Sunday, February 11, 2018

Democrats and Republicans pass budget to prepare US for war – SEP Newsletter

From WSWS:

Democrats and Republicans pass budget to prepare US for war

By Eric London
The bipartisan budget bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump Friday morning marks a new stage in the American ruling class’ drive for social counterrevolution and world military domination.
The deal, which reached Trump’s desk only because of support from congressional Democrats, expresses the oligarchic character of American society. Behind the factional mudslinging and mutual recrimination between Democrats, Republicans and Trump, it is the corporations and the military-intelligence agencies that dictate government policy. All sections of the financial aristocracy agree: the desperate social needs of working people must be subordinated to private profit and the preparation of the American military machine for a major war.
The budget agreement provides the military with $1.4 trillion over the course of the next two years, a 13 percent increase from 2017 and 7 percent more than what the White House requested. The size of the year-to-year increase alone—$80 billion—is larger than the combined annual military spending of every other country in the world except China. Read more »

Wild swings on Wall Street at end of turbulent week
By Nick Beams
The US stock market closed up yesterday, with the Dow index rising 330 points in a day of wild swings at the end of the most turbulent week since the 2008 global financial crisis.
In an indication of the market gyrations, the business channel CNBC calculated that the Dow moved a total of 22,000 points up and down during the week, within a 2,000-point range. Movements in prices that would normally take place over hours or days occurred within minutes or even seconds.
Yesterday’s trading was another expression of this volatility. The Dow opened more than 300 points up before falling to 500 points down during the afternoon and then rising again—a swing of over 800 points during the day.
At one point, the more broadly-based S&P 500 index faced an 8.3 percent loss for the week, which would have made it the worst week since November 2008, during the financial crisis. The rally at the end of the day cut its losses for the week to around 5 percent. Read more »
Russians reported killed in US strikes in Syria
By Bill Van Auken
Multiple reports indicate that Russian military contractors were among the dead in air and artillery strikes launched Wednesday by the US military in the northeastern Syrian province of Deir Ezzor against forces loyal to the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
The Pentagon unleashed devastating firepower against the pro-government fighters on the pretext that they were mounting an attack against a headquarters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the US proxy ground force that is dominated by the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia. US special forces troops directing the activities of the Kurdish proxies were stationed at the headquarters in the zone of influence carved out by the US intervention in Deir Ezzor, northeast of the Euphrates River.
Bombs and missiles were rained down upon the force, which reportedly included between 300 and 500 infantry, backed by tanks and artillery. US F15 fighter jets, Apache helicopters, AC-130 gunships and unmanned drones were all called in to attack the force, along with US artillery units. Read more »
Trump considers “bloody nose” strike on North Korea
By Peter Symonds
The Trump administration, or a powerful military-intelligence faction within it, is pushing for a pre-emptive military strike on North Korea, in the wake of, or possibly even during, the Winter Olympics due to start in South Korea on Friday.
The “bloody nose” option—a limited attack on the North Korean nuclear missile arsenal and infrastructure—is supposed to overawe the Pyongyang regime and bully it into surrendering to Washington’s demands to denuclearise.
Unprovoked US aggression, however, would almost certainly trigger retaliation, rather than submission, with incalculable consequences. Even if nuclear weapons were not immediately used, the death toll in South Korea alone is estimated in the tens of thousands on the first day, in a conflict that could rapidly draw in nuclear-armed powers such as China and Russia.
Yet, such an act of recklessness and savagery is precisely what is being discussed, debated and prepared in the upper echelons of the White House and the US security-intelligence apparatus. Within top military-foreign policy circles, the advanced nature of the plans is so well known that it is generating fears and opposition. Read more »
UAW contracts must be declared null and void
By Jerry White
There are growing demands among US workers at Fiat Chrysler, General Motors and Ford that labor agreements pushed through by the United Auto Workers (UAW) that are tied to corrupt relations with the auto companies be declared null and void.
On Tuesday, Monica Morgan, the wife of the late UAW vice president for Fiat Chrysler (FCA), General Holiefield, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of filing false tax returns and concealing more than $200,000 in additional income in 2011. Morgan is the fourth defendant to plead guilty in the case, which has exposed only a fraction of the payoffs made to the UAW in return for its collusion in the destruction of autoworkers’ jobs and living standards.
In a plea agreement last month, Alphons Iacobelli, FCA’s chief labor negotiator between 2009 and early 2015, admitted that he and other executives paid Holiefield and other “senior UAW officials” more than $1.5 million in bribes to “obtain benefits, concessions, and advantages for FCA in the negotiation, implementation, and administration” of union contracts. Read more »

Falcon Heavy launch marks new stage in the privatization—and perversion—of space exploration
By Don Barrett and Patrick Martin
For at least a few minutes, people in the United States and around the world may have been excited by the prospect of a new advance in humanity’s exploration of outer space. But hold the applause. The new rocket has two main purposes, neither of them connected with the development of science: to boost the obscene personal wealth of Musk, currently more than $21 billion, and to expand the military arsenal of American imperialism.
The grotesque symbol of the first purpose was the placement of a Tesla roadster, manufactured by Musk’s Tesla Motors, as the “payload” on the Falcon Heavy. The launch was viewed as too risky for an expensive scientific or military satellite package, so Musk had one of his own vehicles put into orbit around the Sun, to promote the interests of his current venture making high-end cars for the wealthy, costing upwards of $140,000 apiece for vehicles with all the options.
Aside from its offensive vulgarity, there is a stark contrast between what Musk views as the “payoff” for space exploration—to boost his commercial interests on Planet Earth—and previous efforts by serious scientists. One only has to recall the work of Carl Sagan and others to craft artifacts reflecting the cultural achievements and diversity of the human species, which were placed in spacecraft like the Voyager probes, in the event that, far in the future, they might encounter some form of alien life. Read more »
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