In the News:*More devastation for the working class *Screened for profit *The snows of Kilimanjaro and the drive for profit
Almost immediately after the latest UK/US air strikes on Iraq, it was perhaps quite strange to read in a Guardian headline: “Allies ready to ease Iraq sanctions.” According to Whitehall sources, “Britain and the US have agreed to rethink their policy towards Iraq in the face of mounting hostility from the Arab world, inflamed by airstrikes.”
Was this the final throw of the dice—going out with a bang rather than with a whimper? Perhaps it was a show of strength by the new president, cementing relations with Tony Blair to assure everyone that the special relationship is still intact. This said, the strategic timing could not have been worse given current Arab-Israeli relations (with the remote possibility of a wider regional conflict). We also have to consider the potentially damaging relations with OPEC, which could react by squeezing oil production—thus pushing up oil prices—as Arab opinion becomes ever more hostile to Western interests.
Of course, with it being an open secret that the oil sanctions are already being routinely flouted (especially via the new Iraqi-Syrian pipeline)—combined with the fact that the major players such as France, Russia and China want sanctions to be lifted—it could well be that the US/UK are about to bow to the inevitable and bring Iraqi oil back on tap. The rehabilitation process may have already begun with a new proposal to move towards “smart sanctions”. These sanctions would be predominantly concerned with arms control and controlling the freedom of movement for leading members of the Iraqi regime. However, as the Guardian further points out: “Imports for rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure and oil industry would be allowed.”
We have previously documented the murderous and hypocritical policies of the US/UK towards Iraq with the resulting mass slaughter of the working class and we condemn it once again.
It now appears that the US/UK hegemonic policy is slowly giving way to what the other major powers wanted all along—the rehabilitation of Iraq. But this does not mean that the US/UK strategy has been in vain. On the contrary, it has kept a brutal dictator in power, Iraq’s borders intact (thus also containing Iran) and it has devastated the working class.
Insurance firms were questioned by members of the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee on genetic testing on 7 February. The spokesman for Norwich Union said that only tests for Huntingdon’s disease had been carried out by his firm, as agreed by the insurance companies’ self-regulating body.
“But during questioning Mike Urmston, chief actuary at Norwich Union, was forced to explain that breast and ovarian cancer tests were also being used,” says the Times.
Shock, horror and gasps of amazement from the committee. Could this be a capitalist firm putting profits before human wellbeing? Surely not?
“Dr. Ian Gibson, a member of the committee, accused Norwich Union of trying to set up a ‘genetic ghetto’. He called on the Government to stem the tide of genetic testing by insurance companies. Self-regulation is clearly not working. These companies are attempting to identify a genetic underclass which can only lead to them profiting and individuals being discriminated against.”
The Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine has also carried a report that such screening was puting people’s lives at risk. “The risk, the authors say, is that people will be discouraged from taking tests with potential medical benefits because they fear insurance companies will discriminate against them.”
The mapping of the human gene code, with its possibilities of a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, breast and ovarian cancers, should be celebrated as a great triumph for humanity. However, we live in a capitalist world where profit is paramount and where human health and happiness count for very little.
At least one-third of the massive ice field atop Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa has disappeared or melted in the last dozen years, according to Lonnie Thompson, professor of geological sciences at Ohio University, speaking at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. About 82 per cent of the ice field has been lost since it was first mapped in 1912.
A similar picture emerges from his research for South America, China, Tibet and for glaciers around the world. “These glaciers are very much like the canaries once used in coal mines,” Thompson said. “They’re an indicator of massive changes taking place and a response to the changes in climate in the tropics.”
Dealing with the dramatic loss of glaciers in the Andes, he said: “The loss of these frozen reserves threaten water resources for hydroelectric power production in the region, and for crop irrigation and municipal water supplies. What they’re really doing now is cashing in on a bank account that was built over thousands of years but isn’t being replenished. Once it’s gone, it will be diffficult to reform.”
“In such cases, the countries will probably have to switch to burning fossil fuels to meet their power needs. And by doing so, they’ll add more carbon dioxide and water vapour to the atmosphere—two gases that are known to enhance the greenhouse effect and intensify global warming.”
This is typical of capitalist society which, in its drive for profit, uses cheap fossil fuels to deal with the effects of global warming, and thereby causes more global warming. See www.acs.ohio-state.edu/units/research/archive/glasgone.htm.