SNAP! #19 out NOW
SNAP! #19 out NOW!
- Anti-Rebel Protest
- Cars versus Bikes
- Who'll own the ownership society
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Around 20 people rebelled against Rebel Sports at their store on Cuba/Manners street in Wellington today. Socialists, Anarchists and members of the Maritime Union, Alliance and the Greens showed their solidarity with sacked workers of a Thai Nike factory.
Rebel Sports Managing Director Rod Duke stated last year that he was "absolutely confident" that Nike garments sold in Rebel Sports are not made in "sweatshops." However a Thai clothing worker may earn only $NZ2 for making a Nike jacket which sells for $NZ160 in Rebel Sports. Last October three workers at the MSP Sportswear factory in Thailand were dismissed after recruiting members for their union. Problems at the factory included increasing work quotas without pay increases, compulsory overtime, verbal abuse, poor quality water and offensive body searches.
MSP Sportswear is one of Nike's subcontracting companies producing mainly Nike athletic clothing for export. The majority owner of the company is an Austrian. Although Nike representatives had meetings with the company owner and the union, the sacked workers have not yet been reinstated. Other union members have been harassed and prevented from informing co-workers of their right to join a union. The New Zealand government is about to sign a Free Trade Agreement with Thailand which will have a huge negative impact on Thai dairy farmers and the New Zealand manufacturing industry. With an FTA New Zealand will profit even more from the exploitation of Thai workers.
WHO'LL OWN THE OWNERSHIP SOCIETY
Helen Clark's ears must have pricked up when she heard George Bush drop the phrase 'The Ownership Society' in his Inauguration Speech. Clark had just used this phrase in her annual 'speech from the throne.' "The government is developing policy to encourage a co-ordinated lifetime approach to savings, to help save for retirement, home ownership and tertiary education." This sure sounds like something to yank the punters attention away from Brash's Orewa II.
What are the origins of Bush and Clark's 'Ownership Society'? The concept comes from Jose Pinera who heads a US-based right-wing think-tank dedicated to the privatization of retirement schemes. Pinera was a key member of the cabinet of criminal and fascist-turned-neoliberal former president Augusto Pinochet of Chile. Pinera oversaw Chile's 1981 shift from government pensions to individual retirement accounts.
The privatization of retirement is clearly on Labour's agenda, where every person in the entire country takes 'responsibility' for their own pension and is reliant on the honesty and integrity of lawyers and brokers. Setting aside tertiary education (we'll leave the scarfies to their rainbow chasing attempts to convince a major party to scrap the loan scheme) and home ownership (who believes Labour will intervene in the property market against the property trading elite and level the playing field?), let's consider the privatization of retirement.Retirement privatized. Ma and Pa's golden years left flapping on the 'mercy' of the market. How far right can Labour go? It seems by her choice of phrase, like Bush and unlike Brash, Clark might be in favour of the wholesale radical privatisation of social welfare. The first step is to consolidate benefits and then to move young people towards private 'personal accounts' so when little blips occur in people's lives - like redundancy, dismissal, and economic depression - people will have money tucked away safely in banks or the market - that's just collapsed.
IRAQ FREE FIRE ZONE
Pulitzer prize-winning reporter, has been in the news recently because of his predictions of an American invasion of Iran sometime this year. However most of these reports have glossed over his analysis of the current situation in Iraq.
While increased resistance in Iraq has been reported as an "insurgency" Hersh points out that an "Insurgency assumes that we had gone to Iraq and won the war and a group of disgruntled people began to operate against us and we then had to do counter-action against them. That would be an insurgency. We are fighting the people we started the war against. We are fighting the Ba'athists plus nationalists. We are fighting the very people that started - they only choose to fight in different time spans than we want them to, in different places. We took Baghdad easily. It wasn't because we won. We took Baghdad because they pulled back and let us take it and decided to fight a war that had been pre-planned that they're very actively fighting."
Hersh compares the US strategy in Iraq with the US war against South Vietnam, where the US occupied the major cities, installed a puppet regime and attempted to bomb the countryside into submission. He points out that since Iraqi PM Allawi, a former member of Saddam's secret police, was installed "the number of sorties, bombing raids and the number of tonnage dropped has grown exponentially each month. We are systematically bombing that country. It's simply a turkey shoot. Iraq is being turned into a "free-fire zone" right in front of us. Hit everything, kill everything."
Hersh points out that what's happening in Iraq is because the US government has been taken over by what he calls ideologically driven "cultists" and that "George Bush thinks this is the right thing. He is going to continue doing what he has been doing in Iraq. He's going to expand it, that the number of body bags that come back will make no difference to him, because he will see it as a price he has to pay to put America where he thinks it should be."
Despite the mainstream media representation of Waitangi Day this year as being calm and largely unmarred by protest, it was anything but. With the latest theft of Maori land in the form of the Seabed and Foreshore bill, Maori have yet another blow against them to add to over 200 years of colonisation.
More than 3,000 Maori and Pakeha made the journey to Waitangi to protest the Crown's continuing war against Maori, and this opposition was repeated in various places around the country. The huge hikoi onto Waitangi grounds chanted "one, two, three, four - Maori own the foreshore", "ka whawhai tonu matou - ake! ake! ake!" and "tahi, rua, toru, wha - come on all you pakeha" and included powerful haka. The Foreshore and Seabed bill came into effect in January. The bill has stolen seabed and foreshore areas, guaranteed to Maori in the Treaty of Waitangi, and placed them into Crown ownership. This year's protests were preceded by a 25,000 strong hikoi in Wellington, a number of occupations of beaches and various other protests. In comparison, the government did its best to pretend all was well and organised celebrations that included a 21-gun salute and bouncy castles.
This year was certainly quieter, however, with only one arrest being made of a young pakeha man who, it is claimed, launched himself onto Don Brash's car. In a large part this was due to the new Maori Party, which called for restraint at Waitangi in an effort to increase its credibility. Even so, a significant portion of those at Waitangi consider the Maori Party to be too soft. They claim the party is getting too involved in the system that has been attacking them since its inception, and all sides agree that it is the Maori people, not the party, from whom change will come.