Information Clearing House Newsletter 31 October, 2011

31 October, 2011 — Information Clearing House

Turkey’s Erdogan Holds Assad’s Fate in his Hands
By Anshel Pfeffer
Syrian protesters and army defectors can only dent Assad’s iron hold on the country, unless, that is, Turkey continues to silently sponsor his opponents.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article29553.htm

Continue reading

Capitalism and Environmental Catastrophe By John Bellamy Foster

30 October 2011 — MRZine


John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff at Occupy Wall Street.  Photo by Carrie Ann Naumoff

This is a reconstruction from notes of a talk delivered at a teach-in on “The Capitalist Crisis and the Environment” organized by the Education and Empowerment Working Group, Occupy Wall Street, Zuccotti Park (Liberty Plaza), New York, October 23, 2011.  It was based on a talk delivered the night before at the Brecht Forum.  Fred Magdoff also spoke on both occasions.

The Occupy Wall Street movement arose in response to the economic crisis of capitalism, and the way in which the costs of this were imposed on the 99 percent rather than the 1 percent.  But “the highest expression of the capitalist threat,” as Naomi Klein has said, is its destruction of the planetary environment.  So it is imperative that we critique that as well.1

Continue reading

Updates on Libyan war/stop NATO news: October 30, 2011

30 October 2011 — Stop NATO

  • Libya War Reaffirms Global Air Power Dominance Commitment Of ‘World’s Sole Superpower’
  • Assad: Western Attack On Syria To Set Entire Region On Fire
  • Iran: NATO’s Plot To Dominate Region Hatched 10 Years Ago
  • U.S. To Expand Military Power In Persian Gulf
  • Turkey: NATO Missile Radar Opponents Plan More Protests
  • NATO Furthers Humilates Ukraine Over Integration Demands

Continue reading

In Training By William Bowles

31 October 2011

Some readers may find it difficult to believe that for a brief time during my early, spotty teenage years, like thousands of others of my kind, I hung out out on railway stations collecting engine numbers and ticking them off in my Ian Allen train spotters guide. When I look back on those days, I can’t for the life of me figure out why I did it. What was the attraction?

Perhaps it was the smell of steam and coal, which when mixed in the right combination, is a heady brew, something akin to the best sensemilla to a twelve-year old and by some miracle my Observer’s Book of Railway Locomotives of Britain has somehow survived the years, minus the dust cover unfortunately. A birthday present from my mum in 1957.

Victorian industrial capitalism is now viewed through steam-fogged glasses and it’s been transported to the fictional land of Heritage where the past is embalmed in nostalgia. All those amazing machines, with their pistons, cogs, gears and levers, all whirring away in perfect harmony and best illustrated by the steam engine, the engine of industrial capitalism.

loco.jpg

The invention of the railway network is probably the British Empire’s greatest, and only contribution to world culture but in an irony only possible for capitalism to produce, the railway– that made industrial capitalism possible–was jettisoned in the 1960s as surplus to requirement by those self-same ‘captains of industry’ the railway created in the first place.

Jettisoning the past is a central theme of capitalism, a necessary component if the nature of production is to be continually revolutionized and along with the workers who make it all possible.

When I was a kid apparently lots of boys my age wanted to be engine drivers (I wasn’t one of them), though it was a dirty, dangerous and grossly underpaid profession. But such is the nature of working class camaraderie, a ‘band of brothers’ but it also had its pecking order, with each function clearly delineated by union membership, grade and so forth. And an entirely male preserve.

A few years ago I wrote a piece about the Indian state-owned rail network, the largest in the world, carrying tens of millions of passengers a day and now an integral component of Indian culture in every sense of the word. Not without its problems and contradictions of course, especially as the neoliberal agenda asserts itself.

In the same essay I also wrote the following:

A couple of facts: The Indian Railway is the single biggest civil employer of people on the planet and the then newly-appointed minister of Transport’s first act was to rescind a decision to replace the locally made pottery cups that everyone traveling on the railway uses with plastic ones, because the switch resulted in 100,000 potters being made redundant.

/../

Now I contend that this is a good example of socialist culture in action. It may not be the most ‘efficient’ enterprise on the planet, it’s bureaucratic beyond belief, the entire network–the biggest in Asia–runs on paper, lots of paper, vast tomes get exchanged between guards when they switch shifts but so what?

The issue here is that the Indian Railway is not only intrinsic to Indian culture but also indispensable, socially as well as economically. It’s not merely an enterprise, for grouped around it are literally millions of people who are not directly employed by the Railway but who service the passengers as well as the railway’s needs. — ‘All Aboard!’

The contrast with the country that invented the railway could not be more stark once the UK decided that the automobile was the new generator of profit. The railway a relic of the 19th century but above all ‘unprofitable’, in money terms that is.

The double-whammy of the Beeching cuts and the privatization of the railways has left the the UK with the most expensive rail fares in Europe and the worst service. This from the country that invented it!

In retrospect however, I wonder if the ‘captains of industry’ are ruing the day they let the former boss of ICI, Beeching lose on the most comprehensive rail network in the world and smashed it to pieces? Literally. Capital infrastructure built over two centuries is not now easily or cheaply replaced but indicates just how short-sighted capitalism is.

 

PCHR: A new UN Report Finds Closure of Gaza Illegal and Calls for its Complete Lifting

31 October 2011 — Palestinian Centre for Human Rights – Press Release Ref: 109/2011

The UN Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the Occupied Territories has submitted its 43rd report to the UN General Assembly during the 66th session opened in New York last September.[1]
 
Continue reading

Wikileaks Newslinks 30 October 2011

30 October 2011 — williambowles.info

Wikileaks & Free Speech
MWC News
On 28 October 2011 The Age On–line National Times published an article by Julian Assange (editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks) and Jennifer Robinson (a London media and human rights lawyer) about the recent case in which the Australian Federal Court found …
http://mwcnews.net/focus/editorial/14470-wikileaks-free-speech.html

Continue reading

‘Theater of the Absurd’: Netanyahu and His Endgame in Palestine By Ramzy Baroud

30 October 2011 — Ramzy Baroud

During his deliberately offensive speech on September 23, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the General Assembly as ‘the theater of the absurd.’ Israel’s few friends at the United Nations – led by the US delegation – listened gleefully and applauded as Netanyahu heralded a steady stream of insults.

Continue reading

Information Clearing House Newsletter 29 October, 2011 Weekend Edition: The Never-Ending Eurofiasco

29 October 2011 — Information Clearing House

Turkey Shelters Anti-Assad Fighters
By Liam Stack
Turkey is hosting an armed opposition group waging an insurgency against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, and allowing them to orchestrate attacks across the border from inside a camp guarded by the Turkish military.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article29541.htm

Continue reading