The Spark

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

Issue no. 796 — April 16 - 30, 2007

Editorial:
Their crisis is costing us our homes

Apr 16, 2007

Sales of new homes are in a definite downward slide – and perhaps the beginning of a collapse. This comes as no surprise, since the financial markets have poured vast sums of money into real estate speculation in recent years. The bottom was bound to drop out some time.

With the slowdown of sales comes a real drop in housing prices. Many people who bought a house in the last two or three years now discover that the value of their house today is many thousands, if not tens of thousands less than what they paid for it.

People who bought homes recently are not the only ones to be hit in this downward spiral. So are many of those people who didn’t buy a house, but only refinanced their mortgage – in order to take money out of their house to cover expenses – or to cover growing credit card debt.

For the past two decades – as our wages fell progressively behind inflation, as good paying jobs dried up, replaced by low-wage jobs – more and more of us have fallen deep in debt. At the beginning it was credit card debt. Then, as credit card debt mounted to tens of thousands of dollars, the big mortgage companies began to push “debt refinancing” – trade in your credit card debt for a bigger mortgage on your house. Seeing no other possibility, many people did it, hoping that the future would bring a good change of fortune.

Well, the future is here, and it didn’t bring that good change.

It is bringing a collapse of the housing markets. And this has produced a situation where the equity many people own in their home is less than what they owe the bank. And the banks have one standard answer to that: pay up or get out.

Last year, nearly a million homes were foreclosed on. This year, experts expect it will be a million and a half, perhaps more.

All of this was made worse by the kinds of mortgages the big lenders pushed on home buyers or even on those who refinanced their mortgages: low introductory interest rates – often combined with no money down. But that was only the lure – and it was followed within a few years by increasing interest rates. For example, people who started out paying 5.5% on a mortgage two years ago find themselves paying 8.1% today. In another year, they may well owe more than 10% interest – enough to push payments beyond what many people can afford.

Many of these houses were seriously overpriced because the same financial interests giving out home loans were speculating in real estate – buying and selling houses, tracts of houses, big apartment buildings – and driving up the price with each purchase and sale.

Today, significantly over half of all people carry a mortgage that is too big for them to be able to pay it off should they run into any problems: a lost job, an illness, an unexpected expense on the house itself, or a fall in the price of their house.

We are living not only on borrowed money, but also on borrowed time.

And it’s not because we are spend-thrifts. It’s because, on the one hand, our jobs don’t pay what we need just to support a decent life; and on the other hand, capitalism is more and more a speculator’s paradise. Prices of gasoline jump skyward because the financial markets are speculating in barrels of oil. Prices of houses jump up for the same reason. Corn, water, even oranges – these are all the subject of speculation. And so everything costs us more as a result.

Our labor makes this capitalist society run. We have every reason to expect that, in turn, this society should provide us with all the necessities of life, including housing.

A system that turns the very necessities of life into the realm of speculation ought to be torn up and tossed aside.

Pages 2-3

The Detroit Public Schools’ Grapes of Wrath

Apr 16, 2007

One week after bowing to the pressure of hundreds of protestors and voting to keep schools open, the Detroit Board of Education voted again – this time to close 34 public schools.

The vote was taken quickly, before the audience realized what was happening, and the meeting was adjourned before the public comment period was allowed to take place. This time the crowd of protestors was smaller.

One week after this vote to close 34 schools, the Board met again and voted to extend the contract of their new superintendent to five years and to raise her pay to $280,000 a year – though she won’t even start in her position until July 1st!

School Board members say they need to pay well to attract a quality individual to the district and to allow her time to make a difference.

They need to pay well to attract quality people? How true that is – for everyone! It’s true for ALL those who make a difference in students’ lives: their teachers, surely, but also the workers who keep up the school buildings, who work in the school offices, and in the cafeterias. All of these workers make a much more direct impact on students’ lives than top administrators, and should be paid well, and given the resources to do their jobs well.

Instead, everyone below administrators is treated like interchangeable parts, made to do more and more work for less and less pay, and given fewer materials in crumbling schools to do their jobs.

And now they’ll crowd students into fewer schools, forcing teachers to try to give a quality education to more students at a time.

The School Board and its apparatus clearly do not care about giving a quality education to the children of Detroit. They simply see the district as a way to make money for their friends, and they see the superintendent as the person who will help them do that.

Two years ago the school board closed 30 schools in the district. Soon a number of them were reopened – as charter schools, where hucksters make money while the students receive an inferior education. The schools were a gift from the Board to those charter school administrators.

Now, this is a new school board – and they’re doing the same thing: gutting the school district, to line the pockets of their friends.

The school board showed how rotten they are at the meeting where they decided to close the 34 schools: they had a woman arrested and charged with disorderly conduct – for throwing a grape! The woman, Agnes Hitchcock, is a longtime activist in the Detroit community. The school board president, Jimmy Womack, called her a “social terrorist” – for throwing a grape!

If this school board has such a thin skin, it’s because the fruit of their actions is so clearly rotten.

Book banning and the morality patrol

Apr 16, 2007

Parent complaints led to the removal of a book about school bullies from the curriculum last week in Harford County Maryland, a suburb north of Baltimore. The superintendent removed R. Cormier's The Chocolate War from social studies classes for ninth graders.

The topic of the book is a serious problem facing students – bullying. The book also contains some name-calling.

Book banning? It’s the opposite of educating young people. In the 21st century, we are supposed to be past the era when self-anointed bigots watch our every step.

Apparently not!

Student loans:
Bankers feeding at the trough

Apr 16, 2007

In a legal settlement, the largest U.S. student loan company agreed to stop giving “incentives” to colleges in exchange for steering students to the company. SLM Corporation also agreed to pay two million dollars into a financial aid education fund set up by the New York Attorney General’s office.

Needless to say, two million dollars is not even a drop in the bucket for SLM, which is the largest company in the 85-billion-dollar student loan industry, and one of the most profitable companies in the country. The business couldn’t be more lucrative: not only does the federal government guarantee the repayment of any loan that is in default, it also guarantees these private lenders a profit on any student loan they make!

The so-called “student loan scandal” has so far revealed widespread corruption in the student loan system. The whole system is set up in such a way that invites corruption. When students apply for loans, colleges give them “preferred lender” lists, from which 90% of the students choose their lenders.

The federal government runs its own direct loan program for students, subsidized at a much lower cost. According to the Center for American Progress, the government could have saved 37 billion dollars between 1992 and 2005 if it had issued all student loans directly.

That’s 37 billion dollars of taxpayer money, and counting. That money could be used to pay college tuition for tens of thousands of working-class youth who face an impossible choice: giving up on a college education or graduating with tens of thousands of dollars of debt.

No, the politicians prefer to funnel all those billions of dollars into the pockets of their buddies, the bankers.

That’s the real scandal.

Don Imus fired
– but the reactionary media remain

Apr 16, 2007

CBS and MSNBC fired Don Imus for his racist and sexist remarks about the Rutgers women’s basketball team. The CEO of CBS, Leslie Moonves, oozing hypocrisy, then declared, “In our meetings with concerned groups, there has been much discussion of the effect language like this has on our young people, particularly young women of color trying to make their way in this society.”

What blatant _____!

Yes, networks may have backed off on Imus for a minute – because so many people reacted – but they have no intention of keeping views like his off the air. All those other reactionary “shock jocks” continue on as though nothing happened.

The biggest radio and TV networks run this kind of garbage all the time. Imus himself had a long history of making similar statements.

They pretend that “shock jocks” like Imus are “cutting edge,” when they really express the most backward, infantile, oppressive attitudes. People like Imus couldn’t be on the air for years if their views didn’t please the wishes of the big bosses they serve.

The capitalist media are conscious purveyors of reactionary political attitudes aimed at attacking black people, women, workers when they demand a decent wage, immigrants and unions – especially any union that tries to lead a fight to defend the interests of working people.

Abortion UltraSound!
Lawmakers from the Dark Ages

Apr 16, 2007

The legislature of South Carolina is considering a law suitable to the torture dungeons of the Dark Ages. Women needing an abortion would be forced to view ultrasound pictures of their fetus, just before the operation.

This barbarity is supported by South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, and passed the South Carolina House 91-23.

Who are these men who would dare to invade a woman’s most difficult moments? As if women who choose abortion don’t already know they had a difficult decision to make!

Bringing a child into this society presents one difficult choice after another, particularly for the poor.

Every woman faces the fact that there is little or no social support for her children, if she and her family cannot provide.

Those legislators, who are so ready to add to a woman’s grief – where were they, when funding for child services came up? Have they set up health care for all children, regardless of the mother’s ability to pay? Have they set up nurseries and pre-schools, so that children have good care while mothers earn a living? Have the legislators made sure that jobs are available, with wages a mother and child can survive on? No!

Have they made sure that effective and easy-to-use birth control methods are widely available? In a word, No!

Instead, legislators everywhere – not only in South Carolina! – deliberately maintain social conditions so threatening for children that women often choose abortion as a lesser evil.

In a rational society, such legislators would be reviled as the ghouls they are. But ours remains a society still not far removed from the days when women and children were chattel slaves.

Any more backward, and we will be in the dungeons.

Maryland “living wage” law:
Politics as usual

Apr 16, 2007

With the support of Maryland’s new Democratic governor, the state legislature recently passed a so-called “living wage” law. Larger state contractors will have to pay a minimum of $11.30 per hour in the Baltimore-Washington area. In the rest of the state, $8.50 per hour is all that is required.

Living wage? Who can support a family on $11.30 an hour – not to mention $8.50?

It’s just politics as usual, played by a governor who gets $150,000 thousand a year, plus a free car to ride around in and a dandy mansion to live in!

What a life

Apr 16, 2007

According to a study done at U.C. Berkeley and the Paris School of Economics, the gap between the very rich and everyone else in the United States is as big as it was just before the Great Depression. The report shows that in 2005, the richest 11% of Americans raked in 70% of the nation’s income. Meanwhile, the bottom 89% struggled with only a meager 30% of the nation’s income.

Don’t tell us things are getting better!

Pages 4-5

The Chrysler Sit-down of 1937:
The Workers Organize

Apr 16, 2007

During the Depression of the 1930s, the American working class took great steps forward to unite its forces. In December 1936 the workers in Flint, Michigan sat down for 44 days against General Motors, occupying GM factories. They won against court injunctions and police attacks. The sit-down fever spread like wildfire. Workers sat down in manufacturing plants, in laundries, in 5 & 10s, in restaurants, hotels and throughout the auto industry.

Shortly after the Flint sit-down strike ended, the Chrysler workers in Detroit took over their factories. On March 8, 1937, some 60,000 workers stopped production in all six Chrysler plants – at Dodge Main, Jefferson, Plymouth, Dodge Truck, Kercheval and DeSoto.

Foremen and supervisors were thrown out. Company guards were replaced with union men. The entrances were blocked off and secured by the workers. From that point on, anyone entering or leaving these plants had to have a pass from the strike committees.

Inside each of these plants, the workers set up their own communities. The first thing the strikers did in each plant was to elect various committees. They had a publicity committee, which issued daily newsletters inside each plant, keeping workers informed on what was going on inside and outside of the plant. There was a security committee, which set up guard patrols and regulated the passes. The workers set up fire protection and maintenance teams. And they had a first aid clinic.

Each plant had an entertainment committee, which set up activities to pass the long hours. They took over the P.A. systems and provided music throughout the plant. There were ping-pong, card and checker tournaments. Bands were organized. Some plants even had boxing matches.

The educational committee of each plant ran daily classes for the workers. They studied such things as “The History of American Trade Unions” and “Trade Union Strategy and Tactics.” Libraries were set up in the plants for the use of all the strikers.

Workers in each factory took over the telephone switchboards. They set up a complete communication system in the plants and to the outside. This way the workers kept in touch with their families and friends.

At one point during the strike, Bell Telephone Company shut down the lines running to Dodge Main. Workers told Bell Telephone that if it didn’t hook the lines back up, all the telephone equipment would be ripped out and thrown out the window into the street. Bell restored service to the strikers.

The sit-downers took over all the company cooking and eating facilities of each factory – the workers’ cafeterias and the executive dining rooms. Wives of the strikers came into the factories and cooked the strikers’ meals.

The wives of the strikers organized the Women’s Auxiliary, which played an important role in the strike. Besides helping out inside the plants, the women were very active on the picket lines and in the demonstrations.

Strict order was kept both inside the plants and outside. Regulations were passed by the workers requiring utmost cleanliness and good behavior. All liquor was prohibited inside the plants and on the picket lines.

The sit-downers set up their own courts inside the plants. Sentences were passed, if needed, according to the offense. A worker who didn’t wash regularly to keep clean was sentenced to scrubbing the bathrooms. A drunken striker would get the maximum penalty of being ordered out of the plant.

The 17 days that the workers stayed in the plants on their sit-down strike gave them a collective life they would always remember.

What they did not do, however, was to elect a committee to decide on the strike itself, one they could control by replacing the representatives who went against their wishes. Instead, the chief steward councils became the main organizing body of the strike inside each plant. And there was no elected body that coordinated activities and made decisions affecting the whole strike. Later this was to play a role in ending the strike before the workers wanted to.

Chrysler and the Government React

Chrysler and the government did everything they could to defeat the workers. The courts issued injunctions ordering the workers out of the plants – they were violating the sacred rights of private property.

The Democratic governor of Michigan, Frank Murphy, tried to set up a committee made up of management, clergy, civic leaders and the unions. This committee was supposed to bring back “law and order” to Detroit, by which they meant an end to the sit-downs.

But the workers knew what they were fighting for. When they heard about the court injunctions, they responded immediately. Inside the plants, all management personnel – including the clerks and executives who had been allowed into the offices – were put out. All company mail was held by the strikers. The switch boards were secured and the guard patrols were stepped up.

On the outside, massive numbers of pickets assembled. Thousands of workers took over the streets around the plants. And when the hearings on the injunction were taking place, over 7,000 workers surrounded the court house with a picket line.

Auto workers’ leaders refused to participate in the “law and order” boards. They told Governor Murphy that the problem wasn’t law and order, but wages, working conditions and job security. And most union leaders refused to go along with it.

Finally, when the police were starting to move against the strikers, representatives of various unions throughout the area met and called a demonstration for downtown Detroit in support of the sit-downers. On March 23, close to 200,000 workers assembled in Cadillac Square (now called Kennedy Square.)

Workers were beginning to see how the Democratic Party had sided with the bosses. Many talked about the need to build a new party for the workers – a labor party.

Together the workers had stood up to the courts by refusing their injunctions. They had stood up to the police and the threatened use of force against the strikers. They discovered something about the power they had. And they learned a great deal about the Democratic Party’s “friends of labor” who stood on the side of the bosses.

The Results of the Strike

Chrysler shifted position – seemingly 180 degrees. It proposed negotiations and offered to recognize the UAW as representative of the workers. BUT, it wanted something in exchange – that the workers should leave the plants.

UAW leaders, whose aim was simply to get the union recognized, set out to empty the plants. In fact, even before that, they had convinced most workers to leave the plants under the pretext they couldn’t provide food. On March 24 they signed an agreement to fully evacuate the plants in exchange for nothing more than continued negotiations. One week later they signed a contract. The agreement recognized the UAW but didn’t agree to a single one of the workers’ original demands. And this agreement gave Chrysler a no-strike pledge.

To get the union recognized, UAW leaders had been willing to fight hard. When management was hard-nosed, they were ready to organize the workers and show some strength. They had done this in Flint and now in Detroit.

What they weren’t ready to do was to take the workers’ struggles as far as the workers were ready to go. In fact, they acted to block the workers from going that far at the point the companies offered recognition.

The workers had won a major victory. They showed the strength of what workers can do when they are united.

They may not have been able to stop the deal in 1937, but they didn’t stop fighting. All during World War II, there were hundreds of brief wild-cat strikes, enforcing respect for safety or getting rid of a rotten foreman. The gains made over the next three decades were made only because these workers were ready to strike and the auto companies knew it.

It’s only in the last few decades that we really see what the partnership between union and company means – the damage it has done to the workers’ interests.

But just like in the depths of the 1930s “Great Depression,” when the workers roused themselves and pushed to drive the bosses out of the factories they occupied, so today the workers can once again rouse themselves, driving the bosses out permanently.

Kerkorian and Iacocca:
Circling Chrysler for the third time

Apr 16, 2007

Kirk Kerkorian made another offer to buy Chrysler, for 4.5 billion dollars. He has the support of Lee Iacocca, according to Kerkorian’s lawyers.

These two stand to make a lot of money, whether the deal goes through or not.

Iacocca made a lot of money pushing concessions through Chrysler in the 1980s. He made over 38 million dollars for 1986 and 1987 alone including his salary, bonuses, dividends and stock options.

Iacocca was asked at the time about his enormous compensation when the company was supposedly going through tough times and he said, “That’s the American way. If little kids don’t aspire to make money like I did, what the hell good is this country. You gotta give them a role model.” A role model as a cheat, thief and liar!

Role model Iacocca teamed up with Kerkorian to buy Chrysler in 1995. That offer was rejected, but Kerkorian made 2.7 billion dollars from his investment. No one even knows what Iacocca pocketed.

Now these vultures are circling for a third time. Time to send these “role models” where they belong – to a deep, dark prison!

Pages 6-7

Hospital System on Life Support

Apr 16, 2007

In a suburb of Washington D.C., the Prince Georges County hospital system of three hospitals and two nursing homes is threatening to close by June of this year. As in the past, management says it is approaching bankruptcy.

The hospital system is managed by a private company that was brought in with expectations that it would keep the money-losing system running. If management can be paid, and doctors and insurance companies and pharmaceutical suppliers can be paid, there is money for health care available. Perhaps this whole announcement is a pressure tactic by the company to get the county to come up with the 170 million more dollars and the state to come up with another 159 million that officials say is needed.

What does it mean for people in the area, some of whom are the poorest in the region? About 180,000 people, half of whom are uninsured, would have to travel much farther to find treatment. Ambulances would be tied up trying to find somewhere to take patients. More people would die.

In addition, thirty-one hundred trauma patients would put pressure on other overflowing emergency rooms in the D.C. area – not to mention the additional care for 122,000 emergency room visits now taking place at the three hospitals. Thirty-five hundred babies would have to be born elsewhere.

Closing this system would be especially catastrophic for the poor. The threat is proof that our society has little interest in the care of the sick, only in money-making for those at the top.

Morocco:
Demonstrations and strikes

Apr 16, 2007

The following article is from the April 13 issue of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers' group of that name active in France.

For several months now, there have been protests of the population in many Moroccan cities against the high cost of living. Since the beginning of April there has been a movement expressing discontent by transport workers and public employees.

The protest movement began last September with a demonstration in Rabat against a rise in the cost of public transit. Then it spread to a protest against high prices in general, particularly increases in the cost of drinking water and electricity. Protests occurred in Khénifra, Khémisset and Casablanca and also in smaller cities.

Each week or each month when bills come due, almost 70 "coordinations against the high cost of living" call demonstrations. There are rallies of dozens, hundreds and sometimes thousands of ordinary people, mostly women, who are the ones directly confronted with the headache of having to pay bills at the end of the month. Demonstrations and sit-ins take place in front of the local offices of the National Office of Drinkable Water, run by the private contractors Lydec and Redeal, or in front of the headquarters of local authorities. How can people pay a power and water bill of 1,200 dirhams when many workers earn only 600 dirhams a month?

Other movements have developed in the transport sector. The "Union of Highway Transport," affiliated with the Moroccan Workers Union, called for a strike movement on April 3-4 of car chauffeurs, small truck and taxi drivers. These workers have to pay extreme penalties for a new traffic code, while they are penalized by the terrible conditions of the roads, due to the lack of state maintenance. Their movement went on for several days. At the same time, port, railroad and airline workers were called by their unions to take part in strike movements.

The repercussions of these strike actions are affecting the delivery of gas to service stations and food to grocery stores. Meanwhile, public employees have gone out on numerous strikes, demanding wage and pension increases, among other things, and respect for workers' right to unionize.

Judges say Northwest flight attendants don’t have right to strike

Apr 16, 2007

Upholding a lower court injunction, a federal appeals court recently ruled that Northwest flight attendants do not have the right to strike against the airline. The federal appeals judges said, “Although this is a complicated case, one feature is simple enough to describe: Northwest’s flight attendants have proven intransigent in the face of Northwest’s manifest need to reorganize.”

But this case wasn’t complicated at all. The flight attendants pointed out that Northwest management imposed pay cuts and work rule changes on them without their agreement and therefore violated their contract and the law. The federal judges said that even if the laws regarding contracts are in the workers’ favor, the bankruptcy laws favor the bosses. And the bankruptcy laws are the ones that count. In other words, laws that favor the bosses trump laws that favor the workers.

Northwest management lied about the company’s real financial condition when it claimed it was bankrupt in 2005 and was granted bankruptcy protection by the courts. Northwest now admits it made 301 million dollars in pretax profits in 2006 minus bankruptcy expenses. It is planning to give its 400 officers and directors 232 million dollars worth of stock when it officially emerges from bankruptcy later this year. But it is proposing to give nothing to the workers.

If the flight attendants are indeed “intransigent,” as the federal judges claim, they are right to be so. Northwest’s “bankruptcy” and “reorganization” has been just another big ripoff of the workers’ jobs, pay and benefits.

The courts clearly protect the bosses no matter what the facts. If workers want to defend themselves against the bosses’ attacks, they will have to do it ignoring the courts and all the laws that favor the bosses.

Page 8

Iraq:
Four years of occupation. The U.S. army must get out!

Apr 16, 2007

Four years ago, on April 9, 2003, the U.S. army entered Baghdad and overthrew the Saddam Hussein regime. This operation, preceded by thousands of missiles and bombs, involved more than 200,000 U.S. soldiers, supported by those of the “Coalition,” particularly the British. The U.S. General Staff called it operation “Iraqi Freedom.”

On the fourth anniversary of its “victory,” the U.S. army was forced to prohibit car traffic in Baghdad due to the fear of assassination attempts. It was in vain. On that day, like every day, there were dozens of killings. In another city, young Iraqis waiting in line to sign up with the police were the victims of a suicide attack. The official figures say that 2,500 civilians are killed each month and 3,281 U.S. soldiers have been killed since the beginning of the war.

This same April 9, tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of demonstrators protested, demanding the withdrawal of the occupation troops. Commenting on this demonstration, a spokesman of President Bush asserted that, “Iraq, four years on, is a place where people can freely gather and express their opinions, and that was something they could not do under Saddam.” Today it is equally a place where the occupation army can intervene anywhere and shoot, where neighborhoods are separated by barbed wire and by the armed men of different religious factions, where the infrastructure is destroyed, schools and hospitals abandoned, traffic is impossible and the provision of supplies is difficult. It is a place where those, who can, push to get out and where those who remain – the immense majority, the poorest – live in fear.

Just three days after the fourth anniversary of the U.S. entry into Baghdad there was a massive suicide bombing inside the Green Zone in a restaurant right next to the Iraqi Parliament. Three legislators were killed along with five others. The bomber had smuggled the explosives through eight layers of security and at least three checks for explosives. Obviously he had help from men inside the government’s security apparatus. This explosion in one of most heavily guarded buildings in the world puts the lie to all the U.S. claims.

Behind the pretext about weapons of mass destruction (which didn’t exist) hid much more sordid interests. The war against Iraq was an opportunity to award contracts to the business friends of Bush: Halliburton, which Dick Cheney headed, Bechtel, Blackwater and vultures of lesser importance who supply the U.S. army or rent it mercenaries.

Bush and his circle of oil men especially wanted to put their hands on the oil wells. Iraq holds the second greatest oil reserves in the world. And alongside these possibilities of plunder, the lives and condition of 25 million Iraqis, and the lives of U.S. soldiers, count for nothing. The occupiers aren’t even concerned about assuring the population drinkable water and electricity. The important thing was that dollars flowed into the pockets of some big and small capitalists, all friends of the Bush government. This war in Iraq was and remains a war of the most brazen imperialist banditry.

The U.S. government, through leading a war of occupation, destroying the country and pitting religious factions against each other, has led Iraq into a catastrophic impasse. There is no doubt that when the U.S. pulls out, the civil war that the U.S. aroused and encouraged won’t stop. But the U.S., British and other troops must get out! This is what the Iraqi population demands and what a growing part of the U.S. population also demands.

The British Marines
– Why were they in the Middle East?

Apr 16, 2007

The 15 marines of the British army who fell into the hands of the Iranian “Revolutionary Guard” were finally released by Iran on April 4. They had been held in detention for 13 days.

According to Tehran, the two boatloads of British marines were inside the territorial waters of Iran. According to London, they were inside Iraqi waters.

The Iranian leaders obviously wanted to show that they were able to intercept British soldiers near their borders, exactly as American soldiers had done with the Iranian “Revolutionary Guard” who were arrested recently in Iraq.

We will undoubtedly never know where the British soldiers were really located and what their real mission was. But this we do know – whether they were in Iranian waters or Iraqi waters, they shouldn’t have been there. They weren’t in British waters, no more than American troops are on American soil.

Pentagon directives show troop “surge” is not temporary

Apr 16, 2007

Defense Secretary Gates has announced the Pentagon is extending the normal tour of duty for almost all army units in Iraq and Afghanistan from 12 months to 15 months starting now. It is also going to re-activate four entire national guard brigades for another tour of combat duty without waiting the five years the guard is supposed to have between call-ups. They will be sent starting next December. The Pentagon has already reduced the time active army units stay in the U.S. before being returned to Iraq from between 18 and 24 months to only 12 months.

This puts the lie to all Bush’s claims that the troop “surge” in Iraq is only a temporary action. The troop buildup also exposes the Democrats’ pretense of opposing the war for the con game that it is.

Sending additional troops is not a way to leave Iraq or Afghanistan. It only widens these wars, lengthens them and costs still more lives – Iraqi lives, Afghani lives and the lives of U.S. troops.

This war will be stopped by stronger and stronger opposition from the population and an army that crumbles from within.