The Spark

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

Issue no. 789 — January 8 - 22, 2007

Make 2007 the year workers refuse to give in to another attack

Jan 8, 2007

Want to know what the bosses have in store for us in 2007? Just look at what they did last year.

The elite sitting at the top of the corporate pyramid have never had it so good. Profits – after taxes – are twice as high as they were just five years ago. The wealthy are literally swimming in money. They are speculating in stocks, bonds and real estate at a feverish pace. They buy and sell companies, merge companies and then break them apart. At each step, they chisel out a bigger chunk of wealth for themselves.

Last year, one investment bank that does this, Goldman Sachs, made so much money, it announced 16 billion dollars in year-end bonuses for its top executives. That’s right, $16 billion for a tiny handful of people for only one year.

In 2006, Delphi and other big auto parts companies continued the bankruptcy charade. And corporate raiders, starting with Wilbur Ross, announced that they wanted to buy them. Previously, Ross had bought up supposedly bankrupt steel companies and then resold them a few years later for five times what he paid for them – making billions in one stroke. Despite what the auto bosses claim, the auto companies are golden apples, just waiting to be plucked.

For workers, it’s a different world. Most of us have to cope with shrinking pay checks – worth less than they were 30 years ago – and fewer benefits. And the debt burden for many of us skyrockets.

In the workplace, we faced outsourcing, downsizing and speed-up. Full-time jobs were replaced by temps at much lower wages and few if any benefits. GM, Ford and Delphi led the way.

But government agencies were quick to follow, some claiming that they can no longer afford pensions or health benefits. They did, however, shovel over to the big corporations and the wealthy big tax cuts, subsidies and sweetheart contracts to their buddies for doing nothing.

This is where we were at the end of 2006. In 2007, the bosses want to take much, much more from us.

Whether they get away with it is another question. That depends upon what workers decide to do when companies or government agencies come for them. It depends upon how workers react when the companies or government tell them that they have to make more sacrifices supposedly in order to save a cash-rich company from ruin. Will we fall for this garbage, that wage and benefit cuts save jobs?

Nothing stops us from telling the bosses and their politicians where they can shove all their threats and lies.

Certainly, no one group of workers can turn back the attacks by themselves. But workers in one industry or even one workplace can dig in their heels. We can say, “NO.” And what one group of workers starts others can pick up.

Instead of being on the defensive, we can put the bosses on the defensive. We can force the bosses to meet the workers’ needs and priorities.

Certainly, workers have the power to take on the bosses. Workers produce everything, and make everything run. We produce the vast, ever expanding wealth.

In 2007, we can begin to make use of the power we have over production to force the bosses backward.

Pages 2-3

Railroad uses Patriot Act to terrorize workers

Jan 8, 2007

In the weeks before Christmas, a subcontractor for CSX Rail fired many long-time employees because they had felony convictions prior to being hired. At least 70 were reported fired, most from CSX yards in the Chicago area, but some also in Texas and California.

All fired workers had long since served their time before being hired by CSX, in one case, 11 years ago! One fired worker had just returned from military duty in Iraq! No worker was known to have any disciplinary problems, and many were outstanding workers.

The contractor, H&M International, claimed that the Patriot Act required such firings. But it does not!

Added to the injustice was the fact that almost all fired workers were black, and the felonies cited were charges for possession of drugs or unlicensed guns. Did H & M deliberately “overlook” similar records of the rest of its workforce?

Or did this simply reflect the reality, that the black community is selectively targeted for heavy drug enforcement in the first place, while drug users in white neighborhoods are winked at and passed over? For in fact thepercentage of drug use in society is the same across racial lines. It’s only the enforcement that discriminates.

If a person has paid their “debt” to society – in these cases, a discriminatory “debt” that others escape! – having paid their “debt,” are they free of it, or not?

Not according to bosses like H&M and CSX! No, payment never stops – they hold it over a worker’s head the whole rest of their life. Never mind that the laws say that paid is paid. If you are a big boss, you write your own laws.

The bosses, the real lawbreakers, never have to pay any of their “debt!” Not unless they are brought up short, by enough people who are mad enough and bound to collect.

Scalded worker denied workers’ comp

Jan 8, 2007

A 16-year-old worker at a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in Ohio was severely burned over his lower body while cleaning equipment. KFC denied his claim to workers’ compensation and took it to the Ohio Supreme Court.

KFC claimed that at the moment the worker disobeyed a safety label on the equipment, the worker had “abandoned” his job – that is, actually quit – and therefore was not technically employed when he was scalded! Therefore KFC was not liable!

And the Supreme Court of the State of Ohio AGREED with this b.s.!

Never mind that the law was specifically written to reject that sort of argument, made by rapacious employers of two centuries ago. As one dissenting Supreme Court justice wrote, “Our workers’ compensation laws do not permit the introduction of fault.”

But legal words on legal paper count for nothing, in these times, when corporate power is the only power exerting itself in society.

Using the Ohio precedent, every boss will now try to deny compensation to any injured worker, merely by claiming that the worker violated some written rule. Of course, the bosses will keep stacks and stacks of written rules to cover their butts, while demanding that workers work dangerously day in and day out, under threat of being fired if they don’t use shortcuts.

The KFC worker’s case is no exception. Any and every law that supposedly protects workers is in the process of being overruled out of existence. It will go on like this until the working class comes forth and once again asserts its collective power, in as many ways as possible, to throw back the bosses’ offensive.

Another real estate scam

Jan 8, 2007

When buying a house, everyone assumes the land under the house is part of what they are buying. But in Maryland, someone else has a right to take a fee based on the ownership of the ground under the house.

This scam is called “ground rent,” and it’s a custom dating back to 1632. King Charles I of England granted Lord Charles Calvert possession of an enormous area of land, now all of Maryland. Land could be rented to build on with Lord Calvert’s permission and the payment of an annual ground rent.

Ground rents still exist on more than 100,000 Baltimore properties, according to a recent series in the local newspaper. Two local reporters, studying court records over nine months, found that almost 4,000 cases were brought in court over non-payment of ground rent since 2000. And more than half of these cases were brought by just four groups of real estate owners.

And why wasn’t ground rent paid? For a start, the state of Maryland requires no registration of ground rents. Many people don’t know about it. In many cases, even lawyers and title agents cannot find the owner of a ground rent. Unscrupulous lawyers like those who brought the 4,000 cases in Baltimore certainly don’t make any effort to notify the home-owner.

The owner of the ground rent can legally seize the home for the unpaid bill, sell the house and keep every penny of the sale. A homeowner in East Baltimore almost lost the family home at Christmas over an unpaid ground rent that originally was $24. Before the case was settled, a relative had to pay $18,000 thanks to attorneys’ fees and other legal expenses. The unpaid rent went back 10 years to the point at which the homeowners of record died.

“Ground rents should have been investigated 20 years ago,” said a judge quoted in the newspaper articles on such scams.

Embarrassed by the scandal caused by the newspaper articles, the Democrats now claim they will do something about these unfair practices – trying to make us forget that they have controlled the state legislature in Maryland for most of the 20th century.

In fact, some big money is involved in ground rents. One real estate trust featured in the articles takes in $50,000 per month in ground rent. Apparently the Democrats haven’t wanted to take money from their real estate buddies.

L.A. “school reform”:
A push for charter schools
– by Big Business and the mayor

Jan 8, 2007

A Los Angeles Supreme Court judge threw out a state law that would give Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa partial control over L.A. schools. The legal battle is not over, however, as the mayor has appealed the decision.

Villaraigosa has been running a big campaign to take control of L.A.’s schools. He says that the school district’s nearly 50% dropout rate between 9th grade and graduation is proof that the elected school board has utterly failed in its mission to educate the children – especially those living in working-class neighborhoods where the dropout rate is even higher.

There is no doubt that the public school system has been failing working-class children in L.A., as in every other big city in the country. But behind all such talk about “school reform” coming from politicians, both Republican and Democrat, what always rears its head is one and the same idea: to transfer students from public schools to so-called charter schools – privately run schools which are publicly funded but don’t have to adhere to state regulations and testing requirements as public schools do.

Contrary to the claims of the business circles that push for more charter schools, these schools have not improved student learning. As poor as the scores of public school students are on standardized tests, charter school students have actually done worse. Unlike public schools, charter schools don’t have to test every student and many don’t. In fact, there is only one thing in which the charter schools have clearly succeeded to this day: generating hefty profits for those who run them.

Which explains why, as in other cities, Big Business has been spearheading L.A.’s “school reform” campaign – and pouring money into it.

A prominent supporter of “school reform” is billionaire L.A. real estate developer Eli Broad, who is a big fan of charter schools. He has given more than 40 million dollars to charter companies –not to help educate the children, but to help boost their plans to open more charter schools in L.A.

Villaraigosa is careful not so say anything on the question of charter schools publicly. But Villaraigosa doesn’t have to say anything – his actions show exactly where he stands. He just appointed Marshall Tuck, the president and CEO of a charter school company, to his five-member “reform team.” And the mayor’s chief of staff and his associate director for education are both former employees of ... Eli Broad!

In his successful run for mayor, Villaraigosa presented himself as a friend of working people. But as mayor of the second biggest city in the country, he is doing what every bosses’ politician does when in office: help the big bosses make more profit at the expense of working people – and their children.

Detroit school closings:
A transfer to private hands

Jan 8, 2007

The Detroit Public Schools announced plans to close 47 schools this summer and another five next year. That includes eight high schools, six middle schools and 38 elementary schools.

The district has already closed 36 schools in the last two years.

The closing of so many elementary schools means the district will be sending younger kids longer and longer distances to get to school. And in schools not being closed, interesting programs are being ended.

All of this can only serve to drive more students out of the public schools into private schools – and above all, charter schools. And these charter schools perform even worse than the public schools.

What’s really going on is not a school closing, it is a transfer of the schools into private hands. The district has already handed many of the buildings it closed before over to charter schools. Now it is clearly poised to do the same thing again.

It’s not that there is no money for the schools. The politicians who run the schools have plenty of money – for their friends – the same friends already making big bucks out of lucrative contracts from the schools and big bucks running charter schools.

The politicians running the city and the schools just have no money for the kids.

Pages 4-5

Nixon, Ford and Watergate:
Dumping the man to save the system

Jan 8, 2007

When Gerald Ford died at the end of December, a lot of noise was made about how he had “healed the nation” and “saved the system.” And that’s exactly what he did: he and Watergate saved the system, so the ruling class could continue to use it against us.

Looking back today, it can seem strange that a president was ousted over a “two-bit burglary” and an attempt to bug the opposition party’s campaign office, since politics is filled with such dirty tricks. But that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Because of the movements and rebellions that had grown and exploded in the 1960s, the political system of the country was increasingly unstable and an atmosphere of distrust in that system was growing. As Nixon’s presidency continued, more and more facts were revealed that, in another time, would have remained hidden. Among them: a number of illegal buggings of political enemies and assassinations of activists; a secret fund to be used against the Democratic party; illegal deals for clemency in return for silence on Nixon’s involvement; and millions of dollars in illegal campaign contributions from the largest corporations in the country.

In addition, the My Lai massacre and the carpet bombing of Cambodia finally made it into the news, years after the fact.

In a few short years, the government was shown to be what it is – run by thugs and hoodlums and willing to kill anyone to keep a lid on an out-of-control war in Vietnam and social movements at home.

Of course, this was no different from how the government operates in other periods. But because of the movements and rebellions, those who knew about it had the courage to bring it out into the open.

To the American capitalist class, the situation was so volatile that Nixon and his cronies had to go. First his vice president, Spiro Agnew, was indicted on bribery charges and resigned. Then, the Watergate hearings got into full swing.

Though a number of other illegal activities were revealed at the time, the Senate hearing – and the media covering it – focused almost exclusively on the Watergate break-in and the cover-up after it. Focusing on one small crime was used to cover up the many much larger crimes and atrocities.

Nixon was urged to resign, instead of “dragging the country through impeachment proceedings.” And when he did resign, everyone in Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, breathed a sigh of relief – and so did the entire ruling class standing behind them.

Into his place stepped Gerald Ford – a little-known congressman who could be painted as having nothing to do with all the corruption that had gone before him. The image was pumped up of the bumbling, nice-guy, scrupulously honest man from mid-America. The message: Someone the public could trust was now in charge.

But the government Ford headed continued to do the same things, and carry out the same policies, that it had done under Nixon – sometimes with the same people. Henry Kissinger stayed on as Secretary of State, presiding over the continued destruction of Vietnam – only now, the new face of Ford could provide the final withdrawal and admission of defeat there.

And, of course, one of the first things Ford did was to pardon Nixon – guaranteeing that those hearings and trials would go no further.

By removing a man who had become the face of all the corruption and evil in the system and replacing him with a different face, the rulers of this society made sure that nothing fundamental was challenged in the American system and that all of the same policies could continue, both here and around the globe.

Everything we’ve seen in the last six years is the living proof that the same system is still functioning in the same way.

Even in death, Pinochet brags about his crimes

Jan 8, 2007

Augusto Pinochet, who died on December 10, had prepared a letter to be distributed after his death. No one was surprised that the old Chilean dictator justified his coup d’etat of September 11, 1973, which overthrew Socialist President Salvador Allende. Pinochet justified the dictatorship he and his troops imposed on the Chilean population for 17 years. He presented himself as a savior who enabled Chile to avoid civil war.

Pinochet’s letter boasts: “I am proud of the huge action that we had to undertake to prevent Marxism-Leninism from reaching power and also in order that my dear country would be a great nation. This inspired the Junta from the beginning. I have never vacillated from such opinions.”

What was the price of Pinochet’s actions? More than 3,000 dead according to official figures, more than 40,000 tortured and 200,000 in exile. Such is the balance sheet of violence and atrocities carried out by military torturers and thugs under his orders.

But Pinochet didn’t pay for a single one of his crimes. Instead, he passed laws giving himself immunity from prosecution for what he did to thousands. Those who succeeded him never prosecuted him. In the other countries where he lived, he never had to answer for his crimes. And his last words doubtlessly also aimed at continuing to cover up for his murderous generals, known for the hideous crimes they committed during his dictatorship. Sixteen years after the end of the Pinochet regime, a number of those in charge of repression and torture still hold responsible positions in Chile.

Finally, U.S. imperialism fully backed Pinochet and his murderous repression. And U.S. corporations were major beneficiaries during his reign in Chile.

An endless civil war, the legacy of imperialist ambitions

Jan 8, 2007

Like the rest of Africa, the territory made up of the Somali ethnic group has been the prey of imperialism. In 1839, British troops carved out Somaliland. At the end of the 19th century, Italian troops set up a “Somalia,” while the French seized the “French coast of Somalia,” which today is Djibouti. In 1936, Italian Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia were conquered by the Italian dictator Mussolini, and turned into Italian East Africa. In 1947, Italy renounced this territory. Next the United Nations put Italy in charge of “looking after” its ex-Somalian colony. In July 1960, Somalia became independent, along with Somaliland. But certain Somalian regions were left as part of Ethiopia and Kenya.

The imperialist countries, during more than a century of domination, exacerbated the rivalries between the different Somali clans in order to reinforce their domination in a region of strategic importance. The French base of Djibouti, for example, was the counterpart of the British base at Aden in this region that forms a bridge between the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.

From 1969 to 1991, Somalia was led by a military dictator, Syad Barré. With his fall, the country tipped into civil war – the warlords of the larger clans fought the Islamists for power.

In 1992, the United States, with U.N. approval, made a supposedly humanitarian intervention, bringing food to a region ravaged by famine. In reality, the U.S. undertook to reestablish order by balancing among rival factions. It set up its headquarters in a building owned by U.S. oil companies, which had divided the country into zones! After the well-known Black Hawk Down episode, dramatized in the movie of that name, the United States, not wanting to get bogged down, quickly left the country. The U.S. left the U.N. in charge and U.N. troops left in 1995.

The imperialist intervention was given a name: “Restore Hope.” Instead it pushed the population further into the chaos of civil war. In fifteen years at least 300,000 and perhaps as many as 500,000 people were killed. One sixth of the Somalian population became refugees.

Ethiopia, the U.S.’s fireman, sets a new fire in Somalia

Jan 8, 2007

On December 26, the Ethiopian army announced it had seized six cities from its neighbor Somalia. This military offensive was against the militias of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), an Islamic fundamentalist clan. The Ethiopian army was backed by the U.S. in its response to the offensive of the UIC. The UIC had taken control of two thirds of Somalia since the summer, including the capital, Mogadishu. Ethiopia, working for the U.S., is trying to keep the “transition federal government” (the TFG) in power, while stopping the Islamic militias’ offensive.

One objective of the Islamic militias, like other Somalian governments in the past, is to enlarge Somalia by retaking regions made up of Somali people who were cut off from the country in 1960 at the time of independence. One of these regions is in Ethiopia.

Somalia has been caught in the chaos of civil war between different warlords for several years. In 2004, after two years of negotiations and a “fourteenth conference of national reconciliation,” a self-proclaimed Somalian parliament, made up of dubious representatives, emerged. It met in exile in Nairobi, Kenya, since the situation was so unstable in Somalia itself. A transition government emerged from this parliament, with the goal of ending the civil war. This hasn’t happened, and Somalia remains under the control of warlords. The Islamic militias removed some of them and established a certain order in regions where they took control, especially in Mogadishu. At the same time, this greatly weakened the official government.

Washington accuses the Islamic militias of having links with Al Qaeda. The U.S. government is already bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it remembers the 1992 U.S. intervention in Somalia, which ended in a fiasco. The U.S. clearly prefers using the Ethiopian army in place of the U.S. army, hoping it will counteract the influence of the Islamists in the region.

Although the Ethiopian troops appear to dominate the situation, there is no guarantee they will remain in control. The U.S. is well aware that military superiority doesn’t mean that the occupation of a country is carried out without problems.

Rather than calming things down, the U.S. encouragement of the Ethiopian military intervention may very well light a new fire in the Horn of Africa. The immediate result will be still more misery for some of the poorest people in the world, just as in Afghanistan and Iraq. But the situation of the population has never been of concern to the U.S. rulers as they plunder the world.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Jan 8, 2007

Year-end bonuses on Wall Street made a very sweet Christmas gift: 24 billion dollars, just for the financial few. That amount of money is more than the Gross Domestic Product of the world’s 90 poorest countries. Imagine, 90 countries where all labor and services for the entire year does not bring in as much money as a few elite traders and executives made on Wall Street just in their bonuses.

Or put it another way – these bonuses could have paid all the wages of more than one million U.S. workers working at $11 an hour – for one whole year!

More hot air from the Democrats

Jan 8, 2007

Supposedly the Democrats intend to raise the minimum wage. Good – and the very first step should be to put it immediately up to $10 per hour.

That’s the equivalent in today’s money of what the minimum wage was worth 37 years ago. But $10 is only the first step – because the minimum wage wasn’t high enough in 1970 to provide a decent standard of living either.

And $10 an hour won’t do it now either. But anything less is nothing but electioneering!

Who’s on top?

Jan 8, 2007

Fifteen people tie together the most important corporations in the U.S. by sitting on their boards of directors. The corporations they help to govern include every important aspect of the economy: communication, health care, heavy industry, retail, banking.

Each one of these directors sits on at least three boards, such as IBM, Chevron, ExxonMobil, AT&T, US Steel, Bristol-Myers-Squibb, Allstate Insurance, Halliburton, McDonald’s, Constellation Energy, Pepsi Cola, Goldman Sachs, the New York Stock Exchange, General Electric, etc. In all, these 15 people, themselves often former heads of corporations, bring together 60 of the largest corporations in the U.S.

Corporate competition is supposed to be what makes possible a “free” market and the profit system.

Where is the competition? It’s this small group, representing the whole class of bosses, that makes the decisions for the entire economy.

Mergers and Acquisitions:
The harmful game of finance

Jan 8, 2007

2006 was a record year for business mergers and acquisitions. These added up to four trillion dollars across the world. There were 1.5 trillion dollars of buyouts in the U.S. and 1.4 trillion dollars in Europe.

The biggest deal was AT&T buying BellSouth for 86 billion dollars. Bank of America bought the credit card company MBNA Corp. for 34 billion dollars. ConocoPhilips, rich with oil profits, bought Burlington Resources Inc. for 36 billion dollars. Boston Scientific bought Guidant for 28 billion dollars. Mittal Steel based in Holland bought the European Arcelor steel company for 34 billion dollars. This merger includes the ownership of some of the biggest U.S. steel companies like Bethlehem and LTV.

The opening up of underdeveloped countries and the privatization of state-owned companies offered tempting targets, where financial circles compete with each other to buy up whole countries for a song.

But none of these financial maneuvers resulted in productive investment, nor any expansion of production which could increase consumption and employment. The capitalists buy up each others’ companies only to monopolize markets, eliminate competitors, and further concentrate their sector. Their “rationalization” means getting rid of jobs, closing factories and stepping up exploitation of the workers who remain.

A giant corporation sees its stock price go up and the value of its stock on the stock exchange soar. But what does that count for when it results only in more unemployment and misery for working people?

Once again the financiers have reason to believe in Santa Claus

Jan 8, 2007

New York investment banks paid out a total of 44 billion dollars in bonuses to their CEOs and top executives. Lloyd Blankfein, the head of Goldman Sachs, a leading Wall Street company, received 53 million dollars.

In New York, London, Paris and in other cities where the main stock markets are located, banks specializing in speculation bathe in profits. The bonuses they gave to their CEOs and other top executives are proportionate to the profits they produced in mergers and acquisitions.

A Wall Street analyst told a European newspaper, “The clients of Wall Street businesses have too much money. We are swimming in capital. There is too much capital available and not enough possibilities for investment.”

The world of speculation is doing very well for itself, but it isn’t a sign of good health for society. This parasitic activity and its outrageous bonuses are the negative reflection of a very sick world, which prefers speculation to the production of useful goods.

It’s a society that offers no future for working people.

Pages 6-7

Goodyear strike
– not a big victory
– but not a big defeat

Jan 8, 2007

After nearly three months on strike, workers at 12 Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plants in 10 states accepted a contract settlement and returned to work on January 2. Since October 5, nearly 14,000 rubber workers represented by the Steelworkers (USWA) union had held their ground, going out on strike against concessions that included the threat to close a plant in Texas, gut retirees’ health care, and impose a wage cut for new hires.

The outcome was certainly not a great victory. Workers still took concessions. But the fact remains, the company did back off from some of its demands, and it deferred the closing of a plant, while offering more money to workers who lose their jobs.

The settlement still includes changes in retiree health care. But the company will be funding the plan for retired workers’ medical benefits at one billion dollars, rather than the originally proposed 660 million dollars.

Of course it’s not fair that workers have to go out on strike for nearly three months in order to have this result. But capitalism is not fair. And for a long time now, corporations across the board have been running rough-shod over the entire working class and attacking wages, pensions, health care, jobs, left and right, taking whatever they wanted.

The significance of this strike can’t be measured only by what Goodyear ceded this time. Because this strike put Goodyear on warning for the future. And not just Goodyear.

Other bosses can see that they might face some resistance if they push too big an attack.

But that also depends on whether other workers decide to take the path hewn out by Goodyear workers.

The gains made by workers in this country during the 1930s did not come in one sudden blow. The movement was the combination of many strikes, only a few at the beginning, where the workers pushed the bosses back a little. But those early strikes – many of which were total defeats – were the sparks that lit the fuse on a vast workers’ movement.

Who can say today what the Goodyear strike can produce tomorrow? Only the workers.

Page 8

Iraq troop surge:
20,000 + 20,000 + 20,000 ... = Vietnam

Jan 8, 2007

The Democrats responded to George Bush’s plan for a “surge” in the number of U.S. troops in Iraq by sending him a letter criticizing the plan.

When Bush talks about a “troop surge,” he is obviously talking about stepping up the war. He is calling for 20,000 more troops for now, “possibly” 10,000 more a few months later and – almost certainly – 10,000 more after that. He openly says this “surge” will take another year and a half.

The recent elections showed as clearly as elections can express it, that the population wants an end to the war. The Democrats would not have a majority in both houses of Congress today if it were not for the crushing opposition to this war.

There are more than 3,000 American soldiers dead and hundreds of thousands more wounded. More than 650,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the war. The war has left Iraq in a shambles, forcing 10% of the population to become refugees, some inside Iraq, most outside.

In the face of this awful situation, confronting a U.S. population that wants an end to the war, Bush says, “No. We’re stepping it up.” And all the Democrats can do is send him a polite letter of protest. A letter!

The Democrats are not only liars. They are Bush’s willing accomplices in this enormous catastrophe.

The execution of Saddam Hussein

Jan 8, 2007

Declaring that the execution of Saddam Hussein was “an important milestone on Iraq’s course to becoming a democracy,” Bush nonetheless was forced to admit that it “will not end the violence in Iraq.” In other words, Bush admitted that the U.S. government does not intend to end the war.

Saddam Hussein was executed for the death of 142 people in one village. His execution means there will be no examination into all the other deaths, in particular the hundreds of thousands he decreed as the direct and official agent of imperialism.

Saddam Hussein came to power in Iraq through intrigue and the use of force, with support from the representatives of imperialism. He collaborated with the Shah of Iran and the U.S. in carrying out fierce repression against the Kurds. After the Islamic revolution in Iran, all the great powers and their Arab supporters gave Saddam Hussein military and financial aid to unleash a war against Iran in 1980. Hussein’s official reason for attacking Iran was to take back disputed territory, but his clear goal was to bring about the fall of the Iranian regime. The war lasted eight years and caused a million deaths, mainly among Iranians, but also Iraqis.

During all that time, the U.S. and the other big powers left Saddam Hussein free to assassinate his opponents, which everyone knew and could see. At the time, he was presented as the “defender of democracy and the free world,” confronting Iranian barbarism.

In 1991, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. The elder Bush and the other imperialist leaders reproached Saddam Hussein for demanding repayment for his good and loyal services to them. For a dozen years, they waged war on the Iraqi people with sanctions that caused hundreds of thousands of victims. But they left Saddam Hussein in power. In fact, they depended on Hussein to keep the Kurds, the Shiites and even part of the Sunnis in check – with the deaths of many thousands more.

When Bush and his allies again invaded Iraq in 2003, it certainly wasn’t to “reestablish democracy,” but only to satisfy their appetite for Iraqi oil wells. That’s what sealed the fate of Saddam Hussein – not his monstrous crimes.

The great powers didn’t want these episodes brought out in any trial. They wanted only a caricature of a trial, with very limited accusations. They could care less about legal niceties or the assassination of three of Saddam’s lawyers during the trial. The U.S. wanted a rapid execution, cutting short any new trial capable of shedding light on their complicity and their overt or hidden agreements with Saddam Hussein over the decades.

Certainly there were poor Iraqi Shiites and Kurds, who had relatives ruthlessly gassed and exterminated, who rejoiced at the death of the dictator. But those who ordered this execution, like the ones who carried it out, are their worst enemies and the ones who will massacre them in the future. The pretended justice which was applied in Iraq was the law of the strongest, the dictatorship of imperialism which imposes its order on so many of the oppressed, certainly in Iraq, but also in many other places. That imperialist order is the real criminal, and at the end of the day it is responsible for all the crimes of Saddam Hussein and his butchers.

3,000 Iraq War deaths:
Another milestone in this filthy war

Jan 8, 2007

On New Year’s eve, the official U.S. death toll in Iraq went over 3,000. This morbid milestone was noted widely in the news media. But both the government and news media ignored the true extent of U.S. casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For every U.S. soldier killed, 16 have been seriously wounded in battle. All told, more than 50,000 U.S. service men and women have been wounded physically. More than twice this number suffer from war-related psychological stress. The Veterans Administration reports that among the roughly 500,000 service men and women who have left the military after serving in Iraq, more than 200,000 have already been treated at Veterans Administrations hospitals and clinics for war-related problems. More than 150,000 have filed disability claims and more than 100,000 of these claims have already been granted.

There are another 900,000 who have served in Iraq or are there now, but are not yet out of the service.

This is one reason there is so much opposition in the country to this war – nearly a million and a half people have been there, seen the disaster the U.S. has created, many suffering directly themselves. They are the eyes of the whole U.S. population on this filthy war.

Most of them want out of Iraq – and their families want them out, too.

U.S. out of Iraq now!

A war veteran killed by cops

Jan 8, 2007

James E. Dean, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, was killed by a Maryland state trooper the day after Christmas. Dean had already served 18 months in Afghanistan. Returning home, he continually suffered from post traumatic stress disorder.

Before Christmas, Dean, now a member of the Reserves, got a letter ordering him to report for duty in Iraq. He broke down, telling his wife that no one knew what it had been like in Afghanistan. She appealed to the Army to put him on disability leave, but they refused.

On Christmas evening, he walked away, telling his wife, “The next time you see me it’s going to be in a body bag.” He barricaded himself in his childhood home.

Instead of calling on family members to speak with Dean, the police surrounded the house, firing tear gas. After 14 hours of standoff, when he finally came to the door, police shot him dead.

In other words, if you won’t go on being cannon fodder for this army, the government has no use for you. And the police shoot you down like a dog.