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Issue #1630      March 12, 2014

Culture & Life

Demonising North Korea & destroying jobs

The capitalist mass media – and its faithful echo, the ABC – has been full for some weeks now of accounts of the gross human rights violations that apparently occur routinely in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, more commonly North Korea). I say “apparently”, because these accounts were contained in a report issued at the beginning of February by a special commission of the United Nations. Now, that may sound impressive, until you realise that the Commission in question was established in response to a bill passed in 2004 by the US Congress, called the “North Korean Human Rights Act”. This was not the first time that the US was able to lead the UN by the nose.

The North Korean Human Rights Act was sponsored by Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas.

The North Korean Human Rights Act was sponsored by Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas. Since then Senator Brownback has become Governor Brownback, and is described by The New York Times as “a hero of the country’s Christian right” who is pushing “a bullishly conservative agenda” in Kansas. Senator Brownback’s act established a special office on “human rights in North Korea” at the US State Department.

Part of the role of this special office was “to get a UN cover for this effort to defame the DPRK” (Workers World, USA). The office was headed up by Jay Lefkowitz whom the Washington Post describes as a “cerebral neoconservative”.

To sum up: the damning “human rights” critique of the DPRK issued by the UN is the brainchild of a US government department whose agenda is to bring about “regime change” in North Korea. It is as believable as the lies pedalled by NATO spokespersons about Libya, Ukraine, Venezuela, Syria or anywhere else that the US and its NATO allies are interested in disrupting and wrecking.

Changing the subject somewhat, have you noticed just how grim of visage Tony Abbott is these days? I mean, he always looks grim even when he’s smiling (that’s just him) but lately he looks grimmer than usual, assuming that’s possible. There are good reasons for this, of course: the country’s economy is going down the tube faster than you can say “mounting job losses”. By the time Abbott, Hockey and co get tossed out at the next election they will have overseen the most destructive period of de-industrialisation that this country has ever seen, with numerous major employers ceasing production, and tens of thousands of jobs sent off-shore.

Abbott’s only response to this catastrophic situation is to repeat his pathetic mantra that small businesses will provide alternative jobs with the money they save on their light bills once his bête noir, the carbon tax, is repealed. He says this with such conviction one must conclude that he actually believes it, which doesn’t say much for his intelligence. But then, he refuses to believe in global warming so his intelligence is actually a moot point anyway.

Of course, Abbott is not the only Conservative politician to prefer faith over science. (Look at George W Bush.) Or consider Britain’s Tory PM, David Cameron. His government cut funding to that country’s Environment Agency, funding the agency wanted in order to carry out planned flood prevention work in Somerset, the Severn Valley, the Thames Valley and the Fenlands. Since 2009, funds for the Environment Agency have been cut by 16 percent, but during this same period inflation has increased by 11 percent. In real terms, the grant to the Environment Agency has been cut by more than a quarter.

As Daphne Liddle says in The New Worker: “The Somerset levels are below sea level, and like the marshes of the Fens and large parts of East Anglia, the farming land has been reclaimed over generations by much hard work in creating ditches, drains, dykes, broads, canals and high river banks.

“The people who live in these areas know well that these man-made flood defences must be regularly maintained or the flood waters will inevitably return – this is even without taking climate change into consideration. And the flood defences put in place by previous governments after the horrendous floods all down the east coast [of Britain] in 1953, in which over 300 people died, have played a vital role in preventing this [northern] winter’s floods being even worse.”

The floods, storm surges and wild seas that recently shook Britain also shook up significant numbers of the ruling class, whose posh mansions in the high-priced Thames Valley were affected by flood waters just like poor people’s houses. For now, most of the ultra-high end property market is still protected by the Thames Barrier (a wall of flood-gates across the Thames that can be closed to prevent flooding). But water levels are expected to top the Barrier before long. Daphne Liddle warns: “When that happens, the Palace of Westminster will also be under water, along with most of the Tube network.”

As a wise man once said, “There are none so blind as those who will not see.” Cameron seems to be much more interested in promoting British imperialist interests in Ukraine (and elsewhere in Europe and Africa) than in bothering much with domestic problems. Like Tony Abbott, he seems to think that the ruling class will effectively be immune from any adverse effects that climate change might have on the planet, simply because well-to-do people ought to be exempt from them. Apart from revolutions (which are a Bolshevik plot) bad things simply cannot happen to the top people.

And so, they cut funds to agencies charged with protecting the environment, downgrade the role of science in advising government (Abbott has even dispensed with the position of Science Minister in his cabinet, for the first time in decades), and put their trust in prayer.

Much comfort that will be to ordinary people in Britain or Australia, as Britain’s NHS and Australia’s Medicare are earmarked for destruction, environmental pollution is encouraged to continue unabated, pensions and welfare are cut and the flight of jobs to low wage countries goes on unchecked.

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