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All the white working class kids in my little corner of the world are onto this one and have been for the past year or so!

Soaring global demand for copper is a growing threat to the British railway network leading to a surge in trackside metal theft, police have warned. Copper theft caused more than 240,000 minutes of delays for train passengers last year after a near-fivefold rise in robberies at tracks and depots.

Rail customers are the victims of an economic crime that is being driven by the insatiable demand for industrial material in China and India, said Andy Trotter, deputy chief constable of the British Transport police. “It is a growing problem,” he said. “You have only got to look at the rising copper price on the metal market and the theft of copper matches that rise almost absolutely. Unfortunately, the impact on the infrastructure is beginning to bite.”

Copper theft is a major problem in north-east England, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the delays related to metal thieves in the UK and wreaking havoc with the Northern Trains franchise. Mr Trotter said the regional bias of the problem may reflect the north-east’s industrial heritage. “The north-east has a tradition of heavy industry and of people who know how to deal with copper and metals,” he said. “There are also lots of people who know how to trade in it.”

Police also blamed copper thieves for the demolition of a bungalow in Bradford yesterday. The unoccupied house exploded after copper gas pipes on the outer walls were fractured, apparently by someone trying to rip them out. Police are looking for two boys, aged 10 and 11, in relation to the explosion.

“The copper is going through larger scrapyards, then to smelters and then by ship to China, which has an incredible demand for copper, particularly with the Beijing Olympics coming and the demand for telecoms infrastructure,” Mr Trotter said.

The global price of copper has risen fivefold since 2001 and has risen above $8,000 (£4,000) a tonne this year, driven by demand for its use in car production, building and power grids. China accounts for about 20% of global copper consumption and the US for 13%. Such is the demand that 2p pieces are more valuable if they are melted down for their copper…

…The clampdown has also led to stakeouts at suspect scrapyards, which have emerged as key outposts in the cable crime food chain.

Copper theft is also spreading to other industries. Earlier this month, Northumbrian Water said it had stepped up security after a spate of thefts from some of its sewage works in the north-east which it said would cost the company £100,000.

What makes this theft criminal and why is theft of oil or minerals from the third world through force not? Rhetorical question… Looking from my own lofty height I see no violent crime. Yes, cables are stolen from the railway and sidlngs but these are young boys still in school and some barely out of it who have picked up the profrit motive in an adulterated fashion. He! The Guardian. Non Sexy. So PC.

That aside, I ask you to think of Zambia, a supplier of copper to the world market during the sixties and seventies, eighties, nineties but which always found that the market for copper was controlled abroad in trading markets and ensured that so many Africans in Zambia lived below the poverty line sans water and electricity and good schools on the dirt road that passed their home. A road which a public transport vehicle might pass two or three times a day, if you were lucky. People in Zambia, those who worked the mines that stripped the copper, never saw wealth from copper enriching their communities.

Now I have to feel sorry for a bunch of booted and suited wankers who miss their trains because some entrepreneurial ten year olds steal copper from their railway? Give me a break.

I am watching Filthy Rich and Homeless on the telly and so far I am struck by how free enterprise is not so free.

A bunch of filthy rich brats give up the comforts of their homes to live on the streets sans mobiles, money, contacts.

One of the more entrepreneurial of the group arrogantly imagines he can make £200 pounds a day and begins his new enterprise by blagging flowers on credit from a wholesaler. His attitude to the waifs and strays he has encountered on the streets so far, has been that they are lazy, good for nothings. Given the chance to make hard cash he is dismayed to suddenly discover he needs a license to sell those flowers to the general public. The license costs money. Money he, of course, does not have. The coppers soon get to recognise him and thwart his plan at every underground station he decides to pitch at.

He is cold, tired and hungry and now begins to see the purpose of the soup kitchen.

The Guardian. So PC.


On May 1, the international day of the working class, Bolivia’s recently elected
President Evo Morales delivered a speech with worldwide repercussions, announcing the nationalization of the country’s gas and petroleum.

In the pronouncement, delivered in a dramatic tone aimed at lending the decree an air of historic heroism, Morales said: “The Spanish, the North Americans, the Europeans looted the tin, the silver and the natural resources. We should recognize that in 1937, under the leadership of the armed forces, petroleum was nationalized for the first time, the second nationalization was carried out in 1969 with the intellectual Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz and his struggle continues today.”

However, this history according to Morales tells only half of the truth. The president forgot to say that Quiroga, during that period, was the minister of petroleum in a military government led by Gen. Alfredo Ovando Candia, who was the partner in a military junta with Gen. René Barrientos, a valued collaborator of the CIA, whose government organized the murder of Che Guevara…

As Morales points out, this will be the third round of hydrocarbon nationalizations to take place in Bolivia. Is there any reason to believe that it will have better luck than the previous nationalizations? Those earlier initiatives, despite being launched with the same rhetoric, little by little were withdrawn. Are we witnessing this time an act that really meets the needs of Bolivian workers? Is this a genuinely anti-imperialist act, or an advance by the Bolivian revolution in the direction of socialism?

These hypotheses seem, at the very least, highly improbable, above all given the diverse historical experiences in Bolivia and Latin America as a whole with petty-bourgeois forces that advanced new, non-Marxist formulas for achieving “socialism.” The party of Evo Morales, the MAS, falls into this category of Latin American petty-bourgeois parties. It calls itself the “Movement toward Socialism,” but it also has developed its own peculiar route to reaching the new society.

According to Morales’s chief theoretician, his vice president, Álvaro Garcia Linera (sociologist, ex-Marxist, ex-guerrilla), this new road is called “Andean-Amazonian capitalism.” According to Linera, in an article published by Le Monde Diplomnatique, Bolivia now needs to build a strong state that will regulate the expansion of the industrial economy and transfer surpluses to the “communitarian sector,” developing “Andean-Amazonian forms of self-organization.”

Could these “Andean-Amazonian” forms be a metaphor for talking about socialism? No, socialism—according to Linera—would only come, probably, after another half century. As he wrote in the same article: “The decolonization of the state and the implementation of a new economic model will pose, from the first day, a left-indigenous government that will begin to initiate a process of irreversible change for the next half century.”

But, as regards the present, it seems that Linera intends to maintain capitalism or, rather, “Andean-Amazonian capitalism.” As he writes: “Andean-Amazonian capitalism is a form that, I believe, is adapted to our reality to improve the possibilities of the emancipation of the worker and community forces in the medium term. For this reason, we conceive of it as a temporary and transitory mechanism.”

    In this sense, the nationalization announced by Evo Morales is not an expropriation carried out in the interests of the Bolivian workers. Rather, it is a means of carrying forward this project of saving capitalism in the region and blocking the building of genuinely revolutionary organizations.

Many observers quickly commented that Morales carried out the nationalization with the aim of winning the elections to the Constituent Assembly, which will be held in July. If he failed to carry out measures perceived as sufficiently strong—like his May 1 announcement—he would run the risk of losing control of the assembly, and in a short space of time see the masses of Bolivians marching once again, this time against his own government and perhaps overturning one more president.

Thus, Morales’s and Linera’s nationalization decree, far from expressing a consistently anti-imperialist policy, would seem to be directed far more at the following objectives: winning the July elections with a sufficient majority; saving Bolivian capitalism; holding onto power and upholding the stability of the region, thereby blocking the advance of the proletariat in the Southern Cone.

Various facts point to this hypothesis. In the first place, as is known, the foreign corporations have been given a 180-day period to begin renegotiating their contracts. However, after the July elections, given that Morales wins a solid victory, he can begin ceding to the pressures exerted by the foreign companies. Moreover, according to the decree, during the transition period, the fields whose average production in 2005 was less than 33 million cubic meters of gas daily would be maintained under the current system for distributing the value produced, that is, they will undergo no change whatsoever.

Most of the foreign companies would fall into this category. Thus, for example, according to the newspaper Estado de São Paulo, British Petroleum (BP) said that it “is analyzing the impact of the measure, but wants to find formulas to continue working with the Bolivian government.” For BP, according to the same source, “the principal point is the 180 days of negotiations,” but as the company pointed out, it has “little presence in the country.” Similarly, the Enron-Shell consortium indicated no alarm whatsoever, and announced its “respect for the sovereign decision of the Bolivian government.”

The firms most affected by the decree will be Repsol (Spanish-Argentine) and, principally, Petrobras (the state-owned Brazilian energy giant), which in recent years made large investments in Bolivia. But it appears that even in these cases there is no great cause for alarm, as the decree affirms that the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons will evaluate the investments made by the companies, as well as interest payments, operational costs and profitability of each field. The results of these evaluations, according to the same newspaper, “will serve as the basis for YPBF (Bolivia’s state-run energy firm) to determine definitive compensation or participation of each company in the new contracts.”

Thus, it appears that the nationalization will be carried out without expropriations and at the end of the 180 days of negotiations, and, above all, after the July elections, the “great” nationalization may be revealed in reality as a great farce.

It is only in this sense that one can comprehend the calm of the director of gas and energy at Petrobras, Ildo Sauer. “The contract for the transport of gas is guaranteed until 2019, with a volume of between 24 million and 30 million cubic meters daily,” he declared. “Nothing has changed.”

Meanwhile, the same tranquility was to be noted on the São Paulo stock market in relation to Petrobras stocks. On the opening of the market on the day following the decree in Bolivia, share prices fell slightly, losing 0.21 percent. But they quickly rebounded, closing 1.77 percent higher. Petrobras-ON stocks, meanwhile, rose 3.41 percent.

Similarly, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, despite the attacks by parliamentary and political opponents, who demanded that he take firm action in defense of the national interests, remained completely calm and went so far as to defend the “rights of self determination of nations and of the poor people of Bolivia.”

The globalisation of capital has only amplified the contradictions as it struggles to maintain the rate of profit by exporting production and through the expropriation of resources by brute force, of which Iraq is the most obvious example and a prime example of the attempt to turn back the clock to an earlier epoch.

Until now this has been met with resistance by forces that also seek to turn back the clock, the so-called fundamentalists but who ultimately have little to offer except their own brand of reaction that plays right into the hands of imperialism and in all likelihood is a direct creation of imperialist machinations in the first place eg, Osama bin Laden, ‘Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’ and the ‘international terror network’.

In any case I contend that this is no more than a phase through which we will pass and it can be argued that it has already passed. It is only being kept alive by the propaganda war the West is waging as it seeks to divert attention away from the real struggle being waged by the dispossessed of the planet.

The sleeping giant is waking once more following the defeats that culminated in the end of the Cold War. The lessons have been learned and an entirely new period of struggle is unfolding, for unlike the struggles of the Cold War era, imperialism is stretched to breaking point.

Two forces are combining to challenge the power of capital, the vast army of uprooted peoples, forced through the economic policies of the capitalist world to find work elsewhere than the lands of their birth and the countries where the resources upon which the capitalist world is completely dependent.

Thus I contend that the ‘war on terror’ and the war on ‘illegal’ immigrants are no accident, both are the product of the economic policies set in motion with the so-called neo-liberal agenda, the results of which has been the impoverishment of millions of people around the planet.

And the tactics being used to fight the ‘war on terror’ are not surprisingly the same ones being used to fight the ‘alien hordes’ even to the point of accusations-all unproven-that ‘illegal aliens’ are really terrorists in disguise or almost as bad, people-trafficking gangs.

William Bowles

July 2018
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