Archive for March, 2011

Rouge Forum Dispatch: April Fools! It’s Not a War! and It’s Free! Peace and Prosperity!

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

“Art begins with resistance – at the point where resistance is overcome. No human masterpiece has ever been created without great labor.”- Andre Gide

We Say Fight Back! 400-600 Thousand on the March in London: Between 400,000 and 500,000 teachers, nurses, firefighters, council and NHS workers, other public sector employees, students, pensioners and campaign groups from across the UK marched through central London to a rally where union officials and Labour leader Ed Miliband condemned the “brutal” cuts in jobs and services.

On Teaching Class Struggle in the Classroom: I say that class struggle is going on all the time in every major institution of society. One just has to learn how to recognize it. One needn’t embrace the labor theory of value to understand that employers try to increase profits by keeping wages down and getting as much work as possible out of their employees. As the saying goes, every successful capitalist knows what a Marxist knows; they just apply the knowledge differently.

The Sky is Falling In Michigan and People May Rise, or Not: evidence of the falling sky. On March 30, Bob Bobb, a Broad Foundation appointee now essentially the Czar of Everything in Detroit Public Schools, made so by the passage of a law that upends any form of local control, announced that he would either turn 45 schools to charters in the fall, or reconstitute them if no charter operators come forward. That’s about one-quarter of the schools in the city. The move would impact a little less than half of the children in the city and nearly one-half of the school work force. What did the Detroit Federation of Teachers say? There’s not a hint of official resistance. This is from the DFT web site on March 31, 2011: “Whether or not there will be room in the new, smaller DFT for all teachers who want to stay will depend on the number of teachers who retire and the number of students who remain in DPS-run schools. This will be affected by the number of schools that convert to charters. If any members are not part of DPS next fall, they will not automatically have positions with the charter schools. We expect charter operators to select their own staff. They may or may not choose to hire former DFT members. Even so, the Michigan Education Association (not DFT) is taking a state wide strike vote…

The MEA Strike Vote Letter:

NEA’s National Phone Call and the Counterfeit Leadership of April 4th: Above, Van Roekel and his pal Arne Duncan The crux of the call was to win NEA members to “collective action to create a movement for the America we want,” by joining with the “United Labor Table” (tops from the AFL-CIO and the equally failing Change to Win Coalition) to launch a lobbying effort, “We are one!” on April 4th and beyond. This would be an effort to lobby in regard to NCLB and to “protect the voice of the middle class,” as well as defending collective bargaining (dues collection). Van Roekel indicated he and NEA are following in the footsteps of Dr Martin Luther King who was assassinated on April 4th in Memphis. He urged “back home” lobby efforts, “you can become a lobbyist.”

The Little Red Schoolhouse:

Michelle Rhee: Liar, Cheat, Madame for the Rich: A USA TODAY investigation, based on documents and data secured under D.C.’s Freedom of Information Act, found that for the past three school years most of Noyes’ classrooms had extraordinarily high numbers of erasures on standardized tests. The consistent pattern was that wrong answers were erased and changed to right ones…USA TODAY examined testing irregularities in the District of Columbia’s public schools because, under Rhee, the system became a national symbol of what high expectations and effective teaching could accomplish. Federal money also was at play: Last year, D.C. won an extra $75 million for public and charter schools in the U.S. government’s Race to the Top competition. Test scores were a factor. USA TODAY initially looked at Noyes only because of its high erasure rates. Later, the newspaper found that Wayne Ryan, the principal from 2001 to 2010, and the school had been touted as models by district officials. They were the centerpiece of the school system’s recruitment ads in 2008 and 2009, including at least two placed in Principal magazine.

The International Hot War of the Rich on the Poor:

Below is not an AC130 low-flyer Gunship! It’s an Obamagogue Peace Plane! (yeah, some guns and stuff) but no charge: The U.S. military dramatically stepped up its assault on Libyan government ground forces this weekend, launching its first attacks with AC-130 flying gunships and A-10 attack aircraft, which are designed to strike enemy ground troops and supply convoys…Their use, during several days of heavy fighting in which the momentum seemed to swing in favor of the rebels, demonstrated how allied military forces have been drawn deeper into the chaotic fight in Libya. A mission that initially seemed to revolve around establishing a no-fly zone has become focused on halting advances by ground forces in and around Libya’s key coastal cities. The AC-130s, which fly low and slow over the battlefield and are typically more vulnerable to enemy fire than fast-moving fighter jets, were deployed only after a week of sustained coalition attacks on Libyan government air defenses and radar. Armed with heavy machine guns and cannons that rake the ground, they allow strikes on dug-in Libyan ground forces and convoys in closer proximity to civilians.

Iraq? What’s That? I was Worried about a Conscience Stain: President Barack Obama said the U.S. and its allies had to take military action in Libya to avert a massacre of civilians that would have “stained the conscience of the world.” “Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries,” Obama said at the National Defense University in Washington. “The United States of America is different.” (smirking)

10 Years of War + a Promise of Endless War=Barbarism: The US Military’s Kill Team in Action (Rolling Stone) Exterminate All the Brutes: Kill Team’s Morlock ( a play pal of Sarah Palin’s kids) posing with an Afghan child. The photos collected by soldiers included many shots of local children, often filed alongside images of bloody casualties. At one point, soldiers in 3rd Platoon talked about throwing candy out of a Stryker vehicle as they drove through a village and shooting the children who came running to pick up the sweets.   But a review of internal Army records and investigative files obtained by Rolling Stone, including dozens of interviews with members of Bravo Company compiled by military investigators, indicates that the dozen infantrymen being portrayed as members of a secretive “kill team” were operating out in the open, in plain view of the rest of the company.

Far from being clandestine, as the Pentagon has implied, the murders of civilians were common knowledge among the unit and understood to be illegal by “pretty much the whole platoon,” according to one soldier who complained about them. Staged killings were an open topic of conversation, and at least one soldier from another battalion in the 3,800-man Stryker Brigade participated in attacks on unarmed civilians. “The platoon has a reputation,” a whistle-blower named Pfc. Justin Stoner told the Army Criminal Investigation Command. “They have had a lot of practice staging killings and getting away with it.” it would have been hard not to know about the murders, given that the soldiers of 3rd Platoon took scores of photographs chronicling their kills and their time in Afghanistan. The photos, obtained by Rolling Stone, portray a front-line culture among U.S. troops in which killing Afghan civilians is less a reason for concern than a cause for celebration.

“Most people within the unit disliked the Afghan people, whether it was the Afghan National Police, the Afghan National Army or locals,” one soldier explained to investigators. “Everyone would say they’re savages.”.. “Gibbs told everyone about this scenario by pitching it – by saying that all these Afghans were savages, and we had just lost one of our squad leaders because his legs got blown off by an IED,” Morlock recalled.

Killing an Afghan – any Afghan – became a way to avenge the loss… So far, though, no officers or senior officials have been charged in either the murders or the cover-up…. the resentment of Afghans was so commonplace among soldiers in the platoon that when Morlock found himself being questioned by Army investigators, he expressed no pity or remorse about the murders. Toward the end of Morlock’s interview, the conversation turned to the mindset that had allowed the killings to occur. “None of us in the platoon – the platoon leader, the platoon sergeant – no one gives a fuck about these people,” Morlock said. Then he leaned back in his chair and yawned, summing up the way his superiors viewed the people of Afghanistan. “Some shit goes down,” he said, “you’re gonna get a pat on the back from your platoon sergeant: Good job. Fuck ’em.” The soldiers were bored and shellshocked and angry. They had been sent to Afghanistan as part of a new advance guard on a mission to track down the Taliban, but the enemy was nowhere to be found. “To be honest, I couldn’t tell the difference between local nationals and combatants,” one soldier later confessed. During the unit’s first six months in Afghanistan, the Taliban evaded almost every patrol that 3rd Platoon sent out

Against Cruise Missile Marxists: Every imperialist intervention in world history has been waged under the pretext of saving lives, whether said lives were in real danger or not….The body count must be rejected as a means to determine whether or not to support an imperialist intervention. This is especially important because imperialist wars that start small and limited tend to end up being large and bloody…Unlike in Egypt, Libya’s revolutionaries have not appealed to the rank-and-file of the military to switch sides, nor have they sought to mobilize the country’s workers to strike against the regime. This took social revolution off the table and confined the struggle between Gaddafi and the rebels to a purely military dimension, guaranteeing him the upper hand and setting the stage for the LNC’s desperate plea for help from the region’s most anti-revolutionary force: the U.S. government. This failure was no accident; many members of  the LNC are top figures from Gaddafi’s decrepit and brutal regime. Instead of mobilizing workers, they’ve issued proclamations honoring all contracts with foreign oil companies…The no-fly zone is damage control, an attempt to co-opt the Libyan revolution. Washington is setting the stage for a new client state in eastern Libya to emerge under its air cover and “regime change” in Tripoli would be the icing on the cake (hence why Gaddafi’s compound was attacked early on in the establishment of the no-fly zone)…All anti-imperialists should oppose the no-fly zone. Revolution? Yes! Intervention? No!

Petras: 6 Myths of War on Libya (this is just 1): The Left, including the mainly electoral social democrat, green and even left-socialist parties of Europe and the US swallowed the entire mass media propaganda package demonizing the Gaddafi regime while lauding the ‘rebels’. Parroting their imperial mentors, the ‘Left’ justified their support for imperial military intervention in the name of the “revolutionary Libyan people”, the “peace-loving” masses “fighting tyranny” and organizing peoples’ militias to “liberate their country”. Nothing could be further from the truth. The center of the armed uprising is Benghazi, longtime monarchist hotbed of tribal supporters and clients of the deposed King Idris and his family. Idris, until he was overthrown by the young firebrand Col. Gaddafi, had ruled Libya with an iron fist over a semi-feudal backwater and was popular with Washington, having given the US its largest air base (Wheeler) in the Mediterranean. Among the feuding leaders of the “transitional council” in Benghazi (who purport to lead but have few organized followers) one finds neo-liberal expats, who first promoted the Euro-US military invasion envisioning their ride to power on the back of Western missiles .They openly favor dismantling the Libyan state oil companies currently engaged in joint ventures with foreign MNCs. Independent observers have commented on the lack of any clear reformist tendencies, let alone revolutionary organizations or democratic popular movements among the ‘rebels’.

The Failures of Military Intervention: Foreign imposed regime change] is likely to spur resistance and civil war in those countries where the United States and other advanced democracies are most likely to undertake such intervention [i.e., poor, weak states]; the situation is made even bleaker if war is needed to overthrow the existing regime. . . [O]verthrowing other governments (and bringing new leaders to power rather than restoring previous rulers) is a policy instrument with limited utility because of its potential to ignite civil wars. These conflicts may in turn result in the imposed regime’s ouster or draw interveners into costly occupations.”

The Real Military Budget is $1.2 Trillion+ A country with a gross domestic product of $1.2 trillion would have the 15th largest economy in the world, ranking between Canada and Indonesia, and ahead of Australia, Taiwan, the Netherlands, and Saudi Arabia. Still, don’t for a second think that $1.2 trillion is the actual grand total for what the U.S. government spends on national security. Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld once famously spoke of the world’s “known unknowns.” Explaining the phrase this way: “That is to say there are things that we now know we don’t know.” It’s a concept that couldn’t apply better to the budget he once oversaw. When it comes to U.S. national security spending, there are some relevant numbers we know are out there, even if we simply can’t calculate them.

April Fool! When Syria Shoots Civilians, it’s Okay, no Crisis!: government forces killed dozens in the past two weeks and demonstrators in several cities challenged the president’s

No Joke. Juan Cole Loses His Mind, Shows his Imperialist Face:

I am unabashedly cheering the liberation movement on, and glad that the UNSC-authorized intervention has saved them from being crushed. I can still remember when I was a teenager how disappointed I was that Soviet tanks were allowed to put down the Prague Spring and extirpate socialism with a human face. Our multilateral world has more spaces in it for successful change and defiance of totalitarianism than did the old bipolar world of the Cold War, where the US and the USSR often deferred to each other’s sphere of influence.

The International Economic War of the Rich on the Poor:

TARP Boss: April Fool! The Banks Won and You Paid Them Too!Treasury’s mismanagement of TARP and its disregard for TARP’s Main Street goals — whether born of incompetence, timidity in the face of a crisis or a mindset too closely aligned with the banks it was supposed to rein in — may have so damaged the credibility of the government as a whole that future policy makers may be politically unable to take the necessary steps to save the system the next time a crisis arises. This avoidable political reality might just be TARP’s most lasting, and unfortunate, legacy. Neil M. Barofsky was the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program from 2008 until today.

Michigan (highest unemployment in the US) cuts UCB Benies:the Republican-led Legislature approved a new law that extends unemployment benefits this year, but next year will reduce to 20 weeks the maximum the state will pay unemployment benefits — down from 26. That means lower unemployment taxes for Michigan employers in the future. Snyder signed the law Monday, saying it is needed to guarantee 20 extra weeks of federal unemployment benefits this year that were about to be cut off. He said nothing of the shortened benefits next year.

Every Man, Woman + Child In Ireland Owes $24 Thou and Portugal is Almost Gone (suffering PIGS) Officials in Lisbon said Thursday that the country’s budget deficit last year was 8.6 percent of its gross domestic product, well above the goal of 7.3 percent. Although officials said the revision would not affect the government’s goal of reaching a deficit of 4.6 percent of domestic product in 2011, the news was a reminder that, even after the problems from Greece’s fraudulent deficit statistics, some numbers from the euro zone remain unreliable. Also Thursday, Ireland’s central bank announced that four of the country’s most prominent financial institutions would need an additional 24 billion euros to cover sour real estate loans, a move that pushes the country’s banking system closer to being nationalized.

Solidarity Forever:

UAW Begs for More Concessions (to save jobs! April Fool!): The UAW is open to agreeing to use a wage structure with a high percentage of lower-paid second-tier workers at more General Motors plants if it means reopening them, Vice President Joe Ashton said today. “We will look at anything when it comes to negotiations that will retain jobs,” Ashton told reporters at GM’s plant in Orion Township, which is preparing to build the Chevrolet Sonic subcompact and Buick Verano compact this year.|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

What did the Historians Against War Say About War #3? April Fool! They said NOTHING!

Jimmy Hoffa Jr and Pals Attempted Bribery in Teamster Scam: four members of the Hoffa slate have all been found to have “tried, but failed, to buy electoral support and stifle opposition in exchange for salaried union jobs.” The Election Supervisor investigated the Hoffa scheme to buy support with union jobs for six months, and took sworn testimony from Hoffa, Hall, Aloise, Johnson and a number of other officers. The Election Supervisor’s report found a “mind-set where elected union officials do not clearly distinguish between their fiduciary responsibility to the union and their separate political objective of getting elected.” Hoffa denied any role in the scheme. The Election Supervisor did not find Hoffa credible—and credited witnesses and evidence that contradicted the cover story put forward by Hoffa, Hall, and Johnson.

Corruption or Infighting inside SEIU? The Service Employees International Union has filed internal charges against Bruce S. Raynor, one of New York’s most prominent union leaders and the head of that union’s apparel workers’ affiliate, accusing him of financial misconduct. Mr. Raynor is president of Workers United, the nation’s main apparel workers’ union, a grouping of more than 100,000 apparel, laundry and warehouse workers that affiliated two years ago with the S.E.I.U., where he serves on the board as an executive vice president. Mr. Raynor said he had been charged with not properly accounting for $2,300 in spending on meals with a female S.E.I.U. official. “There was absolutely no misappropriation of one penny of union funds,” Mr. Raynor said in an interview. “This is the flimsiest of charges. What is going on here is an ugly, naked exercise in political retaliation.” The charges will be heard by an S.E.I.U. hearing officer, who is to make a report and recommendations to that union’s executive board. Mr. Raynor said that current leaders of the service employees’ union were trying to push him out, along with several other officials who had supported Anna Burger, the union’s former secretary-treasurer, during her unsuccessful campaign against the official who ultimately won the S.E.I.U’s presidency, Mary Kay Henry, succeeding Andy Stern.

Spy versus Spy

April Fool! CIA isn’t an Intelligence Agency. It’s a Secret Army but if They’ve Been in Libya For Several Weeks (wasn’t war declared just days ago?) How Come they don’t know a Thing? While President Obama has insisted that no American ground troops join in the Libyan campaign, small groups of C.I.A. operatives have been working in Libya for several weeks and are part of a shadow force of Westerners that the Obama administration hopes can help set back Colonel Qaddafi’s military, the officials said.

April Fool! This Libyan Rebel is Not, Not, Not a CIA Asset: The new leader of Libya’s opposition military spent the past two decades in suburban Virginia but felt compelled — even in his late-60s — to return to the battlefield in his homeland, according to people who know him…Since coming to the United States in the early 1990s, Hifter lived in suburban Virginia outside Washington, D.C. Badr said he was unsure exactly what Hifter did to support himself, and that Hifter primarily focused on helping his large family.

Did the CIA Encourage Libya’s “rebels” and then Betray them? It’s happened before. April Fool and Psych on You!

The Heavens Weep: Capital’s War on People and Nature

Magical Mystery Tour:

If the Jesuits Pay $166 Million to Rape Children, Will People offer them More Kiddies on Sunday? The Pacific Northwest chapter of the Roman Catholic Church’s Jesuit order has agreed to pay $166 million to settle more than 500 child sexual abuse claims against priests in five states, attorneys said on Friday...the Northwest chapter of the Rome-based Jesuit order and covers Oregon, Washington state, Alaska, Idaho and Montana. The victims, most of them Native Americans from remote Alaska Native villages or Indian reservations in the Pacific Northwest, were sexually or psychologically abused as children by Jesuit missionaries in those states in the 1940s through the 1990s, the plaintiffs’ attorneys said.   Rebecca Rhoades, another attorney for abuse victims, said perpetrators among the Northwest Jesuits included not just priests but also Jesuit novices, scholastics, lay volunteers, deacons, Jesuit brothers and even nuns. Rhoades said that to her knowledge, none of the perpetrators covered under the settlement ever faced criminal charges. In most cases, the abuse came to light only after the victims had reached adulthood, and the statute of limitations had expired or the perpetrators had died, she told Reuters.

The Northwest Jesuits Still Exist, Want Money and Kiddies: There are Many Ways to Make a Gift Gifts to the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province help educate young Jesuits, support ministries to the poor and marginalized and provide necessary care for Senior Jesuits. On behalf of all who benefit from your generosity, Thank you. Online: You can make an online donation to support the work of the Oregon Province Jesuits Via Mail: You can make a donation to support the work of the Oregon Province Jesuits by sending a check to: Society of Jesus, Oregon Province P. O. Box 86010 Portland, OR 97286-0010

You Can Do Northwest Jesuits Exercises, on your Knees or Bent Over: “Very Reverend John Whitney, Nwest Jesuit (fears the FSM)

Northwest Jesuits Say They May File Bankruptcy Against Claims as the Rainy Day Fun is A bit Short: Insurance has contributed to the province’s legal-defense fees but has not provided a large percentage of the settlement money, Whitney said. “We’re deep into the rainy-day fund. … Things are lean.”..David Clohessy, executive director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, says unless a religious entity opens its financial books, he finds it difficult to believe any claim of financial hardship. Dioceses that have filed for bankruptcy have usually done so shortly before trials, to prevent disclosing what the hierarchies knew and know, Clohessy contends.

Another Jesuit Rape Cover Up: Jesuit leaders in Chicago largely ignored or kept secret numerous reports, spanning four decades, that a prominent priest was sexually abusing teenage boys, lawyers for victims charged on Monday in a motion for punitive damages in a Chicago court. above: Jesuit McGuire with Ma Teresa and Kiddies

Get a Big Calculator! Let’s Count the Rapist Priests! McKiernan says they already have. In Cleveland, for example, the diocese said that 28 priests had been accused of abuse, but when a prosecutor looked at the files, the estimate went to 145. When the New Hampshire attorney general looked at the files of the diocese of Manchester, 27 new names emerged. And McKiernan has obtained an internal 2009 document from the Boston archdiocese that says there were 40 credibly accused priests whose names are still unknown to the public.

Best Thing in History of the World:

Wacko Cornel West Backs Zombie-herder Chairman Bob Avakian:

RunnerUp: LA PBS to Be Sold to Scientologists

Financially strapped KCET-TV is in talks to sell its landmark Sunset Boulevard studio to the Church of Scientology, according to people who know about the pending deal. The Los Angeles television station, which is struggling to rebuild viewership after its recent split from PBS, plans to move its operations to a smaller location, real estate brokers said. Station officials have been touring potential sites, brokers said.,0,6928138.story

So Long Ralph!