Closing Thought–10Sep18


Something that is not in the news much these days….a labor strike.  Seems that the industry that may benefit most from Our Dear Leader’s tariffs is the steel industry and they may go on strike……

US Steel workers are fired up and ready to strike if a new contract isn’t reached soon, the Times of Northwest Indiana reports. Workers for the Pittsburgh-based company voted nationwide this week to approve a strike if talks involving health care costs, retiree benefits, and wage increases don’t work out—at a time when their employer is apparently rolling in money. “Angry USW members conducted strike authorization meetings at each US Steel local over the past week,” the United Steelworkers said in a statement to workers, adding that there was “an overwhelming ‘yes’ vote in every local. Many locals reported that their results were unanimous.” A three-year US Steel contract for roughly 16,000 USW workers ran out Saturday.

Don Furko, president of USW Local 1557 in Clairton, Pa., says workers are pushing back at a time when President Trump’s policies are benefitting US Steel: “Between the tariffs and the tax break for corporations, they stand to make $2 billion this year,” he tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. US Steel says it’s offering workers profit-sharing of at least $6,000, a signing bonus of $4,000, wage increases starting at 4%, a 15-cent hourly increase to 401(k) retirement plans, and a one-time $5,000 health-care bonus. But Farko says workers still have too many out-of-pocket health care costs for family coverage. The pro-strike vote surprised steel-industry sources, says the Post-Gazette. There hasn’t been a US Steel work stoppage since the company locked out workers for six months in 1986.

As an old labor activist it is good to see the workers taking control once again.  No matter the outcome…..the workers are asserting themselves once again…..but the “Man” will make sure this goes nowhere.

Will the National Guard be called in to “break” any strike….

But the gauzy, halcyon portrait of the New Deal does not stand up to the reality of the Little Steel Strike of 1937 that is the subject of Ahmed White’s magisterial The Last Great Strike: Little Steel, the CIO, and the Struggle for Labor Rights in New Deal America that I discussed in a previous CounterPunch article focused on identity politics and the racism endured by Black steelworkers. For those new to the topic, “little” refers to the group of companies that blocked the CIO from organizing its workers, as opposed to US Steel, the “big” company that had they had come to terms with in March 1937. Little Steel consisted of Republic Steel Corporation, Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company and Inland Steel Company. Despite being called “little” in comparison to US Steel, each ranked among the hundred largest firms in America

Would Our Dear Leader call out the Guard to break a strike?

The War Wagon

NO!  This is not a post about a John Wayne movie….one I hate westerns and two it is about a implement of total destruction.

We are in the process of remembering World War One, the Great War, The War To End War….that war gave us some truly horrible killing machines…the machine gun, poison gas shells, flame thrower and the biggest and best of these terrible lethal things….the tank.

This history lesson is about the development and deployment of the tank……

Richard Lovell Edgeworth invented the Caterpillar track in 1770. In the Crimean War a small number of steam powered tractors based on this design proved very successful in the muddy terrain. He played around with for forty years but that he never successfully developed. He described it as a “cart that carries its own road”. (1)

The development of the modern tank remained dormant until the arrival of the internal combustion engine, patented by Gottlieb Daimler in 1885. In the United States the Holt Company built a tractor with caterpillar tracks that was used to move over difficult territory. Although it was suggested that this machine might be adapted for military use, those in positions of authority failed to see the significance of this new development. (2)

We are witnessing over 100 years of killing power in one machine…..

The first tanks rolled across a battlefield on the morning of 15 September 1916, when British forces attacked the positions of the German 28th Reserve Infantry Regiment at Flers–Courcelette with 32 tanks in an effort to break the stalemate on the Somme. To honour the 100th anniversary of the memorable event, Claire Apthorp takes a look back over the evolution of tanks in the UK

Through many changes the tank remains a superb killing machine if I may use that terminology….a dubious claim I know…and as an antiwar person I wish we could have a world without the need for such killing apparatuses….but that is wishful thinking, huh?

Class Dismissed!

What Happened To ISIS?

If you watch your local news or some form of national news you might think that the terrorist group known as ISIS have been beaten or that they went into hiding….well that is not accurate in any shape.

While it is accurate to say that it has been sorely depleted but that does not mean that they are defeated…..

As much as we have tried to turn ISIS into the devil incarnate why would Our Dear Leader off them some breathing space…..I know  say what?

Islamic State managed to regain access to Syrian oil fields and make profits from selling oil, a new UN report reveals. While the UN did not point fingers, the IS reemergence seems to occur in areas held by the US-backed forces.

“Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant [IS, formerly ISIL/ISIS], having been defeated militarily in Iraq and most of the Syrian Arab Republic during 2017, rallied in early 2018. This was the result of a loss of momentum by forces fighting it in the east of the Syrian Arab Republic,” the recent report from the UN Security Council’s Sanctions Monitoring Team reads. The document is dated July 27, but was only released to the public this week.

The slow-down gave IS “breathing space to prepare for the next phase of its evolution into a global covert network.” As of June 2018, the terrorist group has been controlling “small pockets of territory in the Syrian Arab Republic on the Iraqi border,” effectively carrying on with its quasi-state ways.

“[IS] was able to extract and sell some oil, and to mount attacks, including across the border into Iraq,” the reports stated, adding that the terrorist group regained “access to some oil fields in northeastern”Syria.


More reporting on this situation…..

Around the Syrian countryside is IdLib and warnings from the US…..

In a new tweet on Monday, President Trump warned Syria against attacking the rebels in Idlib Province. He also warned Iran and Russia against participating in any such attack if it happens.

“The Russians and Iranians would be making a grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy,” Trump insisted, saying that “hundreds of thousands of people could be killed.”

Though Syria hasn’t confirmed any specifics, it is believed they are preparing to attempt to expel the rebels from Idlib, including the al-Qaeda dominated faction which UN officials say has 10,000 designed terrorist fighters within.

Others estimate that overall, some 70,000 fighters are within, and the densely populated area could indeed lead to large civilian death tolls in the fighting. The US opposition is particularly noteworthy, however, because recent offensives against other densely populated cities and provinces, like Deir Ezzor and Mosul, saw not only US endorsements but direct US participation.


Just what is the USA end game in Syria?  The facts that I read are confusing at best….so what is the end game?

After a suspiciously sudden conversion, Russian President Vladimir Putin now claims to be worried about the fate of millions of refugees who have fled the carnage in Syria. In last weekend’s meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Putin expressed his hope that the European Union would help to rebuild Syria so that its displaced people could start to return home. And in recent weeks, Russian diplomats have been hawking the same message across European capitals.

To be sure, now that Bashar al-Assad’s regime has reclaimed most of the country’s territory, Syria’s civil war is clearly winding down. But that outcome was not inevitable. On the contrary, the Syrian army was very close to collapsing at one point. Only with the crucial help of Iranian-backed militias and Russian air support did Assad manage to turn things around.

ISIS is still just as viable now as it was 4 years ago……it has moved into ops in Afghanistan and Africa (mostly)….

It’s The Balkans Again

I recently reported on the events in the Balkans and for those that do not visit IST everyday…..a reminder(may I suggest that if you do not know the history of the region then the vid in the post should help)…..

Serbia and Kosovo have been at odds for years and a solution has always seem unattainable…..but now …….

Conferences, meetings and summits are usually forgettable. If GPF covered the comings and goings of every leader at every European get-together, we wouldn’t have time to write about much else. But some are due a certain amount of respect. What if, say, two enemies-turned-statesmen actually agreed with each other in potentially redrawing their countries’ boundaries? Such was the case last weekend, when the presidents of Serbia and Kosovo spoke at the European Forum Alpbach 2018 in Austria. Whispers of partition have been audible for a few months now, but this marks the first public utterings of the possibility on both sides – and it happened before EU-mediated talks resume Sept. 7.

It’s not especially surprising that Serbia and Kosovo would consider partition. There are pockets of ethnic Albanians in Serbia, and pockets of ethnic Serbs in Kosovo, and any serious deal to end their dispute, the most current iteration of which dates back to the early 1990s, needs to take that into account. These pockets of political opposition may well keep a deal from getting off the ground, but the presidents are nonetheless pushing forward with what is, so far, the most serious attempt yet to resolve this long-running conflict.

This region could ignite at any time….it would be best to keep an eye on the events fueling the discontent….

When the next history of the Balkans is written, these two statements will prove to be the most consequential by any U.S. officials. It was James Baker’s statement that gave the green light for Slobodan Milosevic to unleash the full arsenal of former Yugoslavia on breakaway Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. A calamitous, decadelong series of conflicts in the region—all almost wholly avoidable—was the result.

John Bolton’s statement now threatens to undo the ensuing two decade-plus international effort to make peace. Building on rumors about private talks between the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo to swap territory as a means of ending their standoff, and hints of a change in U.S. policy, Bolton has now given the green light to Serbia and Kosovo to trade territory as a way of ending their decadelong—in fact, centurylong—standoff.

For the last 100 years the Balkans have been a tinderbox…..special attention needs apply.