Sunday, September 14, 2014

World economy: getting back to trend?

by Michael Roberts

The latest high frequency indicators of economic activity in the major economies suggest that global economic growth picked up a little in the summer. Based on my measures of the so-called purchasing managers indexes (PMIs), business activity in both the advanced capitalist economies and the so-called emerging economies is up from a weaker first quarter.
Business activity indexes
This would suggest a global annualised growth rate of about 3.0-3.5% for 2014. That’s better than the first quarter by some way, but still below the rate achieved in the recovery from the Great Recession in 2010.
Global PMI
And, as has been documented in this blog and in many other places, the economic recovery from the Great Recession has been the weakest of all recoveries from slumps since the second world war. Since the end of the Great Recession, world industrial production growth has averaged only 40% of the rate achieved before the Great Recession and only 60% of the long-term average. The productive sectors of world capitalism are crawling along.

And that conclusion also applies to the US, the economy that has achieved the best recovery of the all major capitalist economies (G7) since 2009. The US GDP is still 5% pts below its ‘full potential’, even though it has been the US economy that has led the way in this ‘recovery’. The last set of US GDP and employment figures, as I outlined in a previous post (https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/the-us-recovery-the-long-depression-and-pax-americana/), suggest that the US economy is expanding at little more than about 2% a year, well below the post-war average of 3.3% and even more behind the pre-crisis rate.

However, there is more talk among mainstream economists that the US, at least, is now on a path of sustainable ‘normal’ growth, something I questioned in a recent post
(http://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2014/08/14/the-myth-of-the-return-to-normal/).

Gavyn Davies, former chief economist at Goldman Sachs and now a columnist for the FT, reckons that the US recovery now looks sustainable. Davies recognises that global financial crashes and slumps combine to limit and delay economic recovery, but: “such recoveries are slower than normal in their early phases, and they therefore take much longer to bump into supply constraints. On average, such shocks are followed by economic recoveries that last for 8-9 years, as compared to 5 years for the present US recovery. At about the current stage of the recovery, they actually tend to speed up a bit.” http://blogs.ft.com/gavyndavies/. And he quotes the work of his old employer, Goldman Sachs, which shows that the US economy could at last be about to head back to the trend growth rate of the past (see graph below).
Wolrd recovery cycle
The evidence of the weekly US economic indicator ECRI would also suggest that the US economy might be reaching a lift-off point.
ECRI
But these activity surveys are the only evidence that I can find for Davies’ assertion. US business investment shows little sign of a significant pick-up and corporate profits have actually stopped rising.
US business investment level
Employment growth remains lacklustre and real wages for average Americans are flat at best. Indeed, the latest Federal Reserve survey of household finances shows that median family incomes in the US have dropped so much in real terms since the Great Recession that they are now no higher than they were 16 years ago!
(http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/bulletin/2014/pdf/scf14.pdf).
US median family income
So a Keynesian-style demand boost for the US economy from household spending looks unlikely. If consumption and business investment remain in the doldrums, so will the US economy.

The United Nations Commission for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) just released its annual report on the global economy. UNCTAD remains gloomy about a return to normal (http://unctad.org/en/pages/PublicationWebflyer.aspx?publicationid=981). UNCTAD concludes “six years after the onset of the global economic and financial crisis, the world economy has not yet established a new sustainable growth regime. With an expected growth between 2.5 and 3 per cent in 2014, the recovery of global output remains weak.” It points out that “international trade remains lacklustre. Merchandise trade grew at close to 2 per cent in volume in 2012−2013 and the first few months of 2014, which is below the growth of global output. Trade in services increased somewhat faster, at around 5 per cent in 2013, without significantly changing the overall picture. This lack of dynamism contrasts sharply with the two decades preceding the crisis, when global trade in goods and services expanded more than twice as fast as global output (at annual averages of 6.8 per cent and 3per cent respectively).

UNCTAD, being an institution that is somewhat ‘off message’ compared to the IMF and the World Bank, calls for coordinated global action by governments to reverse ‘market liberalism’, reduce inequality and follow the prescriptions of Pope Francis (see my post, http://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2013/11/28/ayn-rand-pope-francis-and-the-philosophy-of-greed/)!

Don’t hold your breath.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Oscar Pistorius murdered a real person, she had a name.

From Janine Booth.
RIP Reeva Steenkamp


Her Name Is Reeva

Her name is Reeva
Reeva Steenkamp
Not 'Oscar Pistorius' girlfriend'
Not 'model'
Not 'reality TV star'
Her name is Reeva

Her name is Reeva
She was not just a model
But also a law graduate
She was not just a reality TV star
But also a campaigner against violence

The story is about her killing
Not about his fame
Or it ought to be
Her name is Reeva

His name is Oscar
Oscar Pistorius
And every news report calls him that
Her name is Reeva
Sometimes mentioned
But only after 'his model girlfriend'

He slept with guns
She is one of fifty victims of homicide every day in South Africa

Her name is Reeva
She is a woman, a person in her own right,
Not an appendage of the celebrity who killed her
Even now she is dead
She still has a name
Use it please

Friday, September 12, 2014

Video: Ironworkers wildcat strike in San Francisco.

The Ironworkers wildcat strike in San Francisco is taking place as the Carpenters wildcat strike did in 1999 in a booming economy.  The worker says it so clearly in this video, that the cranes are all over the place, there's a boom, the hall is empty etc. It places workers in a stronger position.

A building trades worker once said to me he knew nothing about economics.  But then, he knew if the union hall was empty the economy was good, if it was full, the economy was bad. We know about economics in our own way, not in an academic abstract way, but in a concrete way.

But we have to reject this idea that any one or any group of us are more important than the other.  The worker talks about how the ironworkers are the foundation, are the most important part of the project.  But we cannot beat the bosses alone.  The UAW didn't the steel unions didn't, no union alone can.  The main problem as a worker commented in this video is that the union leadership has the same world view as the bosses.  They support capitalism, they worship the market, they stress competition.  But unions were built to protect us from the market not facilitate competition between us.

But more important than this failure of our own leadership, their collaboration with the bosses, is that we must build a generalized movement, a united front of struggle.  Not just union workers but all workers, the unemployed and the unorganized and our communities and the youth who have no future as things are. This is how the unions were built in the first place along with defying and violating the bosses' anti-union laws. This is what will turn this tide.

Missionaries and land.

I like that one by Bishop Tutu. "When the missionaries came to Africa they had the bible and we had the land. They said let us pray and we closed our eyes. When we opened them again we had the bible and they had the land." Sounds about right. And we could add the missionaries brought with them all the homophobic bigotry, the sexist bigotry, the special oppression of women, private property.

Sean.

CNN airs another video on Michael Brown Shooting


CNN publishes another video with new witnesses corroborating others who said Brown was shot at from behind and also had his hands up.

Kissinger's contempt for the soldier is held by all of his class.


left: We all know this picture, she had Napalm poured on her.*  This was made possible with US taxpayer funds supporting a corrupt regime that couldn't get elected by its own people. The culprits that authorized this live in the US, are wealthy and have never been brought to trial for their crimes.

by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

We have pointed out many times on this blog that the US harbors many war criminals, many individuals that are “not” dragged through the media and the World Court as committing “crimes Against Humanity”. 

It is never British or American mass murders like Blair, Kissinger or Rumsfeld that are brought to answer for their horrendous crimes.  It was a working class white woman who grew up in a trailer park who was dragged through the mud as the face of a culture of violence in the US military, the epitomy of what was wrong, after pictures of her surfaced in the Abu Ghraib horrors.

It is always working class people that fight the 1%’s wars in the global struggle for profits and market share of whatever commodity or raw material profits them most. The ruling class organizes all the patriotic parades and flag waving when our youth are needed to defend the profits of the global corporations that they control.  The condition of soldiers on their return is of less concern, after all, repairing the physical and mental damage that real (not Hollywood) combat inflicts on people is “money out” , is a public service and we all know how much the 1% resents any form of public service except that which might help line their pockets like when the taxpayer subsides business like sports stadiums or bails out banks.

No, the love of the military grunt is all one-way.  Let’s consider how the phraseology describes our sons and daughters who are driven in to military service to get an education, a job or just to have some security.  The vast majority of young people don’t join the military because they are looking for a good conflict zone to visit.  Unemployment is very good for military recruitment.

Our children are referred to as “Boots on the Ground” That’s it, they’re simply “boots” to be counted. In Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward’s book, The Final Days they give a sampling of the war criminal Henry Kissinger’s view of military personnel:
“[Haig] tolerated with superhuman strength the abuse that Kissinger heaped on him.   ‘Only someone schooled in taking shit could put up with it,’ Hicks observed to his colleagues.  In Haig’s presence, Kissinger referred pointedly to military men as ‘dumb, stupid animals to be used’ as pawns for foreign policy. Kissinger often took up a post outside the doorway to Haig’s office and dressed him down in front of the secretaries for alleged acts of incompetence with which Haig was not even remotely involved.” (my added emphasis) 

and further:

Phi Beta Iota:  Kissinger was a protege of David Rockefeller, and can be considered the arch-type for the intersection of New York money and “the German disease” as well as the Nazi hydra co-existing with the Zionist “anything goes, USA is a shicksa” culture.  This is not the kind of individual that should be given power by the people, and this is precisely the kind of individual that has helped spawn multiple generations of psychopaths in power.  All the checks and balances have been systematically neutralized by money — not just corruption, but money spent to create information pathologies that confuse, obscure, and enable great crimes against humanity — including the US middle class, blue collar masters, and poor without a hope in the USA.

As we pointed out in a commentaries (here and here)  we are being conned yet again as the architects of war want more money to go after some of their former pals.  As the disaster called US foreign policy takes the world from one catastrophe to another we are supposed to believe that the beheading of two American journalists is the motive behind their actions.  They are liars. We have no say in foreign policy like we have no say in the deals made in Congress about domestic policy.  We are only expected to pay in the form of declining living standards and substandard social services when the bill comes due.

Let us not lose sight of the fact that the rotten capitalist system was dragged form the edge of the abyss by public funds. They socialize losses but privatize profits.

Kissinger is a war criminal and should be treated as such, just like Bush, Rumsfeld, Blair, Obama; they have nothing but contempt for working class people. It’s not enough to hate or distrust them and remove ourselves from politics. The victims of US foreign policy both domestic and foreign deserve justice. It is politics that can change this situation. Our greatest enemies are closer than you think

Woodward and Bernstein quoted at the: Public Intelligence Blog
* Napalm is a mixture of a thickening/gelling agent and petroleum or a similar fuel for use in an incendiary device.The US military supplied it to its stooges ion Vietnam and both military's poured this nasty stuff on humans.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Ray Rice: Get profit out of sports.


Roger Goodell NFL Commissioner
by Sean O'Torrain

The recent outrage where NFL player Ray Rice knocked out his then finance is indicative of the nature of that organization and that game. It is a game which employs young men, trains them to be violent, violent both physically and mentally. This is shown both in the violence on the field and also in the higher than average violence in the personal lives of NFL players. It is also shown in the screaming violent supporters and in facts like that on Super Bowl Sunday there is a significantly higher rate of domestic violence. These players and then offered to our young boys as role models.

What should be done? Should the game be banned? At the root of the problem is money; profit. The first step that should be taken is to take profit out of the game. If the game is to be allowed to continue make it completely amateur. Nobody gets paid for playing it, nobody gets paid for organizing it. No clubs get subsidized by tax payers to build stadiums. Take the profit and the money out of the game.

Part of the offensive of capitalism over the past decades has been the increased penetration of the drive for profit into just about every area of life. When I go home to my native Ireland now I see games that I played and which were strictly amateur now are professional or well on the way to being so. I used to play rugby union. It was amateur. What a pleasure that was. The fact that it was amateur made it possible for all sizes and shapes of people to play. Now it is professional all the players are these huge monsters who spend their time building huge bodies and there is no room for anybody else to play. Drug use is rampant in order to maintain the stature.

Roger Goodell (above) the NFL Commissioner was paid $44 million in 2012.  What can he possibly do to earn that? The stadiums are basically public entities, the ticket sales backed by the taxpayer.  Sports, what would be a healthy cultural interaction in a civilized society, is a very lucrative business that relies heavily on public subsidies .  Owning an American Football franchise is the dream of many investors with money to burn (our money) and for practically all of the stadiums throughout the US it is the taxpayers that foot the bill, 71% of the costs on average according to Bloomberg BW.  

Close down the NFL. Take the profit out of all sports. Make all sports amateur so that all can have a chance to play. 

We reprint this article from today's New York Times, for our readers interest.  The video is also interesting as Goodell admits after seeing the first video, Rice's wife being dragged out of the elevator and dumped on the ground like a dead dog, that his response as the NFL Commissioner was inadequate, he "didn't get it right.".  For that he gets $44 million a year.  And the country can't afford a $15 an hour minimum wage.

New York Times
In Ray Rice Case, N.F.L. Sees Only What It Wants to See
By MICHAEL POWELLSEPT. 10, 2014

Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the N.F.L., took a seat with “CBS This Morning” to explain once again how very little he knew about the circumstances in which Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocked out his then-fiancée.

“When we met with Ray Rice and his representatives, it was ambiguous about what actually happened,” said Goodell, who at first suspended Rice for two games.

Norah O’Donnell asked the obvious follow-up of the commissioner in the interview: What was ambiguous about the first video, available since February, which showed an elevator door opening at an Atlantic City casino and Janay Palmer, who is now Rice’s wife, lying there, out cold? Rice tried to drag her out, before giving up in disgust.

“That was the result that we saw,” Goodell replied. “We did not know what led up to that.”
So ambiguity curls up like a cat around the foot of intentional ignorance.
 
The Atlantic City police report, it is worth recalling, stated that Rice struck his fiancée with his hand, “rendering her unconscious.” Perhaps the passive language threw Goodell off. But logic dictates that Rice knocked her out.

Roger Goodell needed the latest Ray Rice video to clear up the ambiguity of the incident. Credit John Raoux/Associated Press

Local Atlantic City prosecutors told reporters in the spring that they had video of the knockout punch by Rice. That assertion, too, was widely reported. Goodell, who received compensation of $44.2 million in 2012, might consider hiring a better news clipping service at the league office.

So it goes. The Circus Maximus that is the National Football League long ago banished shame from its executive suites. Owners’ profits soar and players get their taste, if they don’t mind the concussions, torn ligaments and broken bones.

Earlier this week, the New England Patriots owner Robert K. Kraft sat on the set of “CBS This Morning” to discuss the league’s new $250 million partnership with the network. Kraft, whom CBS helpfully identified as the Master Kraftsman, heard Charlie Rose laud his team’s $2.6 billion value.

The chitchat took a discrete detour to that video of Rice delivering his Joe Frazier left cross to Palmer, his fiancée at the time.
“When you see that visually, it’s such a turnoff,” Kraft said.

But don’t blame that bummer on Goodell. “He had no knowledge of this video,” Kraft assured Rose.

The Ravens cut Rice on Monday, once the knockout tape was made public. Kraft speculated that Rice’s career was over. Asked if the Patriots might pick up Rice, Kraft offered a prim word: “No.”
At which point all involved turned to merry chatter about that CBS/N.F.L. partnership.
Where to begin?

Perhaps the CBS anchors conducted mind wipes before talking to the Master Kraftsman. Or perhaps they disliked being rude, and so shied from pointing out that Kraft’s family-values Patriots drafted Aaron Hernandez, a fine tight end about whom there had been many whispers of troubles during his college career.

Six months after Hernandez helped lead the Patriots to the A.F.C. championship game in January 2013, he was arrested on murder charges. He since has been charged with two more murders and he is being held without bail.

The Patriots cut him loose before knowing the charges against him. Kraft portrayed this as an example of principle extremis: “It was principle over money,” Kraft said at the time.
Well, of course it was.

The Patriots have taken several bites out of the apple of misjudgment. In April 2012, the dandy cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was arrested, charged with assaulting a cop outside a bar. Fifteen months later, he was charged with driving while intoxicated and refusing to take a test. He spent his off-season in the spring serving only 35 days of a 60-day jail term. And he was back starting at cornerback for the Patriots on Sunday.

Let’s not pick on the Master Kraftsman, who, by the way, looked spiffy in his blue jacket and custom-made magenta sneakers on “CBS This Morning.”

The N.F.L. Circus truly turned Maximus when ESPN — which pays $1.9 billion a year for the right to broadcast N.F.L. games — decided to bring one of its “personalities” onto “Monday Night Football Countdown” to talk about Rice. That would be Ray Lewis, the former legendary Ravens linebacker.

Lewis was a teammate of Rice’s, and considered himself a mentor. Lewis was mournful. He was “disappointed; this is personal for me.”

Then the ESPN host Suzy Kolber asked Lewis if he saw a parallel between Rice’s despond and his own troubles. This line of questioning tended to define a delicate moment. Lewis was a Super Bowl M.V.P. His likeness is on display outside the Ravens’ stadium.

He also was charged in 2000 with murder and obstruction of justice in the stabbing deaths of two men with whom he and his friend quarreled at a nightclub after a Super Bowl party. Lewis’s white suit, which was alleged to have been splattered with blood, never was found.

Prosecutors dropped murder charges against Lewis in exchange for his misdemeanor plea to obstruction of justice and his agreement to testify — somewhat vaguely — against two of his friends. Those men were acquitted and no one was convicted in the murder of the two men. Lewis, who is taken with his own Christianity, has pointed to this resolution as evidence of some godly plan or another.

“There is no comparison of me and Ray Rice,” Lewis told Kolber. “It is night and day.”
That just might be the nicest thing anyone said about Rice this week.

Look, the N.F.L. is not San Quentin with shoulder pads. Among the thousands of players are many fine husbands, boyfriends and fathers, and some are quite thoughtful about these troubles.

But the N.F.L. is a vessel filled to overflowing with too many painful story lines and too many years of neglect. The San Francisco 49ers are a fine old franchise that since 2010 has led the league in the number of players arrested. In late August, defensive end Ray McDonald was arrested and charged with battering his pregnant fiancée, who the police said had “visible injuries.”

He posted $25,000 bail. His coach, Jim Harbaugh (brother to Ravens Coach John Harbaugh, who vigorously defended and spoke of his love for running back Rice before he cut him loose this week), pronounced himself greatly disturbed.

Then McDonald played Sunday and had three tackles. Barring revelation of an explicit tape, perhaps the N.F.L. and partner networks can market a redemptive story line?
Email: powellm@nytimes.com

Housing is a human right and the market can't provide it.


source
by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

I went back to Britain during the great miners strike of 1984-85.  With the help of her US advisor, the Reaganite Thatcher, using massive police presence, crushed that strike and decimated whole communities.

I was on a picket line of about three thousand miners confronted by as many if not more police.  Walking up the lane toward the pit-head I looked to the left and there in the early morning mist were cops on horseback, the warm breath from their steeds flowing like steam in to the cold air.  It is a terrifying thing for a person on foot when a horse is used against them as a weapon.  The miners would carry marbles and throw them down as horses can’t fare too well walking on marbles.  The cops also had these vans with shields that were attached to the sides and the vans would be used to charge the strikers and then cops with batons would emerge from behind the shields.

This was a civil war alright. Workers were desperate in the cold winter and often hunted for coal themselves, including coal washed up on the beaches.  The Labor Party and I assume the NUM had soup kitchens for people to eat at as well.

Having been in a strike myself I know it’s a very difficult time. The capitalist media uses the term strike happy when workers engage in a struggle this way, the most powerful weapon wage-workers have. But withholding our labor is a serious thing, a scary thing here in the US where we rely on our jobs for health care and most of us have mortgages. In the strike at my workplace the bosses let us know pretty quickly that our medical benefits would expire in a month.

One thing was very different in Yorkshire. So many of the workers lived in council houses or public housing as we would also call it here.  Here in the US there is a great stigma about public housing, you’re trash, poor, lack the initiative and incentive to go get a job and buy a home.  But back then, until Thatcher convinced everyone they needed to be like Americans and own their homes and earn equity and all that market oriented nonsense. Many council homes were very nice, not all of them, but a lot of them. I have relatives that still live in them..

One aspect of this was that workers on strike were not threatened with losing their shelter when engaging in work stoppage, or it appeared that way to me.  When coupled with a national health system, health and shelter being somewhat covered, a great burden is lifted off the shoulders of workers going on strike.  The miners were striking for the right to work and save whole communities.  Thatcher wanted to privatize everything although the taxpayer paid for this nasty characters funeral. She helped destroy entire communities. Thatcher and the massive police presence (18,000 cops) was not the only reason the strike was defeated, the trade union hierarchy played a key role but that’s another issue.

Here in the US, owning a home is a big deal.  Society is set up to encourage it.  One huge incentive is that the interest on ones mortgage debt is a tax write off.  Interest on credit card debt used to be as well but that has long gone.  A person’s house is also a bank, a source of funds that can be drawn out through refinancing or borrowing on the equity.  This is what happened in the housing boom that led to the bubble that precipitated the Great Recession.  Trillions were pumped in to the housing market back then inflating prices and money was cheap.  In the aftermath of the recession, private equity firms like Blackstone spent hundreds of millions of dollars buying foreclosed and empty homes in order to rent them out.  This has contributed to the increase in home prices today and consequently mortgage debt is on the rise again.

It’s a life of never ending insecurity because more often than not people don’t own their home, the bankers do as witnessed by the 5 million or so foreclosures that followed the crash and the millions more who are underwater. BusinessWeek reports that the share of Americans over 65 with mortgage debt climbed from 22% in 2001 to 30% by 2011 with median loan balances doubling and now, retirement age homeowners are facing working longer and longer because of increased debt. “Sixty five percent of homeowners with mortgages are still working at age 64, compared with 54% of those without debt” BW reports.”    So people that thought they could retire face working longer to pay off the home. This is after paying hundreds of thousands in interest dollars to the moneylenders. One only needs to look at the payments in the early years and see how much of your hard earned money goes to moneylenders in the form of interest.  This is not freedom.


US society places immense pressure on people to consume and in order to consume one must have money and that money comes in the form of debt.  The working class produces more value than we receive in wages so capitalism uses debt to overcome this inability of the consumer to pay for the products labor creates. As home prices rise, people re-finance their mortgages and use that debt in the absence of savings. This works for a while until the bubble bursts as it always does.  Older Americans are in the lead when it comes to refinancing as home ownership for young people is becoming more difficult.  The US home ownership for Americans 35 and younger fell to 39.9% in the second quarter of this year, the lowest level in quarterly data in 20 years.

A friend happened to mention to me when I pointed out that private equity has been spending billions buying up homes in order to rent them out or re-sell them if market forces made it profitable, that it was a good thing as prices rise.  But it is not a good thing.  These inflated prices eventually have to be brought to earth and they also place a tremendous burden on working class families who struggle to pay the moneylender their mortgage interest. It increases the misery index.  Then it also prices other people who are trying to “own” a home out of the market.  They’d rather own than pay a landlord (rents aren’t a tax right off)

I don’t have all the detailed answers to this problem, no individual does. The main point is that housing, like food, should not be a commodity.  The idea that the market is the only way this human necessity (shelter) can be provided is very powerful here but is false.  How we provide human shelter and in what form, has to be a collective decision; it should be made by those who will use it, not by investors and developers whose sole purpose and motivation is not providing this social need, but of making profit. They could just as well be investing in dog food.  It should also be made with the safety and protection of the environment as a major component.  Of course, workers do not have the time and the structure is not there.  This too is not an accident.  The same people that control the housing industry control the workplace and society as a whole. So social issues like housing, leisure time, production of our needs, all has to be linked to the way society is organized. 

Obama and both Wall Street parties are about to embark on further military ventures as some of their former friends are getting too big for their boots. They need more money for this.  This too is about profits. They all say any force that harms Americans will be rooted out etc.   They are our great protectors.  What are they protecting? They are protecting an America where workers are finding shelter harder to come by. Where homelessness and poverty is rampant.  Where young people who are swamped with debt doing what they were told they should do, leave college but can’t find work and if they do, they earn as much or less as others with no college and no debt. Student debt is over $1 trillion and greater than credit card debt. They are taking care of us so much they want us to work in to our seventies and longer, indebted in death. We can judge a society by how it treats its senior citizens as we all hope to get there some day and things are not looking good as they are.

They are “protecting” a society in which more veterans die from suicide than combat. Where 2.4 million of its citizens are incarcerated, thousands of them spending 30 years or more in solitary confinement at any given time.  Counties in some US states are purchasing attack helicopters as they know fully well that the US working class will not tolerate this forever, will not be conned by the fear of foreign enemies and a bunch of religious fanatics forever.

There’s no escaping it; society needs new managers.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Climate change: A looming catastrophe.

The authors of this blog believe that the issue of climate change is the most important issue facing life on earth as we know it. Climate change is a result of the method of production and the system we live under, that we call capitalism. It was also in the past caused by Stalinism. And it is being caused at the present time by the hybrid Chinese system.

There can be no solution to this problem under capitalism. The drive for profits will rule. The only way to solve this problem is by overthrowing the capitalist system in all its various forms.

The fight against climate change and the destruction of life on earth as we know it is the fight to organize the international working class as a unified class, conscious of the need to end capitalism and replace it with a democratic planned socialist system.

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

Dear friends,

In days, when the UN holds an emergency summit on climate change, we need to deliver the largest petition ever for a world powered by 100% clean energy. The petition number will be read out to every world leader at the summit! Sign the petition AT LEFT with one click!

SIGN THE PETITION
I can sincerely say this is the most important petition we've ever done.

Sorry for the language, but one top scientist just warned that we are all "f*cked" if global warming releases gigantic amounts of methane gas from the arctic tundra. The UN knows this is one of several catastrophic climate threats we're facing, and is bringing world leaders to New York for a major summit on this global emergency.

Hundreds of thousands of us will take to the streets for the People’s Climate March just before the summit. Let’s make sure that on that day we deliver the largest Avaaz petition ever, for the only solution: mobilize the world to shift to 100% clean energy. Click to sign the petition below with one click and tell everyone:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/100_clean_final/?bQjjGhb&signup=1&cl=5764009831&v=44869

Here's the petition:

To national, local, and international leaders:
Scientists warn us that climate change could accelerate beyond our control, threatening our survival and everything we love. We call on you to keep global temperature rise under the unacceptably dangerous level of 2 degrees C, by phasing out carbon pollution to zero. To achieve this, you must urgently forge realistic global, national and local agreements, to rapidly shift our societies and economies to 100% clean energy by 2050. Do this fairly, with support to the most vulnerable among us. Our world is worth saving and now is our moment to act. But to change everything, we need everyone. Join us.

Sign it with one click here:
https://secure.avaaz.org/en/100_clean_final/?bQjjGhb&signup=1&cl=5764009831&v=44869

Whether it's the 'arctic methane bomb', the rapid acidification of our oceans, or apocalyptic flooding, climate change is the biggest threat humanity is facing, and we need the biggest petition ever to meet it. If we make it massive, the number of us who sign will be read out to all leaders at the summit, published in hundreds of media articles, and be delivered by our marches worldwide.

100% clean energy is a realistic goal. Already, 20% of the world's electricity comes from clean energy, and solar power is cheaper than coal in many countries! We just need to get our leaders to agree to put their foot on the accelerator.

We're gearing up for the largest climate mobilization in history on September 21. Already hundreds of events are organised and hundreds of thousands of people signed up. But the events are designed to deliver our petition to decision makers. Let's make it the largest call to action ever. Join now and tell everyone - sign the petition with one click below:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/100_clean_final/?bQjjGhb&signup=1&cl=5764009831&v=44869

We're all different, and beautifully diverse. But whoever and wherever we are, climate change threatens everything we love, and brings all of us together. Let's come together now.

With hope,

Ricken, Danny, Lisa, Judy, Alex, Iain, and the rest of the Avaaz team

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MORE INFORMATION:

Climate scientist drops the F-bomb (Salon)
http://www.salon.com/2014/08/06/climate_scientist_drops_the_f_bomb_after_startling_arctic_discovery/

EU to beat 2020 climate targets, split over 2030 ones (Reuters)
http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/05/14/eu-carbon-idUKL6N0O06BG20140514

The most influential climate change paper today remains unknown to most people (Inside Climate News)
http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20140213/climate-change-science-carbon-budget-nature-global-warming-2-degrees-bill-mckibben-fossil-fuels-keystone-xl-oil?page=show

Floods, storms and searing heat for 2050 as TV forecasters imagine climate change (Reuters)
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/01/us-climatechange-idUSKBN0GW2OT20140901

IPCC climate change report: averting catastrophe is eminently affordable (The Guardian)
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/13/averting-climate-change-catastrophe-is-affordable-says-ipcc-report-un

Renewable energy capacity grows at fastest ever pace (The Guardian)
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/aug/28/renewable-energy-capacity-grows-fastest-ever-pace

Solar price parity arrives early (MSN)
http://money.msn.com/top-stocks/post.aspx?post=0040731b-4941-432a-b1bd-3b0a04149068

Monday, September 8, 2014

The phony response to the ISIS beheadings from Kerry, Obama and Biden

by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

 “We seem to be proceeding on the assumption that the way to eradicate the Vietcong is destroy all the village structures, defoliate all the jungles and then cover the entire surface of South Vietnam with Asphalt.” US Assistant Secretary of Defense  John Naughton 1967. *

While who knows who languishes in Guantanamo Bay for decades or more convicted of no crimes and 2.4 million Americans remain incarcerated in US prisons, black youth are being shot at will in our streets and citizens threatened daily by militarized cops, the beheading of two Journalists by Islamic fanatics has the folks in Washington all up in arms.  We need to remind ourselves that one of US capitalism’s most trusted allies Saudi Arabia, has quite a penchant for beheadings. There were 29 beheadings in Saudi Arabia in 2011 including a young girl.  You can lose your head for adultery and it seems that women are the primary target there. If you renounce the state religion, watch out, especially if you engage in special crimes like sorcery and witchcraft.

ISIS’ vision of the world is “barbaric and ultimately empty” President Obama told an audience in Estonia last Saturday.  Joe Biden likes the “barbarians” moniker equally and pledges that the US “will follow them to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice” Present Secretary of State John Kerry, the hubby of the Heinz Foods heir chimes in and calls the beheadings, “an act of medieval savagery by a coward hiding behind a mask.”. And operating drones from an air base in Iowa that "accidentally" blows up the folks at a wedding is what now? Is that not cowardice?

There is no doubt that ISIS represents medieval savagery to the extreme.  But workers have to think carefully here about the messengers, after all, the forces that make up ISIS are US capitalism's baby. The US mass media which is owned and controlled by a few wealthy people tells us what they want us to hear.  Obviously they are not so horrified by beheadings when their friends the Saudi’s do it, or when the folks they now consider barbarians were doing it to others not on US capitalism's "friends" list.  They don’t care too much about American workers either as they throw them out of houses, deny them medical care and poison our communities. To be denied medical attention, food or shelter because you are poor is barbaric, it's not civilized.

Steven Greenhouse writes in today's New York Times about the young immigrant workers in North Carolina's tobacco fiends. Greenhouse writes of 13 year old Saray Alvarez:
"When Saray and other workers — including several more teenagers — get to the fields at 6, they punch holes through the bags for their arms. They are trying to avoid what is known as “green tobacco sickness,” or nicotine poisoning, which can cause vomiting, dizziness and irregular heart rates, among other symptoms.  Saray says that she sometimes has trouble breathing in the middle of all the heat, humidity and leaves, and that she often feels weary during her 12-hour shifts, when she moves through the rows to pluck unwanted flowers or pull off oversize leaves for the harvest."
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I remember the same problem 30 years ago seeing that movie, The Wrath of Grapes at a trade union convention.  Immigrant workers were dieing from pesticide poisoning and long hours in 100 degree heat. Things haven't changed.  Where's the outrage from Obama, Kerry and the others on Capitol Hill about this sort of barbarism occurring in their own back yard?   The Obama administration dropped attempts to curb that crime in the wake of pressure from agribusiness and political expediency. You wouldn't have to follow the culprits in this case to the gates of an imaginary hell Mr. Biden, they're easily spotted in a state not far from yours.  There is barbarism committed every day in the US by landlords, jailers, the police, the bosses.  Where was all the indignation from these same politicians of Wall Street when an unarmed black man (he is an American after all)  was assassinated in Missouri recently?

But they don't want to talk about this barbarism because their friends are committing it, just like they don't talk of the barbaric assault on the Vietnamese people they call the Vietnam War. That was a holocaust if there ever was one. Some three million Vietnamese are estimated to have died in that horrific assault and their children are still being born deformed today due to Dioxin (Agent Orange) that was sprayed on them and their food.  Close to 70,000 Americans died as well, working class people with families. Many US veterans have since died from Agent Orange. Kissinger, Nixon and others knew only too well that US troops would die as a result of their actions. In fact, by sabotaging the 1968 peace talks for personal political gain, then settling on the same terms four years later, “20,000 Americans and an uncalculated number of Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians lost their lives” Christopher Hitchen's points out in his book, The Trial of Henry Kissinger. Kissinger is a mass murder par excellence. Yet NPR gives him an interview recognizing him a a foreign policy "expert"

Hitchens also points out that US capitalism's illegal bombing of  Cambodia and Laos cost as many as 600,000  civilian lives.   The Illegal bombing raids in to Cambodia were codenamed “Breakfast”, “Lunch”, “Snack”, “Dinner” and “Dessert”.**, a little bit of US capitalism’s barbarism for supper.
The method was called carpet bombing using napalm, white phosphorous and the like, in other words, kill every living thing within a grid. There was no fighting back, B52's gave no warning and were too high up there.

Kissinger, along with other former US Secretaries of State can be seen in the picture below at a ceremony commemorating a new “Diploma Center” at the Department of State in Washington DC.  Madeline Albright is among them, the woman who claimed the deaths of more than 500,000 Iraqi’s mostly women and children due to US imposed sanctions on their old friend Saddam Hussein, was “worth it”. None of these people have done a decent days' work in their lives.
Got some blood on their hands these characters

I believe most Americans are not fooled by the politicians and billionaires who use their media to manipulate public opinion.  Some people don’t care but most of us simply get on with our lives as best we can feeling there is nothing that can be done to change the situation.  But something has to be done at some point. As workers we have no political party and no voice.  The people that speak to the rest of the world on our behalf are the billionaires and their representatives who, if we take the time to research it, sit on the boards of the corporations whose interests they serve.  Their domestic policies kill far more Americans than ISIS, Bin Laden or any foreign enemy.

A transformation of global society cannot be successful without the US working class settling accounts with our own 1%.  When we then speak for ourselves as workers, we can choose with whom we speak and negotiate with and it won’t be the capitalists, dictators or medieval barbarians that US capitalism has nurtured, encouraged and then discarded after they have outlived their usefulness. It is workers, both at home and abroad, that are the victims of US capitalism's catastrophic foreign policy. The US sells more weapons of mass destruction than the rest of the world combined, sometimes to both sides of a conflict.  What a lucrative business death is.

Workers of different nations have different interests to capitalists. Workers of the World Unite is not an empty phrase. It is the only way out of this madness that will eventually place the very existence of all humanity and our precious environment at the forefront of the struggle where it belongs.

"While there is a lower class I am in it; while there is a criminal element I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free” Eugene V. Debs

*US Assistant Secretary of Defense John Naughton in 1967. Quoted in The Trial of Henry Kissinger, by Christopher Hitchens.

Here is a short video about Vietnam for those too young to remember  it.