Tuesday, November 9, 2010

French Worker Struggles for Justice

By Stephen Lendman


Since early October, France resembles May 1968, at least in part, predatory capitalism again on trial. More on that below. Today it's over austerity moves, not for raising the retirement age to 62 as misreported. It's much more, as Diana Johnstone explained in her article titled, "Collapse of Social Security: French Workers Confront the Neoliberal Policy Agenda," saying:

"For one thing, (public outrage) is an expression of exasperation with the (Sarkozy) government....which blatantly favors the super-rich over the majority of working people in this country." Elected on the slogan, "Work more to earn more," today's reality is "work harder to earn less."

Like in America, public coffers are emptied for the rich. In contrast, "the whole (post-WW II) social security system" is being dismantled in real time "on the pretext that 'we can't afford it.' " Blaming street protests on retirement age changes is a red herring. It's over worker exploitation, favoring the rich, transferring wealth like in America and throughout Europe when ailing economies need massive stimulus, mostly for working people desperate for help.

Instead only capital, investments, and the ability to compete are addressed, neoliberal reforms the prescription when, in fact, they're ruinous for workers. They know it, protest, and continue through strikes and street demonstrations, what's so far absent in America in spite of US workers treated as unfairly.



Also like in America, high finance rules, wage and benefit cuts as well as deindustrialization the price paid. As a result, production moves offshore to cheap labor markets. High-paying jobs vanish, and with them a former way of life. It's a game, "only the financiers can win....And if they lose, well, they just get more chips (handouts) for another game from servile governments" like in France, America, and elsewhere.

"Where will it end," asks Johnstone? A democratic revolution should follow, "a complete overhaul of economic policy," what's very unlikely in France, across Europe or in America, unless conditions get so bad, a combination of hunger, homelessness, and unemployment producing rage enough to demand it. Don't bet, however, on what came close in 1968, a historic moment lost.

Even then, unions backed government power, not their rank and file. Other factors were also in play. In his 1970 book, "Prelude to Revolution: France in May 1968," Daniel Singer asked if a "socialist revolution" was beginning, whether "Marxism (was) returning to its home ground, the advanced countries for which it was designed?"

Indeed so he believed calling the May uprising "a revolutionary situation (that) can occur in (any) advanced capitalist country." It began with student revolts in Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, America, France, and elsewhere with the potential for much more.

It was the biggest working class eruption since the 1930s, especially in France when, at its peak, 10 million strong joined students, went on strike, occupied factories, universities, and offices throughout the country, paralyzed it, and nearly ousted the de Gaulle government, for days unable to counter the most profound challenge to capitalism since the 30s and 1917 Russia.

A surprising secret ingredient: animal suffering

Another reason to think twice about HRT by Bobbie Mullins for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals - PETA
Ever since 2002, when the landmark Women's Health Initiative (WHI) abruptly halted its study of combination hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after researchers found compelling evidence that women who take estrogen plus progestin are at increased risk of breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes, HRT has come under increased scrutiny.

Now, a follow-up study has revealed a new and even more alarming twist: Not only is HRT linked to breast cancer, it is also linked to more advanced forms of the disease that result in even more deaths. Data from the WHI study have also revealed that HRT is linked to ovarian and lung cancer.

Like many women, I stopped hormone replacement therapy—after taking Premarin for years—because of the health risks (although I'd read about the cancer link long before the WHI study came out). But then I learned that there's another reason to think twice about HRT. Premarin and Prempro, two of the most widely prescribed estrogen replacement drugs, contain a surprising secret ingredient: animal suffering.

It sounds ridiculous—especially with so many options available to drug manufacturers—but Wyeth's Premarin and Prempro are made from the estrogen-rich urine of pregnant horses. Every year, thousands of pregnant mares are confined to PMU (pregnant mares' urine) farms in the U.S. and Canada. They are kept in stalls that are so small, the animals are unable to take more than a step or two in any direction. The cumbersome rubber urine-collection bags that mares must wear at all times chafe their legs and prevent them from lying down comfortably. Some farmers tie up horses so tightly that they cannot lie down at all in their narrow stalls.

And although equine veterinarians say that horses need daily exercise, some mares are forced to stay in their cramped stalls for months at a time.

Farmers are also encouraged to limit horses' access to water so that the estrogen in their urine will become more concentrated. This practice causes dehydrated mares to fight—and sometimes become injured—as they struggle to drink during water-distribution times. It also causes serious health problems. One veterinarian who worked on PMU farms told U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors that he'd seen mares suffering from renal and liver problems as a result of insufficient drinking water.


The thousands of foals who are born on PMU farms each year fare no better than their mothers. Some are used to replace exhausted mares, many of whom have been confined to PMU farms for up to 20 years. But most of the remaining foals, along with the worn-out mares, are sold at auction, where they are bought by "kill buyers" for slaughterhouses.

Horse rescue groups would gladly take some of these foals. But according to the founders of one such group in Arizona, Wyeth actually forbids farm owners from giving or selling PMU horses to rescue organizations for fear of the bad publicity that results when the horses' plight is discussed in the media.

Not surprisingly, the use of Premarin and Prempro has plummeted since WHI's findings were first publicized. But some doctors continue to prescribe these drugs out of habit—and some women continue to take them for the same reason.

Fortunately, a growing number of physicians are now recommending alternative therapies to manage the symptoms of menopause. HRT drugs made from plant sources or synthetics, for example, more closely mimic the estrogen found in human ovaries. As I can attest, adopting healthy habits also helps. I stopped drinking wine and coffee and incorporated soy foods into my diet and was rarely bothered by hot flashes. Women can also combat hot flashes by exercising regularly, quitting smoking and eating low-fat foods—which is smart advice for anyone.

They say that menopause makes women do strange things. It doesn't get much stranger than taking a pill made from animal urine. But I'm willing to bet that most women, if they knew the truth about Premarin, would find it a bitter pill to swallow.

Bobbie Mullins lives in Norfolk, Va. She wrote this for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510; www.PETA.org.

Ray McGovern: 'US humiliated by wanted Bush'


Global prosecution of the former US President George W. Bush for his sanctioning of torture in the aftermaths of 9/11 humiliates the US, a former CIA analyst says.

Bush has admitted to torture he is "unable to travel abroad ... because of the principle of universal jurisdiction," Ray McGovern said in an interview with Press TV on Friday.

In his memoir titled Decision Points Bush says that he ordered waterboarding, which is universally recognized as torture.

This is "very very embarrassing and humiliating for a country to have a previous president not prosecuted by his own people but unwilling to go abroad because of he might be prosecuted by the World Court or by one of these countries under the principle of universal jurisdiction," McGovern added.

In the US "we have a very very unusual and unprecedented situation where the president of the United States has bragged about ordering a felony, ordering a prosecutable offense," he went on to say.

"The reason he does that is because he thinks that no US court will move against him," McGovern argued.

In the memoir, Bush recalls that when the CIA asked him whether it could proceed with waterboarding of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the alleged plotter of the 9/11 attacks, he replied "Damn right," The Washington Post reported.

Bush justifies the decision by claiming Mohammed was suspected of knowing about future terrorist plots against the United States.

The 43rd president of the United States said he would make the same decision again if he believed it would save lives.

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image from http://www.spitting-image.net

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