On the morning of Saturday 16 March, the radio informed the million inhabitants of the island of Cyprus that a European aid plan had been agreed for the country that included the introduction of a tax of 6.75% on bank deposits up to €100,000 and 9.9% for deposits above that amount. Obviously, everyone rushed to the banks to withdraw their money. In vain!
Those whom capital needs to impoverish its media first makes unpopular... The official hate campaign against the couple who set fire to their house killing their six children is only an extreme example of a concerted effort to divide the working class, and it is particularly cynical coming between catastrophes in Bangladesh (to take just one example) where 100s of workers have been burned or crushed to death by their employers' thirst for profit.
The introduction of the bedroom tax is a cruel and massive attack against workers, designed deliberately to hit a massive section of benefit claimants and the very poorest sector of the working class and to spread division among its victims.
The situation in Syria continues to worsen. Israel has attacked a military facility outside Damascus. Both government and opposition stand condemned for their use of poison gas. The Syrian government is accused of having used at least 200 chemical missiles. A UN expert has said that the opposition has used sarin, the very potent chemical nerve agent. Since March 2011 more than 70,000 people have died in the conflict. More than a million refugees have fled the country.
Not for nothing has CNN (10/5/13) described the conflict as “a vicious whirlpool dragging a whole region toward it.”
The verbals around the question of the use of chemical weapons in Syria by the Assad regime and its possible consequences have been wound up by the western wing of the 'international community', i.e., Britain, America, France, followed by some of the Gulf States, Israel and the wings of the Syrian opposition. Last week, US Secretary for Defence, Chuck Hagel, said that Sarin had been used in some attacks in Syria by the regime.
Just how quickly a modern capitalist state can descend into a devastating imperialist hell-hole is demonstrated by the war in Syria. We horror we view the growing death and mutilation of men, women, children, endless atrocities and the destruction of whole areas on televised reports; these are followed by the thoughts of 'experts', the think-tanks that inform the governments, then the nauseating speeches and policy decisions of politicians; and not only is there no end to all this carnage and the hypocrisy surrounding it, but it threatens to get worse.
All the governments that lamented Chávez’s demise were all united in their grief at the loss of the state boss in whose name a ‘struggle against poverty’ and for ‘social justice’ took place, who, over the course of 14 years, carried out a project in the interests of a good part of the bourgeoisie, aimed at attacking the proletariat's living conditions and consciousness. They, along with the leading representatives of the national capital, whether officials or ‘opposition’, recognised that this was an excellent opportunity to make propaganda about ‘the world's solidarity with the Venezuelan people’ and to puff themselves up by exalting the international significance of their ‘great leader’.
This article by the ICC's section in Venezuela examines the reality behind the myth of the "socialism of the 21st century".
The sense of relief that Bostonians felt once it was clear that the alleged perpetrators had been rendered incapable of causing further damage to their city is understandable; it is a genuine tragedy when working people come to identify with the state, rather than their own struggles, as their best protection against the growing decomposition of society. And the media barrage around the bombing will serve above all to sweep under the carpet the reality that this tragic event expresses: it is a sick society that produces young people who can see no future other than self-immolation and the anonymous murder of their fellow human beings.
Recent clashes in 2012 and 2013 over the Senkaku/Diaoyu/Tiaoyus islands (the archipelago is located roughly 200 km northeast of Taiwan, 400 km southwest of the Japanese Okinawa island, and almost 400 km east of China) have brutally brought to the fore the ambitions and tensions of the two biggest regional rivals in the Far East. Both China, the most populated country and second most important economic power in the world, and Japan, the third biggest economic power, have escalated tensions around the islands and regularly mobilise troops which have been engaged in shows of force. Taiwan has also clashed with Japan over the island. This must be of great concern not only to the population in Japan and China and the region, but the whole world.
During the past months tensions between North and South Korea and the USA have once again been on the rise. Repeated missile tests, threats of missiles, artillery and even nuclear attacks against South Korea as well as targets in Japan, Hawaii or Guam have been in the centre of the North Korean war rhetoric. South Korea, the USA and Japan have in turn declared their determination to strike back militarily against North Korea. Once again the ruling class of these countries is ready to threaten the life of millions of people in order to defend their sordid national interests.