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Mass unemployment in America

From World Socialist Web Site - February 11

Speaking Friday in advance of signing a bill slashing $8.7 billion from the food stamp program, President Barack Obama hailed the dismal jobs report for January released earlier that day. Wall Street also reacted enthusiastically, rallying to send the Dow Jones Industrial average higher by 160 points.

The US economy created 113,000 jobs in January, according to Friday’s report, far fewer than the 189,000 economists had predicted. It was the second consecutive month of slow job growth, following December’s increase of 75,000.

There are mounting warnings by economists that the US confronts long-term economic stagnation and high unemployment into the indefinite future. The Associated Press ran a piece Sunday entitled “US economy may be stuck in slow lane for long run,” and last month former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers warned of “secular stagnation.”

Mass unemployment has become a permanent fact of life in the United States and much of the rest of the world.

* Officially, there are ten million unemployed people in the US, up from 6.8 million in 2007.

Leaked phone call on Ukraine lays bare Washington’s gangsterism

From World Socialist Web Site - February 10

The US media has shown remarkably little interest in the tape of a telephone call between Victoria Nuland, the State Department’s top official on Europe and Eurasia, and the US ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, which was posted on YouTube and became the subject of international controversy beginning last Thursday.

What coverage has been provided has mainly focused on Ms. Nuland’s use of the decidedly undiplomatic phrase “Fuck the EU” in spelling out Washington’s attitude to the role being played by its European partners in the crisis that has gripped Ukraine for nearly three months. The media’s other slant on the story has dutifully echoed the State Department’s own attempt to deflect the controversy by denouncing the public airing of a private conversation as “a new low in Russian trade-craft.”

The Russian government has vigorously denied the US charge that Moscow is responsible for the leak. The accusation is, in any case, rather rich coming from a government that has been exposed as spying on the phone conversations of hundreds of millions of people in the US and around the world.

The revival of Japanese militarism

From World Socialist Web Site - February 8

Nearly seven decades after the end of World II, the right-wing government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is rapidly remilitarising Japan, freeing its armed forces from any legal or constitutional constraints and revising history to whitewash the past crimes and atrocities of Japanese imperialism.

Abe has been engaged in an ideological offensive that was marked by his visit December 26 to the notorious Yasukuni Shrine to Japan’s war dead, including 14 convicted class A war criminals. The same month, he appointed four right-wing figures to the board of governors of Japan’s public broadcaster NHK in order to shift its political orientation.

The purpose of the appointments has quickly become apparent. In late January, the new NHK chairman, Katsuto Momii, triggered a public furore by justifying the systematic abuse of hundreds of thousands of women as sex slaves by the Imperial Army in the 1930s and 1940s. Momii apologised for expressing his private view in his role as chairman, but did not retract the remarks.

Social inequality and the war against the working class

From World Socialist Web Site - February 7

Today, President Obama will sign a bill to cut $8.7 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, slashing almost $100 per month in benefits for nearly a million households.

The attack on food stamps comes as Obama and the Democrats posture in the run-up to this year’s mid-term elections as opponents of social inequality and defenders of the poor and jobless. Nowhere in the establishment media is the glaring contradiction between what the Democrats say and what they do even discussed.

Obama’s action on food stamps is indicative of the state of politics and the reality of social life in America. It is the second cut in three months to a program that provides minimal assistance for the most vulnerable sections of society. The lie that there is simply no money for basic social programs is repeated even as new reports document the unprecedented rise in the wealth of the financial elite.

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