In the Belly of the Beast
Sara Burke & Claudio Puty This 4-part feature explores the roots and emergence of the global justice movement in the United States.
A Brazilian Perspective
Emir SaderBrazilian socialist militant and sociologist on the World Social Forum, neoliberalism, imperialism, NGOs and the Lula government. [read also in Portuguese]
Social Amnesia in the Movement
Giovanni Mazzettiis one of the most influential thinkers of the Italian Left: we discuss his views on the polemics taking place in Italy between Marxists and anarchists. We also publish [for the first time in English]:Mazzetti's Where do the Antiglobal Movements Come From?
The Global Justice Movement: A New Left
Barbara Epsteinstudies social movements and their history. In late August 2003, she spoke with Gloves Off about the potential for meaningful convergence between the global justice movement, the antiwar movement, and traditional labor organizations in the US.
The Gospel of Free Trade
Economist and Indian civil-rights activist Ramaa Vasudevan debunks the comparative advantage economic model at the heart of neoliberalism.
3|19|2011 Left Forum Panel
From Bank Bailout to Fiscal Austerity:Organizing to Fight the Budget Cuts
A Union for Radical Political Economics-Sponsored Discussion
March 19, 2011, 5:00pm-6:50pm
Pace University, Next to City Hall, NYC
H. Panel Session 4; W605
Massive coordinated interventions by the capitalist state returned the banks to profitability. For everyone else, the end of the financial crisis in 2009 marked the settling in of second and third order crisis effects in the form of falling incomes and employment, greater poverty and inequality, foreclosures, homelessness and—in the advanced but not the emerging-market economies—rising budget deficits. The same countries that pushed through the “bank bailout” now intend to resolve these deficits through “austerity” cuts in spending on health, education, retirement benefits and other social spending.
As a consequence, a wide swath of agents, who were not responsible for the banking crisis, but who nonetheless suffered from its effects, are being forced to adapt to an order in which they continue to suffer while narrow, private financial interests see their profits and bonuses on the rise again. Citizens in the most economically advanced countries are paying twice for this crisis—first toward the direct costs of the bailout and economic slowdown, then with the pain of fiscal austerity. Citizens in the rest of the world stand to suffer twice as well—first from a world economic slump that originated in G7 countries’ financial markets and then from the contractionary effects of those same countries’ austerity policies. The banking crisis has become a fiscal crisis.
Panelists will discuss the return to budget cutting and attacks on social spending in the United States and Europe, the likely size of the budget cuts and their effects on workers, the need for radical, direct action-based resistance and the challenges to promoting solidarity between immigrant and non-immigrant workers. Discussion chaired by Sara Burke, NYC activist and policy analyst.
David Kotz, Professor of Economics at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and
Shanghai University of Finance and Economics
Stephen Lerner, Architect-Justice for Janitors Campaign, 30+ years of experience organizing janitors, farm/garment and other low-wage workers. Currently partnering with unions and groups in Europe, South America and elsewhere to build a campaign to hold financial institutions accountable in the global economy.
Colia Lafayette Clark,2010 NY Green Party candidate for US Senate, recent Freedom Flame Award recipient and inductee into the National Voter Rights Hall of Fame, is a civil rights/human rights and peace advocate now working on issues related to education, community unions, Haitian recovery and Africans in the Diaspora.
Christopher Rude, Independent political economist, formerly with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Chris has a background in both neoclassical economics and Marxist political theory. His research concentrates on financial markets and institutions.
6|23 and 27|2009 at Brecht Forum
Bringing Discussions from the 2009 UN Geneneral Assembly Conference on the Financial and Economic Crisis to the Left in NYC
Towards a People-Centered Economy: Alternative Responses to the Economic Crisis
June 23, 2009 | Brecht Forum
Gloves Off/Social Watch Warm up event to 2009 UN General Assembly conference on the financial and economic crisis.
Panelists: Pedro Paez, Minister of Economic Coordination, Ecuador/Member, UN Commission of Experts on the crisis; Sarah Anderson, Institute for Policy Studies, Arjun Karki, LDC Watch (Nepal), Steve Suppan, Our World is Not for Sale Network, Diana Aguiar, International Gender and Trade Network, Larry Holmes, Bail Out the People Movement (NYC), Jana Silverman, Social Watch, moderated.
Round-Table Wrap up on Origins of 2009 UN General Assembly Conference
June 27, 2009 | Brecht Forum WSF Founding Activist and member of the UN Commission of Experts on the crisis, François Houtart, led this discussion of why General Assembly President d'Ecoto's "political eruption" into the usual business of the General Assembly should be understood in context with the history of recent Latin American liberation struggles, Panelists: François Houtart, Marxist priest, Founding member of the World Social Forum, Member of the UN/Stiglitz Experts Commission on the Global Economic Crisis, David Wilson, Nicaragua Support Network, Michele Kervyn, Economic historian of El Salvador, Chris Rude and Sara Burke, Gloves Off.
REPORT FROM RIO
Despite many hopes of progressives in Brazil and around the globe that the Lula government would represent a move away from neoliberalism, reality has been disappointing. So far Lula has taken the wrong stance (from a progressive viewpoint) on almost every labor issue and has solidly maintained the neoliberal approach of his predecessor, Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Most recently the government is opposing the current bank workers' strike or at least not doing anything that would suggest being pro-labor or in line with a Worker's party. A major problem is the extent to which the strong union confederations are completely linked to the Lula administration and thus a formerly militant union confederation CUT now has the softest criticisms, if any, and lacks the independence for actions in support of labor. As so often, the left must look to social movements or some efforts for independence of unions. But Lula [and his administration]through his charisma and the upbeat mood regarding the economyis able to fool the working and the poor, non-working Brazilians. Although there has been an increase in recent months of industrial jobs, thousands, if not millions are still in need of jobs or more work (as many are underemployed) and real wages are still declining. A luta sigue! (the struggle continues)
Paul Cooney | 10.01.2004
MILLION WORKER MARCH
The Longshoreman's union in the Bay Area (ILWU Local 10), long one of the most militant unions in the US, passed a resolution in late March to call for a nationwide "million worker march." Now planned to converge on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC on October 17, 2004, the mission of the march is working class independence from the Republican and Democratic parties. Endorsers include the entire west coast ILWU Longshore Division, AFSCME District Council 37 (New York) representing 125,000 members, American Postal Workers Union representing 330,000 members, National Education Association (2.5 million members, endorsed by the 12,000 delegates at 2004 national convention) and many others.The organizers' open letter to the anti-war movement urges: "Let us put aside our small differences, our organizational concerns, our divergences around matters of minor moment. Remember our common aspirations and forget the rest. If we can do this, we have the opportunity to build a movement unprecedented in the history of our people. If we cannot, nothing lies before us but never ending war and universal suffering both at home and abroad."
Sara Burke | 9.28.2004
This year's Forbes 100 List shows Bill Gates (worth $48 billion) at the top of list for the 11th year running. Also, there are 313 billionaires on the list, compared to 262 last year, and the total net worth of the richest 400 US capitalists exceeded $1 trillion for the first time since the height of the dot.com boom.
According to the Responsible Wealth organization's "I Didn't Do It Alone: Society's Contribution to Individual Wealth and Success," report, "It takes a village to raise a billionaire... everyone on the Forbes 400 owes their wealth partly to a taxpayer-financed inheritance of public research and contracts; public schools and universities; communications, transportation and other critical infrastructure, and myriad government institutions from the Federal Reserve and the courts to
the Treasury, Defense and Commerce Departments."
The growing US inequality suggested by Forbes' list looks even more sinister in light of the most recent report by the International Labor Organization's World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization, which extends this trend into a global context: "Seen through the eyes of the vast majority of men and women around the world, globalization has not met their simple aspiration for decent jobs, livelihoods and a better future for their children. In 2003, official figures for global unemployment reached a record high of over 185 million people. Unofficial figures would be much higher, especially if one includes the underemployed and the working poor."
Sara Burke | 9.28.2004
According to recent polls in the NYTimes and LATimes 53% of US voters now say the situation in Iraq did not merit war. 43% said war was justified. When the same question was asked in March and November, the numbers were reversed. And 44% approved of Bush's handling of the war, compared to 51% in March.
And despite George Bush's falling numbers, a majority said John Kerry has done little to help. 34% said Kerry has not offered a clear plan to handle the war; 15% said he has. The remainder (49%!) didn't know. Maybe that last set of numbers is a case of 100% of the people being more or less right. How could this be? Let's look at the ideological poison that goes under the mantra of Anybody But Bush [ABB].
On the one hand the perceptive 15% who said Kerry has a clear plan, were right. Kerry says retreat in Iraq is not an option. The plan is for as much war as it takes to win. On the other hand, the 84% who either think Kerry has not been clear about his plans or think he doesn't have one can be forgiven. After all, since voters already know George Bush has a bad plan (to wage as much war as it takes to win) confusion sets in when they are asked about John Kerry. Logically Kerry must say something different, right? Why else would he bother running?
In the world of ABB the objective is to create a critical mass of voters who don't like Bush but can't figure out what Kerry stands for. All that voters need to know is this: Kerry doesn't look like Bush, and they have different last names. Perhaps most disturbing of all, after a tentative foray into independent politics last election this is the kind of political obscurantism being peddled by much of the Left [for example, Left Business Observer's Doug Henwood, Noam Chomsky, Greens for Kerry, the US Communist Party, and others.
Joe Smith | 6.12.2004
PROFITEERING FROM FAIR TRADE
Two articles in the Wall Street Journal What Price Virtue? and How Fair is Fair Trade?show that retailers are marking up the price of Fair Trade goods in order to take advantage consumers desire to help small producers in the Global South.
In some instances inquiries into pricing practices resulted in a lowering of sales price. For example Café Borders (in Borders Bookstores) was selling 10-ounce bags of Fair Trade coffee for $9.99 and regular coffee for $8.99, a difference of $4 a pound. After speaking with the WSJ, Border’s announced that it would reduce its Fair Trade coffee to $7.99 per 10 ounce bag.
The change in retail price does not effect the per pound fair share received by small producers. That share is determined by the price that Cafe Borders purchases coffee at, not the retail price. Such manipulations of pricing are also aided by the fact that there is no single standard for assessing Fair Trade standards.
Joe Smith | 6.8.2004
RNC IN NYC
You can take your Peaceful Protester Discount [see our version right] and shove it, Mayor Bloomberg. Since we don't advocate violence, we won't tell you to "set fire to it." [That's the other part of the line from Arthur Penn's classic movie Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.] Activists opposed to war and your crass Savings Card might want to use our version instead.
Sara Burke and Joe Smith | 8.20.2004
WORLD TRIBUNAL ON IRAQ
Revelations of systematic US torture of Iraqi prisoners makes the deliberations of an autonomous, world-people's court passionately relevant.
The WTI describes itself as "a project of the global anti war movement with sessions and events held in London, Mumbai, Copenhagen, Brussels, Hiroshima, Paris, Monterrey, Munich, Seul, Barcelona, Istanbul, Rome, Berlin, San Jose, Stockholm, Lisbon, New York..."
World Tribunal on Iraq homepage
New York leg
Article from Boston Globe: "Iraq: Calling Conflict Illegal, Forum Takes US to Task"
Sara Burke | 5.8.2004 | 12:59pm
MAY DAY LINKS
The Green (Maypole)
The Red (Haymarket)
The American Roots of May day
Joe Smith | 5.1.2004 | 10:09am
PHOTOS OF TORTURE BY UK TROOPS IN IRAQ EMERGE
In Iraq the UK has prided itself on the fact that it supposedly does not engage in the brutalities of the Americans. It now appears that the main coalition partners are not so different in their techniques. The second part of the article contains a chilling eyewitness account of the torture.
The witness implies that this sort of behavior is quite routine. "You normally try to leave off the face until you are in camp," he told the Mirror. "If you pull up with black eyes and bleeding faces, you could be in a bit of shit. So [until then] it is body shots, just scaring him." [The Guardian]
Joe Smith | 5.1.2004 | 9:02am
CORPORATE SPIN ON TORTURE OF IRAQI PRISONERS BY US SOLDIERS
Photographs of Iraqi prisoners being tortured by US soldiers (including smiling male & female soldiers posing for pictures next to prisoners being sexually humiliated) were broadcast yesterday by CBS. The pictures were apparently taken last fall in Abu Graib prison. If you have not had the chance to see them Rahul Mahajan has placed the photographs on his weblog.
It has caused acute embarassment for Tony Blair who just last week was taking a high public profile in support of the assault on Falluja. The British government is doing a very careful dance between condemnation and reaffirmation of its support. The Guardian is the only newspaper I came across that asks whether the abuses are accidental or not. It quotes Amnesty International which says that such incidents occur with alarming frequency suggesting that the abuses are systematic and not isolated. The group notes that reports of other incidents ibvolving torture of prisoners have gone univestigated by the coalition.
So what about coverage in the American press? This issue proved to be so involved, we made a special page just for the related links. Click here to read more.
Joe Smith | 4.30.2004 | 11:17am
CORPORATE CENSORSHIP: NAMES OF WAR DEAD
The Sinclair Broadcast Group, a media company that serves 24% of US homes, refused to air Nightline's Ted Koppel as he read the nameswithout picturesof the US war dead in Iraq. Claiming that the show would be a political statement "disguised as news content," this right-wing corporation knows that when the public won't swallow their ideology, it's time for censorship.
"The Death of Local News" on Alternet tracks the rise of Sinclair through "a combination of acquisitions, clever manipulations of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules, and considerable lobbying campaigns."
The Columbia Journalism Review's "Who Owns What?" tool lists the broadcast affiliates owned by Sinclair, whose vision for the future of local news is one of a giant, centralized newsroom.
Sara Burke | 4.30.2004 | 7:58am
BRITISH PETROLEUM FLEES IRAQ
"BP's chief executive delivered a serious setback to hopes of rebuilding Iraq when he said that the oil company has no future there. John Browne, one of Tony Blair's favourite industrialists, indicated he had given up on Iraq because the political and security situation in the country had deteriorated so much. Yet only 18 months ago he was extremely enthusiastic about prospects, lobbying in Washington and London to ensure American rivals did not cut him out of the action." [from the Guardian]
Joe Smith | 4.28.2004 | 11:49pm
ZINN: WHAT DO WE DO NOW?
I have always been a huge fan of Howard Zinn. When I was young and looking for answers to why the society I lived in was so friggin screwed up Zinn's A People's History of the United States gave me hope. Zinn taught me that, bad as it may seem, things would have been a whole lot worse if not for generations of people coming together to struggle for a better world. The only book that I can think of that was more influential for me back then was Chomsky's Washington Connection & Third World Fascism. (damn but I'm indebted to those anarchists!)
But I have to say that Zinn's article "What do we do now?" leaves me a bit perplexed. With the US on the verge of unleashing a huge wave of death and destruction on the Iraqi peoplemy own informal count based upon this morning's news articles suggested about 100 Iraqis had been killed by the US in the cities of Baghdad, Kufa, Falluja and Najaf in the last 24 hours, and when came back online this evening I saw that the US had spent the day dropping bombs on FallujaZinn acts gobsmacked at the discovery that John Kerry is just as much of a homicidal maniac as George Bush when it comes to Iraq.
It's my own turn to wipe the gob of spit away when I read Zinn's words that "John Kerry, sadly (for those of us who hoped for a decisive break from the Bush agenda), echoes that fanaticism [of adding more troops in order to win]" Maybe its a rhetorical strategy, breaking it gently to the minions whose brains have been pickled by months of parsing what appeared to be minute differences between Kerry and George Bush. Whatever the case, Howard Zinn has found his anger and his voice. Welcome back to the independent left, Howard!
Joe Smith | 4.27.2004 | 10:00am
NEW BLOG: CRITICAL MONTAGES
An interesting blog put out by the tireless Yoshie Furuhashi. Whether you agree of disagree with her analysis, Yoshie puts out very high quality radical commentary on a large range of issues with a stunning number of citations. I have no idea how she puts together her pieces so quickly but I am genuinely awed by her production (& productivity). Her most recent commentary "Talk Left, Walk Right" is about regimes that take a progressive line while implementing neoliberal policies. Yoshie looks at the case of the South Africa under the ANC and Japan under the LDP.
Joe Smith | 4.27.2004 | 10:00am
BOLIVIANS CALL FOR OUSTER OF NEW PRESIDENT
"About 20,000 demonstrators swamped downtown La Paz on Thursday to demand the resignation of Carlos Mesa just six months after nationwide protests toppled the previous president. In addition, bus, truck and taxi drivers and street vendors held a strike across the nation, urging Mr. Mesa's ouster and protesting a gas export deal with Argentina. The main protest was peaceful and was headed by the head of the Bolivian Labor Confederation, Jaime Solares, and the head of the driver's association, Angel Villacorta. Mr. Mesa took office after bloody riots in October that left 80 dead and forced the president, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, to resign. He fled to the United States."
How to handle the country's gas reserves - the largest in Latin America - was a major issue in his downfall, in part because he planned to export gas through Chile, with which Bolivia has a bitter century-long border dispute. Mr. Mesa recently announced a July 18 referendum on gas export plans. But late on Wednesday, he signed a deal in Buenos Aires with the Argentine president, Néstor Kirchner, to export up to four million cubic yards of gas to Argentina for six months. Protesters said the price was below market value. The United States Embassy issued a statement reiterating 'its decided support to the constitutional and democratic process' and the Mesa administration 'to the end of its tenure in August 2007.'" [Agence France-Presse]
Joe Smith | 4.27.2004 | 9:13am
WTO RULES IN FAVOR OF BRAZIL ON US COTTON SUBSIDIES
With job losses due to globalization already a political issue (so-called outsourcing of white collar jobs) the WTO ruling cames at an awkward time for the Bush administration. Without the subsidies US production of cotton will almost certainly plummet drastically. The question remains, after initial gains, will the plight of farmers in the periphery be changed all that dramatically? One suspects there will be an explosion of new cotton production that will eventually drive prices back down. Nevertheless, the Bush administration chalks up another loss at the world trade body. [Washington Post]
Sara Burke | 4.23.2004 | 7:07pm
RISING CORPORATE MILITARY MONSTER IN IRAQ
It seems to me that the growth in corporate security forces capable of engaging in open combat and full scale military operations is the flip side of a domestic trend toward private police forces guarding walled communities. It suggests that the nation-state is losing its grip on the monopolization of power. How long before increasingly privitized arrangements provoke a violent clash between the state and corporate power, where the guns of mercenaries are turned on forces representing the state? What sort of scenario might provoke such a clash? A case, for instance, of one or the other of the two parties seeing their territorial rights (real or institutional) infringed, and responding with violence? [Common Dreams]
Joe Smith | 4.24.2004 | 12:04pm
US SOLIDARITY ACTIVISTS ARRIVE IN NAJAF
Coincidentally, just this month Blackwater Security engaged in full-scale battle in Najaf. The company used its helicopters to resupply employes engaged in battle on the ground. How will these corporate mercenaries react if they are confronted with American peace activists putting themselves between the occupation and the resistance?
Incidentally the background of the 4 activists represent an interesting micro-profile of some of the feeder movements to the current movement in the US: Latin American solidarity, Zapatista organizing, Catholic Worker, Military Families Support Network are included. (see last paragraph). [Common Dreams]
Joe Smith | 4.24.2004 | 9:57am
10,000 COPS TO GUARD GARDEN FOR GOP GALA
"Nearly 10,000 of New York's Finest will be working to keep this summer's Republican convention safethe largest force ever assigned to a national political gathering, NYPD sources told The Post... City cops will also assist the Secret Servicethe lead agency in charge of security - in dealing with huge numbers of protesters and protecting President Bush when he arrives at Madison Square Garden to accept the Republican nomination. [NY Post]
Joe Smith | 4.24.2004 | 12:04pm
REVOLTS IN IRAQ DEEPAN CRISIS IN OCCUPATION
Two decades of neoliberalism have left Latin American nations swamped in a tide of rising inequality, rising poverty and slow growth. To the dismay of many neoliberal globalization has meant increasing dependency on the global North. Perhaps the next question that should be asked is the one raised 40 years ago by Latin American dependistas. Does neoliberalism simply perpetuate the existence of a lumpenbourgeoisie incapable of guiding the nation towards equitable development? Does neoliberalism foreclose political options so radically that revolution will once again be seen as the only possible way forward? Not yet, perhaps. But by downsizing democracy neoliberalism risks undercuting the legitimacy of democratic rule in the eyes of the many. [AP story in the Guardian]
Joe Smith | 4.21.2004 | 10:36pm
PICTURES OF US MILITARY DEAD ON THE MEMORY HOLE
Following a Freedom of Information Act request from The Memory Hole, the Air Force released 361 photos showing soldiers' remains arriving home. These are the images of US military dead that the Pentagon prevented the public from seeing. Compare these images to those of the burned, maimed, and "carbonized" bodies of dead Iraqi soldiers in Peter Turnley's profound, disturbing, and important photo essay from the 1991 Gulf War: "The Unseen Gulf War."
Sara Burke | 4.20.2004 | 5:45pm
VENEZUELA'S BIGGEST OPPOSITION PARTY SPLITS FROM ANTI-CHAVEZ COALITION
"The shocking announcement" by Accion Democratica to leave the anti-Chavez coalition Coordinadora Democratica "was largely ignored by the commercial media which opposes President Chavez. Even Globovision, an all news channel with a clear anti-government line, has given very little coverage to the announcement. Globovision's president holds strong political ties to AD... The [AD] leader said his party 'won't remain silent' if other opposition
parties attempt to execute a new coup d'etat like that of April of 2002." [from Venezuela Analysis]
Joe Smith | 4.19.2004 | 9:16am
REVOLTS IN IRAQ DEEPAN CRISIS IN OCCUPATION
A highly pessimistic assessment of how dramatically the landscape has changed in the wake of events this month. From the grinding to a halt of reconstruction efforts to child guerillas dropping explosives from highway overpasses [last lines of article] the US is suddenly realizing it faces a world of pain as it struggles to maintain its grip on the occupation. [from the Washington Post]
Joe Smith | 4.18.2004 | 10:43am
BAGHDAD BRACES FOR MUJAHIDEEN ONSLAUGHT
93 US troops have been killed so far in April, the largest monthly toll since the start of the war. Today's papers report 5 more Marines killed in an ambush by Iraqi Mujahideen forces near the Syrian border. An estimated 300 Mujahideen fighters took part in the attack. US Marines responded in their usual fasion, shooting pretty much everything in sight. One local doctor reported civilians being picked off by Marine snipers as they left their homes to use outdoor toilets behind their houses. 10 Iraqi were killed and 30 wounded.
In related news leaflets have been distributed in Baghdad calling on residents to stay off the streets. The leaflets say 'The Combined Mujahideen Brigades' are coming to Baghdad. The US is taking the threat seriously. Are we on the verge of the battle for Baghdad?
Joe Smith | 4.18.2004 | 10:00am
NAFTA TRIBUNALS STIR US WORRIES
One of the remarkable things about the NY Times is how it periodically "discovers" stories. In this case the Times has discovered 10 years after the fact that NAFTA trade tribunals set up under Chapter 11 of the agreement can circumvent the US judicial system. There is precious little in this article that wasn't already covered by Bill Moyers a year or two back in a segment of his Now series called "Trading Democracy."
In a more perfect world this article would have been titled: "Clinton's Free Trade Legacy: NAFTA Tribunal Stirs U.S. Worries." Kerry's self-serving explanation "When we debated NAFTA, not a single word was uttered in discussing Chapter 11. Why? Because we didn't know how this provision would play out. No one really knew just how high the stakes would get." Sounds like an articulate version of Bush's Tim Russert interview wherein the president tried to explain what might euphemistically be called his "thought process" leading up to the war. Plus ca change... [NYTimes article]
Joe Smith | 4.17.2004 | 3:04pm
KERRY'S KOAN: WHO AM I?
Well, one thing's for sure, since he isn't a "redistribution Democrat," he must be a redistribution Republican! In this way John Kerry defines the domestic economic component of his losing strategy. [NYTimes article]
Joe Smith | 4.17.2004 | 9:13am
ADVISING JOHN KERRY ON NATIONAL SECURITY: RAND BEERS
Rand Beers was Clinton's point man on Colombia. Some may remember Beers for his statement: "It is believed that FARC terrorists have received training at Al Qaida terrorist camps in Afghanistan." He was later forced to retract this assertion under oath. Rand Beers retracts a number of false statements including the one made above. Also see The Toxic Career of Rand Beers. And get general bio info from the disinfopedia entry on Beers.
Joe Smith | 4.11.2004 | 10:08pm
THIRD-WORLD RESISTANCE & WESTERN INTELLECTUAL SOLIDARITY
James Petras offers a strong statement of solidarity with those fighting in the anti-colonial war raging across Iraq. He chastens Western intellectuals for sitting on their hands while pathetically issuing statements endorsing John Kerry who has promised more to bring more troops, more weapons of death and more bloodshed to the people of Iraq. The reticience of the intellectuals is only the latest part of a longer history of ambivalence about the question of anti-colonial struggle. He sees in the national liberation struggle underway in Iraq a signal that goes out to movements all over the Third World that true mass uprisings cannot be conquered by imperial armies. Fiery stuff from the sociology department in Binghamton.
Joe Smith | 4.10.2004 | 10:01pm
CHINA SEES SOCIAL COSTS OF "MARKET REFORM"
Market reforms breed social dislocation and a have produced rapidly growing presence of people begging on the streets of China's cities. In the wake of this new urban poverty have come a raft of laws criminalizing vagracy. In the meantime "intellectuals pushing for greater individual rights argue that modern China should have a society where people have the right to beg." [NYTimes article]
Joe Smith | 4.7.2004 | 2:37pm
MONBIOT: "JUMP ON OUR BANDWAGON"
"The left must see that only environmentalism has the power to restrain global corporations... The limiting factor for corporations, in other words, is no longer labour, but the ecosystem and the regulations which protect it. This is why battles over the environment are among the few that the world's dissident movements are winning." [from the Guardian]
Joe Smith | 4.6.2004 | 11:36am
KERRY SUPPORTS BUSH ON MERCENARIES IN IRAQ
A mighty wind. Kerry, Pelosi and McCain rally in support of Bush in the wake of Wednesday's attacks declaring that the US will not be run out of town by terrorists. Kerry also refers to the deaths of the 4 corporate mercenaries in Falluja as "civilians." [NYTimes article] Also see blog entry for 4.2.2004 below.
Joe Smith | 4.3.2004 | 9:11am
MERCENARIES IN IRAQ
To what degree does the increasing use of mercenaries reflect a crisis of the nation-state? It has its parallels on the domestic side in the growth in exclusive gated communities where private firms are hired to provide security. It reflects a decline in the notion of the public sphere and less accountability for the state. The NY Times puts the number of corporate mercenaries (referred to as employees of private security firms) in Iraq at 15,000. It also mentions interactions between the press and mercenaries charged with the security of paul Bremer at a meeting on Mosul:
"In Iraq, Blackwater personnel guard L. Paul Bremer III, the head of the civilian administration, among their other jobs. Around Baghdad, the Blackwater guards, most in their 30's and 40's, are easily identified, with their heavily muscled upper bodies, closely cropped hair or shaven heads and wrap-around sunglasses. Some even wear Blackwater T-shirts. Like Special Operations Forces, they use walkie-talkie earpieces with curled wires disappearing beneath their collars and carry light-weight automatic weapons. "In the northern city of Mosul, where Mr. Bremer met with about 130 carefully vetted Iraqis on Thursday, Blackwater guards maintained a heavy presence, standing along the walls facing the Iraqi guests with their rifles cradled. More than once, Iraqis and Western reporters moving forward to take their seats in the hall were abruptly challenged by the guards, with warnings that they would be ejected if they resisted." [NYTimes article]
Joe Smith | 4.2.2004 | 1:09pm
EARTH TO FRIEDMAN, EARTH TO FRIEDMAN
Just four short days ago the smug but none too bright Thomas Friedman was claiming that he never bothered to watch "one second" of the 9/11 hearings because "I made up my mind about that event a long time ago." "It was not a failure of intelligence," Friedman speculated wishfully, "it was a failure of imagination." By this he meant that the US lacked "people with evil enough imaginations to put those pieces [of existing intelligence] together" and conclude that planes flown into buildings would be the weapons and targets of choice. Now Sibel Edmonds, a former translator for the FBI with top-secret security clearance, has provided evidence to the panel investigating 9/11 which proves senior officials knew of al-Qaeda's plans to attack the US with aircraft months before the strikes happened. Somebody at the NY Times needs to tell Friedman to get off his ass and do some real reporting.
Joe Smith | 4.1.2004 | 11:34am
US URGED TO TURN ATTENTION TO OIL-RICH AFRICAN STATES TO DEFUSE UNREST
Political instability in the oil-producing states of west and central Africa presents a threat to US energy interests, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think-tank run by former deputy secretary of defense John J. Hamre and former US Senate hawk Sam Nunn. [Financial Times article]
Joe Smith | 4.1.2004 | 8:43am
BRAZIL UNVEILS INVESTMENT PLAN TO DEFUSE UNREST
A raft of pro-business policies is accompanied by raises for civil servants. [Financial Times article]
Joe Smith | 4.1.2004 | 8:43am
NADER ON THE "LIBERAL VIRUS"
One of the interesting things about this year's campaign is the convergence in opinion between the DLC wing of the Democratic Party and the independent left. Thus, whereas in 2000 we might have huffed about how the corporate
media pigeon-holed Nader as a spoiler and megalomaniac, this year what Nader calls the "liberal virus" (the first sound bite from the Nader campaign of 2004!) has reproduced that message everywhere. With everyone marching in lockstep this is clearly not the year for independent or third party politics. Or so we are told. The truth is the liberal virus has primarily infected left intelligentsia, those who are ostensibly in a position to help shape (left) public opinion.
In the real world Nader continues to poll 5% or more nationally.
Rather than towing Democratic Party line the left needs to be asking what seems to me to be a far more disturbing problem. Back in 2000 a visible chunk of the left backed Nader with well known results. Most notably he failed to reach the goal of attracting 5% of the national vote. This time around Nader is running without any visible support from the left. And yet Nader's numbers are as strong, if not stronger, than last last time around. This is what I call the collapse of the left. It is not only a collapse of nerve, it is a collapse of influence as well. In retrospect it appears that left intelligentsia were probably as ineffectual in getting more votes for Ralph Nader in 2000 as they are in corralling voters behind John Kerry in 2004. That is why the left needs Ralph more than he needs us. It is also why the left is so foolish to pass up the opportunity to exploit his high public profile as we build alternative political institutions. [NYTimes article]
Joe Smith | 3.31.2004 | 9:11am
ON OUTSOURCING, I'M WITH STUPID
"Economists, who as a group are big supporters of free trade, said the administration appeared to be bungling the politics of trade in a period when many jobs have been lost and there are now worries that high-paid white-collar workers could be vulnerable to having their jobs sent abroad as well." I say we make a t-shirt to pass out at the next economics conference. We could make three variations, one with the mug of John Snow, one with N. Gregory Mankiw, & one with GWB. Each would be emblazoned with the logo "On outsourcing, I'm with stupid." Let's see if they're willing to wear their political economy on their sleeve, as it were. [The Guardian]
Joe Smith | 3.30.2004 | 10:49pm
LONGSHOREMEN CALL FOR "MILLION WORKER MARCH"
Ali Tonak reports in Counterpunch: "The ILWU Local 10 is aware of the discrepancy between the union leadership and the need for fundamental change and is planning a march on Washington for some time in mid October. You can read their proposal at http://www.indybay.org/. They are calling it the Million Worker March. 'Attacks upon working families have been carried out with the complicity of congress, both Democrats and Republicans are responsible', declared Clarence Thomas [of the ILWU] at yesterday's rally as he explained the need for a million worker march. I have also heard from other union organizers involved that this march is planned in a radical light and the AFL-CIO is either going to have to endorse it and take a meaningful stance for a change or continue in its spineless direction and further alienate the majority of rank and file members from the Washington D.C. leadership. Hopefully the Million Worker march will not be co-opted by the AFL-CIO into a rallying cry for the Democratic Party and the rift between workers and union leadership will widen. From my vantage point it seems clear that only when the workers are able to shake union bureaucracy off their backs will longshoremen and not their owners make the decision to shut down the ports."
Sara Burke | 3.29.2004 | 11:34pm
FRIEDMAN'S ONGOING FAILURE OF INTELLIGENCE
"I have a confession to make: I am the foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times and I didn’t listen to one second of the 9/11 hearings and I didn’t read one story in the paper about them. Not one second. Not one story. Lord knows, it’s not out of indifference to 9/11. It’s because I made up my mind about that event a long time ago: It was not a failure of intelligence, it was a failure of imagination." [from Thomas Friedman's March 20, 2004 column in the NYTimes]
Joe Smith | 3.28.2004 | 11:16pm
FREE TRADE & US ELECTIONS
In an election year, the growing anti-free trade sentiment in swing states like Maine is of great concern to the major parties. Since the two parties agree on the sanctity of free trade a vigorous public debate is permitted. All that is at stake is who occupies the White House and not whether trade policies will be altered. [Boston Globe]
Joe Smith | 3.28.2004 | 11:05pm
US-CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION SEARCH ENGINE
Here's a search engine that allows you to look up which campaign your immediate neighbors are writing checks to. [Fundrace.org]
Joe Smith | 3.28.2004 | 10:15pm
AFL-CIO IN VENEZUELA
"Massive mobilizations, strikes, street conflict, hysterical mass media, social and economic disruption: Chile in 1972-73 Venezuela in 2002-04. The AFL-CIO is once again on the scene, this time in Venezuela, just as it was in Chile in 1973. Once again, its operations in that country are being funded by the U.S. government. This time, the money is being laundered through the quasi-governmental National Endowment for Democracy, hidden from AFL-CIO members and the American public. Once again, it is being used to support the efforts of reactionary labor and business leaders, helping to destabilize a democratically-elected government that has made major efforts to alleviate poverty, carried out significant land reform in both urban and rural areas, and striven to change political institutions that have long worked to marginalize those at the lowest rungs in society." [article in LaborNotes]
Sara Burke | 3.27.2004 | 12:09pm
US NATIONWIDE CALL TO ACTION
"We are calling for a national campaign to take advantage of this election year to emphasize the power of direct action and to present direct democracy as a viable alternative to representation. This campaign will include literature distribution, postering and stickering, demonstrations, educational events, and other forms of community outreach, both in our own communities and around the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. It will culminate in a nationwide day of direct action on November 2, election day."
Debate is raging on the internet about the response of the Left to this year's elections. This interesting call to actioncoming from an anarchist perspectiveis well worth grappling with. [dontjustvote.com]
Sara Burke | 3.26.2004 | 11:52am
FIGHTING "TERROR" WITH TERROR
"So who benefits most from the spreading fear in Iraq? According to Bush, the winners are faceless evil-doersbent on undermining Iraq's future democracy. And according to Bremer, this means that the attacks will continue as the June 30 handover approaches."
"But this is not the word on the streets here. Twenty minutes after the bombing of the Mount Lebanon hotel last Wednesday, the rumours began to fly: it was the US,the CIA, the British ... If these conspiracy theories have traction, maybe it's because the occupying forces have so brazenly taken advantage of the attacks to do precisely what they accuse foreign terrorists of doing: interfering with the prospect of genuine democracy in Iraq." [Naomi Klein in the Guardian]
Sara Burke | 3.25.2004 | 9:33am
THE PERFECT STORM
Jeremy Rifkin writes in the March 24 Guardian, "We have all the conditions coming together to create the perfect economic storm: record oil prices triggering a restriction in US economic growth and an increase in the federal budget deficit, accompanied by further erosion inthe value of the dollarwith increased budget deficits and the diminished value of the dollar leading in turn to higher interest rates to convince foreign investors to lend the US additional money, followed by a further retraction of the US economy as rising interest rates lead to a drop indomestic investment and consumption. The cascade of events touches off atsunami that engulfs the rest of the global economy, submerging the world in deep recession." The administration continues to play the stupid card.
Joe Smith | 3.24.2004 | 8:21am
HUNGER RISES IN SUBURBIA
Suburbs, once synonymous with the middle-class triple dream of land, home and community, are increasing sites of hunger. Nationally the number of families facing food insecurity increased 15%, or 1.5 million, between 1999 and 2002. The number of suburban households facing food shortages rose by roughly a quarter-million from 2001 to 2002. Increasingly food insecurity
is afflicting the working poor. [from the NY Times]
Joe Smith | 3.22.2004
CORPORATE OUTING OVER CLARKE BOOK
I was sitting in a corner of my local coffee shop grading papers when I overheard CNN reporting on the Richard Clarke story. The scoop, that Viacom owns both CBS and Free Press. Richard Clarke's book is published by Free Press and his interview was on 60 Minutes, a news show carried by CBS. The implication is that Viacom is smearing Bush to promote sales of its book.
There is more than a little irony in this sudden rush to expose corporate hierarchies. Recently Christian Parenti caused an uproar on MacNeil-Lehrer when he suggested that part of the blame for terrorism in Iraq is due to the inability of Halliburton & Bechtel, both firms in bed with Bush, to provide meaningful improvements in Iraqi life. Given that both companies feed almost exclusively from the public trough it seems that such information on corporate ties is more than a little newsworthy. Apparently the MacNeil-Lehrer people disagree.
CBS reports on its own ties to Viacom. Cynthia Cotts reports on the hubbub over Parenti:
"Parenti, author of an upcoming book on occupied Iraq, was being interviewed by NewsHour's Ray Suarez. He and Middle East history professor Juan Cole were analyzing the recent suicide bombings in Iraq and various groups that might have been involved. Then something went terribly wrong: Parenti suggested that Halliburton and Bechtel have failed to provide "meaningful reconstruction" and that the U.S. occupation might actually be contributing to the instability in Iraq. Lehrer apparently went ballistic."
The offending comment closes the interview with Christian Parenti and Juan Cole:
RAY SUAREZ: Does this, for the near term, Christian Parenti, make the American job harder on the ground in Iraq?
CHRISTIAN PARENTI: I would think so. I would think that we have to look at some of the deeper causes as to why there's so much frustration. Why are Iraqis so angry and willing to point the blame at the U.S. after this sort of bombing? A lot of it has to do with the failure of meaningful reconstruction. There still is not adequate electricity. In many towns like Ramadi there wasn't adequate water. Where is all the money that's going to Halliburton and Bechtel to rebuild this country? Where is it ending up? I think that is one of the most important fundamental causes of instability, is the corruption around the contracting with these Bush-connected firms in Iraq. Unless that is dealt with, there is going to be much more instability for times to come in Iraq.
Joe Smith | 3.22.2004 | 7:34pm
POLITICAL ECONOMY OF THE OTHER LEADING BRAND
"Many major Kerry donors actually give more to Bush," according to a recent article in the NY Times. The big money and Democratic National Committee (DNC) political support lining up behind Kerry are interesting. One that caught my eye was: "past Kerry donor Bernard Schwartz, chairman of Loral Space and Communicationsthe tenth leading donor to the Democratic Party, giving $5.3 million over the years."
Now from an old New School for Social Research point of viewfor those of you acquainted with one of NYC's historic "Left institutions"the Schwartz/Kerry connection is ominous. The New School University (as it has now been sanitized) has its own Schwartz dilemma. But this time it's not with John Kerry, the war "hero," but Bob Kerrey, the war criminal and incongruous president of the New School. Schwartz has given bundles to the economics department and the Center for Economic Policy Analysis (CEPA) and has funded a lecture series on which he and Bob Kerrey collaborate very closely.
The Schwartz funded Program on Markets, Equality and Democracy at CEPA has a mission to promote "constructive capitalism." This is the slogan of the other leading brand. The Democratic Party wants to contrast its Kerry/Kerrey/Schwartz/and-so-on vision with the escalating anarchy of the Bush administration. This is crap that ignores the debilitating secular tendencies of capitalism and the realities of rising global poverty and inequality.
Sara Burke | 3.10.2004 | 4:43pm
HOPE CRUMBLES IN RAFAH AS HOMES ARE GROUND TO DUST
One hardly knows what to say when John Kerry boldly distinguishes himself from George Bush by stating that Yasser Arafat is an "outlaw to the peace process." "What peace process?" is the obvious question that comes to mind since Bush's roadmap got bulldozed years ago. Is it the peace process of grabbing Palestinain land by erecting apartheid barriers? The peace process of collective punishment of bulldozing Palestinian homes? The peace process of solidifying the hold of Israel in the occupied West bank by expanding existing settlements? The peace process of keeping the elected leader of the Palestinians holed up in his shattered compound in Ramallah? But perhaps we should take Kerry's words at face value. As president he will keep the US firmly in the camp of Israel no matter how brutally fascistic the latter's policies may be toward Palestinians. The carnage will continue unabated.
"Over the past four months, as many homes have been wrecked as during the October raid [when 200 homes were bulldozed and 2000 displaced]. A further 210 have been bulldozed, forcing another 2,000 people from their homes on the edge of the ever-widening Philadelphi Road, a five-mile strip along th border under Israeli military control. The scale of the devastation is now far beyond that which the town of Jenin saw two years ago." [Guardian]
Joe Smith | 3.09.2004 | 3:40pm
JAMES PETRAS: CAPITALISM VS. SOCIALISM, THE GREAT DEBATE REVISITED
"The debate over the superiority of socialism and capitalism continues because what has replaced socialism after the collapse of the USSR is far worse on every significant indictor. The debate continues because the achievements of Cuba far surpass those of the emerging capitalist countries and because in Latin America the emerging social movements have realized changes in self-government (Zapatistas), in democratizing land ownership (MST Brazil) and natural resource control (Bolivia) which are far superior to anything US imperialism and local capitalism has to offer.
"The emerging socialism is a new configuration which combines the welfare state of the past, the humane social programs and security measure of Cuba and the self-government experiments of the EZLN and MST."
Joe Smith | 3.08.2004 | 9:18pm
TRUE RATIONALE FOR US MILITARISM A DECADE OLD
"The war was carried out in pursuit of a larger vision of using America's overwhelming military superiority to shape the future. The outlines of that vision were first sketched more than a decade ago, immediately after the Soviet Union collapsed. Some of the most important and bitterly debated aspects of the war in Iraq -- including the administration's willingness to engage in preemptive military action -- can be traced to discussions and documents from the early 1990s, when Pentagon officials, under then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and then-Undersecretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz, led the way in forging a new, post-Cold War military strategy for the United States." [From The Washington Post]
Joe Smith | 3.08.2004 | 10:27am
PERSPECTIVES ON THE COUP IN HAITI: THE RETURN OF OTTO REICH?
The web is percolating with interest in Otto Reich and his probable role in the coup in Haiti. "Otto Reich's fingerprints are all over this weeks kidnapping of President Aristide," J.Damuof the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in Americasays of the "Return of Reich." Apparently, Reich the Sequal has been in the works for some time. [Stories in Common Dreams, Guardian, FAIR, Counterpunch, and the National Security Archive]
Sara Burke | 3.06.2004 | 1:57am
ARISTIDE FORCED OUT OF HAITI AS US MARINES MOVE IN
The administration all but backs the overthrow of Haitian democracyand the NY Times steadfastly refuses to portray the rebels forces as something other than a "motley rebel band of advancing former soldiers and gang members."
"As the barricades burned in the capital city around him, and with a rebel army on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, Jean-Bertrand Aristide fought for his political life as Haitian president right until the end." [quote from BBC news]
Joe Smith | 2.29.2004 | 8:44am
AMERICA'S MOST DANGEROUS EXPORT: "FREE MARKET DEMOCRACY"
It is a truism that free markets favor strong actors over weak ones. That is one major reason why hegemonic powers in the capitalist world system have also been advocates of free trade. From their position of power, hegemonic powers have imposed free trade on weaker economies while keeping protections in place domestically. In the current conjuncture the hegemonic power has been the United States. And, true to form, it has exported a version of free trade that plays to its strengths while disadvantaging other states. Within these other states free trade policies have generally further polarized the gross (and growing) inequalities of the larger world system. This has often translated into further advantaging ethnic minorities who already had some advantaged position to exploit. South Asians in East Africa, Chinese in Indonesia, Whites in Zimbabwe, and currently, Sunnis in Iraq. Add democratization to the picture and you often have a mixture which can help galvanize the oppressed majority against market dominant minorities. That in turn can turn into a recipe for mass violence. In the following article Amy Chua, a profeesor of law at Yale, looks at this phenomenon. She also argues that the free trade model which the US applies to every party but itself in the long run recreates the minority-majority tensions on a global scale. In this case, the US is perceived as the crony capitalist market dominant minority. The result is growing resentment
worldwide against US power. [from The Guardian]
Joe Smith | 2.28.2004 | 10:53am
US TREASURY DEPARTMENT CURTAILS FREEDOM OF SPEECH
"[The Treasury Department] has warned publishers they may face grave legal consequences for editing manuscripts from Iran and other disfavored nations, on the ground that such tinkering amounts to trading with the enemy.
Nahid Mozaffari, a scholar and editor specializing in literature from Iran, called the implications staggering. 'A story, a poem, an article on history, archaeology, linguistics, engineering, physics, mathematics, or any other area of knowledge cannot be translated, and even if submitted in English, cannot be edited in the U.S.,' she said. 'This means that the publication of the PEN Anthology of Contemporary Persian Literature that I have been editing for the last three years would constitute aiding and abetting the enemy.'" [from NY Times]
Joe Smith | 2.28.2004 | 10:17am
HALF OF BLACK MEN IN NYC ARE JOBLESS
"Mark Levitan, the report's author, found that just 51.8 percent of black men ages 16 to 64 held jobs in New York City in 2003. The rate for white men was 75.7 percent; for Hispanic men, 65.7; and for black women, 57.1. The employment-population ratio for black men was the lowest for the period Mr. Levitan has studied, which goes back to 1979...
"Researchers who have studied joblessness said Mr. Levitan's findings were consistent with trends among disadvantaged men, both black and white, in other Northern and Midwestern cities where manufacturing jobs have disappeared in recent decades. Some said factors that might have made the problem worse since 2000 could include welfare reform, high rates of incarceration producing gaps in job histories, and competition with immigrants for low-skill jobs." [from NY Times | or download report pdf from Community Service Society (homepage: http://www.cssny.org/)
Joe Smith | 2.28.2004 | 10:17am
SOCIAL DARWINISM COMES TO US FOREIGN-AID POLICY
The Bush administration's "Millennium Challenge Account" is a prototype for US assistance to developing nations that pits one nation against another in a contest to parrot American values. Aid-seekers will have to compete to prove their "worthiness" for grants that the Bush administration projects at $5 billion annually by 2008. The NYTimes reports: "Representative Henry J. Hyde, the Illinois Republican who is the chairman of the International Relations Committee and an important backer of the new approach, wants to place a performance-driven Republican imprint on such aid, which, until recently, was denounced by some of his colleagues as 'pouring money down a rat hole.' ...To qualify for the funds, countries must demonstrate, in the president's words, that they are 'ruling justly, investing in their people, and establishing economic freedom.'"
Sara Burke | 2.22.2004 | 11:04am
COUNTRIES UNDER US TRADE EMBARGO BANNED FROM SCIENTIFIC PUBLICATIONS
The Inquisition created The Index and banned 'subversive' books like Mill's Principles, Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, books by Moors and Jews, as well as all vernacular bibles. In another era, Aristophanes' great anti-war comedy, the Lysistrata, was banned by US customs until 1930 under the federal Anti-Obscenity Act. Marx's Capital was also banned in the 1970's by all military dictatorships in Latin America. In Mexico the PRI didn't bother, since they thought nobody would understand Capital. Now it seems we have another chapter in the history of obscurantism and intolerance.
Under the terms of a US trade embargo supported by the Bush administration, scientific journals that accept papers from Libya, Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Cuba can be fined $50,000 and the publisher sent to jail for up to 10 years. A coalition of scientific organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science call on supporters to sign a petition to reverse the ban.
Claudio Puty | 2.19.2004 | 10:20am
LULA AND THE PT-CORRUPTION SCANDAL: WHAT THE NY TIMES ISN'T TELLING YOU
Lula's second year as president kicked off with a big scandal when Epoca, Brazil's most prominent centrist weekly magazine, put a videotape from 2002 up on its website. The tape shows Lula's most important Ministry of Internal Affairs consultantWaldomiro Dinizdoing a dirty deal with gambling kingpin Charlie Waterfall in exchange for campaign contributions to gubernatorial races in Rio and Brasília. Now there are calls for a parliamentary commission of investigation, and Lula's top aides are working overtime to avoid it. [NY Times article]
What you won't read in the Times is that the scandal has produced a particular crisis for the left wing of the Workers Party [PT], a fraction that makes up one third of the party's representation in Congress. The PT's left wing is struggling to come to a position on the issue, torn between giving its support to the parliamentary inquiry, on the one hand, and denouncing the scandal as right-wing dirty politics, on the other. Sources connected to the PT say they have info that a fraction of the right-wing PSDBformer President Cardoso's partygave the tapes to the press to precipitate a governmental crisis. Lula's honeymoon is definitely over.
Claudio Puty | 2.16.2004 | 6:34pm
WTO: CHINA TO DOMINATE POST-QUOTA TEXTILE TRADE
"China's low labor costs and high productivity are the biggest factors behind its likely dominance of this industry, the [U.S. International Trade Commission] report says. Although other countries have lower wages, China's base of modern factories, a growing number of suppliers and increasingly efficient shipping networks have made it difficult for other countries to compete." [from the LA Times]
Joe Smith | 2.11.2004 | 11:44am
PLAME CASE: TOP BUSH AIDE QUESTIONED
Already reeling from pressure on the issue of missing Iraqi WMDs and fresh off a coolly received interview with Tim Russert, Bush now finds his administration in the midst of a growing scandal inquiry. The investigation into the administration's blowing the cover on CIA operative Valerie Plame last summer looks set to give Bush some real headaches. [from the NY Times]
Joe Smith | 2.10.2004 | 12:02am
YEAR OF THE MONKEY PROVES CRUEL TO CHENEY
How appropriate is it that Cheney's troubles accelerate with the start of the Chinese New Year? In the Chinese calendar this year is the year of the monkey. The monkey is an unpredictable creature and we may yet find that Dick's past monkey business as CEO of Halliburton will prove to be a major liability for the prez in an election year. Jim Lobe documents Cheney's growing troubles, sans the year of the monkey reference. [from the The Asia Times]
Joe Smith | 2.08.2004 | 11:26am
EVIL EMPIRE: BELLICOSE RUMSFELD RATTLES EUROPE
Rumsfeld demonstrates that the unilateralist core of the administration will admit to no errors of judgement. He defends the doctrine of pre-emptive war even though it is clear that intelligence had been inaccurate (or sexed up, as the case may be). And he all but thumbs his nose and calls the Europeans a bunch of Saddam lovers.
"Asked whether America's stature in the world had been diminished since the war, he acknowledged the Iraq war had taken its toll, but contended that it was more because of biased reporting by Arab media like Al Jazeera than anything the United States had done. "I know in my heart and my brain that America ain't what's wrong in the world," he said.
"Some European participants said they were stunned by what they called Mr. Rumsfeld's arrogance, especially in light of the apparent intelligence failures in Iraq. "His view is, 'We're right, they're wrong, and we'll continue to be right,' " said Christoph Bertram, director of the German Institute for International Politics and Security in Berlin. "It was a performance of 'We know better.' " [from the NY Times]
Joe Smith | 2.07.2004 | 5:49pm
HALLIBURTON INVESTIGATION LEADS TO NIGERIA
Yet another issue that could prove troublesome for Bush's re-election hopes: "While Obasanjo hopes that the probe will prove his anti-corruption credentials, it will add to the growing pressure on US Vice President Dick Cheney, Halliburton's former chairman." [from Agence France Presse]
Joe Smith | 2.7.2004 | 1:04pm
THE MATURING MOVEMENT AGAINST SWEATSHOPS
Cooperation is the new watchword among students, monitoring groups and corporations. "We have a preference for cooperation because it leads to action more quickly," says Scott Nova, executive director of the WRC. He notes that the group's quiet intervention in two Indonesian factories recently prompted corporations to comply with health-benefit laws and to open the door to independent unions there. [from In These Times]
Joe Smith | 2.6.2004 | 2:09pm
REGIONAL TRADE SOARS IN NORTH-EAST ASIA
According to the Korean International Trade Association (Kita), Japan, China and South Korea produced 15 per cent of the world's exports last year and the region accounted for about 20 per cent of the world's gross domestic product if Taiwan was included. Trade between Japan, China and South Korea accounted for 20 per cent of the three countries' total overseas shipments last year, up from 19 per cent in 2002 and 14 per cent five years ago. [from the Financial Times]
Joe Smith | 2.6.2004 | 1:08pm
EUROPE PUSHES FOR TRADE VETO PLAN IN WTO
"Governments would be allowed to ban imports from countries that did not share their national values and standards under proposals for radical changes to global trade rules being studied by Pascal Lamy, Europe's trade commissioner." [from the Financial Times]
Joe Smith | 2.6.2004 | 1:13pm
NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL PASSES RESOLUTION AGAINST PATRIOT ACT
I have been unable to find mention of this story in any of the local NY papers. Only Channel 1 news, ironically owned by Fox, carried a brief mention. This is curious since NYC is hosting the GOP convention in August. [from oneworld.net]
Joe Smith | 2.6.2004 | 11:15pm
A DEADLY PLAGUE OF SLUMS
"Thanks to global neo-liberalism disease surveillance and epidemic response are weakest precisely where they are most important: in the mega-slums of Asia and Africa. That's where the brushfire of H5N1 could turn into a deadly biological firestorm." [from tomdispatch.com]
Joe Smith | 2.4.2004 | 1:20pm
TROUBLE TRACKING BUSH'S LIES?
The Bush administration's Pentagon task force concluded that the Iraqi oil sector was devastated by the UN sanctions regime at the same time as the administration itself peddled the fiction that Iraqi oil exports would cover the cost of the occupation and the rebuilding of Iraq. "Now, as the Bush administration requests $20.3 billion from Congress for reconstruction next year, the chief reasons cited for the high price tag are sabotage of oil equipment and the poor state of oil infrastructure already documented by the task force." If you're having trouble tracking Bush's lies, see David Corn's article in the Nation.
10.08.2003 | 9:38am
FOCUS ON WTO SUMMIT IN CANCUN
Christian Aid's head of trade policy, Claire Melamed, writes in the Guardian that trade liberalization creates "producers who are blown out of the market by cheap imports, traders and processors who cannot make a living, and consumers suffering wildly fluctuating prices." Former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz also writes in the Guardian, "The strategy that the US, and to a lesser extent Europe, seems to be following is the usual: hard bargaining, extreme positions, last-minute concessions, arm twisting, peer pressure, tacit threats of cutting off development assistance and other benefits, and secret meetings among a small number of participants are all designed to extract concessions from the weakest."
KickASS [Kick All Agricultural Subsidies], is a great blog to watch for developments at Cancun. And Indymedia's Cancun site has extensive coverage, with articles like "Cancun: a model for self-destruction."
Focus on the Global South is one of the key groups in Cancun. Its homepage includes stories on the week of protests beginning today, including actions like this one: "A farmer tied himself to the cross of rice stems with his mouth gagged shut. This powerful imageseen at the anti-WTO demonstration in Bangkokis a potent symbol that farmers are going to be effected by the trade deal without their voice being heard."
Free trade supporter Andrew Rose argues in Foreign Policy that protesters in Cancun are "wasting their time." Not because they don't understand the issues, but becauseas he arguesthe WTO is impotent to implement free trade since powerful member countries won't give it sovereignty over matters of trade, when they stand to lose out.
Economists critique the liberalization agenda. Globalization and the Myths of Free Trade, a conference held at the New School for Social Research/New School University last spring, challenged both the theory and empirical claims behind the WTO's agenda. Go to the site to download papers on globalization and economic development, gender and inequality, capital mobility, competition, and free trade.
09.09.2003 | 1:27pm
According to today's Guardian, "Spin doctors behind Arnold's campaign to be Governor of California have come under fire in Russia over a film that shows them as the architects who propelled Boris Yeltsin to victory in the 1996 Russian presidential election." The film Spinning Boris, just released on video in Russia but not due for US release until next year, has Arnold's campaign manager, George Gorton, Richard Dresner (one-time Conservative Party advisor), and Joe Shumate (part of Arnold's present team) under the microscope.
09.07.2003 | 4:25pm
EU GEARS UP FOR CANCUN: OUCH!
"The European commission yesterday launched a ferocious attack on poor countries and development campaigners when it dismissed calls for big cuts in Europe's farm protection regime as extreme demands couched in "cheap propaganda." [Guardian article]
09.04.2003 | 1:03am
POVERTY AND INEQUALITY ON THE RISE IN AMERICA
The incomes of 1.3 million Americans fell below the poverty line last year, according to a census report released last week. ["Ranks of Poor Rise" Washington Post] In addition, the Economic Policy Institute reports "new evidence of extraordinary growth in income inequality" based on Congressional Budget Office data that shows rapid income growth in the highest income brackets and slow growth in low and middle incomes.
09.03.2003 | 10:28pm
US manufacturers are preparing to file formal complaints against China with the US Trade Representative and the WTO, claiming that the world's manufacturing giant is toying with exchange rates to "frustrate the intent" of WTO trade agreements. Meanwhile, the Bush administration dispatched Treasury Secretary John Snow to apply pressure in Beijing, with the IMF as cheerleader. ["Hands Off" from Guardian, "Eventually" from NYTimes, "IMF Backs Snow" Financial Times.
09.03.2003 | 9:17pm
CHINA VS. MEXICO
Competition from cheap Chinese labor and decreased demand from US consumers means that Mexico's economy is smarting after almost a decade of NAFTA. Since 2001, 500 of Mexico's 3,700 maquiladoras have shut down and 218,000 jobs have been lost. ["As China Gallops, Mexico Sees Factory Jobs Slip Away" NYTimes
09.03.2003 | 8:58pm
ANARCHISTS VS. COMMUNISTS
Talk of the recent soccer game between these historically opposed tendencies has been all over email lists lately, launching both serious debates and predictable put-downs. In "Imperialism is Offsides," players write that "a fundamental goal of these games, in addition to having fun, is to help build non-sectarian political culture where we can learn more about each others work, find our points of unity and open space for comradely debate about differences." One notable difference is that the majority of the anarchist team is white and the majority of the communist team is people of color, so the work and play together also helps to build a "multi-racial anti-capitalist movement."
08.29.2003 | 12:19pm
ANOTHER AMERICAN SLIGHT OF HAND
Oil revenues in Iraq seem to be as elusive as the WMDs and other "truths" of the invasion and occupation. Now the US says funds seized during the war are just about gone. This equals a costlier war for American taxpayers, especially with Paul Bremer saying the restoration essential services (eg. water and electricity) may cost up to $30 billion above and beyond the $1 billion a week the occupation currently costs. [BBC story]
08.27.2003 | 2:49am
MONBIOT ON THE UN
In recent Guardian articles ["We can seize the day" and "Becare the bluewash"] that co-incide with the release of his new book, The Age of Consenta manifesto for "global democratic revolution"George Monbiot sketches out his vision for a reformed United Nations. [Also worth noting is his July 10th radio interview with Doug Henwood archived on the Left Business Observer.] Whatever your views on Monbiot, his proposals and challenges to the global justice movement deserve a response.
08.27.2003 | 12:46am
NOTES ON THE ANTIWAR MOVEMENT
In the July-August issue of Monthly Review, Barbara Epstein offers a social and historical analysis of the worldwide antiwar movement, or at least of its American component. She concludes that the movement, "if it is to gain strength and momentum, needs to link up with the broader antiglobalization movement, and the antiglobalization movement needs to link its labor and environmental segments more effectively. To accomplish all of this it is necessary to draw out the connections between production and consumption under capitalismby way of the critique of commodity fetishism. There should be no war for oil, but also no war for the auto-petroleum complex, and no war for the system of production and consumption that makes such patterns of accumulation necessary. Until such connections are drawn, the movement will lack staying power, the capacity for its different elements to coalesce, and a meaningful political praxis."
08.27.2003 | 12:46am
ATTACK OF THE LIBERALS
In the article, "Gang Green" in the self-proclaimed "liberal" American Prospect, Michael Tomasky advises Democrats worried about another Green Party presidential spoiler to attack ferociously and immediately. Calling Nader a "megalomaniac whose tenuous purchase on present-day reality threatens to cancel out every good thing he's done in his life" and Cynthia McKinney a "discredited anti-Semite," he appeals to the "rational half" of Nader's supporters, not the "devoted dialecticians who won't allow facts to pass through the doors of their little theoretical straw huts." Thomasky's shrill diatribe is just the tip of the liberal iceberg these days: Demos hell-bent on dividing Left coalitions with red-baiting and slander.
08.06.2003 | 2:10pm
ARGENTINA'S FALL: WASHINGTON PUSHED THEM OVER THE BRINK
Major Washington Post article reveals Wall Street's role in the economic collapse of Argentina. Roberto Lavagna, the current economy minister: "We must pay attention to bubbles. With stocks, or companies, or countries. All are part of the same phenomenon."
08.04.2003 | 12:41am
BUSH TO NGOs: WATCH YOUR MOUTHS
Article by Naomi Klein analyzes the Bush doctrine on NGOs: buy off mainstream groups with reconstruction contracts. Marginalizeor criminalizeothers as threats to democracy. According to Klein, USAID hands out the carrots, the American Enterprise Instituteand its NGO Watchwields the sticks.
08.02.2003 | 5:26am
"LIBERATION" BUT NO FREE MARKET IN IRAQ
The US "Coalition Provisional Authority" [CPA] has barred state-owned firms in Iraq from some of the most lucrative contracts to be had in the reconstruction of Iraq. [Reuters article]
08.02.2003 | 10:34pm
ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT GOLD
In another remarkable intelligence blunder truckloads of gold bars seized by American troops turn out to be melted shell casings. Ironically, an Iraqi truck driver stated that the bars were copper and not gold at the time of the seizure. He was, natuarally, quite ignored by the Americans who democratically proclaimed that the gold would help pay for national reconstruction. That pledge of riches now appears to be a several hundred million dollar gap in the reconstruction budget. [Reuters article]
08.01.2003 | 9:47pm
RICH WORLD'S SUBSIDIES HITTING AFRICAN GROWTH
New UN report highlights Africa's ongoing vulnerability to factors outside its governments' control. In particular, the UN cited last year's US six-year $52bn farm bill boosting crop and dairy subsidies by 67%, a factor that reduces agricultural prices and effectively eliminates small competitors. [article: Financial Times]
08.01.2003 | 9:47pm
IN THE MARKET FOR TERRORISM FUTURES?
Barely a day after the Pentagon's DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) announced its plan to launch an electronic "Policy Analysis Market [PAM]" for anonymous traders to bet on Middle East assassinations, coups, terrorist attacks and the like, apopletic senators from both parties called for an "immediate end" to the project some considered a hoax because it was so outlandish. PAM was the brainchild of economist Robin Hanson at George Mason University, who partnered up with Net Exchange (a company that creates markets for trading things like pollution credits) and the Economist magazine's Intelligence Unit. [Stories from NYTimes, New Scientist, World Socialist Web Site, and Common Dreams.]
08.01.2003 | 9:13pm
A "MARKET IN THE FUTURE OF THE WORLD"
Not to be outdone by DARPA, a group of computer scientists and social scientists calling themselves the American Action Market have created an online futures market that deals with "the two most important questions facing the world today: (1) What will the U.S. government do next? (2) What is informing the U.S. government's current behavior?"
08.01.2003 | 9:06pm
CARLOS MARX IN CUBA
Political Economist Paul Cooney offers a briefing on the 2003 Cuban conference, Marxism and the Challenges of the XX Century:
"Two papers presented at the conference (one by Fred Moseley [download 60kb-PDF] and another by Alejandro Valle Baeza) describe current problems for the US economy, some of whichsuch as DEBT/GDP ratioshave not been seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Both Moseley and Valle Baeza argue that the possibility of a new depression is greater now than in recent memory.
Neither economist is your standard 'catastrophic Marxist,' and their arguments are compelling, particularly when you consider the policies being pursued by the US, and America's dependence on foreign bondholders and investment from 'rogue' states like France and Germany."
07.29.2003 | 12:13am
LULA GETS HEAT FROM THE HOMELESS, LANDLESS, AND ROOFLESS
Brazilian government figures show that Lula has fallen far behind his goal of settling 60,000 families this year, with barely 2500 resettled by the end of June and a 2003 budget for settling less than 7000 total. His troubles are compounded by growing frustration among populations in the 1300 settlements organized by the landless movement, whose numbers have recently grown to 150,000 or more. In addition, Lula's getting headaches from an urban-based social movement known as the "roofless" movement [NYTimes article].
Meanwhile, Lula explains his "political realism vs. social justice" juggling act in a Guardian commentary from July 12, 2003.
07.27.2003 | 8:45pm
THE U.S. RICH GROW RICHER
In 2000, the 400 wealthiest taxpayers made more than 1 percent of all the income in the United States, more than double their share in 1992." (NYTimes article)
06.26.2003 | 5:50pm
WHITE COLLARS AND THE SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS
When even Fortune Magazine begins to notice that technology-driven "gains in productivity mean one white-collar worker can do the work that would have taken two or three of his peers to do ten years ago," thereby leading to high unemployment and slow wage growth for the proletariat's upper eschelons, it might be time to send a copy of the Communist Manifesto to beleagured Newspaper Guild shop stewards at Fortune's corporate boss, AOL/TimeWarner.
06.09.2003 | 3:04pm
OPEC THREATENS PRODUCTION SLOWDOWN
Hindustan Times reports that OPEC is likely to slash production in June to avoid a price collapse.
05.25.2003 | 5:09pm
Reuters report on Lula hypocracies in "Brazil's Lula lays down the law with party radicals." Left-wing PT legislators respond to Lula's benefit-slashing pension "reforms" by releasing a 1987 videotape of a Lula speech denouncing his 2003 policies.
05.25.2003 | 5:09pm
SPECTRE OF DEFLATION
Krugman in the NYTimes"Fear of a Quagmire?"on recent IMF concerns about the dangers of a liquidity trap: "What if the economy is in such a deep malaise that pushing interest rates all the way to zero isn't enough to get the economy back to full employment? Then you're in a liquidity trap: additional cash pumped into the economyadded liquiditysits idle, because there's no point in lending money out if you don't receive any reward.
05.24.2003 | 1:39pm
BOLIVIA'S "NEW LEFT"
Co-director of the Bolivian edition of Le Monde diplomatiqueWalter Chavezdescribes a "hyperactive new left" in Bolivia rooted in social movements, farmer's trade unions, water activist groups, indigenous activist groups, NGOs and in landless farmers' collectives. "The new left is no longer made up of middle and upper-class intellectuals styling themselves political leaders. Unlike the social movements of the 1960s and 1970s, the new leftists seek neither class struggle nor an end to the state. They want increased participation within the democratic system, local community-based government, and official recognition of their traditions."
05.14.2003 | 3:50pm
RUCKUS SOCIETY TRUMPS CENTCOM
When Centcom came out with its 52-Most-Wanted-Iraqis deck of playing cards, you had to wonder if the US military was playing with a full deck: cards meant to help "coalition" soldiers identify Iraqi rascals at checkpoints included 13 cards with no pictures at all. ["Are you Ghazi Hammud Al-Ubaydi, by chance?"]
The Ruckus Society's new WarProfiteers deck should prove more useful for exposing the real war criminals. Spades represent the oil, gas and energy companies. [Bush senior and the WTO figure prominently in this suit.] Hearts are US government flunkies like Cheney, Kissinger, and Rumsfeld. Clubs are military and defense contractors. And Diamonds are the heads of "industry, finance, media, policy and hype." You get the picture.
05.21.2003 | 2:16pm
THE GREAT NEOLIBERAL EXPERIMENT... FAILS
Guardian columnist George Monbiot gives worldwide exposure to the critique of World Bank poverty estimate methods presented by economist Sanjay Reddy and philosopher Thomas Pogge. [See Gloves Off report "World Poverty Figures Under Scrutiny."] Monbiot takes a righteous swipe at the Bank, concluding : "That the key global economic statistic has for so long been derived by means which are patently useless is a telling indication of how little the men who run the world care about the impact of their policies. If they cannot be bothered even to produce a meaningful measure of global poverty, we have no reason to believe their claim that they wish to address it."
05.09.2003 | 3:10pm
STATES OF UNREST
States of Unrest III [PDF 176KB] documents worldwide resistance in 2002 to International Monetary Fund and World Bank policies. This year's report looks at protests in 25 countries and charts 111 incidents of civil unrest involving millions of people. According to the report, "Many of these incidents ended with the deployment of riot police or the army, with 10 documented fatalities, and arrests and injuries running into thousands." States of Unrest I and II are downloadable from the World Development Movement site.
05.08.2003 | 12:27am
EARTH TO IMF, EARTH TO IMF...
In the International Monetary Fund's World Economic Outlook [WEO], published last month, the logic of the neoliberal "bottom line" gets curiouser and curiouser. A scathing review on NetworkIdeas quotes the WEO: it's not "that policies are unimportant, but that our econometric framework (which is constrained, in particular, by the limited time series data on institutions) is not well suited to uncovering a relationship between policies and growth that may well be revealed through time."
05.07.2003 | 2:34pm
IMF FESSES UP:
Joseph Stiglitz's attacks on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) must be hitting home at last. The Fund has finally begun to admit that its Draconian "structural adjustment" policies don't foster economic growth in poor countries. Kenneth Rogoff, director of Research at the IMF wants to get beyond the criticisms and on to more "pressing debates." OK, what about debating what Stiglitz's kinder, gentler version of neo-liberalism will do to the developing world?
04.06.2003 | 11:19pm
If the Bush administration fears the effect that emotionally horrifying pictures of shrapnel-pulverized civilians on Al Jazeera's website or The Memory Hole would have on ordinary Americans (warning: these pictures are disturbing and NOT suitable for children), then the methodological rigor of the Iraq Body Count Project's carefully constructed and error-checked tabulations should make them equally concerned for their tenuously manufactured consent for war.
CIVILIAN DEAD IN IRAQ
03.28.2003 | 1:13pm
SEEN AND UNSEEN:
Here are some news and anti-war blogs you might find particularly useful right now. If you only look at one blog on the war, read Dear Raed, a Baghdad resident's running diary of life during the invasion. The BBC reporters' blog posts thoughts and observations from correspondants scattered around the Gulf. Stand Down posts the views of bloggers from across the political spectrum who are united against the invasion of Iraq. DialogNow, devoted to "civil and thoughtful dialogue about India and Pakistan" is discussing nothing but the war these days. War In Context has eclectic commentary and links to other blogs. International-relations oriented Global Beat only posts weekly, but its veteran-journalist editor, William Dowell, puts out a huge assemblage of links with useful intro-summaries. Indymedia, in addition to being useful for breaking news, is the world's largest participatory news blog.
03.20.2003 | 2:44pm
PROFILE: ALTERNATIVES FOR BREAKING NEWS
Everyone knows about the New York Times, the BBC, CNN, and the other usual online conduits for breaking news. It is also useful to keep your eyes on alternatives to the behemoths. Google News works Google magic on sites from around the internet and assembles top stories every few minutes. The London-based Guardian offers a breadth of coverage not found in any other major English-language newspaper. It's ideological opposite, the London Financial Times, tells it like it is from a usefully ruling-class perspective. WebActive is a good portal to daily, national broadcasts from Pacifica's Peacewatch, Democracy Now, Working Assets Radio, and Free Speech Radio News. Common Dreams updates several times daily with headlines and views "for the progressive community." And for self-publishing activists, Indymedia and its regional sites offer reports not found anywhere else.
03.19.2003 | 5:37pm
PROFILE: LE MONDE DIPLOMATIQUE
Le Monde diplomatique is the most prominent monthly publication of the French Left. It is closely aligned with ATTAC, and its editors were initiators of the original World Social Forum. Among this month's articles are Edward Said's "The alternative United States," Philip Golub's "United States: inventing demons," Niels Kadritzke's ["Turkey: price of alliance,"], Paul-Marie de la Gorce's "A short history of Franco-US discord," Beth Daponte's "Changing the rules of war," and Eric Rouleau's "The view from Palestine."
03.18.2003 | 2:43pm
UPDATEPATRIOT ACT II:
Gloves Off covered Justice Department drafted threat to civil liberties (yes, Justice Dept!), otherwise known as the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003 in our February weblog. Now the ACLU has a section-by-section analysis of this proposed extension to the Patriot Act that will enable the government to strip "even native-born Americans of all of the rights of United States citizenship if they provide support to unpopular organizations labeled as terrorist by our government."
03.13.2003 | 11:19pm
WHAT WILL IT COST?
In the absence of an economic analysis from the Bush administration, Yale economist William Nordhaus published "Iraq: The Economic Consequences of War" last October. He assumes two possible scenarios, one positive and one negative. Positive: the US wins the war quickly with little damage to Iraq and its oil fields. Negative: lengthy war disrupts oil flows from Iraq and its neighbors; oil prices rise to $75/barrel; the US faces a decade of economic losses as prices slowly gravitate back down.
Dean Baker and Mark Weisbrot, of the Center For Economic Research [CEPR], respond to Nordhaus in a paper on the negative scenario. They urge policy makers and the public to consider the likely possibly of an even more negative scenario, one that includes the cost of increased domestic terrorist threats, boycotts of US goods, and recession for developing nations.
03.12.2003 | 3:36pm
AROUND THE WATER COOLER:
Conventional wisdom says if you want to know what's really going on in the office, listen in on the talk around the water cooler. If you want to know how economists outside the mainstream talk to each other about the roots of the impending US war on Iraq, stop by the Online Political Economy List (OPE-L) Archive. Look at the archives for February and March 2003, particularly the threads "Oil Currency War," and "On War."
03.10.2003 | 3:34am
IN THE AIR:
One of the things OPE-L is discussing is a study put out by the Indian Research Unit for Political Economy, entitled, Aspects of India's Economy "Nos. 33 & 34: Behind the Invasion of Iraq." The study makes two provocative assertions: 1.) The US government is buying friendship with India as a hedge against China's influence, and 2.) OPEC's potential shift from dollars to euros is the cause of war.
03.9.2003 | 11:31pm
Contrast CNN's sanitized version of "Gulf War Part I"white rockets streaking across a night-green video skywith the reality of war: the burned, maimed, and "carbonized" bodies of dead Iraqi soldiers in Peter Turnley's profound, disturbing, and important photo essay: "The Unseen Gulf War."
03.9.2003 | 11:02pm
In February's Le Monde Diplomatique, "Before The War," Ignacio Ramonet concludes with a common, simplistic idea about the origin of US aggression toward Iraq: "The war is sought by a clique of extreme rightwing hawks surrounding President Bush... who imagine that there is a military solution to every political, economic or social problem." This may be true as far as it goes, but it confuses symptoms with causes.
Nor is it simply a matter of some Bush administration oil cabal, as Nick Beams of the World Socialist Web Site's "Australian desk" points out in "Oil and the Coming War Against Iraq. "The significance of oil for the onslaught against Iraq is not simply a matter of the intimate oil industry connections of Bush, Cheney and other members of the administrationimportant as those links are. The issue goes much deeper. It is bound up with the stability of US capitalism itself and its continuous struggle to maintain dominance of the world economy."
03.8.2003 | 09:17am
BEHIND THE SCENES:
The Pacifica news show Democracy Now has been working overtime to fill gaping holes in the US media coverage of pre-war news. The headlines, "Networks ignore explosive story revealing U.S. is spying on U.N. Security Council members" and "News conference scripted and reporters silenced: A report on the President’s first primetime press conference in 1 and 1/2 years" speak for themselves.
03.8.2003 | 9:04am
DIRTY LITTLE SECRET:
Remember Dick Cheney's famous energy report? The one where he refused to disclose his expert sources? "Reliable, Affordable, and Environmentally Sound Energy For America's Future" is worth having a look at in the days leading up to war. Especially Chapter 8 on "strengthening foreign alliances to ensure energy."
03.7.2003 | 12:50am
On this US Dept. of Energy table of world petroleum consumption from 1991-2000, the US isby farthe highest consumer of petroleum.
03.7.2003 | 12:26am
THE PEOPLEUNITEDCAN NEVER BE DEFEATED:
There's a reason you hear this chant at every demonstration you've ever been to. But tell that to David Corn, Todd Gitlin, Marc Cooper, and Christopher Hitchens. There are enough Left credentials in that lineup to bet they've all heard this chant at least once or twice before. But you wouldn't know if from the way they've re-invented red-baiting in what the World Socialist Web Site calls "left gutter journalism" and Z Magazine calls the "cruise missle left." Since red-baiting is all about purging socialists from broader social movements, "the people, united" in this case means that labor unionists, environmentalists, anarchists, global solidarity activists, and, yes Marxists and other varieties of communists in the anti-war movement all need to recognize their common fight and stick up for each other. What are they afraid of, anyway? That real-world events are confirming Marx's critique of capitalism?
LEFT GUTTER PRESS:
>Have a look at any of these articles to catch a whiff of the "left" gutter press: "So Long Fellow Travelers" by Christopher Hitchens, "Behind the Placards: The odd and troubling origins of today's anti-war movement" in LA Weekly, by David Corn, "Who Will Lead?" Mother Jones, by Todd Gitlin, or "A Smart Peace Movement Is MIA", from the LA Times, Marc Cooper. These articles snarl like hungry wolves at the prospect of singling out International ANSWER (originally spawned from the Workers World Party, now with quite strong legs of its own) from the myriad groups in the anti-war movement and going in for the kill. It was International ANSWER, after all, that organized the massive anti-war demonstration in Washington DC in January.
THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING:
With huge anti-war demonstrations planned for February 15 in New York and all over Europe not to mention Cape Town, Sao Paulo, Manila, Istanbul, Tokyo, Cairo and other cities large and small the Bush administration has gone on high paranoia alert. First, Ashcroft and Ridge up the national terror factor to code orange. Then federal courts in Manhattan back the NYPD's refusal to permit a February 15th march past the United Nations or anywhere else in Manhattan for that matter citing "heightened security concerns."
Postings from NYC Indmedia's open publishing newswire show a lot of people thinking "heightened security concerns" and code orange have less to do with terrorist attacks or concern for public safety than with government worries that a large and visible anti-war movement could inhibit the Bush administration's military agenda. At least it would make it harder for Bush to claim the backing of the American public. "Manufactured consent" for this war is particularly important to the US government now that Colin Powell's allegations of Iraqi deceit have been thrown back in his face. The sham "intelligence" in Britain's Iraq dossier which Powell praised to the UN Security Council hasn't made Tony Blair any more popular either with a British public (and trade union leadership) overwhelmingly opposed to US actions.
SHOCK AND AWE:
And just what are these proposed US actions in Iraq? Think "Hiroshima... Nagasaki." According to "defense intellectual" Harlan Ullman, rapid dominance, also known as "shock and awe" is the tactic in question. In layperson's terms this means scaring your enemy to death by means of invincible firepower as a way to quickly establish absolute domination. A confidential memo circulating around the UN takes a soberingly anti-Hollywood point of view. It attempts to estimate the humanitarian catastrophe that's likely to follow a US invasion.
IF YOU THOUGHT THE PATRIOT ACT WAS SCARY:Annihilating civil liberties became the chief domestic sport for the Bush administration with the Patriot Act. Now the Justice Department has drafted a frightening extension to Patriot Act. The domestic version of "shock and awe", also known as the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, would allow the government to strip citizens of their citizenship so that the INS could detain them without due process if they provide material support to a group defined as a terrorist organization. Gee, could this include groups like United for Peace and Justice, organizers of the February 15 demonstration? How about International ANSWER? (download the full text, PDF 12mb, of DSE Act 2003)
LET'S DO THE NUMBERS!
The Village Voice estimates line-items in the budget of war. Everything from "number of total deaths if nuclear weapons are used: 3,900,000" to "number of days it is expeted to take for Baghdad residents to become physically, emotionally and psychologically exhausted: 5."
When Laura Bush sent poet Sam Hammil an invitation to an evening at the White House, "I was overcome by a kind of nausea," said Hammil. "Only the day before I had read a lengthy report on George Bush's proposed 'Shock and Awe' attack on Iraq, calling for saturation bombing that would be like the firebombing of Dresden or Tokyo, killing countless innocent civilians." In response Hammil started a protest, Poets Against The War.
original february 15, 2003 homepage