Archive for July, 2013

Editorial — “End south Korea’s illegal subcontracting” at Samsung and other chaebols [The Hankyoreh / 한겨레]

Posted in south Korea on July 31, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

July 15, 2013

On July 14, irregular workers at subcontracting companies for Samsung Electronics Service founded a new labor union. Around 400 workers participated in the organization of the Samsung Electronics Service chapter of the Korean Metal Workers’ Union. The union is significant both as a large labor union at a Samsung workplace and as the first labor union established by irregular workers.

If the courts recognize that the laborers who filed a lawsuit were illegally dispatched, the labor union will gain considerable bargaining rights. And indeed, it seems clear that illegal dispatching did take place. We hope that this will be an opportunity to end Samsung’s no-union, anti-human rights management style.

“I dedicated my youth to Samsung, and it turns out that I was illegally dispatched,” one worker said with frustration. This sentiment demonstrates why the workers at Samsung Electronics Service’s subcontractors moved to organize a labor union.

The subcontractor workers wear the uniforms of Samsung Electronics Service and are subject to the strict oversight and directions by the company, but they are irregular workers who are not even guaranteed the minimum rights and wages stipulated by law. The workers stepped forward to organize the union in order to improve the inadequate working conditions and to enjoy the rights they deserve.

The reason that so many workers gathered in one place – hundreds took part in the general assembly on July 14 – was that they thought they had nothing to lose even if they were fired for joining the union.

In their lawsuit for confirming working status, employees of subcontractors of Samsung Electronic Service ask the court to determine who their real employer is. The key question in the suit is whether the subcontractors are actually independent from the management of their prime contractor, Samsung Electronics Service.

While Samsung maintains that the subcontractors are independent companies with their own managerial autonomy, those who are familiar with the facts say that the subcontracting companies are shell companies with no independence.

Testimony and evidence have continued to emerge showing that it is Samsung Electronic Service that is directing and supervising the workers and that the subcontracting companies are effectively administrative departments that handle personnel issues and pay workers’ wages.

In a decision recognizing Choe Byeong-seung, a dismissed worker with a subcontractor for Hyundai Motor, as a case of illegal dispatch, the Supreme Court distinguished subcontracting and illegal dispatch. Cases in which the subcontracting company is little more than a shell and the prime contractor directs and oversees the work of the subcontractor laborers and records their attendance, the court said, are not subcontracting but rather illegal dispatch. This can be said to apply to Samsung Electronics Service.

Samsung is said to have ordered extra weekend work and put pressure on subcontractors to stop the general meeting for the establishment of the labor union. This is not only illegal but also embarrassing.

It is contradictory to aim to be the best company in the world while violating universally recognized principles. Furthermore, the cost incurred by non-union management is considerable.

Samsung management needs to change its ways. It needs to hire the illegally dispatched workers as full-time employees and guarantee their rights.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye has declared that creating good jobs is one of her administration’s policy objectives. Park and the courts must correct the widespread illegal dispatching, not only in the manufacturing industry but also in the service sector.

Article link: http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_editorial/595747.html

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Washington must overhaul bipolar way of thinking [People’s Daily]

Posted in China, China-US relations, Encirclement of China, EU, European Union, NATO, Obama, US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War on July 30, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Clifford A. Kiracofe (Global Times)
July 16, 2013

The annual China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED)…[has] concluded. Both sides can now reflect and think about the future. But can Washington put behind its Cold War mind-set, and will current US policy lead to peaceful and constructive relations with China?

Some critics believe the current US policy will lead to confrontation, and that a different US foreign policy and national strategy is needed to suit the emerging multipolar world.

Obama’s pivot policy toward the Asia-Pacific represents only one element of the bipartisan consensus of the dominant factions in the US foreign policy elite. In 2008, the incoming Obama administration had the policy recommendations of this elite consensus.

The pivot policy announced in 2009 which impacts the Asia-Pacific is part of a much larger strategic global rebalancing. While it is true that the US and China have had almost continuous relations since the “multipolar” world of 1784, current US global strategy takes a narrow bipolar perspective of the post-WWII era.

The core features of this strategic perspective involve the global financial architecture launched at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944 and the Cold War geopolitics which began as early as 1946.

US policy today involves an update of these two core features of the post-WWII era. But is such an update the right answer to US security concerns?

Some critics say “no” because US policy maintains the bipolar bloc politics feature of the Cold War era such as the “democracies versus non-democracies” confrontation.

The essence of the global rebalancing strategy is a deepening US cooperation with the EU and NATO in the face of China’s rise. Negotiations for a free trade agreement with the EU are under way, and the NATO mission area has been globalized to include the Asia-Pacific.

The process of deepening relations with Europe falls under the concept of the so-called Western order. The present US policy consensus is to fortify the Western order while extending its economic, financial and other “rules” globally.

Countries perceived as not subscribing to what is called the “Washington Consensus” are expected by Washington and by European capitals to succumb over time, voluntarily or not.

Critics say this center-periphery concept is neither sustainable nor appropriate to the emerging multipolar world, and that the policy to impose the so-called Western order globally will lead to confrontation. Time will tell.

The author is an educator and former senior professional staff member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Article link: http://english.people.com.cn/90777/8327359.html

Famed Japanese animator Hideo Miyazaki attacks Abe-led right-wing government [The Hankyoreh 한겨레 / Sweet & Sour Cinema]

Posted in Japan, Sweet & Sour Cinema, World War II on July 30, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

An important article, which may have been rendered invisible by an obscure original headline. – Zuo Shou

July 20, 2013

= [C]onstitutional amendment and other reactionary policies are likely to follow…July 21 ruling party win =

By Park Min-hee, staff reporter

“People who are short-sighted should not be allowed to meddle with the constitution.”

Shortly before the election of the Japanese upper house on July 21, which Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his government [won], legendary Japanese animation director Hayao Miyazaki harshly criticized Abe’s historical understanding and his efforts to amend the Japanese constitution.

Miyazaki one of Japan’s most famous directors and has received an enthusiastic response worldwide for the issues of the environment and life addressed in animations such as “My Neighbor Totoro” and ”Spirited Away.”

The July issue of “Neppu,” a monthly magazine published by Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki’s animation company, carried an article by Miyazaki titled “Amending the Constitution is Outrageous.”

“I am staunchly opposed to amending the constitution,” Miyazaki wrote in the article. “During recent elections, candidates have not been elected by large margins, and voter turnout has been low. It is not appropriate for the government to take advantage of the confusion to amend the constitution using some improvised means.”

The article is a direct attack on the Abe-led government, which intends to try to amend Article 9 of the Japanese constitution after the election in the Japanese House of Councilors, Upper House. Article 9 is the part of the constitution that forbids Japan from possessing an army.

Miyazaki was particularly critical of Abe’s efforts to first push through an amendment of Article 96 of the constitution, the article that determines the conditions required for amending the constitution. “Beginning by amending Article 96 is a fraud,” he said bluntly.

Miyazaki also said that what the people who want to amend the constitution are ultimately trying to suggest is that Japan before the war was not a bad country. “But Japan was a bad country,” he said.

“The comfort women issue is something that affects the pride of every nation, and as such Japan must make a clear apology and provide proper compensation for this,” Miyazaki said.

He also addressed Abe’s remarks that he “fundamentally respects the Murayama Statement,” which was an apology by Tomiichi Murayama, then-Prime Minister of Japan, made in 1995 on the 50th anniversary of the end of the World War II “What is ‘fundamentally’ supposed to mean?” Miyazaki queried. “Isn’t he in fact denying the statement in its entirety?”

In the article, Miyazaki, who was born in 1941, tells the story of his father, who made money at a dance hall at an airplane part factory unconnected with the war. He presents an unbiased depiction of the attitudes of Japanese during the war. He notes as well that, if he had been born a little earlier, he also might have become a jingoistic young man.

The response of Japanese society to this issue of Neppu, which also contains articles on Article 9 of the constitution by Toshio Suzuki (“The Raccoon War”) and Isao Takaha (“Grave of the Fireflies”), has been enthusiastic.

The 5,000 copies of the magazine that were carried in bookstores around Japan starting on July 10 soon sold out, and Studio Ghibli’s publishing department has been flooded with inquiries about purchasing the magazine, the Tokyo Shimbun reported on July 19.

On July 18, Studio Ghibli made the entire text of the magazine available for download on its website (www.ghibli.jp), so that it would be available for voters to read before they go to the polls on July 21.

When asked about the reason why they printed this special issue, the studio said, “We believe that the biggest problem [about the attempt to amend the constitution] is the apathy of the Japanese people. The media is largely to blame as well. It is important to make our position clear about an issue that will determine which direction Japan moves in the future.”

Another factor is the upcoming release of “Wind Is Rising,” Miyazaki’s first new film in five years. The film, which will hit theaters on July 20, tells the story of the developer of the Zero, a fighter used by the Japanese army during World War II. The article in Neppu also appears to be a contribution to the debate about the depiction of history found in the movie.

If the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan led by Abe wins the election in the Japanese House of Councilors on July 21, it is very likely that a number of conservative policies will be implemented. These could include amendments to the constitution, an increase in overseas activity by the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, and textbook revisions.

The old director remembers life in Japan at the end of the war and lived through the violent student demonstrations in the 1960s. But he seems to be saying that the most outrageous thing of all is the situation that he is watching unfold today.

Article link: http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_international/596461.html

Original article title: “Japanese director speaks out against constitutional amendment”

“Democratic establishment unmasked: prime defenders of NSA bulk spying” by Glenn Greenwald [Guardian]

Posted in Bourgeois parliamentary democracy, National Security Agency / NSA, NSA, Obama, US Government Cover-up, USA on July 30, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

= NYT: “The Obama administration made common cause with the House Republican leadership” =

One of the worst myths Democratic partisans love to tell themselves – and everyone else – is that the GOP refuses to support President Obama no matter what he does…

Full article link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jul/25/democratic-establishment-nsa

(c) Guardian News & Media Ltd

***

Also see “After White House intervention, House defeats constraints on domestic spying” [World Socialist Website] — http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/07/25/lead-j25.html
AND “US Congress defends the methods of a police state” [World Socialist Website] — http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/07/26/pers-j26.html

The US Government Is Spying On ALL Americans’ Digital and Old-Fashioned Communications [Washington’s Blog]

Posted in FBI, National Security Agency / NSA, NSA, US Government Cover-up, USA on July 30, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

July 12, 2013

=Anyone Who Says the Government Only Spies On Potential Bad Guys Is Sadly Uninformed=

Even now – after all of the revelations by Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers – spying apologists say that the reports are “exaggerated” or “overblown”, and that the government only spies on potential bad guys.

In reality, the government is spying on everyone’s digital and old-fashioned communications.

For example, the government is photographing the outside information on every piece of snail mail.

The government is spying on you through your phone … and may even remotely turn on your camera and microphone when your phone is off.

As one example, the NSA has inserted its code into Android’s operating system … bugging three-quarters of the world’s smartphones. Google – or the NSA – can remotely turn on your phone’s camera and recorder at any time.

Cell towers track where your phone is at any moment, and the major cell carriers, including Verizon and AT&T, responded to at least 1.3 million law enforcement requests for cell phone locations and other data in 2011. (And – given that your smartphone routinely sends your location information back to Apple or Google – it would be child’s play for the government to track your location that way.) Your iPhone, or other brand of smartphone is spying on virtually everything you do (ProPublica notes: “That’s No Phone. That’s My Tracker“).

The government might be spying on you through your computer’s webcam or microphone. The government might also be spying on you through the “smart meter” on your own home.

The FBI wants a backdoor to all software. But leading European computer publication Heise said in 1999 that the NSA had already built a backdoor into all Windows software.

And Microsoft has long worked hand-in-hand with the NSA and FBI so that encryption doesn’t block the government’s ability to spy on users of Skype, Outlook, Hotmail and other Microsoft services…

Excerpted; full article link here: http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/07/anyone-who-says-the-government-only-spies-on-limited-targets-is-wrong.html

GSK execs allegedly received sexual services [People’s Daily]

Posted in China, Corruption, U.K. on July 29, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

July 16, 2013
(China Daily)

GSK executives handed out bribes to doctors and took cash rake-offs

Senior executives at Britain’s largest drugmaker, GlaxoSmithKline, allegedly accepted cash rake-offs and paid bribes to officials and doctors to boost sales and prices of its drugs in China, police said on Monday.

The company allegedly used at least four travel agencies to funnel more than 3 billion yuan ($489 million) in bribes since 2007, said Gao Feng, an economic crimes investigator with the Ministry of Public Security.

Some travel agencies had offered sexual services to senior executives in GSK for four years to maintain business contacts, police said.

This case, a focal event of the industry, is believed by insiders to act as an wake-up call for China’s pharmaceuticals sector.

The company said in a statement on Monday it was “deeply concerned and disappointed by these serious allegations of fraudulent behavior and ethical misconduct by certain individuals at the company and third-party agencies.

“GSK has zero tolerance for any behavior of this nature. GSK shares the desire of the Chinese authorities to root out corruption. These allegations are shameful and we regret this has occurred.”

It pledged to “cooperate fully” with Chinese investigating authorities and said it had stopped using the travel agencies that have been identified so far.

– Executives confess –

More than 20 employees from GSK (China) Investment Co and travel agencies have been investigated by police, including four senior Chinese executives at the pharmaceuticals giant who have been detained.

They are vice-president and general operations manager Liang Hong, vice-president and human resources director Zhang Guowei, legal affairs director Zhao Hongyan, and business development manager Huang Hong.

The executives have confessed to bribery and tax-related violations, the ministry said, adding that the case involved a large number of staff and a huge sum of money over an extended period of time.

Police are probing other officials and hospitals that may be involved.

The case emerged after police found the annual turnover of Shanghai Linjiang International Travel Service had surged from millions of yuan to hundreds of millions of yuan in recent years with little travel business, and later discovered its cooperation with GSK since 2007…

Excerpted; full People’s Daily article link: http://english.people.com.cn/90778/8328268.html

Also see — “Xinhua Insight: Police reveal details of GSK China’s alleged violations” [Xinhua] — http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/indepth/2013-07/26/c_132574386.htm

America’s Global Image Remains More Positive than China’s [Pew Research Center]

Posted in China, Pew Research Center, USA on July 29, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

* But Many See China Becoming World’s Leading Power *

July 18, 2013

= Overview =

Publics around the world believe the global balance of power is shifting. China’s economic power is on the rise, and many think it will eventually supplant the United States as the world’s dominant superpower.

However, China’s increasing power has not led to more positive ratings for the People’s Republic. Overall, the U.S. enjoys a stronger global image than China. Across the nations surveyed, a median of 63% express a favorable opinion of the U.S., compared with 50% for China.

Globally, people are more likely to consider the U.S. a partner to their country than to see China in this way, although relatively few think of either nation as an enemy. America is also seen as somewhat more willing than China to consider other countries’ interests. Still, both of these world powers are widely viewed as acting unilaterally in international affairs…

…Countries Surveyed

Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Senegal, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United States, Venezuela…

Excerpted; full article link: http://www.pewglobal.org/2013/07/18/americas-global-image-remains-more-positive-than-chinas/