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Where there’s a riot, there’s normally a Canned Revolutionary, hence how your reporter found himself in France this past week for the protests against new employment laws that saw as many as three million people take to the streets. However, from the outset your humble scribe had curiously mixed feelings about the strikes and protests seen across the country. A long time France aficionado, this trip more than any other highlighted the stagnant economy that France has become. Unemployment is rife, the coffers are bare and the mood is one of abject pessimism across vast swathes of this great nation.
Strikes and protests have been a facet of modern political life in France ever since the student riots of 1968. Yet, this time, to begin with, I did find myself questioning the raison d’être for this protest — surely France must change if it is to become more competitive, I asked myself.
Mercifully, revolutionary instincts took hold of me later on and I now wholeheartedly support those who took to the streets — the reason being: the French, more than any other Western economy, has strived to veer away from the standard Anglo-American model of capitalism, where the perpetual pursuit of profits steam rollers everything in its path. The French, post World War Two, were able to amass a stunning amount of workers’ rights into their constitution. The hard fought struggle for égalité, a cornerstone of the 1789 French Revolution, persists to this day. The French have eschewed the total destruction of their town centres with chain stores as in the UK or the US — the local baker continues to make a living as does the butcher and the grocer. The French way of life is so much better for not allowing the total domination of corporates.
The Gaullist government’s “First Job Contract” (CPE — Contrat Première Embauche) legislation, which permits employers to dismiss young workers without cause or compensation during their first two years on the job was modified, but not enough to mollify the masses.
The view from afar speaks volumes. US media portrayal of the clashes has been wholesale in its damning verdict of the current French system — how dare they demand job security, the newspapers clamoured.
The headlines of several newspaper commentaries give a flavour of this contempt, from the Wall Street Journal’s, “The Decline of France” (March 21) and “Casseurs” (or “Smashers,” March 29); to the Washington Post’s “French take to the Streets to Preserve their Economic Fantasy” (March 22) and “The French In Denial” (March 28); to the New York Times’ “France’s Misguided Protesters” (March 27).
American media would have you believe if corporations are given the unrestricted right to fire workers and exploit them like American workers, the story goes, this will entice companies to create new jobs.
The corporate-controlled news media takes as given that US employers should wield dictatorial powers in the workplace and retain the unquestioned “right” to destroy thousands of jobs and slash wages and benefits.
Jerry White from the World Socialist Web Site eloquently concludes: “Thus, the media’s sudden interest in France reveals itself to be a concern that working class resistance could spread to the US itself, where the reactionary agenda of free market policies was initiated in the first place, before it spread to Britain and the rest of the world. With unrelenting attacks on workers by GM, Delphi, Northwest Airlines and other US corporations, as well as plans by the Bush administration to slash “entitlement” programs to pay for further tax cuts to the rich and the burgeoning costs of America’s worldwide military adventures, there is no doubt that at least some establishment figures who are not too blind to see are considering the possibility that if mass opposition could explode in France, it could happen here too.
“The arguments that society simply cannot afford to provide for the basic needs of working people are becoming increasingly threadbare, not only for French workers but for their American counterparts as well. Despite their efforts to reassure themselves about popular support for the profit system, the reality is that there are growing numbers of workers and youth in America who realize that the real problem is that society cannot afford to allow a tiny minority of the population to monopolize the wealth created by working people. Despite the insistent claims over the years about the death of the class struggle and the working class, the explosive events in France, as they so often have done throughout history, are a sign of what is coming throughout the world, and within the US itself.”
Yes, the system in France might not be functioning perfectly — that is plain to see. But the ideals are there and the French should persist with what they have: The 35-hour workweek; The six weeks of paid vacation; Healthcare; State-mandated profit sharing; Retirement at age 60. All these brilliant benefits are worth fighting for, and not just in France.
• A little bit of democracy in action for the students: the French government dropped the controversial CPE; but smaller protests continue amid uncertainty over replacement measures for the new youth employment law, and some protestors calling for the entire law to be scrapped. Whatever the economic wisdom of the French decision, the whole affair stands as an abject lesson on how to enforce democratic rule on a government to the US & UK populaces and their popular but utterly ignored anti-war movements, who can but wonder what being listened to by your government must be like.
Another shocking week for the White House and one that has seen the calls for impeachment rise dramatically. Isn’t it remarkable that for fooling around with a cigar Bush’s predecessor faced sacking, while Bush, a liar and murderer extraordinaire, has gotten away without redress? The US in the early 21st century is as close to a dictatorship as it ever has been.
Could Patrick Fitzgerald become the nemesis to Dubya that Kenneth Starr was to Clinton? The Special Prosecutor last week unveiled numerous files, plus testimony from disgraced patsy and former Cheney aide, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, that the commander-in-chief authorized the leak to the press that blew the cover of a CIA agent — an illegal act, punishable by lengthy jail terms. Now it is up to Fitzgerald to be as pig-headed and determined as Starr was a decade ago if he is to bring down this administration. And fear not, if Bush were impeached, his No.2, Cheney, would be so tarred with the same crimes that he would never be able to lead the nation.
The amusing blogger, Soviet in the City suggests another reason has emerged to try Bush in the past few days. “If a jury can find Zacarias Moussaoui eligible for the death penalty for his knowledge of the Sept. 11 attacks before they happened,” he notes, “can we hold George Bush to the same standard for his memo, that warned of terrorist hijackings?”
The Bush administration inevitably hit back to Scooter’s bean spilling — the White House pleads that the President is authorised to declassify this information. Which is a perfectly acceptable excuse — as long as you’re a denizen of the United States of Amnesia (and especially those who reside in the grand old State of Denial). Anyone with a memory capacity above a goldfish, however might start to wonder why there would have been a trial, arrests and jail time for people who were involved in releasing said declassified information to the public — after all, if it’s declassified, where’s the harm? And if the pres himself “declassified” and disseminated it, all legally and above board, why did he call for the trial to find out who disseminated the declassified stuff? Unless of course he’s suffering from severely debilitating dementia, in which case he should be removed from office anyway.
In light of this ridiculous defence, Greg Palast has come up with an interesting prosecution scenario for Dubya: wire fraud and racketeering under the RICO Act. He argues that the use of the telephone to con people constitutes wire fraud. This combined with obstructing justice by deliberately misleading a grand jury and sending it on a wild goose chase, means that legally, the Bush executive branch is a “racketeering enterprise.”
We leave you with how the White House dearly wishes it would go down.
Yahuda Bangs is currently in Southern Taiwan covering the annual ten-day festival of music and debauchery known as Spring Scream. However, he says, he can’t resist a quick gloat at the continuing shit-storm of bad karma swirling around the ruling party.
Bad Karma delayed no longer for the ruling party as its players, central and ancillary, burst into flames in the public eye. But we’ll get to Tom DeLay in a moment. Forget about the quaint folk notion of a fish rotting from the head down. This fish is rotting from all corners at once, snout and tailfin, gut to outermost scale
“Homeland Security Official Arrested in Online Sex Sting” screams this morning’s headlines, referring to the most recently busted government appointee, this one for attempting to lure a 14 year old girl (or “child” as they’re often called) into sex. Quoting the ABC news report:
“Brian Doyle, the deputy press secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, has been arrested on multiple charges, accused of trying to seduce a child into online sex and transmitting pornographic material.
“He graphically explained to a 14-year-old girl what he would like to do to her and what he would like her to do to him,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.
Doyle, 55, didn’t try to disguise his identity, Judd said.
“He started his communication on the computer, clearly identified himself from the very beginning as Brian Doyle from the Department of Homeland Security, where he’s a deputy press secretary,” Judd said. “Apparently, he was trying to impress this 14-year-old.”
He told her his office phone number and the number for his cell phone, which was issued by the government, Judd said.
Doyle spoke on the phone with the “girl” and asked her to buy a web cam. He went home, thinking he was going to see her on the web cam, and was greeted by the police instead.
“Apparently, he was trying to impress this 14-year old?!” Perhaps he should have begun with an offer of gum. White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan (next on the chopping block, and I’m offering 3-1 odds on this) will undoubtedly paint this as just another in a string of isolated incidents that just so happen to be plaguing Bush’s People. But Doyle’s strange ensnarement is nothing if not yet another indicator that people hand picked to be a part of this administration are drawn from that very special inexorably evil segment of American society. (For the record, Yahuda Bangs is an unrepentant libertine and secular humanist who avoids tarring most human acts outside of genocide with the blanket phrase evil. Having sex with children is one of these rare instances.)
And bad Karma delayed no longer for The Hammer? What will the long awaited (and long deserved) defrocking of the congressional high priest of scumbaggery mean for the ruling party? Will they, free of The Hammer’s finally be able to get down to the serious business of ethics reform, as they’ve been promising to do for years?
Dream on. DeLay didn’t get to be top dog of the shit-heap by being a scoundrel among gentleman. DeLay epitomizes all that is wrong with a system of government that relies upon career opportunists, a ridiculously corrupt man in the most corrupt wing of a legislative body well known for breeding corruption. Tom DeLay is the organism that evolved most perfectly in sync with the American body politic. He should not be put in jail; he should be vivisected, placed under a microscope, studied so that some kind of inoculation can be found.
But chances of delay facing any real sort of vivisection, legally or literally are slim. His transformation from republican lightning rod to conservative über-lobbyist has already begun; another in a chain of perfectly logical evolutionary steps in American political life. Doyle’s sins were too egregious — even among death row serial rapists paedophiles are reviled. The (now former) Department of Homeland Security Deputy Press Secretary will be torn apart, his entrails held aloft as a shining example of how the system deals with those who stray too far into taboo ground before being tossed into the ocean like so much chum. But few will dare look the obvious in the eye, that people like DeLay and Doyle are not anomalies, but the products of natural selection in a diseased political ocean.
THE HEART asks Pleasure first,
And then, excuse from pain;
And then, those little Anodynes
That deaden suffering;
And then, to go to sleep
And then, if it should be
The will of its Inquisitor,
The liberty to die.
— Emily Dickinson
A little while back, the little red email contained a an article about a Hookah dive in Guangzhou courtesy of Yahuda Bangs, and another article on cheap cigarettes in China, so it’s time for Smokin’ Spinoza to put his chaw in.
Smoking is the malignant addiction to a substance which is benign in small doses, nicotine. Nicotine is powerfully addictive but in contrast to hard drugs, it is not an intoxicant; unlike booze, Nicotine makes no attempt to persuade its adepts that the world doesn’t suck. Smoking is malignant because it’s a carcinogenic delivery system for nicotine.
Contrast booze. My lady Gin and my lord Whiskey Soda not only make the attempt, by ten o’clock they usually succeed in persuading their adept that the present company is by far the most remarkable assemblage of chaps since Marat, the Nine Worthies, and the 1919 Black Sox, and that he himself is a noble fellow soon to be recognized as such by the King of Sweden and the Academies of France and Hollywood.
By 3:00 AM, they are bundling our boy into a taxi cab, assuring him that the next stop will be Shangri-La, The Mountains of the Moon, and the Garden of Earthly Delights.
Of course, the next stop is for some waking up naked at dawn in Mexico City not knowing how it was you got there from Sarajevo. This is because ethanol is an intoxicant.
Contrast nicotine. No cigarette ever pretends to deceive the smoker and physiologically its effect seems to be on attention, in which the smoker becomes somewhat more alert to the fact that he is up shit creek the morning after the night before.
This is given present global economic circumstances a benign addiction, apart from malignant properties of the delivery system. Nicotine causes people to reconcile to lives of quiet desperation.
The health problems, as is made clear in a very interesting world history of tobacco (Tobacco in History, Jordan Goodman, Routledge 1994 NICK SOURCE LINK) are caused by the delivery mechanism, chiefly by smoke in which nicotine particles hitch rides on tar particles.
Whereas a simple pastille would not even cause tooth decay were it sugar-free: yet the only place I’ve found this enlightened way to take nicotine has been Paris; but even in Gay Paree, the pastille has to be sold as a way to quit nicotine, which is bad science and worse morals.
It’s bad science because nicotine is the addictive substance itself. It is the hair of the dog, and it is criminal to pretend otherwise.
Nicorette is no way to quit; it keeps you in your shit. The only way to quit is to enter a path to Nirvana. This is great, but the problem here is that he or she that would do so has to pass, in my experience, through seven Hells.
An American politician once said, “What this country needs is a good five cent cigar.” What the world needs is a safe nicotine delivery system, vended not as a way to quit smoking, but as a recreation for low fellows. It should be sold in boxes with Hootchie Kutchie dancers on the lid. It should not be sold to minors.
Industrial civilization creates the illusion of purity because it denies instinctual drives, but Emily Dickinson knew that the heart asks pleasure first. The anodyne pleasure of smoking is the first derivative of genuine pleasure in the sense that it is *ersatz* for a just world.
I gave up smoking for nine years; but during that time I was prone to striking poses, like Rupert of Hentzau. Today, I pound Nicorette gum, but I am certain that if only governments world wide would get off their high horse about a smoke-free world (which confuses smoke and nicotine) some entrepreneur would stand to make money on a safe nicotine delivery system that doesn’t cost the farm, and doesn’t pretend to help me quit anything.
• As an addendum to Comrade Spinoza’s rant, once again we’d urge everyone including our columnist to read Allan Carr’s The Only Way To Give Up Smoking Permanently — a book that returns one to pre-smoking days real easy with nary the need for such things as Nicorette gum.
A hotchpotch of stuff we’ve found and enjoyed recently on the Weird Wide Web.
Get your lovely T-shirts while they’re hot!
Everybody loves a winner. Nobody likes a loser. Nobody likes to be a loser. So with this in mind, Canned Revolution have set it up so that you can now buy your own Canned Revolution T-Shirt, and pretend that you won it in our competition. We’ll back up any claims to being a lucky winner by anyone who purchases a freshly tinned t-shirt to help the cause.
Owning your own Canned Revolution shirt could be a great way of life for you — imagine the friends, the opportunities, the fame, the copious offers of gratuitous sex.
Don’t delay! Buy your way into coolness today by clicking here.
Breathless in HK
Don’t forget to have your say on Hong Kong’s air pollution and its almost complete dependence on coal for our electricity. If you are a Hong Kong citizen, sign the petition below:
Video 9/11 - The Fall of the World Trade Center
BBC’s Horizon looks at the factors that caused the collapse of the twin towers, as investigated by professionally qualified structural engineers.
Video 9/11, The Myth & The Reality
For those not satisfied by Horizon, further theories are available In this definitive presentation given on March 30th, 2006 at the historic Grand Lake Theater in Oakland, California.
Video Witness to a Revolution
For Inside Latin America week, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez spoke to the BBC’s Newsnight about his country’s oil reserves. Mr Chavez was bullish over Venezuela’s OPEC standing and US policies in Latin America. Greg Palast interviews Hugo Chavez, in Caracas and lends him his hat. In other Chavez news, MediaLens and Pilger have been taking further swipes at Channel 4’s rather partisan Chavez coverage by their Washington correspondent.
MediaLens mauls IBC as counterproductive
More MediaLens, and John Pilger is yet again in on the slam. This time at a seemingly unlikely target: Iraq Body Count. We at the little red email relied quite heavily on Iraq Body Count, due to the US’ refusal to do body counts on PR grounds, and their passing this on to the Iraqi interim government. Once the only place with any numbers at all, IBC has always been and still is very stringent in their methodology: they need at least 2 English-language reports of an incident.
Pilger et al argue — correctly, in our view — that as reporting from Iraq has become steadily more dangerous, resulting in English-language reporters staying in their Baghdad hotels, relying solely on these reports and requiring at least two independent ones, whilst a noble idea, is an increasingly unreliable methodology. In light of The Lancet epidemiological survey conservative conclusion of 100,000+ for the first year and a half, and Robert Fisk’s reports of off-the-record shuftis at Baghdad mortury records, of 1,100 in one month (July 2005) in Baghdad alone, it’s little wonder that IBC is now the darling of the hawks and pro-war camp, with its far more PR-friendly figure of 34,030-38,164 civilian deaths. Indeed if they had to countenance the sort of wholesale slaughter The Lancet & Fisk seem to suggest, and couple that with the deaths sanctions caused (described as genocide by two UN officials), people might ask if Saddam wasn’t a better, less-genocidal option for Iraq.
Time: Iraq was a mistake
It’s only taken Time Magazine three years to work out that the invasion and occupation of Iraq may have been a bad idea. This issue ran with an article by Lt. Gen. Greg Newbold (Ret.) “Why Iraq was a mistake”. Quick thinking, Time; although perhaps the time to run this sort of article was before the invasion? They also have a Iraqi Voices photo essay as a quick nod to the poor victims of this blunder, talking about how three years’ worth of Time’s Person Of the Year 2003 being in charge makes even Saddam look good. Last week global warming=real, this week Iraq=bad; at this rate Time might get up to date enough to pass as news sometime this decade.
Video Fake TV News: Widespread and Undisclosed
Watch in awe at the Center for Media and Democracy’s ten-month study report on TV newsrooms’ use of advertorial provided by PR firms on behalf of paying clients. The adverts disguised as news are euphamistically called video news releases (VNRs), and are regularly used verbatim without any attribution or “Advertorial” warning.
Music Video Bushwhacked
USMC veteran song about how the US has been Bushwacked by a White House war, built on White House lies.
Burma’s junta looks to monarchy as prop
As Myanmar’s reclusive ruling military junta moves toward more isolationism, its senior generals are moving to re-establish something akin to the country’s long-abolished monarchy to shore up their lagging legitimacy. The Asia Times has an excellent inside look at Burma.
The Tankman cometh
April 11, PBS Frontline will be showing a documentary on the man who stood in front of the tanks on Chang’an Dajie during the Tian’anmen massacre.
Video Adbust iRaq
The Eminem iPod ad takes a savage beating from the makers of this short film available at GNN. It’s also available in iPod video format, for those who enjoy a bit of iRony.
That’s right! You too can get one of our t-shirts. Simply brush up your Photoshop skills and send your corporate subversion images to firstname.lastname@example.org, such as the one above to stand a chance of being selected the weekly winner of our brand new little red adbuster of the week competition. The winner will be chosen by the revolutionary collective here on our own Fantasy Island. Alternatively, for those who don’t fancy your chances of winning but are still budding anti-establishment artists and hanker for one of our shirts, you still have hope. Simply send us five of your designs in five consecutive weeks and, so long as the images, are yours (and we have ways of checking!), a t-shirt will be winging its way to you.
Adbusting — the choice of a new generation. For more on adbusting, click here.
The Meteor-illogical Office report
This week, we ask: if the “there’s no global warming honest, no, really, we might be funded by big energy, but trust us” brigade are right, then how come the football match between Sunderland and Fulham played on Saturday was cancelled midway due to an enormous blizzard?
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