Archive for the ‘Corruption, tax cheats etc’ Category

by Yassamine Mather

The Iranian presidential election campaign started last week with a televised debate between the six male candidates who had been approved by the country’s Islamic Guardian Council. They are Mostafa Agha Mirsalim, Mostafa Hashemi-Taba, Es’haq Jahangiri, Hassan Rouhani, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and Ebrahim Raisi.

Those who managed to watch the entire three-hour event should be given a medal for perseverance, since within the first few minutes it became clear how the debate would progress. The current president, Rouhani, and his deputy, Jahangiri, defended the administration’s record on the basis that they had averted a military attack, while their opponents, mainly from the conservative factions of the regime, talked of (more…)

Philippe Poutou

by Marisela Trevin
April 10, 2017

It was as if an unspoken, mutually protective code of silence had been established among the candidates leading the polls in this year’s French presidential debates. Despite their scandal-ridden campaigns, against the backdrop of the collapse of the traditional French party system, neither Fillon, of the right-wing party The Republicans, nor Le Pen, of the far-right National Front, had been asked to answer to the multiple accusations against them regarding the misappropriation of public funds.

Piercing the bubble

Unlike the first debate, in which only five of the eleven presidential candidates had participated, the second debate on April 4 featured all of the candidates, including the New Anti-Capitalist Party’s Philippe Poutou, who made it a point to pierce the French political establishment’s bubble before millions of viewers, while expressing the need for a radical change in French politics and society.

Protest against the French social democratic government’s attacks on workers and youth rights (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)

Fillon smiled rigidly, then affected outrage and threatened to sue as Poutou exposed his hypocrisy. “Fillon says he’s worried about the debt, but he thinks less about the matter when he’s dipping into the public treasury,” he quipped. “These guys tell us that we need austerity and then they misappropriate public funds.”

Marine Le Pen was rendered speechless when Poutou addressed her own scandals, which had been widely covered by the media, like those of Fillon, but for which she had not been held accountable in the debates until then. “Then we have Le Pen. (…) She takes money from the public treasury as well. Not here, but in Europe. She’s anti-European, so she doesn’t mind taking money from Europe. And what’s worse, the National Front, which claims to be against the system, doesn’t mind seeking protection from the system’s laws. So she’s refused to appear before the court when she was summoned by the police.” When Le Pen replied “So in this case, you’re in favor of the police,” Poutou retorted “When we get summoned by the police, we don’t have workers’ immunity.” The audience burst into applause.

Contrast

The contrast could not be starker. On one hand, the political establishment’s rigid, highly-groomed candidates, stuck to their tired playbooks. On the other, a factory worker dressed in a (more…)

Price of Raytheon shares. Notice the big spike immediately following the missile attack. Source: New York Stock Exchange

by Phil Duncan

The US strike against targets in Syria seems like a slap with a wet bus ticket – it appears the US administration felt it had to do something in response to the use of chemical weapons by the regime again, but not too much.  While the strike will hardly frighten the Russians or Assad, it has been a nice little earner for weapons manufacturer Raytheon.

Raytheon, you see, makes the Tomahawk missiles.

And Trump had shares in Raytheon, (more…)

imperialism_usa_world_map_protestby The Spark

Before taking office, Barack Obama pledged to wind down the war in Iraq and redouble efforts to defeat the insurgency in Afghanistan. “As president, I will make the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban the top priority that it should be,” he said in a major foreign policy address in July 2008 during his electoral campaign, promising to finally defeat and destroy “all of the terrorists responsible for 9/11, while supporting real security in Afghanistan.”

Obama also promised to help the Afghans build their own government institutions to keep order: “I will focus on training Afghan security forces and supporting an Afghan judiciary…[to] sustain their own security.”

Lasting peace, Obama assured his audience, would depend on not only defeating the Taliban but helping “Afghans grow their economy from the bottom up.” He added, “We cannot lose Afghanistan to a future of narco-terrorism.”

He went on to emphasize: “This is a war that we have to win.”

Judging from the lack of news coverage in this country about Afghanistan, one would assume that Obama’s strategy had (more…)

imagesby Phil Duncan

While Trump’s victory is certainly an indication of widespread alienation from the political establishment in the United States, it is far from the main sign of alienation revealed by the election.

The total number of people in the USA eligible to vote is 231,556,622. Of these, 99,815,122 didn’t vote.  That’s over 43%.  That’s by far the dominant form that alienation takes.

Donald Trump received only (more…)

Jesse Owens, one of the greatest track athletes of all time was shunned by Hitler and Roosevelt alike

Jesse Owens, one of the greatest track athletes of all time, was shunned by Hitler and Roosevelt alike

by The Spark

The Olympic Games in Brazil are the 31st modern Olympic Games, according to the tradition that was reinvented at the end of the 19th century. If today they supposedly promote peace, equality between people, and between men and women, they are rooted in a history of racism, sexism, nationalism and cheating.

Coubertin: Racist, Colonialist, Sexist

Baron Pierre de Coubertin instigated the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896. He wanted to exalt aristocratic ideals, which were exclusively male and white. Coubertin didn’t hide his sexism. In 1912, he was already opposed to the participation of women: “The only true Olympic hero is the male individual. Female Olympics are unthinkable. They would be uninteresting, unathletic and incorrect. In the Olympic Games, their role must above all be, as in the ancient tournaments, to crown the victors.”

The first Olympic Games were reserved for whites. Coubertin, “a fanatical colonialist,” according to his own words, was a racist and open anti- (more…)

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Barbara Gregorich and Phil Passen were members of the US Socialist Workers Party from 1965-72, and key figures in the Proletarian Orientation tendency within the SWP and then in the Class Struggle League 1972-74.  While maintaining their anti-capitalist views, Barbara became a writer of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry and Phil  is a musician on the hammered dulcimer.  In the interview below they talk about growing up in 1950s America, the winds of change of the 1960s, their politicisation and activity in that era, their involvement in the US SWP an how and why they began questioning its politics and organisational methods, how they came to a parting of the ways with it, their subsequent political activity, the decline of the left and the fate of the original new social movements of that era, and their assessment of politics in the United States today.

Philip Ferguson: Could you tell me a bit about your backgrounds?  What was it like growing up in the States in the 1950s and early 1960s?

Barbara Gregorich: I grew up in a small town in Ohio. My mother and father worked in my uncle’s bar as bar tenders until I was ten, then my father worked as a millwright in a steel mill and my mother worked at home. One of my uncles had a dairy farm less than half a mile from our house, and I spent much of my time there, with my cousins. I loved being outdoors and helping with milking and other farm chores. After I graduated from high school I attended Kent State University, which was maybe 35 miles away. I graduated with a degree in American Literature and also one in American History. I received an MA degree from the University of Wisconsin, in Literature, and I did post graduate work at Harvard, in the History of American Civilization.

I worked as an Instructor of English at Kent State University and Cuyahoga Community College while living in Cleveland, Ohio. Then Phil and I moved to Boston and I worked as a typesetter, first for a small job shop, then at the Boston Globe. We moved to Chicago, Illinois, and I worked as a typesetter for the Chicago Tribune, then as a postal letter carrier for the U.S. Post Office. I had always wanted to be either a baseball player or a writer. Baseball is closed to women, so I became a writer. In 1979 I went freelance,  which I’ve been to this day.

download (3)What it was like growing up in the States during the 1950s and 1960s is an interesting question, because of course one doesn’t think, “I’m growing up in the ’50s . . . and now I’ve transitioned to the ’60s!” But a person is definitely aware of the characteristics of the decade he/she grows up in, if not at the moment, then in retrospect, or in contrast to the next decade. Living in the 1950s, I was aware that I didn’t like many things about society. I hated fashion, especially as it applied to girls and women. I hated petticoats and crinolines, the latter “required” for the felted poodle skirts fashion of my junior-high years. I hated popcorn socks and pencil skirts and I refused to put my hair in curlers: torture!

What I wanted to wear was t-shirts and jeans, clothes I could function in. I also wondered why my fellow students flocked to and embraced each fashion that came along.  I can’t say that I was aware of politics when in junior and senior high, but standing in the early 1960s and looking back on the 1950s, I felt that it was a very conservative, unquestioning decade, and I was glad to be out of it.

Compared to the ’50s, the 1960s were a blast a fresh air, with people my age questioning what was right and wrong in society, and acting to make changes.

download (2)Phil Passen: I grew up in a small town in Michigan. My father, whose father had been a bricklayer who died from a fall on the job, owned a children’s clothing store in Monroe, Michigan, a small town between Detroit and Toledo. My mother’s parents had died when she was an infant, and she was raised by an aunt and uncle. I don’t know what their class background was, but I assume skilled workers or lower petty-bourgeois. My parents declared bankruptcy in 1960, and lost the store and our house primarily because of medical expenses for my mom’s various illnesses. I remember that this was the first time I thought about anything political, even though I didn’t realize at the time that it was a political question. But I wondered how medical expenses could be so great that they could cost people something they had worked so very hard for. My father was an Eisenhower Republican, and my mother was a Stevenson Democrat, and none of that made any sense to me.

passncon2I remember a palpable difference between the ’50s and ’60s. At some point early in the ’60s I realized that the stodgy, uninteresting, unexciting coat-and -tie atmosphere of the ’50s was gone — replaced by rock and roll, the Beatles and Stones, Bob Dylan, beats, greasers, art films, and an air of excitement. Hard to explain, but I remember feeling the change very strongly. And in the background, at least for me, but something I was very conscious of, was the Civil Rights Movement. I knew something was different.

Phil F: What made you first begin to question the existing state of things?

Phil P: Unquestionably, (more…)