Stopping the War Machine: Military Recruiters Must Be Confronted

Dandelion Salad

By Ron Kovic
05/28/08 “Truthdig

As a former United States Marine Corps sergeant who was shot and paralyzed from my mid-chest down during my second tour of duty in Vietnam on Jan. 20, 1968, I am sending my complete support and admiration to all those now involved in the courageous struggle to stop military recruitment in Berkeley and across the country.

Not since the Vietnam War protests of the late 1960s has there been a cause more just than the one you are now engaged in. Who knows better the deep immorality and deception of military recruiters than those of us who, decades ago, entered those same recruiting offices with our fathers, believing in our hearts that we were being told the truth — only to discover later we had been deceived and terribly betrayed? Many of us paid for that deceit with our lives, years of suffering and bodies and minds that were never the same again. If only someone had warned us, if only someone had had the courage to speak out against the madness that we were being led into, if only someone could have protected us from the recruiters whose only wish was to make their quota, send us to boot camp and hide from us the dark secret of the nightmare which awaited us all.


via Truthdig


Before You Enlist (archive of posts)

Countdown: Excerpts from McClellan’s Book + Candy-Gramm for McCain

Dandelion Salad


May 28, 2008

Candy-Gramm for McCain

Keith reports on further revelations on Phil Gramms lobbying activities for UBS. Chris Hayes from The Nation weighs in.

Worst Person

And the winner is…Dunkin’ Donuts. Runners up Bill O’Reilly and Joe Lieberman.


Tonight’s: War Profiteering-Gate, Draft-Gate and Delusions of Grandeur-Gate.

Primary Race Going to the Convention?

Keith reports on the latest news on whether Michigan and Florida will have their delegates seated and whether the primary race is likely to go all the way to the Convention in August. Chuck Todd weighs in.


New Excerpts from Scott McClellan’s Book!


Ex-Press Aide Writes That Bush Misled U.S. on Iraq

Countdown: Phil Gramm’s Lobbying Activities + McClellan + Fission Expedition

Ex-Press Aide Writes That Bush Misled U.S. on Iraq

Dandelion Salad

By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
05/28/08 “Washington Post

Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan writes in a new memoir that the Iraq war was sold to the American people with a sophisticated “political propaganda campaign” led by President Bush and aimed at “manipulating sources of public opinion” and “downplaying the major reason for going to war.”

McClellan includes the charges in a 341-page book, “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception,” that delivers a harsh look at the White House and the man he served for close to a decade. He describes Bush as demonstrating a “lack of inquisitiveness,” says the White House operated in “permanent campaign” mode, and admits to having been deceived by some in the president’s inner circle about the leak of a CIA operative’s name.

The book, coming from a man who was a tight-lipped defender of administration aides and policy, is certain to give fuel to critics of the administration, and McClellan has harsh words for many of his past colleagues. He accuses former White House adviser Karl Rove of misleading him about his role in the CIA case. He describes Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as being deft at deflecting blame, and he calls Vice President Cheney “the magic man” who steered policy behind the scenes while leaving no fingerprints.

McClellan stops short of saying that Bush purposely lied about his reasons for invading Iraq, writing that he and his subordinates were not “employing out-and-out deception” to make their case for war in 2002.

But in a chapter titled “Selling the War,” he alleges that the administration repeatedly shaded the truth and that Bush “managed the crisis in a way that almost guaranteed that the use of force would become the only feasible option.”


FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


Countdown: Phil Gramm’s Lobbying Activities + McClellan + Fission Expedition

Putting the wrong ones on trial by Mark Steel

Dandelion Salad

by Mark Steel
May 26, 2008

Raytheon makes missile systems used to destroy civilian homes, but antiwar activists are the ones who get put on trial.

THERE’S A trial currently taking place in Belfast, that seems to explain plainly how nothing makes any sense. It revolves around a factory owned by the arms company Raytheon, which was set up in Derry soon after the IRA ceasefire. John Hume, who’d just won the Nobel Peace Prize was among those who announced the opening of the plant, welcoming it as a result of the “peace dividend.”

So at last, now that the men of violence had agreed to give up their weapons, the area could attract a peaceful company with a turnover of $17 billion from making weapons.

Clearly, all the while the IRA were decommissioning their arms, most of us misunderstood this process. Because the government reports must have gone “They possess 100 rifles, 10 RPG 7 rockets and a shed full of semtex. If they want to be taken seriously, this isn’t nearly enough; they need Tornado bombers and a car park full of tanks–we can’t deal with these amateurs.”

For example, when Raytheon won a contract to develop a new missile system for the Israelis in 2006, a spokesman boasted they would “provide all-weather hit-to-kill performance at a tactical-missile price.” Next, they might have ad that go “Hurry, hurry, hurry to the Raytheon springtime sale for lasers, tasers and civilian-erasers that will make flesh sizzle through snow, sleet or drizzle, without making a casualty of your wallet.”

Despite this, the government in Northern Ireland welcomed the new plant, claiming they’d been assured it wouldn’t be making weapons. To which a reasonable response would be “Right, they’re a weapons manufacturer–they supplied weapons to, amongst others, the Indonesian military junta. This might, if you were cynical, suggest they make weapons. Or what do you think they’re going to be making–fairtrade fucking custard?”

Eventually, it was admitted that they were making guidance systems for missiles, and so for a while, there was a pretense these were being employed for peaceful reasons. Perhaps the systems were being attached to wasps so that a central controlling network could guide them away from picnics.

But then, it became clear they were being used by the Israelis in Lebanon, and there was outrage in Derry when, in 2006, one such system guided a missile into a block of flats in Qana, killing 28 people, mostly children. A few days later, the local antiwar group, including the journalist and civil rights activist Eamonn McCann, decided to occupy the Raytheon building as a protest.

A group of nine got into the plant, and as a gesture, they threw a computer out of the window. Eventually, around 40 police arrived and as Eamonn describes, “They smashed through the doors wearing riot gear, many holding perspex shields, some pointing plastic-bullet guns. They inched forward while the officer in command shouted, ‘Surrender!’ We continued playing cards.”

And as I know Eamonn, I can imagine him later that night in the police cell muttering, “Tonight did not go as planned at all–I was sure no one would beat my pair of queens.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

THEN CAME the official outrage–they’d willfully broken the law, destroyed property, etc., etc. So maybe whether an act of destruction is considered illegal or not comes down to the value of the objects destroyed. And computers are worth a fair packet, whereas a house in Qana can probably be picked up for next to nothing, especially with the current housing slump!

Perhaps the activists went about their protest in the wrong way. The more official approach might have been to leave Raytheon alone, but announce the local co-op was making weapons. Then they could have produced a dossier to prove it, containing snippets from the Internet about how the manager had been buying uranium from North Korea and smuggling it into the fridges in packets of fish fingers. Then they could have flattened the place, and when it turned out there never were any weapons, they could have said it doesn’t really make any difference.

Last year, the group travelled to Qana to meet the families of the victims of that missile, and they described the trip, not surprisingly, as the most moving experience of their lives.

But while it’s all very well feeling compassion for dead civilians, someone has to consider the feelings of that poor computer, so this week their trial began, in a no-jury court in Belfast. Because opposing the bombing of civilians with missiles made as a result of a peace process can land you in jail, whereas organizing international support for bombing those civilians gets you a job as peace envoy to the place that was bombed. It’s obvious when you think about it.

I only hope that as the computer hit the ground, in its last moment, it flickered, “You have performed an illegal operation.”


Mark Steel is a comedian, a columnist for the Independent newspaper, and a socialist and activist in Britain. He’s the author of two collections about contemporary Britain, It’s Not a Runner Bean: Dispatches from a Slightly Successful Comedian and Reasons to Be Cheerful–as well as Vive la Revolution: A Stand-up History of the French Revolution.

Material on this Web site is licensed by, under a Creative Commons (by-nc-nd 3.0) license. Readers are welcome to share and use articles and other materials for non-commercial purposes, as long as they are attributed to the author and

Social change to stop climate change

Dandelion Salad

Posted with permission by Green Left Weekly

Green Left Weekly
24 May 2008

The following abridged statement was initiated by participants at the Climate Change — Social Change conference, hosted by Green Left Weekly in Sydney, April 11-13, 2008.

The evidence about global warming is more alarming than ever. It is likely that critical “tipping points” once believed to lie in the future have already been passed.

Arctic ice loss reached 20% by extent over the past two years as against 7% a decade over the period between 1979 and 2005; the volume of Arctic summer ice is estimated to have fallen by 80% over the last 40 years; glacier movement in Greenland is speeding up, producing massive “ice quakes”; in Antarctica the 2002 collapse of the Larsen B ice shelf and the recent splitting of the Wilkins ice shelf raises the spectre of the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet (and sea levels rising 5 metres).

The feedback sources of global warming are accelerating, with declining reflection of solar radiation, falling carbon absorption capacity of soils, forests and oceans and increased forest fires and methane release from Siberian tundra permafrost. By 2006 global annual human CO2 emissions were 9.9 gigatonnes of carbon, with only 4 gigatonnes being absorbed by the Earth’s “carbon sinks”. Some scientists project this figure to fall to 2.7 gigatonnes of carbon a year by 2030.

As a result, according to James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute of Space Science, “the Earth is gaining more heat than it is losing: currently 0.5 to 1 watts per square metre. This planetary imbalance is sufficient to melt ice corresponding to a 1 metre of sea level rise per decade, if the extra energy were used entirely for that purpose — and the energy imbalance could double if emissions keep growing.”

A 2ºC maximum average increase in world temperature probably won’t stop destructive climate change

A 2ºC increase in average global atmospheric temperature above pre-industrial levels has been widely accepted (for example, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) as the maximum allowable if uncontrollable global warming is to be avoided. The chance of a 2ºC increase has been rated at between 38% (IPCC) and 78% (Hadley Centre) if greenhouse gas concentrations reach 450 parts per million of CO2 equivalent (CO2e). But these have already reached 459ppm CO2e, producing a 0.8º increase and locking in another 0.6ºC. Clearly, an upper limit of 450ppm is too high, risking further destructive climate feedbacks.

We need a greenhouse gas reduction target that fits the global warming crisis

Existing broadly accepted targets for greenhouse gas reduction (GGR) are therefore far too little far too late. In particular, the commonly accepted GGR target of 60% by 2050 compared to 2000 (advanced by the Stern Review, European Union and the Australian Labor Party) would allow greenhouse gas concentrations to grow to 550ppm CO2, making a 3ºC average temperature increase a 50:50 chance and risking even more extreme increases — with catastrophic consequences for billions of human beings and entire ecosystems.

This frightening reality dictates an approach of stopping greenhouse gas concentration increases as soon as possible, with the goal of reducing them to a long-term safe and sustainable level (around 300-325ppm CO2, roughly corresponding to a 0.5ºC increase from pre-industrial levels).

Despite the urgency of the crisis, solutions are possible

Despite the enormity of the global warming threat, the carbon-reducing technologies, industrial processes and forms of economic and social organisation that can reverse it already exist or can be created. Many needed policies (e.g. rapid energy demand reduction and application of sustainable energy technologies) are already being introduced, albeit on an extremely inadequate and under-resourced scale.

The central challenge is to speed up the replacement of carbon-intensive infrastructure and forms of economic and social organisation, setting in place the measures supporting climate sustainability at a pace that meets the timetable for the greenhouse gas emission cuts the Earth needs.

Vested interests stand in the way of climate sustainability and have to be confronted

Reaching this goal involves more than a debate about climate science and government climate policy. It is also, even primarily, a struggle against those forces with a vested interest in keeping the transition to sustainability within a framework that doesn’t risk the profitability of carbon-intensive investments. Also, while the global rate of investment in renewable and sustainable technologies is increasing rapidly from a low base, it still falls far short of that needed to produce the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions required by climate science.

Existing climate change policy is falling behind the challenge

Likewise, the presently preferred lead policies against global warming — carbon trading schemes and “feed-in” tariffs — have not speeded up the uptake of sustainable technologies to the pace needed. Even the most advanced Mandated Renewable Energy Targets envisaged by mainstream environmental organisations would see 60-70% of energy still being produced by carbon-intensive technologies (coal and oil) in 2020.

In those states and regions where such policies have done most to increase energy efficiency and stimulate private investment in sustainable technologies (Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Spain, California) energy use and greenhouse gas emissions are at best falling very slowly. At the international level the Kyoto Protocol failed and the Bali round threatens to repeat that failure on a larger scale.

The real road to climate sustainability has five basic elements

There can be no real shift to climate sustainability without five core elements: properly resourced public agencies to drive the sustainability effort; an international framework where the First World pays the vast bulk of the price of reversing global warming; an end to rampant consumerism; vastly strengthened campaigns for climate sustainability; and building a powerful political alliance for climate sustainability with social justice. These imperatives are explained in the next five sections.

We need properly funded public agencies to oversee the sustainability transition

Climate sustainability will never be achieved if basically entrusted to the profit motive and the market. At the core of any successful transition will be a public agency or agencies entrusted with guaranteeing that adequate targets are met. Without going into detail — which will vary widely by country and region and require ongoing elaboration to meet local conditions — the main tasks of any public agency overseeing the transition to climate sustainability will be to:

a. Drive the implantation of energy saving and efficiency programs, including mandatory and enforceable minimum standards for domestic and commercial buildings;

b. Oversee programs to convert existing building stock to zero-carbon status;

c. Implement a plan to introduce renewable energy technologies at all levels, simultaneously phasing out fossil fuel fired power generation;

d. Foster research, development and the application of sustainable technologies and processes, with a view to achieving their mass application as rapidly as possible;

e. Oversee the upgrading and spread of rail networks to provide the capacity to shift long-distance freight movement from road and air to rail;

f. Oversee the conversion of the car industry to non-polluting forms of propulsion;

g. Foster the growth of a new model of agriculture and forestry that includes the advances of methods like permaculture and aims to retain and increase the carbon-absorption capacity of the land biosphere;

h. Oversee the closure of polluting industries and the full retraining on full pay and conditions of the workers affected; and

i. Promote social instead of private ways of meetings basic human needs in housing, domestic work, child and aged care, transport etc.

We need international solidarity in the fight against global warming

The advanced industrial nations, whose own growth continues to depend on access on favourable terms to Third World resources, have been responsible for 76% of emissions since the beginning of industrialisation. Powers like the United States, Europe, Japan and Australia cannot now demand that those economies that are presently at earlier points on the path of industrialisation (or still locked in underdevelopment) pay the price for decarbonising the structures of production for which they are overwhelmingly responsible.

Accepting the cost burden of overseeing the transition to climate sustainability in developing countries involves the creation of a global sustainability fund overwhelmingly funded by the advanced industrial powers. Resources presently wasted on military spending could, if switched into such a fund, finance a rapid global switch to renewable energy sources.

We need a struggle against consumerism

The struggle for sustainability is also a struggle against the consumerist, individualist lifestyle of developed industrial society and a search for a human-centred and community based social existence.

Solidarity with the struggles of Indigenous peoples whose environments have been stolen and most ravaged by development and the study of their values will teach a lot about what sustainability and care for ecosystems really mean.

In particular, attention to these values will be an important element in countering the mass lifestyles promoted by the vested interests of the corporations with their ever higher levels of consumption, built-in obsolescence and throw away culture.

We need the broadest possible alliance for social justice and climate sustainability

The bedrock of the transition to climate sustainability lies in developing the alliance between the environmental and climate change movement and working people, young people, the unemployed and welfare recipients, and their union and community organisations.

Such an alliance can only develop on the basis that the costs of the transition to climate sustainability are funded from reduced wasteful spending in government budgets (for example, on military hardware and subsidies to polluting industries) or through taxes borne by those who bear greatest responsibility for the climate crisis and those who can most afford to pay.

Whatever the mechanisms used to reduce the use of carbon-intensive products and processes and to harvest the income to help fund the replacement of carbon-intensive infrastructure, the burden must fall primarily on the corporate world and the rich. The history of eco-taxation has already seen too many failed attempts at making ordinary consumers pay, leading to working-class and popular alienation from the environment movement, and providing dangerous openings for right-wing anti-environmental demagogues.

If those opposed to radical action for climate sustainability succeed in turning the mass of working people against the global warming struggle there simply will not be a sustainability transition — the majority (especially the poorest and most oppressed) will see the fight against global warming as an attack on their living standards, social gains and rights, reproducing on a massive and debilitating scale the split between forest preservation movements and timber workers in places like Tasmania, the US and Canada.

The struggle for climate sustainability will also be weakened if it separates itself from other struggles for social justice and equality. By supporting all those campaigning for their rights the climate sustainability struggle will strengthen its own cause.

We must build all campaigns for climate sustainability

The emergence of movements that give powerful and sustained organisation to the profound community concern about global warming will be the key driver of the climate transition.

The Climate Change — Social Change conference commits to helping build the movement for climate sustainability in Australia and elsewhere.

The signatories to this statement come from a wide range of backgrounds — climate activism, scientific climate research, Green, socialist, Indigenous, feminist and many more. We do not agree on all the issues in play in the great, complex debate about how to confront and defeat global warming, but we do agree on the basic approach outlined in this statement. We understand that ongoing involvement in the struggle for climate sustainability will give us the best chance of further developing policy against global warming and resolving present differences.

We are also committed to further developing the discussion that has taken place at this conference, and will form an email network to this end. We urge everyone committed to the vital cause of reversing global warming — even if they do not agree with the analysis and proposals presented here — to join it and use it to develop our collective understanding and effort to confront humanity’s most vital challenge.

(To view the complete list of signatories, visit

• John Bellamy Foster Professor of Sociology, University of Oregon, US. Editor, Monthly Review
• Patrick Bond Director, Centre for Civil Society, University of KwaZulu-Natal School of Development Studies, South Africa
• Roberto Perez Rivero Environmental Education and Biodiversity Conservation Program Director, Antonio Nunez Jimenez Foundation for Nature and Humanity, Cuba
• Ian Angus Coordinator, Climate and Capitalism website, Canada
• Merrill Singer Senior Research Scientist, Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut, US
• Mark T Madsen Professor of Radiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, US
• Pat Eatock Secretary, National Aboriginal Alliance, Aboriginal Rights Coalition, Australia

[The statement is being widely distributed to help build the movement against global warming. If you agree with it, add your signature by emailing, and help get it around. Links to all audio and video recordings from the conference can be found at


The Most IMPORTANT Video You’ll Ever See (videos; Parts 1-4)

The Most IMPORTANT Video You’ll Ever See (videos; Parts 5-8)

How It All Ends: Your Mission (global warming; must-see videos)

How It All Ends (Global Warming; must-see video; links)

General Zinni: Global warming a serious security threat (video)

Global Warming/Climate changes/Environment

Global Warming

Latin America: What are the real interests behind the creation of the Union of South American Nations?

Dandelion Salad

By Carlos Prado
28 May 2008

Last Friday, May 23, presidents and representatives of 12 South American countries met in Brasilia to sign a treaty creating the Union of South American Nations, or Unasur.

The proposal to create Unasur was first presented during an annual regional meeting in the Peruvian city of Cuzco in 2004. Initially, the proposal was called Casa (the Spanish acronym for South American Community of Nations), but it was subsequently re-baptized during the First South American Energy Summit held in Venezuela last year.

Unasur is to function with a temporary and rotating presidency. Currently, the presidency has been handed to Bolivia. It was to have gone to Colombia, which turned down the offer, and instead will pass to Chile. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet announced that her government would only accept the role based on a consensus of all 12 of the treaty’s signatories.

What are Unasur’s objectives?

One of the treaty’s principal objectives is to develop political, economic and social coordination between the South American states. The stated aim is to use Unasur to adopt joint financial mechanisms and even advance regional fiscal, energy and telecommunications integration, as well as joint projects in the areas of science and education. According to Itamaraty (Brazil’s foreign ministry), Unasur’s objectives are “the strengthening of political dialogue between member states and the deepening of regional integration.”


FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


Latin American crisis triggered by an assassination “Made in the USA”

Haiti and the Politics of Containment

Dandelion Salad

Reviewed by Roger Annis
May 26, 2008

Peter Hallward. Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide and the Politics of Containment Verso Press. 2008

In April, mass protests against hunger and rising food prices erupted in Haiti and led to the fall of the government. On April 18, Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis resigned following a vote of non-confidence in Haiti’s senate. The vote was orchestrated by some of Haiti’s wealthy elite, seeking to bring the government of President René Préval more directly under their control.

Continue reading

‘Guest workers’ or modern slavery? by Peter Boyle

Dandelion Salad

Posted with permission by Green Left Weekly

by Peter Boyle
Green Left Weekly
24 May 2008

A pile of bags and clothing on an old shopfront verandah on Cuff Road in Singapore’s Little India is “home” to a group of about 50 migrant workers who have been spat out by an economy that relies heavily on so-called “guest workers”.

All are men from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, lured to Singapore by shady labour agents who had extracted heavy fees from them.“When they landed, some found there were no jobs waiting for them. Others, unaware of regulations here, were tricked into entering on social-visit passes, which do not allow them to work. A few workers even claimed they were met at the airport by ‘agents’, who took the return portion of their air tickets and disappeared”, the local Straits Times reported on March 18.

Others worked legally for a while, but were tossed out by their boss after incurring work injuries.

Jobless, desperate, homeless and hungry, some of them tried to work illegally and were arrested, jailed and flogged. Corporal punishment, like the death penalty, still remains a feature of modern Singapore law.

To cap it off, some of these men are not allowed to leave Singapore because the labour ministry — which administers the approximately 900,800 transient migrant workers that comprise more that 40% of the island state’s total labour force — requires them to stay to appear as witnesses in a string of court cases.

“They find themselves in a debt trap, having borrowed money to pay agency fees and plane tickets, many continue to borrow money to pay for basic necessities now”, explains Sha Najak from Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2), a small charity which is helping feed the men and championing the cases.

Receiving no funds from the Singaporean government and struggling to stay afloat, TWC2 was formed out of outrage following the 2001 killing of 19-year-old Indonesian domestic worker Muawanatul Chasanah, following months of brutal assault by her employer. Chasanah’s autopsy revealed some 200 caning, scalding, punching, kicking, and burning injuries at the time of her death.

Some 170,000 of the nearly one million transient workers work as domestics and one of TWC2’s current campaigns is for these migrant domestic workers to be guaranteed at least one day off in a week!

Model program

Yet Singapore’s “guest worker” scheme is presented as a model for the world by some right-wing forces. An article in the January edition of the right-wing “libertarian” US magazine, Reason, supported US President George Bush’s call for a guest worker scheme that would partly legalise the exploitation of “illegal” migrant workers in the US, without ending the vulnerability and super-exploitation that arise from being denied the right to legally settle in the US.

Similar arguments are now being raised by advocates of the Rudd Labor government’s plan of continuing in substance (though under another name) the former Howard government’s notorious 457 visa regime for temporary overseas workers.

Singapore is seen as a model because it is a relatively wealthy island in South East Asia, with average incomes (adjusted for price parity) only slightly below that of the tiny oil-state of Brunei. The Reason article, by Kerry Howlett, argued that its guest worker scheme is a win-win solution.

According to a 2008 report from the Asian Development Bank: “The Singapore government estimates that foreign labour contributed 3.2 percentage points of its annual growth rate of 7.8% in the 1990s.” Singapore gets the hard and dirty jobs done and workers from poverty stricken countries like Indonesia, the Philippines, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh get to send money home to their families.

Across the causeway in Malaysia, the situation for “guest workers” is a lot worse, as Newsweek conceded in a March 15 article entitled “Bottom of the barrel”.


Malaysia is one of the “most notorious” host countries, according to the Newsweek article. It has an estimated 2.5 million foreign workers, many of whom fit the UN’s definition of forced laborers.

“Malaysian law effectively makes every foreign worker a captive of the company that hired him or her. In the name of immigration control, employers … are required to confiscate guest workers’ passports and report any runaways to the police.”

Newsweek cited the case of a local computer component manufacturing company — which probably made the casings for hard drives in many of the top-brand computers used around the world — which exploits a virtually enslaved migrant workforce. The article quotes a company executive pitying these workers who were “fooled hook, line and sinker” by sleazy labour brokers. They had tricked the workers into paying huge placement fees for jobs that yield a net income close to zero.

“This is the dark side of globalization: a vast work force trapped in conditions that verge on slavery. Most media coverage of human trafficking tends to focus on crime, like the recent scandals involving migrant laborers who were kidnapped and forced to work at brick kilns in China.

“And forced prostitution, of course, which accounts for roughly 2 million people worldwide, according to the United Nations’ International Labor Organization … The ILO reckons the worldwide number of forced laborers today at some 12.3 million. It’s a conservative estimate; other approximations rise as high as 27 million.”

[An article in a future issue of Green Left Weekly will look at the situation for guest workers in Australia.]

Where Is Raed Now?

Dandelion Salad

By Jonathan Schwarz
May/June 2008 Issue

Meet the Iraqi exile (and former Salam Pax blogger) who could foil Bush’s plans for permanent bases near Baghdad.

In 1998, 20-year-old Raed Jarrar watched from the roof of his family’s home in Baghdad as American Tomahawk cruise missiles struck government buildings close by, blowing out the windows and sending him scrambling for cover. Five years later, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, coalition planes targeted the same buildings, as well as the nearby airport and Saddam Hussein’s palace, killing and wounding dozens of people from Jarrar’s middle-class neighborhood.

This year, Jarrar quietly celebrated his 30th birthday outside Pasadena at a retreat he was attending for his job as a consultant for the American Friends Service Committee. He now lives in Washington, D.C., a short metro ride away from the White House, the Pentagon, and the various think tanks where his country’s future has been decided for much of his life. Yet Jarrar’s become something the war’s planners did not anticipate: an Iraqi who’s thwarted their efforts by using the tools of American democracy. Through a peculiar roll of history’s dice, the young exile has helped throw a monkey wrench in the Bush administration’s attempts to lay the groundwork for a permanent American presence in Iraq. “I’m just another small example of how Iraqis would rather end the occupation through talking to U.S. legislators and the public,” Jarrar explains.


FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Poisonous Plutocracy Pushes Economic Inequality by Joel S. Hirschhorn

by Joel S. Hirschhorn
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
May 28, 2008

The biggest political issue receiving no attention by the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates is the powerful plutocracy that has captured the government to produce rising economic inequality.

Both major parties have enabled, promoted and supported this Upper Class plutocracy. Myriad federal policies make the rich super-rich and the powerful dominant in both good and bad economic times. Meanwhile, despite elections, the middle class sinks into one big Lower Class as the plutocracy ensures that national prosperity is unshared.

Why no attention? Why no explicit reference to a plutocracy that makes a mockery of American democracy? Simple answer: because both major parties and their candidates are subservient to numerous corporate and other special interests that use their money and influence to ensure that their elitist priorities prevail. Make no mistake. Barack Obama with all his slick rhetoric is just as much a supporter and benefactor of this Upper Class plutocracy as Hillary Clinton and John McCain.

Everyone that is not in the Upper Class who votes for any of these presidential candidates is voting against their own interests. They have been hoodwinked, conned, brainwashed and manipulated by campaign propaganda. They elect people for the visible government while they remain oblivious to the secret government – the powerful pulling the strings behind the stage. Money makes more money, financing more political influence.

One of the biggest delusions of Americans is that if they retain their constitutional rights that they still live in a country with a working democracy. Wrong. American democracy is delusional because the two-party plutocracy makes citizens economic slaves. This represses political dissent. It is 21st century tyranny. Two-party presidential candidates, unlike our nation’s Founders, lack courage to fight and revolt against domestic tyranny. Placebo voting distracts citizens from the political necessity of fighting the plutocracy.

Economic data show the plutocracy’s assault on American society. Consider these examples.

The top 20 percent of households earned more, after taxes, than the remaining 80 percent in 2005, while the topmost 1 percent took home more than the bottom 40 percent.

No American state has seen the gap between rich and poor widen faster than Connecticut. From 1987 through 2006, the top fifth of the state’s households saw their incomes increase by 44.8 percent, after inflation. Incomes for the bottom fifth fell 17.4 percent. On the other coast, just three of every 1,000 Californians in 2005 reported at least $1 million in income. But they got $213 of every $1,000 Californians earned in 2005 income. The state’s top 1 percent – average income $1.6 million – pay 7.1 percent of their incomes in income, sales, property, and gas taxes. The poorest fifth of California households pay 11.7 percent.

Real hourly wages for most workers have risen only 1 percent since 1979, even as those workers’ productivity has increased by 60 percent. Higher efficiency has rewarded business executives, owners and investors, but not workers. What’s more, American workers now work more hours per year than their counterparts in virtually every other advanced economy, even Japan, and without universal health care.

A typical hedge fund manager makes 31 times more in one hour than the typical American family makes in a year. In 2007, the top 50 hedge fund income-earners collected $29 billion – an average of $581 million each. John Paulson took home $3.7 billion from his hedge fund labors. These figures do not count profits from selling shares in their companies. Importantly, hedge fund players contributed nine times more to the Senate Democratic fundraising arm than they gave to Senate Republicans in 2007.

In 2009, Americans who make over $1 million a year will save an average $32,000 from the Bush tax cuts on capital gains and dividends. The average American household will save $20.

Between 1986 and 2005, the income of America’s top 1 percent of taxpayer jumped from 11.3 to 21.2 percent of the national total. Their federal income taxes dropped from 33.13 percent of total personal income in 1986 to 23.13 percent in 2005. From 2001 to 2008, the net worth of the wealthiest 1 percent grew from $186 billion to $816 billion.

Economic inequality and injustice reflect a political disaster, even with regular elections. It has resulted from government decisions on tax cuts, spending, trade agreements, deregulatory measures, labor unions, corporate handouts, and regulatory enforcement. All crafted to benefit the rich and powerful and leave the rest of us behind. It has happened under Democratic and Republican presidencies and congresses. Bipartisan domestic tyranny propels greed driven plutocracy.

What do we desperately need? A national discussion and referendum on inequality-pumping plutocracy, that none of the major presidential candidates shows any interest in having. Certainly not Barack Obama with his vacuous talk of change (but not about the political system) and John McCain’s incredulous talk of reform.

And it is delusional to think that populist global Internet connectivity producing what is called personal sovereignty threatens plutocracy. Networking among the rich and powerful strengthens the global plutocracy, placing it above national sovereignty. More than produce an army of revolutionaries to overturn the system, the Internet has fragmented every imaginable movement. Individuals indulge themselves with their own or social websites or fall victim to conventional politicians. Technology and media owned and controlled by plutocrats serves them while it shackles and deceives the multitudes.

Only one presidential candidate sees our core national problem and the need for revolutionary thinking and action to correct the system: Ralph Nader who said recently, “We need a Jeffersonian revolution.” Plutocrats should heed these wise words of John F. Kennedy: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” With all the guns and pain Americans have, the ruling class should worry and start reforms. To start, let third party and independent candidates into televised presidential debates. If the stage can be filled with a bunch of primary season candidates, why not more than two in the general election?

For electoral dissent, stop being a presidential romantic; use your vote to fight the plutocracy. Reject the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. Put an end to serial disappointments. Time is running out. Talk is cheap. Action is crucial. Violent revolution is an option.

[Contact Joel S. Hirschhorn through]


Ralph Nader posts

Nader for President 2008

Global Food Crisis: Egypt and Sudan Join Forces For Food Security

Dandelion Salad

by Muriel Mirak-Weissbach
Global Research, May 27, 2008

No one can doubt that the news being transmitted from Egypt, and also from Sudan in early May, is dramatic. Egypt is in the throes of an economic crisis, inflation is reeling out of control, people have taken to the streets, and desperate measures taken by the government in an attempt to alleviate the strains on the population, may be not only ineffective, but even counterproductive.In Sudan, for the first time, rebel troops of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), based in Darfur, have managed to penetrate the capital and to engage government military forces in combat in Omdurman. Both developments are expressions of the economic and strategic crisis engulfing the entire world, and neither can be understood as a “local” phenomenon. It is not Egyptian government policy which has “created” the economic crisis, and there is nothing “Sudanese” to explain the incredible escalation of military aggression against the central government in Khartoum.

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Mosaic News – 5/27/08: World News from the Middle East

Dandelion Salad



This video may contain images depicting the reality and horror of war/violence and should only be viewed by a mature audience.


For more:
“African Union Troops Under Fire in Somalia,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Nasrallah: Hezbollah Does Not Want to Rule Lebanon,” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
“Israeli-Hezbollah Prisoner Swap Deal Nears,” IBA TV, Israel
“Israel Accelerates Policy of Forced Migration,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Al Qaeda in Iraq Recruits Children,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

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Army chief sworn in as Lebanon’s new president