Argentina and Wall Street’s Vulture Funds: “Economic Terrorism” and the Western Financial System

NOVANEWS

Map of Argentina

Global Research

“Today you pretend making a coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), but in fact you’re their allies,” Those are the frank words by Cristina Fernandez Kirchner, the Argentinian President, spoken in a calm and secure voice at the UN General Assembly last Friday, 3 October 2014.

Similarly, she referred to the western financial system as economic terrorism, as in vultures – the vulture funds that thanks to New York judge Griesa have put Argentina – a solvent country, willing and capable of paying their debt, in default. He ruled that the vulture funds, Griesa’s clients and paymasters, needed to be paid in full, i.e. 100%, equal to US$ 1.5 billion, when close to 93% of all creditors agreed on a restructured reimbursement rate of about 20%.

Without any international right to interfere in the affairs of a sovereign country, Griesa would allow the vultures reaping in a profit margin well in excess of 1,000%. — Paul Singer, king of the ‘vulture capitalists’, knows no merci. He is in bed with Wall Street and Griesa – and with whomever other financial hooligans who share his greedy endeavors. Greed is their prayer. It’s knocked around the world. Exploits poor nations, makes them poorer, and keeps them dependent on the powers of money, being well aware that the poor are too weak to defend themselves.

Except for Argentina. Her able President Cristina Fernandez, speaks not only for her country, when she talks about victims of economic and financial terrorism, but for all those African, Latin American and Asian countries which are oppressed by the killing boots of Wall Street and the IMF. It cannot be said often enough – the IMF is a mere extended arm of the US Treasury and the FED.

Vulture capitalism exerted by these usual villains and the European Central Bank, a mere puppet of Wall Street and led by a former Wall Street banker, are responsible for the economic collapse of the western economy. They have driven countries like Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain – and lately also Ukraine – into misery.

They have stolen their social safety nets, pensions, employment, housing, education, health care, water supply and other public infrastructure – by privatizing public capital for their private benefits. They could do so thanks to the connivance of corrupt leaders they first put in place with sham elections – or no elections at all.

Case in point is Greece, where the Parliament decided to dismiss the socialist Prime Minister George Papandreou, who attempted to launch a referendum in December 2011, asking the people whether they wanted the troika’s (IMF, ECB, European Commission) imposed second ‘rescue’ package of 130 billion euros (after a first one on 110 billion euros) that would drastically increase Greece’s sovereign debt and force literally a killer austerity program upon its people. At the onset of the manufactured crisis, in May 2008, Greece’s debt to GDP ratio was a manageable 105%. In 2014 the ratio is 175%.

Under the structural adjustment program social health care was basically abolished. Many cancer and other chronically ill patients were deprived of their free medical attendance, unemployed and destitute could not afford to pay full price for their medication and treatment – and quietly died.

Under extreme pressure from Germany and France – the infamous tandem Sarkozy / Merkel called Papandreou to meeting in Nice at the beginning of November 2011, literally ordering him to withdraw the referendum – or else. Papandreou went home, canceled the referendum on 3 November and resigned. He was promptly replaced by Parliament – without a public vote – by the neoliberal Lucas Papademos, former deputy head of the ECB and – a former Goldman Sachs executive, who allowed the dance of debt and destruction to continue.

Argentina would not allow such financial terrorism on its shores – not since they dared to counter the economically suffocating peso-dollar parity in 2001, allowing the country to start breathing and growing again; a highly distributive GDP growth allowing to cut poverty from above 60% in 2001to below 10% today.

The same escape from the western kleptomania was – and still is – open to Greece and all those southern European countries in the fangs of greed capitalism. But their leaders and finance ministers are goose stepping to the financial marching orders of Washington’s money masters, Wall Street, FED and IMF.

Ms. Fernandez did not mince her words. She also talked openly about western military terrorism, “You killed many innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan under the name of war against terrorism,” or as the new refrain goes – “Making war for Peace”. She referred to the West in general and to Washington in particular, for whom war and conflicts, weapons sales, is a means of economic survival, as the US economy depends to more than 50% on the military / security industrial complex and related industries and services.

Shamefully, many western leaders and representatives left the assembly hall when Ms. Fernandez spoke, of fear they may be associated with her views if they listened to her calling a spade a spade. Perhaps they feared the ridiculous western sanctions, if they don’t behave. It is sad to see spineless world leaders; so-called leaders (sic), who bend over backwards to please the powers that utterly exploit them, stealing their natural resources, putting their people and the environment in peril.

A terrorist is whoever does not conform to the western doctrine, whoever insists on national sovereignty – whoever defends their national interests over the voracious interference of Washington and its European puppets – and their killing bulldozer, NATO.

The UN should make it an obligation and expression of mutual respect that every country leader and representative attending the UN General Assembly must listen to all the speeches. Each country has a message to give – a message that in one way or another concerns all of us, as we are all connected as humans in a solidary union, regardless of political alliances.

The latest economic terrorism inflicted on Russia by the US supported Wall Street et al financial cabal is the down manipulation of the ruble vs the US dollar and other ‘western’ currencies. The ruble has lost 22% of its value since the beginning of 2014 and 15% in the last quarter alone. Call it ‘sanctions’ – if you will – for not bending to the political demands of Washington on Ukraine. The western MSM would like you to believe it has to do with the chaos and continuous murderous atrocities in Ukraine’s Donbass area, for which – of course – Russia is made the culprit, not Kiev’s gang of thugs, a Nazi government, created and funded by Obama and his western puppets.

Russia is now forced to buy dollars and Euros – what they least want and need – to stabilize her currency, the ruble. Buying dollars – playing even more into the sledgehammer of the empire – is certainly the last thing Russia wants to do. Currency manipulation is only possible due to the predatory US dollar system, where all international transactions have to be channeled through Wall Street and cleared through the privately owned BIS – Bank for International Settlements, whose owners are a similar lot of financial shenanigans as are those owning the FED. The expected outcome is a devalued ruble, shunned by investors.Little do they know that this usual western shortsightedness is but accelerating the process of Russia and China issuing a new combined currency, delinked form the dollar-euro fiat money and its SWIFT exchange system. In fact, it has already begun. The Central Bank of China has recently offered a hand to the EU, inviting the Euro as one of several currencies that will no longer need the western clearing system for transactions with China.President Fernandez puts the finger right on the wound when she refers to the entire western monetary system as vulture economics. She knows that such an economy is bound to falter and be replaced – gradually as may be – by one that is based on fairness, integrity and that respects nations’ sovereignty.Peter Koenig is an economist and former World Bank staff. He worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, the Voice of Russia, now Ria Novosti, The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe.

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“Behind Every Worker is a Family”

NOVANEWS
The Takeover of the RR Donnelley Factory
by WENDY Z. GOLDMAN

 In late September, I was invited to Buenos Aires to speak about the recent Spanish translation of a book on the Bolshevik vision of women’s liberation that I first published in 1993, Women, the State, and Revolution: Soviet Family Policy and Social Life, 1917-1936.  The book, translated and published by Pan y Rosas (Bread and Roses), a socialist women’s organization, received a new life when it was published in Spanish in Argentina, and then, in Portuguese by Boitempo in Brazil.  Workers and students embraced the ideas that the Bolsheviks had put into practice almost a century ago.  In Buenos Aires, I spoke to a crowded auditorium of 700 workers, students, and faculty.  Workers came from the Lear plant, from the transportation sector, and from other factories.   One of the most moving comments was made by an older domestic worker who came up to the stage.  She explained that she spent her entire life cleaning the houses of wealthy people.  “The Bolsheviks talked about the socialization of household labor,” she said.  “Today, only women do this work.  And if a woman is wealthy enough, she pays another women like me to do it.”  One of the members of Pan y Rosas later told me that some of the women workers in the audience cried when they heard about the early socialist vision for transforming daily life and human relationships.

As part of my visit, Celeste Murillo and Andrea D’Atri, two committed members of Pan y Rosas and Partido de los Trabajadores Socialistas (Party of Socialist Workers), took me to the Donnelley printing factory, which had recently been taken over by workers.  For me, the factory immediately conjured images of the early soviets in Russia in 1917.  Russian workers, like their latter day comrades in Argentina, had also been propelled into unexpected action when foreign companies sought to close their plants and flee the country.  In that historic year, the revolution unfolded rapidly, precipitated in no small measure by capital flight.

To reach the Donnelley plant, we drove north toward the outskirts of Buenos Aires on the Pan American Highway.  Mile after mile, the road is lined with the factories of multinational corporations.   The names of the plants – Ford, Toyota, Nestle — would be familiar to any unemployed worker in the United States.  During the dictatorship in Argentina (1976-1983), the army maintained a detention center within the Ford plant where workers and trade unionists suspected of political dissidence were imprisoned, tortured, and killed.  Many of the jobs we lost in the U.S. can now be found on this stretch of the Pan American Highway, transplanted to new production sites by corporations in the search for cheaper labor costs and greater profit margins.  If any sight ever made mockery of the patriotic platitudes mouthed by U.S. corporations, this is it.   Capital has no national feelings; its only predilection is for profit.  As Argentinean workers now struggle for the same decent wages and conditions that American workers once won for themselves, the corporations seek new countries where labor is cowed, cheap, and unorganized: China, India, and Southeast Asia.  Yet in every new country where corporations set up their factories, workers begin to organize.  And in this way, capital itself, in its insistent drive for ever-greater profits, organizes the globe.

As we drove past the long low gray buildings of Ford plant, a strange sight came into view on the other side of the highway.  Directly across from the Ford plant, divided by eight lanes of whizzing highway traffic, stood another large low building.   Set squarely amid the vast sprawl of multinational capital, this building was flying red flags, and draped with banners.  What was this improbable sight?   “Look there!” Andrea and Celeste informed me excitedly, “It is the former RR Donnelley printing plant, now in the hands of its workers. It is being run by a democratically elected Workers’ Assembly and Women’s Commission.”

Jorge Medina, Sandro Salazar and René Córdoba with Wendy at Donnelley

Workers Fight for their Jobs

RR Donnelley is an American corporation with its central headquarters in Chicago.  It has printing plants in the United States as well as four other countries.  The workers seized the factory on August 11, 2014 after the corporation decided to close the plant and reopen it somewhere outside of Argentina.   The workers are committed to keeping their jobs and to maintaining the plant in production.  A great banner, fluttering above the daycare center, newly established by the workers, reads: ”No More Families Thrown Out into the Streets.”  The slogan of their movement: “Behind Every Worker is a Family,” or in Spanish, “Detrás de cada trabajador hay una familia.”  The slogan has two meanings.  One reminds us that when a worker loses his or her job, an entire family suffers.  The other meaning, however, suggests a great hidden strength.  Every worker is also supported by a family, and together, workers and their families represent multitudes.

As we entered the plant, a small group of workers greeted us warmly.  I brought a children’s notebook to take notes about the plant and the workers.  The workers have been reading Women, the State, and Revolution, and discussing it in the Women’s Commission.  As we tour the plant, I ask them endless questions, beginning with, “When did you take over the plant?”  Rene Cordoba, tall worker with flashing dimples and a shock of black straight hair, explained the history.

Early on the morning of August 11, just as the sun was coming up, over 300 men on the first shift arrived at the plant to begin the workday.  They found a brief notice on the locked gates.  It read: “We are closed.  If you have any questions, please call this number: 1- 800-.”   In two sentences, the workers learned that their lives and the lives of their families had been summarily upended.   Donnelley was leaving Argentina.  Although the closing notice was a rude shock, it did not come as a complete surprise.  Indeed the workers were thoroughly prepared to take action.   The gates were locked and management had fled.  Only three private security guards were left on the premises.  Faced with a great crowd of workers, they quickly opened the gates.  The long corridor running through the main building between the shops was lined with video security cameras monitored by the company’s main headquarters in Chicago.  A small, designated detail of masked workers entered the factory first and swiftly disabled the cameras by turning them toward the ceiling.   At 7 a.m., in disciplined accord, the first shift of workers entered the factory. They turned on the presses, took their positions at the machines, and began to work.

The workers have been producing steadily ever since, meeting their existing printing contracts and negotiating new ones.   Unfortunately, the money they receive from the existing printing jobs they completed and the new contracts they concluded is being placed in an escrow account under the control of the courts.  The workers are not getting paid.  The corporation and the workers now await a ruling from a judge: will the Donnelley plant be dismembered and sold off to pay investors or will the workers be legally permitted to run the factory?

Bankrupt? The Struggle in the Factory and the Courts

The entrance to the main building of the plant opens into a large area with a security desk and management offices.  Past the offices and the nurse’s station, a long hallway bisects the shops.  To the right and to the left, massive machines and computers stand behind plate glass windows.  Before Donnelley closed the plant, it employed 450 production workers, mainly men, along with a staff of about 100 white-collar managers and foremen.  The plant, which includes a vast parking lot, loading areas, and warehouses, sits on acres of land owned by Donnelley.  The machinery, buildings, and land are worth hundreds of millions of pesos, dollars, or whatever currency Donnelley and its investors claim as their own.

In early August, one week before Donnelley closed the plant, the company filed for bankruptcy in Argentina.  The company claimed that it was too broke to pay its debts.  The bankruptcy itself, however, quickly became a highly politicized issue.  Donnelley’s claim that it was in financial crisis was strongly contested by a team of lawyers for the workers.  Financial records revealed that Donnelley had been making regular payments on its debts.  The company was not only solvent but was profitable.

The Labor Department in Argentina supported the workers, ruling that the company’s claim was fraudulent, merely a ploy to allow it to close and sell off the physical plant.  Rene Cordoba explained that the main reason for closing the plant is not the company’s solvency, but rather the growing power of the workers.  Donnelley’s continuing attempts to increase its profitability through layoffs were undercut by the protests of a united workforce.  The workers were represented not only by their union, but a smaller Internal Commission operating within the factory as well.  These Internal Commissions, directly

goldmanwomen

elected by the workers on an annual basis and beholden only to them, are increasingly popular in Argentina’s factories. More militant than the unions, closely linked to the workers through democratic elections, and intimately aware of the problems within their factories, they take bold stands against any management attempts to cut pay, increase the work pace, or reduce occupational and safety.  Many of the most radical and thoughtful workers elected to the Internal Commissions belong to the Partido de los Trabajadores Socialistas.  The Party now wields growing impact at the national and provincial levels as well, as part of the Left and Workers’ Front which has won 3 seats in the National Congress, and many seats in the provincial legislatures, including Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Neuquén and Salta.

Donnelley had a long history of conflict with the Internal Commission in its plant.  In 2011, Donnelley sought to increase its profit margins by lowering its labor costs.  The company fired nineteen regular production workers, all union members.  The workers immediately protested, and forced the company to rehire the group they had dismissed.  Shortly thereafter, the company made another effort to increase the work pace by firing twelve contract workers who worked under more insecure conditions for less pay.  Again, the workers, led by the Internal Commission, protested sharply, compelling the company to rehire the group.   When the company substituted a new and cheaper solvent for cleaning the presses and workers became sick from the poisonous fumes, the workers called a short wildcat strike in protest and shut down the presses.  Rene noted with a quick smile, “Nothing gets the attention of the bosses faster than a shutdown.”  The company was forced to go back to the less toxic but more expensive solvent.  In 2012, the company tried again to reduce labor costs, this time attempting to fire 123 workers.   The layoffs, Donnelley announced, were essential for the health of the company.  Without the layoffs, the factory might seek to move.  The workers, however, refused to be intimidated, and the Internal Commission vowed to fight if the 123 were dismissed. On August 5, in protest against the threatened layoffs, wives, girlfriends and children of the Donnelley workers demonstrated in front of the manager’s house.  Their slogan: “Behind Every Worker is a Family.”  At this point, the company began considering the possibility that it would be able to function more freely in a country where the workers had less power and solidarity.  Less than a week later, Chicago headquarters shut down the plant.

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From Production to Management

As the first shift marched into the plant on the morning of August 11, the workers immediately understood that they would be faced with new problems of management. The 100 managers and foremen had abandoned the factory, creating new job vacancies that had to be filled.  The computer engineer had fled, and the Donnelley headquarters in Chicago had blocked the mainframe computer in the press shop.  Without access to the computer, the workers could not create the mockups for the physical models that were affixed to the presses.  They appealed for help to the computer students at the University of Buenos Aires, who unblocked the computer and allowed the workers to continue to create the mockups.  Standing orders were filled, and a team of workers negotiated contracts for new work.  The editors of “Para Ti” or “For You,” a popular women’s fashion magazine, stated publicly that they would be pleased to have the Donnelley workers continue to do their printing.

The main problem that the workers faced was that they were not getting paid.  The money was tied up in the courts, and although they continued to work and produce, they got no wages.  At this point, the Workers’ Assembly called a meeting.  How could the workers go forward without any money to live on?  How could they continue to support their families?  Although many wives and girlfriends already worked, and others would take jobs as the struggle continued, a new strategy was needed.  After much discussion, two contending ideas emerged.  Some workers argued that they should simply concentrate on production.  If they continued to work and run the plant in an efficient manner, they would eventually gain access to the money owed them.  Others contended, however, that they needed to make the larger community aware of the Donnelley struggle.  Although this would require political organizing outside the plant, it was necessary to a positive outcome.  The Women’s Commission, composed of the wives and girlfriends of the workers, was particularly interested in creating a relief fund that could help the struggling families. It vowed to leave no family in isolation or need.  One way or another, it would provide enough food for everyone to allow the workers to continue the fight.  The desperate need for funds quickly decided the issue.  The workers would have to bring the economic struggle to a new political level if they were to survive.  Funds would have to be raised.  Yet how?

The Workers’ Assembly and the Women’s Commission immediately thought about the power of print.  They made the decision to print 20,000 children’s notebooks to be donated to the public schools.  The first page of every notebook would explain what the workers at Donnelley’s had done and the struggles they faced. Radical teachers in the public schools would pass out the notebooks.  The children, many in working-class families, would bring the notebooks home so their parents, including workers at other plants, could read about the struggle at Donnelley.  Teams of workers fanned out to political meetings, universities, and the factories along the Pan American Highway to speak about the takeover.  As the workers launched a variety of “solidarity activities”, many people contributed funds.  Workers began receiving about one-third of their monthly wage of 12,000 pesos: about 4,000 pesos or $500 a month.  The Women’s Commission made up daily food parcels for distribution.

With the success of the solidarity activities, workers began thinking about a broader plan. They filed the paperwork to become a cooperative, a legal move that will allow them to receive payment for the contracted jobs they do.  They began to think about a new social role for the factory.  It could print not only glossy fashion magazines but also print the publications of unions, progressive and leftwing organizations, and the state.  (They printed the posters for my recent talk at the University of Buenos Aires about the Spanish edition of Women, the State and Revolution.)  They will soon offer the state a contract to do its public printing on social needs, including pamphlets about health, education, and other subjects.  The leftwing deputies in the provincial legislatures and National Congress support the offer.

The Women’s Commission and Madygraf:

After touring the plant, Celeste and Andrea brought me to a large room that had been turned over to the Women’s Commission.  Previously a boardroom for management, the space had become a center for their activities.  About twenty women, mostly young, many with small children, sat around a large table laden with cups of mate yerba and cakes.   Maria Sol, a young woman with long brown hair, asked me if I would like to hear the first song the group wrote.  Laughing, the women began to sing.

“I won’t shut up

I won’t stay home

We will end the system of exploitation!

To the Church

I say these words

I will take control of my own body!”

The Women’s Commission was created in 2011 with the help of Pan y Rosas. The group, the wives and girlfriends of men in the plant, helped to bridge the age-old divisions between male workers involved in strikes or politics and their families. The Women’s Commission understood that when men choose to strike or forego a paycheck, their partners carry the heavy burden of feeding the family, soothing hungry children, and worrying about money for rent, clothes, school supplies, and all the other budget items essential to the family’s survival.   In the past, these burdens created resentments and even divisions within working-class families.   Traditional union movements in turn castigated women for their political backwardness and limited horizons.  The Women’s Commission in the Donnelley plant changed this age-old dynamic.  In the words of one man, “The Women’s Commission changed my life.”  When Donnelley ran the plant, the Women’s Commission was not allowed to enter the factory.  Often the workers held their Assembly outside, close to the factory gates so that the women, standing on the other side, could participate.  Now the Women’s Commission is welcome in the factory and participates fully in the Workers’ Assembly.

One of the key principles of the Women’s Commission is human solidarity: no worker and no family should be left to shoulder their burdens alone.  This principle has dictated many of their actions, and it creates a strong feeling of security and well being among the families.  At the urging of the Women’s Commission, one of the first actions of the workers was to change the name of the factory from Donnelley to Madygraf.  Mady, now the teenaged daughter of one of the workers, had a bad accident as a child resulting in permanent disability.  Yet neither the union nor the company offered the family any help.  The workers all chipped in to buy a wheelchair for Mady and to help the family.  In renaming the plant Madygraf or literally Mady graphic, the workers not only honored the child, but also the principle of collective support.

Using the communist dictum of Marx, “From each according to their ability to each according to their needs,” the Women’s Commission promulgates a sense of justice based on family need.  After the workers took over the factory, they debated how to best distribute the relief fund.  Should each male worker continue to receive a fraction of his wage, or should families be supported in accordance with their needs and the number of mouths they had to feed?  The workers, in conjunction with the Women’s Commission, decided to follow a middle path: paying each worker a fraction of his former wage, but providing extra help to larger families.  Women began putting together food packages for every family.  They also launched a survey based on a questionnaire that asked each family about their needs.  How many children did they have, how much was their rent, what health or medical issues did they have, did they need daycare?  The results of the survey will form the basis for a new social program to be developed by the Women’s Commission.

With the sharp contraction of the wage, hard times set in.  Some workers took on extra jobs. Wives and girlfriends went to work.  Everyone began popularizing the struggle, attending meetings and speaking to the wider public.   Yet who would take care of the infants and small children?  The Women’s Commission is actively trying to eliminate the idea that women have a “natural place” in the home in service to men. It soon decided to open a daycare center in the plant where children could stay safely while their parents were busy at work or in political activities.  The Worker’s Assembly voted to turn over several rooms once reserved for management meetings to the daycare center.

Even the children became involved in the struggle.   Life for them has become harder.  Families are living on very little; many purchases are no longer possible. The Women’s Commission realized that the children had to understand why they had to forego new shoes and clothes or even small treats like ice cream.  They encouraged the children to organize their own Children’s Assembly, which was soon called “Little Ones Stand Up.”  The children began organizing meetings and solidarity activities at school, even raising money for the relief fund.  In using the children to distribute school notebooks and information, the workers activated a powerful network that runs from the factory through the neighborhoods and into the schools to reach other families with news about the takeover.

Other ideas have also emerged to help people develop their skills and capabilities.  One of the few white-collar workers to remain in the plant was the company nurse, affectionately known as everyone’s mother.  She noted that although the workers did not choose to slow the pace of production, the accident rate decreased after the takeover.  Workers replaced shop floor supervisors with “coordinators,” or fellow workers who ensured the smooth flow of the production process. The skilled workers are now teaching the less skilled how to handle a variety of jobs.  The workers are in charge of security and safety, and they make and post the rules governing life at the factory.  Without the constant pressure of supervision, work has become easier and less stressful.  The workers converted a manager’s meeting room into a study center where workers who did not finish high school can study for their diplomas.   Volunteer teachers are needed.  Every new action creates an opening for people to contribute. And with each new initiative, the workers build the factory not only as a site of production but as a newly imagined social world in which work is only one of many needs that can be met.

Donnelley Children 2

The Role of the State: Worker Citizens versus Multinational Capital

The workers have requested the government to stop the dismemberment of the factory by Donnelley’s investors.  They are in the process of forming a cooperative, a legal entity composed of workers, which will run the plant democratically and distribute the income it generates.  The workers hope to become employees of the state.  Their aim is twofold: to manage the plant democratically and to create a new socially responsible role for the factory under the aegis of the government.  They aim to print not only popular magazines, but also public pamphlets and leftwing publications.  The workers have no possibility to raise the capital to buy out Donnelley.  If the government chooses to nationalize the plant, it can either pay Donnelley a mutually agreed sum or take over the plant without compensation.  The leftwing deputies in Congress strongly support nationalization, and many argue that Donnelley has already made a considerable profit and does not deserve further compensation.

The Donnelley workers hope to follow in the footsteps of their fellow workers at Zanon, a tile factory now under workers’ control.  In 2002, the Zanon corporation tried to shut down the factory, a move which would have put hundreds of people out of work.  The workers made the decision to resist: they would take over the property and continue to produce tile.  With the help of their provincial government, they formed a cooperative and renamed the factory Fasinpat, an acronym for “Fábrica sin Patrones,” or “Factory without Bosses.”  Fasinpat soon became a model for other workers facing plant closings.  Indeed, soon after the Donnelley workers took over their plant, they made a short video showing one of their members dressed in white scurrying around the huge presses.  “I am the ghost of Zanon,” he whispered. “The ghost, the ghost.”

The takeover of the Donnelley factory poses thorny questions for President Cristina Kirchner’s government.   On the one hand, many workers throughout the country are angry and restive about the unfulfilled promises of the state to better the lives of working people.  The Internal Commissions have become increasingly radicalized by plant closings, layoffs, and speedups within the factories.  They have moved well to the left of the unions, which support the government and advocate a slower and more reformist approach to change.  If the government allows the workers of Donnelley to run the plant along a cooperative model, it would demonstrate to workers that it is serious about protecting them and their jobs against the multinational corporations.  This message, both socially progressive and nationalist, would also generate considerable support in future elections.  On the other hand, the government is also under pressure from the multinational corporations that offer employment to so many of Argentina’s citizens.  These corporations fled the United States and Europe in search of a cheap and docile labor force.  If they face strikes and plant takeovers every time they choose to layoff workers, they will no longer find Argentina conducive to their interests.  They will search for sites in other countries where labor is less organized and the government more supportive of their power to run the factories as they wish.

The Ghost of Zanon: Hopes for the Future

The Donnelley case is now pending in the courts, and the factory is under the control of a judge.  Monies received from production are in an escrow account.  The judge is expected to rule shortly on the property of the company and whether the workers will be allowed to continue production legally.  On September 30, the court made a limited ruling to pay $ 4,000 pesos or about $470 to each worker for the labor they have performed since the plant closed on August 11.

When the workers first took over the Donnelley plant, many doubted that it was possible for them to run it.  Yet with each problem solved, they have grown more confident in their abilities.  Many now believe that the only group not necessary to run a factory is the bosses!  More than anything, the takeover of the Donnelley plant has given workers new hope for the future and confidence in their ability to lead.  Whereas in the past, every problem was seen as individual, the takeover of the plant has created new opportunities for collective activity and collective solutions.  Workers are energized by new ideas and possibilities.  Convert the boardroom into a day care center!  Debate the wage! Make food packages! Print our struggle in 20,000 children’s notebooks!  Involve the children!  Songs, laughter, debate, and new ideas resound in every corner of the factory.  What is that sound?  It is the sound of imagination unfettered, of women, men and children taking control of their own lives.  How does it sound? It is the sweetest and most intoxicating music in the world.

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A Bigger Pie Doesn’t Mean You are Getting a Slice

NOVANEWS
Finance Capital is Both Whip and Parasite
by PETE DOLACK

The kerfuffle between executives and shareholders of The Coca-Cola Company seems to have been smoothed over, at least for now, but no matter how much the two sides wrangle over the pie, they do agree on one crucial detail: Employees deserve nothing.

Lest we dismiss the recent plan hatched by Coca-Cola’s management to transfer to itself at least US$13 billion as a fight in which we have no dog, it does provide a case study of the mindset of corporate and financial elites, and the power of Wall Street. This is a company accused of involvement in a string of human-rights violations in countries around the world and racial discrimination in the United States, and routinely lays off employees despite raking in billions of dollars per year in profits.

The $13 billion dispute is this: Coca-Cola management proposed earlier this year to issue hundreds of millions of stock and stock options to its higher-level executives. For 2014 alone, the stock grants would have been worth about $13 billion. Enter a money-management firm that owns a couple of million shares. Loudly complaining that those billions belonged to it and other shareholders, the money-management firm’s chief executive officer declared:

“In effect, the Board [of directors of Coca-Cola] is asking shareholders for approval to transfer approximately $13 billion from all of our pockets to the Company’s management over the next four years.”

Coca-Cola’s management blinked last week, but earlier defended its stock grant by saying that the stock grants “are within industry norms.” But we need not run out of tissues crying over this transfer of wealth away from needy financiers, because Coca-Cola announced that it is reducing its previous plan. Just what the company plans to give its executives is not clear from its October 1 press release, but it did have this to say:

“Consistent with our past practice, 100% of the proceeds from stock option exercises by employees will be used to repurchase shares, minimizing dilution. This is separate from, and in addition to, our normal share repurchase program.”

What that finance-speak means is that the profits of the company won’t be spread thinner because it will buy back stock in exchange for the stock it will issue its top executives. Wall Street won this round. Coca-Cola will be using some of its profits to buy back shares from existing shareholders. This is a common practice whereby a company offers to buy stock at a premium to the trading price, giving an extra payday to those who sell and leaving the profits to be divided by among a smaller group.

Money rains upon speculators

How much largesse is rained upon financiers? According to a report by Bloomberg, the companies of the S&P 500 Index will spend $914 billion on stock buybacks and dividends this year, or 95 percent of their earnings. (Those earnings are after the multimillion-dollar payouts executives pay themselves. Oops, sorry, after the payouts granted by their cronies on their hand-picked board of directors.) Bloomberg reports that S&P 500 companies are sitting on “$3.59 trillion in cash and marketable securities and they’ve raised almost $1.28 trillion in 2014 through bond sales.”

That represents quite a pile of profits. Coca-Cola has spent billions of dollars in recent years buying back its stock. The company has plenty of money, reporting almost $45 billion in net income during the past five years. A capitalist’s profits (including the large portion shared with financiers) are created through paying employees much less than the value of what they produce. So what did Coca-Cola’s employees get for producing this wealth enjoyed by executives and speculators? The back of the hand for the most part.

Having earned “only” $8.6 billion in net income for 2013, a slight drop from a year earlier, Coca-Cola announced it would cut its annual expenses by $1 billion by 2016. Undoubtedly, a savings of that size will have to include layoffs. Already, Italian workers struck last month over a plan to eliminate 12 percent of their jobs; workers at the company’s partially owned Australian affiliate have been handed a pay freeze for 2015 with new hires starting at 40 percent less; and 1,200 Spanish jobs were eliminated by closing four plants in defiance of a court order.

All this is before we get to the many human-rights abuses in which Coca-Cola is accused. In the past, the company made big profits operating in Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa.

More recently, the company and its business affiliates have been repeatedly accused of using paramilitary death squads to kidnap, torture and assassinate union leaders. The company denies any involvement. But being an organizer in Colombia is dangerous work — of the 213 union leaders murdered worldwide in 2002, 184 died in Colombia. In the previous 15 years, almost 4,000 Colombian trade unionists were murdered.

Child labor, violence and smuggling are it

Workers seeking to join unions in Colombia are routinely fired and threats against union activists continue on a steady basis. The activist group Killer Coke has compiled a country-by-country list of outrages in various countries, including thousands of children, as young as eight-years-old, used as labor on El Salvador sugar-cane farms that supply the company; multiple kidnappings and murders of union officials and other workers at a bottling plant in Guatemala; and, in the Philippines, the use of outsourced labor to avoid paying benefits and accusations of “smuggling” sugar into the country to avoid taxes and undercut local sugar producers.

The $13 billion that the executives and the financiers were fighting over did not fall out of the sky.

The point here isn’t that Coca-Cola is a uniquely evil company. Its arch-rival PepsiCo Inc. is spending $8.7 billion this year alone in stock buybacks and dividend payouts to make financiers happy. In the past, it was a major investor in Burma during the military régime that routinely used its citizens, particularly from ethnic minorities, as slave laborers. Pepsi exchanged its income there for Burmese agricultural products that could be sold at a profit outside the country — products often produced on the military junta’s slave-labor farms that were taken by force.

Finance capital is both whip and parasite, applying relentless market pressure to force companies to squeeze ever higher profits and extracting more wealth for itself. This is what the holy grail of “efficiency” actually means. Industrialists and financiers fight over which gets the bigger piece of the pie, but they agree they deserve the whole pie. The rest of us can shut up and get back to work. Did you vote for this?

Posted in USA0 Comments

The U.S. Versus ISIS

NOVANEWS
Grounds for Deepening Dread
by GARY LEUPP

It’s hard not to feel a sense of deepening dread about what this country’s doing in the world, and the inevitable blowback.

I did not feel this way a year ago. Then it seemed that U.S. imperialism was in retreat. Not that the leopard can change its spots; the system is, after all, what it is.

(All U.S. schoolchildren should be taught, as part of their basic civics education, by conscientious elementary, middle school and high school teachers, that they live in an imperialist country. The term itself ought to be popularized. This is what politicians like Obama actually refer to, elliptically, when they call the U.S. “exceptional.” Most of the world’s 196 nations are, after all, not imperialist countries. Most aren’t oligarchies controlled by a top 1%, who control 42% of the nation’s wealth, investing much of it in cheap foreign labor while the domestic standard of living declines. Most do not have incarceration and criminal supervision rates of 1 in 32 citizens. Most do not have police forces equipped with heavy military equipment sometimes savagely used against their citizens. Most nations don’t channel citizens’ tax dollars to state “security” forces that systematically collect their people’s and others’ electronic and telephone communications. Most don’t spend billions of dollars in order to overthrow other countries’ governments. Most don’t maintain 860 military bases outside their borders; most don’t every few years attack other countries in declared or undeclared wars. Most don’t back the Israelis in everything they do, and nobody else blocks every UN vote that evenly mildly criticizes Israel. And so on.)

Still—mindful of the horrible general situation—a year ago I was feeling guardedly optimistic that U.S. imperialism was entering a less toxic stage. Obama’s horrifying plan to assault Syria had been stymied, by popular opposition, Congressional unease, and Vladimir Putin’s timely chess move (arranging for Damascus to give up its chemical weapons arsenal). Obama was suddenly speaking with Iran’s new president Hassan Rouhani, and talks on Iran’s civilian nuclear program had begun. Obama was ignoring Binyamin Netanyahu’s familiar, barked demands for the U.S. to bomb Iran.

2014 has been much gloomier. We have for one thing been forcibly reminded that there has been no real change in foreign policy between the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. The grotesque figure of Victoria Nuland, a Dick Cheney aide who stayed on to assist Hillary Clinton, heads the East Europe desk. She is one of those neocons (married to another distinguished, academic neocon) who strongly supported the Iraq War based on what she knew was a campaign of lies and has never felt any pangs of guilt about it. Her political ideology requires contempt for truth and morality. It’s all about manipulating public opinion to achieve the objectives of the tiny circle she loves and represents. The fact that she was retained in the State Department into the Obama administration speaks volumes about the president’s own outlook on the world.

Obama postures as a centrist. In practice this means he places himself midway between the neoconservatives serving the interests of the 1% and the “liberal interventionists” serving the 1% in their efforts to impose what Paul Wolfowitz terms “full-spectrum dominance” in the world. He is the textbook example of how all in his position must (and naturally do) kiss the ass of the ruling class. This is his job. His (increasingly weak) historical distinction is to be the first African-American to do so. (Not that anyone paying attention needed persuasion that being a person of color doesn’t make you good, or progressive, or even a harbinger of “change.” It might just make you useful, like Colin Powell was for Cheney and his neocon bunch. Or Condoleezza Rice was to the U.S. power structure throughout George W. Bush’s criminal, racist war on Iraq.)

Nuland made it her mission to topple the elected government of Ukraine, promoting the concept that the Ukrainian people (who are in fact sharply divided) possess “European aspirations” (code word for a supposed longing for entry into the European Union—under a painful IMF-imposed austerity program—and for admission into the anti-Russian NATO military alliance which will oblige them to cough up 2% of their GNP in military expenditures).

On February 22 Nuland got her way, after what she has herself  boasted was a five billion dollar U.S. investment in supporting (or generating and encouraging) those “European aspirations.” On that day neo-fascist sniper fire and building seizures—a violent, lightning  putsch—toppled the elected Ukrainian president, brought Nuland’s hand-picked candidate to power as unelected prime minister, brought neo-fascists into a European government for the first time since 1945, and caused the ethic Russian population in the east to rise up in (what ought to be) understandable rebellion.

Realizing the U.S. objective was to first draw Ukraine into the EU, then to incorporate it into NATO, then to expel the Russian Black Sea Fleet from the Crimean Peninsula, Moscow (I will not say Putin, because virtually any Russian leader watching the alarming power-play would have acted similarly) promptly and bloodlessly reasserted its historical ownership of the peninsula, to the very apparent relief of its inhabitants. But the U.S. corporate media—with stunning uniformity, omitting if not forbidding any reference to NATO expansion as a cause for U.S. meddling in Ukraine, or Svoboda Party and Right Sector actions in the Maidan triggering a bloody coup, or legitimate grievances and valid agency of the “Russian secessionists” in the east—constructed an imaginary narrative that most people in this country have swallowed.

Just like they once swallowed the mythology about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction and al-Qaeda ties. (And let us note again that the systematic dissemination of lies through the Pentagon, State Department and White House showing utmost contempt for the people of this country—designed to convince them that they were facing imminent Iraqi attack—has, while well documented, never beenpunished! The scum responsible live comfortably as TV commentators, university academics, and think-tank “fellows.”)

Most people in this country, to the extent that they watch or read the mainstream news, believe that the Ukrainian people rose in a peaceful mass movement, ousted a corrupt leader, and established a popular government that just wants to escape Russia’s oppressive control and join democratic, prosperous Europe. They believe that evil power-hungry Putin, nostalgic for the past, wants to re-create the USSR or maybe Tsarist Russia. This is sheer nonsense, but the success of the State Department-corporate press partnership in foisting this perception on the people is amazing. It shows that, even though the masses have largely come to understand that they were lied to, big-time, in the build up to the Iraq War—not just by politicians but a corporate media that was entirely obedient taking its talking-point cues from the regime—they are still willing dupes. Lambs led to the slaughter.

(I find this depressing. But what can you do, but continue to rage against the lies of the corporate media, and try to expose them to any who will hear?)

Then came the lightning successes of ISIL/ISIS/the Islamic State, as the forces of the Caliphate (30,000, we’re suddenly told) stormed out of the northern Syria stronghold into Iraq over the summer, beheading and crucifying women and children all the way to the gates of Baghdad. Suddenly the U.S. propaganda machine kicked into gear, producing the immediate consensus: Despite America’s war-weariness, despite the mass opposition to more “boots on the ground” in Iraq, this threat (to all the good “we” achieved during the long occupation) is so dire that—at least—air strikes against the jihadis are needed.

Polls have shown sudden widespread support. They even show, ominously, substantial backing for ground troops. A recent Fox News poll shows a majority of respondents favoring the dispatch of U.S. troops against ISIL. A definite cause for dread. If you have a brain to think and a heart to feel, your stomach should be churning—both in response to the savagery of ISIL, which would not exist had the U.S. not created the preconditions for it, and to the ramifications of U.S. actions now.

The CIA has concluded that Obama’s announcement of his intention to bomb ISIL sites in Syria, even before they began, caused a spike in jihadienlistments.

Isn’t it obvious that when the “elected representatives of the American people” always, unanimously, support Israel whenever it attacks Arabs; when U.S. military officials order the torture and sexual humiliation of Muslims, gleefully capturing it all on tape; when the U.S. wantonly destroys Muslim states with no thought of the aftermath, there will be repercussions?

Is it not obvious—such is the ocean of hatred of the U.S. government in the Arab and Muslim worlds, and such is the absolute lack of U.S. moral authority or credibility in the minds of Muslims globally—that any time the U.S. attacks Muslim targets, whomever is attacked will attract support?

Isn’t this as obvious as the physical law that spraying gasoline on fire will make the fire grow? And maybe burn you up?

Since the U.S. bombing of Syria began ISIL has occupied over 300 Syrian Kurdish villages near the Turkish border. They’ve hoisted their black flag over the border town of Kobani and U.S. military analysts concede that the town will be taken. These analysts are quietly noting that bombing is never going to truly reverse or prevent ISIL’s territorial expansion. The top U.S. military officials are saying, yes, boots are needed on the ground—implying that they could be, in addition to those of the (remarkably unreliable, especially giving their expensive U.S.-supplied training) Iraqi Army, Kurdish peshmerga, and Shiite militias, forces from other Arab countries. The Turkish parliament has voted to approve military action against ISIL in Syria, and the Turkish prime minister has indicated Turkey will put boots on the ground if other nations do. John Kerry has even told the UN that Iran might have a role to play.

One problem is, Baghdad strongly rejects boots from Sunni-led countries like Saudi Arabia on its ground, just as it rejects a return of U.S. forces. The U.S.—never, ever capable of grasping the depth of the Sunni-Shia divide or even able to apply the necessary respect to study it—wants to cobble together a grandiose “coalition” and, in pronouncing each new enumeration of its members, boast of how it has global backing and remains the leader of the world. (Have you noticed that the imperialists have revived that quaintly anachronistic Cold World term, “the Free World”?) But in so doing, it boasts of deploying Sunni Muslim forces (at least in aerial bombing campaigns) against Sunni ISIL while sidelining Shiite Iran and endlessly repeating its hostility to Alawite-led Syria.

Another problem is that Turkey, a NATO member, which if attacked (or if it declares it’s been attacked) can demand that all other NATO nations come to its aid. Ankara openly seeks the downfall of the government of Bashar Assad in Syria, and also hates the Syrian Kurds who are aligned with Turkey’s PKK and the (increasingly independent and assertive) Iraqi Kurds as well . If Turkey were to invade Syria, it would not be to merely confront ISIL but to destroy multiple foes at odds with the jihadis. Imagine Obama invoking the NATO charter to assist Turkey and occupy Syria following some Tonkin Gulf-type moment.

In a nutshell: the United States—having caused a Sunni-Shiite civil war in Iraq by destroying the secular Baathist regime and its institutions in 2003;  having produced the conditions that allowed al-Qaeda (in the form of al-Zarqawi’s initial group that has morphed into ISIL) to root itself in Iraq, then Syria; having backed (as its best bet) the government headed by al-Maliki that gradually alienated the Sunnis of Iraq; and having, through its savagery, racism, disrespect, ignorance, arrogance, and incompetence, made itself entirely unwelcome among the peoples of the region—cannot accomplish anything good in the Middle East.

Citizens and residents in this declining imperialist country—those paying attention, not just innocently imbibing the Big Lies imagining we live in a free country with a free press—should feel dread about what’s to come. Having announced that the U.S. will “degrade and destroy ISIL” (without any clue about how to actually do that, having ruled out coordination with Syria and Iran, and having earned the hatred of the Iraqi Shiite militias)  the U.S. seems doomed to either putting its own boots on the ground, enraging everyone in the region, or  relying on proxies whom the Iraqi Shiites will reject.

In the weeks after 9/11, witnessing the coordinated campaign of the media oligarchy  (Time-Warner, Viacom, Disney, GE, News Corp., CBS)  that controls what most of us see and read, I felt truly frightened. Not about nukes over New York City (although I did have some vivid dreams about such stuff). But about the onset of fascism in this country. The constant syrupy patriotic music playing on the heart-strings on cable TV, the omnipresence of the U.S. flag, the sudden ambiance of those insane terror-warning colored level warnings deliberately promoting the sort of paranoia prescribed by Nazi specialists on mass mind-control. The emergence of new fascist-sounding institutions and bizarre popularization of unfamiliar terms (like “Homeland”), the stupidity of George W. Bush’s pronouncements (“axis of evil” etc.), Dick Cheney’s calm prediction of a “War on Terror” to last forever. The warnings to TV commentators that they could be fired for challenging the government line—and the actual firings. The Patriot Act and Congress’s bovine, universal endorsement of it, passed into law unread.

The clear indications that “my” government was manipulating powerful emotions of fear and hatred, and inventing, Nazi-like, pretexts for ongoing war. Yes. I felt frightened by the manifest, staggering power of the beast. And that was before Bush and his team began their sadistic destruction of Iraq and that enterprise was still in its planning stage.

My anxiety level has risen and fallen in the years since, and was, as I said, lowered by some events last fall. But it’s back up there now as I switch between cable channels noting the total merger of state power and the corporate media and total absence of moral clarity.

The egregious misrepresentation of events in Ukraine. The total lack of context of events in Iraq and Syria, and the gracious reception (as astute commentators) of those most responsible for the Iraq War based on lies. These are sickening things.

Those not feeling dread should feel it. My gut feeling is, if George W. Bush and his dad opened the gates of hell, Obama has blown the gates off entirely. By attacking the Islamic State—solely in alliance with the Muslim states whose governments are most regarded as U.S. lackeys—Obama has merely enhanced the crazies’ legitimacy.  Isn’t that obvious?

To save Baghdad from ISIL conquest—a feat that would outweigh the “fall” of Saigon in 1975 as a geopolitical humiliation for the U.S.—Obama is trying to cobble together a collection of Turks, Kurds, Sunni Arabs and Shiite Arabs all of whom have complex contradictions with one another and with the U.S.   He claims to have assembled a “coalition” of over 60 nations (mostly western) in the heroic anti-ISIL cause.

The majority in all categories (those providing air support and military equipment; those providing “humanitarian assistance”; and those providing other, basically political legitimacy and support) are NATO countries. 15 of the 21 in the first category are NATO members, plus Australia, while 6 are members of the Arab League. Aside from Iraq (whose fractious elite opposes any foreign troops on the ground) and Lebanon (in which Hizbollah is a leading political-military force and which is only “participating” by receiving arms to defend itself from ISIL) all these Arab countries are repressive monarchies that promote Sunni Islam and have very bad relations with the Shiites of Iraq and Iran.

The ISIL thugs can argue—not so inaccurately—that the force the U.S. has organized against them is a force of Christian Crusaders and their corrupt not-really-Muslim allies (including the hated NATO member Turkey), in a war to thwart the progress of the Caliphate versus the Alawite heretics in Syria and the Shiite idolaters of Iraq and Iran. And they can also note that by excluding Syria’s Assad and the Iranian regime—who have actually fought ISIL on the battlefield, winning some victories—-the stupid infidels are miscalculating again, big time.

The “coalition” is not going to defeat ISIS any more than the earlier (now dissipated) “coalitions” defeated the Taliban in Afghanistan or the Sunni “insurgents” in Iraq.  Its intervention is going to exacerbate the misery of Syria, Iraq and the whole region and maybe trigger a real world war.

I have a modest proposal, to those dreading the likely results of more war against the generated by recent U.S. imperialist wars—the crucifiers of children, beheaders of Shiites, destroyers of priceless monuments. To those dreading the prospect that the failure of air strikes will inevitably entail the dispatch of U.S. and allied ground troops in what former CIA chief Leon Panetta recently predicted would be another Thirty Years War.

How about an anti-imperialist revolution in this country instead?

Seriously. How about, by toppling those responsible for the total destabilization of the Middle East, we send a message to the peoples of the region that we don’t want to dominate you anymore (not that the ordinary person here ever did)?

How about—-after the necessary revolution here—we say to those confronting the religious crazies, craving secularism and democracy:

You have our political and moral support, and we now can (now having toppled the 1% who have insanely determined U.S. policy forever), finally talk about aiding you (as internationalist brothers and sisters—not the corporate scum, war profiteers, uniformed torturers, trigger-happy bombers, Israel lackeys, and deceitful warmongering liars whom have earned your rightful hatred in the past) to make your own revolutions.

Just a dream, maybe. But how else to end the dread?

Posted in Middle East, USA0 Comments

Has Obama Changed His Mind About Syria?

NOVANEWS
“Don’t Do Stupid Shit”
by MIKE WHITNEY

The ISIS siege of Kobane continued overnight while cities across Turkey were set ablaze by Kurdish protestors. At least 19 civilians were killed by Turkish riot police who were trying to disperse angry crowds that had gathered to protest the government’s unwillingness to defend the predominantly Kurdish city.  According to Hurriyet, “The worst violence was seen in Diyarbakır during a reported gunfight between the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) supporters and Hizbullah, a radical Islamist group whose members are mostly Kurdish and who allegedly aided the state in the torture and killing of Kurdish activists in the 1990s.” (Hurriyet)

Although the Turkish Parliament approved a measure to allow the government to carry out cross-border  attacks on ISIS,  President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has not yet ordered its tanks and troops into battle. Erdogan has been dragging his feet so that ISIS will prevail over Kobane’s Kurdish fighters thus ending their struggle for autonomy and independence.  This is why the reaction among Turkish Kurds has been so ferocious; it’s because Erdogan is using the Sunni radicals as a proxy army to batter the Kurds into submission. A scathing op-ed in last night’s Hurriyet summarized Erdogan’s tacit support for ISIS like this:

“Naturally, one has to ask who fathered, breastfed and nourished these Islamist terrorists in hopes and aspirations of creating a Sunni Muslim Brotherhood Khalifat state? Even when Kobane and many Turkish cities were on fire, did not the Turkish prime minister talk in his interview with CNN about his readiness to order land troops into the Syrian quagmire if Washington agreed to also target al-Assad?

This is a dirty game….” (Editorial, Kobane and Turkey are Burning, Hurriyet Daily News)

This is true, Turkey has “fathered, breastfed and nourished” Sunni extremism which is what makes the country a particularly untrustworthy ally in a war intended to defeat ISIS. According to author Nafeez Ahmed:

“With their command and control centre based in Istanbul, Turkey, military supplies from Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular were transported by Turkish intelligence to the border for rebel acquisition. CIA operatives along with Israeli and Jordanian commandos were also training FSA rebels on the Jordanian-Syrian border with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. In addition, other reports show that British and French military were also involved in these secret training programmes. It appears that the same FSA rebels receiving this elite training went straight into ISIS – last month one ISIS commander, Abu Yusaf, said, “Many of the FSA people who the west has trained are actually joining us.”

(“How the West Created the Islamic State“, Nafeez Ahmed, CounterPunch

Then there’s this from Tuesday’s USA Today:

“Militants have funneled weapons and fighters through Turkey into Syria. The Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, have networks in Turkey….

Turkish security and intelligence services may have ties to Islamic State militants. The group released 46 Turkish diplomats it had abducted the day before the United States launched airstrikes against it. Turkey, a NATO member, may have known the airstrikes were about to begin and pressured its contacts in the Islamic State to release its diplomats.

“This implies Turkey has more influence or stronger ties to ISIS than people would think,” Tanir said.”

(“5 reasons Turkey isn’t attacking Islamic State in Syria”, USA Today)

So while the connection between ISIS and Turkish Intelligence remains murky, it’s safe to say there is a connection which makes Turkey an unreliable partner in a prospective war against the same group. So why is Erdogan so eager to lead the charge into Syria?

It’s because Erdogan thinks he can use ISIS as cover for his real objective, which is seize Damascus, topple Assad and replace him with a Sunni stooge who will tilt in Ankara’s direction. This is from a post by Stratfor at Zero Hedge:

“This is why Turkey is placing conditions on its involvement in the battle against the Islamic State: It is trying to convince the United States and its Sunni Arab coalition partners that it will inevitably be the power administering this region. Therefore, according to Ankara, all players must conform to its priorities, beginning with replacing Syria’s Iran-backed Alawite government with a Sunni administration that will look first to Ankara for guidance.” (“Turkey, The Kurds And Iraq – The Prize & Peril Of Kirkuk”, zero hedge)

So this is why Turkey wants to spearhead the invasion into Syria, so it can expand its power in the region?

It appears so, but there’s more to it than just that. As is true with most conflicts in the Middle East, oil is also a major factor. The Turks expect to be big players in the regional energy market after Assad is removed and pipeline corridors are established from the giant South Pars/North Dome gas field off Qatar. The pipeline will run from Qatar, to Iraq, to Syria and on to Turkey, providing vital supplies for the voracious EU market. There are also plans for an Israel to Turkey pipeline accessing gas from the massive Leviathan gas field located off the coast of Gaza. Both of these projects will strengthen Turkey’s flagging economy as well as bolster its stature and influence in the region.

Naturally, the allure of wealth and power has been a decisive factor in shaping Ankara’s Syria policy. But there’s a good chance that Erdogan’s strategy will backfire and Turkey will get bogged down in a protracted conflict in which there are no clear winners and no easy way out.  In this respect, Erdogan follows a long line of equally aggressive leaders whose ambitions clouded their judgment precipitating their downfall. Only a fool would think that Syria will be a cakewalk.

Turkey has made it clear that it will not go-it-alone in Syria. According to CNN report on Thursday:

“Turkey’s foreign minister insisted Thursday that it is not “realistic” for the world to expect it alone to launch a ground operation against ISIS, even as a monitoring group said the extremists had seized a chunk of a key battleground town near its border.” (CNN)

Erdogan wants US support although, so far, he has not stipulated whether that means ground troops or not. He has said repeatedly, however, that bombing ISIS from the air won’t achieve their purpose. And even on that score, the US has been AWOL.   So far, the US has launched a mere six aerial attacks on ISIS positions on the outskirts of the city, not nearly enough to deter battle-hardened jihadis from pressing deeper into Kurdish territory. Could it be that Obama made a deal with Erdogan to allow Kobane to be overrun in exchange for concessions on the use of Turkish military bases that will be used to carry out attacks on Syria?

It could be, although there’s no way of knowing for sure. What’s clear is that Obama doesn’t really care what happens to the Kurds in Kobane or not. What matters to Obama is toppling Assad and replacing him with a US puppet. The death of innocent civilians at the hands of homicidal maniacs doesn’t even factor into Washington’s calculations. It’s just more grist for the mill. Now check out this excerpt from an article by Patrick Cockburn:

 ”The leader of the (Kurdish) PYD, Salih Muslim, is reported to have met officials from Turkish military intelligence to plead for aid but was told this would only be available if the Syrian Kurds abandoned their claim for self-determination, gave up their self-governing cantons, and agreed to a Turkish buffer zone inside Syria. Mr Muslim turned down the demands and returned to Kobani.” (ISIS on the Verge of Victory at Kobani”, Patrick Cockburn, Counterpunch)

Is this blackmail or what? Doesn’t this explain why Kurds are rioting and setting buildings ablaze across Turkey? How would you react, dear reader, if your people were told to either  ‘Give up your dreams of independence or face a violent death at the hands of religious fanatics’? Would you think that was an unreasonable demand?

Erdogan wants to defeat the Kurdish fighters in Kobane and put an end to Kurdish nationalism. And he doesn’t care how he does it.

Keep in mind,  that just this week, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in a CNN interview that the US must agree that Assad will be removed before Turkey will commit ground troops to the war against ISIS. To his credit, Obama has not yet agreed to Erdogan’s terms although pressure in Congress and the media is steadily building.  And this is just one of Erdogan’s many demands. He also wants the US to implement a no-fly zone over Syria and to create buffer zone along the Turkish border. In exchange, Turkey will provide boots on the ground and the use of its military bases. The US can expect to pay a heavy price for Turkey’s help in Syria.

OBAMA: “Don’t do stupid shit”

US policy towards Syria is not yet set in stone, in fact, the Obama administration appears to be in a state of turmoil. It could be that Obama’s chief advisors see the potential pitfalls of an invasion of Syria or of persisting with the same lame policy of arming, training and funding Islamic radicals. Or it could it be that the administration doesn’t want to team up with an unreliable ally like Turkey whose Intel agencies have helped create the present crisis? Or it could simply be that Obama has decided to follow his own advice and “Don’t do stupid shit”. Whatever the reason, the administration seems to be vacillating on the way forward.

One can only hope that Obama will grasp the inherent risks of the poring more gas on the Middle East, reject the orders of his deep state handlers, and seek a peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria. That, of course, would require cooperation with Syria’s allies, Russia and Iran, to settle on a way to defeat the jihadis, strengthen Syria’s sovereign control over its own territory, and restore peace across the country. No doubt Assad would be more than willing to make democratic concessions if he believed it would save his country from the destruction of a full-blown war.

Posted in Syria, USA0 Comments

Leader of the “war on terror” leads terrorism in the world

NOVANEWS

Although America, based on the supposition of many scholars of political science and international studies, cherishes the biggest claim all over the world against terrorism, the footprints of American spy services and their accomplices could be obviously detected in many terrorist attacks and acts of violence in the globe.

More often, the policy of fighting terrorism became part of the American State’s tasks after the Cold War or the solution of the problem of the bipolar world so that U.S. could replace Communism and its center, that is, the Soviet Union with an invisible terrorist; thus the U.S. could justify the development of military munitions and weaponry cartels and lead the whole world to this conclusion that “the United States should take the lead of the world as it has the first voice against terrorism and violence”. The benefits of such a claim are so clear that they need not be mentioned.

Although American politicians most shamelessly and frankly call America’s direct interferences in other countries and continents as “The US interests”, the following two questions have remained and will remain unanswered:

1. What “interests” can America reap in the other continents of the world, millions of miles away and among the other peoples’ national wealth?

2. Who are actually in charge of these clashes and terrorist acts that pave the way for the military interference of America and its European confederates?

There is, of course, no need to look for answers to these questions. Besides, it will not be difficult to understand why most of the wars, clashes, and military intrusions occur on strategic oil-rich regions. The issue of ISIS and other Takfiri groups of the world are of the same category. America and Saudi Arabia’s intelligence services have played the same game for about two and a half decade in the Middle East and now its flames have reached other continents, or better to say, wherever America’s interests lie.

Al-Qaeda terrorist group is a combination of Wahhabi and Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Their financial and intelligence support is sort of a deal between Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia, and Western States, America, in particular – such a deal that serves multiple objectives for the initiators of these groups. Spending on these groups helps changes desired by the supporting States be done. Meanwhile, increasing conflicts and terrorist acts makes it easier for military invasions followed by political interferences. The cases of Afghanistan and Iraq are good samples. Not only did the issue of terrorism, which was the main pretext of the war, remain unresolved after America and its coordinators’ invasion, but it also gave rise to a new problem in the area.

Nowadays, there is a global consensus over the terrorist nature of ISIS and as usual there exist indications and evidences on the relationships of Al-baghdadi, the head of the group, with Israel and US after his release from American jails. Now, one should see what advantages ISIS has had for the American State.

The Iraqi branch of Al-Qaeda, the same ISIL which has delinked itself from Al-Qaeda, could extend and justify America’s military stay in Iraq for another eight years through its terrorist acts in Iraq’s important cities in recent years. On the other hand, the presence of this group in Iraq has kept open the doors of violence and terror and the re-appearance of Americans and the other Westerners on Iraqi land for imposing political dictates and direct interference in Iraq’s internal politics. In recent years and after the acts of rebel groups in Syria against Bashar Asad’s government, this group has played a major role in the policy of eliminating Bashar from the political scenery, but all in vain. The last action seen to have been taken by this group has been occupying Mosul and parts of the northern provinces of Iraq after the coalition of the Law State led by Nouri Maleki won the election. This action has been important and of value for the supporters of ISIS on three bases:

1. Igniting tribal-religious clashes and putting in a mess Iraq’s important oil fields so that Maliki State was forced to seek help from foreign states especially America and this meant new intercessions. Concurrent to Maliki’s ask for help, there rose voices in America’s Congress against Maliki, seeking his elimination from Iraq’s political scene.

2. Increasing the possibility of the fall of Maliki State or Iraq’s present government and the West’s dominating key posts in Iraq through West-supported political agents.

3. Taking serious the possibility of dividing Iraq into three countries led by Kurds in the north, Sunnis in the center, and Shiites in the south.

Some other indirect objectives could, of course, be detected to have been followed by ISIS, representing the West in Iraq, such as convincing Afghanistan State to sign the security pact with America after having seen Iraq’s disarray and breaking the line of struggle in the region and thereby helping the fall of Syria State and Hamas Struggle.

In general, the presence of a terrorist group anywhere in the globe gives its supporters the opportunity for planning, applying policies, and innovating alternative plans and replacement for the failed plans. For instance, the U.S. government has spent more than $2 trillion in Iraq war but eventually the policy of empowering the America-sponsored government in Iraq failed due to the general discord on the dominance of America over Iraqi State. At this stage, the presence of Al-Qaeda, bearing the local name of Islamic State of Iraq, could be used as a means for applying America’s later plans for the fall of the present government and the rise of the next one.

Now, one can find an answer to this question more easily: what is the reason for the survival of groups like MEK under the protection of America and Europe? What do alternate supports and condemnations of this group mean?

Posted in USAComments Off

100 Gazan Youths Arrive in Venezuela to Start Medical School

NOVANEWS
President Nicolas Maduro said the program is Venezuela

President Nicolas Maduro said the program is Venezuela’s contribution to the people of Palestine (Photo: Reuters).
All of their medical expenses will be paid, on the condition that they provide services to their community after graduation.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced that the country will welcome 100 youths from the Gaza Strip over the next few days to begin medical training, media reported on Thursday.

“I want to announce that in the next few days the first group of 100 students from the Gaza Strip will reach our country. Up to 1,000 medical students from Palestine will join us this academic year,” Maduro said during an official event in Caracas on Wednesday.

The students will attend the Venezuela’s Dr. Salvador Allende Latin American School of Medicine, where 40 Palestinians have already been studying.

The Palestinian students will have all their costs paid, on the condition that they provide services to their community after completing their training, the Palestinian Ambassador to Venezuela Linda Sabeh Ali said in August.

The President has been a strong supporter of Palestine, particularly since the war in the Gaza Strip this summer, what Israel called Operation Protective Edge. Maduro is an outspoken critic of Israel, and called the conflict an “extermination war.”

Maduro also announced in July that Venezuela would create a shelter for Palestinian children who had been orphaned due to the violence, and encouraged Venezuelans to adopt them.

Venezuela and Palestine also have strong bilateral agreements in the fields of politics, agriculture, trade, economics, health, tourism and education, according to EFE.

Posted in Gaza, Venezuela0 Comments

Our Judicial Dictatorship

NOVANEWS

US-and-Israel-Flag-Lapel-Pin-US-Israel-Pin

By Patrick J. Buchanan
Do the states have the right to outlaw same-sex marriage?
Not long ago the question would have been seen as absurd. For every state regarded homosexual acts as crimes.
Moreover, the laws prohibiting same-sex marriage had all been enacted democratically, by statewide referenda, like Proposition 8 in California, or by Congress or elected state legislatures.
But today rogue judges and justices, appointed for life, answerable to no one, instruct a once-democratic republic on what laws we may and may not enact.
Last week, the Supreme Court refused to stop federal judges from overturning laws banning same-sex marriage. We are now told to expect the Supreme Court itself to discover in the Constitution a right of men to marry men and of women to marry women.
How, in little more than half a century, did the American people fall under the rule of a judicial dictatorship where judges and justices twist phrases in the Constitution to impose their alien ideology on this once-free people?
What brings the issue up is both the Court decision on same-sex marriage, and the death of my friend, Professor William J. Quirk, of the South Carolina University School of Law.
In “Judicial Dictatorship” (1995), Bill wrote of the revolution that had been imposed against the will of the majority, and of how Congress and the people might rout that revolution.
The instrument of revolution is judicial review, the doctrine that makes the Supreme Court the final arbiter, the decider, of what the Constitution says, and cedes to the Court limitless power to overturn laws enacted by the elective branches of government.
Jefferson said that to cede such authority to the Supreme Court “would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.” Was he not right?
Consider what has transpired in our lifetime.
The Supreme Court has ordered the de-Christianization of all public institutions in what was a predominantly Christian country. Christian holy days, holidays, Bibles, books, prayers and invocations were all declared to be impermissible in public schools and the public square.
Secular humanism became, through Supreme Court edict, our established religion in the United States.
And the American people took it.
Why was there not massive civil disobedience against this anti-Christian discrimination, as there was against segregation? Why did Congress, which has the power to abolish every federal district and appellate court and to restrict the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, not act?
Each branch of government, wrote Jefferson, is “independent of the others and has an equal right to decide for itself what is the meaning of the Constitution in the cases submitted to its action.”
“No branch has the absolute or final power to control the others, especially an unelected judiciary,” added Quirk.
In 1954, the Supreme Court ordered the desegregation of all public schools.
But when the Court began to dictate the racial balance of public schools, and order the forced busing of children based on race across cities and county lines to bring it about, a rebellion arose.
Only when resistance became national and a violent reaction began did our black-robed radicals back down.
Yet the Supreme Court was not deterred in its resolve to remake America. In 1973, the Court discovered the right to an abortion in the Ninth Amendment. Then it found, also hidden in the Constitution, the right to engage in homosexual sodomy.
When Congress enacted the Defense of Marriage Act, Bill Quirk urged it to utilize Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution, and write in a provision stripping the Supreme Court of any right to review the act.
Congress declined, and the Court, predictably, dumped over DOMA.
Republican presidents have also sought to curb the Supreme Court’s aggressions through the appointment process. And largely failed.
Of four justices elevated by Nixon, three voted for Roe. Ford’s nominee John Paul Stevens turned left. Two of Reagan’s, Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy, went wobbly. Bush I’s David Souter was soon caucusing with the liberals.
Today, there are four constitutionalists on the Court. If the GOP loses the White House in 2016, then the Court is gone, perhaps forever.
Yet, the deeper problem lies in congressional cowardice in refusing to use its constitutional power to rein in the Court.
Ultimately, the failure is one of conservatism itself.
Indeed, with neoconservatives in the van, the GOP hierarchy is today in headlong retreat on same-sex marriage. Its performance calls to mind the insight of that unreconstructed Confederate chaplain to Stonewall Jackson, Robert Lewis Dabney, on the failure of conservatives to halt the march of the egalitarians:
“American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. … Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious, for the sake of the truth, and has no idea of being guilty of the folly of martyrdom.”
Amen.
 

Posted in USA0 Comments

Amid Promises to End Afghanistan War, US Bombings Hit Two-Year High

NOVANEWS

Central Command reveals US military carried out 436 air strikes on the country during August alone

A U.S. Army helicopter taking off from Forward Operating Base Shindand, Afghanistan, Oct. 3, 2012. (Photo: DoD/public domain)

A U.S. Army helicopter taking off from Forward Operating Base Shindand, Afghanistan, Oct. 3, 2012. (Photo: DoD/public domain)

Just months away from what President Obama refers to as the “end of the U.S. combat mission” in Afghanistan, the U.S. military escalated its air bombardments on the country.

In response to an information request from the Boston Globe, Central Command revealed that during the month of August, the U.S. carried out 436 “weapons releases” on Afghanistan, referring to air strikes. This is the highest number of air strikes on Afghanistan since August 2012, according to U.S. Central Command’s own data, pictured in the graph below.

central_command_data.jpg

Military officials are still working to compile data for the month of September, officials told the paper.

The data was released just over a week after Afghanistan’s new president, Ashraf Ghani,approved the U.S. Bilateral Security Agreement, which locks in at least another decade of U.S. military presence in the country, far past the formal “end” to the war at the conclusion of this year. The heightened bombings, furthermore, were revealed the same week the longest war entered its 14th year.

Posted in Afghanistan, USA0 Comments

The Fourth Estate in Flames: On the US Media’s Award-Winning War Propaganda

NOVANEWS

Like these cars in the Syrian city of Damascus, the mainstream coverage of the new U.S. military campaign in Iraq and Syria is in flames. (Photo: Syrian News Agency)

A war-weary American public that a year ago resoundingly rejected US military intervention in Syria to overthrow the Assad regime now is rallying behind the use of force to destroy the so-called Islamic State (ISIS). In just three months, from June to September, support for US airstrikes in Iraq soaredfrom 45% percent to 71%, andto 65% for airstrikes in Syria.

How did such an astounding turnabout occur? Certainly it wasn’t due to the persuasive powers of President Obama, who seems to have been reluctantly dragged into a conflict that he once acknowledged has no military solution.

The credit for selling Obama’s war on ISIS must go to the mainstream American media.

Day after day, night after night, the press relied on propaganda from both ISIS and the US government to whip up fear and a thirst for revenge in the American public. Gruesomebeheading videos distributed by Isis were played over and over. The media not only regurgitated official US messages but packaged them better than the government itself ever could.

And then, as if Isis wasn’t enough to whip up public fear itself, the Khorasan Groupsuddenly appeared as the US media compliantly latched onto the new script leaked by anonymous officials, just a few days before Syrian air strikes were set to begin. Khorasan, they told the public on the administration’s behalf, is a group of hardened terrorists more dangerous than Isis because it plans to attack commercial planes using flammable clothing or exploding toothpaste.

The imminent Khorasan attack justified the ensuing U.S. bombing. However, it was later reported that Khorasan – if it even exists – isjust a handful of militants whose plans were not so imminent. Few media bothered to follow up on that aspect of the story.

Why has the media pushed the Obama administration’s war frame instead of playing the role of skeptic by questioning official assertions, insisting for corroboration on “anonymous leaks” and seeking alternative points of view? After years of government lies – from claims of WMDs in Iraq to zero civilian casualties in drone strikes – you’d think the members of the fourth estate would have learned a lesson.

But the mainstream US media plays the role of government lapdog more than watchdog.

They sensationalized the supposed threat from ISIS even as intelligence agencies insisted that the group poses no immediate threat to the United States. A chorus of fearmongers, Republicans and Democrats alike, appeared on TV to insist that the American way of life is at stake. The hysterical Senator Lindsey Graham claimed that ISIS is out to murder each and every one of us. Senator Bill Nelson advocated cutting off the “head of the snake” before ISIS could fly its black flag over the White House. Former CIA and Pentagon chiefLeon Panetta warned Americans to brace for a 30-year crusade. The media even trotted out “experts” on war – or at least war-mongering – like John McCainDick Cheney and even former presidential envoy to Iraq, Paul Bremer.

Obsessed with maintaining access to power, the mainstream media just keeps handing their megaphone to the powerful and self-interested. Rarely do we hear from people who opposed the disastrous 2003 invasion of Iraq or rightly predicted thechaos that would result from NATO intervention in Libya. The few anti-war voices who manageto slip into the dialogue are marginalized and later silenced.

Let’s face it: fear sells, violence sells, war sells. The vicious ISIS beheadings, discussed ad infinitum, attracted large audiences. So did talk about exploding toothpaste. People whipped into a state of fear always want to know more.

Sadly, the public is not getting what it deserves: a well-rounded debate about the pros and cons of military action. Why has a decade of support for the Iraqi army and years of covert CIA support for the Syrian opposition been so fruitless? How much might this intervention cost? (So far, the bill has been more than $1bn.) How will Middle East monarchies that funded extremists suddenly become exemplars of democratic values? What is the endgame in Syria? Will Bashar Assad still be in power? What are the unintended consequences of expanding American military action in the Middle East? (The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the US bombings already have attracted 6,000 more recruits to Isis.) And most important of all: what are the alternatives to stop the slaughter of innocent civilians? The voices of people proposing political solutions other than slaughter are the voices the public deserves to hear.

Wars usually start with overwhelming public approval once the White House and the national security apparatus get the media to beat the war drums. It’s only after peopletire of war that the media really begin to seek answers to questions that should have been asked before the bombs were launched.

But instead, once again, the US government and the US media establishment is embracing a military policy of airstrikes to strengthen local capacity despite a regional landscape – from Yemen to Libya – littered with the wreckage of this approach. Smoldering in the detritus of war is also the fourth estate.

Posted in USA0 Comments

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