by Prof. James Petras
Global Research, January 20, 2009
A serious discussion of the perspectives for socialism in Latin America today requires several levels of analysis, moving from world economic conditions, to US-Latin American relations, to their specific impact on Latin America. The analysis must focus on how the economic recession/depression impacts on the changing political-economic systems and the class structures. Finally, within this framework, it becomes necessary to examine the development of the class struggle and anti-imperialist movement in specific countries and under different regimes.
While there are broad similarities to previous ‘recessions’ and economic cycles, there are many good reasons to think that what matters most in the present world conjuncture is the specific world historical conditions, which mark the present economic recession as very distinctive or ‘unique’.
Specificities of the current recession/depression (RD)
We refer to the present crisis as ‘recession-depression’ because the negative growth of capitalism is a current ongoing process that is still in its opening phase: The current recession is still spreading and likely will deepen into a depression as early as mid-2009 onward for a prolonged period. Secondly, the recession/depression is spreading unevenly in terms of depth and timing, with some countries and regions in more ‘advanced’ states of crisis (US-EU-Japan) than others (India and China).
Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip lasted three weeks and killed more than 1,300 people. Now there are more accusations about Israel’s use of illegal weapons in the fighting. Just hours after Israeli forces withdrew from the Strip footage has also surfaced showing the tunnels that lead from Egypt into Gaza are still being used to smuggle in supplies. Destroying the tunnels was one of the principal justifications Israel gave for its offensive. Al Jazeera’s Tarek Bazely reports.
“Every day is exactly the same”, (Trent Reznor, Nine Inch Nails). The thought of being trapped in some sort of loop, doing over and over again the same actions, is a worrying thought, as who would want to be condemned to repeat the same tasks and events for eternity? And yet, when we look at our destiny, at history, loops are everywhere, even when our life is not characterized by stagnation. Is there a way out?
There are four sorts of loops I can think of. The first one is the routine loop which includes a lot of repetitive tasks, the second is the destiny loop, what destiny can throw in our path, when it seems that similar events keep re-occurring in our life, giving us the sensation of being stuck at the same place forever. The third type can be described as a mind loop, where you would repeat in your mind a specific or a series of events over and over again, almost like if you were trying to find an escape, or a better way to reach another outcome, helping you get out of the mind loop. The last loop is déjà vu, which seems more like a problem related to the laws of physics, or once again it could be a mind loop as it is often described in psychology.
Executive Order — Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Personnel
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 301 of title 3, United States Code, and sections 3301 and 7301 of title 5, United States Code, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Ethics Pledge. Every appointee in every executive agency appointed on or after January 20, 2009, shall sign, and upon signing shall be contractually committed to, the following pledge upon becoming an appointee:
Obama to sign order shutting Guantanamo prison within a year 21 Jan 2009 President Barack Obama plans to sign an executive order Thursday to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center within a year and halt military [kangaroo] trials of terror suspects held there, a senior administration official said. The executive order was one of three expected imminently on how to interrogate and prosecute ‘al-Qaida,’ Taliban or other foreign fighters believed to threaten the United States. The official said the president would sign the order Thursday, fulfilling his campaign promise to shut down a facility that critics around the world say violates domestic and international detainee rights.
“Obama declares US ‘ready to lead’,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Can US Afford Inauguration Bill?” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Arabs Agree to Disagree,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Ban Ki-moon demands probe into Gaza attacks,” Dubai TV, UAE
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.
The classic Marxist concept of class struggle elucidates the millennia-long battle between the owners and controllers of the means of production, whether that be agricultural, trading, manufacturing, or finance, and everyone else.
Under the capitalism of Marx’ time, the bulk of “everyone else” consisted of the manufacturing working class and related occupations, such as the miners and the railroad workers. In our era things have gotten rather more complex.
First of all, in the developed capitalist countries fewer and fewer people are engaged directly in manufacturing, more and more in “white collar” positions directly and indirectly supporting the manufacturing sector, and in small business. Second of all, while there is a definable owning/controlling class, it is much less publicly apparent than it used to be and many non-owner/controllers have the appearance of “ownership’ and an interest in it through the securities markets. Third of all, in the United States to the greatest extent, but in most of the other developed countries to some extent as well, the owners/controllers have created a very effective propaganda machine designed to suppress traditional working class consciousness. For example, when President-elect Obama refers to the “middle class” what he is really talking about is what used to be called the “working class,” but the capitalist media have made sure that that term is passé.
WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Barack Obama told Ehud Olmert and three other Middle East leaders he is determined to stop Hamas from smuggling arms.
According to a statement from White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, the new president placed phone calls Wednesday morning to Olmert, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and King Adullah of Jordan.
The statement said that Obama “emphasized his determination to work to help consolidate the cease-fire by establishing an effective anti-smuggling regime to prevent Hamas from rearming, and facilitating in partnership with the Palestinian Authority a major reconstruction effort for Palestinians in Gaza.”
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“No use beating a dead horse,” they say, and there’s probably no horse deader on the planet today than that strip of God-forsaken land called Gaza.
It appears that not only have Yahweh and Jesus Christ forsaken Gaza, but so have the U.N., the E.U., the US, the Arab League and every other institution and congregation of arrogant nation-states that have mis-managed our post Cold War era.
Israel tied up its slaughter in Gaza with a ribbon and handed it to Barack Obama just in time for his Inaugural warning to Muslims: Don’t shake your fists at us or we’ll defeat you! And our news-media Sanhedrin blessed the proceedings. Two days before the Inauguration, Bishop Lester Holt on NBC managed to anchor 30 minutes of drivel about the “historic event” of handing the “reigns of power” from one pitchman to another-and never mentioned once the fact that both Israel and Hamas had declared separate “truces” on that very day.
by Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research, January 20, 2009
Across the land, an atmosphere of hope and optimism prevails. The Bush regime has gone. A new president is in the White House.
While America had its eyes riveted on the live TV broadcast of Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration, financial markets were sliding.
A major “market correction” had occurred. Removed from the public eye, virtually unnoticed, a new stage of the financial crisis has unfolded.
Immediately following the inauguration, the Dow Jones plummeted, largely affecting the share prices of major financial institutions.
The quoted stock values of major Wall Street banks plummeted. Citigroup fell by 20 percent, Bank of America by 29 percent and JP Morgan Chase by 20 percent. The Royal Bank of Scotland fell by 69 percent in New York trading.