Flotsam & Jetsam: Finding music
45 minutes ago
“In 1988, the Iranian government summarily and extra-judicially executed thousands of political prisoners held in Iranian jails…The majority of those executed were serving prison sentences for their political activities…Those who had been sentenced, however, had not been sentenced to death….”
“Fundamentalists began to constrict the Left’s room to maneuver, purging their members from positions of power, attacking their offices, gatherings, and demonstrations, and intimidating or arresting their members and supporters. For instance, they attacked university campuses, intimidated and arrested students and faculty, and in June 1980 set in motion a `cultural revolution’ to cleanse the universities of the Left. Fundamentalists permanently occupied Tehran University by making its grounds the site for the official Friday Prayers…”
It’s shaping up to be a shocker of a year, both at home and abroad. Long-held Labor hatreds have hit the airwaves, manna from heaven for Abbott and his junta, so God help us all. Freaky KRudd pretends to be the ‘people’s man’ when he’s an egotistical maniac using desperate tactics to regain his crown, but when it comes to crucial areas like state aid and taking an independent stance on foreign policy, the difference between them is thin to the point of invisibility. Labor lost its heart and soul a long time ago – the Libs wouldn’t know what you’re talking about - and caved in to the big end of town.
In the background, pulling many strings and using manipulated opinion polls, merciless Murdoch and his media empire have unleashed a one-sided onslaught, just like he did against Whitlam in 1975. Whatever happens, hypocrisy and lies will take centre stage.
Like they are in Syria and everywhere else. The sight of war criminals Obama, Clinton (I wonder what she said to Rudd) and the US Ambassador to the UN lecturing Assad and his besieged government on human rights was sick-making. Is Obama a simple hypocrite, an idiot or simply doesn’t care?
Washington’s now in its second decade of murdering Muslim men, women and children in six countries, dropping bombs on schools, hospitals, weddings and funerals, naturally in the name of human rights. 800,000 or 1.3 million dead Iraqis and four million displaced, a destroyed country with entire cities bombed and burnt to a cinder with white phosphorus. Ditto Afghanistan. Ditto Libya, now a dismembered country where banditry, torture and summary executions by hundreds of out-of-control militias are the order of the day. In Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia Washington’s drones deliver western-style human rights to the people. And I haven’t mentioned those bastions of freedom, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and the secret CIA torture centres.
You really have to ask is the world so mad, so deranged that Washington and its surrogates can continue murdering innocent people year in and year out and still claim to be the defender of human rights? According to their template, rulers of countries that don’t belong to the Western club - NATO countries, Israel, the emirs of the Gulf States and the ruling family of Saudi Arabia - are ‘dictators’ and theirs for the taking. It’s therefore OK for rebels (?) to get rid of them in order to enjoy western-style ‘democracy’, naturally supported by the ‘people’ and when government forces counter-attack, ‘the dictators are killing their own people’ and the international community (NATO) must step in. The ‘goodies’ don’t give a toss when the country they ‘helped’ sinks into chaos as armed thugs roam, prisoners are tortured, women are put back in their box, salaries are unpaid, education and social welfare are ignored, but oil is pumped and the West moves on to ‘liberate’ the next country. Syria and Iran?
The road to Damascus and on to Armageddon? Pollsters should put that question to citizens of the United States and the European Union and if they had a modicum of common sense you’d reckon they’d opt to avoid WW3. Washington’s money is also putting anti-Putin Russians on to the streets. As Karl Marx said: ‘money turns everything into a commodity that can be bought and sold…all other values are defeated…nothing remains but filthy lucre.’ This is the way that Washington rules. The western media are complicit if not key to this appalling state of affairs.
Once upon a time there was diplomacy and an organisational structure called the United Nations, but the US decided that as a sole superpower it didn’t need diplomacy and turned the UN into an instrument of US policy, currently led by the obsequious Ban Ki-moon who has the gall to rabbit on about ‘moral responsibility’. Adding to the nightmare, the European Union is now a reactionary outfit and authoritarian lapdog of the United States. Assad’s no angel but knows what he’s in for if he loses. Saddam Hussein? Qaddafi?
Greece has also become a test case for far-right social engineering, a form of carpet-bombing of what’s left of hard-won rights. The ‘austerity package’ seeks to impose terms that no-one could accept. Huge cuts in wages, pensions, health care and wholesale privatisation of public assets sold at rock-bottom prices, all of it supervised by unelected outsiders. For the first time since WW2 large slabs of Greek society are facing pauperisation, with soup kitchens, homelessness and migration on the rise. At stake is an attempt by the EU-IMF-ECB troika, along with sections of the Greek bourgeoisie, to violently impose ‘regime change’ turning Greece into a Special Economic Zone for investors. The ‘bailout’ won’t help Greeks. It’s a bailout for the global financial system – the banks, hedge funds and pension funds of other EU members – and is callous and won’t work. The real problem is the Euro, which increased imbalances, benefiting a few core countries like Germany.
We must do whatever we can to fight against the dreadful neo-fascist path we’re being taken down. Supporting Cuba is a positive thing to do, which is why it was so good having Cuban Ambassador Pedro Monzon and Celia spend a few days with us, meeting trade unionists, talking with people and opening the cartoon exhibition by Gerardo Hernandez, which attracted a great deal of genuine interest and lifted the profile of the Cuban Five. In a few weeks, we’ll be holding our National Consultation in Canberra, once again giving us a chance to catch up with each other and share ideas. Viva!
“…The unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.3 percent…The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) was little changed at 5.4 million in February. These individuals accounted for 42.6 percent of the unemployed…
“The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was essentially unchanged at 8.1 million in February. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job…
“In February, 2.6 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, essentially unchanged from a year earlier…These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey…
“Among the marginally attached, there were 1.0 million discouraged workers in February, about the same as a year earlier…Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them…
“Professional and business services added 82,000 jobs in February. Just over half of the increase occurred in temporary help services (+45,000)…
“Construction employment changed little in February…Over the month, employment fell by 14,000 in nonresidential specialty trade contractors…
“Overall, employment in retail trade changed little in February. A large job loss in general merchandise stores (-35,000) more than offset an increase in January…”
“….The employees of all government establishments took an active part in the effort to overthrow the tyrannical regime by calling a general strike and participating in street demonstrations. The wide-spread solidarity of men and women of all segments of society and of all political and religious factions, played a clearly determining role in the struggle. Especially the women were actively and massively present in the most conspicuous manner at all stages of this great struggle. The common sight of mothers with infants in their arms rushing towards the scene of battle and in front of the barrels of machineguns indicated the essential and decisive role played by this major segment of society in the struggle.”
“Iran was essentially a police state where the armed forces constituted the ultimate power base. The strength and political stability of the regime was based on the effective functioning of its security bases, which were directed by the American Central Intelligence Agency.”