Tuesday, October 04, 2005



By Elaine Meinel Supkis

As fuel prices fuel inflation and loss of income since we all have to fork out a lot more money down that energy hatch, despite today's news that oil went down a tad in price, the pain of this all is sweeping the planet and causing a great deal of anger and frustration.

From the NYT:
France's often fractious labor movement has united in protest against the economic policies of Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, with union leaders and leftist politicians predicting heavy turnout of as many as one million people in nationwide strikes and marches Tuesday.

While the demonstrations follow a familiar cycle in France of new government policies followed by street protests, there are signs that this will not be an ordinary French strike.

All five of France's labor confederations are taking part. This unanimity among labor organizers and the high levels of support the unions are receiving in opinion polls suggest that the protest will provide a key test of whether Villepin's government has the courage to stick by the labor policies he introduced in the quiet months of summer.

Villepin already has his hands full. Over the weekend, Corsica was virtually isolated from the European mainland by striking dockers and sailors protesting plans to privatize a state-owned ferry company.
As globalization sweeps across our industries, the pain is rising. Much of Europe, burned by the fires of several world wars, many opted for a semi-socialist concord to bring labor peace and a feeling of prosperity for all, if not great wealth. But everyone senses that the old world order is falling apart and the new one has some really nasty side issues.
"We are in a context of absolute pessimism," said Frédéric Dabi, director of public opinion at Ifop, a polling agency.

An Ifop poll released in August indicated that only 30 percent of French were optimistic about their future, a marked decline from previous years.

"Life is getting more expensive faster than people's salaries are going up," Dabi said.

Indeed, "spending power" is one of the specific reasons that unions called the strike. Another is to protest a law passed by the Villepin government soon after it was formed in May: Companies with 20 employees or less may now hire employees using a special contract that allows bosses to dismiss them without the complex procedures required by the French labor code.
This sense of pessimism is rising in many places. I notice it here, in America. Looking at reality often causes pessimism which actually puzzles me because there are always something postitive to look forwards to, if one looks in the right places.

For example, once again, the planet can wrestle with the concept of "Workers of the World Unite, You Have Nothing to Lose but Your Chains!" Well, this is a good thing, no? After all, keeping all the labor/capital goodies in the firm grip of the colonializing/imperial nations is just plain wrong. Now we can spread the love, so to speak. We need to revisit this whole issue from a fresh start, no?

Reaching out, forming alliances that are out of country? After all, the capitalists have zero patriotism and don't give two figs if they ream out their own countries if this makes them a buck! So let's erase our borders and start uniting with Mexican workers, for example!

How hard can that be?

&spades From Xinhuanet:
igerian soldiers and armed police clashed Tuesday in the country's commercial capital Lagos, leaving a police station and dozens of vehicles burnt.

Five people were feared killed in the clash at the Ojuelegba police station in the heart of the metropolis with some 14 million people, witnesses said.

Lagos police spokesman was not available for comments.

Trouble broke out when the police at a checkpoint outside the Ojuelegba police station failed to extort 20 naira (15 US cents) from a soldier on a motorcycle taxi, witnesses said.

"They had a fight. During the fight, the policeman gave a blow on the face of the army officer ... (who went to nearby army barracks) to ask his guys to come and set fire," one witness said.

"They (soldiers) directly shot and everything was burnt down," a police officer told Xinhua on condition of anonymity at the scene while showing the ruins inside the police station.
This is a major oil-exporting country that has very little to show for all the years of pumping this precious commodity. Now, at the drop of a pin, riots writhe through the community there and it is always on the verge of blowing up hugely.

&spades From the NYT:
The mayor of this embattled city said today that there were not enough funds to meet the municipal payroll and that about half the 6,000 public employees in the workforce would have to be laid off.
Glub. Down goes our major city in the South. Note that all the money that was supposed to flood in isn't showing up after all! Indeed, the news that the funds keeping half a million homeless people housed is being terminated next week plus the fact that the surge of money from right after the hurricane is already wasted away in futile, stupid ways....well, here we are, seeing pretty much the end of the yuan pot of gold's rainbow bridge!

&spades 5 soldiers were blown up next to the Green Zone in Bagdad. That scurvy war continues onwards. I suppose our troops have an infinite appetite for playing Iraqi Roulette. Either that or they have less moxie and self regard than the average Chinese peasant or French paper pusher. We can't understand how foolish we look to the rest of the planet when we act so weak. Unable to resist or even slow down our rulers, we hang our heads and obediently walk straight into our deaths? And like all cowards, take out our ire on the wrong people?

Like this! From Express India:
A US soldier convicted of humiliating and abusing Iraqi prisoners has said she knew of "worse things" happening at Abu Ghraib and insisted military commanders were fully aware of what was going on in Iraq’s infamous jail.

The comments, made by private first class Lynndie England in her first post-court marshal interview, contradicted assertions by top Pentagon officials that a small group of out-of-control soldiers were responsible for abuse at Abu Ghraib, and that however repulsive that mistreatment was, it did not amount to torture.
It is truly a misery that our beat-up, shoved around soldiers are being dumped upon in the most outrageous ways. Cowering away from the stern eye of the Torturer in Chief, Bush, hanging their heads and cringing like dogs, the military rank and file try to appease the rulers while taking all the heat for them. The refusal of our justice or political system to punish or remove the people responsible for all the many, many, many violations of human rights, the Geneva Conventions and just plain Constitutional strictures, stinks.

If our military wasn't so cowed and helpless, they would demand the chain of command be reestablished, the people who allowed all of this punished, the people who tricked them into this war, removed immediately. Well! It can be done.

In history, it has happened, not once or twice, either. Our troops are so demoralized and so denatured, they go to prison rather than stand and fight.

For that takes courage. Ask the French about this. I have stood shoulder to shoulder with French students back in 1968. Hardly "surrender monkeys." Indeed, the surrender monkeys are all right wing Americans. Pfuoi.

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