Monday, December 21, 2009

China a great nation?

China is flexing its muscles as it emerges as a power on the world scene. Consider its swaggering at the UN Copenhagen conference on global warming. Consider, too, the puff pieces, it transmits on its own Phoenix television channel. It ran a programme on the plight of fishermen of Hainan islands who when they venture in Vietnamese or Filipino territorial waters to fish, are caught for poaching on another country's fishing waters. Vietnam and the Philippines are portrayed in the darkest of lights for 'extorting monies' from these Hainanese, who once they greased the palms of greedy and venal authorities are let go. If Vietnamese or Filipino fishermen are caught in Chinese waters, well, they are well treated, and fined according to the law, and once the fine payed are sent gently on their way. Why? Because China is 'a great country'. Need one say more?
Wink, wink, wink...China is a past master on bribery and extortion and unbridled greed. Read China's own newspapers with summary execution of even Communist Party officials for malfeasance, bribery, extortion, the trampling on China's legal code.
Today China exports its own workers on projects in neighbouring Vietnam or faraway Africa. The Chinese act like the colonialists of 19 and 20 century European nations. Quickly even the lowliest Chinese labourer takes on the airs of a superior being like his European or American cousin of yore.
The locals of the country China invests in, grow to risent them, and realise how these representatives of 'the proletariat' exploit them with a fig leaf of saving appearances. Ask a Zambian, for example. He will fill one's ear with hours of complaint. Talk to Vietnamese, they will say the same thing.
Yes, China may be a great country who has crowned itself with the trappings of the old rotten Middle Kingdom, and with the racial superior attitude and ways of its own checkered past!

The rise of the temp proletariat in the US

The US is the bastion of capitalism at its brutal worst. Consider the rising tide of the unemployed which is almost 20 per cent, although the BLS [Bureau of Labour Statistics] say that it's 10 per cent and falling unevenly through the land. Among blacks and Latinos, especially the young, it has gone beyond 40 per cent with hardly an end in sight.
The global recession sparked by America's finance capitalists, have done much to destroy the US middle and the working classes, which since the reign of the Reagan administration has lost ground in earning power and social benefits.
Although the tax payers have put financial capitalism on a more steady course, the industry has repaid them by cutting them loose for the dole and erosion of savings and the titanic burden of paying for medical care. The corporate sector has followed suit.It is not uncommon to hear of a company 'divesting' itself of 20.000 employees or more. And this is not an extreme case!
Financial capitalists look after their kith and kin, but hardly anyone else. They cynically care for nothing but lust and greed. They hold a tight hand on the purse, denying small and medium businesses the wherewithal to hire and expand and give a vitamin B12 shot into the arm of a very anemic economic recovery. More, through manipulations and hedge funds and junk bonds, they prefer to invest abroad, for quick returns on the US dollar. The devil be damned for the US workers!
The full flowering of free market capitalism which is sending the superpower which is the US on the slippery slope to its ruin, which finds its embodiment in today's finance capitalism, has long sucked the blood out of the corpse of the labour unions and other non governmental organisations which once did but no longer act as countervailing restraints on unbridled power of the one per cent who own the lion share of wealth and manipulate like puppet masters the strings of power.
With a growing and very large army of the unemployed, among whom one finds the flower of say Harvard, the better and less educated, the skilled and the unskilled, the fat cats have found a way of keeping it on a tight leash through 'temporary jobs'.
As temporary employees or 'temps', they will earn enough to keep skin on bones, demoralised, running on a treadmill in order to not drown in the ocean of the permanently unemployed, the homeless, so on and on. As temps, they will remain docile, but disciplined as the employer whoever he may be, will bleed they white, getting every penny and more out of them, and for a miserable hourly wages.
For yes!, temps are hourly wage slaves, like the satanic mills of yore, but today with a more benevolent but hardly less 'Gradgrind face', referring to a Dickens' character in 'Hard Times'.
The hourly wage appears high compared to the average state or federal minimum wage, but this is a facade. For the temp, he has no health benefits, sick time, holiday leave. If sick, he does not get a Yankee dollar in compensation. And of course, he can be dismissed without cause and for talking out of line, if he complains of poor working conditions, abuse by the employer, and the like. Out on his ear, the logic is compelling, there are hundreds who will take his place, and probably for less money.
The temp is doubly exploited, for his employed does not remunerate directly. He is hired through an agency, like Manpower, who will take care of the cutting the temp's cheque, talk to him as the boss' representative, and do the employeer's bidding gladly. For the incidental services, the temp agency takes off a cool third of what the company that uses it. Consider the following example: temp x is hired by a financial institution's back office doing some sophisticated software manipulations. He earns say us$36 an hour, for 36 hours a week. Lunch or dinner is on his dime.
The temp agency gets at least us$54 or usually more per man hour, for its services.
After a year on the temp agency's books, if the temp is lucky, he is offered a Cadillac health plan with high premiums for himself, and even more if he wishes to cover his family, which is more unlikely since he may not have enough to pay rent, put food on the table, etc.
More like than not assignments will be 10 months or less with no renewal. The temp may reapply after a two or three month interval, but there is no guarantee, he will find a job.
So, we find a new twist to the brutal and naked power of capitalism. Something analogous to pages in Karl Marx's 'Das Kaptial'.
The temp has no union to defend him. Perhaps, he may find some lawyers with a social conscience to defend him. In the longer run, he will try to organise other temps. The employer and the temp agency will resort to firings, blacklists, use of infiltrators, spies, and the use of police to protect their big share of the pie of exploitation. The history of the US working classes are filled with such tactics, but should enough temps shout 'Basta ya!', we've had enough!, and come together in a strong organisation, the employer will blink.
Today, in a bleak down of demoralisaiton, the capitalists rule the roost...but time is not always on their side.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Israel & Iran

It is not sure the US will stay Israel's warlords from a preemptive air strike on Iran. The US may not steer the Likud government towards such action, but there is good reason if past history is any signpost, to posit that Washington won't impose it if US president Obama [BHO] and his EU allies and Russia cannot bring Iran around to some mutually agreeable solution to Tehran's nuclear programme. And even then, there is no guarantee that loose cannon Israel will do it anyhow, this inspite of doubts and objections to hawkish Israeli designs.
Of course BHO is no George W. Bush who formally shot down Israel's petition of the US green light to bomb Iran in 2008. But BHO is falling back on and pushing the envelope more on a return to a harder line on Teheran.
Were Netenyahu impetuous enough to allow such action, the US for sure will immediate disassociate itself from such an operation only after damage has been done.
The Israeli defence ministry and government are banging more often the pots and pans for preemptive strikes. Some will say, this is bluffing, others will disagree, saying, it's a matter of months before such attacks will occur.
If they do, Washington will have to back peddle so hard and so fast since an Israeli strike on Iran will lose BHO any credibility in the Arab world, cause war with Israel by the Arabs, cut off oil & gas supplies to the US, and put Washington in a war it may not have wanted but courted by not keeping Israel in check.

Obama 'chides' Wall Street fat cats

Chide is a weak verb. It simply goes to show us US president Barack Obama [BHO]does not hold a short leash on the irresponsible Wall Street fat cats. Far from it. Two examples will suffice. When BHO took his case to the New York Stock Exchange, none of the CEOs from the banks too big to fall came to hear him. Instead, they sent the flunky a step or down the ladder. The other days when BHO was holding his let's create jobs in Washington, Goldman Sachs, CitiGroup, and Morgan Stanley pretexting bad weather, couldn't be bothered to fly commercial to the nation's capitol, to attend the meeting in person. They took part on a conference call from the comfortable surroundings of their fortress banks in New York.
The US is a major shareholder in CitiGroup, but couldn't snap the whip to bring this dog to heel. It's partly BHO's fault, since, as is his wont, he put his big, flat foot in his mouth, saying at the moment or two after the taxpayer bailout of the failing US banking industry, he [read the government] was not in the business of running banks in the private sector. Mistake. He thereby give the very same banks who brought us a global recession, bordering on another great depression, carte blanche to do their worst. And they did.
More, BHO surrounded himself with advisers who in other administrations and in high office in investment banking or hedge funds, created the mess the country is in. Free marketeers to almost the very last one, who are more at the beck and call of finance capitalism than the interests of the country or the taxpayers who foot their bills.
BHO is the front man for finance capitalism. He's a believer in the free market, slow on imposing a programme of regulation....leave it to the venal Congress who greedily and readily in large measure hold out tin cups for the paltry alms that finance capitalism throws their way.
For sure the chief stooge is Timothy Geithner as BHO's secretary of the treasury, but he's the public's target, whereas the full share of responsibility fall on the shoulders of Larry Summers and Ben Bernanke, and in the private sector, the preponderant influence of Goldman Sachs [CEO Lloyd Blankfein famously boasting GS is doing 'God's work'!], Citibank, and Morgan Stanley who is in bed with GS and Citi.
GuamDiary suggests reading 'Rolling Stone's' Matt Taibi's eye opening articles on the poisonous tentacles of Goldman Sachs and the nefarious and deleterious influence of them Robert Rubin gang in the White House west wing, and in key economic posts in BHO's administration.
Taibi's reporting gives us much food for thought, and strikes the fear of the demons of finance capitalism who are intent of filling pockets with money on the back of the hard working and mostly unemployed Americans, and the unquenchable vampire thirst of finance capitalism for self gain, to the mantra of damn the future of country as long as we're living high off the hog and on the blood of America's down and out.
Little wonder, BHO jumps through bankers' hoops!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A year after war in Gaza, Israel gets the sweats

Israel's war of collective punishment against Gaza, has once and for all put into the ground, the myth of Israel as victim. The once rising tide of sympathy has crested. For truth be told,
Israel's arrogance in dealing with the 'road map peace' has angered its godfathers in Washington. A slight shift in European Union thinking on Israel's continued seizure of land, heavy handed treatment of Palestinians, let alone the people of Gaza left hanging to life in war torn Gaza, has caused an eruption of Israeli invective worthy of a major lava flow on Mount Etna. Despite the Likud coalition government has bent a slight knee to US president Obama's pressure, to halt new construction on illegally seized west bank territory for 10 months, it has stopped the ethnic cleansing of Arabs in east Jerusalem. It has fueled the rabid, nationalist and religious groups who occupy Palestinian territory, menace and threaten and won't at times, stop short of killing Arabs for land. Netenyahu may face down Israelis but for him Palestinians count for little. His goal is complete rule from the Mediterranean to the Jourdan.
However, Israel itself, through collective punishment as a weapon of aggression in Gaza, has laid deep in the ground that Israel is the big bully on the block, and a danger to peace in the Middle East. Dialogue is not between Israel and the Palestinians, but between Israeli and Israeli, for a single state with a captive Palestinian population of millions, unwelcome and outcast, only worthy of apartheid like Bantustans.
The waves of sympathy Israel has abroad notwithstanding, the veil of hypocrisy is rent on the pious fraud of Israel as David facing Arab Goliaths. The opposite is true, however.
And what the world press, with few exceptions document, do not talk of the growing religious radicalisation in Israel where Jewish law [Halaka] should rule the average Israeli's life. [Halaka would be equivalent to the Muslim Shari'a]. Owing to Israel's political structure, religious parties often and do hold the few votes which will keep a government in office. In consequence, the steady push towards the right and ultra orthodoxy finds the same echo in Israel as it does in the Taliban world of restoring the Califate; in Israel, it would restore the priestly caste, read ultra orthodox rabbis, to crow hardily in governing.
A yaer after Israel's war in Gaza, it has fallen from grace, yet has the power to bully and kill a two states solution. As GuamDiary has many times argued, a single state solution already rings the death knell on Zionism.

Guam -- wider militarisation

GuamDiary hardly talks of the island of Guam. Japan's kicking up a duster about the transferring of a US military base from one location to another in Okinowa, is forcing the Pentagon's hand. Soon massive construction on Guam will begin, to house a division of Marines. There is a lot of money to be made which would bring unequal economic advantages to that US possession across the International Date Line, in Asia. It has also stirred up worries and protest from Guamanians.
Guam has 64.000 inhabitants; its population is Chomorro, but also intermarriage among and with other emigrants from Asia and mainland US. As a vacation spot, it attracts tourism from Japan, mainly; it has always had a military presence, but with the coming to its shores of Marines, the Pentagon will hold sway on a tight little island with strip malls, an ersatz 'Rodeo Drive' for foreign tourists, as well as all the fast food American chains, K Mart, so on and on.
Already delegations of Guamanians NGOs and officials,co many women, have gone to Okinowa, to learn how to limit the sexual crimes and crimes which 60 years or more of US bases on Okinowa have spawned. Guam will have to deal with the mushroom like growth of honky tonk bars and licensed or unlicensed prostitution.
In spite of visions of ringing of cash registers, the military and their family will spend money at the base. Little will trickle outside but in outlets which feed the sex industry and feed on lawlessness which albeit subject to US law, will find the military using 'military law' which may excuse much and punish little.
And of course, the military will benefit from eminent domain, grabbing the best land on the island, disrupting the normal tempo of Guam's life and Guam's 'paradise'. It surely will challenge the sacred land of Chomorro beliefs and ancestry.
Thus, in other words, Guam will now experience the 'hell' other peoples have experienced under American military occupation. Guamanians can very well profit from the island of Puerto Rico's long history of opposing unrestricted military authority.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

US in Afghanistan to 2024 and beyond

A significant US presence until 2024 and beyond. Such are the headlines in the daily broadsheets and in radio and television reporting.
How then can the land of the free, home of the brave, economically, politically, and millitarily sustain such an effort, the more especially since it is in deep trouble owing to the global recession its investment bankers triggered?
Has anyone thought of encouraging US citizens to emigrate to Afghanistan? Like br ave forefathers of theirs, who broke the plains, plowed the earth, and tamed the wild west, they shall have the noble opportunity of creating a unified country in a hodgepodge of hopelessly contentious warring tribes and divided ethnic groupings.
Not only that, they will bring a capitalist work ethnic which Afghanistan sorely needs. Then surplus of US MBAs, unemployed university graduates, skilled and unskilled workers, will infuse a medieval people with the life blood of a 21 century dynamism.
Consider what creative investment bankers can do with opium. They can rationalise the pr oduction, the gathering and worldwide distribution of the drug, in such a way, that the endless flow of profits will be plowed into nation building and thus the fruit of sophisticated thinking will bear the fruits of 'US democracy' of sorts.
US emigration will revivify an ancient land and its people...the American genius will create gold out of dross.
Consider such emigration as colonising the dark side of moon. Its advantageous and opportunities are golden. In this way, instead of bankrupting the US, such a policy will bring rewards!

A US liaison office in Pyongyang?

A US liaison office in Pyongyang is not a far fetched idea. It is worth consideration. US special envoy Stephen Bosworth is in the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea aka North Korea] for three days of talks. Were we to rely solely on the western press, we would not learn until today [9 December 2009], that he has spent the last two weeks in the ROK [Republic of Korea aka South Korea], smoothing the rough and meaningless, hard line proposals towards dialogue with Pyongyang, proposed by South Korea's president Lee Myung bak. Bosworth had his work cut out for him, the more especially the John Bolton school of not trucking with North Korea, in Seoul and Washington has been trying to undermine any opening to the DPRK. [See earlier entries in Guam Diary].
Did Bosworth succeed in pushing Mr. Lee to echo US president Barack Obama's [BHO] determination to speak directly to Kim Jong il's regime? It seems so, though we can expect sniper fire and rear guard manoeuvres to derail BHO's efforts.
The old gray lady of US journalism, 'the New York Times' ran a story that makes the reader scratch his head. Bosworth, it appears, went to Pyongyang with nothing to offer North Korea, nor to reward the DPRK for bad behaviour. Read, walking out of the six party talks in Beijing, reactivating its nuclear programme, and proferring the standard threats. Well this seems an odd statement in itself: if a senior diplomat travels thousands of kilometres to a country that is technically at warwith the US, with empty hands, what then is the purpose of his trip? Of course, the 'NYT' is simply babbling the official line, which it buys without question.
The reader has to look elsewhere for information. Japan's press let the cat out of the bag. It spoke of a 'road map' to jump start stalled discussions two ways with Pyongyang. One, between Washington and Pyongyang, in order to discuss almost 60 years of outstanding matters, including the need to sign a peace treaty, ending the frozen Korean War; the other, to engage the DPRK to returning to six party talks on its nuclear programme, with a view to denuclearising the divided Korean peninsula. 'Al Jazeera English' repeated these 'leaks'; it had talked to the right wing journalist Donald Kirk, who has covered Korea for the past 30 years. For Kirk, Bosworth's presence in Pyongyang is nothing more, nothing less, than a Madison Avenue scoop and advertisement, for Kim Jong il. For Kirk, the sooner you dump Kim & co., the better. Of course, Kirk hobnobs with generals, neoconservative think tanks, right wing politicians, & the like, so his bravado and 'daring' comments are simply cheap talk, bereft of any political solution but the military operation.
South Korea's worries are easy to fanthom. Syngman Rhee did not sign the Armistice Agreement of 1953, putting a hot war in a cold locker. So, technically, the ROC cannot quality as a signatory to a peace treaty with the DPRK and China. More importantly, Mr. Lee fears that the US will make concessions behind Seoul's back, and thus, such agreements will 'demote' and dilute the ROK's special military and economic policy with the US. So little faith does Mr. Lee & co. have in repeated messages of support from BHO and from other branches of the US government.
On the other hand, Seoul's uneasiness and queasiness squarely fall on Mr. Lee's shoulders. Didn't he jettison the 'Sunshine Policy' towards the DPRK almost immediately after assuming high office in 2008? Wasn't it not he who was going to bring Kim Jong ril to his knees by drastically reducing or outright phasing out food aid, and shipments of fertilisers to North Korea? Didn't his government directly and indirectly give the green light to anti DPRK groups, especially evangelical Christians and ultra conservative force s, calling for destabilising the North Korean regime? Up and down the line, Mr. Lee's tack failed or his hand so transparent in these machinations that success was never within his grasp.
In the ROK, in spite of Mr. Lee, analysists, scholars, and thank tanks have not abandoned contact nor seeking more contact with DPRK. In fact, one came up with the genial idea of the US opening a liaison office in Pyongyang. If both Pyongyang and Washington are serious about resolving a multitude of outstanding matters going back more than a half century,it makes eminently good dollars or wons and sense, to have more than intermittent contact. It is an idea that its time has come! It will be vigorously opposed in the US.
BHO has a lot on his plate everywhere,at home and abroad, especially in Asia. War in Iraq, war in Afghanistan. He is looking to lighten the load on his shoulders, so finding a modus vivendi and opprendi, to come to a solution to the problems on a divided Korean peninsula, is for him a worthy goal.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A minaret a mosque doesn't make!

Swiss right wing parties have touched a raw nerve among voters in a referendum to stop the building of minarets on future mosques. Global Islamic terrorism, which like the fog slips across national borders, has much to tilt the vote towards such a ban. Like the Scarlet Pimpernel, it is here, it is there, it is everywhere. Elusive. Dangerous. Murderous. It also has to do with the seemingly snail pace integration of Muslim emigrants into Europe's sociocultural and political fabric. Often is heard the plaint, they're not like us; they do not fit in; they reject our ways. Some do, others don't, but that explanation satisfies.
Let's say this straightaway, a minaret a mosque doesn't make. A muezzin can and does make the call to prayer in a garden or even inside the mosque. Unlike Judaism, Islam doesn't require a minimum of 10, to pray in a mosque. It can be done individually or at home. An imam's sermon is not necessary.
So, labeling the Swiss vote as a violation of human rights is not useful. You can turn the argument on its head, by citing Saudi Arabia which forbids any church or synagogue. Or the second class rights of Christians or Jews or non Muslims in say Pakistan.
Switzerland does not forbid the propagation of Islam on its territory, but Arab and Muslim lands do formally and strictly forbid the right of Christians and Jews and other non Muslim faiths to proselytise, on the pain of death.
So much for considerations of human rights.
Were Switzerland 'racist' in this sense, it would've denied a safe haven for the so called moderate voice of a more liberal Islam, Tariq Ramadan, grandson of the founder of the much feared and aggressive Muslim Brotherhood.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Israel on the ropes?

Gone are the halcyon days... Israel through faults of its own is on the ropes of global public opinion. Right wing prime minister Bibi Netenyahu more and more is putting his foot in his mouth. He's willing to negotiate with the Palestinians but in the same breath he imposes draconian conditions which are unacceptable.
Israel knows no limits to arrogance. Consider president and long lived politician Shimon Peres' remark to Egypt's Hosni Mbarek. Mbarek raised the matters of the unending, illegal land grab of Palestinian territory on the 42 year Israeli occupied west bank, as a thorn in the side of any peace talks with Israel. Peres in a display of utter deafness, labeled the Egyptian Rais' remark, swept it aside that illegal settlements and the ethnic cleansing in Arab east Jerusalem, were 'peripherals',mere bagatelles which should not delay the signing of a peace treaty.
Well the land grab sticks in the Palestinians caw; it inflames, it festers, it turns toxic, but for Netenyahu & co., it is hardly worth raising an eyebrow.
And yet, to retain a semblance of dancing to the tune of Israel's paymaster and protector, the US, they had to make a 'good faith effort', to slow down but not halt the mindless pursuit of dispossessing the lion's share of Palestinians from the land which is rightfully there on the west bank. Fi to international law. Israel has as its birth right the land of Judea and Samaria of the Torah, which the lord God on high has given it, according to myth.
As Guam Diary continually believes Israel's pursuit of a land of Jews from the Mediterranean to the River Jourdan will in the long run destroy Zionism. Zionism of the stripe of Ben Gurion or the school of Jabotinsky...the mainstream or the right wing extremes.
Israel's intransigence is wired to its own ideology. It feels all the more justified on another ground: the mistaken US policy of Israel's indispensability as an ally. US president Barack Obama [BOH] in his speech before the cadets at America's military academy at West Point on 1 December 2009, made a point of saying that under his administration, he's opened a window of dialogue with the Muslim world. His weak kneed response to his appeal to Israel to halt settlements went unanswered; his secretary of state Hillary Clinton in Jerusalem quipped that BOH wouldn't hold the Netenyahu government to his request, in her vain attempt to jump start negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, slammed that window shut tight. BOH did end up putting pressure on Netenyahu, but as we noted above, the Israeli fox put conditions on a 10 month 'halt' to new construction, but was ordering the finishing of 3000 units and the throwing out of Arab Palestinians from long occupied dwellings in east Jerusalem.
The American president is off in his own dreams, buoyed by his conservative allies in Cairo and Riyadh and Amman.
Thus, Israel continues having a freedom of action which suddenly is challenged by the international community, and before world public opinion, finds itself on the ropes. Cry as it might about the recrudescence of anti Semitism, it cannot escape say the judgment of the Goldstone report on its preemptive war in Gaza, nor on its ethnic cleansing, nor the 'enslavement' of Palestinians and herding them into 'Bantustans'.