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  South Korea Should Give U.S. Troops the Boot

By Jacob G. Hornberger

April 25, 2017 "Information Clearing House" - The best thing that South Koreans could ever do, both for themselves and for the American people, as well as the Japanese citizenry, is boot all U.S. troops out of their country.

Isn’t the reason obvious?

If President Trump, the Pentagon, and the CIA succeed in instigating a war with North Korea, guess who is going to pay the biggest price for such a war.

No, not the United States. At the end of such a war, the continental United States will remain untouched, just like it was after World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and all the other foreign wars in which the U.S. government has become embroiled.

The same cannot be said about South Korea and Japan. While North Korea would undoubtedly end up losing a war against the United States (assuming that China doesn’t enter the fray), South Korea will end up as a devastated wasteland. That’s because as it is going down to defeat, North Korea can be expected to cause as much death and destruction as it can.

That means that South Korea will be buried under a barrage of missiles and artillery shells, not to mention invading North Korean troops. This is especially true for the capital, Seoul, which is located just a few miles south of the border that separates North and South. As Ted Galen Carpenter, senior fellow in defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, put it in a recent article,

Yet if North Korea retaliates for a U.S. attack, South Korea would be the primary victim. Pyongyang has no capability to strike the American homeland, but Seoul, South Korea’s largest city and its economic heart, is located barely 30 miles south of the Demilitarized Zone separating the two Koreas, and it is highly vulnerable to a North Korean artillery barrage. Civilian fatalities would number in the thousands or tens of thousands.

The likelihood is that North Korea would also do whatever it could to hit Japanese cities with missiles, given that Japan is a treaty ally of the United States.

There is also the distinct probability that North Korea will explode a few nuclear bombs in South Korea. Of course, only one would do the trick, by bringing deadly radiation to most of the country for a long time to come. The same holds true for Japan. If North Korea can do it, it will almost certainly lash out with nuclear missiles fired at Japan.

There are those who maintain that North Korea would never resort to nuclear weapons because it knows that the United States would respond with a carpet nuclear-bombing of the entire country. But the problem is that one never knows what a ruler is going to do when faced with total defeat, death, capture, trial, or incarceration. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Cuba’s communist ruler Fidel Castro was willing to fire nuclear missiles at invading U.S. troops, knowing full well that it would destroy Cuba forever and most likely result in an all-out nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Sure, the United States will win such a war. But can the same be said for Koreans and Japanese?

The fact is that North Korea absolutely hates the United States and, more specifically, the U.S. government. It is impossible to overstate the depth of the enmity that the North Korean regime and the North Korean people have for the Pentagon and the CIA.

For one thing, North Koreans understand that it was none of the U.S. government’s business to embroil itself in Korea’s civil war in the first place. The war was between two halves of one country, no different in principle from the civil war that took place in Vietnam several years later — another civil war that was none of the U.S. government’s business.

Moreover, the North Koreans have never forgotten the manner in which the U.S. government waged the Korean War — by massive bombing of Korean towns and cities and also by germ warfare against the North Korean populace. The anti-Asian mindset within the U.S. national-security establishment was the same mindset that guided the waging of the U.S. war in Vietnam, a mindset that held that the North Korean populace consisted of nothing but communist “gooks” who were hell-bent on conquering the world and taking over the United States, a mindset that held that the only good communist is a dead communist.

Additionally, the North Korean regime fully understands that for the U.S. national-security establishment, the Cold War never really ended. That’s why the embargo against Cuba continues. That’s why NATO still exists. That’s why the hostility toward Russia has never ended. And it’s why U.S. troops have never come home from Korea.

What that means is regime change — one of the core missions of the U.S. national-security establishment ever since it came into existence after World War II. The Pentagon and the CIA still want what they have always wanted for North Korea—regime change. That’s why they intervened in the Korean War, not to save America from the communist hordes they said were coming to get us but rather to bring North Korea under U.S. rule, thereby enabling the Pentagon and the CIA to station U.S. troops on China’s border, the same thing they are determined to do in Ukraine on Russia’s border.

The North Koreans (and the Chinese) are fully aware of all this. That’s why they have developed a nuclear program — to deter a U.S. regime-change operation. They know that nuclear weapons are the only thing that will deter the Pentagon and the CIA from instigating one. Don’t forget, after all, that Iraq fell to a U.S. regime-change operation because Saddam Hussein did not have nuclear weapons. Cuba, by comparison, was able to resist a U.S. regime-change operation in 1962 with the help of nuclear missiles from the Soviet Union.

Booting U.S. troops out of Korea would be the best thing that could have happen to the South Korean people and the Japanese people. For one thing, it is highly unlikely that North Korea would resume the civil war, given that South Korea has a much more powerful military and a prosperous society to fund such a war. But if such a war were to break out, it would likely remain conventional, rather than go nuclear, given that Koreans would be fighting Koreans rather than North Koreans fighting Americans.

Finally, with the U.S. government out of the picture, the chances of a diplomatic resolution between the two halves of Korea would be much higher, if for no other reason than that both societies would undoubtedly prefer to avoid the death and destruction the resumption of their civil war would produce.

South Koreans should do themselves, Japan, and the United States a tremendous favor by kicking U.S. troops out of their country. It would also be a favor to those U.S. troops, given that they are nothing but a sacrificial tripwire to guarantee U.S. involvement in another Korean war.

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics.

This article was first published by FFF


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     Kremlin Advisor Reveals 'Cure For US Aggression'

Putin's advisor also believes that Donald Trump is just "doing what the ruling elite expects him to do"

By Sergey Konkov

April 23, 2017 "Information Clearing House" - April 21. /TASS/. The only way to stop the United States’ aggression is to get rid of dollar addiction, a Kremlin advisor said on Friday.

"The more aggressive the Americans are the sooner they will see the final collapse of the dollar as the only way for the victims of American aggression to stop this aggression is to get rid of the dollar. As soon as we and China are through with the dollar, it will be the end of the United States’ military might," Sergey Glazyev said in an interview with TASS.

Commenting on the policy of the new US president, Glazyev noted that Donald Trump is doing what the ruling elite expects him to do.

"I had no illusions about him, that he will change the policy. First, America’s aggressiveness in the world is rooted in the aspiration to preserve America’s hegemony in a situation when they have already ceded leadership in the economy to China," he said.

"The United States has no tools to make all others use the dollar other than a truncheon. That is why they are indulging in a hybrid war with the entire world to shift the burden on their debts onto other countries, to confine all to the dollar and weaken territories they cannot control."

"In this context, the anti-Russian hysteria and growing Russophobia can be seen as a long-term factor linked with the specific interests of the United States’ ruling elite," the Kremlin advisor said.

"In objective terms, they are conducting a global hybrid war and in subjective terms, this war is aimed against us. More to it, as it always happens when a global leader is changed, the war is for control over rimland nations. In the period of WWI and WWII, Britain acted as a provoker in a bid to keep its global leadership. Now the United States is doing the same. And Trump expresses these interests," he said.

© Sergey Konkov/TASS

This article was first published by TASS


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 As Yemen war enters third year, Pentagon moves to escalate slaughter

By Bill Van Auken 
28 March 2017

The Pentagon has formally asked the Trump White House to lift limited restrictions imposed by the Obama administration on US military aid to the Saudi Arabian monarchy’s near genocidal war against the impoverished people of Yemen.

The Washington Post reported Monday that Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis, a recently-retired US Marine general, had submitted a memo earlier this month to Trump’s national security adviser H.R. McMaster, an active duty US Army lieutenant general, for the approval of stepped-up support for military operations being conducted in Yemen by both the Saudi regime and its principal Arab ally, the United Arab Emirates.

The memo, according to the Post, stressed that such US military aid would help to combat “a common threat.”

This supposed “threat” is posed by Iran, US imperialism’s principal regional rival for hegemony over the oil-rich Middle East. Both the Saudi monarchy and the Trump administration have repeatedly charged, without providing any significant supporting evidence, that Iran has armed, trained and directed the Houthi rebels who seized control of the Yemeni capital and much of the country, toppling the US-Saudi puppet regime of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi in 2014.

A major escalation of the US intervention in Yemen will be directed principally at provoking a military confrontation with Tehran, with the aim of weakening Iranian influence throughout the region. Trump himself campaigned in the 2016 election denouncing the Obama administration for being too “soft” on Iran and for joining the other major powers in negotiating what he characterized as a “disastrous” nuclear agreement with Tehran. His advisers, including his ousted first national security adviser, Gen. Michael Flynn, and Defense Secretary Mattis, have all voiced bellicose hostility to Iran.

The immediate impetus for the call for increased US aid to the Saudi-led war is reportedly a proposed Emirati operation to seize control of the key Red Sea port of Hodeida. The effect of such an offensive would be to cut off the large portion of the country and its population under Houthi control from any lifeline to the outside world. Fully 70 percent of the country’s imports now come through the port. Even before the war, Yemen was dependent upon imports for 90 percent of its food. Aid agencies have warned that a military offensive on the port could tip the country into mass starvation.

The proposed US escalation in Yemen coincides with the second anniversary of the Saudi war on the country, launched on March 26, 2015 in the form of an unending bombing campaign directed largely against civilian targets, along with a halting offensive on the ground.

The anniversary was marked in the capital of Sanaa and other Yemeni cities by demonstrations of hundreds of thousands denouncing the murderous Saudi military campaign. The Houthis have won support that extends far beyond their base in the country’s Zaidi-Shia minority because of popular hatred for the Saudi monarchy and its crimes.

As the war enters its third year, Yemen is teetering on the brink of mass starvation, confronting one of the worst humanitarian crises anywhere on the planet. This war, waged by the obscenely wealthy royal families of the gulf oil sheikdoms against what was already the poorest nation in the Arab world, has killed some 12,000 Yemenis, the overwhelming majority of them civilians, and wounded at least 40,000 more.

Saudi airstrikes have targeted hospitals, schools, factories, food warehouses, fields and even livestock. Coupled with a de facto naval blockade, the aim of this total war against Yemen’s civilian population is to starve the Yemenis into submission. A US-backed campaign to seize the port of Hodeida would serve to tighten this deadly stranglehold.

In a statement issued Monday marking the beginning of the war’s third year, the United Nations emergency relief agency reported that “nearly 19 million Yemenis—over two-thirds of the population—need humanitarian assistance. Seven million Yemenis are facing starvation.”

UNICEF, the UN’s children’s agency, reported that roughly half a million children are suffering from acute malnutrition in Yemen, while 1,546 have been killed and 2,450 have been disabled by the fighting. The agency said that the rate of child deaths had increased by 70 percent over the past year, while the rate of acute malnutrition had increased by 200 percent since 2014.

The deliberate Saudi bombing of hospitals and clinics has left 15 million people without any access to health care, while the destruction of water and sanitation facilities has led to epidemics of cholera and diarrhea. It is estimated that as many as 10,000 children have lost their lives due to the lack of clean water and medical services since 2015.

Washington, under both the Obama and the Trump administrations, has been fully complicit in the war crimes being carried out by the Saudi regime and its allies against the Yemeni people. Washington poured a staggering $115 billion worth of arms into the Saudi kingdom under the Obama administration, resupplying bombs and missiles dropped on Yemeni homes, hospitals and schools. It set up a joint US-Saudi logistical and intelligence center to guide the war and provided aerial refueling by US planes to assure that the bombing could continue round the clock.

While a part of this decisive military aid was curtailed for public relations purposes following the horrific October 2016 Saudi bombing of a funeral ceremony in Sanaa that killed over 150 people, the US Navy entered directly into the conflict that same month, firing Tomahawk missiles at Houthi targets based on unsubstantiated charges that missiles had been fired at US ships.

Nonetheless, the request by Mattis would mark a qualitative escalation of the US intervention. While the Post reported that an Emirati request for US Special Operations troops to participate directly in the siege of the port of Hodeida was not part of Mattis’s proposal, it went on to warn that the Gulf sheikdom’s military “may not be capable of such a large operation, including holding and stabilizing any reclaimed area, without sucking in US forces.” Indeed, the Emirati army is in large measure a mercenary force, having recruited former members of the Colombian, Salvadoran and Chilean military to do the ruling royal family’s dirty work.

The Post goes on to report: “A plan developed by the U.S. Central Command to assist the operation includes other elements that are not part of Mattis’s request, officials said. While Marine Corps ships have been off the coast of Yemen for about a year, it was not clear what support role they might play.”

As numerous reports have indicated, the Trump White House has essentially given free rein to Mattis and the US military commanders to conduct armed operations as they see fit. The result has been the more than doubling of the number of US troops on the ground in Syria along with an escalation of the US intervention in Iraq, as well as a request for another 5,000 troops to be deployed in Afghanistan.

In Yemen, they are preparing to drag the American people into another criminal war against one of the world’s most vulnerable populations, threatening to hasten the deaths of millions of starving people. The strategic aims underlying this vast war crime are the imposition of US imperialist hegemony over the Middle East through a military confrontation with Iran and the preparation for a global conflict with Washington’s principal rivals, Russia and China.


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Operation Mosul: A Medieval Massacre

By Stephen Lendman

Video embedded in this article by ICH, did not appear in the original item
March 27, 2017 "Information Clearing House" -  Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova described it this way weeks after US-led terror-bombing and Iraqi ground operations began last October – long before the worst horrors ongoing now.
US-orchestrated operations are being conducted under “conditions of absolute information blockade,” Zakharova explained.
Nothing was done to protect, evacuate or otherwise help civilians. They’ve been on their own in harm’s way without humanitarian or any other type aid or consideration for their welfare and safety since last October.
Hundreds of thousands remain trapped in the city. Others getting out risk their lives to do it – as endangered by US terror-bombing as ISIS fighters.
In the battle for Aleppo, Russia and Syria established humanitarian corridors – without aid from the UN or other countries. Great care was taken to avoid civilian casualties, why liberating the city entirely took so long.
Moscow ceased aerial operations in October 2016 to protect civilians, long before the battle for Aleppo was won in late December.
The West and supportive media disgracefully portrayed a heroic Leningrad-type liberation as naked aggression.
They’re largely silent on the rape and destruction of Mosul. What’s reported falsely portrays liberation. Nothing about US terror-bombing mass murder. An orchestrated coverup of reality continues.
No help was provided for desperate city civilians, tapped in harm’s way. In months of fighting, likely thousands were massacred, countless others injured, hundreds of thousands displaced – by indiscriminate US terror-bombing and ground artillery fire.
Western media are complicit by silence with rare exceptions. On March 23, London’s Independent cited local media sources, saying Thursday airstrikes on Mosul caused “230” civilian deaths.
“A correspondent for Rudaw, a Kurdish news agency operating in northern Iraq, said that 137 people – most believed to be civilians – died when a bomb hit a single building in al-Jadida, in the western side of the city on Thursday.”
“Another 100 were killed nearby.  Some of the dead were taking shelter inside the homes,” according to Kurdish journalist Hevidar Ahmed, reporting from the scene of the massacre.
According to a local eyewitness,RT reported over 130 civilians massacred overnight in Mosul from US terror-bombing. The death toll could be much higher. Bodies are being pulled from rubble, a slow, arduous task.

“(t)he entire neighborhood was fleeing because of missiles that hit, so people had taken refuge here.”

“I didn’t know if it was a shelter. I didn’t know we couldn’t go there. My entire family is inside, 27 people. We pulled only one of them out and don’t know about the rest. Yes, he was dead.”

Civilians suffer most in all wars. Contempt for their agony and trauma in Mosul and other US war theaters compounds their desperation.
Surviving is a daily struggle. Many don’t make it. Others are scarred for life.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.netHis new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html - Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.


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By Ben McGrath 
4 September 2015

The Chinese government held a large military parade yesterday in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to mark the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in World War II. The United States and its allies effectively boycotted the event, declining to send their national leaders, amid rising frictions in the Asia-Pacific region, fomented by Washington.

With social tensions also mounting internally, fuelled by a sharp economic downturn, the authorities locked down Beijing, with much of the downtown off-limits. They declared a three-day holiday and kept ordinary people well away from the commemoration.

In his speech, Chinese President Xi Jinping sought to counter US and Japanese accusations of Chinese expansionism and militarism. “The experience of war makes people value peace even more,” Xi said, declaring: “No matter how much stronger it may become, China will never seek hegemony or expansion. It will never inflict its past suffering on any other nation.”

While making no direct mention of Beijing’s territorial dispute with Tokyo over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea, Xi made several references to “Japanese aggression.” Xi stated: “War is the sword of Damocles that still hangs over mankind. We must learn the lessons of history and dedicate ourselves to peace.” There is little doubt that this was a reference to Japan and the United States, warning them against further stoking tensions in the Asia-Pacific region.

Despite Xi’s appeals for peace, the military parade amounted to a display of might, both in an attempt to counter the US pressure and to channel popular discontent in a reactionary nationalist direction. Along with 12,000 troops, the event featured 500 pieces of military hardware and 200 aircraft, most being shown to the public for the first time.

The display included China’s DF-26 intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM), which the Western media has dubbed the “Guam killer.” The DF-26, with a range of 4,000 km, is capable of striking the US territory of Guam, which hosts critical US war bases. During the parade, an announcement was made that the missile had been deployed already.

Other missiles included the DF-21D, dubbed a “carrier killer” because it has been designed to strike US aircraft carriers, which are a linchpin of American military forces across the Pacific. Battle tanks, anti-armor missiles and bombers were also shown.

Xi announced that 300,000 troops would be cut from the military’s total of 2.3 million soldiers, in what he claimed was a measure to assure other countries of China’s peaceful rise. Previous presidents made similar gestures—this is the fourth time since the 1970s that troop numbers have been reduced—but the move is a further step to modernize the armed forces.

The Defense Ministry later stated: “Cutting troop numbers is beneficial for concentrating resources, speeding up informatisation and raising quality. We have the confidence and ability to deal with all kinds of security threats and risks.”

Rory Medcalf from the National Security College at the Australian National University commented: “Thinning the ranks of low-skilled soldiers will free up resources for high-tech capabilities like cyber and hypersonic missiles, and of course naval modernization.”

Neither US President Barack Obama nor Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended yesterday’s event. Many European leaders were also absent, despite invitations. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga criticized China yesterday, saying: “We have conveyed to China our position that we would like it to adopt a future-oriented stance instead of placing a spotlight on the past.” The Obama administration made similar remarks, while sending its ambassador to China, Max Baucus, to observe the parade.

Notably, other foreign dignitaries attended, such as Russian President Vladimir Putin, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-moon. In total, 30 heads of state, largely from Africa and Asia, took part. Tokyo criticized Ban’s involvement, claiming that the UN should show neutrality.

Shortly before the parade, the United States reported that five Chinese naval vessels had been spotted in the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska, seemingly coinciding with a trip to Alaska by Obama. The Western media immediately painted this as evidence of Chinese aggression.

Such complaints reek of hypocrisy. Washington, with various allies in the region, regularly carries out military exercises on China’s doorstep. These include the recently concluded “Ulchi Freedom Guardian” exercises with South Korea, which featured the largest ever joint live-fire drill conducted by South Korea.

In November 2013, the United States dangerously and provocatively sent nuclear-capable B-52 bombers into Beijing’s newly-declared Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea. Earlier this year, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter called for plans to be drawn up to send US planes and ships into the 12-nautical mile zone surrounding Chinese occupied territory in the South China Sea.

China’s military parade is another indication that in response to growing US aggression in the Asia-Pacific region, the Beijing regime is resorting to nationalism and militarism. At one point in his speech, Xi asserted that “Marxism-Leninism” was one of China’s “guides to action.” In reality, the Chinese Stalinist regime restored capitalism in China, turning the country into a brutal cheap labour platform for global conglomerates.

There is nothing progressive about the Beijing elite’s opposition to United States imperialism and the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia,” which is designed to militarily surround China to undercut its interests in the region. Thursday’s military display can only further escalate tensions, while seeking to stir nationalist sentiment.

For the Chinese regime, the parade served as a diversion from escalating economic, social and political problems. Plunging share prices have dealt a blow to its efforts to build a social base among middle-class layers. Economic growth has fallen well below the 8 percent long considered necessary to stave off rising unemployment and social unrest. Last month’s explosions at a chemical warehouse in Tianjin, killing at least 160 people, heightened popular discontent.

For its survival, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime will increasingly rely on police-military repression at home. Since coming to power in 2012, Xi has rested on the military as his administration moved to “reform” the country’s state-owned enterprises, opening them up to the interests of international capital. After becoming the leader of the CCP, he quickly moved to consolidate his power by taking over as chairman of the Central Military Commission, which supervises the military, then swiftly purged senior generals.


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By Oscar Grenfell 
4 September 2015

At a “community rally” in Sydney last night, officials of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) announced that they were engaged in discussions with Hutchison management over the sacking of workers, including forced redundancies, and the possible “mothballing,” or closure, of the company’s port operation altogether.

The rally was called after the NSW Port Authority issued a notice for the eviction of the small “community assembly” the union has maintained outside Hutchison since the company sacked 97 workers in Sydney and Brisbane on August 6. The Authority rescinded the eviction notice shortly after, and informed the MUA it could continue its assembly, which has had no impact on port operations, indefinitely.

Around 150 people attended the rally, including a small number of port workers from Hutchison and the other major stevedoring companies, Asciano (formerly Patrick) and DP World. Over the past month, the MUA has worked hand in hand with the company to prevent the development of an independent struggle by Hutchison and other port workers against the sackings. On August 14, the union ended strike action after the federal court handed down an injunction. The MUA responded by ordering a return to work despite the company refusing to roster the sacked workers and leaving them outside the gates.

Since then, the MUA has been holding talks with Hutchison over the company’s demands for cost-cutting and job destruction. Last Friday, the union signed a “memorandum of understanding” with the company and agreed to drop its “unfair dismissal” case in the federal courts. The union then entered into ongoing closed-door negotiations with Hutchison in the Fair Work Commission, which began on Monday. Mark Jack, acting CEO of Hutchison Ports Australia (HPA), described the talks as “useful and constructive.”

At the rally last night, Paul McAleer, the MUA’s Sydney branch secretary, admitted that Hutchison’s parent company was considering “mothballing,” or closing down its Australian operations for 18 months to two years.

In an expression of the extent to which the union functions as an open agent of the company, McAleer reported that the MUA was also in talks with ship-owners, appealing for them to continue using Hutchison’s port.

McAleer outlined the union’s acceptance of sackings, if the “ships don’t return” to Hutchison, declaring: “If there are going to be redundancies they should be voluntary, if there are forced redundancies... they should only be done on the basis of a fair selection criteria and at the end of the day, the right of return... That at the end of the day, and the ships go, and there are redundancies, that we want those jobs back when they return...”

In other words, the union will work with the company to enforce job cuts, and an “orderly closure” while Hutchison shuts down some or all of its port operations. Such a move would be aimed at slashing the workforce, and proceeding with further “efficiencies” on the basis of automation, or the closure of Hutchison’s Australian operations altogether.

McAleer’s comments dovetailed with an article by the MUA’s national secretary, Paddy Crumlin, in Murdoch’s Australian newspaper today. Crumlin declared that the “company’s predicament is not all of its own making,” and that they were “victims of the dysfunction of Australia’s maritime sector.” He claimed that Hutchison’s “predicament” was because the port market is not large enough to sustain three Australian operators, and the major shipping lines engage in “anti-competitive” practices.

Significantly, Crumlin touted the doubling of productivity, and halving of costs in the industry, between 1998 and 2013. These measures were carried out by the major stevedoring companies, on the basis of the MUA’s betrayal of the 1998 Patrick’s dispute, when the union struck a deal with the company to end industrial action. Some 700 jobs were eliminated as a result. Crumlin concluded by calling on state and federal governments to invest in infrastructure programs which would further boost the productivity of the ports.

His comments are a signal that the MUA is preparing to justify working with the company to shut-down its operations entirely.

McAleer, well aware that this agenda is provoking growing opposition among Hutchison and other port workers, declared that “true strength lies in unity.” A member of the Stalinist Communist Party of Australia, he acknowledged the entire political line-up that has come together to smother the port workers, and prevent them from taking up a political struggle against the sackings, and all those responsible, including the union, the Abbott government, and the Labor Party opposition.

McAleer declared: “It is so encouraging not only to see the major political parties being here, the ALP and the Greens, but also the Socialist Alliance, Solidarity, Socialist Alternative, the Communist Party of Australia.” He stated that this line-up demonstrated that “the left movement has come together recognising there is more that unites us than divides us and that we are only going to beat the ruling class by standing side by side and fighting.”

The pseudo-left organisations named by McAleer have functioned as the key political adjuncts of the union throughout the dispute. They have hailed each stage in the MUA’s preparations for yet another betrayal, as a “victory,” including the ending of strike action on August 14, and the union’s entrance into negotiations with the company.

These organisations have also manned the “community assemblies” in Sydney and Brisbane, which have been attended by numerous Labor and Green politicians, who are directly responsible for the elimination of jobs, and the gutting of social spending. Above all, the pseudo-lefts have insisted that workers must remain within the framework of the courts, negotiations, and the existing political set-up—the mechanisms the unions have used, over the past three decades, to collaborate in the slashing of tens of thousands of jobs, and the destruction of wages and conditions.

McAleer’s comments were specifically directed against the Socialist Equality Party (SEP), the only organisation that has warned Hutchison workers of the betrayal being prepared by the union, and fought for the independent political mobilisation of dock workers against the union and the sackings, on the basis of a socialist and international perspective.

On August 14, when the union was ending strike action, McAleer led an attackagainst SEP members, carried out by officials and delegates of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CMFEU). The SEP members had their leaflets snatched, were jostled, and subjected to death threats by the group for warning that the union was preparing to betray the port workers, and negotiate away their jobs.

Last night, after the rally, SEP members were again menaced and told to “f--k off” by two CFMEU members. Significantly, it was when the SEP members began a discussion with two Hutchison workers, one of whom has already been sacked, that the CFMEU representatives made their move. Their role at the “community assembly” was to intimidate those workers who are becoming increasingly hostile to the MUA’s manoeuvres, and receptive to a genuine alternative.

The MUA’s explicit support for sackings underscores the necessity for Hutchison workers to take up a new political perspective. This means a break with the unions, and the formation of independent rank-and-file committees aimed at uniting workers from Hutchison’s, Asciano, and DP World, along with other sections of workers, in a common struggle against the assault on jobs, wages, and conditions being overseen by the Abbott Coalition government, the Labor opposition and the entire political establishment.

Such organisations must be grounded on the fight for a workers government and socialist policies, which would place the ports and other major industries under public ownership and the democratic control of the working class, and guarantee the right to a decent, well-paid job for all.


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By Dietmar Henning 
4 September 2015

In spite of higher employment numbers, the German middle class is shrinking rapidly. It sank from 56 to 48 percent of the population between 1992 and 2013. This information comes from a study by the Institute for Work and Qualification (IAQ) at Duisburg-Essen University. It confirms earlier investigations into increasing social polarization in Germany.

The authors of the study have a broad conception of the middle class. It begins at a gross monthly income of €2,100 for a four-person family (slightly higher than the level at which Hartz IV benefits begin) and ends at €7,000, a relatively comfortable income. The median household income served as a measuring standard for separating the higher and lower income earners. The researchers counted as middle class those whose income was between 60 and 200 percent of the median.

The median itself rose from €15,000 to barely €17,000 in the first half of the period under investigation. After 2003, it sank once again, most recently to slightly more than €16,000. One can gather from this that poverty is on the increase and affects broad layers of the population.

An investigation carried out by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), which takes net income as its standard and uses its own definitions, reached similar results to the IAQ study. According to the DIW, the middle class sank between 1997 and 2013 from 64 to 58 percent.

Both the growth of the “lower class” and the “upper class” go along with the shrinking of the middle class. The lower class, which the IAQ defines as those “in danger of poverty”, increased from 30 to 35 percent. Over a third of the population has become poor, as measured by gross income. The rich or well-off upper class grew from 14 to 17 percent.

The households of the lower class, as defined by IAQ, and the lower middle class (who earn up to 80 percent of the median) are less and less able to live off their earnings. The reasons include falling wages and the lack of full-time employment.

The risk of low wages in the lower class grew between 1995 and 2013 from about 44 percent to 69 percent. Two out of every three employees in the lower class work in the low-wage sector. In the lower middle class, the risk of low wages rose from 35 percent to 46 percent.

In the mid-1990s, the proportion of full-time workers among dependent employees was still 78 percent in the entire economy and 62 percent in the lower class. Fifteen years later, full-time employees still amounted to only 42 percent. In the lower middle class, the proportion of full-time employees sank from 77 to 60 percent in the same time period.

“An explanation for the fact that fewer and fewer households in the lower class and lower middle class can live from their earnings may be the expansion of mini-jobs and part-time work in these layers,” the IAQ study noted.

The much praised “German employment miracle”—sinking unemployment and a historic peak of 43 million employed this year—has proven to be an illusion. Especially among low earners, the work is distributed among a larger number of workers who, as a result, earn less and less total income.

In the upper class, the volume of work has not increased, but decreased by 3 percent . With increasing income, the number of paid working hours of all household members increases as well. The growing stress on the job and the increase in independent workers or seemingly independent workers—whose extremely long working time does not find its way into any statistics—are not taken into account. “The differences in the paid work time between the layers have increased over the past 20 years and have increased inequality,” the researchers stated.

The results of the IAQ study and many earlier investigations into growing inequality reflect social dynamite in the making. The dwindling of the middle class will be followed by intense class struggles.

“In the years after the war, Germany developed a large middle class in international comparison,” the IAQ study states in its conclusion, adding: “The economic basis of this development was good wages and a relatively small difference between incomes, secured by a comprehensive tariff system. In addition there was a well built social security system that protected the population from risks.”

This “middle class” constituted the foundation for the stability of capitalist power in Germany after the war. The so-called people’s parties—the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD)—based themselves on this. It served as a justification of the illusion that capitalism had been dissolved into a “social market economy,” while class society had been dissolved into a “leveled-out middle class society.” It made it possible for the unions to bring the militant class struggles of the 1960s and 1970s under control.

But these times are long gone, as the numbers in the new study show. The SPD of all parties, which has long been identified with the “social market economy,” has contributed to this substantially. The Hartz IV reforms of the Schröder government created a huge low-wage sector, which is now undermining the living standards of broad layers of the population.

“What is remarkable in the new Duisburg study,” the Süddeutsche Zeitungwrote, is “that the significance of the middle class is not growing again, although the conditions in the German economy have completely turned around since 10 years ago,” and the number of unemployed has halved. A commentary in the same newspaper says: “Almost nothing else stands for the German economic model like this concept (the middle class).” Now the “core of the German model” is threatened.


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By Trevor Johnson 
4 September 2015

The UK’s Conservative government has announced its intention to override the usual local consultation exercises, after recent local council decisions went against the fracking companies.

Councils have been told that if they do not rule on applications for fracking within the 16-week timeframe set out by government, it will be taken out of their hands and decided by ministers. The government said the decision would unlock the “huge potential” for shale gas by accelerating the planning process.

This decision was followed by the granting of 27 licences for exploration of fracking potential in 100 square kilometre blocks of land in the north of England and Midlands. The blocks of land include areas around Lincoln, Nottingham, Sheffield and Preston. This means that large portions of the north of England and Midlands have been divided up between a handful of global oil and gas companies, such as INEOS (the Switzerland-based chemicals giant that owns the Grangemouth refinery in Scotland), Centrica-backed Cuadrilla and the France-based energy giant GDF Suez.

The proviso that planning permission is still required for fracking to commence is no longer seen as an impediment, since the government is clearly behind the frackers and will step in if councils do not fall into line. To ram the point home, the energy minister, Lord Bourne, told the Daily Telegraph, “It's important we press on and get shale moving ... Investment in shale could reach £33bn and support 64,000 jobs…”

The government changes on fracking came shortly after an opposite decision on wind farms, in which more control was given to local areas in a bid to reduce the number of wind farms being built. This was in spite of the fact that opinion polls show that more than three times as many people would prefer to have wind farms in their council area than those who would prefer fracking.

The government has made it clear it is not willing to spend money on reaching targets for renewable energy, which it sees as a drain on resources that could be used more directly to assert their interests.

From the beginning of fracking in the UK, the Tories made it clear they are determined to do whatever it takes to make it a success by going “all out for shale.” The fall in the price of oil and gas has made them even more determined to remove what few restrictions are left. They have already introduced tax exemptions and allowed unprecedented access to areas of outstanding natural beauty and areas of special scientific interest.

A recent decision to allow exploration and drilling for gas in the North Yorkshire Moors shows how the situation has been transformed to favour the frackers. The concession has been given to Third Energy (formerly Viking), which is backed by Barclays Bank. Third Energy will begin working Ebberston Moor in the North York Moors. Part of the agreement is for the company to dispose of huge amounts of wastewater by pumping it back into the ground. This is in spite of the wastewater being potentially radioactive and the fact that there are two protected zones for water collection within 10 kilometres of the planned re-injection well.

The area of Scarborough, in North Yorkshire is supplied with drinking and household water from the local aquifer. A submission to the Environment Agency by the water company involved stated that the planned re-injection may “directly affect their asset”—in other words, the water supply needed by thousands of people. The submission was made public only by means of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

In the past, decisions on issues affecting local areas were left in the hands of locally elected councils, to whom objections could be registered. While none of this prevented the domination of society by the interests of big business, it did provide a certain brake on the process.

The ruling elite are being driven to the conclusion that such democratic niceties are incompatible with their race against their imperialist rivals, both within Europe and more widely. The stepping up of tensions with Russia has made them more determined than ever to lessen their dependence on imported energy supplies, falling oil prices notwithstanding.

Energy Secretary Amber Rudd said, “We need more secure, home grown energy supplies—and shale gas [obtained through fracking] must play a part in that.” A CBI spokesperson said, “Shoring up our energy supply for the future is critical for businesses …”

In the case of fracking, fierce opposition by local communities played a part in councils turning down applications for fracking in their areas, including in Lancashire and Sussex.

A document commissioned by the government, Shale Gas: Rural Economy Impacts, was heavily redacted when originally published in 2014 by the Environment Department (Defra). The Information Commissioner later ordered Defra to publish the document in full, after a complaint was made by the environmental group Greenpeace. The unredacted version contained information that undermined the government's claims that fracking would have a negligible effect on the local population.

The report predicted:

* House prices would go down by 7 percent in the area around a site being tested for large-scale fracking.

* Nearby properties could face additional insurance costs.

* Traffic congestion could be worsened by up to 51 journeys per day during the exploration phase alone.

* Wastewater from fracking would place an additional burden on the existing treatment facilities.

The author also recommends:

[5 August 2015]

[11 July 2015]


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By Patrick Martin 
4 September 2015

The former chief of staff to Hillary Clinton during her four years as secretary of state, Cheryl Mills, testified behind closed doors Thursday before the House special committee investigating the 2012 attack on US facilities in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans were killed.

Mills answered questions for several hours, in a session whose topics were said to have included the controversy over Clinton’s use of a private email server as well as the events in Benghazi.

Mills is to be followed Friday by Jake Sullivan, who was deputy chief of staff at the State Department and is now the top foreign policy adviser to the Clinton presidential campaign. Sullivan will also be questioned on both Benghazi and the use of the private email server.

Another former Clinton aide, IT specialist Brian Pagliano, who originally set up the private email server for Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, then adapted it for use in handling her State Department correspondence, informed the committee Monday that he would refuse to testify before it, citing his Fifth Amendment rights.

Pagliano’s attorney cited an ongoing FBI investigation into whether national security information was compromised in emails that passed through the private server, which was located at the Clinton residence and later at a commercial provider. He indicated that the political atmosphere surrounding the committee investigation made his client a potential target of unwarranted prosecution.

The committee chairman, Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, said in response to a press inquiry, “You’re free to claim whatever inference you want from the fact that” Pagliano did not want to testify. As an experienced prosecutor before election to Congress, Gowdy is aware that the jury in a criminal case is prohibited from drawing any inference from such a refusal to testify.

Of course the “inferences” that the House Republicans want to promote are directed at Clinton herself. That is why they have insisted on interviewing the aides behind closed doors, rejecting requests that the hearings be open. The aim is to use the subsequent appearance by Clinton, now set for October 22, as the occasion for carefully prepared “revelations” that would be leaked to the media to discredit her presidential campaign.

The Republican-controlled House established the special committee after seven previous investigations in Benghazi conducted by other House committees and subcommittees failed to provide any material that could be used to damage Clinton’s presidential prospects.

The latest panel, chaired by Gowdy, discovered Clinton’s use of a private email server last summer, and leaked the information to the New York Times for publication in March.

What is most remarkable about the Benghazi and email affairs is the incessant focus on process—whether Clinton mishandled secret information or jeopardized its security by using a private email server—while both the Republicans and the corporate-controlled media have been largely indifferent to the content of the emails released so far.

The emails document criminal actions on the part of Clinton, not in “dereliction” of duty, but as an essential part of her service to American imperialism.

A just-released email from Jake Sullivan, for example, emphasizes Clinton’s personal responsibility in engineering the US-NATO war on Libya in 2011 that led to the overthrow and murder of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and plunged the country into a bloody civil war that still continues. (It was in the context of that civil war, and CIA efforts to recruit Islamist gunmen in Benghazi for service in another regime-change operation in Syria that the 2012 attack on the US consulate and CIA annex in Benghazi took place).

“Secretary Clinton’s leadership on Libya[.] HRC has been a critical voice on Libya in administration deliberations, at NATO, and in contact group meetings—as well as the public face of the U.S. effort in Libya,” the Sullivan memo says. “She was instrumental in securing the authorization, building the coalition, and tightening the noose around Quaddafi [sic] and his regime.”

That memo would be a significant piece of evidence in a war crimes trial against Clinton.

Another set of emails documents criminal activity of a more personal character. Clinton intervened as secretary of state on behalf of a for-profit education company that later paid her husband Bill Clinton, the former US president, $16 million over the course of six years for acting as its honorary chancellor.

Laureate International Universities is the largest for-profit college network in the world, operating primarily in Latin America, with a current valuation of as much as $4 billion. Clinton insisted, in an August 2, 2009 email, that the company should be invited to a State Department function because “It’s a for-profit model that should be represented.” Former President Clinton became honorary chancellor of Laureate in 2010 and held the position until his wife announced her presidential campaign earlier this year.

Laureate also collected several State Department grants during this period, although the amounts of grants were smaller than the $3 million annual honorarium going to Bill Clinton. Laureate also donated money to the Clinton Foundation and worked with the Clinton Global Initiative.

The company gained from Bill Clinton’s advocacy, expanding from 250,000 students in 2007 to more than 800,000 in 2013, with 50,000 employees in dozens of countries.

Needless to say, this kind of profiteering is engaged in by countless companies, and both Democratic and Republican politicians regard it as their mission to facilitate it.


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By Ed Hightower 
4 September 2015

On Thursday, Federal District Judge David Bunning jailed Kim Davis, the county clerk for Rowan County, Kentucky, for contempt of court. Bunning found that Davis was in willful defiance of his order of August 12, which required the anti-gay activist Davis to resume the issuance of marriage licenses in accordance with Kentucky and US law.

Bunning, an appointee of George W. Bush and a staunch conservative, said in his order last month that Davis was “openly adopting a policy that promotes her own religious convictions at the expenses of others.” Her right to free speech was not violated because issuing marriage licenses “does not require the county clerk to condone or endorse same-sex marriage on religious or moral grounds.” (See: “Kentucky county official defies court order on gay marriage”)

Davis, elected as a Democrat in 2014, has become a darling in right-wing political circles for her refusal to issue any marriage certificates since the Supreme Court’s June 26 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges which struck down various state laws which blocked same-sex marriages.

With the help of lawyers provided by the conservative Liberty Counsel, Davis appealed the order. Last week, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit rejected her request for a stay pending appeal. On Monday, the US Supreme Court also denied her request for an emergency stay.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, which represents same-sex couples, filed a motion on Tuesday asking Bunning to hold Davis in contempt of court, asking that she incur fines but not face jail time.

Judge Bunning stated Thursday that he did not believe fines alone would deter Davis’ unlawful conduct. Davis will be released from custody when she agrees to comply with the court’s August 12 order, he said.

Davis’ attorneys made the spurious claim that she ought not be held in contempt, citing legal precedent that a person cannot be held in contempt for failure to do something that is impossible, and, since it was impossible for Davis to believe that marriage was anything other than a union between a man and woman, it was thus impossible for her to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The court rejected this argument.

“It’s not physically impossible for her to issue the licenses; she’s choosing not to” said Bunning.

Underscoring the role of religious bigotry in American politics, Republican presidential candidate and evangelical Christian Mike Huckabee said Wednesday that he had spoken recently with Davis by phone.

“I let her know how proud I am of her for not abandoning her religious convictions and standing strong for religious liberty,” Huckabee said.

Given Davis’ position as an elected official, paid $80,000 annually, it is entirely possible that she consulted with major figures in the Republican establishment before she used her public office as a political soap box.

For Huckabee, the Republican right, and the ruling class as a whole, stunts like Davis’ serve to whip up the most medieval, anti-Enlightenment sentiments of their evangelical protestant base.

Davis’s ostensible role as the victim of an unrelenting, overreaching, anti-religious federal judiciary fits a definite right-wing narrative that paints Christian fundamentalists as perpetually under siege by a secular, liberal state.

The Davis case is just one of the most recent political provocations by the religious right. It dovetails the move to defund the critical women’s health care provider Planned Parenthood, the attacks on contraception relating to the ACA, and legal challenges by businesses who argue that “religious liberty” should permit them to discriminate against homosexuals, atheists and others.

While the US Supreme Court has upheld gay marriage, other recent decisions, most notably Hobby Lobby and Town of Greece v. Galloway, lay the legal groundwork for sustained attacks on the constitutionally enshrined democratic principle of the separation of church and state.

The logic of these cases, and of the attacks on the separation of church and state, turns reality on its head. Far from advocating a government that protects the religious freedom of private citizens, it is asserted that businesses and even public employees have the “freedom” to deprive other citizens of their own constitutional rights, including the right to marry. A more odious and Orwellian perversion of the word “freedom” is hard to conceive.

To be sure, the cultivation of and prostration before the religious right is a bipartisan effort carried out by Democrats and Republicans alike. Not only was Davis was elected to office in 2014 as a Democrat, but none other than the anti-gay bigot pastor Rick Warren gave the invocation at President Barack Obama’s first inauguration in January 2009.

Significantly a May 2014 survey found that 80 percent of Americans reject the notion that a small business owner should be able to refuse service to homosexuals on religious grounds.


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