Allow Me To Explain

자본가들은 모든 노동자들을 비정규직이기를 바란다

Posted in Capitalism, Korea by amte on August 23, 2009

(The English version of this entry can be found here).

전국경제인연합회(The Federation of Korean Industries)는 다른 자본가들과 힘을 합쳤고 한국에 있는 모든 노동자들이 비정규직으로 되기를 요구하고 있다.

연합회는 노동자들이 세계경제위기로 인해 가장 큰 고통을 받고 있음에도 불구하고 그들을 비난한다. 연합회는 “요즘 문제들은 노동자들이 유연하게 대처하지 못하기 때문이라고 주장합니다.

평균적으로, 비정규직 노동자들은 남한에서 일하는 보통 노동자들의 60% 임금밖에 받지 못한다.

남한의 총 노동인구 33% 정도인 약 5,400,000명의 노동자들은 현재 “비정규직” 노동자이다.그 중 절반이 한 시간에 4,000원 정도의 최저 임금을 받는다.

세계 경제 위기가 지속되면서 자본가는 노동 계층에게 압박을 주고 있다. 이러한 압박으로부터 우리를 보호하기 위해서 우리는 조직화하여 싸워야 한다. 효과적으로 이 싸움을 해나가기 위해 힘을 모아야 한다. 우리는 이러한 문제들을 만들어내는 자본주의 시스템을 폐지할 때까지 공격을 계속해 나가야 한다.

노동자(쌍용 자동차) 중 일부는 이미 싸움을 시작했다. 그들은 파업을 하고 있고 그들의 일터를 장악하고 있다 . 이제 우리가 함께 해야 한다. 우리는 함께해 이길 것이다.

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Everlasting Moments: A film in the service of the status quo

Posted in Film reviews by amte on August 23, 2009

Rather than capturing the essence of the tumultuous times which it portrays, Everlasting Moments, a Swedish film directed by Jan Troell, is dull, dry and drawn out.

Based in early 20th century Sweden, the film follows the working class Larsson family through its ups and downs.

Maria Heiskanen plays Maria Larsson, a housekeeper and mother of seven broken down by her work, her abusive, lying, alcoholic husband Sigge (Mikael Persbrandt) and the banality of domestic servitude.

The Larsson family is plagued with contradiction. Sigge is a loving and carefree one minute and violent and demanding the next. He’s saddened immensely by his addiction to alcohol, but yet still unable to shake it. Religion and social pressures keep Maria trapped in this seemingly endless cycle, even when she wants to escape.

Impoverished and concerned with the well being of her family, Maria tries to sell a camera she won in a lottery to a Danish photographer (Jesper Christensen). But when the photographer sees the one picture Maria has taken, he urges Maria to keep the camera and shoot more, even giving her the materials she needs.

Maria has an on and off attraction with the camera and the photographer (although she never gives in to the temptation to act on it). At one point, she sets up a makeshift studio in her undersized apartment and becomes a popular photographer, drawing the contempt of Sigge, whose ego is bruised by her independence.

In some of the best scenes of the film, Maria uses her camera to help one mother accept the death of a daughter and another to see the beauty within her Down’s syndrome stricken child.

For his part, Sigge becomes swept up in the emerging labor movement. A hard working dockhand, he becomes convinced of the need for socialist revolution through a combination of life experiences and conversations with fellow workers. But it is not his only focus. When Sigge gets involved in a militant strike on the docks and is falsely accused of carrying out an explosive attack in support of it, he is forced to reveal that he was having sex with a barmaid to prove his innocence.

Not enough attention is given to the rising tide of working class militancy of the period. Such a long film could have easily spent more than the few moments it did on the suicide of Sigge’s best friend, an active anarchist who hung himself out of despair.  And what’s worse, after that event we don’t hear any mention of the proletarian struggle at all.

Eventually, the Larssons move to an old house in the country and Sigge opens his own transportation business that quickly grows. Maria is shown taking the first and last picture of herself. She died soon after, we’re told, content of the life she’d lived.

Everlasting Moments does a good enough job of depicting the life of the Larsson family, and the acting is strong and believable. But in the end, the film serves the status quo with its moral that everything will eventually work out if you just hang in and bear whatever misery you are faced with.

Because of that, the film looses whatever worth it may have otherwise had. After all, the point is not simply to observe the world as it is, but to change it

The Goods fails to deliver

Posted in Film reviews by amte on August 22, 2009

The involvement of a plethora of well known comedians isn’t enough to save The Goods:  Live Hard, Sell Hard, a comedy directed by Neal Brennan.

The Goods revolves around a failing used car lot in California owned by an aging salesman played by James Brolin. The lot is staffed by a group of unsuccessful salespeople played by Tony Hale, Charles Napier, Ken Jeong and Jonathan Sadowski.

While Jeremy Piven seems like the perfect choice to portray Don Ready, the fast-talking traveling car salesman called in to turn things around, he comes up very short on laughs.

His cohorts, played by David Koechner, Kathryn Hahn and Ving Rhames, don’t fare any better.

It’s not that Piven and company don’t try. The film is littered from beginning to end with punch lines and gags. The problem is that they just aren’t funny.

Most of the “jokes” come at the expense of workers, women and homosexuals.

In what has to be the most difficult to watch scene, the staff of the car lot is provoked by a nationalist “inspirational speech” and anti-Japanese slurs to carry out a mob attack against an Asian-American salesman. After the attack comes to an end, the perpetrators admit to committing a hate crime but plan to defend themselves with the false claim that the Asian-American came at them with a samurai sword. For his part, the victim of the attack (Jeong) agrees to dismiss the whole thing, saying, “Actually, I’m Korean.”

A cameo appearance by Will Farrell and a boy band spoof by Ed Helms add little.

Similarly, the obligatory love interest that arises between Ready and the daughter of the car lot’s owner (played by Jordana Spiro) fails to rescue the film in any way.

Watching The Goods, one gets the feeling that the writers may have intended the film’s more over-the-top aspects to serve as some form of social commentary. If that is indeed the case, they definitely missed the mark.

But even if, on the other hand, their goal was simply to illicit a few cheap laughs, they still fell short.

The Goods could have been something much more. There was no lack of comedic talent and the used car business, marked as it is by fierce competition, predation and deception, is ripe for parody.  Unfortunately, The Goods simply doesn’t deliver.

Indian movie star of film on racial profiling detained in U.S. airport

Posted in United States by amte on August 16, 2009

Indian movie star Shahrukh Khan, who just finished a shoot for an upcoming movie about racial profiling called “My Name Is Khan,” was recently detained in a U.S. airport.

After being held for hours, SRK was finally allowed to make a call. He phoned the Indian consulate in the United States which confirmed his identity.

SRK, as he is known to fans, said he was angered and humiliated by the experience.

“I was really hassled perhaps because of my name being Khan. These guys just wouldn’t let me through,” he told reporters.

Of course this sort of thing happens every day in the land of the free. It’s only when it happens to someone famous that any real mention is made.

U.S. calls for release of political prisoners in Myanmar – When will it release its own?

Posted in Myanmar, Political prisoners, United States by amte on August 12, 2009

After a Myanmar court convicted Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the main liberal opposition party, to 18-months of house arrest for allowing an uninvited U.S. citizen to stay in her home, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton condemned the trial and called for the ruling military junta to release of all political prisoners in the country.

Meanwhile, a number of political prisoners continue to languish in U.S. prisons, largely unmentioned. Below is a very incomplete list of some of those political prisoners. When will the U.S. government allow their release?

Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia Abu-Jamal is an award-winning journalist who has been on death row since 1982, falsely accused of the murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.

The State of Pennsylvania claims that in 1981, Mumia, then a cab driver, saw his brother being beaten by Officer Faulkner across the street from where he was parked. They claim he ran over and shot Faulkner in the back, was in turn shot by Faulkner, and then shot Faulkner several more times in the head. The facts do not bare these claims out.

At trial, the prosecution’s main eyewitness was a prostitute named Cynthia White.  White claimed she say Mumia run across a parking lot with a gun, but two other prostitutes and another woman who knew her have since stated that White was coerced by police into giving this testimony. Two other eyewitnesses say that White wasn’t even on the corner in question when the shooting occurred.

Pamela Jenkins, another prostitute, says other police officers were present at Faulkner’s shooting and that Cynthia White was an informant who regularly preformed sexual favors to cops.

The prosecution’s other “eyewitness,” a cab driver named Robert Chobert, now admits to receiving favors in exchange for his testimony. He also stated that he wasn’t even in a location that would allow him to witness the shooting, a fact backed up by newly discovered photos of the crime scene.

Another key piece of “evidence” provided by the prosecution is a supposed confession made by Mumia as he lay on a hospital bed recovering from his gunshot wound. But no police officer claimed to hear a confession by Mumia until two months after it supposedly took place. In fact, a police officer who watched over Mumia the night of the shooting stated that he “made no comments.” The police “suddenly” recalled his confession immediately after he filed charges of police brutality.

Vietnam War veteran and small business owner William Singletary, who was at the scene of the shooting, reported to police that the shooter was wearing a green army jacket and that Mumia didn’t arrive on the scene until after Faulkner had been shot.  For this he was repeatedly threatened, his gas station was vandalized, and he was eventually run out of town altogether.

Others, including two police officers, also said the shooter was wearing a green army jacket. Mumia was wearing a red quilted jacket the night of the shooting. Other witnesses also say they saw someone running from the scene. Mumia was found shot at the scene.

Dessie Hightower, one of the witnesses who saw someone running from the scene of the shooting, says he was pressured by police to withhold his testimony.

Veronica Jones says she witnessed someone fleeing from the scene of the shooting, but was told by police that unless she testified against Mumia she would be forced to serve a long jail sentence.

What’s more, a man named Arnold Beverly has confessed that he was the person who shot Faulkner. Beverly stated that he and another man were hired by a group of cops and mobsters to kill Faulker because he was causing them problems by interfering in their illegal activities. Beverly said that it was another police officer, not Faulkner, that shot Mumia. Beverly also stated that he was wearing a green army jacket on the night of the shooting.

Ballistics evidence is nonexistent. Mumia was found with a gun the night of the shooting, but he was licensed to carry it. Police never ran any tests on the gun to see if it was fired or on Mumia’s hands to see if he had fired a gun. Different police reports make different claims as to the type of bullets found in Mumia’s gun. A fragment from one of Faulkner’s wounds and a medical examiner’s X-ray of Faulkner’s body have disappeared.

There is no reliable evidence connecting Mumia to the shooting of Daniel Faulkner, let alone establishing his guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” By all accounts, Mumia is and has always been a calm and collected person. In fact, his only “record,” was that of a former member of the Black Panther Party and a well known journalist who exposed and fought against exploitation and injustice — including the firebombing of the back-to-nature MOVE commune’s house by Philadelphia police.

His trial was presided over by Judge Albert Sabo who has sentenced more people to death than any other sitting judge in the United States. During Mumia’s trial Sabo said “I’m going to help them fry the nigger.” He allowed the prosecutor to argue for the death penalty on the basis of Mumia’s former membership in the Black Panther Party.

Mumia’s imprisonment has been condemned by a large number of political organizations, artists, unions and educators.

Mumia is confined to a tiny cell 23 hours of each day. He describes it as living in a bathroom. He is denied contact visits with his family and has been punished for continuing to write from behind bars.

Eddie Conway

Eddie Conway

Marshall “Eddie” Conway, falsely accused of the murder of a Baltimore police officer, has been in prison for close to four decades.

On April 25, 1970, two police officers were fired upon while sitting in their patrol car. One officer was killed and the other was injured. Soon after two men were arrested at the scene. The next day, Conway, a postal worker and member of the Baltimore Branch of the Black Panther Party, was arrested on the (supposed) word of an “unnamed informant” and an officer who arrived at the scene of the shooting and claimed to have seen a third man “at a distance.”

Eddie Conway has never been linked by any physical evidence to the shooting. According to police, Conway confessed to a repeat informant that was placed in his cell against his protest (which was made, in writing, to prison guards). The use of such informants was well known to the Black Panther Party, which was subject to attack for years. The third police officer who arrived at the scene of the shooting claimed to have “followed a man who seemed to be acting suspiciously.” He originally failed to identify Conway from a set of  photos. It was only after he was shown a second set of photos, in which Conway’s photo was the only one repeated from the first set, that he identified Conway as the man “acting suspiciously.” The “identification” took place in the same station house that Conway was being held in. A lineup could have easily been arranged, but never was.

At the time of Conway’s arrest, the Baltimore Branch of the Black Panther Party had already come under attack. Recently released documents show that Conway and the rest of the branch were under constant FBI surveillance prior to his arrest and that the branch was infiltrated with government agents and informants. A mass arrest of members the Baltimore Branch took place immediately prior the police shooting on claims that they tortured and murdered an informant. The first of those members to stand trial was acquitted after a mere two and half hours of jury deliberation. The charges against the remaining members were dropped.

At trial, prosecutors relied on the testimony of this informant and the third police officer. Conway wanted to defend himself, but was denied the ability to do so by the judge. On most of the days of the trial, Conway wasn’t even in the courtroom. The jury was not sequestered and was no doubt exposed to the inflammatory anti-Black Panther Party rhetoric which filled the local media (and which has since been connected to the FBI’s counter intelligence program which had the stated goal of destroying the Black Panthers).

The Cuban 5

The Cuban 5

The Cuban Five are five men from Cuba imprisoned for long terms in the United States on false charge of espionage.

Anti-Cuban terrorist groups have waged attack after attack on Cuba for close to fifty years, leaving more than 3,000 Cubans, along with several tourists, dead or injured. These groups operate with the full knowledge, and support, of agencies like the FBI and CIA.

Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González volunteered to come to the United States to infiltrate the terrorist groups in order to prevent future attacks on Cuba, at great risks to themselves.

But far from being embraced as anti-terrorists, the Five were rounded up by U.S. authorities and held in solitary confinement for seventeen months.  Their trial was held in an atmosphere of absolute hysteria in Miami, home to the largest number of opponents of the Cuban Revolution in the world. The judge repeatedly denied attorney’s motions for a change of venue despite the obvious fact that a fair trial could never be held there.

In 2001, after a seven month trial, the five were convicted of four life sentences and 75 years in prison.

The Five are held in separate, maximum-security prisons around the United States. The wives of two of the Cuban Five have repeatedly been denied visas that would allow them to enter the U.S. in order to visit their husbands.

Their trial, and subsequent treatment, has been condemned by groups and individuals in twenty U.S. cities and more than thirty countries, along with the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Amnesty International, and eight international Nobel Prize winners.

In 2009, the Supreme Court refused to review the convictions of the Five after Solicitor General Elena Kagan filed a brief on behalf of  U.S. President Barack Obama requesting that they refuse to reopen the case.

Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier, a former leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM), has been imprisoned for more than 32 years on false charges of murdering two FBI agents. He is serving two consecutive life sentences.

In the early 1970’s, the tribal leader of the Pine Ridge Reservation hired a group of vigilantes, who referred to themselves as GOONS, to rid the reservation of AIM members and supporters by force. Dozens of people were injured or killed as a result. The FBI supplied the GOONS with information and even ammunition.

In response, a number of people asked Peltier and other AIM members for help. Peltier and a small group of young AIM members set up camp on a ranch inside of the reservation.

On June 26, 1975, two FBI agents in unmarked vehicles drove onto the ranch. They originally claimed they were in pursuit of a man in a pick-up truck. No pick-up truck was ever found. Later, after they found that the truck could not be tied to Peltier, one of the agents changed his claim and said that they were in fact in pursuit of a red and white van that Peltier was occasionally known to drive.

The arrival of the FBI agents frightened residents of the ranch. Shots broke out. Soon a full out shootout was taking place. Before long, more than 150 FBI agents, law enforcement agents and GOONS surrounded the ranch.

After the smoke had cleared,  two FBI agents and one Native American boy were dead. The death of the Native American, Joseph Stuntz, has never been investigated.

The U.S. government moved quickly to charge Peltier and two other AIM members (Bob Robideau and Darrell Butler) with the shootings. Robideau and Butler were acquitted by juries who found they acted in self-defense. No charges were ever brought against any of the other 37 people the FBI claimed were involved in the gun battle.

Peltier managed to escape to Canada but was eventually captured in 1976. Peltier was extradited to the U.S. on the basis of affidavits signed by a women Myrtle Poor Bear who claimed that she was Peltier’s girlfriend and had witnessed the shooting. In fact, Myrtle had never even met Peltier. She later admitted that she was forced to sign the affidavits by the FBI.

Peltier’s trial took place in 1977. The judge refused to allow Myrtle to testify and excluded other evidence which had been allowed in the cases of Robideau and Butler.

A ballistics test showing that the bullets that killed the FBI agents did not come from the gun was initially hidden. Another 140,000 pages of FBI documents concerning the case were also kept out of the hands of the defense and view of the jury.

Three Native teenagers testified against Peltier, though none of them identified him as the shooter. Later, they admitted they were forced to testify by the FBI. The FBI openly admits it paid another woman who testified against Peltier $42,000.

Amazingly, the prosecution admitted during the trial that they did not actually know who shot the two FBI agents.  Still, they claimed, Peltier was guilty whether or not he was the one that killed the agents since, according to them, he participated in the shootout.

Peltier has repeatedly been denied parole despite admissions by the Parole Commission that “the prosecution has conceded the lack of any direct evidence that he personally participated in the executions of the two FBI agents.”

Peltier’s case has won the support of numerous individuals and organizations around the world.

Children among 100,000 executed in south Korea

Posted in Imperialism, Korea, United States, War by amte on August 9, 2009

A horror long known by Koreans was confirmed earlier this year: large numbers of children were among the 100,000+ Koreans murdered by the U.S.-backed south Korean government in the 1950’s.

Korea, a country with a history that goes back thousands of years, was taken over by the Japanese in the early twentieth century. After years of brutal occupation, and a sustained struggle against the occupation, the Japanese were defeated in World War 2 and forced to relinquish their hold of Korea in 1945.

The USSR and the U.S., temporary allies in the war against the Axis, each agreed to station troops in one half of the peninsula until the Koreans could organize their own government.

All across the country workers and farmers, inspired by the resistance movement against the Japanese occupation, began to set up the frame work of a grass roots democracy.

At the same time, the U.S. government installed Syngman Rhee, a right-wing exile who had been living in the United States, as president of the south in a phony election, ignoring the national government being set up by the Koreans themselves.

Syngman Rhee embraces Douglas MacArthur, General of the U.S. Army, upon being made leader of south Korea.

Syngman Rhee embraces Douglas MacArthur, General of the U.S. Army, upon being made leader of south Korea.

A government was unilaterally proclaimed in the south prompting the forces in control of the north, made up largely of leaders of the Workers’ Party of Korea (who played a large part in the fight against the Japanese occupiers) proclaimed a government as well.

The government of the south, largely unpopular and propped up by the U.S. military, began a vicious campaign against all suspected “leftists” (at a time when a majority of the people in both the north and south looked held “leftist” ideas or at least looked at them favorably).

From that point until the end of the Korean War, in which the north tried to unify the country under its leadership, at least 100000 Korean men, women and children were executed in cold blood by the Rhee government and U.S. military.

Decades later, after a series of U.S.-backed dictatorships in the south, a liberal President, Roh Moo-hyun, created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in December, 2005, to investigate crimes carried out before and during the war.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission later released findings supporting the testimony of Koreans who witnessed the mass killings. So far, more than 24 mass killings have been verified.

The Commission found that the murderous campaign was carried out in an attempt to prevent an imminent popular uprising against the Rhee dictatorship. To eliminate any potential enemies–both then and in the future–whole families of suspected leftists were murdered.

In Namyangju, government forces murdered more than 460 people, including at least 23 children under the age of 10.

One survivor, Kim Jong-Chol, 71, recalls that “when the people from the other side (north Korea) came here, they didn’t kill many people,” in contrast to his own government in the south which carried out “indiscriminate killings.”

The remains of hundreds of bodies have been found in ten mass graves. In one cobalt mine in the south, 107 bodies have been found. An estimated 3500 more still remain.

Recently declassified documents from the U.S. military show that U.S. officials witnessed or participated in many of the killings and sanctioned others.

The Associated Press has reported on military documents that show U.S. military officers took pictures of “assembly line-style executions” outside of Deajeon, where upwards of 7000 people were shot and dumped into mass graves.

Another file shows that a U.S. officer gave the go ahead for a south Korean military unit under his command to murder 3500 political prisoners.

Surviving relatives of those killed have demanded an apology from the U.S. government. Meanwhile, the U.S. embassy in south Korea refuses to even comment on the situation.

The United States maintains a force of tens of thousands of soldiers and loads of heavy weaponry in south Korea to this day. A “National Security Act” created in 1948, which makes it illegal to promote “anti-government ideas” (among other things) and carries a maximum sentence of death, also remains in effect.

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