31 Jan 2010

Salma Yaqoob and her friends in the Green Party

“This weekend I met with members of the Green Left – a grouping within the Green Party.

They were having one of their regular meetings in Birmingham and they had offered to help with some campaigning beforehand. I was grateful for their support - we need all the help we can get!

On a very cold but fresh Saturday morning we all set off distributing leaflets and door knocking in the Springfield ward. The issue we are campaigning around at the moment is the threat to plans to re-open Sparkhill swimming baths, the local community pool.

After a couple of hours of traipsing the streets we reconvened for discussion, chat and some food at Birmingham’s Metropolitan Community Church, which is around the corner from the charming Friends of the Earth Warehouse Café.

Inevitably our discussion focused on how national politics could be levered in a progressive direction.

Someone asked whether a new national left-green coalition could be set up. My answer was that we don’t have to belong to one party to work together. Right now the priority should be turning words of solidarity and co-operation into real localised bottom-up examples.

That is why during the recent European elections I backed the Green European candidate Felicity Norman. Felicity was campaigning openly on a very principled stance of opposition to racism and the BNP and she was the candidate best placed to advance a progressive agenda for the West Midlands. I was proud to support her.

We are developing new ways of working and I have been very encouraged by recent developments in Birmingham Green Party.

They have elected a new committee, staffed with a talented bunch of young, enthusiastic, idealistic and tactically astute members. They don’t just talk about unity, they practice it. It was their initiative to campaign among their members not to stand a candidate in Hall Green constituency in order to enhance my chances of winning. It is the kind of sensible, but very rare, co-operation between people of different parties on the left that makes me optimistic for the future.

By working together in the city, my hope is that we can illustrate in practice how collaborative working can strengthen progressive politics.

All in all it was a very encouraging day. Thanks again to my new friends in the Green Party for making it so.”

More here

Edge of Darkness without Mel Gibson



This weekend Mel Gibson’s acting career was relaunched with Edge of Darkness and if there is one good thing I can say about this, it’s that it may direct a new generation of viewers back to director Martin Campbell’s original BBC mini-series. A real product of its time, the 1985 Edge of Darkness dramatised the claustrophobic oppression and fear and mistrust that many of us remember feeling towards the Establishment during that long Thatcher winter.

Mel Gibson has an uncanny knack of finding things, otherwise obscure, which I really care about and mangling them. His Jesus is an actor in a sadistic play and his indigenous are rescued by the Catholic Church and the Spanish (who killed millions of indigenous people).

I suspect he has done it again.

In 1985 the BBC produced a classic, a tight piece of film noir, with all the flavours of conspiracy and repression which marked British politics at the time.

On all sorts of levels from pure entertainment to intellectual provocation it had the nation spell bound, shown first on BBC 2, it was immediately re-run on BBC 1 because of the huge demand in an age before VHS, DVD and youtube.

Over six episodes it had us all on the edge of our seats.

Loyalist terrorists in collusion with the state, corrupt union bosses, a truly repellent lefty Terry Shields from Socialist Advance, a plain speaking hero, the CIA, Earth First!ers, golf, Zoe Wanamaker, it was all packed in.

Well there were elements that lost us all but still a stunning piece of work and a monument to the dark side of Thatcherism and the corporate dominated world within which we now live.

Not everything about the Mel Gibson version is rubbish, it has some of the old team involved but Mel as the late great Bob Peck I don't think so.

The opening shots of the 1985 original , which I have yet to locate on the web, show a left green political meeting with that stalwart of the Bennite left of the Labour Party Michael Meacher, playing himself. Part two above

If you were around and watching BBC in Britain in the 1980s give your self a treat, if you did not have this dubious pleasure, take a look at the DVD of the original Edge of Darkness, an utter classic.

Bit too deep ecology for me but hey, its the plot, the filming and the script that count.

And beware spoliers, the vid above is really just an introduction.

Inside the Revolution in Australia



Dear all,

I’ll be showing my documentary on contemporary Venezuelan politics ‘Inside the Revolution’ in Sydney, Melbourne, and a few other cities in Australia from mid-February – more info here:

http://alborada.net/insidetherevolution-australia-screenings-february-2010

If you know anyone in these cities that might be interested in attending please let them know.

Many thanks,

Pablo

'Shake the tree'

Petra Kelly, we still miss her!




Watching 'Gonzo' about the life of Hunter S. Thompson, utterly mad gun toting drug user, but also a rather good writer, while writing about Petra Kelly, the inspiring German Green, both died violently.

Its getting me down!

This is from Petra Kelly, in pessimistic mode, politics even when it is supposed to be good can go bad, but you have to ride with it and try and do things differently in my opinion.


The video for my Italian readers/listeners is a slightly mad tribute punning on her name, Petra = stone, philosopher's stone, geddit!
:



On Morality and Human Dignity (excerpts)

by Petra Kelly, German Green Party




[Excerpts from the late Petra Kelly’s speech “Morality and Human Dignity,” which is included in the collection Nonviolence Speaks to Power.]

Sometimes I almost despaired of this attitude, particularly within my own party. What is left of the honesty and credibility of a party that set out to do things completely differently? How quickly the established behavior in Bonn was assimilated by our party! Many members attached more importance to a regular drink with journalists, a reception at an embassy, or party infighting than to everyday political problems, which we had wanted to solve in a different, more caring spirit of solidarity. Struggles for power within the Green party, whether at the parliamentary or constituency level, suddenly became the navel of the world, and everything else was shadowed by this maneuvering and infighting. I never became involved in this, nor did I want to. I found it exasperating to see the so-called mullahs of the party’s various wings perniciously combating each other for hours on end almost every week. Since our meetings are always open to the public, no matter how painful for those being rebuked or criticized, the press in Bonn has always been present, eagerly absorbing the occurrences and obtaining news of Green parliamentary work fit for the headlines. But it is not the fault of the press—we are the ones to blame for the impression created. The passion displayed in the infighting was all too often lacking in our treatment of genuine political issues.

My vision is of a completely demilitarized Europe without military blocs…
The Greens, set up as a kind of anti-party party, have turned into a party obsessed with power, into a “dead boring German party,” as Josef Beuys so aptly put it shortly before he died. In my opinion, it is still very doubtful whether the civil rights movements from the former GDR [East Germany], united as the Greens/Alliance ’90, can help us to evolve further and overcome our own sterility. The power blocs that emerged when the Green party was founded still exist, and nearly all fundamental and strategically important discussions are conducted within a group of 60 or 70 Green members.

This certainly has little to do with thriving grassroots democracy. You only have to look at the lists of speakers at party congresses and delegates’ meetings to discover that little regeneration is occurring in the ranks of the Greens, and that there are few signs of a feminist, imaginative, and caring party. Thus the Greens, originally intent on transforming power from below, have meanwhile become victims of power from above. The individual members of the party have to be honest about this...

My vision is of a completely demilitarized Europe without military blocs, without nuclear power stations, without a chemical industry that causes cancers, and without an Iron Curtain in people’s minds. It is not our friends from the Eastern European movements for civil rights and democracy who have a great deal to learn. No, it is we in the West who still have much to learn and who must acquire the courage to stand up for our own convictions in the political field. There is no longer any time for silly claims of victory or for German or Western European self-content… The entire parliamentary debate on nuclear energy and weapons reminds me of a comment by Henry David Thoreau: They hesitate, express regret and sometimes even sign petitions, but they do nothing seriously and effectively. In their position of ease, they wait for others to remedy the grievance so that they no longer have to take offence at it. At most they cast their vote in the elections, this does not cost much. And they give a brief nod to justice as it passes by, wishing it well.

Without honesty they cannot really call themselves politicians. All of us must learn anew every day what it means to think with our hearts and to make political decisions with our hearts. The electorate rightly demands more credibility and sincerity in politics. I believe that the voters have had enough of political media stars and of those who regard the political arena as their own stage. They have also had enough of the Federal Government’s countless contemptible arms scandals, of the vanity fair and grandiose speeches, of maneuvering to form coalitions, of party discipline, and of jockeying for publicity. It is up to us to ensure that the public does not become indifferent to politics. (p. 148)

More here

Gumbo Toxico!




Shrimp farming is devastating both in South East Asia (see vid) and in the US (see article below)



Shrimp's Dirty Secrets: Why America's Favorite Seafood Is a Health and Environmental Nightmare
The environmental impact of shrimp can be horrific. But most Americans don't know where their shrimp comes from or what's in it.


Americans love their shrimp. It's the most popular seafood in the country, but unfortunately much of the shrimp we eat are a cocktail of chemicals, harvested at the expense of one of the world's productive ecosystems. Worse, guidelines for finding some kind of "sustainable shrimp" are so far nonexistent.

In his book, Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood, Taras Grescoe paints a repulsive picture of how shrimp are farmed in one region of India. The shrimp pond preparation begins with urea, superphosphate, and diesel, then progresses to the use of piscicides (fish-killing chemicals like chlorine and rotenone), pesticides and antibiotics (including some that are banned in the U.S.), and ends by treating the shrimp with sodium tripolyphosphate (a suspected neurotoxicant), Borax, and occasionally caustic soda.

Upon arrival in the U.S., few if any, are inspected by the FDA, and when researchers have examined imported ready-to-eat shrimp, they found 162 separate species of bacteria with resistance to 10 different antibiotics. And yet, as of 2008, Americans are eating 4.1 pounds of shrimp apiece each year -- significantly more than the 2.8 pounds per year we each ate of the second most popular seafood, canned tuna. But what are we actually eating without knowing it? And is it worth the price -- both to our health and the environment?

Understanding the shrimp that supplies our nation's voracious appetite is quite complex. Overall, the shrimp industry represents a dismantling of the marine ecosystem, piece by piece. Farming methods range from those described above to some that are more benign. Problems with irresponsible methods of farming don't end at the "yuck," factor as shrimp farming is credited with destroying 38 percent of the world's mangroves, some of the most diverse and productive ecosystems on earth. Mangroves sequester vast amounts of carbon and serve as valuable buffers against hurricanes and tsunamis. Some compare shrimp farming methods that demolish mangroves to slash-and-burn agriculture. A shrimp farmer will clear a section of mangroves and close it off to ensure that the shrimp cannot escape. Then the farmer relies on the tides to refresh the water, carrying shrimp excrement and disease out to sea. In this scenario, the entire mangrove ecosystem is destroyed and turned into a small dead zone for short-term gain. Even after the shrimp farm leaves, the mangroves do not come back.

A more responsible farming system involves closed, inland ponds that use their wastewater for agricultural irrigation instead of allowing it to pollute oceans or other waterways. According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program, when a farm has good disease management protocols, it does not need to use so many antibiotics or other chemicals.

One more consideration, even in these cleaner systems, is the wild fish used to feed farmed shrimp. An estimated average of 1.4 pounds of wild fish are used to produce every pound of farmed shrimp. Sometimes the wild fish used is bycatch -- fish that would be dumped into the ocean to rot if they weren't fed to shrimp -- but other times farmed shrimp dine on species like anchovies, herring, sardines and menhaden. These fish are important foods for seabirds, big commercial fish and whales, so removing them from the ecosystem to feed farmed shrimp is problematic.

Additionally, some shrimp are wild-caught, and while they aren't raised in a chemical cocktail, the vast majority is caught using trawling, a highly destructive fishing method. Football field-sized nets are dragged along the ocean floor, scooping up and killing several pounds of marine life for every pound of shrimp they catch and demolishing the ocean floor ecosystem as they go. Where they don't clear-cut coral reefs or other rich ocean floor habitats, they drag their nets through the mud, leaving plumes of sediment so large they are visible from outer space.

After trawling destroys an ocean floor, the ecosystem often cannot recover for decades, if not centuries or millennia. This is particularly significant because 98 percent of ocean life lives on or around the seabed. Depending on the fishery, the amount of bycatch (the term used for unwanted species scooped up and killed by trawlers) ranges from five to 20 pounds per pound of shrimp. These include sharks, rays, starfish, juvenile red snapper, sea turtles and more. While shrimp trawl fisheries only represent 2 percent of the global fish catch, they are responsible for over one-third of the world's bycatch. Trawling is comparable to bulldozing an entire section of rainforest in order to catch one species of bird.

More here

30 Jan 2010

Elinor Ostrom on creativity and ecology

The first woman to win the Nobel Prize for economics— Elinor Ostrom—credits USAID with launching her interest in development research.

Ostrom’s work challenges popular convention that common, or user-owned, resources, such as grazing land, forests, fisheries, and irrigation systems, are poorly managed by communities. In the late 1980s, a USAID grant brought Ostrom to Nepal to begin work studying development assistance and farmer managed irrigation. Her more recent USAID-funded research at Virginia Tech focused on how alternative forest management policies and governance in developing countries affect the livelihoods of local forest users while protecting forests. This research builds upon the work for which she received the Nobel Prize.

A political science professor at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ostrom shares the $1.4 million prize with Oliver Williamson of the University of California, Berkeley.

Ostrom, 76, said her respect for people drives her work in development.

“I’ve seen ingenious work done by poor people who don’t read, who haven’t had a chance to go to school, who earn $2 to $3 a day, roughly, and yet, their ideas are ingenious,” she said in an interview with FrontLines. “The problems they face are immense, and if I can possibly help, ‘Yes!’”

Ostrom’s research shows that community ownership or management of common property, such as forests, water resources, and fisheries, is more effective than commonly thought. She cites as an example the Maine lobster fishery, which is in better condition than a decade or two ago due to rules and monitoring developed by lobster fishermen.

She does note, however, that decentralized management of common resources is not always the answer and cautions against “formulaic decentralization,” which she has found can promote destruction of resources. Ostrom points to successful examples of centralized forest management, such as national forest reserves in Uganda that encourage local people to plant trees.

More here

People are not pollution


Despite the good intentions of its green advocates, support for immigration controls strengthens the most regressive forces in our societies and weakens our ability to stop climate change.
It gives conservative governments and reactionary politicians an easy-out, allowing them to pose as friends of the environment by restricting immigration, while doing nothing to reduce real emissions.
It hands a weapon to climate change deniers, allowing them to portray the climate movement as hostile to the legitimate aspirations of the poorest and most oppressed people in the world.
People are not pollution. Inserting immigration into the climate change debate divides the environmental movement along race, class and gender lines, at a time when the broadest possible unity is essential. It is a dangerous diversion from the real issues, one the movement cannot afford and should not support.

More here

Horror on the cheap 'Carnival of Souls' (1962)




Hah! Worked out how to embed youtube really easy, use copy the embed and paste in directly, hah.

So now I am a film blogger at another green world as well as a cheerleader for Marxist-Elinor Ostrom thought and action.

Well saw Carnival of Souls last weekend, magic!

This Island Rod takes up the story:

Herk Harvey’s solitary but celebrated midnight matinee masterpiece is an indelibly creepy no-budget work that could possibly be called the film that Ed Wood might have made. But it honestly works a magic reminiscent of Carl Dreyer and anticipatory of the stylisation of Stanely Kubrick (in The Shining), David Lynch (especially in Lost Highway) and the directors of a thousand music videos, in large part for exploiting the simplest and ropiest of effects, from pancake make-up for its ghouls to sped-up filming of prancing ghouls, for genuinely unnerving and surreal effect.

More here

Former Black Panther runs for the Greens

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/deacon-alexander-former-black-panthers-member-announces-his-candidacy-for-governor-of-california-80566747.html

Deacon Alexander, Former Black Panthers Member, Announces His Candidacy for Governor of California
ORANGE COUNTY, CA, Jan. 4 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ - California Green Party member, Deacon Alexander, bypasses the traditional press corps and announces his decision to run for Governor of California at a meeting of the Green Party members in Orange County.

In support of Deacon Alexander and attending the meeting were Director Bruno Pischiutta and Producer Daria Trifu who are currently in Los Angeles where their Academy Awards(R) qualified feature film, PUNCTURED HOPE, is screening at the Laemmle Monica 4-Plex.

Deacon Alexander, who has attended one of the screenings together with his campaign manager Sandy Stiassni, has declared that he will "not rest until the Black Magic shrines are closed and slavery is forever abolished". It is his conviction that PUNCTURED HOPE "is Oscar(R) worthy".

Present at yesterday's screening of the film was also the Coordinator for Amnesty International in Los Angeles, Mihoko Tokoro. She had this to say about the film: "PUNCTURED HOPE is a very powerful and politically important feature film that the Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Science should truly consider for a nomination this year. Such a nomination is not only deserved for a beautifully executed film but it will also help to raise the much needed attention, on a global scale, to the issue of women and children slavery in today's West Africa and of the genital mutilation of women in the world. We need to reach out, inform and get the support of the global community to create an equal world where human rights and human dignity are respected. Through the medium of film, PUNCTURED HOPE, represents a great tool to reach out to the general public for support. I commend the work of the film's director and producer who made this great film and fight, step by step, to raise awareness to the issues it addresses."

"We, as a company, want to win the fight against ignorance and bigotry. I want to use film as an artistic weapon to improve the lifestyle and mentality of the viewers, to make their life better and to make them think in a positive way about major social problems that anguish our world today. I want that the rights of women and children are respected. I want to fight intellectual pollution, stupidity, racism and discrimination. I want to show that nonviolent film can be commercially viable and it can help to make a better world." - Director Bruno Pischiutta.

Recently nominated by The Political Film Society of Hollywood in the categories of 'best film expose' and 'best film on human rights' of 2009, PUNCTURED HOPE is screening in Los Angeles since November. The last two scheduled screenings of the film are on January 9 and 10 @ 11:00 AM at the Laemmle Monica 4-Plex in Santa Monica.

"Breaking new barriers and as yet another proof of our commitment to our CAUSE, we are opening the doors and giving free access to our Sunday, January 10th screening of the film at the Laemmle Monica 4-Plex to the Santa Monica homeless men and women! We welcome them to come and watch PUNCTURED HOPE. Our CAUSE is driven by high ideals and it is more important than any one of us. It is a new world; it is time for a new morality!" - Bruno Pischiutta.

Santa Monica residents and founders of the Films4Change, Rachel Sene and Jay Johnson have been present at two of the film's screenings together with guests. The members of the group meet monthly in Los Angeles for dinner, private screenings of political and socially conscious films and discussion. They welcome atheists, freethinkers, secular humanists, skeptics, nonbelievers, agnostics and inquiring minds.

About Deacon Alexander: California gubernatorial candidate in June 8 primary, strong social justice activist, former Black Panther advocate, and LA Green Party member.

About Maestro Bruno Pischiutta: Internationally Awarded Film Director, International Academician, Founder of Toronto Pictures.

29 Jan 2010

Caroline and Salma, "the threat of a good example"

It's ironic that Nancy Platts (M Star January 26) questions Caroline Lucas's voting record as a future MP before Caroline has even been elected.

All three traditional parties, marked by their commitment to neoliberal policies and competition to make cuts, are terrified that MPs with a radical agenda could be elected.

Nancy Platts, as a Labour candidate for Brighton Pavilion, advocates policies such as rail nationalisation that have been rejected by her own party but are solid Green Party policies in our manifesto.

In the 1980s Nicaragua, after the Sandinista revolution, was said to have provided "the threat of a good example" and was crushed by the US because of this.

Politicians like Caroline Lucas and Salma Yaqoob, if elected, would put the grey policies of the traditional parties to shame which is why, as the general election comes nearer, the pressure will be piled on.

The pro-market consensus cannot be challenged by the threat of their good example.

A recent ICM poll put Caroline Lucas ahead of the Tories with Platts in third place. The election of Caroline Lucas would make history by electing Britain's first Green MP on a programme of ecological sanity, social justice and peace.

Platts's party has presided over an illegal war in Iraq and has failed to strengthen trade union rights. It is clear whom Morning Star voters should be supporting.

Derek Wall
Elm Drive
Cranbourne Hall,
Winkfield,
Windsor

Blair parent of 100,000s of dead keeps lying.

Blair helped kill 100,000s of innocent people.

Now he is rewarded with hedge fund posts, million dollar speaking tours....the works.

As some one once said Murder is the sport of the elected.

If you are not involved in politics, you have to be. The Blairs get richly rewarded for doing the work which benefits arms corporations, we have to resist.

We need to build green politics and keep it radical.....good intentions are never enough, the political system selects the worst people and shapes them to do greater wrongs.

Sickening to hear him boasting about his role in the war, just a few years before the US and UK were arming Saddam Hussein.

Iran is a repressive regime that needs challenging but it is interesting that Blair said nothing about Israel when he was calling for an attack on Iran.

Cameron and Brown would kill again I am sure. Without the massive and vocal protests it might have been even worse.

Depressing but a call to non violent arms.

Another Vestas: Renewable energy company in Sussex to close

Edwards who produce amongst other things solar energy parts are threatened with closure....local UNITE activists are mobilising in Brighton on 9th Feb.

Will tell you more when I know...I am down to Brighton tomorrow so will report back.

Tragic that renewable energy manufacturers are being shut down one by one in a kind of anti-new green deal...fewer jobs, less renewable energy, economy more dependent on bankers who steal our cash.

We must build a more effective green movement and green trade union movement to fight back.

thanks to DJ for telling me about this.

28 Jan 2010

'All power to the barrios!'

Another country trying to put Elinor Ostrom's vision of an economy and society based on grass roots collective property and decision making is Venezuela...just got this from Pablo...




The community revolution

While international debate focuses on President Chávez, institutions of popular democracy are taking root in Venezuela’s barrios. Pablo Navarrete introduces the importance of community councils, while Steve Ellner assesses their prospects for deepening the ‘Bolivarian revolution’

February 2009 marked ten years since Hugo Chávez took office in Venezuela, following a landslide election victory that swept the country’s traditional parties out of power. Since assuming the presidency, Chávez has presided over a controversial process of radical change, commonly referred to as the ‘Bolivarian revolution’ – after Simón Bolívar, who liberated Venezuela and much of South America from Spanish colonialism.

While hugely popular with many in Venezuela, Chávez’s policies and his outspoken criticisms of the US government have made him powerful enemies, both at home and abroad, especially in the media. Chávez has also polarised opinion on the global left, with a divide becoming visible between those who characterise him as authoritarian and others who stress the democratic nature of his government.

In Venezuela, the first years of the ‘Bolivarian revolution’ saw Chávez speaking about combating ‘savage neoliberalism’ and searching for a more humane capitalism: a Venezuelan ‘third way’ as a solution to the severe socio-economic crisis that the government inherited.

However, the response that these measures provoked among Venezuela’s traditional elites and their allies in the US government led to the radicalisation of the process, and in early 2005 Chávez surprised his supporters and opponents alike when he publicly rejected capitalism as a model for Venezuela and spoke of the need to instead create a ‘21st-century socialism’.

Apart from debating what 21st-century socialism should and shouldn’t be – and insisting that it has to be original – nearly five years since Chávez called for its creation in Venezuela, what is the evidence that the country is moving in that direction?

This is one of the key questions I wanted to explore in my new feature-length documentary, Inside the Revolution: A journey into the heart of Venezuela. Filmed in the country’s capital, Caracas, in November 2008, the eve of the tenth anniversary of Chávez’s presidency, I wanted it to go beyond the simplistic mainstream media reporting on Venezuela that focuses virtually all developments in the country on the figure of Chávez, and instead provide a platform for the voices of the government’s grass-roots supporters who are driving the process forward.

More here

Meet you new big mac Green MP



Gareth Hughes MP....a man after my own heart

PROTEST ON TONY BLAIR'S JUDGEMENT DAY


Tim D sent me this...thanks mate

On 15 Feb 2003, I was one of the c. 2 million people in London (and of the 8 - 30 million people world wide, in around 800 cities) demonstrating against the invasion of Iraq by state-uniformed murderers from the UK and USA. Though the massive anti-war protests no doubt constrained the Westminster and Washington warmongers' room for manoeuvre, nevertheless our Iraqi sisters and brothers suffered dreadfully under the military onslaught and foreign occupation by Brits and Yanks. There's no good reason to think the Iraq Inquiry will be any less of a whitewash than its predecessors, but tomorrow they get to question War-Criminal-in-Chief Tony Bliar. I'll be both compiling a pix-&-vidz report for Indymedia AND demonstrating my contempt for the architect of so much death, destruction and misery, and I'd encourage you join in the anti-war action if you can.

PROTEST ON TONY BLAIR'S JUDGEMENT DAY
• On Fri 29 Jan, Tony Blair will try to explain to the Iraq Inquiry the lies he used to take Britain into an illegal war. Writers, musicians, relatives of the dead, Iraqi refugees, poets, human rights lawyers, comedians, actors, MPs and ordinary citizens will join a day of protest outside the Inquiry to demand that this should be Tony Blair's judgement day. Here's an outline of what's happening:
• Fri 29 Jan 2010, 08.00-16:30
• Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre, Broad Sanctuary, Westminster, London SW1P 3EE
• 8.00: PROTEST STARTS AS BLAIR ARRIVES
• 9.00-10.00: NAMING OF THE DEAD CEREMONY
• 10.00-11.00: SPEECHES, READINGS AND PERFORMANCES
• 12.00-13.00: PERFORMANCES
• 13.00-14.00: MILITARY FAMILIES NAMING OF THE DEAD
• 16.00: PROTEST AS TONY BLAIR LEAVES THE INQUIRY

Last day to sign the Freedom Pass petition.

Most policies aimed at tackling change don't work and involve increasing taxes, a policy that does work and gives something back is the Freedom Pass which allows pensioners to travel free by bus....what a great idea for helping pensioners and helping to reduce car use.

Its an open secret that it will be abolished soon with a cry of spending cuts.

The petition to protect the Freedom Pass currently has over 18,000 signatures but closes tomorrow...please sign if you haven't done so and spread the word.



We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to intervene to secure the Freedom Pass by protecting the previously agreed level of concessionary travel funding for London, for 2010-11, from the proposals currently being consulted on by the Department for Transport that would cut £29 million of agreed funding for the boroughs, following the DfT’s re-opening of a 3-year funding deal in its third year

To sign go here

27 Jan 2010

Obama's America work to execute Mumia Abu-Jamal

Supreme Court opens door to Mumia’s execution

BY JEFF MACKLER

In a dangerous decision and a break with its own precedent, the U.S. Supreme Court, on Jan. 19, opened the door wide to Pennsylvania prosecutors’ efforts to execute the innocent political prisoner, murder frame-up victim, award-winning journalist, and world-renowned “Voice of the Voiceless,” Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Six months earlier, on April 6, the Supreme Court all but shut the door on Mumia’s 28-year fight for justice and freedom when it refused to grant a hearing (writ of certiorari) despite its own decision in the 1986 case of Batson v. Kentucky that the systematic and racist exclusion of Blacks from juries voids all guilty verdicts and mandates a new trial.

In Mumia’s 1982 trial, presided over by the infamous “hanging judge,” Albert Sabo, Philadelphia prosecutor Joseph McGill, in explicit violation of Batson, used 10 of his 15 peremptory challenges to exclude Blacks from the jury panel. But as with virtually all Mumia court decisions over the past decades, the “Mumia Exception,” a consistent and contorted interpretation of the “law,” or abject blindness to it, has been employed to reach a predetermined result. Mumia’s frame-up murder conviction was allowed to stand.

In contrast, on Jan. 19, 2010, Pennsylvania prosecutors, twice rejected in their efforts to impose the death penalty on Mumia (in 2001 and 2008), were given yet another opportunity to do so when the Supreme Court remanded the sentencing issue of life imprisonment versus execution to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The latter was instructed to take into consideration the High Court’s new ruling in the Ohio case of Smith v. Spisak.
Frank Spisak was a neo-Nazi who wore a Hitler mustache to his trial, denounced Jews and Blacks, and confessed in court to three hate-crime murders in Ohio. Spisak saw his jury-imposed death sentence reversed in the federal courts when his attorneys, like Mumia’s, successfully invoked a critical 1988 Supreme Court decision in the famous Mills v. Maryland case.

The Mills decision required, with regard to sentencing procedures, that both the judge’s instructions and the jury forms make clear that any juror who believes that one or more mitigating circumstance exists (sufficient to impose a sentence of life imprisonment as opposed to the death penalty) should have the right to have that issue(s) considered by the jury as a whole. Prior to Mills, Maryland jurors were effectively led to believe that they had to be unanimous on any possible mitigating circumstance for it to be considered in the deliberation process.

Mills explicitly rejected the idea of unanimity; it rejected the notion that a single juror could block from consideration the mitigating circumstances hypothetically found by another juror or even by 11 of the 12 jurors.

Before Mills, the “unanimity” requirement in the way it was presented to juries essentially eliminated the vast majority of mitigating circumstances, and therefore juries had little or no alternative but to impose the death penalty. Under Mills, once all mitigating circumstances were set before the jury, it was then their responsibility to determine whether they were sufficient to impose a sentence of life as opposed to death.

In both Spisak’s and Mumia’s cases the trial court judge violated the Mills principle and in essence instructed the juries that unanimity on each mitigating circumstance was required for consideration of the jury as a whole. As a consequence, Federal District Courts in both Ohio and in Pennsylvania (in the case of Mumia), later backed by decisions of the U.S. Courts of Appeals, invoked Mills to overrule the jury-imposed death sentence verdicts. They ordered a new sentencing hearing and trial with the proper instructions to the jury and where new evidence of innocence could be presented. The jury remained bound, however, by the previous jury’s guilty finding.

Even so, the long-suppressed mountain of evidence proving Mumia’s innocence drives Mumia’s prosecutors to avoid a new trial at all costs. A new trial of any sort could only expose, with unpredictable consequences, the base corruption of a criminal “justice” system permeated by race and class bias. Executing innocent people does not sit well with the American people. In the courts of the elite, as in life itself, nothing is written in stone. The “law” has more than once been “adjusted” in the interests of the poor and oppressed when the price to pay by insisting on its immutability is too costly in terms of doing greater damage to the system as a whole.

The effect of the 1988 Mills decision was to make it harder for prosecutors to obtain death sentences in capital cases; the effect of Spisak is to make it easier. Armed with this new Supreme Court weapon and order to reconsider the application of Mills, Pennsylvania prosecutors will once again seek Mumia’s execution before the Third Circuit.

“States’ rights” logic of Spisak decision

Prior to this unexpected turn of events and for the past 22 years, the broad U.S. legal community appeared to agree that Mills applied to all states. That is, if a jury were orally mis-instructed and/or received faulty or unclear verdict forms that implied it needed to be unanimous with regard to mitigating circumstances that would be considered to weigh in against the death penalty, the death penalty would be set aside and a new sentencing hearing ordered.

That is what happened in Mumia’s case when Federal District Court Judge William H. Yohn in 2001 employed Mills to set aside the jury’s death penalty decision. Yohn gave the state of Pennsylvania 180 days to decide whether or not to retry Mumia or to accept a sentence of life imprisonment.

Since then, Pennsylvania officials have effectively stayed Yohn’s order by appealing to the higher federal courts. The Supreme Court gave them the victory they sought.

In deciding to hear Ohio prosecutors’ arguments in the Spisak case with regard to Mills the Supreme Court implied that a new interpretation of the concept of federalism was in the making. The political pendulum has swung back and forth on this issue. In past decades, a “states’ rights” interpretation was employed to justify racist state laws that denied Blacks access to public institutions and facilities. With the rise of the civil rights movement, federal power was used to compel the elimination of the same racist laws.

Justice is far from blind in America. It is applied to the advantage of the working class and the oppressed only to the extent that the relationship of forces—that is, the struggles of the masses—demand it.

Since Mills was decided based on the facts in the state of Maryland only, Ohio and Pennsylvania prosecutors argued, Mills cannot be automatically applied to other states where a different set of jury instructions and jury forms were involved. Indeed, Ohio prosecutors argued before the Supreme Court on Oct. 13 that Ohio and Pennsylvania were the exception and not the rule and that the norm in other states was to essentially reject a strict interpretation of Mills in favor of various state guidelines regarding jury instructions. It was not by accident that Mumia’s Pennsylvania prosecutors filed a friend of the court brief (amicus curiae) in support of the Ohio Spisak appeal.

Undoubtedly, the U.S. Supreme Court found some delight in rendering their Spisak decision. They changed the law in order to allow Ohio to execute a likely deranged Nazis and instructed Pennsylvania prosecutors to use this law to try to execute a revolutionary—that is, Mumia Abu-Jamal.

In every sense Mumia’s life is on the line as never before. Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell is pledged to sign what could be the third and final warrant for Mumia’s execution. Opinions vary as to the timeline for a final decision of the Third Circuit. Indeed, the Third Circuit could in turn remand the Mills issue back to Judge Yohn’s Federal District Court, and any decision made therein might well be appealed by either side back to the Court of Appeals and then to the U.S. Supreme Court. The process could take months or years, but the deliberations will be based on new turf that leads closer to the death penalty for Mumia than ever before.

Mumia's supporters around the world and Mumia himself have long noted that the battle for his life and freedom largely resides in our collective capacity to build a massive movement capable of making the political price of Mumia’s incarceration and execution too high to pay. Mumia is alive and fighting today because of that movement. Those dedicated to his freedom and who stand opposed to the death penalty more generally are urged get involved. Free Mumia!

--Contact the Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal in California, (510) 268-9429, or the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal in Pennsylvania, (215) 476-8812.

--Jeff Mackler is the director of the Northern California-based Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal.
This article was originally published in Socialist Action newspaper, February, 2010.
http://freemumia.org

Obama's America are work to execute Mumia Abu-Jamal

Supreme Court opens door to Mumia’s execution

BY JEFF MACKLER

In a dangerous decision and a break with its own precedent, the U.S. Supreme Court, on Jan. 19, opened the door wide to Pennsylvania prosecutors’ efforts to execute the innocent political prisoner, murder frame-up victim, award-winning journalist, and world-renowned “Voice of the Voiceless,” Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Six months earlier, on April 6, the Supreme Court all but shut the door on Mumia’s 28-year fight for justice and freedom when it refused to grant a hearing (writ of certiorari) despite its own decision in the 1986 case of Batson v. Kentucky that the systematic and racist exclusion of Blacks from juries voids all guilty verdicts and mandates a new trial.

In Mumia’s 1982 trial, presided over by the infamous “hanging judge,” Albert Sabo, Philadelphia prosecutor Joseph McGill, in explicit violation of Batson, used 10 of his 15 peremptory challenges to exclude Blacks from the jury panel. But as with virtually all Mumia court decisions over the past decades, the “Mumia Exception,” a consistent and contorted interpretation of the “law,” or abject blindness to it, has been employed to reach a predetermined result. Mumia’s frame-up murder conviction was allowed to stand.

In contrast, on Jan. 19, 2010, Pennsylvania prosecutors, twice rejected in their efforts to impose the death penalty on Mumia (in 2001 and 2008), were given yet another opportunity to do so when the Supreme Court remanded the sentencing issue of life imprisonment versus execution to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The latter was instructed to take into consideration the High Court’s new ruling in the Ohio case of Smith v. Spisak.
Frank Spisak was a neo-Nazi who wore a Hitler mustache to his trial, denounced Jews and Blacks, and confessed in court to three hate-crime murders in Ohio. Spisak saw his jury-imposed death sentence reversed in the federal courts when his attorneys, like Mumia’s, successfully invoked a critical 1988 Supreme Court decision in the famous Mills v. Maryland case.

The Mills decision required, with regard to sentencing procedures, that both the judge’s instructions and the jury forms make clear that any juror who believes that one or more mitigating circumstance exists (sufficient to impose a sentence of life imprisonment as opposed to the death penalty) should have the right to have that issue(s) considered by the jury as a whole. Prior to Mills, Maryland jurors were effectively led to believe that they had to be unanimous on any possible mitigating circumstance for it to be considered in the deliberation process.

Mills explicitly rejected the idea of unanimity; it rejected the notion that a single juror could block from consideration the mitigating circumstances hypothetically found by another juror or even by 11 of the 12 jurors.

Before Mills, the “unanimity” requirement in the way it was presented to juries essentially eliminated the vast majority of mitigating circumstances, and therefore juries had little or no alternative but to impose the death penalty. Under Mills, once all mitigating circumstances were set before the jury, it was then their responsibility to determine whether they were sufficient to impose a sentence of life as opposed to death.

In both Spisak’s and Mumia’s cases the trial court judge violated the Mills principle and in essence instructed the juries that unanimity on each mitigating circumstance was required for consideration of the jury as a whole. As a consequence, Federal District Courts in both Ohio and in Pennsylvania (in the case of Mumia), later backed by decisions of the U.S. Courts of Appeals, invoked Mills to overrule the jury-imposed death sentence verdicts. They ordered a new sentencing hearing and trial with the proper instructions to the jury and where new evidence of innocence could be presented. The jury remained bound, however, by the previous jury’s guilty finding.

Even so, the long-suppressed mountain of evidence proving Mumia’s innocence drives Mumia’s prosecutors to avoid a new trial at all costs. A new trial of any sort could only expose, with unpredictable consequences, the base corruption of a criminal “justice” system permeated by race and class bias. Executing innocent people does not sit well with the American people. In the courts of the elite, as in life itself, nothing is written in stone. The “law” has more than once been “adjusted” in the interests of the poor and oppressed when the price to pay by insisting on its immutability is too costly in terms of doing greater damage to the system as a whole.

The effect of the 1988 Mills decision was to make it harder for prosecutors to obtain death sentences in capital cases; the effect of Spisak is to make it easier. Armed with this new Supreme Court weapon and order to reconsider the application of Mills, Pennsylvania prosecutors will once again seek Mumia’s execution before the Third Circuit.

“States’ rights” logic of Spisak decision

Prior to this unexpected turn of events and for the past 22 years, the broad U.S. legal community appeared to agree that Mills applied to all states. That is, if a jury were orally mis-instructed and/or received faulty or unclear verdict forms that implied it needed to be unanimous with regard to mitigating circumstances that would be considered to weigh in against the death penalty, the death penalty would be set aside and a new sentencing hearing ordered.

That is what happened in Mumia’s case when Federal District Court Judge William H. Yohn in 2001 employed Mills to set aside the jury’s death penalty decision. Yohn gave the state of Pennsylvania 180 days to decide whether or not to retry Mumia or to accept a sentence of life imprisonment.

Since then, Pennsylvania officials have effectively stayed Yohn’s order by appealing to the higher federal courts. The Supreme Court gave them the victory they sought.

In deciding to hear Ohio prosecutors’ arguments in the Spisak case with regard to Mills the Supreme Court implied that a new interpretation of the concept of federalism was in the making. The political pendulum has swung back and forth on this issue. In past decades, a “states’ rights” interpretation was employed to justify racist state laws that denied Blacks access to public institutions and facilities. With the rise of the civil rights movement, federal power was used to compel the elimination of the same racist laws.

Justice is far from blind in America. It is applied to the advantage of the working class and the oppressed only to the extent that the relationship of forces—that is, the struggles of the masses—demand it.

Since Mills was decided based on the facts in the state of Maryland only, Ohio and Pennsylvania prosecutors argued, Mills cannot be automatically applied to other states where a different set of jury instructions and jury forms were involved. Indeed, Ohio prosecutors argued before the Supreme Court on Oct. 13 that Ohio and Pennsylvania were the exception and not the rule and that the norm in other states was to essentially reject a strict interpretation of Mills in favor of various state guidelines regarding jury instructions. It was not by accident that Mumia’s Pennsylvania prosecutors filed a friend of the court brief (amicus curiae) in support of the Ohio Spisak appeal.

Undoubtedly, the U.S. Supreme Court found some delight in rendering their Spisak decision. They changed the law in order to allow Ohio to execute a likely deranged Nazis and instructed Pennsylvania prosecutors to use this law to try to execute a revolutionary—that is, Mumia Abu-Jamal.

In every sense Mumia’s life is on the line as never before. Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell is pledged to sign what could be the third and final warrant for Mumia’s execution. Opinions vary as to the timeline for a final decision of the Third Circuit. Indeed, the Third Circuit could in turn remand the Mills issue back to Judge Yohn’s Federal District Court, and any decision made therein might well be appealed by either side back to the Court of Appeals and then to the U.S. Supreme Court. The process could take months or years, but the deliberations will be based on new turf that leads closer to the death penalty for Mumia than ever before.

Mumia's supporters around the world and Mumia himself have long noted that the battle for his life and freedom largely resides in our collective capacity to build a massive movement capable of making the political price of Mumia’s incarceration and execution too high to pay. Mumia is alive and fighting today because of that movement. Those dedicated to his freedom and who stand opposed to the death penalty more generally are urged get involved. Free Mumia!

--Contact the Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal in California, (510) 268-9429, or the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal in Pennsylvania, (215) 476-8812.

--Jeff Mackler is the director of the Northern California-based Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal.
This article was originally published in Socialist Action newspaper, February, 2010.
http://freemumia.org

Mining equals murder

http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=50127

By Edgardo Ayala

SAN SALVADOR, Jan 27 , 2010 (IPS) - Environmental activists in El Salvador allege that managers of a gold mine owned by a Canadian corporation are implicated in the murders of three anti-mining activists.

The killings took place between June and December 2009 in the central department (province) of Cabañas, where the Pacific Rim El Salvador company, a subsidiary of the Vancouver-based Pacific Rim Mining Corp, has been exploring for gold and silver since 2002.

In 2008 authorities in El Salvador refused to issue the company a mining permit for the El Dorado mine, 65 km northeast of the capital, after an intense anti-mining campaign by civil society organisations, local authorities and residents, and Catholic Church leaders.

Through a U.S. subsidiary, Pacific Rim is suing the Salvadoran state for 700 million dollars in compensation for lost investment, under provisions in the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) with the U.S.

The first activist killed was Marcelo Rivera, a 37-year-old member of the Association of Friends of San Isidro Cabañas (ASIC) and one of the leaders of the opposition to Pacific Rim's operations in the area. His tortured body was found down a well on Jun. 30.

The second victim was Ramiro Rivera (no relation) of the Cabañas Environmental Committee, gunned down on Dec. 20 by M-16 rifle fire in Trinidad, a village in the municipality of Sensuntepeque, the provincial capital.

Just six days later, 32-year-old Dora Alicia Sorto was killed in the same village and with the same type of firearm. She was also a member of the Committee. Sorto, eight months pregnant, was heading home after washing clothes in a nearby stream when her attackers struck. Her two-year-old son was also injured.

Héctor Berríos, a lawyer belonging to the Mesa Nacional Frente la Minería Metálica (National Working Group against Mining), said the motive for the murders was clearly linked to the victims' activism against mining in general and Pacific Rim in particular.

"The question here is who benefits from this terror campaign" against anti-mine activists, Berríos told IPS. But he acknowledged that it is very difficult to prove the alleged connection between the company and the murders.

In a Jan. 4 statement issued from its Vancouver headquarters, Pacific Rim said it "unequivocally denies these accusations" by Salvadoran anti-mining groups suggesting the company was involved in the murders in the Trinidad area, and called the accusations "false" and "wrongful" "misinformation."

"There is no evidence indicating these violent acts bear any relation whatsoever to the debate over mining in the country," the statement said, quoting local press stories that attribute these "tragic incidents" to "a longstanding feud between two local families," and calling on all parties to rely on the justice system to determine the true facts.

Ramiro Rivera, who had survived a previous attempt on his life on Aug. 7, was under police protection. But his bodyguards were incapable of defending him with their side arms against the M-16s wielded by the small group of assailants who attacked him.

Berríos said the strategy of intimidating anti-mining protesters is commonly used by powerful mining companies in other Latin American countries and around the world. "But violence will not put a stop to our struggle, which we are waging to protect the environment and people's health," he said.

Miguel Ángel Rivera, Marcelo's brother and a fellow member of ASIC, said the killings have spread fear in the anti-mining movement, but underlined that he intends to carry on, in spite of his worries about his wife and daughter.

"When my little eight-year-old girl goes off to school, I wonder how safe she will be," he told IPS. "And at night, if I hear a car driving by, I fear the worst," he added, at a vigil held in Trinidad to raise community morale and encourage the environmentalists after the two December murders.

Rivera says he will continue because "we know we are on the right side," and for him to give up the anti-mining struggle now would mean that his brother's life's work "had been in vain."

The Human Rights Ombudsman's Office criticised the National Civil Police and the Attorney General's Office in late December, saying their investigation of the activists' deaths was "negligent."

But deputy director of police investigations Howard Cotto complained about such allegations. "Not to hold an investigation would be negligent, or to rule out certain lines of enquiry, but that is not the case," he told IPS. The investigation is under way, and could take "days, weeks or months," he added.

He said that without evidence, the police cannot state there is a link between the murders and the anti-mining protests, although it is one of the possible leads they are working on.

He did, however, confirm that the two killings in Trinidad in December were the work of hired killers, using large-calibre firearms. But he said it is not clear who ordered the murders.

In the case of Marcelo Rivera, four suspects have been arrested and will go on trial in February, but no progress has been reported on finding the masterminds.

Since Pacific Rim began exploratory mining at El Dorado, environmental, religious and community groups have organised tirelessly against the company's activities, complaining about threats to people's health and the environment.

A book titled "El lado oscuro del oro. Impactos de la minería metálica en El Salvador" (The Dark Side of Gold: The impact of metal mining in El Salvador), by Florian Erzinger, Luis González and Ángel Ibarra, published by the Salvadoran Ecology Unit (UNES) in December 2008, says that Central America has been gripped by a "new gold fever" since the price of gold soared to 1,000 dollars an ounce.

Authorities in El Salvador have approved 29 exploration concessions since 2006, and the 11 foreign mining companies to whom they were granted have already requested permits for commercial exploitation in 25 cases.

In practice, however, denial of Pacific Rim's application for a permit has brought any further applications to a complete halt.

At first the government of President Antonio Saca (2005-2009), of the rightwing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), was in favour of foreign companies bringing in investment to exploit the mining wealth of this country, the smallest in Central America and the only one in the region without an Atlantic shoreline, although it does have a Pacific coast.

But it balked at issuing permits, because of strong, widespread opposition to the mines, at a time when the country faced elections, which ARENA lost in March 2009 to the leftwing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN).

Since President Mauricio Funes took office Jun. 1, 2009, he has firmly insisted that he will not approve any such permits.

"It's very simple: my government will not authorise any extractive mining project," said Funes Jan.11 in Sensuntepeque, at a ceremony to inaugurate the school year. He also said "we are going to clear up" the murders of the environmental activists, whose work he praised.

The study on mining impacts in El Salvador says that, taken together, the 25 projects applying for extraction permits plan to mine 12 million ounces of gold and 78 million ounces of silver. The extraction process would require 22 million litres of water, and 950 tonnes of cyanide.

The impact of mining on local water sources has been apparent since exploration got under way, as have the effects on health of the use of cyanide and other toxic substances.

The report's authors say the 25 projects could generate 10 billion dollars in revenues, and that Pacific Rim has already extracted 1.4 million ounces of gold under its exploratory concession. (END)

Mumia 'Haiti On Our Minds'

Haiti On Our Minds
[col. writ. 1/16/10] (c) '10 Mumia Abu-Jamal


The recent natural disaster in Haiti, has once again, thrown Haiti into the eyes of the world, and once again, brought out both the best and worst of us.

The sheer scale of human suffering has evoked massive compassion, as governments far and wide mobilize to assist those who are unable to assist themselves.

Haiti, once the colonial-era "Pearl of the Antilles" (Caribbean), then the "Mother of Revolutions", has suffered for nearly two centuries for daring to fight for, and win, its freedom from European colonialism, slavery and plunder.

Haiti, we are informed by the corporate media, is the poorest nation in the West. We are never told however, how it got that way. How many of us know that the U.S. brutally occupied Haiti, and stayed there for over 20 years? Or that Haiti, which had the temerity to defeat not one, not two, but three colonial armies (the French, the British, and the Spanish), was forced to pay France billions of dollars in reparations for 200 years -- the first and only time in history that a victor in war had to pay back the nation it defeated!?

Haiti isn't just poor; it's been impoverished by a global system of exploitation and a plantation capitalist economy that was designed as a sanction for Black Liberation.

The U.S., its nearest, richest neighbor, didn't recognize or trade with the country for nearly 60 years -- or until a Civil War brought a formal end to slavery on these shores.

C.L.R. James, the revolutionary scholar/activist, has argued that the Haitian Revolution was a singular event in human history, of more significance than either the French or American revolutions.

That an American preacher (and former presidential candidate could today liken the event to the devil gives us some sense of its continuing power.

Interestingly, neither of these other revolutions spelled an end to that truly demonic institution -- slavery. Indeed, the reverse is true, for George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were slave owners, and Napoleon Bonaparte sent his armies to Haiti to defend slavery.

Decade after decade of U.S. supported dictators, a legacy of plantation capitalism and exploitation, U.S. supported coups (like the Bush-era removal of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide), and corporate strangulation of poor Haitian workers, has left it severely under-developed, and thus, less able to cope with natural disasters when they strike.

Several years ago, when a hurricane hit a city in the world's wealthiest nation, the wealthy and middle classes had the resources to flee just before the worst struck town. The poor were left to fend for themselves.

In Haiti, those resources were even more rare.

But an earthquake isn't a hurricane. It strikes suddenly, often without significant warning.

But many nations, like Japan, have constructed buildings which resist the bumps and whirls of earthquakes. Such techniques, if applied to Haitian schools, homes and offices, could've greatly alleviated loss of life and suffering.

If it hadn't been bled and exploited for centuries, Haiti would've had the wherewithal to protect its people as much as possible.

Let us hope that Haiti's future will be brighter than its post colonial past.

--(c) '10 maj

26 Jan 2010

ATTEMPT TO BAN PROTEST OUTSIDE BLAIR INQUIRY

just got this from Martin

Negotiations between the police and Stop the War broke down
today when it became clear that the government is trying to
hide our legitimate peaceful protest from Tony Blair when he
gives evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry on Friday.

After days in which we were told by the police that they would
try to facilitate our protest, Stop the War has been told we
will not be allowed to protest on the grass outside the QEII
Conference Centre.

This is a denial of our democratic rights and Stop the War
will now call for the widest possible mobilisation, not just
to express the majority view in this country that Tony Blair
should be held to account for war crimes, but in defence of
the right to protest.

Why should the public be denied the right to peaceful protest,
particularly when the latest evidence given to the Chilcot
Committee shows beyond doubt that Tony Blair knew he was
taking Britain into an illegal war, and that he doctored legal
advice to deceive his Cabinet, Parliament and the British
public.

Stop the War is calling on all its supporters, local groups
and affiliated organisations to mobilise the widest possible
support for the Blair protest on Friday.

We urge everyone who can to join the demonstration at the QEII
Conference Centre from 8am. Full details for the planned
events are here: http://bit.ly/8mKM0T

Spread the word as widely as you can among your family,
friends, work colleagues, fellow students etc, etc

25 Jan 2010

Avatar against Imperialism


Great article by Noah Tucker...Joel Kovel goes to me last night 'have you seen Avatar, it's great'....the real Avatar is in Peru where Hugo Blanco and Aidesep battle for our planet!

By Noah Tucker

“How does it feel to betray your own race?” These are the infamous last words of the mercenary colonel Miles Quartrich, snarled at the hero Jake Sully in the final minutes of David Cameron’s Avatar; set a century and a half into the future and 25 trillion miles from our planet. But Sully and the tiny minority of humans who change sides to fight alongside the Na’vi people in the 3D sci-fi epic were far from being the only ones who became traitors.

In the here and now of Earth in 2010, in the darkness of thousands of movie theatres, though purely passively and for the brief period of two and a half hours, more than one hundred and fifty million people (so far) have enthusiastically betrayed their ‘own race’, cheering on in their hearts- and often out loud- the defensive war of the imaginary blue-skinned Na’vi of the planet Pandora against the predatory corporate, militaristic, and environmentally destructive forces of homo sapiens.

And how did that feel? It felt very good; even, apparently, for the millions of people in the USA who have watched the movie.

More here

Caroline Lucas first Green Party MP UK in the Independent

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/caroline-lucas-you-ask-the-questions-1877889.html

is Caroline's response to some searching question in The Independent.

I think she can do it.

Saturday I am off on the East Berkshire Green Party canvassing trip to Brighton, if you are in the Green Party over here please organise your own trip to Brighton or if you are not a member do join.

Green Left are helping Salma and will be down to help Caroline soon as well.

WE SEND DOCTORS, NOT SOLDIERS.

Just got this from Fidel, gracias amigo

Reflections by Comrade Fidel

WE SEND DOCTORS, NOT SOLDIERS.

In my Reflection of January 14, two days after the catastrophe in Haiti, which destroyed that neighboring sister nation, I wrote: “In the area of healthcare and others the Haitian people has received the cooperation of Cuba, even though this is a small and blockaded country. Approximately 400 doctors and healthcare workers are helping the Haitian people free of charge. Our doctors are working every day at 227 of the 237 communes of that country. On the other hand, no less than 400 young Haitians have been graduated as medical doctors in our country. They will now work alongside the reinforcement that traveled there yesterday to save lives in that critical situation. Thus, up to one thousand doctors and healthcare personnel can be mobilized without any special effort; and most are already there willing to cooperate with any other State that wishes to save Haitian lives and rehabilitate the injured.”
“The head of our medical brigade has informed that ‘the situation is difficult but we are already saving lives.’”
Hour after hour, day and night, the Cuban health professionals have started to work nonstop in the few facilities that were able to stand, in tents, and out in the parks or open-air spaces, since the population feared new aftershocks.
The situation was far more serious than was originally thought. Tens of thousands of injured were clamoring for help in the streets of Port-au-Prince; innumerable persons laid, dead or alive, under the rubbled clay or adobe used in the construction of the houses where the overwhelming majority of the population lived. Buildings, even the most solid, collapsed. Besides, it was necessary to look for the Haitian doctors who had graduated at the Latin American Medicine School throughout all the destroyed neighborhoods. Many of them were affected, either directly or indirectly, by the tragedy.
Some UN officials were trapped in their dormitories and tens of lives were lost, including the lives of several chiefs of MINUSTAH, a UN contingent. The fate of hundreds of other members of its staff was unknown.
Haiti’s Presidential Palace crumbled. Many public facilities, including several hospitals, were left in ruins.
The catastrophe shocked the whole world, which was able to see what was going on through the images aired by the main international TV networks. Governments from everywhere in the planet announced they would be sending rescue experts, food, medicines, equipment and other resources.
In conformity with the position publicly announced by Cuba, medical staff from different countries –namely Spain, Mexico, and Colombia, among others- worked very hard alongside our doctors at the facilities they had improvised. Organizations such as PAHO and other friendly countries like Venezuela and other nations supplied medicines and other resources. The impeccable behavior of Cuban professionals and their leaders was absolutely void of chauvinism and remained out of the limelight.
Cuba, just as it had done under similar circumstances, when Hurricane Katrina caused huge devastation in the city of New Orleans and the lives of thousands of American citizens were in danger, offered to send a full medical brigade to cooperate with the people of the United States, a country that, as is well known, has vast resources. But at that moment what was needed were trained and well- equipped doctors to save lives. Given New Orleans geographical location, more than one thousand doctors of the “Henry Reeve” contingent mobilized and readied to leave for that city at any time of the day or the night, carrying with them the necessary medicines and equipment. It never crossed our mind that the President of that nation would reject the offer and let a number of Americans that could have been saved to die. The mistake made by that government was perhaps the inability to understand that the people of Cuba do not see in the American people an enemy; it does not blame it for the aggressions our homeland has suffered.
Nor was that government capable of understanding that our country does not need to beg for favors or forgiveness of those who, for half a century now, have been trying, to no avail, to bring us to our knees.
Our country, also in the case of Haiti, immediately responded to the US authorities requests to fly over the eastern part of Cuba as well as other facilities they needed to deliver assistance, as quickly as possible, to the American and Haitian citizens who had been affected by the earthquake.
Such have been the principles characterizing the ethical behavior of our people. Together with its equanimity and firmness, these have been the ever-present features of our foreign policy. And this is known only too well by whoever have been our adversaries in the international arena.
Cuba will firmly stand by the opinion that the tragedy that has taken place in Haiti, the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, is a challenge to the richest and more powerful countries of the world.
Haiti is a net product of the colonial, capitalist and imperialist system imposed on the world. Haiti’s slavery and subsequent poverty were imposed from abroad. That terrible earthquake occurred after the Copenhagen Summit, where the most elemental rights of 192 UN member States were trampled upon.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, a competition has unleashed in Haiti to hastily and illegally adopt boys and girls. UNICEF has been forced to adopt preventive measures against the uprooting of many children, which will deprive their close relatives from their rights.
There are more than one hundred thousand deadly victims. A high number of citizens have lost their arms or legs, or have suffered fractures requiring rehabilitation that would enable them to work or manage their own.
Eighty per cent of the country needs to be rebuilt. Haiti requires an economy that is developed enough to meet its needs according to its productive capacity. The reconstruction of Europe or Japan, which was based on the productive capacity and the technical level of the population, was a relatively simple task as compared to the effort that needs to be made in Haiti. There, as well as in most of Africa and elsewhere in the Third World, it is indispensable to create the conditions for a sustainable development. In only forty years time, humanity will be made of more than nine billion inhabitants, and right now is faced with the challenge of a climate change that scientists accept as an inescapable reality.
In the midst of the Haitian tragedy, without anybody knowing how and why, thousands of US marines, 82nd Airborne Division troops and other military forces have occupied Haiti. Worse still is the fact that neither the United Nations Organization nor the US government have offered an explanation to the world’s public opinion about this relocation of troops.
Several governments have complained that their aircraft have not been allowed to land in order to deliver the human and technical resources that have been sent to Haiti.
Some countries, for their part, have announced they would be sending an additional number of troops and military equipment. In my view, such events will complicate and create chaos in international cooperation, which is already in itself complex. It is necessary to seriously discuss this issue. The UN should be entrusted with the leading role it deserves in these so delicate matters.
Our country is accomplishing a strictly humanitarian mission. To the extent of its possibilities, it will contribute the human and material resources at its disposal. The will of our people, who takes pride in its medical doctors and cooperation workers who provide vital services, is huge, and will rise to the occasion.
Any significant cooperation that is offered to our country will not be rejected, but its acceptance will fully depend on the importance and transcendence of the assistance that is requested from the human resources of our homeland.
It is only fair to state that, up until this moment, our modest aircrafts and the important human resources that Cuba has made available to the Haitian people have arrived at their destination without any difficulty whatsoever.
We send doctors, not soldiers!

Fidel Castro Ruz
January 23, 2010
5:30 p.m.

24 Jan 2010

Brighton Workers Speak Out * Striking against job cuts 9th Feb

Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Time:
7:30pm - 9:30pm
Location:
Hanover Room,Brighthelm Centre
Street:
North Road (corner of Queens Rd),5 mins from Brighton station
City/Town:
Brighton, United Kingdom

Politicians, economic "experts" and the media are continually announcing the end of the recession.
With top bankers receiving record bonuses again, it may be over for a few. But for the rest of us the threat of unemployment and public service cuts is still growing.

Brighton and Hove Unison and Brighton and Hove District Trades Council have recently held large meetings to give a voice to trade unionists and others resisting the effects of a recession we played no part in creating.
Council City clean staff spoke of their success against the pay cutting council, alongside postal workers and Lloyds bank call centre staff.

Our next meeting will include:

* local RMT member, who's union is seriously considering balloting for strike action to stop Network Rail axeing 1500 track maintenance jobs
* Sussex University UCU, members currently balloting for strike action against 115 job losses.
* A local Unite organiser and factory steward from Edwards, who are closing factories in Shoreham and Burgess Hill with 220 jobs threatened.
* FBU reps from Preston Circus Fire Station, who are trying to stop management moving their station to a less suitable location

There will be plenty of time for others involved in local or national disputes, including job centre staff,Argus journalists and strikers from IT firm Fujitsu, to share their experiences. We will also be discussing what we can all do to help each group, how we can link the struggles together, and what we can all do to prepare for the even bigger attacks on us all after the election. There will be space for informal networking after the meeting.


Organised by Brighton and Hove Trades Council and Brighton and Hove Unison
Supported by Brighton Workers Solidarity Group

More Here

New Grange under motorway threat




The preferred route for the N2 Slane Bypass, County Meath, Ireland, announced in January 2010 by the National Roads Authority, runs 500 metres from the edge of the Bend of the Boyne UNESCO World Heritage Site. According to the World Heritage Committee: "The three main prehistoric sites of the Brú na Bóinne Complex, Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth, are situated on the north bank of the River Boyne 50 km north of Dublin. This is Europe's largest and most important concentration of prehistoric megalithic art.


Long ago I used to be an archaeologist, well its my first degree from the Institute of Archaeology which is now part of UCL.

My passion was the neolithic and Bronze Age, an age of megaliths, big stone monuments older in many cases thant the pyramids.

Stonehenge and Avebury in my home county of Wiltshire are beautiful examples.

In the summer of 1990 I hitched around Ireland, taking in Dublin, the Aran Island and Galway...I also visited the Boyne Valley and went to the amazing New Grange.

Its a huge mound, surrounded t with a stone circle and faced in shining quartz. One a single day of year, if I remember rightly the winter equinox, sun shines through a light box and illuminates the chamber of New Grange.

Amazing.

One of the most important prehistoric monuments in the world.

Now the Irish government have deemed that a motorway the N2 will cut through the beautiful local landscape, within 500 yards of New Grange.

If Ireland had a proper Green Party this would not happen but it is on the cards unless massive protest occurs, may be people should sit in front of John Gormley's limo until the threat is removed.

Please join the Save New Grange Facebook

23 Jan 2010

Joel Kovel at London Green Party meeting this monday


This is a reminder to all comrades in and near London of our meeting with
Joel Kovel at 7pm on Monday in the Lucas Arms, Grays Inn Road. This will be
the last meeting that Joel will be speaking at in Britain during his visit,
and the only one for the Green Party. If you weren't able to get to the very
successful seminar we held jointly with Socialist Resistance last Saturday
(well, actually, even if you did get to it) I urge you not to miss this
last opportunity to hear Joel speak.

Sean




Well I guess the person who inspires me most who I actually know and work with is the indigenous leader Hugo Blanco in Peru, although I have never met them and Nick is sadly no longer with us, those Australian ecosocialists Nick Origlass and Alan Roberts are an inspiration in putting it altogether green politics/socialism/focused action like getting elected and using direct action to get things done.

And of course if we have a sustainable and just future, it will be largely because of Professor Elinor Ostrom, who is turning economics right way up after a long period of it being a short term science of greed! She kicks serious arse in a measured academic way....and stands in solidarity with indigenous, peasants and others who defend the environment and protect their land from theft (she should have been Avatar!)

However where would I be without Joel.

I was so impressed by Joel running against Ralph Nader as Green Party Presidential candidate to push ecosocialist politics, that I started running for some Green Party positions here in the UK....alas he didn't become Presidential candidate....

His work on ecosocialism in his great book The Enemy of Nature is very very important, he identifies capitalism as the efficient cause of climate change and other environmental threats.

His work as a Jewish opponent of Zionism got him kicked out of an academic post at Bard College....such is the USA a repressive state where those who challenge the status quo lose their jobs.

I am lucky enough to be meeting up with Joel and Richard Kuper, Joseph Healy and Sally and Sean Thompson tomorrow evening....which I am very much looking forward to and getting along to the meeting on monday...great that this is an official Green Party event.

22 Jan 2010

Jessica Goldfinch to fight Norwich North

http://www.eveningnews24.co.uk/content/eveningnews24/norwich-news/story.aspx?brand=ENOnline&category=News&tBrand=ENOnline&tCategory=xNews&itemid=NOED21%20Jan%202010%2008%3A45%3A55%3A783

Jessica Goldfinch will make an excellent candidate for Norwich North, I think she was one of the my first councillors for the Green Party in the city.

I think she is excellent and I am also a little biased but she always encouraged and gave me support when I was party speaker.

Good to see more strong women candidate's like her and Natalie Bennett emerging....my local party is growing quite rapidly but looks like we will have white male PPCs like me....diversity good.

Rupert Read has bowed out....not sure why, although he seems to be doing lots of blogging and campaigning.

Looks like we are heading in the direct of 300 candidates.

The manifesto is being put together by my good friend Andy Dobson, author of Green Political Thought...so looking forward to that....planning some of my own General Election stuff over the weekend and down to Brighton yet again for Caroline on 30th Jan....why not join me in Brighton or even come and help my election campaign in Windsor.

Gay manifesto

Launch of National LGBTGreens General Election Manifesto
Peter Tatchell and Caroline Lucas MEP to address manifesto launch

For Immediate Release
22.1.10

LGBT Greens General Election Manifesto Launch
Friday 26th February
6:30PM
The Brighton Tavern
100 Gloucester Road,
Brighton, East Sussex BN1 4AP
all are very welcome!

LGBT Greens are gearing up for the General Election. Greens will announce their campaigning policies throughout the period of the General Election and leading human rights activist, Peter Tatchell and Green Party leader, Caroline Lucas MEP, will address some of the key areas of the manifesto.

Peter Tatchell commented on the launch:
“The Green Party will go into the General Election as the only party campaigning for marriage and partnership equality. We are calling for civil marriages and civil partnerships to be open to both same-sex and opposite sex couples, without discrimination. We reaffirm our opposition to the blanket, lifetime ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood. Our manifesto commitments show up the shortcomings of the other parties.”

Caroline Lucas, Leader of the Green Party, stated:
“We are delighted to be proudly launching a specific manifesto which will put on centre stage the Green Party’s firm commitment to LGBT equality. We will use the period up to the manifesto to promote re-writing of the Mental Health Act to remove trans people from the Psychiatric Disorder Register and lobby for training for head teachers to create safe environments for lgbt staff and students.”


ENDS

Further information: contact Phelim Mac Cafferty, National Chair of LGBTGreens on 07765 474 621

Festival organiser persecuted by the authorities

On Friday 11th December 2009. Andy Norman, Host and organiser of Thimbleberry Music Festival in County Durham, Uk was in court facing the charge of "permit the use of cannabis on his premises" relating to alleged use by the festival-goers of cannabis at the last September festival.No one was, I believe, arrested at the festival. In effect he is to be prosecuted for the alleged offences of other people. If he is prosecuted this would set a precedent that could have serious repercussions for all...

Do join the Andy Norman drop the charges facebook group here

heard about this from Alan Conchar


To: derek.wall@greenparty.org.uk

Hi


I'm emailing you to ask if you've heard of the Andy Norman Defence Campaign for which my band has just released a benefit track.


Full details here


www.saveourfestivals.com


Any help or support you can give to publicising this campaign would be much appreciated.


Alan Conchar


(Dokter Conker of Sicknote)

21 Jan 2010

Dept. rules against native rights, says Eagle Rock isn’t sacred

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, has shamelessly and underhandedly given its final approval for Kennecott’s proposed Eagle Mine project, a nickel and copper sulfide mine on the Yellow Dog Plains.

In issuing the approval, the MDEQ overstepped the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community’s treaty rights, and dismissed a 2009 ruling by Administrative Law Judge Richard Patterson, who found that Eagle Rock is a place of spiritual importance to Keweenaw Bay Community and should be protected.

Judge Patterson, in his ruling, stated that both Kennecott and the MDEQ “did not properly address the impact on the sacred rock outcrop known as Eagle Rock” and suggested that they move the mine’s entry point somewhere “away from the rock”.

The MDEQ unilaterally decided that the judge’s ruling was unnecessary “…because it pertained to Eagle Rock as a place of worship. They believe that a place of worship must be a building and therefore negates comments that were not in favor of the mining company,” explains the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, who works along side the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and others opposed to the mine.

However, the MDEQ did much more than dismiss the ruling and deny the sacredness of Eagle Rock. First, it handed the matter down to a Senior Policy Advisor, who made the decision on his own and just two days before the MDEQ was formally dissolved.

Cynthia Pryor, Campaign Director for the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, comments:

“What just happened here? The DEQ, as party to a State of Michigan Administrative Contested Case process, just unilaterally bypassed both the legal process and Administrative Law Judge Patterson in making a sweeping declaration and finding of law. This sweeping “judgment” was made not by Judge Patterson, not by past DEQ Director Stephen Chester, not by the interim DEQ Director Jim Sygo, but by a Senior Policy Advisor within the DEQ. This was done as a final DEQ action on the matter – on the day before the DEQ was to be dissolved and the new DNRE Director was to take office.

More here

20 Jan 2010

Salma Yaqoob to address Green Left meeting

Salma Yaqoob will be addressing the forthcoming Green Left meeting in Birmingham, Green Left and local Green Party members in Birmingham will be doing some election leafletting for Salma on the same day 30th Jan.

I am in fact going to be helping Caroline Lucas on 30th Jan but I hope to get to Birmingham again soon to support both the Green Party and Salma's General Election campaigning in the city.

Salma and Caroline are both inspiring women political leaders and good friends of Green Left.

I am working very hard to get both of them elected as MPs, please join me. In a bleak political landscape they give real hope, but hope will only become real with solid action on the ground, leafletting, canvassing, donating.

There is a lot of whinging, splitting and apathy on what passes for much of the British left, solid action is necessary.

19 Jan 2010

Left-wing Green wins vote by Liberal Democrat Voice readers

cool, its all that Elinor Ostrom they have been drinking?

Peter Tatchell is Liberal Voice of the Year

Left-wing Green wins vote by Liberal Democrat Voice readers

London - 19 January 2010

Peter Tatchell has won Liberal Democrat Voice's third annual Liberal Voice of the Year award for his "tireless and fearless international human rights campaigning."

The runner-up was author and journalist Ben Goldacre. Other contenders were Joanna Lumley, Rory Stewart, Terry Pratchett, Henry Porter, Guy Herbert and Alan Rushbridger.

The two previous years' Liberal Voice winners were Shami Chakrabati (2007) and the campaigners on behalf of Jean Charles de Menezes (Justice4Jean.org) and the Stockwell Shooting Inquest Jury (2008).

See the Liberal Democrat Voice report about the online readers poll result here:
http://www.libdemvoice.org/ldv-readers-vote-peter-tatchell-your-liberal-voice-of-the-year-17607.html

Responding to winning the vote, Peter Tatchell said:

"I am honoured, but quite surprised, to win Liberal Voice of the Year, given that I'm a left-wing Green. It shows that Liberal Democrat Voice readers are non-sectarian and inclusive, putting values and principles above narrow party interests, which is how it should be.

"There are progressive people in all parties, apart from the BNP and possibly UKIP. We should work together more, focusing on what we have in common rather than on what divides us.

"In Britain, the combined supporters of liberal, green and left values constitute the majority. If people from these three political strands cooperated more closely, and if we had had a fair voting system, Britain need never again suffer a Conservative government. We could move the country forward on a progressive agenda for social justice, democratic reform, civil liberties and environmental renewal.

"At the international level, it has been a real privilege to write and campaign in support of the freedom struggles in Iran, Russia, Balochistan, Uganda, Iraq, Somaliland, West Papua, Sudan, Palestine and Saudi Arabia. The democracy activists in these countries are truly heroic and inspirational. I crawl in their shadows.

"One of the things I have learned from my 43 years of human rights campaigning is that no matter how small and weak we may feel, we can all help make a difference. I do my bit for human rights, as do millions of others. Together, cumulatively and collectively, slowly but surely, we are shaping a better world," said Mr Tatchell.

www.petertatchell.net

18 Jan 2010

UCU Left candidates support Palestinian rights

I am putting out my normal call to support UCU left candidates, Sue Blackwell is particularly impressive and I believe is a member of an ecosocialist political party.

Dear supporter

UCU is just about to hold its annual elections for its NEC. For the past couple of years there has been a slim majority on the NEC of people sympathetic to the call for an Academic Boycot of Israel we would like to see this majority strengthened.

We are asking all HE members to support Sue Blackwell who is a core member of BRICUP and a long term effective advocate for the call for an Academic Boycott.

We have found most support for BRICUP's positions from amongst the UCU Left members of the NEC and while UCU left does not have a formal position on the boycott call, webelieve that a vote for the UCU left candidates will strengthen UCU's position on action to support Palestinian Rights.

Please encourage other members of your branch to vote for these candidates too.

UCU Left are calling for support for the following candidates:

Vice President Sean Vernell



Geographically elected Regional NEC seats:



London & East (Higher Education) Mark Campbell

Jane Hardy

Jim Wolfreys



North East ( Higher education) Elizabeth Lawrence

Gavin Read

Jeff Fowler



North East (Further Education) Dave Gibson

Vanessa Maugham



Nationally Elected Seats ( Higher education)



Mark Campbell

Christine Vie

Jean Crocker

Sue Blackwell

Dominque Lautenburg



Nationally Elected Seats ( Further Education)



Richard McEwan

Craig Lewis

Mike Barton

Keith Mallinson





Equality Seats

(Women Higher Education))

Veronica Killen

Marion Hersch



(Women Further Education)

Alison Lord



You can find out more about these candidates at http://www.uculeft.devisland.net/nec-elections-2010.html



Mike Cushman
for BRICUP