The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Issue no. 707 — July 28 - August 11, 2003

Editorial:
Medicare:
An attack is not a reform

Jul 28, 2003

Congress is preparing to "reform" Medicare by adding drug coverage, which most ordinary people can't afford to buy these days. This reform is nothing but a Trojan horse, an attack in disguise.

The premiums for added drug coverage will be very expensive, while the deductibles and co-payments will be very high. Few people will come out ahead. But worse – hidden behind the drug plan are all kinds of tricks to divert seniors out of Medicare into private insurance plans.

Washington claims that opening up Medicare to supposed "competition" from the private sector will make health coverage more efficient. What a lie! It's the private sector that has boosted health costs, while slashing health coverage.

After Medicare will come Social Security, and there is already a move afoot in Washington to turn Social Security funds over to the big financial companies that practically destroyed people's 401(k) and other private pension plans. Washington wants to "privatize" everything – that is, turn it over to big business so profit can be made at our expense.

The big social programs, like Medicare and Social Security, which are now being cut and dismantled, were won in massive social movements, especially in the 1930s and 1960s. But since the mid-1970s, when the last embers of the social movements of that period were extinguished, the politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, have slashed away at these gains. Under Carter, unemployment insurance was slashed. Under Reagan, everything from Social Security, welfare and food stamps went under the knife. This continued under Papa Bush, when the "education president" cut spending in education. Clinton was responsible for big cuts, including doing away with "welfare as we know it." And all the time, we heard the same refrain, that there was a budget deficit, that we could no longer afford these things. In fact, the money cut from social spending was pocketed by the capitalists.

Of course, the politicians were able to get away with these attacks because there was no social movement that rose up to oppose them. The labor unions, the only big organizations left in the working class that might have led a mobilization to resist the attacks and throw them back, had long ago become the junior partners of the corporate honchos and politicians, especially in the Democratic Party. Even when they raised a timid voice in protest to this or that cut, they still accepted the reasoning that working people had to make more sacrifices.

The politicians will continue to get away with attacking us so long as we stay quiet. None of us are content with this situation. The unions won't lead a fight, we have to do it ourselves. We have to draw a line, refuse to go along with it any longer. We have to start where we are, with the co-workers we know. And we have to count on the fact that elsewhere others will do the same thing.

They have every reason to resist these cuts. We all do.

Pages 2-3

Profits go on - care doesn't

Jul 28, 2003

The Detroit Medical Center, DMC, claimed it lost 360 million dollars over the last five years. They said they would have to close their hospital in downtown Detroit, unless they got some help.

In a matter of weeks, they were able to announce a bailout. A deal with state, county and city officials will give DMC 50 million dollars over the next 10 months and – so they said – save 1000 jobs – for the time being.

DMC blames its huge losses on caring for people who aren't insured and can't pay for the medical care they need.

Now, it's true enough that DMC cares for a very large number of impoverished people – especially now that Detroit's public hospitals are all closed! People have to go somewhere.

But that's only part of the story. Over those years of "losing money," a lot of players made sure they got a lot of money out of the DMC. All took as much profit as they could carry away – drug companies, insurance companies, medical supply companies, banks, construction companies and any other business interests that found a way to get in on the action.

Medical care in this society is just one more casino where the poor place their bets and the house rakes it in. Now the city, state and county have ante-upped and put more cash into the pot. But what has changed? A few different faces at the top, perhaps. Perhaps a profit shuffle among the various companies and interests concerned.

But the same problems that drove the recent crisis are still at work preparing the ground for the next crisis, and the next. No matter how often they change dealers, the game remains the same: profits are taken out first, before any actual medical care begins.

California governor faces recall vote

Jul 28, 2003

A petition calling for a recall of California Gov. Gray Davis has gathered 1.1 million signatures, well above the number required by state law. The recall election, the first ever in California and the first in any state in the union since 1921, is scheduled for October 7.

The signature drive against Davis was started by a few activists in February, only three months after Davis's reelection for a second term. The activists, no doubt, tapped a widespread sentiment among Californians. And for good reason: working people in California are facing a massive attack. Under the pretext of a budget deficit, the state government has been cutting funding from schools and welfare programs, closing hospitals, and increasing taxes, including a tripling of the car registration fee – and all this at a time when big companies are laying off tens thousands of workers and trying to force concessions on the rest.

Once the petition drive was underway, Republican politicians jumped on the bandwagon. Leading the pack is Darrell Issa, a Congressman and multimillionaire businessman who made his fortune selling car alarm systems. Issa, who spent 1.7 million dollars to finance the recall campaign, is the only Republican who has officially announced his candidacy to replace Davis so far. But others are getting ready to enter the race. The Republicans accuse Davis, who is a Democrat, of ruining the state's finances and lying to voters about the extent of the budget shortfall.

Are these accusations against Davis justified? Absolutely! The record budget deficit is to a large extent a result of the subsidies and tax breaks the state continued to give to big corporations under Davis's governorship. The most striking of these handouts occurred in 2000, under the pretext of the phony "electricity crisis." Davis funneled billions of dollars into the coffers of Enron and other electricity traders, then signed long-term contracts with these companies at far above market rates, making sure that the ripoff of California taxpayers continues for years to come.

Of course, this is not what the Republicans mean when they accuse David of "ruining" the state. In fact, they voted with Davis and the Democrats to give handouts to the corporations and to cut social programs. And the two parties just agreed on the new California budget, which contains even deeper welfare and health care cuts than originally proposed by Davis.

Both of these parties are big, corrupt electoral machines that have always served the interests of big business and will continue to do so. Replacing one lackey of the big bosses with another will not change anything. What can is the mobilization of working people to defend our interests against the bosses' endless attacks.

New report into failure to stop 9/11:
How can a terrorist stop terrorism?

Jul 28, 2003

A joint Congressional panel released a report that supposedly scathingly criticizes the FBI and CIA for failing to stop the September 11 terrorist attacks, even though the terrorists were planning their attack directly under the noses of both agencies.

So, what does the Congressional committee recommend? The usual bureaucratic proposals: Establish an intelligence "czar." Create still another list of terrorist organizations.

Most controversial in the report is the fact that the part that deals with the Saudi government's ties and financing of the terrorists was blacked out, censored. Not to mention ties with certain wealthy administration figures. Apparently, Congress was afraid to publish what everyone has known for years.

But what no one mentions, least of all Congress, is the fact that the Saudi government is not alone in financing terrorism. As a matter of fact, both the FBI and CIA support terrorist organizations. The CIA actually recruited a certain Osama bin Laden. They set him up in business, trained him, financed him and armed him in the 1980s with the purpose of overthrowing the Afghanistan government before the Taliban came to power. For them, that was business as usual. In fact, the CIA – a terrorist organization if there ever was one – worked with terrorists all over the world, to overthrow governments (Chile in 1973, Iran in 1953, Iraq in 1958 to name a few) and to break workers movements and militant unions all over the world.

Don't leave out the FBI when we're compiling the list of terrorist organizations. They have given the Cuban exile terrorists the means to carry out plane hijackings, bombings, sabotage of electric supplies, etc. The FBI has its own rich history, working with the Ku Klux Klan and other violent racist organizations to terrorize the black population in this country.

The biggest omission from this report was any discussion of what prompted the development of terrorism. Not a word about U.S. policies throughout the Middle East and especially Palestine. Not a single word about the current war in Iraq – terrorism against a whole people – which is creating a much larger reserve of angry young people, not just in Iraq, but throughout vast stretches of the Middle East – an ocean in which the terrorists can fish for new recruits. Of course not. One can't expect terrorists to denounce themselves.

Pages 4-5

Puerto Rico:
U.S. drive to impose death penalty creating anti-U.S. feeling

Jul 28, 2003

U.S. Justice Department prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for two men accused of kidnaping and murder in a trial now underway in Puerto Rico. The death penalty is being sought despite the long-standing prohibition in Puerto Rico against all capital punishment.

Justice Department prosecutors say that federal criminal laws override local laws, whether they are statutes, state constitutions or the Puerto Rican constitution. But up until 2001, the federal guidelines read: "In states where the imposition of the death penalty is not authorized by law, the fact that the maximum federal penalty is death is insufficient, standing alone, to show a more substantial interest in federal prosecution."

However, in 2001 with President Hang-Them-High Bush from Texas pushing for as many death sentences as possible, Attorney General John Ashcroft eliminated this guideline. Since then Justice Department officials have overridden recommendations from local officials and brought capital charges, seeking the death penalty in jurisdictions where the death penalty is not authorized.

It's already an indication of complete contempt for the will of the people when the federal government imposes the death penalty this way in, let's say, the state of Michigan, where the state constitution has prohibited the death penalty ever since 1847, just one year after the founding of the state. But the U.S. pretends that Puerto Rico is an "associated free state," a "commonwealth" with political and legal autonomy from the federal government.

The Justice Department actions in this case make it obvious that this "autonomy" is a myth. In reality, Puerto Rico is a colony of the U.S. This is particularly clear when you consider that opposition to the death penalty in Puerto Rico developed after the U.S. took Puerto Rico from Spain in the Spanish-American War in 1898. The government the U.S. imposed on Puerto Rico executed two dozen mostly poor and illiterate people. Opposition to the death penalty was linked to opposition to U.S. domination.

The last execution in Puerto Rico took place in 1927. Two years later capital punishment was banned. In 1952, the prohibition against capital punishment was written into Puerto Rico's constitution: "The death penalty shall not exist."

Arturo Luis Davila Toro, the president of the Puerto Rico Bar Association recently explained why he and many other local leaders in Puerto Rico, who have supported Puerto Rico being a commonwealth of the United States, are nonetheless angered by the Justice Department's attempt to impose the death penalty through a federal prosecution: "Although we are talking about some facts that are very gruesome (the kidnappers shot and dismembered their victim), the people of Puerto Rico do not approve in any way of capital punishment../... How can I explain that my constitution is not respected by the nation that teaches us how to live in a democracy?"

Yes, how? Except to explain that the U.S. is not a democracy.

Today, the death penalty is banned in all the economically developed countries of the world, except for the U.S., and in many poor countries, too. Most Puerto Ricans, like most people in these other countries, understand that capital punishment is barbarous, government-sanctioned murder that does nothing to discourage criminal violence and murder by ordinary citizens, but rather encourages it. By attempting to impose state-sanctioned murder on Puerto Rico, the U.S. government is showing its barbarous nature, as well as its continued contempt for the Puerto Rican people.

Liberia:
A disaster caused by imperialism and U.S. "humanitarian" intervention

Jul 28, 2003

For over a hundred years Liberia has been an American colony in Africa in all but name, particularly for Firestone and Goodyear Tire. Today Firestone's 35,000 acre rubber plantation in Harbel, which calls itself the world's largest, pays its workers $2.53 a day for eight hours a day, six days a week. At work, they are sprayed with Difolatan, which stimulates latex, but is a known carcinogen. After work, they live in cardboard and metal shanties held together by scrap wood and wire, without water or electricity. Children play in a stinking trash dump hidden away from the neatly landscaped estates of the company's managers.

Liberia's lumber industry is dominated by a Dutch capitalist and former drug dealer Gus Kouwenhoven. The forests are being cut down at a rapid rate, while he uses the roads built to extract lumber to run arms to supply Charles Taylor's army inside the neighboring country of Sierra Leone, splitting the profits with Taylor.

Liberia has long provided cheap registration for shipping companies. Today, 1700 ships are registered under the Liberian flag, as well as a third of the world's oil tankers. This enables wealthy foreign ship owners, including many from the U.S., to fly the Liberian flag while they employ cheap labor from various poor countries, paying Liberia almost nothing in taxes or fees.

The presence of big U.S. corporations in Liberia for generations has left the people desperately poor. It's estimated that economic production is only $200 per person, one of the lowest levels in the world. Literacy is only 15%. Unemployment is about 70% among the people who try to work for wages.

The interests of these corporations have been protected by military dictatorships which ran the country; ethnic divisions were exacerbated by these dictators.

The fighting that has gone on inside Liberia for a few decades has made the situation worse, wrecking havoc on the population, with famine and disease, civilians subject to extortions, the systematic rape of women, the forcible drafting of young boys, torture and destruction. Due to the fighting, a third of the population has been displaced from their homes and there are over a million people now in the capital Monrovia, which has had no running water or electricity for 13 years. In the last few weeks, some 58,000 people have been living in a sports stadium with its 45 toilets blocked up. Malaria, fever, anemia and pneumonia are widespread. Many thousands of children have been separated from their parents.

The U.S. government today says it deplores the violence in Liberia. But this uncontrolled violence comes from the imperialist presence in Liberia and years of support to the dictators in power.

Liberia:
The population is the victim of the war lords

Jul 28, 2003

On July 25, Bush announced that 2,300 U.S. Marines would sail from the Mediterranean to a position off the coast of Liberia. In a week they'd be in a position to support the 1,300 Nigerian troops that are supposed to enter that country.

This announcement came after a week of bloody fighting in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. The city now has over a million and a half residents, or a third of the population of the country.

On June 4, a U.N.-backed court in Sierra Leone headed by an American, David Crane, indicted Charles Taylor for war crimes, and then a rebel army struck three times into Monrovia, resulting in the displacement of tens of thousands of people and mass suffering.

On July 21, Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, was viciously bombed, causing almost a hundred dead, most among the civilian refugee population in the capital. The "rebel" troops of LURD (Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy) encircled and bombed the capital in order to get rid of the dictator Charles Taylor, who had himself proclaimed "president" after the rigged elections of 1997.

The majority of the inhabitants of Monrovia today are peasants driven out of their villages by fighting. They pile into the working class neighborhoods of the city in catastrophic condition, without shelter, without food, without water. Taken hostage by the young child soldiers, robbed and then massacred by the soldiery of Charles Taylor or the rebel forces, this civilian population is the first victim of the bloody confrontations between "official" or "rebel" armed bands.

The dictator Charles Taylor, indicted for crimes against humanity and surrounded by troops that remain faithful to him, continues to cling to power, although he is being ostracized by the "international community," that is to say, by U.S. and French imperialism. Only a few years before, he was in good standing with the same powers, after he had hoisted himself to power at the price of a terrible civil war, which caused more than 200,000 deaths in the 1990s.

The different factions in this civil war used ethnic demagogy to build an armed base, while trying to impose their dictatorship over the whole country, including over their own ethnic group. These conflicts spilled over the national boundaries into the neighboring countries. The warlord opponents of Taylor set up bases in Sierra Leone, Guinea and the Ivory Coast. Taylor in turn supported forces inside these countries against the regimes of these countries. In Sierra Leone, Taylor's forces supported rebels who were soon engaged in a fight for the Sierra Leone diamond region, killing, raping and cutting off the limbs of tens of thousands of civilians.

Everyone knew the role that Taylor played in the civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Everyone knew of his involvement in the traffic of "bloody diamonds" coming from Sierra Leone, and his involvement in attempts to destabilize the regimes in the Ivory Coast and Guinea. But so long as he could impose "order" on the country, the U.S. and other imperialist countries accepted him.

Now, however, the U.S. has another interest: it wants a bigger foothold in Africa, itself rich in oil, particularly with the problems the U.S. might someday face in maintaining its control over the oil rich Middle East.

Even if various Liberians call for U.S. armed intervention to stop the killing, the entire history of the U.S. in Liberia shows that its concern has only been to protect the business interests which plunder the country. Over the last decades the United States has been an accomplice in the violence that tore apart Liberia. If Bush sends in the Marines, it will only be to suppress the Liberian people, not to better their condition.

AIDS and the defense of pharmaceutical patents

Jul 28, 2003

On Sunday July 13, the second conference on AIDS organized by the International Aids Society took place in Paris with some 5000 researchers in attendance.

This conference focused on AIDS in the poor countries. It is not the first time this subject has been addressed. But conference after conference, the situation that everyone calls unacceptable never improves because the means are not devoted to deal with it.

The development of AIDS in the poor countries is directly tied to the growing inequalities. Out of 40 million people with the disease, some 30 million are found in Africa. There are 8000 victims each day.

In Zambia, this disease has stuck 20% of the population. In Botswana, 39% of the adult population had the disease by the end of 2001, an increase from 36% just two years earlier.

Life expectancy is in a free fall downwards: According to studies published by the United Nations (UNOAIDS) it has declined in South Africa from 60 years at the beginning of the 1990s to only 48 years of age for the period 2000-2005. In Botswana, it was higher than 60 years in the 1980s, but has dropped below 40 years today.

The financing that was announced, already notoriously insufficient, has yet to arrive. The World Fund hopes, if its promises are kept (and the payments promised by the various countries arrive), the number of sick people treated in Africa will climb from the 30,000 of today to over six times the figure in the next six years. This is a really feeble goal, given there are already 30 million people with the disease.

Marie-Jose Mbuzenakamwe of the national association of support for sero-positive and AIDS victims in Burundi stated after this conference, " Today, the global fund is nearly bankrupt. Only 1.24 billion dollars has been paid out by the eight richest countries in the world, while the annual needs of the Fund are estimated at 10 billion dollars." He added, "To practice medicine does not just consist of treating the sick, but also out of necessity, to decide who will live and who will die, because we have only 30 treatments for every 120 patients."

During his recent trip to Africa, George Bush promised 15 billion dollars for the fight against AIDS (3 billion a year until 2008), but this promise, which has a number of conditions attached to it, is just one among a number of others already made, but not fulfilled. In 2001, the United Nations created a world fund for the fight against AIDS, which was supposed to raise 10 billion dollars. Only a few hundred million dollars were raised.

Since 1996, a treatment has been known: The sick do not have to die, the illness of the mother is no longer transmitted to the fetus. But these treatments are only available for the rich in the rich countries.

Countries like Brazil and South Africa developed the means to fabricate generic medicines that allowed the ill to have access to anti-HIV drugs. The American companies that held patents at that time began lawsuits against these governments. And more recently, in South Africa, George Bush defended the pharmaceutical companies and their rights to protect their "intellectual property."

The AIDS epidemic is a human tragedy. Everyone says so and are worried by the fact that this disease does not stop at the borders of the poor countries.

All well-intentioned people know that the means exist – if not to eliminate the epidemic – at least to considerably limit its effects. Yet this evil continues to develop simply because there are property rights – patents – that protect the profits of the large companies. Too bad if part of humanity must suffer or a continent like Africa must see a vast part of its population disappear.

Generally, the private appropriation of the means of production is a scandal, an attack against humanity. The scandal is even more glaring when patent rights directly lead to the deaths of millions of women and men.

Post-war contracts:
Money for the big boys

Jul 28, 2003

Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root, already finishing government contracts for 2000-2002 worth 624 million dollars, is expected to gain multi-billion-dollar contracts in post-war Iraq reconstruction.

This is nothing new. Kellogg Brown & Root's long history with politicians at the top began during the Roosevelt administration. An up-and-coming Texas politician named Lyndon Johnson helped Herman and George Brown make their first million on a federally contracted dam they built near Austin, Texas. Johnson got a nice handshake from the Browns, or as he told an interviewer later, "In those days, it was cash."

Brown & Root went on to build warships for the navy during World War II, even though George Brown was reported to have said, "We didn't know the stern from the aft – I mean the bow – of the boat." In 1965 Brown & Root constructed an air base in Viet Nam. During the Balkans war, they provided logistics for the U.S. troops there.

Kellogg Brown & Root, like all government contractors get "cost-plus" contracts. We can see exactly what that means when we notice that Brown & Root listed $85.98 as the cost for every sheet of plywood it supplied in Bosnia and Kosovo – the same plywood that costs $14.06 at Home Depot.

These lucrative government contracts, guaranteeing profits on top of such "costs," have lasted for 60 years, under every administration, Democratic or Republican. Cheney is simply the most recent politician to front for them.

Who will Iraqi oil serve?

Jul 28, 2003

The U.S. government has widely reprinted what Colin Powell said on January 21 about Iraqi oil, "It will be held for and used for the people of Iraq. It will not be exploited for the United States' own purpose." In other words, Iraqi oil should be used to build houses that were destroyed, open schools, establish hospitals, set up markets, purify the water. And Bush often refers to such things. But, as they say, actions speak louder than words. And all the actions so far show that the U.S. has one aim and only one aim for Iraqi oil – to exploit it for the benefit of U.S. corporations.

Vice President Dick Cheney – less concerned with mouthing propaganda – was more to the point than Powell. He bluntly declared that the costs of this war must be paid for by Iraq, that is, by the proceeds of its oil. To that end, Cheney's company has been given the right to move into Iraqi oil fields, using the profits they made there in order to refurbish oil wells and fix up the infrastructure to remove oil from the country, rebuilding the port of Umm Qasr. Still more proceeds from Iraqi oil sales are slated to finance the modernization of the wells, the digging of new wells and new exploration for oil. All this to enable the same U.S. oil companies to take out still more oil – and make still more profit. The Iraqi people will have more empty holes in the ground and their pressing social needs will go unmet.

Afghanistan:
Civilians die in war that disappeared without ending

Jul 28, 2003

On April 9, eleven civilians were killed "accidentally" by U.S. military forces in Afghanistan. When an Afghan militia checkpoint near the border with Pakistan was attacked, U.S. Marine Corps planes were called in. Noticing two small groups of people, they attacked with cannon fire and a 1,000 pound laser-guided bomb. All eleven people killed were civilians, including seven women.

The press, following after the Bush administration, may have forgotten this war – just as Bush will soon try to bury the war in Iraq on the back pages of the newspapers. But it continues, as deadly as ever. There are more U.S. and other foreign troops still operating in Afghanistan today than there were during the high point of the "official war" before the U.S. declared "victory" in this war.

And despite last year's claims that the war in Afghanistan was a war to end terror, liberate Afghanis from oppression and establish a society of freedom and equality for all the people of the country, just the opposite has taken place.

Most of the people of Afghanistan are back under the control of fundamentalist warlords, who torture and kill anyone who challenges their power. They are at least as oppressive of women as the Taliban rulers they have replaced. In fact, many of them worked with the Taliban when they were in power. Even the brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai recently told the Associated Press, "What was promised to Afghans with the collapse of the Taliban was a new life of hope and change. But what was delivered? Nothing. Everyone is back in business."

A perfect preview of the future the Bush administration has in store for Iraq.

Pages 6-7

Enough to start a fight

Jul 28, 2003

Workers in AFSCME Council 25, the biggest of the Detroit city workers' unions, voted by about 60% to accept a new concession contract.

The workers have been without a contract since 2001. The new contract calls for two% raises in 2003 and 2004, and a $400 signing bonus, but no raises at all back to 2001. In other words it accepts the wage freeze of the past two years.

Local 207, the water, sewage and public lighting workers, the largest local in Council 25, rejected the contract 582 against to only 80 for. Their vote wasn't enough to turn back the contract overall.

But the workers who voted strongly against this deal are numerous enough to take their message to other workers. They are numerous enough to take the lead in starting a fight. Contracts aren't ever the last word. They get amended all the time.

It's also true that 40 other unions have unsettled contracts with the City of Detroit. AFSCME workers who aren't satisfied may find they have a lot of company.

Deja vu all over again

Jul 28, 2003

According to the L.A. Times, even before the police brutality trial of Jeremy Morse began, the Justice Department was busy recruiting "business, civic and religious leaders" to help "direct people to places where they can peacefully vent their anger" when the trial ends.

It's outrageous enough that brutal, racist cops run around uncontrolled, beating people up in their own neighborhoods. But it's a criminal act on a much larger scale when state officials let these thugs go unpunished and try to diffuse the totally justified outrage of the community.

In 1992, it took a full-scale uprising in the second-largest city of the country to get some kind of "guilty" verdict against two of the cops who had beaten Rodney King. Since then, however, it's been business as usual again. Across the country, cops who beat and even kill unarmed civilians are brought to trial only when there is much publicity and a big public outcry.

The uprising of 1992, like many before it, showed the anger of the population, but it did nothing to challenge the power structure of the bosses, officials and politicians who let these murderous cops loose on the population.

It was the same "business, civic and religious leaders" who are being called on by the authorities today to try and calm down the justified anger of the community who told people in 1992 to "clean up, go home and put your faith in the system."

Here it is, the system at work – and we have come full cycle.

The "trial" of Jeremy Morse:
How to let a brutal cop off the hook

Jul 28, 2003

The trial of Jeremy Morse, the cop whose brutal beating of a handcuffed teenager was captured on videotape last year, is near its end in Los Angeles. The jury was still deliberating at the time this article was written, but if the course of the trial and past experience are any measure, we may well see another clear-cut act of police brutality go unpunished.

From the beginning to the end, this trial was rigged in favor of the accused cop, with the prosecution playing a leading role in leading it.

First, there was not a single black person on the jury, even though Morse is white and Donovan Jackson, the victim, is black. Faced by protests from the black community, the judge then ordered one of the previously rejected candidates to be on the jury – as its only black member.

Morse's long record of brutality in uniform was not mentioned even once during the trial. Just two weeks before the Jackson beating, for example, Morse had beaten and choked an innocent black man who was complying with his orders. The victim had to be hospitalized and almost died.

And then there was the "use-of-force expert," a cop who testified when he got on the stand that he wouldn't have filed charges against Morse. He was a prosecution witness!

Any honest investigation of police brutality would rely on what victims of such brutality have to say, not brutal cops themselves.

But even despite all this, were Morse to be convicted, the maximum sentence he could face, three years, is basically a slap on the wrist for a murderous cop who has been involved in at least seven cases of police brutality within two years.

Hundreds of millions of people around the world saw on TV how a big, muscular Morse brutally slammed a slightly-built, handcuffed teenager on a car. Even that's not enough to get such an act punished by this "justice" system – not when the whole system stands united behind a brutal cop.

Page 8

Great Britain:
The death of an expert

Jul 28, 2003

This is a translation from the July 25, 2003 issue of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), a French Trotskyist weekly.

The death of Dr. David Kelly, the chief expert in "weapons of mass destruction" for the British army for several years, had more impact on the British political and media scene than the deaths of thousands of innocent Iraqis assassinated in the course of these same years with the active complicity of London.

To believe the official theory, developed in full-page articles and even special supplements in all the great British newspapers, Kelly committed suicide. Charged with inspecting Iraqi arms, he was supposed to have broken down after news leaked that he told a BBC journalist that Blair and his ministers deliberately inflated the estimates they received about Iraqi arms.

Blair's lies are undeniable. As for the rest, it's possible, although according to the police there remain plenty of unanswered questions on whether he committed suicide. Whatever the case is, that doesn't make Dr. Kelly a victim, and still less the type of "truth martyr" which the press today wants to make of him.

Kelly was a highly qualified scientist who began by putting his capacities to work making "weapons of mass destruction" (chemical and bacteriological) for the benefit of British imperialism. Later he was promoted to the rank of expert in the surveillance of poor countries like Iraq, over which imperialism wanted to impose its dictates. Kelly chose his camp and it was that of the power of money.

Was Kelly displeased that ignorant politicians distorted his conclusions to justify their policies, which certainly wasn't the first time? Did he want to reestablish the truth after the fact with respect to Iraq? In any case, he had taken care not to say much about such revelations when they could still have an impact on events – that is to say, before the start of the invasion, when British public opinion still felt mobilized and strong against British participation in the war, and when Blair didn't permit any false note in his own camp. On this level also, Kelly had chosen his camp.

Anger is building against the U.S.'s dirty colonial war in Iraq

Jul 28, 2003

The U.S. military announced that on July 23 it had killed Saddam Hussein's two eldest sons, Uday and Qusay, extremely brutal henchmen of the old regime. The following day, the gruesome pictures of the two dead bodies were shown. No doubt, the U.S. officials figured that without showing the bodies, no one would believe them, given the fact that this whole war has been justified with a pack of lies.

Of course, the Bush administration then went on to tell another lie: that the killings brought U.S. forces closer to ending the resistance against its occupation of Iraq. On its front page, the New York Times, which, like the rest of the news media has strongly supported this war, hyped this with the headline, "With Hussein's Heirs Gone, Hopes Rise for End to Attacks." As if the resistance in Iraq to the U.S. occupation was just coming from a few remnants of the forces of Saddam Hussein!

Certainly, the Iraqis themselves say it isn't so.

As an Iraqi doctor explained: "It's not true that only pro-Saddam people are attacking U.S. troops. I don't think it's only that. When a man has lost everything, his job, electricity, fuel and water, he may develop feelings against them. Besides that, the U.S. response to any attack is very violent, even brutal." Mahamoud Unis Alawy, who lives near one of the places where a U.S. soldier was recently killed, explained to the New York Times that many Iraqis blame the U.S. for what is happening to their country, especially for the economy disintegrating after the war.

In interviews, officers in the U.S. military have confirmed the same thing. Said Colonel Eric Wesley, executive officer of the 3rd Infantry stationed near the Iraqi city of Fallujah, most of the attackers are not former henchmen for Saddam Hussein, but rather are motivated by current grievances. "They are disaffected people from various parts of society. They may be impoverished, or somehow afflicted by the war and the coalition, wanting revenge for the loss of a family member." And, he says, most of them are not professionals. "Our indications are that the majority are not well trained. Their tactics are relatively crude and elementary. Their marksmanship is poor. The incidence of rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47s being on target are rare."

This means that U.S. forces are stuck in a foreign country, surrounded by a hostile population. Recent news reports have shown that U.S. soldiers are angry about being put in this position – and suffering the casualties. (Over 100 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq since President Bush declared the war "over" on May 1.) "What are we doing here?" asked a sergeant with the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division. "The war is supposed to be over, but every day we hear of another soldier getting killed. Is it worth it? Saddam isn't in power anymore. The locals want us to leave. Why are we still here?"

This anger is often directed against the U.S. Bush administration. When speaking to ABC News, a sergeant referred to the deck of cards the U.S. government published featuring Saddam Hussein, his sons and other wanted members of the former Iraqi regime. "I've got my own 'Most Wanted' list. The aces in my deck are Paul Bremer, Donald Rumsfeld, George Bush and Paul Wolfowitz."

It isn't just the soldiers who express this. That anger is also being expressed by the soldiers' families. Lynn Bradach, of Portland Oregon, whose son, a marine, was killed in Iraq on July 1 while clearing mines, told the New York Times that she always opposed the war, that even before the war started, she had signed petitions against it – although she always supported the troops. Now, she vowed that she will do whatever she can to get Bush out of office and get the war ended.

No, this war was never about Saddam Hussein, or his deadly sons. U.S. imperialism bombed, invaded and occupied Iraq in order to impose its domination over Iraq's oil, and extend its domination over the rest of the Middle East. This is all being done so a few big corporations, like the oil companies, or Bechtel and Haliburton, that are often directly tied to the important officials of the Bush administration, can gain much greater profits.

The U.S. government is trying to use the U.S. soldiers to impose this domination on the Iraqi people. But the U.S. population never wanted this war. And the sense of anger and outrage being expressed by many soldiers and their families is spreading. It should.

Iraq:
122º and Baghdad is without electricity

Jul 28, 2003

When the summer is at its warmest in the area around Baghdad, one of the hottest places in the world, the lack of electricity makes life impossible for many Iraqis. Besides the lack of drinkable water (since the majority of water comes from water purification plants that depend on electricity), the cutoff of electricity stirs up the discontent of a population which has suffered since the beginning the horrible consequences of this filthy war.

The provisional government speaks of sabotage and has promised to reinforce the security of power installations. But at the same time it warned that at least three years will be required to reconstruct 17,000 electric towers of the Iraqi network destroyed by bombing.

The U.S. company Bechtel, known for its ties to the Bush administration, last April received the "electric production" part of the profitable reconstruction contract. Charged with restoring the electric network, up to now it has done absolutely nothing. The director of the Baghdad power plant explained that Bechtel was given a list of urgent materials needed and tasks to be done to get electric production up and running. But Bechtel has brought in no material, nor has it done anything.

Unlike the period of intervention when the U.S. and British forces sent vast amounts of military materiel to conquer Iraq, the U.S. has made no effort to bring in the technical means needed for the population to live.