Monday, December 29, 2008

Year End Note

For the few passers by who lose their way to this place, I am very sorry that not much has been happening here. No novel thoughts have occurred that others aren't expressing in better, more effective fashion. 

And ... Working on a book.

IN the meantime, please go to Uruknet, where you can get the best reporting on the latest barbarity being committed by the Israeli fascists against the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip. I think this, more than any other topic, is worth reflecting and acting on: a most vicious barbarity against a defenseless population, already starved, already deprived of all infrastructure such as electrical power, fuel, food, forget about schools and medicine. This defies all politeness, so if I were to say anything at all, it would be filled with obscenities. Which is why I am referring the reader to some place else, where invectives are not present in abundance.

Just to prove how lucky it is that I'm sending you to another place, here's a taste of what I won't subject you to in its full animation. Below, find a template instead, in which 'F' shall stand for different cases (adjectival, adverbial, nominal, verbal) of the word 'fuck', just so the offensive word will not have to appear repeatedly, and in the process no harm shall be done to anybody's gentler sensibilities.

In lieu of an introduction, I believe that certain subjects, topics, what have you, don't require analysis or commentary; I call them post-analytic. The reality speaks way clearly for itself in such cases. I share this thought and understanding with Frederick Douglass. He too thought that certain things, for him slavery, required only invectives and the raising of people's indignant passions.

So, here are my 'thoughts' on the Israeli 'F'ing 'actions', as the CNN and the rest of the 'F'ing media call them, in Gaza.

'F' Israeli 'F'ing government; this cancerous, sick, cold-blooded, sadistic 'F'ing entity, and all their soldiers. All of them war criminals. They claim that they cannot take it any more, that they will now wage 'all out war'; as if they have not been waging all out war on the Palestinian people for over sixty years! 'F' you, 'F'ing lying, two-faced monsters!
'F' likewise the American government, the Brits, the European 'F'ing Union, the weasel Japanese, even the Chinese and the Russians. The whole bunch of them a gang of thieves or of bought off, miserable, repressed, lesser imperialists, still pretending.

And 'F' the groveling, fawning miserable Arab heads of 'F'ing states, who couldn't even put together an Arab League meeting after three days of slaughterhouse had been working around the clock in Gaza. Shame! On this, at least, the Iranian government had more balls than most Arab governments. So, those Arab governments should just 'F'ing eat shit, the cowardly 'F's!

'F' particularly the Bush regime, and their enablers the Democrats, and all their lackeys in all levels of the government, the media and the academia.

And ... 'F' you very much too Mr. House Negro to the AIPAC, you Uncle Tom through and through, your charlatan Mr. Continuity of Business As Usual, Barak 'F' Obama, the 'F'ing rat, for choosing to say nothing about the wholesale massacre of civilians! Like, would you have also said nothing, if 350 Jews had been murdered by rockets delivered by fighter jets, helicopters and drones, 'in retaliation' for the killing of one singular Palestinian Arab?

Long Live the People of Gaza and the Greater Palestine!
Tyranny will be defeated! Justice will be had!
Long Live Free Palestine!

* * *

As for the New Year ... Nothing changes on New Year's Day, as some old punk once said. And very little of it is likely to turn out happy anyway, especially where suffering is in the most dire need of ceasing to exist, in places like Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, just to name a few in only one little neighborhood of our world civilization; if one can call it that. More like, our hardly-managed barbarian jungle. 

See you next year!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Signs of Life from American Labor

Found this on Socialist Worker. Seems like these workers in Chicago are finally showing the way. At least part of the way, anyway. The first step: GET PISSED OFF! And take direct action! 

Republic workers target Bank of America
Lee Sustar looks at the latest developments in the workers' occupation of the closed Republic Windows & Doors plant.
December 10, 2008

A BIG labor rally was set for Bank of America's Chicago headquarters at 12 noon December 10 after negotiations failed to resolve issues that led workers to occupy the Republic Windows & Doors plant five days before.

According to an Associated Press report yesterday afternoon, during talks between the workers' union, Republic management and Bank of America (BoA) officials, the bank had agreed to finance Republic's payment of severance and vacation pay that management had illegally failed to provide for workers--a move that sparked the occupation.

But officials from the union, the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), said there was no deal--and that even if there was, workers would have to vote on it before it could be accepted.

So the December 10 protest was on--and judging by the continued strong and spirited turnout of supporters at the plant the day before, it will be sizeable.

Read the complete report/analysis here ...

Monday, December 8, 2008

'Thousands' join anti-Ahmadinejad rally in Tehran

Found this on Anti-War, who got it from The Daily Star (Lebanon). This piece of news shows that though the 'left' in the U.S. has lost its marbles as regards Iran, thankfully the Iranian people, especially the university students in Tehran, are still fighting for their rights. 

Agence France Press - Monday, December 08, 2008

TEHRAN: Iranian students held a protest Sunday at Tehran University calling for freedom and denouncing the policies of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a pro-reform student group said. The protest amid heavy security was organized by the radical pro-reform Office to Consolidate Unity (OCU) student group to mark National Student Day.

"There was tough control, they [authorities] would not let anyone in but students broke the gate and came in," OCU member Mehdi Arabshahi told AFP.

"A lot of protests were directed at Ahmadinejad over oppression in universities and the bad economy," he added. "The protesters also demanded academic freedom and respect for human rights."

According to him "thousands of students from different universities were there" for the two-hour protest, which started at noon.

National Student Day is observed on December 6 but student sources said they had decided to hold the protest one day late in order to avoid official ceremonies.

Iran's Fars news agency, which is close to conservatives, said that only 150 demonstrators took part in the protest.

The agency described the protesters as "anarchists" who shouted "extremist slogans" and said that they broke the windows of the university's security office and threw rocks at wardens.

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had been reportedly due to speak at Tehran's Science and Industry University on Saturday but the event did not take place.

Iranian universities are hotbeds of student activism and protests are common despite strict control on campus since Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005.

Scores of pro-reform student activists have been detained over the past two years and many students have also been barred from universities over their activism, rights groups have said.

In the most high-profile case three students were arrested in May 2007 and sentenced to jail terms of up to three years on charges of publishing anti-Islamic images in student newspapers. They were conditionally released in August. - AFP

To see more photos of the student protest at Tehran University (via Payvand Iran News), click here.

Imperialists just don't let you be: Or, let them eat dirt!

In the December 5, 2008 issue of the Saigon Times Daily, on the front page there are two reports that say all you need to know about what imperialists do to you, even when you defeat them militarily and kick them out of your country.

The biggest headline, on top of the front page reads: "Foreign donors urge macroeconomic reforms." In a statement issued by representatives of the EU, one of the group of donors, it was stated that Vietnam needs to sustain macroeconomic reforms, making sure the country's market opens up more to foreign trade, and presumably (though this was not in the article explicitly) at some point start cutting subsidies to the people.

The report states, "Vietnam has seen 2008 as a year full of macroeconomic turbulences, such as high inflation, large trade and current account deficits, said the EU. 'We commend your Government's largely successful measures to stabilize the situation and preserve the confidence of economic operators, in consultation with the IMF and others,' the EU said in a statement."

Quoting Benedict Bingham, senior resident representative of the IMF in Vietnam, the article says, "Fiscal policy needs to be restrained [read, spend less on your people] and the recent widening of the trading band is welcome." The article further states, "Foreign donors agreed that the Government's continued commitment to structural economic reforms, and its views on how to increase the pace of reform of State-Owned Enterprises and banks, and how it may encourage small and medium-sized enterprises, was playing a key part in stabilizing the economy."

In short, the remedies recommended by the foreign donors are: spend less on Vietnamese people, privatize more of your industries, and open up your market to foreign goods even more.

[Note: Vietnam is currently a member of the World Trade Organization.]

Another headline from the front page of the same issue of the Saigon Times Daily reads: "Vietnam to raise poverty line." The new poverty line is to apply to the 2009-2010 period, "and those with a monthly income below that level will get financial support." The current poverty line, after two year of rapid inflation of 12.6% in 2007 and 24.2% in 2008, has simply left millions more of Vietnamese people well behind.

The article explains, "The existing poverty criteria were formulated in 2005, when 60% of the people's average spending was on food and the remaining on non-food items. However, the fast increase of the consumer price index this year has pushed many poor people further into hardship due to soaring prices of many items, especially food."

The current poverty line is VND241,000/month in the urban areas (about $14.26) and VND200,000/month in the rural areas (about $11.83; based on current exchange rate, $1=VND16,900). The new poverty line will tentatively be set at VND390,000/month for urban, and VND300,000/month for rural areas ($23.08/m and $17.75/m respectively). Still well short of a $1/day. 

To conclude from the above two articles: Even in a country with some 30% of the population in poverty (i.e., living on well less than a dollar a day), the big foreign capitalists' recommendation for 'improved' economic stability is to cut the helping hand the government can afford its people, increase capitalist reforms that lead invariably to more endemic poverty, and open up the market to more foreign goods (meaning, do less local production for local use, meaning in turn less employment for the local population). 

In short, increase structural, permanent poverty in your country!

In a related article from the Saigon Times Daily of Dec. 8, 2008, it was reported that the foreign donors pledged just over $5 billion in aid for 2009. It should be noted that this 'aid' is mostly in the form of loans.

Now, think about it. Considering that the cost of the Iraq war alone is $2 billion/week, the $5 billion is the equivalent of two and a half weeks of war-waging in Iraq. When you look at the 'aid' amount from individual countries, it looks even more miserly. World Bank was the largest of the donors, at $1.66 billion; Asian Development Bank, $1.56b; the European Union (the entire Union, mind you), $894 million; Korea, one of the bilateral donors, $269 million.

The most miserly of all was Japan. Zero! Why? Because, the Japanese government 'explained', there was a corruption scandal involving a Japanese company bribing some Vietnamese officials, in the course of the allocation of the last batch of money 'donated' by Japan, for the year 2008.

Now, this is rich, indeed! Japan is a country that is regularly wracked by corruption scandals of their own (notice that the bribe to the Vietnamese officials came from a Japanese company). Especially corrupt is Japan's construction industry in the dealings they have with the relevant ministries that require contracting construction companies for different projects. In all the years that I lived in Japan, I witnessed this on a regular basis. I never, however, witnessed any cutting of any ministerial budgets due to corruption!

The same Japanese government, as part of their commitment to the 'war on terror', had no problem providing FREE oil, for years, to 'coalition' warships and supply ships in the Indian Ocean waging war against the people of Afghanistan.

There you have it. Imperialist miserly greed knows no limits.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Boycott Israel!

Found this on Uruknet. Read the article and sign the petition!

December 5, 2008

Petition in support of call by United Nations General Assembly President Miguel D’escoto Brockmann for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel

During the 57th Plenary Meeting on the Question of Palestine, President of the General Assembly Miguel D’escoto Brockmann broke a diplomatic taboo by describing Israeli policies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories as similar to those of the defunct apartheid regime in South Africa.

Brockmann also urged the United Nations to use the term 'apartheid’ without fear, and recommended that the United Nations
"….should consider following the lead of a new generation of civil society, who are calling for a similar non-violent campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions to pressure Israel to end its violations."
Unsurprisingly, Brockmann has been branded as an antisemite by apologists for Israel.

Read the complete article here ...

Friday, December 5, 2008

The state of Chinese labor movement

Found this on China Labour Bulletin (based in Hong Kong). 

Given that China is not only the global factory but an important pillar in the world capitalist system, the state of the Chinese labor movement is of importance for workers' movements in all countries. The paper quoted below (link to the full paper at bottom of post) is an informative source of information on the general state of where the Chinese workers stand in relation to capital in a nominally 'communist' country. The paper was presented by China Labour Bulletin (CLB), to an international conference to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights opened in Paris on 4 December, 2008.

The Case of China:
The Challenge of Labour Unrest in a Communist-run Capitalist Economy

"This year China celebrates the 30th anniversary of the historic "reform and opening" policy. This groundbreaking initiative led China out of political isolation and back into the world community and, among many other things, has helped lift an estimated 400 million of people out of poverty. 

"But despite this impressive macro-economic progress, workers throughout China are still at a fundamental disadvantage. In the burgeoning private sector, in particular, they are routinely required to work illegally long hours, employers frequently withhold wages and fail to provide mandatory labour contracts or social security benefits, and many workplaces are fundamentally unsafe or hazardous to workers' health. 

"China's estimated 150 million migrant workers and their families continue to face widespread social and institutional discrimination. In short, the scale and depth of workers' rights violations across the country continues to be huge. Faced with the enormity of this challenge, it is often assumed by outside observers – and by many Chinese – that since China is not a democracy and independent trade unions are banned there, little can be done to advance labour rights standards for most Chinese workers, and especially for the migrant workers who have largely powered the country's economic miracle over the past decade and more.

"The purpose of this presentation by CLB is, firstly, to suggest that such pessimism is unfounded; and secondly, to show that Chinese workers are steadily acquiring the will and the practical means to accomplish most of the "heavy lifting" in the labour rights' arena by themselves. 

"For outside observers whose main picture of the labour rights situation in China today has come from media reports portraying workers – whether in the country's disaster-prone coal mines, or in the foreign-invested manufacturing sweatshops of Guangdong and elsewhere – as passive and helpless victims of entrepreneurial greed and callousness, this assertion may come as something of a surprise. 

"But the other, less well-known narrative told by workers across the country, who in recent years have been fighting back – both individually and collectively – against unacceptable employment conditions and poor workplace safety standards, clearly bears out such a conclusion. For nowadays, Chinese workers are not passively accepting maltreatment and abuse. They are taking to the streets in protest. They are going on strike. They are collaborating with workers' rights NGOs to publicize and resolve their grievances. And they are seeking, more and more, to defend their rights and interests through domestic legal channels."

Read the complete paper here ...