Please note I have a new phone number...

512-517-2708

Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...

http://peaceandsocialjustice.blogspot.com/2013/03/a-progressive-program-for-real-change.html


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.


"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Friday, March 6, 2015

A sad day for workers in Wisconsin

Right-to-Work (for less) passed in Wisconsin. Probably assuring Wisconsin's Republican Governor the Vice-president's slot on a Jeb Bush ticket.


A very sad day indeed.


But, let's remember, the leaders of organized labor in Wisconsin--- prompted by the millionaires on the national AFL-CIO's Executive Council--- pushed workers out of the streets and into the arms of a bunch of wimpy Democrats who, at best, acquiesce to the Republicans at every opportunity, rather than struggling and fighting back instead of building more potent street heat leading into a general strike which would have halted Scott Walker in his goose-stepping fascist tracks.


The proper approach, in my opinion, would have been to continue building towards more aggressive actions in the streets, in places of employment and simultaneously at the ballot box by taking up the struggle to build on Wisconsin's progressive traditions for a working class based progressive people's party to free the working class from the two-party trap. It isn't too late to do this but working people are going to have to forgo holding up the tails of these Dumb Donkeys settling for what the sparrows leave behind.

“another piece of evidence of the arrogance and hypocrisy of U.S. foreign policy.” Sounds to me like China is following the lead of its Wall Street masters.




China’s new terrorism law provokes anger in U.S., concern at home

© REUTERS A student takes part in an anti-terror training given by police at a campus in Beijing, June 11, 2014.
BEIJING — A new draft counterterrorism law here is provoking unusually strong condemnation, from multinational companies trying to do business in China to domestic dissidents trying to stay out of jail and from global human rights groups to foreign health workers.
Governments around the world have dealt with the threat of terrorism by increasing surveillance and curtailing civil rights, but China’s government, critics say, has exploited a genuine terrorist threat to further empower its repressive state-security apparatus. It is, they say, invoking the dangers of violent extremism to justify and expand an already harsh crackdown on civil rights and to punish foreign information technology companies that refuse to play by its rules.
Human Rights Watch calls the draft law a “recipe for abuses.” President Obama focused his ire on provisions in the law that would affect U.S. technology companies doing business here and force them to hand over the keys to their operating systems to Chinese surveillance.
The new law is symptomatic of the gulf between China and the West over human rights, and it is widening a serious rift between Washington and Beijing over cyberspace.
In an interview with Reuters this week, Obama said he had raised his concerns with China’s President Xi Jinping.
“We have made it very clear to them that this is something they are going to have to change if they are to do business with the United States,” he said.
The state news agency Xinhua called Obama’s criticism “utterly groundless” on Wednesday, adding it was “another piece of evidence of the arrogance and hypocrisy of U.S. foreign policy.”
China blames escalating violence in its far-western province of Xinjiang on Islamist extremists bent on violent jihad; it says terrorists use the Internet to organize and to spread their ideas. It frames the new legislation as part of its efforts to counter that threat and to govern the country according to the “rule of law.” It is asking for international support and approval for its approach.
[Read: China sees jihadist inspiration coming from abroad by way of the Web]
Julia Famularo, who has been studying the law for the Project 2049 Institute, an Arlington-based think tank devoted to Asian security issues, said every government has to strike a balance between fighting terrorism and citizens’ rights.
“We could argue whether the United States, Britain and other countries have been able to strike that balance — but what we are really concerned about in China is that these measures are incredibly broad, and we are worried they can be used to attack dissidents,” she said.
One of those dissidents, Hu Jia, under house arrest since last June, said the law might appeal to people angry at terrorist attacks, but it was fundamentally designed to extend a comprehensive system of control introduced by President Xi.
“Once you want to exercise your political rights as a citizen, you will touch the red line and be caught in the net,” he said in a telephone interview. “According to criminal procedure law, your right to a lawyer will be restricted if you are accused of endangering state security or terrorism. And because the government controls propaganda, if they say you are a terrorist, then you are.”
In Xinjiang, China stands accused of a wide-ranging crackdown on the religious, political and civil rights of the mainly Muslim Uighur people, of torture and enforced disappearances and widespread socio-economic discrimination.
Now, as the arrest and imprisonment of moderate Uighur academic Ilham Tohti demonstrated last year, anyone attempting to criticize government policy or assert an independent Uighur identity runs the risk of a being branded a separatist and, by association, a terrorist.
Indeed, the law offers a broad definition of terrorism that includes not only “activity” but also “opinion” that “generates social panic, threatens public security or coerces a state organ or international organization.”
It conflates terrorism with what China defines as “religious extremism,” including, for example, the forcing of children to take part in religious activities.
Although the Chinese government has a right and responsibility to provide public order, says Sophie Richardson of Human Rights Watch, the law, and the security mind-set it lays bare, “is just as likely to fuel unrest and violence as it is to mitigate it.”
Richardson says an “incredibly broad spectrum of behavior” can be construed as criminal, “with no avenues to challenge it.”
“Even in perfectly ordinary, non-controversial criminal cases, the right to a fair trial in China is a rare thing already,” she said. “Add on that veneer of terrorism, and you have very little hope of a meaningful opportunity to defend yourself.”
The first draft of the law also demanded that IT companies operating in China hand over encryption codes, install security “backdoors” in their products to Chinese authorities, and keep servers within the country.
Obama said it would essentially force foreign companies “to turn over to the Chinese government mechanisms where they can snoop and keep track of all users of their services.”
In China, it is not only Xinhua that accuses Obama of hypocrisy. Beyond the lack of due process at Guantanamo Bay or the extended government powers granted under the Patriot Act, China points out, Western governments often request that tech companies hand over encryption codes.
Western free-speech advocates counter that China lacks effective constraints to state power, in the form of an independent judiciary, a feisty legislature, a business sector willing to stick up for itself or an independent media.
That, they say, makes government over-reach in China potentially much more dangerous.
At a news conference Wednesday, Fu Ying, spokeswoman for the National People’s Congress, China’s largely rubber-stamp parliament, said the law had been modified to reflect some of those concerns during a second round of drafting last month.
In particular, she said, there were “hot discussions among legislators” on how to “better balance the relation between counterterrorism measures and safeguarding human rights.”
She said the articles relating to IT companies had been “improved” to include “strict conditions and limits” on when data could be obtained. In particular, the law would only be used to prevent or investigate terrorist activity, she said, and after “a strict review and approval procedure.”
Richardson, of Human Rights Watch, says the only revision worth making to the first draft would be “to rip it up and start again.”
As a crackdown on nongovernmental organizations has intensified under Xi’s presidency, the new counterterrorism law also includes a section mandating the central bank and civil administration to supervise and inspect financial flows into foundations, social organizations and foreign NGOs.
[Read: Hong Kong erupts even as China tightens screws on civil society]
“Everyone is very concerned,” said a manager at an international NGO, who requested anonymity for fear of inviting problems. “This puts us into a very different purview. We are no longer civil society, now we are potential terrorists.”
Gu Jing, Xu Yangjingjing, Liu Liu and Xu Jinglu contributed to this report.

Poverty

Wall Street and it's bribed politicians--- Obama, the Democrats and Republicans--- backed by its over-paid pundits, has been orchestrating a war on the poor instead of a war on poverty.

The money being wasted and squandered on Wall Street's wars abroad should be used to wage a war on poverty.

Wall Street employers make big profits paying workers poverty wages so it should come as no surprise Wall Street's bribed politicians use the levers of government like the Minimum Wage to provide employers with the "right" to pay millions of workers poverty wages.

Figure it out: Workers paid poverty wages are going to be poor.

Paying workers real living wages cuts into corporate profits.

Should we care more about people or profits?

Wages must rise because the cost-of-living has spiraled upwards out of control.

When workers can't purchase with their wages the goods and services required for decent livelihoods they are poor.

A working class point of view from Greece...

On the Situation in Greece

February17,  2015


Interview of Giorgos Marinos, member of the Political Bureau of the CP Greece (KKE), for the Brazilian magazine "Revista Opera."

1 - How do you see the recent election of Syriza? Will they be able to solve Greece's workers' needs?

In our assessment, the replacement of the ND-PASOK government by the SYRIZA-ANEL one can not help satisfy the people’s needs today. And this is because the new government, like the previous one, despite its “leftwing” sloganeering operates within the same framework: the country’s participation in the EU and NATO, the implementation of the commitments to these imperialist unions, the recognition of the unbearable state debt that the people are not responsible for, the support for the profitability of the capitalist interests in the name of the “competitiveness of the national economy”.

So the new government’s program is simply seeking to manage the phenomena of extreme poverty, while at the same time the unbearable situation will continue for the majority of the people, as the causes of the people’s problems will remain in place. These causes are to be found in the very nature of capitalism.

2 - Has KKE offered Syriza an alliance? If so, which were the conditions for the agreement?

Life has demonstrated that crudely assembled coalitions of parties in the name of the left and intentions to better manage capitalism do not serve the workers. The experience in Greece and internationally, in our assessment, demonstrates that “centre-left”, “progressive”, “leftwing” governments in the framework of capitalism (e.g. in Italy, France, Cyprus, Brazil etc.) also took anti-people measures, were not able to avoid the consequences of the capitalist crisis and actively participated in imperialist wars. Such governments exacerbated the disillusionment amongst the workers, weakened the labour movement and in each case constituted a “bridge” to more rightwing policies.

Our party in a very timely manner had excluded the possibility of participating in or supporting a “leftwing” government of SYRIZA, which promises that there can be a pro-people management inside the framework of capitalism and the imperialist unions. On our part, we did not participate in the spreading of such illusions and place some “conditions” on SYRIZA, because it is obvious that we have a diametrically different approach: SYRIZA seeks the humanization of capitalism, the KKE seeks its overthrow and the construction of another society. However, we promoted our political proposal, which in brief provides for the following: unilateral cancellation of the debt, disengagement from the EU and NATO, socialization of the means of production, central planning of the economy, workers’-people’s power.

I should note that the KKE has its own view about what type of alliances the country needs. We have charted the line of forming the people’s alliance, comprised of social forces, the working class, the poor and medium sized farmers, the urban petty bourgeois strata, whose interests lie in coming into conflict with the monopolies and capitalism. This alliance, which today has taken its first steps, is struggling for every problem the people have, has an antimonopoly-anticapitalist direction and contributes to the concentration of forces in order to pave the way for the construction of the new socialist-communist society.

3 - Syriza has recently made an agreement with the right-wing party "Independent Greeks". How do you see that? Was it necessary? Why?

It did not surprise us. Before the elections we had assessed that SYRIZA, if it did not achieve an absolute majority in the Parliament, would form a government with one of the parties that like SYRIZA want Greece to stay inside the EU and NATO. We are talking about the parties that consider that the people should pay for the unbearable debt for which they are not responsible and that support the capitalist path of development. Although there were other bourgeois parties, of various shades, that were eager to collaborate with SYRIZA in the government. SYRIZA chose cooperation with ANEL, a cooperation that had started some time ago.

4 - It seems that Syriza won't fight EU and US sanctions against Russia. They've supported the extent of it last Thursday. What is KKE's view on that matter?

The government’s stance on the issue of Ukraine, despite the blustering, lasted just 3 days . On the fourth day, the Greek government aligned with the EU and voted for the same sanctions against Russia that had been voted for by the previous ND-PASOK government, leaving the door open for other sanctions in the near future. We should note that it had criticized the stance of the previous government on this issue.

In our evaluation, the sanctions against Russia signify the escalation of the intervention of the EU and the USA in Ukraine, in the framework of their competition with Russia over the control of the markets and the region’s energy resources.

The trade war between the EU and Russia above all is harming the working class and popular strata, such as the small and medium farmers in Greece. This is a trade war that aims to benefit the interests of the monopolies.

The new decision of the EU, with the participation of the Greek left as well, confirms once again the reactionary imperialist character of the EU, which attacks the peoples of Europe and plays a leading role in imperialist plans in order to serve the interests of EU-based capital.

The KKE consistently argues that the Greek people must denounce the stance of the Greek government and demand that there should be no Greek participation in the EU and NATO plans.

5 - We've seen the growth of fascist and neonazi organizations throughout Europe. In Greece, there's Golden Dawn. On last elections they've got aroung 6% of the votes. If Syriza fails to solve Greece's problems, will Golden Dawn grow?

It is true that the criminal Nazi party Golden Dawn, which has murderous activity and was created by the mechanisms of the system, maintains a high percentage in elections, despite the losses it had in votes.

Particular responsibility for the electoral percentage of GD belongs both to the ND-PASOK government that fostered anti-communisms, the theory of the two extremes, the scape-goating of immigrants as well as to the blurred “anti-memorandum” line promoted by SYRIZA which exonerates the people’s real opponents, the capitalists. This specific criminal fascist organization developed on this ideological and political terrain.

The KKE remains the steadfast opponent of fascism, precisely because the KKE opposes capitalism as a whole, the system that creates fascism, nationalism and racism.

The frustration of the expectations which have been cultivated by social-democratic forces, like SYRIZA, can facilitate the activity of Golden Dawn amongst politically backward sections of the people. However, we assess that our people have the strength to reject and isolate the criminal Nazi activity and ideology of Golden Dawn. They possess the historical experience and memory from the 2ndWorld War, from the Anti-fascist Victory. It is a duty and a necessity, especially in the case of the youth and schools, for teachers and for artists and scientists in society more generally to expose, to fight against and to impede the poison of fascism-Nazism. The labour and people’s movement must strengthen its struggle against Nazism and its criminal activity, against the system and the interests that create and sustain such formations.