death-squad specialty around the world in support of U.S. imperialism's wars for control of oil.
A comrade asked if the FMLN could become the government just by having street marches. The response was that even if the government is changed, the capitalist bosses will never hand over power to the workers through elections. Workers' power can only be achieved by organizing a mass base for PLP to smash the bosses who exploit us and destroy capitalism with communist revolution.
A comrade from another part of the country participated and helped strengthen this fight. Another comrade said we can't keep putting up with unemployment, price increases for goods, electricity and telephones, or with threats to workers who denounce the atrocities the bosses commit.
They continue their crimes -- like the war in Iraq, bombing workers and their families -- all a product of capitalism's drive for profits. We should support the brave soldiers who've resisted and refused to follow the orders of their officers, lackeys of the murderers who run the wars, the U.S. Pentagon.
With capitalism in power in El Salvador, children lack medicine, food, and education, like those worldwide. Under communism the working class will produce and distribute according to need so that we can all live decent lives.
After World War 2, many industrial workers who had had jobs supplying the British Army fighting the Nazis were laid off. Protest strikes erupted. The CP had an industrial working-class leadership and led many unions, on the railroads, the docks and in the oil fields. In April 1946, workers struck the Iraqi Oil Petroleum Co. (owned by BP, Shell and French interests) combining demands for 25% to 40% wage hikes with political demands against the monarchy and British colonialism. Concentrating on picketing the K3 pumping station around the clock, 3,000 well-organized strikers halted oil production completely. One strike leader declared, "The dictatorship of the proletariat was established at K3."
When the bosses cut off the water and food supply to the station, located in the middle of the desert, the workers marched over 150 miles before being stopped and suffering many arrests. This militant action inspired many more struggles among all workers, peasants and students.
In 1948 a massive urban uprising broke out, uniting students and workers, and forcing the fall of the minister who had leased air bases to the British Royal Air Force. Many were killed, and communists were executed, but the struggle continued until the fall of the monarchy and the end of British control a few years later.
Today, oil workers are beginning to play an active role against the imperialists, but they need more than just militant trade union leaders. A revolutionary leadership is necessary, not only to fight the occupation forces and their stooges but also to take control of the insurgency away from former Saddam soldiers, Baathist Arab nationalists, assorted jihadists and religious fundamentalists.
Eleven days after the fall of Baghdad, workers in Iraq's southern oil fields formed the Southern Oil Company Union, which today has 23,000 members in ten oil and gas companies in Basra, Amara, Nassiriya and up to Anbar province. They organized in the face of the U.S. military's maintenance of Saddam Hussein's repressive 1987 ban on basic union rights and the right to strike.
The union defied the attempt by Vice-President Dick Cheney's Halliburton,subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown and Root's use of occupation troops to seize their workplaces. It forced the troops to leave and compelled the Kuwaiti subcontractor to hire 1,000 Iraqi workers, replacing the ones they brought with them.
Then they struck against U.S. viceroy Paul Bremer's edict establishing a $35 monthly minimum "wage" for public sector workers while paying up to $1,000 a day to thousands of foreign mercenaries. The August 2003 three-day walkout shut down all oil production and forced a 217% increase in the workers' minimum wage.
The union is independent of all political parties and opposes all privatization as a neo-colonialist attempt to follow the military occupation with a permanent economic occupation.
In a Feb. 18 article in the British Guardian, the union's General Secretary, Hassam Juma'a Awad, says, "The media do not show even a fraction of the devastation that has engulfed Iraq." He declares that, "From the beginning, we were left with no doubt that the US and its allies had come to take control of our oil resources....When the occupation troops...allowed Basra's hospitals, universities and public services to be burned and looted, while they defended only the oil ministry and oilfields, we knew we were dealing with a brutal force prepared to impose its will without regard for human suffering." Iraq's unemployment rate is 70%.
Awad says that, "Saddam's secret police used to creep over the roofs into our homes at night; occupation troops now break down our doors in broad daylight." He charges that, "Our communities have been attacked with chemicals and cluster bombs, and our people tortured, raped and killed in our homes."
Awad also writes that, "The occupation has deliberately fomented a sectarian division of Sunni and Shia.... Before our families intermarried, we lived and worked together....Today we are resisting this brutal occupation together, from Falluja to Najef to Sadr City."
The union sees itself "as a necessary part of this resistance," fighting "using our industrial power, our collective strength as a union" to defeat both still-powerful Saddamist[s]...and the foreign occupation."
The union is calling for the withdrawal of all occupation forces and their military bases, and says any timetable "is a stalling tactic." The oil workers believe that "those who voted in [the] elections...are as hostile to the occupation as those who boycotted them.... Those who claim to represent the Iraqi working class while calling for the occupation to stay a bit longer...are...speaking only for themselves and the minority...whose interests are dependent on the occupation."
CHALLENGE calls on all workers to support these Iraqi oil workers in their struggle against U.S. imperialism. We believe that the workers of Iraq must be won to organizing a true communist party, not one which allies with nationalist bosses -- nor the phony one now part of the U.S.-authorized Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions. Its president is deputy leader of the U.S.-imposed Prime Minister Allawi's party. Iraq's workers can link their long history of struggle against all previous dictatorial regimes to communist ideas, to truly emancipate the working class from all domination by imperialists and local religious fundamentalists who want to wrest control of Iraq's oil and resources for their own class interests.
Obviously the military is having all these problems and more with today's army. As one junior officer recently wrote to a right-wing web site, "The brass has become so fearful of casualties in Iraq that the military has stopped actively patrolling in many of the areas where the insurgents are strongest."
In another doomed attempt to solve a political problem with technology, the military plans to spend $127 billion on a project called Future Combat Systems of which robots are a crucial part.
Today, after many years of development, robots play a small role as bomb disposal tools. Assuming this massive expense doesn't go the way of the Patriot anti-missile system and Star War initiative as complete duds, the military's dream of a soldier that won't rebel ignores the primary lesson of Iraq, as well as Vietnam. While technology can be useful, in war politics trumps it every time.
The Vietnamese were able to beat the far superior U.S. military by winning the masses' commitment to anti-imperialism. In Iraq, a small -- and even somewhat isolated -- nationalist/fundamentalist insurgency has been able to gain some popular support and fight the U.S. to a standstill by exploiting the destruction wrought by the U.S. military over the last 15 years.
The U.S. military has a big problem: they are hated. This erodes their ability to rule Iraq, as well as the commitment of U.S. soldiers for the war. Sticking the stars and stripes on another killing machine won't make the U.S. more popular. Nor will it make U.S. soldiers feel better about what they're doing. The Nazis, and the U.S. in Vietnam, far out-killed their opponents. And in Italy, the saying went that Mussolini killed and killed the communists until there were two million of them.
History's greatest military victories were achieved by people exhibiting extraordinary heroism out of a vast political commitment. Robots never could have defeated the Nazis at Stalingrad, never could have driven the U.S. out of Southeast Asia, and robots will never defeat the working class's quest for a decent life.
On Jan. 27, 1945, the Red Army reached Auschwitz, the largest Nazi concentration/death camp. There were few survivors. Those who hadn't been murdered in the gas chambers were forced to walk to other Nazi camps. The holocaust ended only when the Red Army reached Berlin and raised the Red Flag over the Reichstag on May 5, 1945.
Auschwitz and many other Nazi concentration camps were not only death camps, but also were ideal capitalist operations from which hundreds of companies could use their slave labor to make super-profits. Since millions of German workers were being sent to fight a losing battle against the Red Army and the red-led partisan movement on the Eastern Front, German bosses demanded manpower from the Nazi government to maintain production. So some 12 million slave workers were sent from the Eastern Front to labor in the concentration camps for German -- and U.S. -- companies.
Friburg University history professor Ulrich Herbert says it wasn't the Nazi regime which forced those millions of workers into slave labor, but German companies like Blohm und Voss, Scheering, Deutsche Reichsbahn, Thyssen. Mannesmaann, etc. (Michael Marek writing for DW-World, web page of the German news agency Deutsche Welle, 1/25/05.)
Dietrich Eichholz, another German historian, said that German industrial wealth rose by 17 times from 1939 till 1945 due to the super-profits extracted from those slave workers. He adds that the Nazi regime lost the war, but German industry definitely came out winning. Their profits came from Jewish slave labor, who received no wages, Polish and Soviet prisoners of war who were paid very low wages, and prisoners of war from Western Europe who received the same wages as German workers whose wages were already severely cut when the Nazi regime took power in 1933.
Although the Allies broke up some of those German companies after the war, many still operate today, and very few are compensating the 1.5 million slave laborers or their relatives who are still alive. Any who are paying are doling out only a fraction of their war profits. (The German government itself is contributing to that indemnization fund).
As pointed out in previous articles, U.S. companies also benefited from the death camps. Soviet-era documents made public in the late 1990's showed that -- in addition to hundreds of German companies using Auschwitz inmates -- the Ford plant in Cologne was among 400 industrial enterprises exploiting this vast pool of slave labor the Nazis made available (www.jta.org/aug99/22-ford-htm). Ford officials deny this, saying the documents show only that vehicles produced by Ford were used at Auschwitz and that the company did not control its European operations in Nazi-occupied areas. But the fact remains that Ford did receive profits from Nazi Germany during the war through Swiss banks, as did GM's Opel company and IBM, whose keypunch system was used in the concentration camps. After all, Henry Ford and the Führer ran a mutual admiration society. Ford was the international distributor of the Protocols of Zion, a virulent anti-Semitic forgery created in the early 20th century by the Tsar's secret police.
Thus, Nazism was not just a creation of the evil minds of Hitler & Co. It grew directly from German capitalism, with the help of bosses worldwide who first saw Hitler as a tool to crush the Soviet Union, which had freed 1/6 of the world's surface from the profit system.
(Next: concentration camps did not begin, and have not ended, with the Nazi era.)
"We the members of [this union] send this letter of international solidarity to our brothers and sisters of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions over the brutal murder of your International Secretary Hadi Salih.
We understand that Salih, who opposed the fascist dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, may have been assassinated by right-wing forces with connections to U.S. intelligence.
We understand that many nations like Iraq have U.S.-backed death squads that assassinate union activists and others so that workers can be better exploited by U.S. multi-national corporations. This explains the rash of political assassinations of many trade union activists in Iraq who oppose the U.S. invasion/occupation.
Our local union is integrated and has workers from many different nations. Many of these workers came to the U.S. seeking a better life only to be super-exploited by institutional racism. From here to Baghdad, we have the same enemy, same fight. You have our sympathy and support."
Tasselkraut worked for Mercedes-Benz (MB) until recently. In 1977, he turned in Hector Ratto to the cops. Ratto worked at the MB Gonzalez Catan plant. He was taken to a concentration camp. There, in front of Ratto, Tasselkraut gave the cops the address of another worker, Diego Nuñez. That same night Nuñez was kidnapped by the cops.
It's presumed that Tasselkraut's son was the child of one of those workers murdered during the dictatorship. Tasselkraut later hired Ruben Lavallen as the MB plant security chief. Lavallen was a police officer at the Investigation Bureau, where he was involved in the kidnapping and torture of 15 militant MB workers. In May 1978, a couple was taken to Lavallen's police precinct, and they were never seen again. Lavallen adopted the couple's 22-month-old daughter.
The military dictatorship actually set up a maternity ward at a military hospital in Campo de Mayo base (the biggest military torture center). The babies were given to officers or to those very close to the dictatorship. MB even donated a neonatology device to the maternity center.
Some 30,000 people were murdered during the military dictatorship. Argentina's high-ranking military officers never hid their Nazi sympathies. They even flew swastika flags in their torture centers. Other auto companies, like Ford, helped the military dictatorship carry out its dirty war.
Ms. Weber revealed in her new book that MB and many other Nazi-tainted investments grew tremendously in Argentina beginning in the early 1950's. Adolf Eichmann, who along with Himmler led the holocaust, worked for many years at the Buenos Aires MB plant before being kidnapped by Israeli agents in the early '60s. Once a Nazi always a Nazi.
The LA Times reported that black workers say the police hate them. A study showed that 6 of 10 black workers disliked the LAPD. Bratton and other liberal politicians want to change the policy of shooting into vehicles, a complete turn-around since a year ago, when racist Bratton told parents to "restrain their children" after the cops murdered two Latino youth.
This led me to think about the possibility of another LA rebellion, and how to build PLP at work to prepare for such an uprising. My factory contains primarily Latino contract workers who work long hours with no union. Conversations with them are quite revealing. One worker, a black vet, said the war in Iraq was even worse than Vietnam, with all the deaths and the cutbacks here. He said an uprising was coming. After the murder of Devin Brown, another worker reminded him that even Bratton warned of a possible uprising.
Later a Mexican immigrant worker said Mexico is rife with corruption. An immigrant from India said it wasn't just Mexico -- there's corruption everywhere. Another worker said it's here in the U.S. too. A fourth said the "free market system" guarantees that only a select few have wealth and everyone else is left out. He said the decline of the dollar means worse conditions for us. The vet said, "People are so tired of this, the cutbacks and the war and racism. I think there's going to be a revolution."
The police shooting of Devin Brown and the court decision letting other racist killer cops go free are signs of the times. This terror, the bogus "reform" of the cops and the move for more cops are directed at a whole generation of black and Latin youth who the bosses plan to grind up in their military and industrial machine. These angry young workers represent great revolutionary potential. Our job is to arm them with an internationalist, communist outlook. Then no amount of terror and patriotic reforms will stop them from fighting for power for the working class.
U.S. rulers want to win people to sacrifice themselves in imperialist wars for "freedom," to endorse Homeland Security schemes to militarize U.S. society and to give up programs like Social Security and Medicare for the war effort. But if they can't win us, the Lynne Stewart case shows they will break all their "rules" to silence dissent and directly terrorize, oppress and brutalize the working class and others.
The church's leading congregational body passed a mild statement condemning aspects of Patriot Act I as "excesses" that tread on "our civil liberties and constitutional rights." The church's liberal leaders sermonize about "standing up" to George Bush and the Christian Right but even that mild statement is now being "examined" by church lawyers for possibly violating the church's tax status.
I've framed the struggle against the Patriot Act in terms of U.S. imperialism's strategy for the 21st century and fascism's role in this process. One can't say fascism's "a little bit bad," and that it's possible to defeat it by "legal" means, based on the illusion that the Constitution defends "us," rather than the capitalists who hold state power. The Lynne Stewart case spurs examination of the historical fight against fascism, the role of communists and the need to defeat fascism with revolution by destroying the capitalist system which spawns it.
I've issued the following statement and proposal in my name on the Lynne Stewart verdict to some congregants and to seven church higher-ups. Some friends agreed to help me.
The decision against Lynne Stewart was based on lies, distortions, demagoguery, false patriotism and fear. Despite the actions of many in the U.S. to curb the Patriot Act's attack on civil liberties, Attorney Generals John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales have gotten what they set out to get. This is another significant step down the road to open fascist repression against anyone who would resist, protest and/or defend his or her principles. Now is the time to stand up and speak out. Silence and fear are dangerous! They cannot be options. Proposals: Write a church-wide statement of support for Lynne Stewart; send such statement to local elected officials; organize an event at the church in which Lynne and/or her lawyers can speak to the congregation; prepare the congregation to go en masse to the sentencing on Sept. 23.
I introduced this statement to the church's social justice group to which I belong -- and made a strong political argument for it -- asking the group to endorse it and pass it on to other groups in the church. The majority wanted to "tone down the language," saying the goal should be to get a resolution passed. I said that on principle I had to "speak what I see" and that controversy, debate and exposing the church's institutional position are important parts of the process. The social justice group has re-written the statement, eliminating references to fascism.
I've also met with several other individuals about making Lynne Stewart's case a church-wide issue. Some will help. We plan an April event at which Stewart or her lawyers can explain the case to the congregation. There will be a lot of controversy. Top church leaders will attempt to limit debate, confine it to "patriotism," following the Democratic Party position, and "protect" the church's tax status.
PLP has some support here, including a few CHALLENGE readers. Most congregants support the Democratic Party; some are strongly anti-Bush. Ideological controversy will intensify between PLP's ideas and liberal Democratic ideas among our friends, and within the congregation between liberals and conservatives and between the congregation and the church leadership.
My friends and I have seized the opportunity to speak out and act boldly in the moment, while understanding that our goals to build the PLP and make communist revolution are long-range.
Initially, when our group reported to the rest of the organization about our trip, some students reacted negatively. One argued, "What's the point in talking to these soldiers? They chose to go into the army. They know what they're doing." Another student explained that it's important to reach out to soldiers because most are working-class youth who joined after being promised a stable job or money for a college education, not because they're completely won to the ruling class's imperialist agenda. More importantly, they literally have the power to directly impact imperialism.
Then the first student slightly changed his position, saying, "Well, if we want to organize at the point of production, then we should focus on the workers who build the weapons for war."
The conversation continued, some agreeing that if we're serious about revolution, we need to build a movement based on an alliance among workers, students and soldiers. Other students still weren't convinced.
But the trip to the military base and the conversations about it prompted these students to help organize an anti-imperialist conference that criticizes the passivity of the current anti-war movement and focuses on reaching out to the military and to industrial workers. Soon we'll make another trip the military base.
From this experience, I've learned that students are open to organizing a revolutionary communist movement based on a worker-student-soldier alliance. Mainly we must take the initiative and provide the political leadership that's lacking.
"The audience then asked a few questions that allowed Redgrave to say Stalin had Mayakovsky put to death."
Evidently no one bothered to correct this statement. The utter contempt of anti-communists -- in this case, Trotskyists -- for the truth never ceases to amaze!
Corin and Vanessa Redgrave were, and probably still are, leaders of the Workers Revolutionary Party, a Trotskyist cult that imploded a few years ago. This group and its leaders made deals with Libya's Khaddafy and even Saddam in exchange for money., even when leftists were being shot in Iraq.
This lie is all the more amazing, since Mayakovsky is an extremely well-known and celebrated poet. He committed suicide in 1930. NOBODY suggests that Stalin had anything to do with his death. On the contrary: Stalin was a huge fan of Mayakovsky's. Here's a quotation:
"In November 1935 Lidia Brik [Mayakovsky's friend, who took charge of his
papers after his suicide] wrote a letter to Stalin in which she brought to his
attention the delays and hindrances in publishing Mayakovsky's works and in
celebrating his memory. This letter served as the basis for the following note
by Stalin to the secretary of the Central Committee: `Comrade Yezhov, I ask you
sincerely to pay attention to Brik's letter. Mayakovsky was and remains the
best and most talented poet of our Soviet epoch. Indifference to his memory and
works is simply a crime. In my opinion, Brik's complaints are correct. Get in
touch with her or invite her to Moscow. Please involve Tal' (head of publishing
section of the Central Committee -- editors) and Mekhlis [editor of Pravda]
and, please, do everything that we have neglected. If you need my help, I'm
willing. Greetings, Stalin.'
"Thus did Stalin insert himself into Mayakovsky's fate. This is why one of the main squares of the Sadovoy ring [big circle in center of Moscow] and one of the most beautiful Metro stations carry Mayakovsky's name. On this square a memorial to the poet was published, his museum is set up on the Taganka, and his works began to be published, studied in literature departments, and taught in schools."
Anti-communist lies abound in discussions of Soviet-era culture. One constantly reads that "Stalin persecuted Mikhail Bulgakov" or "Stalin killed Osip Mandel'shtam." In reality, Stalin HELPED Bulgakov and got him a job at a prestigious theatre. When Boris Pasternak, noted Soviet but anti-communist writer, later author of "Doctor Zhivago," called Stalin about Mandel'shtam, Stalin told him he was not being loyal enough to his friend -- and then got Mandel'shtam a job.
Mayakovsky is better known than either of these figures. How can anybody say this kind of crap, have it printed, and then NOBODY points out the lie?
The moral of this sorry tale is: NEVER believe ANYTHING an anti-communist source says or writes about communism, Stalin, the USSR, etc., until you've checked it out yourself!
This movie was an indictment of the world of organized boxing. Eastwood plays a trainer who cares about his boxers and probably over-protects them. That's why the black boxer he's training leaves him. Eastwood is over-protecting him and he wants the ring. Interesting that the reviewer ignores the fact that Eastwood protects the black boxer out of love for Morgan Freeman who lost an eye under his tutelage years before.
The characters in "Million Dollar Baby" could have been any color. I thought the film was remarkable and the tension, after Swank is hurt, emotionally gut-wrenching. Was this film revolutionary or anti-racist? No. Did it condemn our racist, capitalist society? No. But the reviewer was really grasping for straws in condemning it as a racist film. And the final paragraph also doesn't hold up anymore: the films called fascist were ones like "Dirty Harry," films that Eastwood starred in, not produced or directed. Many of his films, such as "Unforgiven" and "Mystic River" were not fascist at all, but rather anti-western and anti-detective movie statements respectively. Honestly, I don't think that review should have been printed.
While this movie was not anti-capitalist or revolutionary, it was a great film. It's mainly about self-esteem, courage, forgiveness and love. Swank as Maggie, a poor working-class person, had such low self-esteem that she was willing to subject herself to the incredible brutality of boxing. Being a poor worker meant that she had little hope for her future beyond what she might accomplish as a boxer.
Maggie's struggle is an individualistic one, not one to improve the lives of other workers. This fits well into the "American dream" myth, which is why Hollywood liberals liked it. Additionally, its heart-wrenching portrayal of paralysis and disability will resonate with people whose sons and daughters are soldiers coming back from the war in Iraq paralyzed and injured.
...On Jan. 20, the day of President Bush's inaugural, several hundred students at Seattle Central Community College surrounded two Army recruiters on campus, shouting insults and hurling water bottles until the recruiters were escorted away by campus security. The protest was covered by The Army Times, and several recruiters said that they feared such situations might become more common. (NYT, 2/21)
Universal healthcare won, 67 percent to 26 percent.
...Nothing has happened...The profit-grubbing medical lobby of pharmaceuticals, insurance companies and the American Medical Association....continues to thwart the will of the American people. (Boston Globe, 2/7)
What is most frustrating to people like Mr. Guo, whose wife has the disease, is that snail fever was largely eradicated in China during the 1950's as part of the national campaign ordered by Mao Zedong. Mr Guo, 56 recalled regular efforts to sweep the lake of the snails that serve as host bodies for the parasites....People were required to have check-ups and that those infected received free medical care, including drugs that can neutralize the disease.
But the constant attention needed to control the disease has waned, and it gradually returned... because of neglect of the rural health system. (NYT, 2/22)
"This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous," he said, then added, to some laughter in the room, "and having said that, all options are on the table." (NYT, 2/23)
So, how can Medicare's ballooning cost be contained? One idea is to let people die earlier. (NYT 2/27)
Only Poland had managed to return to its 1989 level of output by the end of the 20th century. Hungary, considered by many the most "advanced" economy of the region, had to wait until 2002.
While a minority have seen real wages rise, for the vast majority in the countries in question the transition process has witnessed a spectacular fall in living standards....
Inequality has risen sharply...Unemployment is widespread, particularly among the young: in Poland, 39% of under-25s are without a job....
Reformers blame problems on the legacy of 40 years of communism. But could it be that the reform process itself is responsible?...Following the IMF-EU economic prescription has caused hardship for millions. (GW, 2/24)
If the 10 advisers had not cast their votes, the committee would have voted 12 to 8 that Bextra should be withdrawn and 14 to 8 that Vioxx should not return to the market....
...Studies have shown that, taken as a whole, money does influence scientific judgments... (NYT, 2/25)
...And 20.4 percent of the rural population does not have enough to eat....
Most glaring are the inequalities that affect women and children, still some of the worst social indicators in the world today....
One-fifth of the children die before the age of 5, 80 percent of them from preventable diseases, one of the worst rates in the world. Only 25 percent of the population has access to clean drinking water, and one in eight children die from lack of clean water.
Afghanistan now has the worst education system in the world the reported concluded... (NYT, 2/22)