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5 Most Popular Recent Articles

A fraudulent “coalition of resistance” in Britain PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ann Talbot   
Saturday, 14 August 2010 00:00

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Tony BennVeteran British Labourite Tony Benn has launched a call for “a broad movement of active resistance” to the UK Conservative/Liberal-Democrat coalition government’s austerity measures.

He announced his “coalition of resistance” in the Guardian’s “Comment is Free” section on August 4. His call was backed by 73 signatories: just two Labour MPs, John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn, the solitary Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, a handful of trade union leaders, including Mark Serwotka of the PCS civil service union and Bob Crow of the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, as well as prominent figures from the media, such as Ken Loach, and academics and campaigners who have the reputation of being “on the left”. A variety of pseudo-left groups then endorsed his call and began campaigning on his behalf.

Benn’s campaign is fraudulent and should be rejected as a diversion by everyone genuinely seeking to oppose the savage cuts to the welfare state and public sector jobs. Benn revealed its bogus nature when he compared the movement he has in mind to that organised by the Greek trade unions.

The Greek unions have called a series of 24-hour stoppages that have not halted the government’s programme of austerity measures, but which were expressly designed to let off steam without threatening the PASOK government’s ability to impose the cuts demanded by the global markets. When the Greek truck drivers went on strike threatening to bring the economy to a standstill, the government responded by conscripting the drivers and bringing in the army to smash the strike. The response of their union, which had been trying to cut a deal with the government all along, was to capitulate. The presence of the army on the streets in a country that was living under a military junta from 1967 to 1974 is a stark warning of how sharp class antagonisms have become. European governments are attempting to dismantle welfare states that were built up in the post-war period. Such a wholesale destruction of social conditions demands a decisive shift in class relations and cannot be carried out within the framework of parliamentary democracy.

‘The Great Game’ PDF Print E-mail
Written by William Bowles • 31 December 2004   
Friday, 13 August 2010 16:02

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Book Review: A Century of War – Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order by William Engdahl

A Century of WarMany years ago I read the autobiography of R Buckminster Fuller (one of my heroes whilst at art school), who before becoming a visionary architect/engineer/designer and philosopher trained as a naval architect, a profession he later credited with equipping him with his holistic vision of the world. Not surprisingly therefore, Fuller had an abiding interest in the Royal Navy’s strategic role in maintaining the British Empire. Fuller referred to the fact that in the closing decades of the 19th century the British and US governments made a pact, a pact that saw an alliance between the imperial Royal Navy’s unassailable (at that time) control of the world’s trade coupled to the rising industrial and financial might of the US, an alliance that would rule the planet for the next century. And this was no megalomaniac vision but a reality built upon centuries of colonial rule and the wealth looted literally from one quarter of the planet. Those guys had a plan. Making it all possible of course, was the Royal Navy and its fleet of planet-spanning ‘ships of the line’, the mightiest navy the world had ever seen, with which it was able to protect its trade routes, engage in its euphemistically named ‘gunboat diplomacy’ in order to keep the ‘natives’ in line and to make sure that its imperialist competitors didn’t steal a reach on its ill-gotten gains.

But by the 1870s the Empire had reached its high point and England began the longest economic depression in its history, one that it was not to recover from until the 1890s. And in the meantime its European competitors, chiefly Germany, now outstripping Britain in industrial production and technological innovation, by the 1890s also had a navy to rival that of Britain’s. And it is here, at the shooting end of the British Empire that we see the role of oil take centre stage when the advantages of oil-fired turbines revolutionised naval warfare (this in spite of the Navy’s rejection of the idea some years earlier), extending the reach and speed of its biggest battleships.

This is the point at which Engdahl’s story effectively begins by examining the economic competition between England and Germany largely over Germany’s expansion East toward Turkey and South into Africa. East where the oil was (then in Iran) and South to the riches of Africa and onwards…dangerously close to the ‘jewel’ in the empire’s crown, India.

Last Updated on Friday, 13 August 2010 19:55
A Clash of Fundamentalisms PDF Print E-mail
Written by Richard Greeman   
Friday, 13 August 2010 14:43

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pro-death culture In our previous articles we emphasized the ideological nature of today’s problematic Islamic ‘threat’. (See ‘Islam in the Western Imagination’ and ‘Urgent Threats of Yesteryear’.) Historically this ‘threat’ fits into an established tradition of hysterical propaganda campaigns – whether against ‘Indians’, ‘Negroes’ or ‘Reds’ -- which distort and exaggerate real and potential challenges to U.S. capitalism / imperialism so as to justify violence, state terror and wars of plunder.

If the truth is ‘the first casualty’ in war then democracy is the second. Although framed by the U.S. in terms of defending (or spreading) ‘democracy’, today’s East-West conflict turns out to be not so much a Clash of Civilizations as an ideological Clash of Fundamentalisms. While hyping the threat of ‘Islamic Fundamentalism’, U.S. media and politicians conveniently fail to point out that their own outlook is based on the same kind of reactionary hard-shell fundamentalism as ‘Political Islamism’. Let’s call it ‘Political Christianism’. The Christian right in the U.S. aspires to the same kind of theocratic domination over government and peoples’ private lives as the Ayatollahs. Its members speak with the same hysterical absolutist certainty, believe the ends justify the means, and are willing resort to violent means – like murdering abortion-providers and bombing women's health centers. Both fundamentalisms offer identity and community to the disaffected masses while silencing opposition and bullying the hesitant through fear. The Zionists and the Jewish Religious Right are equally ruthless, and recently the U.S. Christian right has overcome its traditional anti-Semitism to form a reactionary pro-Israel, pro-U.S. alliance with right-wing, pro-Zionist Jewish organizations and leaders like the notoriously Jewish Senator Lieberman – much to the dismay of the vast majority of liberal, secular U.S. Jews.

Youth services slashed in South Yorkshire PDF Print E-mail
Written by Joe Mount   
Thursday, 12 August 2010 23:10

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Sheffield City Council in South Yorkshire, England, last month announced £6.5 million in budget cuts, half of which will fall on young people’s services. Council workers face pay freezes, more unpaid holidays and less redundancy pay. This is just a prelude to £219 million in cuts planned for the next four years by the Liberal Democrat-controlled town hall.

Labour councillors offered no opposition, while the Green Party only suggested some slight rearrangements so the cuts fall on different services.

Sheffield Futures, a charity that provides youth workers and runs the Connexions careers service, has had its council funding cut by £1.5 million, a quarter of its budget. Ninety-five of its 368 staff in Sheffield will lose their jobs, following a loss of 60 jobs in 2004, and pay will be lowered. It is also unclear whether the service’s contract will be renewed next March.

Last Updated on Friday, 13 August 2010 03:11
Canada’s Liberals press for extension of Afghan occupation PDF Print E-mail
Written by Vic Neufeld   
Wednesday, 11 August 2010 00:00

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Bob Rae, the Liberal Party foreign affairs critic and former New Democratic Party (NDP) premier of Ontario, penned an op-ed column in the Toronto Star last week that argued for Canada to continue to play a major role in propping up Afghanistan’s corrupt US-installed government. In particular Rae insisted upon the importance of Canada—that is, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF)—providing military training to Afghan forces when the current CAF mission in the southern province of Kandahar comes to an end in December 2011.

Canada has deployed almost 3,000 troops, backed by fighter planes and Leopard tanks, to support the US-NATO occupation of Afghanistan.

Titled “Why Afghanistan is not Vietnam,” Rae’s column argues that the West and Canada have a fundamental strategic interest in subjugating the impoverished Central Asian country and that Canada must resist, therefore, mounting calls to “abandon ship.” “The Taliban,” says Rae, “joke that ‘you have the watches but we have the time’. They are betting on a speedy departure. If the rush to the exits takes hold as the new prevailing orthodoxy, it will mean that extremism has won an important victory.”

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 August 2010 22:46
Afghanistan war logs leak gets hostile US reaction PDF Print E-mail
Written by Richard Adams   
Monday, 02 August 2010 01:11

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While some senior US figures have praised the publication of secret US military files detailing the progress of the war in Afghanistan, other Democrats and Republicans have united to condemn the Wikileaks cache in suprisingly strong terms.

Ross Baker, a professor in politics at Rutgers university and a former staff member for Republican and Democratic members of Congress, was cutting in his denunciation, on the Politico website: "This information is giving aid and comfort to the enemy and begins to look like WikiTreason."

The Republican leadership in Congress is keeping its head down and has avoided public comment – a sensible move, given that the leaks largely come from the Bush administration era and that the party remains committed to the US mission in Afghanistan.

U.S. Government Acknowledges Secretive Prisons for “Domestic Terrorists,” Proposes Making Them Permanent PDF Print E-mail
Written by Will Potter   
Sunday, 01 August 2010 23:28

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bureau of prisons cmu noticeSecretive political prisons for “domestic terrorists” called Communications Management Units have been operating for more than three years on U.S. soil. Last week the federal Bureau of Prisons quietly submitted a proposal to make the experimental units permanent: a process that, by law, should have occurred before they were ever opened.

As a quick introduction, there are two Communications Management Units, or CMUs, in the country. They radically restrict prisoner communications with the outside world to levels that rival, or exceed, the most restrictive facilities in the country, including the “Supermax,” ADX-Florence. [For more information on CMUs and who is housed there: "Secretive U.S. Prison Units Used to House Muslim, Animal Rights and Environmental Activists."]

On April 6, the Bureau of Prisons submitted a proposed rule (Docket No. 1148-P), listed in the federal register. Under the Administrative Procedures Act, there is now a required public comment period for responses to this proposal.

The public notice comes after the Center for Constitutional Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union each filed lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the secretive facilities, where political prisoners have been transferred without notification, without explanation, and without opportunity for appeal. [See "5 Things You Should Know About America’s 'Little Guantanamo.'"]

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