Archive for May, 2013

“Park’s Beijing summit will be time to reassess US alliance addiction” – Editorial [The Hankyoreh / 한겨레]

Posted in China, Diaoyu Islands, DPR Korea, Encirclement of China, Japan, Obama, Pentagon, Russia, south Korea, US foreign occupation, US imperialism, USA on May 31, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

“US alliance addiction” — that’s an interesting euphemism for a state being an militarily-occupied US puppet.

I’m also posting this for the anecdotal information it contains about “…Deng Yuwen, a deputy editor of the official journal of the Chinese Community Party’s Central Party School who lost his job over a recent Financial Times piece in which he urged Beijing to ‘abandon North Korea,’…” — Zuo Shou

* South Korea’s alliance with the US is of course important, but shouldn’t be allowed to hinder other policy objectives *

By Kim Ji-seok, editorial writer

May 21, 2013

President Park Geun-hye is planning to have a summit soon with Chinese President Xi Jinping. This comes after her May 7 summit in Washington with US President Barack Obama. This is a pivotal moment where the contours of the Park administration’s foreign policy are taking shape. Attention needs to focus on the current state of the South Korea-US alliance [sic].

To date, Park has made three public statements on Washington’s “rebalancing to Asia” approach. In her opening remarks at a press conference after the May 7 summit, she said the US policy would “combine with my own vision for cooperation on peace in Northeast Asia to produce synergy in the region’s peace and development.” Addressing US Congress on May 8, she said the two countries’ free trade agreement (KORUS FTA) was becoming a “central pillar to the pivot to Asia’ policy.” She also went on to reiterate in the same speech that her vision for would “produce synergy with President Obama’s policy of rebalancing to Asia policy in that it would contribute to the peace and shared development of the region with a footing in the South Korea-US alliance.”

The Obama administration’s “rebalancing to Asia” approach, which has been in full effect since autumn 2011, has three main components to it. The first is a repositioning of military power. To this end, the country is stepping up its military cooperation [sic] – not just in places like South Korea and Japan, which already host large US military bases, but with other countries like the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Australia, New Zealand, and India. The second is an integrated regional approach. This includes pushing for a Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (TPP) uniting every player except China, and having Obama attend summits with East Asian leaders. Finally, the US is looking to extend its maritime access rights as far as India and other South Asian countries through linkages with the West Pacific and East Asia.

Tom Donilon, White House National Security Advisor, said the ultimate goal of the policy is to advance US interests by supporting the establishment of norms and rules in the Asia-Pacific region. The gist of it involves expanding the country‘s presence to maintain and extend dominance amid the rapid rise of the region’s economies, particularly China’s. Ironically, the regional threat [sic] of North [sic] Korea provides a powerful motivation. It fits entirely with the policy to have sophisticated, strategic weaponry repeatedly showing up in South Korea-US combined military exercises.

And Beijing has every reason to feel nervous. Indeed, this very policy is lurking behind the rising tensions between China and other countries over places like the Diaoyu (Senkaku) and Nansha (Spratly) Islands. It is also what has spurred the country on in beefing up its own military capabilities with aircraft carriers and the like.

There’s nothing to be done [??] about US super dominance in the region, but China’s rise is also inescapable. Unless South Korea is interested in having frictions with China, it has no reason to let itself get pulled too deeply into Washington’s policy. When President Park talks about being a “central pillar” of the policy, she is putting the US at the center of her thinking.

This “alliance addiction” [sic] defines nearly every aspect of Seoul’s foreign policy. After the two leaders’ summit, Obama said that as part of their shared vision they would “invest in the shared capabilities and technologies and missile defenses that allow our forces to operate and succeed together.” If this is the case, then South Korea’s own missile defense system has already been integrated into that of the US, which targets China, Russia, and North Korea.

The addiction is severely limiting Seoul’s room to maneuver its North Korea policy. The more Washington pushes its rebalancing policy, the less motivation we have to commit our energies to the North Korea issue; issues with Pyongyang cannot be resolved without the US actively moving on dialogue. Yet Park appeared to willingly agree to Obama’s policy of “strategic patience” (i.e., neglect), which she characterized as a “point of agreement between South Korea and the US” and “strengthening of the alliance.”

Deng Yuwen, a deputy editor of the official journal of the Chinese Community Party’s Central Party School who lost his job over a recent Financial Times piece in which he urged Beijing to “abandon North Korea,” pointed to three conditions for Korean reunification where China could see eye to eye with South Korea and the US, namely denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the withdrawal of US troops, and a ban on retaliation against the leadership in Pyongyang. This may be the most China would be willing to accept. Beijing is unlikely to cooperate actively on peninsula issues without some major compromise with the US and changes in approach from Washington and Seoul.

As important as the South Korea-US alliance [sic] may be, it is only a means to an end. Rather than exalting it, we need to be on guard against its excesses. The upcoming South Korea-China talks should be an occasion for shaking off some of the excesses of the alliance addiction and finding a new sense of balance.

Edited by Zuo Shou

Article link: http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_editorial/588351.html

 

The views presented in this column are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Hankyoreh

Former U.S. puppet convicted of genocide in Guatemala [Workers World]

Posted in CIA, Genocide, Guatemala, Panama, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA on May 29, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Gene Clancy on May 22, 2013

BULLETIN: On May 20, Guatemala’s highest court threw out Rios Montt’s conviction. Appeals are being filed.

On Dec. 4, 1982, President Ronald Reagan met Guatemalan President Efrain Rios Montt in Honduras. It was a useful meeting for both. Reagan declared Montt to be “a man of great personal integrity and commitment.” Reagan said, “I know he wants to improve the quality of life for all Guatemalans and to promote social justice.” (North American Congress on Latin America, Spring 2012)

The next day, one of Rios Montt’s elite platoons entered the village of Dos Erres and killed more than 200 of its inhabitants, 67 of them children. Soldiers grabbed babies and toddlers by their legs, swung them in the air and smashed their heads against walls. They forced older children and adults to kneel at the edge of a well, and then with a single sledgehammer blow sent them plummeting below. The platoon raped many women and girls, and then threw the women into a well and filled it with dirt, burying some alive. (This American Life, Radio WBEZ, May 25, 2012)

On May 10, after decades of delay, obstruction and coverups, mass-murderer Rios Montt was finally convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity in a Guatemalan court. “We are completely convinced of the intent to destroy the Ixil ethnic group,” said Judge Yasmin Barrios, as she read the hour-long summary of a three-judge panel’s ruling. For five weeks, the tribunal heard more than 100 witnesses, including psychologists, military experts and Ixil Mayan survivors who told how Rios Montt’s soldiers had killed their families and wiped out their villages. (New York Times, May 10)

The packed courtroom was quiet for much of Judge Barrios’ reading. Then cries of “¡Justicia! ¡Justicia!” erupted when she pronounced the 80-year sentence and ordered Ríos Montt to begin serving it immediately.

Antonioi Caba, an Ixil leader of the Mayan survivors’ group that first brought the case more than 10 years ago, wiped his eyes and said the sentence had “broken impunity and achieved justice,” reported the Times.

– A U.S.-backed criminal –

Many other criminals who participated in the genocide and assisted Rios Montt were not convicted — and were not even present in the courtroom. Chief among these were U.S. CIA officials and several past U.S. presidents.

The campaign of genocide against Mayan peoples killed more than 200,000 and was roundly condemned at the time. Two investigations, one by the Guatemalan Council of Catholic Bishops and another by the United Nations Human Rights Commission, excoriated the Rios Montt regime in Guatemala. Secret detailed CIA cables have come to light, which show that the U.S. government was fully aware of the atrocities and purposely suppressed this information for decades.

Rios Montt had a long and bloody career as a U.S puppet. In 1951, at age 25, he attended the infamous School of the Americas then located in Panama. In 1954, he played a key role in the successful CIA-organized coup against the democratically elected president of Guatemala, Jacobo Arbenz Guzman. In 1970, under President General Carlof Manuel Arana Osorio’s military regime, Rios Montt became a brigadier general and chief of staff for the Guatemalan army.

In 1978, Rios Montt left the Roman Catholic Church and became a minister in the California-based Evangelical Church of the Word. Since then, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, two notorious leaders of the religious right in the United States, have been his friends. (Dissident Voice, July 17, 2003)

In March 1982, Rios Montt seized power in a bloody coup d’etat that was quietly backed by the CIA and the Reagan White House. He and his generals unleashed a scorched-earth attack on the nation’s Mayan population that, according to a U.N. commission, resulted in the annihilation of nearly 600 villages.

As many as 1 million more Guatemalans, many of them Mayan peasants, were uprooted from their homes. Many of them were forced to live in concentration camps enclosed with barbed wire and patrolled by armed guards. Many were later forced to work in the fields of wealthy land barons.

Rios Montt scorned charges that his scorched-earth policy violated human rights: “We don’t have a policy of scorched earth. We have a policy of scorched Communists,” he sneered, the Dissident Voice reports.

If not for the United States, Rios Montt would not have escaped justice until he was 86 years old. Progressives around the world must see to it that all of his many accomplices, including those culpable within the U.S., are also punished for their crimes.

Article link: http://www.workers.org/2013/05/22/former-u-s-puppet-convicted-of-genocide-in-guatemala/

Articles copyright 1995-2013 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Bum Rap: The U.S. Role in Guatemalan Genocide [FAIR]

Posted in Bill Clinton, Corporate Media Critique, Fascism, Genocide, Guatemala, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, War crimes on May 29, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

May 20, 2013

by Peter Hart

I was struck by this May 17 headline in the New York Times:

“Trial on Guatemalan Civil War Carnage Leaves Out U.S. Role”

Reporter Elisabeth Malkin provides a pretty thorough accounting of U.S. support for Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt. The “long history” of U.S. support for the brutal military went back to a CIA-backed coup in 1954, Malkin reported. She added:

When General Ríos Montt was installed in a coup in March 1982, Reagan administration officials were eager to embrace him as an ally. Embassy officials trekked up to the scene of massacres and reported back the army’s line that the guerrillas were doing the killing

The U.S. role in facilitating genocide was not central to the trial of Ríos Montt, but the fact remains that U.S. aid helped fuel the military, and Reagan-era officials like Elliott Abrams brushed off concerns about atrocities against indigenous villages. As Malkin put it, “For some in Guatemala, the virtual invisibility of the American role in the trial was disturbing.”

This kind of report raises at least one obvious question: How much has U.S. coverage of the Ríos Montt trial talked about U.S. support for genocide?

According to a search of the Nexis news database, some prominent outlets haven’t just ignored the U.S. role–they’ve ignored the story altogether. On the broadcast networks (ABC, CBS and NBC), there have been no references to Guatemala genocide trial at all over the past two months. The Washington Post ran one brief item (5/12/13) about Ríos Montt’s conviction .

The PBS NewsHour, which covered the trial several times, made one reference (5/8/13) to Bill Clinton’s apology “for the U.S. government’s role,” and on another broadcast (5/10/13) directed viewers to the PBS website to watch a 1983 debate over U.S. support for Ríos Montt.

Other outlets were more direct. On MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes (5/14/13), the host noted that Rios Montt “oversaw the slaughter of nearly 2,000 indigenous people.” (Note: That’s the number of victims in the specific acts of slaughter for which Ríos Montt was convicted; the full death toll of the Guatemalan genocide is more like 200,000.) Hayes then played this soundbite from Ronald Reagan:

I know that President Rios Montt is a man of great personal integrity and commitment. I know he wants to improve the quality of life for all Guatemalans and to promote social justice. My administration will do all it can to support his progressive efforts.

And on Democracy Now! (5/15/13) , investigative journalist Allan Nairn said that the killings of the era “were crimes not just of General Ríos Montt, but also of the U.S. government.”

And what about the New York Times? Malkin covered the trial fairly extensively for the paper, but before this May 17 piece did not spend much time discussing the U.S. role in supporting the genocide. The May 11 article announcing Rios Montt’s conviction noted that “the involvement of the United States in Guatemala’s politics received scant attention during the trial.” It made this point at the very end of the piece, which closed with Reagan’s comment that Rios Montt was “a man of great personal integrity and commitment.”

In 1982 Reagan proclaimed the dictator was getting a “bum rap.” If accountability for genocide is an important value, then it would stand to reason that U.S. media would pay some attention to a genocide that our own government facilitated. But the record suggests otherwise. Would coverage have looked different if the dictator convicted of genocide was not a U.S. ally?

Article link: http://www.fair.org/blog/2013/05/20/bum-rap-the-u-s-role-in-guatemalan-genocide/

National Network on Cuba condemns U.S. ‘terrorist’ bounty on Assata Shakur [Workers World]

Posted in Assassination, Cuba, FBI, Fidel Castro, Obama, US "War on Terror", US drone strikes, US imperialism, USA, Venezuela on May 28, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

May 20, 2013

The following statement was issued by the National Network on Cuba.

On May 3, the U.S. government falsely branded Assata Shakur … as a “terrorist,” placing her name as the first woman on the most-wanted terrorist list, with obvious alternative motives, but supposedly for the false charges 40 years ago. This act is doubly scurrilous as it implies that Cuba, a country that has suffered nearly 3,500 deaths from relentless U.S.-based terrorist attacks since its revolution for sovereignty in 1959, harbors “terrorists” because in the 1970s and 80s it gave Shakur and other Black freedom fighters refuge. The National Network on Cuba rejects this slanderous act and demands that it be reversed immediately.

The National Lawyers Guild explained: “Assata Shakur is a former member of the Black Panther Party in New York City. That organization, which advocated community control and self-determination in the Black community, was one of the chief targets of the FBI’s infamous counterintelligence program known as ‘COINTELPRO.’

“According to documents released in the 1970′s, ‘COINTELPRO’s stated goal was to ‘expose, misdirect, destroy and neutralize’ Black political organizations and their leadership. The illegal and unconstitutional program resulted in the police murder of scores of Black Freedom Fighters and others including BPP members, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in Chicago, and the frame-ups and wrongful convictions of many others, such as Geronimo Pratt and Dhoruba Bin Wahad, both of whom spent two decades in prison before their frame-ups were exposed. Many former Panthers remain in prison today, such as Marshall Eddie Conway, Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin and Mumia Abu Jamal.”

This convenient smokescreen comes at an historical moment when world opinion rejects the U.S. blockade of Cuba and demands that the Obama administration end the injustice, release all of the Cuban 5 and allow them to return to their families in Cuba. The Cuban 5 have been in prison for nearly 15 years for preventing terrorism against their homeland — Cuba.

It is the United States that is harboring terrorist Luis Posada Carriles. Carriles was convicted of endangering the public welfare in a thwarted 2001 attempt to assassinate then Cuban President Fidel Castro who was speaking at a university in Panama.

Carriles now shamelessly walks the streets of Miami, although there is an open extradition request from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, where he is wanted to stand trial for the … mid-air bombing of a civilian aircraft. Carriles has boasted about his role in downing Cubana Flight 455 as it left Barbados in 1976, killing all 73 men, women and children aboard. It is a crime for which international treaties required extradition or trial in the host country. He has not been tried nor extradited. And Carriles is not the only terrorist living in the United States with the knowledge and protection of the U.S. government.

The U.S. alternative motives for this upping the ante on Assata also place her on the Obama’s administration drone assassination program’s list; this is the list from which drone targets are chosen. In their offensive against the left in this hemisphere (Argentina, Cuba, Honduras, Ecuador, Uruguay, Venezuela, Haiti, and Nicaragua) the U.S. is using Assata as a precedent on their regime-change objectives for the Latin American and Caribbean left.

We must organize to Free Assata [Shakur], the Cuban 5, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier and all political prisoners and prisoners of war in [U.S.] custody. Assata is our sister, mother, daughter, comrade and friend. The NNOC asks all our membership organizations for support in this struggle to remove Assata Shakur from the FBI terrorist list.

Article link: http://www.workers.org/2013/05/20/national-network-on-cuba-condemns-u-s-terrorist-bounty-on-assata-shakur/

Washington’s hacking charges escalate pressure on China [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Anti-China propaganda exposure, Beijing, Black propaganda, Capitalism crisis early 21st century, Capitalist media double standard, China, China-bashing, Corporate Media Critique, DPR Korea, George W. Bush, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Nukes, Pentagon, PLA, Shanghai, south Korea, US drone strikes, US imperialism, USA on May 27, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Alex Lantier
21 May 2013

Yesterday, top US officials and media outlets made unsubstantiated allegations of hacking of US computer systems by a military unit in Shanghai, escalating tensions with China.

The New York Times led this campaign, publishing an article titled “Chinese Hackers Resume Attacks on US Targets,” which served as a conduit for accusations and threats against China by US computer security firm Mandiant and US officials. The Times claimed that the Chinese army’s Unit 61398 in Shanghai, whose existence Washington alleged this February, “is back in business.”

The Times effectively admitted that it had no evidence to support its allegations. “It is not clear,” it wrote, “precisely who has been affected by the latest attacks. Mandiant, a private security company that helps companies and government agencies defend themselves from hackers, said the attacks had resumed but would not identify the targets, citing agreements with its clients.”

The Times claimed that China had targeted several firms—including Coca-Cola, French energy firm Schneider Electric, and US defense contractor Lockheed Martin—in previous attacks. None of these firms confirmed the Times ’ allegations, however, instead declining to comment.

This complete lack of evidence notwithstanding, current and former Obama administration officials speaking to the Times unleashed a torrent of threats against China. An unnamed US “senior official” said, “This is something we are going to have to come back at time and again with the Chinese leadership.” He added that Beijing has “to be convinced there is a real cost to this kind of activity.”

On Wednesday, former Obama administration Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair and Ambassador to China John Huntsman are slated to release a plan for a series of executive orders and legislative acts to threaten China over the issue of hacking. Blair told the Times: “Jawboning alone won’t work. Something has to change in China’s calculus.”

The Obama administration mooted similar plans last month in a Wall Street Journal article, that described a “potentially rapid escalation” of tensions with China. According to the Journal, Washington is considering imposing “trade sanctions, diplomatic pressure, indictments of Chinese nationals in US courts and cyber countermeasures—both attack and defense.”

These unsubstantiated US accusations against Beijing over hacking drip with cynicism and hypocrisy. The US itself maintains the largest and most destructive cyber warfare apparatus in the world. It announced this March the formation of 13 offensive cyber war teams, writing malicious computer code to disable or destroy computers or computerized infrastructure, part of a multi-billion-dollar US cyber war program.

The Obama administration already claimed the right this February to wage pre-emptive cyber-attacks, transposing onto the Internet the illegal methods of aggression most infamously used by the Bush administration against Iraq. This came after the US and Israel worked together to disable Iran’s nuclear program by putting the Stuxnet virus into Iranian computer systems running nuclear centrifuges. This was accompanied by a series of bombings and assassinations inside Iran, targeting Iranian scientists.

Significantly, as elements of the US foreign policy establishment have admitted, what is driving Washington’s vague accusations of Chinese cyberwarfare is not primarily whatever hacking may be occurring, but the rising military tensions between the United States and China.

As Richard Falkenrath of the US Council on Foreign Relations said in February, describing US accusations of Chinese cyberwar hacking, “While this is all described in neutral terms—what are we going to do about cyber-attacks—the underlying question is, ‘What are we going to do about China?’”

Military and diplomatic relations between the world’s two largest economies have worsened dramatically since Washington’s aggressive “pivot to Asia,” aimed at containing China, announced during Obama’s first term. Last month, Washington escalated military exercises with South Korea into a full-blown war scare with neighboring North Korea. It demonstratively deployed nuclear-capable B-2 Stealth bombers to the Korean peninsula, only a few hundred kilometers from China.

Cyber warfare looms large as an issue in US-China military relations, as electronic communications become ever more central to coordinating far-flung military forces, detecting them, and targeting them with precision-guided munitions. Such forces include not only traditional ones like US naval task forces built around aircraft carriers and troop transports, but also newer weapons such as US or Chinese remote-controlled or computer-operated drones.

Last week, the US Navy tested the X-47B—its first fully autonomous, computer-guided drone aircraft—on the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush. The Times noted that “to offset China’s numerical advantage and technological advances, the US Navy is betting heavily on drones—not just the X-47B and its successors, but anti-submarine reconnaissance drones, long-range communications drones, even underwater drones.”

The paper noted the rising risk of accidental conflict, as the US fills the Pacific Ocean with “thousands” of drones, and China deploys its own drones so as not to fall too far behind.

The issue of cyber warfare is closely bound up with the accelerating arms race in the Pacific. The Pentagon’s recent report to the US Congress on Chinese military capabilities stressed the role of Chinese cyber warfare planning as part of broader plans to deter a possible US intervention against China. One can only suppose that US preparations for cyber warfare against China are similarly or even more advanced.

The Pentagon wrote that China’s “sustained investment” in cyberwarfare, guided missile, and space warfare capabilities “appear” designed to enable anti-access/area-denial missions (what PLA [Chinese People’s Liberation Army] strategists refer to as ‘counter-intervention operations’). … China continues to develop measures to deter or counter third-party intervention, particularly by the United States. China’s approach to dealing with this problem is manifested in a sustained effort to develop the capability to attack at long ranges military forces that might deploy or operate within the Western Pacific.”

The combination of US threats and unsubstantiated accusations and preparations, both Chinese and American, for what would be a cataclysmic Sino-American conflict, point to the profound crisis of world capitalism.

The industrial infrastructure underlying US-China trade, which totals one-half trillion dollars per year, is at the heart of the world economy. Yet under capitalism and the nation-state system, it must base itself on international financial and military relations which are now in an advanced state of collapse.

On the one hand, crisis-ridden American banks have accumulated trillions of dollars of debts to China, which they are ever less inclined to repay. On the other, while China’s industrial growth has not pulled the Chinese working masses out of poverty, it has shaken US imperialism’s geo-strategic hegemony, which underlay international relations in post-war Asia.

What is emerging is, as the great Russian Marxist Leon Trotsky wrote in 1914 at the beginning of World War I, the “revolt of the forces of production against the political form of nation and state.” Then as now, the critical task is mobilizing the working class in a common international struggle for socialism and against imperialist war.

Article link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/05/21/hack-m21.html

You’re to Blame for Factory Deaths. Well, You and Walmart [FAIR]

Posted in Corporate Media Critique on May 26, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

A deconstruction of a particularly nonsensical media display of vulgar bourgeois economics. Marx would have chewed up and spit out this Surowiecki. Stop the consumers before they kill again!!! — Zuo Shou

May 17, 2013

By Jim Naureckas

The New Yorker’s James Surowiecki (5/20/13) has figured out who’s to blame for unsafe working conditions for garment workers: people who wear clothing.

“The problem isn’t so much evil factory owners as a system that’s great at getting Western consumers what they want but leaves developing-world workers toiling in misery,” Surowiecki writes:

Most of us have a sense that low prices in Dubuque have something to do with low wages in Dhaka, but that’s just one aspect of the pressure that we as consumers exert on global supply chains. Our insatiable demand for variety and novelty has led to ever-shorter product life cycles.

Surowiecki is saying that it’s this “pressure,” the “insatiable demand” from consumers that leads to unsafe working conditions. To explain, he brings in MIT political scientist Richard Locke, who says, “Often, the only way factories can make the variety and quantity of goods that brands want at the price points they’re willing to pay is to squeeze the workers.”

Well, wait–”that brands want”? At the prices “they’re willing to pay”? What happened to the consumers and our demands being to blame?

OK, Surowiecki is willing to concede that giant multinational corporations share some of the blame:

Just as most Western consumers seem reluctant to pay more for T-shirts, most Western companies have been reluctant to take real responsibility for what happens on their suppliers’ factory floors…. As long as consumers and companies insist on the lowest price and endless variety, there’ll always be factories that are willing to cut corners to get the business.

The thing about equating “consumers and companies” in this way, though, is that when you say that consumers “insist” on something, it’s basically a metaphor. As a consumer, you go to the store and see what they’re selling, and you either buy it or you don’t; you don’t usually get to tell the sales clerks to change the price, and you certainly don’t get to tell them how to arrange their supply chains. Whereas global apparel companies really can and do insist that factories produce goods on specific schedules at particular prices –- their “demand” is not metaphorical at all.

If consumers do have the ability to insist that clothing be sold at a particular price -– which in some metaphorical sense we do, through the far-fr0m-perfect [sic] mechanism of supply and demand -– this insistence certainly doesn’t specify that garment workers should typically receive 1 to 3 percent of the retail price in wages, or that clothing stores be among the most profitable of retail industries. That division of revenues is the result of the non-metaphorical demands that corporations make.

Could consumer outrage over the way corporations treat workers result in changes in that treatment? Possibly -– though news coverage that is framed in terms of shifting blame from “evil factory owners” to “our insatiable demand” seems calculated to dissipate outrage rather than mobilize it.

Article link: http://www.fair.org/blog/2013/05/17/youre-to-blame-for-factory-deaths-well-you-and-walmart/#comments

Fighting for Survival on Jeju Island: Jeju as a Key Strategic Naval Base for US’s “Asia Pivot” [4th Media]

Posted in China, Obama, Palestine, Pentagon, south Korea, US foreign occupation, US imperialism, USA on May 26, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Bruce K. Gagnon

May 11, 2013

Gangjeong villagers last night were removed while protecting tents they had long used just across the road from the Navy base construction gate on Jeju Island, South Korea.

The government appears to be continuing with its fierce crackdown since the election of the new president Park Geun-hye, the daughter of the former brutal South Korean dictator who had once served as an officer in the Japanese imperial Army.

He was essentially a US puppet and his daughter appears to be serving the same purpose today.

The villager tents were used by construction gate protesters to rest, offer information to the public, and to display banners in opposition to the base.

In the current climate they are being removed again and again from various public spaces as the Navy tightens its grip on the village.

Navy plans reveal that they intend to take significant portions of the village for military personnel housing once the port facilities are complete.

This base will be a key port for the US Navy that is now moving 60% of its forces to the Asia-Pacific as part of Obama’s dangerous and destabilizing military “pivot” into the region.

Gangjeong village sits just 300 miles from the Chinese mainland making the proposed Navy base there a strategic outpost for the Pentagon’s goal of controlling the shipping lanes which China uses to import 80% of its oil.

It is ironic that just last night I went to see the award-winning documentary film called Five Broken Cameras that was shown by Students for Justice in Palestine at nearby Bowdoin College.

The story of Palestinian lands being stolen by force in order to build Jewish settlements is sadly similar to the Jeju Island story.

At the very time we were watching that film the latest crackdown on Jeju was also happening.

In recent weeks the Jeju crackdown has included the deportation of several international activists who had been in the village offering solidarity for quite a long time.

We’ve got to get more internationals to go to Jeju so that the villagers are not isolated from the rest of the world.

As I write this three of the four who were arrested last night (including Mayor Kang) were still being detained.

In the meantime you can follow the story by visiting the Save Jeju Now website here [article does not provide a hyperlink at ‘here’ – Zuo Shou]

Bruce K. Gagnon, Coordinator, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space

PO Box 652, Brunswick, ME 04011

(207) 443-9502

globalnet [at] mindspring.com

http://www.space4peace.org

http://space4peace.blogspot.com/ (blog)

Article link: http://www.4thmedia.org/2013/05/11/fighting-for-survival-on-jeju-island-jeju-as-a-key-strategic-naval-base-for-uss-asia-pivot/