Thursday, February 11, 2016

US sailor shows he's human; Military brass embarrased.



Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

The US Navy brass are extremely upset that Iran has released a “propaganda” video that shows an American sailor crying after their craft was intercepted in Iranian waters. I’m sure glad the Pentagon or US military never engages in propaganda. "We are disgusted by the exploitation of our sailors in Iranian propaganda," says Commander. Kevin Stephens, spokesperson for Naval Forces Central Command, in the Navy Times.

Who knows what the sailor was crying about?  It is quite possible he was distraught about the possibility of a beheading or something along these lines as most Americans would have no clue about the differences between various factions in the region or even countries. Maybe thoughts were going through his head of never seeing his children again or wife and friends. I say to him, it’s ok brother, crying is nothing to be ashamed about.

And while we are talking about propaganda, the official US military line as to why the sailors' craft strayed in to Iranian territory is mechanical failure, "Professional mariners understand that it is a duty and obligation to assist other mariners who suffer mechanical problems or who find themselves off track at sea…"  Commander Stephens whines. I’ll let the reader in to a little secret; no one in the world believes that except maybe here in the US.  Remember Pat Tillman? Check out The Tillman Story and see how his death was handled and his family constantly lied to, a family that had given generations to the US military. If the US military and its flunkies in Congress treat Americans in this way we know how others are handled.

A man crying is an embarrassment to the politicians of the 1% that send working class men and women to fight their wars on behalf of the corporations. They don’t fight them and their children don’t fight them, the CEO’s, hedge fund managers and other wasters who profit from them certainly don’t.  They act all tough about colors not running and how our warriors (who are committing suicide at an alarming rate I should add) are defending our freedom when they are defending profits and imperialist plunder.

Maybe this guy was just plain scared, nothing wrong with that.  Hollywood propagenda is not real, war is very real. Any normal person will defend their lives or their friends lives if they have to but killing a human being is not like Hollywood, it makes us sick. We never forget it, especially when we draw the conclusion that the enemy isn’t really an enemy at all and ask yourself “Why are we here?”.

It would be natural that young US workers in the military would have views about the enemy that would make them fear for their lives if captured. In order to invade a country, occupy a region, and the cannon fodder in these ventures are young workers, the people there have to be demonized and there is a massive propaganda war against Muslims, Arabs (Iranians are not Arabs) and anyone of Middle Eastern descent. The English demonized the Irish, the new American ruling class demonized  the Native Americans the plantation bourgeoisie the Africans, and the, the Germans demonized the Jews, Poles and about every other non-Aryan.

Never mind the staggering hypocrisy of US military and Pentagon spokespersons to talk of unfair treatment of personnel given Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and years of torture and imprisonment of innocents. What about the repeated calls and threats of the “military option” in Iran? What’s it like living in Iran and having to listen to all the warmongering cowards in the US Congress call for war on them? They’ve seen what the US did to Iraq, killed a million or so and drove the country in to the stone-age after their friend Saddam Hussein got a bit too cocky. And let's not forget, the US overthrew the Iranian government in 1953, a secular democratic regime.

No, that young American sailor hasn’t shamed anyone.  He’s shown us the warmongers in the US Congress that never fight wars haven’t driven the humanity out of him.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sports as propaganda. A long history of social control.


Welfare for the sports billionaires
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

Sports are a natural and important part of life as individuals and communities engage each other in healthy competition. It is a crucial part of our leisure time and social interaction. The British love track, or did. I remember watching it on a weekend when it was all amateur. When things began to change my mum complained about it, “We’ll be like the Yanks the way things are going” she used to say about all the product advertising that has now become the norm.

If I see a football game (soccer) on TV I can’t tell who the teams are; it’s Vodaphone playing Siemens.  In a tennis match, the player has to be sure she or he takes a sip of the Gatorade or bottled water or whatever product whose investors have control of her time. Athletes today are walking billboards, pimps for corporations really. For the famous ones, whose fickle notoriety can disappear as quickly as it arises, they make more money selling products.

The US capitalist class, the most ruthless of all of them, has mastered this social control, taken it to levels never before seen, although I was not around at the time and am not a scholar in ancient Roman History. 

Here in the US, the capitalists that own and control the sports industry and mass media have it well mapped out with the year being carved up in to allotted times for the dominant sports, Baseball, Basketball, American Football (a game played primarily with the hands) and to a lesser extent Ice Hockey, Boxing and Golf. Even before one frenetic season ends with a series of money-making ad soaked championship games until a grand finale crowns the rulers of the world in that sport, another begins. In the US we even have a “World Series” in Baseball, a game that practically no other nation plays, an example of the extreme arrogance of the US bourgeois. It’s not difficult for a US team to be world champions in a sport in which there's practically no competition from the other few hundred nations of the world.

Last weekend’s Super Bowl, a game that is technically one hour in length lasts about four hours. A 30 second ad for the previous Super Bowl, which was seen by more than 100 million people, cost about $4.5 million. The World Cup final by comparison, has over one billion viewers.

As witnessed by the corruption and goings on in FIFA, the global body that governs football, the National Football League, American Football’s non profit equivalent, is also mired in corruption and until recently, paid no taxes despite paying its chief officer more than $44 million in 2012 and $29 million the year before that. As the universities are also pools from which professional teams pull their players, there have also been incidents of corruption and extreme sexual abuse and cover up there.

The longer the Super Bowl goes on of course, the better it is for those that profit from it. Super Bowl 50 opened up with the singing of the national anthem and weapons of mass destruction in the form of jets flying over the stadium, There is always a military presence and usually ads enticing young working class men and women to join up. It is a massive spectacle of excess as the public is subject to propaganda on a scale not unlike the huge rallies and events put on by the National Socialists, their propaganda machine would make Leni Riefenstahl proud.

The owners of the American Football teams are nearly all billionaires with Paul Allen, the owner of the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trailblazers worth some $17.5 billion. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is worth $6.5 billion; Rams owner Stan Kroenke “who also owns parts of the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche and Arsenal Football Club” is worth $6.3 billion; Jaguars owner Shad Khan who also owns Fulham Football Club is worth $4.8 billion; Patriots owner Bob Kraft who also owns the New England Revolution is worth $4.3 billion; and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones $4.2 billion. (Source: CBS Sports)

As far as it goes, the stadiums built for the teams to play in are mostly built at taxpayer’s expense; so much for the efficiency of their so-called free market.  The Patriots stadium was built with $72 million of taxpayer money meanwhile Robert Kraft, who owns the team has a net worth of $4.8 billion, taxpayer handouts to him will allow him to support Israeli causes no doubt, Jewish Israeli’s that is as he is a supporter of Zionism. More here and here on taxpayer funded stadiums.

Sport, like anything in the capitalist mode of production, is an opportunity to be exploited, it is a business. Instead of us enjoying the healthy interaction and competition that team sports can be, we are enticed to watch others play, people who prostitute themselves for one business or another, many of them become millionaires, treated like gods. But the fall can be as swift as the rise. In American Football, the health impact is considerable and there has been an ongoing struggle to get the concussion’s connected to the sport recognized and dealt with. A similar situation occurs in boxing where brain damage is a common side effect, boxers have very little power in the industry and no union to represent them. For many poor youth and youth of color, sports is an opportunity to get a university education and hopefully a better future.

The players sell everything especially to children and poor children whose dream it is to become one of them and escape the world of poverty. To become like them is success but for most it is an impossible dream. The phony, charitable episodes and visits to areas of extreme poverty by the players at the behest of the investors that own their time is a sham.

But most important to the owners of the sport industry and the media that promotes it is its propaganda potential.  For the 1% it is their “God”. It is money well spent. As an earlier post pointed out, all sports should be amateur. Sport, like art should be state funded. But, as is the case with all things, this activity cannot be separated form other social issues. A healthy artistic and athletic culture cannot exist without increased leisure time that requires the allocation of capital and society's wealth in a different way, in a collective way. Capitalism destroys creativity as it destroys the environment and will destroy life as we know it if it is not ended.

Prior to the English Revolution and the demise of Charles 1st, the soon to be headless monarch, there was much resistance to curbing organized sports of the day because, “..if men had no sports to occupy them on Sundays, they might meet for illegal religious discussion. “, wrote, Christopher Hill, the British historian, adding that,  “The government feared that unoccupied men would talk sedition…”.*

Later, with the restoration of Charles 11 in 1660,  the Duke of Newcastle assured the monarch that traditional sports “will amuse the people’s thoughts and keep them in harmless action, which will free your Majesty from faction and rebellion.” 

State organized sports as a form of social control and clutter for the mind has a long history.

* The Century of Revolution 1603-1714 by Christopher Hill

War and capitalism. A Comment.


Sean O'Torain.

Thank you Comrade for your article on this Blog on "The Coming War." I agree with the points you make. The leopard has not changed its spots. They do not have around 20,000 nuclear warheads between them for the good of our health. The contradictions in the system will push them, is pushing them, towards war. Either partial or all out.

Either would qualitatively transform the world. Along with climate change it is one of the threats to life on earth. If it is a partial nuclear war between "minor" powers such as Pakistan and India, or a dirty bomb or dirty bombs, this could transform the consciousness of the masses of the world in the direction that capitalism had to go. It is socialism, nuclear wipe out, or the end of life on earth through climate change if capitalism is not overthrown. Capitalism will one way or another destroy life on earth. But all is not lost. The working class is objectively stronger than ever before. Spread over the world more than ever before. Half the world's factory workers are now women.  It is a race with time.

Will the working class be able to organize itself, will its consciousness be raised sufficiently, will it develop the ruthless determination necessary, will it build a mass revolutionary international leadership of hundreds of millions that is needed to end capitalism. Will a cutting edge be able to be hammered onto the now blunt weapon that is the working class, the progressive class of today, the only class that can give the human species and life on earth as we know it a future. As Trotsky said: The crisis of society, the crisis of humanity, is the crisis of the working class leadership. Building the subjective factor, this working class leadership, is the challenge if life on earth is to be preserved.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Poetic satire: The Universal Moderate

The Universal Moderate by Kevin Higgins

 
after Buffy Sainte-Marie

This poem is dedicated to all candidates of the “centre-left” and “centre-right” in the Irish General Election and to all supporters of Hillary Rodham Clinton

Over wishy-washy tea in the office canteen,
or when you’re condemned to sit beside him
at the after party of a funeral,
the unsub speaks his principles
like he’s eight foot one;
but is back down to his usual
one foot eight when
the vote on anything’s taken.

Though he says so himself,
it took monumental bravery
for a man of his measurements
to come loudly out in favour of
homosexual marriage the day after
it was legalised everywhere.​

He’s taking at face value what the Director of the CIA
told Congress yesterday. He’s arguing in favour
of the First World War. On balance, he’s for
his country and China continuing to mutually
pleasure each other; of selling more
helicopters to Saudi Arabia. He’s too busy
giving King Leopold of Belgium’s efforts
to civilise the Congo another second chance
to indulge your wild theories.

Be it the proposal to limit the right of landowners
to gun down vagrants wandering
onto their property; the suggested legislation
to make mandatory the rescue by their employers
of children wedged up chimneys;
or the phasing out of compulsory
female circumcision; he’s in favour of everything
when the circumstances permit
and all bar Sir Rhodes Boyson’s corpse concur.

He’s the Universal Moderate,
forever holding up the bit between
those who want to slaughter six million
and those who “unrealistically refuse to consider”
killing even one.

KEVIN HIGGINS is The Bogmans Cannon Satirist-in-Residence

Can we avoid the oncoming world recession?

by Michael Roberts

There is a growing talk among mainstream economists and the financial media of a new global economic recession.  Until the last few weeks, the locus of this new slump has been focused on China.  But, as I have argued in a previous post, it is unlikely to start there.  Much more important to the world economy is the largest economy in the world in terms of national output and financial fire-power, the US.

In the last few weeks, there has been a continuous series of poor data for the US economy: falling manufacturing output, weakening business sentiment and capital goods orders and falling corporate profits.  And globally, international agencies by the week seem to announce reduced forecasts for economic expansion.

The latest of these agencies, after the IMF, the World Bank and the OECD, is the United Nations.  In its report on global economic perspectives, it concluded that “the world economy stumbled in 2015 and only a modest improvement is projected for 2016/17 as a number of cyclical and structural headwinds persist”2016wesp_full_en

UN economists downgraded their final estimate for global growth in 2015 from 2.8% to just 2.4% – remember the average prior to the Great Recession for global growth was 4-5% a year.  Naturally, like the other agencies, it expects an improvement this year and next: “The world economy is projected to grow by 2.9 per cent in 2016 and 3.2 per cent in 2017, supported by generally less restrictive fiscal and still accommodative monetary policy stances worldwide.”  But then each year these more optimistic forecasts are dashed and revised.

The UN also confirmed a key indicator of the Long Depression, that I call the period since the end of the Great Recession of 2008-9.  As Professor Joseph Stiglitz put it in a recent article: “Moreover, the UN report clearly shows that, throughout the developed world, private investment did not grow as one might have expected, given ultra-low interest rates. In 17 of the 20 largest developed economies, investment growth remained lower during the post-2008 period than in the years prior to the crisis; five experienced a decline in investment during 2010-2015.”  Indeed, the average growth rate in developed economies has declined by more than 54% since the crisis. An estimated 44 million people are unemployed in developed countries, about 12 million more than in 2007, while inflation has reached its lowest level since the crisis.

Stiglitz went onto consider “what’s holding back the world economy?”  He noted what some of us have been saying for years: that quantitative easing by central banks, as used in the US, Japan, the UK and belatedly in the EU, has failed to boost growth and investment.  The problem was that the banks used the cheap cash from central banks not to lend onto companies to invest or households to spend, but to build up their cash reserves or buy government bonds or their own shares.

As Stiglitz concluded: “Clearly, keeping interest rates at the near zero level does not necessarily lead to higher levels of credit or investment. When banks are given the freedom to choose, they choose riskless profit or even financial speculation over lending that would support the broader objective of economic growth.”  Of course, this is something that many Marxist economists have been saying for years – in opposition to the hopes of Keynesian economists like Paul Krugman or Noel Smith.  Moreover, what could provide a better case for the public takeover of banking systems in the major economies so that credit can be directed productively and not for bank profits?

Stiglitz also directs our attention to the massive reversal of capital inflows to so-called emerging economies.  “An unintended, but not unexpected, consequence of monetary easing has been sharp increases in cross-border capital flows. Total capital inflows to developing countries increased from about $20bn in 2008 to over $600bn in 2010.  Very little of it went to fixed investment. This year, developing countries, taken together, are expected to record their first net capital outflow – totalling $615bn – since 2006.”  Actually, according to the Institute of International Finance, the outflow figure was even larger, with net capital outflows of an estimated $735bn during 2015, the first year of net outflows since 1988!
screen shot 2016-01-29 at 11.44.03
As another international agency, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), put it in its latest quarterly review, the surge in lending to emerging markets that helped fuel their own — and much of the world’s — growth over the past 15 years has come to a halt, and may now give way to a “vicious circle” of deleveraging, financial market turmoil and a global economic downturn.  “In the risk-on phase [of the global economic cycle], lending sets off a virtuous circle in financial conditions in which things can look better than they really are,” said Hyun Song Shin, head of research at the BIS, known as the central bank of central banks. “But flows can quickly go into reverse and then it becomes a vicious circle, especially if there is leverage.”

The BIS reported that the total stock of dollar-denominated credit in bonds and bank loans to emerging markets — including that to governments, companies and households but excluding that to banks — was $3.33tn at the end of September 2015, down from $3.36tn at the end of June.  This was the first decline in such lending since the first quarter of 2009, during the global financial crisis, according to the BIS.
dollar credit
In previous posts I have pointed out that the huge rise in credit to emerging markets threatens a major bust especially if the profitability of capital should begin to fall in these economies.
EM debt
And that is just what is happening.  The return on equity capital in advanced capitalist economies is below levels before the Great Recession but it partially recovered from 2009 and only started to fall in the last year or so.  But profitability in emerging economies has been falling since 2012 and is now below that of advanced economies for the first time.
EM profitability
The head of IIF, Caruana commented, “The issue is not just for emerging markets. It is spilling back into developed markets. The broader financial markets are recoiling from risk, and that spreads across all markets. The problem now is that the real economy is being affected.”

In my last post,
I took up the issue of negative interest rate policy (NIRP).  This is the new policy forced upon central banks to try and get the world capitalist economy out of this Long Depression.  Zero interest rate policy (ZIRP) has failed, quantitative easing (QE) or printing money has failed, so now let’s charge banks and other financial institutions for keeping cash and try to force them to lend or invest.  Several small central banks had already adopted NIRP (Switzerland and Sweden) but last week, one of the largest, the Bank of Japan, applied NIRP.
deposit rates
The BoJ vote to do so was only 5-4 because the minority were not convinced that it would work.  Indeed, NIRP could make things worse, they thought.  NIRP is the last throw of the dice in monetary policy and if it did not work in getting the Japanese economy out of its stagnation, the Bank would be seen to be helpless.  And why should NIRP work any better in stimulating business investment than ZIRP or QE?

Within weeks, it is becoming clear that NIRP is not working.  Japanese government ten-year bond yields dropped into negative territory.  This means that banks and other corporate investors would prefer to pay the Bank of Japan and the government for holding bonds for the next decade rather than spend cash or invest!  And that behaviour is happening increasingly globally.  The volume of government bonds trading below zero interest has now reached $6trn, or one-third of the entire global sovereign bond market!

So what is to be done?  Martin Wolf, the Keynesian economic journalist for the UK’s FT, asked the question in a recent article.  His answer seemed to be more of the same ‘unconventional’ monetary policy.  “It is crucial to recognise that something more unconventional might have to be done”.  Another recession was bound to come along and doing nothing about it was not an option.

Wolf went through the various options that I have discussed above and eventually concluded that the only one left with the possibility of success was “helicopter money” — dropping money directly into people’s bank accounts in so that they spent more.  This is similar to the People’s QE advocated by some of the current leftist Labour opposition in the UK and has been mooted before by heterodox economists.  I have discussed this option in a previous post when it was proposed by maverick Bank of England economist, Andy Haldane.

In my view, it won’t work because it assumes that what is wrong with the capitalist economy and the reason for the continued Long Depression and the prospect of another slump is the Keynesian explanation of a ‘lack of demand’.  For Keynesians, you can create extra spending through money creation.  This leads to increased employment and then to increased income and growth and thus to more profits.  But the reality of the capitalist system is the other way round.  Only if profitability is sufficient, will investment increase and lead to more jobs and then incomes and consumption.  The demand for money will rise accordingly.  Artificial money creation by fiat from the government does not get round this – as the experience of ‘quantitative easing’ has already shown.

Instead, we must look at what is happening with profits and profitability.  And as I have shown in several previous posts, the profitability of business capital in the major economies is near historic post-1945 lows and the limited recovery in profitability since 2009 has come to an end.  Indeed, global corporate profit growth has ground to a halt and is now falling in China, the UK and most important in the US.

Last week, the investment bank, JP Morgan, noted that US corporate profit margins (the share of profit in each unit of national output) have started to fall back from its record highs.  After the slowdown in US productivity growth to near zero, as reported last week, JPM’s economists now expect US corporate profits to fall by 10% this year.
jp-morgan-us-corporate-profits-v-payrolls-growth-q1-2016
And here is the rub. As I and (a few) other Marxist economists have argued, JPM points out that every time there is such a large fall, an economic recession is not far behind, because such a fall is seldom not followed by an economic recession.  I quote: “this week’s larger-than-expected productivity drop in 4Q15 points to a 10% drop in corporate profits from year-ago levels. A double-digit decline in profits is a rare event outside recessions, having been recorded only twice in the last half century”.

JPM has raised the probability of a US economic recession from 10% to 25% in 2016. And that probability is greater than 50% before 2017 is out.
jp-morgan-us-recession-tracker-q1-2016 (1)
I have commented on the possibility of a new global recession in previous posts.  My view is that it is due and will take place in the next one to three years at most.  Some mainstream economists are now forecasting a more than 50% chance for 2016.  Citibank economists reckon that there is a 65% chance in 2016.

This doom-mongering is dismissed by others.  Bill McBride from Calculated Risk  trashed those recession mongers who think it is on the cards for next year. Says McBride: “For the last 6+ years, there have been an endless parade of incorrect recession calls. The manufacturing sector has been weak, and contracted in the US in November due to a combination of weakness in the oil sector, the strong dollar and some global weakness. But this doesn’t mean the US will enter a recession. The last time the index contracted was in 2012 (no recession), and has shown contraction a number of times outside of a recession. Looking at the economic data, the odds of a recession in 2016 are very low (extremely unlikely in my view).”

Maybe it won’t be in 2016.  But the factors for a new recession are increasingly in place: falling profitability and profits in the major economies and a rising debt burden for corporations in both mature and emerging economies.  And the Fed set to hike the cost of borrowing in dollars.  As I said before, it’s a poisonous concoction.

Can we avoid this slump?  Stiglitz’s answer to avoid this is to ‘direct’ banks to lend for investment or household spending and to introduce “large increases in public investment in infrastructure, education, and technology” to be financed by higher taxes on ‘monopolies’.  No doubt, increased public investment would help to compensate for the failure of capitalist investment.  But the world is capitalist: governments are not going to boost public investment if it means higher taxes for corporations, reducing their profitability even more.  So even this moderate policy for more public investment is a challenge to capitalism in an environment of low profitability, rising debt and depressed growth – something that Keynesian/Marxist Michel Kalecki at the end of the Great Depression of the 1930s pointed out.

Wolf’s ‘helicopter money’ and Stiglitz’s tax-funded public investment are poor options.  It is not the banking system that has to be by-passed or directed but the capitalist system of production for profit that has to replaced by planned investment under common ownership.

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Coming War.

Is a major conflict between the US and China inevitable? Such a war would be a catastrophe and only the working class internationally can prevent it.  The views in the piece below are the author's own and we share them for the interest of our readers.

War and Peace
by Dan Armstrong

The US ruling class has, as we all know, been busy trying to finalise a wave of counter revolutions in regions outside the old communist bloc but where US capitalism had not held complete sway. Thus throughout the Middle East and North Africa destablising uprisings were initiated and had the aim of opening direct control of state-owned oilfields. As we know most of these went so badly wrong that far from gaining more control, the US ended up with expensive military campaigns, less political control and is now coming under threat by new cancerous fundamentalist forces with metastases establishing themselves from west Africa through to Indonesia, from Northern Europe to Australia. American military expenditure in and of itself has not been able to impose American capitalism's will on those regions where armed conflict has been the norm for over a decade. The giant has political feet of clay.

On another front, the western powers have defied international agreements reached after the collapse of the USSR in relation to nuclear disarmament that they would not seek to extend NATO's membership and territories in return for the destruction of Ukraine's stock of atomic weapons; instead NATO has crept further and further eastwards aided by staged calls by the Baltic states, by Georgia and more recently by Ukraine to join NATO and / or be covered by NATO's military shield. Except for the Baltic states, in the other two  cases, the US so far failed to get its own way. Each reaction by Russia to counter the expansionism has been characterised as Russian "imperialism". At the same time, Putin's own ambitions to re-establish Russia's power have been well served by the West's behaviour, allowing the government to raise the military budget from ca. 20 billion US dollars in 1999 to 90 billion in 2012. Although a steep rise, the US spent ca. 300 billion dollars in 1999 but 680 billion in 2012. This last figure is the same amount as spent by the next TEN nations added together.

For comparison China's recent military budget was 155 billion US dollars (CIA World Factbook - https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/).

These two fronts in Europe and the Middle East are highly problematical for the US and its western allies (or vasall states). In both areas the US military has not been able to impose its rule easily. But there is a larger, strategic problem facing US capitalism. As a hugely important economic power, the US has been able to develop technology and productive capacity as well as military strength expressed in state of the art hardware. But rivals have appeared on the scene to challenge US hegemony in all of these areas. We saw the Asian Tiger economies ride the growth wave before 2000, producing cheap electronics, cars, etc, although Japan's strength has been sapped by over a decade of internal debt. And Korea has for objective reasons in the size of its population not been able to build beyond a certain point. But as we all know, China's tremendous growth was based on a flood of credit linked into objective backwardness internally and its ability to undercut prices abroad for consumer goods and some commodities to sell to western and other markets. It has actually raised its status to the second largest economy on the planet. This is well enough known but what consequences can be drawn?

Up until recently, China was mainly an export-led economy. But now, economic growth rests on an internal consumer market, selling to newly prosperous workers and the middle class with much less need to export. A consumer credit bubble in housing and share price speculation have caused wobbles in growth which have reverberated around the world economy. The US ruling class may have invested in Chinese manufacturing but it cannot control the actions of the government. It also regards with displeasure the drive of Chinese enterprises into acquisition of vast areas of arable land in Africa and of water resources, copper deposits, rare earths and much more. Of late US imperialism has been condemning the growth of Chinese naval strength and the creation of artificial islands as future bases in the Pacific.

Taken all in all, a comparison of this present rivalry between not primarily the US and Europe but between the US and China is irresistible. The last important period when new capitalist powers arose to challenge the world's superpower was 1880 to 1913. All the above indices were paralleled then by the challenge of the new industrial powers of the USA and of Germany to the giant Great Britain. The productive forces were pushing the US into expansion southwards and westwards; Germany was blocked by its continental geographic position. It was clear that conflict was inevitable but unclear as to who would clash with whom. Germany almost engaged in hostilities with France in north Africa. A clash between the US and the UK could easily have erupted. As we know, Germany's government decided on a war of aggressive to paralyse Belgium in order to dominate the Channel ports and begin a conflict with the British Empire, wholly dependent on sea power. This decision was taken in spite of the fact that Germany, Britain, France and the US all had financial investments in each other's economies and their respective ruling classes all foretold a disastrous future if a new war were to break out. And yet, the forces at work were so powerful that the conflict did occur. In 1913 a deep economic recession pushed the parties over the edge and within a year war broke out. And the consequences were probably more disastrous even than foretold, even threatening continent-wide social revolution and the end of great empires.

The next world recession will reveal more the weaknesses of the old powers, may well kill off the dollar as the single reserve currency, the same factor which effectively ended Britain's status as a super power when the pound was replaced by gold and then as a coup de grace by the dollar. Given the present balance of forces, given the vulnerability of the US share of markets, the cost of its foreign military bases, the astronomical national debt of 19 trillion dollars only viable as long as the dollar holds its present status , its erosion status as reserve currency - in these circumstances can we expect that the US ruling class will stand by and watch China continue to move towards the world's number one economy, the pacific and Indian ocean prime naval power, the possessor of vital resources and commodities?

Is it not much more likely that the US will move against China before it is too late?

(See: http://www.globalfirepower.com/countries-comparison-detail.asp?form=form&country1=united-states-of-america&country2=china&Submit=COMPARE)

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Life, culture and education in Occupied Palestine

This is a report from Mazin Qumsiyeh Professor and (volunteer) Director Palestine Museum of Natural History, it describes one small aspect of life under the Zionist occupation. We share it with our readers. We do not necessarily agree with the political conclusions it may draw with regards to the solution of the crisis in Israel and the Middle East but share it in solidarity with the Palestinian people and their struggle against colonialism.

**********

Hypocrisy land news and Actions this coming week:

The Israeli Knesset rejected a bill that calls for equality (after all this must remain a state by and for Jews). And a video emerged of Israeli prime minister Netanyahu praising Israeli Fascist Group Im
Tirtzu which believes in "Jewishness" of Palestine and acts and supports to effect ethnic cleansing of native Palestinians in favor of European and other Jewish colonization.

The Zionist leaders attacked Ban Ki Moon for mildly speaking about the need to end the occupation
and let Palestinians live free. The heads of the EU missions in Jerusalem issued a report saying that Israel must respect human rights. They explained that 660 Palestinians are being held without charge or trial. They also mention Mohammad AlQeeq, a Palestinian Journalist on hunger strike for 70 days since his illegal detention.

The tragedies around us continue and we sympathize with suffering people seeking freedom from tyranny and from terrorism (much of it emanating from the USA through its its "protectorates" like Israel and Saudi Arabia).

My students struggle to come to class through tear gas and other challenges of Israeli repression. This past week I gave courses on research, critical reading, and writing for master students in tourism
and also for diploma students in drug education and prevention at BU.

In good news, more and more people acting on their convictions to challenge oppression and/or build a better future. For example the boycott campaign continues to grow around the world (for examples of successes http://bdsmovement.net/ and http://bdsitalia.org). Do act to promote BDS. in the media work and other actions. We were impressed with the action of distribution of over 10,000 "spoof" New York Times (major US newspaper). This biased newspaper not reporting on Israeli colonialism but parroting Israeli propaganda about terrorism was taught a good lesson by this action and thousands of New Yorkers appreciated the gesture (electronic version of spoof here:
https://web.archive.org/web/20160202195655/http:/www.newyorktimes-ip.com/)

Action: Over 330 people in 12 countries help the work of the Palestine Museum of Natural History (PMNH) and its Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability (PIBS) of Bethlehem University (see http://Palestinenature.org).  We wrote to them to get our organizational structures better in 2016. We are working to create friends of Palestine nature committees/communities in many countries and cities. The main tasks for these groups include:

1) Recruiting volunteers to come to Palestine and work with us at PMNH/PIBS
2) Help in networking to build awareness and education on environmental and sustainability issues
3) Help raise funds to support the work of PMNH/PIBS
4) Organize fact-finding and/or support  visits for ecotourism, political tourism, & cultural tourism to Palestine.
5) Any other task agreed to by the local committee and the PMNH/PIBS administration (must be consistent with our mission and goals)

If you have not done so already, please write to us if you like to help create a committee or support an existing committee in your area or help in any other way (write to email info@palestinenature.org).
Note that if you decide to create a group in your country you will receive policy and operational documents that will allow us to build a fruitful collaboration. For those in Palestine, we have volunteer meetings coming up 11 February in areas like research, garden, agriculture, and education so please join us (again email us for detail).

Our philosophy is similar to this one below and we are promoting respect: How I Became a Localist by Deborah Frieze: TEDxTalk - 13 min video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jTdZSPBRRE

Do come visit us and do Stay human

Mazin Qumsiyeh
Professor and (volunteer) Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History
Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability
Bethlehem University
Occupied Palestine
http://qumsiyeh.org
http://palestinenature.org
_______________________________________________
HumanRights newsletter
http://lists.qumsiyeh.org/listinfo/humanrights

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Einstein Letter Warning Of Zionist Facism

Einstein Letter Warning Of
Zionist Facism In Israel
Letter That Albert Einstein Sent to the New York Times
1948, Protesting the Visit of Menachem Begin

11-1-4
 
 
Letters to the Editor
New York Times
December 4, 1948
 
TO THE EDITORS OF THE NEW YORK TIMES:
 
Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our times is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the "Freedom Party" (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine.
 
The current visit of Menachem Begin, leader of this party, to the United States is obviously calculated to give the impression of American support for his party in the coming Israeli elections, and to cement political ties with conservative Zionist elements in the United States. Several Americans of national repute have lent their names to welcome his visit. It is inconceivable that those who oppose fascism throughoutthe world, if correctly informed as to Mr. Begin's political record and perspectives, could add their names and support to the movement he represents.
 
 
Before irreparable damage is done by way of financial contributions, public manifestations in Begin's behalf, and the creation in Palestine of the impression that a large segment of America supports Fascist elements in Israel, the American public must be informed as to the record and objectives of Mr. Begin and his movement. The public avowals of Begin's party are no guide whatever to its actual character. Today they speak of freedom, democracy and anti-imperialism, whereas until recently they openly preached the doctrine of the Fascist state. It is in its actions that the terrorist party betrays its real character; from its past actions we can judge what it may be expected to do in the future.
 
Attack on Arab Village
 
A shocking example was their behavior in the Arab village of Deir Yassin. This village, off the main roads and surrounded by Jewish lands, had taken no part in the war, and had even fought off Arab bands who wanted to use the village as their base. On April 9 (THE NEW YORK TIMES), terrorist bands attacked this peaceful village, which was not a military objective in the fighting, killed most of its inhabitants ? 240men, women, and children - and kept a few of them alive to parade as captives through the streets of Jerusalem. Most of the Jewish community was horrified at the deed, and the Jewish Agency sent a telegram of apology to King Abdullah of Trans-Jordan. But the terrorists, far from being ashamed of their act, were proud of this massacre, publicized it widely, and invited all the foreign correspondents present in the country to view the heaped corpses and the general havoc at Deir Yassin. The Deir Yassin incident exemplifies the character and actions of the Freedom Party.
 
Within the Jewish community they have preached an admixture of ultranationalism, religious mysticism, and racial superiority. Like other Fascist parties they have been used to break strikes, and have themselves pressed for the destruction of free trade unions. In their stead they have proposed corporate unions on the Italian Fascist model. During the last years of sporadic anti-British violence, the IZL and Stern groups inaugurated a reign of terror in the Palestine Jewish community. Teachers were beaten up for speaking against them, adults were shot for not letting their children join them. By gangster methods, beatings, window-smashing, and wide-spread robberies, the terrorists intimidated the population and exacted a heavy tribute.
 
The people of the Freedom Party have had no part in the constructive achievements in Palestine. They have reclaimed no land, built no settlements, and only detracted from the Jewish defense activity. Their much-publicized immigration endeavors were minute, and devoted mainly to bringing in Fascist compatriots.
 
Discrepancies Seen
 
The discrepancies between the bold claims now being made by Begin and his party, and their record of past performance in Palestine bear the imprint of no ordinary political party. This is the unmistakable stamp of a Fascist party for whom terrorism (against Jews, Arabs, and British alike), and misrepresentation are means, and a "Leader State" is the goal.
 
In the light of the foregoing considerations, it is imperative that the truth about Mr. Begin and his movement be made known in this country. It is all the more tragic that the top leadership of American Zionism has refused to campaign against Begin's efforts, or even to expose to its own constituents the dangers to Israel from support to Begin.
 
The undersigned therefore take this means of publicly presenting a few salient facts concerning Begin and his party; and of urging all concerned not to support this latest manifestation of fascism.
 
ISIDORE ABRAMOWITZ
HANNAH ARENDT
ABRAHAM BRICK
RABBI JESSURUN CARDOZO
ALBERT EINSTEIN
HERMAN EISEN, M.D.
HAYIM FINEMAN
M. GALLEN, M.D.
H.H. HARRIS
ZELIG S. HARRIS
SIDNEY HOOK
FRED KARUSH
BRURIA KAUFMAN
IRMA L. LINDHEIM
NACHMAN MAISEL
SEYMOUR MELMAN
MYER D. MENDELSON
M.D., HARRY M. OSLINSKY
SAMUEL PITLICK
FRITZ ROHRLICH
LOUIS P. ROCKER
RUTH SAGIS
ITZHAK SANKOWSKY
I.J. SHOENBERG
SAMUEL SHUMAN
M. SINGER
IRMA WOLFE
STEFAN WOLF.
 
New York, Dec. 2, 1948
 
http://pulpnonfiction.blogspot.com

Book: Missoula and The Epidemic of Campus Rape


In a response to the previous blog on the Superbowl, sexual violence, the business of sports and its commodification and how it is used to build nationalism and militarism, a women on social media who read it suggested that we read the book below. I have not read it but will buy it and read it.  The review I found with the book on Google and it is a description, it didn’t have an author’s name, but it sounds like a book worth reading and promoting, thanks to a reader for suggesting it. Richard Mellor

****************

From bestselling author Jon Krakauer, a stark, powerful, meticulously reported narrative about a series of sexual assaults at the University of Montana -- stories that illuminate the human drama behind the national plague of campus rape  

Missoula, Montana, is a typical college town, with a highly regarded state university, bucolic surroundings, a lively social scene, and an excellent football team -- the Grizzlies -- with a rabid fan base.   The Department of Justice investigated 350 sexual assaults reported to the Missoula police between January 2008 and May 2012. Few of these assaults were properly handled by either the university or local authorities.

In this, Missoula is also typical.   A DOJ report released in December of 2014 estimates 110,000 women between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four are raped each year. Krakauer's devastating narrative of what happened in Missoula makes clear why rape is so prevalent on American campuses, and why rape victims are so reluctant to report assault.  

Acquaintance rape is a crime like no other. Unlike burglary or embezzlement or any other felony, the victim often comes under more suspicion than the alleged perpetrator. This is especially true if the victim is sexually active; if she had been drinking prior to the assault -- and if the man she accuses plays on a popular sports team.

The vanishingly small but highly publicized incidents of false accusations are often used to dismiss her claims in the press. If the case goes to trial, the woman's entire personal life becomes fair game for defense attorneys.   This brutal reality goes a long way towards explaining why acquaintance rape is the most underreported crime in America.

In addition to physical trauma, its victims often suffer devastating psychological damage that leads to feelings of shame, emotional paralysis and stigmatization. PTSD rates for rape victims are estimated to be 50%, higher than soldiers returning from war.  

In Missoula, Krakauer chronicles the searing experiences of several women in Missoula -- the nights when they were raped; their fear and self-doubt in the aftermath; the way they were treated by the police, prosecutors, defense attorneys; the public vilification and private anguish; their bravery in pushing forward and what it cost them.  

Some of them went to the police. Some declined to go to the police, or to press charges, but sought redress from the university, which has its own, non-criminal judicial process when a student is accused of rape. In two cases the police agreed to press charges and the district attorney agreed to prosecute. One case led to a conviction; one to an acquittal.

Those women courageous enough to press charges or to speak publicly about their experiences were attacked in the media, on Grizzly football fan sites, and/or to their faces. The university expelled three of the accused rapists, but one was reinstated by state officials in a secret proceeding.

One district attorney testified for an alleged rapist at his university hearing. She later left the prosecutor's office and successfully defended the Grizzlies' star quarterback in his rape trial. The horror of being raped, in each woman's case, was magnified by the mechanics of the justice system and the reaction of the community.   Krakauer's dispassionate, carefully documented account of what these women endured cuts through the abstract ideological debate about campus rape.

College-age women are not raped because they are promiscuous, or drunk, or send mixed signals, or feel guilty about casual sex, or seek attention. They are the victims of a terrible crime and deserving of compassion from society and fairness from a justice system that is clearly broken. 

Super Bowl. Weight Watching. Violence against Women and Men. Human Trafficking.


Severely Injured NFL Player Being Rushed To Hospital.
by Sean O'Torain

When I was young I played rugby. I was mad about the game. I did not know then that one of the reasons was that it allowed me to release my anger at the world in which I lived and do so in a regulated and legal fashion which did not get me arrested. Nor did I know then that the many concussions I suffered would severely affect me in later life. One English pastor once called cricket "organized loafing." Well Rugby is "organized violence."

It is the same with American football. It is "organized violence." There are many negative affects that come with this activity. One of them is not lack of profits for the owners of the teams. They get the local tax payers to build their stadiums and make a fortune.  They also get young men who cannot get another way to make a lot of money to beat each other up and damage their brains and bodies for life. American football, like all professional sports is a racket where the owners of the teams and the bureaucrats and the advertisers make a fortune. All sports should be amateur. There should be no professional sport. But this is not what I am going to talk about today.

The day of the Super Bowl has more domestic violence cases reported compared to any other day of the year. The violence does not stop at the stadium. It extends into the home. More than enough said about the atmosphere created by this so-called sport. Super Bowl day also has the highest incidence of sex trafficking of any weekend of the year. The crowds of mainly men who travel to see this violence want sex and pay for this. More than enough said about this so-called sport. American football is a vicious sport which helps create a violent atmosphere in society, helps create an atmosphere of support for US wars and occupations abroad and helps create the anti women ideology of US capitalism.

I got an example of how pervasive this is recently. I am in my old age and I am about 35 pounds over weight. So I decided it was now or never, I had better lose some weight and try and add a few more years to my life. I went to my local club which claims to help you lose weight. It meets weekly and at every meeting tries to suggest foods to eat, life styles to adopt etc. It has some good ideas. I was there last year in the run up to Super Bowl day and they were suggesting foods you could eat at the super bowl parties and not gain weight. I raised what to me seemed the very reasonable idea that as Super Bowl day had the highest domestic violence of any day of the year and the highest sex trafficking rather than watch our diets we should not celebrate Super Bowl day. As I say I thought it was a reasonable suggestion.

But the organizers of the class did not see it this way. They got extremely irate. it was like I had thrown a grenade into the room. And in a way I had. Only it was a political grenade. It raised the whole question of US sport and US capitalism. The organizers suddenly switched from being the most diplomatic and friendly to being angry and aggressive. They had obviously been prepared to keep "politics", that is the seamy side of real life out of their class. I was told most severely that was not the place to discuss domestic violence or sex trafficking. Every other member of the class sat silent. All but one were women. After severely telling the class organizers off I resigned from that class. Everything is political, even the class to try and lose weight. You can change your diet but do not interfere with the big money economics and politics of Super Bowl day and American football.

All sport should be amateur. American foot ball damages the brains and bodies of the players. It helps create an atmosphere of violence and sexism in society. It helps create an atmosphere of the need for the US to go and "kick a.." all over the world. It helps the bank accounts of the owners of the clubs and few players who make it through unscathed. Do not celebrate Super Bowl. All sports should be amateur.