Contributed by a Centrelink recipient
No doubt many will find that news that the Department of Human Services has farmed out its debt collecting on commission distasteful. Continue reading Centrelink debt collectors are being paid by commission
Contributed by a Centrelink recipient
No doubt many will find that news that the Department of Human Services has farmed out its debt collecting on commission distasteful. Continue reading Centrelink debt collectors are being paid by commission
The new attack launched by the new CIA Director (13 April 2017) against Julian Assange and its founder WikiLeaks is not only unjust,
Prophetically foreshadowing the current crisis (and apparent action plan), leaked CIA documents from the reign of Bashar al-Assad’s father in the 1980s show a Washington Deep State plan coalescing to “bring real muscle to bear against Syria,” toppling its leader (in favor of one amenable to US demands), severing ties with Russia (its primary arms dealer), and paving the way for an oil and gas pipeline of Washington’s choosing.
As ActivistPost.com’s Brandon Turbeville detailed (just a day before Trump unleashed his Tomahawks), as the Syrian crisis enters its sixth year, the Donald Trump administration is looking more and more like the Obama administration every day. With the Trump regime refusing to open useful dialogue with Russia regarding Syria, its obvious anti-Iran and pro-Israel positioning, and support for a very questionable “safe zone” plan for Syria, the odds of a rational U.S. policy in regards to Syria has lower and lower odds of existence as time progresses.
Yet, despite the fact that the Trump administration is apparently poised to continue the Obama regime’s proxy war of aggression against the people of Syria, an example of seamless transition, it should also be remembered that the plan to destroy Syria did not begin with Obama but with the Bush administration.
Even now, as the world awaits the continuation of the Syrian war through a Democratic and Republican administration, the genesis of that war goes back to the Republican Bush administration, demonstrating that there is indeed an overarching agenda and an overarching infrastructure of an oligarchical deep state intent on moving forward regardless of which party is seemingly in power.
As journalist Seymour Hersh wrote in his article, “The Redirection,”
To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.
“Extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam” who are “hostile to America and sympathetic to al-Qaeda” are the definition of the so-called “rebels” turned loose on Syria in 2011. Likewise, the fact that both Iran and Hezbollah, who are natural enemies of al-Qaeda and such radical Sunni groups, are involved in the battle against ISIS and other related terrorist organizations in Syria proves the accuracy of the article on another level.
Hersh also wrote,
The new American policy, in its broad outlines, has been discussed publicly. In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that there is “a new strategic alignment in the Middle East,” separating “reformers” and “extremists”; she pointed to the Sunni states as centers of moderation, and said that Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah were “on the other side of that divide.” (Syria’s Sunni majority is dominated by the Alawi sect.) Iran and Syria, she said, “have made their choice and their choice is to destabilize.”
Some of the core tactics of the redirection are not public, however. The clandestine operations have been kept secret, in some cases, by leaving the execution or the funding to the Saudis, or by finding other ways to work around the normal congressional appropriations process, current and former officials close to the Administration said.
This time, the U.S. government consultant told me, Bandar and other Saudis have assured the White House that “they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was ‘We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.’ It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.”
Fourth, the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria. The Israelis believe that putting such pressure on the Assad government will make it more conciliatory and open to negotiations. Syria is a major conduit of arms to Hezbollah.
In January, after an outburst of street violence in Beirut involving supporters of both the Siniora government and Hezbollah, Prince Bandar flew to Tehran to discuss the political impasse in Lebanon and to meet with Ali Larijani, the Iranians’ negotiator on nuclear issues. According to a Middle Eastern ambassador, Bandar’s mission—which the ambassador said was endorsed by the White House—also aimed “to create problems between the Iranians and Syria.” There had been tensions between the two countries about Syrian talks with Israel, and the Saudis’ goal was to encourage a breach. However, the ambassador said, “It did not work. Syria and Iran are not going to betray each other. Bandar’s approach is very unlikely to succeed.”
The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, a branch of a radical Sunni movement founded in Egypt in 1928, engaged in more than a decade of violent opposition to the regime of Hafez Assad, Bashir’s father. In 1982, the Brotherhood took control of the city of Hama; Assad bombarded the city for a week, killing between six thousand and twenty thousand people. Membership in the Brotherhood is punishable by death in Syria. The Brotherhood is also an avowed enemy of the U.S. and of Israel. Nevertheless, Jumblatt said, “We told Cheney that the basic link between Iran and Lebanon is Syria—and to weaken Iran you need to open the door to effective Syrian opposition.”
There is evidence that the Administration’s redirection strategy has already benefitted the Brotherhood. The Syrian National Salvation Front is a coalition of opposition groups whose principal members are a faction led by Abdul Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian Vice-President who defected in 2005, and the Brotherhood. A former high-ranking C.I.A. officer told me, “The Americans have provided both political and financial support. The Saudis are taking the lead with financial support, but there is American involvement.” He said that Khaddam, who now lives in Paris, was getting money from Saudi Arabia, with the knowledge of the White House. (In 2005, a delegation of the Front’s members met with officials from the National Security Council, according to press reports.) A former White House official told me that the Saudis had provided members of the Front with travel documents.
Hersh also spoke with Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Shi’ite Lebanese militia, Hezbollah. In relation to the Western strategy against Syria, he reported,
Nasrallah said he believed that America also wanted to bring about the partition of Lebanon and of Syria. In Syria, he said, the result would be to push the country “into chaos and internal battles like in Iraq.” In Lebanon, “There will be a Sunni state, an Alawi state, a Christian state, and a Druze state.” But, he said, “I do not know if there will be a Shiite state.” Nasrallah told me that he suspected that one aim of the Israeli bombing of Lebanon last summer was “the destruction of Shiite areas and the displacement of Shiites from Lebanon. The idea was to have the Shiites of Lebanon and Syria flee to southern Iraq,” which is dominated by Shiites. “I am not sure, but I smell this,” he told me.
Partition would leave Israel surrounded by “small tranquil states,” he said. “I can assure you that the Saudi kingdom will also be divided, and the issue will reach to North African states. There will be small ethnic and confessional states,” he said. “In other words, Israel will be the most important and the strongest state in a region that has been partitioned into ethnic and confessional states that are in agreement with each other. This is the new Middle East.”
Yet, while even the connections between the plans to destroy Syria and the Bush administration are generally unknown, what is even less well-known is the fact that there existed a plan to destroy Syria as far back as 1983.
Documents contained in the U.S. National Archives and drawn up by the CIA reveal a plan to destroy the Syrian government going back decades. One such document entitled, “Bringing Real Muscle To Bear In Syria,” written by CIA officer Graham Fuller, is particularly illuminating. In this document, Fuller wrote,
Syria at present has a hammerlock on US interests both in Lebanon and in the Gulf — through closure of Iraq’s pipeline thereby threatening Iraqi internationalization of the [Iran-Iraq] war. The US should consider sharply escalating the pressures against Assad [Sr.] through covertly orchestrating simultaneous military threats against Syria from three border states hostile to Syria: Iraq, Israel and Turkey.
Even as far back as 1983, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s father, Hafez Assad, was viewed as a gadfly to the plans of Western imperialists seeking to weaken both the Iraqis and the Iranians and extend hegemony over the Middle East and Persia. The document shows that Assad and hence Syria represented a resistance to Western imperialism, a threat to Israel, and that Assad himself was well aware of the game the United States, Israel, and other members of the Western imperialist coalition were trying to play against him. The report reads,
Syria continues to maintain a hammerlock on two key U.S. interests in the Middle East:
— Syrian refusal to withdraw its troops from Lebanon ensures Israeli occupation in the south;
— Syrian closure of the Iraqi pipeline has been a key factor in bringing Iraq to its financial knees, impelling it towards dangerous internationalization of the war in the Gulf
Diplomatic initiatives to date have had little effect on Assad who has so far correctly calculated the play of forces in the area and concluded that they are only weakly arrayed against him. If the U.S. is to rein in Syria’s spoiling role, it can only do so through exertion of real muscle which will pose a vital threat to Assad’s position and power.
The author then presents a plan that sounds eerily similar to those now being discussed publicly by Western and specifically American corporate-financier think tanks and private non-governmental organizations who unofficially craft American policy. Fuller writes,
The US should consider sharply escalating the pressures against Assad [Sr.] through covertly orchestrating simultaneous military threats against Syria from three border states hostile to Syria: Iraq, Israel and Turkey. Iraq, perceived to be increasingly desperate in the Gulf war, would undertake limited military (air) operations against Syria with the sole goal of opening the pipeline. Although opening war on a second front against Syria poses considerable risk to Iraq, Syria would also face a two-front war since it is already heavily engaged in the Bekaa, on the Golan and in maintaining control over a hostile and restive population inside Syria.
Israel would simultaneously raise tensions along Syria’s Lebanon front without actually going to war. Turkey, angered by Syrian support to Armenian terrorism, to Iraqi Kurds on Turkey’s Kurdish border areas and to Turkish terrorists operating out of northern Syria, has often considered launching unilateral military operations against terrorist camps in northern Syria. Virtually all Arab states would have sympathy for Iraq.
Faced with three belligerent fronts, Assad would probably be forced to abandon his policy of closure of the pipeline. Such a concession would relieve the economic pressure on Iraq, and perhaps force Iran to reconsider bringing the war to an end. It would be a sharpening blow to Syria’s prestige and could affect the equation of forces in Lebanon.
Thus, Fuller outlines that not only would Syria be forced to reopen the pipeline of interest at the time, but that it would be a regional shockwave effecting the makeup of forces in and around Lebanon, weakening the prestige of the Syrian state and, presumably, the psychological state of the Syrian President and the Syrian people, as well as a message to Iran.
The document continues,
Such a threat must be primarily military in nature. At present there are three relatively hostile elements around Syria’s borders: Israel, Iraq and Turkey. Consideration must be given to orchestrating a credible military threat against Syria in order to induce at least some moderate change in its policies.
This paper proposes serious examination of the use of all three states – acting independently – to exert the necessary threat. Use of any one state in isolation cannot create such a credible threat.
The strategy proposed here by the CIA is virtually identical to the one being discussed by deep state establishment think tanks like the Brookings Institution today. For instance, in the Brookings document “Middle East Memo #21: Saving Syria: Assessing Options For Regime Change,” it says,
Turkey’s participation would be vital for success, and Washington would have to encourage the Turks to play a more helpful role than they have so far. While Ankara has lost all patience with Damascus, it has taken few concrete steps that would increase the pressure on Assad (and thereby antagonize Tehran). Turkish policy toward the Syrian opposition has actually worked at cross-purposes with American efforts to foster a broad, unified national organization. With an eye to its own domestic Kurdish dilemmas, Ankara has frustrated efforts to integrate the Syrian Kurds into a broader opposition framework. In addition, it has overtly favored the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood over all other opposition groups. Washington must impress upon Turkey the need to be more accommodating of legitimate Kurdish political and cultural demands in a post-Assad Syria, and to be less insistent on the primacy of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Some voices in Washington and Jerusalem are exploring whether Israel could contribute to coercing Syrian elites to remove Assad. The Israelis have the region’s most formidable military, impressive intelligence services, and keen interests in Syria. In addition, Israel’s intelligence services have a strong knowledge of Syria, as well as assets within the Syrian regime that could be used to subvert the regime’s power base and press for Assad’s removal. Israel could posture forces on or near the Golan Heights and, in so doing, might divert regime forces from suppressing the opposition. This posture may conjure fears in the Assad regime of a multi-front war, particularly if Turkey is willing to do the same on its border and if the Syrian opposition is being fed a steady diet of arms and training. Such a mobilization could perhaps persuade Syria’s military leadership to oust Assad in order to preserve itself. Advocates argue this additional pressure could tip the balance against Assad inside Syria, if other forces were aligned properly.
While Syria is not in conflict with Iraq today, after being destroyed by the United States in 2003, Western Iraq now houses the mysteriously funded Islamic State on the border between Iraq and Syria.
That being said, this plan is not merely being discussed, it is being implemented as one can clearly see by the fact that Israel routinely launches airstrikes against the Syrian military, Turkey continues to funnel ISIS and related terrorists into Syria through its own territory, and ISIS continues to present itself as an Eastern front militarily. As a result, the “multi-front” war envisioned and written about by the CIA in 1983 and discussed by Brookings in 2012 has come to fruition and is in full swing today.
Full Document below:
Then three years later, another CIA report (found recently in CREST database by Wikileaks) confirms much of the above, raising once again the goal of reducing Russian influence, and toppling any Syrian leadership that was inclined to escalate tensions with Israel…
Under most circumstances Moscow’s position in Syria should remain strong, but should Syria suffer another devastating military defeat at the hands of Israel new leaders might decide to look elsewhere for military equipment.
A shift to a Western arms supplier also could prompt parallel efforts to seek Western financial advice and support.
Best case scenario for Washington…
We judge that US interests in Syria probably would be best served by a Sunni regime as it might well include relative moderates interested in securing Western aid and investment.
Such a regime probably would be less inclined to escalate tensions with Israel.
Syria is the centerpiece of Moscow’s influence in the Middle East. Moscow thus has a vested interest in major policy shifts or changes in Syrian leadership. The Soviet Union and its East European allies provide virtually all of Syria’s arms, and the Soviets deliver more weapons to Syria than to any other Third World client.
We believe Moscow’s interests would be seriously jeopardized if Sunnis came to power through a civil war. Many Sunnis resent the Soviets because they are closely identified with Alawi dominance, and Sunnis would be especially hostile toward the Soviets if they had supported Alawis with military equipment and advisors in a civil war.
Scenarios of dramatic political change
US biggest fear was series of coups over succession of Bashar al-Assad’s father… That did not come to be.
Civil war (similar to what is very evident now)…
Sunni dissidence has been minimal since Assad crushed the Muslim Brotherhood in the early 1980s, but deep-seated tensions remain–keeping alive the potential for minor incidents to grow into major flareups of communal violence. For example, disgruntlement over price hikes, altercations between Sunni citizens and security forces, or anger at privileges accorded to Alawis at the expense of Sunnis could foster small-scale protests. Excessive government force in quelling such disturbances might be seen by Sunnis as evidence of a government vendetta against all Sunnis, precipitating even larger protests by other Sunni groups.
Best case scenario…
In our view, US interests would be best served by a Sunni regime controlled by business-oriented moderates. Business moderates would see a strong need for Western aid and investment to build Syria’s private economy, thus opening the way for stronger ties to Western governments. Although we believe such a government would give some support–or at least pay strong lip service–to Arab causes, this group’s preoccupation with economic development and its desire to limit the role of the military would give Sunnis an incentive to avoid a war with Israel.
We believe Washington’s gains would be mitigated, however, if Sunni fundamentalists assumed power. Although Syria’s secular traditions would make it extremely difficult for religious zealots to establish an Islamic Republic, should they succeed they would likely deepen hostilities with Israel and provide support and sanctuary to terrorist groups.
It’s a little late for that Islamic State genie to go back in the bottle now.
As Brandon Turbeville concludes, the trail of documentation and the manner in which the overarching agenda of world hegemony on the behalf of corporate-financier interests have continued apace regardless of party and seamlessly through Republican and Democrat administrations serves to prove that changing parties and personalities do nothing to stop the onslaught of imperialism, war, and destruction being waged across the world today and in earnest ever since 2001. Indeed, such changes only make adjustments to the appearance and presentation of a much larger Communo-Fascist system that is entrenching itself by the day.
The Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) is sticking fast to ensuring that its members interests are protected, when they are facing the impositions of the new building code, attached to the ABCC bill which passed over union objections in November. Continue reading Construction union challenges the new building code
By a Centrelink victim
There is no let up on Centrelink’s attacks on the innocent. On 18 January, the story of the suicide of Rhys Cauzzo broke. It was first published by The Saturday Paper. The Pen also published the story.
Centerelink’s response was that Rhys’s debt had not been made by the robo-debt system, but raised manually, as if this makes it all right, and that a $27,603.39 debt had been turned over to Dunn and Bradstreet to chase up.
Centrelink had alleged that Rhys had been overpaid. On 2 March, minister Alan Tudge’s office issued a media release implying Rhys had lied to Centrelink and justified the public disclosure of private matters in this context. The issues were not whether some debt was due, but the size of it and the handling of the case, especially when Centrelink was aware that Rhys has mental health issues that were likely to be aggravated by heavy handed action.
“Where a person makes a false public statement about their dealings with the Department of Human Services, whether through the media or otherwise,” it said, “social security law and family assistance law enables the Department to disclose customer information to the extent that it is necessary to correct factual inaccuracies or potentially misleading information.”
No evidence a false statement has ever been produced.
A week later, private information about blogger journalist Andie Fox was given to Fairfax journalist Paul Malone.
These are the two best known cases. Many others have been pressured in some way too and continue to be so.
Andie’s case caused a furor. But it succeeded in delivering the message that if you stand up, Centrelink will punish you, with the backing of the department, minister and ultimately the government.
The immediate likely purpose is to silence victims into not talking to the Senate inquiry, where it is already clear that advocacy groups find themselves compelled to speak for victims who are too scared to come out openly. The bullying is also aimed past this, to make it the standard to protect the government’s and Centrelink’s own interests and policy, regardless of morality, the harm it might cause, and arguably, in breach of the law. So far it has done so with impunity and is only being held back temporarily by the strength of public opinion and scrutiny from the Senate.
The deliberate use of intimidation by government is a threat not only to the rights of those on Centrelink payments. It threatens everyone and this is a good enough reason to resist.
The brutality of the Centrelink crackdown, its inaccuracy and dogged persistence to continue in the same way has caused growing public disquiet. Sympathy for the plight of Centrelink recipients has with it and the government has branded itself as heartless. Polls showing that more than half of Australians feel that more should be spent on social security provides evidence of this.
Mishandling of the Centrelink robo-debt issue and other Centrelink controversies is a major contributor to turning the government on the road towards being the most hated in Australian history.
One qualification must be made. Wages do figure highly in small business. But this diminishes as the size of the operation increases. What follows concerns big business. The focus is important because big business is the most decisive part of the Australian economy.
Note that this is not an exhaustive examination, but a brief sketch of what goes on.
Looking back over history shows that real wages tend around what it costs to raise an average family. This constant, was recognised by the landmark Harvester case in 1907, and regardless of whether it admitted or not, the truth of it shown the need of the average household to use all of its income to maintain its accustomed position. If real labour costs remain relatively constant, they are not likely to be the cause of rising real costs over the economy as a whole.
From time to time there is some departure from this rule, depending on the relative strength of the unions and employers and the short-term labour demand and supply factors. But over time, the norm asserts itself.
From the view-point of a business, operations are based on the overall costs of production. This does involve labour costs. It also contains the costs of providing the premises and equipment and materials needed to operate the business, plus taxes and other impositions placed by society. Only the first two are going to be considered here, because they are the most important.
Labour differs from the others in that the bigger the volume, in terms of units over a specified time period, the less the labour cost in each. Put another way. If one wage produces 1 unit in an hour is made and if this is changed to produce 10 in the same hour, the cost of labour has dropped to one tenth of what it was. It is the reason why the cost of labour is called variable capital.
Conversely, the cost of the premises and the equipment (other less important inputs are left out for ease of explanation) used, cannot be spread out over a larger volume in the same way. The cost remains the same for each unit, regardless of the quantity. This is why economists call this fixed or constant capital, depending on the school of thought. Increasing the volume of business increases the cost of this capital proportionally.
Fixed or constant capital has another property that differentiates it from variable capital. Investment in variable capital can be changed easily. The other capital cannot. The premises and equipment used come in precise units and at a certain point reach full capacity. Shifting to a new place to do business, redesigning it, or buying a new machine is expensive. Further expansion requires major new investment, which adds considerably to the costs of running the business. Times of rapid technological change add further to this problem.
The pressure to contain costs is the major driver for business expansion. More so, when the market is tight, because it is the smaller players that are most likely to fall off the perch. It is this that pushes forward the imperative for increased productivity. Increased productivity simply means spreading a given quantity of labour used over more units.
In an economy that is in truth shrinking and business opportunities with it, the tendency is to exploit labour to cover the rising cost of fixed or constant capital. Hence the drive to remake the labour market through the creation of flexible casualised work, cut wages growth and attack penalty rates. The real wage is falling in the present period. The degree to which this falls below the natural rate, marks the extent of a falling standard of living.
While some individual businesses may gain from this, in the aggregate it is another story. Putting wages below their natural real level contracts the economy further. This will translate into fewer business opportunities and a fall in the aggregate rate of profit. How this occurs is another story.
The final word is that rising costs is what is driving the call for assistance through less tax on business.
From The pen
Striking workers are holding an around-the-clock picket outside their Dandenong factory over a proposed new workplace agreement. Continue reading Strikers at Fletcher Insulation are determined to fight on
Contributed by Joe Montero
The numbers were there in the Senate last night, to throw out the government’s proposed to Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Continue reading http://the-pen.co/setback-for-corporate-sectional-interest/