Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The New China Baiting

I have been planning to write something on this point for a while and this is just an opening stab at what I think is an important new theme in capitalist mass ideology in the U.S., that is making contemporary China into a scapegoat for the abuses of capitalism. We should remember that the "Red China" of the 1950s through 1970s was portrayed as a nation of Communist fanatics chanting slogans from "Chairman Mao" as they sought to foment world revolution, conquer Asia and, with possible help from their Soviet "allies" (who remained part of what mass media liked to refer to as the "Sino-Soviet world communist conspiracy long after the Soviet Union and China ceased being allies) reach the continental United States. Today, China is portrayed as a hostile foreign power selling tainted goods to the United States.

I thought of those stereotypes (the old ones, which aren't entirely dead) when I watched the opening episode of the CBS FBI series Numbers, a usually well-written program which combines action adventure with math lessons (a mathematics professor better than any that I ever had anywhere series as an FBI consultant, using math theorems and logic to aid his FBI agent brother and the brothers associates in fighting terrorists and other assorted criminals) In this episode, though, the evil doer was a high placed government official who was literally a Chinese mole (played, unintentionally, I suspect, in a very 1950s camp way by the star actor Val Kilmer) who, we find out as he is directing the torture of a good guy (the Chinese also here become the scapegoat for torturing prisoners) was born and raised in Peking (I will use that spelling because it fits the mentality of the episode) before coming to the U.S. going to university, and infiltrating the U.S. government.

Before visions of smart but ruthless Chinese who look very much like Europeans winning awards in U.S. universities before they infiltrate the U.S. government to subvert it for their leaders in Peking shake you up too much, you should know that the the Chinese mole and his thuggish Asian henchmen are defeated decisively and this blast from the 1950s past concludes with an FBI happy ending. That these themes would pervade a major network series in 2007 is of course very interesting.

Meanwhile, after decades of U.S. government undermining of environmental protections, consumer legislation, and systematic weakening and under-enforcement of existing pure food and drug laws, China, which is to today both an enormous mixed economy and exporter of a wide variety of finished goods to the world, as against the "China market" and exporter of raw materials that imperialists dreamed it would become before the Chinese Communist led revolution, is being denounced for selling tainted goods, counterfeit drugs, everything imaginable due to a lack of regulation and of course greedy businessmen (whether these businessmen are Chinese are foreign capitalists is usually not mentioned and, in fact the word capitalist itself really isn't mentioned).

A typical example of this new propaganda trend could be seen in the last two days in the New York Times. First there was a flurry of stories about the Consumer Product Safety Commission and its very old fashioned anti-regulation chair, Nancy Nord(Calvin Coolidge used to appoint such people to the Federal Trade Commission, that is, regulators who made it clear that they would regulate as little as possible as a matter of principle, although they were always of a different gender than Nord). The Democrats are trying to pass a law which will increase the budget and the scope of the Commission, which has seen major staff reductions. Nord is opposing the legislation, as a good McKinley-Coolidge-Reagan-Bush Republican would.

The legislation, which is very positive, would greatly increase fines and other penalties on corporate felons, give safety certification of goods over to independent laboratories (something that manufacturers have agreed to, but Nord, again in the Coolidge tradition, opposes, willing to give to the corporations even more than they are asking) . The legislation would also double the budget of the agency and increase the number of its inspectors, which have dropped by more than half in recent decades (as the quantity and variety of consumer goods introduced into the U.S. marketplace has increased enormously) . Today the agency has an estimated 420 inspectors for the whole country.

hat does this have to do with China. The Democrats are calling for Nord to resign, using the agency's failure to properly handle lead contaminated toys imported from China. Today as the battle between Nord and the Democrats rages in the press, the New York Times has a very long story about the import of dangerous drugs and other chemicals from Chinese firms not regulated by the Chinese government (it is careful to say that this is not necessarily indicative of Chinese companies, but the headline, "Chinese Chemicals flow unchecked to Market," references to China as the world's leading supplier of counterfeit drugs (given the size of its developing economy it is fast becoming the world's leading supplier of everything) has its effect, along with an unsubstantiated commercial for the FDA as making the U.S. drug "supply chain....among the world's safest."

Given the power of the Pharmaceutical industry in the U.S., the general undermining of inspection and regulation since the Reagan era (including the reduction in the number of inspectors) this really doesn't sound too accurate.

The article goes on to highlight the crime and corruption, mentioning in passing a statement from Congressman John Dingell of Michigan that the FDA conducts only about 20 inspections a year in China for the over 700 Chinese firms producing drugs for the American market.

I am not saying that the problem is not significant but it is a capitalist problem, not a Chinese one. The "globalization" and deregulation that is hailed by reactionaries as the wave of the future is the source of the problem. Capitalists will always seek to cut corners, even sell adulterated goods, bribe or beat the regulators while they "fight" to make regulation maximize their own profit margins, which U.S. Pharmaceuticals do by pushing prescription drugs at high prices to the general population in alliance with the insurance companies. I am also saying that the attitude that is being purveyed to the Chinese officials (the New York Times article for example had Times reporters lecturing Chinese regulators on their failure to regulate the raw materials used in drugs in a way that they would never do to U.S. or European officials) smacks of the old colonial arrogance.

China may be a great emerging industrial power today. China may be a creditor that owns a significant portion of the U.S. debt. But China still remains both "Red China," an enemy seeking to subvert American freedom and democracy to many and of course, there remains "Yellow Peril" China, whose people, like the colonial peoples of the world, have to be "civilized" to Euro-American standards while Europe and the U.S. are protected from the dangers that they represent. In the 19th century, Opium Wars were fought against China in the name of progress and civilization.

In the 20th century, international banking consortium's and foreign powers supported Chinese warlords and military dictators and really did very little to stop brutal Japanese militarist invasion and occupation of China until World War II. After WWII, after failing to defeat the Chinese revolution in spite of the substantial military aid it provided to Chiang K'ai-shek's rightwing dictatorship, U.S. government's refused for twenty-two years to permit the Peoples Republic of China to take its seat in the United Nations, supported military provocations launched by Chiang's rump regime on Taiwan (which was now both its military ally and the official China) against the Peoples Republic, sought to block Chinese trade with third parties, and did not establish full diplomatic relations with the Peoples Republic of China until the late 1970s, when it embarked upon its present mixed economy road.

The U.S. ruling class likes to tell the American people that the U.S. has been an impartial benefactor of humanity, a non-imperialist nation. Like many other peoples of the world, the Chinese know different. At a time when Americans in large numbers wear clothes made in China and purchase a wide variety of goods made in China, China baiting of both the old and new type is empty demagoguery, whether it is used by right-wing Republicans or Democrats seeking to attack Republicans, business leaders or labor leaders denouncing the loss of jobs in the U.S. because of Chinese imports. It is a trend that leads only to increased Sino-American conflict in a world where China, frankly is too strong globally to be pushed around this way, made the scapegoat for the abuses of capitalism which they, whatever their failings appear to be trying to address more than many other countries.

Norman Markowitz

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

International Community Overwhelmingly Condemns US Blockade


Havana, Oct 30 (acn) The United Nations General Assembly today overwhelmingly condemned the US economic, financial and commercial blockade of Cuba, after voting the island's resolution against the US unilateral measure with 184 votes in favour, one abstention and only 4 votes against.

This is the sixteenth consecutive year in which the UN condemns the US measure imposed on the island for over four decades. The international community has increasingly supported Cuba since the country presented its first draft resolution against the US blockade in 1992. Last year, 183 countries backed the Cuban resolution, which stood for 95 percent of the total of UN member nations.


From http://www.cubanews.ain.cu/2007/1030votaciononu.htm

Blackwater Mercenaries Granted Immunity During Inquiry

Security guards from a private U.S. military contractor involved in a shooting incident in Iraq have been granted immunity by State Department investigators.

read more | digg story

Vote Out Failed Policies, Say Australians

The Howard Government was re-elected in 2004 largely on the basis of Liberal Party promises of record low interest rates as against high interest rates and bad economic management from a Labor Government.

read more | digg story

Why We Torture: Martha Nussbaum on Zimbardo's "The Lucifer Effect"

Philip Zimbardo is the psychologist who carried out the Stanford Prison Experiment [SPE] in 1971. He has published a book about the lessons to be learned from that experiment and others. The book is “The Lucifer Effect: How Good People Turn Evil.”

read more | digg story

Monday, October 29, 2007

Urgent medical treatment needed for jailed Iranian trade union leader

To PA Blog Readers,

I am passing this on to our readers because I believe that it deserves our support. This of course reminds me as it may many of our readers about the tragic fate of CPUSA leader Henry Winston, who lost his eyesight when he was a Smith Act political prisoner in the U.S. in the 1950s.

Norman Markowitz

Subject: Urgent medical treatment needed for jailed Iranian trade union

*Mansour Osanloo, the jailed leader of the bus workers' union in Tehran, faces the possible loss of his eyesight unless he receives urgent medical attention -- which the Iranian authorities are denying him.*

Amnesty International has just now launched an online campaign <http://click.icptrack.com/icp/relay.php?r=926849&msgid=51524&act=QPHS&c=154875&admin=0&destination=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amnesty.org.uk%2Factions_details.asp%3FActionID%3D334>
calling on the Iranian government to allow Osanloo to receive medical attention. I urge all of you to sent off your messages today. The Iranian government must be made aware that the world is watching.

The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), which has spearheaded the international campaign in defense of Osanloo, has now produced a short film entitled "Freedom Will Come <http://click.icptrack.com/icp/relay.php?r=926849&msgid=51524&act=QPHS&c=154875&admin=0&destination=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Din-vF2LvITk>"
which tells his story. It can be viewed online on YouTube, and will shortly be available as a DVD as well.

If every reader of this message passes it on to a few friends and colleagues, we can flood the Iranian government with email messages -- but we must do this quickly, before Osanloo loses his vision.

Thanks -- I know that I can count on you.

Eric Lee

Just dropping in

Nothing profound. Just checking out the esteemed PA editors' blog. Thanks for the add!
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Lobbying for Democracy?

There are many stories in news today which one might comment on. The Pope has issued a statement calling upon Catholic pharmacists not to fill "immoral prescriptions" for drugs used for abortion and euthanasia to the 25th annual international convention of Catholic Pharmacists (there have been conflicts over this issue in regard to contraception in the U.S.). But that is conflict between spiritual and medical advisors, of soul and body or vice versa.

A Russian serial killer has received a life sentence for his crimes (this is interesting because the pro capitalist regime in Russia, under pressure from the European Union established a moratorium on the death penalty a decade ago, an example of an advance for "democracy" that the U.S. government, which actively supported the dismemberment of the Soviet Union, and Boris Yeltsin's terroristic suppression of his enemies in the Russian State Duma, has not exactly highlighted, emulated, or taken credit for). But no one has yet suggested that Americans on death row go to Russia.

And of course, there is the daily carnage from Iraq along with the daily statements from the government and the U.S. military that things are getting better, law and order is being established in the North, relations are improving between the Sunni provinces and the Shia led central government along with the following policies which will follow the successful completion of the Bush administration's mission: no Iraqi child will be left behind, Iraqi homeowners will receive property tax rebates, the Iraqi national anthem will be sung in Arabic only, the border patrol will be beefed up to prevent undocumented workers from crossing Iraqi borders, faith based Iraqi organizations will be given responsibilities for social welfare, the right of Iraqis to bear arms will be maintained at any cost, and of course there will be no public funding for pregnancy terminations for low income Iraqis. In the future democratic Iraq, students will be freed from the dogma of biological Darwinism thanks to the introduction of Intelligent Design into the school curriculum and freed also to understand the great truth of Social Darwinism, social survival of the fittest in a free market where the wealth and power of those who have wealth and power is both proof of their superiority and for the good of society. Actually, looking at the contradiction in the Bush administration, which actively opposes all scientific work which advances biological Darwinism while its political and economic policies promote Social Darwinism is always a good story to comment on and will continue, unfortunately, to be one until the Right Republicans are decisively defeated in the U.S.

But the story that most intrigued me concerned Robert D. Blackwell. Blackwell is a former ambassador to India who in 2004, as the Iraq area director of the National Security Council, helped make former Baath politician Ayad Allawi, a Shiite who had broken with Saddam Hussein and whom the CIA came to see as its first choice to be strongman of the new "democratic" Iraq, interim Prime Minister. Allawi turned out to be a political disaster and he and his supporters got nowhere in the subsequent Iraqi elections. Today Blackwell is a professional lobbyist who is still representing Allawi in the U.S for a $300,000 fee (at least that was what he received for six months of work recently).

Blackwell, the news reports, also represents for a fee many other governments including a few, Serbia and the Kurdistan regional government in Iraq, for whom I and others on the left would have some sympathy, along with the government of Taiwan (for whom few on the left would have any sympathy) a billionaire former president of Thailand, and a Moscow bank. In 2005 alone, the press reports that he brought in eleven million dollars of business alone to the lobbying firm, Barbour, Griffith and Rogers, with whom he is now associated.

Blackwell goes back to the 1970s when he began work with associates of Henry Kissinger and has had a long career in government and teaching at the John F. Kennedy School, along with a reputation for pushing people around. Now he, with thirty years of information, a good deal of it, I would assume, possibly classified, is taking in millions to represent foreign governments and businesses on a variety of issues, the way former generals and politicians work for military contractors and foreign governments. Influence peddling is nothing new but it has, as students of the U.S. government contend, expanded tremendously since Ronald Reagan became president with his scripted attacks on "big government."

A system of institutionalized and legal bribery, what an old Tammany politician once called "honest graft," operating openly and directly at the legislative and executive levels of the national government, makes that government today what the great Wisconsin progressive Governor and Senator Robert La Follette called it a century ago, a "trading post" for the Trusts (today one would have to add foreign governments and Trusts). If the U.S. is to become(and I emphasize become) a modern democracy, it must be eliminated by serious regulation of lobbying firms, a regulation that would reduce such firms to a small fraction of what they presently are. This is something that progressives must fight for now, if we are not to see progressive governments of the future fall victim to that institutionalized bribery.

Norman Markowitz

Military Commanders Love Right-wing Bloggers

Here is an interesting item. Salon.com commentator Glenn Greenwald authored an interesting piece on the relationship between US military commanders, like Gen. Be--I mean --Petraeus and ultra right-wing bloggers, such extremist Michelle Malkin. (Military commanders are supposed to be non-political.)

Petraeus's press aide then wrote a nasty e-mail to Greenwald an a tense exchange followed. Worth a read:

Check it out.

Bush's War Cry

That was the war cry throughout the plains and the mountains, forests and sugarcane fields, identifying those who began Cuba's first war of independence on October 10, 1868.

read more | digg story

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Islam, Marxism, and who reads this website?

Thomas Riggins

This is a question. This quote is from a famous Muslim. I ask readers of our website two questions-- 1. who was he, and 2 is this view compatiable with Marxism-Leninism? The number of comments will tell me if anyone cares about what the PA editors think, and we will have to reflect upon this one way or the other.

The moving finger writes,
And having writ moves on.
Nor all you piety or wit
Can call it back, to cancil
Half a line, nor all your
Tears wash out a word
of it.

And just what does that mean?

CHINA AND THE MYANMAR [BURMA] SANCTIONS

Thomas Riggins

Recently I have heard and read a lot of criticism of China for not supporting the sanctions against the military dictatorship in Myanmar that the US tried to get the UN to impose. However, the real purpose of the sanctions was not to target Myanmar but to get at China.

The Chinese want a pipeline across Myanmar to bring oil overland to China so that they can bypass the Straits of Malacca which is presently the route for much of the oil on its way by ship to China. If the US should close the straits it could cripple the Chinese economy. The trans Myanmar pipeline is China's answer.

The sanctions the US proposed to the Security Council called for the suspension of any NEW pipelines for Myanmar but allowed Chevron and Total S.A. [headquarted in Paris, Total is the 4th largest oil company in the world] to continue to operate in the country free of sanctions. Russia, India and Indonesia, among others, were also against the sanctions. The Russian veto would have killed them alone.

The criticism of China is misplaced.

Marxism, Language, and the Laureate Who Wasn't

I have opinions, God knows, on language. This statement of Lessing’s is ridiculous. What Marxism did was to liberate language for millions of workers the whole world over, and still does to this day.

read more | digg story

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Poisonous Plastic Bottles Piling Up

Most types of plastic bottles are safe to reuse at least a few times if properly washed with hot soapy water. But recent revelations about chemicals in Lexan (plastic #7) bottles are enough to scare even the most committed environmentalists from reusing them.

read more | digg story

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Race to Find the "Stupid" Gene

By joe sims

Yesterday's (Thursday October 25th) firing of James Watson from the Cold Harbor lab notwithstanding, the question arises, are some of the world's top geneticists in a race to discover the "stupid gene" that allegedly causes Blacks and women to not have the same reasoning capacity as upper class white men?

Watson it should be remembered once remarked that if a "gay gene" is isolated, mothers should have the right to remove it guaranteeing heterosexual children. When challenged, he offered that he was not advocating such a procedure, but merely asserting a mother's right to decide.

The former director of the world famous Cold Harbor lab, also in response to ex- president of Harvard, Larry Summers' sexist statements of the recent past, claimed there might be a scientific basis for differing intellectual capacities between men and women.

It is in this context that one must access Watson's gloom about the prospects of Africa, a gloom arising in his view from misplaced social policies directed toward the Continent predicated on unfounded assumptions about the equality of humankind. In the London Sunday Times story he went event further arguing that there was no good reason to assume that peoples who had evolved separately on different continents, evolved intellectually with equal capacity.

He wrote:" there is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically. Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so."

Given this mentality, would it really be a leap to conclude that should "intelligence" genes be identified, someone might contemplate their removal or adjustment as with the gay gene? In this case some scientists like Watson, would disclaim advocacy, but merely the right of parents (or governments) to choose whether or not to have stupid children.

Notwithstanding Watson's denials, retractions and apologies, his statements variously made over a considerable period stretching over decades were no accident. Indeed the Sunday Times reporter, a former student, wrote that Watson always acts with forethought and deliberation, despite the appearance of casualness. "His comments, however, although seemingly unguarded, are always calculated," she claimed.

The question then is what was the calculation? What do Watson and his corporate backers have in mind? When a Nobel prize winning geneticist like James Watson makes patently racist statements about the inferiority of Africans and women its a big thing. Was Watson floating a trial balloon and if so for what purpose? Needless to say, the statement go far beyond the man: what, where and who are the backers of the larger plan?

Are plans underway to manipulate gene pools in order to "cure" this deficiency plaguing the world's Black, Brown and female populations? Such a conclusion, outlandish as it might seem, might not be too much a stretch when considering the recent controversy surrounding the now infamous James Watson, winner of the Nobel prize. What do readers think?

Smithfield Sues Jobs with Justice

From Jobs with Justice:

Smithfield Foods has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Jobs With Justice, the Change To Win (CTW) labor federation, and the union organizing its employees in Tar Heel, NC, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). The suit is being filed under the RICO statute designed to fight organized crime. The baseless suit is in response to the growing national campaign to support workers' rights at Smithfield
(http://www.unionvoice.org/ct/_d1zzQE1Jukg/).

The company's RICO suit is ironic given the well documented violations of state and federal law that the company has been found in violation of. It seeks to stop all such campaigns in the future and is a clear violation of the constitutional rights of all supporters of workers' rights.

Jobs with Justice is proud to stand with the workers of Tar Heel, their union the UFCW, Change To Win and the many other religious, community and labor organizations supporting this important fight. We pledge to redouble our efforts to achieve justice at Smithfield. We call on all people of good will to join us in demanding that Smithfield drop this suit and begin negotiations with the union to ensure that the voices of their employees are heard and that their right to form a union is respected.

The workers in Tar Heel are organizing and growing stronger. Jobs with Justice and all of our allies will continue to support those workers until they have a voice at work and justice on the job.

Read more about what Jobs with Justice has been doing to support the campaign for Justice at Smithfield in our newsletters from September, July , and April newsletters. Read a statement from the UFCW at: http://www.unionvoice.org/ct/_11zzQE1Jukt/


Save Your Favorite Magazine (Hint: It's PA)

From FreePress.net:


On July 15, the postal rates for many of this nation’s most important political magazines increased by 20 to 30 percent due to a decision made by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) that turns against more than 200 years of postal policy.

This rate increase has the effect of shifting costs from the large publishers — such as Time Warner — to smaller publications, such as The Nation and The National Review. The rate hikes could put these smaller, independent publications out of business.

These magazines and journals are an invaluable laboratory for political ideas and discourse. Their disappearance would be bad for our media and worse for our democracy.

Congress must to act now to reverse the unjust postal rates increase for small political publications.

Take Action Here

Human Rights Groups Call for Rumsfeld's Detention in France

Filing a complaint in a French court which alleges the former US Secretary of Defense authorized torture at U.S.-run detention centers in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, several US-based and international human rights groups called on French authorities today to detain Donald Rumsfeld during his visit to that country.

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) along with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), and the French League for Human Rights (LDH) filed the complaint with the Paris prosecutor's office before the “Court of First Instance.”

According to the press release of the FIDH:

“The filing of this French case against Rumsfeld demonstrates that we will not rest until those U.S. officials involved in the torture program are brought to justice. Rumsfeld must understand that he has no place to hide. A torturer is an enemy of all humankind,” said CCR President Michael Ratner.

“France is under the obligation to investigate and prosecute Rumsfeld’s accountability for crimes of torture in Guantanamo and Iraq. France has no choice but to open an investigation if an alleged torturer is on its territory. I hope that the fight against impunity will not be sacrificed in the name of politics. We call on France to refuse to be a safe haven for criminals.” said FIDH President Souhayr Belhassen.

“We want to combat impunity and therefore demand a judicial investigation and a criminal prosecution wherever there is jurisdiction over the torture incidents,” said ECCHR General Secretary Wolfgang Kaleck.

"The impunity of a criminal government is always intolerable. That the US is the hyperpower of the moment and especially that it is a democracy makes the impunity of Donald Rumsfield even more unbearable than that of an Hissène Habré or a Radovan Karadzic" announced Jean-Pierre Dubois, LDH President.


"We know that we can't get him into prison right now, but it would be great to make sure that he couldn't safely leave the U.S. anymore," Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, told the media.

The CCR and FIDH have already filed suits in Germany in 2004 and 2006 in a bid to have Rumsfeld tried for rights abuses.

Venezuela Warns U.S. that "Cuba is Not Alone"

Responding to US President George W. Bush's threats towards Cuba on Wednesday, Venezuelan authorities warned yesterday that "Cuba is not alone."

read more | digg story

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Blackwater USA Should be Declared a Terrorist Organization

After numerous incidents involving the slaying of Iraqi civilians by mercenary contractors at Blackwater USA, and because Iraqis appear to have no real recourse for getting justice for these ruthless murders, and because the Bush administration seems bent on essentially looking the other way, it is time to consider Blackwater USA a terrorist organization that is being harbored by the Bush administration.

The latest news, reports the Washington Post, is that the Bush administration, rather than imposing penalties on the Erik Prince and his hired killers, is using taxpayer dollars to make "condolence payments" (White House term) to Blackwater's victims.

Make no mistake: the payments are not an admission of guilt, the US embassy says. Just a guilt payment. Smooth things over. How much will it cost to get you to shut up and go away? And forget your loved ones?

Family members of Blackwater's victims, however, are disgusted by the offer.

And despite Bush's claims, Iraq's sovereignty is a joke given that it has so far demanded the expulsion of Prince's Blackwater mercenaries to no avail. Echo chamber. Prime Minister Al-Maliki doesn't have authority over which armed gangs of killers he can force out of his country.

Prince's inside connections and huge donations to the Republican Party are a likely source of the protection offered by the adminsitration.

Is this the democracy Bush pretends exists in Iraq? Mass killings by mercenaries, no justice for the vicitms, and a government that can't expel the perpetrators?

Bush and GOP Not Making Sense on S-CHIP

1. Republicans have repeatedly described the S-CHIP program as "socialized medicine," with Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL) calling it "garbage" and "secret socialized medicine" and "an international socialized medicine program." (Wow!). But its main co-sponsors are Republicans, it was originally authored by Republicans.

2. Republicans and the White House insist they don't want to raise taxes to fund S-CHIP, but the House GOP alternative to the Democratic plan, which House Republicans insist the President would sign, raises the cigarette tax (the same as the Democratic plan) but covers fewer children.

3. The Republicans ranted and raved that allowing states to enroll children in families who earn up to $83,000 as the original S-CHIP program and the reauthorization bill allowed, went to far and too many rich people were on the program. They couldn't prove that argument, but now that the second S-CHIP bill caps the enrollment at 300 percent of poverty, and the Republicans are still opposed. Can they make up their minds about what they want?

4. They oppose the current bill because they want to eliminate benefits for childless adults and want a citizenship requirement. But the second S-CHIP includes those conditions. But the Republicans still oppose it. And Bush says he'll veto it again. They are like children, and they need to sit in the corner.

When it comes right down to it, the Republicans want to exclude children from the program. That is the simple fact. And it appears that some House Republicans are willing to exchange their jobs for a vote that is in lock-step with a failed president and his failed ideology, not the interests of their constituents.

Tactics: A Marxist Guide

For Marxism, strategy is not self-executing. Alone it is a theory or plan of what should be done, of what class and social forces can be brought together for what next strategic goal, aim, or objective. What determines whether that happens or not is tactics.

read more | digg story

Mother Teresa, John Paul II, and the Fast-Track Saints

During his 26-year papacy, John Paul II elevated 483 individuals to sainthood, reportedly more saints than all previous popes combined. One personage he beatified but did not live long enough to canonize was Mother Teresa.

read more | digg story

Cuba Responds to Bush

Replying to three spurious initiatives for Cuba proposed by George Bush in Washington on October 24, Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque set out 12 points “covering what the U.S. president should propose as aid” to the island.

read more | digg story

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Bush Denounces the "Ruling Class" of Cuba!

By Norman Markowitz

George Bush has just made a speech denouncing socialist Cuba as a "dying order," a "totalitarian" house of horrors, and looking forward to the coming "victory" of the "democratic movement," the dissidents of today, who should remember whom their friends were (namely the old Bay of Pigs crowd in Washington). Bush also called for an "international fund" to help Cuba establish a "free market society" aka a capitalist economy which will be at the beginning subsidized by foreign investors the way that Pinochet's brutal fascist regime, which overthrow the socialist government of Salvador Allende (which by no means had at the time of the counter-revolution built a socialist society, as Cuba has today).

The UN General Assembly is going to vote soon on Cuba's resolution to end the U.S. embargo against Cuba, which has existed since 1960. The resolution has been passed with large majorities in recent years and the U.S. government has ignored it in a cavalier fashion. The Bush comments today are clear evidence that his administration is launching a preemptive strike against the resolution, which will no doubt pass with a substantial majority again.

Americans of all political persuasions willing to listen should know something about the history of Cuban-American relations. Cuba was a slave colony of the Spanish empire which some from slavery elements dreamed of annexing to the U.S. before the Civil War. The U.S. intervened in Cuba's war of independence against the Spanish Empire ostensibly to liberate Cuba ("Cuba libre" was the cry, and it lived on so to speak in the mixed drink of rum and coca cola by the same name). But the U.S. kept its army of occupation in Cuba until the Cubans wrote into their constitution a clause giving the U.S. the right to intervene in order to preserve Cuban independence(which meant the U.S. could intervene as it saw fit) U.S. governments then served U.S. companies in turning the island into a semi-colony and supporting brutal dictatorial regimes for the next sixty years.

When Fidel Castro refused to knuckle under to the Eisenhower administration in 1960, took the revolution in a socialist direction, and turned to the Soviet Union for assistance, the embargo was enacted followed by the failed CIA organized Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961, and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, which almost led to a nuclear World War III between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. In the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis, there were no invasions of Cuba, but CIA directed attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro and acts of sabotage against the Cuban economy continued for many years (one is not certain that they have completely ended today).

Cuba has survived. It has established in the context of a state of siege a society that is qualitative more advanced than the one that the revolution inherited in 1959. Its achievements, given the social circumstances that it has faced, are well beyond what any nation in Latin America has achieved (and in terms of equal rights and equal treatment in regard to education and health care, along with other basic human needs, beyond what the U.S. has in reality achieved for all of its people).For thirty years the rationale for the embargo against Cuba was its relationship with the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union ceased to exist nearly sixteen years ago, yet the embargo if anything becomes more repressive. Since U.S. capitalist domination of Cuba began nearly two decades before the Russian revolution and essentially ended thanks to Soviet aid to the Cuban revolution, there is no reason to continue this blockade, except hatred by the U.S. ruling class both of any state that dares to establish socialism and also, in Cuba's case, a former de facto colony that dared take back its sugar plantations, mills, and casinos from their U.S. owners.

"For Cuba's ruling class," Bush said, "its grip on power is more important than the welfare of its people." If ever there was an example of Freud's principle of projection, that is, ascribing to someone you see as an enemy what you yourself are either doing or want to do and then using that as a rationale for your aggressive thoughts or actions, that statement certainly is it. "Life will not improve for the Cubans under their current system of government,"Bush went on to say (another example of projection). But life would certainly not improve for the majority of Cubans if the austere and egalitarian socialism that they have created would be replaced by a restoration of capitalism, one in which the the casinos and the bordellos of Havana would live again, sharp class divisions would become apparent through the society, and a new Cuban class of compradors serving the interests of the U.S. and other foreign investors would spring up as the majority of Cubans looked on, unwelcome "visitors" in their own country. This is Bush's prescription for "Cuban freedom" aka counter revolution.

Taking Freud's principle of projection and throwing it back at Bush, one might say that "For the U.S. ruling class, its grip on power is more important than the welfare of its people." One might might also say that "life will not improve for the Americans under the current corrupt political system, where corporations and the rich spend hundreds of millions of dollars to buy politicians and the Republican Party undermines basic democratic rights at home and advances militarism and war abroad."

Ending the blockade against Cuba should be a matter of conscience for Americans, given what successive U.S. government have done to Cuba and its people starting long before the Cuban revolution. It would also gain respect for the U.S. in the United Nations and in the larger world community, a respect that the Bush administration has done more to undermine than any administration in modern U.S. history.

TURKEY AND THE PKK

Thomas Riggins

Some reflections on the current Turkey/PKK standoff in Northern Iraq. If Turkey wants to end PKK attacks it might try, as a first measure, extending full citizen and human rights to the Kurdish population of Turkey. The Kurds are not allowed to freely use their language. A people's culture and traditions can not be preserved and respected if the state persecutes them with regard to the use of their national language.

Turkey should end efforts at forced assimilation of Kurdish children to "Turkishness" and other efforts at cultural genocide. Turkey should also end policies of violent repression of peaceful manifestations of Kurdish nationalism.

Where there is smoke there is fire. National minorities do not rise up and rebel unless the state engages in unfair repressive policies. If the Turkish state is serious about wanting social peace and ethnic harmony it will begin serious negotiations with the PKK and other national and ethnic opposition groups to make Turkey a nation it which all of its citizens have equal rights [and not the equal right to only be "Turkish"] and that all national groups have equal rights and equal treatment-- not just the Kurds but also Armenians and Pontic Greeks among others.

On the other hand, if all Turkey wants to do is oppress and exploit its national minorities then by all means choose the George Bush option and throw your military against them. You will eventually reap the whirlwind.

CPC Congress Closes, Opening New Chapter for Scientific Development

The Communist Party of China (CPC) closed its 17th National Congress on Sunday, endorsing the incorporation of the scientific outlook on development into the Party Constitution and installing a new 371-member Central Committee and a 127-member Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

read more | digg story

Autoworkers Versus the Media, an Interview with John Wojcik

Who expects the corporate media to project anything but sympathy first and foremost for corporate America? Certainly in its coverage of the negotiations between the autoworkers and the Big Three, the coverage has been generally skewed to favor the interests and aims of the companies, while disparaging workers as either irresponsible or ignorant.

read more | digg story

Political Affairs #42 - Auto Contracts, Globalization, and the Road Ahead


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Myth of Free Nuclear Energy

The Congress Party and its spokespersons have been on overdrive selling a number of myths about the benefits of the India-US Nuclear Deal. Foremost in that has been that of a mythical nuclear bus, which if we do not hop on right now, will leave us in permanent electricity deficit.

read more | digg story

March for Peace October 27th

From www.oct27.org:

Breaking the Siege on Gaza: A United Front for Peace

The aim of this (Israel-based) humanitarian, non-political campaign is to put pressure on the Israeli government in order to lift the siege imposed on the population of Gaza.

read more | digg story

Big Three Go After Autoworkers in Latest Contracts

Interview with Scott Marshall, CPUSA: The US market is still a hugely important market for the auto companies, and they need to have market share here, even though all three of the Big 3 have huge investments overseas and rake in huge profits overseas.

read more | digg story

Monday, October 22, 2007

Top GOP Prez Contenders Tied to Racist Corporations

This item comes from Huffington Post:

While the four top Republican presidential contenders missed the Sept 27 debate at Morgan State University in Baltimore organized to address minority issues, they were busy raking in cash from dozens of business and professional elites, including a top Wall Street banking firm that was sued that same week for racial discrimination.

All in all, it was a grand and enriching week for the four white males most likely to represent the Republicans in the 2008 presidential race. Among them, they amassed over $9 million while they were too "busy" to attend the debate at Morgan State.


The companies listed in the article included Morgan Stanly and its subsidiary Saxon Capital (what a name) who have been accused of redlining housing in majority minority communities.

Other companies like Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc., Credit Suisse, and Huron Consulting Group (whose founders are tied to the Enron scandal) were among the most egregious of the sub-prime lenders. Another major contributor is the law firm Baker Botts, the law firm of Bush family friend James A. Baker III.

Finance capital and the ultra right – peas in a pod.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Price of Dictators in Pakistan

The press is reporting that the Bush administration is in something of a quandary concerning Pakistan. Even within its own ranks there are, from former officials particularly, serious criticism about the Bush policy of aiding the military dictator, General Musharraf, in order to fight bin Laden and his terrorist group (who, the press of course fails to mention, came into existence in the very Pakistan-Afghanistan border areas where they are now operating in the 1980s with CIA money and support).

Since this is our "free," aka commercial capitalist press, we must read between the lines in order to grasp the facts that these reporters know but really can't say. Musharraf has been in effect running a scam on the Bush administration for years as have many right-wing dictators whom the U.S. government supports. He takes large sums of money from the U.S. to support the "war against terrorism" even though his security services and military are heavily infiltrated with supporters bin Laden and the Taliban. He uses the money for whatever he wants, including continued support for terrorist campaigns in Indian Kashmir. He keeps under "house arrest" Dr. Khan, who with (Indian sources believe) developed the Pakistani atom weapons program (weapons that directly threaten India, and if they fall into the hands of bin Laden's friends possibly many other nations, including the U.S.), limiting U.S. access to Khan, even though Khan has sold nuclear information and technology to a number of nations, which potentially threatens an incalculable number of human lives.

Musharraf is now clearly a liability (a "bad puppet" as a Vietnamese representative once said to Henry Kissinger about the U.S. supported Saigon military dictator during the Vietnam war negotiations) whom the U.S. would like to get rid of, at least put in some power sharing arrangement with Benazir Bhutto (who by the way is no prize package either in both her willingness to serve imperialist aims and to continue anti-Indian policies that contribute to instability in the region). But that is not so easy to do. Bhutto was almost killed this week when she returned to Pakistan. Musharraf's highly touted and, from anyone who knows the situation phony attempts to develop aka purchase a peace process in the Taliban controlled tribal areas has openly collapsed. Pakistan has nuclear weapons, a right-wing military dictator, sinister clerical reactionary forces within its borders, and nuclear weapons that make it potentially one of the most dangerous places on earth.

What can be done, a question that our "free" aka capitalist media doesn't ask. First, a rational, much less progressive U.S. government should conclude that Pakistan is no ally of the U.S. in any sense, but a low level henchmen which supports U.S. imperialist policies in the hope that it can get a piece of the imperialist action.

India is, with all of its problems, a liberal democracy. Pakistan isn't. Pakistan was created after WWII through a partition of India which was itself the work of British imperialism and the conservative Muslim League of India, a partition which has had longterm destructive consequences but which cannot for the foreseeable future be reversed.

What can be done is for the U.S. and the larger world community through the United Nations to encourage the development of economic relations and an eventual larger South Asian economic union that would bring India and Pakistan together along with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh (which was formed out of what had previously been East Pakistan) together, an effective deterrent to military and nuclear arms races and potential disasters. Nuclear disarmament, not only for South Asia but for all of the nuclear powers should be a major point for U.S. policy. This would cut the legs from right-wing Muslims in Pakistan (and right-wing Hindus in India for that matter) who have a vested interest in instigating political hatreds and violence.

Of course, the poverty of Pakistan, whose record of development has been vastly inferior to India by any standard, can be addressed through such an internationally support economic reconciliation which would yield a larger peace dividend, particularly for Pakistan.

Economic development in Pakistan is and will continue to be a cruel joke as long as the world community is largely absent and U.S. "aid" is aid to a corrupt military regime which, in the tradition of military regimes in many places, runs the country as a racket for itself. Regional development with the assistance of United Nations agencies is the key to any workable policy here. Also China, which unfortunately has had its own significant territorial conflicts with India, has an important role to play here as part of the larger international community. Improved political and economic relations between China and India would advance tremendously an overall South Asian peace process.

While these are long-range solutions, they are genuine global solutions to the problems of South Asia and ones which will yield not only a peace dividend for the people of the region but greatly undermine the terrorist groups for whom Pakistan especially remains a major base. The price of peace in Pakistan is a lot cheaper and a far better investment than the price of supporting a military dictator like Musharraf or any likely successor, since the history of Pakistan,with a few notable exceptions, has been a succession of military dictators.

Norman Markowitz

Campaigners raise alarm as ‘Sicko’ corporations target NHS

RELEASE DATE: Monday 22 October, 00:01

Campaigners raise alarm as ‘Sicko’ corporations target NHS

The Keep Our NHS Public campaign is calling for an investigation into the probity of three American corporations given a key role in the NHS under new government reforms.

The corporations, Humana, Aetna and UnitedHealth, are featured heavily in Michael Moore’s new film Sicko, to be launched at the London Film Festival on 24 October, which exposes the practices used by healthcare companies to deny treatments in the US.

Former Health Secretary Frank Dobson is tabling questions in Parliament tomorrow (22 October), which ask Alan Johnson if he “will ensure that no healthcare organisations indicted for fraud against the federal or state governments in the US are given contracts to provide services for the NHS or NHS patients.”

The government this month published a list of 14 companies, including Humana, Aetna and UnitedHealth, that it wants to see take over the role of ‘commissioning’, or buying healthcare for NHS patients. These companies will gain control over which treatments patients receive and who provides them.

But experience from the US suggests they may not be as “trusted” as health minister Ivan Lewis has claimed.

UnitedHealth has repeatedly been fined for defrauding the American healthcare system. For example, in August 2004, UnitedHealthCare Insurance agreed to settle civil Medicare fraud charges with the US Attorney for $9.7 million. The US government claimed the company had inflated its costs under the state Medicare program in order to obtain higher reimbursement and greater performance incentive payments.

The NHS Support Federation - one of the groups behind the Keep Our NHS Public campaign - has written to the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee requesting independent assessments of these companies, to establish whether they are fit to work in the NHS.

Meanwhile, a key scene in Moore’s film shows US doctor Linda Peeno testifying before Congress that she caused the death of a man by denying him care in order to save Humana half-a-million dollars. In a separate landmark case in Florida, Humana were fined $79.6 million in 2000 for wrongly denying care to a 5-year-old girl, Caitlyn Chipps, with cerebral palsy.

Alex Nunns of Keep Our NHS Public said:

“Anyone who goes to see Michael Moore’s film will question health minister Ivan Lewis’ assertion that these corporations are ‘trusted’. It’s astonishing to see our government inviting companies that have been fleecing the Americans to come and fleece the NHS.

“This will see private sector giants at the heart of the health service, with huge power over the care patients receive. If we don’t stand up and stop the gradual privatisation of the health service, then what we see in Sicko is what we are in for here.”

For further information please contact Alex Nunns on 07763 607 528, Keep Our NHS Public on 01273 234 822, or email konp.press@virgin.net


NOTES TO EDITORS:

1. The Department of Health has published the Framework for Procuring External Support for Commissioners (FESC), which confirms that PCTs can outsource their key commissioning roles. The document states: “the areas covered by the commissioning function will be: Assessment & Planning; Contracting & Procurement; Performance Management, Settlement & Review; and Patient & Public Engagement.”

2. One method of payment for the companies contracted will be as a share of the savings they make to the NHS, offset against health improvement targets. As it is impossible to contract for all eventualities in healthcare, there is the potential for perverse incentives and gaming, which could result in a decline in the standard of care for patients. Corporations have proved adept at maximising profits in the US, both within and outside the rules.

3. Parliamentary questions to be tabled by Frank Dobson on Monday 22 October:

Frank Dobson (Holborn & St Pancras): To ask the Secretary of State for Health, if he will ensure that no healthcare organisations indicted for fraud against the federal or state governments in the US are given contracts to provide services for the NHS or NHS patients.(159277)

Frank Dobson (Holborn & St Pancras): To ask the Secretary of State for Health, if he will ensure that no healthcare organisations found by US federal audits to have practised deceptive sales tactics on Medicare or Medicaid recipients will be given contracts to provide services for the NHS or NHS patients.(159278)

Alliance of LGBT Organizations Demands Transgender Inclusive ENDA

Some 300 national and local LGBT civil rights organizations have formed an alliance called United ENDA to oppose a stripped down version of the Employment Non-discrimination Act (ENDA) that excludes protections for transgender individuals from job discrimination.

read more | digg story

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Universal Health Care Now

From Michigan Health Care Network:

Turks and Kurds Protest Iraq Invasion Policy

Protests erupted this past week in Turkey and Iraq over Turkey's decision to authorize an invasion of Iraq in order to fight Kurdish separatists.

read more | digg story

Friday, October 19, 2007

Block Ultra Right Creep's Nomination to the FEC

This past week, Sens. Barack Obama and Russ Feingold blocked the confirmation of Hans von Spakovsky to the Federal Election Commission. Below is an information item by the Color of Change blog about von Spakovsky's role in the Bush administration in suppressing African American voters under the guise of "civil rights":

During his first term, Bush installed von Spakovsky in the Justice Department's (DOJ) voting rights section, which enforces the Voting Rights Act. There, von Spakovsky undermined the DOJ's historic mission of protecting minority voting rights and actually transformed the department into a tool to suppress the vote. Here are just a few examples:

When long-term, career attorneys at the Justice Department unanimously recommended rejecting Tom Delay's infamous Texas redistricting plan because it discriminated against minority voters, von Spakovsky led the charge to overrule these voting rights experts, and approved the plan.3 The Supreme Court later ruled that the plan violated the Voting Rights Act.

Similarly, when career attorneys recommended rejecting a discriminatory Georgia voter ID law -- a law that even the Republican Governor said would disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Georgians -- von Spakovsky overruled them to approve the law.4 Again, the law was later struck down by the courts, with the ruling judge likening it to a Jim Crow-era poll tax.5

This summer, seven of von Spakovsky's former colleagues at the DOJ said that he blocked career attorneys from filing at least three lawsuits against local governments that had violated the voting rights of Black people and other minorities, and that he derailed at least two DOJ investigations into discriminatory election laws.6

Von Spakovsky's career in suppression didn't start at the DOJ. In 1997, he set the stage for Florida's 2000 voter purge when he wrote an article that called for purging felons from voter rolls. Serving on the board of the "Voter Integrity Project" (VIP) he quickly put his ideas into action -- VIP met with the company that designed Florida's purge to disenfranchise thousands of eligible voters, most of whom were Black.7,8 During the recount, von Spakovsky was in Florida as a volunteer for the Bush/Cheney campaign.

A key part of what has allowed von Spakovsky to push his suppression agenda is the myth that "voter fraud" -- individuals voting illegally, or voting twice -- is a real problem. Republican politicians invoke these concerns to justify stronger restrictions on voting and voter registration (like voter ID laws), as well as voter roll purges. But the problem simply doesn't exist. When the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) researched voter fraud, they found that it wasn't a problem.9 But before the EAC went public with its report, von Spakovsky pressured them to change it.10 The final report said that there was "a great deal of debate on the pervasiveness of [voter] fraud."11

Does the Senate support voter suppression?

As shocking as these examples are, they only scratch the surface. Hans von Spakovsky has built a career solidifying Republican control by disenfranchising untold thousands and subverting our most fundamental democratic right.

Bush gave von Spakovsky a recess appointment to the FEC in 2005 (which doesn't require Senate confirmation). Now he has nominated him for a six-year term. It's been clear since von Spakovsky's arrival at the FEC that he is playing the same role he did at the DOJ -- scoffing at the spirit of campaign finance laws, thumbing his nose at the law as he seeks to help create routes of circumvention."12

Republicans want von Spakovsky on the FEC so much that they threatened to block all FEC nominees unless the Democrats let von Spakovsky through.13 But last week, instead of fighting back, the Democratic leadership agreed to give the Republicans what they wanted -- a vote on all four FEC nominees as a package, which would have guaranteed von Spakovsky's appointment. By blocking that vote, Senators Obama and Feingold went against the leadership and thwarted its compromise with Republicans.14 That gave us the fighting chance we need to defeat his nomination.

It's hard to know exactly why Senate Democrats have come so close to letting von Spakovsky through. Some say it's because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is afraid that if he blocks von Spakovsky, Republicans will retaliate by blocking another FEC nominee who's a friend of Reid's.15 Some senators may just not care enough about protecting voting rights to make a real effort. Whatever the reason, it's part of a pattern that has existed for far too long -- Republicans trashing our right to vote and Democrats looking the other way.

A vote for von Spakovsky is a vote for voter suppression. Anything less than the strongest condemnation of his nomination sends the message that the Senate will turn a blind eye to Republican attacks on our voting rights. Let's demand that our senators send the opposite message -- that they will fight tooth and nail to defend the right to vote, and that their rejection of von Spakovsky's nomination is only the beginning of a much needed reckoning for his assault on voting rights over the last six and a half years.

http://www.colorofchange.org/vonspak/?id=2066-232333

Thank You and Peace,

-- James, Van, Gabriel, Clarissa, Mervyn, and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
October 18th, 2007

References:

1. "Obama, Others Nix Deal on Voter Fraud Guru," TPMMuckraker, October 4, 2007
http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004381.php

2. "Obama, Feingold: We Oppose von Spakovsky Nomination," October 4, 2007
http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004389.php

3. "So exactly where were you, Hans von Spakovsky, on the nights in question?," Campaign Legal Center Blog, Feb. 20, 2007
http://www.clcblog.org/blog_item-109.html

4. Ibid

5. "Efforts to stop ‘voter fraud' may have curbed legitimate voting," McClatchy Newspapers, May 20, 2007
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/staff/greg_gordon/story/16347.html

6. "Justice official accused of blocking suits into alleged violations of minorities' voting rights," McClatchy Newspapers, Jun. 18, 2007
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/reports/usattorneys/story/17102.html

7. "Poll position: Is the Justice Department poised to stop voter fraud-or to keep voters from voting?" New Yorker, September 20, 2004
http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2004/09/20/040920fa_fact

8. Video: "American Blackout: Cynthia McKinney Confronts Choicepoint"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPOmOTyDm1w

9. "The EAC's Buried Report on 'Voter Fraud'," Brad Blog, Oct. 13, 2006
http://www.bradblog.com/?p=3611

10. See reference 5

11. "Panel Said to Alter Finding on Voter Fraud," New York Times, April 11, 2007
http://www.ceimn.org/news/panel_said_alter_finding_voter_fraud

12. See reference 3

13. "Senate panel advances controversial FEC appointee," The Hill, September 27, 2007
http://tinyurl.com/2stwz4

14. See references 1 and 2.

15. "Back-Scratching Across the Aisle," New York Times, October 3, 2007
http://tinyurl.com/2xgs3x

Additional sources:

"Hans Across America," Digby's Hullabaloo, April 9, 2007
http://tinyurl.com/368jbt

"Keep Yer Vote Thievin' Hans Off the Federal Election Commission: Action Alert!" DailyKos, May 29, 2007
http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/5/29/11751/0476


Women's Health Advocates Oppose Bush's Choice to Head Family Planning

Women's health advocates and members of Congress joined together this week to denounce Bush's appointment of anti-choice hardliner Susan Orr to oversee federal family planning programs as the deputy assistant secretary for population affairs in the Department of Health and Human services.

read more | digg story

A Short Introduction to the Philosophy of Dialectical Materialism

This brief paper is not meant to be an exposition of Marxism–a lifetime job–but only an invitation to the study of it–an unending, highly rewarding task made possible by proper use of the theoretical tools that Marx, Engels and Lenin have given us.

read more | digg story

Thursday, October 18, 2007

THE DALAI LAMA AND THE CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL: A FARCE?

Thomas Riggins

According to the New York Times (10-18-07) , Ye Xiaowen, the director general of China's State Administration for Religious Affairs called the giving of the Congressional Gold Medal to Tenzin Gyatso (the 14th Dalai Lama) "a farce."

Was it a farce? President Bush was on hand and called the DL, "a man of faith and sincerity and peace." Well we know something of the "faith" of the President, and his "sincerity" as well, and his attitude about "peace". What did the DL think of being praised by a war monger responsible for the cruel and senseless deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, especially when many, if not most, were women and children. Did the DL speak up for peace and denounce this senseless war? Did he rebuke the President in the name of humanity, of the Buddha of Compassion, did he make a plea to end the killing?

What did he think when the Congress gave him a standing ovation and praised him for his "humanitarian achievements." The same Congress that funds Bush and his immoral slaughter of the Iraqi people. The same Congress that is complicit, along with President Bush, of killing, maiming and destroying the Iraqi nation to the same, if not to a far greater degree than his supporters allege the Chinese have done to Tibet. He doesn't even want independence from China, so he must know how far, far more terrible are the actions of his hosts.

So how did this "good man", this "man of peace" react when he was paraded before these criminals and war enablers, these hypocrites and blood stained agents of oppression and conquest? He "beamed and bowed." A farce? You tell me.

Racist, Homphobic Scientist Condemned by Peers

James Watson is a Nobel Prize-winning geneticist. But this past week he let his personal, apparently deeply racist views, destroy his achievements in science.

He told The Sunday Times (London,UK) that he was not optimistic about Africa's prospects because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really."

While this statement may seem to have the force of his scientific experience, he then added a comment he could not have tested in the laboratory: "People who have to deal with Black employees find this [all people being equal] not true."

In other words, he clearly mixed his personal animosities toward people of African descent with a distortion of the scientific record.

Watson's comments earned the ire of many of his colleagues. The people who run the laboratory where Watson works, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, said they "vehemently disagree with these statements and are bewildered and saddened if he indeed made such comments."

Watson's colleagues went further to deny that their facility "does not engage in any research that could even form the basis of the statements attributed to Dr. Watson."

Another British newspaper, the Independent, cataloged a number of comments by Watson implying racist and homophobic sentiments. In one comment, Watson seemed to say that aborting fetuses discovered to have genetic predispositions for homosexuality should be acceptable.

This week, Henry Kelly, president of the Federation of American Scientists, described Watson's comments about race as dishonorable and as reflecting and promoting "personal prejudices that are racist, vicious and unsupported by science."

“While we honor the extraordinary contributions that Dr. Watson has made to science in the past, his comments show that he has lost his way. He has failed us in the worst possible way,” said Kelly in a press release. “It is a sad and revolting way to end a remarkable career.”

In an era when nooses and the lynch-law they represent are aimed at African Americans, a practice that is spreading from Jena, Louisiana to New York City, and which has still gone unremarked upon by George W. Bush, Watson's outrageously vile comments only serve to promote violence and terror.

Take Action to End the War

From Iraq Moratorium:

Wear a black ribbon or armband!

  • Hand out ribbons or armbands to others.
  • Wear an anti-war pin.

Call your Representative and your Senators! Tell their staff what you think. Let them know that you expect them to do everything possible to end the war and bring the troops home! [The Capitol Hill switchboard number is 202-224-3121.]

Replace Your Home Page With A Moratorium Page Every Third Friday.

Write a letter to your local newspaper.

Don't buy gas.

  • Drive 10 MPH under the posted speed limit.

Don't shop at all.

Put a sign on your lawn or in your window or on your car.

Buy toy soldiers, put tags on them that say "Bring Me Home" and leave them in stores, parks, libraries, laundromats, anywhere people will find them.

Email friends and family and urge them to sign the Iraq Moratorium statement and to take one of these steps, too.

The Armenian Genocide, Appeasing Turkey, and the Iraq War

The news from Congress this week is grim. Democrats, who previously endorsed a resolution condemning the Ottoman Empire for the Armenian genocide during World War I, are now withdrawing their support.

read more | digg story

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Int'l Solidarity Pressuring Iraqi Gov't to Back Off Anti-union Stance?

According to the Public Service International federation of public workers' unions:

Pressure from PSI has forced a rethink on trade union rights in Iraq. Abdullah Muhsin of the General Federation of Iraqi Workers told PSI that the deputy prime minister has met the union to discuss the possibility of repealing laws that currently ban public service unions.

“This was due to international pressure from unions, including PSI,” he said. Apparently, the emergency motion adopted by congress has had some impact. The Government has also indicated that it may release union funds, which it has seized.

Hangaw Abdullah Khan of the Kurdish Federation of Workers stated, “We need international support for a new labour law in all Iraq.”

The Federation of Workers’ Councils of Iraq also supports the emergency resolution which calls for the union ban to be lifted. The Federation has called for a co-ordination committee to oppose privatisation and support women’s rights.

PSI says the blanket ban on unions for public sector workers flouts UN conventions and undermines efforts to build democracy. A separate PSI resolution, from the American Federation of Teachers, opposes the war in Iraq and calls on the US government and coalition partners to withdraw from the country.

89 Members of Congress Sign Letter to Bush to End War

Eighty-nine members of Congress have signed a letter to President Bush to express the intention to vote against "appropriating any additional funds for U.S. military operations in Iraq other than a time-bound, safe redeployment."

The total number of signers of the letter has grown from 70 since July.

You can read the full letter and list of signers here.

Then go to House.gov to contact your representative. If they area Democrat and do not appear on the list of signers, tell them you can't support them in the primary election unless and until they agree to the letter's arguments or agree to sign it. If they are a Republican demand they cut their losses and break with the President's failed Iraq policy.

Australians Say Send Howard Packing!

The alternative to the Howard Government is a Kevin Rudd’s Labor Party which has, on issue after issue echoed, in one way or another, Howard’s policies with only minor differences. However, this fact should not deter voters from voting decisively to oust the Howard Government.

read more | digg story

Western Corporations Profit in Burma

The U.S. government has had sanctions against Burma since 1997, but a "grandfathering" loophole allowed Unocal an exemption which it passed on to Chevron.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Bruce Springsteen and Steve Earle CDs

Bruce and Steve; Pattie and Allison "Front and Center"

Both Bruce Springsteen and Steve Earle have released new music. "Magic," [Columbia Records ] the new Springsteen and his E-Street band is heralded to be an old time rock and roll buster; and, it is. Bruce's CD is a combination of love, rough living, and most importantly, a strong anti-war message.

The whole E-Street band is present with Clarence Clemmons, Nils Lofgren, Danny Frederic, Roy Bittan, Max Weinberg; and, of course, Pattie Scailfa. Scailfa's own singing career is taking off, but she returns to join her husband and the full crew.

In Bruce's interviews, he announced that the full crew would be together for a world tour for this CD which will last almost a full year.

"Last to Die" caught the attention of CNN interviewers who asked Springsteen if he worried about being type cast as an anti-war singer. He answered with the message of the song – stop the war now. "Who'll be the last to die for a mistake"....The last to die for a mistake; Darlin' will tyrants and kings fall to the same fate." Strung up at your city gate"... who'll be the last to die for a mistake.

There is no mistaking Springsteen's rage at the Iraq war and those who started it.

The CD folder contains excellent photos.

An interesting bridge between the Springsteen CD and the Steve Earle one is that Bruce has a song to the wasteland of radio called "Radio Nowhere." Steve Earle's song is, "Satellite Radio" telling his listeners that he left public radio for satellite radio.

Steve Earle's music on, "Washington Square Seranade" [New West CD] is an ode to NYC and its residents. His song, "Tennessee Blues" is his farewell to music city, Nashville, Tennessee and hello NYC.

His ode to NYC is marked by his song, "City of Immigrants" in which he extols the greatness NYC through its residents who are all immigrants. In a CBS TV Morning America segment, Earle song this song and made it clear where he stood on that issue. On the inside cover of his beautiful CD folder presentation he ends his personal message to listeners with the "PS Fuck Lou Dobbs." Dobbs is the immigrant, racist basher on CNN every night.

"Down Here Below" pays homage to the famous hawk, Pale Male, of 5th Avenue and the different neighborhoods of NYC. It is a very creative song to a new New Yorker. In putting words in the hawk�s mouth he seems to be speaking for himself, "god, I love this town."

As Patti Scailfa joins her husband, Springsteen, this Earle CD bring together two new love birds, Steve Earle and Allison Moorer. Earle doesn't hide the fact of his years of addiction and that he is now in his 13th year of recovery. His marriage to Moorer is his 6th. He also doesn't hide that fact. Moorer is an accomplished singer with an Academy Award to her credits. Her two songs on the great CD "No Depression" are good introductions to her singing and creativity.

Steve Earle sings almost half of his songs to extol his love and marriage to Moorer. But, less Earle fans worry about his getting "soft" ... your worries are not real.

His "City of Immigrants" will become a classic. His "Oxycotin Blues" is an ode to coal miners struggle for survival. This connects with his previous songs written to honor coal miners on previous CDs.

A couple of songs are directly related to his continuing struggle against his drug experience, the most significant one being his cover of the powerful Tom Waits song, "Way Down in the Hole."

Finally, Steve pays tribute, much as Springsteen did on his previous CD, to Pete Seeger. Steve's song, "Steve's Hammer [For Pete]"... "One of these days I'm gonna lay this hammer down." But, the "I" is meant for Peter. It is a very personal, political and moving tribute.

The centerfold of the Earle CD introduces fans to his full band.

Do Springsteen and Earle compare notes before their CDs? Probably not, but these two musical events warrant everyone's attention.

Eric Green

Poll: 3 in 5 Venezuelans Choose Socialism Over Capitalism

A recent press release from the Venezuelan President's Office reads:

Just 3.4% Venezuelans think capitalism is the best system of government according to the Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez as he referred to a poll conducted by a Venezuelan pollster called Seijas.
During his weekly radio and TV show ¡Aló, Presidente!, President Hugo Chávez stressed that the poll called Barometro de Gestión y Coyuntura Política (Barometer of Management and Political Situation), conducted between September 20 and September 30, shows interesting results.
In this regard, he highlighted that just 3.4% Venezuelans think capitalism is the best system of government, and 22.6% would choose capitalism over socialism, while 62.7% would choose socialism.
The Venezuelan president said that these figures are historical since Venezuela’s progressive movements never achieved more than 10%.
Regarding the Constitutional Reform, President Chávez said that this poll shows that 50.6% interviewees think it was necessary, while 47.3% think it will bring benefits to the country.
President Chávez also talked about the deep debate about the Constitutional Reform. He said it has been much more active than the debate about the referendum to approve the 1999 Bolivarian Constitution. Likewise, he insisted that it was necessary to reduce the historical abstention levels.
Presidential Press Office / October 8, 2007

Video: Footage of Striking Nurses at California's Sutter Hospitals