Monthly Archives: June 2008

Mexican Bosses Battle Over Oil While Workers Starve

MEXICO CITY, June 2 — The fight amongst the capitalists of the world for control of oil has motivated the latest wars in which hundreds of thousands of workers have died for the different greedy bosses’ profits. In this period, this dispute among the imperialists is leading to World War III.

For the Mexican ruling class, the big fight amongst different sections is over PEMEX, the state-owned oil monopoly. President Calderón, with the support of the U.S. imperialists, wants to privatize it all, while other local bosses (like former presidential candidate López Obrador) oppose this, preferring it to remain as a state-owned company, favoring more investments from local capitalists instead of U.S. oil companies.

Oil is the bloodline of modern capitalist industry and war machines. Control of the oil flow and profits is the reason the U.S. bosses and their military are geared to make wars from Baghdad to Kabul. It is now more profitable than ever with the continuous rise of the price of a barrel of crude. For example, PEMEX had profits of about $100 billion in the last four years.

This oil wealth does not belong to the “Mexican people” as the politicians tell us. If it did, its megaprofits would be used to end the poverty of 70 million people in Mexico, 50% of whom live in extreme poverty. These profits benefit the politicians who administer PEMEX and the companies’ bosses who have direct business with PEMEX.

The center of the dispute between the group led by Calderón, the ruling PAN party and the majority of the PRI (which ruled for 60 years before PAN) against López Obrador, the FAP (Broad Progressive Front) and some of the PRI is over which group of national or foreign bosses will control the billions of dollars of profits of PEMEX.

The competing bosses are trying to convince us to support the “privatizers” or the “nationalists.” This is a fatal trap. We workers are the ones who produce all the wealth including the oil and we must take it into our own hands. Capitalism in any form (free market or with nationalized industries) is based on the exploitation of the working class. Choosing sides in this dogfight as far as workers are concerned is like siding with either the drug cartels or the bosses’ government in their mini-civil war over drug profits. Workers have only one choice: to build a massive international communist movement to fight for the revolutionary dictatorship of the working class over all bosses and establish a society in which oil, and everything else, will serve the needs of the world’s working class. That is what PLP fights for. Join us!

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PLP Exposing Fake Leftists, Union ‘Leaders’ in Pakistan

This May Day gives us an audacity to fight against exploitation with full devotion, honesty, enthusiasm and bravery. The working class all over the world is very eager to get rid of capitalism but, for example in Pakistan, we’ve got to deal with the brutal living conditions that this system breeds, with union leaders who are in cahoots with the bosses and with fake-left leadership who lead us down the dead-end of state capitalism. None of these leaders want to change the world of capitalist oppression because they are puppets dancing in the hands of bosses by getting money and other personal advantages. They are created by the capitalists to keep poor workers away from their revolutionary struggle against exploitation, poverty, illiteracy and profit. We, as PL’ers, fight against all of these anti-working-class forces and struggle to bring true communist ideas to the masses of Pakistani workers.

Capitalist bosses have recruited gangsters and called them union leaders. Almost every so-called union leader is enjoying a luxurious life style: homes in posh areas, dinners at best restaurants, costly car, etc. Many ruling class parties have their own union bosses to protect their political interests and to keep the workers quiet against their policies. Trade unions in Pakistan Railways, Steel mill, PIA, Wapda, PTCL, Pakistan Hydro Electrical Board and many others are led by the bosses’ lieutenants.

While the union bosses get fat, the Pakistani working class faces miserable circumstances: high prices, low wages, poor working conditions, no job security, and many other social problems. This situation creates the conditions where workers are ready to get rid of this rotten system but they can’t find a way out because of puppet leadership!

The super-exploitation of Christians, women and children illustrates the genocidal situation that has been created for workers in Pakistan. Christians are common as sanitary workers who face some of the worst working and living conditions. Women workers are subject to rape by local bosses or landlords. Resistance means that the women can be accused of having an illicit relationship and subject to the barbaric sentence of stoning. The children of the working class face particularly terrible conditions. Most families cannot afford to send them to school so many send them to madrassas (free religious education providers) to get religious education, food and shelter. In many schools, the clerics feed the children the anti-working-class ideology of political Islam and convince them to protect local bosses’ interests by becoming “terrorists.” Child labor is also very common. Many children work in restaurants, hotels and factories where they face low wages, sexual abuse and torture.

In response to these horrible conditions, fake-leftist parties, chanting the slogan of state capitalism (socialism), are working to maintain capitalist oppression. No party is functioning for the working class — they prefer to get sympathies of “intellectuals” from upper class and hold conferences in five-star hotels with capitalist guests. They are encouraged to keep good relations with bosses in the better interest of their families; “after all it is due to these bosses they are getting something to keep their families alive.”
You cannot find people from the working class in their meetings — they don’t like to meet workers with torn clothes or dirty hands. They argue for national and people’s democratic revolution, socialism, international socialism, Trotskyism, nationalism, but not for communism! Nobody can hear a single world about communism from these fake leaders because they are afraid of it.

It exposes their purpose to work for capitalism by these fake -isms. But we understand their intention: to keep the working class away from any real revolutionary movement. They are here to spread the illusion that communism is dead and to protect the interests of bosses. Workers are fed up with these fake -isms that all lead back to capitalism. They need communist ideas to change their lives.

PLP’s voice is very loud and clear, its line is based on truth, honesty and experiences of great revolutionaries. It has strong power to attract sincere people and it gives courage to workers for changing the world of exploitation into equality, justice and prosperity. Communism is a truth that penetrates the hearts of the working class.

It is alive and still bringing workers under one red flag of PLP to make international communist revolution. When we greet workers with the line of our Party they are happy to join us and get rid of the fake-leftist trade unionists. We believe we will win millions of workers, students, soldiers and other oppressed and exploited people to get rid of imperialist wars, terrorism and exploitation.

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NYC Youth Maintain May Day Momentum

BROOKLYN, NY, May 24 — A multi-racial crowd of nearly one hundred teachers, students and their families gathered in a local park to share food, fun and politics as we try to build on the excitement of May Day in preparation for summer activities. This weekend barbeque is a tradition in our area, and was the largest in several years.

After the food ran out due to the bigger-than-expected attendance, speeches highlighted the key role of industrial workers in the revolutionary process. We called on guests to join this year’s Summer Projects in Seattle and Los Angeles. One college graduate explained his decision to work in the transportation industry. Two high school seniors, both valedictorians at their respective schools, described how the Party helped guide them along a path of struggle in school, rather than passivity.

Our multi-racial and inter-generational crowd once again made an impression, this time on several parents at the cookout. They’re now considering sending their teenagers to the West Coast this summer.
Young people who had led walkouts in their schools and marched on May Day together used their recently-honed organizing skills to bring friends and family to kick back and enjoy this day of food and sports.

PL’ers in the NY Urban Debate League are planning a city-wide forum on the Sean Bell case and on criminalization of youth in schools. This will help us stick to our plans of keeping our red ball rolling from May Day right into the summer and the next school year.

The winning of youth into our Party and its anti-racist activities demonstrates the important role young students and workers play in our movement. It also shows youth that instead of fighting and shooting each other (a rash of which has erupted in the city), we should be fighting for a society that eliminates the racist warmaking bosses who cause the social problems workers and youth suffer.

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The U.S.-Death-Squad Empire Strikes Back

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA, June 1 — The heart-attack death of Manuel Marulanda (aka Tirofijo or Sureshot), founder and leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the largest and oldest Latin-American guerrilla group, follows several recent events favoring the U.S.-Colombian government’s war policies in the region. Early in March, Raúl Reyes, FARC’s second-in-command, was killed by an air-command raid while asleep in a camp inside Ecuador. Then Iván Ríos, another top FARC commander, was killed by his own security chief to collect a huge government reward. This was followed by the surrendering of Commander Karina, the top FARC woman leader. (Apparently, the Colombian secret police threatened her daughters’ lives, a common government tactic against guerrilla leaders).

The FARC has suffered major setbacks, losing many areas it once controlled, reducing its ranks to some 9,000 fighters.

All of this has induced the Uribe government, the Colombian generals and the White House to seek a military solution to eliminate the FARC altogether.

However, the FARC might be down but it’s not out. Recent reports show its urban base increasing. Yet the government now has the upper hand. Uribe and U.S. rulers are using this to intensify attacks against its two main enemies in the region: Venezuela’s Chavez and Ecuador’s Correa (both oil-producing OPEC members).
These two are partly to blame for this. After the Colombian military’s air-command raid that killed Raúl Reyes and others inside Ecuador (with open U.S. intelligence help), Uribe and the U.S. were on the defensive since this raid was to sabotage Chávez’s plan, supported by France, to exchange Ingrid Betancourt (a French citizen and former Presidential candidate in FARC custody) and others for FARC members held in government prisons. This exchange was making Chávez and FARC look good. But amid worldwide condemnation of the Colombian government for the raid, Chávez and Correa shook hands with Uribe at a Latin-American presidential meeting in the Dominican Republic. Uribe later responded to this favor by increasing attacks on FARC and linking it to Chávez and Correa.

The Uribe government was also discredited internally because of its connection to “parapolitics” (death squad-drug dealer groups). Sixty-four politicians (51 of them congressmen or 20% of Parliament) have been linked to parapolitics; 32 are already in jail. Most are linked to Uribe.
Semana, a newsweekly magazine, commented (5/4), “In the ’80s, Pablo Escobar and his gang reached Congress, but only 5% of all parliament members were linked to him. In the ’90s, when the Cali cartel decided to subtly bribe politicians under what was known as Process 8000, only 26 congressmen ended up in jail (10%). Today, the alliance between the mafia and paramilitaries has…seen 51 congressmen under investigation (19%).”

In mid-May, 14 jailed leaders of the AUC (death squads) were suddenly sent to the U.S. for drug trials. This had a dual purpose: firstly, to clean the image of President Uribe and force the Democrats in the U.S. Congress to pass a free-trade deal with Colombia. Secondly, the death-squad leaders will only be tried for drug-dealing, not for the thousands they’ve killed (mostly innocents) in the last few years. Thus, the links of Uribe and U.S. companies (Chiquita Brands, Del Monte, Coca-Cola, Drummond Mining) to these killings won’t be exposed.

Most of the thousands murdered in Colombia in past decades are victims of the Army and its allies in the paramilitaries (trained and financed by Plan Colombia, signed by Clinton with Colombia in the 1990s). Although the FARC is labeled “Marxist,” it’s far from that. Its main goal has been to negotiate a deal with some section of Colombia’s ruling class (and possibly with some imperialist rivals of the U.S.) to preserve capitalist exploitation. Colombia’s working class and its allies don’t need more capitalism. They need to fight for a communist society without any bosses. That was the idea advanced by the small but growing PLP group here on May Day.

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Is There An Obesity Pandemic?

This is Part 1 of a five-part series. Part 2 will discuss whether these statistics about the “obesity epidemic” are believable — a specific example of how we decide what’s true and what’s not. Part 3  talks about the health consequences of overweight and obesity.  Part 4: the causes of the obesity problem. Part 5: what can be done about the obesity problem — and how this relates to politics.

You can hardly pick up a magazine or newspaper these days and not read something about being fat and losing weight. Headlines trumpet that we’re in the midst of an obesity “epidemic” — not only in the rich countries but even in poorer countries around the world. But is this epidemic real?

Then there’s the debate about the health effects of being “overweight” — not really fat (that is, “obese”), but just a few pounds above what’s considered normal. Some scientists argue that being even a little overweight increases the risk of dying early or getting heart disease, diabetes, or cancer.  Other researchers claim that being a little heavy isn’t bad for you and, in fact, may even be good for you if you’re middle-aged or older.
Finally, there’s tremendous controversy about the causes of obesity as well as the best way to lose weight and keep the pounds off. Do you have to eat less or just change what you eat? What about low fat and low carbs. Soda and fruit juice? Where does exercise fit in?

All of which brings up a basic question for all of us: when it comes to important — and maybe even controversial — questions, how do we know what’s really true? That’s a question that matters not only for health, but for everything we do in our personal lives, our work, and our political activities.
Let’s look at some facts — in this case, statistics collected by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics (You can get information on this issue from the website http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity).

How Do You Define ‘Fat’?

“Overweight” and “obese” are both terms for ranges of weight that are greater than what is generally considered healthy for a given height. For adults, overweight and obesity ranges are determined by using weight and height to calculate a number called the “body mass index” (BMI).  BMI is used because, for most people, it goes along with their amount of body fat. BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by height in meters squared:

BMI = weight (kg)/height (m2)

To figure out BMI using pounds and inches, multiply weight in pounds by 700, divide the result by height in inches, and then divide that result by height in inches a second time. You can find a BMI calculator at http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi).

BMI is used to classify people as “overweight” or “obese” as follows:
* An adult with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight.
* An adult with a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.

How Fat Are People in the United States?

What do the statistics based on BMI show? In the U.S., the amount of overweight and obesity in the population has increased sharply since the 1970’s for both adults and children. Two national surveys (NHANES — the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys) show that among adults aged 20-74 years, the amount of obesity increased from 15.0% (in the 1976-1980 survey) to 33% (in the 2003-2004 survey). These two surveys also show increases in overweight among children and teens. For children aged 2-5 years, the amount of overweight increased 5% to 14%; for those aged 6-11 years, from 6.5% to 19%; and for those aged 12-19 years, from 5% to 17%. See included graphs for another view of the trends in overweight and obesity in the U.S.

How Fat Are People Around the World?

This is indeed a world-wide problem, reflecting capitalist development trends in many countries (more high-calorie food available and more sedentary lifestyles as people move from agricultural work to office and factory jobs). (Data here from World Cancer Research Fund: Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Cancer, 2007.) Most recent estimates suggest that in 2002 there were 1 billion overweight or obese people worldwide. In China, where capitalism has returned with a vengeance, the amount of underweight adults has decreased and the numbers of people who are either overweight or obese has risen substantially. In 2002 there were 184 million overweight and 31 million obese people in China, out of a population of 1.3 billion.
The World Health Organization has found that over a 10-year period in the 1980s and ‘90s, the average BMI increased in most populations. Historically, starvation, underweight, and infection were the main nutrition-related public health problems in middle- and low-income countries. This is no longer the case. Surveys have shown that overweight exceeds underweight in most model- and low-income countries, including those in North Africa and the Middle East, Central Asia, China, and Latin America. The rise of overweight and obesity since the mid-1970s has been two to four times faster in lower-income than higher-income countries. In some poorer countries, scientists now speak of a “dual burden”: obesity alongside starvation.J

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NY Civil War Draft Riots Were Racist Attacks on Black People

Although the review of “A People’s History of the Civil War,” it erred in suggesting that the draft riots in New York City (and women’s role in them) constituted an “inspiring story.” In fact, the New York draft riots were vicious racist attacks on black people, comparable to the 1919 race riots in which white mobs murderously attacked black communities in many cities after World War I.

In June 1863, the pro-slavery Democratic Party in New York whipped up racist sentiment among Irish and German immigrant workers, declaring that the Civil War was a “n_____ war” and that the Emancipation Proclamation issued in January of that year would lead to a flood of freed blacks moving to New York, driving down wages of white workers and depriving them of jobs altogether.

During the five days of the draft riot in New York City, white mobs lynched eleven (11) black men and burned the Colored Orphan Asylum on Fifth Avenue between 43rd and 44th Streets to the ground, terrifying the newly-homeless 233 black children who had been living there. Thousands of black people fled the city, never to return. For more on this, see Leslie M. Harris, In the Shadow of Slavery: African Americans in New York City, 1626-1863.  A relevant excerpt can be read at http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/317749.htm.

We must never forget the severity of U.S. racism, both historically and today. It’s central to every aspect of U.S. capitalist history, and remains today the most significant tool that helps the capitalists stay in power.
Anti-racist Red

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