31 Dec 2010
While I share Seumas Milne's analysis of the fragility of the coalition, I do not share any optimism that Labour can offer a credible alternative (Cameron and Clegg have shown they are for turning, 30 December). Having ditched their principles in government, Labour want to reclaim them now they are out of power. But politicians must take some responsibility for their actions, and show some consistency over their policies. How can a party that introduced student fees now oppose them on principle? Like the Liberal Democrats, Labour broke a manifesto pledge in doing so. But unlike the Lib Dems, they were not then the junior members of a coalition. Labour had a Commons majority when they ended the principle of free tuition. It was entirely their decision. Now Ed Miliband appears to believe he can airbrush that decision from the record.
Similarly, the ethos of the NHS as a public service, where patient needs come before profits, is taking another blow. Yet Labour is unable to mount a principled defence since, when they were in power, they welcomed in private healthcare providers, and saddled the NHS with huge debts through PFI.
Across the board, Labour simply cannot oppose coalition plans without laying themselves open to the charge of hypocrisy. Academies? A Labour idea. Selling off Royal Mail? A Labour idea. Even the programme of cuts in public services is something Labour admit they would have done, had they won in May.
But Labour's leadership, with a typical lack of humility, assume that students and others will meekly return to the party that betrayed them. Ed Miliband wouldn't be seen meeting students, let alone marching with them – he said he thought about it, but was "doing something else" at the time. There lies the heart of Labour dilemma – they want to win back the trust of voters, but also pander to the Daily Mail. Joining the protests or challenging heavy handed policing in parliament, as I have done, does not seem to fit with Labour's obsession with the fabled middle ground of British politics.
Politics does not have to be a straight choice between power and principles. In our election campaign in May, the Greens did not drop any of our controversial policies. We stuck to what we believed in and, against all the odds, we won our first seat. It shows that if you tell the truth and offer people something better, the public will respond.
Caroline Lucas MP
30 Dec 2010
Continue Reading: http://intercontinentalcry.org/chilean-police-violently-dislodging-the-rapanui-parliament/
Not really sure about comparing sexual organs to politician, I mean most of us are happier with our sexual organs, nonetheless nice to be asked to write something about Clegg for Bright Green Scotland's dick of the year competition.
'Clegg has helped destroy the left and green traditions in the Liberal Democrats. However his biggest crime was to use lies to gain votes (most visible over student fees) and power. He acted as an X factor politician with promises of a new politics, rejection of back room deals, only to give us all a more unequal and unhappy future in the most sordid back room deal of all.'
VOTE CLEGG DICK OF THE YEAR HERE
Daniela Pastrana interviews LEONARDO BOFF, Brazilian writer and theologian
The collective duty of humanity is to seek a balance with nature. Everyone has to do their part; be more with less. The problem is not money, says Brazilian Leonardo Boff in this exclusive Tierramérica interview.
MEXICO CITY, Dec 27 (Tierramérica).- "The market is not going to resolve the environmental crisis," says theologian and environmentalist Leonardo Boff, professor at Brazil's State University of Rio de Janeiro. The solution, he says, lies in ethics and in changing our relationship with nature.
Boff, who teaches ethics, philosophy of religion and ecology, is one of the leading figures of Liberation Theology, a progressive current in the Latin American Catholic Church. He has written more than 60 books and has dedicated the last 20 years to promoting the green movement.
He was one of the 23 proponents of the 2000 Earth Charter, and a year later received the Right Livelihood Award, known as the alternative "Green" Nobel, which recognizes exceptional efforts in seeking solutions to the most urgent global environmental problems.
29 Dec 2010
A great letter in today's Morning Star that sums up my feelings, although plenty of Muslims, Marxists and Christian's have followed the good principles of justice, equality and pluralism of the founders, although equally plenty of manifestations from them been pretty rubbish....think Albania for Marxism for a start!
Two things really wind me up when it comes to Islam
1) The amount of ignorance and abuse heaped on Muslims.
2) The support of governments like the US and UK of Saudi Arabia whose salifist Islam is indeed hostile to human life!
And don't put abusive comments in the box, read up on Rumi instead.
Any way on to said letter.
Don't blame founders for later crimes
Tuesday 28 December 2010
Although an atheist myself, I find Richard Sunderland's letter quite amazing (M Star December 20).
Has he read no history? Does he not know that most ideological movements (not only religions) get taken over by groups more interested in power than the principles they are supposed to be advocating?
Look at what happened after Cromwell's victory, or the French revolution's.
Did the revolutionaries succeed in establishing the New Jerusalem or Liberty, Equality and Brotherhood?
Did the Soviet Union continue to apply the Marxist theories of its founders? Did Mohammed's reforms survive his death?
Both in Islam and Christianity, much of the original message was buried by those who followed.
Pauline Christianity adapted an essentially Jewish movement to fit the Roman Empire - including the condemning of Jews as Christ-killers and absorbing a host of local pagan cults, turning the local deities or cult heroes into saints (St Venus, St Dionysius, St Helios etc).
Arab women in Mohammed's time were not segregated, nor did they wear the veil - those were centuries-old Persian customs, taken over by the Arab chiefs when they conquered the Persian empire.
Mohammed's favourite wife, Ayesha, raised an army to fight in the civil war that broke out soon after his death, and led it into battle. Tradition describes her as a beautiful redhead, proving that she didn't wear a veil.
It is no accident that "liberation theology" developed in Latin America, which was (and largely still is) under the heel of US imperialism as Palestine was under Rome's in Jesus's time. And it was a revolutionary movement - despite Ortega's deviation.
The answer to the subsequent perversion of progressive movements is to steer clear of irrational myths (ideologies) and stick to objective analyses (as much as possible). And to read Marx, instead of "interpreting" him.
You will probably have read of the death of Jayaben Desai, leader of
the Grunwick Strike, shortly before Christmas, aged 77. Pete Firmin of
the Brent TUC has been in contact with her husband, Mr Desai, who would
like people to attend if they can. The funeral is at 11am on December
31st at Golders Green Crematorium.
Very good piece from my friend Salma Yaqoob who is also a brilliant women leader here.
28 Dec 2010
The Con Dem government are slicing and dicing the welfare state, Murdoch's media control is accelerating, ecological catastrophe beckons and the financial system has failed .We need a left that can gain enough strength to pull the brakes and stop the train leaping into the abyss.
However an effective left looks further away than ever. Attempts to build a left alternative to the Labour Party such as the Scottish Socialist Party and Socialist Alliance have failed. In England only the Greens and Respect have made gains and these have been modest and local.
The argument that there is no electoral alternative outside the Labour Party seems over whelming, yet there is no place for the left in Labour either. The Party is top down, undemocratic and more responsive to oligarchs than bus drivers. The failure of the inspiring John McDonnell to get on the ballot paper for Labour leader, tells us everything we need to know about the possibility of moving the Party left.
Politics, at least, in England and Wales, is apparently blocked for the left.
Laurie Penny, inspired by the new and youthful protest movement hitting the streets, has argued that we can by-pass parliament and directly effect change. :
'this movement is daring to do what no union or political party has yet contemplated – directly challenging the banks and business owners who caused this crisis.'
Yet the Con Dem government will continue to hold power and in doing so will do everything possible to reduce the capacity of the left. Massive cuts in education will mean that students will be forced to work harder, borrow more and reject degrees in subjects like the arts and politics, thus the ability of youth to protest will be eroded. The job cuts of the Con Dem government will complete Mrs Thatcher's task of destroying the trade unions.
Tommy Sheridan's party the Scottish Socialists briefly acted as a voice for the social movement on the streets, at the time working class opposition to the poll tax, elected members of parliament and briefly helped change things in a left direction. While Sheridan's case is complex and I for one have close friends on both sides of the argument, there is no doubt that the kind of change Laurie Penny seeks has been made less possible by the destruction of the Scottish Socialist Party.
As a member of the Green Party I worked hard to elect Caroline Lucas and even took Tommy Sheridan's former press officer Hugh Kerr down to Brighton to pound the streets. However one Green Party MP, even one as inspiring as Caroline, is not enough.
In Latin America, the right using the excuse of IMF austerity gained a monopoly of power in the 1990s. This was reversed by vibrant social movements, but social movements are not enough. In Latin America, new political parties emerged from the street movements, took power and are now, despite contradictions and setbacks, are changing things.
Laurie Penny is right to be excited but we are still a long way from a strategy for change.
27 Dec 2010
This is from a great green blog at the US site Daily Kos Cassiodorus tells it like it is. Although while its easy to be politically pessimistic in the USA, in places like Peru indigenous people are putting up a tremendous fight and even winning (this is worrying the US poltical establishment).
Any how enough of me and on to Cassiodorus
On balance, the Republican deniers have a better way. You might as well be a denier, disbelieving in global warming until the famine, the drought, or other weather phenomenon finally wipes you out. If you're not really going to do anything proactive, you might as well believe in fairies and unicorns, or the second coming of "Jeeeezus" or whatever. The fact that you have sacrificed your children to this reality is nothing, because they're going up in the Rapture too.
Torturing yourself with the idea of global warming, while limiting your purview to ineffective measures, is the surest route to unhappiness. I honestly don't see how the environmentalists who commonly post here at DKos do it. Carbon taxes will be unpopular, because "realism" in this era demands that only the poor and so-called "middle classes" be taxed. Cap-and-trade is a scam, as I've pointed out in at least a couple of diaries -- and then there's the piece in Harper's of last February. In the end, nobody is going to want to embrace this path -- it will be twisted around by DC insiders until it becomes a plan for saving neoliberal elites while tossing the world overboard. Your children will not forgive you for adopting this path.
26 Dec 2010
Great new green left blog here.
Mankind is divided into three classes - the rich, the poor, and those who have enough...Abolish the rich and you will have no more poor...for it is the few rich who are the cause of the many poor."
Radical words. An extract from Marx's "Das Kapital"? A trade union leader rallying their members against job losses? A motion passed by the last Green Party conference declaring its support for a maximum wage?
It could be any of the above, but in fact its none of them. The words were written by an author known as the "Sicilian Briton" in the first few years of the fifth century. As the Roman Empire was beset by barbarian invasions and usurper Emperors, the plebeian and slave classes began to agitate for a fairer share of the resources of the world's first superstate. While some openly rebelled and established their own states as the bacaudae, the western world's first social revolutionaries, others used parts of the newly established Christian church to demand change - the Sicilian Briton, a monk himself, was one of their spokespeople.
I don't think things are good.
Globally it is simple, we don't have an economic system that works. Banks are structurally unstable, global imbalances threaten economic chaos but more fundamentally the economic system, capitalism, only works if we work more, consume more and throw more away.
This doesn't add up ecologically.
From over population to technofixes virtually everyone is ignoring the basic driver of environmental chaos, the present unfit for purpose economy.
Here in the UK politics is very blocked. The electoral system makes it difficult for Greens and the Left to gain representation and we have a right wing media based on the Daily Mail and the Murdoch empire.
However there are signs of resistance achieving change. The student protest has been inspiring and the news that the government is going to U turn and no longer scrap the book scheme aimed at encouraging children to read is very encouraging.
Change won't come from the supine Labour Party but it may come from an increasingly self-confident and angry British public.
Good news on Boxing Day, lets see if we can build a commons based democratic economy where prosperity does not come at the cost of our likely survival or lead to exploitation of the working majority by a billionaire elite of Trumps lording it over us.
A big task but necessary and books for children is a little part of it, so good news!
Oh and you can donate to Booktrust here.
24 Dec 2010
Just had this, worth reading at this time of year.
The other story of Bethlehem
Churches will be crowded throughout Britain over the coming days in celebration of events believed to have taken place 2,000 years ago.
Christian clergy will commemorate the birth in the Palestinian town of Bethlehem of their saviour as the son of God who had no place to lay his head and was, accordingly, born in a manger.
In Palestine today, lack of shelter remains a major problem for the people of Gaza, many of whom have been condemned to live in tents for the past two years.
Monday will mark the second anniversary of Israel's unjustified military assault on the coastal enclave, when its armed forces wiped out over 1,400 Palestinians in just over three weeks.
The attack was designed to destroy social infrastructure to make people's lives unbearable as a way of turning the Palestinian people against Hamas, which they had backed in free and democratic elections.
Israel has tightened the blockade against Gaza, despite international condemnation of this collective punishment of civilians, which is classified by the Geneva conventions as a war crime.
The occupying power, which presses ahead with its illegal colonisation of the West Bank, refuses to allow concrete or other building supplies into Gaza, preventing both the Palestinians themselves and the United Nations from beginning vital reconstruction.
23 Dec 2010
Tommy Sheridan the former Scottish Socialist Party MSP has been found guilty at his trial in Edinburgh.
The News of the World made a series of sex allegations against him.
Tommy sued successfully but has now been found guilty of perjury.
The Sheridan affair smashed the Scottish Socialist Party, the first successful non Labour socialist Party in the UK, since Commonwealth in the 1940s.
I have long thought the whole thing smelt of MI5 but I must admit I was sceptical of Tommmy in this.
The Scottish Socialist Party would never have been succesful without Tommy but reliance on one charasmatic leader is always dangerous.
Rupert Murdoch's grip on everything is stronger......a very sad affair.
Hope Greens, Scottish Socialists and Solidarity can work together but doubt this will happen.
A sign of continuing cooperation between the Green Party and the Respect Party is that Respect who at one time were thinking of standing George Galloway in the upcoming Oldham by-election, have stood aside for the Green Party's Peter Allen.
Greens and Respect do cooperate to some extent in the Greater Manchester area and Peter is a well known member of the Green Left.
The by-election comes about because Phil Woolas who ran a campaign based on racist fear was forced to stand down after a hostile court judgement.
Respect supported Caroline Lucas and Caroline Lucas in turn while not endorsing the Respect Party did urge Greens to stand aside for Salma Yaqoob.
I am a bit of Galloway sceptic although he does do some very good work, I am very keen on Salma who I think has a strong sympathy with ecosocialism and kindly endorsed my recent Green Left book.
On the left we disagree but it is vital to build cooperation.
The Green Party has declared a candidate. Peter Allen is an active trade unionist, environmental and peace activist. Most importantly, he is opposed to the divisive politics of racism and a supporter of Palestinian solidarity. He has worked with Respect for many years on joint projects and Respect has no wish to compete with such an excellent candidate.
Respect will therefore not stand and will support Peter Allen. We share a common strategy of investment not cuts, investment in green jobs and services and support for the protest movement that can unite the people of Oldham, instead of the poisonous legacy of Phil Woolas.
The Respect statement in support of Peter is here
You can find out more about Peter's campaign here
22 Dec 2010
Derek Wall's The Rise of the Green Left traces the emergence of a socialism worthy of the struggles of the 21st Century, with ecology and indigenous rights at its core. The author is the type of activist-intellectual our movements need -- he explains complex topics in simple, clear language and always ties the theory back to concrete action.
A former chief spokesperson of the U.K. Green Party, Wall has been immersed in the effort to bring greens and the left together for over three decades. The Rise of the Green Left is the story of an important work in progress -- the success or failure of this historic convergence may well determine the future of our species.
MORE BOOKS YOUR MUST READ
I am buried deep in the commons, trying to work on my book on Elinor Ostrom, her work is so important for defending the planet.....so hey if you want to publish an academic book on Elinor, just mail me! The intention is that it will be book number nine for me and I want to do something tight, referenced, and well the opposite of these mis-spelled quick put together blogs.
Any how missed this story until now, with the occassional reservation, I love Godard. Still think Contempt is the best film ever.
I am against Hadopi [the French internet-copyright law, or its attendant agency], of course. There is no such thing as intellectual property. I'm against the inheritance [of works], for example. An artist's children could benefit from the copyright of their parents' works, say, until they reach the age of majority... But afterward, it's not clear to me why Ravel's children should get any income from Bolero...
Godard paid 'a thousand euros toward the legal defense costs of James Climent (inset), a 37-year-old French citizen accused of downloading 13,788 MP3s'
The USA are trying to wreck the world wide web but people are fighting back.
Commons is the solution to the key problems of how to combine ecological sustainability with prosperity in a democratic framework, at the end of the day it's the core concept we derive from Marx and far from paradoxically the centre of any real libertarians dream.
From indigenous defending land to wikileaks, a struggle to defend and extend the commons in the face of those who would enclose it from short term gain is virtual universal....so very good to see my favourite film maker joining the struggle.
The vid is trailer number three for Godard's latest and probably last film 'Socialisme'.
21 Dec 2010
Dave Mellows is a member of Green Left, he has kindly let me blog his thoughts on the protest movement.
Personally I really fear for my children and I have been getting quite depressed, the USA government seem to be working quite hard to build hell on Earth and the power to do the wrong thing is very strong. Our economic system is not fit for purpose. The Con Dem government are making our future far less secure, the right wing media in the UK has a virtual monopoly.
However resistance is growing and it does inspire me, and it inspires Dave, so over to Dave.
Oh and enjoy the dub step above!
For me the past couple of months have been truly amazing, since I joined the first UK Uncut protest on 27th October. I am retired so have been able to be involved in the main anti-fees protests in London - Millbank on 10th November, Whitehall 24th November, Trafalgar Square 30th November, and Parliament Square on 9th December (when in the evening I had the surreal experience of coming face to face with Camilla in Regent Street).
It is too soon to make any judgements about what is happening. There is a real sense that this is just the beginning. But I have some brief reflections.
So far the movement is fairly free from the sectarianism of the previous generation of activists. A significant reason for this is the non-hierarchical way of organising, using direct democracy and consensus decision making. Last Saturday I found myself with about fifty people occupying HSBC Express in Oxford Street. The decision about what to do next was made using climate camp style consensus decision making, including wavy hands! Not only is this very effective, and difficult to control by any faction, it completely confuses the police, because there is no "leadership" to negotiate with.
A distinction has been made in the media between peaceful and non-peaceful protestors. In fact in Parliament Square on 9th December the vast majority of protestors were cheering on those who were directly and forcefully confronting the police.
Especially since 24th November I have been struck by the number of pre-university students involved. When on 30th November they thought they were going to be kettled in again in Whitehall, they ended up spontaneously splitting into at least five different large groups who went in different directions. I talked to one of the most prominent "leaders" of the current movement, and she was delighted that these very young people did not need to be "led".
At every stage in these protest the students have completely outwitted the police, for instance on 9th December the main body of protestors declined to take the agreed march route into Whitehall, and pulled down the barricades closing off Parliament Square so the square could be occupied. This is so different from the closely controlled and stewarded Stop the War marches. Basically on all the big protests of the last weeks the stewards have been ignored - another indication of the non-hierarchical nature of these protests.
Clearly we are entering new and unpredictable territory. Will the momentum continue? Will the broader (and older) left movement be able to make the transitions necessary to enable this to develop into a mass movement? As a 65 year old who marched in support of the miners, with CND and against apartheid, and have more recently been involved with Climate Camp, I find the current situation the most exciting I have witnessed since 1968.
A protester sleeps as police officers form a line during a climate change demonstration at Ratcliffe Power Station at Ratcliffe-on-Soar on October 17, 2009. Photograph: Getty Images
It is a complicated defence, the defence of necessity. Last week, twenty people admitted their plan to shut down Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal power station, but justified their actions to prevent death and serious injury from the carbon emissions. A jury heard compelling evidence on the horror of climate change, but still returned a guilty verdict. We'll never know what those twelve people discussed, but the fact that governments are failing us all is clearer than ever.
Yes, they were acting -- or planning to act -- through an unconventional process. Had the plan gone ahead, arrests would have been inevitable. But given time to present their evidence, research and sophisticated safety measures, the defendants adeptly explained why their actions were reasonable.
Not only would they have prevented the release of 150,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, (more than they could ever have saved in their lifetimes) in a week-long shutdown, but these people could have saved human lives in the future. Any doubts about the urgency of climate change or its impact on human health and social stability were addressed by a prolific selection of expert witnesses including NASA climatologist James Hansen and epidemiologist Anthony McMichael.
Which leaves the only issue as to whether this was a reasonable response to the urgent climate crisis. This centres on one question: is there any hope for conventional channels of political change, both nationally and internationally?
During the case both I and Alan Simpson, a former MP, gave evidence to explain the 'democratic deficit' -- the fact that governments are not responding with anywhere near the urgency that climate change demands. The UK has passed legislation to cut emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, but as there is no actual plan to achieve even this inadequate target, we are continuing to pollute. Internationally, we have just seen the Cancun summit fail to achieve any legally binding agreement, and the most immediate ramifications continue to hit vulnerable people who have done nothing to cause this crisis.
Perhaps the jury were persuaded by the prosecution arguments that we can save the climate through small individual actions like compost loos and second hand clothes. These are important, but history shows that there have always been people working against the grain to create essential change. The civil rights movement and the suffragettes are examples of normal people making a difference by stepping outside of their comfort zones. An example closer to home is the 'Kingsnorth Six' -- Greenpeace activists who were charged with criminal damage after scaling Kingsnorth coal-fired power station, yet were eventually acquitted in a similar case to this one.
There are some politicians in Parliament willing to make climate change an overriding priority of Government and it's crucial to have them there. But by and large, the political process continues to support business as usual -- and the tiny reforms discussed in Cancun fail to address the root causes of climate change. Any improvements we gain from such a deal will make little, if any, long-term difference to the lives lost and species destroyed.
The Ratcliffe activists are part of a wider grassroots movement working for climate justice. The People's summit in Cochabamba, Bolivia, earlier this year, showed that people are coming together in all kinds of ways, in deliberation as well as peaceful direct action, to seek genuine alternatives, while governments continue their frustrating inaction.
As the defendants said after court, "taking action on climate change is not an act of moral righteousness, but of self-defence". While so many politicians are failing in their duty to act on behalf of the people, and while the legal system continues to protect big polluters, we all should learn something from those willing to take genuine action on climate change.
Caroline Lucas is leader of the Green Party and MP for Brighton Pavilion.
19 Dec 2010
Just saw this on my facebook, amazing.
Keny Arkana, born in 1982, is a French anti-capitalist rapper, from Marseille.
This certainly hits the spot and is worth a listen.
Come on feel La Haine!
This is what you can find out on the web about her
La Rage (The Rage) by French female rap artist Keny Arkana. Released in 2006, La Rage refers to global politics and the 2005 riots in the banlieues (ghettos) of Paris which spread to other cities in France:
Keny Arkana is part of La Rage Du Peuple (The Rage of the People), a music collective formed in 2004 in Marseille, activists in the alter-globalization movement.
Official site & Downloads:
El capitalismo explota a los trabajadores y en la misma medida destruye al medio ambiente!
Capitalism exploits the workers and at the same time destroys the natural environment!
Ecosocialism or barbarism! There is no third way!
Show your support for ecosocialism
1000 names by the end of the year!
Add your name to the list
Añade tu nombre a la lista
Nombre Anade tu a la lista
Anade jste do seznamu
Anzahl anand Sie die Liste
A list for hope and for change. Let the world know that you are an ecosocialist and you are proud of what you stand for; add your name and your country to the form and the great list of united ecosocialists will begin to grow. Every new name carries the same importance as the last and with every single name, the revolution gathers strength.
Share, Share, Share, Facebook, Twitter, Email,
18 Dec 2010
Larry Flynt Publisher of Hustler magazine and free speech advocate has written
Let's get something straight: Julian Assange is a journalist. You can argue that he is not practicing journalism the way you think it should be practiced -- releasing classified U.S. State Department documents -- but he's a journalist nonetheless. And for many of us he's a hero.
I'm sick and tired of the politicians and political pundits treating this man as if he were a criminal. If WikiLeaks had existed in 2003 when George W. Bush was ginning up the war in Iraq, America might not be in the horrendous situation it is today, with our troops fighting in three countries (counting Pakistan) and the consequent cost in blood and dollars.
Here's what I know about censorship: The free flow of information is ultimately less harmful than the impeded flow of information. A democracy cannot exist without total access to the facts.
What's wrong is that a concerned outsider -- an Australian publisher, not our own vaunted mainstream press -- exposed the secret documents. For that, Assange has been hit with dubious criminal charges because his condom failed during a sexual encounter. Give me a break.
Julian Assange should not face a prison sentence. We should have a ticker-tape parade for this brave man
According to the Guardian
Cuba banned Michael Moore's 2007 documentary, Sicko, because it painted such a "mythically" favourable picture of Cuba's healthcare system that the authorities feared it could lead to a "popular backlash", according to US diplomats in Havana.
The revelation, contained in a confidential US embassy cable released by WikiLeaks , is surprising, given that the film attempted to discredit the US healthcare system by highlighting what it claimed was the excellence of the Cuban system.
But the memo reveals that when the film was shown to a group of Cuban doctors, some became so "disturbed at the blatant misrepresentation of healthcare in Cuba that they left the room".
Castro's government apparently went on to ban the film because, the leaked cable claims, it "knows the film is a myth and does not want to risk a popular backlash by showing to Cubans facilities that are clearly not available to the vast majority of them."
I may be Quixotic with my ban on flying, I haven't been any where by plane since 2006. I just think while many people need to fly, the idea of greens flying around the world telling other people not to fly, is absurd. I find it quite painful, I like flying and have many friends around the globe but I have stayed on the ground for four years now.
My boycott of the Guardian newspaper, which I used to blog for, seems even more absurd but I just can't read it. I am so conscious of the regular massacre of indigenous people in countries like Colombia, Honduras and Peru, it really makes me weep.
Although imperfect the rise of the Latin American left has done a huge amount to stem the tide of blood. Latin American Left leaders are not perfect and I have sadden by some of the attacks on indigenous people by Ecuador's Correa but advances have been made.
So I have been sicken by almost constant attacks on the Latin America left by the Guardian correspondent Rory Carroll and I have boycotted the paper for the last couple of years. Media perceived to be on the left that pushes right wing stories provides real dangers.
I was immensely encouraged by reading some very good pieces in the Guardian on Latin America by John Vidal recently. I only read them because I bumped into John, so had a look at some stuff he told me he was working on.
Looks like I went back to the Guardian too soon. Yesterday they ran a story which reported a CIA propaganda piece about Cuba as fact.
Retracted today but if this is journalism, I am a penguin, so looks like another year free from buying Britain's broadsheet left paper....oh and they haven't apologised for telling voters to vote Lib Dem either, helping to deliver our current right wing government.
If the Guardian had a vote it would be cast enthusiastically for the Liberal Democrats.
And if I had a blog I would be using it to tell people to stop buying the Guardian....wait a minute I do have a blog
I visited Goldsmiths College Library last week to find not only that it was occupied by students but I could still borrow books.
One of their demands was that staff should lose no pay, and the occupiers were carefully reshelving books and making sure nothing got nicked. It was wonderful and cheered me up in the face of the daily absurdities of the Con-Dem government.
As I write, direct action protests are erupting on the streets of Britain.
The students and schoolkids have shaken the coalition government, activists are targeting tax-avoiding companies like Vodafone and direct action environmental protests from groups such as Climate Camp and Climate Rush continue to grow.
Dozens of universities are witnessing occupations on their campuses as anger rises.
Unruly, disruptive and anarchic, the rise of direct action fills me with joy. Direct action is not an alternative to democracy but part of the process, and it should be embraced by all those who want an equal and ecological future.
Increasingly, in a world where democracy is manipulated by the rich and powerful, direct action provides a carnival of the oppressed that can, potentially, move from spectacle to necessary change.
The media is obssessed with painting a picture of "violence." And while I am not an advocate of violence, there is a difference between the purity of pacifism and the dirty defence of the state's monopoly of aggression.
17 Dec 2010
[col. writ. 12/12/10] (c) '10 Mumia Abu-Jamal
As rumblings of discontent arose in the wake of the extension of the Bush era tax cuts by the Obama administration, President Barack Obama pulled out his secret weapon: former President William Jefferson Clinton.
Clinton before a bank of microphones is always a sight to behold, for few politicians have his peculiar mix of pure intelligence, down home folksy charm and sheer performance skills.
It is a measure of our politics that the system elected a man who was virtually a Clinton clone: born to poor and working class people; educated in Ivy League schools; advocates of globalism and neo liberalism, and servants of the business class.
When we recollect the acrimony and bad blood that flowed between the two camps during the campaign, and the post election integration and indeed immersion of Clintonites into all levels of the Obama administration, why should we be surprised when the president runs into a bad squall, and he calls out Bill Clinton?
Bill Clinton, perhaps the most talented politician of his generation, was also Salesman in Chief of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), the pact that dealt a body blow to the very same working class that would be implored to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2008. We have forgotten the almost comic H. Ross Perot, the Independent who opposed Clinton and Bush during the 1992 and '96 elections, based primarily on his anti-NAFTA stance. Perot warned, in so many words, 'If you pass that NAFTA, all you'll hear is a giant sucking sound of jobs and manufacturers goin' to Mexico!'
People laughed at his Texas twang, his big ears, and his lack of height, while Bush and Clinton pooh-poohed his warnings as silly.
We live now amidst the post-NAFTA carnage that has brought mass disaster to both countries.
Only the rich and super rich benefited from NAFTA, as workers in the USA adapted to the new and grim economic realities, and workers in Mexico either joined the burgeoning drug industry or fled to El Norte (to the US) to find work in the fields of agriculture or carpentry.
It is therefore fitting that Obama would call in Clinton, for the man could sell ice to the Inuits, or sand to the Saudis, can surely sell the perverse notion of tax cuts to billionaires...right?
--(c) '10 maj
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WE WHO BELIEVE IN FREEDOM CAN *NOT* REST!!
The result of the election was as follows:
•Abdul Alim, Labour Party - 553 votes 37.21%
•Jewel Chowdhury, Independent - 28 votes 1.88%
•Magaret Ann Crosbie, The Green Party - 52 votes 3.5%
•Fozol Miah, Respect - 666 votes (elected) 44.82%
•Ferdy North, Liberal Democrats - 33 votes 2.22%
•Matthew James Smith, Conservative Party - 135 votes 9.08%
Number of ballot papers spoilt: 19
Modest vote but glad to see Green candidate the excellent Maggie Crosbie beat those neo-liberal democrats.
Interesting but I suspect Tower Hamlets has its own micro politics, lovely to see the Lib Dems do so badly when they used to turn the Borough.
15 Dec 2010
Its a proud fact for all ecosocialists and greens that Mumia has long championed radical green politics.
ON A MOVE! LONG LIVE JOHN AFRICA!
Right on to Mumia on Obama
Selling Out...Softly, by Mumia Abu-Jamal
[col. writ. 12/8/19 (c) '10 Mumia Abu-Jamal
The big-eared U.S. president appears before TV cameras and the message he exudes by his hang-dog look is one of surrender and failure.
His speech is halting, peppered with "uhs", and "ums", as he searches for a silver lining in a gathering of dark and foreboding clouds.
If you're old enough (say in your 50's) the mind may flash back to old black and white video of a news conference by President Lyndon Baines Johnson, perhaps discussing the latest chaos from Vietnam.
If you're younger, 'big-eared' is code for the present President: Barack Obama, a man that the old president from Texas could barely imagine.
But in this age, as in that, pictures tell a thousand stories.
And while the present conflict was about taxes instead of war, it was a battle over the most central feature in our lives: the economy. And in this battle, the president surrendered: two more years of Bush tax cuts to the wealthy.
Oh, it was sprinkled with a little sugar; like continued unemployment benefits, but it had the look and the smell of surrender: the rich won another round.
Both pols had big ears, but Johnson was a legendary political infighter who spent over 10 years in Congress. He used his power like a cudgel, rewarding friends; but punishing enemies. He knew that politics was about power, and about winning and losing.
He pushed Congress like it hadn't been pushed in 100 years, winning big bills that changed the face of the nation: Medicare, Medicaid, and voting rights.
His ship of state ran aground on the rocky shores of he Vietnam War.
Big ears, yes: but there the similarity ended.
The Congress is fractured, its objectives uncertain; it is vastly unpopular. It passed big bills (like health care) but never sold it; indeed, in the recent mid-terms, members ran from the bills, instead of embracing it.
Johnson didn't win all of his battles, but he won a lot of 'em---and you knew you were in a fight.
(c) '10 maj
REPLY TO DAVE CHAPPLE FROM NSSN OFFICERS
We send this reply to NSSN supporters and those outside of the NSSN who have had Dave's email. It wasn't our choice to have a public debate in this way and we regret his damaging actions but we have a duty to respond and give our side of the story. If you've read his email, you will understand the unavoidable sharpness of our response.
Dave Chapple has circulated a critical email about the decision of the NSSN Steering Committee to launch an Anti-Cuts Campaign at its Conference on January 22nd.
The real facts of what happened are the following. After a debate in the Steering Committee lasting around three hours and 39 attending, where all those wanting to speak did speak, a vote was taken. On a show of hands Dave's view did not prevail. Behind the disparate opposition to the NSSN majority is a clear difference on programme, strategy, and tactics and this will now go to the conference for debate. This isn't a crime but normal democratic trade union procedure.
The decision of the NSSN steering committee was taken 10 days ago. Only now, on the eve of a meeting of the Trade Union Coordinating Group (TUCG) of the left unions in the TUC, did he choose to attack this decision. In an unholy alliance with the SWP and their front organisation the Right to Work (RTW) he hoped to put the NSSN in the dock before fellow trade unionists as unprincipled splitters and sectarians. This completely failed, not least because the accusers are, themselves, guilty of the "crimes" they impute to the NSSN majority, and particularly to the Socialist Party.
It is enough to remind ourselves that it was the SWP who launched the sectarian attack on the fire-fighters at the end of their recent dispute. As RTW, they also invaded the ACAS talks in the BA dispute, and were widely criticised by rank and file Unite members. In a similar sectarian fashion they attacked the Lindsey strikers, as well as the left-led PCS leadership - particularly its general secretary Mark Serwotka over the alleged pension "sell-out" (in 2005). It is they who set up RTW 18 months ago as a rival to the NSSN. In the London Student Assembly this week, they actually voted against supporting the January NSSN Conference but now say they want to build for it to 'save' the NSSN!
Those who voted in favour of an Anti-Cuts Campaign recognise that trade unions are already located in fighting cuts in the workplace, but that there are other aspects to the struggle. Community campaigns to save services are springing up everywhere. Witness the marvellous student rebellion of recent weeks. Those against these proposals believe that NSSN should step back, and leave leadership matters to other organisations, particularly like RTW.
The NSSN Conference statement in June declared that NSSN should take our work into the wider community. Dave Chapple did not disagree. The October Steering Committee, which Dave Chapple chaired, built on this by agreeing nem-con to call an Anti-Cuts Conference.
Dave Chapple also accuses us of not wanting unity. This is a lie. It was RTW that split away from the NSSN last year, and then not clearly as an anti-cuts campaign. Actually, the NSSN was formed four years ago - originally as an initiative of the RMT transport workers union, well before either COR or RTW. Yet now he implies we are the splitters. We want unity in action, and will do our utmost to get that action. It was us who suggested at an Officers meeting recently that we send invitations to RTW and Coalition of Resistance to convene a meeting to iron out practical problems, initially. Both have agreed, though with all the activity no date has yet been fixed. We did send people to the RTW Forum. Dave Chapple attended this, denounced the NSSN decision and promptly left without hearing further discussion. Rob Williams attended the Trade Union Coordinating Group on behalf of NSSN on Tuesday. His explanation of the NSSN majority position was not criticised. In fact he received support when he criticised the SWP in particular for their continued support of Labour councillors intent on carrying through cuts. As this criticism of the SWP grows, they will undoubtedly try to do another somersault. To even attempt to forge a genuine unity in action with such people requires, above all, an open recognition of their history and record.
What workers are interested in is a fighting programme to defend ALL jobs and services. No other campaign other than NSSN has such a programme. That is why we are getting such a good response to the Conference. Moreover, Matt Wrack General Secretary FBU pointed out that campaigns like NSSN, freed from any bureaucratic obstacles, are well placed to react quickly and effectively in conjunction with fighting trade unions to fight the cuts. An anti-cuts committee, democratically elected at the conference but linked to our NSSN steering committee, will make us even more able to intervene effectively in this movement at this volatile time.
We hope all supporters are building for the Conference, where Dave Chapple and others, will be able to put their case. We believe that the active fighting campaign of NSSN – shown in action on the TUC lobby, and on the October 23rd demos - will be supported. For a principled active intervention in the coming battles!
NSSN officers, representing the majority of the steering committee
14 Dec 2010
John Pilger's must watch film is on British television tonight.
They lied to us and millions died in Iraq.
They are still lying to us.
John to his credit has been doing massive work supporting Julian Assange.
Australia, they make them there!
Do watch tonight and spread the word.
I must admit it is rare I watch TV and I am staying with someone with a broken TV but hey I have still got a couple of hours to sort something out.
There are going to sweep those in wheel chairs away with water cannons next, welcome to austerity Britain!
Well austerity for voters, tax cuts for corporations.
13 Dec 2010
"We are drawing attention to the disastrous outcome of the Steering Committee of the National Shop Stewards’ Network (NSSN) meeting on Saturday 4th December.
The majority in the meeting, who were Socialist Party (SP) members, voted through a series of decisions despite the opposition of absolutely everyone else, of various political affiliations and none.
The meeting decided to propose that the anti-cuts conference being organised by the NSSN on January 22nd should set up an “NSSN All-Britain Anti-Cuts campaign” and the election of a committee at the conference, which would be separate from the existing NSSN structures. As supporters of the NSSN, we are aware that the NSSN and its supporters are already working, locally, regionally and nationally in opposition to the government’s attacks on our public services and jobs. The NSSN has an immense task in helping to build for effective action which can begin to beat back these attacks, although it is noteworthy that the original proposal put forward by the Socialist Party omitted any mention of the NSSN working to organise industrial action against the public sector attacks.
However, to agree that the NSSN has an important contribution to make to the anti-cuts movement is a long way from agreeing to the need for it to launch yet another national anti-cuts campaign. At a time when there is pressure for anti-cuts campaigns to work together – witness the protocol agreed between the Coalition Of Resistance and the Right To Work campaign; the forum on December 5th organised by Right To Work on working together; and the pending meeting called by the Trade Union Coordinating Group on December 14th – the creation of yet another group can only be seen as counterproductive. That the NSSN participated in the forum on December 5th and intend to take part in the meeting on December 14th stands in stark contrast to this move.
Attempts by non-SP officers of the Network to remove the most contentious aspects in advance of the Steering Committee meeting were unsuccessful. The proposals were the subject of a lengthy heated debate. Attempts to delete contentious parts of these proposals were defeated by the SP majority, with no wider support. Attempts to make positive proposals to work constructively with other anti-cuts organisations were defeated in the same way. The only real progress was the removal of a proposal that the NSSN should support anti-cuts candidates in local elections in May, a proposal which would have immediately wrecked the non-party and cross-party nature of the NSSN.
Launching a further national anti-cuts campaign, while obstructing cooperation with other organisations, would be a retrograde step, as well as changing the nature and direction of the NSSN. If the NSSN becomes controlled by one political party which is unwilling to work constructively with any other shop stewards in the network, we would see no point in further participation. Confirmation that this is the way the the SP intends to proceed seems to be borne out by events since the meeting of the Steering Committee – the secretary has unilaterally announced that only SP members will represent the NSSN at 2 forthcoming meetings discussing left/anti-cuts cooperation, with not even a pretence at consultation with non-SP officers .
We therefore urge the Socialist Party to pull back."
NB: A personal request from Dave Chapple, NSSN Chair: "We are circulating this statement throughout the trade union movement, especially activists in NSSN affiliated or supportive unions, to which, ultimately, the NSSN should be responsible. Please discuss it at your trade union branch or other union meetings. We need messages of support for this statement, but would also welcome questions and comments, sent to the address below. NSSN Officers and steering committee members listed are willing to attend trade union meetings to put our case, so please consider inviting us.
Finally, friends, our London conference on 22nd January gives us a chance to return the NSSN to a sensible consensus-based policy: please do your best to attend: a substantial turnout of mainstream trades union activists can ensure that the NSSN has a future: the Socialist Party alternative, as the 'trade union wing' of a small left group, has no future at all."
Dave Chapple, CWU, Chair, NSSN Steering Committee;
1 Blake Place, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA6 5AU; 01278 450562; firstname.lastname@example.org
Jane Bassett, NUT, vice-Chair, NSSN Steering Committee;
Bob Archer, NUT, NSSN Website/Press Officer;
George Binette, Unison, NSSN treasurer;
Ray Morell, Unite, NSSN National Organiser;
Becca Kirkpatrick, Unison, NSSN Affiliations/Fund-raising Officer
plus the following members of the NSSN Steering Committee:
Brian Bamford, Unite;
Andy Reid, PCS;
Stuart Melvin, USDAW;
Glyn Harries, Unison
Ian Allinson, Unite,
Gerry Downing, Unite,
Helen Steel, Unison
Pete Firmin, CWU,
Steve Ballard, NUT
Paul Turnbull, CWU
Note: For clarification, we attach the 2 resolutions put forward at the Steering Committee meeting, one by Linda Taaffe, on behalf of the Socialist Party, and one by George Binnette, with the support of all non-SP members of the Steering Committee. There were 3 accepted amendments to the proposal from Linda Taaffe – to delete “Organise support for anti-cuts candidates in the local elections in May”; to add “do everything in our power to lobby for as generalised industrial action as possible...” as an addition to the “First tasks”; and to replace “produce an email organiser...” at the end by “develop a communications team to speed internal/external communications, using the website, website, textstream, etc. and make use of affiliated unions resources”.
12 Dec 2010
Just got this email, sharing it with you! Banlieues rising!
I'm letting you know that a protest has been called at the Department of
Business, Innovation and Skills at 1 Victoria Street, Westminster at 4PM
tomorrow (Monday) to defend the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA),
which is set to be scrapped.
The EMA is a payment scheme for 16- to 19-year-olds from low-income
backgrounds who have chosen to stay in education. Together with the
trebling of tuition fees, abolishing the EMA will restrict access to
education even more.
The protest is called by the Education Activists Network and supported by
UCU London Region, as part of the Save the EMA day of action.
Location map: http://www.bis.gov.uk/contact/london-offices
Hope to see you there.
If you have not already done so, please also sign the petition for the EMA
to be restored.
Alfie Meadows was beaten around the head, it is alleged that the police refused an ambulance during thursdays fees protests.
Despite bleeding on the brain the first hospital he arrived at wanted to turn him away they had reserved places just for the police but after protests by the ambulance driver he was allowed in
The paint job on the Royal Family gets the headlines, injured students get virtually no column inches.
Remember the police follow orders and the brain injury is down to Vince Cable, Dave Cameron and Nick Clegg.
Any how Join the protest on tuesday to surround and kettle New Scotland Yard.
Tuesday 14 December, 1pm, at New Scotland Yard, 8-10 Broadway, London SW1H 0BG (St James' Park tube)
11 Dec 2010
December 11, 2010 (Cancun, Mexico) – The Plurinational State of Bolivia believes that the Cancun text is a hollow and false victory that was imposed without consensus, and its cost will be measured in human lives. History will judge harshly.
There is only one way to measure the success of a climate agreement, and that is based on whether or not it will effectively reduce emissions to prevent runaway climate change. This text clearly fails, as it could allow global temperatures to increase by more than 4 degrees, a level disastrous for humanity. Recent scientific reports show that 300,000 people already die each year from climate change-related disasters. This text threatens to increase the number of deaths annually to one million. This is something we can never accept.
Last year, everyone recognized that Copenhagen was a failure both in process and substance. Yet this year, a deliberate campaign to lower expectations and desperation for any agreement has led to one that in substance is little more than Copenhagen II.
A so-called victory for multilateralism is really a victory for the rich nations who bullied and cajoled other nations into accepting a deal on their terms. The richest nations offered us nothing new in terms of emission reductions or financing, and instead sought at every stage to backtrack on existing commitments, and include every loophole possible to reduce their obligation to act.
While developing nations – those that face the worst consequences of climate change – pleaded for ambition, we were instead offered the “realism” of empty gestures. Proposals by powerful countries like the US were sacrosanct, while ours were disposable. Compromise was always at the expense of the victims, rather than the culprits of climate change. When Bolivia said we did not agree with the text in the final hours of talks, we were overruled. An accord where only the powerful win is not a negotiation, it is an imposition.
Sat at a computer in the library, I am aware that the woman looking at the screen next to me is becoming increasingly agitated. ...
'The question is: Did they deserve the harassment, abuse, and, finally, the vicious death other people's intolerance of their life s...