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The Detroit bankruptcy and the global social counterrevolution

From World Socialist Web Site - February 4

Last week, the Detroit news media leaked parts of the restructuring plan that Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr is set to implement in the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history. Euphemistically called a “plan of adjustment,” it outlines a savage assault that will set a precedent to escalate the attacks on the working class throughout the US and internationally.

The plan includes ending medical benefits for 23,500 retired city workers and forcing them onto Medicare or Obama’s private insurance exchanges. Retirees will also see their already meager pension checks slashed as the city reduces payments to pension trust funds by as much as 75 percent.

Orr is organizing a fire sale of public assets, including the Detroit Institute of Arts and the municipal water and sewerage system, to pay off the Wall Street banks and other wealthy creditors who control the city’s debt. The elimination of 700 of 1,700 jobs at the water department is only the down payment on the massacre of city jobs to come.

Australian government joins international witch-hunt of Edward Snowden

From World Socialist Web Site - February 3

Over the past fortnight the Australian government has joined the witch hunt being orchestrated by the Obama administration against National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden with the aim of charging and jailing him in the US, or silencing him permanently.

Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott last week branded Snowden “a traitor” who was guilty of “betraying his country.” Abbott’s comments followed those of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop who hysterically accused Snowden of “unprecedented treachery” and “shamefully betraying his nation while skulking in Russia.”

These denunciations feed directly into the campaign of lies and threats being whipped up in ruling circles in the US. Unnamed American intelligence and military officials are publicly airing proposals for Snowden’s assassination. Senior government officials such as National Intelligence Director James Clapper and Attorney General Eric Holder demand his return to the US to face a show trial on trumped-up espionage charges.

Currency turmoil signals new phase of global economic crisis

From World Socialist Web Site - February 1

Whatever the immediate outcome of the turbulence sweeping through the financial systems of so-called “emerging market” economies, it represents a turning point in the global economy as a whole. The roots of the crisis lie in policies of “quantitative easing”—the pumping of trillions of dollars into the world financial system by the US Federal Reserve and other central banks—initiated in response to the 2008 breakdown that was sparked by the collapse of US investment bank Lehman Brothers.

Much of this money flowed into “emerging markets,” seeking higher profits as share prices in these countries boomed and the rates of return on other financial assets rose. But now the bubble has started to deflate and volatile capital is rushing for the exits, sending currency exchange rates plunging.

A series of central banks, including in South Africa, India, Brazil and Turkey, have raised interest rates significantly. But these actions have so far failed to stem the outflow.

Obama’s low-wage “recovery”

From World Socialist Web Site - January 31

President Obama’s State of the Union address this week coincided with the release of several year-end profit reports. Profits for the firms listed on the S&P 500 stock market index jumped 11 percent in 2013, in large part because of declining wages and the increased exploitation of American workers.

In his national address Tuesday night, Obama acknowledged that “corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened.” The “cold, hard fact,” he added, “is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by—let alone get ahead.”

As is his wont, the president posed as an innocent bystander, suggesting that some sections of the population had unfortunately missed out on “four years of economic growth.” In fact, the explosion of social inequality the president paid lip service to is the product of quite deliberate policies spearheaded by his administration.


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