US government knew about climate change, covered up


This 16 April 2019 video from the USA by independent senator and Democratic party presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says about itself:

The U.S. Government Knew About Climate Change Up To 5 Decades Ago

Just like Shell and other Big Oil corporations knew. And just like Big Oil, they covered it up.

I am so incredibly proud of the youth fighting against climate change. Our climate struggle would not have progressed as much as it has without their momentum and support. I thank them for their relentless work in the fight for a cleaner, safer world.

‘Free Assange’, pro-climate students, others say


English pro-climate striking student Martha

From the World Socialist Web Site in England:

Youth at climate rally in Leeds, England speak out to defend Julian Assange

By our reporters

16 April 2019

WSWS reporters spoke about the arrest and imprisoning of Julian Assange with young people who attended last Friday’s rally against climate change in Leeds, England.

Martha, a student at Notre Dame College in Leeds said, “I have known that Julian Assange had been threatened with arrest for a while. Now it has happened and it’s terrible. Home Secretary Sajid Javid and the Tory government are afraid of what the US government will do if they don’t toe the line. They are not brave enough to stand up to the US.

Assange is in the forefront of the fight for freedom of speech against corrupt governments, especially by revealing US state security secrets. I agree that this attack on Assange is an attack on all reporting and all truth telling.

“I think [Labour Party leader] Jeremy Corbyn is lazy. Only now is he saying ‘what should have happened’. The left wing in general needs to be more active in opposing [far right] populism

Unfortunately, the word ‘populism‘ used wrongly again.

in Europe. I think we should do whatever it takes to secure freedom for Assange and save him from being punished for doing the right thing.”

Eddie, a Leeds music student said, “Assange is guilty of being a hero, guilty of telling the truth, guilty of exposing US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“When he was arrested some people said the police were only ‘doing their job’. But does that mean arresting someone who has done nothing wrong and in fact has done the right thing?

“The attack on Assange is an attack on democracy and on freedom of speech. …”

Callum

Callum, a politics student from Leeds said, “In terms of his political work Assange is definitely a hero. He told the truth about the terrible things that the US government have done in Afghanistan and Iraq; war crimes committed in the name of peace. But the whole world knows it was all about oil.

“I recently saw the video showing British troops shooting at pictures of Jeremy Corbyn. I think it’s symptomatic of the attitude of the military to politics. I have friends in the army cadets. They have told me that the officers encourage them to be racist and homophobic. Some of them rebel but others are indoctrinated. It makes it difficult to be friends with them.

“The authorities say that they are doing things ‘peacefully’ but it’s never like that. Think about what happened at Charlottesville [a peaceful counter-protest in the United States attacked by far-right forces] as opposed to left-wing rallies. The left-wing get maced, they get rubber bullets constantly. The right-wing get to patrol the streets and attack innocent people. That sort of thing really shows the position of the state.”

“The jailing of Assange is an attack on the entire working class”. US workers demand the release of Julian Assange: here.

Prominent WikiLeaks supporter Somerset Bean speaks out in defence of Assange: here.

16 April 2019: The Socialist Equality Party (Sri Lanka) and the International Youth and Students for Social Equality have called an urgent picket in Colombo, the country’s capital, later today to condemn the illegal arrest of Julian Assange in London last week and to mobilise workers, students and youth in his defence: here.

Ecuador arrests Swedish associate of Assange amid threat of crackdown: here.

Despite outraged protests in Australia and internationally over last Thursday’s arrest of Julian Assange, and the immediate laying of US extradition charges against him, the Australian political establishment is still adamantly refusing to come to the aid of the WikiLeaks founder, an Australian citizen: here.

UK climate change protests: Students speak out against treatment of Assange and Manning: here.

United States corporations dodge taxes


This 3 April 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Amazon paid $0 in federal income taxes in 2018.

On top of that, the company also received a multi-million dollar tax rebate from the federal government. How does the company do it?

President Trump’s tax cuts, aggressive revenue reinvestment, years of R&D, and employee stock compensation all helped.

Does America have a corporate income tax problem?

Amazon is one of the world’s most valuable companies, valued at nearly $800 billion, and the e-commerce giant pulled in $232.9 billion in global revenue in 2018. And yet, Amazon’s federal tax bill this year: $0. For the second year in a row.

In fact, Amazon is actually getting a federal tax refund of $129 million this year, due in part to a combination of tax credits and deductions. This is despite the fact that Amazon nearly doubled its taxable income in 2018 to $11.2 billion, from $5.6 billion a year earlier. In other words, Amazon is basically paying a -1 percent federal income tax rate this year after reportedly paying a federal rate of more than 11 percent between 2011 and 2016, according to The Week.

Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who has criticized Amazon in the past for not paying higher federal taxes, took to Twitter to point out that any Amazon Prime member paid more for that program’s annual fee ($119) than the company paid in federal taxes.

Prime has 100 million subscribers. …

A report this week from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, or ITEP, a nonpartisan and nonprofit tax policy think tank, pointed out the fact that Amazon will not pay federal taxes for the second year in a row. In fact, last year, Amazon received an even larger refund, getting $137 million from the federal government.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

US Tax Day 2019: Sixty giant corporations pay zero income tax

16 April 2019

Dozens of giant US corporations, including 60 of the Fortune 500, used deductions, credits and other tax loopholes to avoid paying any federal income tax for 2018, according to an analysis issued by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP). The report was published April 11, just in time for the April 15 deadline for most American working people to file their tax returns.

The 60 companies in the Fortune 500 who paid no federal income tax had net incomes just from US operations of nearly $80 billion ($79,025,000,000, to be exact). They include such household names as Amazon, Chevron, Deere, Delta Air Lines, General Motors, Goodyear, Halliburton, Honeywell, IBM, Eli Lilly, Netflix, Occidental Petroleum, Prudential Financial and US Steel.

Meanwhile, millions of moderate-income families are finding that their income taxes have either increased or their expected tax refunds have evaporated because of restrictions on the itemization of tax deductions, the imposition of a $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions and a cut in the mortgage interest deduction.

Nearly all of the 60 companies that paid no taxes qualified to receive a refund from the US Treasury, although most will not collect a check, instead using the credit to offset future taxes. But whatever the bookkeeping process, American taxpayers are effectively paying money to them, despite their vast profits. The biggest refunds include those going to Prudential, $346 million (added to its $1.44 billion in profits); Duke Energy, a whopping $647 million (added to $3.02 billion in profits); and Deere, $268 million (added to $2.15 billion in profits).

Among the report’s most outrageous findings:

Amazon more than zeroed-out its tax bill on $10.8 billion in profits, making use of accelerated depreciation deductions on equipment as well as favorable tax treatment of stock-based compensation for executives like CEO Jeff Bezos, the wealthiest man in the world. The stock compensation deduction alone was worth $1 billion. Amazon will actually show a credit of $129 million from the US Treasury, not paying one cent in federal income taxes.

IBM is another corporate giant that has gamed the tax system by shifting earnings to its foreign operations to escape US taxation. The company reported worldwide profits of $8.7 billion, but only $500 million in the United States. It will reap a $342 million credit from the Treasury.

Delta Airlines accumulated $17.1 billion in federal pre-tax net losses as of 2010, partly as a consequence of a protracted crisis of the airline industry, partly as a result of the 2008 Wall Street crash. It has used these losses as well as the accelerated depreciation credit for purchase of new planes to “dramatically reduce their tax rates”, according to the ITEP report, receiving a credit of $187 million in 2018 despite net profits of more than $5 billion. According to Delta’s chief financial officer, the actual tax rate the company expects to pay going forward is between 10 and 13 percent, far below what a typical Delta worker pays on his or her income.

EOG Resources, a renamed remnant of Enron, perpetrator of the biggest corporate fraud in American history, can collect $304 million from US taxpayers on top of $4.07 billion in profits.

For one company, the federal tax refund would actually exceed net profits. Gannett made a $7 million profit, while showing an additional $11 million credit from the Treasury, giving the newspaper publishing giant an effective tax rate of negative 164 percent.

IBM’s tax rate was a negative 68 percent, while software maker Activision Blizzard and construction company AECOM Technology both posted effective tax rates of negative 51 percent.

Sixteen of the 60 companies made more than a billion dollars in net income on their US operations, to say nothing of foreign subsidiaries. Oil and gas producers and utilities comprised more than one-third of the total, led by Chevron and Occidental among the oil companies, and DTE Energy, American Electric Power, Duke Energy and Dominion Resources among the utilities.

The 60 companies profited enormously because the Trump tax cut bill cut the basic rate for corporations from 35 percent to 21 percent, while not eliminating the loopholes they had previously used to keep their taxes low. They had the best of both worlds, paying lower rates while still enjoying loopholes.

Overall, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, an arm of Congress, the cut in the corporate tax rate alone will pump $1.35 trillion into the pockets of the corporations over the next 10 years. For this year alone, corporate taxes have been cut by 31 percent.

For the 60 companies in the ITEP report, “Instead of paying $16.4 billion in taxes, as the new 21 percent corporate tax rate requires, these companies enjoyed a net corporate tax rebate of $4.3 billion, blowing a $20.7 billion hole in the federal budget last year.”

This figure by itself is an irrefutable answer to all the bogus claims—made to workers in every part of the United States—that there is “no money” to pay for needed social programs, for wage and benefit increases, or to hire additional workers to reduce overwork and understaffing. The $20.7 billion would pay for a $7,000 bonus to every public school teacher in America.

The bonanza that these 60 corporations are enjoying is three times the amount that Trump proposes to cut from the budget of the Department of Education. It is 10 times the total amount budgeted for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which provides services for more than 2 million Native Americans. It is nearly 20 times the budget of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which conducts workplace safety inspections.

The ITEP report, issued by a group with close ties to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal Washington think tank, warns of the explosive political consequences of the corporate plundering of the Treasury. “The specter of big corporations avoiding all income taxes on billions in profits sends a strong and corrosive signal to Americans: that the tax system is stacked against them, in favor of corporations and the wealthiest Americans,” the report says.

At the same time, the tax cuts for big business are fueling the federal deficit, which will be used by both Democratic and Republican politicians to call for further cuts in social spending. The February monthly federal deficit hit an all-time high of $234 billion this year, as a result of a 20 percent drop in corporate tax revenue. The deficit for the first half of 2019 is projected at $961 billion, and the deficit for the fiscal year ending September 30 is expected to reach $1.1 trillion, as bad as the deficits posted in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 financial crash.

More child poverty in Theresa May’s Britain


This 2016 video from Britain is called Poor Kids: Forced To Grow Up Poor (Child Poverty Documentary) – Real Stories.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

CHILD POVERTY SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASING’

Education professionals are reporting a significant increase in the visibility of child poverty in their school/college and have provided many distressing examples from daily life.

In advance of the National Education Union’s annual conference in Liverpool this week (15-18 April), more than 8,000 teachers, school leaders and support staff from across the UK took part in a survey on the State of Education and the conditions they are having to work under.

In-work poverty, housing issues such as high rents, homelessness and insecurity, as well as fears about how matters would deteriorate with Universal Credit, are common factors.

They are having a parlous effect on the learning of children living in poverty.

This situation is compounded by the education funding crisis which means schools and colleges can, reluctantly, do less and less to attempt to counter the impacts of poverty on young people’s education. There is a clear link, too, with the austerity agenda of successive Conservative governments.

NEU members showed that they are deeply concerned by the effects of poverty and low income on the learning of their students, with an overwhelming 91% agreeing it to be a factor.

Half the survey respondents feel it is a significant factor. This is a view consistently held across primary, secondary and college sectors. If independent providers are excluded from aggregate figures, some 97% of respondents in maintained schools, academies, free schools and further education establishments said that poverty affects their students’ learning. And over half (52%) of these respondents said the effect was large.

Since 2016, members have noticed a change in the ‘presence and effect’ of poverty or low income on pupils/students in their workplace.

The overall figures are as follows:

• Half of respondents (50%) believe things have got worse or significantly worse.

• Less than a third (30%) described the situation as consistent with 2016

• Just 2% described an improved situation.

One respondent said: ‘The poverty gap has clearly got bigger. The number of students displaying difficult behaviours has increased and poverty is most certainly a factor.’

A significant number of members described a widespread concern about school uniforms:

• ‘Several wear clothing that is ill-fitting or not clean. Shoes are often ill-fitting or very worn, coats are often inadequate for weather.’

• ‘We have bought uniform items and pretend they are from students who have grown out of them.’

• ‘Children coming to school with holes in their shoes or cheap shoes which are not weather proof. Children attending school with no coats, no socks and without other essential items of clothing.’

• ‘Dress-up days can be… a very sad day. The rich children show off and those struggling with finances are really noticed by the other children … so they may decide not to attend school on that day.’

• ‘Food banks are an everyday necessity as is the market for either free or second-hand uniform. Parents have no spare money and children are suffering.’

When asked in a multiple-choice question to identify the impacts on learning that could be attributed to poverty, over three-quarters of respondents said that their students demonstrated fatigue (78%), poor concentration (76%) or poor behaviour (75%).

More than half of members said their students had experienced hunger (57%) or ill health (50%) as a result of poverty, and more than a third (35%) said students had been bullied because of it.

• ‘Overcrowding in homes, so children do not have space to do homework.’

• ‘Far more students are finding it harder to concentrate.’

• ‘Most of my class arrive at school hungry and thirsty.’

• ‘Some students have mentioned that they have not had any food for two days, some come without having breakfast and with no dinner money but are not on free school meals.’

• ‘Their social and emotional needs are not being met and this is having detrimental effects on their learning and behaviour.’

• ‘Lack of funding in real terms means my school has to stop providing things such as free breakfast.’

Commenting on the survey results, Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: ‘Government does not want to hear these stories from the frontline of teaching, but they must. ‘It is truly shaming for the UK, one of the richest countries in the world.

‘A decade of austerity has only served to place more children in poverty, while at the same time destroying the support structures for poor families. ‘This was an ideological strategy and the findings of this survey are its effects. Put simply, the government is failing to recognise the human costs of its actions.

‘Government must stop blaming schools for the impact of its austerity policies upon the most vulnerable in our society and take action to alleviate the suffering of the increasing numbers who are living in poverty.’

The survey of 8,674 members in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland was conducted between 28 March and 3rd April 2019. Over half of the respondents (53%) are classroom teachers and around a quarter (26%) are in head of department or leadership roles, including head teachers. The sample works in a range of school/college settings, including primary (37%) and secondary (42%).

Meanwhile, the ‘March of the four-year-olds’, organised by campaign group More Than A Score will be marching to 10 Downing Street to hand in a 64,000-strong petition demanding a halt to the government’s plans to test four-year-olds when they start school.

A group of 4-year-olds will personally deliver the petition. More Than A Score said: ‘Now it’s time for the government to listen to parents, teachers, heads and education experts. ‘Those who know our children best all agree: testing four-year-olds makes no sense.

‘We want as many pre-school children and parents as possible to join us on the day.’

The details are:

The March of the 4-Year-Olds Thursday 25th April

12:00-12:15: Gather in Parliament Square 12:30: March to Downing Street

13:00: Hand in petition at 10 Downing Street ‘Please also bring signs, placards and musical instruments. We want to be seen and heard!’

YouGov has surveyed over 200 headteachers, deputy heads and primary school leaders to investigate their views on assessment in primary schools. The results – commissioned by More Than A Score – reveal a raft of concerns including:

An overwhelming majority of primary school leaders (93%) believe that the government should review the current system of standardised assessment.

The same number believe that policy is decided without sufficient consultation with heads or other experts, while 87% think that politicians don’t listen to the views of headteachers when making education policy.

More Than A Score points out that, from next year, primary school pupils will be tested in reception, year 1, year 2, year 4 and year 6, despite opposition from teachers and academic experts. The campaign group believes that children are being used as data points to measure accountability.

Year 6 SATs (Standard Attainment Tests) – the most high-profile pressurised tests currently taken by primary-age children – come in for damning criticism from heads and other school leaders.

They agree that both teachers (98%) and pupils (94%) are placed under unnecessary pressure because of SATs, and 96% have some concerns about the effects of the tests on the well-being of pupils. All survey respondents say they have discussed issues about SATs with their colleagues including SATs causing stress in their working life (89% agree); concern about the welfare of pupils (87% agree); not being able to reach SATs targets (83% agree).

93% of respondents say they have been contacted by parents raising concerns about their children in the run-up to KS2 SATs, including: their child feeling stressed/anxious because of SATs (83% agree); their child being under too much pressure because of SATs (69% agree); their child possibly getting poor grades (61% agree).

Clare Campbell from More Than A Score, said: ‘Our research highlights the top-to-bottom unfairness of the system. ‘At the behest of the government, our children must sit high-pressure tests under exam conditions.

‘Their teachers and schools are judged on the resulting data which can’t possibly provide an overall assessment of all that they are capable of, and these results then follow them all the way to GCSE level.

‘The government insists that our pupils sit these tests, so it is the government who should be held responsible for these negative effects on the curriculum and the unnecessary pressure placed on our children and teachers. ‘Heads and teachers know our children best. It’s time for a complete review of the ways we assess primary school children.’

Looking to the future, Helen Longton-Howorth, from the campaign group concluded: ‘I’d like the government to really listen to us and stop tinkering with education. Stop continually introducing new initiatives and changes to assessment and overhaul the whole system.’

A study by the Social Metrics Commission (SMC) finds that more than 4 million people in the UK are mired in “deep poverty,” with an income at least 50 percent below the official poverty line. Many families in this bracket struggle to pay for the most basic essentials: here.

The proportion of pensioners living in severe poverty, receiving less than 40 percent of median household income, has climbed to five times the level of 1986. This is an increase from 0.9 percent to 5 percent. It is the largest increase among western European countries, taking the UK from one of the lowest rates to the fourth highest: here.

Bloody Italian-French proxy oil war in Libya


This 2 February 2018 video says about itself:

Tunisia: Macron slams French intervention in Libya

French President Emmanuel Macron criticised the French and foreign intervention in Libya in 2011, speaking before the Assembly of People’s Representatives in Tunis on Thursday.

The French President criticised that France decided to “intervene from the outside” and “without having, for some time, a political project or a few projects for afterwards.”

He took a swing at Europe, the US and other nations that formed a coalition against the former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi saying that they bear an “indisputable” responsibility for thinking “that we could substitute the sovereignty of a population in order to decide for its future.”

He accused Europe and France of collectively plunging Libya “six years ago in anomie without being able to regulate the situation,” and that “the impact on Tunisia was direct“.

To conclude, Macron promised to put all of his energy to the purpose of achieving “political stability in Libya”. In 2011, France was the first country to back the National Transitional Council when the West militarily intervened in the country, leading to tens of thousands of Libyan deaths and the country to break apart. French aircraft were send to Libya and conducted military strikes against Gaddafi’s forces in a move that was flagged by many nations as immature.

So, after the 2011 NATO ‘humanitarian’ war on Libya turned out to cause disaster, United States President Obama criticized it, blaming British Conservative Prime Minister Cameron for the misery.

In 2018, as the video shows, Macron criticized that war as well, blaming his predecessor Sarkozy. Sarkozy bombed Libya, using jihadists as foot soldiers for French Total corporation to grab Libyan oil..

However, it looks in 2019 like Macron is more or less repeating Sarkozy‘s mistakes. This time with the ex-CIA asset, warlord Khalifa Haftar, as proxy for French Total corporation to grab Libyan oil.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

EU tears apart as Italy accuses France of provoking civil war in Libyan ‘power grab’

THOUSANDS of Libyans have been forced out of their homes as fighting rages in the capital Tripoli between the forces of the UN-recognised ‘Government of National Accord’ (GNA) of Fayez al-Sarraj, and those of the powerful warlord General Khalifa Haftar.

Haftar, who heads the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA), is backed by the French along with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States … while Sarraj is supported by the US and the Italian government …

Haftar launched a surprise attack to seize control of the entire country from his base in the oil rich east of Libya, on the eve of a ‘peace conference’ organised by the UN, Britain, Germany and Italy and, on paper, by the entire EU acting in harmony to broker some peace in a country torn apart by NATO bombing.

The UN peace plan was supposed to bring some form of agreement between these murderous groups that control various parts of Libya, and to restore ‘stability’ to a country destroyed by imperialism. Haftar’s march on Tripoli put an end to this plan. It now transpires that, in his drive to civil war, Haftar was encouraged and backed by the French government. While the rest of the EU were all for peace agreements and stability, French president Emmanuel Macron was plotting civil war in Libya.

According to reports from Italian security sources, agents of Haftar held secret meetings in Paris and secured French support for his military attack on Tripoli. Already, France had been supplying military support to Haftar through French Special Forces training the LNA. This move by Macron has caused a seismic rupture between Italy and France.

Italy, as the old colonial power in Libya, is incensed at what it sees as a power grab by France in what it considers to be its backyard – if anyone is going to exploit Libya’s oil wealth the Italian government is determined it will be them.

Matteo Salvini, leader in the ruling Italian coalition government said: ‘The government is weighing up carefully whether France is in any way mixed up in these armed clashes in Libya. If it is true that there are economic interests behind the chaos in Libya, and if France is blocking a European peace initiative and instead backing one side, it would be a very grave matter.’ Very grave indeed!

Macron’s secret plotting to provoke a full scale civil war in Libya to overthrow a puppet government backed by the US and the rest of the EU blows a hole in the entire facade that the EU is a model of political and economic harmony. The idea peddled by supporters of the EU in Britain that the EU is a force for peace and stability in Europe and the world has been torn apart and revealed as a monstrous lie.

Under the impact of the world crisis, the nation states of Europe are at each other’s throats, each determined to survive at the expense of its rivals. French imperialism under previous president Sarkozy led the way, along with Britain and the US, in bombing … Libya into rubble and now it is provoking a civil war that will cost the lives of thousands of Libyans and force many more to flee as refugees in order to gain control of the country’s oil wealth.

Macron has ripped away the facade of EU unity and exposed it for what it is, a collection of desperate capitalist nations each fighting for survival in the face of the world capitalist crisis.