evening standard version

Boris Johnson under pressure over ‘do or die’ Brexit vow
Joe Murphy, Nicholas Cecil, Evening Standard, Oct 14 2019

Boris Johnson came under pressure today to abandon his “do or die” Brexit deadline of Oct 31 as EU leaders and Tory rebels warned that a delay may be needed to allow more time for a deal to go through. With three days left until a vital EU summit, the PM also found himself boxed in by his DUP allies, who warned “we will not be eating our own words” regarding a mooted deal creating a customs border between NI and the UK mainland. Official talks restarted in Brussels this morning on technical details of a potential deal that is still shrouded in secrecy, but which MPs believe involves a new customs partnership for NI. At the state opening of Parliament, the Queen’s speech stopped short of repeating Mr Johnson’s cast-iron vow to leave the bloc on Hallowe’en, saying only:

My Government’s priority has always been to secure the UK’s departure from the EU on Oct 31.

A No 10 source said the difference in language merely reflected “the way the Queen speaks on such matters” and did not signal any change in policy, but Mr Johnson was under pressure from all sides to make concessions if he was to meet his deadline. The cross-party group of rebel MPs that passed the Benn Act to prevent a no-deal Brexit signalled they are ready to force a delay beyond Oct 31 to allow more scrutiny of the deal. Former Tory minister Nicholas Boles said there was “every chance” that the legislation needed would not get through Parliament by the deadline. DUP Brexit spox Sammy Wilson, when asked about Jacob Rees-Mogg saying is willing to “eat his own words” and back a customs plan he once branded “completely cretinous,” responded:

Whatever appetite he has for his own words or whatever, we will not be eating our own words. Our position is clear, the Government knows what our position is and we will not be dining from a different menu.

Writing in today’s Evening Standard, former justice secretary David Gauke said:

Parliament will not simply nod through a Brexit that comes at an unnecessarily high economic price.

He calculated that the loss of trade if the UK sacrifices free trade with the EU would amount to £2,250 per person. Negotiators in Brussels were believed to be poring over a proposed customs arrangement that would see Northern Ireland treated differently to the rest of the UK, with the UK authorities collecting EU tariffs on goods entering the province. It was understood to have been offered by Mr Johnson in his private talks with Irish leader Leo Varadkar on Thursday. Mr Johnson is also thought to have offered an assurance that no community in the province would have a veto, a concession he signalled in an interview with the Standard last week. Arriving for a meeting of foreign ministers in Luxembourg, Mr Coveney said:

The less we say now, the better… A deal is possible, and it is possible this month, maybe possible this week, but we are not there yet.

Observers noted that his words kept open the possible need for a delay beyond this week’s EU summit of leaders and the Oct 31 deadline. Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald spoke to the PM about the veto idea by telephone on Sunday, and told BBC Radio 4 Today:

He assured me, or sought to assure me, that there would be no vetoes afforded to anybody in this process.

Mr Boles, who is now an Independent Conservative, told the Standard that rebel MPs would not reveal their hand but added:

MPs will want to scrutinise the legislation that implements our withdrawal very closely and ensure that an extension is secured if there is any chance that this legislation will not have completed its passage before Oct 31.

shrouded in bullshit, more like

‘Pathway’ to Brexit deal hits usual obstacles on the Irish border
Jennifer Rankin, Groan, Oct 14 2019

BRUSSELS – Hopes of a Brexit breakthrough surged after Leo Varadkar and Boris Johnson went for a walk in the Wirral and declared “a pathway to a possible deal”. Four days later it is increasingly obvious that the pathway is steep and strewn with rocks. After a weekend of Brexit talks, the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, gave EU diplomats a bleak account of progress on Sunday night. At the heart of the problem is the same old Brexit conundrum: how can the UK quit the EU customs union and single market while maintaining an open border with Ireland to protect peace on the island. Last Thursday at Thornton Manor, Johnson made a major concession: he agreed there should be no customs border on the island of Ireland. That was the key to triggering the current round of intensified talks in Brussels. But dashing EU hopes, it is clear the UK is not seeking to return to a lightly retouched version of Barnier’s original plan, the Northern Ireland-only backstop. Instead, the UK hopes to devise an unprecedented bespoke customs deal for Northern Ireland. While the British have not disclosed the plan, EU sources have outlined the main details. Northern Ireland would be legally part of the UK customs area, but practically in the EU customs union, following European rules on tariffs and quotas. It would be simultaneously in and out, in a model quickly called Schrödinger’s customs union, in mock homage to the physicist’s theoretical cat that was simultaneously dead and alive. Partly based on a cast-off Theresa May plan, it would allow Johnson to claim the whole of the UK has left the EU. Yet just as May discovered with her customs partnership, problems are plentiful. Brussels is worried about fraud and undermining EU customs rules. Business fears a bureaucratic nightmare. If a Northern Irish fizzy drinks company buys sugar from a non-EU country, what is the legal status of the sugar in the sugar-laden drinks destined for EU consumers? In talks on Monday and Tuesday, the EU are demanding answers to this sickly sweet problem.

Barnier was unsparing about the risks for the EU, warning it could unravel the European customs code and poses a serious risk of fraud that could tarnish the single market. While the single market sounds abstract, at heart are concerns about consumer health and safety, and the reputation of European goods and produce. EU officials remember the BSE crisis as a vivid example of how a food scandal can destroy lives and farmers’ reputations. With the customs problem unresolved, the two sides have made little progress on the other stumbling block, how to ensure greater democratic buy-in for Northern Ireland. In another significant concession, Johnson has dropped his insistence that the DUP should be able to veto the creation of an all-Ireland regulatory zone for goods, a key part of the jigsaw in avoiding a hard border. But the two sides have not agreed an alternative consent mechanism, with EU diplomats adamant there can be no unilateral right of exit. Johnson is rapidly discovering the Brexit constraints that May eventually knew so well: EU red lines, strong opposition in the House of Commons, and time. The EU will not take a risky gamble on an untested customs partnership to get a deal over the line on Oct 31. If the prime minister wants to stick to his “do or die” pledge, his best hope is a rebranded, retouched version of the EU’s original Northern Ireland only backstop, rejected by May, as something no British prime minister could ever accept. Returning to the original backstop risks failing in the House of Commons. But so does Johnson’s preferred “double customs” plan. The DUP appears to be toughening its opposition, a stance that might sway Conservative hardliners, although Jacob Rees-Mogg, a weather vane for Brexit hardliners, sounds emollient so far. On the other side of the house, many Labour MPs will oppose a Johnson deal that is forecast to hit the economy harder than May’s plan. At the start of a(nother) crucial week, the end of the Brexit path is still shrouded in fog.

UK court rules against Derry woman in Irish identity case
Lisa O’Carroll, Groan, Oct 14 2019

Emma DeSouza with her husband Jake. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA

People born in Northern Ireland are legally British, unless they register a change in citizenship, even if they identify as Irish under rights granted in the Good Friday agreement, a UK court has ruled. The case involved Emma DeSouza, a Derry-born British citizen who in 2015 applied for a residence card for her Pindo-born husband, Jake. She made the application identifying herself as an Irish citizen. The Home Office rejected the application on the grounds that it considered DeSouza a British citizen, and said the only way it could deal with the case was for her to “renounce her status as a British citizen.” However, a first-tier immigration and asylum tribunal ruled in her favour in February last year, saying that under the terms of the Good Friday agreement people of Northern Ireland had a unique right to identify in multiple ways. The Home Office challenged the ruling, arguing that not all the contents of the agreement had been incorporated into British law and therefore the rights in the Good Friday agreement did not trump those in the 1981 British Nationality Act. The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs said Ireland had amended its domestic law after the 1998 peace deal to deliver the agreed rights.  Questions will now be asked as to why UK domestic law was not amended likewise. In its appeal on Sep 10, Tony McGlennan QC argued for the Home Office that the initial tribunal had made a “fundamental and egregious error.” DeSouza had held British citizenship since birth, “so she is not exercising treaty rights” and therefore did not fit into the category of being an EEA national. The high court in Belfast ruled in favour of the Home Office on Monday. De Souza had argued that she should not have to renounce her British citizenship, contending she never considered herself British and was entitled to identify as Irish under the GFA. In their ruling, Justice Lane and Judge Rintoul said:

As a matter of law, Mrs de Souza is, at present a British citizen in the current time. Nothing in this decision brings into question the past and continuing importance and constitutional significance of the GFA to the people of Ireland and the UK. International treaties such as the GFA were entered into under royal prerogative, which does not extend to altering domestic law without the intervention of parliament. Quite simply, a treaty is not part of English law unless and until it has been incorporated into the law by legislation.

Their ruling centres on whether the tribunal had earlier made an error of law, not on whether the law delivered the Good Friday agreement or not, the ruling said, and de Souza or others could not derive rights or be denied rights by an international treaty.  They said the Northern Ireland Act of 1998 which gave effect to certain provisions in the Good Friday agreement did not touch on self-identification and nationality and this “was entirely deliberate on the part of the UK.”

priti patel is an awful person (who knew)

Priti Patel accused of smirking about impact of no-deal Brexit by Andrew Marr
Conrad Duncan, Independent, Oct 14 2019

Home secretary Priti Patel has been accused of laughing about the impact of a no-deal Brexit during an interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. Ms Patel, who was being interviewed over a video link, appeared to be smiling as Mr Marr spoke about the fears of British industry groups. Halfway through reading out a list of groups who have raised concerns in a letter to the government about a no-deal Brexit, Mr Marr said to Ms Patel:

I can’t see why you are laughing.

The Conservative minister did not respond to the comment and replied by saying the government has been making preparation to mitigate any potential negative impact of no-deal. Ms Patel was appearing on the show to defend the government’s negotiating position with the EU. The BBC presenter explained that industry bodies at the “forefront” of the economy, including representatives from the chemical, aerospace and food sectors, had raised concerns that a no-deal Brexit posed a “serious risk to manufacturing competitiveness.” At one point, Mr Marr said:

The government’s own modelling suggests that this Free Trade Agreement would result in a lower growth of 6.7%. Is that something that you’re prepared to accept as a price worth paying?

Ms Patel responded:

Well, I don’t accept that, and you know, I don’t know which data you’re quoting.

Mr Marr then reminded her he was quoting the government’s own documents. Nigel Evans, a Conservative MP for Ribble Valley, has defended the home secretary. Mr Evans told the Press Association:

Priti Patel and the government are fed up with ‘project fear’ stories and being hammered by journalists who are critical because a government is working tirelessly to deliver what people voted for in the 2016 referendum.

On social media, Labour MP David Lammy responded to the interview by saying it was “unforgiveable” that Ms Patel did not know her own government’s analysis. Mr Lammy said:

Priti Patel is reminded of her own government’s analysis of the disastrous impact of Boris Johnson‘s proposed Brexit, she replies ‘I don’t know which data you’re quoting.’ With people’s jobs and livelihoods on the line, this is unforgivable.

the matter of britain (thin gauze pretending to be ectoplasm, probably)

The fantasy of Britain at war could be nearing its last hurrah
John Harris, Groan, Oct 14 2019

Can you hear it: the theme from The Great Escape, and the hum of Spitfire engines? Such is the mood music that echoes around many leading Brexiteers: men who seem to have all but forgotten the comparatively recent conflict centred on Northern Ireland but affect to be consumed by the distant stuff of Dunkirk, the blitz and VE day. Question marks still hang over how we will get to a general election, but some aspects of the looming campaign seem certain. If Boris Johnson somehow gets a deal with the EU and manages to steer it through parliament, he will presumably continue to talk about a country destined to stand apart from Europe and set an example to the world of derring-do, mention Winston Churchill and use a lot of martial metaphors. If everything comes to grief and he has to request the dreaded extension, that stuff will doubtless be accompanied by rhetoric about remainer MPs and judges, the obstinate and unreliable French and Germans, and a view of Ireland as a country that has ideas above its station. Deal or no deal, all these things will presumably be voiced by Nigel Farage and the Brexit party, who like their fellow Brexiteers in the Conservative party have a vision of Britain unbound that harks back to the days of empire, and a loud obsession with Britain’s role in WW2 or their imagined version of it.

After all this time, these things are ingrained in the Brexit moment and the spaces where politics meets culture, probably for the foreseeable future. Johnson fumes about parliament’s “surrender bill” as those increasingly irksome No 10 “sources” warn of MPs colluding with “foreign powers.” Farage rallies begin with the sound of air-raid sirens. Allies and supporters of the prime minister regularly bring up his Churchill fixation and claim that the spirit of the man on the £5 banknote is being channelled anew, even though what is afoot is obviously much less noble than that. Last week, when he and his people decided to blame Angela Merkel for their waning hopes of a deal, they surely knew what they were doing: tapping into a rich seam of British prejudice that was made clear last week in a Twitter meme put around by Arron Banks and his accomplices at Leave.EU, only to be deleted. it said:

We didn’t win two world wars to be pushed around by a Kraut.

This is the view of 20th-century history traditionally voiced by English football hooligans after 12 lagers and too much sunshine. Banks was born in 1966, Johnson and Farage in 1964. Mark Francois, the Conservative MP who needs no encouragement to hold forth about his father’s wartime service and the necessity of standing up to Germany, entered the world in 1965. By the time they were even aware of such things, the end of the second world war was a quarter of a century away, and what remained of the empire was being mocked on TV by David Frost as consisting of “Fiji, Mauritius, Swaziland, the New Hebrides Condominium and sweet Rockall.” But more than 50 years on, their secondhand nostalgia seems to have found a ready audience, as keen as them on the idea that Britannia could once again rule the waves and stick it to the continentals, if only the people Johnson calls “the doomsters and the gloomsters” would let her.

3500

That the prime minister often presents this stuff wrapped in a sense of the absurd only highlights how ludicrously misplaced it all is. This is not just because of our impossible historical distance from the events these people eulogise and the social transformations that have happened in the meantime. Self-evidently, to yearn for the spirit of pre-50s Britain runs the risk of celebrating a country that was monoculturally white and ridden with bigotry, and an imperial ideal racist in both theory and practice. Decades of cultural history have also undermined just about every aspect of the Brexiteers’ view of things. The first Colonel Blimp cartoon, I was recently reminded, appeared in 1934. With no little prescience, it was captioned:

Gad, sir, Lord Beaverbrook is right. Splendid isolation is the policy for England. If we refuse to trade with the dashed foreigners in Ireland, Wales and Scotland … the future will be in sight.

Later on, didn’t the great cultural explosions of the 60s decisively pull us away from the last traces of wartime jingoism, as the union flag was reinvented as a totem of camp, and the supposed glories of war and empire were suddenly sent up? In the Beatles’ 1967 masterpiece A Day in the Life, the enervated, gently mocking way that John Lennon sings one line in particular, “The English army had just won the war,” seems to open up the possibility of a whole load of national delusions being subverted. And so it proved: the so-called satire boom was already in full flow, and then along came Monty Python’s bursting of every pompous English balloon, and even Dad’s Army, with its affectionate portrayal of the farce and hilarity woven into the country’s finest hour. When the UK’s descent into economic decline was met with Margaret Thatcher’s flag-waving and the rise of the National Front, it fell to the new generation of punks to try to explode their fantasies. Listen to such songs as the Clash’s Something About England, the Jam’s Little Boy Soldiers, or the Sex Pistols’ ageless God Save the Queen). And so this strand of popular culture has gone on, speaking directly to millions of people and shaping their understanding of the country they live in. In the midst of the current madness, a good example is the Northampton-born rapper Slowthai, who has Caribbean, Irish and English ancestry, and styles himself as the Brexit Bandit. The title track of his debut album speaks volumes:

I said there’s nothing great about the place we live in
Nothing great about Britain
Sip a cup of tea whilst we’re spittin’
There’s nothing great about Britain.

Yet the old illusions refuse to die. To state the obvious, much of the blame for this country’s enduring mixture of hubris, nostalgia and Europhobia can be laid at the door of the tabloid press. It is responsible for framing everything from Germany v England football matches to Jacques Chirac’s opposition to the Iraq war in terms of unfinished business from 1939-45, and the idea that many European countries owe us a debt of gratitude they have never paid off. But there are also other, more insidious influences at work. When the likes of Farage and Francois talk about the war, I hear not an authentic echo of the struggles and victories of 1939-45, but the big-selling and very stupid comics I used to buy as a child in the late 70s: Warlord and Victor, replete with stories of “Jerries” and “Japs,” such characters as Union Jack Jackson and Bomber Braddock, and the basic message they carried that there was no finer expression of Britishness than charging at the enemy, hoping for the best. To anyone under 40, these things must surely seem weird beyond words, which ought to give cause for hope. So too might one basic fact about the Brexit moment: that the comical fantasy of a belligerent UK blazing its own trail is already being tested by reality. There again, given that the fictions of war and empire have endured for so long, would they really suddenly wither away? The results of the election or perhaps another referendum, will give us an answer of sorts: one of the reasons why the next few months will decide not just who is in power, but the kind of place this conflicted, nervous country is going to be.

time to rise

No to Pindo fascism! Build a mass movement to force Trump out!
Editorial, WSWS, Oct 14 2019

Trump’s response to the impeachment inquiry initiated by Congress has assumed an openly fascistic character. In his speeches last week in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Lake Charles, Louisiana, Trump appealed openly to xenophobia, racism and anti-Semitism. He incited his audience of police and other rightwing forces against his political opponents, whom he denounced as “far left” and “socialist” politicians who “hate America.” In a manner unprecedented in Pindo history, Trump is seeking to utilize the power of the presidency to create a dictatorial regime. Contemptuous of all constitutional restraints, Trump is making it clear that he is prepared to use criminal and violent methods to hang on to power. In his Minneapolis tirade, he shouted that he intends to remain in office for “16 more years,” which would not be possible without the overthrow of the Pindo Constitution. He has made no secret of the violent implications of his illegal claims to personal dictatorship, declaring that any moves to displace him will lead to “civil war.” Trump’s statement that his political opponents are guilty of “treason” evokes the specter of arrests and murderous proscriptions. In a particularly ominous passage of his speech on Thursday, Trump defended his decision to remove troops from Syria by declaring:

We’re bringing the soldiers home. We may need them for something else, and they’ll be ready.

In the context of his assertion of dictatorial powers, this “something else” is a clear threat to use the military against domestic opposition within Pindostan. The White House has already begun to do this by mobilizing troops to enforce its brutal attacks on immigrants along the Mexican border. To downplay, let alone deny, the fact that the Trump presidency is metastasizing rapidly into a right-wing authoritarian regime with distinctly fascist characteristics is to close one’s eyes to political reality. The old refrain, “It can’t happen here,” meaning that Pindo democracy is eternally immune from the cancer of fascism, is hopelessly out of date. The very fact that a thug like Trump ascended to the White House testifies to the terminal crisis of the existing political system.

Trump’s administration is the product of the deep-rooted economic and social contradictions of Pindo capitalism. The massive concentration of wealth within the richest 1% of the population and the unprecedented level of social inequality are incompatible with traditional democratic forms of rule. Over the past four decades, Pindostan has evolved into an increasingly oligarchical society. Isolated from the great mass of the population, viewing every demand for an improvement of conditions of life as a threat to its wealth, the oligarchy is increasingly hostile to democracy. Trump, the product of New York’s financial underworld, articulates the authoritarian impulses of the oligarchy, with the necessary crudity and vulgarity. His hysterical denunciations of socialism and communism voice the growing fear of the rich that demands for social reform will lead inevitably to a massive redistribution of wealth, culminating in the expropriation of capitalist property. In its very foundation, the Trump administration has epitomized the negation of democracy. His presidency has been illegitimate from the very beginning. Trump was elected through the anti-democratic mechanism of the Electoral College despite having lost the popular vote by nearly three million ballots. Far from acknowledging the minority status of his administration, Trump acts as if he was swept into office in a landslide, but he knows full well that his policies evoke massive popular opposition despite his cynical populist demagogy. Trump’s appearances before police, security personnel and military audiences, as well as his carefully staged mass rallies designed to attract politically disoriented and backward elements, are all part of a calculated effort to create a political constituency upon which he can base an authoritarian regime, operating outside all of the traditional legal boundaries of the Constitution.

Pindo democracy has come to a historic crossroads. As it seeks to maintain power, the Trump presidency will assume an increasingly illegal, authoritarian and violent character. The removal of this administration from power is a political necessity. But by whom and through what methods this objective is achieved is a life-and-death question. Up until now, the official opposition to Trump has been dominated by the Demagog Party. The impeachment inquiry is the outcome of the increasingly bitter factional struggle within the ruling class. Basing itself on disaffected sections of the intelligence agencies, the military and the corporate-financial elite, the Demagog Party is employing the methods of a palace coup. Trump’s opponents within the state apparatus are acutely conscious of the implications of the long-term decline in the global position of Pindosatan. They view Trump’s foreign policy as erratic, unpredictable and in conflict with what they consider key geostrategic imperatives of Pindo imperialism, particularly with regards to Russia and Syria. It is for this reason that they have centered opposition on matters of foreign policy, first through the anti-Russia campaign and now on the basis of Trump’s telephone call with the Ukrainian president. The social and political interests motivating the opposition to Trump within the state determine its methods. While Trump is responding to the impeachment by seeking to develop a right-wing movement, the Demagogs are determined to avoid anything that would mobilize popular anger against Trump. In this sense, Trump displays a far greater grasp of political realities than his opponents, who are always looking over their shoulders, fearful of anything that will ignite the explosive social conflicts within Pindostan. This is why the impeachment inquiry is being conducted entirely behind closed doors and is confined to conflicts over imperialist foreign policy. It also explains the schizophrenic and hypocritical character of the Demagogs’ attitude to the Trump administration, which has alternated between hysterical denunciations of the president for undermining “national security” and functioning as an agent of the Putin government, with efforts to collaborate with Trump on critical elements of domestic policy.

However bitter their disagreements, all factions of the ruling class are agreed on the destruction of social programs, the assault on wages and benefits, the attack on immigrants, the destruction of democratic rights and the massive buildup of the military. In the midst of their conflicts, the Demagogs passed Trump’s record budget for defense spending and smoothed the way for his tax cuts for the wealthy. So long as the conflict is confined to the divisions within the ruling class, there can be no democratic or progressive outcome. Should the impeachment drive of the Demagogs fail, it will strengthen Trump’s political position. Should it succeed, it will elevate Trump’s factotum Pence to the presidency. Moreover, impeachment will actually strengthen the political influence of the CIA and FBI over the White House. It will legitimize a foreign policy based on an anti-Russia hysteria that will justify a dangerous confrontation with a nuclear-armed power. Either outcome represents an immense danger to the working class. The obsession of the Demagog Party and the media with Biden and Trump’s Ukraine phone call is a diversion. A mass movement for Trump’s removal requires that his real crimes be identified. Moreover, the defense of democratic rights must be clearly connected to the fight to advance the social interests of the working class, which comprises the overwhelming majority of the population. Trump must be removed for the following reasons:

  • Trump is utilizing the power of the presidency to create an unconstitutional and illegal dictatorship.
  • Trump is using the military to carry out his domestic policies, including the construction of a wall along the border.
  • Trump is threatening to stay in power beyond constitutionally mandated term limits and has indicated that he will not accept as legitimate an election that leads to his defeat.
  • Trump is instigating violence against his political opponents and politically encouraging fascistic individuals who have carried out acts of mass murder directed at immigrants and Jews.
  • Trump is persecuting immigrants and refugees, including through the erection of concentration camps on the Mexican border.
  • Trump is encouraging the violent actions of the police, which are responsible for the deaths of more than 1,000 Pindos every year.
  • Trump is threatening countries that defy Pindo dictates with annihilation, in violation of international and domestic law.
  • Trump is equating opposition to capitalism with treason, in violation of constitutionally protected freedom of speech.

The fight against the Trump administration and the defense of the most basic democratic rights is a fight against capitalism and Pindo imperialism, which must be conducted completely independent of and in opposition to the Demagog Party. Pindostan is at the epicenter of a global crisis. Everywhere, democratic forms of rule are breaking down. In Germany, 75 years after the fall of the Third Reich, fascism is again a dangerous political force. In France, the Macron government has instituted rule by decree against growing social unrest. Britain is ruled by the fascistic Boris Johnson. In Brazil and India, far-right and extreme nationalist governments are in power. Democratic rights are not compatible with a social system based on extreme inequality and endless war. The lesson of 1930s is that the fight against fascism and authoritarianism can be based only on an anti-capitalist and explicitly socialist program. The methods required in this fight are the methods of the class struggle, and its objective is the establishment of a workers’ government to radically redistribute the wealth, place the giant corporations and banks under the democratic control of working people, and implement a planned economy based on social need, not private profit. More than two years ago, we wrote:

Mass struggles are on the agenda in Pindostan. Protest rallies, demonstrations and strikes will tend to acquire a general nation-wide character. The political conclusion that flows from this analysis is that the fight of the working class against Trump and all that he represents will raise ever more urgently the necessity of a political mass movement, independent of and opposed to both the Thugs & the Demagogs, against the capitalist system and its state.

Mass struggles are no longer merely “on the agenda.” They have already begun and are intensifying. The past two years have seen many expressions of popular anger and working class opposition. The wave of teachers’ strikes in Pindostan over the past two years has been followed this year by the month-long strike by 48,000 GM workers, the longest strike of autoworkers in decades. As the trade unions have sought to shut down the GM strike, new strikes have been launched by 3,500 Mack Truck workers in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Florida, and 2,000 miners in Arizona and Texas. More than 20,000 teachers in Chicago could go on strike this week. Mass demonstrations and protests can bring down Trump and expose his reactionary demagogy for what it is. They must work toward a political general strike which will raise the question of political power. The organization of such a movement requires the formation of an interconnected network of popular workplace and neighborhood committees to unite all sections of the working class, in opposition to the efforts of the trade unions to isolate and suppress workers’ struggles. The fight against the Trump administration must be connected to the fight against social inequality, the destruction of social programs and infrastructure, the attack on jobs and wages, the terrible conditions facing an entire generation of young people, the vicious persecution of immigrant workers, the degradation of the environment, and the consequences of unending and expanding war, which threatens all of humanity. The opposition of workers and youth in Pindostan must be connected to the eruption of social struggles among workers throughout the world, who share the same interests and confront the same problems. This objective movement must be guided by a conscious socialist program and perspective.

MIA visits Julian Assange in prison: “It’s about truth, and that’s something people have to uphold and fight for”
Laura Tiernan, WSWS, Oct 14 2019

Singer and rap artist MIA visited Julian Assange at Belmarsh Prison on Saturday, calling for his freedom. He faces extradition to the United States under the Espionage Act, with charges that carry a 175-year prison term. MIA’s visit followed a brief court hearing Friday at Westminster Magistrates Court. Assange appeared via remote video-link to hear Judge Tam Ikram confirm his remand at the maximum-security prison while a Pindo extradition request is heard. He will appear in court again on Oct 21. Speaking at a press conference outside Belmarsh late Saturday afternoon, MIA (Sri Lankan-born Mathangi ‘Maya’ Arulpragasam) condemned Assange’s tormentors, indicting Pindo & British governments, the courts and the corporate media. MIA is a long-time friend and supporter of Assange. Asked about Assange’s condition, she replied:

I think when you know there are people outside who are criminals, and you are inside for advocating peace, while people that profit from war are outside, and celebrated and given Nobel peace prizes, that hurts. I think that’s hard for anyone.

Obama was awarded the Nobel prize in 2009 as his administration escalated Pindo military operations across the globe, including a drone assassination program he personally supervised. MIA explained that she and Julian had discussed conditions “for everyone” inside the prison “and the concept of freedom and what that really means.” A WSWS reporter asked MIA to comment on the UK government’s assertion that it “does not participate in or condone the use of torture.” The UK government last week rejected UN Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer’s findings (published May 31) that Assange is the victim of unprecedented state persecution and “psychological torture.” She responded:

I’ve been trying to get a yoga book to him for a month now, and I come here every week trying to hand it in, and it’s been impossible … To me that’s a very extreme method they are using, where you’re denying even reading books. I wasn’t able to take in sketchbooks where he could write thoughts or draw, and I haven’t been able to take puzzles which might help stimulate the mind. I first thought that maybe all prisoners were treated like that, where they’re not able to have some sort of dignity and own the space between their ears and have that mental freedom … I can sympathise with people who feel that he’s been treated unfairly. I think there is an element of discrimination.

Asked for her opinion on media coverage of Assange, MIA said:

I think there should be more, given that now we know the truth and that the debate is about extradition to Pindostan. It’s no longer about all the other things people have accused him of. Now it’s about truth, and that’s something people have to uphold and fight for, especially in these years.

MIA replied forthrightly to a question about bogus sexual misconduct allegations against Assange in Sweden:

It’s now really about extraditing Julian to Pindostan. I wish there was more emphasis given to that truth and people really making a statement about that. The basic bottom line is he’s in there because he exposed some war crimes and he just campaigned for peace. This cannot be the example. We can’t make that an example to society where we penalise people for that and not a single person has been convicted for the financial crisis of 2008. Nobody has been convicted for the war crimes before then of the Bush era, no one’s been convicted from the Obama era and everything the Demagogs did. Nothing has happened legally, so why trust the legal system, that hasn’t come through on any of those things?

MIA’s press conference was boycotted by the major news networks and the BBC, despite having been widely advertised. Only Sputnik and Ruptly published live footage. A PA report was picked up by the Independent and the Belfast Telegraph, while the Daily Mail carried a report that recycled false and defamatory statements about Assange. Its headline set the tone:

Singer MIA becomes Julian Assange’s latest celebrity supporter.

MIA has defended Assange for years and is herself an outspoken opponent of imperialist war and oppression. In Nov 2013, she opened her concert in NYC with a 10-minute address from Assange via video livestream. He used his appearance to champion the cause of Edward Snowden. He warned of the dangers of the NSA’s spying operations and urged MIA’s fans to become politically aware and active in seeking to change the world for the better. On Saturday, MIA explained:

I support Julian because I think someone like this is valuable to society because of his knowledge about so many different things. I try not to be prejudiced in a time where things change and evolve at such a fast rate. People’s values are changing, people’s beliefs are changing, the political climate is changing, the social climate is changing, the financial situation is changing, and throughout all of this change, we’re so constricting this man.

MIA concluded her press conference by urging attendance at an event for Assange being staged with fellow rap artist Lowkey outside the UK Home Office on Nov 5. The free event follows last month’s live performance outside the same building by Roger Waters that saw hundreds gather to show their support for the WikiLeaks founder.

Prominent parliamentarian declares extradition of Julian Assange “totally unreasonable”
James Cogan, WSWS, Oct 14 2019

In comments to reporters over the past 24-hours, Australian parliamentarian Barnaby Joyce, the former leader of the rural-based National Party and one-time deputy prime minister, opposed the extradition of Australian citizen and WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange to Pindostan to face charges of espionage. Joyce stated:

If a person is residing in Australia and commits a crime in another country, I don’t believe that that is a position for extradition. If they weren’t actually there, that is a question for Australian law. We have to follow the principle, even if we don’t have regard for the person. It would be totally unreasonable, for instance, if China were to say the actions of an Australian citizen while in Australia made them liable to extradition to China to answer their charges, of their laws, in China.

Joyce’s statements on the case of Julian Assange have a significance that goes far beyond his past or current status within the Australian establishment. They reflect anxiety in both political and media circles that the widespread disquiet over their collaboration in the Pindo-led persecution of an Australian citizen is going to burgeon into public anger over the coming weeks and months. Assange is being held in solitary confinement and harsh conditions in the maximum-security Belmarsh prison in London. His family members and high-profile supporters who have been able to visit him are making strident warnings that his psychological and physical state is deteriorating. His father John Shipton stated this month:

His health has been declining and has reached a point where he may die.

Millions of people in Australia and around the world know that the only reason Julian Assange is being persecuted is because WikiLeaks published information that exposed war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as sordid diplomatic intrigues and shameless political corruption. On Feb 25 next year, Assange is scheduled to be hauled before a British court which will decide whether to comply with the request filed by the Trump administration’s Justice Department for his extradition to Pindostan. He will not get a fair hearing. The judge that has been assigned to the case is Emma Arbuthnot. Her husband, House of Lords member James Norwich Arbuthnot, is intimately connected with the British armed forces and security services, whose criminal operations were exposed by WikiLeaks. Her hostility to Assange and WikiLeaks is well-known. If Assange is extradited, there is no possibility that he would get a fair trial in Pindostans. For years, he was demonised and vilified by the Obama administration and throughout the Pindo media. The Trump administration labelled WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service” in Feb 2017 after it published “Vault 7,” a vast mass of leaked information revealing how the CIA has software it uses to hack into phones, computers, smart televisions and even vehicle operating systems. The Pindo state apparatus is determined to condemn Assange to life imprisonment or worse in order to threaten publishers and journalists, everywhere in the world, not to even think about exposing Pindo imperialist crimes. There will be escalating protests and other political action in defence of Assange in the UK, Pindostan and especially in Australia. The issues raised by Barnaby Joyce go to the heart of the undeniable responsibility of the government in Canberra to use all possible diplomatic and legal means to protect Assange from the Pindo vendetta, secure his immediate release from imprisonment in the UK and arrange his return to his home country.

Assange was not in Pindostan in 2010 when WikiLeaks, in partnership with major newspapers around the world, published leaked information that exposed Pindo criminality and intrigue, the actions for which Pindostan has charged him and is seeking to extradite him from the UK. Under Australian law, Assange has committed no crime. In 2010, the Greens-backed Labor government headed by Julia Gillard ordered a top-level investigation as to whether Assange could be charged. It advised that he could not. WikiLeaks and its international media partners did not steal, hack or conspire to obtain the information. Assange and WikiLeaks insisted from 2010 that the sole agenda behind an attempt to extradite him to Sweden, purportedly to answer “questions” over allegations of sexual assault for which he had not even been charged, was to engineer his extradition to Pindostan. They argued this case all the way to the highest court in Britain, which upheld the Swedish extradition warrant in a gross miscarriage of justice in Jun 2012. The Australian government did not intervene once. Instead, unable to prosecute Assange, Gillard’s Labor government repudiated its responsibility to defend an Australian citizen from blatant political slander and persecution. On Jun 17 2012 Assange sought sanctuary in Ecuador’s embassy in London, whose government recognised and granted his right to political asylum. He did so because he feared for his life and had been denied any protection or support from the Australian government. The Ecuadorian government betrayed Assange and handed him over to the UK on Apr 11 this year. He was convicted on the charge of absconding on his bail conditions in 2012, and given a vindictive 50 weeks’ sentence of imprisonment and remand. The custodial time of that sentence ended on Sep 22. The only reason Assange is being kept in Belmarsh is because a British judge declared he is a “flight risk” before the Feb 2020 extradition trial. Assange is a political prisoner who is being detained so a legal charade can occur before he is handed over for personal destruction by the Pindo state apparatus.

For years, the Australian establishment have attempted to suppress and censor any discussion about Assange and the immense issues of democratic rights that it poses. His case has generally only been reported in the media to slander him and undermine his popular support. The basic truth is that the Australian ruling class do not want to raise a word about Assange because opposing his persecution would cause friction and tensions with Faschingstein. As Joyce suggested, if the Chinese government treated an Australian journalist in the manner that Assange is being treated, Canberra would be under pressure from every quarter to make the most strident diplomatic protest. Every media publication and parliamentary party from Labor & the Lib-Nat Coalition to the Greens and self-styled “independents” has thrown an Australian citizen to the wolves to avoid “problems” for the strategic and military alliance with Pindostan. The trade unions, civil liberties’ organisations and pseudo-left groupings all fell into line with the pro-Pindo stance of the establishment and abandoned any posture that they defended Assange and freedom of speech. Barnaby Joyce admitted this morning what has been the situation since 2010. The attempt to extradite Julian Assange is a flagrant attack on his rights as an Australian citizen. The only social force that can be relied upon to defend Assange and democratic rights is the working class. Morrison’s government must be compelled by political protest and industrial action to cease its collaboration with Faschingstein. Canberra must be forced to exercise its diplomatic power and the legal discretion to secure Assange’s immediate and unconditional release from a British prison. To clear the way for Assange to return to Australia, if he chooses to do so, he must be given a public guarantee by both parties that any application by the Pindo DoJ to extradite him will be rejected out of hand.

the ECB has no capital of its own, it’s a mere facade

Conflict erupts over ECB’s return to “quantitative easing”
Nick Beams, WSWS, Oct 14 2019

A bitter conflict, characterised by one leading banking economist as a “War of the Roses” has broken out in European banking and financial circles over last month’s decision by the ECB to further loosen its monetary policy. At its meeting on Sep 12, the ECB’s governing council decided to send its base interest rate further into negative territory. It is reducing the rate from -0.4% to -0.5% and resuming its €2.6t asset purchasing program, after a hiatus of nine months, at the rate of €20b/month. There was an immediate response. Reflecting the long-standing opposition to the quantitative easing policies in German financial circles, the Bild tabloid depicted the outgoing ECB president Mario Draghi as “Count Draghila”—a vampire, sucking dry the investments of savers. This has been a continuing theme of this section of the press. On this occasion, however, it received support from higher levels. The day after the meeting, Klaus Knot, the head of the Dutch national bank, issued a statement calling the ECB’s actions “excessive.” Jens Weidmann, president of Germany’s Bundesbank said Draghi was “overshooting the mark” and Robert Holzmann, the head of Austria’s central bank, said the decision was a “possible mistake.”

Two weeks after the decision, the rift over the ECB decision was highlighted by the decision of the German representative, Sabine Lautenschläger, to resign from the ECB’s executive board. A known opponent of a further easing of monetary policy, her term did not expire until 2022. According to the initial reports of the September meeting, as many as nine members of the 25-member governing council spoke out against the decision. The extent of the opposition has been confirmed in the minutes of the meeting released last week. These show that while there was broad agreement on the need to take action to counter the ongoing slowdown in the eurozone economy, there was significant opposition to the package announced by Draghi. Most of the opposition centred on the decision to resume bond purchases. The minutes recorded that “a number of members” argued that the case for such action was “not sufficiently strong.” In announcing the decision, Draghi told a news conference there was a “clear majority” in favour of the measures,” and that an “ample degree of monetary accommodation” was needed to ensure 2% inflation over the medium term. However, it has since emerged that the decision to restart the bond-buying program was taken over the objections of ECB officials. Three members of the ECB’s governing council leaked the contents of a letter sent to Draghi by the central bank’s monetary policy committee days before the decision which advised against the resumption of asset purchases. Reporting on the leak last week, the Financial Times said:

Opponents of Draghi’s loose monetary policy fight a rearguard action to put pressure on Christine Lagarde for her to change course after she takes over at the ECB on Nov 1.

It is not the first time the committee’s advice has not been followed, but it is a relatively rare occurrence. The ECB did not officially comment on the leak but the ECB vice-president Luis de Guindos called for internal critics on the governing council not to make public their dissent, saying:

There are 25 of us, and for sure there are sometimes different views, but when a decision is taken by a clear majority, it is important to defend it. It would be much better if we tried to reduce the level of surrounding noise.

However, in view of the widening differences, the “noise” level seems certain to rise, not decrease. This is because there is a deepening rift over the direction of monetary policy in view of its failure to provide a real boost to the eurozone economy. Pointing last week to the intensification of the conflict, Carsten Brzeski, chief economist for Germany at ING, said:

The ECB seems to be in the middle of a War of the Roses. Christine Lagarde’s first task as new ECB president will be to fix the rift.

The widening divisions make that a tall order. The extent of the gap was highlighted by a statement signed by former German, Austrian, Dutch and French central bankers earlier this month. It said the loose monetary policy of the ECB was based on “the wrong diagnosis” and risked eroding the ECB’s independence. The statement reflected long-standing opposition within German financial circles to the ECB bond-buying program on the grounds that it is not legal. It said:

As former central bankers and as European citizens, we are witnessing the ECB’s ongoing crisis mode with growing concern. The ECB essentially justified its ultra-loose policy in 2014 by the threat of deflation. However, there has never been any danger of a deflationary spiral and the ECB itself has seen less and less of a threat for some time. This weakens its logic in aiming for a higher inflation rate. The ECB’s monetary policy is therefore based on a wrong diagnosis… From an economic point of view, the ECB has already entered the territory of monetary financing of government spending, which is strictly prohibited by the Treaty. Suspicion that behind this measure lies an intent to protect heavily-indebted governments from a rise in interest rates is becoming increasingly well-founded. There have been numerous claims emanating from German financial and political circles that the ECB makes policies that favour southern European countries and involve a redistribution of wealth.

The statement said negative interest rates would only “favour the owners of real assets” and “create serious social tensions.” It warned that lowering interest rates on safe investments such as government bonds had longer-term consequences for financial stability, noting:

The search for yield boosts artificially the price of assets to a level that ultimately threatens to result in an abrupt market correction or even a sharp crisis.

In a comment published in the Financial Times yesterday, Draghi’s predecessor Jean-Claude Trichet disagreed with the memorandum, writing:

I see success, continuity, unprecedented challenges and a question about the limitations of monetary policy.

He claimed that as a result of the ECB policies, in response to the worst financial crisis since the second world war, “resilience was assured.” In contrast to Trichet’s measured tone, the level of the underlying tensions was indicated in a blistering editorial published in the same newspaper on Oct 6. Characterising the statement as a “roar of the dinosaurs,” it said:

There is only one thing that could match the hollowness of the complainants and that is the hollowness of their complaint. Their memorandum reveals them as the Bourbons of central banking: they have learned nothing and forgotten nothing … If the history of the euro and the global economy demonstrates anything, it is that the true risk both to the eurozone economy and the ECB’s mandate is a policy that is too tight, not one that is excessively loose … The ECB’s hard money dogma reflects a deeper disagreement that predates the euro, over whether Europe is governed in Germany’s image or Germany in Europe’s.

The editorial pointed out that low interest rates are a global phenomenon, as is the economic slowdown, with central banks keeping rates at historic lows.

The Federal Reserve has reversed its tightening, and thinks it may have gone too far in selling off bonds bought in quantitative easing. If the signatories are right, it is not just the ECB but the entire outside world that is mistaken.

However, this is not a refutation of the claim that the supply of endless amounts of cash to the financial markets contains within it the seeds of another financial crisis. It merely points to the inherent contradictions in the policies of the ECB and the other major central banks. A decade of so-called “unconventional monetary policies” has failed to bring about a genuine revival of economic growth. The low-interest rate regime has not led to increased capital investment and industrial expansion but has only created the conditions for another financial meltdown. This is because by lowering the yield on government bonds and other more secure financial assets, the monetary policies of the world’s central banks have promoted the search for yield through investments in ever riskier financial assets. Those are likely to be the first hit in a global recession, the signs of which are becoming ever more evident.

Pindostan & China reach limited trade deal
Nick Beams, WSWS, Oct 12 2019

Pindostan & China have reached a partial and very limited agreement on trade following talks held in Washington on Thursday and Friday. It provides for a pullback by Pindostan of a tariff hike on $250b worth of Chinese goods that had been threatened for next week. In return China has increased purchases of Pindo agricultural products and agreed on the need for stabilization of the Chinese currency. The limited agreement was described by Trump as a “substantial phase one deal” following a meeting yesterday with Chinese vice-premier and chief trade negotiator Liu He at the White House. The full text will be finalised in discussions between Pindo & Chinese boxtops over the next five weeks. China has agreed to purchase an additional $40b to $50b worth of Pindo agricultural products, and gave a commitment to further open its economy to the operation of international financial services. It has also agreed to tighten control of intellectual property in response to continuous Pindo allegations of theft. In addition, the two sides reported progress on other matters without providing details, including intellectual property and currency movements. No agreement was finalised on a pact to deal with currency manipulation, but Steven Mnuchin said discussions were “almost complete.” The reaching of a deal is the result of a shift by the Trump administration. In the lead up to the talks, Trump made clear on numerous occasions that he was not inclined to make a limited agreement, and preferred a big deal or not one at all. But facing the possibility of a sharp fall on markets if negotiations had broken down and amid the ongoing pressure created by the Demagogs’ impeachment investigation, Trump appears to have decided to claim a win. The markets responded enthusiastically, with the Dow up 500 points at one point during the day before finishing up by more than 300 points.

For all the celebrations on Wall Street, however, the agreement is very limited, described by one financial analyst in a comment to the Financial Times as “cosmetic.” While China will make additional purchases of agricultural products, they may not even reach the level attained before the trade conflict broke out. Overall, the Chinese concessions have been described as “relatively minor,” essentially a repackaging of measures it had agreed to in previous rounds of talks. Pindostan has made little movement. None of the existing tariffs will be removed or even reduced. The major component of deal is the Pindo decision to suspend the threatened hike in tariffs on $250b worth of Chinese goods from 25% to 30%, which had been set to take effect next week. At this point, the agreement does not appear to include the withdrawal of a 15% tariff on more than $150b worth of Chinese consumer products, scheduled to come into effect on Dec 15. Major areas of conflict have not been included. The deal does not cover the Commerce Dept’s actions against Huawei and other Chinese technology firms that have been placed on the department’s “entity list.” This means that companies have to apply for a licence to supply these firms with components, with the presumption that it will not be granted. In discussions with Pres Xi Jingping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in June, Trump agreed to ease the restrictions on Huawei. So far, however, no licences have been signed. The agreement makes no move towards resolving the core issues that Pindostan laid out at the start of the conflict in May 2018. These centre on its opposition to the state subsidies to major Chinese firms and the development of new technologies as part of the “Made in China 2025” program of the Xi regime. Key sections of the Pindo military intelligence apparatus have made it clear, particularly over the last year as the trade war has escalated, that they regard China’s technological development as an existential threat to the economic and military dominance of Pindostan. This is reflected in the escalation of bans and restrictions on Huawei and other Chinese high-tech firms, coupled with a push by the administration to secure allies in the China conflict.

Speaking at a meeting in Australia this week, as the trade talks went ahead in Faschingstein, Commerce Sec Wilbur Ross made a pitch for Australian support on the basis that when investment was taken into account, Pindostan rather than China was Australia’s most important economic partner. Ross said Pindostan was addressing “fundamental issues” in its relationship with China. He repeated accusations that China engaged in forced technology transfers, cyber intrusions and intellectual property theft, and that it distorted international markets through the payment of industrial subsidies to state-owned enterprises. None of these key issues has been touched in the interim agreement, and they will be the subject of what Trump has called phase 2. It remains to be seen how the most strident anti-China hawks in the administration will react to yesterday’s agreement. But it falls far short of what figures such as Peter Navarro have been advocating. This week the WSJ cited a memo prepared by the Hudson Institute’s Michael Pillsbury who advises the administration on its China policy. The memo outlined a series of measures aimed at restricting or denying China’s access to Pindo capital markets and restricting its growth. The recommendations included limiting investments in pension funds, developing legislation to deny China access to Pindo capital, advancing relations with Taiwan and backing legislation to impose sanctions in response to Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea. Such measures may be on the back burner for now, at least in the period leading up to the signing by Trump and Xi of the “phase one” agreement expected to take place next month. However, once this truce is over, all the key issues in the conflict will come to the surface.

XR getting zapped in london but plans huge demo next saturday (the 19th)

Mass arrests continue in London and other cities in global XR protests
Robert Stevens, WSWS, Oct 14 2019

Police have arrested over 1,300 Extinction Rebellion (XR) climate protestors in London after the first seven days of a planned 14 days of protests. London is the focal point of a globally coordinated series of protests in 23 cities around the world. XR is seeking to raise public awareness of global warming and climate change, while demanding policy changes from the world’s governments. During the first days of protests, nearly 400 people were arrested across three continents in Amsterdam, Vienna, Madrid, Melbourne, Sydney, Wellington, New York, Olympia, Toronto and Halifax. On Saturday, police stepped up repression, arresting up to 300 XR protesters in Brussels, after first brutally attacking them with water cannon and pepper spray. Reuters reported:

The climate change activists had gathered in front of the Royal Palace in the city center, disrupting traffic. Police declined to give a precise number of arrests but a Reuters cameraman saw between 250-300 protesters being led away.

Specialist “protest removal teams” of police have been mobilised from across the UK, including 100 from Scotland, to bolster the thousands already ranged against protesters in the capital. The Met has increased shift teams and cancelled other police work to confront the protesters. There are reports of police officers sleeping in cars and vans in order to maintain numbers to deal with the protesters. By Sunday afternoon, police had arrested 1,309 protesters in London, an average of 187 per day. This is already more than the 1,130 detained in the first wave of XR demonstrations in April. Such has been the frenzy to make arrests that even the 63-year-old Princess Marie-Esmeralda of Belgium was swept up in the dragnet and detained for five hours at Camden police station. The Guardian reported:

She is thought to live in London and works as a journalist, author and documentary film-maker.

The princess is the daughter of King Leopold III and the Princess of Rethy, and was born at the Chateau du Stuyvenberg in Brussels. She showed the media her police release letter listing her name as Esmarelda De Belgique, which warned the police may need to speak to her again as “the matter is not concluded.” Last Wednesday, Metropolitan Commissioner Cressida Dick warned in a video:

We have arrested more than 600 protesters in the last two days… If you act unlawfully we will arrest you and we will seize things that you are using to obstruct the highways in London.

The Metropolitan Police are not allowing XR protesters to gather at 12 selected sites across the capital but only in Trafalgar Square. Dick threatened:

If you want to protest, you can go to the middle of Trafalgar Square. If you are protesting in the other sites, you are acting unlawfully. We will arrest you. I imagine you will go to court and you are very likely to get a criminal record.

Dick’s video was followed up Thursday by one from a custody inspector at Brixton police station in south London in which he emphasised that coming mass arrests would not be a problem for the Met. Smirking to the camera, the inspector said:

We haven’t run out of cell capacity. We’ve had a lot of detainees in and it has been busy, but we’ve got plenty of cells here at Brixton and loads more across the whole of the Met estate. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of room for everyone.

On Friday, ahead of this week’s XR protests in London, the Met boasted:

We are a large organisation with thorough contingency plans regarding cell capacity.

There is a growing body of evidence showing that the police are taking a harder line than they did in the April protests. The Met refer to the XR protests on their website as the “Autumn Uprising.” In the interim since April the right-wing Policy Exchange think tank issued a report, “Extremism Rebellion,” calling for a clampdown on protesters. It made a recommendation, backed by politicians and the right-wing media, that they be prosecuted using the full force of the law. One of the report’s authors, Richard Walton, is a former head of the Met’s Counter-Terrorism Command. From the start of the latest protests, police used scissors to cut people out of tents along Whitehall. Police shifted people to Trafalgar Square, with those refusing to move arrested and carted off to police cells. More than 80 tonnes of equipment used by demonstrators in central London was seized by the Met this week, including tents, portable toilets and generators. One protester, Larch Maxey, complained that police broke his finger “like a carrot.” Maxey said:

I was carrying scaffolding into Trafalgar Square when police just pounced on me, and one of them just decided to grasp my index finger really forcefully and snap it.

On Friday, legal environment charity Plan B wrote to the Met commissioner about “numerous instances of human rights violations” by the police. These included:

  • Armed police, carrying rifles, stopping members of Extinction Rebellion and ordering them to put their hands in the air;
  • Breaking the finger of a peaceful protestor;
  • A plain clothes police officer attempting to incite violence in the crowd;
  • Arbitrary and aggressive use of stop and search powers;
  • Treading on protestors and dragging protestors;
  • Forcefully removing tents without checking whether children or others were inside;
  • Seizing portaloos, nappies, food, cooking equipment and disability ramps under the pretext that such items were needed in “evidence”;
  • Cyber-attacks on social-media assets;
  • Failing to investigate evidence in favour of the protestors;
  • Ignoring CPS guidance on policing peaceful protest.

The mass arrests and increasingly aggressive action against peaceful protesters are a naked display of state repression designed to intimidate and silence political and social opposition among much broader layers. Further draconian clampdowns on XR protesters and legislation aimed at criminalising the right to protest are being pushed through by governments of all stripes hit by the protests of climate change protesters in the last year. The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday:

The government is planning legislation that would make it easier for police to restrict protests if they threaten “serious disruption” and to curb repeat offenders by imposing banning orders. It would also increase penalties for public order offences such as obstruction of a highway. It is thought ministers are eyeing the reforms for the Conservative manifesto.

The rewrite of the criteria for what is deemed “serious disruption” in order to restrict or ban protests is backed by the police; the newspaper cited a “senior source” as saying:

The main change needed is this ridiculous definition of serious disruption. If you cannot evidentially demonstrate a threat of serious disruption, you cannot place restrictions on static protests.

Mike Penning, the Minister of State for the Armed Forces and a former justice minister in the 2010-2015 Cameron Tory government, said:

There has to be a sanction between a caution and court action that says if you persist then that is a breach and you could have a custodial sentence … There has to be a deterrent rather than repeated arrests being seen as a badge of honour.

In Australia, Liberal Home Sec Peter Dutton and Employment Sec Michaelia Cash are examining ways to cut off welfare payments to protesters. In the state of Queensland, Labor Party premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is pushing legislation to allow severe penalties for protesters, including sentences of up to two years in prison or fines of up to $6,500 for anyone using a locking device to fix themselves to roads, rail lines and machinery. While these are ostensibly aimed at the growing number of climate change and environmental protests, all such authoritarian measures are ultimately targeted against a resurgence in struggles against government repression by the working class internationally.

more on syria

As Turkey Advances, Syrian Army Moves to Confront Invasion
Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com, Oct 13 2019

The Turkish military and its rebel allies are reporting more progress, and are advancing deeper into northern Syria. Though they previously promised to keep the offensive confined to 30 km from the border, there is growing concern that they’ll move further ultimately. In reaction, the Syrian Army has begun deploying further north to potentially confront the Turkish advance. Though Syrian state media did not say where the Syrian troops were going, subsequent reports put them in Kobane and Manbij. In Aleppo Province, the siege of Kurdish Kobane by Daesh was a major issue earlier in the war, and being right on the border it’s well within Turkey’s war goals. Manbij, a bigger and more important city, would clearly be a high priority for Turkey and its rebels, but falls at least partially beyond the 30 km safezone, meaning it’s a grey area how far Turkey will actually go. Syria had already said they were intending to resist Turkey, but had suggested they weren’t interested in working with the Kurds, terming them “agents of Washington.” This seems to have changed, however, with recent reports that negotiations have been held on a Russian airbase inside Syria. Though Pindo arms have turned the Kurdish SDF into a substantial faction, it doesn’t seem likely they could seriously resist a Turkish invasion. Though the Syrian military is potentially in a better position to slow them down, it seems inevitable that both sides will want to coordinate amid this big conflict.

Syria & Iran threaten counter-attack against Turkish invasion of Syria
Alex Lantier, WSWS, Oct 14 2019

The war unleashed by Turkey’s invasion of Syria, targeting formerly US-backed Kurdish forces, escalated out of control this weekend, as the Syrian army and Iran moved to counterattack. With Turkish troops and AQ-allied militias advancing deep into Kurdish-held territory in Syria, the Middle East is only days away from all-out war between the major regional powers that could trigger a global conflict between nuclear-armed world powers. UN reports show 130,000 Syrians have fled their homes in the region amid the Turkish offensive, and Turkish boxtops claimed they had “neutralized” at least 415 Kurdish fighters. Turkish troops seized the cities of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn amid heavy fighting including ongoing Turkish air raids, and seized a road crossing that cut off Pindo and Kurdish troops in Kobani. Turkish troops also fired artillery at Pindo troops near Kobani in what Brett McGurk said was “not a mistake.” Turkish officials later denied this. Turkey’s Syrian “rebel” allies the SNA, formerly the FSA, are executing Kurdish civilians in areas they hold, according to multiple reports. Kurdish politician Hevrin Khalaf was executed. Her bullet-riddled car appeared in a video surrounded by SNA fighters, speaking of whom the Telegraph noted:

Their main outlook is sectarian: they are anti-Kurdish and they are Arab chauvinists.

Yesterday evening, the Syrian army announced it would march on the area. SANA reported:

SAA units began moving north to confront Turkish aggression on Syrian territory. … The movement comes to confront the ongoing Turkish aggression on towns and areas in the north of Hasaka and Raqqa provinces, where the Turkish forces committed massacres against locals, occupied some areas and destroyed infrastructure.

The SAA has reportedly reached an agreement with the SDF, whose alliance with Pindostan was broken by the latter a week ago. Under this agreement, SAA troops would reach the city of Kobani near the Syrian-Turkish border in 48 hours. On Saturday, Trump authorized the remaining 1,000 Pindo troops in Kobani to withdraw, and they were in full retreat across northern Syria this weekend to avoid being cut off by advancing Turkish troops. Iran indicated it would support the SAA. Ali Akbar Velayati met with Syrian Ambassador to Iran Adnan Mahmoud yesterday in Tehran, and gave Iran’s “full support to Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, calling for the withdrawal of the Turkish forces.” Velayati added:

The principled policy of Iran is based on supporting the people and government of Syria and defending their righteous stances in a way that entails continuing joint cooperation until terrorism and terrorist organizations are completely eliminated.

At the same time, military tensions between Iran and the Toads are surging amid mutual attacks on tankers carrying Persian Gulf oil supplies that are critical to the world economy. Last month, the US and Saudi governments blamed a Sep 14 missile attack on Toad oil facilities that caused a sharp rise in world oil prices on Iran, without providing any evidence. Then on Oct 11, two missiles hit the Iranian tanker Sabiti off Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast. Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the Iranian Supreme NSC, said yesterday that Iran would retaliate against unnamed targets for the attack on the Sabiti. Shamkhani told Fars News:

A special committee has been set up to investigate the attack on Sabiti. Its report will soon be submitted to the authorities for decision. Piracy and mischief on international waterways aimed at making commercial shipping insecure will not go unanswered.

Toad boxtops declined to comment on the Sabiti attack, and the Pindo Fifth Fleet in Bahrain claimed to have no information on it, but there is widespread speculation in the international media that the attack was carried out by the Toads or with their support. The conflicts erupting between the different capitalist regimes in the Middle East pose an imminent threat not only to the population of the region but to the entire world. Workers can give no support to any of the competing military plans and strategic appetites of these reactionary regimes. With Pindostan, Eurostan, Russia and China all deeply involved in the proxy war in Syria, a large-scale Middle East war could strangle the world oil supply and escalate into war between nuclear-armed powers. The working class is coming face to face with the real possibility of a Third World War. The Kurdish-led SDF militias in Syria, vastly outgunned by Turkish forces and vulnerable to air strikes, warned Pindo boxtops in talks leaked by CNN that they would appeal for Russia to attack Turkey and protect SDF and Syrian army forces. As Turkey is legally a NATO ally of Pindostan & Eurostan, such an attack could compel them to either break the 70-year-old NATO alliance or go to war with Russia to protect Turkey. SDF General Mazloum Kobani Abdi told Pindo boxtops in a meeting last Thursday:

You are leaving us to be slaughtered. You are not willing to protect the people, but you do not want another force to come and protect us. You have sold us.

Mazloum dismissed Pindo demands the SDF not cut a deal with Russia but instead keep taking huge casualties from Turkish air raids, saying:

I need to know if you are capable of protecting my people, of stopping these bombs falling on us or not. I need to know, because if you’re not, I need to make a deal with Russia and the regime now and invite their planes to protect this region.

Pindo forces across Syria were in full retreat, and Sec Def Esper told Pindo television news yesterday:

The fighting gets worse by the hour. Given the attempts by the Kurds to work out an alliance with Syria and Russia, the president has directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria. I will not place Pindo service-members in the middle of a long-standing conflict between the Turks and the Kurds. This is not why we are in Syria.

Esper said the Turkish army was rejecting the Pentagon’s appeals for a ceasefire with the Kurds and instead expanding its war aims inside Syria. he said:

In the last 24 hours, we learned that they likely intend to expand their attack further south than originally planned, and to the west.

Wsper added that “all the exact things” that Pindo boxtops had warned their Turkish counterparts would likely happen, if they invaded Syria, were now taking place, including the release of tens of thousands of Daesh fighters held in prison camps by the SDF. What is unfolding in the Middle East is a bloody debacle produced by three decades of imperialist wars waged by Faschingstein and its Euro vassals since the 1991 Gulf War in Iraq. Their inflaming of national, ethnic and sectarian divisions in an attempt to divide and rule this oil-rich region has placed it on the brink of an all-out conflagration. Former Pindo vassals across the region are turning against Faschingstein amid deep discrediting of these wars and of the entire capitalist political order among hundreds of millions of people in the Middle East, Pindostan and Europe. RFI journalists along the Syrian border inside Turkey reported intense anger at Pindo foreign policy among Turkish civilians and soldiers. One told RFI:

The Pindostanis do not fear God. They trust in their own strength. But they take 15 hours to arrive here by plane, and to do what? They interfere in our affairs and act like a fighter who only fights those he knows he can defeat. When they face a strong opponent, they run away.

The only force giving a progressive expression to this elemental anger against imperialist war is the international working class and the resurgence of the class struggle. Mass protests against the Pindo-backed regime in Iraq and the military dictatorships in Algeria and Sudan, and an escalating strike movement among Pindo autoworkers, teachers and miners testify to the growing radicalization of the working class. However, this international movement faces enormous dangers and enormous tasks. To the extent that this growing anger is diverted behind the national ambitions and military staffs of the competing capitalist nation states, truly catastrophic global wars can break out, as they did twice in the 20th century. It is critical to mobilize the workers independently of all the warring capitalist states, in an international antiwar movement of the working class fighting for socialism.

some absolutely up to date false news from the groan

Kurds reach deal with Damascus in face of Turkish offensive
Bethan McKernan, Groan, Oct 13 2019

AKÇAKALE – Kurdish-led forces in control of north-east Syria have reached a deal with the Assad regime to stave off a bloody five-day-old Turkish assault, as more than 700 people with links to Daesh have escaped from a detention camp in the area. Kurds controlling the region would surrender the border towns of Manbij and Kobane to Damascus in a deal brokered by Russia, they said on Sunday night. Syria said army units were moving north to “confront Turkish aggression on Syrian territory.” Unconfirmed reports said their deal with the Kurds would be extended to apply to the whole of north-east Syria. Ismat Sheikh Hassan, the leader of the military council in Kobane, told local television:

After everything, it seems that the fate of the Kurdish people has come. We did everything that we could, we called upon the international community … but it did not result in a solution. We urged all Kurds to show solidarity, but no one listened.

The deal is likely to be a bitter end to five years of semi-autonomy for Kurdish groups in north-east Syria, forced by Ankara’s offensive on the area. Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring started on Wednesday after Pres Trump’s announcement that Pindo forces would withdraw from the region. Sunday Sec Def Esper said the remaining 1,000 troops in the country had been ordered to leave “as safely and quickly as possible.” Trump’s decision to abandon the SDF to an inevitable Turkish assault has been widely criticised even by his staunchest allies as a betrayal of a Pindo vassal which has unleashed to a humanitarian disaster and threatens to sow the seeds of Daesh’s resurgence amid the chaos. On Sunday, at least 750 people with suspected links to Daesh reportedly fled a displacement camp in north-east Syria. France voiced its concern at the report. Government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye told France 3 television:

I do not know, today, who exactly the people are who fled from the camp; it has been a worry for France since the beginning of this armed intervention.

France has been hit by a wave of jihadist attacks since 2015, many claimed or inspired by Isis, and has expressed concerns that a Turkish assault would bolster the group. On Monday, the French presidency said in a statement it was taking measures to protect its personnel inside Syria. the statement said:

Measures will be taken in the coming hours to ensure the safety of French military and civilian personnel present in the zone as part of the international coalition fighting Daesh and humanitarian action.

The women and children formerly part of the “caliphate” had been held in a secure annexe at the Ain Issa camp. They began to riot and scared away the guards after Turkish shelling struck close to the area on Sunday, said Abdulkader Mwahed, the joint president for humanitarian affairs in the Kurdish-held part of Syria. The SOHR (ie MI6 – RB) put the number to have escaped at 100, publishing pictures of men, women in black niqabs and small children running through yellow scrubland. The camp was home to a total of about 13,000 people, including three suspected British orphans and a British recruiter for Daesh, Tooba Gondal. Erdoğan’s stated goal is to create a 20-mile-deep “safe zone” on its border with the SDF, enough to keep Turkish border towns out of the range of shelling and rocket fire. However, Ain Issa and other Kurdish-held roads and towns south of the proposed safe zone have been hit by airstrikes and shelling. Syrian rebel proxies fighting on behalf of Turkey were pushing south and refused to allow the town of Manbij to fall into regime hands, a fighter with the Syrian National Army (SNA) rebel umbrella group said, reporting that Turkey had begun shelling the SDF-held town west of the Euphrates. A convoy of 40 armoured Turkish trucks travelled into Syria from the Jarablus border crossing to reinforce the Turkish offensive, another military source said. Speaking on Sunday, Erdoğan rejected offers for mediation with the SDF and criticised NATO for standing by what Turkey considers to be a terrorist organisation. He also dismissed the reports of escaped Isis prisoners as “disinformation” aimed at provoking Pindostan and other western countries. About 130,000 people have been displaced in Syria in the five-day-old operation so far, with at least 60 civilian casualties in Syria and 18 dead in Turkey after SDF shelled Turkish border towns in a reprisal. The SNA summarily executed nine civilians including a female politician, a human rights monitor has claimed. The umbrella group said it had ordered an investigation and commanders were to “continuously supervise combatants on the frontlines to prevent any abuse.”

here’s a freebie from the nyt

Hundreds of Daesh Supporters Flee Detention Amid Turkish Airstrikes
Carlotta Gall, Patrick Kingsley, Ben Hubbard, Hwaida Saad, Iliana Magra, NYT, Oct 13 2019
Reporting from Akcakale, Istanbul, Dohuk, Faschingstein, Beirut and London.

AKCAKALE, Turkey — Hundreds of relatives of Daesh fighters fled a Kurdish-run detention camp on Sunday morning after Turkish airstrikes hit the surrounding area. The escapes came hours before the Pindo military said it would withdraw its remaining troops from northern Syria in the coming weeks. The Kurds said that the flag of Daesh had been raised in the countryside between the camp in the Kurdish-held town of Ain Issa and the Turkish border. Ciya Kurd of the Kurdish-led regional authority confirmed the break from the displacement camp after the Turkish strikes, saying:

We are facing very fierce attacks and we’re forced to decrease numbers of guards.

Sec Def Esper announced Sunday on CBS Face the Nation that Pindostan would be evacuating about 1,000 Pindo troops from northern Syria in a “deliberate withdrawal.” About 50 Pindo troops were previously removed from the area in anticipation of the Turkish incursion. He said that Pindostan found itself “likely caught between two opposing advancing armies” in northern Syria, and called the escalation of the conflict in the region a “very terrible situation.” He said Pindostan had learned that Turkey was likely to expand its incursion “farther south than originally planned and to the west.” The Kurds are in negotiations with the Syrians and Russians to form an alliance against the Turks, Esper said, adding that Pindostan did not want to be caught in the crossfire. He said:

The Kurds are looking to cut a deal, if you will, with the Syrians and the Russians to counter-attack against the Turks in the north.

Pres Trump took to Twitter to defend his decision last week to pull troops back from the border, where their presence had shielded Kurdish allies, effectively clearing the way for the Turkish incursion. His decision has generated intense criticism from both Thugs ^& Demagogs that he had betrayed Kurdish fighters who fought alongside American troops against Daesh. Mr Trump wrote on Sunday:

The Kurds and Turkey have been fighting for many years. Turkey considers the PKK the worst terrorists of all. Others may want to come in and fight for one side or the other. Let them! We are monitoring the situation closely. Endless Wars!

Even as he sought to wash his hands of the region’s intractable conflicts, Mr Trump tried to assuage his critics, including Sen Lindsey Graham, who has usually been one of his strongest allies but broke with the president over his Syria decision and is promising bipartisan legislation to slap economic sanctions on Turkey. Mr Trump wrote:

Dealing with Lindsey Graham and many Congress critturs including Demagogs about imposing powerful Sanctions on Turkey. Treasury is ready to go, additional legislation may be sought. There is great consensus on this.

On Sunday, Pindo troops stationed in Ain Issa withdrew from the town as Turkish-led forces moved closer to its perimeter, even as relatives of Daesh fighters mounted an escape from the detention facility elsewhere in the town. The retreat came as Turkey’s airstrikes pummeled Ain Issa, about 20 miles south of the Turkish-Syrian border, causing panic in a camp that housed nearly 13,000 displaced people, 700 of whom were relatives of Daesh fighters. Scores of people fled the camp, according to the Kurdish authorities. The number could not be independently verified, but a witness confirmed by phone that he had seen crowds of people hurrying from the camp around 9:30 am Sunday. The humanitarian aid group Save the Children also confirmed that foreign nationals had left the camp. Sonia Khush, who oversees the group’s work in Syria, citing her colleagues at the camp, said that a secure facility that housed Daesh relatives was now empty, and added:

What was not clear to us was whether some of the women and children were taken by coalition forces or whether they all managed to escape. It seems to be a mix of the two. Some women and children may be in the main camp.

After establishing a foothold on Saturday in Ras al-Ain, close to the Turkish border, Turkish troops and their Arab proxies made major progress on the ground on Sunday. A Syrian Arab militia under Turkish command pushed deeper into Kurdish-held territory, blocking major roads, ambushing civilians and claiming the capture of a second strategic town in northern Syria adjacent to the border, Tel Abyad. Erdogan announced that his forces now controlled nearly 70 sq m of territory in northern Syria. They have also taken control of the most important highway that connects the two flanks of Kurdish-held territory, allowing them to block supply lines between Kurdish forces. Erdogan also suggested his campaign was now expanding in scope. He announced that the Turkish force would attempt to capture Al Hasaka, a major Kurdish-run city that sits well beyond the territory that he initially said he had set out to capture. On Sunday morning, Turkish-backed Arab militias ambushed and captured four employees of the Kurdish Red Crescent traveling north from Ain Issa toward the besieged town of Tel Abyad in a two-car convoy, a member of the aid group said by phone. The Turkish-led force also took control of Suluk, an Arab town about five miles inside Kurdish-held territory. Close-fire fighting could be heard in Tel Abyad on Sunday morning from the Turkish border town of Akcakale, suggesting that Turkish forces had entered the town after a four-day siege. The two towns are separated by customs buildings and a cement border wall.