Cuba at the Un

by John Haylett

Morning Star

WASHINGTON has developed a habit in recent years of designating itself, its Nato allies and assorted hangers-on as “the international community.”

By that token, the international community has suffered a crushing defeat at the UN general assembly where opponents of the US blockade of Cuba scored an historic 188-3 landslide victory.

The international community has now shrunk to the US, its partner in crime and gold medallist in US aid receipts Israel and tiny Palau, the beneficiary of $250 million from Washington in 2010 as part of a “compact of free association” between the two sides to help to concentrate its mind.

The Marshall Islands, which is also bankrolled by the US under a compact of free association and hosts Washington’s Ronald Reagan ballistic missile defence test site, felt secure to abstain on the issue.

Similarly with Micronesia, another poverty-stricken beneficiary of US largess to the tune of $100m a year and free access for its citizens to work in the US in return for allowing its territory to be used for military bases.

US diplomat Ronald Godard, who drew the short straw to justify the ongoing blockade, called it “one of the tools in our overall efforts to encourage respect for the human rights and basic freedoms to which the United Nations itself is committed.”

In other words, the US considers it has a messianic role to choose how to defend UN values even when 188 of the organisation’s 193 member states say it is wrong.

It may appear to many people — or the international community, to coin a phrase — that this attitude is based on supreme imperial arrogance.

Unfortunately, it is based more on political cowardice than overconfidence.

Candidates from both major US parties still subscribe to the fairytale caricature of Cuba as an island of subversion in thrall to the Soviet Union, which hasn’t existed for over 20 years.

They buckle before the onslaught of the anti-Cuba right-wing Cuban-American lobby as they have bowed the knee to the Aipac pro-zionist machine.

And there is no longer any need to do so.

Cuban-Americans are no longer the undifferentiated reactionary mass of the 1960s and 1970s, largely composed of bitter anti-communists still mourning their wealth and power lost to the 1959 revolution.

Most recent immigrants left their homeland for economic reasons, with three-quarters of Cubans who migrated to the US from 1994 onwards backing unrestricted travel to Cuba and 70 per cent wanting diplomatic relations restored.

The recent US presidential election witnessed a sea change in Florida, where Barack Obama took the state with a big swing of Cuban Americans.

Even in Miami’s Little Havana they swung behind Democrat Joe Garcia, dumping anti-Cuba hardliner David Rivera, the sitting Republican.

There is nothing whatsoever to gain by President Obama remaining wedded to an inhuman and futile policy.

As Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez told the UN, Obama “has the constitutional powers that would enable him to listen to the public opinion and generate the necessary dynamics, by means of executive decisions, even without the approval of the Congress.”

Such a political initiative would be welcome at any time, but in the wake of hurricane Sandy, which devastated both the eastern US and eastern Cuba, it could lay the basis for a new era of US-Cuba relations.

And it would guarantee, as Rodriguez put it, Obama’s “historical legacy.”

Not the Budget Britain Needs

By Robert Griffiths

Morning Star

How the 2012 Budget is just another slap in the face for working people

Chancellor George Osborne has done it again. He’s used yet another Budget to attack workers, the unemployed and benefit claimants and to enrich still further big business and the super-rich.

As before this Con-Dem regime claims that its overriding priority is to close the deficit between what the state and central government spend and what they receive in taxes.

This, we are told, will give private enterprise and the “markets” the security and incentive to invest in economic growth.

Yet the government’s policies of slash, burn and privatise have so far halted economic recovery dead in its tracks.

By destroying 270,000 public-sector jobs last year and allowing the dole queues to lengthen they have paralysed economic growth and the extra tax revenue that would come with it while increasing the unemployment bill.

No credibility should be attached to the latest forecasts of higher growth, peaking unemployment, falling inflation and a steeper decline in the financial deficit.

The forecasters were wrong before and during the post-2007 recession and have been wrong again since.

Chancellor Osborne boasted in his Budget speech about cutting the deficit still further between now and 2017, but he’s done so by grabbing the £28bn of assets in the Royal Mail pension fund.

And in order to make our postal service more attractive for privatisation the government has also nationalised the £37bn liabilities that will become due later.

Although he offered a range of new tax allowances and subsidies to exporters, private house-builders and enterprise zone businesses, these fell well short of even the modest $787bn (£497bn) stimulus introduced by US President Obama in 2009.

That package has helped produce 24 months of continuous economic growth and brought US unemployment down below the 8.4 per cent rate in Britain.

Its equivalent here would be a stimulus worth £77bn, including £27bn of job-creation measures and £22bn in extra spending on social welfare programmes.

Instead the Con-Dem government is on course to slash public spending by £203bn by 2015, with Osborne signalling on Wednesday a further £10.5bn reduction in welfare expenditure.

Yet only last month another £50bn could be conjured up overnight by the Bank of England to oil the wheels of the City of London.

That brings to £325bn the amount of public money conjured up so far to pay for “quantitative easing” to help the financial institutions and their markets, with an additional instalment likely by the summer.

At the same time we are told that libraries, youth centres, day-care facilities and Remploy factories must close while workers’ tax credits and disability allowances are chopped.

Britain has a fabulously rich capitalist class. According to the Office of National Statistics just 10 per cent of the population own at least £4 trillion in personal wealth in Britain – 44 per cent of the national total. That excludes the vast amounts stashed away in secret.

A modest 2 per cent wealth tax on this super-privileged minority would raise twice as much as the Chancellor’s five-year austerity programme without any spending cuts or tax rises at all.

Nobody should be fooled by extra stamp duty and less tax relief for the wealthy, or a tightening of measures against tax avoidance.

This Budget, like its predecessors, will make no serious inroads into the largely ill-gotten gains of the super-rich.

Instead it sets its sights on those who produce our society’s wealth, including public-sector workers.

They face postcode pay cuts which will further deflate the economies of whole regions and nations of Britain.

For the first time ever, reinforcing regional wealth inequality could become official government policy.

This Budget confirms that the austerity and privatisation programme of this Con-Dem Cabinet of multimillionaires is about boosting the profits of the City of London, the capitalist monopolies and their top directors and shareholders.

That’s why the 50p top rate of income tax is being phased out in stages.

That’s why corporation tax on monopoly profits is being reduced even further below the levels in the US, Japan, Germany and France.

Even raising the level at which income tax begins will help the rich most, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

The austerity cuts are to ensure not only that the Treasury and Bank of England can honour bonds issued to financiers in the City, but also that even more funds are available for future bail-outs.

The pot of gold at the end of the capitalist rainbow is the privatisation of what remains of the public sector.

Health, education, the Royal Mail, trunk roads and motorways are enormous sources of potential profits for giant monopolies from taxpayers, patients and motorists.

For the public the results of privatising the Royal Mail, for instance, are likely to be the same as those of other privatisations: mass redundancies, rising charges and deteriorating services, mostly at public expense.

In announcing the privatisation of new motorways and trunk roads both the Chancellor and Prime Minister held up the privatised water industry as a possible model.

Here privatisation has entailed rocketing prices, soaring profits, underinvestment and, as a result, emergency anti-drought measures this spring in seven water authority areas across eastern England.

In Latin America, Asia and Europe central and local governments are renationalising their water services in order to stop the racketeering and secure vital investment for the future.

On the eve of the Budget Roads Minister Mike Penning cited the M6 toll road and the Dartford and Severn Crossings as successful examples of privatised investment. His advisers should have told him that the M6 venture has just announced a £50 million loss for 2011, while yet another round of Severn Crossing toll increases are infuriating domestic and business motorists.

We need a Budget for workers and the people – not yet another for big business and the rich.

A People’s Budget would…

– Restore the cuts on social and welfare spending

– Cancel the cuts in working tax credit

– Cut VAT

– Boost capital spending by local and central government, including a
massive public-sector house-building programme

– Impose price controls on the energy utilities

– Levy a wealth tax on the super-rich

– Charge a windfall tax on energy, banking and retail monopoly profits

– Introduce a financial transactions tax

– Increase the higher tax rates on dividends, bonuses and pension windfalls

– Close all tax havens under British jurisdiction

– Raise the top rate of council tax

– Unfreeze the local business rate on big business

Robert Griffiths is general secretary of the Communist Party of Britain.

Morning Star Urgent Financial Appeal

Once again, the Morning Star must appeal to its backbone and its lifeblood, the readers who own, support and underwrite the paper – in short, you.

And if you do not respond, and soon, there may well not be a paper to support.

It has been an eventful and in many ways successful four or five years for the Morning Star.

In that period, we have gained formal support and a presence on our board of management from a solid majority of the organised trade union movement – a first that has astonished – and gratified – people throughout the labour movement.

We have established an enthusiastic and successful readers and supporters group within Parliament.

With the help of a consortium of sponsors we have established a new, brighter and bigger format of Morning Star that allowed us to maintain our circulation despite a swingeing price rise forced on us by ever-escalating costs.

We have in many ways become the voice of the trade union movement, as witness the 53,000 copies of our biggest ever edition on March 26.

Thanks to our friends and sponsors, we were able to give away 30,000 on the huge London demo – an edition that drew wide praise.

But unlike the capitalist newspapers such successes do not ensure our survival and the paper is once again on the brink of financial meltdown.

In one sense it’s easily understandable.

No normal newspaper could ever withstand the half-century of commercial advertising boycott that ours has had to.

The unions have done what they can, but a normal ratio of advertising to news copy in our pages has been denied us.

And no newspaper exists on its cover price alone.

So what has kept us alive throughout that half-century of boycott?

You have.

With appeals and donations and with a Fighting Fund while they are with us and with legacies when they pass on, readers have helped us to withstand a half-century of unremitting attack.

But neither the paper nor its readers are immune from the world around us and times are hard.

It costs around £1.4 million each year to produce the paper.

The Fighting Fund aims and is budgeted to achieve £16,000 each and every month.

But hard times mean that it hasn’t managed that for the better part of three years, falling short by an average of around £3,000 each month.

And that makes a shortfall of over £100,000.

The one reliable commercial advertising stream that the paper had – from insolvency practitioners – dried up when new Labour “deregulated” bankruptcy provisions.

That has lost us over £45,000 each year, a cumulative loss of around another £130,000

And our forced reliance on an imperfect road transport system has resulted in losses of paper sales over that same three-year period that at the very least match yet another £100,000.

These are not losses out of any well of profit.

And we cannot sustain losses in the same way as the capitalist press.

So we are now at a crossroads.

Cashflow problems mean that we can pay the wages this week, but there is no certainty about next week.

And, should we survive that week, the same problems will occur the week after.

Our staff are not overpaid.

None earn anything approaching the average industrial wage.

We even have legacies pending that could see us through the worse of this crisis, but they must pass through the full legal cycle before we can touch them and that could be months – time we do not have.

So it comes down to this.

We need every supporter to rally round and back us, contribute what they can and take us through this immediate crisis not of our own making.

We will need the efforts of every reader, of each readers and supporters group, every communist and every socialist and every trade unionist of goodwill.

We must raise at least an additional £50,000 before Christmas – and the sooner the better – or our paper will not survive.

And survive it must if it is to play the part that is needed during the resistance to the bankers’ putch that is, with the assistance of the Tories and their allies across Europe, being conducted agaist every working man and woman in Europe.

Are you up for the struggle?

Donate to the Morning Star’s Fighting Fund

If you have enjoyed this article then please consider donating to the Morning Star’s Fighting Fund to ensure we can keep publishing your paper.

Donate to the Fighting Fund here

Strike off at Morning Star

From the NUJ

New pay deal averts threatened strike

Journalists at the Morning Star have secured a two-year pay deal bringing to an end the recent dispute at the paper.

The dispute was settled after NUJ members agreed a new two-year pay deal worth £900 this year, and a rise of RPI plus 1% next year.

Negotiators also secured a new family-friendly agreement with special pay rates for working unsocial hours, giving all journalists at least an extra 4 days off per year in return for bank holiday and Sunday working.

NUJ Deputy General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet who negotiated the agreement said: “We have achieved a significant new deal that meets the aspirations of members for better pay and conditions whilst at the same time recognising the difficult financial situation the paper faces. For the first time our members have secured an agreement on bank holiday and Sunday working and the pay deal is as good as any in the industry”.

The deal has to be endorsed by the management committee of the paper’s owners, the People’s Press Printing Society which meets next week.

Morning Star Conference

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SURVIVING CAPITALISM’S CRISIS

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Congress House,

Great Russell Street

London WC1

CONFERENCE PROGRAMME

9.30 ­ 10 a.m.

Registration : Please tell us which of the morning and afternoon
workshops you would like to attend, as this will assist us in allocating
rooms according to the level of interest shown

10 ­ 11 a.m. IN THE MAIN CONFERENCE HALL

Plenary session dedicated to the  Consequences of the

Crisis: session mainly devoted to questions and answers

Chaired by: Liz Elkind (PPPS Management Committee Chair)

Speakers: Megan Dobney, Regional Secretary of SERTUC;

Jeremy Corbyn MP; Rob Griffiths (General Secretary, CPB)

11 am ­ 12.30 pm

WORKSHOPS

Workshops will be held in the main hall, and in the Council Chamber and
rooms 1-4 on the fifth floor. Exact location of each workshop will be
announced from the platform

Welfare for the Rich, Workfare for the Poor, hosted by the Labour
Representation Committee. Speaker: John McDonnell

The Cost of War, hosted by CND and Stop the War Coalition

Speakers: Kate Hudson (CND Chair); Andrew Murray (Chair, StWC)

The Challenges and Agenda for LGBT Communities, hosted by SERTUC LGBT.
Speakers: Tamsin Piper (co-chair, SERTUC LGBT Committee); Denis Fernando
(Lesbian and Gay Coalition Against Racism/UAF)

³Public Housing or Private Misery², hosted by Defend Council Housing.
Speaker: Eileen Short (DCH National Committee member, and lead in Tower
Hamlets Against Transfer of Council Housing ­ THATCH)

³Trades Unions and the Global Fight back², hosted by the Institute for
Employment Rights, the United Campaign to Repeal the Anti-Trade Union Laws
and Unite the Union. Speakers: Tony Burke, Unite AGS (how unions worldwide
are responding to the crisis, through campaigns, organising and mergers);
Carolyn Jones, IER Director (the 60th Anniversary of ILO Convention 98 ­ on
the rights to organise and to collective bargaining); John Usher, Director
of the United Campaign (the impact of certain European Court of Justice
decisions)

³Women and the Crisis in Capitalism², hosted by Charter for Women.
Speakers: Professor Mary Davis; Sharon Allen (Charter for Women Steering
Group Secretary)

12.30 ­ 1.30 pm Lunch break: sandwich lunch in the lobby
outside the main conference hall; tea and coffee available

Please note that at 1.15.pm the Workers Music Association Singers, together
with the Birmingham Clarion Singers, will sing to us in the lobby outside
the main conference hall. They will sing ³The March of the Workers² with
words by William Morris, and also ³William Brown² (the story of capitalism!)

1.30 ­ 3 pm

WORKSHOPS

The Green New Deal and Beyond, Hosted by Green Left

Speaker: Sean Thompson (Political Education Officer ­ London Federation
of Green Parties; leading member of

Green Left, the ecosocialist caucus in the Green Party)

Counter-terrorism and Civil Liberties: new developments in the new
McCarthyism, hosted by the Campaign Against Criminalising Communities.
Speakers: Les Levidow (CAMPACC activist); Jasbir Singh (Justice for the
Northwest 10 campaign)

³Latin American Alternatives to Capitalism¹s Crisis; Bolivia, Cuba,
Venezuela², hosted by Bolivia Information Forum, Cuba Solidarity and
Venezuela Information Centre. Speakers: Henry Suarez, First Secretary of the
Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela; Lenia Lopez (Instituto
Cubano de Amistad) (with Francisco Dominguez, interpreter)

Sicko: the NHS and the Capitalist crisis, hosted by Health Emergency.
Speaker: Kevin O¹ Brien (Branch Secretary ­ Unison ­ Epsom St. Helier)

³Youth in the recession: coping with their crisis, taking back our future²,
hosted by the TUC Young Members¹ Forum
Speakers: David Braniff-Herbert (Forum spokesperson and National
Co-ordinator of the Working Students Campaign – Unite) and Noel Hatch
(Compass Youth)

3 pm: Tea and coffee available outside the main conference hall

3 ­ 4.30 pm BACK IN THE MAIN CONFERENCE HALL

Plenary session dedicated to the ³Solutions to the Crisis²

Chaired by: Carolyn Jones (PPPS Management Committee
Vice-Chair)

Speakers: Bill Benfield (Morning Star Editor); John McDonnell MP (proposing
the People¹s Charter); Jenny Clegg, Senior Lecturer (University of Central
Lancashire), author of ³China¹s Global Strategy²; Maria del Carmen Rodriguez
Reyes (General Secretary of SNTS ­ the Cuban Health Workers Union)

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