March, 14, 2013, Issue #189
HUDSON VALLEY ACTIVIST NEWSLETTER
firstname.lastname@example.org, P.O. Box 662, New Paltz, NY 12561
1. RALLY FOR WOMEN’S RIGHTS
2. BUILD THE WOMEN’S FIGHT BACK MOVEMENT
3. 10 YEARS SINCE BUSH BOMBARDED BAGHDAD
4. AS BAGHDAD BURNS
5. AN UNJUST, ILLEGAL AND IMMORAL WAR
6. U.S. CORPORATIONS: BIG PROFITS, LOW TAXES
7. SARTRE BRIGADE TO STRIKE IN AFGHANISTAN
HUDSON VALLEY READERS — SAVE THE DATE Saturday, April 13, for our “U.S. DRONES OUT OF MIDDLE EAST, AFRICA, & EVERYWHERE” protest in New Paltz, coinciding with nationwide demonstrations. Join our picket line with signs visible to busy traffic at 10:30 a.m. in front of the Elting Library (Main St. across from Starbucks). At 12 noon we will march with signs and leaflets through the business district (about a half hour to an hour). Organized by the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter. Information, email@example.com. There are two nearby public parking lots on Plattekill Ave., including at Village Hall.
1. RALLY FOR WOMEN’S RIGHTS
By the Activist Newsletter
There was a snowstorm that made driving a big problem at night, but, 225 people — mostly students — attended a March 7 Rally to Defend Women’s Rights in the auditorium of the State University of New York in New Paltz.
The event was organized by the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter in response to a nationwide call from Women Organized to Resist and Defend (WORD) to commemorate International Women’s Day by protesting violence against women and the increasing right wing attacks on women’s rights. All told, 11 cities and towns responded to the call in Albuquerque, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Haven, New Paltz, New York City, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Syracuse, and Washington, D.C.
Some 55 organizations endorsed the New Paltz event, from the New York Civil Liberties Union and many women’s, student, community and activist groups, to the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation.
According to Donna Goodman, a union delegate (United University Professions, AFL-CIO, SUNY New Paltz chapter), and an editor of the Activist Newsletter, the snowstorm cut anticipated attendance by over half “but it turned out to be a great evening.” She told the crowd that “We are in the process of organizing a WORD chapter in New Paltz to serve the Mid-Hudson region.”
Speakers at the rally, in this order, included: Carling Devin, founder/facilitator, New Paltz Survivors Support Group. Gwen Wright, Executive Director of the NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence. Donna Goodman, the main rally organizer. Mira Liane Bowin, poet. Rickie Solinger, historian and writer. Kerbie Joseph, activist, Women Organized to Resist and Defend. The Sexy Pitches, SUNY NP a cappella group. Beth Soto, Executive Director of the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation. Abigail Robin, retired professor. Barbara Upton, Women In Black, New Paltz.
Gwen Wright’s Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence is the nation’s only executive-level agency solely dedicated to improving the state’s response to and prevention of domestic violence of its kind in the U.S. This, in a country where a women reports a rape every 6.2 minutes, but very many assaults are not reported, so there could be one rape every three minutes, or even worse. Over a million women are reported raped and/or physically assaulted by an intimate partner each year. In 2010, more than one in three women in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
Wright noted that young women 20-24 are at greatest risk from intimate partner violence, but all women and girls are at risk. In terms of the huge number of women who report violence and rape, she said, much of the violence remains woefully underreported. She urged audience members to ask a friend “are you all right” if there are signs of possibly concealed domestic abuse. To the left of the podium as she spoke were the life-size silhouettes of over a dozen women murdered by their partners in Ulster County.
In her speech Goodman said: “Social, economic and political conditions in the United States today suggest it is time for a revival of the mass movement to defend and extend women’s rights. The beginnings are visible; the causes are obvious. At issue is whether these beginnings will burgeon into a powerful, independent movement to beat back the conservative attack and push forward the agenda for women’s rights beyond the great advances by our sisters some decades ago.
“History has demonstrated that women have made their maximum gains only through struggle…. While we must continue and accelerate the fight to stop violence against women, to defend reproductive justice, and demand full equality for women workers, there are other issues as well that command our attention in this conservative era. Why shouldn’t a new women’s upsurge fight for substantial social programs, fight for poor women, fight for peace, environmental sanity, and union rights? These, too, are women’s issues….”
Rickie Solinger has written many books including four well-known to advocates of reproductive jusrice: “Pregnancy and Power,” “Wake Up Little Susie,” “Abortion Wars,“ and “The Abortionist.” She argued that reproductive freedom includes recognizing such factors as class, race, social, economic, and political factors. Not all women, she implied, enjoy a “choice” in the matter of abortion because of such factors.
Unionist Beth Soto emphasized that “the AFL-CIO union movement champions workplace issues that affect women and all working Americans, such as equal pay, child and elder care benefits, job security, safe workplaces, affordable health care, contraceptive equity, protection from sexual harassment and violence at work. Many of these points are now being addressed in the New York Women’s Equality Act.” The union movement strongly supports the 10-point act.
Reminding the audience that equal pay has been the law since 1963, Soto pointed out that women are paid 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. “This gap is more pronounced for women of color, with black women earning 61cents and Hispanic women earning 52 cents for every dollar paid to a white male.”
WORD activist Kirbie Joseph declared: “Tonight I would like to talk about a form of violence against women that often goes unrecognized as violence. This form of violence against women is woven into every aspect of our lives through our economic and political system. What isn’t violent about making inferior wages to men? What isn’t violent about lacking access to healthcare and education? What isn’t violent about budget cuts to social programs? What isn’t violent about living in poverty?… Some 17 million women live in poverty in the United States. One of the reasons a woman may remain in an abusive relationship is because she lacks the ability to be economically independent.”
Barbara Upton, a staunch peace advocate who founded a weekly vigil that has met on a local street corner since soon after the 911 attacks, spoke about women and war:
“Two photographs from the early days of the Afghanistan War are seared into my soul. In one, an old man with a white beard and turban is carrying a young girl. She could be his granddaughter. She has on a crocheted, violet shawl with fringe hanging down, her eyes are closed and both of her feet had just been blown off. In another, a young boy of five or six is screaming in pain. There is very little skin left on the front of his body. These are the true pictures of war. The sanitized, glorified version our media feeds us bears little resemblance to the horrors that war inflicts and it is women and children who suffer the most. So it is just and makes perfect sense that it is women who are the leading force in the peace movement in the world today….
“We need a strong women’s movement to protect our rights in this country, but we also need one to have the backs of women… around the world who are putting their lives on the line for peace and justice every day. Together we are an unshakable force! Please sign up to be a part of a local chapter of WORD. We need each other and we will prevail.”
— WORD IS A NEW grassroots, feminist organization that is dedicated to building the struggle for women’s rights and equality for all. It was formed because of the shocking number of attacks in recent years on the rights of women, through anti-abortion legislation, slashing of social services and new heights of misogyny in the rhetoric of the right wing. The group says: “Now more than ever, a new, fighting women’s movement is needed. We believe in organizing and taking to the streets, independent of the politicians of either major party. Throughout history, the gains that women have made have been won through militant struggle. We want to revive this kind of struggle by uniting all women to defend our rights.”
— IF YOU ARE INTERESTED in the New Paltz chapter of WORD that is in formation, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
—WORD produced a three minute video that was shown at the rally. It’s at
— WORD has published accounts of all 11demonstrations last week.
— THANK YOU TO OUR ENDORSERS: New York Civil Liberties Union, Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation (AFL-CIO), Upper Hudson Central Labor Council (AFL-CIO), SEIU Local 200 United, United University Professions (AFL-CIO, SUNY NP chapter), Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW-AFL-CIO), Onteora Teachers Assn., American Association of University Women (Kingston), New Paltz Women in Black, Amnesty International (Mid-Hudson), Bard College Student Labor Dialogue, Washbourne House (women and children's shelter), Orange County Democratic Women, Ulster County Democratic Women, Sociology Dept. (SUNY NP), Progressive Academic Network (SUNY NP), Environmental Task Force (community/campus), NP Climate Action Coalition, NYPIRG and OXFAM (SUNY NP chapters), Students for Justice in Palestine (SUNY NP), Move to Amend of Ulster County, Peace and Social Progress Now, Mid-Hudson ANSWER, Haitian People’s Support Project, Middle East Crisis Response, Women Organized to Resist and Defend (WORD), Hudson Valley Progressives, Women Against War, WESPAC, Orange County Democratic Alliance, MoveOn Council (Ulster County), Queer Action Coalition (SUNY NP), Real Majority Project, Party for Socialism and Liberation, La Voz magazine (Bard), Occupy New Paltz, Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program (SUNY NP), Orange County Peace Coalition, Voice for Choice (SUNY NP), Woodstock Women in Black, R.I.P.P.D., Beacon Sloop Club, Grassroots Alliance for Alternative Politics (Vassar), Planned Parenthood (M-H Valley), Safe Homes of Orange County, YWCA (Orange County), Rape Crisis, Dutchess Greens, Dutchess Peace, End the New Jim Crow Action Committee, Take Back the Night SUNY (NP). Hudson River Playback Theatre.
2. BUILD THE WOMEN’S FIGHT BACK MOVEMENT
Following is Donna Goodman’s speech at the March 7 rally.
Social, economic and political conditions in the United States today suggest it is time for a revival of the mass movement to defend and extend women’s rights. The beginnings are visible; the reasons are obvious.
At issue is whether these beginnings will burgeon into a powerful, independent movement to beat back the conservative attack and push forward the agenda for women’s rights beyond the great advances by our sisters some decades ago.
History has demonstrated that women have made their maximum gains only through struggle. It took a hundred years of struggle to obtain the right to vote. It took less time but great energy, innovation and guts to build upon that victory to win the reforms of the 1960s and ‘70s.
Today, women’s rights are under fierce attack by the right wing. In the last three weeks eight new restrictions on abortion rights passed in six states, including a ban after 12 weeks in Arkansas. All told, 135 anti-abortion provisions have become law in a score of states in 2011-12. And despite the fact that 63% of Americans favor keeping Roe v. Wade, the conservative Supreme Court has it in its gun sights.
Several speakers tonight are discussing various problems in detail, such as the high level of violence and rape against women in America, the status of women workers, reproductive rights and other issues. I’m focusing on the obstacles in the way of attaining some key goals of the modern women’s movement.
Conservatives are not the only problem. There is much Washington could do to expand women’s rights -- through social programs and reforms -- but it hasn’t done so. There have hardly been any such programs since President Lyndon Johnson left office. At that time the Democratic Party was positioned on the center left, but that was 45 years ago. It’s a different party today. Liberalism is isolated.
At one time, for a few decades after World War II, the U.S. led the world in many ways. But compared to other wealthy capitalist countries America has fallen far behind — from statistics on infant mortality to adult longevity, from health care to education, from women’s rights to welfare, from poverty to hunger and homelessness.
This isn’t because America is poor. The corporations, banks and Wall St. rake in enormous profits. To quote the BBC yesterday about the world’s richest nation: “Child poverty in the U.S. has reached record levels, with almost 17 million children now affected. A growing number are also going hungry on a daily basis.”
When low income kids are added to poor kids, that’s about half our children.
We need more government programs to help many millions of poor single mothers and their children. That’s a feminist issue. What’s happening to them is a cruel shame. Some 40% of single mother families are poor, although two thirds work outside the home at some point during the year. Those who can handle full-time, yearlong jobs do better, of course, but given the paucity of support from government it’s impossible for many millions of women to hold such jobs and raise a family without help.
As Katie Wright wrote for the Center for American Progress: “Job quality is critical for single mothers, who are especially likely to work in low-wage jobs. In fact, more than 80% of low-wage workers don’t have access to a single paid sick day. Without paid sick days single mothers are forced to choose between losing their job and caring for a sick child. A single mother with two children, working full time at $10 per hour, would slip below the poverty line if one of her children got sick, and she had to miss three days of work without pay. Inflexible work schedules and unstable child care arrangements can be significant barriers to work for single mothers in poverty.”
Here’s a current example of where those who rule America put their priorities. You all know about the so called budget sequester — which was foolishly agreed to by both ruling parties — and some of you are probably worried about how it’s going to impact you and your family. The New York Times reported the other day that “the sequestration cuts, contain billions of dollars in mandatory budget reductions in programs that help low-income Americans, including… a supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children known as WIC, which provides food and baby formula for at-risk families [and many other benefits]…. Up to 775,000 low-income women and their children might lose access to or be denied that aid because of the mandatory cuts.”
According to the American Friends Service Committee: “Just a few smart cuts from the bloated Pentagon budget could easily account for the $1.5 trillion in cuts that the sequester mandates over the next 10 years. How? Take the F-35 program, the most expensive and least effective weapons system in history. The total lifetime cost of the F-35 program is $1.5 trillion — making it equal to the entire 10 years of cuts mandated by the sequester.”
And lets not forget: Aggression in Iraq will end up costing four trillion dollars.
Dozens of countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development provide far superior humane services to single mothers and their families. What is wrong with our political system? Try excess military spending on wars of choice. Try the enormous inequality that exists between the small minority of the rich and the rest of us. Try a decaying political system where elections and many office holders are bought and sold by big money interests. And despite the fact that millions of men support female equality, try male supremacist attitudes remaining in American society, especially among those in power.
We need government programs to take dramatic and widespread action to sharply reduce violence against women — from attacks by intimate partners to the endless number of vicious rapes, mainly of younger women, but all ages are victimized. It was good that Congress finally renewed the Violence Against Women Act — but the vote should have been unanimous. 138 House members and 22 Senators voted “no”! But judging by current conditions, we need a great deal more than this legislation and law enforcement to secure our safety.
I suspect that if upper-class men were beaten, raped and killed at the rate we women suffer this fate there would be swift draconian solutions from Washington!
For openers, why can’t we begin educating our young boys in the early school grades about treating girls and women with respect, and engaging with girls and women on the basis of equality, cooperation and nonviolence? This could be a mandated part of elementary and secondary education. And self defense classes for all girls at the same time.
One important goal for women and men is a family-friendly workplace, with flex time, days off for family emergencies, sufficient time off with pay for new mothers, adequate paid vacations, and sick days and other benefits.”
Feminist author Stephanie Coontz wrote in a New York Times Op-Ed Feb. 16 that a big reason gender equity has been stalled is that “progress in adopting family-friendly work practices and social policies has proceeded at a glacial pace.” According to Greg Kaufman writing in The Nation three months ago — the U.S. “lags far behind other high-income countries in supporting the combination of ‘jobholding and caregiving’” that are necessary in single mother families and families with two parents who work.
Coontz also pointed out, “Women are still paid less than men at every educational level and in every job category. They are less likely than men to hold jobs that offer flexibility or family-friendly benefits. When they become mothers, they face more scrutiny and prejudice on the job than fathers do….”
In this connection, the ACLU — a staunch advocate for women’s equality — noted this month that “It has been 35 years since the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 was enacted, yet pregnant women are still being pushed out of the workplace by their employers. It has been fifty years since the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, yet the gender pay gap still exists.”
As we continue and accelerate the fight to stop violence against women, to defend reproductive justice, and demand full equality for women workers, there are other issues that also command our attention in this conservative era. Why shouldn’t a new women’s upsurge fight for substantial social programs, fight for poor women, fight to end discrimination against the LGBT community, fight for peace, environmental sanity, and union rights? These, too, are women’s issues and their attainment would change our world.
It seems to me the women’s movement is reviving. The last time we organized a commemoration of International Women’s Day in this very room was 17 years ago. The campus hasn't seen a substantial IWD event since then.
We planned tonight’s meeting just after our successful march and rally on Women’s Equality Day in New Paltz last Aug. 26, when it became clear that women’s rights were returning to the immediate agenda. The Activist Newsletter organized both events at the call of Women Organized to Resist and Defend, or WORD.
Judging by tonight’s turnout, especially in threatening weather, it does seem a potential movement is growing, and we must help it grow larger. Other demonstrations in response to WORD’s initiative will be held Friday and Saturday in New York City, San Diego, Sacramento, Syracuse, Albuquerque, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Haven, and perhaps other places, too.
We have been impressed by the breadth of community support for this meeting. As a union woman I’m thrilled by the endorsements of the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation, Upper Hudson Central Labor Council, SEIU Local 200 United, United University Professions, and Coalition of Labor Union Women. And by the support of student movements and campus organizations, feminist groups, and various peace, social justice, and political groups.
In conclusion I want you to know we will be sponsoring more events and want you take part. Sign up to find out more about our new WORD chapter. And remember: When women’s rights are under attack, what do we did? Stand up, fight back!
3. 10 YEARS SINCE BUSH BOMBARDED BAGHDAD
By the Activist Newsletter
This March 19 marks the 10-year anniversary of the U.S. illegal and unjust invasion and war against the Iraqi government and its people. The Activist Newsletter has published hundreds of articles about the war — before, during and after U.S. troops finally withdraw at the end of 2011.
The Bush Administration’s mission cost the United States several trillion dollars that our grandchildren will be paying off with interest, killed up to a million Iraqi civilians and created 4 million refugees. It was a historic defeat for the Pentagon. The most powerful military juggernaut in history was forced into a stalemate by some 25,000 urban guerrillas who finally were paid off to stop fighting.
Millions of American’s opposed the war before it started. Between October 2002 and March 2003 there were thousands of protests throughout America. The Answer Coalition alone organized five mass demonstrations of over 100,000 people in Washington during those six months, including one (Jan. 18, 2003) which drew 500,000. The mass peace movement nearly collapsed after President Obama took over, although the U.S. continued to wage war throughout his first term and now into his second. (From October 2002 to March, 2010, the Activist Newsletter organized over 20 antiwar protests in the Mid-Hudson region and 14 long distance bus trips to protests in Washington and New York, all but a few organized by ANSWER.)
The alleged justification for the war was that the Iraq government possessed weapons of mass destruction that were going to be used against the United States. There was sufficient information for participants in this mass “preemptive antiwar movement” to understand that the justification was a lie. But most of the politicians chose to believe the lie because they agreed with its real goals, and most Americans went along out of ignorance or jingoism. What were the Bush Administration’s real goals?:
1. Regime change to bring a government subordinate to Washington’s dictates in one of the most oil-rich countries in the Middle East. 2. Compounding that victory in Iraq into quick violent regime change in Iran and Syria — a move that would guarantee total U.S. domination over a region that reposed upon the greatest reserves of petroleum in the world.
We wrote and circulated the following two articles the day after the “shock and awe decapitation attack" bombing of Baghdad 10 years ago.
4. AS BAGHDAD BURNS
March 20, 2003: The emotions storm as Baghdad burns on television -- damn their guns!
Damn the warmakers, the war profiteers, the war stock exchanges, the war corporations, the war CEOs, the war rich, the war White House, the war Congress, the war politicians, the war Pentagon, the war generals, the war planners, the war imperialists, the war think-tanks, the war newspapers, the war TV networks, the war schools, the war teachers, the war churches, and the war lovers in all their configurations.
We must transform this sorrow, this burning anger, into individual and organized action to oppose George Bush's unjust war with all our strength. Since our mighty international movement for peace could not stop the war before it started, we must stop it after it starts. If we cannot stop the war after it starts, we must stop the next war. This is a long process, and it goes to the very roots of America's economic and political system.
There is sufficient power in the people, the working people of our world, to stop this war. Let's fight back for peace as never before. The stakes are exceptionally high. As Baghdad burns in our minds, long live the protest, long live the defiance of unjust authority, damn their guns!
5. AN UNJUST, ILLEGAL AND IMMORAL WAR
March 20, 2003: The bombing and invasion inflicted on Iraq and its people yesterday by the government of the United States is unjust, illegal and immoral. The reasons for the attack put forward by President Bush are distortions and lies. Here's why:
AN UNJUST WAR: The Bush administration's justifications for this war are that Iraq possesses sufficient weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to seriously endanger the United States, history's most powerful military state; that Iraq is guilty of involvement with the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the Pentagon and Twin Towers; that there is cooperation between the Baghdad government and the Al Qaeda organization; and that Iraq is threatening to its neighbors and to the United States. All these allegations are without substantiation, and we believe they are intentionally false.
If Iraq still possesses some weapons of mass destruction, the UN weapons inspectors would have found them already or over the next few months, if they were allowed to continue their work. The Baghdad government is threatening no other country. Iraq is extremely weak economically and militarily after the 1991 war and 12 years of devastating economic and trade sanctions. The preemptive invasion of Iraq by the United States clearly constitutes an act of aggression against the country's population, national sovereignty and independence.
According to international standards for a "just war," including those of such religious bodies as the Roman Catholic Church, the attack launched against Iraq is an unjust war. "Based on the facts that are known to us," declared the U.S. Conference of (R.C.) Bishops last Nov. 15, "we continue to find it difficult to justify the resort to war against Iraq, lacking clear and adequate evidence of an imminent attack [by Iraq] of a grave nature."
AN ILLEGAL WAR: A preemptive war against a country that is neither threatening nor attacking another country is a violation of the UN Charter. A war without specific authorization by the UN Security Council is illegal in terms of international law. A war, especially carried out preemptively for economic and political gain, without even a declaration of war from Congress is a violation of the U.S. Constitution (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11, which requires Congress to approve a military action outside the country's borders. The congressional resolution passed months ago merely provided Bush advance support for whatever he decided to do. It was not a declaration of war but an abdication of constitutional responsibility.
Article 2 of the world's most important international law, the UN Charter, prohibits the interference in the domestic jurisdiction of any state and the use of force against a sovereign state where it has not committed aggression on other states — and then only under a mandate form the Security Council. Article 33 states that the parties to any dispute must seek a solution by negotiation, inquiry, mediation, conciliation or other peaceful means of their choice. Article 42 states that only the Security Council can authorize war operations by air, sea, and land forces of UN members.
Washington claims that Security Council resolution 1441 provides a legal rationale for war because it states that Iraq will face "serious consequences" if it refuses to disarm. This is wrong on two counts: (a) Since when does the phrase "serious consequences" necessarily mean invasion, murder and mayhem? A specific UN approval for a specific war, which was not forthcoming, is required to lend a degree of legality to Washington's aggressive behavior. (2) Iraq was disarming what little is left of its weapons capacity, according to the UN inspectors. Clearly, President Bush's attack and invasion of Iraq is manifestly illegal.
AN IMMORAL WAR: A big and powerful country has just launched an unprovoked terror bombing campaign against a small and weak country that was minding its own business. Combined with a murderous ground assault, the invasion of Iraq will take many innocent lives, destroy the country's civil infrastructure, and create extreme hardship for the entire population. According to virtually every secular and religious code of morality, President Bush's invasion of Iraq -- with its consequent ruination and the death of innocents -- is an immoral act.
Distortions and lies: President Bush maintains that the war is aimed at disarming Iraq of WMD as part of America's "war on terrorism." This is untrue. Stripped of its pretexts, Washington's new war is being waged to control Iraq's abundant supply of oil, and to exercise hegemony over the entire strategic and volatile Middle East. If Iraq produced potatoes instead of oil, and was situated elsewhere than between two other countries on Washington's hit list (Iran and Syria), it would be ignored -- unless, of course, the Bush administration was running short of potatoes and Iraq was next to China.
The war has nothing to do with "disarming Iraq" of its weapons of mass destruction or waging an international war on terrorism. If Iraq possesses significant stores of hidden weapons of mass destruction, which has not been proven and which we strongly doubt, UN weapons inspectors would have located them in a matter of months -- at a far, far cheaper price than the hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars the Bush administration is investing in this war. We believe that one of the reasons for attacking now, instead of allowing the inspections to continue for a few more months, is to avoid the probability that extended probing would prove Iraq has been free of WMD for years, therefore exposing the administration's deception, and making invasion impossible to justify. During the occupation, of course, U.S. troops will discover some WMD, but we suspect the "evidence" will be planted.
As for the claim that Bush's adventure in Iraq is advancing the "war on terrorism," even the U.S. government acknowledges that the invasion will undoubtedly increase acts of terrorism for many years. Osama Bin Laden himself could not have planned a better way to attract new recruits. The Bush administration is not unaware of this tradeoff with terror, but clearly has calculated that the gain from converting Iraq into a protectorate is far greater than the "loss" stemming from a few more terrorist deeds. In any event, Bush has been manipulating the public fear of terrorism to advance his ultra-right agenda ever since Sept. 11, 2001. These orange and red alerts serve more than one purpose.
President Bush claims he is "liberating" Iraq. This is absurd. The Bush administration plans to turn Iraq into a satellite of the United States. Bush is ravaging Iraq and its people, not freeing them. U.S. troops will occupy Iraq for years, perhaps decades. Future governments of Iraq will be chosen by the White House and installed and protected by the Pentagon. U.S. government officials will now determine Iraq's domestic, foreign and military policies. U.S. government and civilian experts will control the country's economy. U.S. oil corporations will be granted large oil concessions once the country's petroleum industry is denationalized. Many American corporations will profit enormously from contracts to rebuild portions of Iraq and replace equipment destroyed by the weapons produced by other American corporations.
THE COURSE OF EMPIRE: The United States government has finally selected the course it will pursue in the post-Cold War world, where it now functions as the world's singular superpower, militarily capable of ruling or destroying the world -- unilaterally or with a handful of sycophants known as the "coalition of the willing." By attacking an essentially defenseless Iraq against the wishes of many of its closest allies, the great majority of nations in the UN, and a strong and activist U.S. peace movement, Washington is now warning all and sundry that it intends to pursue its right-wing geopolitical assumptions as it sees fit, with no regard for the opinions or rights of other nations.
In the eyes of the modern imperialists who guide George W. Bush through the haze of his intellect, Iraq isn't a country with 22 million people who go to work or school, who have children, and problems, and hopes. Iraq to them is a pawn on a game-theory chessboard of world domination somewhere down in the White House War Room, where notions of legality, morality, justness and national sovereignty are as dispensable as the truth. The game-theory piece known as "Iraq" is about to be captured for the good of the Empire. What, we wonder, is the next move?
6. U.S. CORPORATIONS: BIG PROFITS, LOW TAXES
By Too Much (IPS)
In America today, the New York Times reported March 3, we’re living in “a golden age” — for corporate profits. These earnings have been leaping at a 20% annual clip. In fact, to find a year when corporations were grabbing as great a share of America’s income as they’re grabbing now, you have to go back to 1950.
But corporate execs in 1950 had cause to mute their celebrating. Unlike execs today, they paid heavy taxes on both their corporate and individual earnings.
In 1950, by statute, major corporations faced a 42% tax rate on their profits, a rate that would jump the next year to just over 50%. The share of profits corporations actually paid in taxes, after exploiting loopholes, averaged about 40% throughout the 1950s.
The tax hit on top executive individual incomes would be even heftier. In 1950, General Motors chief Charley Wilson took home more pay than any other U.S. chief executive. Wilson reported $586,100 in income that year (about $5.6 million in today’s dollars). He paid $430,350 of that income — 73% — in taxes.
Top corporate executives today operate in a totally different universe. The corporations they run, for starters, face a much smaller tax bill. The top corporate tax rate has dropped to 35%, and loopholes have proliferated.
In 2011, major U.S. corporations actually paid on average only 12.1% of their earnings in taxes. That same year, adds the Institute for Policy Studies, 25 major American corporations paid their CEOs more than they paid the federal government in corporate income taxes.
Corporate execs as individuals enjoy an even better deal these days than the corporations they run, both before and after taxes.
General Motors ranked as America’s mightiest corporation in 1950. Yet the executive pay that Charley Wilson took in for running GM amounts to less than half the $12.1 million average pay, after adjusting for inflation, that went to the CEOs at America’s 500 top publicly traded corporations in 2012.
Two years ago, the CEO of contemporary America’s mightiest corporation, Apple computers, pocketed $378 million, or over 67 times what GM, after inflation, paid Charley Wilson in 1950.
We don’t know how much Apple CEO Tim Cook is paying in federal income taxes today. We do know, from IRS stats, that Americans who made over $10 million in 2010 paid on average just under 24% of their incomes in federal income tax, less than a third what Charley Wilson paid in 1950.
How much should we read into these huge contrasts between corporate profits, pay, and taxes back over a half-century ago and today? What difference does any of this make for the rest of us?
A huge difference. The outrageously rich rewards that top executives can pocket in 21st century America — and the absence of any meaningful tax bite on these rewards — give our top executives a powerful incentive to behave outrageously, to relentlessly pump up profits by whatever means necessary.
Our modern top execs, as one analyst notes, have more of an incentive “to loot” their companies than invest in their futures. The more they “loot” — by downsizing and outsourcing, by squeezing consumers, by stiffing Uncle Sam at tax time — the fatter the quarterly bottom lines, the greater their personal pay.
The end result of this looting: an America where corporate profits are setting records while typical workers, as former U.S. labor secretary Robert Reich pointed out March 5, making less today, in real dollars, than they earned a dozen years ago.
Corporate executives in Europe have been watching this U.S. corporate greed grab with intense personal interest. Over recent years, they've done their best to mimic U.S. corporate standard operating procedure, sky-high executive pay included. But Europeans are pushing back against this “Americanization.”
In Switzerland, 68% of voters in a landmark March 3 referendum opted to ban the most lucrative categories of executive pay bonuses. This overwhelming voter support for executive pay limits, a leading Zurich newspaper opined last week, reflects a deep-seated public sense “that company managers have been ransacking the coffers at the expenses of society.”
The Swiss vote, Bloomberg reports, is “raising pressure” on German chancellor Angela Merkel “to adopt her own tougher rules on executive pay,” and European Union ministers have already agreed to limit banker bonuses to no more than the equivalent of one year’s salary, down from the typical five to 10 times.
In France, meanwhile, the government elected last year will be limiting total CEO pay at firms where French taxpayers have a controlling interest to no more than 20 times the pay of the lowest-paid worker. [The AFL-CIO reports that chief executives at some of the nation's largest companies earned an average of $12.9 million in total pay last year — 380 times more than a typical American worker.
All this activity has Corporate America starting to get a little nervous. U.S. corporate consulting firms are sending out alerts on the new Euro developments. The “reverberations from the Swiss vote,” notes Harvard analyst Stephen Davis, “could put fresh momentum into shareholder rebellions in the U.S.”
But Americans eager to counter corporate greed really don’t have to look to Europe for inspiration. They need just remember America’s not-so-distant past.
7. SARTRE BRIGADE TO STRIKE IN AFGHANISTAN
By the Activist Newsletter
Kabul, March 11 — Plans to intensify the struggle against the Taliban were advanced yesterday when the U.S. led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) revealed plans to airdrop a platoon of crack French existentialist philosophers into the country to destroy the morale of the remaining terrorist zealots by proving the non-existence of God.
Elements from the feared Jean-Paul Sartre Brigade, or 'Black Berets', will be parachuted into the combat zones to spread doubt, despondency and existential anomie among the enemy. Hardened by numerous intellectual battles fought during their long occupation of Paris's Left Bank, their first action will be to establish a number of sidewalk cafes at strategic points near the front lines.
There they will drink coffee and talk animatedly about the absurd nature of life and man's lonely isolation in the universe. They will be accompanied by a number of heartbreakingly beautiful women who will propagate fear, uncertainty and doubt by looking remote and unattainable.
Their leader, Colonel Marc-Ange Belmondo, spoke yesterday of his confidence in the success of their mission. Sorbonne graduate Belmondo, an intense and unshaven young man in a black pullover, gesticulated as he argued, "The Taliban are caught in a logical fallacy of the most ridiculous proportions. There is no God and I can prove it."
Marc-Ange plans to deliver an impassioned thesis on man's inescapable lack of freedom of action, with special reference to the work of Foucault and the films of Alfred Hitchcock — thus finally overwhelming the terrorist forces with logic, provoking confusion and surrender.
Commented the U.S. commander in Afghanistan: “Ange and his boys are the best we have left. It’s in the bag. ”