Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Two Bombs Explode at Italy's Northern League Party Seat

Two Bombs Explode at Italy's Northern League Party Seat

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Italian embassy bombs linked to anarchists, Rome on high alert



English.news.cn 2010-12-25 09:04:48 FeedbackPrintRSS
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-12/25/c_13663984.htm
by Eric J. Lyman

ROME, Dec. 24 (Xinhua) -- An Italian anarchist group with ties to the country's famed Red Brigade extremist organization claimed responsibility for two embassy bombings that left two people seriously injured and put the Italian capital on high alert.

The bombs arrived via post Friday to the Rome-based embassies of Switzerland and Chile, seriously injuring the hands, arms, and chest of both embassy clerks who opened the packages.

Police said the Swiss clerk might have to have one or both hands amputated, while the Chilean worker is at risk of losing sight in one eye.

A group called the Informal Anarchist Federation -- known by its Italian-language initials FAI -- Friday claimed responsibility for the blasts. Both of the packages included a message that read: "Long live FAI! Long live anarchy!"

The burned remains of a note found in the parcel at the Chilean embassy read: "We have decided to make our voice heard once again, with words and with deeds. We will destroy the system of domination."

The notes were signed by the FAI, but they claimed they were the work of a previously unknown FAI member group called the "Lambros Founas Cell." Lambros Founas was a Green anarchist killed in a shootout with police in March.

Italian Minister of the Interior Roberto Maroni said the attacks were likely related to Conspiracy of Cells of Fire, a group that carried out 14 similar attacks in Greece in November. Those attacks also included bombs sent to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, as well as to the leaders of France, Germany and Greece.

Italian authorities said the choice of the Swiss and Chilean embassies was likely linked to the arrests of anarchists in those countries, though the claim of responsibility from FAI made no mention of that.

Soon after the two explosions, police in Rome went on high alert, calling for x-rays of packages arriving to other embassies, while there was a visible police presence on the streets of the capital.

On Friday, the Pope gave his traditional Christmas Eve mass amid tightened security that Vatican authorities said was a response to the bombings the day before. In an apparent reference to the attacks, the 83-year-old pontiff used his homily to call on those listening to become "people of peace."

Police said Friday they believe the anarchists behind the two postal bombs were also responsible for helping turn protests in the wake of the Dec. 14 parliamentary confidence vote that allowed Berlusconi to narrowly hold on to power into violent clashes that sent dozens of people to the hospital and burned several cars and damaged shops.

It is the third time in less then a decade that FAI used the holiday season to launch a series of attacks.

In 2003, the group launched what it called "Operation Santa Claus," mailing hollowed out books full of explosives to four European Union government bodies, including one to Italian political leader Romano Prodi, who was then the president of the European Commission.

And a year ago, the group claimed responsibility for a bomb that went off just before Christmas in a pedestrian tunnel near Bocconi University in Milan.

According to the U.S.-based National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism and Italian intelligence documents between 2008 and 2009, the FAI is an umbrella group of small anarchist groups that has also claimed solidarity with the Red Brigades, the leftist guerilla group behind a long series of deadly attacks that ravaged Italy in the 1970s and 1980s and was responsible for the kidnapping and death of Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro in 1978.

Editor: Zhang Xiang

Russia: The Return Of Fascism

St. Petersburg Times

Friday, 24 December 2010

Tool Time: Palin Loves/Hates WikiLeaks?

THE ALYONA SHOW : Tool Time: Palin Loves/Hates WikiLeaks?

Saturday, 18 December 2010

The captialist crisis explained in no uncertain terms.



A legend.

Unequal Britain


FRFI 218 Dec 2010 / Jan 2011
Thursday, 16 December 2010 11:11
http://www.revolutionarycommunist.org/index.php/britain/2005-unequal-britain-frfi-218-dec-2010--jan-2011.html

We live in a massively divided society. Britain today has the highest level of income inequality for 60 years, with the household wealth of the top 10% of the population 100 times greater than that of the poorest 10%. 30% of children in Britain live in poverty. Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Black African men earn around 20% less than white men and nearly half of Bangladeshi and Pakistani households live in poverty. NICKI JAMESON reports.

On 11 October 2010, Equality and Human Rights Commissioner Trevor Phillips (salary £112,000 for a three and a half day week) launched the report of the first Triennial Review of equality in Britain. How fair is Britain? Equality, Human Rights and Good Relations in 2010* a massive piece of work amalgamating detailed research on inequality and discrimination on grounds of race, gender, disability, sexuality, religion and social class. Fact after fact, statistic after statistic hammer home the realities of unequal Britain; yet Phillips fantastically managed to introduce the report with the statement that: ‘Britain is a country where we despise prejudice, embrace equality and believe in the fundamental right of the individual to make the most of his or her talents in a free society. We are increasingly at ease with diversity of all kinds, and intolerant of discrimination of any kind.’

Instead of demands for immediate action in the face of the fact that, for example, the life expectancy of the richest men and women in Britain is up to seven years longer than that of the poorest, and that Black African women asylum seekers have a mortality rate seven times higher than that of White women, we are treated to platitudes such as that, ‘[although] many of the old biases are, if not vanquished, on their way out…there is a great deal still to be done and there are new challenges emerging.’

A matter of life and death


In today’s Britain skin colour and immigration status can be a matter of life and death. A quarter of homicide victims are from ethnic minorities, with Black people the most likely to be murdered. Despite all the handwringing since the Lawrence Inquiry about ‘institutional racism’ in the police force and prison system, Black people are still more likely than any other ethnic group to die following contact with the police.

While levels of violent crime are falling overall, this is not reflected in the number of incidents of hate crime and domestic violence. Domestic violence is generally under-reported, particularly amongst women from ethnic and religious minority communities, by disabled women who are abused by carers they depend on and by new immigrants and asylum seekers.

Behind bars

People from ethnic minorities are substantially over-represented in the prison population; one in four prisoners is from an ethnic minority. On average, five times more Black people than White people in England and Wales are imprisoned (relative to general population) – a greater disproportionality than in the US.

The number of women prisoners has nearly doubled since 1995, although women still comprise just 5% of the prison population. A higher proportion of women in prison have experienced domestic violence than have women in the population as a whole. Many people who are imprisoned have mental health conditions or learning disabilities, have been in care or have experienced abuse.


Racism and social inequality are bad for your health


The shocking statistic on the mortality of Black African women asylum seekers is described in the report as ‘partly due to problems in accessing maternal healthcare’. Following a series of court cases in 2008-9, hospitals have been instructed not to provide free health care to ‘failed asylum seekers’. The Department of Health has instructed that maternity care should be provided whether the woman can pay or not, but the very fact that bills are issued is sufficient to terrify some refugee women from going to hospital.

The report details the strong association between poverty and poor health: those who have never worked or are long-term unemployed have the highest rates of self-reported poor health. People in routine occupations are more than twice as likely to say their health is ‘poor’ as those in higher managerial and professional occupations; people from lower socio-economic groups are more likely to have a poor diet and less likely to take regular exercise. Not surprisingly, people living in poverty or subject to victimisation show high rates of mental illness.

Across ethnic groups, Chinese people report the best health, while Gypsies and Travellers experience the worst. Pakistani and Bangladeshi people are more likely than those from other ethnic groups to report poor health, experience poor mental health, report a disability or limiting long-term illness, and more likely to find it hard to access and communicate with their GPs. Infant mortality is highest in Black Caribbean and Pakistani families.


A two-tier education system


A generation ago nearly all university students were White British; today one student in five is from an ethnic minority. However, there are massive internal divisions within the system, which current government plans for higher education (see pages 8 and 9) will only serve to widen: fewer than 10% of Black students are at the most prestigious ‘Russell Group’ universities, compared to a quarter of White students, and about a third of Black students get a first or upper-second class degree, compared to two-thirds of White students.

Students from lower socio-economic groups begin their education at a disadvantage and the gap widens in the course of their school years. Students eligible for free school meals are less than half as likely to achieve five good GCSEs including English and Maths. Fewer than one in six Gypsy and Traveller children obtain five good GCSEs.

Black Caribbean children are permanently excluded from schools in England at a rate of 30 per 10,000 and Gypsy and Traveller children at 38 per 10,000, compared to five per 10,000 for Asian and nine per 10,000 for White pupils.

Working life

Despite years of struggle for gender equality, the pay gap between men and women remains significant. At age 40 men are earning on average 27% more than women. Women workers make up 83% of people employed in personal services. Over 40% of women are employed in the public sector, compared to 15% of men. A large proportion of women work part time.

The effect of taking time out of work to bring up children is greatest for the women with the lowest income to begin with. Women with degrees are estimated to face a 4% loss in lifetime earnings as a result of motherhood, while mothers with mid-level qualifications face a 25% loss and those with no qualifications a 58% loss.

The government is currently rolling out punitive plans to force people with disabilities off benefit. The Triennial Review reveals that, despite anti-discrimination legislation and measures, between the 1970s and 2000s the chances of working for low qualified British men with disabilities halved from 77% to 38%. Of disabled people in their early 20s, 45% are Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET).

The British labour market continues to be characterised by a high level of occupational segregation. For example, around 25% of Pakistani men are employed primarily as taxi drivers. Muslim people have the lowest rate of employment of any religious group. Only 47% of Muslim men and 24% of Muslim women are employed and 42% of young Muslim people are NEET.

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer

The average net household wealth of the top 10% is £853,000 – almost 100 times higher than the net wealth of the poorest 10%, which is £8,800 or below. One person in five lives in a household with less than 60% of the median income (after housing costs); this rises to one in four for families with disabled people and nearly one in three for Bangladeshi households.

Across the board, class intersects with race, gender and disability to increase disadvantage. Ethnic and religious minorities and disabled people are over-represented in the most deprived neighbourhoods; a quarter of Bangladeshi households are overcrowded; two-thirds of Bangladeshi and Pakistani people lack savings and half of Bangladeshi and Pakistani pensioners live below the poverty line.

When the Labour government came to power in 1997, Tony Blair pledged to end child poverty. Today 30% of all children in Britain grow up in poverty – one of the highest rates in the industrialised world. This rises to 50% for Black African children and 75% for Bangladeshis.

People from lower socio-economic groups are more likely both to need care and to provide it. Better-off people are more likely to use formal childcare and people on low incomes, non-working parents and single parents less likely to use formal childcare. Bangladeshi and Pakistani people are significantly more likely than average to provide informal paid care (more than twice as likely as White people). There are a significant number of young carers (175,000 aged under 18 in 2001); a disproportionate number of whom are from ethnic minority backgrounds.

An agenda for fairness?

Although Phillips states in his introduction that the report’s function is descriptive, rather than ‘a prescription for change’, the research culminates with an ‘agenda for fairness’. The five key aims are: to reduce the effect of socio-economic background on health and life expectancy; to ensure that every individual has the chance to learn and to realise their talents to the full; to give every person the opportunity to play a part in strengthening Britain’s economy; to put an end to identity-based violence and harassment; to give more people greater personal autonomy and civic power. Each is accompanied by a series of subsidiary goals, such as ‘close the infant mortality gap between ethnic groups’ or ‘close the gender pay gap faster and further’. Other than the debatable notion of participation in ‘strengthening Britain’s economy’ this is in some senses a fairly uncontentious wish-list; however, there is no chance, especially given the current ‘slash and burn’ of public spending, of the generalised proposals being made more concrete, nor of funding being allocated to even begin to implement those parts of the agenda which could be realised this side of a socialist revolution.

Britain is an imperialist nation. The racism which permeates the country’s institutions and the resulting entrenched discrimination at all levels are a reflection of Britain’s world role as a nation which has systematically plundered and colonised, and which continues to invade, occupy and oppress other nations. Despite the existence of all sorts of ‘anti-discrimination legislation’ and the setting up of bodies like the Equality and Human Rights Commission, racism remains legally enshrined in the form of immigration laws and freelance prejudice is encouraged in the media, including the publicly funded BBC. No serious fight against racism can take place without simultaneous support for the struggle against imperialism.

This is an important report and contains a mass of information, all of which illustrates that, although the inequalities and prejudices of today are not the same as those of 30 years ago, Britain today remains a divided society, polarised along racial and class lines. This inequality cannot be resolved by capitalist government quangos or legislation even in times of prosperity. In the coming times of enforced austerity, there is even less chance of greater ‘fairness’ being handed down from above. Inequality is fundamental to capitalism and the struggle for equality is the struggle for socialism.

Fight racism! Fight imperialism!


* Available at www.equalityhumanrights.com/. The Equality and Human Rights Commission was set up in 2007 by the Labour government, which amalgamated the Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission into a single body. Its duties include reporting every three years on progress towards a society ‘where every individual has the opportunity to achieve their potential, and where people treat each other with dignity and respect.’

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Spending cuts 'will see rise in absolute child poverty'



Institute of Fiscal Studies analysis shows that government programme will push 200,000 into penury

Randeep Ramesh, Social affairs editor guardian.co.uk, Thursday 16 December 2010

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/dec/16/spending-cuts-rise-absolute-child-poverty

Child poverty is predicted to worsen, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies. Photograph: Save the Children

The government's radical programme to slash spending will see the first rise in absolute child poverty for 15 years, with almost 200,000 children pushed into penury, according to an analysis by the Institute of Fiscal Studies.

Tax changes introduced by the coalition government will, the leading independent fiscal thinktank finds, increase absolute poverty by 200,000 children and 200,000 working-age adults in 2012-13.

Cuts to housing benefit alone will force a further 100,000 children into poverty.

In the next three years the IFS says average incomes are forecast to stagnate and this, coupled with deep cuts in welfare, will see a rise in relative poverty for children and working-age adults of 800,000 and a rise in absolute poverty for the same group of 900,000.

The institute directly challenges the government's claim that the impact of the budget would have no effect on child poverty.

Sally Copley, head of UK policy at Save the Children, said: "George Osborne promised in his spending review that child poverty would not get worse over the next two years. These new figures show the government will meet this commitment.

"But standing still on child poverty is never good enough and the prospect of it actually rising after 2012 is totally unacceptable."

Absolute poverty, set at 60% of 2010's average income, is used to set legally binding targets in the landmark Child Poverty Act passed this year with cross-party support.

Robert Joyce, a research economist and an author of the report, said: "We find that the coalition government's measures act to increase poverty among these groups slightly in 2012–13, and more clearly in 2013–14. Meeting the legally binding child poverty targets in 2020 would require the biggest fall in relative child poverty after 2013–14 since at least 1961."

Campaigners said the work sounded "an alarm on a future crisis".

Chris Goulden, poverty policy manager at the Joseph Rowntree Trust, which commissioned the research, said that the rise in inequality and impoverishment were mainly caused by pegging benefits to rates less than inflation, freezing child benefit, and the slew of changes to the housing benefits system which affects 4.6m households.

"It is a reversal of fortune for the poor. The coalition have said that the increases in child tax credits will help but that's sticking plaster," said Goulden.

The Treasury questioned the figures, saying that the IFS admitted "considerable uncertainty", which means the "small differences they identify may not be meaningful".

The coalition has queried how poverty should be measured, and a report for it by Labour MP Frank Field recommended augmenting current poverty indicators with a set of "life chances" indicators. Some on the centre-right say these could include reducing the number of households where no one works, or the 350,000 children living with drug-dependent parents.

A Treasury spokesman said: "The government has been clear child poverty isn't just about getting above an arbitrary line, but is about improving people's life chances, as outlined in Frank Field's review. The steps taken to reduce welfare spending are to incentivise work and remove people from getting stuck on benefits.

"Any consideration of the impact of the government's reforms on child poverty should take into account the wider [government] work to encourage work and improve children's life chances."

Neil O'Brien, director of the right-leaning Policy Exchange thinktank, said: "The problem with what the IFS is saying is that the measure they use isn't an indicator of real poverty; it's a measure of inequality. It defines 'poverty' as being below 60% of the average income.

"This is a hangover from the Gordon Brown era. Real poverty isn't the same as inequality. The IFS's definition would mean that there are actually more people in poverty in Britain today than there are in Poland."

Friday, 3 December 2010

No war against Korea!


U.S. warships, jets are the real threat
Published Dec 1, 2010 10:01 PM

http://www.workers.org/2010/world/no_war_against_korea_1209/

Scores of U.S. warships and fighter jets, carrying more than 6,000 crew members and reinforced by ships, planes and 70,000 soldiers of the armed forces of south Korea, began carrying out joint military “exercises” in the sea west of Korea on Nov. 28. They have brought the divided peninsula to the brink of war.
In July some 20 U.S. warships and 200 planes had carried out similar maneuvers with the armed forces of the south. So this is the second time in less than six months that Washington and the right-wing south Korean regime of Lee Myung-bak have carried out a grave provocation against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (socialist north Korea).

Nor can China, which lies just 200 miles to the northwest, fail to be alarmed at such aggressive military moves by the U.S. Two days before the joint maneuvers began, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said: “We hold a consistent and clear-cut stance on the issue. We oppose any party to take any military acts in our exclusive economic zone without permission.” (Xinhua, Nov. 26) Nevertheless, the U.S. and south Korea went right ahead with the maneuvers.

Hostilities began with shells fired at DPRK

This time the south Korean forces went a step further than in July. Days before the joint exercises with the U.S. were scheduled to begin, they fired live shells into the waters right off the DPRK from the island of Yeonpyeong, which lies far west of the south Korean mainland and very close to the coast of the DPRK. Both the island and the waters are disputed territory. The U.S. had arbitrarily drawn a line on a map years ago claiming the island for south Korea, but the DPRK has never accepted that.

Thus, the military that ordered these shells be fired at 1:00 p.m. on Nov. 23 knew full well that this was a brazen provocation against the DPRK — one that could easily lead to a response in kind, especially since the DPRK had already characterized the “exercises” as a simulated invasion of the north.

If south Korea and its huge sponsor, the U.S., had wanted to avoid confrontation with the DPRK, would they have fired shells into a disputed area?

The provocation comes from the U.S. and the Lee Myung-bak regime, not the DPRK.

An hour and a half later, at 2:34 p.m., after making immediate verbal protests, the DPRK retaliated by shelling the south’s military base on Yeonpyeong. According to officials in Seoul, two soldiers were killed. They later claimed that two civilians had died as well.

Immediately, the propaganda blast from both the U.S. and south Korea went to earsplitting levels, blaming the DPRK for “irrational” and “brutal” behavior. The Pentagon announced it would have to send the USS George Washington — a nuclear-powered carrier with nearly 6,000 sailors and an air wing of 75 fighter jets that had taken part in the July “exercises” — plus five other warships to back up the forces of the Lee regime in joint naval maneuvers.

While the south Korean military ultimately takes its orders from the Pentagon, the U.S. claimed it had not been involved with the south Korean “exercises” at the time of the exchange of artillery. But the facts show otherwise. CNN.com on Nov. 23 reported that “Some U.S. forces had been helping the South Koreans in a military training exercise, but were not in the shelled area.” Right. They were part of the provocation but stayed out of range. Like U.S. “advisers” in Vietnam in the early years of that war.

However, even with a media blitz focused on inventing reasons for north Korean “aggression,” sometimes an article slips through that blows a hole in the fairy tales.

Thomas D. Farrell, a former U.S. Army Reserve intelligence officer who served in Korea and says he is “no apologist for North Korea,” explains how these events were seen by the DPRK: “This attack occurred on an island in the West (Yellow) Sea. Although there is a clearly defined Military Line of Demarcation on land, there is no clearly defined line running into the ocean. The so-called Northern Limit Line has never been accepted by North Korea, and has been the subject of many skirmishes over the years. A look at a map shows that Yeonpyeong Island is rather close to North Korea. The ROK [south Korean] Navy was dropping shells in nearby waters as part of its annual Hoguk military exercises which, like all military exercises, are condemned by the North Koreans as a provocation and rehearsal for invasion.

“The point is that when one views this event from the mindset of the other side, it is perfectly understandable. The grand theories attempting to explain it are gaseous. The real story is that the North Koreans saw the ROK Navy’s actions as a provocation and responded as they might well be expected to.” (Honolulu Star Advertiser, Nov. 29)

China also feels threatened

The imperialist media are saying that the DPRK’s “belligerence” is trying the patience of China. China has been an ally of the DPRK since 1950, when U.S. forces under the command of Gen. Douglas McArthur invaded north Korea, bombed all its cities, and threatened the new revolutionary government of China with nuclear war.

But while China is seeking a peaceful solution to the present crisis, there can be no doubt that it sees U.S. belligerence toward the DPRK as a threat to its own peaceful development.

Li Jie, a researcher with the Chinese navy’s military academy, wrote about the U.S.-south Korean “exercises” scheduled for last July:

“A joint drill with the ROK [south Korea] in the key waters off its Asian military bases will help the U.S. realize multiple strategic goals in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Li.

“First, the drill will help the U.S. maintain high-pressure against what it calls a restive DPRK regime. It is also believed to be an explicit indication of the U.S. stance that the world’s sole superpower would stand firmly behind the ROK and Japan in case of a military conflict between Pyongyang and Washington’s two traditional Asian allies.

“In addition, a well-deliberated military exercise in the Yellow Sea will also help the U.S. collect geographic and military information about some Asian countries [especially China — d.g.] bordering the vast waters.

“General Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of general staff of the People’s Liberation Army, has expressed ‘firm opposition’ to the scheduled U.S.-ROK military maneuver.” (China Daily, July 12)

But the July maneuvers took place anyway, and are now being repeated at an even higher level of provocation. China has called for an emergency meeting with the U.S., south Korea, the DPRK, Russia and Japan to defuse the situation. As of Nov. 29, this call has been ignored by the Obama and Lee administrations.

There is nothing “irrational” in either the response of the DPRK or the worries of the Chinese. U.S. imperialism waged a horrendous war against the Korean Revolution from 1950 to 1953, one that resulted in millions of deaths. It has occupied south Korea ever since, with a force that still numbers almost 30,000. It has refused to even discuss a peace treaty to formally end that war.

Should it be surprising, then, that the DPRK knows it has to be ready at any time to repel another invasion? If even a retired U.S. Army intelligence officer knows that the shelling by the south would force the north to respond, didn’t those who ordered the shelling know it too? Wasn’t it deliberately intended to provide the excuse for greater threats against the DPRK, with the intention of provoking “regime change”?

U.S. pundits are now openly talking about the “reunification” of Korea based on the south swallowing up the north — in other words, an invasion and counterrevolution that would allow capitalism and imperialism a free hand to exploit the workers and farmers there.

This is something that the DPRK leaders and masses will never allow.

Is it surprising that the Chinese leaders are also alarmed when U.S. imperialism, while making money off investments and trade there, nevertheless tries to encircle China militarily?

The chair of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen, reveals the mindset of the Pentagon: “I don’t think this will be the last exercise,” he said. “This is a part of the world that we’ve exercised in for decades and we will continue.” (CNN, Nov. 28)

Instead of putting out anti-DPRK propaganda in the guise of psychoanalyzing its leaders, why don’t the media ask why the U.S. leaders do what they do? Why have they maintained a hostile policy against the DPRK for more than 60 years, ever since its anti-colonial and anti-capitalist revolution? Why won’t they sign a peace treaty with the DPRK so that the Korean people can work for real disarmament and reunification?

But that would be to acknowledge that the U.S. is ruled by a class of billionaires that has fattened itself on war and exploitation all over the world and has a long history of creating excuses for the bloody expansion of its imperial reach. The media have been part of this inglorious history, ever since the Hearst papers invented an excuse for invading Cuba in 1898.

Let’s not fall for another “Gulf of Tonkin” or “weapons of mass destruction” lie. The enemy of the working class is right here, in the boardrooms and banks of U.S. capitalism, that are taking away everything the workers have won over generations of struggle and hard work.

No aggression against socialist Korea! End the war “games,” lift the sanctions, sign a peace treaty with the DPRK, and bring U.S. troops and ships home!



WORKERS WORLD PARTY STATEMENT Stop U.S. aggression in Korea!

Published Dec 1, 2010 9:58 PM
http://www.workers.org/2010/world/wwp_1209/

Workers World Party stands in complete solidarity with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at this critical moment, as U.S. imperialism and its client regime in south Korea are threatening war.

We reject the deafening blast of deceitful propaganda that presents the DPRK as the aggressor, even as it bravely holds off a potential invading force of hundreds of warships and fighter planes that have been deployed by Washington and Seoul in the West Sea near the DPRK.

The U.S. billionaire rulers have waged class war against the DPRK ever since it was founded by revolutionary forces, led by the legendary guerrilla fighter Kim Il Sung, who had ousted Japanese imperialism from the north of Korea and liberated the workers and peasants there from colonial slavery.

The class of capitalist financiers and industrialists, who today are sucking the working class here dry to keep their record profits, could not tolerate a socialist north Korea. Through their economic and political control over Washington, they launched a devastating three-year war against the DPRK in 1950-53, killing millions of Koreans and tens of thousands of U.S. youth. But they could not break the will of the people in the north to be free of foreign domination.

These world-class exploiters never gave up their ambition to control all of Korea. That is why the U.S. has imposed sanctions on the north, maintains tens of thousands of troops in the south, and refuses to meet with the DPRK to sign a peace treaty ending the state of war that still exists, 57 years after the ceasefire. They have left the DPRK no choice but to develop the means to defend itself against constant threats from Washington and the Pentagon.

The Korean people, north and south, want peace and the reunification of their divided country. Even as a war fever was being drummed up in Seoul, courageous demonstrators there demanded “No war!”

Workers and poor people in the U.S. are also sick and tired of the politicians’ deadly priorities that put the enormous Pentagon budget ahead of vital human needs, even as hunger, unemployment, homelessness and ill health keep growing.

We demand: End the sanctions and the war threats! Bring U.S. troops and warships home now and sign a peace treaty with the DPRK! Money for jobs, schools, housing and health care, not for war!


International League of Peoples’ Struggle condemns U.S. war threatsPublished Dec 1, 2010 9:56 PM
http://www.workers.org/2010/world/ilps_1209/

The following statement was issued on Nov. 26 by Professor Jose Maria Sison, chairperson of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle.

We, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, condemn in the strongest possible terms the recent and ongoing provocations being made by the U.S. and the south Korean puppet government against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

We refer to the mobilization of 70,000 troops for a week of military maneuvers just off the border of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in order to simulate an invasion of the DPRK. ...

The south Korean puppet forces fired many shells into territorial waters of the DPRK on Nov. 23 at 1 p.m. Only after an hour and a half later did the DPRK retaliate in self-defense by firing shells at the Yonphyong Islet held by south Korea.

The south Korean puppet forces have made the provocations obviously at the instigation of the U.S. U.S. officials and mass media have misrepresented the DPRK as the one making the provocations and have quickly beaten the war drums for the deployment of U.S. forces and weapons of mass destruction against the DPRK.

In a far bigger act of war provocation, the U.S. has announced plans to send the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington and its battle group, including war ships, destroyers and hundreds of fighter jets, into the area to participate in new military exercises to threaten the DPRK.

Let us recall that the U.S. military forces have been involved in all the war maneuvers by south Korea, going back to the 1950-53 war, have killed millions of the Korean people and have occupied south Korea since the end of World War II.

We demand that the U.S. withdraw its 30,000 troops from south Korea in order to allow the peaceful reunification of Korea and let the Korean people exercise their right to national self-determination.

We demand that immediately the U.S. and South Korea stop their war maneuvers and exercises against the DPRK. They must remove their warships from the territorial waters of the DPRK. The U.S. must end the sanctions it has instigated against the DPRK.

Long live the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea!

Down with U.S. imperialism and its south Korean puppets!

Long live the Korean people of both north and south!



Global anti-imperialist group denounces war exercises
Published Dec 1, 2010 9:52 PM


http://www.workers.org/2010/world/denounce_war_exercises_1209/The following statement was released Nov. 30 by Manik Mukherjee, Vice President of the All India Anti-imperialist Forum and General Secretary of the International Anti-imperialist and People’s Solidarity Coordinating Committee.
The International Anti-imperialist and People’s Solidarity Coordinating Committee denounces the conspiracy of the U.S. imperialists to heighten the war tension in East Asia by launching a joint military exercise with south Korea in the Yellow Sea.

The U.S. has long been militarily threatening the [the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] with a view to staging a counter-revolutionary overthrow of socialism in DPRK and bringing about a “regime change” there. The present joint military drill is another such exercise directed against the DPRK.

We also condemn India’s pro-imperialist stand on this issue. Instead of strongly voicing a demand for stopping the joint military exercise, it has taken an ambivalent stand by appealing to both parties to maintain peace, thereby effectively taking side with the imperialist camp.

However, it is heartening that the people in south Korea are beginning to see through the nefarious design of the U.S. and are staging protests against the joint exercise, holding placards proclaiming, “No War” and “We Want Peace.”

The IAPSCC demands that the U.S. totally withdraw its military presence in the Korean region and allow the two Koreas to peacefully resolve their differences through mutual dialogues.

IAPSCC calls upon all the peace-loving people of the world to rise up in protest against the U.S. war maneuvers and to build up a strong global international movement against the imperialist war designs.


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Monday, 29 November 2010

Is a war looming on the Korean Peninsula?


Poster: "Long live the victory of the Korean People’s Army and the Chinese People’s Volunteers Army" (1951)

Source: Global Times [08:07 November 29 2010]
http://opinion.globaltimes.cn/editorial/2010-11/597176.html
The tension on the Korean Peninsula soared to a new level with the US aircraft carrier George Washington set to join a Yellow Sea military drill. If a new clash erupts with a US aircraft carrier involved, a final scenario will be much harder to predict.

Despite the strong rhetoric, none of the countries involved in the confrontation are truly prepared to fight an all out war.

North Korea does not have the capability to beat South Korea and the US, while South Korea does not have the will to see the peninsula engulfed in a military clash. Barely emerging from the Iraqi war nightmare, another war without a clear ending is the last thing the US needs.

Keeping this in mind, the three countries should stop trying to intimidate the other side with strong-arm tactics. China pushed for emergency talks yesterday, trying to cool down the tense situation. Whatever the response, China's attitude is in earnest and the initiative should be taken to get the parties involved back to the negotiation table in Beijing.

Strategic intimidation has to be renounced. Within the US and South Korea, the official stance from the governments and strong public sentiment can affect each other. Many wars have been fought because public sentiment mistakenly influenced government policy.

In Northeast Asia, peace and stability are of the greatest concern, however, it is often pushed aside by minor but vocal hard line opinions. Peace comes second to election rhetoric and media noise. Advocacy for rationality and mutual compromise, on the contrary, would cause political risk and often be dubbed as traitorous.
Experience from the last decade suggests that hawkish policies rarely work out in Northeast Asia. Short-term political gains often incur long-term damage that has to be repaired by the entire region. The erratic policies are also often dumped with a change in administrations.

The accumulation of tension on the Korean Peninsula has now reached a dangerous breaking point. The two Koreas, and also the entire region, must be cautious.
War is not welcome, yet it is approaching and the danger is being bizarrely tolerated. What is happening is not a game. No one can guarantee the situation will not turn into a real war.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Pearse Doherty Elected as TD for Donegal South West | Sinn Féin

Pearse Doherty Elected as TD for Donegal South West | Sinn Féin

from www.sinnfein.ie

Pearse Doherty Elected as TD for Donegal South WestSinn Féin's Pearse Doherty takes the Donegal South West by-election seat. Official results of 1st count are as follows: Sinn Fein 13,719; Fianna Fail 7,344; Fine Gael 6,424; Labour 3,366; Indo 3,438.

Well done Pearse

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Riot police get brutal with students - Morning Star





Riot police get brutal with students / Britain / Home - Morning Star

Wednesday 24 November 2010
by Lizzie Cocker
MORNING STAR

Thousands of school and university students turned out on the streets of London today to voice their anger at the Con-Dem coalition's vicious assault on Britain's education system.

Following their embarrassment earlier this month, when thousands of students beseiged and invaded Tory HQ, riot police reacted against peaceful protesters with a brutal containment strategy, corralling crowds in Whitehall for several hours.

The University of London Union's Carnival of Resistance, which began with a few hundred people, swelled to over 5,000 as it passed Trafalgar Square - ignoring Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's plea for students to call off the protests.

The procession was expected to end with a rally in Trafalgar Square but the bulk of students broke away from the official route, weaving through traffic to end up on Whitehall.

Reading University lecturer Hannah Sawtell, who joined the march in support of students, said that young people had a right to be angry.

With plans to introduce £9,000 a year tuition fees and and brutal cuts to university budgets which are causing services such as crèches to close she said that she "definitely wouldn't have been able to go to university now.

"I was a single mum and, at the time, I got 80 per cent of my childcare paid for plus money to live on plus help with loans. And when I was a student it was only a grand a year to go to university."

Samba bands, drum and bass and hip-hop sound systems kept the atmosphere upbeat at first as students shouted "Tory scum here we come" and "No ifs no buts, no education cuts."

But then riot police and officers on horses threw a cordon around protesters, known as "kettling" and on a number of occasions police lines surged into students unprovoked.

Protesters were forced to push away barriers erected for road maintenance to create more space and avoid being trampled. Those who tried to escape the kettled area were violently pushed back by police.

Angry students responded by throwing smoke bombs and lightweight placard sticks, lighting bonfires and, at one point, a police van which was left in the middle of the sea of students was spray painted and smashed.

Labour MP John McDonnell said: "There was no violence whatsoever but the police surged and pushed them into a tight corner, putting people in danger of being hurt. It was a peaceful and good-humoured march and the police should have respected that but now they have provoked anger."

Forward Intelligence Teams from the Metropolitan Police could also be seen taking photographs of students and a number of arrests were made. these teams are notorious for taking photographs of protesters once they have been kettled, and creating files on them as "domestic extremists" even though they have committed no offence.

Earlier in the day police monitoring group Fitwatch had offered activists legal observer training before the ULU procession set off to ensure an increased level of protection for protesters from the pervasive police presence

Student protests: school's out across the UK as children take to the streets






• Tens of thousands of students protest around country
• Only significant violence occurs in central London
• Capital's police 'kettle' children late into evening


* Peter Walker, Paul Lewis, Matthew Taylor and Patrick Wintour
* guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 24 November 2010 20.49 GMT
* Article history

Second day of London student protests - Students clash with police as several thousand are 'kettled' in Whitehall, where fires and parties break out. WARNING: This video contains strong language Link to this video

Tens of thousands of students and school pupils walked out of class, marched, and occupied buildings around the country in the second day of mass action within a fortnight to protest at education cuts and higher tuition fees.

Amid more than a dozen protests, estimated by some to involve up to 130,000 students, there were isolated incidents of violence and skirmishes with police, mostly in central London.

The police tactic of penning students into a so-called kettle near Parliament Square for several hours caused anger, but appeared to contain the disorder.

One exception came as night fell, when police mounted on horses charged at about 1,000 students gathered near Trafalgar Square. The protesters ran through the area, with officers following. Students then hurled chairs and traffic cones into the road as bemused tourists looked on. At least two bus windows were smashed and shops were also attacked.

The coalition government condemned the protests, saying they were being hijacked by extremist groups. The education secretary, Michael Gove, gave a notably combative response, urging the media not to give the violent minority "the oxygen of publicity", a resonant phrase associated closely with Margaret Thatcher's efforts in the 1980s to deny the IRA television coverage.

Gove said the government would not waver, adding: "I respond to arguments, I do not respond to violence."

In contrast, Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, whose pre-election pledge to oppose increased tuition fees has made him the focus of student anger, spoke of his "massive regret" in having to rescind the promise.

"I regret of course that I can't keep the promise that I made because – just as in life – sometimes you are not fully in control of all the things you need to deliver those pledges," he told one of several angry callers to BBC Radio 2's Jeremy Vine Show. "Of course I massively regret finding myself in this situation."

But he said that the fact the Liberal Democrats had been forced into a coalition, and that the country's finances were worse than they had anticipated, meant they had to accept "compromise".

Asked about his reaction to footage, earlier in the week, of students hanging him in effigy, Clegg said: "I'm developing a thick skin."

In a further sign of the developing pressure on the government's cuts programme, Len McCluskey, the new leader of Unite, Britain's biggest trade union, put himself and his union at the forefront of "an alliance of resistance". In an interview in the Guardian, McCluskey says: "There is an anger building up the likes of which we have not seen in our country since the poll tax."

The biggest single protest was in London, where about 5,000 people – many of them noticeably younger than those who took part in the previous mass protest on 10 November – spent hours kettled" in Whitehall as officers sought to prevent a repeat of the chaotic scenes when protesters burst through police lines to storm the Conservative party headquarters. Thousands more marched elsewhere around the country while others staged sit-ins at university buildings.

About 3,000 higher education students and school pupils gathered to protest in central Manchester, where there were four arrests, and a similar number gathered in Liverpool. A crowd of around 2,000 people protested in Sheffield, with about 1,000 doing so in Leeds and 3,000 in Brighton. There were scuffles in Cambridge as crowds attempted to storm the university's Senate House.

A total of 17 people were treated for injuries in London. Of them, 13 needed hospital treatment, including two police officers, one with a broken arm. Police said 32 people had been arrested. One 19-year-old art student was pictured trying to stop masked marchers attacking the van. "We're going to be portrayed badly in the media," she shouted at them. "We're just wrecking a police van."

After being forced to apologise for the mayhem two weeks ago when fewer than 250 police were unable to marshal a crowd of more than 50,000, Scotland Yard sent almost four times as many officers onto the streets and quickly penned marchers into a section of streets. Late last night some parents arrived at the police cordon pleading for their children to be released. The worst violence erupted after 6pm as officers let the marchers leave.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

The Suffragettes, Black Friday and Two Types of Window Smashing




The photograph the government tried to hide. Suffragette Ada Wright collapses through police violence on Black Friday


Thursday, 18 November 2010 05:00
Written by Katherine Connelly
COUNTERFIRE.ORG

‘The argument of the broken window pane is the most valuable argument in modern politics’, declared suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst.


A hundred years ago today (on Friday 18th November 1910) a suffragette deputation to the House of Commons met with a six hour onslaught of police brutality resulting in a the Suffragettes beginning a huge window smashing campaign in protest.

The attack was so horrendous, the Suffragettes remembered the day it happened as ‘Black Friday’.

Today, when the government and right-wing press are declaring moral outrage at the smashing of a window in the Milbank Tower, many activists have been looking back to the inspiring examples of suffragette direct action.

The anniversary of Black Friday gives us an opportunity to ask why the Suffragettes attacked property and whether the tactic helped the movement.
Black Friday, police violence and the cover-up

On 18th November 1910 the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), the main militant suffragette organisation, had called a ‘Women’s Parliament’ to challenge the legitimacy of the Westminster Parliament which excluded all women.

They had recently discovered that the Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith, who was deeply hostile to women’s suffrage, had announced that no more time would be given to a Bill which would give the vote to some women.

In response the ‘Women’s Parliament’ sent a deputation of 300 women to the House of Commons where they were met with ranks of police. For six hours women were batoned, beaten, punched, thrown to the ground, kicked on the floor and had their faces rubbed against railings in full view of the House of Commons. There were also widespread reports of police sexually abusing the demonstrators. They repeatedly pinched and twisted their breasts, lifted their skirts, groping and assaulting the women for hours.

The true cost of Black Friday would only be known some time after the event. At least two women died as a result of their injuries that day. Another woman who had been badly treated by the police and was arrested for stone throwing a few days later died after being released from prison on Christmas Day 1910 – she was Emmeline Pankhurst’s sister, Mary Clarke.

The cover-up followed swiftly after. When the Daily Mirror published a photograph of suffragette Ada Wright lying collapsed on the ground, her hands clutching her face, the government tried to stop the newspaper being sold and ordered the negatives to be destroyed.

To add further shame to the government’s record, the Home Secretary, one Winston Churchill, refused to permit a Government inquiry into the events of Black Friday.

From the introduction of the Bill that Asquith sabotaged until Black Friday the WSPU had called a ‘truce’ on militancy. Now that truce was well and truly over as the WSPU launched a campaign of window smashing.
Black Friday – A turning point

Suffragette struggling with the police on Black Friday

Suffragette struggling with the police on Black Friday
The window smashing campaign and the suffragette attacks on property were in part a tactical response to police violence. Why let yourself be hurt and abused for hours before being arrested on a demonstration when you could shorten the whole process by smashing a window and obtaining instant arrest?

It was also a political statement. The suffragettes were exposing that the government cared more about a pane of glass than a woman’s life (force feeding for hunger striking suffragette prisoners had been introduced in 1909) or a woman’s political rights. If property was the government’s priority, then property was a target.

However, it was also part of a move away from the collective action and mass mobilisations that had characterised the early years of the militant suffragette movement. Christabel Pankhurst, one the of the leading figures in the WSPU, had become completely dismissive of the capacity of working-class women to fight for their rights. She now looked to heroic individuals or influential (generally rich) women to win the struggle.

Her sister Sylvia Pankhurst, a socialist suffragette, later recalled that Christabel felt ‘a working women’s movement was of no value: working women were the weakest portion of the sex: how could it be otherwise? Their lives were too hard, their education too meagre to equip them for the struggle’. [1]

It was not, however, the end to all suffragette demonstrations although they changed in character considerably. In June 1911 the WSPU organised a Coronation Procession in honour of the new King. The modern equivalent would be the anti-cuts protestors of last week suddenly deciding to celebrate Prince William’s already-tedious engagement!

Meanwhile, Christabel Pankhurst ensured that suffragettes kept their distance from the new social movements that were emerging. 1910 also marked the beginning of the Great Unrest – a huge wave of strike action which included women workers and which terrified the government. If the WSPU had wanted to co-operate with this new movement it is very likely their combined strength would have forced the government to concede.

The East London suffragettes around Sylvia Pankhurst did attempt to link up with the new movements, working with socialists and attending the May Day rally as suffragettes alongside huge numbers of East End workers. In the end it would be Sylvia’s attempts to unite with other progressive movements that would see her forced out of the WSPU by Christabel who was unable to tolerate Sylvia’s appearance on a platform alongside Irish trade unionist Jim Larkin at a meeting protesting at the employers’ lock-out of workers in Dublin.
Militancy from below

Was direct action, then, inevitably incompatible with collective action? In fact window breaking emerged as a response to the government’s failure to listen to mass action.

In 1908 the government challenged the suffragettes to prove that votes for women had popular support. When the suffragettes organised one of the biggest demonstrations ever seen at that time in Hyde Park the government refused to alter its position. It was immediately after this, and an earlier bout of police violence, that the suffragettes threw their first stones - through the windows of 10 Downing Street.

Much of the direct action undertaken by suffragettes was pioneered by militants since described as ‘freelance’[2] – they acted without the permission or foreknowledge of the WSPU’s more conservative leaders. These women were often closer to socialist ideas than their leadership.

Mary Leigh was one of the first two window smashing suffragettes. She was a working-class woman with a deep commitment to militancy, and she was one of the first suffragettes to endure forcible feeding. She was also a socialist who worked with Sylvia in the East End campaigns and publicly spoke out against the WSPU leadership’s support for the British state in the First World War.

Her closest friend was Emily Davison – who committed the most famous militant act of all – disrupting the Derby Day race by running in front of the King’s horse, an action that, in collision with the horse, cost her her life. She too was sympathetic to socialist ideas and was involved with the newly-formed Workers Educational Association (WEA).

Sylvia Pankhurst herself was amongst the most militant of the suffragettes, suffering repeated imprisonments where she undertook hunger, thirst, sleep and rest strikes.

There were many other suffragettes with socialist sympathies who, like these examples, were at the forefront of the struggle, undertaking some of the most famous militant actions. For them, however, the individual acts of vandalism or sacrifice were part of a wider struggle against a system that not only excluded women from its political institutions but also oppressed working-class people and indulged in unjustifiable wars.

Suffragette militancy continues to inspire today. The broken pane at Milbank Tower has brought the suffragettes charging back into political debate. Activists insisting that smashing education is far worse than smashing a window are right when they point out that the Suffragettes did not win the vote by asking politely or avoiding windows. However, there were two traditions of militancy. One began to substitute individual heroism for a mass movement and moved away from wider questions of equality in society. Its focus became increasingly narrow and began to reflect the politics of the richer women who Christabel sought to lead it.

The other tradition is the tradition that Sylvia Pankhurst stood in. Militancy was a part of the movement, not in opposition to it. They used militancy to capture peoples’ imagination and to pull them into a wider struggle against oppression everywhere. That is the tradition that can help us build the resistance today.
Notes

[1] E.S. Pankhurst, The Suffragette Movement An Intimate Account of Persons and Ideals (London: Virago Press Limited, 1977 – first published 1931), p.517

[2] See L. Stanley and A. Morley, The Life and Death of Emily Wilding Davison (London: The Women’s Press, 1988)


The photograph the government tried to hide. Suffragette Ada Wright collapses through police violence on Black Friday

Friday, 19 November 2010

The tasks ahead for revolutionaries and socialists


WORKERS WORLD PARTY NATIONAL CONFERENCE: DOWNWITH CAPITALISM, FIGHT FOR WOLD SOCIALISM!

Published Nov 18, 2010 9:42 PM
Larry Holmes

The following talk was given Nov. 13 at the Workers World Party national conference by Larry Holmes, a member of the Secretariat of Workers World Party and a leader of the Bail Out the People Movement.

I want to turn to the central premise of our discussion today — that is, our analysis that capitalism has reached a tipping point, that it has entered a new, permanent crisis that is beyond reform. Reforms are being taken away in front of our eyes. Capitalism does not have the ability to recover itself in any way that is meaningful to the social needs of the working class.

This is not a controversial thesis in our view. Certainly it should be subject to critique; it should be debated.

What is controversial is that there are not enough revolutionary Marxists who are talking about it. That is the controversy; that is the problem. We are not contending that the analysis is a simple one. It is not new. It is an application of Marxism to the present situation.

Productive forces of the world have reached such an incredible height that they are no longer compatible with capitalism. They have outgrown what has become a barbaric system that is just holding things down. The world, its people and all life are hostage to it.

This is very important. Understanding this is understanding what we have to look forward to — what our global class is going to look forward to.

There is one crisis after another, perpetual crisis, crashes, depression, deflation, inflation, bubbles, a crash of this system, a crash of that industry, and at the same time the constant effort to restructure, downsize and steal from the working class as a way to compensate for what capitalism is not getting — because it does not have any new markets on which to dump its overproduced commodities.

Even what the capitalists are trying to do to the workers, under the excuse of reducing the deficit, is a form of restructuring. You don’t need more Social Security. You need to work longer, and let us take everything away to sustain anyone who is not productive — retirees, the poor, the disabled. It is another form of capitalist restructuring, just like downsizing with new, lower wage levels.

This is not common knowledge in the working class for many, many reasons. Perhaps the biggest reason is the bourgeoisie is very gifted in concealing it, with their culture of lying and denial, deception and hiding the suffering, and telling workers what they want in order to manipulate them toward one or the other imperialist parties.

Some of the confusion is because workers are not accustomed to looking at the system. Their reaction is to look at their own situation and the situation of their families and their local situation. Understandably so.

Our working class here is not trained to look at the system, just as they are trained to be passive. This was the problem in the elections. They had no reason to come out and fight for any candidate. So the Tea Party and the money behind them did their thing.

If there had been a referendum on a Works Progress Administration program — where everybody gets a job — there would have been a different turnout. But the election wasn’t about that.

It was a set-up. In time workers will gain this consciousness — in their own natural and uneven way — based on exhausting all possibilities before choosing the struggle. And we will be part of that.


Taking the struggle to a higher level


We have to look at our consciousness. We are not above the workers. We are not elitist. But in order for us to be helpful, our consciousness has to be higher. Or else we have nothing to offer.

We have a higher political consciousness and a sense of history, especially recent history. We know the big problem is an ideological one.

A generation ago capitalism declared victory over socialism. “It is the end of history,” remember that? “We won. There is no alternative to capitalism.” Capitalist triumphalism, I think they called it. “So get used to it.” This is what has been spoon-fed to everyone. It has had a big impact on the working class and on its organizations — a demoralizing impact.


The question for us is: What do we do about it now?


We know we need to be with the struggles. There are going to be many, many struggles — more than we can imagine or even cover — all of a defensive character. Save this school. Save that pension. Save this group of workers from being laid off. Right now, it’s mostly the public workers. We must be part of all these struggles and help them, and help the working class to devise both the program and strategy to fight back.

We must be part of the anti-war struggle — the struggle to defend our comrades who have been targeted by the FBI — because it is them today and you know who it is tomorrow.

We are not arguing that we should move away from these ongoing struggles. We cannot merely relegate ourselves to taking up the many, many local struggles and trying to connect to them as best we can. That is insufficient.

Our job is not just to be there and to tail the working class. It is to illuminate the road ahead as best we can.

Right now it means we have to open a campaign about abolishing capitalism and reviving the struggle for world socialism. If we don’t, a lot is at stake.

Think about it. What are we to do as things get worse and questions begin to arise: Is this it? Is all life on the planet stuck in this capitalist crisis and going down like the Titanic? What an unimaginably depressing thought! Though you can be sure that will occur in the minds of many, especially the youth.

We have to say no. But we’ve got to find an exciting way to say it. Why? If it wasn’t a problem, if it was known, we wouldn’t have to think about it. But it is not known, so we have to try to do something exciting to rectify the problem.

That is the motivation for our campaign to abolish capitalism and revive the struggle for world socialism. If we don’t do it — if we are silent — then it is surrendering to capitalist ideology. It is a surrender to bourgeois racism and war and all their lies. That is unacceptable.

I think we can learn from the Tea Party. They are paid for by the ruling class, and they are very sharp on their class interest. We have not even called for a campaign to abolish capitalism, and they are already afraid of us.

There is a reason a lot of their stuff is socialist baiting. It is a preemptive strike. They see the handwriting on the wall. They know where conditions can lead.

The battle for ideas

We should be no less sharp than our class enemies in relation to our class interests when it comes to the ideological challenge. It is important for the political movement.

Those who some of us consider the vanguard — again, not some elite, but those based on their consciousness, having dedicated themselves to serve the struggle, to serve the revolution — where are they on this question? Are they discussing the capitalist economy or are their heads and minds all submerged understandably in the mass work that is already overpowering them, that is too much for them and that is liable to be more so as things get worse?

That is not an acceptable situation for those who consider themselves political activists, communists, socialists, militants — however they characterize themselves. We have a responsibility to the vanguard and potential vanguard elements, as individuals and as organizations, to make sure they are ideologically strong. They are the first layer to bring this discussion to about the need to have a campaign to abolish capitalism and raise the fight for world socialism.

It is not an abstraction in the day-to-day workers’ struggle; it has direct impact. Think about it. Capitalist ideas are insidious and everywhere. You don’t see them, but they are there, working their terrible, poisonous influence.

That’s true even on the question of whether workers should strike and what should be the goal of their strike. If you are told by the capitalists that we have to work together to be competitive against the city next door or some other country like South Korea or India or China, what is a worker to think when the question of fighting to prevent the bosses from taking something away is posed? How can we fight when we are supposed to cooperate with them and when giving up what we are asked to give up is part of that cooperation? It doesn’t make sense. Especially since the capitalists say this is the only system and it’s the end of the world.

If the capitalists are right, every other worker is either directly or potentially my competitor, my enemy. Think about what that does to solidarity. Think about how it generates racism, how it becomes an excuse for war. It is not an abstraction. Think about it. If we are trying to agitate for a general strike in this country — and believe me, the way things are going that is going to be on the radar screen. We should be talking about it with a lot of our comrades in other organizations.

This working class has got to learn how to defend itself. That is number one. How can you conceive of a general strike — which means solidarity, coordinated action on a mass level of workers in many localities and states, working in different industries — when you are told that working together is completely against the idea of competing successfully?

This affects the workers’ morale. Think about the deficit. What an amazing fantasy that they try to sell the working class that somehow in this country and in this world with unimaginable wealth, there is not enough for Social Security. And there is not enough to take care of those who are in need because they are disabled. There is not enough to provide for every need and comfort, so we have to cut your pension. It is such a crock. But it is swallowed because that is what we are told. But it is not the workers’ deficit; it is a capitalist system’s deficit. You can’t get there unless you are moving in an anti-capitalist direction — unless you are opposing the norms of capitalism.

It must be a world struggle, too. I say renew, reawaken the world struggle for socialism. The crisis is a world crisis. Our class is a world class.

You think they have been trying to divide us based on where we happen to be. That is going to be exacerbated in the immediate future. You are going to hear a lot of that from Democrats and Republicans. Mostly against China but against India and other emerging economies. Some of the union leadership is ready to buy in to it and divert the class struggle into some ridiculous struggle that has no meaning for one working class country against another working class country, worker against worker.

This is where things are going. That’s why this has to be a world struggle. True internationalists understand that the outcome of any struggle anywhere affects the struggle everywhere. And if you wear Che’s face on your shirt, unless you understand internationalism, you should take the shirt off because he understood this. He was the foremost internationalist of our time. So much so he couldn’t stay in one place.

The G-20 summit should be correctly called the summit of rich people and their puppets. Actually, in addition to the G-20 countries, there were 120 of the biggest bankers and corporate executives there who were really calling the shots. What are they doing? Our whole life, our future is in their hands, and they are fighting over who is going to get this or that market in which to push their overproduced commodities. At the same time our workers are being fired so those bankers and executives will have greater profits.

It is as if capitalism was a disease in a very advanced stage in our body, and instead of our organs working together in cooperation for the health of the whole body, the organs are fighting each other — trying to steal nutrition, trying to pull some enzyme, doing all kinds of crazy stuff that winds up with the body breaking down. That is what capitalism is right now.


Putting theory into practice


We have got to open up a campaign. We don’t have the details, but that is what is being discussed here and with other groups beyond this meeting. It has got to be a real campaign. The campaign to abolish capitalism and renew the world struggle for socialism has to be propagandistic, but it has to be more than that.

There have to be big events associated with it — big rallies, big meetings both inside and outside. It should be close to the real struggle, not apart from it.

There need to be international events. We haven’t forgotten our call for socialists to unite. Some people have called us naïve. “Oh, the socialist movement is so fragmented and so at each other’s throats that you can’t take it seriously.” That may be true. But if you are a revolutionary and you have what it takes to envision revolution and a new world, you should have what it takes to call for unity among socialists, especially among those who may have more in common than not. If you can’t do that, how can you expect anyone to take you seriously?

Finally, this campaign to abolish capitalism and revive the struggle for world socialism needs to be integrated into the mass struggle, not only on the local and national level, but on the international level.

Some of the most important days in the last 10 years — we didn’t stop the war against Iraq, but that doesn’t take away from what happened — Feb. 15 and 16, 2003, were days when groups with lots of differences — social democrats, communists, pacifists, the whole realm of different ideologies — brought out millions of people around the world to say no to war. We’ve got to do that for jobs. We’ve got to do that to stop foreclosures. We’ve got to do that to abolish capitalism.

We must have a concrete program that goes along with a campaign to abolish capitalism and bring back socialism on a world level. We must have concrete demands — social rights to a home, a job, health care and education, all the things you need to live. I tell you this struggle is necessary. It will help our class. It will help radicals. It will help everybody. It will give us a hand up in this economic crisis. Our job now is to figure out, if it is the right thing, who to ask to join us and how to proceed. Socialism or death!

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Thursday, 18 November 2010

Bolivia's army declares itself Socialist and Anti-Imperialist




November 18, 2010 | 1:45 pm


The commanding general of Bolivia's army has declared the Andean nation's forces "socialist," "anti-capitalist," and "anti-imperialist," positions that were immediately echoed by President Evo Morales, Bolivia's first indigenous president.


Gen. Antonio Cueto made the statements Sunday at a ceremony marking the army's 200th anniversary. Cueto said Bolivia's 2009 constitution allows the army to "emerge as a socialist, communitarian institution," according to the EFE news agency (links in Spanish).

"We declare ourselves anti-imperialist because in Bolivia there can exist no external power imposing itself," Cueto said. "We also declare ourselves anti-capitalist because this system is destroying Mother Earth."

Morales, who attended the ceremony using crutches because of recent knee surgery, agreed, saying, "History proves that the army was born with an anti-imperialist position because it's been combating the European empire since 1810." (Link in Spanish.)

Cueto also said Bolivia would never allow a foreign military to establish bases within its territory, making an indirect reference to a stalled plan in Colombia to allow the U.S. armed forces to use bases there. Cueto's words drew criticism and rebuke from former military leaders, reported La Razon, a daily in Bolivia (link in Spanish). One former commander and current opposition senator said the general was taking a partisan position, and therefore was in violation of the Constitution.

The chief of Bolivia's national police, meanwhile, said this week that his agency would remain "apolitical," EFE reported.



http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/laplaza/2010/11/bolivia-military-socialist-antiimperialist.html
-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Met closes down anti-police blog 'Fitwatch'


Riot police and student demonstrators outside Millbank Riot police and student demonstrators outside Millbank in London. Photograph: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

NOTE: ALMOST AS SOON AS IT WAS CLOSED BY THE POLICE, http://www.fitwatch.org.uk/ WAS BACK UP AND ACTIVE AGAIN ON NEW SERVERS.



Police force suspension of website that offered advice to students involved in last week's rioting


* Paul Lewis
* The Guardian, Tuesday 16 November 2010

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/16/student-anti-police-website-closed

Scotland Yard has forced the closure of an anti-police blog which was being used to disseminate advice to protesters pictured at the student fees demonstration.

The website Fitwatch was suspended after the its hosting company received contact from C011, the Metropolitan's public order branch, stating that the blog was "being used to undertake criminal activities".

The move appears to have taken place after a blog posted on the website gave guidance to students who feared they might be arrested for their involvement in the occupation of the Millbank office complex, which houses the Tory party headquarters.

A largely peaceful march against the proposed increase in tuition fees turned violent on Wednesday when a minority of the 50,000 students targeted Millbank.

Around 200 entered the building and some accessed the roof. During a period of rioting, windows and furniture were smashed and, in the most serious act of violence, a fire extinguisher was thrown towards police from the roof.

The Fitwatch blogpost, which last night had reappeared on several other websites, recommended that students "get rid" of clothes they wore at the demonstration and change their appearance.

"Perhaps now is a good time for a makeover," said the post. "Get a haircut and colour, grow a beard, wear glasses. It isn't a guarantee, but may help throw them off the scent."

Hours later, the Met's "e-crime unit" informed Fitwatch's website hosting service – JustHost.com – that the blog was being used to attempt to pervert the course of justice by providing guidance to "offenders".

"We hereby request [you] de-host this website for a minimum period of 12 months," it said in a letter seen by the Guardian. "The website is providing explicit advice to offenders following a major demonstration in central London.

"The demonstration was marred by violence and several subjects have already been arrested, with a major police operation under way to identify and arrest further offenders."

The letter stated that authority to close "the website and IP address" had been given by Will Hodgeson, an acting detective inspector at C011.

The Telegraph and the rightwing blogger Guido Fawkes both launched campaigns last week to identify student protesters, posting photographs of activists they suggested had been involved in criminal activity.

Criticising the campaign as "an irresponsible and frenzied 'shop-a-student'" initiative, Fitwatch yesterday issued its own advice to students who might be "worried" that they would become suspects because of their involvement in the demonstration.

The guidance ranged from suggesting that students contact a lawyer or stay away from demonstrations for a while, to advising them to get rid of clothes they were wearing at the protests, as well as spray cans and "dodgy texts/photos on your phone".

The post added: "The police often use the psychological pressure of knowing they have your picture to persuade you to 'come forward'. Unless you have a very pressing reason to do otherwise, let them come and find you, if they know who you are."

Fitwatch was set up in 2007 by protesters seeking to oppose what they saw as objectionable surveillance tactics used by Forward Intelligence Teams (FITs), who use cameras to monitor political activists.

The site has proved controversial among public order police officers, who found their own names, badge numbers and photos uploaded on the internet as an act of retaliation.

The Fitwatch website was hosted by Emily Apple, 34, who said last night that closure amounted to "political intimidation". "It seems convenient that they have taken it down now," she said, referring to recent anti-police blogposts on the site.

"Nothing in that post [giving guidance to student protesters] has not been said before on our blog or on other sites."

Val Swain, 44, another Fitwatch campaigner, said the post had been been a direct response to what she called the Telegraph's "rogues' gallery" and was never intended to divulge information that was not already "well known".

She added: "It was tantamount in my view to a lawyer saying to their client: you can say 'no comment' in the police interview."

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Students attack Tory HQ: Anti-Cuts Resistance - Starting as we mean to go on. Take the class war back to the enemy.


Statement from Not A Dinner Party on the student Siege of Tory HQ at Millbank Tower.

THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING


Six months in to the ConDem government and their open declaration of war on the poor, the disabled, the working class and indeed everyone who isn't responsible for the crisis of finance capitalism (ie imperialism) and the first major protest in London ends up exactly where it should, with thousands of students laying siege to the tory Party HQ. The best possible start to what has to be a sustained campaign of militant resistance to what in reality is a very weak and divided government, but one with the arrogance of being formed directly and unapologeticly from the most priviliged and callous section of the ruling-class, people who beleive it is their birth right to rule and their ancestral right to privilige at the expense of all else.

Todays action is a lesson is the direction the anti-cuts movement has to take if it is to be successful. While the tories are hell-bent on taking us back to the 80s excesses of Thatcherism, we cannot afford to repeat the mistakes that the Left and the Labour Movement made then. Waiting for Labour is of course out of the question. The ConDem regime is after all continuing a program that was initiated and laid out by the last government. Labour's only concern is not that the tories are going too far, but that they are doing it too fast. So far there has barely been a peep out of the Labour Party and nor will there be. But you can bet they will be falling over themselves to denounce any and all effective militant resistance to the cuts.

And nor can we follow the same lefty routine of marching from A-B inb town centres, demonstrations and rallies that do nothing but annoy weekend shoppers and are completely ignored by both the media and of course by the government - safety valves for an innefectual and impotant "Left".

This struggle needs to take on board the example of the protests that have rocked Greece and France. And it needs to learn from our enemies. Over the last year the fascist English Defence League has built a mass street movement that can mobilise thousands - and done so largely through utuilising social-media specifically Facebook. Using such sources the far-right have been able to very successfully spread their message, organise at short notice and make contacts and develop new networks amongst tens of thousands - and that influnce extends well beyond those singed up on their Facebook pages - the rumours and claims they put out spread like a virus and are picked up and repeated by millions. There is no reason at all why militant progressives cannot utilise similar methods.

In the early months and years of the Blair New Labour administration, another section of the Right, this time essentially the extra-parliamentary wing of the tory party, mobilised tens of thousands through the Countryside Alliance, not just in demonstrations and protests but also in motorway blockades. Likewise the rightist Fuel Tax Protests effectively shut down the country's fuel distribution network with illegal blockades of fuel refinaries, storage facilities and motorways, and maintained huge public support even while petrol stations ran dry, shop shelves emptied and schools and hospitals were threatened with closure.

These actions were most often illegal. 18 years of the Thatcher offensive against the organised working class left the trade union movement crippled by laws that effectively outlawed any effective industrial struggle or shows of solidarity. Not only did New Labour not rescind these laws, they added to them with the most draconian "anti-terror" legislation that has essentially given the state the legal means to criminalise and shut down any form of protest. But this has not deterred the Right. It did not deter the Countryside Alliance, the anti-Fuel Tax protesters and it certainly hasnt hinderd the EDL. But you will be hard pressed to find any Union leader (with one or two possible exceptions) who would for a second ever contemplate risking sequestration, crippling fines and imprisonment for calling for and leading any effective fightback.

So it is a given that really any form of protest, no matter how seemingly innocent or mundane, is "illegal" now. And it is also a given that the old methods of protest have failed. They didnt stop Thatcher in the 1980s - the only "traditonal" force that came close was the Miners - and the price of their defeat was their complete destruction, as a Union, as an industry and as a community. And if two million marching through London couldnt influence a Labour government to think twice about engaging in an illegal war, then what makes anyone beleive any number marching, whistleing, dancing, wearing costunmes, banging srums and shrieking the same old tired slogans, will have any influence on a tory government that regards such people as the scum of the earth anyway?

The one victory we did have was over the Poll Tax, it was an attack on ordinary people every bit as callous and cynical as what we are seeing now. And the protest succeeded because it went outside and beyond the usual forms. It involved ordinary people who organised themselves and based their action on what they felt was possible and effective in the area they were and with the numbers they had. While most people know of the legendary Battle Of Trafalgar Square of 1990, something that will most likely be eclipsed inthe coming struggle, what most people who werent around at the time dont know of is the hundreds of protests that took place outside scores of town halls often involving thousands of people, and very often ending with council chambers being stormed. Bailiffs offices were trashed, Conservative Clubs attacked and for the first time in years, there was a sense of panic amongst the politicians and a real sense that would could win amongst the people. Millions refused to pay, the Poll Tax was dropped and Thatcher forced from office.

But this government, for all of its Thatcherite arrogance and contempt, is actually very weak and very divided. It can be beaten. But the struggle needs to get "personal". Would 1 thousand people marching through a town centre make any impact? How about a thousand people marching on the constituency office of the local tory or Liberal Party? A thousand marching on the surgery of a MP? A thousand marching on the home of a MP? A thousand taking over the council chamber when they annouce their cuts.

There is no doubt that the anger and militancy of todays protest has sent a ripple of shock and anxiety through many amongst the enemy tonight. After only 6 months in power, and the first major protest in London against their policies, they have already witnessed a minor taste of the real, deep and growing anger that is ready to explode.

And by taking their anger directly to the HQ of the enemy they wil have acheived more than a hundred town centre marches from park A to park B to listen to Union and Labour hypocrites proclaim platitudes and promises they have no means or intention to fulfill.

If this government inlficts pain and fear - then those responsible, those who enforce it and support it, from top to bottom, must be made to understand just what pain and fear really means.

Political Response to Economic Crisis in Ireland

Political Response to Economic Crisis in Ireland

Sinn Féin offers a better way

By Nicky Dempsey
SOCIALIST ACTION

Sinn Féin has published its response to the Dublin government’s threatened plans to cut public spending once more in its Budget for 2011, There Is A Better Way. The Fianna Fail/ Green coalition in government has outlined planned further cuts totalling €6bn in both capital and current spending, including welfare payments to the poor. This would bring the total level of ‘fiscal tightening’ to €20.6bn since the end of 2008, which is now equivalent to 13.1% of GDP. For comparison the British government’s current plans – among the most draconian of any major European country- amount to 9.2% of GDP.

The Sinn Féin response stands in stark contrast to the bourgeois parties across Europe who have used the recession and ensuing fiscal crisis to launch an attack on the social welfare gains built up since WWII. The SF policy has three key components. First, is to shift the burden of taxation from the poor to a rich in a series of measures including higher income and wealth taxes for higher earners and the rich. Secondly, reform of the tax system in what the party calls a ‘financial stimulus’ to redistribute incomes towards the poor and low-paid. But the largest component of the policy is a €7.5bn government investment package in infrastructure and other areas such as early childcare, which is estimated to create 160,000 jobs. This would go some way to addressing the collapse in investment which more than accounts for the entirety of the Irish recession.

The other major parties in Ireland have all signed up to the policies of the Dublin government in the South while Sinn Féin is the only party to consistently oppose the same agenda of the British government in the North of Ireland. In Dublin, the FF-led government had been hoping to co-opt the other parties, Fine Gael and Labour, into explicitly supporting their further attacks on the living standards of workers and the poor. Given that both actually propose very similar measures (with Labour simply calling for a ‘rebalancing’ of the measures towards tax increases), there was actually the basis for a de facto grand 4-party coalition, including the junior coalition partners the Greens.

However, FF’s slump in the polls, down to 18% in one poll in October, from 41.6% in the 2007 general election, made the nominal opposition parties more cautious. The caution turned to outright hostility for purely electoral considerations as the government has been forced by High Court order to hold a long-postponed by-election in Donegal, with others to follow in the New Year. The legal case was itself a victory for Sinn Féin, with the other parties content to allow the government to continue in office despite dwindling parliamentary and popular support. The consequence is that the government is likely to fall early next year and may well call an early general election. Neither Fine Gael nor Labour saw any electoral advantage in propping up Fianna Fail, even while they agree on the substance of further cuts.

Saving The Nation

Fianna Fail, which styles itself ‘The Republican Party’, made the appeal to other parties to support its Budget on the grounds that a failure to act would lead to a ‘loss of sovereignty’ as the ECB/EU/IMF are waiting in the wings to impose further, even more drastic cuts. In fact the government’s own policy now makes this outcome more than possible. Financing through the bond markets is no longer possible as long-term interest rates approach 8%, compared to just over 2% for Germany. While the ‘austerity’ policy has led to a collapse in economic activity and a widening of the public sector deficit, a uniquely generous bailout of bank bondholders means that respected commentators believe the cost to taxpayers will be approximately €76bn, more than 8 times the size of cuts threatened in this December’s Budget and equivalent to €17,000 for every woman, man and child in the State.

The effect of the guarantee is to provide an enormous transfer of taxpayer funds to bail out primarily German, British and French banks, the main holders of debt in Irish banks. While the EU and ECB have insisted on this when burdening Greek workers and the poor with increased debts, the Dublin government initiated this policy itself. The only conceivable explanation is that by bailing out the bondholders, the latter will not foreclose on the banks and their property speculator customers. These two groups, bankers and property speculators, are the political core of the Fianna Fail alliance, even though for historical reasons, its electoral support derived from urban workers.

This subservience to European finance is the flip-side to the government’s prostrate position before the interests of US industrial and commercial capital. This is codified in the lowest corporate tax rate in the OECD area, 12.5% compared to 39% for the US and Japan, 30% for Germany, as well the indulgence of myriad schemes, which reduce the effective rate of tax to below 2%.

The policy response to the crisis, to enrich these foreign capitals by depleting the resources of the workers and the poor failed to reckon on the finite level of the latter, and the voracious appetites of the former. Usually, in a Western European economy of the standard type, the domestic bourgeoisie, crushed by the impositions on its own activities and the damage done to its domestic markets would rise up and remove such a government. But Ireland is not a standard type of Western European economy. While one quarter of the country remains a direct colony of Britain, the remainder retains the distorted social structure of the recent colony. Most especially, outside of the dominant layers in banking and property speculation, the bulk of the Irish bourgeois class is comprised of globally insignificant capitals, with owners of fast food outlets, bookmakers and publicans to the fore in IBEC, the main employers’ federation. There are literally only a handful of Irish-owned companies that compete in global markets.

So, when in 2009, policy in the advanced capitalist countries was focused on measures to boost domestic demand, tax breaks, employmentsubsidies and so on to ensure the survival of indigenous capitalism, no such measures were adopted by the Dublin government. Lacking any significant capitalists that compete in world markets, there was no purpose to such a policy and the first resort was to attack wages and social welfare spending. This has only now become popular elsewhere once the survival of domestic capitals has been ensured.

This is why the Sinn Féin policy is so significant. Perhaps uniquely in Western Europe, the party has adopted a policy of increased investment which can only be conducted by state or state-linked bodies (in this case, the National Pension Reserve Fund). And, uniquely in Western Europe, this is not a programme that entails saving sections of big capital. As elsewhere it would require an enduring leadership role for the state in the economy. But it would immediately lead to the state becoming the dominant force in the domestic economy, albeit one that would require a new partnership with foreign capital, on both a more productive and equal footing.

The policy is also gaining ground. A string of popular campaigning organisations, such as Social Justice Ireland and Community Platform have tentatively moved in the same direction, while the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has adopted pro-investment stance, but contradictorily pins its hopes on the government persuading the private sector to initiate the investments. No doubt these contradictions will be resolved in course of the struggles over the next period.