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          It's been over a month since the dawning of the year 2000 and I'm still waiting for any indication, no matter how small, that something is different. The problem is, that that something doesn't exist, unless you count the Super Bowl. For the first time that I can remember (which means since Super Bowl I), the winner of that over-hyped game was not a foregone conclusion. However, when one gets back to things that really matter--you know, things like war and peace, justice and freedom--the horizon looks just as bleak as it did about this time a hundred years ago.

         In Austria, the government is now composed of a coalition that includes a party whose leader is a Nazi apologist named Joerg Haider who would like nothing better than to see a new Reich. This is a man who was quoted on February 12th of this year as saying that Turks and other foreign workers in Austria should have to "prove" that they are worthy of living in Austria. In addition, he has suggested a guest worker policy that would allow foreigners who come to Austria to work to remain only while needed by employers. Haider went on to say: " The number of foreign children in schools is very high. Austrian children cannot learn their own language. For this reason we have proposed that the number of foreign children in classrooms be limited to 30%." Despite the immediate revulsion of most of the western world to his party's inclusion, there are just as many politicians who note that his party (rather ironically named the Freedom Party) was elected and that democracy should be allowed to follow its course. Talk about lack of historical memory! Hitler was also elected and he was real great for democracy, right?

         If one looks closer, one also finds politicians with opinions frighteningly similar to Haider's in most of the world's nations, including the United States. George W. Bush and many others in politics (candidates and legislators) are on record as supporting similar programs for immigrant workers in this country. One proposal, known as the "temporary bracero" program virtually echoes the Haider program. Bush has expressed support for this program, and recently pledged to revisit guest worker programs and other ways for immigrants to come into the country, but said he would insist on immigration controls and a waiting period before citizenship, giving immigrants time to "prove" that they are worthy of living in the US. Patrick Buchanan is on record as supporting a number of anti-immigrant initiatives including, but not limited to, outlawing the use of any language but English in U.S. classrooms.

    War for Profit and Power Continues

         Recent threats against the people of Iraq have revived the possibility of another all-out attack on that country by US and British forces. Once again, the convoluted reasoning for any such attack goes something like this: If Iraq won't accept the intrusion of arms inspectors from the countries of its enemies, its enemies will attack the Iraqi people with weapons of mass destruction. Either way, the sanctions that are killing hundreds of Iraqis each week will continue, with or without any military attack. Iraq is a country which was formed to fit the needs of the British empire after World War I and is now being strangled to suit the needs of the U.S. empire.

         Meanwhile, to the south of us, the civil war in Colombia is slowly moving towards even greater US involvement in the war against the revolutionary forces there (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarios de Colombia - Ejercito del Pueblo (FARC-EP)). As I write, Congress is voting on whether or not to give the Colombian government over $1 billion, most of which would go to the military. As anyone who reads the news knows, the Colombian military is closely tied to the right-wing paramilitaries and the drug lords these paramilitaries work for. However, if one is to believe the supporters of the bill (including Bill Clinton and dozens of legislators from both parties), it is only the FARC-EP revolutionaries who have anything to do with the drug trade in that country and this is why they are being targeted. If one examines the situation more closely, however, they find that although FARC-EP taxes the farmers who grow the raw product (coca and opium), they are not involved in any other aspect of the drug trade nor do they directly profit from it. As to why the revolutionaries do not just try their hand at the electoral process as some US officials have suggested, well, they have.

         In the early 1990s, a truce was brokered between the government and the major revolutionary groups that allowed the latter to run candidates. Many of these candidates won their respective elections and, within a year, many of them were dead, killed along with many of their supporters by the military and extra-military death squads. So they went back to the armed struggle--a struggle certain to become even more armed in the coming months if the warmongers in Washington have their way. It is also a struggle that has little to do with drugs and much more to do with control of "traditionally US-held turf" and oil. In fact, just recently the military and police attacked members of the indigenous U'wa nation who are refusing to let Occidental Petroleum drill on their traditional land. Already operating oil wells in other parts of Colombia have been protected by the military for years.

    One Big Prison Yard

         On February 14th, there were over 2 million people imprisoned in this country. Bob Dylan's observation that "this whole world is one big prison yard, some of us are prisoners and some of us are guards" becomes closer to the truth with each new day and each new law designed to imprison those left out of the new global economy: the poor and working people, immigrants, many of the young, and many African-Americans and women. There is a reason why drug laws grow harsher every year--they provide a palatable and easy means of controlling the aforementioned groups. Additionally, many of these prisoners are being used for what is essentially slave labor. The corporations involved pay very minimal wages while the government uses our tax money to pick up the bill for the inmates' clothing, meals, and living quarters. Although ovens don't exist in this country's prisons for those who can no longer work, the economic aspects of Hitler's slave camps do.

         Besides, the state does enough killing without ovens. Executions continue unabated, both in prison and on the street. The case of Mumia Abu Jamal is probably the best-known of any death row prisoner in the world right now, but he is certainly not alone. In Texas alone there is an execution a week, thanks to George W. Bush. Once again, I use Bush as an example not because any of the other leading politicians hold positions that are fundamentally different from his, but because he most clearly represents the arrogance and self-righteousness of his class. As long as the United States continues to allow executions, it has no claim to the label humanitarian. What, after all, is humane about murder, no matter what the supposed reason?

         Who protects that class? The police, of course. Right now, there are two trials going on in New York state concerning police attacks on civilians. In the case of Abner Louima, who was sodomized with a billy club by police in a precinct station bathroom, a second cop in the case is on trial for assisting the cop convicted of the actual crime. In Albany, the case against the killers of Amadou Diallo continues. In the first trial, the lawyers for the police are claiming that Louima is a liar; and in the latter, the cops are claiming that they were justified in firing 41 bullets at an unarmed man, whose only real crime was being a black man in a poor neighborhood. If these officers get away with what they did, it will once again be open season for the police on the poor and non-white in New York City. In addition, if they do get away with this murder, I hope the people of New York respond appropriately.

    What Can Be Done?

         This minimal survey of the situation proves that the powers-that-be don't plan to change the world situation. After all, it serves their interest just fine. That means it is up to us to effect the changes needed to make the world a decent place for all of its citizens, not just those at the top. The ongoing actions against the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other globalist institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank are positive steps. However, we need to build sustaining actions that do more than just oppose these imperial institutions, but also make lasting changes in the living situations of the world's majorities. Most importantly, we must be careful of those who suggest that globalization will eventually benefit us all--this train of thought is just the international version of Ronald Reagan's "trickle-down" theory. It's a lie. The only thing that trickles down is the waste run-off from capitalist exploitation.

         We must oppose military interventions by the imperial powers, especially the United States, no matter what their supposed rationale-- humanitarianism, or halting the distribution of drugs or the stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction. Although this aspect of the struggle should be the easiest to figure out, for some reason progressives and others on the left seem to have the most difficulty here. One need only look at the divisions that occurred over the NATO attack on Yugoslavia in 1999, and the continuing lack of popular concern over the deaths of Iraqi citizens at the hand of the US and British militaries to see that the antiwar movement is confused, to say the least. Those of us who maintain a consistent anti-imperialist analysis need to step up and make our view known if we are to prevent greater US intervention in any of the countries mentioned above or elsewhere.

         If we are to slow the imprisonment trend, we must examine alternatives to the so-called war on drugs, including legalization. As most every American knows, the current policy is a thinly disguised means of locking up the poor and disenfranchised and does nothing to solve the drug problem. It is a problem that stems most often from poverty and despair, and prison is never a solution for either of those phenomenon. In addition, Mumia's case must become paramount. If his case is heard again, the pressure must build to insure that his trial is fair, open, and without prejudice. If he is killed by the state, there is no hope for those on death row with less visibility. Nor is there much hope for the future of justice in America if he dies, or if the policemen in the Diallo case get off.

         As for the presidential elections, ignore them. There is no man running (who can win), who represents any interests other than those of corporate America. As the saying goes, "If god had wanted us to vote, (s) he would have given us candidates." Which, in some local races (s)he occasionally does. For example, here in Vermont, the Progressive Coalition has finally gone beyond their role of gearing up to re-elect Bernie Sanders every two years and actually formed a party. The party supports single-payer health care, a living wage and other issues dear to working and poor people (working or otherwise) and is running candidates across the state, including one for governor. If he can win, it will be an important victory for progressive forces across the nation. Northeast Research Associates Pie in the Sky Farm 93 Dwinell Road United States doing some building for the people, they Marshfield, Vermont