LEBANON – NOW IT IS BEING FORCED TO COLLAPSE, Andre Vltchek

Abbreviated version originally published by RT

Lebanese army ready to defend Tripoli

Lebanon cannot stand on its feet, anymore. It is overwhelmed, frightened and broke.

It stands on the frontline, facing the ISIS in the east and north, a hostile Israel in the south and the deep blue sea to the west. 1.5 million (mostly Syrian) refugees are dispersed all over its tiny territory. Its economy is collapsing and infrastructure crumbling. The ISIS is right at the border with Syria, literally next door, or even with one foot inside Lebanon, periodically invading, and setting up countless “dormant cells” in all Lebanese cities and all over its countryside. Hezbollah is fighting the ISIS, but the West and Saudi Arabia apparently consider Hezbollah, not the ISIS, to be the major menace to their geopolitical interests. The Lebanese army is relatively well-trained but badly armed, and like the entire country, it is notoriously cash-strapped.

These days, on the streets of Beirut, one can often hear: “Just a little bit more; one more push, and the entire country will collapse, go up in smoke.”

Is this what the West and its regional allies really want?

Top foreign dignitaries, one after another, are now paying visits to Lebanon: the U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and the EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini. All the foreign visitors are predictably and abstractly expressing “deep concern” about the proximity of the ISIS, and about the fate of the 1.5 million Syrian refugees now living in the Lebanese territory. “The war in the neighboring Syria is having deep impact on tiny Lebanon”, they all admit.

Who triggered this war is never addressed.

And not much gets resolved. Only very few concrete promises are being made. And what is promised is not being delivered.

One of my sources that attended the closed-door meeting of Ban Ki-moon, Jim Yong Kim and the heads of the U.N. agencies in Beirut, commented: “almost nothing new, concrete or inspiring was discussed there.”

Once lavish downtown of Beirut - now ready for war

The so-called international community is showing very little desire to rescue Lebanon from its deep and ongoing crises. In fact, several countries and organizations are constantly at Lebanon’s throat, accusing it of ‘human rights violations’ and of having a weak and ineffective government. What seems to irritate them the most though, is that Hezbollah (an organization that is placed by many Western countries and their allies in the Arab world on the “terrorist list”) is at least to some extent allowed to participate in running the country.

But Hezbollah appears to be the only military force capable of effectively fighting against the ISIS – in the northeast of the country, on the border with Syria, and elsewhere. It is also the only organization providing a reliable social safety-net to those hundreds of thousands of poor Lebanese citizens. In this nation deeply divided along the sectarian lines, it extends its hand to the ‘others’, forging coalitions with both Muslim and Christian parties and movements.

Why so much fuss over Hezbollah?

Continue reading LEBANON – NOW IT IS BEING FORCED TO COLLAPSE, Andre Vltchek

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The “Gig Economy”; Another Vicious Attack on Ordinary Working Slobs, by Mike Whitney

Source: counterpunch

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“Contrary to the rising-tide hypothesis, the rising tide has only lifted the large yachts, while many of the smaller boats have been dashed on the rocks.” Joseph Stiglitz, economist

American plutocrats and their political lackeys in congress have implemented a plan that’s putting pressure on wages and further decimating the already-battered middle class. By sustaining high levels of unemployment over a long period of time, US elites have “restructured the labor force”, which is a pretentious-sounding expression that means they’ve created a permanent underclass that’s willing to slave-away at demeaning, part-time jobs for mere peanuts without uttering a peep of protest. This metamorphosis of the workforce has taken place mostly in the shadows, concealed behind a thick fog of state propaganda touting the fictitious “recovery”, a recovery in which long-term jobless workers have abandoned all hope of finding gainful full-time employment and resigned themselves to a lifetime of scrambling from one odious task to the next just keep a roof over their heads and the wolves away from the door.

After eight years of applying this coercive ‘starvation strategy’, the plutocrat’s ‘grand plan’ is finally coming into focus. According to economists Lawrence F. Katz and Alan B. Krueger’s new paper titled “The Rise and Nature of Alternative Work Arrangements in the United States, 1995-2015″:

“All of the net employment growth in the U.S. economy from 2005 to 2015 appears to have occurred in alternative work arrangements.”

“Alternative work arrangements”? You mean there’s been zero growth in ordinary 9 to 5, 40-hour-per-week jobs in the last 10 freaking years???

Indeed, that’s exactly what it means. It also means that Obama’s relentless crowing about the phantom “recovery” is mostly bunkum. There is no recovery. It’s an invention built on the ruined lives of people who have been forced to take all-manner of servile, low-paying, part-time, service-sector jobs just to keep food on the table. That’s Obama’s glorious recovery in a nutshell. Here’s more from the World Socialist web Site:

“All US job growth for the last decade came in “alternative work arrangements”—people working as independent contractors, temps, through contract agencies or on-call—according to a study published Tuesday by Princeton University and the RAND Corporation…

The actual number of contingent full-time workers rose from 14.2 million in February 2005 to 23.6 million in November 2015, an increase of 9.4 million. Since total US employment rose by 9.1 million during this period, the number of workers in conventional, full-time positions actually dropped by nearly 400,000.” (Temps and contractors accounted for all US job growth since 2005, World Socialist Web Site)

Repeat: “The number of workers in conventional, full-time positions actually dropped by nearly 400,000.”

Great. So we’re actually going backwards, is that what they’re trying to say?

Continue reading The “Gig Economy”; Another Vicious Attack on Ordinary Working Slobs, by Mike Whitney

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