Volume 20, No. 25 November 26, 2006

BUSH GREETED BY HUGE PROTESTS IN INDONESIA

On November 20-21, tens of thousands of people turned out to protest a visit by President Bush to Indonesia.

Marking the last in a series of week-long protests against the visit, huge throngs of people marched through the streets of Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, and gathered at mosques to oppose Bush. Chants of "War criminal Bush" and "You are a terrorist" echoed throughout the streets.

Bush spent just six hours while in Indonesia on November 21, at a presidential retreat outside the capital protected by thousands of Indonesia troops and police. The entire downtown center of Jakarta was locked-down during his stay, traffic was prohibited, most streets had been cleared, and some were blocked with razor wire and water cannon.

The visit to Indonesia was the last stop for Bush during a 5-day Asia tour that included visits to Singapore and Vietnam, where a summit of APEC leaders took place.

U.S. IMPERIALISM FOMENTS SECTARIAN VIOLENCE

The following article is reprinted from "The Worker," March 27, 2006.

The capitalist media is filled with stories about "sectarian violence" and "civil war" in Iraq.

This propaganda is used by the capitalists to try to justify the U.S. occupation and to attack the Iraqi people as "unfit" and "unready" to rule themselves.

But the facts show that the intensification of civil war and sectarian violence are part and parcel of the U.S. colonial strategy; they are more of the deeds, the crimes, of U.S. imperialism.

From day one, the U.S. occupying authorities have fostered and strengthened the most reactionary classes and forces in Iraqi society. The U.S. armies have set up a government headed by notorious CIA agents such as Talabani, Chalabi, Allawi, etc. The U.S. is building a large, U. S.-armed and U.S.-commanded puppet army and police force. The core of this puppet army is based on former fascist generals.

On the other hand, the parties which oppose the occupation are illegal and the Iraqi people are hunted, killed, tortured, and imprisoned.

This is, of course, one of the basic tactics of imperialism. Whenever the U.S. or other imperialist powers take control of another country, they ally themselves with and give strength to the most reactionary classes inside the country. The foreign aggressors and local exploiters work together to suppress the laboring classes and other democratic sectors who struggle for independence, freedom and social progress. As in Iraq, the imperialists provide the arms while the local reactionaries round up manpower and lend "legitimacy" to the colonial regime. The foreign and local capitalists share in exploiting the people.

Thus, in every country, the presence and influence of U.S. imperialism heightens the civil conflict, polarizing the society. Throughout Latin America, U.S. imperialism is notorious for bringing to power or propping up such fascist regimes as the Duvaliers in Haiti, Somoza's and his National Guard in Nicaragua, Pinochet in Chile, etc. In Korea, U. S. imperialism continues to partition the country. In the Middle East, the U.S. has sponsored such fascist regimes as the Shah of Iran, the Saudi Arabian monarchy, Saddam Hussein, etc. Recent history provides countless examples exposing the absurd, doublespeak logic of the U.S. government when it claims to be "bringing democracy" to Iraq or any country. For the last 50 years and more, U.S. imperialism has been the main bastion and support for reaction and fascism. It is the sworn enemy of democracy and the liberation struggles of the peoples.

Indeed, the civil war in Iraq is intensifying. The U.S. occupation has polarized the entire country. On one side, the vast majority of Iraqi people - the workers, the poor and downtrodden, all who defend the independence and honor of the nation - are opposing the U.S. occupation. On the other side, the reactionary, exploiting classes have put themselves at the disposal of the occupiers and are helping to kill and subjugate their own people.

Part and parcel of the U.S. war strategy is to create sectarian violence to sap the strength of the people and justify continued U.S. occupation. From day one, the U.S. talked about the "need" to partition Iraq along sectarian lines. The entire constitutional and political strategy pursued by the U.S. (such as doling out political privileges and building armed militias along sectarian lines) is designed to foment sectarian rivalries. Recently, the head of the UN human rights monitoring group in Iraq revealed that the U.S. has trained Iraqi government death squads which systematically seek out Sunnis for torture and murder.

This tactic has been used repeatedly by the U.S. and British imperialists - in Ireland and India, in Yugoslavia and Palestine, etc.

Such sectarian violence does not arise from the life of the overwhelming majority of Iraqi people who live, work and struggle under the same conditions and who everyday are strengthening their unity through the common struggle against the occupier. From the beginning, the resistance forces and the broadest sectors of Iraqi public opinion have repeatedly blamed the sectarian violence squarely on the U.S. occupiers and called for the united resistance of the Iraqi people. For example, after the attack on the Golden Mosque, Sunnis and Shiites mobilized together to protect their mosques and neighborhoods. Influential Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr blamed the U.S. for the attack and called on people to "protect both Shia and Sunni shrines....My message to Iraqi people is to stand united and bonded, and not to fall into the Western trap. The West is trying to divide the Iraqi people....there is only one enemy. The occupier."

It is the struggle against the U.S. occupation and against U.S. imperialism which is the path for resolving the civil conflict. Forcing the U.S. troops, out of Iraq, lock, stock and barrel is not only necessary for the independence of the country, it is also the way to break the back of the internal, reactionary classes and open the path for progress.

This task will be achieved by the liberation struggle of the Iraqi people.

CHICAGO'S RENAISSANCE 2010

The following is excerpted from a new pamphlet published by the Committee to Defend Public Education.

Since 1996 the Illinois business community, led by the Commercial Club of Chicago, has worked with the state and city government to promote and support charter schools in Chicago. The Charter School Resource Center (CSRC), whose parent organization is Chicago's Commercial Club, has as its mission "to create a positive public opinion about charter schools, remove obstacles to high quality charter schools, create a broad and diverse applicant pool, support existing charter schools, and expand authorizer knowledge on charter schools.". . .

In 1996 the Illinois charter school law was passed permitting the creation of 45 charter schools in the state, 15 of which could be in Chicago. The first five charters opened in Chicago in 1997 and by the next year Chicago had filled its quota of 15 charter schools. In April 2003 a new law was passed doubling the number of charter schools in Chicago to 30. The following year the Renaissance 2010 Plan was created through a partnership between government and business. This plan includes 70 new charter schools (well beyond the legal limit - ed.). According to the mayor, the plan was designed "to bring in outside partners who want to get into the business of education." The 2006-07 school year opened with a dozen new charter schools, bringing the total in the city to 47 schools operated by 27 private organizations. . . .

Charter schools are draining vitally needed funds out of the public school treasury.

Charter schools receive a per-pupil stipend, equal to the average per-pupil expenditure in Chicago's public schools. These funds are deducted from the public school treasury and turned over to private contractors including for-profit companies. This leaves our public schools even more underfunded. For example, in recent years Chicago has seen the closure of dozens of public schools and thousands of teachers laid off as public funds are diverted to charter schools.

In addition to the regular per-pupil funding received by all public schools, charter schools receive additional funds. In Illinois, $2,500 is given to businesses to write their charter proposals. Once a charter is granted, start-up funds are disbursed by the state that include money for classroom computers, a printer, overhead projector, TV and DVD player for every classroom, and office and classroom furniture for the schools. Schools also receive $400-$600 per student for books and supplies. District-owned building facilities are provided free of charge and CPS provides food service as well. In addition, the federal government gives charter schools funding for "charter school construction and infrastructure needs." ...

Charter schools are not accountable to the public in that they are typically free of oversight including school board control, union work rules, and state and local laws governing public schools. Illinois charter schools are granted an "automatic waiver from most state and district education laws, regulations and policies."

The elimination of public oversight includes eliminating the responsibility of charter schools to provide a modern curriculum. Instead charter schools promote a wide range of anti-social curricula and prejudices.

For example, Chicago's Urban Prep Academy for Young Men and Women's Leadership Charter School reintroduces inequality into our public schools by separating the sexes. Several military "academies," staffed by military officers who report directly to the Pentagon, have been granted charters to instill militarism and racism into our youth. Ariel Capital Management LLC decorates the classrooms of its charter school to resemble the Stock Exchange and structures its curriculum around the concept of "financial literacy."...

Charter schools are being used to break unions and impose lower wages on teachers and other school employees.

Illinois law exempts charters from the collective bargaining agreement and district work rules....

Renaissance 2010 specifically calls for 60 of its new charter schools to operate outside of the union. Chicago's Commercial Club Civic Committee said "the school union will not like the creation of a significant number of new schools that operate outside the union agreement, but operating outside the agreement is a key element of this strategy." Speaking to the New York Times about the nonunion schools Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan stated: "I like the competition and choice this will provide. I want Chicago to be a mecca where entrepreneurship can flourish."

The result of these attacks has been yearly rounds of layoffs and school closings. In the last two years more than 2,100 teachers have been laid off. At the same time, 10 schools were closed in 2005 and a dozen more this past summer....

Salary comparisons show that experienced CPS teachers offered positions in new charter schools can expect an average pay cut of 27% or more than $15,000. Most charter teachers work with one-year contracts or at will of the management. As if this was not enough, charter and "contract" teachers are prohibited by law from participating in the teacher pension program....

To defend the public schools, we must stop Renaissance 2010 and stop the privatization of our schools. We must demand an end to school closures and conversions to charter schools. We must demand increased funding for the public schools so that every child is guaranteed the highest quality education.

NINE MILLION CHILDREN DEPRIVED OF HEALTH INSURANCE

A new report issued by the Campaign for Children's Health Care shows that more than 9 million children (age 0-18) have no health insurance. The report also showed that the percentage of uninsured children is increasing.

Millions of these uninsured children are going without needed health services as well as dental, vision and prescription drug needs. These children generally do not even have regular doctor visits or check-ups. Children of all ages go without health coverage, including nearly 11% of children 0-5. The percentage of uninsured children is higher amongst Hispanic and black children; 22% of Hispanic children are uninsured; 13% of black children and 7.5% of non-Hispanic white children. Nearly 90% of the uninsured come from families with at least one working parent.

The problem may get dramatically worse next year because more than 500,000 children may be deprived of insurance because about 17 states and the federal government do not plan to properly fund the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). These states include Alaska, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

What kind of economic system boasts of its wealth but doesn't provide health care for the children? What kind of government refuses to guarantee this right for every child?

MONOPOLY CAPITAL OWNS BOTH PARTIES

Despite all the fanfare about the electoral victory of the Democrats, the government's program is not going to change.

On every major issue - whether it be waging the war in Iraq, bailing out the airline industry at the expense of the workers, attacking immigrants, slashing social spending, etc. - the Democrats and Republicans both defend the interests of the capitalist class against the people.

And it can be no other way because both parties are bought and paid-for by the capitalists. The financial records of the 2006 elections again show how precisely the same corporations and big banks fund both parties.

The following table [see www.workersparty.org] gives a partial glimpse of some of the major contributors to the recent election campaigns of the Republicans and Democrats. The material is taken from www.opensecrets.org and based on figures released by the Federal Election Committee on October 10, 2006.

U.S. ESCALATING AFGHAN WAR

On November 17, the New York Times reported that the number of U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan has risen dramatically during the past six months.

Since June, U.S. warplanes have carried out 2,095 attacks throughout the country, mostly in the south. Attacks by B-1 bombers, AC-130 gunships, and A-10 attack jets are being used frequently to support ground troops engaged in fierce combat with Afghan resistance fighters.

The amount of munitions used has "also risen substantially," according to the article. Bombers and fighter planes have dropped nearly 1,000 bombs and fired more than 146,000 cannon rounds and bullets in strafing runs during this period - more than the entire amount used from 2001-2004.

The number of civilians killed during these strikes is also on the rise. Two months ago, for example, a nighttime NATO air attack involving an AC-130 gunship killed 31 civilians.

On October 30, "Human Rights Watch" also condemned the escalating violence, saying "more than 60 civilians were killed this week in heavy fighting between NATO forces and insurgent forces in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province. NATO has admitted that at least 12 civilians were killed in NATO air and ground operations in Panjwai. Another two dozen were reportedly killed last week during clashes in Kandahar and neighboring Helmand province, during which NATO used heavy aerial bombardment."

Sam Zarifi, Human Rights Watch's Asia research director, denounced recent NATO attacks saying "NATO's tactics are increasingly endangering the civilians...[and] NATO can't simply state that it didn't know civilians were present, or that they assumed all civilians had fled the area...Under international humanitarian law, or the laws of war, armed forces must not target civilians."

On October 27, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also issued a statement saying NATO "aerial bombardment and ground offensives in populated rural areas...have significantly increased the number of innocent civilians killed, injured or displaced."

In addition, other human rights groups, such as the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, recently issued statements condemning the escalating attacks by U.S.-NATO forces. Since the beginning of the U.S. invasion in 2001, thousands of Afghan people have been killed, including an untold number of civilians. Numerous atrocities, such as the saturated bombing of civilian population centers, massacres at wedding ceremonies, market-center bombings, etc., have been repeatedly carried out by the U.S. military.

THOUSANDS DEMAND CLOSING OF SOA

On November 19, over 22,000 people demonstrated in front of the gates of the U.S. army's training school in Fort Benning, Georgia. The demonstration was the largest yet in a 17-year history of protests which are held every year in November at the army base.

The military training camp, known for years as the School of the Americas (SOA) was renamed by the Pentagon in 2001 as the "Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation" (WHISC). Since 1984, nearly 60,000 military and police officials have trained at the school and many of its graduating officers have become some of the most notorious leaders of death-squads and have been implicated in numerous war crimes, human rights abuses, and drug-trafficking. A 1996 report by a U.S. government oversight board admitted that school's "instruction materials.... condone practices such as executions of guerrillas, extortion, physical abuse, coercion and false imprisonment."

Since 1991, every year in November, demonstrations have taken place outside the gates of the base at Fort Benning. This year, as in the past, protestors not only demanded that the school be closed, but also called for an end to the war in Iraq, an end to the entire so-called "war on terrorism" and an end to U.S. intervention in Latin America and elsewhere.

The struggle to close the SOA-WHISC is part of a broad current of opposition to the aggressive foreign policy of the U.S. government.

 

Volume 20, No. 24 November 11, 2006

THE GOVERNMENT IS ALREADY IGNORING THE VOTE

The overwhelming defeat of the Republicans in the November election was another declaration that the American people demand an immediate end to the war in Iraq.

The voice of the people was even more resounding in the 164 communities in which ballot initiatives gave people the opportunity to directly vote yes or no on the war. In virtually every community, the people demanded the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq; for example, in Cook County, IL, 80% voted to end the war, 72% in Milwaukee, etc.

Thus it is the elementary responsibility of the new Congress, on its very first day, to immediately end the war.

But, in the wake of the elections, the Democratic Party is emphasizing that it is seeking "common ground" and "partnership" with Bush; the Democrats have emphatically said they will not cut off funding for the war. Of course, none of this is surprising, since from the beginning, the Democrats have helped Bush organize the war.

What we can expect is that the Democrats and the government are going to increase their posturing. Both Bush and the Democrats are pretending that removing Rumsfeld will somehow change the character of the war. They are going to huff and puff about "mistakes." They are going to "investigate" abuses. They are going to talk about "timetables" and "new strategies," etc., ad infinitum. And all the while, the war is going to continue.

All the empty talk is blowing smoke in the eyes of the people.

The capitalist warmakers are losing the war because of the resistance of the Iraqi people; the warmakers are extremely isolated in the U.S. because of the mass struggles and independent initiatives of the people. The Democrats and the new Congress are going to try to slow down the opposition, to divert our attention with their empty words. They are desperately trying to buy time for the war.

This posturing must be denounced as part and parcel of the war program.

In these conditions, it is more important than ever that the people step up their struggles to demand an immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq. So too we must step up our struggles against every front of U.S. imperialism's so-called "war on terrorism" - against the war in Afghanistan, against the U.S.-Israeli war on Palestine, against U.S. pressure and threats against Iran, Korea and everywhere.

We cannot win the peace by asking the warmakers to do the right thing, much less by relying on them. Rather, we must keep the initiative in our hands and build up our own independent, anti-imperialist organizations.

Only the peoples can stop the wars!

We can and we will!

U.N. CONDEMNS U.S. BLOCKADE AGAINST CUBA

The following is excerpted from Granma International.

On November 8, the United Nations General Assembly, for the 15th consecutive time and by overwhelming majority, passed a resolution condemning the U.S. blockade against Cuba and demanding that it be lifted.

The resolution obtained the support of one more country than last year, with 183 votes for, 4 against - the United States, Israel, Palau and the Marshall Islands - and one abstention, Micronesia.

From 59 countries that supported the resolution in 1992, when it was presented for the first time, the number rose to 179 in 2004, 182 in 2005 and 183 this year....

The General Assembly reiterated that countries that adopt such sanctions are not complying with "their obligations according to the Charter of the United Nations and international law, which among other things reaffirm freedom of trade and shipping."

When it presents its annual resolution, Cuba weighs up the last 12 months of sanctions. On this occasion, Havana charged that "sanctions against citizens and enterprises have been intensified, with a special emphasis on travel agencies, which were subject to audits and sanctions."

"Pressure has also been intensified against religious, academic and non-governmental organizations in the United States with the aim of preventing the development of ties and exchange with their counterparts in Cuba."

AN ACT OF GENOCIDE

Below we reprint excerpts from the speech of Felipe Perez Roque, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Cuba, given at the U.N. General Assembly, November 8. For the full-text of the speech, visit www.anti-imperialist.org.

For the 15th consecutive time, Cuba is presenting to the General Assembly a resolution entitled, "The necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba."

We do so in defense of the rights of the Cuban people, but also in defense of the rights of the people of the United States and the rights of the peoples that you all represent in this Assembly. The economic war unleashed by the United States against Cuba, the longest and cruelest ever known, qualifies as an act of genocide and constitutes a flagrant violation of international law and the Charter of the United Nations. Over the last 48 years, the U.S. blockade has caused economic damages to Cuba in excess of $86 billion. Seven out of every 10 Cubans have since birth suffered and resisted the effects of the blockade, which attempts to break us through hunger and disease. The blockade prevents Cuba from trading with the United States and receiving tourism from that country. It prohibits Cuba from utilizing the dollar in its external transactions and receiving credits or carrying out operations with U.S. banks or their affiliates in other countries....

But more serious than all of that is the fact that the U.S. blockade imposes its criminal regulations on Cuba's relations with the rest of the countries that make up this General Assembly....

The blockade prohibits companies in your countries from trading with Cuba, ladies and gentleman, not just U.S. companies, but companies from the countries that you represent in this Assembly and that are subsidiaries of U.S. companies. And ships with flags from your countries, ladies and gentlemen, cannot enter U.S. ports if they have previously transported goods to or from Cuba. That is the Torricelli Law, signed by President Bush Sr. in 1992....

I am not going to insist on giving examples that prove what I have said. The secretary general has presented a broad report, with contributions from 96 countries and 20 international agencies and organizations, which unequivocally demonstrates the suffering and shortages that the blockade imposes on the life and development of the Cuban people.

It does seem important to us, ladies and gentlemen, to inform the General Assembly about the plan to re-conquer Cuba approved by President Bush in May 2004 and updated in July 2006. In it, he clearly admits what the U.S. government would do in our country if at some point it was able to put Cuba under its control.

According to the president of the United States, the most important thing would be to return all of the properties in Cuba to their former owners. That would include, for example, snatching away their land from hundreds of thousands of farmers who are the owners of their land in Cuba, individually or via cooperatives, to reestablish the concentration of land ownership in a few hands. It would also imply throwing out of their houses millions of Cuban homeowners, to return those buildings or that land to their former claimants.

President Bush described this as an accelerated process, under the total control of the United States, and for it he would create a so-called Commission for the Restitution of Property Rights.

Another structure would also be created: the Permanent Committee of the U.S. Government for the Economic Reconstruction of Cuba, which would direct the process of imposing in Cuba an extremely harsh program of neoliberal belt-tightening, which would include the brutal privatization of health and education services and the elimination of social security and assistance. Retirements and pensions would be abolished, and retirees would be offered jobs in construction work, in a so-called Cuban Retirees Corps.

President Bush admits that "it won't be easy" to implement this plan in Cuba. That is why he is charging the State Department with creating, "as an immediate priority," a repressive apparatus, that we imagine will be trained in the brutal techniques of suffocation that Vice President Cheney does not consider to be torture, to strangle the unlimited resistance of the Cuban people. It is even acknowledged that the list of Cubans who will be persecuted, tortured and massacred "will be a long one."

They have even thought up a Central Adoption Service for Children, to give away to families in the United States and other countries the children whose parents would die fighting or as victims of repression....

Two years after its proclamation, ladies and gentlemen, a large part of this plan has been carried out.

Thus, new and greater restrictions were imposed on family visits to Cuba by Cubans resident in the United States.

People from the United States who traveled to Cuba were viciously persecuted. In the last two years, more than 800 people accused of traveling to our country have been fined.

Additional restrictions were placed on remittances to Cuba. Academic, cultural, scientific and sports exchanges were practically eliminated....

Millions of Cubans right now are watching to see what decision you will make. We ask you today to respect Cuba's right, which is also respect for the rights of the peoples that you all represent. We ask you to vote in favor of the resolution "The Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba."

We do so with our heads held high, optimistic and sure, with the hope of repeating the verses of the poet of our generation, because in Cuba, ladies and gentlemen,

Nobody is going to die, all of life is our talisman, is our mantle.

Nobody is going to die, least of all now, when the song of the homeland is our song.

And if they impose a war on us, there are not enough U.S. soldiers to cover the casualties that they would suffer in face of a country that has resisted and has prepared for its defense for more than 45 years....

 

Volume 20, No. 23 November 6, 2006

Editorial: THE NUCLEAR DANGER COMES FROM U.S. IMPERIALISM!

The U.S. government is trying to create hysteria about North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Similar propaganda is carried out against Iran's program of building nuclear power for electricity.

The U.S. government is imposing sanctions and pressuring both countries while openly preparing for war against them. This alone shows that it is U.S. imperialism which is the aggressive power.

Yet more. It is U.S. imperialism which has targeted its nuclear weapons against both Korea and Iran and which publicly threatens to drop them. So too, it is U.S. imperialism which is spreading nuclear weapons throughout the world.

The U.S. was not only the first country to manufacture (and the only country to use) nuclear weapons. The U.S. is also the only country with nuclear weapons outside its own territory. U.S. nuclear weapons are deployed in dozens of countries around the world, including many non-nuclear states. For years, the U.S. kept nuclear weapons in such countries as Greece and south Korea, without even telling the governments of these countries. In addition, U.S. nuclear submarines prowl the oceans. In March, Bush began supplying India with nuclear fuel that will enable it to dramatically increase its production of nuclear weapons. Administration spokespersons said it was okay for India to have more nukes because it is an "ally of the U.S." So too, the U.S. has helped Israel, as well as other allies, manufacture nuclear weapons.

In other words, with its typical imperialist "logic", the U.S. arms its allies with nuclear weapons but rants against "proliferation" when any country tries to break its nuclear blackmail and monopoly.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the main international treaty addressing the issue, sets down 3 pillars for preventing nuclear proliferation.

Firstly, it demands that the nuclear powers publicly disavow the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states. The U.S. not only refuses to do this but publicly threatens non- nuclear countries, including Iran, Libya, Lebanon, etc.

Secondly, the NPT calls for concrete, verifiable steps by the nuclear powers to completely dismantle their nuclear arsenals. The U.S. government not only refuses to do this, it is continually building more advanced nuclear weapons, perfecting its delivery systems, etc. The U.S. has torn up previous treaties on the limitation of nuclear and strategic weapons.

Thirdly, the NPT guarantees non-nuclear countries the right to peaceful uses of nuclear technology. Again the U.S. keeps interfering in the affairs of other countries, such as Iran, trying to prevent them from developing their nuclear industries.

The nuclear danger and the cause of nuclear proliferation in today's world is U.S. imperialism's nuclear weapons program. Ever since attacking Japan with nuclear weapons, the U.S. has tried to impose nuclear blackmail on the world. Dozens of times it has threatened other countries with nuclear weapons to force them to accept U.S. dictate. U.S. military doctrine is openly based on fighting and winning a nuclear war and on the first-strike, "preemptive" use of nuclear weapons.

Facing this aggressive power - this superpower with nuclear megalomania - the countries and peoples of the world have no choice but to seek ways to defend themselves. It is the sovereign right of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to develop nuclear weapons and, under present conditions, such weapons in the hands of the DPRK serve as a deterrent force, a barrier against U.S. imperialism's aggressive plans in Korea and Asia.

The path to nuclear disarmament begins with disarming U.S. imperialism and ending its nuclear blackmail against the world.

HANDS OFF KOREA!

The Workers Party has launched a campaign to oppose the U.S. government's pressure and war propaganda against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

In addition to the Party's ongoing press coverage, we are organizing public meetings and group discussions to bring people information about the history of U.S.-Korean relations, the danger of the U.S. nuclear weapons program, the principled foreign policy of the DPRK and other important issues.

Other anti-war organizations, including the Peace Agenda Forum and the Youth and Students for a Democratic Foreign Policy, have joined in the work. Some meetings have already been held on various college campuses and community meetings are being planned.

For more information, contact the Workers Party, at www.workersparty.org or (312) 409-1127.

HOUSTON JANITORS STRIKE

On October 23, 1,700 janitors in Houston, members of the Service Employees International Union, went on strike against five Houston cleaning companies. The workers are predominantly from oppressed minority groups.

The janitors are demanding a salary increase from $5.25/hour to $8.50/hour, increased hours, and health insurance. The workers are demanding a uniform, city-wide contract that would cover 5,000 janitors who recently organized themselves into a union.

The strike is winning broad support. In Houston several mass rallies have been held; dozens of other unions and community organizations have come out to support the strike. The union has also set up picket lines in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Sacramento and Washington, D.C. at buildings cleaned by the same companies as those struck in Houston.

The central issues in the strike - starvation wages, part-time jobs and no health insurance - affect tens of millions of workers. In the Houston-area alone more than 1 million workers do not have health insurance and 8 out of 10 new jobs are in the low-wage service sector.

The strike of the Houston janitors is a another declaration by the workers that these conditions must be changed. The strike is a harbinger of many more struggles which lie ahead.

Road of the Party: AGAINST AMERICAN CHAUVINISM

The following article summarizes portions of a speech given by Michael Thorburn at an anti-war forum organized in Chicago on February 16, 2003.

The ideology of American chauvinism, like ideology in general, is a product of very definite social relations.

Just as the theories of racial superiority were concocted and propagated to support the social system of slavery, so too, the ideology of American chauvinism is promoted to support the present-day system of imperialism and colonialism.

American chauvinism is the ideology of the monopoly capitalist class.

When American chauvinism declares that every country must accept globalization and the "free market system," it is reflecting the drive of the U.S. monopolies to force open the door of every country, grab control of their resources and take over their economies.

When American chauvinism insists that every country accept U.S.-style "democracy," it is reflecting the drive of the U.S. monopolies to insure their political control of other countries - to establish colonial and neo-colonial regimes.

When American chauvinism demands that every country join the "crusade" against terrorism or the war against Iraq, it is reflecting the drive of U.S. monopoly capital to impose its will on the whole world by force of arms....

Even while relying on military power, American chauvinism claims that American institutions (e.g. capitalism, American-style "democracy,") and the "American way of life" are "morally superior." Time and again, U.S. imperialism has invaded countries in the name of spreading and defending democracy. Time and again, U.S. imperialism has tried to hide its exploiting, colonial aims by advertising itself as a "liberator," fighting to free people from other colonial powers.

Liberalism and the Democratic Party play an especially important role in trying to cover over the stench of U.S. militarism with noble words about "human rights," "democracy," etc. It was, for example, Woodrow Wilson who brought the U.S. into WW I under the slogan of "making the world safe for democracy" just as it was Bill Clinton who dismembered the sovereign state of Yugoslavia in the name of "human rights."

This is the same tune which both the Bush administration and its "loyal opposition" in the Democratic Party are singing today when they talk about "liberating Iraq," about "nation-building," and "democracy" in Afghanistan, etc. Like the old-style colonialists they are "picking up the white man's burden" and bringing "civilization" to the "backward peoples;" they are again waging a "holy war" to "save" the Arab peoples....

* * * * * * *

American chauvinism - the ideology of the monopoly capitalist class - is not only directed against other nations, it is also directed against the American working class and people. American chauvinism aims to sacrifice the lives of our sons and daughters in order to "defend" the empire and profits of the capitalists. American chauvinism creates a war hysteria in order to rob the public treasury on behalf of the Pentagon arms merchants. It seeks to impose a culture of racism and violence on the American people.

All along the line, American chauvinism is an assault on the conscience, traditions and deepest aspirations of the American people who, as part of their struggle for emancipation, have always fought against the imperialist wars waged by their "own" government.

Today, this struggle against chauvinism and the war program of the capitalist class is unfolding across the length and breadth of our country.

When the issue of Iraq is raised, one of the very first things that workers say is: "There the government goes again, sticking its nose into other people's business."

And the second thing that workers often say is: "And besides, who is the government to talk about 'helping' others when the problems of poverty, racism, violence and oppression are so widespread here."

Listen to the voice of the American youth who are in the forefront, exposing the hypocrisy and chauvinism of Bush and company, who do not forget that this "bastion of democracy" imposes a system of national oppression and racist violence on the minority peoples, that the U.S. government has the biggest arsenal of nuclear weapons, that the C.I.A. is nothing but a state-sponsored organization of terrorism, that the U.S. seeks to be the dictator of the world, etc.

Every day, people are ripping away the mask and making sure that everyone knows that behind this hypocrisy and chauvinism stand the real economic and strategic interests of the monopolies who are vying for oil and empire in the strategic Middle East...

In opposition to Bush's "war on international terrorism," the peoples are demanding peace and an end to U.S. dictate and domination. In opposition to the world of colonialism and racism, of exploitation and oppression, the people envision and are fighting for a world of peace and friendship based on the sovereign equality of every nation and recognition of the rights of the peoples.

Chicago Teachers' Contract Struggle: PROBATIONARY TEACHERS MUST HAVE FULL RIGHTS

The following article is reprinted from the Chicago Teachers' Chalkboard.

Nearly 40 percent of Chicago's public school teachers are currently working on "probation," without the protection of tenure. These teachers, designated as "Probationary Appointed Teachers" (PATs), may be fired, laid off or not reappointed without cause. This probation period lasts for the first four years of work and no reason needs to be given for the dismissal.

Teachers who had tenure but left employment with the Board of Education for any period of time lose their tenure and must work another continuous four years to get it reinstated. Altogether there are 9,300 PATs working in city schools and the number is growing.

In 2005, the Board of Education laid off more than 1,100 "probationary" teachers and this spring another 1,000 were handed pink slips. Many of these teachers were in their third or fourth year and close to receiving tenure. Most had received ratings of "superior" or "excellent" by their school's principal.

PATs' salaries are $20,000 to $25,000 less than tenured teachers at the highest step of the salary schedule. By annually laying off "probationary" teachers, the Board of Education keeps salaries down.

Furthermore, the Board is saving millions in pension payments by firing PATs before they have worked the 5 years necessary for their pensions to be "vested," that is before they are eligible to receive pension benefits.

These work conditions make PATs second class teachers. Armed with the power to fire PATs at will, principals can impose arbitrary demands and extreme overwork on probationary teachers. Many PATs are forced to teach extra classes (over the contractually guaranteed workload), to teach excessively large classes, to take on an array of extra duties without choice or compensation, etc.

Since PATs are always under the principal's gun, they are not free to stand up for their contractual rights, to teach their conscience, to speak out about school conditions or to defend the rights of the teachers.

As the rights of "probationary" teachers are undermined so too are the rights of tenured teachers. How good is a contract which requires compensation for extra duties, if 40% of CPS teachers can be forced to perform these duties for free? How good are provisions on class size, if PATs are regularly forced to teach oversize classes? How can teachers in a particular school or citywide wage a unified struggle, when so many union sisters and brothers face immediate reprisals for standing up? In fact, as long as CPS has the right to employ so many "second-class," disempowered teachers, doesn't it have an incentive to find ways to replace tenured teachers?

For decades teachers and our unions have fought to win contractual and other guarantees of such rights as job security, safeguards against overwork, the right to teach and speak our conscience and organize ourselves, etc. But today, the widespread and growing use of PATs undermines the very foundation of union rights and collectivity by creating a large caste of teachers with no rights whatsoever.

The new contract must be a contract which guarantees rights and standards for all Chicago teachers or, in effect, none of us will have rights. The new contract must reduce the probationary period for teachers and all new employees to not more than one month.

DPRK ON 6-PARTY TALKS

Pyongyang, November 1 (Korean Central News Agency)

A spokesman for the DPRK Foreign Ministry gave the following answer to a question put by KCNA on Nov. 1 as regards the bilateral and multi-lateral contacts made in Beijing with main emphasis on the DPRK-U.S. contact: The DPRK recently took a self-defensive counter-measure against the U.S. increasing nuclear threat and financial sanctions against it.

Bilateral and multi-lateral contacts took place in Beijing on Oct. 31 with main emphasis on the contact between the DPRK and the U.S.

Discussed there were issues of seeking ways for the resumption of the six-party talks. The DPRK decided to return to the six-party talks on the premise that the issue of lifting financial sanctions will be discussed and settled between the DPRK and the U.S. within the framework of the six-party talks.

NEW ISRAELI MILITARY ATTACKS

On Friday, November 3, the Israeli military opened fire on a rally of Palestinian women in front of a mosque in the town of Beit Hanun, Gaza. Two women were killed and 10 others wounded.

The women were rallying against an Israeli military order demanding that all men between the ages of 16 to 45 come to a local stadium. Elham Hamad, a Palestinian woman who attended the protest, told Aljazeera: "We were confronted by a tank, and we raised a white flag [but] without any warning they started shooting at us."

The next day, Israel continued its offensive, code-named Autumn Clouds, by bombing Beit Hanun and nearby villages, killing 8 Palestinians. Two rescue workers were amongst the dead.

Operation Autumn Cloud began on Wednesday, November 1 when Israeli tanks stormed Beit Hanun, killing 7 Palestinians and wounding 35. On Thursday, 11 more people were killed, including a 75-year old man.

At the same time, Israeli troops are occupying towns and villages throughout the West Bank and increasing their attacks against the people. For example, on November 3 (the same day as the murders in Beit Hanun), Israeli forces killed a Palestinian youth in the Balata refugee camp, injured 2 residents of Bethlehem, including a 70-year-old woman and arrested a leading government official in Ramallah.

Over the last 4 months, 270 Palestinians, half of them civilians, have been killed by Israeli forces.

BUSH ENDORSES "PREEMPTIVE STRIKE" ON IRAN

On November 2, the Jerusalem Post reported that President Bush said he would "understand" a preemptive Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear sites. During the UN Summit in September, French President Chirac discussed Iran's nuclear program with Bush. Asked by Chirac if Israel could attack Iran to prevent it's nuclear development program, Bush said: "We cannot rule this out. And if it were to happen, I would understand it."

This statement by Bush, along with increasing pressure and threats from other White House officials, further reveals that imperialism is dangerously seeking to widen its war in the Middle East. It is, in fact, only the latest in a series of open threats directed against Iran.

In December 2005, the German magazine Der Spiegel reported that CIA Director Porter Goss asked the Turkish Prime Minister to provide support for a possible 2006 air strike against Iranian nuclear and military facilities. In a January 2005 report in the New Yorker, Seymour Hersh said that American commando groups had already infiltrated Iran to mark potential military targets. Last year, the U.S. supplied Israel with highly destructive "bunker-busting" bombs and 102 American-built F-16I warplanes with extra fuel tanks designed to attack Iran's underground nuclear plants.

It is common knowledge that Bush and other top U.S. officials have publicly stated that while Iraq is the number one battleground in U.S. imperialism's "war on terror," Iran is the next target on the list. The possibility of U.S., or combined U.S.-Israeli, military action against Iran cannot be ruled out. Gaining control over Iran and its huge oil resources are part of U.S. imperialism's grand strategy for recolonizing the entire Middle East.

U.S. BEGINS BUILDING 700-MILE FENCE

On October 26, George Bush signed into law a bill authorizing construction of 700 miles of fence along the U.S.-Mexico border. Congress has already appropriated $1.2 billion to begin building this fence which will also include high-tech surveillance equipment, road barriers and checkpoints.

In May, Bush deployed 6,000 National Guardsmen to patrol the border and began to recruit thousands of additional Border Patrol agents.

This militarization of the border is part of the ongoing anti-immigrant campaign of the capitalist government. By increasing its repression against immigrants and working to poison public opinion with anti-immigrant racism, the government aims to force immigrants deeper into the underground economy where they are mercilessly exploited.

This anti-immigrant hysteria is also being used to justify the build up of the government's repressive apparatus and its attacks against the rights of everyone.

 

Volume 20, No. 22 October 21, 2006

On the Military Commissions Act: A GOVERNMENT AT WAR AGAINST THE PEOPLE

On October 17, George Bush signed into law the "Military Commissions Act" (MCA). This law puts new arbitrary, repressive powers in the hands of the President and the executive branch of government. The powers granted to the President so flagrantly violate the basic rights of the people that in voting for the bill, Senator Arlen Specter said that it is "patently unconstitutional on its face."

The Military Commissions Act:

- gives the President legal authority to detain anyone without charge by designating them (without any evidence or public review) "enemy combatants."

- suspends the right of habeas corpus for non-citizens, including legal permanent residents, detained as "enemy combatants". (The right of habeas corpus is the right to judicial review of detention; since the Magna Carta of 1215 this right has been considered the cornerstone of western law protecting people from arbitrary arrest, disappearance and indefinite detention without charge.)

- authorizes the President to determine what constitutes torture; the law explicitly declares that the Geneva Convention - the internationally recognized watershed law on prisoners of war - can not be invoked "as a source of rights in any court of the United States."

- allows the use of coerced confessions, if gained nine months prior to passage of the law, and hearsay evidence.

- provides retroactive immunity for U.S. military and intelligence officials for any and all abuses carried out at such notorious torture chambers as Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and secret CIA facilities.

The MCA has been enacted into law precisely at a time when public opinion in the U.S. and the world is expressing outrage at the systematic torture of prisoners by the U.S. government. This law has been passed at a time when people are seeking justice for the hundreds of immigrants arbitrarily detained and abused by the U.S. government since September 2001. The MCA has been put into law while Americans are denouncing the ongoing attacks on the rights and privacy of Americans through such outrageous practices as widespread wiretapping, compiling secret dossiers on millions of Americans, infiltration and repression against anti-war protests, etc.

The MCA tells the whole world that the U.S. government is a government of torturers. It is another declaration that the American people have no rights which are recognized by the government. The MCA is another proof that the U.S. government recognizes no law; it is nothing but the dictatorial, repressive power of the capitalist class, a power, based on violence, and centered in the executive branch of government.

The MCA again reminds us that the "war against terrorism" is not only a war against the nations all over the world. It is also a war against the American people. In its public declarations as well as its repressive practice, the government has made it clear that anyone who opposes it can and will be branded as an "enemy combatant."

But the rights of the people are not "gifts" or privileges bestowed on us by the government. They belong to us by virtue of our humanity and throughout our history we have claimed these rights through struggle against the arbitrary, dictatorial power of the exploiting classes. So it is today. We will continue to defend our rights. We must continue to organize ourselves and struggle against the entire government program of war, repression, racism and exploitation. We must use every available means to demand an end to the government's repression and to win safeguards for our rights.

The real defense is the independent organizations of the people and our capacity to struggle against the power of the rich. To win lasting guarantees for our rights, we must defeat the political power of the capitalists and create a new political power which arises from and serves the people themselves.

DPRK RESISTS U.S.-U.N. PRESSURE

Pyongyang, October 17 - Below we publish a statement issued on October 17 by a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). Minor grammatical changes made by the staff of The Worker.

On Oct. 14 the United States instigated the UN Security Council to pass another "resolution" calling for harsh international sanctions and blockade against the DPRK, unreasonably describing its nuclear test for self-defence as a "threat" to international peace and security.

The successful nuclear test in the DPRK was an exercise of its independent and legitimate right as a sovereign state. It was a positive defensive counter-measure to protect the sovereignty of the country and life and security of the people from the escalating U.S. nuclear war threat, sanctions and pressure.

The DPRK was compelled to legitimately pull out of the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty (NPT) in accordance with its relevant provisions and to begin the manufacture of nuclear weapons after undergoing the most fair, aboveboard and transparent processes because the U.S. seriously encroached upon the supreme security of the DPRK and the fundamental interests of the Korean nation under the pretext of the nuclear issue.

The DPRK conducted the test proving its possession of nukes in a legitimate manner after fairly announcing it in advance, something unprecedented in international practice.

It conducted the nuclear test under the conditions where its security was fully guaranteed and clearly declared that the DPRK, a responsible nuclear weapons state, would never use nukes first and will not allow nuclear transfer.

It also clarified that it would make every possible effort to promote worldwide nuclear disarmament and the final elimination of nuclear weapons and invariably adhere to the principle to realize the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and negotiations.

However, the U.S., the very one that has driven the DPRK to the nuclear test, is describing the DPRK's nuclear test as a "threat" to international peace and security, while concealing what it has done like a thief crying "Stop the thief!" This totally preposterous act is intolerable.

The nuclear test in the DPRK was a great deed that greatly contributed to defending peace and stability not only on the Korean Peninsula but in the rest of Northeast Asia as it demonstrated a powerful deterrent for coping with the U.S. nuclear threat and blackmail and foiling its attempt to ignite a new war.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC), paying no heed to all these facts, feigned ignorance of the U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK - the policy that spurned the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula - and is now incriminating the DPRK's exercise of its sovereign right to defend the sovereignty of the country, while trumpeting about the denuclearization of the peninsula. This is immoral behavior utterly devoid of impartiality.

The UNSC "resolution," needless to say, cannot be construed otherwise than a declaration of a war against the DPRK because it was based on the scenario of the U.S. which is keen to destroy the Korean-style socialist system centered on the popular masses.

The DPRK vehemently denounces the "resolution," a product of the U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK, and totally refutes it.

The adoption of this "resolution" made it impossible for the UNSC to evade the historic responsibility for having patronized and connived with the U.S. which caused the division of Korea - the root cause of all misfortunes of the Korean nation - in violation of the UN Charter the cornerstone of which is the principle of sovereignty, equality and self-determination. The U.S. has systematically perpetrated undisguised moves to "bring down the system" in the DPRK.

The present development clearly proves once again that the DPRK was entirely right when it decided to have access to nuclear weapons, its people's choice.

The U.S. would be well advised not to miscalculate the DPRK.

If the Bush group, oblivious of the lessons drawn from the shameful setbacks recorded in the history of the relations between the preceding U.S. administrations and the DPRK, calculates it can bring the DPRK to its knees through sanctions and pressure, pursuant to the already bankrupt hostile policy toward it, there would be nothing more ridiculous and foolish than its behavior.

The DPRK had remained unfazed in any storm and stress in the past when it had no nuclear weapons. It is quite nonsensical to expect the DPRK to yield to the pressure and threat of someone at this time when it has become a nuclear weapons state.

The DPRK wants peace but is not afraid of war. It wants dialogue but is always ready for confrontation.

As already clarified by the DPRK, it will fulfil its responsibility for realizing the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. But if anyone attempts to infringe upon the DPRK's sovereignty and right to existence, even a bit, under the signboard of the UNSC "resolution," it will deal merciless blows at him through strong actions.

The DPRK will closely follow the future U.S. attitude and take corresponding measures.

 

Volume 20, No. 21 October 15, 2006

HANDS OFF KOREA!

Since October 9, when the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) conducted a nuclear test, the U.S. government has launched an intense campaign to isolate and pressure the DPRK.

The Bush administration has repeatedly declared that "we are not going to live with a nuclear North Korea." The U.S. government is pushing for the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions on the DPRK, including restrictions on trade, financial transactions, and travel by DPRK officials as well as interdiction of Korean ships.

The capitalist media has unleashed a torrent of racist, warmongering propaganda against the government and people of the DPRK and the U.S. government is making military threats.

The Workers Party, U.S.A. denounces the aggressive actions of the U.S. government. We call on people to join in demanding: "Hands off Korea!"

It is the indisputable, sovereign right of the DPRK to conduct nuclear tests. Neither U.S. imperialism nor anyone else can infringe on this right. In the prevailing conditions, the DPRK's nuclear program serves to defend the independence of the country and peace in the Korean peninsula and the world.

The facts show that the real nuclear threat in the Korean peninsula and the main source of tension and war in the world is U.S. imperialism.

For nearly 60 years, U.S. imperialism has been at war against the DPRK.

During the Korean War of 1950-53, the U.S. killed 2 million Koreans in a barbarous war of aggression. 78 cities and towns in the DPRK were bombed off the map; 75% of the country's food and irrigation systems were destroyed, etc. The U.S. used chemical and biological weapons and threatened to use nuclear weapons.

Since the end of open hostilities, the U.S. has still refused to sign a peace treaty with the DPRK and remains in a state of war. Thirty thousand (30,000) U.S. troops occupy south Korea preventing the peaceful reunification of Korea. Through economic and financial sanctions, the U.S. is trying to strangle the DPRK. It continually carries on aerial espionage and regularly engages in "war games" to prepare for invading the country. For decades, the U.S. stockpiled thousands of nuclear warheads in south Korea and today, U.S. nuclear submarines surround the DPRK and dock in south Korean harbors. The U.S. government has branded the DPRK as part of an "axis of evil" and repeatedly called for "regime change." The Pentagon openly boasts of plans for a nuclear first-strike against the DPRK.

In short, it is U.S. imperialism which has aimed its nuclear weapons at the DPRK just as it is U.S. imperialism which has stationed tens of thousands of troops outside its border to threaten the DPRK.

Facing this encirclement, the DPRK has defended its sovereignty by strengthening its economic and political independence as well as its deterrent military power.

At the same time, the DPRK has consistently worked for a negotiated resolution of tensions. The DPRK is committed to the signing of a permanent peace treaty and mutual recognition between the U.S. and the DPRK as well as to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. The U.S. has responded to these open and sincere efforts with new economic sanctions, more pressure and threats.

The U.S. government, in its imperialist arrogance and belligerence, is enraged at the DPRK because it is resolutely defending its sovereignty.

Since the U.S. first dropped atomic bombs on Japan, it has pursued a policy of nuclear blackmail against the world. Time and again it has threatened countries with nuclear weapons in order to force them to their knees. While the peoples of the world, including the American people, have demonstrated in their hundreds of millions against nuclear weapons, the U.S. government has continuously stockpiled more nukes. The U.S. has deployed its nuclear weapons all over the globe, helped its allies, including Great Britain and Israel, build nuclear weapons even while screaming that no other country is "allowed" to have nuclear weapons. The U.S. has repeatedly sabotaged the efforts of the international community to limit and abolish nuclear weapons. For example, the U.S. brazenly ignores the provisions of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which require the U.S. to refrain from threatening non-nuclear countries with nuclear weapons and which also demand that the U.S. dismantle its nuclear arsenal.

History shows that U.S. imperialism is not going to give up its nuclear weapons nor will it willingly restrain its aggressive ambitions. History teaches that countries can only defend their independence and their very existence from U.S. aggression by building up their self-defence capacities. This is why the DPRK's resolute defense of its sovereignty is an important force against U.S. aggression and for peace in the world.

The American people, who ardently desire peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons, must, firstly, wage unrelenting struggles against the U.S. government and its program of militarism, nuclear blackmail and war.

We demand an end to U.S. pressure and interference against the DPRK and the withdrawal of all U.S. nuclear weapons and troops from the Korean peninsula.

We demand the total abolition of the U.S. nuclear arsenal; this is the key to global disarmament.

The most important step towards peace is ending all U.S. interference and aggression against other countries, withdrawing all U.S. troops stationed abroad and recognizing the sovereign rights of every country.

DPRK FOREIGN MINISTRY STATEMENT

Pyongyang, October 11 (KCNA) - A spokesman for the DPRK Foreign Ministry issued the following statement Wednesday as regards the U.S. ill-boding moves in the wake of the nuclear test in the DPRK:

As we have already declared the field of scientific research of the DPRK successfully conducted an underground nuclear test under secure conditions on Oct. 9 as a new measure for bolstering its war deterrent for self-defence.

The DPRK's nuclear test was entirely attributable to the U.S. nuclear threat, sanctions and pressure.

The DPRK has exerted every possible effort to settle the nuclear issue through dialogue and negotiations, prompted by its sincere desire to realize the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The Bush administration, however, responded to our patient and sincere efforts and magnanimity with the policy of sanctions and blockade.

The DPRK was compelled to substantially prove its possession of nukes to protect its sovereignty and right to existence from the daily increasing danger of war from the U.S.

Although the DPRK conducted the nuclear test due to the U.S., it still remains unchanged in its will to denuclearize the peninsula through dialogue and negotiations.

The denuclearization of the entire peninsula was President Kim Il Sung's last instruction and an ultimate goal of the DPRK.

The DPRK's nuclear test does not contradict the September 19 joint statement under which it committed itself to dismantle nuclear weapons and abandon the existing nuclear program. On the contrary, it constitutes a positive measure for its implementation.

The DPRK clarified more than once that it would feel no need to possess even a single nuke when it is no longer exposed to the U.S. threat after it has dropped its hostile policy toward the DPRK and confidence has been built between the two countries.

No sooner had the DPRK, which had already pulled out of the NPT and, accordingly, is no longer bound to international law, declared that it conducted a nuclear test than the U.S. manipulated the UN Security Council to issue a resolution pressurizing Pyongyang, an indication of the disturbing moves to impose collective sanctions upon it.

The DPRK is ready for both dialogue and confrontation.

If the U.S. increases pressure upon the DPRK, persistently doing harm to it, it will continue to take physical countermeasures, considering it as a declaration of a war.

REFERENCE MATERIAL ON U.S. NUCLEAR WEAPONS

(Excerpted from The Worker, 5/24/05)

Current U.S. policy on the development and use of nuclear weapons is outlined in a number of official government documents, including the "Nuclear Posture Review" (2002), the "National Security Strategy of the U.S.A" (2002), and the "Quadrennial Defense Review" (2001). . . .

The Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) emphasizes:

- a "first-strike" nuclear strategy and capability i.e., using nuclear weapons against an enemy, including even non-nuclear states;

- the targeting of non-nuclear countries with nuclear weapons, listing North Korea, Iran, and Syria among the targets. For example, on November 7, 2004 the UPI reported on a newly declassified U.S. government document which admitted that since 1998 the U.S. has had an active contingency plan to drop as many as 30 nuclear warheads on North Korea.

- the rejection of arms control agreements, such as the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT);

- vigorous pursuit of new uses and missions for nuclear weapons, the production of new missiles, bombers and submarines, design of new types of nuclear weapons and major investments in weapons production facilities;

- the need for "renewed nuclear testing."

In addition to the global nuclear war plan, known as "Operations Plan (OPLAN) 8044, the U.S. has drawn up official regional nuclear war plans, including "OPLAN 5030," and "OPLAN" 5027-04 which are designed to wage nuclear war on the Korean peninsula. Commenting on the plan and U.S. aims against North Korea, a senior U.S. official is reported to have said: "When we're done, they will not be able to mount any military activity of any kind. We will kill them all." The goal of the revised plan was to "abolish North Korea as a functioning state, end the rule of its leader, Kim Jong Il, and reorganize the country under South Korean control." (quoted from globalsecurity.com)

The use of nuclear weapons also remains the official doctrine of the aggressive NATO alliance, headed by the U.S. NATO doctrine considers nuclear weapons as "the supreme guarantee of alliance security." The United States has deployed an estimated 150 to 180 nuclear weapons on seven European NATO states, six of which are non-nuclear weapon states. ...

As of January 2005 there are approximately 5,300 operational nuclear warheads in the U.S. stockpile, including 4,530 strategic warheads and 780 non-strategic warheads. Almost 5,000 additional warheads have been retained in the "responsive reserve force" or are in an inactive status with their tritium removed. . . .

The United States currently has 336 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) on 14 nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs). The missiles are armed with some 2,016 warheads, about 48 percent of U.S. operational strategic weapons. A new, nine-strong nuclear submarine Pacific force, the largest since 1979, reflects "increased nuclear targeting requirements against China and possibly North Korea" according to Pentagon documents.

GOODYEAR WORKERS STRIKE

Fifteen thousand (15,000) members of the United Steelworkers at 16 Goodyear tire plants in the U.S. and Canada went on strike on October 5.

The workers are fighting Goodyear's demands for concessions. Goodyear wants to close its plants in Gadsden, Alabama and Tyler, Texas, wiping out the jobs of nearly 2,200 union workers. Goodyear is also demanding cuts in wages - as high as 50% for some workers - as well as cuts in health care and retiree pensions and health coverage.

In 2003, Goodyear forced $2 billion in concessions onto the workers. Goodyear has proposed another round of cuts claiming that they are necessary for it to stay "competitive." This is same slogan which the capitalists in every sector are using to slash workers' wages and benefits.

The facts show that last quarter Goodyear sales reached a new record; the company is the third largest tire manufacturer in the world and had $19.5 billion in sales last year. Eighty thousand (80,000) Goodyear workers operate 100 plants in 29 countries.

The workers have had enough. They are rallying around the demands to stop plant closings and guarantee every worker's job. They are determined to defend their wages and benefits and accept no new cuts.

Round-the-clock picket lines have been set up at Goodyear plants and workers say they will stay on strike "as long as it takes." Mass rallies have also been organized in several cities, including Akron, Ohio and Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Road of the Party: TAKING NEW STEPS

Earlier this year, practically overnight millions of Americans came out in the struggle for immigrant rights. This massive movement again gave a glimpse of the tremendous possibilities for change. The same is true of the new anti-war movement which over the last few years has spread to every city and town, embracing tens of millions of Americans.

In fact, even local, partial struggles have the potential of rapidly spreading and assuming a generalized character. For example, the recent Detroit teachers' strike not only won widespread support from parents and students. The capitalist media also expressed fear that the struggle could easily spread to nearby suburbs and school districts across the country.

Everyone should fully appreciate the breadth of these struggles. They are telling us something about the character of contemporary life.

From New York to Los Angeles nearly 300 million people live under the same conditions, face the same problems and look for common solutions. The necessity for change is arising from every pore of our society.

Our country has an advanced, modern economic infrastructure, capable of providing abundance for all; yet tens of millions of people go without such basic necessities as health care, secure jobs, a real education, etc. From the first days of our country, the working and oppressed people have been struggling to build a society which guarantees equal rights for all and in which the people themselves rule. But everyday, the capitalists tighten their monopoly over the political power and strengthen their apparatus of repression. In every country, people demand peace based on the sovereign equality of every nation, but the capitalists keep making new wars to extend their profits and empire.

The people will carry through the needed changes.

Daily life in the factories and large worksites, in the public schools and urban communities unite the American people in large collectives. These collectives are the real foundation of our society and, with modern means of communications, they have the capacity to reach out to every nook and cranny of the country. Once the people make up their mind to act, they have immense organizational potential and the power to transform the society.

The situation is like a dry field in which a single spark can ignite an enormous fire.

What, then, is holding back our struggles?

Firstly the capitalists bring the most intense pressure against any and every struggle of the people. Even small, local strikes are slandered by the media and repressed by court injunctions. The highest levels of government spew out racism while police violence creates an atmosphere of intimidation in immigrant and minority communities. The youth and students, precisely because they are such a vital, revolutionary force, are under all-sided attack.

Such attacks are relentless firstly because the capitalists are trying to throw us backward - to cut wages and benefits, slash investments in education and health care, launch new wars, etc. Secondly the capitalists are well aware of the potential of the people; to them even a small struggle represents the "danger of a good example." And once the people move, they can very rapidly challenge the very foundations of the exploiting, capitalist system.

A second difficulty facing our struggles is that although the people are deeply aware of the need for change, they have limited experience. What is more, the people are not simply unorganized they are being actively disorganized by the political parties of capitalism. The fact is that practically the entire organizational apparatus at the head of the unions, the anti-war movement, the immigrant rights movement, etc. is controlled by opportunist grouplets functioning as the "left-wing" of the Democratic Party. Opportunism continually works to divert or liquidate the people's struggles.

How do we change the situation?

Firstly, we need to keep fighting. Some people recoil from the enormity of the tasks or overestimate our weaknesses. Yes, we need to defeat the diversions and repression. Yes, we need more experience and need to learn new forms of organization and methods of struggle.

But all these things can be done. Each time we struggle we not only advance the immediate cause but we also learn more about how to fight and win. This is what humans do - they learn through experience and change the world.

The second thing is that in course of fighting we need to carry on nonstop ideological, political and organizational work; the people themselves must look into and sort out all the questions facing the struggle.

The Workers Party must exert the utmost energy to imbue the people with clarity about their own, independent, revolutionary aims. We must help people assimilate the vast experiences of the international working class and popular movements and help people see their own colossal strength. We must continually go broader and deeper to bring new sections of people into active political life.

We need to carry out deep-going investigations and tireless ideological work to defeat all diversions and pressures and strengthen people's conviction to fight and win.

We must carry on painstaking, daily organizational work to find the forms of organization and activity which can strengthen the people's unity and release their initiative.

Again, all these things can be done but they require tenacity.

The intensity of the contradictions in our country - the fundamental needs of the people - are forcing people to begin organizing for fundamental social change. We are still in the early stages of this process and it is the early steps which often are the hardest and, at the same time, the most important.

Creating the political clarity and independent organizations of the people are the key to sustain the broad, fundamental struggle for change which is the necessity of the times.

Letters: REGRESSIVE HEALTH INSURANCE COSTS

I work at a big hospital. As our contract comes up, health insurance is a major issue.

We pay $300/month for family insurance. This adds up to almost $2/hour or 15% of our wages which average $13-$14/hour. In addition we have copayments for doctor's visit, prescription drugs, hospital stays, etc.

Here we are providing health care for hundreds of thousands of people, yet many of us cannot afford health insurance at all.

The hospital, like the capitalists everywhere, keeps crying that "health costs are going up." But, in our case, the hospital itself provides the care. And our wages sure don't account for the ever-rising premiums.

Recently we found out that the supervisors, doctors and administrators are enrolled in the same health plan and pay the same copremiums and copays as we do.

This is the same as a regressive tax system. While copremiums equal 15% of our pay, a supervisor making over $100,000/year pays only 3.5% of his salary. A millionaire doctor or administrator is paying virtually nothing. For them a $300/month premium is less than an evening out. For us, it equals groceries for a month.

We are demanding that health insurance premiums amount to no more than 5% of salary. This would dramatically lower our premiums. We see this as a step in the direction of winning comprehensive health coverage paid 100% by the company.

Why should we pay the freight for the bosses and subsidize their health insurance?

655,000 DEATHS IN IRAQ

A new report, by researchers with Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and the British journal "The Lancet," shows that 655,000 Iraqis have died because of the U.S. war.

"Deaths are occurring in Iraq now at a rate more than three times that from before the invasion of March 2003," said Dr. Burnham, lead author.

After the publication of this report, the U.S.-puppet government in Iraq announced that medical and hospital officials would no longer be permitted to release casualty figures.

 

Volume 20, No. 20 October 3, 2006

THE PEOPLES WILL STOP THE WARS!

Over the last few weeks, the Youth and Students for a Democratic Foreign Policy organized various anti-war meetings in the Chicago area, both public forums as well as group discussions with activists. Michael Thorburn, editor of "The Worker," led the discussions, focussing on the question: "How to advance the anti-war struggle." Below we summarize some of the main points.

1) The recent U.S.-Israeli war against Lebanon again reminded people that the wars are going to continue. Over the last 5 years, U.S. imperialism has set Central Asia and the Middle East on fire, attacking and occupying Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon. The U.S. continues to pressure Syria and Iran and prepare for war against these countries. From day one, the declared aim of the U.S. government has been to create a "new Middle East" in which U.S. imperialism imposes its economic and political dictate on every country.

The government openly tells us that its "war on terrorism" will last for decades; it has targeted more than 60 countries. Since 2001, the U.S. has also invaded and occupied Haiti, sent counter-insurgency "advisors" to the Philippines, increased its militarization of the Korean peninsula and openly threatened North Korea with a preemptive nuclear strike, published a plan for the invasion and re-colonization of Cuba, stepped up its subversion and interference in Venezuela, etc.

The savage tactics used by U.S. imperialism - widespread torture, the deliberate targeting of civilian populations with cluster bombs and other anti-personnel weapons, the standing orders to "kill all the males," etc. - reflect the aims of the wars. These are aggressive, colonial wars - wars to terrorize and enslave peoples.

These wars are going to continue because they arise from the very nature of the capitalist-imperialist system. The monopoly capitalist class, the tiny handful of billionaires who control the economic and political life of our country, has also established a world empire; 3,000 U.S. corporations have set up 24,000 overseas branch plants - super-exploiting the labor and robbing the resources of peoples on every continent. War and violence are the very foundation of this empire, of this subjugation of whole nations.

Michael Thorburn exposed how the opportunist hysteria which attributes the entire war program to "Bush, Bush, Bush," or the "ultra-right" or the "neocons" or some vague "conspiracy" actually minimizes the danger and prettifies the capitalist warmakers. The entire ruling class and its twin political parties - the Democrats as well as the Republicans - wants and needs war.

Michael Thorburn reviewed world events since the end of WWII reminding people that for 60 years, U.S. imperialism has been the principal source of war and the biggest colonial power - waging hundreds of armed interventions - in Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Grenada, Panama, Yugoslavia, etc.

Today, U.S. imperialism has become even more aggressive. It has openly embraced the doctrine of "preemptive military strike" declaring that it will attack any country at any time. It wants to substitute its will for international law, trample on the sovereignty of countries and impose its exploiting system everywhere.

The People Will Win

Michael Thorburn emphasized that despite its ferocious military power, U.S. imperialism is extremely weak.

Imperialism's mortal weakness is that it is opposed by the masses of people everywhere.

Bush claimed that the Iraqi people would throw flowers at the feet of the U.S. soldiers but the Iraqi people are resisting and defeating U.S. imperialism.

The U.S.-Israeli aggressors vaunted their "military invincibility" and threatened to wipe out the Lebanese resistance in a matter of days. But the Lebanese people defeated the aggressors and are forcing them out of the country.

When Fidel Castro got sick, the U.S. government and media gloated that they would be back in control of Cuba, but, the Cuban people, as they have for 46 years, continue to resist the pressures of the empire and defend their independence and chosen social system.

Recently the 118 nations of the Non-Aligned Movement stood up against the U.S. superpower declaring their opposition to any big power interference or pressure against the sovereignty, independence and right to self-determination of every country.

With all these and countless other struggles against imperialism unfolding in every corner of the globe, there is no room for pessimism. Everyday the people are proving that they, not imperialism, are the decisive force.

Over the last 100 years, the working class and the oppressed nations and peoples have occupied centerstage. They have taken up for solution the problems of winning national liberation, equality and emancipation. In the beginning of the 20th century, the working class emerged in every country as an independent political force and when the first imperialist war broke out, the workers threw themselves into the forefront of the struggle for peace. So too, the peoples in the colonial countries - in China and India, Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines, in Algeria, Palestine, Africa, Cuba, etc. - rose in a tidal wave of national liberation struggles against imperialism. This great anti-colonial, anti-imperialist movement continues and the peoples will not be forced to the "back of the bus."

Thus the American people's struggle is one part of the world front against war and imperialism. We must link our struggle with the liberation movements of the oppressed nations and support them. We must stand with every country that defends its sovereignty against imperialist dictate and we must support the working class and popular struggles everywhere.

This world front of the peoples will stop the wars; it is the harbinger of the new world of peace, friendship and equality amongst all nations. The morbid ambitions of the U.S. capitalists will never subjugate the billions of people who are fighting against imperialism and war.

Anti-Imperialist Politics

Michael Thorburn summarized some of the great achievements of the recent anti-war struggles in the U.S. He showed how people started out with virtually no organization and very little experience and yet already have turned the tide of public opinion and brought the agenda for peace to centerstage.

Today the anti-war sentiment is greater than ever and keeps growing.

But the organized protests and activities are very limited. This is due, in large part, to the opportunist politics which keeps liquidating the anti-war struggles and diverting people into the Democratic Party.

Millions of people have already experienced the dead-end of capitalist and opportunist politics; as their anti-war sentiment grows they are also assimilating their experiences and looking for the way forward.

The program of the Workers Party, the Youth and Students for a Democratic Foreign Policy and the Peace Agenda Forum shows the way forward.

Firstly, we go to the broadest possible sections of the people and mobilize them into action to demand: "U.S. Troops Out of Iraq, Now!" as well as to oppose U.S. imperialism's war program on every front.

Secondly, we actively fight against the diversionist and liquidationist pressures of the Democratic Party and opportunism.

Thirdly and most importantly we work to develop the anti-war struggle from a protest movement into a proactive, and independent movement.

This means that people must start from their own aims and rally around an immediate program which demands an end to U.S. aggression and intervention everywhere, the withdrawal of all U.S. troops stationed abroad, recognition of the sovereign equality of every country and the demilitarization of our country. It means to develop our struggle independent of and in struggle against the parties of war and imperialism - the Republicans and Democrats.

It means we cannot let our movement unfold spontaneously but rather must continuously deepen our political consciousness and build up our own independent organizations.

Working on a daily basis to develop such an anti-imperialist program will maximize the immediate struggles against every front of the capitalist war program by politicizing, empowering and mobilizing people.

At the same time this work consolidates the strength and organization of the people with the aim of bringing to power a new government - a peace government, a government of the people, not the capitalist warmakers.

WE DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO VOTE

by Bill Foster

Recently, a friend expressed shock when he heard that I wasn't planning to "vote."

I answered him by saying neither he, nor any of the working people, were going to vote either. The people in our country are denied the right to vote; we have no say-so whatsoever in choosing our representatives much less in deciding the policies of the government. We must face up to these facts in order to decide on the best ways to advance our interests in the political arena.

Even setting aside the fact that the Republicans and Democrats steal elections by miscounting votes, the people have no right to vote because the Republican and Democratic parties have a virtual monopoly on the nomination of candidates. These parties are guaranteed ballot status across the country while independent candidates and other political parties are generally unable to get on the ballot due to legal restrictions. On top of this, of course, the Republicans and Democrats, both financed by the capitalists, monopolize the media and have huge financial resources at their disposal. Other candidates or parties, even if they are able to get on the ballot, are systematically denied access to the media and the electorate.

Thus, since the people cannot choose the candidates, they cannot choose the representatives. The elections boil down to a referendum on which particular representatives of the capitalist class will hold office for the next few years; the working people can "choose" which master will crack the whip over them.

But this is not all. The entire electoral system is rigged to insure the monopoly of the Republicans and Democrats. For example, the election boards are controlled by the Republicans and Democrats and voting districts are blatantly manipulated. Most voting districts are absolutely dominated by just one party; in any given election, only a few seats across the country can possibly change from Republican to Democratic or vice versa. The city of Chicago is guaranteed to elect Democrats while certain downstate Illinois districts are guaranteed to elect Republicans. What is more, the Byzantine structure of government - with varying terms for Governors, Congressional representatives, Senators, President, etc. - makes it impossible for the government as a whole (and its policies) to be changed in one election, even if an overwhelming majority of people vote one way.

The capitalist class uses the current electoral system to create the illusion that people are participating and giving their consent to the government. But the reality is that under the present system all the power is ceded to the politicians. The people's role is reduced to voting once every 2 or 4 years for one or another candidate handpicked by the rich. Once the polls close, the "elected" officials are free to rule as they choose and there is no way for the people to hold the politicians accountable. In fact, capitalist politicians are perhaps best known as liars whose campaign promises mean nothing.

No, the fact is that we do not have the right to vote.

II.

The capitalist elections are not only a fraud and an illusion. They are a real attack on the working people.

Not only the monopoly-controlled media, but also union officials, the "leaders" of various anti-war coalitions, women's organizations, minority rights groups, etc. bombard workers and activists with the need to vote.

The entire charade aims at de-politicizing people. Instead of holding political parties accountable for their deeds, instead of looking into the intensity and causes of the problems facing us, instead of discussing real solutions, people are fed the pabulum of "good guys" versus "bad guys." Instead of sticking by their convictions, people are told to surrender to the "lesser evil." Instead of building their own organizations, people are told to devote time and money to building up the organizations of the capitalists. Instead of developing our mass struggles to advance our interests, people are diverted to the ballot box.

Few things make me madder, than hearing the riot act read to people: "If you don't vote, you have no right to complain or participate."

In response, I call upon people to use the election period to do something positive - to discuss the issues, to stand up for peace, for the rights of the people, for an end to poverty and exploitation, to denounce the capitalist politicians, to reach out to others and join the ongoing struggles and to build up the independent political party of the workers and people.

UNDERFUNDING & INEQUALITY IN THE SCHOOLS

The following is excerpted from a new pamphlet published by the Committee to Defend Public Education.

Our public schools are facing a dire situation, as funding is constantly being cut. Not only is funding insufficient across the board, but enormous disparities exist between rich and poor districts. This criminal underfunding of schools results in a narrowed curriculum, overcrowded classrooms, overworked and underpaid teachers, high dropout rates and low academic achievement.

We must continue to demand that a high quality education is an equal right for all, not a privilege for a few. The existing inequalities can be eliminated if government, at every level, would fulfill its responsibility to properly fund the public schools. . . .

Underfunding impacts every aspect of the school system.

At the most basic level, a public education requires physical infrastructure, and that of the U.S. public schools is crumbling. The average school building is over 42 years old. This means 14 million children are in schools that need replacing or extensive repairs. 30% of the schools have never undergone major repair. Even when the 1984 Asbestos School Hazard Abatement Act mandated clean ups of schools, only 1/3 of the qualified schools were cleared of asbestos. Overall, $268 billion is needed to bring the nation's schools into good condition.

Many of the school buildings aren't buildings at all, as our overcrowded schools are spilling over into trailers. Instruction often takes place in hallways and closets, while class size soars well beyond our own government's recommendations for student-teacher ratio. In Chicago Public Schools the official class size for elementary is 28 students; for intermediate and high school it is 31. Even these ratios, far too high for quality instruction, are easily violated because of the loophole "in schools where space is available." Added to the problem of overcrowding and understaffing, are rounds of teacher layoffs that have disrupted both the schools and the teachers. Chicago Public Schools laid off 1,100 teachers in 2005 and 1,000 teachers in 2006. The pay received by veteran teachers who are kept on by CPS is below average when compared to the suburbs. The supposed goal of keeping and retaining quality teachers is clearly not being met due to this sad underfunding of salaries.

Of course, the most important impact of the extreme underfunding of the schools is the effect it has on student achievement. It is well understood that a well-rounded education is best. Underfunding has resulted in cuts to the curriculum, which often means students are deprived of art, music and athletic experiences. Purchases of instructional materials are often put on hold, leaving students with old, out-of-date textbooks to study from. A study by the U.S. Dept. of Education showed that students in poor districts score, on average, 2 grades lower in math, and 4 grade levels lower in reading than students in wealthier districts. The study showed that this held true regardless of students' socioeconomic background. If the district was underfunded, students did worse. This demonstrates that it is, in fact, school funding, not students' socioeconomic status, that is preventing their success at school. . . .

How Schools are Underfunded

The federal government provides, on average, only about 7%-9% of school revenues, leaving most of the burden to fall to state and local governments. The 2007 federal budget calls for over $630 billion to be spent on the military but only $54.4 billion on education. Yet most Americans agree that education is one of our biggest investment priorities. The government's budget should reflect the wishes of the people.

State governments are also failing in their responsibility to provide for the "general welfare," by investing in education. Illinois ranks 48th out of 50 in state funding for education, providing only about 37% of public schools' funds. The Illinois Education Funding Advisory Board has officially recommended that the state legislature immediately increase per pupil funding to $5,665/year (a $1,000/year increase). To date this recommendation remains unfulfilled. . . . Governments are ignoring their own recommendations, blatantly denying students the very minimum that they are entitled to for a basic education.

The criminal irresponsibility of the federal and state governments means that most of the burden falls to local communities. Because of the huge range in the property taxes collected in different communities, the result is an enormous disparity in per pupil funding. In Illinois, it ranges from less than $5,000 per pupil in the poorest districts, to more than $23,000 in the wealthiest district. There is no question that this disparity in dollars creates a disparity in the quality of education.

Even within the Chicago public schools, huge disparities exist. In 1999, some CPS schools had per pupil funding of $5,978 while others spent a paltry $1,875.

These disparities exist across the country. A study in 2000 showed that, across the country, districts that educate poor students received $966 less per students than low poverty districts. It seems the students with the most need often receive the least amount of funding. . . .

Public education is one of the great achievements of our nation. The working class has fought hard for the last 200 years to gain public education for all. The struggle is not over, and indeed must be intensified. Struggles are occurring all across the nation, often with success. . . .

We demand that:

1. Education is a right which belongs to each and every member of our society.

2. Government must guarantee all the resources necessary to properly fund education.

Every level of government must be held responsible; in the final analysis, the best solution is for the federal government to guarantee full and equal funding for all schools.

3. Inequality in education must be eliminated.

As a starting point, the funding for poorer school districts must be brought up to the level of funding available for the wealthiest districts. Even more, funding should be based on need, with additional funds provided for communities and children with historical disadvantages, special needs, etc.

4. The system of free public education must be extended to include infant care, pre-K, university and continuing adult education.

5. We aim at the highest quality education for all.

Schools must provide a safe, modern infrastructure as well as an enlightened, all-sided curriculum. Class sizes and all educational tools must be in line with educational best practice.

(The Committee to Defend Public Education has also recently published pamphlets on Charter Schools and Standardized Testing. To contact the CDPE: www.teacherschalkboard.org.)

CHICAGO TEACHERS CONTRACT: A CONCERN FOR ALL

The contract of the teachers in Chicago's public schools expires in June 2007 and negotiations between the Board of Education (BOE) and the Chicago Teachers' Union (CTU) will begin soon.

The teachers are preparing for a difficult struggle and the issues they face concern not only their own wages and working conditions but the future of Chicago's public schools. These issues concern all the working people.

In addition to the teachers' demand for increased pay (which deserves the wholehearted support of everyone who values public education), the contract struggle will affect such vital issues as increasing investments in the schools, opening urgently needed classroom space, lowering class size, stopping the privatization of Chicago schools through Renaissance 2010, stopping the closing of neighborhood schools, fully funding the curriculum including bilingual education, special education, etc.

For several years now, the Board of Education has been running the public schools into the ground.

The Board has refused to properly invest in the schools. Schools in minority neighborhoods receive even less funding.

New school buildings are urgently needed. Many schools are so crowded that safety laws are openly ignored; in some classes students are forced to stand for lack of space. In addition, the Board arbitrarily, and in open violation of state laws, refuses to fund bilingual education classes, special education, etc. The number of students per class is way too high and in many cases flagrantly higher than the contractually guaranteed maximum.

Yet while the BOE criminally underfunds the schools, it is spending tens of millions of dollars turning public facilities over to private companies to operate "charter" or "contract" schools. This drains funds earmarked for the public schools and turns them into sources of profit for private entrepreneurs. Under Daley's Renaissance 2010 program, 70 charter schools will be opened by 2010. In addition to cutting teachers' wages and benefits, many of these schools will be free from public oversight and accountability. Charters are being used to close neighborhood schools and intensify an unequal school system in which most working class and minority children attend rundown, underfunded schools.

These attacks on the public schools are greatly facilitated by special laws which restrict the rights of Chicago teachers to unionize and fight for improved conditions. In recent contracts, teachers have been denied the right to bargain collectively over their working conditions. This gives the BOE a free hand to increase class size, eliminate needed programs, privatize schools, etc. In addition, the teachers' union is undermined because Chicago refuses to accord tenure to a teacher until she/he has worked for 5 years. This gives the BOE and local principals the power to impose overwork and arbitrary conditions on teachers and thus circumvent many contractual provisions. Probationary teachers, who make up 40% of the city's teaching staff, are restricted in their ability to speak out in defense of parents and students.

Education is a vital concern to workers throughout the country. Our system of public schools has been created and developed only because every generation has fought to defend and extend this system. This year's teachers' contract should be an occasion for people across Chicago to renew their struggle to defend and improve the public schools.

As the teachers organize themselves, we should not only support them but help unfold a broad agenda and powerful mass struggles in support of the public schools.

Support the Teachers' Contract Struggle!

No to Renaissance 2010 and Privatization!

Increase Investments in the Public Schools!

(Joint statement of the Chicago Branch of the Workers Party and the Committee to Defend Public Education).

WAGES: PART TWO

In an earlier article (see The Worker 8/28/06), we showed how wages have been falling for the past 30 years to the point where most workers do not make enough to keep life and limb together.

For example, in 2004, the average wages of private sector workers were $543/week or $28,236/year. Yet a basic family budget for a 4-person Chicago family was $43,704/year or 54% more than the average worker's income.

We also showed how these starvation wages translate into greater and greater profits for the capitalists. Today, on average, a worker creates the value of her/his labor in about 1 and 1/2 hours out of an 8-hour working day. The new values produced in the other 6 and 1/2 hours go to the capitalists as profit.

The fact is that for the last 30 years, the capitalists have been forcing wage cuts and other concessions onto the workers. Along with hourly wages, the capitalists have also been systematically and drastically slashing health insurance coverage, stealing and slashing pension plans, revising work rules to increase the speed and intensity of work, eliminating any semblance of job security, etc.

In addition to these direct means of increasing the exploitation of the workers, the capitalists have also been using the government to slash the "social wage" by cutting back on unemployment insurance and workers comp, all but eliminating income-support for the poverty stricken, slashing housing assistance and Medicaid, etc.

These social insurance funds were created as a result of decades of struggles by the workers and helped raise the general level of wages and the standard of living of the people. The laws creating these funds recognized, at least in part, that everyone has a right to food, health care, housing, etc. and created a minimum floor for wages and workers' standard of living. By slashing and eliminating such social guarantees, the capitalists undercut this floor, increase competition amongst the workers and further force down wages.

The root problem is that under the capitalist system, the workers, as a class, are exploited and oppressed.

Under capitalism, a tiny percentage of the population (the capitalist class) owns the means of production (the tools needed by people to produce food, housing, clothing and all the other material goods).

The vast majority of people are workers who have been reduced to the status of wage slaves because they have no way to secure a living except by selling their labor-power (ability to work) to the capitalists.

Workers produce all the new values and material goods. But, under capitalism, wages (the price paid by the capitalists for workers' labor-power) are only a small portion of the total new value created. The rest of the newly created value is grabbed by the capitalists as profit.

However, the workers need not and do not accept this state of affairs. In fact, there is a continuous and irreconcilable struggle between the capitalists and the workers over the value produced. The capitalists struggle to maximize their profit by keeping wages as low as they can. The workers struggle against capitalist exploitation.

The workers' struggle includes: 1) immediate economic battles for better wages and working conditions against individual employers; 2) political struggles - struggles of the working class as a whole against the capitalist class - for generalized improvements in wages and conditions; and 3) the struggle to eliminate the conditions of exploitation altogether - the struggle to abolish the capitalist system and win emancipation.

Capitalist ideology tries to confine and liquidate workers' economic struggles by insisting that "wages must be competitive." "Competitive wages" mean wages which give the capitalists the ability to "beat out" their competition by grabbing maximum profit. In other words, first, last and always, the labor of the workers must be devoted to making the capitalists rich.

Similarly, the capitalist ideology fights against the workers' political demands - i.e. such generalized demands as universal health, increased Social Security pensions, etc. - by insisting that the "country can't afford it" or "the government has no money." But everyone knows that our country is incredibly productive and that the government has huge resources at its disposal. The real issue is that the capitalists are insisting that they, and they alone, have claims on the country's wealth.

In every case, the capitalist ideology proceeds from the point of view that the workers must accept their exploitation.

The workers' movement must thoroughly repudiate these and all variants of capitalist ideology. It is the labor of the working class which produces all the material wealth of society and the workers' movement proceeds not only from the need to secure their economic existence but to emancipate themselves (and society as a whole) from capitalist wage-slavery.

The results of any particular struggle or the general level of wages at a particular historical moment are dependent, in the final analysis, solely on the balance of forces between the workers and the capitalists.

HEALTH INSURANCE PREMIUMS KEEP RISING

Premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance continued to rise drastically in 2006, according to the recent survey released by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

This year, insurance premiums rose 7.7%, more than double the rate of wage increases; since 2000, premiums have gone up 87%. Since employers keep shifting much of these increased costs onto their employees, workers are paying, on average, $2,973 in premiums for family coverage and $627 for single coverage. In addition, workers must pay hundreds of dollars in deductibles and thousands in copayments. Vision and dental care, which are, at best, only minimally covered in employer-sponsored insurance plans, add even more costs for the workers.

Employer-sponsored health insurance covers 155 million people and is the principal method of health coverage in the country. The drastic and continuing increases in costs for the workers have produced a real health care crisis. Tens of millions of workers and their families cannot afford health insurance at all, while tens of millions more are forced to cut back on other necessities in order to pay their health care costs.

But health care is an absolute necessity. Facing the present crisis, workers have to struggle on two fronts.

Firstly they must wage repeated struggles against employers' shifting of costs onto the workers and to force the employers to pay the full cost of health insurance. Under the present situation, full health care coverage must be considered part of the minimum wage; any health costs paid by the workers are a deduction from their wages.

At the same time, workers must mount a political struggle to force the government to create a universal system which guarantees free and comprehensive health care as a right to everyone.

FOREIGN MINISTERS ADOPT NON-ALIGNED MOVEMENT GUIDELINES

Reprinted for Granma International, September 15, 2006.

On September 14, the foreign ministers of the Non-Aligned Movement [an organization of 118 nations] defined for the approval of their heads of state a group of principles that are to guide the movement's activities from now on.

The fundamentals are contained in a statement on the aims and principles and role of the Non-Aligned Movement in the current international juncture.

Respect for the UN Charter and the sovereignty of the peoples and the territorial equality and integrity of all states heads the document to be endorsed by the 14th NAM Summit that is in session today and tomorrow in Havana.

In addition, the statement refers to the equality of all races, religions, cultures and nations, large and small, and respect for and promotion of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right of the peoples to peace and development.

It ratifies the principle of free self-determination and the inalienable right of states to freely decide on their political, socioeconomic and cultural systems.

An explicit statement that no state or group of states has the right to directly or indirectly intervene in the internal or external affairs of another also appears in the document.

The Non-Aligned Movement rejects the exercise of pressure on or coercion of any country, including the application and/or promotion of any unilateral measure of a coercive nature contrary to international law, or in any other form.

The text stipulates abstaining from having recourse to threats or the use of force in international relations against the territorial integrity, sovereignty or political independence of another country.

At the same time it quotes respect for the immanent right of legitimate individual or collective defense, in conformity with the UN Charter.

Aggression is a crime against peace and entails international responsibility, the document states, and calls on states to combat the organization, instigation, support, promotion, funding of or participation in acts of terrorism in any of its forms.

On the other hand, it sustains that the promotion and defense of multilateralism and multilateral organizations are the ideal frameworks for resolving problems afflicting humanity through dialogue and cooperation.

Finally, it establishes the principle of the defense and promotion of shared interests, justice and cooperation independently of states' differences in political, economic and social systems on the basis of mutual respect and equality of rights.

SENATE UNANIMOUSLY APPROVES $70 BILLION MORE FOR IRAQ WAR

On September 29, the Senate, by a vote of 100-0, gave final approval to the biggest Pentagon budget ever - $448 billion.

The bill includes $70 billion more to finance the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan until next Spring, when the Pentagon will ask for at least another $40 billion. So far, Congress has authorized $476 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This amounts to more than $6,000 paid by every American family.

FROM THE PROGRAM OF THE WORKERS PARTY

The Workers Party calls on all progressive people to use the election period to join with us in strengthening the political party of the working class and rallying people around the independent program of economic rights, democratic renewal, a democratic foreign policy and socialism.

Economic Rights:

Every person, simply by virtue of her/is humanity is entitled to certain fundamental economic rights:

- the right to food, clothing and shelter;

- the right to a job or a livelihood, including income security in retirement or in the event accident or injury;

- the right to comprehensive, free health care

- the right to the best possible education from pre-K through the university.

The very starting of the economy and the economic policy of the government must to guarantee these rights in practice.

Democratic Foreign Policy

- The immediate end of all aggressive wars waged by the U.S. government and the withdrawal of all U.S. troops stationed abroad;

- An end to U.S. interference and intervention in all its forms, including an end to U.S. support for reactionary regimes and military alliances;

- Recognition of the sovereignty and equality of every country and people.

- An end to the militarization of the our country.

Democratic Renewal

- The political stranglehold of the monopolies must be broken and new means found to empower the people. The people must have a direct role inn governance through referendum, initiative and recall. Political parties must be deprived of the privilege of nominating the candidates and this rights must be returned to the people.

- Every individual, regardless of sex, nationality, country of origin, belief, must be guaranteed, in practice, equal rights in all spheres of life.

- The oppressed and minority nationalities must have the right to develop their own language, culture and identity. The oppressed nations, such as Puerto Rico, must have the right to self-determination, including the right to secession.

 

Volume 20, No. 19 September 3, 2006

LESSONS FROM THE WAR IN LEBANON

by Bill Foster

I.

The recent U.S.-Israeli war against Lebanon again brought home both the savageness and the breadth of U.S. imperialism's so-called "war on terrorism."

Since 2001, U.S. imperialism has set the Middle East and Central Asia on fire. U.S. imperialism and its client state in Israel have invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon. The U.S. has been continually pressuring and threatening Syria and Iran.

U.S. imperialism has openly declared that its objective is to create a "new Middle East" - a Middle East based on "free enterprise" and the "free flow of international capital" (i.e., a Middle East owned and dominated by U.S. monopoly capital), a "democratic" Middle East (i.e., a Middle East in which every government is subservient to U.S. imperialism) and a "secure" Middle East (i.e., a Middle East filled with U.S. military bases and policed by U.S. armies).

To achieve its goal of recolonizing the region, imperialism's strategy is to wipe out "Arab extremism" and "Islamic fundamentalism," that is to suppress the resistance struggles and liberation movements of the Arab peoples and to "regime change" every government which asserts any independence from the U.S. From the beginning, the plan has been to conquer Iraq, suppress the Palestinian and Lebanese liberation struggles in order to secure imperialism's rear, and then proceed to attack Syria and Iran.

The war in Lebanon was prepared and launched precisely as part of this strategic plan. The declared objectives of this war were to seize southern Lebanon, impose a client regime on the rest of the country, liquidate the Lebanese and Palestinian resistance, increase the pressure against Syria and Iran, and tighten a vise around Iraq.

Taking to heart the lessons of the war against Lebanon, anti-war activists must recognize that

1) We cannot separate the various fronts of war from each other, much less "pick and choose" which ones to oppose. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine are all fronts in, what U.S. imperialism itself, calls an "international war against terrorism."

2) The wars are going to continue. Today the general strategy of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class is to rely on its military superiority to save and expand its capitalist empire. In short, U.S. imperialism wants and needs war.

II.

The war against Lebanon also reminds us of the great truth that the people, not imperialism, are the decisive force.

Although the dangers facing Lebanon remain great (Israeli troops still occupy the country and the U.S.-Israeli aggressors have not given up their plans of conquest), the Lebanese people dealt a setback to the "invincible" aggressors. They have proven that a small nation can defeat the biggest military power if the people are united and determined to defend their sovereignty.

Not only in Lebanon, but throughout the world, the people are foiling the plans of imperialism. It is more than three years since George Bush declared victory in Iraq, but still the people have not been pacified or defeated. On the contrary, the resistance keeps advancing and is defeating the U.S. occupationist armies. In Palestine, the whole nation is rallying around the line of resistance and renewing its struggle for national salvation and liberation. So too in Afghanistan.

In Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea and elsewhere the peoples and governments are resisting U.S. pressure and dictate. On every continent, the peoples are coming out against imperialism and its war program.

The American people, also, are extending and deepening the struggle against the government's war program. Our struggle is part of a world front against war and imperialism. An inseparable part of strengthening the unity of the world's peoples is supporting the resistance movements and liberation struggles in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and in every country where the peoples are fighting against imperialism. These struggles are a gigantic force defending the sovereignty and rights of peoples everywhere and blocking the war program of imperialism.

In sum, in the immediate future, U.S. imperialism is going to wage more aggressive wars. But the tide is starting to turn. The people can and are defeating the warmakers. The decisive thing is for the people to take things into their own hands and further develop their independent organizations and struggles against the warmakers.

DETROIT TEACHERS STRIKE

On August 27, 9,500 teachers and social workers in the Detroit public schools went on strike to defend their wages and benefits.

Picket lines have been set up at schools across the city. Parents, students, unionists from many industries and concerned people from all walks of life have enthusiastically joined the teachers' struggle. According to the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) less than 1% of its members have crossed the picket lines.

A Wayne County judge ordered the DFT and the administrators of the school district to engage in round-the-clock negotiations under a "gag" order (negotiators are not allowed to tell the public or their members of the status of the talks). While these negotiations and the strike continue, the school district is demanding a court injunction against the strike; the threat of fines and other attacks hang over the teachers' heads. Classes for 130,000 students begin on September 5.

The main issue is the demand of the city to cut teachers' wages and benefits by $90 million over the next 2 years. The district's proposals include a 5« percent wage cut, the freezing of all step increments for 2 years, and steep increases in co-premiums for health insurance. In addition, the district wants to eliminate one prep period per week for K-8 teachers and increase the school day.

The teachers, who are amongst the lowest-paid in the area, are demanding a 5% raise for each of the next 3 years and no cuts in benefits.

The strike vote was virtually unanimous (nearly 6,000 to 2). On August 22, a few days before the strike vote, 5,000 teachers and supporters marched in downtown Detroit in support of their demands.

Not only in Detroit but all across the country, the government is slashing funds for education, letting the public schools fall into ruin and intensifying the exploitation of teachers all along the line. This is one reason why the struggle of the Detroit teachers deserves the support of everyone who values public education.

STUDENT DATA GIVEN TO FBI

At the end of August, the Federal Education Department admitted that it had turned the personal files of hundreds of college students over to the FBI without the students' knowledge or without any court order. The files had been collected as part of the students' applications for financial aid.

Both the FBI and the Education Department tried to justify this criminal intrusion into the lives of American students with the standard refrain of "counterterrorism investigations."

These revelations come at a time when the Education Department is pushing a proposal to create a national student database. Commenting on the revelations, David Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities said: "This operation.confirms our worst fears about the uses to which these databases can be put. The concentration of all this data absolutely invites use by other agencies of data that had been gathered for the very specific and narrow purposes, namely the granting of student aid to needy kids."

Spying on the personal records and private lives of the American people has become the daily routine of the government. Over the last few years, the federal government has developed files on millions of Americans by secretly studying their phone calls, investigating their financial records, checking up on what they read from the library, etc.

The slogan of the "war on terrorism" is being used to strengthen a police state in which the government daily tramples on the most basic rights of the people - prying into every facet of our lives and building up secret dossiers on thousands and millions of Americans.

UN DENOUNCES ISRAELI USE OF CLUSTER BOMBS

On August 30, the United Nations humanitarian chief, Jan Egeland, stated that Israel's use of cluster bombs in Lebanon was "shocking" and "completely immoral."

Cluster bombs, which break into hundreds and thousands of smaller bombs, are "anti-personnel" weapons used to target civilian populations.

Speaking at a news conference, Egeland said: "What's shocking and completely immoral is: 90% of the cluster bomb strikes occurred in the last 72 hours of the conflict, when we knew there would be a resolution."

He then added: "Cluster bombs have affected large areas - lots of homes, lots of farmland. They will be with us for many months, possibly years. "Every day, people are maimed, wounded and killed by these weapons. It shouldn't have happened."

According to the U.N. Mine Action Coordination Center, which has so far assessed 85% of the bombed areas in Lebanon, nearly 400 sites are contaminated with as many as 100,000 unexploded bomblets. Approximately 250,000 Lebanese, of the 1 million displaced, cannot move back into their homes, many because of unexploded munitions.

Israel's cluster bombs were provided by the U.S. government.

 

Volume 20, No. 18 August 28, 2006

THE PEOPLE MUST STRENGTHEN THEIR OWN POLITICS

As the November elections approach, what stands out is that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats nor the whole rigged political system have anything to offer the people.

The people need peace. We want a world of friendship amongst all peoples based on recognizing the sovereignty and equality of every country. But the Republicans and Democrats keep waging wars - wars to conquer and exploit other nations.

The people demand a society without racism and repression - a society which guarantees in practice the rights and equality of all. But the Democrats and Republicans keep building up the police state and imposing systematic discrimination and oppression on immigrants and national minorities.

The people need a secure economic existence and a standard of living commensurate with our country's economic development. But the Republicans and Democrats keep slashing funds for vital social programs including health care, education, income-support for the poor, etc.

These demands and aspirations of the people cannot be ignored. In fact they are the VERY STARTING POINT of life and politics.

Across the country, people are already fighting for their demands. In every city and town, people are building anti-war organizations and coming out in protests to demand: "U.S. Out of Iraq, Now!" A new nationwide movement has emerged to fight for the rights of immigrants. Workers keep organizing strikes and other economic struggles.

All of history teaches that it is the people who are the force for peace and social progress. This great truth is all the more important today, when the capitalist-imperialist system is in crisis and can only lead to more wars, more fascism, more poverty and exploitation. Today, the peoples everywhere - in Lebanon and Palestine, in Iraq and Afghanistan, in Venezuela and Bolivia and Cuba, in Europe, Asia and Africa - are again proving this truth by standing and fighting against U.S. imperialism and its war program - fighting for freedom and independence, for social progress and emancipation.

Thus, as the capitalists organize their election circus, the issue facing the people - the burning and decisive issue of American politics - is the absolute necessity of further organizing the independent movement of the working class and people, in opposition to and struggle against the parties of the capitalist class.

This is the issue which the Workers Party has taken up and we call on all progressive people to join with us in this work.

All the objective conditions, the deepest needs of the people - the very future of humanity - cry out for change. Our economy has vast productive power and can easily guarantee all the economic needs of the people, yet tens of millions are denied basic necessities. The world wants peace yet the wars continue. The peoples, everywhere, are demanding their rightful place as the decision-makers, the real rulers, of society, yet the power remains in the hands of the few.

The future of the people must be fought for and won by the people themselves. It can only be won through the self-conscious, independent organization of the people. It can only be won through struggle against the capitalist class and its political parties.

Let us use the election period to:

- Denounce and oppose the capitalist parties, as the parties of war, racism, repression and poverty.

- Rally around and popularize the program of the people - for peace, for the economic rights of the people, for an end to the political stranglehold of the rich and the empowerment of the people.

- Strengthen the people's own political party and mass organizations.

LEBANESE PEOPLE DEFEND THEIR SOVEREIGNTY - GRAVE DANGERS REMAIN

The Lebanese people have dealt the U.S.-Israeli aggressors an important setback even as they continue to confront the grave danger of renewed attacks.

For 34 days, the U.S.-Israeli aggressors rained their bombs and missiles on Lebanon, targeting the entire population. More than 1,100 Lebanese, mostly civilians, were killed. Thousands were injured. One million people were forced to leave their homes. Entire towns were destroyed as well as a large part of Lebanon's infrastructure - hospitals, schools, ports, bridges, roads, etc. The U.S.-Israeli high command hoped to intimidate the people and force them to capitulate.

Despite these genocidal attacks, Israel's ground invasion was beaten back by the people. The U.S-Israeli aggressors have not achieved their goal of occupying southern Lebanon. Nor have they been able to bring the Lebanese government to its knees and impose a client regime on the country. The aggressors had hoped to eliminate Hezbollah and the Lebanese resistance, but the resistance has withstood the attacks. The people are more united than ever, determined to defend their sovereignty.

While the Lebanese are successfully defending their country, the situation remains extremely dangerous. The Israeli aggressors have yet to withdraw their troops and have carried out repeated ground and missile attacks since the August 14 ceasefire. In flagrant violation of Lebanon's sovereignty, Israel maintains a naval and aerial blockade of the country. Both the U.S. and Israeli governments keep threatening the Lebanese resistance and are trying to find a way to dictate their terms to the country.

Israel's defeat in Lebanon is a defeat for U.S. imperialism and its entire so-called "war on terrorism." U.S. imperialism had hoped that its proxy, the Israeli state, could take control of Lebanon and use it as a base to extend its war plans throughout the region - to intimidate Syria and Iran and tighten a vise around Iraq.

Not only is Lebanon standing up but throughout the Middle East and the world, there is a new upsurge against U.S. imperialism and its wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and elsewhere. The people of the whole world salute the Lebanese resistance which has thrown a spoke in the wheels of the U.S. war machine, slowing the march of the fascist empire.

But again, incalculable dangers remain. The wars continue and will continue because U.S. imperialism will remain a ferocious enemy of peace and freedom as long as it has a single tooth in its head.

The struggle in Lebanon again reminds the peoples of the great lessons of history. It reminds us that the people, not imperialism, are the decisive force. The U.S.-Israeli aggressors have the most sophisticated arsenal in history and never stop boasting of their military "invincibility". But the Lebanese have again proven that a small country can defeat any aggressor when the people are determined to defend their freedom and sovereignty.

The tide is turning. Everywhere - in Lebanon, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Palestine, in North Korea and Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia, in the U.S., Europe, and Africa - the peoples are struggling and organizing themselves against imperialism and its aggressive wars.

As long as we continue to fight and organize ourselves, nothing can stop the peoples. Peace, national sovereignty, liberation and emancipation will be ours.

WAGES ARE LESS THAN THE MINIMUM

Real wages have been falling for years. Today, the average wages of American workers are drastically below the minimum needed to sustain even a basic standard of living.

Since 1973, average real wages, figured on the basis of the minimal cost-of-living calculator of the U.S. Labor Department, have fallen 20%. When we include the added cost of health care premiums which employers have shifted onto the workers over these years, real wages have fallen by 28%. After further including tax increases (including state and local sales taxes), the decline is even greater.

This drastic and continuing drop in wages is having disastrous effects on American workers. Most families now must have 2 or more wage-earners just to make end meets. Millions of workers hold 2 jobs. Millions are forced to work years past retirement age and 40% of seniors live in absolute poverty. Tens of millions of workers and their families go without needed health care. Housing conditions are deteriorating and home ownership is completely beyond the means of most workers today. Grandparents are forced to provide child care and entire extended families are involved in the struggle to make ends meet.

The overwhelming majority of Americans are workers and wages are the only way we have to obtain a livelihood. In order to sustain our lives and the lives of our families we are forced to sell our labor-power (our ability to work) to the capitalists, day in and day out. Thus, at the very minimum, wages must be enough to guarantee a standard of living commensurate with the level of development of our country and with the historical struggles of the working people to gain a measure of economic security. This minimum standard must include the necessities of physical survival (food, housing, clothing, health care, transportation, child care, etc.). It must also include discretionary income which is necessary so that we can do something with that part of our lives left over after working 8-plus hours/day for the capitalists.

The facts show that today wages are dramatically below the minimum.

In May 2005, average weekly wages for private sector workers were $543/week ($16/hour or $28,236/year). Yet, in 2004, a basic family budget for a 4-person Chicago family (with 2 children) was $43,704/year or 54% more than the average worker's income. (The "basic family budget" as computed by the Economic Policy Institute includes only enough to meet the basic needs of housing and utilities, food, clothing, household necessities, transportation, health care, child care and taxes). (1)

The fact that wages are dramatically less than the minimum required for a secure, healthy life is all the more intolerable when we consider the tremendous wealth of our country and the fact that all the material blessings are produced solely by the labor of the workers.

Wages are so low because the workers receive only a small portion of the value they produce (and, for the last 30 years, a constantly decreasing portion).

In 2000, manufacturing workers created $1,900 billion in new values but received in wages only $363.3 billion (see Commerce Department's "Annual Survey of Manufacturing"). Thus workers created the value of their wages in about 1 and 1/2 hours out of an 8-hour working day. Workers received less than 1/5th of the wealth they produced while the capitalists grabbed the other 4/5ths as surplus value (profit). The average rate of exploitation in manufacturing was 427%. (surplus value divided by wages).

* * * * * * *

(1) The Economic Policy Institute's basic family budget calculates a basic budget for a Chicago family of four in 2004 by using:

a) HUD's 40th percentile rent and utilities for a modest two-bedroom apartment: $906/month.

b) The department of Agriculture's "low-cost plan" for nutritionally adequate meals: $587/month.

c) Child care based on a study by the Children's Defense Fund: $763/month.

d) Health care costs recognize that not all workers are covered by employers and the cost uses weighted average of employee's share of employer-sponsored insurance plus out-of-pocket medical expenses: $350/month.

e) Transportation based on cost of owning and operating a vehicle used for average miles driven per month: $321/month

f) Taxes: $312/month

g) Other necessities, including clothing, household needs, school supplies: $403/month. (to be continued).

FROM THE PROGRAM OF THE WORKERS PARTY

The Workers Party calls on all progressive people to use the election period to join with us in strengthening the political party of the working class and rallying people around the independent program of economic rights, democratic renewal, a democratic foreign policy and socialism.

Economic Rights

Every person, simply by virtue of her/is humanity is entitled to certain fundamental economic rights:

- the right to food, clothing and shelter;

- the right to a job or a livelihood, including income security in retirement or in the event of accident or injury;

- the right to comprehensive, free health care;

- the right to the best possible education from pre-K through the university.

The very starting point of the economy and the economic policy of the government must be to guarantee these rights in practice.

Democratic Foreign Policy

- The immediate end of all aggressive wars waged by the U.S. government and the withdrawal of all U.S. troops stationed abroad;

- An end to U.S. interference and intervention in all its forms, including an end to U.S. support for reactionary regimes and military alliances;

- Recognition of the sovereignty and equality of every country and people;

- An end to the militarization of our country.

Democratic Renewal

- The political stranglehold of the monopolies must be broken and new means found to empower the people. The people must have a direct role in governance through referendum, initiative and recall. Political parties must be deprived of the privilege of nominating the candidates and these rights must be returned to the people.

- Every individual, regardless of sex, nationality, country of origin, belief, must be guaranteed, in practice, equal rights in all spheres of life.

- The oppressed and minority nationalities must have the right to develop their own language, culture and identity. The oppressed nations, such as Puerto Rico, must have the right to self-determination, including the right to secession.

From the Record: DEMOCRATIC PARTY'S SUPPORT FOR THE WAR PROGRAM

Below we list some of the legislation passed by the House of Representatives to fund and carry out U.S. imperialism's war program since the beginning of the so-called "war on terrorism." The votes on these bills show the virtually unanimous support of the Congress - Democrats as well as Republicans - for the war program.

- September 14, 2001: The Congress, in a virtually unanimous vote, gave Bush the legal authority not only to launch war against Afghanistan but also to wage a "war against terrorism" anywhere and at any time. The House bill "To Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces" (passed by a vote of 420 to 1) reads, in part: "The President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons."

- May 2, 2002: After Bush had given Ariel Sharon the green light to initiate the "second front in the war on terrorism" by invading and occupying every Palestinian town and city in the West Bank and Gaza and, at the very height of the Israeli invasion and vast international protests against the war, the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 392 (vote: 352 to 31) expressing all-around support for Israel's war. The resolution reads in part: "the U.S. and Israel are now engaged in a common struggle against terrorism" and the U.S. "stands in solidarity with Israel's actions." In a similar resolution passed by a vote of 399 to 5, on June 5, 2003, Congress again endorsed the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and thanked Israel for its "fight against terrorism as part of the global war against terrorism."

- March 21, 2003: One day after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, House Congressional Resolution 104 (passed by a vote of 392 to 11) said: "The Congress expresses the unequivocal support and appreciation of the Nation - to the President as Commander-in-Chief for his firm leadership and decisive action in the conduct of military operations in Iraq as part of the on-going Global War on Terrorism."

- April 3, 2003: HR 1559, called the Emergency Wartime Supplemental Appropriations Act and passed by a vote of 414 to 12 provided $78 billion for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

- June 4, 2003: House Resolution 177, passed 406 to 2 again "Commends President George W. Bush, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, and United States Central Command commander General Tommy Franks, United States Army, for their planning and execution of enormously successful military campaigns in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom."

- June 22, 2004: HR 4613, the Department of Defense (DOD) appropriations bill for FY2005, passed by 403 to 17, provided $391 billion for the military budget.

- June 20, 2005: HR 2863, DOD appropriations bill for FY2006, passed by 398 to 19, provided $453.5 billion for the military, including another $42 billion for the Iraq war.

- November 18, 2005: In another virtually unanimous vote (403 to 3), the House rejected HR 571 which demanded that "The deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately."

- May 11, 2006: HR 5122, the Defense Authorization Act for FY2007, passed by 396 to 31 provides another $512.9 billion for the military budget.

- May 23, 2006: HR 4681, "Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act," passed the House 361 to 37 shortly after the Palestinian people elected a new government. The bill condemns the Palestinian Authority (PA) as terrorist and blatantly interferes in the affairs of the Palestinian people. The bill cut off all U.S. contact and aid to the PA and "urged members of the international community to avoid contact with and refrain from financially supporting the terrorist organization Hamas or a Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority."

- July 20, 2006: While Israel was invading both Lebanon and Gaza (in wars authorized and carried out together with the Bush administration) the House of Representatives passed HR 921, by a vote of 410 to 8. After condemning Hamas and Hezbollah as "terrorist," the resolution "supports Israel's right to take appropriate action to defend itself, including to conduct operations both in Israel and in the territory of nations which pose a threat to it." The resolution commends "the President of the United States for fully supporting Israel." While the whole world was condemning Israel's wanton murder of civilians, the U.S. Congress went so far as to commend "Israel's longstanding commitment to minimizing civilian loss and welcomes Israel's continued effort to prevent civilian casualties." The resolution further urged Bush to "bring the full force of political, diplomatic and economic sanctions available to the Government of the United States against the governments of Syria and Lebanon."

CHARTER SCHOOLS

The Committee in Defense of Public Education has just published a new pamphlet on charter schools. Below, we print excerpts.

Charter schools are created by turning public schools over to private contractors, both non-profit and for-profit entities. These schools are funded through monies taken from the public school treasury but instead of being run by public authorities they are run by private corporations.

Charter schools got their first big boost under the Clinton administration. .During the Clinton years, the number of charter schools grew from 1 to 1,700.

The Bush administration continued and accelerated Clinton's creation of charter schools with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.Bush's 2006 budget included $219 million in the form of grants for 1,200 new and existing charter schools.

By 1995, nineteen states had passed laws authorizing charter schools. By 2003 that number had increased to 40 states. Currently, more than 3,600 charter schools are operating in 40 states and the District of Columbia. More than one million students attend these schools.

Drain on Public Funds

Typically charter schools receive a per pupil stipend for students based on the average per pupil spending in their school district. This drains funds from the school district's treasury leaving the remaining public schools even more underfunded. For example, Kansas City district officials estimated that charter schools deprived the regular public schools of $214 million from 1999 to 2004. Ohio Federation of Teachers reported that in 2005 charter schools cost the Cleveland school district $59 million, the Cincinnati district $38 million, the Dayton district $34 million and the Toledo district $31 million.

Charter schools not only drain their funds from the public school district but also leave the public schools with an even higher proportion of students with special needs. In many districts, charter schools are allowed to "cherry-pick" their students, choosing those with the highest test scores and weeding out students with disabilities who require additional staff. For instance, in Chicago the average limited English proficient population in charters is 3.3 percent, much lower than the district's 15 percent. Milwaukee's official policy is that charter schools should not have to bear the "burden" of making special education services available to students with disabilities. Again, public schools are taking the financial "hit."

In addition to their per-pupil stipend, charter schools receive additional funds. These include start-up capital, administrative expenses, funds for buildings, supplies, equipment, etc. In 2002 the federal government authorized $150 million for "charter school construction and infrastructure needs." In Illinois, a "school building is provided by the district at no charge" for each new charter school. This law takes vital public assets (i.e. school buildings), created over generations through the taxes of the working people, and simply gives these assets away to private entrepreneurs. In Illinois, charter school companies also receive start-up funds for classroom computers, printers, projectors, office and classroom furniture, supplies, books and cafeteria services.

In 2001, Edison, Inc., a nation-wide, for-private educational corporation, grabbed $375.8 million in operating expenses from its network of charter and contract schools in 25 states. In the last five years, the number of schools operated by for-profit companies, like Edison, has tripled. Six companies in Michigan, including Edison, Inc., responsible for teaching 17,000 students take in about $123 million in tax dollars every year.

Even with all of this - the extra funds, cherrypicking students, "freedom" from many regulations, etc. - charter schools still perform worse than public schools.

According to a 2004 report made by the American Federation of Teachers, charter school students performed a full semester behind regular public school student in grades 4 and 8. Eighth grade math students scored a full year behind students in regular public schools.

Unaccountable

Charter schools are freed from a broad range of public regulations and accountability.

Charters are usually granted waivers in collective bargaining, control of curriculum and teacher certification. For example, Illinois law allows charter schools to operate with up to 50 percent uncertified teachers and exempts charters from the collective bargaining agreement and district work rules. Across the country, less than 9% of regular public school teachers lacked credentials in 2003 compared with 43% of charter school teachers. In addition, regular public school teachers have been in the classroom seven years longer on average (Charter Schools and Inequality, PACE, 2003).

Since charter schools operate as "private" entities, students, teachers and staff do not have the same safeguards and rights as in public schools. Management is free to determine the curriculum, without public input or oversight. Some charter schools, for example, are military academies in which public funds underwrite courses which preach militarism and racism. Today, same-sex charter schools are being opened, trampling underfoot the centuries long struggle for equality.

In short, charter schools are taking the vital issues of education (such issues as equal rights for all, the right to freedom of inquiry, the secular character of education and enlightenment) out of the public domain. On the one hand, the government uses charter schools to wash its hands of responsibility for the schools and, on the other hand, the public loses its right to determine and supervise the content and conduct of education.

Attacks on Unions and Workers

The laws authorizing charter schools generally are designed to undermine the rights of educational workers and their unions. Some states, for example, insist that no unions are allowed in charter schools while nearly all districts encourage charters to operate without unions.

Charter school teachers and other workers can expect less job security, lower pay, larger class sizes, heavier workloads, etc.

Whereas nearly all regular public school teachers receive salary increases commensurate with years of experience, charter school teachers have no such guarantees. Across the country they can expect a much lower rate of pay than their public school counterparts. In Colorado the average teacher salary was 30% less than the state average salary of $40,659 in 2001-02. Michigan charter school teachers with 11 or more years teaching experience can expect to make $20,000 less per year than public school teachers with similar experience.

Job security is also at a premium for charter school teachers. Nearly all charter school teachers work at-will for employers or under one year contracts. Today, the national average for teacher turnover in charter schools is 35% compared to 15% for public schools.

Charter schools are leading to the destruction of the system of public education.

Charter schools drain vitally needed funds out of the public school treasuries. Through charters the funds earmarked for public schools (some $400 billion/year) are being turned into sources of profit-making for capitalist entrepreneurs. The educational infrastructure, built up over hundreds of years and financed by taxpayers, is being given away - privatized. Charters are used to break unions and undermine the rights and standards of teachers and other educational workers.

Charter schools are taking the question of education out of the hands of the public and turning it over to the private sector. This turns the clock back hundreds of years towards Medievalism, when education was reserved for a privileged few and inspired, not by enlightenment and the public good, but by the special interests of the rich and powerful. The promise of the right to equality in educational is again undermined.

The people must give a resounding: "NO!" to charter schools. We must stop the government from destroying our public school system and denying our right to education.

One of the great achievements of the American people is the creation of a nationwide system of guaranteed, universal, public education. Every generation of Americans has fought for the extension and further development of the public schools. We must not only turn back the charter school movement but also demand renewed investments and the further modernization of our public schools.

ADDING UP THE PROFITS

During the first six months of this year, Exxon-Mobil Corporation grabbed $20 billion in profits or $1,300 for every second of every hour. During this same period, profits for the top five oil monopolies (Exxon, Shell, BP, ChevronTexaco, ConocoPhillips) totalled nearly $65 billion.

At this rate, these 5 corporations are making enough profits to provide $14,000/year for every family of 4 currently below the poverty level or to provide every American worker with a $1,000/year raise. The oil capitalists have "earned" these profits by monopolizing the natural wealth of our country and exploiting the labor of the workers.

The billions in profit grabbed every month by the oil barons is only a small part of the total surplus value extracted from the workers by the monopoly capitalist class - the big banks and insurance companies, the drug monopolies, telecommunications giants, the military industries, etc.

With such gigantic bloodsucking parasites on the body of our society, is it any wonder that tens of millions of working people go without such necessities as health care and still can barely make ends meet? Shouldn't the natural wealth and productive capacity of our country be used to guarantee the well-being of the workers whose labor creates all the material goods?

ISRAELI ATTACKS ON LEBANESE CIVILIAN INFRASTRUCTURE

On August 23, Amnesty International issued a report outlining how the Israeli army deliberately and systematically targeted the civilian population and infrastructure of Lebanon during the recent war.

Below we print excerpts from the report.

The briefing that follows summarizes Amnesty International's initial assessment and concerns on the massive destruction of civilian infrastructure in Lebanon that has taken place during the conflict. It is based on first-hand information from a field mission which has visited Lebanon; interviews with dozens of victims of the attacks; official statements and press accounts; discussions with UN, Israeli military and Lebanese government officials; and talks with Israeli and Lebanese non-governmental groups.

During more than four weeks of ground and aerial bombardment of Lebanon by the Israeli armed forces, the country's infrastructure suffered destruction on a catastrophic scale. Israeli forces pounded buildings into the ground, reducing entire neighbourhoods to rubble and turning villages and towns into ghost towns, as their inhabitants fled the bombardments. Main roads, bridges and petrol stations were blown to bits. Entire families were killed in air strikes on their homes or in their vehicles while fleeing the aerial assaults on their villages. Scores lay buried beneath the rubble of their houses for weeks, as the Red Cross and other rescue workers were prevented from accessing the areas by continuing Israeli strikes. The hundreds of thousands of Lebanese who fled the bombardment now face the danger of unexploded munitions as they head home.

The Israeli Air Force launched more than 7,000 air attacks on about 7,000 targets in Lebanon between 12 July and 14 August, while the Navy conducted an additional 2,500 bombardments. The attacks, though widespread, particularly concentrated on certain areas. In addition to the human toll - an estimated 1,183 fatalities, about one third of whom have been children, 4,054 people injured and 970,000 Lebanese people displaced - the civilian infrastructure was severely damaged. The Lebanese government estimates that 31 "vital points" (such as airports, ports, water and sewage treatment plants, electrical facilities) have been completely or partially destroyed, as have around 80 bridges and 94 roads. More than 25 fuel stations and around 900 commercial enterprises were hit. The number of residential properties, offices and shops completely destroyed exceeds 30,000. Two government hospitals - in Bint Jbeil and in Meis al-Jebel - were completely destroyed in Israeli attacks and three others were seriously damaged.

In a country of fewer than four million inhabitants, more than 25 per cent of them took to the roads as displaced persons. An estimated 500,000 people sought shelter in Beirut alone, many of them in parks and public spaces, without water or washing facilities.

Amnesty International delegates in south Lebanon reported that in village after village the pattern was similar: the streets, especially main streets, were scarred with artillery craters along their length. In some cases cluster bomb impacts were identified. Houses were singled out for precision-guided missile attack and were destroyed, totally or partially, as a result. Business premises such as supermarkets or food stores and auto service stations and petrol stations were targeted, often with precision-guided munitions and artillery that started fires and destroyed their contents. With the electricity cut off and food and other supplies not coming into the villages, the destruction of supermarkets and petrol stations played a crucial role in forcing local residents to leave. The lack of fuel also stopped residents from getting water, as water pumps require electricity or fuel-fed generators.

Israeli government spokespeople have insisted that they were targeting Hezbollah positions and support facilities, and that damage to civilian infrastructure was incidental or resulted from Hezbollah using the civilian population as a "human shield". However, the pattern and scope of the attacks, as well as the number of civilian casualties and the amount of damage sustained, makes the justification ring hollow. The evidence strongly suggests that the extensive destruction of public works, power systems, civilian homes and industry was deliberate and an integral part of the military strategy, rather than "collateral damage" - incidental damage to civilians or civilian property resulting from targeting military objectives.

Statements by Israeli military officials seem to confirm that the destruction of the infrastructure was indeed a goal of the military campaign. On 13 July, shortly after the air strikes began, the Israel Defence Force (IDF) Chief of Staff Lt-Gen Dan Halutz noted that all Beirut could be included among the targets if Hezbollah rockets continued to hit northern Israel: "Nothing is safe [in Lebanon], as simple as that," he said. Three days later, according to the Jerusalem Post newspaper, a high ranking IDF officer threatened that Israel would destroy Lebanese power plants if Hezbollah fired long-range missiles at strategic installations in northern Israel. On 24 July, at a briefing by a high-ranking Israeli Air Force officer, reporters were told that the IDF Chief of Staff had ordered the military to destroy 10 buildings in Beirut for every Katyusha rocket strike on Haifa. His comments were later condemned by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. According to the New York Times, the IDF Chief of Staff said the air strikes were aimed at keeping pressure on Lebanese officials, and delivering a message to the Lebanese government that they must take responsibility for Hezbollah's actions. He called Hezbollah "a cancer" that Lebanon must get rid of, "because if they don't their country will pay a very high price."

The widespread destruction of apartments, houses, electricity and water services, roads, bridges, factories and ports, in addition to several statements by Israeli officials, suggests a policy of punishing both the Lebanese government and the civilian population in an effort to get them to turn against Hezbollah. Israeli attacks did not diminish, nor did their pattern appear to change, even when it became clear that the victims of the bombardment were predominantly civilians, which was the case from the first days of the conflict.

Environmental Damage

The attack on Lebanon's largest power station at Jiyyeh had both an immediate adverse impact on the population, and long-term implications for the environment and the economy. Israeli forces bombed the Jiyyeh power station, about 25km south of Beirut, and its fuel tanks on 13 July and again on 15 July. The resulting fire, which burned for three weeks, coated the surrounding areas with a fine white dust of pulverized concrete and filled the air with black soot. In addition, that attack caused 15,000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil to leak into the sea. The oil slick has contaminated more than 150km of the Lebanese coastline, and has spread north into Syrian waters. The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) has characterized it as one of the worst environmental disasters seen in the region. The cost of a comprehensive clean-up was estimated to be US $150 million, with work taking up to a year.

IRANIAN STATEMENT ON ITS NUCLEAR PROGRAM

On July 31, Javad Zarif, permanent representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a statement on the U.N. Security Council's passage of Resolution 1696 which demanded that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment program by August 31 or face sanctions. Below we print excerpts from this statement.

In my letter of 28 July 2006, I had requested to be given an opportunity to speak before the Council takes action, so that the Council would be appraised - for the first time, of the views of the concerned party before it adopts a decision. You may recall that my previous request to speak before the Council, when it adopted its Presidential Statement on March 29th, had also been denied. It is indeed indicative of the degree of transparency and fairness, that the Security Council has adopted a presidential statement and a resolution without even allowing the views of the concerned party to be heard.

This is not the first time that Iran's endeavors to stand on its own feet and make technological advances have faced the stiff resistance and concerted pressure of some powers permanently represented in the Security Council. In fact, contemporary Iran has been subject to numerous injustices and prejudicial approaches by these powers. The Iranian people's struggle to nationalize their oil industry was touted, in a draft resolution submitted on 12 October 1951 by the United Kingdom and supported by the United States and France, as a threat to international peace and security. That draft resolution preceded a coup d'etat, organized by the US and the UK - in a less veiled attempt to restore their short-sighted interests. More recently, Saddam Hussein's aggression against the Islamic Republic of Iran on 22 September 1980, and his swift advancement to occupy 30000 sq. kilometers of Iranian territory, did not trouble the same permanent members of the Security Council enough to consider it a threat against international peace and security, or even to make the routine call for a cease-fire and withdrawal.

And over the past several weeks, this august body has been prevented from moving to stop the massive aggression against the Palestinian and Lebanese people and the resulting terrible humanitarian crisis. . . .

Likewise, the Security Council has been prevented from reacting to the daily threats of resort to force against Iran, even the threat of using nuclear weapons, uttered at the highest levels by the US, UK8 and the lawless Israeli regime in violation of Article 2(4) of the Charter.

On the other hand, in the past few years, a few big powers have spared no effort in turning the Security Council, or the threat of resorting to it, into a tool for attempting to prevent Iran from exercising its inalienable right to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, recognized explicitly under the NPT.

The people and Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran are determined to exercise their inalienable right to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and to build on their own scientific advances in developing various peaceful aspects of this technology. At the same time, as the only victims of the use of weapons of mass destruction in recent history, they reject the development and use of all these inhuman weapons on ideological as well as strategic grounds. The Leader of the Islamic Republic has issued a public and categorical religious decree against the development, production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons. Iran has also clearly and continuously stressed that nuclear weapons have no place in its military doctrine. The President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in his statement before the General Assembly last September, also underlined Iran's fundamental rejection of nuclear weapons, as well as the need to strengthen and revitalize the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

In order to dispel any doubt about our peaceful nuclear program, we enabled the IAEA to carry out a series of inspections that amounts to the most robust inspection of any IAEA Member State. It included more than 2000 inspector-days of scrutiny in the past 3 years; the signing of the Additional Protocol on 18 December 2003 and implementing it immediately until 6 February 2006; the submission of more than 1000 pages of declaration under the Additional Protocol; allowing over 53 instances of complementary access to different sites across the country; and permitting inspectors to investigate baseless allegations by taking the unprecedented step of providing repeated access to military sites.

Consequently, all reports by the IAEA since November 2003 have been indicative of the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program. In November 2003 and in the wake of sensational media reports on the so-called 18-years of concealment by Iran, the Agency confirmed that "to date, there is no evidence that the previously undeclared nuclear material and activities were related to a nuclear weapons program."

Iran's peaceful nuclear program poses no threat to international peace and security, and therefore dealing with this issue in the Security Council is unwarranted and void of any legal basis or practical utility.

Today's proposed action by this Council - which is the culmination of those efforts aimed at making the suspension of uranium enrichment mandatory - violates the fundamental principles of international law, the Non-Proliferation Treaty and IAEA Board resolutions. It also runs counter to the views of the majority of UN member states, which the Security Council is obliged to represent.

Iran's right to enrich uranium is recognized under the NPT. And upholding the rights of State-parties to international treaties is as essential as ensuring respect for their obligations. These regimes, including the NPT, are sustained by a balance between rights and obligations. Threats will not sustain the NPT or other international regimes. Ensuring that members can draw rightful benefits from membership and non-members are not rewarded for their intransigence does.

Yet exactly the opposite is the trend today. Today we are witness to an extremely dangerous trend; while members of the NPT are denied their rights and are punished, those who defy the NPT, particularly the perpetrators of current carnage in Lebanon and Palestine, are rewarded by generous nuclear cooperation agreements. This goes so far that when it suits the US, even the acquisition of nuclear weapons for non-NPT members becomes "legitimate" to quote the US Ambassador. . . .

It is pertinent to ask: what is the motive behind this long standing urge of some permanent members to bring Iran before the Security Council and the current rush? Is it anything other than pressure and coercion? I would suggest to you that this approach will not lead to any productive outcome, and in fact it can only exacerbate the situation. The people and Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran are not seeking confrontation and have always shown their readiness to engage in serious and result-oriented negotiations based on mutual respect and equal footing. They have also shown, time and again, their resilience in the face of pressure, threat, injustice and imposition.

 

Volume 20, No. 17 July 31, 2006

CONDEMN U.S.-ISRAELI AGGRESSION!

The conscience of the entire world is condemning the calculated and savage bombardment of the civilian populations in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip by the U.S.-Israeli aggressors.

Within a few weeks, thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians, nearly all civilians and 1/3 children, have been killed or wounded. One million Lebanese have become refugees. The infrastructure of Gaza, including power generation, sewage and sanitation, roads and bridges, housing, etc., lies in ruins as does Lebanon's. Still the bombardment continues and Israeli forces, rapidly re-armed by the U.S., are planning to expand their operations.

The declared objectives of the U.S. and Israelis brand them as the aggressors - the colonizers - that they are. The immediate aims of the war are: 1) for Israel to occupy part of southern Lebanon; 2) impose a U.S.-Israeli client regime on the rest of Lebanon; and 3) crush the resistance of the Lebanese people. In the words of Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon: "all those now in south Lebanon are terrorists and targets in the war."

In Gaza, the U.S.-Israeli aims are also to 1) occupy part of the territory; 2) force a change in the make-up of the Palestinian Authority, the elected government; and 3) crush the resistance which again means terrorizing the entire Palestinian people.

The U.S.-Israeli aggressors are also threatening Syria and Iran. Condoleezza Rice has warned that the U.S. aims to create a "new Middle East" in which all opposition to U.S. colonialism is suppressed and every government is loyal to U.S. interests.

The wars against Palestine and Lebanon, as well as the pressure against Syria and Iran, are part of U.S. imperialism's so-called "war on terrorism." From Afghanistan to Iraq to Palestine and Lebanon, U.S. imperialism has set the region on fire.

These wars will continue because they arise from the very nature of U.S. imperialism - its drive for profits and empire. Only the struggle of the peoples can stop the wars.

To win a just, lasting peace in the Middle East, the peoples must:

1) Throw U.S. imperialism out of the region, lock, stock and barrel!

2) Force the Israeli aggressors back to their lair and keep them there!

A just peace must guarantee the security and independence of Lebanon and include the establishment of a genuinely independent Palestinian state.

The heroic resistance of the Lebanese and Palestinian people, side-by-side with the liberation struggles in Iraq and Afghanistan, are in the forefront of the world struggle against imperialism and for peace. Despite the military strength of the aggressors, the Lebanese people have repeatedly thwarted the ground invasion and inflicted heavy blows on the Israeli army. So too, in Gaza, the Palestinian resistance has forced the Israelis to retreat time and again. The Palestinian and Lebanese nations are uniting around the resistance struggle.

The American people must contribute to this struggle, so crucial to the future of humanity and the rights of the people. We must join in mass struggles to demand:

End U.S. Aid to Israel!

Withdraw All U.S. troops from the region!

ALERT!

As "The Worker" goes to press, Condoleezza Rice has begun talking about a "ceasefire" in Lebanon. The U.S.-Israeli aggressors are now forced to talk this way because of the victories of the Lebanese resistance combined with the worldwide outrage at the aggressors. But the phoney "peace talk" of Rice only seeks to gain by diplomacy what the U.S.-Israeli aggressors cannot win on the battlefield. The U.S. "ceasefire" is based on dispatching 20,000 international troops to Lebanon to disarm Hezbollah and protect Israel.

WE ARE DEFENDING OUR SOVEREIGNTY

by Ali Fayyad, Hezbollah Leadership

The following interview with Ali Fayyad, a senior member of Hezbollah's executive committee, is excerpted from The Guardian, July 25.

For nearly two weeks Israel has been waging a war of terror and aggression against Lebanon. Its stated justification is the capture by the Islamic Resistance (Hezbollah) of 2 Israeli soldiers with the aim of exchanging them for Lebanese prisoners. The war has already resulted in the killing of around 400 and wounding of more than 1,000 Lebanese. Most are civilians (a third children), crushed in their homes or ripped to pieces in their cars by Israeli bombs and missiles.

In reality, the Israeli escalation is less about the two soldiers and more about its determination to disarm the Lebanese resistance. . . .

Most Lebanese, however, do not regard the resistance forces of Hezbollah as militias, as referred to in the UN resolution, let alone any kind of terrorist organisation. Our resistance accomplished a major national mission by forcing Israeli troops to withdraw from most Lebanese territory in 2000 after 22 years of occupation. Since then there has been intense national debate about how Lebanon can defend itself in future once the resistance has achieved the liberation of the remaining occupied Lebanese land (the Shaba'a farms area) and the release of Lebanese detainees.

The Lebanese people's support for the resistance was demonstrated by the fact that Hezbollah and its allies won more seats in the 2005 elections, following the Syrian withdrawal, than when Syrian troops were still in the country. That is why Israel is now targeting civilians.

In the context of the continued occupation, detention of prisoners and repeated Israeli attacks and incursions into Lebanese territory, the capture of the Israeli soldiers was entirely legitimate. The operation was fully in line with the Lebanese ministerial declaration, supported in parliament, that stressed the right of the resistance to liberate occupied Lebanese territory, free prisoners of war and defend Lebanon against Israeli aggression. International law also allows peoples and states to take action to protect their citizens and territory. The Israeli onslaught is aimed not only at liquidating the resistance and destroying the country's infrastructure but at intervening in Lebanese politics and imposing conditions on what can be agreed.

There is now a clear national consensus on the need to maintain the military power necessary to prevent Lebanon from being subjugated by Israel's war machine. Popular resistance is a way of redressing the huge imbalance of power, defending Lebanon's sovereignty and preventing Israel from intervening in Lebanese internal affairs, as has happened repeatedly since 1948. It is also - as has been the case in the prisoner-capture operation - dictated by an entirely local agenda, rather than reflecting any Syrian or Iranian policy.

The aggression against Lebanon, which has primarily targeted civilians and failed to achieve any tangible military objectives, is part of a continuing attempt to impose Israeli hegemony on the area and prevent the emergence of a regional system that might guarantee stability, self-determination, freedom and democracy.

Hezbollah has tried from the start of this crisis to limit the escalation by adopting a policy of limited response while avoiding civilian targets; its aims were restricted to freeing the prisoners of war held in both camps. However, Israel's systematic destruction of entire civilian areas in Beirut and elsewhere and perpetration of scores of horrific massacres prompted Hezbollah to shift to an all-out confrontation to affirm Lebanon's right to deter aggression and defend its territorial integrity and its citizens, just as any sovereign state would do.

Thus far, Hezbollah has had surprising military successes, while maintaining its position in the face of Israel's superior fire power, and preserved its capacity to wage a long-term war. But Hezbollah is still ready to accept a ceasefire and negotiate indirectly an exchange of prisoners to bring the current crisis to an end.

This is what Israel has so far rejected, with the support of the U.S. For this is also a war of American hegemony over the Middle East, and the US - supported by the British government - is fully complicit in the Israeli war crimes carried out in the past two weeks. It would appear that the peaceful option will not be given a chance until Hezbollah and the forces of resistance have demonstrated their ability to confront Israel's aggression and thwart its objectives, as happened in 1993 and 1996. That is why resistance is not only a pillar of our sovereignty but also a prerequisite of stability.

HISTORY OF U.S.-ISRAELI AGGRESSION AGAINST LEBANON

At the end of World War II, the U.S. began to replace France as the dominant colonial power in Lebanon, just as the U.S. replaced Britain as the sponsor of Israeli zionism.

In 1947, Reinhold Neibur, a leading ideologist for U.S. imperialism, described the importance of Lebanon as a base for U.S. domination of the Middle East: "Whoever approaches the Middle East with even a minimum of objectivity has to admit that thus far there is only one vanguard of progress and modernization in the Middle East, and that is the Jewish Palestine. A second factor for progress is Christian Lebanon which, at the moment is artificially subdued by the Pan-Arabists and Pan-Islamists of the Arab League . . . But for these two islands of Western civilization, Jewish Palestine and Christian Lebanon, the Arab-Moslem Middle East presents a hopeless picture from an American viewpoint."

By the mid-1950's, the U.S. had extended its economic and military ties with Lebanon to the point that it had become a regional center for U.S. overt and covert subversion of nationalist Arab governments and movements.

In 1958, when the national democratic movement of the Lebanese people was on the verge of overthrowing the landlord-capitalist government, the U.S., invoking the Eisenhower Doctrine, sent nearly 50,000 troops (including 26 aircraft carriers and warships) to occupy Lebanon. When certain officers in the Lebanese army were hesitant about joining with the U.S. assault force, Robert Murphy, Deputy U.S. Undersecretary of State, "pointing to the supercarrier Saratoga, swinging at anchor on the horizon, . . . [and] quietly explained that just one of its aircraft, armed with nuclear weapons, could obliterate Beirut and its environs from the face of the earth." (quoted from Ropes of Sand by W.C. Eveland, a former CIA operative).

After the suppression of the Lebanese revolution, the flood of U.S. and foreign capital increased as did U.S. military aid to the government. The U.S. also covertly armed various fascist militia, including the Phalange.

As Palestinian refugees came to Lebanon in the 1960's and 1970's, the U.S. government actively mobilized its fascist militia to suppress them. For example, in 1973, 18,000 Lebanese troops, equipped with U.S. jet fighters and tanks, were sent against the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Burj al Barajneh. Although the resistance of the Palestinians rebuffed the fascists, the U.S. continued to sponsor terror raids against the Palestinian and Lebanese national movements in the south of the country.

During the Nixon years, U.S. imperialism began to rely more on a strategy of employing surrogate, regional armies to police its empire. In the Middle East, the U.S. bolstered its support for Israeli zionism and, amongst other things, relied on it for the suppression of Lebanon.

Israeli zionism itself had long had designs on Lebanon. In 1948, Ben-Gurion, Israel's first Prime Minister, said; "we should prepare to go over to the offensive with the aim of smashing Lebanon, Transjordan and Syria . . . The weak point in the Arab coalition is Lebanon [for] the Moslem regime is artificial and easy to undermine. A Christian state should be established, with its southern border on the Litani river." (note: this is well within the borders of Lebanon).

By the 1960's, Israel was also training the Phalangists and other fascist militia and attacking the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance movements in southern Lebanon. Between 1968-74 Israeli military attacks against Lebanon (including air and naval strikes, commando raids and artillery shellings) averaged 1.4 per day. By 1974-75 Israeli violations of Lebanese territory had reached 7/day and during the Lebanese civil war of 1975-76, Israeli incursions reached 20/day.

These raids were part of a "softening up" policy to prepare for the largescale Israeli invasions of 1976 and 1978 which resulted in Israel carving out a "security belt" in southern Lebanon, partially patrolled by its puppet militias.

In 1982, Israeli launched all-out war against Lebanon with the aims of: 1) occupying and eventually annexing southern Lebanon; 2) imposing a U.S.-Israeli satellite regime in the rest of the country; and 3) destroying the revolutionary democratic movements of the Lebanese and Palestinian people.

During the war, Israel deployed 80,000 troops and according to conservative estimates, killed 20,000 Lebanese and Palestinians, mainly civilians. Close to 500,000 people became refugees and fled to Beirut which was then subjected to weeks of saturation bombings by the Israeli air force. During the occupation, Israeli forces, and their fascist militias, were responsible for such enormous crimes as massacring thousands of Palestinians (including women and children) in the Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps.

But the Lebanese people never stopped resisting the aggressors. In 1985, the resistance forced the Israelis to withdraw from most of southern Lebanon. Israel, however continued to occupy a smaller "security belt" in Lebanon until 2000.

During these years, as the Lebanese people unfolded their resistance, the Israeli aggressors repeatedly carried out punishing air assaults and other incursions against Lebanon. Amongst the bigger operations were the 1993 "Operation Accountability," which lasted for a week, and the 1996 "Operation Grapes of Wrath" which lasted 17-days. These attacks included air, artillery and naval blitzkriegs which killed and wounded thousands of Lebanese.

By May 2000, the unconquerable Lebanese resistance forced Israel to withdraw from all of Lebanon except for the small territory of the Shaba'a Farms which is still occupied. During these last 6 years, Israel has also continued its program of periodic air and artillery attacks against Lebanon.

BACKGROUND ON U.S. SUPPORT FOR ISRAELI AGGRESSION

The responsibility for Israel's aggressive wars against Lebanon and Palestine lies completely with the U.S. government.

To begin with, the planes, the bombs, the missiles, and bullets which are killing the Palestinian and Lebanese people are made in the U.S. and largely paid for by the U.S. government which has provided Israel with over $100 billion in military aid over the years.

During Israel's ongoing invasion of Gaza, it began to run low on JP-8 jet fuel for its warplanes. The Pentagon immediately sent Israel $210 million worth of this fuel. Similarly, after carrying out thousands of sorties and dropping hundreds of tons of bombs on Lebanon, Israel began to run out of munitions. The U.S. again responded by rushing Israel a special delivery of precision-guided bombs.

The U.S. government has done everything in its power to thwart any international action (even mild verbal resolutions) which could impede Israel's aggression. On July 13, it vetoed a UN resolution condemning the invasion of the Gaza. After the Rome Conference on July 26, in which the U.S. again undercut international calls for a ceasefire, Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon boasted that "we received yesterday, at the Rome Conference, permission from the world to continue this operation, this war, until Hezbollah won't be located in Lebanon and until it is disarmed." (quoted in NYT 7/27/06).

The fact is that the aims of the wars are the aims of U.S. imperialism.

On July 20, for example, John Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said that the war in Lebanon must continue because "we can seize the opportunity to once and forever dismantle Hezbollah."

Secretary of State Rice further said that the war should continue in order to "deal with the underlying problem in the Middle East . . . to isolate the extremists and put in place moderate democratic states."

In addition, the U.S. government has repeatedly linked the war with its demand for changes in the Syrian and Iranian governments.

In sum, the Israeli wars against Palestine and Lebanon are vital fronts in U.S. imperialism's "war on terrorism." The immediate objectives of these wars are to: 1) occupy more of Gaza and the West Bank as well as Lebanon; 2) install puppet U.S.-Israeli governments in Lebanon and Palestine; 3) crush the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance movements; and 4) increase the pressure against Syria and Iran.

A brief look at recent U.S. political history since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001 further reveals how U.S. imperialism uses Israeli zionism in its struggle to conquer the Middle East.

- After invading Afghanistan, the second front in the "war on terror" was opened by Bush and Sharon when Israel was given the green light to launch an all-out invasion of the West Bank and occupy every Palestinian city and town in late 2001 and early 2002.

At the height the West Bank invasion, when the whole world was condemning Israel's atrocities, the U.S. Congress, in a nearly unanimous vote, declared, on May 2, 2002, that "the U.S. and Israel are now engaged in a common struggle against terrorism" and the U.S. "stands in solidarity with Israel's actions." In a similar resolution passed on June 5, 2003 by a vote of 399 to 5, Congress again explicitly endorsed Israel's ongoing occupation and war in the West Bank and thanked Israel for its "fight against terrorism as part of the global war against terrorism."

- On April 14, 2004 Bush announced the U.S. government's support for Israel's plan to permanently annex large sections of the West Bank and thus effectively prevent the establishment of any viable, independent Palestinian state.

In a White House statement and a letter to Ariel Sharon, Bush gave official U.S.. sanction to the Israeli program of establishing illegal settlements on Palestinian territory and expanding Israel's borders. Bush said: "in light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949."

- This winter, shortly after the Palestinian people elected a new government, the U.S. Congress, with the full support of Bush, passed (by a vote of 361-37), the "Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act" which condemned the new government of the Palestinian Authority (PA), cut off all U.S. contact and aid to the PA and "urged members of the international community to avoid contact with and refrain from financially supporting the terrorist organization Hamas or a Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority."

- On July 20, 2006, immediately after the invasion of Lebanon, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution (by a vote of 410-8) endorsing both the wars in Gaza and Lebanon. After condemning Hamas and Hezbollah as "terrorist," the resolution "supports Israel's right to take appropriate action to defend itself, including to conduct operations both in Israel and in the territory of nations which pose a threat to it." The resolution commends "the President of the United States for fully supporting Israel." While the whole world is condemning Israel's wanton murder of civilians, the U.S. Congress goes so far as to commend "Israel's longstanding commitment to minimizing civilian loss and welcomes Israel's continued effort to prevent civilian casualties." The resolution further urges Bush to "bring the full force of political, diplomatic and economic sanctions available to the Government of the United States against the governments of Syria and Lebanon."

PROTESTS AGAINST U.S.-ISRAELI WARS

Photo shows demonstration of 10,000 people in Dearborn, Michigan against the U.S.-Israeli wars in Lebanon and Gaza. During the last few weeks, people throughout the world have joined in such protests. Some of the cities and countries include Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Houston, etc.

In Canada, thousands protested in Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, Calgary, Windsor and Hamilton.

Throughout Europe in London, Berlin, Stockholm, Barcelona, Athens, Rome, Paris, Bern, Copenhagen, Strasbourg, Warsaw and Amsterdam.

In Sydney, Australia and Melbourne.

Other protests took place in Egypt, Israel and the West Bank, Indonesia, Turkey, Yemen, Sudan, Iran, Jordan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Korea, Venezuela, Chile, and Brazil.

 

Volume 20, No. 16 July 16, 2006

ISRAEL EXTENDS WAR TO LEBANON

The state of Israel, with the support of the U.S. government, has launched war against Lebanon.

Since Thursday, July 13, Israeli planes, ships and tanks have continuously bombed Lebanon, including Beirut. In three days, at least 80 Lebanese have been killed, more than 200 wounded, and thousands forced to leave their homes. A full scale blockade has been imposed on the country and Israel is engaged in saturation bombing, trying to soften the country up for a largescale ground invasion. Israel is systematically bombing bridges and roads, electrical power generation, water and sanitation facilities, houses, etc. Reflecting the widespread outrage at the Israeli aggression, even the French government was forced to denounce Israel for the "disproportionate use of force;" French President Jacques Chirac said that it seems like Israel "wish[es] to destroy" Lebanon.

Israeli officials said that they planned a "long campaign;" many observers expect that Israel will try to occupy part of the country. Israel's military chief of staff, Dan Halutz said that "nothing is safe" in Lebanon.

George Bush immediately supported Israel's aggression saying "Israel has the right to defend herself."

Israel is facing stiff resistance across Lebanon as the whole population, uniting behind the resistance organizations, is fighting back against the attacks and making preparations for the Israeli invasion.

At the same time, Israel is continuing its aggression against Gaza. On Wednesday, Israeli tanks and troops pushed into central Gaza killing at least 23 Palestinians, including 7 children in one family. Since June 28, Israel has killed at least 95 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and inflicted tremendous damage on the infrastructure of Gaza, bombing electrical power plants, water and sanitation systems, government ministries, residential areas, etc. Again, the Israeli government insists that its war in Gaza will last a long time; its aims include forcing a change in the Palestinian government, re-occupying part of Gaza and terrorizing the Palestinian people.

On Thursday, the U.S. vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for an end to Israel's military offensive in Gaza. The U.S. was the only country to vote against the resolution.

The U.S. and Israel have threatened to extend the war to Syria and Iran.

Israel's new aggression against Gaza and Lebanon is part of U.S. imperialism's so-called "war on terrorism" which has turned the entire region into a war zone. In the late fall of 2001, the Israeli government, with the support of George Bush, declared that the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza were the "second front" in the "war on terrorism." The U.S.-Israeli goals are to wipe out the Palestinian resistance movement, permanently annex large sections of Jerusalem and the West Bank to Israel and deprive the Palestinian people of any possibility of building a viable, independent state. This is part of U.S. imperialism's plan to re-colonize the Middle East, suppress any resistance to its domination and strengthen Israel as its forward base in the region.

But the Palestinian nation has not been vanquished. On the contrary, it is re-energizing its resistance and striking back against the aggressors.

Today, as the Palestinian resistance is strengthening itself and the Iraqi people continue to deal heavy blows to the U.S. occupation, U.S. imperialism is using Israel to broaden the war and threaten every country in the region.

The aggressors must be defeated. U.S. imperialism and its attack dog, Israeli zionism, have set the whole region on fire, from Afghanistan to Iraq to Palestine and Lebanon. The threats to Syria and Iran are very real.

Peace can only be won by throwing U.S. imperialism out of the region, lock, stock and barrel and by forcing the aggressive state of Israel to stay in its lair. Israeli forces must immediately and permanently withdraw from Lebanon, the Gaza and the entire West Bank. All illegal Israeli settlements must be dismantled and a genuinely independent Palestinian state must be established.

THE RIGHTS OF IMMIGRANTS -- THE RIGHTS OF ALL

During the last few weeks, Michael Thorburn, editor of The Worker, spoke at several meetings on the issue of immigrant rights. Below we summarize of some of the main points discussed.

1) The capitalist class and the government are carrying out a vicious campaign against immigrant workers.

Government officials are openly spewing out racist, anti-immigrant propaganda to try to justify stepped up repression and deportation of immigrants. The government is preparing new laws which criminalize immigrants and will force millions of people deeper into the "underground economy." The goal is to strengthen and legalize a caste system of indentured servants.

These attacks on immigrants cannot be separated from the capitalists' general program of imposing increased exploitation, racism, fascism and war on the American people. For example, it is obvious how the current anti-immigrant campaign is being used to further militarize our country and create a national ID system just as the racist, anti-Arab campaign launched in 2001 was used to pass the Patriot Act.

2) On the surface, it appears as if there are two opposing camps amongst the capitalist politicians. One side claims that the government must "get tough" with "illegal immigrants" by criminalizing them, militarizing the border, and, in general, increasing repression against immigrant workers. The "other" side agrees with the need to "get tough," militarize the border, etc. but also wants to create a "guest worker" program and "an earned path to citizenship" to legalize a pool of immigrant workers who work here for a number of years under fixed contracts and then are sent home.

These two "opposing" camps only represent different sides of the capitalist immigration policy which is to encourage large scale immigration but to keep immigrant labor branded and under the thumb of the state, a caste of superexploited workers deprived of fundamental human rights.

U.S. capitalism, from its earliest days, has relied on immigrant workers to fill its labor force - to overcome the shortage of labor and meet the needs of capitalist expansion and, at the same time, to drive down the wages and maximize the exploitation of the entire working class.

To begin with, the capitalists brought African peoples here as slaves. Europeans were imported as indentured servants. Later, after grabbing, by war, the present-day southwest, the capitalists disenfranchised the Mexican people, stealing their land and turning them into agricultural and industrial workers. So too, successive waves of immigrants from Germany, Ireland, China, Eastern and Southern Europe, etc. were brought to the U.S. in a myriad of legal and illegal ways. Each wave of immigrants was subjected to abuse, racism, repression and confined to the lowest rung of a complicated caste system designed to maximize the exploitation of the workforce.

Thus, while Chinese immigrants were branded "coolies," the capitalists were content to use their labor and their lives to build the railroads. While laws were passed condemning Eastern and Southern European workers as genetically inferior, the capitalists eagerly used their labor to build the stockyards, the steel mills, etc., etc. In the last 50 years, new waves of immigrants - from Mexico and Latin America, from the Philippines, India and Asia, from Africa and Eastern Europe - have continued to be superexploited and oppressed by the capitalists. Today, 11 million undocumented workers and their families are forced to live "underground," deprived of the most basic human rights, and always living with the threat of deportation over their heads.

3) Immigrants are forced to come here largely because of the colonial oppression imposed on their native countries by U.S. imperialism. The U.S. capitalists have stolen the natural resources and taken control over the economic foundations of countries around the world. Thus the working people in Mexico, Haiti, the Philippines and scores of countries have been deprived of any means of a livelihood.

Today, under the signboard of "globalization," U.S. capitalism has extended its worldwide colonial empire. As part of this process, every year, 200 million workers are forced to leave their native lands to seek a livelihood in the U.S. or other imperialist countries. In many countries, such as the Philippines, more than 50% of the peoples' incomes come from remittances sent home by migrant workers.

In effect, U.S. imperialism has turned whole countries into slave nations whose labor force is part of a rotating pool of indentured servants. When the capitalists want to expand their labor force, they bring migrant workers here, only to send them back, penniless, when their labor isn't needed.

4) George Bush and the other capitalist politicians are insisting that a "true American" must speak English and be assimilated by the U.S. "melting pot." The "melting pot" is part of the ideology of Anglo-American chauvinism and national oppression.

The geographical territory which makes up the U.S.A. is inhabited by immigrants from many countries as well as by several nationalities - the indigenous nations, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Hawaiians - which historically have been subjugated and oppressed by the Anglo-American state.

The reality is that the U.S. is a country of many languages and many nationalities.

The oppressed minorities and the immigrants do not have to do anything to "prove" or "become" Americans just as they do not have to "earn" citizenship. They are part and parcel of this country and it is their labor which has helped build our modern economy. The problem is not that immigrants or minorities are "breaking the law" or "refusing to embrace American values," the problem is that the economic and political conditions imposed on the people are designed to deprive immigrants and the oppressed minorities of their fundamental human rights. These rights include the equality of all individuals and the collective rights and equality of all nationalities.

5) While the capitalist system is founded and thrives on the national oppression of the minority peoples and immigrants, the working class and people of this country have always fought to create a society which guarantees equal rights for all.

The struggle against every manifestation of racial or national oppression extends to every sphere of the life of our country; it is an absolute requirement for advancing the working class struggle. It is obvious that the fight for emancipation is held back when sections of the working class are bound by the double yoke of national and racial oppression.

Yet more, we aim at a society in which the development of every individual is the condition for the development of all, a society in which the enlightenment and experience of all the peoples is encouraged and developed.

One of the great strengths of the U.S. working class is that it is composed of peoples from the four corners of the globe, each of whom have added their irreplaceable experience and history to the struggle of the people here. This is the real being, the real identity of the U.S. working class and we cannot realize our aspirations without creating a society which guarantees in practice, the rights of all.

BACKGROUND: HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN GAZA

Israel launched a new offensive in Gaza on June 28. In addition to occupying the Gaza with ground forces and killing and wounding hundreds, Israeli aircraft have targeted both civilian population centers as well as Gaza's infrastructure including roads and bridges, power stations, water and sanitation systems, homes, government buildings, etc.

The latest offensive exacerbated an existing humanitarian crisis due to years of occupation. Recently, a joint statement by the six UN humanitarian agencies working in the occupied Palestinian territories, concluded that "Unless urgent action is taken, we are facing a humanitarian crisis that will have far reaching consequences for the communities we work in and the institutions we work through."

After the election of the new Palestinian government in January of this year, Israel stopped transferring tens of millions of dollars a month in taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA). The US, the European Union, and other countries suspended international aid to the PA. The US went further and threatened action against financial institutions that helped provide money or services directly to the new government. Fearing sanction from the U.S., many commercial banks froze accounts of the PA, and other donor countries were not able to deliver money to the PA, triggering a financial crisis in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The Salaries of 172,000 employees have gone unpaid, impoverishing nearly 1 million people in Gaza and the West Bank who are dependent on these payments.

The situation in Gaza is particularly severe because Karni, the largest crossing point for commercial supplies into the Gaza Strip, had been closed by the Israeli military for 57 days through April. Each day of closure results in an estimated loss in export trade of $500,000-$600,000. The Erez crossing for workers and traders entering Israel has also been closed since March 12 with no indication of when it will reopen. This has led to shortages of essential items including bread, dairy products, fruit and medical supplies.

In Gaza, 80% of the population live in poverty and 40% are unemployed. The World Food Programme (WFP) estimated that in June, 70% of the population was unable to cover their daily food needs without aid. Ten percent of children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition. 350,000 children are stunted, with the burden falling most heavily on 1-2 year-olds. More than 15% are malnourished at this critical age in their overall development.

With Israel's restrictions on humanitarian supply lines, as of July 9, there was a backlog of over 230 containers of food awaiting delivery at the border crossing.

Since the Israeli strike on Gaza's only power plant on June 28, the entire area is without electricity for between 12 and 18 hours every day. Food factories, flour mills, and bakeries are being forced to reduce production. Water utilities are also dependent on electricity and are forced to rely on backup generators cutting back on daily operations by two thirds. Israel has also threatened to cut water supplies.

The public health care system has been in crisis since February of this year, because of lack of funding and shortages of medical supplies. The World Health Organization (WHO) said the public health system is facing an unprecedented crisis, with the current stock of fuel for back-up generators likely to run out within two weeks. In the last week, the agency also predicts that 23 per cent of the essential drug list will be out of stock within a month. People are dying because surgical and medical procedures cannot be performed. (see The Worker, 5/14/06).

STANDARDIZED TESTING

The following is excerpted from a pamphlet recently published by the Committee to Defend Public Education. For more information see the website: www.teacherschalkboard.org.

The "No Child Left Behind" law, passed in 2002, requires every elementary student in grades 3-8 to take yearly standardized tests in reading and math. Test scores are used to judge schools on the basis of the percentage of students passing the tests. Schools in which students fail to perform well face a series of penalties, including cutoff of Title I funds, reorganization, closure and partial or complete privatization. In 2005, approximately 25% of the country's 15,000 school districts faced penalties as a result of failure to make adequate progress in test scores.

Most states and many cities require additional standardized tests; at least 17 states require students to pass a standardized exam in order to graduate high school. Other states and cities retain students who fail standardized tests. Students take more than 100 million standardized tests every year at a cost of more than $20 billion/year.

Standardized tests are also used by many public school districts to determine which students are admitted to magnet or special schools or whether a student will pursue a college preparatory or vocational curriculum. Standardized tests, such as the ACT, also play a big role in college admission and the availability of scholarship funds for college students.

The justification for these high-stakes standardized tests is that a student's score measures his/her educational performance and ability. Beginning as early as kindergarten, a student's scores determine what quality of school he/she attends, whether or not he/she is retained or advanced to the next grade, whether he/she graduates high school, what college he/she attends, etc. Yet more, tests scores are used to measure the educational performance and level of entire communities and, in turn, to determine what educational resources will be made available to communities.

But does a single numerical score derived from which circles a student marks on a standardized test accurately measure educational performance and ability? The answer is a resounding: "No!"

Standardized tests, at most, measure how many discrete bits of fragmented "knowledge" a given student has memorized. Creativity, life experience, and other aspects of knowledge and ability are not generally reflected in the standardized test score.

In most states students with learning disabilities or non-native English speakers take the same standardized test as everyone else. The Government Accounting Office reported that during the 2003-2004 school year, 95% of the country's 6 million students with disabilities were forced to take the same standardized reading tests as others. . . .

In addition, many scientific studies have proven that standardized tests have built-in biases, biases which discriminate against working class students, minorities, females, etc. . . .

Perhaps, most importantly, the problem with high-stakes standardized tests is that they are not used as a diagnostic and educational device, side by side with other methods of evaluation (e.g. teachers' observations, effort, rate of improvement, etc.,), but as a single litmus test determining the future of the student and school.

At best, tests results will reflect educational inputs. The government knows that working class and minority students, who attend underfunded, overcrowded and outdated schools, will not perform well on the culturally-biased standardized tests. Standardized tests are, in effect, rigged to set students and schools up for failure and to blame the students, teachers and parents for "poor performance."

Next, instead of increasing investment where it is needed most, the government punishes working class and minority students, and their communities, by further cutting funding and/or privatizing the schools. Under the NCLB law, many school districts have been forced to privatize tutoring services and many schools are already being privatized under the pressure of this law. In addition, standardized tests are used to further deprive working class students of the right to a modern education by tracking them into vocational and military schools and reserving better educational opportunities for a small percentage of the population.

The emphasis on high-stakes standardized tests is not only punishing working class and minority students and schools, it is also being used to undermine the curriculum. The government, school administrators and principals are so focussed on test scores, that teachers are told to "teach to the test." Students who are sure to pass the test are often ignored as are students who are considered unlikely to pass. Creative assignments, term projects, interdisciplinary studies are frowned upon. Courses other than English and Math are being cut back. A 2006 study by the Center on Education Policy (CEP) showed that 71% of the country's 15,000 school districts have cut back on instructional time in various subjects in order to spend more time prepping students for standardized tests. The CEP reports that one-third of the school districts have cut back on social studies; 29% have cut science courses and 22% have cut music and art instruction.

In sum, the standardized testing "craze" is a fraud from start to finish. Rather than being used as a means to diagnose problems and improve education, the government and educational authorities are using standardized tests to blame and punish working class and minority students and to pave the way for the further privatization of the public schools.

The path for really improving educational performance begins with the government properly funding the public schools, guarantying equal funding and equal opportunities for schools in working class and minority areas, dramatically lowering class size, providing a modern, all-sided curriculum, funding universal pre-school, etc. The government must be made to fulfill its responsibilities to the public schools.

 

Volume 20, No. 15 July 8, 2006

DANGEROUS U.S. THREATS & PRESSURE AGAINST NORTH KOREA!

On July 5, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) test-launched several missiles as part of a routine military training exercise. This missile test was part of the DPRK's efforts to strengthen its military self-defence capacity which is its sovereign right.

Nevertheless, the U.S. government immediately denounced the missile test as a "provocation." The U.S. government is calling for sanctions against the DPRK and dangerously escalating its propaganda and pressure against the country. Leading political figures from both the Republican and Democratic parties are calling for military strikes against the DPRK. Japan, the close ally of the U.S., has already imposed new economic sanctions against the DPRK.

This war propaganda and pressure is a continuation of the U.S. government's 50-year war against Korea. Since 1950, U.S. imperialism has occupied the Korean peninsula with tens of thousands of troops and filled south Korea with every conceivable weapon, including nuclear weapons. By force of arms, U.S. imperialism has maintained the partition of Korea and carried out a continuous encirclement of North Korea - militarily, economically, politically, diplomatically, etc.

Over the last few years, U.S. imperialism has increased its pressure and threats against North Korea. Successive U.S. administrations have tried to create hysteria about the alleged "nuclear threat" from the DPRK, and branded it as a "rogue state" and part of the "axis of evil." The U.S. government openly advertises its plans for nuclear strikes against the DPRK and regularly engages in "war games" based on these plans. The goal of the U.S. is to overthrow the existing economic and political system in the DPRK and assert its dictate over the country.

It is not the DPRK, but U.S. imperialism which has deployed its troops and nuclear armaments thousands of miles from U.S. territory and is trampling on the sovereignty of Korea. The facts show that it is U.S. imperialism which encircles the DPRK and threatens it with war.

Thus, the DPRK, in taking appropriate measures to strengthen its self-defence capacity, is helping to maintain peace on the Korean peninsula and throughout the world.

The DPRK is able to stand on its own feet and defend its sovereignty precisely because, for the last 50 years, its has relied on its own efforts and built a truly independent and modern country. The DPRK's resolute defense of its sovereignty and its victories along the path of national independence are a great inspiration to people everywhere who are struggling against U.S. imperialism.

We demand an end to:

U.S. Provocations, Threats, and Pressure against the DPRK!

Withdrawal of all U.S. troops from South Korea and Asia!

DPRK STATEMENT ON MISSILE LAUNCHES

Pyongyang, July 6 (KCNA) — A spokesman for the DPRK Foreign Ministry gave the following answer to a question raised by KCNA Thursday as regards the missile launches in the DPRK:

In the wake of the missile launches by the Korean People’s Army the U.S. and some other countries following it, including Japan, are making much ado about a serious development. They are terming them “violation” and “provocation” and calling for “sanctions” and “their referral to the UN Security Council.”

The latest successful missile launches were part of the routine military exercises staged by the KPA to increase the nation’s military capacity for self-defence.

The DPRK’s exercise of its legitimate right as a sovereign state is neither bound to any international law nor to bilateral or multilateral agreements such as the DPRK-Japan Pyongyang Declaration and the joint statement of the six-party talks.

The DPRK is not a signatory to the Missile Technology Control Regime and, therefore, is not bound to any commitment under it.

As for the moratorium on long-range missile test-fire which the DPRK agreed with the U.S. in 1999, it was valid only when the DPRK-U.S. dialogue was under way.

The Bush administration, however, scrapped all the agreements its preceding administration concluded with the DPRK and totally scuttled the bilateral dialogue.

The DPRK had already clarified in March 2005 that its moratorium on the missile test-fire lost its validity.

The same can be said of the moratorium on the long-range missile test-fire which the DPRK agreed with Japan in the DPRK-Japan Pyongyang Declaration in 2002.

In the DPRK-Japan Pyongyang Declaration the DPRK expressed its “intention to extend beyond 2003 the moratorium on the missile fire in the spirit of the declaration.”

This step was taken on the premise that Japan moved to normalize its relations with the DPRK and redeem its past.

The Japanese authorities, however, have abused the DPRK’s good faith. They have not honored their commitment but internationalized the “abduction issue,” pursuant to the U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK, although the DPRK had fully settled the issue. This behavior has brought the overall DPRK-Japan relations to what was before the publication of the declaration.

It is a manifestation of the DPRK’s broad magnanimity that it has put on hold the missile launch so far under this situation.

The joint statement of the six-party talks on September 19, 2005 stipulates the commitments to be fulfilled by the six sides to the talks to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

But no sooner had the joint statement been adopted than the U.S. applied financial sanctions against the DPRK and escalated pressure upon it in various fields through them. The U.S., at the same time, has totally hamstrung the efforts for the implementation of the joint statement through such threat and blackmail as large-scale military exercises targeted against the DPRK.

It is clear to everyone that there is no need for the DPRK to unilaterally put on hold the missile launch under such situation.

Such being a stark fact, it is a far-fetched assertion grossly falsifying the reality for them to claim that the routine missile launches conducted by the KPA for self-defence strain the regional situation and block the progress of the dialogue.

It is a lesson taught by history and a stark reality of the international relations proven by the Iraqi crisis that the upsetting of the balance of force is bound to create instability and crisis and spark even a war.

But for the DPRK’s tremendous deterrent for self-defence, the U.S. would have attacked the DPRK more than once as it had listed the former as part of an “axis of evil” and a “target of preemptive nuclear attack” and peace on the Korean Peninsula and in the region would have been seriously disturbed.

The DPRK’s missile development, test-fire, manufacture and deployment, therefore, serve as a key to keeping the balance of force and preserving peace and stability in Northeast Asia.

It is also preposterous for them to term the latest missile launches a “provocation” and the like for the mere reason that the DPRK did not send prior notice about them.

It would be quite foolish to notify Washington and Tokyo of the missile launches in advance, given that the U.S., which is technically at war with the DPRK, has threatened it since a month ago that it would intercept the latter’s missile in collusion with Japan.

We would like to ask the U.S. and Japan if they had ever notified the DPRK of their ceaseless missile launches in the areas close to it.

The DPRK remains unchanged in its will to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula in a negotiated peaceful manner just as it committed itself in the September 19 joint statement of the six-party talks.

The latest missile launch exercises are quite irrelevant to the six-party talks.

The KPA will go on with missile launch exercises as part of its efforts to bolster deterrent for self-defence in the future, too.

The DPRK will have no option but to take stronger physical actions of other forms, should any other country dares take issue with the exercises and put pressure upon it.

DAY OF STRUGGLE AGAINST U.S. IMPERIALISM

On June 25, hundreds of thousands of Koreans held a massive rally in the capital of Pyongyang in a “day of struggle against U.S. imperialism.” The rally was held on the anniversary of the day in 1950, when U.S. troops attacked North Korea, beginning a 3-yr war of aggression that killed and wounded millions of people.

Speakers and participants denounced U.S. imperialism not only for its past aggression against Korea, but also for its recent provocations and threats of war.

Other large-scale rallies took place in South Hwanghae Province, North Phyongan Province and Kangwon. Thousands of workers, war veterans, and youth and students took part.

 

Volume 20, No. 14 July 2, 2006

Statement of the Workers Party, U.S.A.

OPPOSE U.S.-ISRAELI AGGRESSION IN GAZA!

On June 28, the state of Israel, as always with the full support of the U.S. government, launched yet another barbaric offensive against Palestine.

More than 5,000 Israeli soldiers, equipped with hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles, have invaded the Gaza Strip. Many Palestinians have been killed. Daily aerial bombardments and artillery fire have destroyed roads, bridges and electrical power plants. 750,000 Palestinians are without electricity. Government buildings, including the Interior Ministry and the office of the Palestinian Prime Minister have been bombed. Israeli troops have imprisoned close to 100 political leaders, including at least 23 members of the Palestinian Parliament. Israeli troops have also invaded the West Bank and are rounding up Palestinian leaders there.

This Hitlerite attack directed against the civilian population of Gaza aims at terrorizing the people and forcing a change in the Palestinian government.

The invasion comes at a time when Israel, with the support of U.S. imperialism, has blockaded the economy of Palestine and is trying to starve the people into submission. At the same time, Israel continues with its program of permanently annexing large sections of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, expanding settlement activity and building its Apartheid Wall to carve up Palestine and prevent the creation of a viable Palestinian state.

Israel’s ongoing war against Palestine is part and parcel of U.S. imperialism’s so-called "war on terrorism." As part of its strategic plan to recolonize Iraq and assert its domination over the whole of the Middle East, U.S. imperialism wants to stabilize its number one aggressive base — the state of Israel — by crushing the Palestinian resistance.

But the Palestinian resistance will not be crushed!

Rather, it will continue to provide inspiration to the peoples everywhere and strengthen its role in the struggles of the Arab peoples and the peoples of the whole world to defeat U.S. imperialism.

The Workers Party, U.S.A. calls on every person of conscience to speak out and take action against the state-sponsored terrorism of U.S. imperialism and the Israeli aggressors against the Palestinian people.

We demand the immediate, unconditional cutoff of all U.S. aid to Israel!

We demand the withdrawal of all Israeli troops and settlements from the West Bank and Gaza, the right to return for all Palestinian refugees and the establishment of a genuinely independent and sovereign Palestinian state!

 

Volume 20, No. 13 June 27, 2006

NEW U.S. OFFENSIVES IN IRAQ

Since June 10, thousands of U.S. forces have cordoned off the city of Ramadi in Iraq's Anbar province, setting-up hundreds of checkpoints, preventing anyone from entering or leaving the area. Numerous airstrikes have been launched, killing scores of residents. U.S. troops are carrying out house-to-house searches, while marching through the streets with loudspeakers warning the residents to stay indoors. Tens of thousands of residents are attempting to flee the city of 400,000 people.

Based on interviews with Iraqi residents, food and medicine supplies are running low and there are huge shortages of other supplies and services. "The situation is catastrophic. No services, no electricity, no water," said Sheik Fassal Gaood, former governor of Al Anbar province. Thousands of families remain trapped in the city.

"It is becoming hell up there," said Mohammed Fahdawi, a 42-year-old contractor who fled, with his 4 children, to Baghdad two weeks ago. "It is unbelievable: The Americans seem to have brought all of their troops to Ramadi."

Despite this massive force, U.S. troops continue to face daily street battles launched by resistance fighters.

Meanwhile, in Baghdad, U.S. forces launched a new military offensive on June 14 that is being described by military officials as "the biggest operation since the 2003 invasion."

A night-time curfew has been imposed on all six million residents as 75,000 troops deployed in the city. Hundreds of checkpoints are set-up and day-time vehicle traffic is banned. A general of the U.S.-puppet army announced: "Anybody on the street, in his car or in his shop caught with a weapon, any kind of weapon, will be considered a terrorist and will be treated as a terrorist. He will be killed or captured."

The offensive was launched one day after Bush made a secret visit to the occupied capital. Thousands of Baghdad residents took to the streets in protest. Demonstrators carried banners reading "Iraq is for Iraqis" and "No to the occupation." Leaders demanded that U.S. troops leave the country immediately.

Fierce resistance continues throughout the city.

CONGRESS VOWS TO CONTINUE THE WAR

Last week, Congress overwhelmingly approved resolutions to continue the war in Iraq until the "U.S. will prevail in the Global War on Terrorism."

A Pentagon "briefing" distributed to Congress prior to the vote demanded the total commitment of "all elements of national power" to win the war, which, the Pentagon called a "central front" in a "worldwide war against terrorism" which will be a "long war." The Pentagon report is filled with racist, anti-Muslim, anti-Iraqi propaganda inciting more U.S. aggression against "Islamic totalitarianism" based on "extremism, violence and hate." At the same time, the Pentagon openly boasts that under the U.S. occupation, Iraq has been opened up to foreign corporations and international bankers. The briefing warns that "losing" the war means losing Iraq's vast oil reserves.

During the Congressional proceedings, the monopoly controlled media and political opportunism tried to claim that the Democratic Party was opposing the war. This is a fraud from beginning to end.

In the Senate, the Democrats offered a nonbinding resolution which called for an unspecified number of U.S. troops to leave Iraq this year and for Bush to submit a plan with estimated dates for more "redeployment."

Even this empty "resolution" gives the Pentagon a further escape clause by underlining that any "redeployment" must take into consideration "unexpected contingencies." Furthermore, the resolution envisions a permanent U.S. presence in Iraq to carry on "training Iraqi security forces, providing logistic support for Iraq security forces, protecting U.S. infrastructure and personnel, and participating in targeted counterterrorism activities." This is not a program for withdrawal but a program for continuing the U.S. occupation and war.

The entire motivation of the Democrats' so-called exit strategy is to help U.S. imperialism win the war. The resolution begins by underscoring the need for "winning the fight against terrorist networks [which] requires an integrated, comprehensive effort that uses all facets of power of the U.S." Introducing this resolution, Senator Levin repeatedly emphasized that "supporters of our amendment are just as determined to maximize prospects for success in Iraq as are the opponents of our amendment."

The Democrats' posturing is an attempt to buy time for U.S. imperialism. They hope that empty promises about withdrawal will lend legitimacy to the puppet Iraqi government, gain more international support for the war and thus, in the words of John Kerry, undermine and "defeat the insurgency." In the U.S., the Democrats hope to deflect the anti-war movement.

No. U.S. imperialism is not and will not willingly withdraw from Iraq.

But it is being defeated and will be forced to withdraw by the Iraqi resistance. The stand of the American people is to support Iraq's independence and sovereignty by demanding nothing less than the immediate and total withdrawal of all U.S. troops.

YET MORE GOVERNMENT SPYING

Last week, the "New York Times" revealed that since 2001 the Bush administration has been secretly collecting and analyzing the financial records of thousands of Americans.

U.S. officials pressured a Brussels company, Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (Swift), to turn over millions of private financial records. The government did not get any court-approved warrants or subpoenas.

When this secret operation was exposed, the government reverted to its standard excuses, claiming that 1) the denial of rights is justified by the "hunt for Al Qaeda" and 2) any exposure of the government's activities helps "the enemy." Both excuses only show that the government openly proclaims that it will continue to trample on the inviolable rights of the people as well as the rule of law.

This massive invasion of privacy rights is only one of several clandestine government operations for spying on Americans, compiling dossiers, and carrying out subversion and suppression of political dissent. Since 2002, for example, the government has arbitrary closed down several Islamic charity organizations and imprisoned political activists under the excuse of "looking for Al Qaeda money." As part of the "war on terrorism," the government is also wiretapping phones, imprisoning Americans without charge, torturing prisoners, rounding up immigrants, infiltrating anti-war and other progressive organizations, attacking political protests, etc.

In sum, the government is building up a secret police state and using it to impose the program of war, exploitation and repression on the American people. We can have no illusions in this state. It must be dismantled from top to bottom and replaced by a new power which arises from and empowers the people themselves.

U.S. THREATENS MILITARY STRIKE AGAINST KOREA

The U.S. military is moving ships and warplanes to the coast of North Korea, while public officials have been threatening "preemptive" missile strikes against the country.

On June 21, the Washington Post reported that the U.S. was activating its ballistic missile system for possible use against North Korea. It also said that former U.S. Defense Secretary William J. Perry had called on President Bush to launch a preemptive strike using cruise missiles against North Korea. "Diplomacy has failed, and we cannot sit by and let this deadly threat mature" Perry said. The U.S. ambassador to Japan, J. Thomas Schieffer, also stated that "all options are on the table" when asked if a military strike was being considered.

Over 30 warships, 280 aircraft and 22,000 new troops are in the region to participate in "wargames" targeting North Korea.

According to U.S. officials, such actions are a response to a "possible test-launch of a long-range missile" by North Korea. A number of U.S. and South Korean officials admit, however, that the test would probably be a space-satellite and not a missile (Washington Post, 6-21-06). One South Korean official noted he "doesn't understand why there is such fuss in other countries on this."

North Korea has asserted its sovereign right to test any missile, and has called for direct talks with the U.S. to resolve the crisis.

Han Song Ryol, deputy chief of North Korea's mission to the United Nations stated on June 21: "North Korea as a sovereign state has the right to develop, deploy, test fire and export a missile. We are aware of the U.S. concerns about our missile test-launch. So our position is that we should resolve the issue through negotiations." The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, told reporters that the U.S. rejected such talks.

BUSH DEPLOYS NATIONAL GUARD

The government is increasing its repression against immigrant workers.

On June 17, the Bush administration began deploying the National Guard to help patrol the U.S.-Mexico border. Six thousand guardsmen will be assigned to border "security" work by August.

The National Guard's duties will include monitoring surveillance equipment and building fences along the border.

In addition, the government has begun hiring 6,000 more Border patrol agents.

Earlier in the month, Bush explained his deployment of the National Guard as part of his program of increasing immigration enforcement by further militarizing the border and stepping deportations. Michael Chertoff, head of the Department of Homeland Security is hiring hundreds of more INS agents to step up "worksite enforcement" and track and deport undocumented workers. In April, INS officials carried out a coordinated national raid, detaining 1,200 immigrant workers in 26 states and deporting most of them.

 

Volume 20, No. 12 June 6, 2006

Editorial: WHAT KIND OF SOCIETY?

The workers and democratic-minded people who are coming forward in the struggle for immigrant rights are bringing to the fore fundamental issues about the direction and future of our country.

The people are fighting against the racism and chauvinism of the capitalist government.

The immediate demand of the people is to stop the government from passing new anti-immigrant legislation which would criminalize immigrants and further repress them. This legislation is backed by an hysterical propaganda campaign which vilifies immigrants as "terrorists" and "criminals."

The capitalists also try to blame immigrants for "taking American jobs" and "bankrupting" the country by using social services. Of course, it is not immigrants but the capitalists and the government who are slashing jobs and social services.

The government is trying to pass laws declaring English as the official language. This is part of the government's program of forcibly amalgamating everyone in the "melting pot" of the Anglo nationality. This program aims at increasing the oppression imposed on the minority nationalities and immigrants.

From the beginning, the capitalist state has forcibly annexed other nations, subjugating the Mexican people of the southwest, the Puerto Rican people, the Native Americans, and bringing the African people here in chains. So too, the capitalists have denied the rights of successive waves of immigrants, creating a caste of superexploited and oppressed workers. But the American people have always fought against this national oppression - against the slavery and racial discrimination imposed on the black people, against the genocidal subjugation of the Native peoples, against the colonization of Puerto Rico, etc. The American people have always tried to make this a land of refuge to which peoples from all over the globe can come and add their experience and voice to the struggle to guarantee the rights of all.

The immigrant rights movement is part of carrying this struggle through until every nationality is guaranteed equal rights in a true family of nations.

No, the problem is not immigrants or the oppressed nationalities who are the very foundation of our country; the problem is that the economic and political relations imposed by the government deny the reality of our country and the rights of the peoples.

The immigrant rights movement is fighting against the fascistization of our country.

The government is not only attacking immigrants but the rights of all Americans. Already the government has used its anti-immigrant hysteria to pass laws limiting everyone's access to various social services such as Medicaid. The government is also militarizing the country, further integrating federal and local policing powers and working to impose a national ID system in order to better control the population.

The government is trying to create an ideological criteria for citizenship, virtually demanding a "loyalty oath" from immigrants and insisting that all "true Americans" embrace capitalist values.

The struggle for immigrant rights is in the forefront of the fight against the police state which the capitalists are trying to impose. The people are fighting for a truly modern America which recognizes that the rights of one are inseparable from the rights of all.

In fighting for the rights of immigrants, people are fighting against the superexploitation imposed on tens of millions of people. Today, as for centuries, the entire outlook of the government is to use the immigrants and oppressed nationalities as a source of cheap, super-exploited labor and as a way to divide people and drive down the wages of the entire working class.

Today, in the name of "amnesty" or an "earned path" to citizenship, the capitalists are preparing to legalize a caste system which reduces millions of immigrant workers to the status of indentured servants. Millions of workers who have been living and working in the U.S. for years - making their lives and building our country - would get the "privilege" of working continuously for 6 more years in order to apply for naturalization. Every year, hundreds of thousands more "guest workers" would be brought to the U.S. on a contract system to meet the needs of the capitalists. After their contracts of 3-6 years are up, these workers will be returned to their native countries.

We say that immigrant workers do not have "to earn" citizenship or "prove" their loyalty. They are already part and parcel of our country.

The struggle against the superexploitation of immigrant workers is part of the movement of the working class to assert its common class interests and to come out as a class for itself, a class which aims at ending all forms of exploitation and oppression.

The struggle for immigrant rights brings to the fore the issue of: "What kind of country?"

The capitalists are seeking to throw society backwards and impose race hatred and national oppression on us. They are rapidly strengthening their police state, militarizing the country and attacking the rights of the people, all along the line. They are driving the working people deeper into exploitation and poverty.

The immigrant rights movement, as part of the struggle of the working people, is fighting to carry through the highest aspirations of the American people - to create a true family of nationalities and a land of refuge which recognizes the equality of the peoples; to create a country which guarantees the rights of all human beings and which eliminates all forms of exploitation and oppression.

GEORGE BUSH MUST BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE MASSACRE OF IRAQI CIVILIANS!

Everyday new details are emerging about the massacre of unarmed civilians in Iraq. According to press reports, U.S. marines have carried out "extensive, unprovoked and methodical killings of civilians, including many women and children."

In one incident last November in the city of Haditha, evidence revealed that 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians were killed, some of them "execution-style." Recent reports by the BBC and Los Angeles Times state that a videotape of the scene proves that many of the victims were rounded-up and then shot in the head or back. According to death certificates, children slaughtered inside the houses were aged 1, 3, 5, 10 and 14.

One victim that survived, Khamisa Tuma Ali, said that U.S. marines entered his house shooting. They then shot everyone at close range and hurled grenades into the kitchen and bathroom. Most of the shots were fired at such close range that they went through the bodies of the family members and plowed into walls or the floor, physicians at Haditha's hospital also said.

And the massacre at Haditha is not the only case coming to light. Every day, there are reports of new atrocities. For example, on June 1, U.S. troops in Samarra shot and killed two Iraqi women, one of whom was pregnant, for allegedly failing to stop their car. Even the U.S. puppet Prime Minister Maliki has been forced to admit that U.S. troops "crush [civilians] with their vehicles and kill them just on suspicion" and that violence against civilians by the U.S. military is a "daily phenomenon."

Pentagon and other government officials are desperately trying to cover-up the extent of these atrocities and claim that they are only isolated incidents carried out in "the chaos and confusion of battle" or by a few "bad soldiers."

But the facts show that what happened in November in Haditha is not an isolated incident but part of the systematic policy followed by the U.S. military.

In Falluja, U.S. soldiers were videotaped shooting wounded Iraqis lying on the floor of a Mosque, while reporters recounted how refugees escaping from the city were shot down en masse. Torture, including murder, is systematically practiced against Iraqi prisoners on the basis of Donald Rumsfeld's view that the U.S. has the right to torture "terrorists." Neighborhoods and whole cities are systematically bombed. One year ago, Amnesty International reported on the "rape and sexual abuse of Iraqis" by U.S. soldiers. And the list goes on and on.

These bestial methods reflect the character of the war. U.S. imperialism is waging an aggressive war aimed at subjugating Iraq and therefore it considers the vast majority of the people to be enemies who must be terrorized and forced to submit.

All those responsible for the mass murders in Haditha as well as all the other atrocities committed against the Iraqi people must be held accountable and pay for their crimes. This includes both the individual soldiers involved as well as George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and the entire high command of U.S. imperialism.

ANTI-IMPERIALIST POLITICS

The Workers Party carries on continuous discussion to involve people in sorting out: "How to advance the anti-war struggle?"

For our part, we think that anti-imperialist politics is the key to developing the anti-war struggles into a proactive, independent movement aimed at winning a real and lasting peace.

Anti-imperialist politics shows the cause of the war program in the economic and strategic interests of the monopoly capitalist class. It shows the necessity to direct the struggle against the parties of war - the Republicans and Democrats.

Anti-imperialist politics links together the many currents of the anti-war struggle into one common struggle against the common enemy - U.S. imperialism.

Anti-imperialist politics creates a proactive movement which provides real solutions: the withdrawal of all U.S. troops stationed abroad, the end to U.S. participation in reactionary military alliances and an end to U.S. support for reactionary regimes, the end to U.S. intervention in all its forms, recognition of the sovereign equality of every country, and an end to the militarization of our country.

Anti-imperialist politics relies on the people - on their own consciousness, organizations and struggle - to win the peace. Anti-imperialist politics is continually reaching out to the broadest sections of people, especially those who find themselves excluded from contemporary politics. It empowers people by bringing them the facts and working to unfold political discussion on all the burning issues facing the movement.

Anti-imperialist politics is the means for maximizing the immediate struggle against the war in Iraq by bringing in the widest sections of peoples and relying on their determination and initiative. At the same time, anti-imperialist politics accumulates forces for fundamental solutions by always consolidating the consciousness and independent organizations of the people themselves.

For Your Information: PROVISIONS OF THE "COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM ACT OF 2006 (S 2611)"

On May 26, the Senate passed the "Comprehensive Immigration and Reform Act of 2006" (S 2611). While this bill is advertised as a "compromise" and even as "pro-immigrant," its key provisions call for militarizing the border and increasing repression against immigrants, declaring English the "official language," and moving close to a national ID card. In the name of offering an "earned" path to citizenship, the bill would legalize a caste system under which millions of immigrants would become indentured servants. It is not only an attack on immigrants but on the rights of the oppressed minorities and all Americans. Before becoming law, S 2611 must be "reconciled" with an earlier bill passed by the House of Representatives which in some respects is even harsher than the Senate bill.

Militarizing the Border

The provisions of S 2611 include:

- Authorizing the National Guard to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border;

- More than doubling the number of Border Patrol officers from 11,3000 to 25,000 by 2011;

- Building 370 miles of fence and 500 miles of vehicle barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border;

- Requiring the expedited removal (deportation without hearing) of noncitizens detained within 100 miles of the border;

Criminalizing Immigrants

The Senate bill increases penalties for various immigration violations and increases state and local policing:

- Expands the definition and criminalizes the omission of information or giving false information on immigration-related documents;

- Prevents anyone admitting to document fraud (including false use of a Social Security number to get a job) from ever legalizing their status;

- Expands the definition of "alien smuggling" and allows the government to seize the property of "smugglers." For example, any person who invited an undocumented relative into his/her house could have the house seized. Churches, charitable organizations and others that help refugees and other "illegal" immigrants could also be subject to penalties.

- Dramatically increases the role of state and local police in enforcing immigration laws.

English as the National Language

S 2611 declares English as the national language and insists that no one has "a right, entitlement or claim to have the government of the U.S. or any of its officials or representatives act, communicate, perform or provide services or provide materials in any language other than English."

S 2611 also increases the level of English proficiency required for naturalization.

Moves Towards a National ID

S 2611 would create a mandatory Employment Eligibility Verification System (EEVS) to electronically check the employment eligibility of every new job applicant (about 50 million/year).

In applying for jobs, immigrants would be required to present an "employment authorization document" issued by immigration authorities and U.S. citizens would have to use either a passport, or a driver's license or state ID that complies with the REAL ID act.

In sum, everyone would have to obtain a government-issued "permission slip" to work. The government would also create a huge database on every citizen and visa holder.

So-Called "Legalization" Provisions

To qualify for a "path" to legalization, noncitizens would have to pay at least $4,000 in fines and fees. In addition, applicants would have to pay all back taxes including interest and penalties. Anyone with even a minor police record would be disqualified.

- All immigrants "illegally" in the country for less than 2 years, would be subject to immediate deportation.

- Immigrants who have been here "illegally" between 2 to 5 years, would be allowed to work here for 3 more years and then would be required to leave.

- Immigrants in the U.S. "illegally" for more than 5 years would be allowed to "earn" citizenship. They would have to work continuously for 6 more years, pay fines, penalties and back taxes, pass a thorough background check, and prove proficiency in English and "civics. Then they would be allowed to apply for naturalization.

- A guest worker program would be expanded to allow 200,000 "low-skilled" workers to work in the U.S. for a maximum of 6 years.

WHO IS AN "AMERICAN?"

This article is reprinted from the May 22 Special Edition of "The Worker."

George Bush, in his May 15 speech on immigration, presented his views on what makes an "American." Bush said: "We must honor the great American tradition of the melting pot, which has made us one nation out of many peoples. The success of our country depends upon helping newcomers assimilate into our society, and embrace our common identity as Americans. Americans are bound together by our shared ideals, an appreciation of our history, respect for the flag we fly, and an ability to speak and write the English language."

Bush's definition of "American identity" exposes him as an advocate of racism and national oppression.

The U.S.A. is a country, defined by its geographical boundaries, within which many peoples and nationalities reside. Bush's claim that the "melting pot" makes us "one nation" is the open denial of the rights and equality - even the existence - of the Puerto Rican people, the Mexican people, the Native peoples and others. His insistence that the "American identity" is defined by the English language is a further attack and racist incitement against the minority peoples.

Bush's definition of "American identity" brands him as a fascist.

By declaring that a person must accept "shared ideals" to be considered an "American," Bush, in the manner of a feudalist or a Hitler, has set an ideological criteria for citizenship. One of the most elementary human rights is freedom of conscience - the right of every human to think for herself/himself and to espouse her/his own ideals. Everyone living within the boundaries of the U.S. is an "American" - with equal rights and equal responsibilities.

As for George Bush's "ideals," which include imperialist war, racism, and exploitation, he "shares" them with only a tiny percentage of the country - the capitalist exploiters and their supporters.

Bush's May 15 speech again shows how the capitalist politicians are inciting and using an anti-immigrant hysteria to attack all the American people. They are inciting racism and trying to increase the oppression imposed on the minority peoples. They are foisting fascist ideology on the country and demanding allegiance to their "ideals" of war, racism, exploitation and oppression.

No! George Bush has nothing to say about the real identity of the American people - this great family of nationalities. This identity is continually being created by the lives, convictions and struggles of the masses; it is being created in the struggle against the racism and fascism of George Bush and the capitalist government. It is being created in the struggle for the rights and emancipation of all.

WORDS OR DEEDS?

Many people are asking: "Why aren't more anti-war activities being organized?"

One of the reasons is that the opportunist political forces, which dominate the organizational apparatus of so many anti-war coalitions and organizations, are trying to channel the anti-war movement into electioneering for the Democratic Party.

According to opportunism, the 2006 elections represent a turning point - a chance to end the war and reverse the direction of government. All that needs to be done is for people to campaign for and elect the "anti-war" and "progressive" candidates.

The problem is: "just who are the anti-war candidates?"

The facts show that from day one, the Democratic Party has supported the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the entire so-called war on terrorism. On September 14, 2001, the Congress voted 420 to 1 to give George Bush full authority not only to attack Afghanistan but to wage a "war against terrorism" without limit and without end. The Congressional resolution ceded Bush the power "to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations or persons he [the President] determines planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons." So too, time after time, the Democrats have joined in practically unanimous votes to authorize the never-ending stream of funds for the aggressive wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Yet, again, last November even as the Democrats were widely advertising their "exit strategy," the House of Representatives voted 403 to 3 against the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. The list of the war deeds of the Democrats goes on and on.

Opportunism, of course, prefers to conveniently ignore these facts. But when confronted with them, opportunism replies that the Democrats are changing, that they "are responding to the movements of the people" and that there are "good" Democrats who are against the war.

The idea of "good Democrats and bad Democrats" is one of the oldest tricks in the politicians' playbook. As part of this routine, the "left-wing" of the Congressional Democrats have long organized themselves as a "progressive" caucus which issues pious and empty words for peace.

Here is how "The Nation" promotes this tactic: "The Progressive Caucus is not yet the defining force among Congressional Democrats. But it's the one group that makes the connection between members of Congress and the grassroots activists whose idealism and energy will be essential to progressive victories in next fall's elections." ("The Nation," 5/29/06). In other words, the "Progressive Caucus" helps to create illusions that even though the warmakers are the leaders and policy-makers of the party, someday the "good guys" may take control. Of course they never do, but the "Progressive Caucus" does help keep sections of the people under the tutelage of the Democrats.

Similarly, "left-wing" candidates run in the primaries as a way to keep voters in the fold. After the primaries are over, the "left-wing" candidates campaign for the same-old hacks.

Thus, the Progressive Democrats of America endorsed a host of so-called "anti-war" Democrats during the primaries claiming that the victory of these candidates would "save the soul" of the Democrats. For example, in the Illinois primary in the 6th Congressional district, the PDA and other opportunists advertised the campaign of Christine Cegelis as the decisive task for anti-war activists. When Cegelis lost, the PDA embraced the openly pro-war candidate, Duckworth. The PDA writes: "Now that a winner of the primary has emerged . . . the most progressive next step is to assure that the Congressional District turns Democratic. Cegelis, in an April 3rd article in the "Chicago Sun-Times" highlighted the importance of this aspect: 'I think the majority of the voters who voted for me want a Democratic majority in the House. A Democratic majority is important right now. The country is going in the wrong direction.'"

Here is an example of the opportunists' sleight-of-hand. First, they assert that there are "anti-war" Democrats. Then, even though these candidates lose, their illusionary "anti-war" stance somehow rubs off onto openly pro-war candidates. The so-called "good" Democrats are only stalking horses used to keep people under the tutelage of the admittedly "bad" Democrats.

But this is not all. Again, opportunism has ignored the facts about just what their so-called "anti-war" Democrats stand for. The fact is that the "left-wing" Democrats do not stand with the people in demanding the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. and foreign troops from Iraq. On the contrary, they advocate an "exit strategy" - that is, they call upon the Bush administration to begin discussing a plan to begin the phased withdrawal of U.S. troops, contingent upon progress in building up a puppet army in Iraq and defeating the resistance.

This is how the Democrats "respond" to the struggles of the people. They "respond" by spouting empty phrases in the hopes of diverting the people and buying time for U.S. imperialism to continue the war. This is not an "anti-war" but a pro-war stand. And it can be no other way. The very program of the Democratic Party is and always has been based on the interests of the U.S. monopoly capitalists; it is a program which openly embraces U.S. imperialist exploitation, domination and aggression in the Middle East and the world.

The method of opportunism is to de-politicize people by advertising the empty words of the Democrats to cover over their deeds - deeds which always prove that they are a party of war and imperialism.

GROWING REBELLION AGAINST U.S. OCCUPATION OF AFGHANISTAN

On May 29, thousands of Afghans in the capital of Kabul demonstrated against the U.S. occupation after a U.S. military truck convoy crashed into a dozen civilian cars, killing and wounding many people.

Demonstrators, shouting anti-occupation slogans, then pelted the military trucks with stones and attempted to march on the U.S. embassy compound in the capital. They were prevented from reaching the embassy by armed blockades of Afghan police officers and army soldiers. Other protestors gathered in front of government buildings in the commercial center of the city.

Throughout the day, gunfire was heard as hundreds of U.S. soldiers and police fought street battles with protestors. Eyewitness reports from the Associated Press (AP) state that U.S. soldiers fired repeatedly into groups of unarmed demonstrators. At least 20 Afghan civilians were killed and 100 more were wounded during the day, and for the first time in four years, the occupation government imposed a night-time curfew in the capital.

One eyewitness, as reported by the New York Times, stated "These Americans came to our country and they are doing this kind of thing in my country, and our government is also their servant and a puppet of the Americans...We are against America; all Afghans are against them." Another demonstrator said "The Americans came all the way from Bagram to Kabul and killed about 20 people along the way," he said, referring to the American Air Force base at Bagram. "That's why we started a demonstration and came here."

On May 23, in another atrocity, U.S. warplanes bombarded an Afghan village, killing scores of civilians. The "Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission" issued a statement saying villagers reported 20 to 25 civilians killed and 30 to 35 wounded, in the village of Tolokan, just 20 miles west of Kandahar. The village has been sealed off by foreign troops.

One villager, Attah Mohammad, 60, was quoted saying "Oh my God, they killed my kids. . . They took everyone from me." Wounded villagers being treated in Kandahar city hospital stated they knew of at least 16 civilians killed and many more wounded.

U.S. military operations throughout the country have killed scores of civilians in recent months. Since mid-May, nearly 400 people have died in fighting according to official military figures.

Since the beginning of the U.S. invasion in 2001, thousands of Afghan people have been killed, including an untold number of civilians. Numerous atrocities, such as the saturated bombing of civilian population centers, massacres at wedding ceremonies, market-center bombings, etc., have been repeatedly carried out by the U.S. military.

Currently, the United States has 23,000 troops in Afghanistan. The U.S. continues to expand its air bases around the country, where it is building new runways. In addition to U.S. troops, a NATO-led military force has more than 9,000 troops in the country, most of them stationed in Kabul. There are plans to expand the U.S. and NATO forces to the south where resistance is growing.

In the face of this aggression, Afghan resistance forces are expanding their ranks and include a broad front of Afghan political and religious groups opposed to U.S. occupation. They will not stop until U.S. troops leave the country.

MORE U.S. PRESSURE AGAINST IRAN

U.S. Seeking European "Anti-Missile" Base

In another step directed against Iran, the U.S. announced recently that it is seeking to build a missile base in Europe.

On May 22, the New York Times reported that the new Bush administration proposal calls for installing 10 "antimissile interceptors" by the year 2011 somewhere in Eastern Europe. The Czech Republic or Poland are under consideration as the most likely place. In early April, Pentagon and State Department officials visited Warsaw to carry out discussions on the project, and U.S. officials said the Polish government has been receptive.

In Congressional testimony and published reports, U.S. officials state the proposal is already receiving funds and research is underway. The Pentagon has asked Congress for $56 million to begin initial work on the "anti-missile" site, and the final cost, including the interceptors themselves, is estimated at $1.6 billion. The Pentagon is seeking $9.3 billion for its entire "missile defense" budget for the 2007 fiscal year. About $2.4 billion is to go for fielding new systems and maintaining existing ones while the remainder is for additional development and testing.

As with previous rhetoric from the Bush administration concerning its strategic "ballistic missile program," officials emphasize that the European base would be "defensive" in nature.

But these are clearly offensive weapons systems and a key component in Bush's program of further militarizing the world. Officials have even admitted that Iran does not have intercontinental-range missiles and many experts say it is a "long way from developing" even a multi-stage rocket. The missiles are designed as a first-strike weapon which can wipe out the strategic or short-range missiles of an adversary, thus destroying its deterrent force and leaving it defenseless. This greatly increases the threat and reality of a first-strike attack, including a nuclear attack, by the U.S.

By extending its "missile defense" network to Poland and the Czech Republic, the U.S. is not only further threatening but strengthening its military presence in Europe.

Economic Sanctions

The U.S. is pressuring Japan and European nations to impose economic sanctions against Iran.

According to U.S. officials, the sanctions are in response to Iran's efforts to develop nuclear technology and are "designed to curtail the financial freedom of every Iranian official, individual and entity."

The new plans would restrict the Tehran government's access to foreign currency and global markets, shut its overseas accounts and freeze assets held in Europe and Asia. Iranians who appear on a list being drawn up by U.S. officials would be prevented from opening accounts, trading on foreign markets or obtaining credit.

Four of the largest European banks have already started restricting activities in Iran during the past six months in response to the U.S. threats. One of these, UBS of Switzerland, says it will no longer do direct business with any individuals, businesses or banks in Iran. Also, last month, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a group of 30 leading countries, reduced Iran's rating as a "business risk."

U.S. KILLED CIVILIANS AS "POLICY" IN KOREAN WAR

A recently uncovered document reveals that U.S. official policy during the Korean war (1950-53) was to murder civilian refugees.

On May 30, the AP reported that the document - a letter from the U.S. ambassador to Seoul - stated that U.S. policy ordered soldiers to shoot at civilians approaching them.

"If refugees do appear from north of U.S. lines they will receive warning shots, and if they then persist in advancing they will be shot," wrote Ambassador John J. Muccio, in his message to Assistant Secretary of State Dean Rusk in 1950.

According to the letter, this decision was made at a high-level meeting in South Korea on July 25, 1950, the night before soldiers from the 7th U.S. Cavalry Regiment shot hundreds of refugees at No Gun Ri. Korean eyewitnesses to this massacre have stated that about 400, mostly women and children, were killed at the village 100 miles southeast of Seoul. Hundreds more refugees were killed in later, similar episodes, according to testimony by survivors.

Previous Pentagon "investigations" into the No Gun Ri massacre and similar incidents had claimed that the killings were not deliberate, but an "unfortunate tragedy" carried out by soldiers who acted without orders.

In a 1998 interview, the late Army Col. Robert M. Carroll, a lieutenant at No Gun Ri, said that he remembered the order radioed across the warfront on July 26 to stop refugees from crossing battle lines. "What do you do when you're told nobody comes through? We had to shoot them to hold them back." Many other soldier witnesses verified the radio orders to open fire at No Gun Ri.

Since then, research by the Associated Press uncovered nearly 20 other declassified U.S. military documents showing commanders ordered or authorized such killings in 1950-51.

In a statement issued on May 29, a No Gun Ri survivors group called that incident "a clear war crime," and demanded an apology and compensation from the U.S. government.

DPRK'S STAND ON SIX-PARTY TALKS

On June 1, the Korean Central News Service carried a statement by a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). This statement reads, in part:

The six-party talks for the solution to the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula have been deadlocked for the last more than six months....

The U.S. has escalated sanctions and pressure on the DPRK quite contrary to what it had committed itself in the joint statement, thus preventing the DPRK from returning to the talks....

We are fully ready to discuss the issues of bilateral relations, peaceful coexistence, the conclusion of a peace agreement, the provision of light water reactors and other points mentioned in the statement along with the issue of abandoning the nuclear program on the principle of "simultaneous action."

What remains to be done is for the U.S. to create conditions and climate whereby the DPRK may return to the talks and fulfill its commitment, free from any pressure.

The U.S. will never be able to find a way of solving the issue if it is so reluctant to sit with the party directly concerned with the issue, while expressing its intention to seek a negotiated settlement of such crucial issue as the nuclear issue.

If the U.S. has a true political intention to implement the joint statement we kindly invite once again the head of the U.S. side's delegation to the talks to visit Pyongyang and directly explain it to us....

It is absolutely unattainable for the U.S. to try to force the DPRK to dismantle its nuclear program first through financial supremacy and sanctions.

The U.S. escalated hostile policy and increasing pressure upon the DPRK would only compel it to take the strongest measures to protect its right to existence and sovereignty.

 

Volume 20, No. 11 May 22, 2006

LANGUAGE RIGHTS AND THE EQUALITY OF NATIONALITIES

On May 18, the Senate voted to direct the federal government to "preserve and enhance the role of English as the national language of the United States of America."

The Senate resolution further declares that no one has "a right, entitlement or claim to have the government of the United States or any of its officials or representatives act, communicate, perform or provide services or provide materials in any language other than English." The Senate also voted that immigrants seeking to qualify for citizenship must demonstrate English proficiency and understanding of American history and government.

The Senate resolution still does not have the force of law, but its provisions are widely supported in the House of Representatives, which could pass a similar resolution, and by George Bush. In his May 15 speech, Bush said that our "common identity as Americans" includes "an ability to speak and write the English language." Bush also insists on legislation to mandate that immigrants learn English.

The attempt of the Senate and Bush to impose English as the "national language" is a brutal attack not only on millions of immigrants but also on the oppressed minority nationalities in the U.S.

The fact is that English is not the only language in the U.S.

Historically people spoke Native American languages, as well as Spanish, long before English was heard on the territory which comprises the present-day U.S.

Through force of arms, the Anglo-dominated state grabbed the land of the indigenous peoples, of the Mexican people in the southwest, the Puerto Rican people, the Hawaiian people, etc. These peoples were deprived of their national independence and forced under the thumb of the capitalist state which, for centuries, has tried to erase the peoples' national identities by suppressing their languages, their cultures, and their human rights. Similarly, the capitalist state has tried to force immigrants to give up their national identities and languages.

But the Mexican, Puerto Rican, Native, Hawaiian and other peoples have continued to assert their national identity and rights, including their language rights. The fact that today many languages flourish in the U.S. is a testament to the vitality of the oppressed nationalities as well as the multi-national character of our country.

In sum: the U.S. is a country with many nationalities. To deny the language rights of non-English speaking peoples - to declare English as the "national language" - means legislating the superiority of one nationality and the oppression and degradation of other nationalities. It means denying the equality of peoples.

Every nationality has the equal, inalienable right to its language and culture. The government must guarantee the right of every person to fully participate in all the common affairs of society on the basis of their mother tongue.

WHO IS AN "AMERICAN?"

George Bush, in his May 15 speech on immigration, presented his views on what makes an "American." Bush said: "We must honor the great American tradition of the melting pot, which has made us one nation out of many peoples. The success of our country depends upon helping newcomers assimilate into our society, and embrace our common identity as Americans. Americans are bound together by our shared ideals, an appreciation of our history, respect for the flag we fly, and an ability to speak and write the English language."

Bush's definition of "American identity" exposes him as an advocate of racism and national oppression.

The United States of America is a country, defined by its geographical boundaries, within which many peoples and nationalities reside. Bush's claim that the "melting pot" makes us "one nation" is the open denial of the rights and equality - even the existence - of the Puerto Rican people, the Mexican people, the Native peoples and others. His insistence that the "American identity" is defined by the English language is a further attack and racist incitement against the minority peoples.

Bush's definition of "American identity" brands him as a fascist.

By declaring that a person must accept "shared ideals" to be considered an "American," Bush, in the manner of a feudalist or a Hitler, has set an ideological criteria for citizenship. One of the most elementary human rights is freedom of conscience - the right of every human to think for herself/himself and to espouse her/his own ideals. Everyone living within the boundaries of the U.S. is an "American" - with equal rights and equal responsibilities.

As for George Bush's "ideals," which include imperialist war, racism, and exploitation, he "shares" them with only a tiny percentage of the country - the capitalist exploiters and their supporters.

Bush's May 15 speech again shows how the capitalist politicians are inciting and using an anti-immigrant hysteria to attack all the American people. They are inciting racism and trying to increase the oppression imposed on the minority peoples. They are foisting fascist ideology on the country and demanding allegiance to their "ideals" of war, racism, exploitation and oppression.

No! George Bush has nothing to say about the real identity of the American people - this great family of nationalities. This identity is continually being created by the lives, convictions and struggles of the masses; it is being created in the struggle against the racism and fascism of George Bush and the capitalist government. It is being created in the struggle for the rights and emancipation of all.

MORE MILITARIZATION AND REPRESSION

The Bush administration is using the excuse of "fighting illegal immigration" to further militarize our country.

On May 15, Bush announced plans to deploy 6,000 National Guardsmen to assist the U.S. Border Patrol in surveillance, intelligence, training, etc.

In addition, Bush plans to increase the number of Border Patrol Agents by 6,000 or 50%, fence off part of the border with Mexico and spend billions of dollars installing high-tech surveillance including aerial and satellite surveillance, motion sensors, infrared cameras, etc.

Bush is also proposing that all foreign-born workers must carry a new biometric ID card as well as quicker procedures for the deportation of immigrants.

This militarization will not only create tensions between the U.S. and Mexico but also increase the repression and atmosphere of intimidation in our country. More men with arms will march on our roads and in our cities. More Mexican-Americans and other oppressed minorities, as well as immigrants, will be arbitrarily detained, harassed, etc. All foreign-born workers will be put under closer government scrutiny. More surveillance and secret dossiers will be complied by the government.

In short, Bush keeps marching on the road of fascism.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

President Bush plans to spend billions of our dollars to turn the Mexican border into a war zone, using paramilitary troops and high tech equipment. It's a horrible idea that Congress should quash immediately. Immigration is a result of social and economic forces that the U.S. has a major part in creating, such as poverty and joblessness in South America. The great wealth that undocumented workers create in the U.S. is unacknowledged, while the government illegally declares war on border communities in the U.S. and Mexico. Who can doubt that Chicanos and Mexicans, and other brown-skinned people, will be abused and killed by trigger-happy, privatized soldiers whose bosses care only for the money they make. The dismal record of privatized prisons shows what poor and working class people of color can expect.

Millions of immigrants and their supporters in the streets on May Day displayed a powerful force for change that can also help U.S. citizens who are feeling the contempt of our government for their jobs, wages, pensions, and freedom of speech. It's time that unions, women, the elderly, and all people of color join undocumented workers and stop the destruction of their rights and ours.

Sincerely,

Adrienne Weller, Seattle

 

Volume 20, No. 10 May 14, 2006

RESISTANCE IS THE ONLY SOLUTION

Last week, the public found out that for years the government has been collecting the phone records of tens of millions of Americans. With these records, the government can trace the personal, political, economic, and social networks and lives of practically anyone and everyone. In short, the government is compiling secret police dossiers on Americans.

George Bush defended the government's invasion of people's lives with his standard refrain of hunting for al-Qaida.

These revelations are only the latest. Over the last few years, the government has illegally wiretapped phones, searched people's library records, arbitrarily detained thousands of Americans simply for having Arab or Muslim backgrounds, suppressed political and charitable organizations, infiltrated and spied on anti-war organizations and demonstrations, systematically and continuously tortured people, etc., etc.

These fascist methods reveal the real character of the capitalist government. It is an arbitrary, dictatorial power unrestricted by any law and based on violence. The fascism of the government comes from its class character. The U.S. government is nothing but an organized power to carry through the aggressive, exploiting aims of the capitalist class. Today, as they carry on their program of wars abroad and robbery of the peoples at home, they are and will continue to strengthen their police state in order to try to suppress the growing resistance of the people.

This growing fascism reflects the weakness, not the strength, of the capitalist government which resorts to violence because it is completely unable to win the allegiance of the people.

Thus, we must face the growing fascism of the government by stepping up our resistance. Democracy and the rights of the people are only won and protected by the people themselves. Rather than allowing the government to intimidate or silence us, we must exercise our inalienable rights and step up our struggles against war, racism, poverty and repression. Our only reliable defense is in the strength of our own independent organization.

The aim of our struggle can only be to replace this dictatorship of the rich with a new government that arises from and empowers the people themselves.

MORE TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH

On Thursday, May 11, the Senate approved $70 billion in tax cuts primarily earmarked for the millionaires and billionaires. The House of Representatives has already passed these same cuts and Bush, who has made these cuts a top priority, will soon sign them into law.

The latest measure extends until 2010, Bush's earlier cuts in the capital gains tax and on corporate dividends. In addition, the new bill shields 15 million high-income individuals from an increase in the alternative minimum tax which was originally designed to insure that the rich pay at least a minimum in taxes.

These tax cuts will save $82,000/year for families with incomes over $1.6 million. "Middle" class families might save as much as $20/year.

These tax cuts are a companion to legislation passed earlier this year which slashed entitlement spending for low-income families by $39 million. The spending cuts included Medicaid assistance for low-income families, the elderly and the disabled.

Once again the government is playing Robin Hood in reverse; it is stealing for the poor to help the rich. The government cuts funds for vital social programs and denies people such elementary rights as the right to health care, while letting the rich parasitize off society without assuming any social responsibility.

THE VOICES OF IMMIGRANTS MUST BE HEARD!

The following is excerpted from an article by Nativo Lopez, President, Mexican-American Political Association and the Hermandad Nacional Mexicana, and David Bacon.

Yesterday [May 1] over a million people filled the streets of Los Angeles, with hundreds of thousand more in Chicago, New York, and cities and towns throughout this country. Immigrants feel their backs are against the wall, and are coming out of their homes and workplaces to show it.

In part, their protests respond to H.R.4437 - the Sensenbrenner bill - that proposes to eliminate all social space in which undocumented immigrants can work, survive, and provide for their families.

The protests do more than react to a particular Congressional agenda, however. They are the cumulative response to years of bashing and denigrating immigrants generally, and Mexican and Latinos in particular....

Unfortunately, however, these protests are also being used in Washington DC to justify compromises which betray the interests of immigrants and working people generally. Some more liberal Washington legislators, and their coterie of beltway lobbyists, even claim credit for the marches, or at least use them to justify their proposed compromises. But people have poured into the streets, not to support these proposals, but driven by fear of the harm they will do.

All of the various compromises offered in the Senate have repressive Sensenbrenner-type measures within them. The three-tier Hagel-Martinez legalization program, for instance, would produce a codified caste system, a sort of Bantu Apartheid that is un-American, and would rip our families apart. The Democratic Party's answer to the Sensenbrenner bill has been the McCain-Kennedy immigration proposal, which contains huge guest worker programs and increased workplace raids to punish the undocumented for the crime of working.

The huge number of immigrants and their supporters in the streets find these Senate compromises completely unacceptable. We will only get what we're ready to fight for, but people are ready and willing to fight for the whole enchilada. This is not the best that we can get, and we have nothing to lose.

Our greatest problem is that the Democratic Party is unwilling to stand and fight to oppose the repugnant idea of second-class status, in its haste to make a deal. National advocacy organizations claiming to represent immigrants are showing signs that they will accept these deals as well. At the same time, Washington legislators and lobbyists fear the growth of a new civil rights movement in the streets, because it rejects their compromises and makes demands that go beyond what they have defined as "politically possible."

People are willing to fight for more, and are making far-reaching demands. The immigration debate must be resolved by immigrants themselves and their voice must be paramount - not the voice of the politically well-connected....

The May first actions highlighted the economic importance of immigrant labor. Undocumented workers deserve legal status because of that labor - their inherent contribution to society. The value they create is never called illegal, and no one dreams of taking it away from the employers who profit from it Yet the people who produce that value are called exactly that - illegal. All workers create value through their labor, but immigrant workers is especially profitable, because they are so often denied many of the union-won benefits accorded to native-born workers....

The average undocumented worker has been in the US for five years. By that time, he or she has paid a high price for their lack of legal status, through low wages and lost benefits. The Senate compromises would have them pay even more - fines for legalization, as though they were criminals. These compromises would then have them wait over a decade to gain real legal status, not even considering the millions who would not qualify, and would then be deported.

Undocumented workers deserve immediate legal status, and have already paid for it.

On May 1st immigrant workers demonstrated their power in the national immigration debate. Their absence from workplaces, schools and stores sent a powerful message that they will not be shut out of this discussion, and that corporate-funded national organizations do not speak for them.

They are rescuing from anonymity the struggle for the 8-hour day, begun in Chicago over a century ago by the immigrants of yesteryear. They are recovering the traditions of all working people.

MILLIONS MAY LOSE MEDICAID COVERAGE

The Deficit Reduction Act, recently signed into law by George Bush, includes a provision which mandates that all Medicaid recipients must produce a passport, birth certificate or naturalization papers or be denied coverage.

As a result of this law, due to go into effect on July 1, 2006, it is estimated that as many as 5 million American citizens, including 3 million children will be arbitrarily cut off Medicaid. This law, passed as part of the anti-immigrant hysteria being drummed up by the government, is a graphic example of how the government's racism undermines the rights of everyone.

Fifty-five million people currently receive Medicaid and data from national surveys indicate that as many as 5 million enrollees do not have either a birth certificate or passport readily available. Under the new law, Medicaid assistance will be withheld until such documents are verified, meaning that people with emergency health care needs will be put in special jeopardy.

Others sections of people who may experience great difficulties in obtaining a birth certificate or passport include: homeless people, people suffering from senility or other mental illnesses, people in nursing homes or severely disabled people, those affected by disasters like Hurricane Katrina who have lost their records, and people born outside of hospitals (which includes a large number of elderly African Americans born under segregation and denied hospital admission).

IRAN CONDEMNS U.S. WAR THREATS

On May 1, Iran's ambassador to the U.N., Javad Zarif, sent a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan demanding that the U.N. condemn the U.S. government's recent and ongoing war threats against Iran, including its threat to use nuclear weapons.

The ambassador's letter denounced President Bush's refusal to rule out a U.S. nuclear strike on Iran and a similar follow-up statement by Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice as "illegal and insolent threats."

The letter said that the use of "false pretexts" by leading representatives of the U.S. government "to make public and illegal threats of resort to force against the Islamic Republic of Iran is continuing unabated in total contempt of international law and fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter."

Other excerpts from the letter, as quoted by the Associated Press, read as follows: "U.S. aggressive policy of contemplating the possible use of nuclear weapons also violates the nonproliferation treaty and other U.S. multilateral agreements."

"Such dangerous statements, particularly those of the United States president, widely considered in political and media circles as a tacit confirmation of the shocking news of the U.S. administration's possible contemplation of nuclear strikes against certain targets in Iran, defiantly articulate the United States policies and intentions on the resort to nuclear weapons."

"In view of the past illegal behavior of the United States, these assertions yet again constitute matters of extreme gravity that require an urgent, concerted and resolute response on the part of the United Nations and particularly the Security Council."

"It is indeed regrettable that the past failures of the United Nations in responding to these illegal and inexcusable threats have emboldened senior United States officials to go further and even consider the use of nuclear weapons as an `option on the table."

LATIN AMERICA'S TIME IS NOW

The following is excerpted from an article by Nidia Diaz, which appeared in Granma International, April 30, 2006.

On the first anniversary of the agreements to implement the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), signed by Cuba and Venezuela, a revolutionary triad has formed with the incorporation of Bolivia into this tool of integration, and the Bolivian president's proposal, moreover, of a People's Trade Agreement (TPC) as an alternative to the free trade agreements used by the U.S. government in its attempts to sink our people into greater exploitation and dependence.

In the documents that were signed by the leaders [of Cuba, Venezuela, and Bolivia - Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, and Evo Morales], which include a Joint Communiqu‚, positions are established on an integration process that, they agreed, must be "based on principles of mutual aid, solidarity and respect for self-determination" with the goal of "providing an appropriate response to raising up social justice, cultural diversity, equity and the right to development that the peoples deserve and demand."

With this step taken by Bolivia, the integrationist efforts taking place throughout the continent under new nationalist and popular governments are deepening, efforts that are already bearing fruit in the case of Cuba and Venezuela.

Fidel, Ch vez and Evo also agreed that only a new and genuine form of integration that goes in the opposite direction of the economic and political relations established by the Free Trade Area of the Americas and other free trade agreements can guarantee sustainable and sovereign development for our peoples. . . .

ALBA'S Figures

In 2001, trade between Cuba and Venezuela was $973 million. In 2005, that figure went up to $2.4 billion, representing growth of 255% in non-oil Venezuelan exports to Cuba compared to 2004. In 2001, Cuban medical cooperation did not yet exist in Venezuela. Today, 23,601 Cuban health professionals are lending their services, providing care for more than 17 million Venezuelans, with a historic record of 175 million medical consultations. Currently, 3,328 Venezuelans are studying General Comprehensive Medicine in Cuba, and 12,940 are doing so in Venezuela under the Comprehensive Community Program, under the guidance of 6,525 Cuban experts who are part of the Mission Barrio Adentro (Into the Barrio) Program.

As of April 28, under the Operation Miracle program, 220,571 vision restoration operations had been performed, with 188,389 of them on Venezuelans. In 2001, Operation Miracle did not yet exist; today, patients from 17 Latin America and Caribbean nations are benefiting, and others are joining in.

In 2001, there were more than one million illiterate people in Venezuela; today, that country is an Illiteracy-Free Territory. With Cuba's advisement and the "Yes, I Can!" teaching method, 1,482,543 people learned how to read and write, 76,369 of them from indigenous groups.

In 2001, Venezuela and Cuba began down the road of ALBA, and now Bolivia has joined, and others will join....

[In a speech given during the meetings in Cuba, Evo Morales] noted that only by rescuing their natural resources will the peoples be liberated, and in that sense, he referred to the call he made for a Constituent Assembly for the refoundation of Bolivia, a Bolivia that "must stop being a beggar, even though oligarchic sectors are attempting to put up resistance."

Moreover, the Bolivian president said that his country intends to nationalize not just its hydrocarbon resources, but all of its natural riches, to benefit the people.

"Our government will never abandon the struggle to return to the Bolivian people the resources that belong to them," he emphasized. In that sense, he stated that he has a mandate to guarantee a democratic and social revolution in Bolivia to do away with the neoliberal model and de-colonize the nation's riches. "I am sure that with the unity of the Bolivian people, we will defeat the exploiting oligarchy," he affirmed. . . .

Regarding the agreements that were signed, he said that only the ALBA can confront and defeat the FTAA, and it is the only way to overcome colonialism and neoliberalism.

Thanks to Operation Miracle, which is the fruit of ALBA, more than 7,000 Bolivians have had their vision restored, and many Cuban doctors are already lending their services in his country's provinces, he noted.

HEALTH CRISIS IN GAZA

Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip and international sanctions against the Palestinian Authority have left the Palestinian health care system on the verge of collapse.

Hospitals in the West Bank and Gaza have run out of medical supplies and drugs forcing the hospitals to cut back on life-saving medical treatments. In the Gaza strip the shortages have been severe.

For example, Gaza's main hospital, Al Shifa, has cut back on dialysis treatment for the 160 outpatients, including 24 children, from three times to twice a week. More cut backs are expected soon unless new medical supplies arrive. As a result of these cuts, four dialysis patients have already died over the past three weeks.

The situation is similar throughout the hospital. Drugs of all kinds, including drugs for chemotherapy, surgical drugs such as atropine, adrenaline, heparin and lidocaine, and even basic antibiotics are in short supply forcing cuts in treatment. Al Shifa's general director, Dr. Ibrahim al-Habbash, says the hospital can no longer provide chemotherapy for many forms of cancer.

This health care crisis is a direct result of the U.S.-Israeli siege of Palestine. Since the election of the new Palestinian government, Israel has illegally suspended the transfer of $55 million/month in tax revenues owned to the Palestinian Authority (PA). The U.S., Canada and other western powers have cut off aid to the PA.

In addition to the financial crisis facing the Palestinian health care system, Israel is preventing the shipment of medical supplies into Gaza. Since January 1, the Karni passage, the main supply route from Israel to Gaza, has been closed half of the time by the Israeli military. Shipments into the Gaza are down from 150/day to 23/day.

A recent report by Physicians for Human Rights/Israel, says that the "Lack of funding for this system will lead to the deaths of thousands of people in the short term and extensive morbidity in the long term."

 

Volume 20, No. 9 April 29, 2006

HIGHWAY ROBBERY!

The American people are being robbed at the gas pump.

With gas prices over $3/gallon, working families are spending hundreds of dollars every month just to get to work. These latest increases come while many of us are still trying to pay off our exorbitant heating bills from the winter.

And there is no relief in sight. Economists say prices will stay sky-high, at least through the summer. The politicians in Washington, D.C. are "talking tough" out of one side of their mouths while, from the other, claiming "there isn't much we can do about the problem."

The government and the oil companies are blaming these price increases on a "shortage of supply" and the fact that the price of oil on the "spot" market is over $70/barrel. But these are outright lies. Oil refineries get most of their supplies through either long-term contracts or from their own drilled oil. The price on the "spot market" has only a minor effect on the pump-price of gasoline. A recent study commissioned by the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, using official government data, showed that, out of the recent 60-cent increase in pump prices, at most 12 cents could be attributed to the higher price for crude oil in the spot market. As for a shortage of supply, the truth is that the big U.S. oil companies have long been working to cut U.S. refinery capacity. For example, a congressional investigation uncovered internal documents from several big oil companies outlining their successful strategy of forcing independent refineries out of business in order to close down capacity, create artificial shortages and jack up prices. The congressional report tells of an oil executive who "made clear that he would rather sell less gasoline and earn a higher margin on each gallon sold that sell more gasoline and earn a lower margin. Another employee of this firm raised concerns about oversupplying the market and thereby reducing higher market prices." ("Midwest Gasoline Price Investigation," of the Federal Trade Commission, March 2001).

Of course, the real problem is price-gouging by the big oil capitalists. In 1999, the average profit per gallon of gasoline was 22.8 cents; in 2004, profit/gallon rose to 40.8 cents and last year it reached 99 cents/gallon. (See testimony of Tyson Slocum of Public Citizen before Senate Committee, February 2006). Between 2001-2005, the top five oil companies in the U.S. grabbed nearly $280 billion in profits. (See Slocum). For the first quarter of this year, the companies are already announcing new records for profits - ExxonMobil: $8.4 billion; Chevron: $4 billion; ConocoPhillips: $3.3 billion.

The root problem is that a handful of giant companies dominate all facets of the oil and gas industry - exploration, production, refining, transportation, retail sales, etc. For example, just 10 companies (including ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, ConocoPhillips, BP/Amoco and Shell) control 83% of our country's refinery capacity. These giant capitalists use their monopoly position to extort ever-higher prices out of the American people.

The American people will continue to pay ransom for such necessities as heat and transportation until we challenge and restrict the power of the monopolies.

Oil and gas are natural resources which, by right, belong to the people of our country. The oil and gas industries have been created through public investment and the collective labor of the country. These resources must be put in service of the people.

As a first step, the availability and cost of such necessities as gas and heating oil cannot be left to the arbitrary ups and downs of the market or the price-gouging of the capitalist monopolies.

The government must take control over oil and gas pricing and distribution, regulating production in order to guarantee the availability of these commodities at the lowest possible price.

To fundamentally solve the problem, the oil and gas industries must taken out of the hands of the capitalists and returned to the public. These industries must be run on the basis of meeting the needs of the people and protecting the environment, not as a means of maximizing profits for the capitalists.

HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS PROTEST WAR

On April 29, 200,000-300,000 people filled the streets of New York City to demand the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Other protest actions were organized throughout the week in cities and towns across the U.S.

In addition to demanding an end to the Iraq war, people denounced U.S. war threats against Iran and spoke out against the entire so-called "war on terrorism."

STOP THE ATTACKS ON THE IMMIGRANT RIGHTS MOVEMENT

While millions of Americans are taking to the streets to demand full rights for immigrants, the government's response is to increase repression.

On April 19, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) carried out a coordinated raid in 26 states to detain nearly 1,200 immigrants working for the IFCO Systems corporation. Already hundreds of the detained workers have been deported and the DHS is preparing to deport the rest. These workers have lost their livelihoods, been separated from their families, and forcibly exiled from the country to which they have contributed years of labor. Their lives have been ripped apart.

Michael Chertoff, head of the DHS, said there will be more raids in the future. The DHS is also hiring hundreds of more agents to search for and deport "undocumented" workers.

In addition, many employers have been firing or disciplining workers who participated in recent demonstrations to defend immigrant rights. So too, school authorities in many cities are punishing high school students who joined in these actions.

This repression, which is directed both against immigrants and anyone who stands up for their rights, cannot be allowed to pass. Everyone has the right to a livelihood and to live free of arrest and deportation. Everyone has the right to join in public activity to defend the rights of the people.

Stop the Raids and Deportations!

Stop the Repression Against the Immigrant Rights Movement!

U.S. MILITARY EXERCISES IN THE CARIBBEAN

Thousands of U.S. troops and a combat group of aircraft carriers and battleships, including nuclear submarines, are carrying out military exercises in the Caribbean. These maneuvers began on April 14 and will continue throughout May. More than 6,500 U.S. troops are deployed and, in the course of the exercises, U.S. military vessels will dock at ports in Honduras, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, Curacao and St. Kitts and Nevis.

The exercises are part of the growing militarization of Latin America and the Caribbean by U.S. imperialism and, in particular, a threat and provocation against the governments of Venezuela and Cuba.

 

Volume 20, No. 8 April 18, 2006

MILLIONS DEMAND FULL RIGHTS FOR IMMIGRANTS

A massive movement demanding full rights for immigrants is developing all across the country.

On April 9 and 10, hundreds of thousands of Americans from more than 120 cities, joined in actions to oppose new anti-immigrant legislation being prepared by Congress. A similar wave of mass demonstrations were organized last month.

On April 9, 500,000 people rallied in Dallas and tens of thousands more demonstrated in San Diego, Miami, Birmingham, Boise, Salem and other cities. Even more actions were organized on April 10, as part of a "National Day of Action for Immigrant Justice;" 180,000 rallied in Washington, D.C., 80,000 in Atlanta, 100,000 in Phoenix, 75,000 in Fort Myers, 50,000 in Houston, and scores of other cities.

People from all walks of life and dozens of nationalities - including Mexicans, Salvadorans, Haitians, Senegalise, Koreans, Chinese, Irish, people from many Arab countries and many more - joined in the actions. Workers were in the forefront along with students, teachers, clergy, and others. The flags of many nations waved in the crowds and slogans in defense of immigrant rights were shouted in many languages.

The immediate aim of the movement is to mobilize against various anti-immigrant bills working their way through Congress.

Already the House of Representatives has passed the "Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act." The bill is presently being considered by the Senate.

The bill would:

- make it a federal felony to live illegally in the country, even in cases of minor technical or procedural violations.

- make it a crime, punishable by 5 years in jail, for family members, social workers, lawyers, clergy or anyone to help undocumented immigrants in any way.

- build a 700 mile wall along the Mexico-U.S. border.

- dramatically increase federal policing against immigrants and require border patrol officers to deport - without even an administrative hearing - anyone within 100 miles of the border who an agent "thinks" is an undocumented immigrant present in the country less than 14 days.

- require every citizen and legal resident to obtain federal permission to work and require all businesses to participate in an employment eligibility verification program.

This outrageous bill would, overnight, turn 10-12 million undocumented workers and their families, friends and co-workers into criminals. It would further militarize our country and impose an effective national ID system on all Americans.

The "Border Protection, Antiterrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act" is inspired by and promotes anti-immigrant racism. The authors and proponents of the law present the question of immigration as one of "national security" and "opposing terrorism."

For example, Congressman Tancredo, a cosponsor of the bill, tries to create hysteria by writing: "the smuggling of drugs, weapons and violent criminals is a common practice across both of our borders. . . . a number of the aforementioned OTM's (immigrants from countries other than Mexico) have come from "Countries of Interest" such as Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Yemen - countries with heavy pockets of radical Islam."

Congressman Poe, another supporter, calls for "securing the border" in order to "tighten the noose of the perpetrators of senseless violence and terror who harm our citizens." Poe further writes "precious American dollars are being hijacked on unreimbursed medical care and education for illegal aliens, who, in the darkness of the night, manage to come across our borders. Have Texas, and other border States merely become free HMOs for illegals . . .?"

The unrestrained racism of such gentlemen is seen in their response to the massive demonstrations against their proposed law. Congressman Tancredo cursed the demonstrators as "hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens in the streets, waving foreign flags, and demanding, basically that they be allowed to continue to break our laws." Similarly, Brit Hume, anchor on Fox News, described the protestors, especially those carrying Mexican flags, as "a repellant spectacle." Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review, called the marchers "ominous" in "their hint of a large, unassimilated population existing outside America's laws and exhibiting absolutely no sheepishness about it."

In short the ideology of these politicians is racism and their program is to hunt, capture and deport immigrants.

A different grouping of capitalist politicians present themselves as "pro-immigrant" and have proposed an "alternative" to the "Border Control Act." These politicians openly proclaim that their policies are driven by the need of the capitalists to maintain, today and in the future, a large pool of cheap, immigrant labor. They are proposing legislation which would create: 1) a "temporary worker" status for some currently undocumented immigrants and 2) a "guest worker" program which would allow capitalists to import 300,000-400,000 low-skill, temporary foreign workers every year. The essence of these proposals is not "pro-immigrant" but rather using the plight of undocumented and immigrant workers to force them into conditions of virtual indentured servitude.

Temporary work visas would be granted to those undocumented workers who have lived in the country for more than 5 years, have "clean backgrounds," who can prove a continuous work record, and pay thousands of dollars in fines and back taxes. If granted temporary worker status, these immigrants would have to work for 11 years before being considered for citizenship. Prolonged periods of unemployment or even minor offenses would result in deportation.

At the same time, the politicians who are pushing for "guest workers" and "temporary workers" want to beef up security and enforcement just as much or more as those who call for hunting, capturing and deporting immigrants. The temporary and guest worker bills include a national ID system, with a biometric ID card, as well increased money and manpower for immigration and border enforcement.

On the surface, it appears that there are two opposing trends within the capitalist class - one which wants to close the borders and severely limit immigration and one which wants to increase immigration. These trends have argued and debated for decades.

In practice, however, these "opposing trends" produce a situation which is most advantageous to the capitalist class. New waves of immigrants continually come (and are recruited) to the U.S. but on arrival they are branded as "illegal" or "temporary" so that they can be superexploited by the capitalists and denied their basic human rights.

To begin with, the government has created a complex system of exclusionist immigration law. This includes country or regional quotas on the number of legal immigrants and a system of preferences which discriminates against poor and less educated immigrants (Foreign capitalists, on the other hand, can legally buy citizenship by "investing" enough money in the U.S.).

Yet the needs of the U.S. capitalists for cheap labor have always exceeded the legal quotas set by immigration law. Thus the capitalists have always recruited and relied on a large pool of "undocumented" workers. Today there are 10-12 million "undocumented" workers in the U.S. They are paid the lowest possible wages and forced into the dirtiest, hardest jobs. Under constant threat of detention and deportation, undocumented workers are often denied vital public services, including even health care and schooling, They are prevented from exercising such elementary rights as the right to unionize, to speak out, etc. Every year, millions are deported - forcibly separated from the homes, their jobs, their families, etc.

One step "above" the caste of undocumented workers, the capitalists have created a caste of guest workers who are given short-term work permits which allow (and require) them to work for the capitalists for a specified period of time at fixed wages and working conditions. When these temporary permits expire, these workers must return to their home countries. The current proposals call for a big expansion of this guest worker program.

Even at the "top rung" of the immigrant ladder, workers are deprived of basic rights. Immigrants must register and report to the government. During the hysteria after September 2001, many immigrants were forced to undergo special reporting procedures. Immigrants are denied the right to vote, restricted in their right to participate in political activities as well as to travel abroad, etc. At all times, immigrants remain under the threat of deportation and repression. This was sharply brought home after September 2001, when thousands of immigrants were arrested, hundreds deported, tens of thousands harassed for no reason except that they were immigrants. Even after fulfilling the 5-year residency requirement, most immigrants are arbitrarily forced to wait for indefinite periods of time before becoming citizens.

This exploitation and oppression of immigrants has been a way of life for the U.S. capitalists from the beginning when they brought the African peoples here as slaves and many Europeans as indentured servants. Over the decades, the capitalists continually brought new waves of immigrants here to meet their need for cheap labor and to hold down the wage demands and rights of the American working class and people.

With the rise of U.S. imperialism in the 20th century, the superexploitation of immigrant labor in the U.S. became a corollary of U.S. colonial oppression of other nations. U.S. imperialism plundered the economies of Latin America and other countries, depriving millions of workers in these countries of any means of a livelihood. In turn, these workers were forced by economic necessity, and encouraged by ruthless U.S. capitalists, to migrate here. Once here, the immigrants again faced the merciless exploitation of U.S. capitalism which deliberately keeps immigrants in an illegal status, denied the most basic rights except, of course, the "right" to be superexploited by the capitalists who stole their homes in the first place.

Today, U.S. imperialism's program of so-called "neo-liberal" economics - its drive to completely take over the economies of Latin America and other countries - is only accelerating the economic migrations to the U.S. For example, since the passage of NAFTA, "illegal" immigration from Mexico to the U.S. has nearly doubled (from 250,000/year to 460,000/year). The capitalists have no intention of giving up either their stranglehold over the Mexican economy or their ability to superexploit the Mexican workers. They will continue to hold illegality and the threat of deportation over undocumented workers as well as expand a legal category of "temporary and/or guest workers" who have no more rights than indentured servants.

In opposition to the chauvinism and exploiting aims of the capitalists, the American working class and people have always fought for equal rights for immigrants and all human beings.

The ongoing demonstrations in support of immigrant rights are part of the long tradition of the American people. We have always considered this a land of refuge for all the working and oppressed peoples just as we have continuously struggled to create a society in which equal rights are guaranteed for all. Nothing less than this can fulfill the aspirations and demands of the movement to defend the rights of immigrants.

UTOPIAN OR REALISTIC

by Bill Foster

Recently a young friend told me how she gets quite angry when people try to write off her struggle for social change - for socialism and communism - by saying: "those are nice ideas, but they're utopian."

The same thing has happened to me and it makes me angry too. In fact, I imagine that most people, especially young people, who stand up for positive social change have had the experience of being shunted aside as "utopian" and told that they will see things more "realistically" when they "mature."

It is worthwhile to note the logic of these "realistic and mature anti-utopians." On the one hand, they pretend to agree with the criticism of the status quo - to agree with my friend when she condemns the wars, the racism, the exploitation of the capitalist system. They even agree that eliminating these things would be good. But they insist that things can never be set right, that human beings can never make their society better. They are telling my friend, myself and countless others that we are wasting our time and should just give up. Their "realism" and "maturity" means bowing their heads and accepting their oppression.

It's a good thing that our fathers and mothers (in fact, all the generations who came before us) never accepted this "logic." Slaves were told that it was "utopian" to think that slavery could be overthrown. The peoples enslaved by colonialism were told that it was "utopian" to think they could be free and rule themselves. The workers were told that it was "utopian" to think that they could ban together, organize unions and improve their conditions.

So too, Karl Marx and Frederich Engels, the founders of modern communism, were called "utopian" and "unrealistic." But within a short period of time the program of socialism and communism has spread all over the world. In the Paris Commune in 1871, in the Soviet Union from 1917 until the mid-1950's and in other countries, socialism proved that it is a very real system and infinitely superior to capitalism.

In every country of the world, all the positive advances of the last 100 years and more have come along the path of socialism. In the United States, such reforms as Social Security or universal public education were created by the struggles of the working people and constituted inroads against capitalism, steps in the direction of socialism.

Today from every pore of our society, the need for and the reality of socialism and communism is growing. Isn't there an urgent need to guarantee everyone the right to health care? Isn't there an urgent need to break the political dictatorship of the rich? Isn't there an urgent demand to stop the wars? Don't all these demands reflect the collective needs - the common social reality - of the vast majority? Aren't the people more and more coming out to fight for this program?

Our "mature, realistic anti-utopians" may continue to ignore these facts. But I, for one, can never deny the real aspirations of my heart or the real activity and struggles of my friend and the thousands and millions like her who are struggling to change the world and who will change it.

For Your Reference: U.S. THREATS AND PRESSURE AGAINST IRAN

Replaying the "Weapons of Mass Destruction" Farce

In what seems like a replay of the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the government is trying to create a new hysteria about Iran carrying on a "secret nuclear weapons program."

Since December 2002, the U.S. government has repeatedly asserted that Iran is building nuclear weapons. Over the last 3 years, the International Atomic Energy Agency, under pressure from the U.S. and its allies, has carried out continuous inspections into Iran's nuclear program. The IAEA inspectors have consistently reported "there is no evidence [that Iran's activities] are related to a nuclear weapons program."

In fact, Iran has voluntarily submitted to extra inspections and protocols far beyond those required by the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty. Still the IAEA reports no evidence of nuclear weapons production.

But the U.S. government is not satisfied and will never be satisfied. Every school child has heard the rule: "innocent until proven guilty" but the U.S. government turns this rule upsidedown. According to U.S. imperialism, anyone it doesn't like is "guilty until proven innocent." In fact it is impossible for Iran to prove its "innocence" because the U.S. keeps insisting that the weapons, which no one has ever seen, are hidden where they can't be found. And since Iran is guilty, it can be threatened, bullied, inspected, cursed and even invaded.

The U.S. and its allies keep escalating their demands. The U.S. has declared that Iran cannot be allowed to carry forward its uranium enrichment and research projects and that Iran must give international inspectors free license to intrude and spy anywhere on Iranian soil.

A fundamental cornerstone of the NonProliferation Treaty is that every country has the right to pursue the peaceful development of nuclear energy, including uranium enrichment. But the U.S. government has announced that "Iran can't be trusted" and because it has been judged and condemned by the emperors of Washington, D.C., Iran is no longer entitled to the same rights as those nations blessed by the U.S. U.S. imperialism is again flaunting international law and declaring itself the judge, jury and executioner of the peoples. It is declaring that it alone can decide which countries are sovereign and entitled to develop nuclear energy and which aren't.

The struggle of the Iranian government to defend its sovereign rights in the face of U.S. pressure is a just struggle which contributes to the defence of peace, international law and the rights of nations.

In sum, this is the "logic" of U.S. imperialism: it declares, without any facts and in spite of the facts, that Iran is guilty. Next the U.S. declares that because it has said that Iran is guilty, Iran must be denied its sovereign rights. Yet more, because Iran disobeys the U.S., it must be subjected to international sanctions and even invasion.

The whole hysteria about Iran's nuclear weapons program, like Iraq's phantom "weapons of mass destruction," is nothing but a Big Lie smokescreen to hide U.S. pressure and justify possible U.S. aggression against Iran.

U.S. Military Threats

In the most recently updated National Security Strategy, published in March 2006, the U.S. government zeroes in on Iran as the number one "danger" to the U.S. and the number one target of its military plans. At least since 2002, the National Security Strategy has included plans for nuclear strikes against Iran. (This is a blatant violation of the NonProliferation Treaty which forbids the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons countries such as Iran).

Bush, Cheney and other leading figures in the administration as well as the Democratic Party leadership have repeatedly threatened military action against Iran.

For example, on February 22, 2005, while in Brussels, Bush said: "This notion that the U.S. is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. (Short pause) and having said that, all options are on the table. (Laughter)." (quoted from White House website).

Similarly, Cheney, in an interview with MSNBC in January 2005, was asked about the possibilities of Israeli military strikes against Iran. He said: "Given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide to act first." Cheney noted that in this respect Israel would "be doing the bombing for us."

As for the Democrats they have been side-by-side with the Republicans in stirring up a war hysteria against Iran. On January 20, the Democratic Leadership Council (the leading policy-making body in the party) wrote: "Should Iran persist in its intransigence, the [UN Security] Council would then have no choice but to impose economic and diplomatic sanctions. It is essential that the major powers dramatically raise the costs to Tehran of pursing the capability to produce nuclear weapons. If that fails, we will have to seriously contemplate the use of military force."

Such leading Democrats as Joseph Biden, Hilary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, etc. have echoed this statement. For example, on January 22, on CBS' Face the Nation Lieberman said: "We are capable, if necessary, of continuing to pursue our aims militarily in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere and, if necessary, conduct a military attack on Iran."

Lieberman said that while the military option remains a last resort for the U.S., "I want the people who lead Iran to understand that it is on the table. We deem their pursuit of nuclear weapons to be dead serious."

Active War Preparations

According to Newsweek writer, Seymour Hersh, the U.S. military has actively deployed reconnaissance planes and commando units inside Iranian air space and on Iranian territory since 2004. Their specific purpose is to locate military targets as part of U.S. preparations for war.

In 2005, Vice-President Cheney ordered USSTRATCOM to draft a "contingency plan" which "includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons." (quoted from Philip Giraldi - former CIA official - in Attack on Iran: Pre-emptive Nuclear war, The American Conservative, August 2, 2005.)

Since January of this year, the U.S. government has dramatically stepped up its war propaganda.

Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, etc. have repeatedly threatened Iran with international sanctions and reminded Iran, in the words of Rumsfeld, that "All options - including the military one - are on the table."

European news sources have reported on urgent U.S. preparations for attacks against Iran. Several reports say that CIA Director Porter Goss visited Turkey to ask that government to provide support for airstrikes against Iranian nuclear and military facilities and to provide intelligence for the U.S. Other reports indicate that European allies of the U.S., as well as the governments in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman and Pakistan have been informed of U.S. plans for military attacks.

These plans allegedly call for massive aerial bombardment, on par with the "shock and awe" campaign launched in 2003 against Iraq. The use of tactical nuclear weapons has not been ruled out.

In April of this year, a number of articles in the monopoly-controlled media in both the U.S. and Britain reported on the Pentagon's war plans, including "the use of bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as B61-11, against underground nuclear sites." (Seymour Hersh in the "New Yorker," April 17, 2006).

Economic Sanctions

U.S. imperialism's pressure against Iran began in the late 1970's when the Iranian revolution overthrew the regime of the Shah of Iran, the strong ally of the U.S. Amongst other things the U.S. government has imposed a series of brutal economic sanctions against the country.

- In November 1979. President Carter issued Proclamation 4702, imposing a ban on the importation into the U.S. of Iranian oil and shortly thereafter froze all property within U.S. jurisdiction owned by the Central Bank and Government of Iran. Further executive orders embargoed exports and imports between the 2 countries and barred U.S. citizens from traveling to the country. After the resolution of the "hostage incident" most of these sanctions were revoked, with the exception of the order blocking Iranian Government property within U.S. jurisdiction.

- In January 1984, the Reagan Administration declared Iran "a sponsor of international terrorism." This made Iran ineligible for various forms of U.S. foreign assistance. The U.S. government worked to bar international loans and assistance to Iran. In August 1986, under the Arms Export Control Act, Iran was prohibited from receiving US arms (including spare parts).

Reagan also imposed a ban on all imports from Iran, including crude oil.

- In October 1992, during the Bush administration, the Iran-Iraq Arms Non-Proliferation Act barred Iran from receiving any "dual use" items - goods used for civilian purposes but which could have a military application. The administration cited the threat of Iran building "weapons of mass destruction."

- In March 1995, President Clinton issued Executive Order 12957, banning U.S. contributions to the development of petroleum resources in Iran. Two months later another Executive Order expanded the sanctions to include a complete ban on trade and investment with Iran. Clinton claimed that Iran was building "weapons of mass destruction" and was a "supporter of international terrorism."

In 1996, the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act empowered the President to impose various sanctions against non-U.S. companies which invest more than $40 million in any one year period in Iran's oil industry.

STANDARDIZED TESTS CUT INTO INSTRUCTIONAL TIME

All across the country, schools are slashing instructional time in science, social studies, music, art and other subjects. The excuse is that in order to bring up scores in standardized tests, as mandated by the "No Child Left Behind" law, teachers must focus almost exclusively on reading and math.

According to a recent survey conducted by the Center on Education Policy (CEP), 71% of the country's 15,000 school districts have cut back on instructional time in various subjects. The CEP reports that one-third of the school districts have cut back on social studies, including history, "somewhat or to a great extent;" 29% have cut science courses and 22% have cut music and art instruction.

In many school districts, students who fail to perform well on standardized tests are barred from taking various subjects. For example, in one Sacramento high school, nearly 20% of the students spend five of their six class periods on math, reading and gym, with only one class period left for any other subjects. In Bayonne, New Jersey, 9th graders with low standardized test scores are barred from taking any elective courses.

These curriculum cutbacks are another indication of how the government's emphasis on high-stakes standardized tests is undermining the education of the children and youth. Not only are students' futures increasingly dependent on their scores on arbitrary tests, but school curriculum, instruction time - even teachers' salaries - are more and more based on "teaching to the test." "Teaching to the test" is becoming the aim of schools rather than enlightenment and giving the youth an all-sided, modern education.

ECUADORIANS STRUGGLE AGAINST FTAA

Over the last month, the Ecuadorian people have been unfolding a massive nationwide movement. In the forefront of the people's demands are opposition to the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas and an end to the government's contract with Occidental Petroleum, a U.S. oil company.

The movement was initiated by the indigenous peoples on March 13 in response to the intense pressure being exerted by the U.S. government which is demanding that the Ecuadorian government, headed by Alfredo Palacios, sign the FTAA.

The Ecuadorian Confederation of Indigenous Nations (CONAIE) has consistently exposed the FTAA as part of the imperialist strategy of the U.S. to gain trade advantages and annex the economies of Latin American countries. CONAIE writes: "The signing of the FTAA would mean the destruction of the country's agricultural production, which is the base of our economic sustenance and Ecuadorian food security and sovereignty, currently threatened by the introduction of subsidized and transgenic products. Another threat is the privatization of water located in the highlands and in the indigenous constituencies of the Amazon. Oxygen is to be privatized with the buying and selling of "environmental services."

In addition to the indigenous peoples, who make up a majority of the Ecuadorian population, the trade unions, the high school and university students and others have joined in the anti-FTAA struggle. On a daily basis, the people are organizing marches, demonstrations, road blockades, strikes, etc.

CONAIE and other organizations are also demanding the convocation of a Constituent Assembly to carry out a thoroughgoing democratization of the country.

The regime of Alfredo Palacios, under direct threat from the U.S. which has its troops deployed in the Manta military base in Ecuador, has arrested protestors, suppressed various actions and is threatening further repression.

Writing about the current situation, the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador writes:

"We are currently going through a critical period in the country's life, in which the main actors are the peoples of Ecuador. They have chosen to come massively into the streets as their way to express themselves politically. Work stoppages took place in various regions fighting for specific immediate demands, along with the mobilizations that the indigenous movement carried out specially in the central and north areas of the mountains to show their rejection to the Free Trade Agreement and demanding an end to the contract that the Ecuadorian government maintains with OXY (Occidental Petroleum)."

"The popular movement against the FTAA and the OXY is gaining strength, it is not only the indigenous movement that is putting forward these demands. The high school and university students had developed combative movements, with the very same demands, during the first two weeks of January; the strike started March 8 by the workers included those same demands as well. As the struggle spreads the repression does too. The Secretary of Defence, Osvaldo Jarr¡n, went on national TV to threaten the protesters and his men had viciously attacked people in the cities of Napo, Sucumb¡os and other protests that took place recently."

Commenting on the statements of the Armed Forces in support of the Palacios regime, the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador says: "The statement issued by the Armed Forces is only the echo of the desires and orders of the U.S. embassy, that wants Ecuador to quickly sign the Free Trade Agreement, and quickly means that it wants it signed by the current Ecuadorian administration. This is also the aim of the Ecuadorian oligarchy, showing thus its anti-popular and submissive nature, that is calling for the approval of the FTAA."

U.S. BUILDING MORE NUKES

On April 6, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Bush administration has unveiled new plans for modernizing and rebuilding its nuclear weapons stockpile.

According to the "new blueprint" released on April 5, "The plan calls for the most sweeping realignment and modernization of the nation's massive system of laboratories and factories for nuclear bombs since the end of the Cold War."

The Bush administration wants the capability to turn out 125 new nuclear bombs per year by 2022, according to the article.

In testimony to Congress, officials stated that the proposal would restore the capacity to make new bombs and "make existing weapons more reliable." The article also says "the administration is moving quickly ahead with a new nuclear bomb program known as the "reliable replacement warhead," which began last year.

The new plans call for a modern complex to design a new nuclear bomb and have it ready in less than four years.

FROM THE DRAFT PROGRAM OF THE WORKING CLASS

The working class, deprived of all private property in the means of production and representing the advanced, socialized productive forces of society, cannot create conditions for its emancipation except by abolishing the system of exploitation of human beings. Thus the program of the working class is for socialism. The socialist economic system, based on the social ownership of the means of production, will insure the uninterrupted development of the productive forces based on a conscious plan which places the well-being of the people at the center.

In order to carry out the socialist transformation of society, the working class and broad masses of people must win the battle for democracy. The current state, which represents the class power of monopoly capital, must be replaced by a new political power which arises from and is wielded by the working class and broad masses of people themselves.

The immediate program of the working class aims at opening the path for the progress of society and creating conditions for the realization of the strategic program.

The immediate program of the working class includes:

Guarantying the Economic and Other Inviolable Rights of the People

Every human being has certain inviolable rights simply by dint of being human, and it is the elementary responsibility of society to provide guarantees for these rights. They include the right to a secure job or livelihood at the highest possible standard commensurate with the level of development of society, the right to comprehensive and free medical care, the right to secure pensions and for retired workers to live in dignity, the right to free and equal education at all levels (including child care and university education), the right to housing, shelter and food.

In addition to these rights which belong to everyone simply by virtue of being human, the workers, women, the youth, senior citizens, and the members of various nationalities all have rights which arise from their position in the society. The people have the right to work and live in a safe and healthy environment. All these rights also must by recognized and guaranteed.

One immediate step in terms of guarantying these rights is for the government to stop bankrupting the public treasury and dislocating the country's economy in order to guarantee privileges for the big capitalists. Instead, the government must make the needed investments in such vital programs as education, health care and so forth.

Democratic Renewal

The working class strives for the democratic renewal of the political process and political system so that the decision-making power is placed in the hands of the people.

The program of democratic renewal demands the abolition of any and all political privileges and the creation of mechanisms which guarantee the masses of the people the right to participate fully and directly in the political process and in governance.

Political parties must be denied the privilege to nominate and select candidates for office and this right must be returned to the people.

The electorate must also retain the right to recall elected officials at any time.

Further, the chasm between the legislative and executive branches of government must be overcome and the arbitrary power of the executive branch must be broken. The entire operation of government must remain under the direct supervision of the people. Any power not expressly delegated by the people to the government remains with the people themselves....

The program of democratic renewal recognizes the right to self-determination, up to and including the right to secession, for the Native peoples, the people of Puerto Rico and other oppressed nations.

The program of democratic renewal demands equality - equal rights and duties - for all regardless of race, national origin, sex, etc. This includes the right for all nationalities to develop their own culture, language, etc. Most importantly, equality means that everyone has the right to participate fully in the political process and governance, to take part as decision-makers in exercising control of their lives.

Democratic Foreign Policy

The working class strives for a democratic foreign policy. The working class demands the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops abroad, the withdrawal of the U.S. from all aggressive military pacts and alliances, such as NATO, an end to the militarization of U.S. society and an end to U.S. interference and intervention against other countries in any form - economic, diplomatic, political, military, etc.

A democratic foreign policy demands and end to Big Power interference and intervention against sovereign nations, and the democratization of international relations on the basis of recognizing the inviolable right of every nation to determine its own affairs. Every nation must be recognized as equal.

The working class is an international class. The U.S. working class, while carrying forward its short-term and long-term program, necessarily supports the struggle for emancipation of the workers of all countries.

 

Volume 20, No. 7 March 28, 2006

THE RIGHTS OF IMMIGRANTS - THE RIGHTS OF ALL!

Over the last few weeks, millions of Americans have come into the public arena to defend the rights of immigrants. Five hundred thousand people marched in Los Angeles. Three hundred thousand demonstrated in Chicago. Tens of thousands marched in Denver, Phoenix, Milwaukee and many other cities.

The people are protesting the government's attempt to pass new anti-immigrant legislation.

Already the House of Representatives has passed the "Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act" - the "Sensenbrenner bill" (named after its sponsor, Congressman Sensenbrenner). The bill is presently being considered by the Senate.

The Sensenbrenner bill would:

- make it a federal felony to live illegally in the country, even in cases of minor technical or procedural violations.

- make it a crime, punishable by 5 years in jail, for family members, social workers, lawyers, clergy or anyone to help illegal immigrants stay in the country.

- build a 700 mile wall along the Mexico-U.S. border.

- dramatically increase federal policing against immigrants and require border patrol officers to deport - without even an administrative hearing - anyone within 100 miles of the border who an agent "thinks" is an undocumented immigrant present in the country less than 14 days.

- require every citizen and legal resident to obtain federal permission to work and require all businesses to participate in an employment eligibility verification program.

This outrageous bill would, overnight, turn 10-12 million undocumented workers and their families, friends and co-workers into criminals. It would further militarize our country and impose a national ID system on all Americans. The Sensenbrenner bill is an attack on the rights of all Americans and on the foundations of a democratic society.

For hundreds of years, the capitalist class has used immigrants as a source of superexploited labor. Today, the government has imposed a complicated caste system on immigrants which denies them their inalienable human rights.

At the bottom of this caste system are 10-12 million so-called "undocumented" workers. These workers, often actively recruited in their home countries by U.S. corporations, are paid the lowest possible wages and forced into the dirtiest, hardest jobs. Under constant threat of arrest and deportation, undocumented workers are often denied vital public services, including even health care and schooling. They are prevented from exercising such elementary rights as the right to unionize, to speak out, etc. Every year, millions are deported - forcibly separated from their homes, their jobs, their families, etc.

The capitalists use this caste of workers, denied all rights, to drag down the wages and standard of rights of all workers.

The Sensenbrenner bill will only drive the undocumented workers further underground, making them even more easy prey for the most ruthless capitalists. It will also be used to increase repression against a broad array of social, economic and defense organizations which help immigrants and all working people keep life and limb together.

In addition to the Sensenbrenner bill, Congress is considering a number of other pieces of immigrant legislation. Some of these measures are advertised as alternatives to the Sensenbrenner bill and even as "pro-immigrant." But the truth is that these bills, including the Specter bill (supported by Bush) and the McCain-Kennedy bill, all include new attacks on immigrants.

The common thread of these "alternative" measures is to legalize a caste of "conditional" workers. Some undocumented workers - who register with the government, confess to being criminals, pay large fines, provide proof of "good behavior" and a consistent work record - would be given temporary work permits for up to 6 years. During that time they would have to remain continually at work. The Specter and McCain-Kennedy bills would also establish "guest worker" programs to enable capitalists to import temporary workers every year to fill low skill, low-wage jobs.

Under these bills, the workers who qualify for "conditional" status would be little more than indentured servants, not only required to work but kept under the surveillance of the government. Those millions of undocumented workers who would not qualify for this "amnesty" would, as under the Sensenbrenner bill, find themselves even deeper in the underground economy and more avidly pursued by law enforcement officials.

The millions of Americans who are coming forward to oppose the anti-immigrant legislation are carrying forward the great democratic traditions of our country. The fundamental demand of democracy is that everyone be guaranteed full and equal rights. Certain rights belong to people simply by virtue of being human and any deviation from this principle negates the very concept of rights. The government cannot declare some humans as illegal or some humans as better than others.

Let us carry the struggle through to the end until our country guarantees, in practice, FULL AND EQUAL RIGHTS FOR ALL HUMAN BEINGS!

 

Volume 20, No. 6 March 27, 2006

Editorial: LAWLESSNESS AND VIOLENCE

These days the U.S. government does not even try to cover over its lawlessness and extreme violence.

- Earlier this month, the Bush administration's updated National Security Strategy again affirmed the government's policy of "preemptive war" - that the U.S. will start war against any country, at any time, in order to insure the U.S. position as the dominant world power.

- Similarly, when Bush administration officials were asked how they could supply India with nuclear fuel, in defiance of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and U.S. law, even while using the same treaty as an excuse to attack Iran, the official response amounted to: "We like India, and don't like Iran." Countless more examples can be given.

Things are no different at home. Whenever Bush is asked about flagrant violations of U.S. law and the Constitution such as warrantless wiretaps, torture of prisoners, arbitrary detention and rendition, secret dossiers and police spying, etc., etc., he says "we are only wiretapping, torturing, detaining, and spying on terrorists."

In other words, Bush does not even acknowledge the question. For the U.S. government, the rights of the American people and the rights of other nations simply do not exist. All that exists is the power of the U.S. government - a government which tells us, again and again, in words and in deeds, that it is a power unrestrained by any law, by any standard of civilized human behavior. It is an arbitrary power based on violence.

This fascism has become so virulent and so naked, that there are those in the government who are trying to cover over the worst abuses in the hopes of restoring "legitimacy." Thus the American people were treated to the farce of a Congressional "struggle" allegedly mandating an end to torture - even while the torture continues and increases. Thus, we are told that the dangers of warrantless wiretaps will be removed, if the executive branch first gets the approval of a court of anonymous, handpicked judges. Thus, some politicians insist that it is better PR not to admit to the preemptive war doctrine but simply to follow it in practice.

The lawlessness and violence of the U.S. government will not be restrained, much less stopped, by the government itself. On the contrary, this is the very basis of the government. Whenever the basic interests of the capitalist class are at stake, the government is prepared to use all the force at its disposal. Today's "anti-terror" crusade is just a new version of the government's COINTELPRO operations in the 1960's, of its anti-communist hysteria in the 1950's, etc. How many times have strikes or struggles of the oppressed minorities been suppressed by police and the national guard in the name of "national interests and national security." How many countries have been invaded and taken over by the U.S. corporations in the name of "spreading democracy?"

Today, the fact that the lawlessness and violence is becoming more extreme is not an accident or simply the policy of a handful of "neoconservatives." The growing fascism of the U.S. government is its response to the crisis and weakness of U.S. capitalist-imperialism. It relies on violence because it is completely unable and unwilling to meet the urgent demands of the people. Rather, hell-bent on ruling the world, the U.S. capitalists have declared a "war on terrorism" as their strategy for world domination. With their mouths watering at the prospect of robbing the whole of our country's economy, the capitalists are using this same "war on terrorism" as a means to suppress the American people.

It is only the peoples who can defeat this growing fascism. The people must multiply their struggles to demand and defend their economic and political rights. We must organize ourselves as an independent force, in opposition to and struggle against the capitalist class and its government. Our goal can be nothing less than defeating the arbitrary, violent power of the capitalists and creating a new political power which arises from and empowers the people themselves.

U.S. FOMENTS CIVIL WAR

The capitalist media is filled with stories about "sectarian violence" and "civil war" in Iraq.

This propaganda is used by the capitalists to try to justify the U.S. occupation and to attack the Iraqi people as "unfit" and "unready" to rule themselves.

But the facts show that the intensification of civil war and sectarian violence are part and parcel of the U.S. colonial strategy; they are more of the deeds, the crimes, of U.S. imperialism.

From day one, the U.S. occupying authorities have fostered and strengthened the most reactionary classes and forces in Iraqi society. The U.S. armies have set up a government headed by notorious CIA agents such as Talabani, Chalabi, Allawi, etc. The U.S. is building a large, U.S.-armed and U.S.-commanded puppet army and police force. The core of this puppet army is based on former fascist generals.

On the other hand, the parties which oppose the occupation are illegal and the Iraqi people are hunted, killed, tortured, and imprisoned.

This is, of course, one of the basic tactics of imperialism. Whenever the U.S. or other imperialist powers take control of another country, they ally themselves with and give strength to the most reactionary classes inside the country. The foreign aggressors and local exploiters work together to suppress the laboring classes and other democratic sectors who struggle for independence, freedom and social progress. As in Iraq, the imperialists provide the arms while the local reactionaries round up manpower and lend "legitimacy" to the colonial regime. The foreign and local capitalists share in exploiting the people.

Thus, in every country, the presence and influence of U.S. imperialism heightens the civil conflict, polarizing the society. Throughout Latin America, U.S. imperialism is notorious for bringing to power or propping up such fascist regimes as the Duvaliers in Haiti, Somoza's and his National Guard in Nicaragua, Pinochet in Chile, etc. In Korea, U.S. imperialism continues to partition the country. In the Middle East, the U.S. has sponsored such fascist regimes as the Shah of Iran, the Saudi Arabian monarchy, Saddam Hussein, etc. Recent history provides countless examples exposing the absurd, doublespeak logic of the U.S. government when it claims to be "bringing democracy" to Iraq or any country. For the last 50 years and more, U.S. imperialism has been the main bastion and support for reaction and fascism. It is the sworn enemy of democracy and the liberation struggles of the peoples.

Indeed, the civil war in Iraq is intensifying. The U.S. occupation has polarized the entire country. On one side, the vast majority of Iraqi people - the workers, the poor and downtrodden, all who defend the independence and honor of the nation - are opposing the U.S. occupation. On the other side, the reactionary, exploiting classes have put themselves at the disposal of the occupiers and are helping to kill and subjugate their own people.

Part and parcel of the U.S. war strategy is to create sectarian violence to sap the strength of the people and justify continued U.S. occupation. From day one, the U.S. talked about the "need" to partition Iraq along sectarian lines. The entire constitutional and political strategy pursued by the U.S. (such as doling out political privileges and building armed militias along sectarian lines) is designed to foment sectarian rivalries. Most recently, the head of the UN human rights monitoring group in Iraq revealed that the U.S. has trained Iraqi government death squads which systematically seek out Sunnis for torture and murder.

This tactic has been used repeatedly by the U.S. and British imperialists - in Ireland and India, in Yugoslavia and Palestine, etc.

Such sectarian violence does not arise from the life of the overwhelming majority of Iraqi people who live, work and struggle under the same conditions and who everyday are strengthening their unity through the common struggle against the occupier. From the beginning, the resistance forces and the broadest sectors of Iraqi public opinion have repeatedly blamed the sectarian violence squarely on the U.S. occupiers and called for the united resistance of the Iraqi people. For example, after the attack on the Golden Mosque, Sunnis and Shiites mobilized together to protect their mosques and neighborhoods. Influential Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr blamed the U.S. for the attack and called on people to "protect both Shia and Sunni shrines....My message to Iraqi people is to stand united and bonded, and not to fall into the Western trap. The West is trying to divide the Iraqi people....there is only one enemy. The occupier."

It is the struggle against the U.S. occupation and against U.S. imperialism which is the path for resolving the civil conflict. Forcing the U.S. troops, out of Iraq, lock, stock and barrel is not only necessary for the independence of the country, it is also the way to break the back of the internal, reactionary classes and open the path for progress.

This task will be achieved by the liberation struggle of the Iraqi people.

U.S. "WAR GAMES" IN KOREA

U.S. military forces in South Korea are holding their annual "Foal Eagle" war games from March 25-31.

The "Foal Eagle" exercises involve the transfer and deployment of huge numbers of U.S. military forces and include a simulated "pre-emptive" attack against North Korea. Tens of thousands of U.S. and South Korean troops, accompanied by hundreds of U.S. fighter aircraft and naval warships, will take part in the exercise.

The Foal Eagle maneuvers come at a time when the Bush administration is issuing provocative threats against North Korea, calling for possible economic sanctions and refusing to rule out military action.

Such behavior is a flagrant violation of the agreements reached at the 6-party talks, which were held last year to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. At those meetings, a joint statement was adopted which stipulated that both sides should solve issues based on the principle of mutual respect and peaceful co-existence.

Such military exercises are another demonstration of the highly provocative actions taken by the U.S. in recent months, and reveal once again that the U.S. military forces in Korea remain the number one source of war and conflict on the peninsula.

U.S. TROOPS OUT OF IRAQ, NOW!

On March 18-19, the 3rd anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, tens of thousands of people in more than 500 U.S. cities came out in anti-war protests, demanding: "U.S. troops, Out of Iraq, Now!" Internationally, protests were held in scores of cities from Europe to Australia.

On the West Coast, 20,000 people came out in Los Angeles. Another 25,000 demonstrated in San Francisco. On 3/19, in Portland, 10,000 protested, taking an hour to pass through downtown streets.

In Chicago, several thousand protesters took part in an afternoon rally and an evening march.

Other U.S. cities where large protests were held included Seattle, New York, Boston, Fayetteville, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Reno, Trenton, and New Orleans.

In addition to opposing the occupation of Iraq, the people raised demands against the U.S. government's worldwide "war against terrorism." Banners, speakers and literature demanded an end to the U.S. wars and occupation of Haiti and Afghanistan as well as an end to U.S.-backed Israeli aggression. The demonstrators expressed support for all the peoples under attack from U.S. imperialism.

POLICE BOAST OF POLITICAL REPRESSION

Internal documents prepared by the New York City Police Department and recently made public show how police repress political activities through such tactics as "proactive arrests," massive displays of force, and undercover police provocateurs.

Heavily edited excerpts from five internal reports of the NYPD were published on March 16 under the orders of a federal judge. This ruling came as part of a lawsuit brought by people arrested at an animal rights demonstration held in February 2002 during protests at the World Economic Forum.

One of the police reports boasts "that a large part of the success in policing the major demonstration on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2002, was due in part to the proactive arrest policy that was instituted at the start of the march at 59th Street and Eight Avenue, and directed toward demonstrators who were obviously potential rioters." Other reports praised the tactic of "staging of massive amounts of equipment in key areas (e.g. armored vehicles, command posts, prisoner wagons, Department of Correction buses, city buses)" which "had a powerful psychological effect." Another report admitted that large numbers of undercover police infiltrated the protests and recommended that, in the future, they be used to "distribute misinformation within the crowds."

In short, the police are consciously and systematically suppressing the right to freedom of expression and treating political opposition to the current state of affairs as criminal activity.

And not only in New York City. The FBI has adopted a nationwide policy of spying on and infiltrating political organizations and activists. In the latest exposure, information released under the Freedom of Information Act shows, in Pittsburgh, that the FBI began investigating the Thomas Merton Center for Peace and Justice solely because it opposed the war in Iraq. The FBI decided to carry on surveillance of the Center after November 2002 because it "is a left-wing organization advocating, among many political causes, pacifism" and "is currently focused on....opposition to the potential war on Iraq."

Many documents released over the last several months show that the FBI has initiated similar surveillance and infiltration in cities across the country and against scores of political and community groups.

The FBI is operating as a national political police - compiling dossiers, invading our privacy, infiltrating political organizations, etc.

This growing fascism reflects the crisis and weakness of the capitalist state. The government is completely unable and unwilling to respond to the urgent demands of the American people. Instead of guarantying peace and the economic rights of the people, the government imposes war and poverty. Thus it cannot deal with the growing political opposition except by trying to criminalize and repress anyone who opposes it.

COMMITTEE TO DEFEND PUBLIC EDUCATION FOUNDED!

Earlier this month, a group of teachers and people concerned about our country's educational system got together in Chicago to initiate a new Committee to Defend Public Education (CDPE). The Committee published a founding statement and mapped out plans to publicize its program. It also took steps to get further involved in various popular struggles to defend public education.

Below, we reprint the founding statement of the CDPE.

Our public education system is in an all-sided crisis.

The government is carrying on a concerted, ongoing attack which has left our schools underfunded and overcrowded, especially those of the workers and minorities. In Illinois, some districts spend less than $4,000/pupil while others spend more than $15,000/pupil. Nationwide, our schools are in dire need of repair; more than $268 billion is needed to bring our schools' facilities into good overall condition. Class sizes commonly exceed 30 students, far surpassing the government's own recommendations for student-teacher ratio.

The government tries to cover its own criminal neglect by imposing high-stakes standardized tests. Students are blamed and punished for low scores - retained, denied High School diplomas and college admission, etc. Poor test performance is used as an excuse to slash funds and close schools in poor communities. These arbitrary tests provide justification for tracking students - some into college preparatory schools, others to vocational schools and still others into the military. High school military academies, financed by funds from the public schools, are being opened for the first time in our country's history.

The overall program of the government is to privatize the public schools. One of the main forms of privatization is charter schools - schools funded by taxpayers but run by private companies or the military. More than 3,600 charter schools are operating across the country in 40 states. Chicago's Renaissance 2010 plan calls for turning nearly 70 more of the city's public schools into charter or contract schools over six years. Privatization goes directly against equality in education. Charter schools intensify an unequal school system by taking vitally needed funds out of the general school treasury. Charters are free from public supervision and accountability. Many charter schools are used to break unions, lower wages and cut benefits.

These attacks on public education most be stopped. We say:

- NO to privatization!

- NO to underfunding!

- NO to punitive high-stakes testing!

- NO to the militarization of our youth!

The American public education system is founded on the concept of providing equal education for all. Every generation has fought to extend that system from universal grammar school to high school to college and beyond. The development of a universal education system is one of the greatest tasks our society has accomplished.

We demand equality in funding at the highest level for pre-kindergarten through university.

We demand the all-around modernization of the schools. This includes lowering class sizes, fully investing in school infrastructure, developing a curriculum of enlightenment and inquiry, and hiring more teachers and staff.

We demand that the government make all investments necessary to guarantee everyone their right to equal, high quality education.

GOVERNMENT KEEPS PUSHING CHARTER SCHOOLS

The struggle over charter schools keeps intensifying.

With state legislatures meeting across the country, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and other pro-charter, business groups are working hard to get state governments to remove existing caps on the number of charter schools.

Already, New York Governor Pataki is trying to pass legislation which would increase the number of charter schools in the state from 100 to 300. Pataki's plan would also make it easier for charters to be approved. Pataki's proposal is meeting strong resistance from the teachers' union and a broad array of organizations determined to defend public education.

In South Carolina, the state legislature is set to pass a new law which authorizes the state to approve charter schools. Since 1996, when South Carolina first legalized charters, they could only be approved by local school districts. Due to popular opposition and the loss of funding entailed in opening charter schools, most local districts refuse to authorize them. In the last 10 years, only 27 charter schools have been started.

The new law is designed to overcome this popular opposition and give impetus to the further privatization of South Carolina's schools.

In Illinois, the city of Chicago, in flagrant violation of the legal limits on charter schools, has simply decided to change the name of new charter schools to "contract schools." Under its Renaissance 2010 plan, 60-70 schools will be turned into charter or "contract" schools in a few years.

On March 15, New Hampshire's Board of Education approved 3 more charter schools.

Make no mistake about it. The campaign for charter schools aims at the destruction of our country's public school system - at turning this vast public resource over to for-profit companies. Charters intensify a dual school system which offers the best education to those with money while condemning the children of the working people to the underfunded, rundown schools.

 

Volume 20, No. 5 March 13, 2006

WE MUST FACE THE CHALLENGE OF FURTHER ORGANIZING OURSELVES

The American people, in their millions and tens of millions, are demanding: "U.S. Troops, Out of Iraq, Now!"

All across the country this demand rings out. More and more frequently people are coming out in mass demonstrations. In communities, workplaces and schools people keep getting together to develop new anti-war initiatives. People keep broadening the struggle to oppose U.S. war and intervention in Afghanistan, Palestine, Haiti, Iran, Syria, Korea, Venezuela, and everywhere.

This new, nationwide anti-war movement is a great deed of the American people. Over the last 4 years, we have built this movement from scratch -- built it from the grassroots, built it in the face of the opposition, silence and repression of the government and the monopoly-owned media. We have won and are winning the battle of public opinion and are bringing our agenda for peace to the forefront.

Now we must face up to a second challenge. We must face up to the weaknesses of our movement and to the need to further politicize and organize ourselves.

Who cannot see that our struggle still remains sporadic and unorganized? Who cannot see that dozens of competing voices, including some that are counterproductive, pull the movement in different directions and split it? Who cannot see that large numbers of people are turned away from the struggle by its disunity and lack of direction?

We call upon everyone involved in the anti-war movement to take up serious discussion over: how to advance the struggle.

How do we overcome the fragmentation of our movement and build the political unity necessary to intensify our day-to-day activities and strengthen our mass actions? How do we build a proactive movement that can carry through and win a real peace? How can we overcome the alienation and disempowerment, so that the people take the direction of the movement into their own hands?

For our part, we think the solution to these problems is found on the path of anti-imperialist politics.

Anti-imperialist politics shows the cause of the war program in the economic and strategic interests of the monopoly capitalist class. It shows the necessity to direct the struggle against the parties of war -- the Republicans and Democrats.

Anti-imperialist politics links together the many currents of anti-war struggle into one common struggle against the common enemy -- U.S. imperialism.

Anti-imperialist politics creates a proactive movement which opposes U.S. militarism and war in all its forms and provides real solutions: the withdrawal of all U.S. troops stationed abroad, the end to U.S. participation in reactionary military alliances and an end to U.S. support for reactionary regimes, the end to U.S. intervention in all its forms, recognition of the sovereign equality of every country, and an end to the militarization of our country.

Anti-imperialist politics relies on the people -- on their own consciousness, organizations and struggle -- to win the peace.

Anti-imperialist politics empowers the people by continually reaching out to the broadest sections of people, especially those who find themselves excluded from contemporary politics, by bringing people the facts, helping to unfold political discussion on all the burning issues facing the movement.

Anti-imperialist politics is the means for maximizing the immediate struggle against the war in Iraq by bringing in the widest sections of peoples and relying on their determination and initiative. At the same time, anti-imperialist politics accumulates forces for fundamental solutions by always consolidating the consciousness and independent organizations of the people themselves.

In the course of uniting in action against the war, we call on everyone to join in a sincere discussion over how to advance the struggle.

THE "WAR ON TERRORISM" ARISES FROM THE CRISIS OF IMPERIALISM

The following excerpts are from a recent book by Michael Thorburn, "Only the Peoples Can Stop the Wars!"

The U.S. government declared a so-called "war against international terrorism" which it said would "last for decades." Already, the U.S. has invaded and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq and keeps escalating counter-insurgency wars in these countries.

As part of the "war on terrorism," the U.S.-backed Israeli aggressors are stepping up their war against the Palestinian people. So too, the Bush administration is preparing wars against Syria and Iran; U.S. military "advisers" are directing counter-insurgency wars in Colombia and the Philippines; the U.S. is threatening war against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The Pentagon is spending unprecedented sums building up a vast arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. U.S. imperialism has officially adopted the doctrine of "preventive war" including even the use of nuclear first-strikes against nonnuclear countries and proclaimed that every country must accept U.S. dictates or "be treated as terrorist."....

This war program is the product of the all-sided crisis of the capitalist-imperialist system.

Violence and war are at the very foundations of this system because capitalist-imperialism imposes social relations of domination, suppression and exploitation on whole nations and peoples.

The very social existence of the U.S. monopoly capital class -- the big banks and multinational corporations which dominate economic life -- is completely bound up with not the only exploitation of the U.S. working class but also with the super-exploitation and domination of countries the world over -- 1/3 to 50% of the profits of the U.S.-based multinationals comes from overseas investments. Under this system, the mineral wealth, the land and other natural resources of whole countries and even continents is owned by the U.S. capitalists.....

To police this system of economic domination and privilege -- of dependence, colonialism and neo-colonialism -- U.S. imperialism has established a network of 500 military bases in other countries. U.S. nuclear submarines and warships span the globe and U.S. weapons fill the skies and outer space. Hundreds of times, the U.S. has waged aggressive wars to "protect" and expand this empire.

For years, the U.S. imperialists have been shifting the burden of their economic crisis onto other countries. But every day this becomes harder.

It becomes harder because other imperialist powers keep gaining economic strength and contending with the U.S. for spheres of economic territory and influence, for profits and empire.

It becomes harder because everywhere the countries and peoples who toil under the yoke of imperialism are trying to take the path of independence and liberation....

The so-called "war on terrorism" is U.S. imperialism's blueprint for global domination by force of arms.

U.S. imperialism wants and needs war in order to beat down its imperialist rivals and remain the number one exploiter and oppressor.

U.S. imperialism wants and needs war in order to stop the peoples drive for independence, liberation and social progress.

U.S. imperialism wants and needs war for profit and empire.

This is the problem, the challenge that we must face up to.

It means that in course of fighting against every aggressive step taken by U.S. imperialism and working to stay the hands of the warmakers, we must organize ourselves into a force capable of countering, of politically defeating, the organized force of monopoly capital -- the organized parties of war and imperialism.

QUESTIONS THAT MUST BE ASKED

1) Are the war against Iraq and the "war against terrorism" caused by Bush alone? What is the economic and political force -- the social class -- behind the war?

2) How can the Democratic Party be called an "anti-war" force when, from beginning to end, it has endorsed and funded the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Palestine, etc.?

3) How does the "exit strategy" of the so-called "good" Democratic representatives or officials compare with the demand of the people to get all U.S. and foreign troops out of Iraq, now?

4) Can we be neutral or silent about the influence of pro-war politics inside the anti-war movement?

5) What must be done to give political and organizational expression to the aspirations of the people to live in a world of peace, free of U.S. imperialist aggression and intervention?

 

Volume 20, No. 4 February 27, 2006

Commentary:

THERE MUST BE A PALESTINIAN STATE!

by Michael Thorburn

The U.S.-Israeli aggressors are carrying out new attacks against the Palestinian people.

- On February 19, the Israeli army, using 30 armored vehicles and helicopter gunships, invaded the Balata refugee camp near Nablus. At least 5 Palestinians, including 2 children, have been killed and 50 wounded. The Israeli army raided Palestinian homes and arrested hundreds of people.

- On the same day, the Israeli cabinet voted to stop paying some $50 million/month collected as taxes by Israel and owed to the Palestinian Authority. Israel and the U.S. are also pressuring the international community to cut off assistance to Palestine.

- On February 18, as the new Palestinian parliament constituted itself, Israel stopped dozens of elected legislators from participating by confining them to the Gaza Strip. Israel is threatening a series of additional measures to further seal off Gaza and separate it from the rest of Palestine.

The U.S. and Israeli governments justify this new invasion, the killing, starving and besieging of Palestine, by saying that they don't like the newly elected Palestinian Authority. The U.S. government and the capitalist media are relentlessly slandering the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people as "terrorist." The Bush administration and Israel insist that before they will even talk with the new Palestinian Authority, it must: 1) recognize in perpetuity the state of Israel; 2) renounce resistance to Israeli occupation and aggression and 3) "respect" and "honor" previous agreements and treaties.

These demands follow the usual perverted logic of the U.S.-Israeli aggressors who blame their own crimes on their victims.

Let us begin by examining the issue of international treaties and agreements.

It is Israel and the U.S. who have shown utter contempt for every international agreement on the question of Palestine. Just to cite a few:

- the U.N. partition plan, which Israel cites as the legal basis of its existence as a state, was violated by Israel before it could even be implemented. In 1948, before the plan was put into effect, Israel declared its statehood and went to war to grab 80% of Palestine and prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state. The U.S. financed and directed this war.

- After the Israeli invasion and occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, UN resolution 242 demanded the immediate withdrawal of Israel. This resolution has been reaffirmed time and again. The U.S. government not only ignores this resolution but funds Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

- Dozens of U.N. resolutions, international protocols, and agreements between the Palestinian Authority and Israel demand an end to Israeli settlements in the occupied territories and the dismantling of existing settlements. Israel continues its settlement program and the U.S. government officially claims that Israel has the "right" to annex settlements in the West Bank.

In other words, the U.S. and Israel "honor" and "respect" nothing but their "right" to colonize Palestine, to terrorize and subjugate the people.

As for "recognizing the state of Israel," just which Israel are Palestinians supposed to "recognize?" Are they supposed to "recognize" the Israel of the U.N. partition plan which was to occupy 54% of the land of Palestine, or the Israel established through the 1948 war which occupied 80% of the land of Palestine? Or the Israel which since 1967 has maintained military rule over 100% of Palestine and established its settlements on 90% of the land. Or perhaps, the Palestinians and all Arab peoples have to "recognize" the Israel envisioned by the zionist movement and called for in various Knesset resolutions - the Israel which extends from the Nile river in Egypt to the Tigris and Euphrates?

Moreover, there is no sovereign Palestinian state which could "recognize" any Israel. It is not the "rights" of Israel which are being suppressed - it is not Israel which is without a state. It is the Palestinian people who are denied their inalienable right to their own state in their historic homeland. This is the issue which the whole world "recognizes" but which the U.S. and Israel refuse to resolve.

The reality which the Palestinian people recognize is that their rights and sovereignty can only be reclaimed through uncompromising struggle against the aggressive, colonial Israeli state and its sponsor U.S. imperialism.

It is the elementary democratic duty of every American to demand an immediate end to all U.S. aid and support for the aggressive Israeli state and to support the struggle of the Palestinian people for national salvation and liberation.

DRAW A CLEAR LINE BETWEEN THE POLITICS OF WAR AND THE POLITICS OF PEACE

As the anti-war struggle develops, the people are becoming more and more outraged at how the Democrats collaborate with Bush. After all, the Democrats' "criticism" of Bush is that he has "mismanaged" the war and "doesn't have a plan for victory."

Confronted with the growing consciousness of the anti-war activists, the opportunists are resorting to new ways of infiltrating the Democratic Party into the anti-war movement. The opportunists will denounce various leading Democrats, while, out of the other side of their mouths, the opportunists insist that the people rally around the "good Democrats" in Congress. For example, various liberals, social democrats and the so-called "Communist" Party, are using the ongoing mass actions against the war to try to channel the movement into the 2006 elections.

This "bad Democrat, good Democrat" routine is a double and triple fraud. For more than 50 years this trick has held out the hope that even though the "bad Democrats" are at the head of the party and set the policy, the "good Democrats" might some day gain power. This slippery slope logic was used in the last election to get anti-war activists to first embrace Kucinich, then Dean and finally Kerry.

Secondly, when one looks into the stand of the so-called "good Democrats," one finds that in both words and deeds they support the war. Their "opposition" boils down to this: while they vote the money for the war, they piously mouth a few words calling for an "exit strategy," i.e. calling on Bush to begin talking about setting a date (sometime in the future) to begin withdrawing some U.S. troops, if the security situation in Iraq warrants it.

The plain fact is that the politics of the Democratic Party is openly and unabashedly the politics of war and imperialism. And the anti-war movement cannot be indifferent, passive, or neutral about this fact. The Democrats are a very real presence in the anti-war movement. They work every day to reconcile people to the line that the U.S. must "stay in Iraq, now that we're there," to buy time for Bush to continue the war as well as to promote the entire ideology and war program of imperialism. If we remain silent about this influence and refuse to oppose it, it will continue to corrode the consciousness of people and divert the struggle.

Most importantly, the line of rallying behind the "good Democrats" and the line of refusing to actively oppose the Democrats, work to prevent people from taking matters into their hands and strengthening their own independent, anti-imperialist politics and organization.

But this is precisely the burning issue facing us: to give an organized, political expression to the aims, program and demands of the people. This is the program of fighting for the immediate, unconditional end to the war and occupation in Iraq; this is the program of fighting for the immediate, unconditional end to the war and occupation in Afghanistan and Haiti, for an end to U.S. aid to Israel, for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops stationed abroad and an end to U.S. intervention in all its forms. This is the program of anti-imperialism.

In our opinion these two issues are not matters of choice but necessity. To defend the unity of the anti-war movement and advance our struggle, we must:

- Denounce and Oppose the Republican and Democratic parties - the parties of war.

- Strengthen the independent, anti-imperialist politics and organizations of the people themselves.

STATE OF EMERGENCY IN THE PHILIPPINES

On February 24, the president of the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, issued a proclamation declaring "emergency rule."

Arroyo's proclamation came as the regime is facing growing opposition from broad sectors of the society. In the forefront of the struggle are demands against the growing U.S.-Filipino military alliance, the joint military "exercises" held on Filipino territory, the escalating repression against the people carried out by the U.S.-Arroyo government in the name of the "war on terrorism," and the surrender of Filipino sovereignty to U.S. imperialism.

All opposition protests have been banned and troops and other security forces have been put on full alert. Civil rights have been suspended and arrests without warrants and detention without charges are allowed. Police have already carried out raids of newspaper offices, arresting many reporters.

Despite the ban on protests, however, thousands of Filipino people demonstrated in the streets, confronting police who used fire hoses and batons in an attempt to disperse the crowds.

Below we reprint excerpts from a 2/25 statement by Professor Jose Maria Sison, chief political consultant for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

Gloria M. Arroyo has issued Proclamation 1017 to combine a declaration of a state of emergency and invocation of commander-in-chief authority to call the troops to suppress rebellion. By this proclamation, she claims to have the power to prohibit peaceful assemblies, revoke rally permits issued ministerially by local mayors, order warrantless arrests, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, take over the mass media and public utilities, superimpose military officers on civilian authorities, and so on.

The real malevolent objective of Arroyo in issuing the proclamation is to suppress the people's assemblies in the nationwide anniversary celebration of the events of 22-25 February 1986 that resulted in the overthrow of Marcos. She is terribly afraid that the people's mass actions critical of her rotten and hated regime would encourage her own military and police forces to withdraw support from her.

Indeed, she has undertaken so-called preemptive actions by ordering the arrest of military and police officers suspected of opposing her regime and revoking rally permits nationwide and ordering the violent dispersal of people in peaceful assembly....

Proclamation 1017 is a tyrannical act of desperation by an utterly isolated usurper of authority and her small coterie. It maliciously misrepresents the movement of the people and the broad united front as a mere conspiracy of the so-called extremes of the Left and the Right. It proves that Arroyo will go to any length, including the bloody suppression of the people and her opponents. It is the prelude to worse tyrannical acts to come if the people and the broad united front of patriotic, progressive and all other anti-Arroyo forces do not act promptly to stop her....

The people hate the Arroyo regime for its puppetry to foreign interests, electoral fraud, corruption, brutality and mendacity....

[The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the New People's Army are struggling] to replace the Arroyo regime on a program of upholding national sovereignty and independence, realizing genuine land reform and national industrialization, promoting a patriotic, democratic and scientific culture, carrying out an independent foreign policy for peace and development and opting for truce and alliance with the revolutionary forces against foreign and local oppressors and exploiters.

FORUMS DISCUSS "HOW TO ADVANCE THE ANTI-WAR STRUGGLE"

On February 22, the Youth and Students for a Democratic Foreign Policy and the Peace Agenda Forum co-sponsored two anti-war meetings in the Chicago area to rally people around the slogan of "U.S. Troops, Out of Iraq, Now!"

Part of the work of the meetings included widescale distribution of anti-war literature and the initiation of many discussions on campus, in the communities and workplaces and amongst anti-war organizations. The meetings were well attended by people from many walks of life.

In the beginning of the meetings, the main speaker stressed the need to take up serious discussion on how to advance and win the struggle against war. Both meetings were extremely lively, with the majority of the people actively expressing their ideas about the need and ways to stop the war.

The main points brought out included:

1) The war is continuing and there is a real danger that the U.S. government may attack more countries. Bush has declared "war until victory" in Iraq and every day the threats and war preparations against Syria and Iran are increasing.

2) The ever-mounting struggles of the people are the basis of stopping the war and the anti-war movement already has several victories under its belt.

Firstly and most importantly, the Iraqi people have refused to submit to colonialism and occupation. They are fighting for their freedom and defeating the greatest military power in the world. In addition, the worldwide struggles against the war are slowing down the drive of imperialism to spread the war to new areas and to intensify its interventions in many countries. Several allies of the U.S. have been forced to withdraw their troops from Iraq. In the U.S., the people, starting from scratch, have created a nationwide anti-war movement which has come to the forefront of public opinion.

3) The biggest shortcoming facing the anti-war struggle in the U.S. is that the people have not fully taken the direction and organization of the struggle into their owns hands. The struggle not only remains somewhat sporadic and spontaneous. It is being undermined by a conscious and organized force - the Democratic Party and its so-called "left-wing."

4) The way forward is to build up the independent, anti-imperialist politics and organization of the people themselves. Anti-imperialist politics demands the immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops from Iraq as well as an end to U.S. interference and aggression everywhere. Anti-imperialist politics targets the parties of war, the Republicans and Democrats, as the source of the problem. Anti-imperialist politics mobilizes and organizes the people themselves as the only reliable force for peace.

TURNING SCHOOL GOVERNANCE OVER TO BIG BUSINESS

In our January 17 edition, we discussed how our country's high schools are being "redesigned" to more closely integrate the curriculum with the needs of business. High schools students are tracked according to the varying job requirements of the capitalists - some are tracked to college preparatory schools, others to technical or vocational schools and still others are consigned to military schools.

But the capitalists are not satisfied with adapting the curriculum to their needs; they are taking a direct and decisive role in school governance.

For example, in 2002 the Bush administration set up the "State Scholars Initiative' to supply start up funds for high school redesign. Bush's initiative was based on the experience of Texas in which the business community developed a new curriculum which currently is the basis of educating more than 2 million students.

Bush's State Scholars Initiative openly declares that its goal is to help "employers [who] report difficulties in finding qualified employees."

In order to receive funds under the State Scholars Initiative, a state must set up a redesign program led by a "viable state business-education coalition," in which "key in-state corporations" must serve as "flagship sponsors." The responsibilities of business explicitly include helping to determine course content and standards. In turn, the corporations are "encouraging scholars to apply for employment at local businesses."

To date, the Bush administration has financed state scholars initiatives in 13 states, including over 500 school districts.

In Chicago, Mayor Daley and the Chicago Board of Education (BOE) have, for several years now, been turning control of the public schools over to business. The Renaissance 2010 plan, which is redesigning 100 elementary and high schools, was drawn up by the Civic Commission of the Commercial Club of Chicago, a leading municipal business group. To insure its ongoing control of school restructuring, the Commercial Club also established additional organizations including "New Schools for Chicago" and Chicago High School Redesign Initiative; the official policy of the BOE gives these business groups a decisive role in setting up new schools and approving charters.

Business management of Chicago schools has gone so far that in many cases, corporations are running schools on a day-to-day basis. For example, Ariel Community Academy, an elementary school in the Kenwood community, is run by Ariel Capital Management LLC. The school's website includes a direct link to the corporation's investment prospectus. Classrooms are decorated to resemble the Stock Exchange and the curriculum, guided by the concept of "financial literacy," includes learning to wheel and deal in the stock market and out "competing" one's peers. Another Chicago elementary school, Legacy Charter School, is run by the corporate law firm of Sonnenschein, Nath and Rosenthal.

Future Plans

Government and business are pushing towards the complete take-over of public education by the capitalist class.

In a recent report prepared for the CEOs of major corporations, Paul Hill of the Brookings Institute describes just what the capitalists are planning for the public schools.

Hill condemns the "old model" of public education, especially targeting such things as unions and worker rights, public control and even the underlying principles of universal, public education. Hill writes: "The objective challenges of educating large numbers of children from destitute families, including many foreign born, are daunting enough. But big city districts also face man-made constraints that make their jobs even harder. These come from state and federal regulations that prohibit flexible use of money, union contract provisions that strip school leaders of authority....and control of all important expenditure decisions by a central district bureaucracy."

Hill's new vision is to rely on "businesses [which] have expertise in management....a new community authority - one with jurisdiction over an existing school district or wide geographic area - would oversee the supply of educational opportunities for children. It could license many entities to provide k-12 instruction, including conventional public school systems, charter schools, private contractors ....urban education is everybody's problem....only business and civic leaders have the combination of standing and resources necessary to transform public education." (from "How Business and Civic Leaders Can Make a Big Difference in Public Education, published by CEOs for Cities).

For hundreds of years, the working people have fought for a modern system of public schools as a vital part of the struggle for enlightenment and equality. Our struggles have created a nationwide system of universal k-12 public education as well as an extensive network of community colleges and public universities.

But today, instead of making the investments necessary to modernize the schools and insure equality, the government is pushing backwards. The main priority is training and tracking students to fill the job requirements of business. Profit-making and war supercede enlightenment as the aims of education. Private capitalists are given power over public funds and public schools. Public accountability and control are being eliminated and with it, a dual school system is further entrenched, undermining the people's right to equality in education.

Make no mistake about it, unless the people rise in struggle to defend and expand their right to a modern education, the capitalists and the government will destroy our public schools.

 

Volume 20, No. 3 February 14, 2006

ROBBING THE PUBLIC TREASURY

George Bush's budget for fiscal 2007 calls for $630 billion in military spending. This includes $120 billion more for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (bringing the total costs of these wars to $450 billion), $439 billion for the Defense Department, another $23 billion for nuclear weapons, and at least $50 billion for the military in the budgets of NASA and the Dept. of Homeland Security.

This $630 billion amounts to $8,500 for every family of four.

The 2007 budget also includes $438 billion in interest payments, most of which will be turned over to the big Wall Street bankers. Hundreds of billions more will be turned over to other big capitalists through privatized government contracts, research and development grants, infrastructure investments, etc.

At the same time, Bush's budget wants yet more cuts in social programs, including education, food support for the poor, Medicare, and Medicaid - programs which literally can mean life or death for people. In his budget message, Bush insisted that "the biggest challenge to our nation's fiscal health comes from unsustainable growth in entitlement spending."

This refrain - that there is "no money" - is repeated by every level of government at a time when tens of millions of Americans face severe and worsening economic conditions. While millions are losing health insurance, the government cuts funding for Medicaid and public health programs. While companies default on pensions and health care commitments to retirees, the government raises the cost of Medicare and prepares new attacks on Social Security. While rents skyrocket, the government tears down public housing and cuts housing assistance. While children are left in overcrowded and run-down schools, the government refuses to invest in public education.

Everyone knows that the government has more than enough money (just look at the tax deductions from your paycheck). The federal budget equals $2.77 trillion dollars and the combined budgets of federal, state and local governments account for one-third of our country's gross domestic product. The money spent on the military budget alone is enough to: 1) provide health insurance for the 80 million uninsured Americans; 2) double the funding for every student k-12th grade; 3) provide free tuition for every college student; 4) provide $3,000 to every person below the poverty level. In other words, the basic problems of health care, education and poverty could be solved overnight.

But of course, the gargantuan military budget is needed by the capitalist class - needed to wage wars of conquest for oil and empire, needed as a source of superprofits for the arms merchants and the Wall Street loan sharks.

In short the capitalists are more and more using the power of the state to rob the funds in the public treasury and the people of their rights. All the wealth of the country is being put at the disposal of the billionaires.

The Workers Party says: "This robbery must stop!"

We say: "NO! to the militarization of the economy!"

We say: "NO! to paying the Wall Street loan sharks!"

The public treasury and the public sector of the economy belong to the people and the people must decide how these monies are spent.

The first priority of the government must be to meet all the fundamental economic rights of the people. The public sector of the economy must be used to guarantee everyone's fundamental economic rights including food, clothing and shelter; a job or an income at a level commensurate with our country's high degree of development; free, comprehensive health care; a secure retirement; and the best possible education from pre-school through the university.

Commentary: OPPOSE THE ANTI-MUSLIM HYSTERIA!

by Michael Thorburn

During the past two weeks, millions of people, in countries throughout the world, have joined in protests triggered by the publication of racist cartoons which depicted the Prophet Mohammed as a terrorist. These protests are part of the ongoing struggles of the people against U.S. and European imperialism's' program of colonialism and war.

Massive demonstrations have been organized in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East including such countries as Afghanistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Indonesia, Kashmir, Niger, Palestine Bangladesh, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Turkey, and many others.

- On February 10, 700,000 people rallied in Lebanon.

- On February 8, thousands of people staged a protest outside a U.S. military base in Qalat, Afghanistan, denouncing the U.S. occupation of their country as well as the racist characterization of Muslim people. As the marchers approached the U.S. military base, police shot into the crowd, killing four and wounding 11 demonstrators. On the same day, more than 50,000 people protested in Niamey, Niger.

- On February 7, protests also broke out in front of NATO and Norwegian troop bases in Meymaneh, in northwest Afghanistan. The troops fired rubber bullets and tear gas at the demonstrators, and two Dutch F16 aircraft also fired guns into the crowd. One protestor was killed, and several were injured.

- In Palestine, on February 3, 50,000 Palestinians rallied against the cartoon.

U.S. officials, including President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, condemned the demonstrations, blaming them on "extremists" opposed to freedom. Rice accused Syria and Iran of "instigating the violent protests."

The ongoing campaign of the U.S. and various European governments, along with the capitalist media, surrounding the publication of the anti-Muslim cartoons is an organized provocation against the Muslim and Arab peoples.

The cartoons are not only an insult and indignity to Muslims and all peoples. The depiction of the Prophet Mohammad as a terrorist must be understood in the real context of contemporary world politics - in the context of U.S. imperialism's "war on terrorism."

The U.S. government has taken on a mission to rid the world of "terrorists" and declared that it will hunt terrorists wherever and whenever it wants. Under the signboard of the "war on terrorism," U.S. imperialism has already invaded the sovereign countries of Afghanistan and Iraq and set up colonial regimes there. In the name of the "war on terrorism," Bush has repeatedly bombed Pakistan. In the name of the "war on terrorism," the U.S. government is openly threatening war against Iran and Syria and escalating its war against Palestine. Bush and Rumsfeld have declared that suspected "terrorists" are not entitled to human rights as guaranteed in international law and can be kidnapped, imprisoned and tortured at the will of the U.S. government. Bush has declared that anyone he suspects of terrorism can be wiretapped without warrant, imprisoned without charge, etc. Leading spokespersons for the U.S. government have continually cited "radical Islam" as the fountainhead of terrorism.

In these conditions depicting the Prophet Mohammad as a "terrorist" is both a justification for the imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as a further incitement to war. It is a call to drop bombs on Muslim countries and peoples.

The fact that all the propaganda about the cartoons and "Islamic terrorism" is part of the U.S. war program can be seen in the recent comments of Condoleeza Rice, who asserted that the massive demonstrations across the entire world are orchestrated by the governments of Iran and Syria which just happen to be the two countries likely to be the next targets in the war on terrorism.

The fact that we have to remind people of the real context in which the cartoons are being promoted is itself a testament to the utter deceit of the capitalist media which absolutely refuses to present the issue in its concrete context. In all the thousands of articles about the cartoons and the opposition to them, the capitalist media rarely mentions the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The entire issue is presented solely as one of religious sensibilities and freedom of speech. As part of this game, the media presents the "Muslim opposition" as violent fanatics who hate all Europeans, Americans, Jews, etc. The issue is presented that there is a clash of "values and culture" and the Muslims are portrayed as "intolerant" and "uncivilized" by the "advanced" standards of "Western (read: imperialist) values."

But the issue, at root, is not based on religion at all. The issue is that U.S. and European imperialism are waging war to grab the oil of the Middle East and to reimpose colonialism on the peoples of those countries. The imperialists are promoting hysterical, racist filth against the Arab and Muslim peoples in order to dehumanize them and justify their aggressive wars and colonialism ("the barbaric Muslims need to be civilized by the enlightened capitalists").

This, then, is the "logic" of the capitalist media: U.S. and Western imperialism have the right to spew out racist filth against Muslims, to invade their countries, massacre people and set-up colonial regimes. But when the peoples resist this fascism, they are "intolerant." When they defend their dignity, their sovereignty, their countries, they are "extremists."

In its most "liberal" moments, the capitalist media reminds the reader that in the cartoon controversy, the "extremists" are drowning out the voice of the "moderate Muslims." The media goes on to insist that the "moderates" come forward and properly police their community so as to isolate the extremists. This bourgeois "tolerance" is an equally virulent strain of racism and fascism. It is a more "refined" way of asserting that Islam is the root of terrorism. Even more it insists that "good Muslims" must prove themselves, not only by pledging allegiance to "moderation" and Western values (i.e. renouncing resistance) but also by helping to suppress the just struggles of the Muslim peoples against colonialism and war.

Everyone who cherishes the rights of the people should join the struggle against the anti-Muslim propaganda which is nothing but a justification for colonialism, fascism and war.

A MODERN FABLE

by Bill Foster

Imagine that the police show up - en masse - in your neighborhood. They blanket the area with handbills, hold block meetings and get on loudspeakers. They warn everyone that the residents of the green house on the corner are dealing drugs and guns.

Before you know it, the police have stormed the house, killing several children, seniors and other members of the extended family that lives there.

Still no drugs or guns are found in the house.

Eventually even the police admit this but they stay in the house claiming that the family doesn't know how to take care of itself. In order to "teach" them, the police make the remaining family members work and cook for them. They rig the electric and water meters and pirate electricity and water. They rape the women of the house and whip or kill anyone who opposes them.

Naturally, the people in the house resist. Pretty soon most of the neighborhood has come into the street to demand that the police get out and be brought to justice for their crimes.

Right at this time, when the people are getting closer to stopping the police violence, some "famous" outside personalities arrive on the scene. Some have the reputation (earned or not) as opponents of police violence and others are running for office in the name of the people.

These famous personalities are given a bullhorn by the police and in one voice they tell the neighborhood: "We know you are mad about this police murder and robbery. We too think it is quite possible that the police lied about 'drugs and guns.' We demand an investigation."

And, even as we continue to hear the cries of people being tortured inside the house, the famous "opponents" of police violence continue: "But the demand for immediate withdrawal is impossible. Now that the police are there, they have to stay or else there will be chaos."

Editorial: DEVELOPING THE DISCUSSION

There is no lack of opposition to the government's program of war, exploitation, racism and repression. But the people's struggles suffer from a lack of organization and independent politics.

One of the decisive tasks is developing in-depth political discussion on a day-to-day basis - creating new space in which people can sit together, bring out their own experiences, stand up for their interests and talk things through.

More than anything, people need clarity. And clarity takes work.

We cannot be content with exposing the lies of the war or its brutality. We must unfold a broad movement of opposition to the government's entire war program, zero in on the capitalist-imperialist system as the cause of the problem and strengthen our anti-imperialist organizations.

It is necessary for workers to continually fight against wage and benefit cuts, against lay-offs and speed-up. It is also necessary to get a clear picture of how the class struggle is developing on a national basis, zero in on the problem of private ownership of the means of production and build a movement capable of challenging the prerogatives and power of the capitalist class.

It is necessary to unfold all kinds of protests against the government's policies but lasting victory lies in recognizing the class character of government and politics, in isolating and repudiating the Democratic Party and building up the independent political movement of the workers and people.

Creating a center of discussion and clarity is more than a struggle about ideas. When people participate in a consistent, informed way in the political discussion a new, material force is created. This is the force of the peoples' thinking and ideas - their active assertion of their political aims, ideology and program. The more the people are discussing their program and ideas on a daily basis, the more they can initiate all kinds of mass actions and be prepared to struggle in any conditions.

In our political-ideological work, we cannot limit ourselves to responding to the latest lie, fad or maneuver of the capitalists. While we continually criticize and repudiate the capitalist ideology and politics, it is not our starting point. To sustain the struggle for real change, people need the inspiration of their own aims, their own history, their own future and they need to have conviction about the correct strategy and tactics of their movement.

Our starting point is the aims, theory, ideology and program of the working class and people. Our starting point is the struggle of the people for emancipation and enlightenment.

We should never underestimate the importance of ideological and political discussion. The capitalists and opportunist political parties are very conscious of the need to prevent the politicalization of the people and that is why they work so hard to create a suffocating political atmosphere of hysteria, disinformation, splits and diversions.

Carrying on consistent, in-depth political and ideological discussion is the way to unleash the human factor - the revolutionary capacity of people to think, organize and act to change the world.

 

For Your Information: GRABBING CONTROL OF IRAQ'S OIL

The puppet Iraqi government, installed by the Pentagon, is preparing to turn most of the country's oil wealth over to U.S. and other foreign oil companies. Since 1972, Iraq's oil industry has been nationalized and closed to foreign exploitation.

The current Iraqi Oil Ministry plans to sign "production sharing agreements" with several oil monopolies within the first 9 months of 2006 and has begun preliminary talks with Chevron, BP, Total, and others. Under "production sharing agreements (PSAs)," the foreign companies control exploration and drilling and most of the oil extracted becomes the property of the company. Only a small percentage of the extracted oil is returned to the government.

According to Iraq's new Petroleum Law, decreed last summer, as many as 63 of the country's 80 oil fields (all those fields not presently under production) will be turned over to foreign companies. This accounts for 64% of Iraq's known reserves. All oil resources discovered in the future will also be turned over to the foreign companies. PSAs last for 25 years or more and generally contain clauses which protect foreign companies against any future regulations or legislation affecting profits. It is estimated that if such PSAs are signed affecting only a few of Iraq's oil fields, the country will lose hundreds of billions of dollars in revenues. It is also estimated that foreign oil companies can expect profits as high as 150%.

PSAs were widely used by U.S. and other oil companies in the 1960's as a way to allow Middle East countries to present the formal appearance of sovereignty over oil resources while keeping effective ownership and most of the profits in the hands of the foreign capitalists. However, today such agreements are banned in the biggest Middle Eastern oil producing countries, including Saudi Arabia and Iran. Reinstituting PSAs in Iraq will not only insure windfall profits and huge new oil reserves for U.S. monopolies, it will change the economic balance of forces in the Middle East.

The take-over of Iraq's oil field is following a plan worked out by the U.S. government and the oil companies well before the formal start of the war in 2003.

Prior to the invasion, the U.S. State Department's "Future of Iraq" project, worked out by a group of oil executives, State Department officials and Iraqi exiles, called for Iraq to "be opened to international oil companies as quickly as possible after the war" and for "a conducive business environment to attract investment of oil and gas resources." (reported in the "Financial Times," April 2003). In an April 2003 report, the Future of Iraq project wrote: "Key attractions of production sharing agreements to private oil companies are that although the reserves are owned by the state, accounting procedures permit the companies to book the reserves in their accounts, but, other things being equal, the most important features from the perspective of private oil companies is that ...the oil companies are therefore protected under a PSA from future adverse legislation....PSAs can induce many billions of dollars of foreign direct investment into Iraq, but only with the right terms, conditions, regulatory framework, laws, oil industry structure and perceived attitude to foreign participation." (U.S. State Department, Future of Iraq Project, Oil and Energy Working Group, April 2003, cited in "Crude Design" by Greg Muttitt). In the words of Archie Dunham, chairman of ConocoPhillips: "We know where the best [Iraqi] reserves are [and] we covet the opportunity to get those some day" (reported in "Financial Times," February 2003 and cited in "Crude Designs").

To oversee the plan, senior oil executives, including Gary Vogler of ExxonMobil and Phillip Carroll of Shell, were sent as U.S. government advisers to Kuwait as early as January 2003 and immediately after the war were appointed by the Coalition Provisional Authority to reorganize Iraq's oil industry. CPA Administrator, Paul Bremer, also quickly appointed Ibrahium Bahr al-Uloum, a member of the Future of Iraq project, as Oil Minister of "liberated" Iraq. Bahr al-Uloum, dutifully called for privatization of the country's oil wealth.

In June 2004, the new interim government, headed by longtime CIA operative Allawi issued guidelines for Oil Policy which officially called for production sharing agreements and forbid the Iraq National Oil Company from developing production in any new fields. The main features of this oil policy were passed into law during the summer of 2005.

MILITARIZATION OF CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS

The Chicago Board of Education (BOE) is rapidly militarizing the city's public schools.

Within the last few years the BOE has turned several high schools into military academies directly run by the armed forces, extended Junior ROTC programs (JROTC) to nearly 50% of the city's high schools, opened several Middle School Cadet Corps to enroll students age 11-14 in military training, and given military recruiters virtual unlimited access to Chicago's high schools.

Thirteen high schools have already been turned into "military academies" operated by the Army or Navy. The curriculum at these schools include courses in military tactics and history (presented from the imperialist point-of-view); the schools are run on the basis of military discipline.

In addition to the 13 military academies, Chicago has the largest JROTC program in the country, enrolling nearly 11,000 students at 30 more high schools. The BOE plans to increase the number of JROTC students to 15,000 by next year. JROTC also requires courses in military tactics, military training, pro-imperialist ideology, etc. JROTC costs the city more than $75,000 per school for a total of $2.8 million in 2003. Across the country, local school boards spend more than $220 million/year on JROTC.

And let there be no mistake about the purpose of JROTC which, in the words of former Defense Secretary General William Cohen, is "one of the best recruiting services that we could have."

Recently the BOE has also begun extending military training to children. Twenty-six schools have enrolled 850 children (age 11-14) in the after-school "Middle School Cadet Corp" run by military personnel who ultimately report directly to the Pentagon. In these schools, children drill with mock rifles and are inculcated with military discipline and ideology. Praising this program, Rick Mills, director of Chicago's JROTC programs, said: "If we have the opportunity to present ourselves at an earlier age, all the better."

While investing more and more of the resources of the public schools in building military institutions, the BOE has also opened the door of Chicago high schools to military recruiters.

Under the provisions of the "No Child Left Behind" Act, the public schools turn the records of all students (who don't "opt out") over to the military. Armed with these lists, Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force personnel freely roam the cafeterias, recreational areas, classrooms, school fairs and hallways accosting students and looking for recruits. The recruiters harass students and their very mission, presence and conduct create an atmosphere of militarism and racism.

In Chicago, and across the country, the government is militarizing the schools because it needs more and more cannon fodder for its wars of conquest and empire.

This militarization is in direct antagonism to the entire premise of a modern educational system. It replaces the movement for enlightenment and truth with the poisons of militarism and racism. It substitutes fascist discipline for free inquiry. It foists, literally at gunpoint, the official ideology of the government, on the youth and children as well as undermines the freedom of conscience and inquiry of the faculty and other educational workers.

In sum, it turns schools from places for learning into institutions for training soldiers and spreading state-sponsored pro-war, pro-imperialist ideology.

CHICAGO CLOSING MORE SCHOOLS

On January 26, the Chicago Public Schools announced new plans for closing several schools and "reorganizing" others.

Under the plan, two elementary schools (Frazier and Morse) and one high school (Collins) will be shut down. Sherman elementary school will be "reinvented;" all the teachers will be fired and the school will be turned over to a private operator, Academy for Urban School Leadership, which already runs four other Chicago schools. Carver High School will also be "reinvented" and its local school council will be eliminated.

CPS is also continuing its program for phasing out Lindblom, Bowen and DuSable High Schools as well as the Arie and KIPP Chicago Youth Village middle schools. As many as 100-200 teachers may lose their jobs through these closures and reorganizations.

The CPS tried to justify the closures by claiming that the students from these schools performed poorly on standardized tests; Mayor Daley said that the children from these poor and minority neighborhoods "are going to end up on the street or prison." (quoted in "Chicago Sun-Times," 2/1/06). The CPS also claimed that the schools slated for closure were "underutilized."

This is the criminal logic of the CPS and Mayor Daley, who are trying to blame their victims (the school children) for the failures of the school hierarchy and city government. They are the authorities who are responsible for systematically underfunding and overcrowding the public schools, especially those in working class and minority neighborhoods.

These latest closings are part of the city's ongoing program of underfunding and devastating public education for the working class. The CPS is already in the middle of its "Renaissance 2010" plan which is shutting down or reorganizing 100 schools, many of which will be turned into charter schools runs by private corporations or the military. The city's plan is to both privatize the public schools and to strengthen a "tracking system" of unequal education in which a small percentage of students are prepared for college while the majority are trained for technical vocations or military services.

For Your Reference: ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS IN THE WEST BANK

After "withdrawing" from Gaza, the Israeli government has been pushing ahead with the expansion and consolidation of its illegal settlements in the West Bank. In December, the Israeli government asked for construction bids for the building of 228 new homes in the Beitar Illit and Efrat settlements near Jerusalem.

Israeli leaders have also restated their plans to incorporate the large settlement blocs of Ariel and Ma'ale Adumin into the state of Israel and to link the latter directly to occupied Jerusalem.

In a December interview published in the Jerusalem Post, Ariel Sharon emphasized that Ma'ale Adumim will continue to grow and be connected to Israel and that the settlement of Ariel would be annexed as "part of Israel forever."

Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza through a war of aggression in 1967. Since then, Israel has carried on a continuous and planned program of grabbing Palestinian land, repressing and dispersing the indigenous Palestinian people and establishing permanent Israeli settlements. Israel's avowed aim is to expand its border and annex more of the land of Palestine.

The number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank is currently estimated at 400,000; between 220,000 and 250,000 live in East Jerusalem. The number of settlements was estimated as at least 198 (see Palestine Monitor September 2003). In addition, settler communities have created some 130 "outposts" throughout the West Bank Some former outposts have, over the years, evolved into more permanent settlements like Amona, Horsha, Givat Harel and Zayit Ra'anan.

Some 2.34 million dunums or 42% of the West Bank (excluding Jerusalem) are currently under the jurisdiction of settlements. 96,000 dunums of these are within built-up areas while the remainder serve as future land reserves for settlement extension (Palestine Monitor).

In addition, the settlements are linked to each other through a network of military access or "by-pass" roads which are reserved only for settlers and the Israeli military. Palestinians are forbidden to travel on these roads. The roads cut through Palestinian towns and villages and divide Palestinian areas into cantons, separated and easily encircled by the Israeli military.

International Law

Israeli settlements in the West Bank directly violate international law and repeated U.N. resolutions.

Article 49, paragraph 6 of the Fourth Geneva Convention explicitly stipulates that "the occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies." Article 46 of the Hague Convention prohibits the confiscation of private property in occupied territory. The confiscation of land by the Israeli government for settlement construction is in violation of this article. Article 55 of the Hague Convention stipulates that "the occupying state shall be regarded only as administrator and usufructuary of public buildings, real estate, forests, and agricultural estates belonging to the hostile State, and situated in the occupied country. It must safeguard the capital of these properties, and administer them in accordance with the rules of usufruct." In other words, the occupying power cannot take over or use territories or private properties in the occupied territories to serve the interests of its civilian population.

UN Security Council Resolution 242 (1967) calls for Israel to withdraw completely from territories it occupied. The settlements are the biggest obstacle to implementing this resolution. UN Security Council Resolution 465 (1980), which was unanimously adopted, made it clear that "Israel's policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants" in the occupied territories constitutes "a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East". The Security Council called upon Israel to "dismantle the existing settlements and in particular to cease, on an urgent basis, the establishment, construction or planning of settlements in the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem."

The whole world knows, as Israel itself has repeatedly proclaimed, that Israel is setting up settlements in the West Bank as part of a planned annexation of the West Bank and expansion of the state of Israel. This aggressive expansionism of the Israeli state also aims at dividing the remaining Palestinian-inhabited areas of the West Bank into small, isolated cantons or ghettoes deprived of the geographic, economic and political conditions necessary to create a viable and independent Palestinian state.

From the 1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza until today, the U.S. government has supported Israeli settlements and expansion, financing and directing its military operations and repression against the Palestinian people.

On April 14 2004, George Bush publicly endorsed Israeli annexation of West Bank settlements, writing in a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Sharon: "in light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949."

U.S. OFFICIALS THREATEN MILITARY ACTION AGAINST IRAN

Since February 4, when the International Atomic Energy Agency voted to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council over alleged nuclear treaty violations, top U.S. officials have repeatedly threatened to go to war.

On February 6, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney, stated "all options, including the military one, are on the table." Rumsfeld also labeled Iran as "the main sponsor of terrorist organizations" in the region. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice also said "The world will not stand by if Iran continues on this path."

On the same day, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said "We need to use diplomatic sanctions. If that doesn't work, economic sanctions, and if that doesn't work, the potential for military use has to be on the table...We cannot allow Iran to become a nuclear nation." Asked by reporters whether military force against Iran was necessary, First said: "The answer is yes, absolutely."

Senator John McCain, speaking in Missouri, also stated that "all options would have to remain on the table" including military action, and urged unilateral economic sanctions against Iran, regardless of United Nations support.

U.S. HOLDING MORE MILITARY EXERCISES IN THE PHILIPPINES

From February 20 to March 5, thousands of U.S. soldiers will participate in the "Balikatan" war exercises in the Philippines.

These annual war exercises provide joint military training for Filipino and U.S. troops, and this year the event will take place in Luzon, Cebu, and Sulu provinces. According to the Pentagon, the exercises are designed "to promote interoperability between participating countries" and will "conduct counter-terrorism operations."

Over 5,500 U.S. military personnel and approximately 2,800 Armed Forces of the Philippines personnel will participate in the exercise.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in a January 19 statement on these U.S. military exercises says: "The Balikatan exercises only result in massive violations of the rights of the people and tramples the people's sovereign right." The CPP further says that the claim "that US soldiers will not directly participate in combat operations is an outright lie as there are records and witnesses [from previous joint exercises] that would prove they do....The cases of Buyong-Buyong Isnijal, and the US troops in joint combat operations to pursue the CIA-created Abu Sayyaf Group in 2004 are just some of the instances that point to the imperialist United States' deep involvement in the internal affairs of the country."

The CPP added that "the medical missions and other so-called humanitarian missions of the US troops in the resource-rich areas and in areas where revolutionary groups are present, especially in Mindanao are, in fact, intelligence gathering operations and are part of the US' stratagem. Balikatan exercises are nothing but part of the US war of aggression."

"For the US to take full economic and military control, it must crush the revolutionary New People's Army, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and even progressive organizations and freedom-loving Filipinos aggressively opposing US imperialism."

 

Volume 20, No. 2 January 29, 2006

FORD PLANS MORE LAYOFFS

On January 23, Ford Motor Company announced that it will close down 14 plants and eliminate 30,000 jobs (nearly 25% of its North American workforce) over the next few years.

Ford's announcement came on the heels of similar mass lay-offs by General Motors. Over the last 5 years, Ford, GM and Chrysler have eliminated or announced plans to eliminate 86,000 jobs.

These massive layoffs violate Ford's contract with the UAW which commits Ford to a moratorium on plant closings. In addition, the layoffs came less than a year after Ford forced its workers to accept $850 million in health care cuts on the promise of saving jobs. Ford is expected to seek even more wage and benefit concessions from workers in next year's contract.

Over the last 2 years Ford has grabbed nearly $400 billion in revenues and $5.5 billion in declared profits (plus billions more in executive salaries and expense accounts, interest payments to other capitalists, etc.).

Ford "justified" these layoffs with the standard capitalist line about "high labor and health care costs," the need to "maintain competitiveness" and "restore profitability." Along with the monopoly-controlled media, the capitalists seek to create an atmosphere in which such job cuts are considered, perhaps unfortunate, but a part of life about which nothing can be done.

But these layoffs mean that tens of thousands of workers and their families will lose their livelihoods. Workers will lose their health insurance; families will lose their homes; daughters and sons will be forced to drop out of school, etc., etc. All so that Ford can increase its profits.

Yet more. As every worker knows, in cutting back on its workforce, Ford will, at the same time, intensify the exploitation of the remaining workers. The layoff of some workers always means job combination and speed-up for those who stay on the job.

The workers, at Ford and throughout the country, cannot afford to accept the state of affairs in which their livelihoods can be wiped out whenever the capitalists see fit. At every factory and workplace, the workers have to continuously struggle against job combinations and speed-up as well as against layoffs. In addition, workers must come into the political arena to wage a generalized struggle to win ironclad guarantees for job or income security.

The root problem is that under the capitalist system, the capitalists monopolize the tools of society - the means required by society and every individual to secure a livelihood. By converting the social property which belongs to everyone into their own "private" property, the capitalists effectively enslave the workers, making our very livelihood dependent on the capitalists' profit-making needs. This situation must be changed. The tools of society must be used, in the first place, to guarantee the livelihoods of the laboring people.

EXCEPTION OR RULE?

by Bill Foster

I remember learning in elementary school about the absurd, illogic of the medieval church in its attempts to "save" the antiquated theory which placed the earth at the center of the universe.

The problem for the ideologists of feudalism was that observations of the stars had proved, again and again, that the orbits assigned to the planets by the earth-centered theory simply did not correspond with the facts. Confronted with this contradiction between the real world, on one hand, and the official ideology of Church and King, on the other, the medieval "scientists" adopted the theory of "epicycles" or exceptions. Accordingly, the earth, of course, remained the center of the universe and every fact which disproved this theory was "explained away" by constructing new "epicycles" or exceptions. Over the years as more observations exploded the earth-centered myth, more and more "epicycles" were invented. Pretty soon the "theory" was so filled with contradictions and holes that the only thing holding it together was the appeal to blind faith and the armed force of the medieval state ("heretics," who insisted that the earth was not the center of the universe, were burned at the stake).

The medieval clerics remind me of today's Democratic Party liberals and their "left-wing" hangers-on, the opportunists.

The liberals admit, for example, that the war in Iraq was started for bad reasons and that tens of thousands of people have been murdered. But they dutifully intone the prayer: "Now that we're there, we can't just leave." In other words, the invasion of Iraq was a "mistake" but the basis of U.S foreign policy is to "bring democracy and peace" to the world.

On further inspection, it seems that there are as many "mistakes" in U.S. foreign policy as there were "exceptions" to the earth-centered cosmology. Yes, the bombing of Pakistan was a "mistake" but the U.S. foreign policy aims at democracy. Yes, support for Israeli aggression against Palestine is a "mistake" but the U.S. foreign policy aims at democracy. Yes, the blockade against Cuba, the occupation of Korea, the threats against Venezuela, the first Gulf war, the wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua, Vietnam, etc., ad infinitum were "mistakes." But now that the U.S. is in Iraq, it must stay. By faith alone (or the force of the U.S. state) the liberals insist that U.S. foreign policy aims at democracy.

As for the opportunists their favorite dogma is that the "Democrats are for peace," and the opportunists cling to this dogma no matter how many facts prove the opposite. Yes, the Democrats have helped carry on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in Palestine and Haiti. Yes Clinton attacked Yugoslavia, Truman dropped the atom bomb, Kennedy invaded Cuba, Johnson escalated the war in Vietnam, etc. ad infinitum. But the Democrats are for peace.

When does the "exception" prove to be the real rule?

Perhaps the real reason, why the liberal Democrats and opportunists cannot separate fact from dogma is that, like the clerical obscurantists of medieval times, they have a stake in the dominant ideology. Just as the clerics supported the earth-centered conception of the universe because they supported the King-Church centered feudal society, so too the liberals and opportunists are propagandists for the American-centered conception of the contemporary world because they support the capitalist-imperialist system based on the oppression of nations.

PEOPLES' LIBERATION STRUGGLES ARE A GREAT FORCE FOR PEACE

The U.S. government is using the electoral victory of Hamas as an occasion to again intensify its pressure against the Palestinian people.

The U.S. loudly condemns Hamas as "terrorist" and insists that the Palestinians must renounce their armed struggle against Israeli occupation and aggression before they can be considered "legitimate."

The "logic" of U.S. imperialism is beyond hypocrisy. The U.S.-Israeli aggressors can grab Palestinian land, kill Palestinian children - in fact colonize the entire country and subjugate the people. But the Palestinians have no right to resist and fight for their rights, their very existence.

And not just in Palestine. U.S. imperialism invades Iraq, sets up a colonial regime, kills a 100,000+ civilians, and condemns any Iraqi who resists as a "terrorist." In Afghanistan too, the patriots who fight against U.S. aggression are "terrorists;" in Haiti, those who oppose the U.S.-U.N. occupation are "gangs;" etc.

This is the law of all colonialists and slavemasters. They make war to oppress and enslave the peoples while insisting that the oppressed have no right to fight for their freedom.

The right to resist, the right of oppressed peoples to rise, arms-in- hand, against imperialism, is an inviolable right, recognized even in international law. But it is also more than this.

In today's world, the liberation struggles of the oppressed nations - the revolutionary movement of the Palestinian people, the Iraqi people, the Haitian people, etc., - are a great motive force for progress and democracy. When the peoples defeat the occupiers and assert their sovereignty, they turn their country from a base for imperialism and war into a base for peace, equality and friendship.

Wholeheartedly supporting these struggles is one of the touchstones of a thorough-going anti-war, anti-imperialist movement.

HOUSTON IMPOSES "MERIT PAY" ON TEACHERS

In January, the Houston Board of Education imposed a "merit pay" scale on the city's 12,300 public school teachers. Houston is the country's 7th largest school district with over 200,000 public school students.

The merit pay scheme will award higher pay to teachers at schools whose students achieve certain scores on standardized tests. Pre-K teachers, Special Ed instructors and teachers in subjects not included on standardized tests (e.g. music, art, history, etc.) will not be eligible for these raises. One result will be that schools with higher standardized test scores will inevitably recruit more teachers thereby widening the gap between schools.

The Houston Federation of Teachers opposed this merit pay scheme and called for across the board raises for all teachers. However, since Texas law bans public employee collective bargaining, the Board of Education has implemented the plan over the teachers' objections.

Houston's shift to "merit pay" is part of a national trend. Also in January, all new teachers in the Denver school system will receive only "merit" raises (current teachers are free to choose the new plan or a traditional pay scale). New York City has begun a partial merit pay system and politicians in other states and cities are pushing such proposals.

The program and ideology of "merit pay" is an attack on teachers and the public school system.

For decades, teachers were drastically underpaid and subject to arbitrary treatment and discrimination in wages, job security, working conditions, etc. Women and minority teachers were paid less. Politicians and administrators rewarded their friends and punished their enemies, looking on the teaching profession as part of the "political machine." Teachers were routinely denied the freedom of conscience and the right to teach the truth.

Through repeated struggles, teachers improved their conditions. Union contracts and various laws have created objective standards which guarantee a measure of job security and equal wages commensurate with teachers' level of education and years on the job. "Merit pay" seeks to replace these objective standards with subjective criteria, including the "evaluation" of the principal and student performance on standardized tests.

Teachers will be put tightly under the thumb of administrators and be expected to meet every demand of the principal or be denied their "merit" raise. In the end, more and more teachers will be denied "merit pay" increases and teachers' wages will not keep pace with inflation or other workers.

The justifications used to push merit pay claim that "teachers aren't getting the job done," "seniority makes teachers lazy," "union rules don't work," etc. This ideology is also a vicious attack on teachers and basic democratic rights. In place of equal work for equal pay, objective standards and seniority rights guarantying teachers' livelihood, merit pay seeks to put teachers completely at the mercy of the arbitrary demands of the political establishment. Merit pay is not only a scheme for increasing the exploitation of teachers but an attack on the integrity of the public schools and on any modern definition of rights.

WORKING CLASS SCHOOLS ARE UNDERFUNDED

A comprehensive study of public school finances shows that most states spend dramatically less money on the education of children from poor and minority communities than children living in richer districts.

The study, recently published by the Education Trust, found that across the country, state and local governments spend an average of $907/student less in the highest-poverty districts then in the lowest-poverty districts. In many states the gap is even higher. Illinois, for example, spends $2,065/pupil less in poor districts than rich ones; in New York the figure is $2,280 less. In many states this gap amounts to 20%-50% of the average per pupil spending. Education Trust's study also found that this spending gap has been increasing over the years.

This "per pupil" gap must be multiplied by the number of students in an individual classroom or school to see how drastically some schools are underfunded. For a class of 25 students, a gap of $2,000/pupil equals $50,000/year (the salary of another teacher); for a high school of 1,500, a $2,000/pupil gap means $3 million/year (the salaries of about 60 teachers).

Still more, several initial studies by the Education Trust and other groups indicate that even within the poorer districts there is a dramatic funding gap between schools in the poorest neighborhoods and those in better-off communities.

Across the country many struggles are developing to fight for equality in educational funding. In some states, the people have pushed through laws forcing state governments to increase spending in poor districts. In Massachusetts, for example, a 1993 law required the state to increase school funding by 12%/year with the new money targeted to schools attended by poorer students. Last year, 4th and 8th graders in Massachusetts out-performed students in every other state in both reading and math according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress; the percentage of Massachusetts 4th and 8th graders performing at grade level has more than doubled since 1992.

By depriving working class and minority schools of equal funding, the government is denying one of our most elementary rights. And the general push by the Republicans and Democrats is to increase the funding gap. In opposition, the people must develop even more powerful struggles to win equality in funding.

UN TROOPS ATTACK HOSPITAL IN HAITI

The following is excerpted from an article in HaitiAction.net, January 20, 2006.

It was about 11 p.m. at St. Catherine's Hospital in Cite Soleil on Wednesday night as exhausted doctors and nurses were treating numerous victims of gunshots wounds and filling out paperwork for the four corpses of the unfortunate ones whose lives they could not save.

"There had been a rush of gunshot victims and those who would talk told us it was the result of the U.N. opening fire on them. All of a sudden we heard loud booms and glass breaking and then we realized the hospital was being fired upon. At first we couldn't tell where it was coming from but then we saw the tracers coming from the direction of the old Boulos market that is now an armed encampment for the Jordanians in Cite Soleil. There was panic as a bullet struck a window in the Children's Ward and everyone went diving for cover," explained a hospital worker who asked to remain anonymous. . . .

Jeanette Lager, a 38 year-old mother clutching her ailing 2 month-old son, described the attack, "My friends who were on the street said they saw the U.N. firing at the hospital. I was inside with my sick baby when all of sudden glass started breaking and we could hear the gunfire from across the road where the U.N. controls the street. Look at the size of the bullet holes, look at the damage they caused. These were not small weapons. The U.N. is killing us in the streets and now they are attacking the only hospital we have in Cite Soleil. It's criminal and it must be stopped."

Benis Benjamin, whose 8 year-old daughter Valancia was shot in their home by U.N. forces the same night, described his fear as gunfire struck the hospital. "My little girl was shot in our home by MINUSTAH [the U.N. military forces] last night and I had to rush her here to save her life. The only reason she is alive is because of this hospital. Then I had to worry she might be a killed a second time when they began firing on the hospital. Thank God the hospital is still here," Mr. Benjamin stated....

HaitiAction.net also reports that on the same day, January 20, Jordanian forces in Cite Soleil attempted to block the access of journalists into another area of the community where more reported killings of unarmed civilians occurred yesterday. After finding another route around the Jordanians, journalists saw evidence of at least two more persons residents said were gunned down by MINUSTAH forces Thursday morning. John Erickson's body lay less than 30 feet from a wide street named Bwa Neuf that is patrolled by Jordanian soldiers in Armored Personnel Vehicles 24-hours a day. Residents claimed he was shot along with several others at about 9 a.m. when gunfire erupted from U.N. forces.

Another man, known by his neighbors only as "Ti Blan", lies in a pool of blood and was the apparent victim of a single shot that ripped into his chest. All of those interviewed at the scene repeated several times that the victims were unarmed at the time U.N. forces opened fire.

More than 9,000 U.S. and U.N. troops have been occupying Haiti since March 2004, when a U.S. invasion overthrew the elected government and imposed a pro-U.S. puppet regime.

U.S. TRAMPLES ON PHILIPPINE SOVEREIGNTY

(From 1/19 statement of the Communist Party of the Philippines.)

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today assailed the Arroyo regime for its obsequious acceptance of the US government's decision to maintain custody of four US servicemen accused of raping a 22-year old Filipina in November 2005.

CPP spokesperson Gregorio "Ka Roger" Rosal said the Arroyo regime "surrendered the nation's sovereignty" in refusing to serve the warrant of arrest issued by the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court January 13 after the US Embassy invoked the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and insisted on maintaining custody of the four rape suspects.

Rosal condemned what he called the US government's "superpower arrogance and complete disdain for the Filipino nation" in refusing to hand over the accused servicemen.

He said...that the VFA was formulated precisely to shield US soldiers from being covered by the Philippine justice system.

"The VFA, the manner with which the US invokes it and the Arroyo regime's acquiescence to US wishes are clear affronts on Philippine sovereignty," Rosal remarked. "The status of the Philippines as a US neocolony is further emphasized in this so-called extraordinary case where the Philippine justice system has no authority nor custody of these American servicemen accused of a heinous crime."

Rosal said the US government's refusal to surrender the American servicemen underscores "the justness and legitimacy of the long-standing patriotic demand for the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement."

He called for the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement, as well as the Mutual Defense Treaty and other unequal military treaties between the Philippines and the US.

GAS COMPANIES STEAL PUBLIC RESOURCES

Recently published government data reveals that the oil and gas companies have been cheating the government of hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties.

Gas producers are required to pay the government between 12% to 16% of the sale price of natural gas produced on public lands. But by systematically under-reporting the actual price of the gas, companies cheated the government out of at least $700 million in 2005. In fact, since 2001, while gas prices have doubled, the gas producers have been paying the government less in royalties. Over the years, big oil and gas producers have repeatedly been prosecuted for similar underpayment of royalties. The increasing fraud has been linked to the fact that the Bush administration has drastically and deliberately cut back on government auditing and check-up of federal gas leases.

The root problem goes deeper than cooking the books and stealing. The fundamental question is: why are private companies allowed to exploit the natural resources of our country which belong to all the people?

While millions of working class families literally cannot afford to heat their homes, the capitalists at Exxon-Mobil, ChevronTexaco, etc. are grabbing billions in profits by expropriating publicly-owned resources. Last year alone, the gas and oil capitalists took nearly $60 billion in natural gas from public lands. Who gave these moneybags our gas?

Instead of letting the capitalist exploiters rob our national patrimony, the people must demand control over the gas, oil and other resources. These resources must be used to meet the needs of the people, not enrich a few.

 

Volume 20, No. 1 January 17, 2006

QUALITATIVE CHANGES

Several articles in this edition deal with issues that are becoming all too commonplace.

Two articles are concerned with the intensifying struggle over pensions and income-security for retired workers. Another two articles address issues related to the struggle over private control of our country's public schools.

Precisely because these issues are becoming commonplace they are about more than isolated, individual struggles - about more than the cutting of a few dollars from the pensions of some workers or simply the opening of a few more charter schools. The fact is that the capitalist class and the capitalist government are unfolding a concerted, nationwide struggle aimed at fundamental changes. They are waging a real war against the rights of the people, trying to throw our country hundreds of years backwards.

The capitalists aim to eliminate or slash pensions below the minimum necessary for survival and deny any social responsibility for the income-security of retired workers. The capitalists aim at destroying our country's modern educational system and turning back to the feudal days when education was reserved as a privilege for the lords of wealth.

Similar attacks are being carried out against all the people's economic rights - against health care coverage, against even the most minimal governmental guarantees for food and shelter, against any semblance of job security, etc.

These generalized attacks against the people require a generalized response. The people are already waging many determined battles against the capitalist offensive. More such battles will be needed and each one deserves the support of all the working people. At the same time, we must read the writing on the wall. We must not only stop the assault on our rights. We must push forward with our own proactive, independent movement in order to win ironclad guarantees for income-security in retirement, modern and equal education for all, free, comprehensive health care and all our fundamental economic rights.

LESSONS OF THE TRANSIT STRIKE

by Bill Foster

2005 ended with the victorious strike of the New York City transit workers.

Before and during the strike, the monopoly-controlled media tried to slander and isolate the transit workers. Repeating the standard refrain that the government "had no money," the media and government insisted the workers had no choice but to accept wage and pension cuts. The workers were branded as "greedy" and "selfish" and denounced for "holding the public to ransom."

The government tried to intimidate and suppress the workers. Mayor Bloomberg called them "thugs" and demanded "no negotiations." Government officials called for firing all the strikers. The court issued an injunction, fining the union and each individual worker for exercising the inalienable right to withhold his/her labor-power.

Just what were the transit workers demanding that enraged the capitalist media and government so much? They were fighting against cutbacks, especially against the attempt of the Metropolitan Transit Authority to drastically cut their pensions - to deprive workers of the right to a secure retirement, a right which they earn through a lifetime of labor.

How many times have workers heard the capitalists and government crying "poverty?" How many times has this blackmail been used to demand wage and benefit cuts? The transit workers showed that by not giving way to this blackmail, the workers can force the capitalists to "find" the money they allegedly don't have. The duty of the workers is not to insure profits for the capitalists or to help the government's budget-cutting: their duty is to defend their basic economic rights, to fight for their wages and benefits.

The media and government were unable to turn public opinion against the transit workers. On the contrary, the strike roused the spirit of workers all across the country. Workers everywhere were filled with pride at the courage and strength of the transit strike. And workers know that, not only in New York but across the country, the capitalists and government are aiming to slash pensions. Workers felt that their pensions too were, at least partly, on the line in the transit strike.

This strike again proved that when workers refuse to give in to the threats and blackmail, when they stand and fight, they can win. They can win because the workers are the class whose labor makes the society run; they can win because they are part of and enjoy the support of the overwhelming majority of the people. Daring to struggle is more than half the battle.

Yet the greatest inspiration of the transit strike is that the workers fought not simply for their immediate interests but for the general interests of all the working people. Days before the strike, the government gave up its "non-negotiable" demand to slash pensions. The government agreed to guarantee the pensions of all current transit workers but still insisted on cutting pensions for future workers. But the transit workers, despite the intense pressure on all sides, stood their ground, insisting they would not sell out the future of the working class. This is the true union spirit, the spirit of the workers - "All for One and One for All."

The lessons of the New York transit strike must be kept in mind, especially because the capitalists and their government are going to continue their attacks. In particular, government officials across the country are declaring that the "issue of public pensions is now on the table" and that they are going to keep trying to slash and eliminate pensions.

The transit workers have given us an example of how to fight. Let all the workers prepare for the coming battles to defend their pensions, health care and wages. Let us follow the spirit of "All for One, One for All!"

WORKERS' PENSIONS UNDER ATTACK

I.B.M. began the new year by announcing that it will replace its current employee pension plan - based on defined benefits - with a 401K plan.

I.B.M. funds the country's third largest private pension plan, covering 117,000 employees and 125,000 retirees. Under the current defined benefit plan, IBM workers, at retirement age, are guaranteed a fixed monthly income for life, based on years of service and earnings. Beginning in 2008, IBM will stop funding this defined benefit plan and only offer employees a 401K plan, funded jointly by company and employee contributions. Under the 401k plan, workers only receive a lump-sum on retirement instead of a guaranteed monthly pension. As a result of the change, IBM expects to cut its pension obligations by several billion dollars over the next few years while future retirees will receive substantially lower pensions.

In switching from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan, IBM is following a nationwide trend. Within the last year, for example, such giant companies as Verizon, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, and Sears have made similar changes.

In fact, today less 19% of the active workforce have defined benefit pension plans; in the late '70's nearly 2/3rd of the workforce had such guaranteed pensions. It is estimated that the shift from defined benefit to defined contribution plans has resulted in a 50% cut in pensions. What is more, nearly all defined contribution plans demand employee contributions, with the company usually doing no more than matching the employee's contribution.

Many large companies are also stealing workers' pensions by defaulting on their obligations altogether. For example, last year, several major airlines, including United (134,000 workers), Delta (65,000 full-time workers), and Northwest (35,000 workers) defaulted on their pensions. So too, Delphi, the large auto parts manufacturer which employs 33,000 workers, went to bankruptcy court seeking to default on its pension obligations. In the case of United, the Association of Flight Attendants estimates that 70% of its membership will lose more than 50% of their pensions.

Altogether, the pension funds sponsored by private corporations, and covering 44 million workers, are underfunded by more than $300 billion, putting the pensions of millions at immediate risk.

The underfunding of these pension plans is a result of outright theft by the capitalists. For years, the capitalists refused to pay as much into these funds as was required by their legal obligations. By using creative accounting and temporary increases in stock prices, the capitalists frequently raided the pension funds, claiming they were "overfunded" and withdrawing monies to distribute as profits for stockholders. Today, as these thefts come home to roost, the capitalists are simply turning to bankruptcy courts and the government's Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation to declare themselves in default. The courts and government, in turn, are legalizing this robbery, allowing the companies to renege on workers' pensions.

By defaulting on pensions, the capitalists are robbing the workers of wages they have already earned. Over the years, workers and their unions frequently accepted increased pensions instead of immediate increases in take-home pay. But instead of setting these wages aside and guarantying workers' pensions, the capitalists converted these funds into new sources of superprofits. Today the workers are robbed of their retirement years - of their very lives.

Public Sector

The recent struggle of New York City transit workers brought into public focus, governmental attacks on the pensions of public sector workers. Even though the workers were able to beat back the Transit Authority's attempt to slash pensions, government officials, in New York and throughout the country, declared that they will continue to push the issue.

In Illinois the 2006 budget imposed several cuts on the pensions of state workers as well as public school teachers and employees of state universities and community colleges. These changes included increasing teachers' contributions for early retirement benefits and various limitations on the size of pensions. In addition, a special Governor's Commission continues to look into new ways to cut pensions. Several other states, including Florida, Colorado, South Carolina, Arizona, Ohio and Montana are taking steps to shift from defined benefit plans to defined contribution plans. Michigan and Alaska are excluding some new employees from pension plans. Retiree health benefits are also under attack in many states. Across the country, many government officials and capitalist "think-tanks" are calling for ending pensions for all new public employees.

Once again, the problem is arising because state and local governments have deliberately and illegally underfunded their pension plans for decades. Illinois, for example, has fallen $35 billion in arrears over the last 30 years; New Jersey's pension plan is underfunded by $25 billion, etc. Nationally, state and local pension plans are underfunded by some $460 billion. Mimicking the private capitalists, the governments are saying that since they already stole the workers monies, this robbery must be legalized by slashing pensions.

Secure, guaranteed pensions are vital to the well-being and longevity of the retired workers who generally cannot make ends meet on Social Security alone.

Today, the average Social Security check is $955/month for individuals and $1,574/month for couples. These meager checks account for 80% of the income for 2/3 of recipients (about 22 million retired workers). In other words, single retired workers are living on less than $1,200/month while retired couples average less than $2,000/month.

Out of these meager checks seniors pay, on average, several hundred dollars/month in medical expenses alone. This is because Medicare pays less than 50% of average medical expenses and employers keep eliminating or slashing retiree health insurance.

The economic conditions facing senior citizens is a national disgrace - tens of millions live in poverty and the future looks even bleaker for current workers.

The people must face up to this grave and worsening situation. We must not only wage repeated struggles to defend and extend pension plans. We must develop a nationwide political struggle to force the capitalists and the government to recognize the inviolable right of workers, who have given a lifetime of labor to society, to a secure economic retirement. Only a society which guarantees this right can be considered modern and humane.

U.S. STEPS UP AIRSTRIKES IN IRAQ

The U.S. military is dramatically stepping up air strikes against Iraq.

The number of airstrikes in 2005, which were an average of 25 per month until August, surged to 120 in November and 150 in December, according to official military figures.

The intensification of the air war is expected to continue as part of the so-called "Iraqification" of the war, a strategy through which the U.S. desperately tries to put a "democratic, Iraqi" face on the war, in part by replacing U.S. ground troops with more puppet soldiers backed by the bombing power of the U.S. airforce.

On December 24, the Washington Post reported that the bombings are resulting in large numbers of civilian casualties. "Townspeople, tribal leaders, medical workers and accounts from witnesses at the sites of clashes, at hospitals and at graveyards indicated that scores of noncombatants were killed last month in fighting."

Again, on January 3, U.S. warplanes bombed a building north of Baghdad, killing and wounding 11 Iraqi civilians. The bombing took place in Beiji, site of Iraq's largest oil refinery, said Iraqi police Capt. Arkan Jassim, who reported the casualty figures. News video showed dozens of people gathered near the rubble of the building carrying dead bodies, including several children, wrapped in carpets from the rubble. The Beiji airstrike was one of 58 air missions the U.S. military carried out that day over Iraq, according to officials.

In another raid on January 5, U.S. officials admitted that F-14 Navy warplanes "had bombed the wrong home" resulting in "collateral damage."

This barbarous bombing of population centers again shows that U.S. imperialism's strategy is to target and terrorize the entire Iraqi people in the attempt to stamp out any resistance to U.S. domination and to subjugate the country. The tactic of "Iraqification," far from ending U.S. occupation, is a tactic for escalating the war.

EDITORIALS:

The Struggle for Sovereignty

The U.S. government lives and breaths chauvinism like humans breath air.

Day after day, new "edicts" are decreed. Most recently, Iran is again threatened with economic sanctions and possible military strikes. Why? The U.S. government - the arbiter of privilege and punishment to all countries - has decided that Iran "can't be trusted" to carry on nuclear research. And the U.S. knows this as surely as the Grand Inquisitor knows the devil, because the Bush administration has "secret information" revealing Iran's "real motives."

In the monopoly-controlled media, U.S. imperialism's program of dictate - this militarism and aggression - is presented not only as the natural order of things but as "just" and "right." Of course, the U.S. must bomb democracy into the Iraqi people who are too backward to decide for themselves. The Iraqi resistance is terrorist because the U.S. government says it is. Of course U.S. troops can occupy Korea and partition the country while North Korea has no right to take measures to defend itself. Of course, the U.S., which rigs its own elections, has the right to dictate a "democratic" political system to Cuba. No country is sovereign. No people have rights. The U.S. capitalists alone decide.

But the imperialist arrogance of the U.S. government is not and will not stand. In the long run, it is like the absurdity of the ancient King who whipped the sea for not obeying his commands.

Today, across the globe countries are fighting for sovereignty and independence; peoples are fighting for freedom and social emancipation. Iran is not caving in. The DPRK (North Korea) is building up its own economic and political system, based on its sovereign strength. Cuba keeps defeating the plots of the U.S. Across Latin America, the peoples and governments are rejecting neo-liberalism and U.S. domination. In Iraq and Afghanistan, as in Palestine and elsewhere, the peoples are fighting against imperialism and for their national salvation.

All who desire progress and democracy must stand with the peoples and countries struggling for their sovereignty, independence and liberation.

Trampling on Democratic Rights

At the end of last year, George Bush was asked about the illegal, warrantless wiretapping of the phone calls of Americans citizens and residents. Bush replied that his administration would continue to carry out this illegal surveillance as long as the government deemed necessary.

Bush's words and deeds remind us of just what kind of government we have. It is a government which, unrestrained by any law, wantonly tramples on the rights of the people.

In fact, these warrantless phone taps are only one of the fascist methods being used every day. The government has admitted to systematically spying on hundreds of political organizations, to infiltrating and videotaping anti-war demonstrations and meetings, to keeping dossiers on activists, to mass "preemptive" arrests at demonstrations, etc. Tens of thousands of Arab-Americans and Muslims have been arbitrarily arrested and harassed, their houses and mosques raided, their organizations suppressed, etc. Prisoners-of-war are tortured and Americans are kept in jail without charge or warrant for years.

These methods are not exclusive to the Bush administration; in fact, they are the typical methods used by the U.S. capitalist state. Just as Bush cites his power as "commander-in-chief" in the so-called "war on terrorism," the Republicans and Democrats have long used the slogans of "national security" and "preventing subversion" to justify aggressive, imperialist wars, to suppress trade unionists and outlaw strikes, to attack the communists and other independent political organizations, to call out the troops against the civil rights struggles, etc.

The methods of the government reflect its aims and its class interests. The government is afraid of the people exercising their basic democratic rights because it knows that the people are opposed to what the government is doing. The overwhelming majority of the people want peace and an end to U.S. imperialism's wars in Iraq and elsewhere. The government wants to intimidate us and suppress our rights so as to stop us from organizing against the war. The people demand greater social investments and ironclad guarantees for such inalienable rights as health care, education, a decent standard of living, etc. The government attacks our rights to organize, to strike, etc. in order to prevent us from demanding control over the funds in the public treasury. And so it goes. The government attacks the rights of the people because it is a government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich.

The rich man's government will never restrain itself or voluntarily protect the rights of the people.

The people must assert their rights and build up the organized strength to defend their rights. In the course of fighting against the arbitrary power and attacks of the government, we must aim at changing the government altogether. We must break the power of the rich and create a new government which genuinely empowers the working and oppressed people.

WHAT THE IMPERIALISTS ARE PLANNING

The U.S. capitalist class, in its centuries-long struggle to subjugate other nations, has relied on the counter-revolutionary dual tactics of combining open military aggression with political deception. The use of such dual tactics takes many forms. For example, during the wars of conquest against the Native peoples, the capitalists repeatedly signed peace treaties while preparing yet new wars. In more recent times, U.S. imperialism has frequently alternated and combined direct military intervention with "indirect" domination through puppet armies and governments.

The U.S. government has employed such counter-revolutionary dual tactics from the very beginning of its war against Iraq. Even before the "official" start of the war in March 2003, the U.S. government combined open war threats with repeated calls for "negotiations," "weapons inspections," etc. The facts show that these tactics were used in tandem with the single objective of putting Iraq under the thumb of U.S. imperialism. The Pentagon has subsequently admitted that for months before the war, while the press was filled with talk of "negotiated solutions," the repeated bombing campaigns against Iraq were the first salvoes of the war. As for the "weapons inspectors," they have confessed to being spies reporting to the U.S. military. In the U.S., the "softer" tactic of "negotiations" helped to hold the opposition at bay, create the illusion that war could be avoided even while carrying the chauvinism and imperialist aims of the warmakers into the anti-war movement.

Today, as the resistance in Iraq continues to defeat the U.S. aggressors and the American people step up their anti-war struggles, the capitalists are further refining their counter-revolutionary dual tactics. In particular, the Democratic Party is increasingly advertised as the "alternative" to "Bush's war." But the Democrats' "exit strategy" is only an attempt to buy more time for the war and cover over the character of U.S. occupation.

To begin with, let us not forget that for all that the Democrats huff and puff, they remain adamantly opposed to the withdrawal of U.S. troops. This was proved again in mid-November when the House of Representatives voted 403 to 3 against the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops. Commenting on the vote, the Progressive Democrats of America (which advertises itself as the extreme "anti-war" wing of the party) contemptuously referred to the demand for immediate withdrawal as a "cut and run" position (PDA statement, November 18, 2005).

A good picture of the real program of the "left-wing", "anti-war" Democrats can be seen by looking at the Congressional hearing, entitled "How to Bring the Troops Home", organized last September by Lynn Woolsey and 18 other Congresspeople from the "Out of Iraq" caucus.

One of the star "anti-war" witnesses at the hearings was David Mack, Vice President of the Middle East Institute and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East.

Mack's preoccupation is that the U.S. "not leave Iraq in a way that would make matters worse: worse for Iraqis and laden with future threats to vital U.S. interests." Echoing George Bush, Mack worries that "Iraq may become a failed state...offering safe havens to international terrorist groups and a vast pool of embittered and desperate recruits from among the Iraqi population...think of Afghanistan, following the withdrawal of Soviet forces. But Iraq's strategic position, married to its far superior resources of potential wealth...would make it vastly more dangerous."

Thus, Mack insists on "a responsible U.S. disengagement from Iraq [which] requires an international diplomatic context, and a lower U.S. profile...the U.S. and Iraqi governments should agree on benchmarks for the gradual disengagement for U.S. and other foreign military units from the policing of Iraqi cities and major lines of transportation, as well as the gradual reduction of overall forces levels...the U.S. and Iraqi governments should make arrangement for the period in which residual U.S. forces would be requested by the Iraqis to provide training, logistics, air cover and backup to Iraqi forces... we will not engage in precipitous withdrawal that would jeopardize Iraq's own efforts to assure its national security. To that end, we will not establish artificial deadlines...the U.S should encourage Iraq to seek the assistance of other governments, especially from the NATO alliance in providing military assistance and training."

This, then is the neocolonial strategy of the Democrats and U.S. imperialism: talk about withdrawal but set no "artificial deadlines" and in fact continue the war; try to "lend legitimacy" to the occupation by training Iraqi forces and paying international troops even while maintaining enough U.S. forces for backup and "logistical, air support." All in order to guarantee "vital U.S. interests" including access to Iraq's "superior resources of potential wealth."

Another witness Professor Chayes, former Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, makes it clear that the Democrats' strategy is little more than using different words to describe the same military colonialism, little more than trying to perfume the smell of gunpowder.

"I think that the U.S., for the foreseeable future - which I hope will not be much longer than a year - must provide security and continue the training that it has started.

"We need to alter the doctrine - the military doctrine - by which we stay.we have got to withdraw from the role of war-fighters, and probably withdraw, as well, from an active anti-insurgency role, and move to what we would call a 'stability force.'.

"Now will that persuade anybody? Will anybody believe that we are doing anything but an inplace withdrawal. That's a hard question. But we did it well internationally. I mean, I wish we could internationalize the forces. We cannot. I wish we could blue-hat the Americans as we did in Korea - but I think that's totally unlikely."

"So, if we made a public announcement, at the same time that a mediator was in place, that the role of the U.S. forces is simply to train, to be replaced, and to be stability forces, .then it might be that we could provide at least as good security as now is provided."

In short the Democrats' "exit strategy" is nothing but a change of face, a change of name, a "blue-hatting" of U.S. occupationist troops.

In fact, the Democrats' "exit strategy" which remains contingent on Iraqi "stability and security" to protect "U.S. interests" is really no different that Bush who, keeps building up Iraqi puppet troops and a puppet government to give the appearance of legitimacy to the U.S. occupation.

This capitalist program of neo-colonialism is infiltrated directly into the anti-war movement by an unholy alliance of opportunist so-called "anti-war leaders" and sects.

For example, the "Win Without War" group expresses its so-called anti-war position like this:

"To serve both U.S. and Iraq's best interests the U.S. must transform its military occupation into an Iraqi-led, regionally backed, and internationally supported effort to achieve stability and a representative government."

"Only by ending the U.S. occupation can the Iraq army, police, border patrol, law enforcement officers emerge as necessary and trusted elements of a sovereign country, rather than reluctant accomplices of an unwelcome occupation.Assistance with training and equipment from NATO, other international bodies, along with the U.S. will be necessary."

"We do not suggest the U.S. walk away from the ongoing conflict and security problems. The U.S. will need to continue some military operations during a transition period. These might include patrolling no-flight zones, border surveillance, training for Iraqi security forces, intelligence collection and maintenance of a regional peace-keeping or quick-reaction forces. These functions could require a sizable contingent of U.S. forces and would be best if U.S. forces operated with other international forces, perhaps under an international command. In any case, they would no longer be part of an occupying army whose mission was to battle the insurgency, but part of a peacekeeping/stabilization force whose mission was to protect the population." (Win Without War, September 21, 2005)

Thus opportunism not only advocates continuing the war, it embraces, heart and soul, the very aims of the capitalist warmakers. Opportunism, infected with imperialist arrogance and chauvinism, cannot for one second grasp the issue of Iraqi sovereignty and the inalienable right of nations to self-determination. Rather, it works to provide an "anti-war" cover for continued U.S. military occupation. Opportunism aims at keeping Iraq permanently under the thumb of U.S. imperialism, by advertising the "legitimacy" of a puppet, neo-colonial government which keeps U.S. and international "stabilization" forces in the background.

Anti-Imperialism

In the course of our struggles against the war, we unite with all the forces working for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and the end to U.S. domination and occupation.

In this struggle we expose the attempts of the Democrats and opportunists to substitute pro-war, pro-imperialist slogans and aims for the genuine demands of the people - the immediate, unconditional and thorough withdrawal of all U.S. troops and an end to U.S. occupation and interference.

We must be clear about the aims of the Democrats and opportunism. Their interests are the "vital interests" of U.S. imperialism - the interests of colonial domination and exploitation in Iraq and other countries. They remain sworn opponents of the right of the peoples to self-determination and independence. Their strategy always rests on U.S. military power even while trying to cover over the war program with phoney "anti-war," pacifist phrases.

Our aim, the aim of the people, can only be to oppose imperialism and colonialism in all its forms. Our aim is to create a world of genuine peace and friendship in which the sovereignty and equality of every nation is recognized and guaranteed. This requires the complete withdrawal of all U.S. troops stationed abroad and an end to U.S. interference in all its forms.

Our aims can only be carried through by building an independent movement of the workers and people, a movement in opposition to and struggle against the capitalist class which is the source of war and colonialism.

Only such an independent movement is the reliable force in the immediate struggle to get the troops out and only this movement is capable of carrying our struggle through to the end.

U.S. THREATENS IRAN

The U.S. and other big Western powers are threatening Iran with economic sanctions. The U.S. is even leaving open the possibility of military action.

On January 10, Iran opened seals on its nuclear facilities to resume nuclear research on uranium enrichment. This is its sovereign right, as well as in complete accord with its commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

But according to the U.S. and its EU allies, Iran "can't be trusted" because it may be "secretly aiming to develop nuclear weapons." No evidence of this, exists, however.

On January 11, former Iranian president, Hashemi Rafsanjani, said ""We cannot give up our rights...In the age of democracy, the natural right of a country, which wants to make use of the latest sciences, is subjected to assaults. The root cause of these assaults lies in the colonialist nature and policies of the West, whose plan is to keep countries backward." He said the main motive behind the latest accusations and attacks is to punish Iran for standing on its own and for gaining access to the latest science and technology. On January 12, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, "The super-powers who build tens of nuclear powerplants annually are trying to deprive Iran of its own legal rights....The superpowers are not opposed to nuclear weapons, because they have it, but they oppose scientific advancement of other nations." According to all international laws, "Iran has the right to gain access to the peaceful use of nuclear energy," he said.

The U.S. is drumming up the so-called "nuclear issue," not only to prevent the development of Iran's nuclear industry but also as part of its all-around pressure and interference against the country. In fact, the U.S. is echoing the same script against Iran that it used in preparing its illegal invasion of Iraq. The U.S. wants to bully the international community to impose punitive sanctions on Iran and to isolate the Iranian government diplomatically, politically and economically. Leading media personalities in the U.S., as well as official government spokespersons, have repeatedly branded Iran as a "rogue" state and have called for preemptive military strikes against it.

The possibility of U.S. military action against Iran cannot be ruled out. In fact, the U.S. is already involved in aggressive, military actions against Iran. Inside occupied Iraq, and in Pakistan, the U.S. is building military bases overlooking Iran. U.S. combat aircraft have been violating Iranian airspace, and Pentagon officials admit that special forces are already engaged in covert operations inside Iran. On January 2, the German newspaper "Der Spiegal" reported that CIA and other U.S. officials are informing their European allies that the U.S. is planning air-strikes against Iran.

Just as with Iraq, the U.S., without any proof, is trying to create hysteria about Iran and alleged "weapons of mass destruction," in order to bring about "regime change" in that country. Gaining control over Iran and its huge oil resources are part of U.S. imperialism's grand strategy for recolonizing the entire Middle East.

SCHOOLS ADAPT CURRICULUM TO NEEDS OF BUSINESS

Across the country, the government is carrying forward a campaign to reorganize and "redesign" public high schools.

While the government is still "experimenting" with several forms of reorganization and while various states and cities are adopting somewhat different methods, certain common threads have emerged:

- High school curricula are being redesigned to meet the changing needs of business. This includes tracking students by sending some to college preparatory schools, others to vocational schools, and still others to military "academies," etc.

- Shifting authority away from public control and accountability and replacing it with the direct role of business in curriculum design and school governance.

A recent watershed in the school redesign movement was the February 2005 National Education Summit on High Schools, convened by the National Governors Association in collaboration with business leaders and educational officials.

The overriding theme of the Summit was expressed in the main report: "The message found here is a simple but clear one. High school is now the front line in America's battle to remain competitive in the increasing competitive international economic state."

Business leaders and college presidents lamented the fact that they "must spend billions of dollars annually to provide their employees and students with the skills and knowledge they should have attained in high school." And to save these billions of dollars "governors, business leaders and education officials agreed to ensure that all high schools facilitate all students' successful transition to post-secondary education and the workforce."

The capitalists want to redesign high schools so that public funds are used to train their workforce and the curriculum is geared to turn out "work-ready" employees.

For the youth of our country, this means schools are turned into a tracking system designed to fill the various job classifications required by business.

Thus, for example, in a paper promoted on the Achieve website (created by the National Governors Association to carry through the program of the 2005 Education Summit), James Rosenbaum of Northwestern University, presents the argument for tracking.

Rosenbaum begins by attacking the "misguided college-for-all" policy, emphasizing that not all students deserve to go to college and insisting that high schools must increase vocational enrollment.

Rosenbaum writes that by high school, "many students are 2-3 or more years below grade level in achievement. [educators] cannot count on large numbers of students who have fallen several years below grade level after ten years of school to close that gap . . . even if schools make large new efforts." Instead of such "new efforts" to educate, high schools should expand "vocational programs" that "lead to well-paid careers in a wide variety of fields, including construction, trades, clerical and administrative support, technical specialties, printing, graphics, financial services and social services."

To prepare students for such jobs, Rosenbaum emphasizes that high schools focus on "noncognitive behaviors." He reminds educators that "employers stress attendance, dependability, perseverance, attention to quality.discipline, sociability, leadership and attendance."

Rosenbaum writes: "many employers report that some new workers are absent or late to work several days in their first week at the job, they do poor quality work, and they talk back to supervisors. Youths have learned that these behaviors are accepted in high school.Employers report that many young people.arrive at a job interview bringing a crying baby or a girlfriend to read the job application or they wear headphones, short skirts, torn jeans or t-shirts with inappropriate slogans..High schools are failing to develop soft skills, which employers value much more than academics, and which must be learned before entering the labor market."

In Chicago, the Board of Education (BOE) is developing several new programs, including "Renaissance 2010," and "Education to Careers" (ETC) to track students.

Through Renaissance 2010, the Chicago BOE is building dozens of charter, contract, "autonomous" and other schools (both elementary and high school) to "offer multiple choices." New Renaissance 2010 schools include military academies run directly by the Army or Navy, a "manufacturing polytechnic" high school, an academy for entry level jobs in the hospital industry, etc.

ETC is a separate program which invites business partners to run classes and curricula for more than 55,000 CPS students in 73 high school and 11 "career academies" throughout the city. ETC includes a "manufacturing cluster to prepare students for entry-level jobs and postsecondary careers in manufacturing," as well as curricula in auto body repair, automotive mechanics, Navistar Diesel, masonry, carpentry, sheet metal work, welding, medical assistant work, medical records technology, hospitality and tourism, barbering, child care work, machine operation, and others. Teachers and administrators work directly under the supervision of businesses who often use ETC to directly recruit new workers.

In college preparatory schools, different, more "high-tech" skills may be taught but the curriculum remains designed around the needs of business.

The program of business and government to redesign high school is a program for turning the modern school from a place of learning and broadness of outlook into a training ground which tracks requisite numbers of students into the job classifications needed by business.

Instead of guarantying equality in education, the schools are not to "waste" time and resources on students whose standardized test scores "prove" they are not fit for "academics;" after all such students are needed to fill "rewarding careers" in vocations and the military. Some students get to learn science and literature while others are confined to "hospitality and tourism."

In place of freedom of inquiry and freedom of conscience, schools will instill the "soft skills" "which employers value more than academics" - discipline at work, fear of the employers' authority, etc.

In sum, instead of a place of enlightenment, free from private prejudices and government dictate, the schools are being put directly in service of the capitalists (and the military). Schools are being removed from the public realm and turned over to the lords of wealth, as places of privilege or training for servitude.

COURT RULES AGAINST VOUCHERS

During the first week of January, the Florida Supreme Court ruled illegal a state voucher program which pays private school tuition for students from "failing" public schools. The court ruling immediately affects only 730 students in the Opportunity Scholarship Program but it also sets a precedent which will be used to challenge state-funded vouchers for some 100,000 students attending charter schools.

The Court ruling said the Opportunity Scholarship vouchers violated the state's constitutional guarantee for uniform and free public schools. The Court said that the vouchers "divert public dollars to separate private systems parallel to and in competition with the free public schools.this diversion not only reduces money available to the free schools, but also funds private schools that are not 'uniform' when compared with each other or the public system."

The struggle against vouchers and against charter schools is one of the decisive fronts of the struggle to defend our country's system of free, universal public education. In states all across the country, vouchers and charter school programs are being instituted to privatize the public school system.

Through vouchers and charters. public funds are taken out of the school treasury and turned over to private, educational entrepreneurs. In turn, public schools lose funding. In addition, charter schools remove education from public scrutiny and accountability.

The direction of the charter school movement is to completely eliminate public responsibility for education. This directly attacks the underpinnings of equality in education by intensifying a dual school system under which the rich receive the best possible education while the poor are consigned to underfunded, cut-rate schools. Instead of being recognized as a right belonging to everyone, education will become a privilege reserved for the rich.