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Hostess bankruptcy: The brutal face of American capitalism

From World Socialist Web Site - November 21

Hostess Brands has sought authorization from the bankruptcy courts to liquidate its bakery business and wipe out the jobs and pensions of 18,500 workers. The 82-year-old company, maker of the well-known brands Wonder Bread and Twinkies, submitted plans last week to close 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers, approximately 5,500 delivery routes and 570 bakery outlet stores throughout the United States.

Company executives blamed their move on a week-long strike by 5,600 members of one of the largest unions at the company, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM). Management gave strikers until November 15 to accept demands for deep wage and benefit cuts and further plant closings—or face liquidation.

But the workers—who are passing through their second company bankruptcy in a decade—said enough was enough. A typical worker saw his pay cut from $48,000 to $34,000, or $16.12 an hour, after the company’s first trip through bankruptcy in 2004.

Obama’s trip intensifies US push into South East Asia

From World Socialist Web Site - November 20

Just two weeks after securing his second term, President Obama’s first overseas tour—to South East Asia—underscores his determination to aggressively pursue his administration’s so-called pivot to Asia. Over three days, Obama has visited Thailand, Burma (Myanmar) and Cambodia, where he will attend the East Asia Forum hosted by the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The political and strategic significance of Obama’s trip is underscored by the fact that it is the first by a sitting American president to Burma and the first by a US president ever to Cambodia. While the timing was largely determined by the ASEAN summit, the US focus on South East Asia is part of a broader diplomatic offensive aimed at undermining China’s position throughout Asia.

All three countries, especially Burma and Cambodia, have had close economic and military ties with China. Obama’s visit is aimed at consolidating US efforts to entice, pressure and bully these countries to distance themselves from Beijing and engage more closely with Washington, especially militarily.

New York Times acknowledges conspiracy of silence over “fiscal cliff”

From World Socialist Web Site - November 19

In an article published Thursday, the New York Times starts off with an extraordinary admission—that during the elections the Democrats and Republicans colluded to cover-up planned cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and other social programs that they were both planning to make after the elections.

With characteristic cynicism, the Times makes this point as a virtual aside within an article providing details on the so-called “fiscal cliff,” the set of scheduled tax hikes and spending cuts being utilized to push through the unpopular cuts.

In the article, “Demystifying the Fiscal Impasse That Is Vexing Washington,” the Times asks, rhetorically: “Many Americans must be wondering: What is all this about a ‘fiscal cliff?’ And why did it receive so little attention during the presidential campaign?”

The answer follows: “Well, it’s complicated—the so-called cliff, that is. And most solutions are politically painful. In a rare show of bipartisanship, or mutual protection, both parties ducked the debate until after the election.”

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