USA

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Prisons and Police Brutality: Last Line in the Defence of Exploitation and Oppression (Part II)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 17/06/2021 - 11:32pm in

Tags 

USA, Police, prisons

image/jpeg iconoppression.jpg

Over the past year in the United States and across the world, police violence against primarily black and brown working-class people has received renewed attention. The events that followed the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police set off a wave of rebellion and protest beyond the US and across the world. The protest movement was quickly co-opted by sectors of the bourgeoisie, but the aftermath of the heady urban rebellions is that questions about the role of police and racism as tools of the capitalist class in dominating the workers are now asked more frequently than before.

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Entretien avec Xuân Rayne, travailleur du sexe vietnamien et anarchiste

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 13/06/2021 - 3:50am in

image/jpeg icon52F475CA-8003-45BC-9E0A-D7E17F5DEE3B.jpeg

Nous avons interviewé Xuân Rayne, un anarchiste vietnamien et un travailleur du sexe non binaire basé aux États-Unis, pour connaître leurs points de vue sur l'intersection de leurs identités, les voies de la solidarité internationale entre les travailleurs du sexe et la façon dont les travailleurs en général peuvent se tenir aux côtés des travailleurs du sexe. Xuân utilise tous les pronoms.
A translation of our interview with Xuân Rayne into French. Translated by Al Raven.

Il faut comprendre que l'État est la principale source d'exploitation. Il ne peut pas être la solution à ce problème.

Xuân Rayne

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Just where Biden’s sympathies lie

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 11/06/2021 - 5:41pm in

Tags 

ireland, Politics, USA

I missed this a day or so ago, but if anyone has any doubt where Biden’s sympathies lie in this world this should really make that very clear:

I have little to add to that, except to note that I agree regarding Yeats.

US democracy is at risk – and the UK is following in its path

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 02/06/2021 - 4:54pm in

Tags 

Ethics, Politics, USA

I am sharing the following statement of concern issued in the US by more than 100 academics who are worried about the state of US democracy. We should take note here in the UK. The Tories are following the path that the Republicans are taking:

Statement of Concern

The Threats to American Democracy and the Need for National Voting and Election Administration Standards

STATEMENT

June 1, 2021

We, the undersigned, are scholars of democracy who have watched the recent deterioration of U.S. elections and liberal democracy with growing alarm. Specifically, we have watched with deep concern as Republican-led state legislatures across the country have in recent months proposed or implemented what we consider radical changes to core electoral procedures in response to unproven and intentionally destructive allegations of a stolen election. Collectively, these initiatives are transforming several states into political systems that no longer meet the minimum conditions for free and fair elections. Hence, our entire democracy is now at risk.

When democracy breaks down, it typically takes many years, often decades, to reverse the downward spiral. In the process, violence and corruption typically flourish, and talent and wealth flee to more stable countries, undermining national prosperity. It is not just our venerated institutions and norms that are at risk—it is our future national standing, strength, and ability to compete globally.

Statutory changes in large key electoral battleground states are dangerously politicizing the process of electoral administration, with Republican-controlled legislatures giving themselves the power to override electoral outcomes on unproven allegations should Democrats win more votes. They are seeking to restrict access to the ballot, the most basic principle underlying the right of all adult American citizens to participate in our democracy. They are also putting in place criminal sentences and fines meant to intimidate and scare away poll workers and nonpartisan administrators. State legislatures have advanced initiatives that curtail voting methods now preferred by Democratic-leaning constituencies, such as early voting and mail voting. Republican lawmakers have openly talked about ensuring the “purity” and “quality” of the vote, echoing arguments widely used across the Jim Crow South as reasons for restricting the Black vote.

State legislators supporting these changes have cited the urgency of “electoral integrity” and the need to ensure that elections are secure and free of fraud. But by multiple expert judgments, the 2020 election was extremely secure and free of fraud. The reason that Republican voters have concerns is because many Republican officials, led by former President Donald Trump, have manufactured false claims of fraud, claims that have been repeatedly rejected by courts of law, and which Trump’s own lawyers have acknowledged were mere speculation when they testified about them before judges.

In future elections, these laws politicizing the administration and certification of elections could enable some state legislatures or partisan election officials to do what they failed to do in 2020: reverse the outcome of a free and fair election. Further, these laws could entrench extended minority rule, violating the basic and longstanding democratic principle that parties that get the most votes should win elections.

Democracy rests on certain elemental institutional and normative conditions. Elections must be neutrally and fairly administered. They must be free of manipulation. Every citizen who is qualified must have an equal right to vote, unhindered by obstruction. And when they lose elections, political parties and their candidates and supporters must be willing to accept defeat and acknowledge the legitimacy of the outcome. The refusal of prominent Republicans to accept the outcome of the 2020 election, and the anti-democratic laws adopted (or approaching adoption) in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Montana and Texas—and under serious consideration in other Republican-controlled states—violate these principles. More profoundly, these actions call into question whether the United States will remain a democracy. As scholars of democracy, we condemn these actions in the strongest possible terms as a betrayal of our precious democratic heritage.

The most effective remedy for these anti-democratic laws at the state level is federal action to protect equal access of all citizens to the ballot and to guarantee free and fair elections. Just as it ultimately took federal voting rights law to put an end to state-led voter suppression laws throughout the South, so federal law must once again ensure that American citizens’ voting rights do not depend on which party or faction happens to be dominant in their state legislature, and that votes are cast and counted equally, regardless of the state or jurisdiction in which a citizen happens to live. This is widely recognized as a fundamental principle of electoral integrity in democracies around the world.

A new voting rights law (such as that proposed in the John Lewis Voting Rights Act) is essential but alone is not enough. True electoral integrity demands a comprehensive set of national standards that ensure the sanctity and independence of election administration, guarantee that all voters can freely exercise their right to vote, prevent partisan gerrymandering from giving dominant parties in the states an unfair advantage in the process of drawing congressional districts, and regulate ethics and money in politics.

It is always far better for major democracy reforms to be bipartisan, to give change the broadest possible legitimacy. However, in the current hyper-polarized political context such broad bipartisan support is sadly lacking. Elected Republican leaders have had numerous opportunities to repudiate Trump and his “Stop the Steal” crusade, which led to the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Each time, they have sidestepped the truth and enabled the lie to spread.

We urge members of Congress to do whatever is necessary—including suspending the filibuster—in order to pass national voting and election administration standards that both guarantee the vote to all Americans equally, and prevent state legislatures from manipulating the rules in order to manufacture the result they want. Our democracy is fundamentally at stake. History will judge what we do at this moment.

Interview with Xuân Rayne: Vietnamese, Anarchist, Sex Worker

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 02/06/2021 - 3:39pm in

image/jpeg iconXuân2.jpg

We interviewed Xuân Rayne, a Vietnamese anarchist and non-binary sex worker based in the United States for their insights into the intersection of their identities, the paths for international solidarity among sex workers, and how workers in general can stand with sex workers. Xuân uses any/all pronouns. 

There needs to be an understanding that the state is the key source of exploitation. It cannot be the solution to it.

Xuân Rayne

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Decline of the USA, Rise of the Struggles?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 11/05/2021 - 6:47pm in

Tags 

USA, USA

image/jpeg icon_111974239_freedom_976getty.jpg

The USA, as the world’s leading capitalist nation, is economically, politically and morally bankrupt.

Across all currents, leftists see the building of structures of "mutual aid" as the first step on the way to a different society - quasi islands that grow together. Such structures are always needed in struggles, but they are never a strategy!

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World’s Most Tyrannical Regime Can’t Stop Babbling About “Human Rights”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 02/05/2021 - 10:06pm in

Tags 

america, USA, War

Listen to this article:

https://medium.com/media/a34a52375640fb1f382a988562000fb0/href

“America won’t back away from our commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms,” reads a Wednesday tweet from the presidential Twitter account. “No responsible American president can remain silent when basic human rights are violated.”

The tweet, an excerpt from the US president’s prepared congressional address, was retweeted on Saturday by Secretary of State Tony Blinken with the caption, “We will always defend human rights at home and abroad.”

Like all US secretaries of state, Blinken’s public statements overwhelmingly focus on the claim that other nations abuse human rights, and that it is America’s duty to defend those rights. Which is very silly, considering the fact that the US government is the single worst human rights abuser on planet Earth.

And it’s not even close.

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There is no other government that is circling the planet with hundreds of military bases and working to destroy any nation which disobeys it via invasion, proxy wars, blockades, economic warfare, staged coups, and covert operations. There is no other government on earth whose violence has killed millions of people and displaced tens of millions just since the turn of this century. There is no other government waging nonstop wars around the world and dropping scores of bombs per day on human beings in foreign nations in order to perpetuate its iron-fisted domination of our planet.

And it just says so much about who is controlling the dominant narratives in our society that these actions are not considered human rights violations. Clearly we should all have a human right to not be murdered by explosives dropped from the sky, and we in nations where this does not commonly occur would be very upset if it suddenly began happening to us. Clearly it is an abuse of human rights to deliberately starve children to death because you don’t approve of the people who run things in their part of the world. Clearly it is an abuse of human rights to turn a nation to rubble and chaos for profit and geostrategic control.

Not a day goes by when the US government is not doing these things, both directly and through its imperial member states. Yet the US secretary of state spends all day tweeting that other governments are guilty of human rights violations. Because, as far as power is concerned, narrative control is everything.

If mass murder is not an abuse of human rights, then “human rights” is a meaningless concept. But even if bombing campaigns and other acts of military butchery do not transgress your personal definition of human rights, the US still does not care about human rights.

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As journalist Mark Ames recently flagged, a few years ago the imperial narrative managers were very keen on informing us that Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte was a despotic human rights abuser, but we haven’t been hearing much about what an evil brute he is of late.

So what happened? Did Duterte cease promoting the extrajudicial killings of drug users and spontaneously transform into a cuddly wuddly human rights advocate?

Of course not.

What happened, as Ames points out, is that Duterte ceased publicly toying with the notion of pivoting from Washington to Beijing as he had been doing since taking office, shifting to a hard line against China in support of Manila’s longtime imperial overlord.

We saw the change in coverage because Washington and its imperial spinmeisters only care about human rights abuses insofar as they can be exploited against the few remaining nations like China that have insisted on their own sovereignty instead of allowing themselves to be converted into member states of the US-centralized empire. We know this not only from naked eye observations of the empire’s behavior from year to year, but also because they have blatantly said so.

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As I never tire of reminding readers, a leaked 2017 State Department memo spelled out in plain English how the US only cares about human rights when they can be weaponized against its enemies, and has a standing policy of ignoring them when they are committed by its allies/vassal states.

In December 2017 Politico published an internal memo that had been sent the previous May to then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by virulent neocon Brian Hook. The memo provided useful insight into what it looks like when a toxic swamp monster orients a political neophyte to the inner mechanics of the empire, explaining the way “human rights” are really just a tool to be cynically leveraged to advance the goal of planetary hegemony. It reads like an old veteran explaining the backstory to the new guy in the pilot episode of a new TV series.

“In the case of US allies such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Philippines, the Administration is fully justified in emphasizing good relations for a variety of important reasons, including counter-terrorism, and in honestly facing up to the difficult tradeoffs with regard to human rights,” Hook explained in the memo.

“One useful guideline for a realistic and successful foreign policy is that allies should be treated differently — and better — than adversaries,” Hook wrote. “We do not look to bolster America’s adversaries overseas; we look to pressure, compete with, and outmaneuver them. For this reason, we should consider human rights as an important issue in regard to US relations with China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran. And this is not only because of moral concern for practices inside those countries. It is also because pressing those regimes on human rights is one way to impose costs, apply counter-pressure, and regain the initiative from them strategically.”

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In Imperialist Brain Worms World, “human rights” is nothing other than a propaganda weapon to be used for building antagonistic international coalitions, manufacturing consent for invasions and regime change ops, and spinning the dominant narrative in support of starvation sanctions and world-threatening cold war escalations. It’s just mass-scale concern trolling of the most destructive and malignant sort imaginable.

This is what you are feeding into, by the way, when you parrot State Department lines about how horrible and tyrannical US-targeted governments are. You are helping to circulate the narratives our rulers are spending billions of dollars circulating, and you are doing it for free. You are making the jobs of the imperialists that much easier, because you are unwittingly operating as a pro bono Pentagon propagandist.

Don’t be a Pentagon propagandist, pro bono or otherwise. Don’t be an imperial concern troll. Don’t let the worst human rights abuser on the face of our planet get away with pretending to support human rights.

_____________________________

I’m celebrating the hardback release of Woke: A Field Guide For Utopia Preppers by making a pay-as-you-feel PDF available.

The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, or throwing some money into my tip jar on Ko-fi, Patreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy my books. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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Doctor Who: Harry Van Gorkum Discusses ALMOST Being The Eighth Doctor

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 02/05/2021 - 12:37am in

Before Paul McGann was cast as The Eighth Doctor in FOX's 1996 Doctor Who TV movie, Harry Van Gorkum had the part- until the BBC had its say.

Reopen or Close Schools: A Lose-Lose Situation for the Working Class

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 19/04/2021 - 9:25pm in

Tags 

Education, USA, schools

image/jpeg iconeducation.jpg

Article from 1919 (mcmxix.org), the new journal of the North American affiliates of the ICT.

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There is a flaw in the Biden tax plan that has to be addressed if it’s going to work, and that’s in the accounting

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 16/04/2021 - 7:43pm in

Tags 

tax havens, USA

The tax justice movement is, unsurprisingly, keen on the Biden tax plan. What Biden is proposing is fairly straightforward. First, he is suggesting that a company should pay a minimum rate of corporation tax in the USA. He will achieve this by disallowing expenses until that rate is achieved.

Second, and much more importantly, he is proposing that every corporation should pay a minimum corporation tax rate on its worldwide profits. Significantly, he’s not suggesting this be calculated on a worldwide basis, but on a country-by-country basis instead. In other words, a minimum corporation tax rate will be required in Singapore, Ireland, Jersey, Cayman and so on. That this is very obviously an assault on the use of tax havens by multinational corporations is obvious.

Importantly, what the framing of the Biden tax announcement makes clear is that tax justice is at the heart of this proposal. This is unsurprising. Biden has recruited some key tax justice supporters to his Treasury team. In other words, so far so good.

However, I want to draw out several issues of significance.

First, the bias in the scheme as proposed is towards the country in which the parent company of the multinational corporation is located. Not all countries are considered equal within the scheme as a result, and the inevitable consequence is that developing countries may not benefit as much as they should. This will need to be corrected: The OECD has long said that there should be a global tax system where the right amount of tax is paid at the right rate, in the right place at the right time, including whether that right place happens to be a developing country, or not, and so it must ensure that this happens.

Second, I have a really big issue with the proposed rate of 21%. Remember that it was only in 2017 that the headline rate of US corporation tax was 35%, and it was only just over a decade ago that it was 30% in the UK. On average the rate is in excess of 25% around the world at present, when weighting country tax rates by population. 21% is in that case a very modest ambition. I would suggest that it is much too modest, and that it is the job of tax justice campaigns to ask for a much higher right now. That is partly because justice requires it, but also because unless somebody is making that demand then the already low suggested rate will be negotiated lower, and we will end up with something in the teens, which will be utterly unacceptable. I see no reason why a rate of 30% should not be demanded now. As I’ve just noted, this is entirely historically appropriate. What is not is the current low rates, which are an aberration. There is no reason to lock them in.

Third, I come to my most important point. It’s all well and good campaigning for a percentage of something, but you have to know what that something that you’re claiming a percentage of might be if you are going to do that. The Biden tax plan might say this is a percentage of the declared profits of a corporation in the jurisdiction, but the reality is that what this figure might be is not only very often unknown, but it is also inconsistent in itself, and potentially subject to significant abuse unless steps are taken to stop this happening.

This needs explanation. Although we do now have country-by-country reporting for tax purposes amongst multinational corporations, the approach that a company is required to adapt on this is not consistent. So, for example, companies are allowed to work on both a top-down and bottom-up basis of estimation of their profits by jurisdiction.

When working on a top-down basis the transaction recorded in the group consolidated accounts are apportioned to the country where they might arise. There is an obvious advantage to this. If we are trying to tax the global profits of a multinational corporation once, and once only, then there is merit to using the group accounts, because they are prepared on one consistent account basis, and there is only one figure for profit. The likelihood is, then, that it is just those profits that will be apportioned.

On the other hand, if a bottom-up method of preparing country-by-country report is adopted by a multinational corporation then what happens is that the accounts of each of its local subsidiaries are used as the basis for reporting. It can, of course, be argued that this is appropriate because as a matter of fact this is where everything starts, and where tax is due.

However, in accounting terms there are many problems. First, this requires that a proper consolidation by jurisdiction takes place, which means that all the intragroup transactions between the companies within the jurisdiction are eliminated from view to get a proper perspective on the profit actually made in that place. It is an unfortunate fact that the OECD got this accounting wrong when introducing their version of country-by-country reporting: what they asked groups to do when working on a bottom-up basis was to aggregate the accounts of the companies in the jurisdiction. Aggregation simply means that the accounts are added up, but this does not eliminate intragroup transactions, and the resulting profits and losses that arise from them as a consequence, and as a result the view that the OECD version of country-by-country reporting presents of activity by jurisdiction can be seriously misstated, either by accident, or as a result of manipulation.

That, though, is not the only problem with this approach. What is more problematic is that many multinational corporations do not use the same system of accounting throughout the group, but do instead use local generally accepted accounting principles in each country, which may be by no means compatible with each other. So, the basis for profit estimation in one country may be quite different from the basis for profit estimation in another. Both approaches are legal, but the result is that this does not create something that is anything like appropriate as the basis for group taxation, which is what the Biden tax plan envisages.

There is, then a third problem. This is that when all these local subsidiaries are consolidated into the group accounts adjustments have to be made to take out of consideration all the transactions that take place between them. We know that these transactions are commonplace, and that many take place without any tax motivation at all. However, the process of their elimination does give rise to a significant issue, which is just where is it considered that the adjustments to the consolidated profit take place?

Is that adjustment to be split between the jurisdictions which the transaction involves, if there is a multijurisdictional aspect to this? Or, is the adjustment to simply be allocated to the head office location? Since, in my experience of observing these adjustments many eliminate profit rather than add to it (which many might find surprising) is it fair to allocate the adjustment to the head office, which will then underdeclare tax? Or should they be declared in the subsidiary’s jurisdictions, which may reduce tax owing? Or is some better method required?

Alternatively, is a top-down method always to be mandated on the basis that this is most likely to eliminate these problems, albeit that it then takes any consideration of local taxation rules almost entirely out of consideration in determining likely receipts in a jurisdiction that hosts subsidiary entities, and leaves the method of group consolidated accounting as the determining factor of what may, or may not, be considered a fair profit to apportion to the country in question, which may give rise to substantial sources of dispute in the future?

Finally, let me raise one further issue. This is to ask what is tax paid? There is no consistency in the measurement of this sum. It would seem very unlikely that the figures included in the accounts of the company should be considered an appropriate estimate of tax paid, precisely because it is far too estimated in its nature. At best most such figures are fairly broad brush, and rushed, calculations put into the accounts at the last moment after almost everything else has been concluded within the financial statements, and evidence that I have collected over the years suggest that these figures are inherently unreliable. In that case another figure has to be used.

That, however, cannot be the cash paid in a year, because again this will be estimated, based upon the company’s own declaration of what it thinks owing, at least in the first instance, rather than the actual liability that will finally be agreed, which could be subject to negotiation for a number of years. And how is this audit process to be treated within the calculation of the minimum tax rate?

I pose all these questions for good reason. Rather remarkably there is, right across the tax profession, very little interaction between those who specialise in tax and those who have any understanding of accounting. Although the tax experts frequently come from the big four firms of accountants, few who engage in tax appear to have much recall of what the accounting aspects of their work might have been. Tax  professionals from other career paths e.g. from within a tax authority, have even less understanding of accounting. This is also true of most tax justice campaigners. I am not criticising anyone when saying this, but am merely pointing out a fact.

That uncomfortable fact is that accounting data is rarely, when it comes to taxation, consistent, reliable, or free from abuse. Instead, the data is usually open to dispute, and for good reason. Even cash paid lacks objectivity when it comes to tax.

What that means is that when discussion on the global minimum tax rate takes place, it is just as important that discussion on what the global tax base to which this percentage will be applied to takes place in parallel, with those involved being open-minded as to the issues within accounting that must be resolved if this basis of tax payment is to be fair and appropriate for all parties, including the companies and the countries involved.

Saying so, so let me stress one thing, and that is that no one has ever attempted to achieve this as yet, and so finding that appropriate basis will require us to fly blind: innovation to ensure a successful outcome will be a necessary part of this process.

I am simply recording there must be an openness to this reality as a necessary part of preparation for the negotiations to come on the plan Biden has offered to the world, and which we should all welcome. There is a great deal of work to be done if this plan is to succeed. It is my hope that civil society will have a significant part in that process because it has had that engagement in almost every other stage of progress towards it, but recognition of the problem is the first stage in achieving that.

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