Archive for December 2012

Fiscal Cliff is Diversion from Corporate Tax Avoidance

To some extent, the fiscal cliff debate is a farce,” said Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA Network, which estimates that corporations and wealthy individuals avoid paying $150 billion a year to the U.S. Treasury through loopholes and offshore havens. “If we were to close the corporate offshore tax loopholes, not only would the fiscal cliff debate be over, but we would have more revenue than we would know what to do with,” said Compte. The fiscal cliff “gap” represents only $109 billion.

UN Urges All Nations Provide Universal, Affordable Healthcare

The United States joined in a United Nations resolution calling on member countries to establish “universal” and “affordable” healthcare systems. However, “the United States has actually taken us in the opposite direction,” said Dr. Margaret Flowers, of Physicians for a National Healthcare Program. Obamacare “further privatizes health care,” said Flowers. “Every industrialized nation that has an effective, universal national healthcare program uses a publicly-financed, not a market-based, approach.”

UN Sets Goals for Haiti Cholera, But Avoids Culpability

At least 7,000 people have signed a petition, backed by filmmaker Oliver Stone, to pressure the United Nations to accept responsibility for the cholera epidemic that has killed 8,000 Haitians and sickened half a million more. The UN announced plans to raise a $2.27 billion anti-cholera war chest, but fails to admit that the disease was brought to Haiti by UN soldiers, or to ensure that “this kind of disaster doesn’t happen again in another country where there are peacekeepers,” said Beatrice Lindstrom, staff attorney for the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. The Institute filed suit on behalf of cholera victims, a year ago.

The people of Haiti never asked for UN troops,” said Robert Naiman, policy director for Just Foreign Policy. Naiman said pressure should be brought on the United States and France, which backed a 2004 coup in Haiti and then called in UN troops to stabilize the coup regime.

Post-Election Debate in Philly

Attorney and talk show host Michael Coard faced off against veteran activist and professor of African American studies Anthony Monteiro, in a debate at Temple University. Coard attacked Monteiro’s revolutionary politics, saying: “If you despise what President Barack Obama has done, you should despise even more what Mitt Romney” and fellow Republicans would do. Dr. Monteiro pointed out that Martin Luther King Jr. broke with President Lyndon Johnson “in principle over the war in Vietnam,” and would surely break with Obama’s wars if he were alive, today.

Israelis “On Thin Ice”

Israel’s aggressive policies will backfire in the new conditions that prevail “in this Islamist Spring that is spreading throughout the region,” said Dr. Gerald Horne, of the University of Houston. “The Israelis aren’t going to be very pleased with their new neighbors, and their new neighbors will not be very pleased with the Israelis, either. So the Israelis would be advised to negotiate while there’s still time,” he said. Dr. Horne spoke on Regent Radio, in Toronto, Canada.

Wal-Mart-Free Newark

As “the leader in the retail industry in paying its workers the lowest wages,” Wal-Mart should be barred from doing business in Newark, New Jersey, said Larry Hamm, chairman of the People’s Organization for Progress. “We need living wage jobs,” said Hamm. “The minimum wage is a slave wage.”

Wal-Mart Exploits Obamacare

President Obama’s health care legislation has been a special boon to Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest corporation. “What changes with Obamacare is that anybody making up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level now qualifies for Medicaid,” said journalist Mary Wheeler. In recent months, Wal-Mart has cut the hours of large numbers of workers. “There’s a big incentive for Wal-Mart to make sure that as many of their employees are below the federal poverty level” as possible, said Wheeler.

Multinationals Super-Exploit Third World Workers

Labor unions, elected officials and grassroots activists in New York demanded that multinational corporations be made accountable for working conditions at factories in the developing world. “We must push them to sign the international Fire Safety Act and follow international labor laws,” said Fazi Foezia, a member of DRUM – Desis Rising Up and Moving – and a Bengladesh national. “They exploit our workers and don’t pay taxes to our governments.” Garment factory fires in Bengladesh and Pakistan have killed hundreds in recent months.

Raising Retail Wages Would Boost Economy

A study by Demos finds that “raising wages in the retails sector at the largest employers to a threshold of $25,000 a year for full-time, year-round workers would bring a million and a half people out of poverty, generate between $11 and $15 billion in GDP, and create between 100,000 and 132,000 new jobs.” Corporations would benefit, too, from a more loyal work force and greater consumer spending power.

Disaster Officials Offer Loans, Not Aid

Federal officials are more concerned with generating loans to fatten the $1 billion a year disaster loan service industry, than in providing direct aid to victims of Hurricane Sandy, according to a study by Strike Debt, an offshoot of the Occupy Movement. Credit-worthiness, rather than need, becomes the watchword, said Strike Debt spokesperson Pamela Brown. “By using the lens of debt, they are exacerbating any kinds of inequalities that are already existing” in disaster-struck areas, “putting renters and minority communities” in additional jeopardy.

No Charge, No Trial, No Justice

Civil and human rights activists gathered at Central Connecticut State University, at New Britain, for a conference on preventive detention, last weekend. President Obama’s preventive detention law, part of the National Defense Authorization Act, was designed to target “those who are engage in dissent,” said conference organizer Daniel Adams.  Activists should also oppose more recent legislation that might exempt U.S. citizens from detention without charge or trial. “It’s got to be all of us or none of us,” said Adams.

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