Monday, June 29, 2015

Neil Young and Monsanto (music video)


Not all bad news

The depletion of mineral reserves poses no serious threat to society, the Adam Smith Institute, a right-wing think-tank, has concluded.

The world is not running out of valuable minerals; claims from environmentalist groups are based on a misunderstanding of industry terminology. Reserves are only a measurement of the minerals we know we can mine and make usable in the near future. Mineral reserve numbers have nothing to do with how much of the actual element can eventually be recovered. The reserves for minerals used in fertilizers, such as phosphate and potassium, may exhaust in the next few decades, but the exhaustion of resources is not estimated to occur until 1,000 – 7,000 years time.

Mineral reserves are simply the minerals that have been prepared for use for the next few decades; they are minerals that can be mined with current technology at current prices. Some reserves are going to run out in the near future, but this is a normal process. Every generation runs out of mineral reserves. Mineral resources, however, refer to a concentration of minerals of a certain quality and quantity that have shown reasonable prospects for eventual economic extraction. These are much larger than mineral reserves. Most people assume that mineral reserves are what we have left that we can use. This is not so: mineral reserves are only what we have prepared for us to use in the next few decades. As such, it’s really no surprise at all that mineral reserves are generally recorded as being going to last for the next few years.

Organic farming, for example, may be a useful idea but the idea that it is a necessity because we’re about to run out of inorganic fertilisers is based on a falsehood. The reserves for minerals used in fertilizers may exhaust in the next few hundred years, but the exhaustion of resources is not estimated to occur for 1,400 years for phosphate and 7,300 years for potassium. The report concludes that efforts to conserve and/or recycle mineral resources are wasteful and often end up being net harms to society, by diverting economic activity from more productive uses.


According to the ILO, involves more than 120 million children between the ages of five and 14 around the world.  

 Despite being a vibrant economic zone, Asia Pacific is the region with the largest incidents of child labour, with a reported 18.8 percent of the 650 million working children around the world.  

 Children around the region are found to be working in a broad range of economic sectors, from garment factories in Bangladesh, to sugarcane plantations in Cambodia, and fishing boats in the Philippines. Other sectors include seafood processing, entertainment, mining, scavenging and domestic labour.  

 Many factors influence the prevalence of child labour, with poverty being the root cause of children having to work.

In a bid to overhaul the country’s child labour laws, the Indian government has banned the employment of children below 14 years of age in various commercial ventures, while permitting them to work in family enterprises and on farmlands after school hours and during vacations. The Act defines 64 industries as hazardous, deeming it a criminal offence for children to employed in any of them. While parents or guardians will not face any punishment for the first offence, a maximum fine of about 150 dollars will be levied for the second and subsequent offences. The new amendment will, however, permit kids to work in “non-hazardous” businesses, the entertainment industry (including films, advertisements and TV serials) and sporting events from the 18 occupations and 65 processes specified under the 1986 law.

Indian Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi, who helms the child rights non-profit organisation Bachpan Bachao Andolan, has been calling for a ban on every form of child labour in India for kids up to 14 years of age. Activists fear that the provision allowing children to help out in domestic or family-based occupations will enable families to flout or skirt the new law.

“The new amendment will push millions of innocent children into forced labour and deprive them of education and a normal childhood,” Rakesh Slenger of Bachpan Bachao Andolan told IPS. “The girl child will be particularly disadvantaged as she will be denied education while being stuck with all the household work.” Experts also fear this loophole violates the spirit of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which India signed and ratified in 1992. The worst off will be kids from marginalized backgrounds who need to equip themselves with an education and job skills in Asia’s third largest economy to brighten their employment prospects. Experts also allege the government is overlooking the fact that even in household enterprises, children still remain vulnerable to exploitation and health hazards, which impacts their education.

The 2011 census puts the number at 4.35 million working children in the 5-14 age bracket. One in every 100 full-time workers in India is under the age of 14, and a third of those child workers are under the age of nine. This augurs ill for a country of 1.25 billion people, 42 percent of whom are children. Already, many kids are at risk of languishing in an endless cycle of poverty – an estimated 23 percent of the population survives on less than 1.25 dollars a day – particularly since the government slashed the budget allocation for the ministry of women and child development by 1.5 billion dollars this year. Activists say this move could deprive millions of marginalised Indian kids the chance to turn their lives around.

Kids in the agriculture sector are made to carry heavy loads and sprinkle harmful pesticides on crops. So-called “family enterprises” are no better, say experts. This includes such industries as matchbox making, carpet weaving and gem polishing. In these sectors, where child labour is in high demand, police raids have highlighted inhumane conditions in which children are made to work for no pay, with scant food and no access to toilets.

India’s beedi (cigarette)-making industry is particularly notorious for employing kids as young as seven years old. While government figures put the total number of workers engaged in this informal industry at 4.4 million, activists claim the real number is nearly double that, totaling roughly 10 million labourers.

According to the social activist, Amod Kanth, founder of Prayaas, a non-profit working for children’s welfare, relaxing legislation on child labour as a means of alleviating poverty is a deeply flawed strategy. “The move will nullify whatever progress the country has made in getting children out of forced labour and into school. As it is government surveys are known to under-report child labour. If child labour is legalised, the situation will spiral out of control.”

Rather than going in for piecemeal amendments to current laws, activists say the government should revamp the flagship 1986 Act itself, which has failed to curb child labour effectively. A new beginning will also pave way for the rehabilitation of millions of children rescued from exploitative industries or households, they say.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee On the Child Labour Amendment Act underscores the fallacy of the government proposing to keep a check on children working in their homes.

“The Ministry is itself providing loopholes by inserting this proviso since it would be very difficult to make out whether children are merely helping their parents or are working to supplement the family income. Further, allowing children to work after school is detrimental to their health, as rest and recreation is important for fullest physical and mental development in the formative years, besides adversely affecting their studies,” states the report.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Our Land - Our Business (video)

Political Islam: dead end for oppressed people

In light of the many atrocities committed in the name of Allah this article from the archives ofDiscussion Bulletin by Karl Carlile of the Communist Global Group may be of use in explaining it a little bit of the cause. 

Islamists, have benefited for years from American largesse via Pakistan and Saudia Arabia when they fought against the USSR in Afghanistan. Moreover, the alliance between the USA and political Islam is a very old story whose origins go back to agreements reached between ultra-reactionary and racist wahhabite monarchy from Saudia Arabia and American oil companies. This alliance, very useful in the fight against pro-Russian Arab regimes and for keeping a vigilant watch over the area's oil fields, has never been recinded. For years, western leaders have found nothing to say against the Sheiks of the Saudi Arabia and their oppressive regime was never denounced. The American state cannot then plead not guilty.     The world's foremost military and economic power,  has played the part of sheriff only for its own interests and without paying any attention to the needs of local populations, who have paid for many decades the price of a regional order which has to guarantee capital accumulation forever on a world scale.

This situation contributed to the radicalization of certain parts of the Middle East mid Central Asian populations and took the form of a dissent more and more borrowing its weapons from Islamic ideology. The story is that this utterly backwards ideology - expression of the failure of the ruling classes of these areas to create the economic and social conditions for modem capitalism - far from supplying a well-fitted frame to the justified revolt of the oppressed people, traps them in an outdated fight, whose true goal is to subordinate the more mid more oppressed "faithful" to the whole of the "Muslim" ruling classes. What is there in common between the young unemployed in Gaza or Algiers and the billionaires from the Gulf or ruling classes from the area's states, except religious belonging? Obviously nothing. Islam is used here only to create a fake community between "Muslim" oppressors and oppressed which the area's proletariat never cease to pay for. Political Islamism, as a substitute for the class struggle, has also been chosen by minority fractions of inimigrant youth in Europe (France and Belgium particulary). Here, resentment has been fed by mass unemployment and racism and has been made use of by some religious groups. The real revolt has then been trapped in the reactionary ghetto of Islam, of the oumma (Faithfull community), which has contributed, along with the surrounding racism, to isolate these rebellious people from working class people of European extraction. In the end this plays the game of all those, from governments to bosses, who have an interest in dividing exploited people.

Many Muslims have been declaring that all Muslims must obey the declaration of a holy. This view that emanates from many Muslims flies in the face of the facts. Muslims have over the years violently attacked each other.

 In any anti-war movement we cannot take either the side.
 Muslim fundamentalism, and Islam in general, is a sectarian religious ideology and even political philosophy and practice. It essentially promotes the class interests of imperialism. Muslim and Christian fundamentalism are particularly sectarian. Muslim fundamentalism has been effectively promoting polarization between Eastern and Western workers at a time when the globalisation of the working class into a unified political reality is an urgent necessity. While attacking racism it sustains racism a multiplicity of ways because it is inherently racist.

  Muslim fundamentalism is contradictory. While actively sustained by imperialism it at the same time attacks imperialism its very source of nourishment. In many ways Muslim fundamentalism is similar to Stalinism. Stalinism is a counter revolutionary force that prevents the existence of communism. Consequently it serves imperialism's interests. Yet to maintain its unique role as a counter revolutionary form it has acted, at the same time, in a way that obstructs imperialism. This generates conflict between the two forces. The Cold War was just such a conflict.

 Muslim fundamentalism is a religious and political ideology and practice that is petty bourgeois. It serves the class interests of small capital. It is this that makes it reactionary. However the very fact that it serves the interests of small capital in the context of increasing capitalist globalisation is what lends it its acutely anachronistic image in the eyes of the Western working class. However it is its specific class character that gives it its appeal to the masses that exist outside of western capitalist society. Its representation of the interests of small capital means that it expresses a hostility to big capital. And what bigger capital than US imperialist capital -- the Great Satan. It is this hostility by small capital against big capital that gives its anti-imperialist appearance. It is this anti-imperialist appearance that lends its anti-oppressive appearance. Consequently the Muslim masses identify with it. Despite its anti-imperialist appearance it ultimately serves imperialism class interests --essentially it cannot exist independently of global capitalism. Muslim fundamentalism is a politics of the image. This is why it presents itself as pageantry -- religious rhetoric, images, long beards etc. This form of politics assumes a religious form because it is a politics of appearance.And what more suitable a form for such a contradictory politics than its disguising itself in religious -- the class image system.

Islamic fundamentalism's reactionary character does not necessarily mean that it is a force with a programme that makes no sense. It may be that Islamic fundamentalism as much as imperialism sees the strategic and economic global importance of Central Asia and the Middle East. This may be partly why these two regions are central to its actions. As with imperialism it too is seeking to maximise its influence and even control of these regions. Control of these regions will place Islamic fundmanentalism in a vastly greater strategic position in its struggle with imperialism. Its commercial power will correspondingly increase because of its being the source of rich oil reserves. Its colonisation of these strategic regions means that it is well positioned to further deepen and broaden its ideological and geopolitical influence.

 To artificially collapse Islamic fundamentalism into a naive extremist medieval politics that can never really get anywhere is a little naive. Islamic fundamentalism may be perceived by the Western masses as extremist and even insane. To limit perception to the level of appearances is to miss the real point.    It is to ignore the fact that Islamic fundamentalism is anti-imperialist. It is anti-imperialist in the sense that it struggles to establish an economic and political space in which Islamic indigenous capital can develop --a pan Islamic state from the Caucasus to Arabia. Because of the strength of contemporary imperialism it is no longer possible to achieve an independent capitalist class within national boundaries Islamic fundamentalism struggle to promote a capitalist class that exists independently of imperialism from a regional platform as opposed to the context of the nation state. Islamic fundamentalism is not anti-capitalist. But it is anti-imperialist. It represents the class interests of non-imperialist capitalism. Islamic capitalism exists in an atrophied form. Being capital it strives to enlarge itself and break free from the stranglehold of imperialist capital. Given that US imperialism is the leading imperialist power it concentrates it fire on it. Its strategy is designed to split the other imperialist powers from US imperialims as a means of weakening imperialism and thereby defeating it. The Islamic bourgeoisie struggles to emancipate itself from imperialism by setting up the regional political conditions that facilitates its efforts to establish its independence. Because imperialism is so globally powerful and Islamic capitalism so relatively powerless it must resort to the most radical means to establish conditions that facilitate its independent economic development vis a vis imperialist capitalism. Because of the relative strength of the Islamic working class it is forced to cloak its bourgeois aims in the form of religion. This is the basis for the emergence of Islamic fundamentalism as a prominent force in Asia.

          Because of the strength of imperialism and the weakness of Islamic capitalism it is prepared to engage in extreme actions such as suicide bombings of one sort or another.  Because of the potential strength of the Asian working class and the relative weakness of the Islamic bourgeoisie it cannot seriously mobilise the working class without the danger of its own property interests being challenged. Consequently it is prepared to engage in extreme terror to promote its class interests while the working class is reduced to the role of passive audience that watches the stage show unfolding. Islamic capitalism ideologically assumes the form of Islamic fundamentalism. Islamic capitalism constitutes a brand of Islam so restrictive as to ensure that the threat from imperialist capital and the organised working class is ideologically precluded while its very fundamentalist nature is so strong as to ensure that the cohesive unity of its supporters is maintained in the face of overwhelming odds. It is also a religious ideology that transcends, by its nature, the bounds of the colonialist artificially imposed nation states to proclaim a pan-Islamic state. Islamic fundamentalism's anti-imperialism is not congenitally anti-imperialist. Only the working class can display an authentic anti-imperialism. Consequently Islamic fundamentalism while ostensibly anti-imperialist is ultimately pro-imperialist. This is its problem -- its contradiction.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Glasgow Public Meeting - Wed 24th

Bill Clinton's Legacy

15 ways Bill Clinton’s presidency did not serve the people or the world, and in many ways deepened and perpetuated the problems we face today.

1. Prison-loving president. In May, on the heels of the unrest in Baltimore sparked by Freddie Gray’s death in police custody, Clinton apologized for locking too many people up. Thanks, Bill.
The 2.4 million people in prison and the 160,000 Americans serving life in prison largely because of his policies might be excused for not accepting Clinton's apology. Tag-teaming with ex-President Ronald Reagan, Clinton is the president most responsible for the mass incarceration of Americans on an epic scale. The gung-ho crime fighter-in-chief passed the single most damaging law with his omnibus federal crime bill in 1994, which included the infamous “three strikes” law (three felony convictions means a life sentence) and ensured that mandatory minimum sentences imprisoned even low-level, non-violent offenders for a long, long time.
Clinton discussed his regrets about the crime bill with CNN's Christiane Amanpour. "The problem is the way it was written and implemented is we cast too wide a net and we had too many people in prison," he said. "And we wound up... putting so many people in prison that there wasn't enough money left to educate them, train them for new jobs and increase the chances when they came out so they could live productive lives."
All true, except it was not just lack of funds that eliminated education and rehabilitation programs in prison, it was a deliberate choice. Sensing the political popularity of being tough on crime, Clinton fully embraced the lock-'em-up-and-throw-away-the-key mentality, and gloated about three strikes. It strains credulity to think that this exceptionally intelligent man did not understand the dire consequences of what he was doing, as his wife now says.
Clinton’s Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 helped set the national mood. Dozens of states followed with their own mandatory minimum laws. While there is some talk today of criminal justice reform on a minor level (like for low-level drug offenses), no one is talking about the all-but-forgotten population doing hard time thanks in large part to Clinton.

2. Punitive welfare reform. The consequences of Bill Clinton’s welfare reform bill have been devastating for millions of American families. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 took a page directly from Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America. In an atmosphere steeped in decades of conservative scaremongering around the specter of sexually reckless “welfare queens,” Clinton’s 1992 campaign promise to “end welfare as we know it” played directly to white voters' fears of black crime and poverty. Twenty years after scrapping the longstanding Aid to Families with Dependent Children in favor of the right wing’s underfunded and more punitive vision, the number of poor American children has exploded and black welfare recipients are subject to the system’s most stringent rules.
In 2012, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that while “in 1996, for every 100 families with children living in poverty, TANF [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families] provided cash aid to 68 families,” that number plunged to 27 out of every 100 families living in poverty by 2010. Conservatives trumpet these numbers, often citing the fact that nationally, TANF enrollment fell 58 percent between 1995-2010. But they neglect to mention that the number of poor families with children rose 17 percent in the same period.
Sociologist Joe Soss, who has examined the long-term racial consequences of welfare reform, which allowed states to decide how funds were allotted and eligibility determined, also noted that, “all of the states with more African Americans on the welfare rolls chose tougher rules…[E]ven though the Civil Rights Act prevents the government from creating different programs for black and white recipients, when states choose according to this pattern, it ends up that large numbers of African Americans get concentrated in the states with the toughest rules, and large numbers of white recipients get concentrated in the states with the more lenient rules.”

3. Wall Street’s Deregulator-in-Chief.  As president, Clinton outdid the GOP when it came to unleashing Wall Street’s worst instincts, by supporting and signing into law more financial deregulation legislation than any other president, according to the Columbia Journalism Review.
He didn’t just push the Democrats controlling the House to pass a bill (Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act) that dissolved the Depression-era Glass-Steagall law, which barred investment banks from commercial banking activities. He deregulated the risky derivatives market (Commodity Futures Modernization Act), gutted state regulation of banks (Riegle-Neal) leading to a wave of banking mergers, and reappointed Alan Greenspan as Federal Reserve chair. In recent years, Clinton has ludicrously claimed that the GOP forced him to do this, which led in no small part to the global financial crisis of 2008 and the too-big-to-fail ethos, with the federal government obligated to bail out multinational banks while doing little for individual account holders.
“What happened?” he told CNN in 2013. “The American people gave the Congress to a group of very conservative Republicans. When they passed bills with veto-proof majority with a lot of Democrats voting for it, that I couldn’t stop, all of a sudden we turn out to be maniacal deregulators. I mean, come on.” As CJR put it, “This is, to be kind, bullshit,” reciting a list of Clinton deregulatory actions that began while Democrats were the majority, starting with appointing “Robert Rubin and Larry Summers in the Treasury, which officially did in Glass-Steagall and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which left the derivatives market a laissez-faire Wild West.”
CJR concludes, “The bottom line is: Bill Clinton was responsible for more damaging financial deregulation—and thus, for the [2008] financial crisis—than any other president.”

4. Gutted manufacturing via trade agreements. Bill Clinton helped gut America’s manufacturing base by promoting and passing the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, in 1993, when Democrats controlled Congress. That especially resonates today, when another Democratic president, Barack Obama, and Republicans in Congress, are allied against labor unions and liberal Democrats to pass its like-minded descendant, the Trans Pacific Partnership. “NAFTA signaled that the Democratic Party—the “progressive” side of the U.S. two-party system—had accepted the reactionary economic ideology of Ronald Reagan,” wrote Jeff Faux, on the Economic Policy Institute Working Economics Blog.
In 1979, then-candidate Reagan proposed a trade pact between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. But the Democrats who controlled the Congress would not approve it until Clinton pushed it in his first year in office. NAFTA has affected U.S. workers in four major ways, EPI said. It caused the permanent loss of 700,000 manufacturing jobs in industrial states such as California, Texas and Michigan. It gave corporate managers an excuse to cut wages and benefits, threatening otherwise to move to Mexico. Selling U.S. farm products in Mexico “dislocated millions of Mexican workers and their families,” which “was a major cause in the dramatic increase in undocumented workers flowing into the U.S. labor market.” And NAFTA became a “template for rules of the emerging global economy, in which the benefits would flow to capital and the costs to labor.”
The World Trade Organization, World Bank, International Monetary Fund all applied NAFTA's principles, which gave corporations the power to challenge local laws protecting health and safety if they cut into profits—like labeling tobacco packaging. The NAFTA “doctrine of socialism for capital and free markets for labor” could also be seen in the way the U.S. government “organized the rescue of the world’s banks and corporate investors and let workers fend for themselves” in the Mexican peso crisis of 1994-'95, the Asian financial crash of 1997, and the global financial meltdown of 2008.   

5. No LGBT equality: Defense of Marriage Act. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was one of conservatives' biggest victories in the 1990s. Passed by Congress and signed into law by Clinton in 1996, the bill defined spouse as "heterosexual" and deprived legally wed same-sex couples of many significant benefits, from Social Security benefits to hospital visitation rights. It allowed states to refuse legal recognition of couples married in other states.
Writing in the New Yorker, Clinton's former advisor on gay issues, Richard Socarides, addressed why he signed the wildly discriminatory legislation. For one thing, Socarides said that Clinton's political opponents outmaneuvered him. He also chalks up the president's decision as "a failure to imagine how quickly gay rights would evolve." The former president was hardly an ardent supporter of the legislation. The New York Times noted, "Mr. Clinton considered it a gay-baiting measure, but was unwilling to risk re-election by vetoing it."
But the damage was done. For almost a decade, same-sex couples suffered financial and emotional hardships. Gay couples weren't allowed to make medical decisions for their partners, couldn't get the major tax breaks afforded to heterosexual couples, and faced unequal treatment in many other areas of law. In 2013, Clinton stated his opposition to the law. That year, in a major gay rights victory, the Supreme Court declared DOMA’s Section 3 (which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman) unconstitutional. Today, 37 states have legalized same-sex marriage, and in coming days, the Supreme Court is expected to do so.

6. Expanded the war on drugs. Although Clinton called for treatment instead of prison for drug offenders during his 1992 campaign, once in office he reverted to the same drug war strategies of his Republican predecessors. He rejected the U.S. Sentencing Commission's recommendation to eliminate the disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentences. He rejected lifting the federal ban on funding for needle exchange programs. He placed a permanent eligibility ban on food stamps for anyone convicted of a felony drug offense, even marijuana possession. And he prohibited felons from living in public housing.
He also championed the 1994 crime bill, a $30 effort that included more mandatory minimum sentences for crack cocaine, extra funds for states that severely punished convicts, limited judges' discretion in sentencing, and allocated billions for federal prison construction and expansion. During Clinton's tenure, federal prison spending jumped $19 billion (171%), while funding for public housing declined by $17 billion (61%). Under Clinton, nearly $1 billion in state spending shifted from education to prisons.
The U.S. prison population doubled from about 600,000 to about 1.2 million during the Clinton years, and the federal prison population swelled even more dramatically, driven almost entirely by drug war prosecutions. Yet a month before leaving office, Clinton said in a Rolling Stone interview that "we really need a re-examination of our entire policy on imprisonment" of drug users and that pot smoking "should be decriminalized." If only he had acted on those sentiments when it mattered.

7. Expanded the death penalty. When running for president in 1992, then-Arkansas Gov. Clinton allowed his state to execute Ricky Ray Rector, a convicted murderer with severe mental impairments. Despite much criticism, Clinton's decision not to commute the sentence not only established his tough-on-crime credentials as a national candidate, it also became a precedent to the expansion of the federal death penalty under his White House.
Clinton’s 1994 crime bill expanded the death penalty to 60 additional crimes including three that don’t involve murder: espionage, treason and drug trafficking in large amounts. Throughout his presidency he ignored calls for a national moratorium on federal executions. In April 1996, Clinton followed up and signed the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) into law. Introduced by Kansas Republican Sen. Bob Dole in response to the Oklahoma City bombings in 1995, it severely restricted the ability of federal judges to grant relief in cases, reduced trials for convicted criminals and sped up the sentencing process.
In 2011, Troy Davis, an African American convicted of killing an off-duty cop, was put to death in Georgia. Davis’ case sparked nationwide protests as many believed he was innocent. There was no evidence linking him to the crime and seven witnesses who helped put him on Death Row later recanted their testimony.
Many believe Bill Clinton helped seal Davis’ fate years before. Many of Davis’ appeals were denied for procedural reasons and his 2004 petition, which included the recanted testimony and the possible identity of the killer, was rejected by the federal judge since, under current regulations, such evidence has to be presented first in state court. Davis’ defense was unable to do that because, shortly before AEDPA became law, Congress slashed $20 million from post-conviction legal defense organizations. In a piece in Time, Brendan Lowe quoted Dale Baich, an assistant federal public defender in Arizona: “The bottom line is that the AEDPA is very harsh and unforgiving.”

8. Returned to Cold War priorities. As the Soviet Union collapsed, the U.S. under President George H.W. Bush forged ahead with the same imperialist stance toward Europe. As Bush's successor, Clinton had an historic opportunity to attempt a cooperative, non-aggressive international model based on international law. While his administration frequently gave lip service to these ideals, a far-reaching economic and political agenda to bring Eastern Europe into the NATO-E.U.-U.S. orbit was in the works. As Clinton's former national security advisor Anthony Lake summarized, "Throughout the cold war, we contained a global threat to market democracies: now we should seek to enlarge their reach." And enlarge they did.
The Clinton administration intervened massively across the former Soviet satellite states of Eastern Europe, with direct interventions in the Balkans through NATO, corporate buyouts of industry from Poland to the Czech Republic, and the notorious "shock doctrine" of neoliberal economic reforms in exchange for IMF loans: cutting wages and corporate taxes, increasing working hours and slashing social programs. Bringing the Baltic states and Eastern Bloc countries into military arrangements associated with NATO, and establishing a major military garrison in the Balkans, Bill Clinton set the stage for the clash on Russia's border in Ukraine currently overseen by Obama, which could last for decades and undermine the process of integrating Russia into the industrialized world.

9. Joycelyn Elders and the culture war. At a 1994 U.N. Conference on AIDS, the U.S. Surgeon General, Joycelyn Elders, was asked if “a more explicit discussion and promotion of masturbation” could help limit the spread of the virus. Elders said she was “a very strong advocate” of teaching sex education in schools “at a very early age.” She added, “As per your specific question in regard to masturbation, I think that it is something that is a part of human sexuality and it’s a part of something that perhaps should be taught. But we’ve not even taught our children the very basics.”
Less than a month later, Elders was asked for her resignation. She had spent just 15 month serving as Surgeon General of the Public Health Service under the Clinton administration. As Arkansas governor, Clinton had appointed her director of the state’s Health Department, the first African American to hold the title.

Elders later clarified that she'd suggested not to teach schoolchildren how to masturbate, but that masturbation is a natural part of human sexuality. “People have taken a lot of things I’ve said in a most unusual way,” she said. However, Clinton White House chief of staff Leon E. Panetta said her comment was, “just one too many,” and her remarks on masturbation were “not what a surgeon general should say.” Elders has also endorsed legalizing drugs and giving out birth control in high schools.
Then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich said, "It's good for the country and good for the president that she's departed." But as the New York Times reported, Elders' dismissal was met with heavy criticism from gay rights organizations, abortion rights groups and liberal organizations like People for the American Way. The New York City chapter of Planned Parenthood commented, "Mr. Clinton will be making a serious political mistake if he continues to try to out-Newt Mr. Gingrich.”

10. Turning Lincoln Bedroom into fundraising condo. The Lincoln Bedroom is an historic bedroom on the second floor of the White House that was at one time Abraham Lincoln's personal office. Under Clinton, it served another purpose: an overnight apartment for top political donors. Between 1995 and 1996, donors who gave a total of $5.4 million to the Democratic National Committee—including businessman William Rollnick, who gave $235,000 to the DNC, and investor Dirk Ziff, who gave $411,000—stayed overnight as White House guests.
Clinton had few doubts about the idea. When originally pitched to him in a note by deputy chief of staff Harold Ickes, the president responded, “Ready to start overnights right away.” Sadly, Clinton started a trend. On the campaign trail, George W. Bush criticized Clinton for “virtually renting out the Lincoln Bedroom to big campaign donors.” Yet when Bush took office he continued the practice, handing the location over to donors who had given him over $100,000 and personal friends, including Texas oilman Joe O'Neill and Republican National Committee fundraiser Brad Freeman.

11. Bombed Sudanese pharmaceutical plant. On Aug. 20, 1998 the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum North, Sudan was annihilated by a cruise missile strike launched by the Clinton administration. President Clinton claimed the plant was making a deadly nerve agent and maintained connections to Osama bin Laden, who was unknown to most Americans at the time. Sudan claimed it was a factory producing medicines that saved thousands.
The factory’s owner, Salah Idris, denied the allegations vehemently and unsuccessfully tried to sue the U.S. government. According to a U.K. Guardian story, the plant "provided 50 percent of Sudan’s medicines” and was the country’s main source of anti-malaria drugs. Germany’s ambassador to Sudan, Werner Daum, says the bombing led to "several tens of thousands of deaths” and Human Rights Watch wrote a letter to the president explaining how it had slowed down relief efforts in the region. In his book, Al-Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror, Jason Burke credits the bombing with bolstering terrorism: “[it] confirmed to [bin Laden and his cohorts], and others with similar views worldwide, that their conception of the world as a cosmic struggle between good and evil was the right one.” Noam Chomsky has written that the bombing’s consequences “may be comparable” to the attacks of September 11.

12. Doubled down on Iraq sanctions. Due to President George W. Bush’s disastrous war of choice in Iraq, people forget Bill Clinton’s Iraq humanitarian disaster: U.S. sanctions that decimated the Iraqi economy, crippled the civilian infrastructure, and according to a 1999 UNICEF survey, ultimately led to the deaths of more than 500,000 children. Though the sanctions began under President George H.W. Bush in 1990, Clinton expanded them, insisting a week before he took office in 1993, “There is no difference between my policy and the policy of the [Bush] administration” and squashing any subsequent effort to rein them in.
In 1996, Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeleine Albright continued to defend the sanctions. By 2000, some members of Congress cited an increasing number of reports of the humanitarian crisis, calling for an end to sanctions. House Democratic Whip David Bonior referred to it as “infanticide masquerading as policy.” But Clinton refused to budge, defending the policy until the end of his presidency in 2001. Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden cited the sanctions as one of his primary motives behind the 9/11 attacks on New York City and Washington, DC later that year.

13. Political smears: Sistah Souljah. Clinton was highly regarded by African Americans during the 1992 election cycle for his ability to articulate how racism impacted their communities. However, when it mattered most, he dropped the ball on race when it was completely unnecessary. It started when he blasted hop-hop artist Sistah Souljah over her comments in a Washington Post article about the Los Angeles riots, which were sparked by the acquittal of several Los Angeles policemen who beat truck driver Rodney King. “If black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?” she said.
Souljah claims she was misquoted. However, a few weeks later, both she and Clinton spoke at Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition conference in Washington. Clinton used his appearance to criticize her statements, saying, “We can’t get anywhere in this country pointing the finger at one another across racial lines.” He compared her remarks to former KKK wizard David Duke. 
As Matt Bai wrote for Yahoo, Clinton was not going to lose black votes by calling the rapper out. Black people were (and still are) hyper loyal to the Democratic Party. But since Clinton is being reflective about his presidency, perhaps he needs to go back to 1992 and rethink why he used his time at the Rainbow Coalition to appeal to a segment of white voters who may have wanted to see him distance himself from Rev. Jackson, still a key leader in the Democratic Party at the time.
If you read the full Washington Post coverage and listen to some of Sistah Souljah's commentary on white supremacy, you’ll see she makes some valuable points about anti-blackness and structural racism that are worth considering. But Clinton chose not to delve into that. Instead, he preferred to sell a sistah out and play the saxophone on the Arsenio Hall show.

14. Knew about coming Rwandan genocide. This might be Clinton’s worst foreign policy failure. Intelligence analysts knew in advance about the plans for the Hutu-led genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda, yet the White House did nothing to try to stop it. In 2013, Clinton told MSNBS that he could have sent some 10,000 U.S. troops to the Central African nation to support a U.N. peacekeeping force and perhaps saved 300,000 lives—about a third of those who perished.
In retrospect, Clinton said, “You can’t stop everything bad that's happening.” He pointed to his success ending sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, the Bosnian war and the 1993 Oslo Accord between Israel and the Palestinians. The fact remains that the White House knew one of the worst genocides since World War II was coming, and did not try to halt it.

15. Escalated America's foreign drug wars. In Clinton's second term, he initiated Plan Colombia, a multibillion-dollar effort to reduce that country's coca and cocaine production and end a decades-long war between Bogota and leftist FARC rebels. While Colombian President Andres Pastrana Arango originally envisioned the initiative as an economic development, roughly 80% of U.S. aid under Plan Colombia was military assistance, making Colombia the third largest recipient of foreign aid after Israel and Egypt.
Plan Colombia strengthened the Colombian military, which was allied with rightist paramilitary groups. It made gains against the drug trade and the FARC, but at a huge cost. Tens of thousands of civilians were killed and hundreds of thousands became internal refugees. Concern over human rights abuses in the Colombian security forces resulted in the passage of the Leahy Provision, which barred anti-drug aid to any military unit involved in human rights abuses. 
And then there was Mexico. Early this year when in Mexico, Clinton apologized for the U.S. role in the war on drugs and also for NAFTA, both of which led to violence. “I wish you had no narco-trafficking, but it’s not really your fault,” he said. Clinton’s policies were a double blow for Mexico. He deepened the drug war’s efforts to reduce U.S. domestic drug use by interdicting flows from abroad, forever changing the nature of Mexico's contraband economy from small-time mom-and-pop operations to the immensely wealthy, powerful and violent cartels of today. Meanwhile, NAFTA opened the floodgates to illegal drugs hidden in the massive flows of legitimate commerce across the border. Large corporations weren't the only beneficiaries of free trade; so were Mexican drug traffickers.

Join the socialists in a refusal to vote for evil, either of the lesser or the greater sort. This is the only way we can avoid a repeat performance with Hillary.

Fight Austerity

Monday, June 22, 2015

Abolish Money (video talk)

Afghanistan - What are the facts

The United States has poured over 100 billion dollars into developing and rebuilding this country of just over 30 million people. This is not including the aid and funding provided by its allies. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) say that higher life expectancy outcomes, better healthcare facilities and improved education access represent the ‘positive’ side of U.S. intervention. So from this perspective, the estimated 26,000 civilian casualties as a direct result military action must be viewed as a reasonable price to pay for the fact that people are now living longer, fewer mothers are dying while giving birth, and more children are going to school. However, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) suggests that “much of the official happy talk on reconstruction should be taken with a grain of salt.

John F. Sopko, the Special Inspector General, pointed out that funds allocated to rebuilding Afghanistan now “exceed the value of the entire Marshall Plan effort to rebuild Western Europe after World War II….Unfortunately, from the outset to this very day large amounts of taxpayer dollars have been lost to waste, fraud, and abuse. These disasters often occur when the U.S. officials who implement and oversee programs fail to distinguish fact from fantasy.”

USAID has invested approximately 769 million dollars in Afghanistan’s education sector and the number of enrolled students from an estimated 900,000 in 2002 to more than eight million in 2013. Sopko claimed that a top USAID official believed there to be roughly four million children in school – less than half the figure on which current funding commitments is based. The education ministry continues to count students as ‘enrolled’ even if they have been absent from school for three years. Two Afghan ministers cited local media reports to inform parliament about fraud in the education sector, alleging that former officials who served under President Hamid Karzai had falsified data on the number of active schools in Afghanistan in order to receive continued international funding. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) office in Kabul, the country continues to boast one of the lowest literacy rates in the world, standing at approximately 31 percent of the population aged 15 years of age and older. There are also massive geographic and gender-based gaps, with female literacy levels falling far below the national average, at just 17 percent, and varying hugely across regions, with a 34-percent literacy rate in Kabul compared to a rate of just 1.6 percent in two southern provinces.

Discrepancies between official statistics and reality are not limited to the education sector but manifest in almost all areas of the reconstruction process. Take the issue of life expectancy, which USAID claimed last year had increased from 42 years in 2002 to over 60 years in 2014. If accurate, this would represent a tremendous stride towards better overall living conditions for ordinary Afghans. But SIGAR has cited a number of different statistics, including data provided by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) World Factbook and the United Nations Population Division, which offer much lower numbers for the average life span – some as low as 50 years.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Makes you think

87 percent of Americans describe themselves as either "middle class," "upper-middle class," or "lower-middle class." So it's no wonder politicians use it. About nine out of 10 Americans think the politician is talking about them. But nearly half the population wouldn't be able to cover an unexpected $400 expense through savings or their credit card and would have to cover it by selling something or borrowing money.

A quarter of households are 'asset poor', meaning that they wouldn't be able to subsist at the poverty level for three months following a job loss, medical emergency or sudden need to fix car. This measure includes assets like home or business.

If you only count liquid assets, then that number jumps to almost 44% of households that wouldn't be able to make it in three months.

Take your cut (music video)

Take your Cut 

We're all in this together, 
and there's a bill that must get paid. 
We can fix this mess, together, 
if you just do what we say 

Take your cut. 

We're in this mess one nation, 
the nice folk and the rest. 
Each of us to their station; 
society or pest. 

Take your cut. 

Blame it all on the shirkers, 
those who lay behind their blinds. 
They betray the toil of the workers, 
it weighs on our beautiful minds. 

Take your cut. 

We are the same as you, 
yet we are not the same 

Take your cut. 

You can blame it all on the shirkers, 
those you lay behind their blinds. 
They betray the toil of the workers, 
it weighs heavy on our beautiful minds. 
And the pain you bear, 
though we won't be there, 
weighs heavily. 

Take your cut.

Naomi Klein (video)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Romanians Child Stealers

I simply don't believe it ...