31 Jul 2011

Who is the real leader of the opposition?

Keith Taylor, Green MEP does good in Gaza

Keith Taylor, the new Green Party MEP who took over from Caroline Lucas when she became an MP, is currently touring the Middle East to see how the Green Party can input into the peace process. Excellent stuff, he seems to be playing a very positive role.

It was a groggy crew that were checking out of the hotel just six hours later, and our tribulations were only just beginning. When we got to Rafah (the only crossing into Gaza) it took us four hours to get through the border. Mind you we were the lucky ones. For Palestinians a wait of two or three days in the full glare of the sun and 35+ degree temperatures is commonplace. The Egyptians are not doing Palestinians any favours. Someone told me Egypt has 31,000 staff in its Security team, and a lot of them seem to have been at Rafah, shuffling papers about as if it were a new Olympic sport with the deliberate intent of delay and obfuscation.

I have never seen people treated quite as badly as the Palestinians were, and felt quite helpless that I couldn’t intervene.

Our entrance into Gaza was heralded by the sights of a territory under siege; public services not working, high unemployment and high poverty. The rubbish was piling up in the streets, in the rivers and on the beach. Just as hot as Cairo, the air was heavy and thick.

Our first meeting of the day was with a Palestinian prisoners families group. They told us of their husbands, brothers and sons incarcerated in Israeli jails, of harsh sentences on flimsy evidence and of refusals to allow families to visit their loved ones. Many of the families carried pictures of those imprisoned, and others momentos. One man even brought the blood spattered clothes his son was arrested in.

The girl in the picture below is cared for by her grandmother after losing her mother to illness. She hasn’t seen her father for six years, and the Israelis say she is a threat to security and won’t grant her permission to see her father.

Next we visited UNWRE, the UN agency for refugees, and spoke with the Acting Director there. UNWRE provide lifeline services to Palestinians. Education for 400,000 with 9,000 teachers, healthcare to 951,000 via 20 health centers, micro finance and rental assistance, 10,000 new homes and 1,000 new schools.

We heard about unemployment standing at 45%, that 29% of agricultural land lay within restricted military areas. We heard that Israel had prohibited exports from Palestine and imposed a long standing blockade which is strangling the economy. And what’s more, we heard that UNWRE funding was under threat and they faced having to cut back on the services they deliver, starting this October.

Our final meeting was with the Prime Minister of Gaza, who briefed us on the current situation in Gaza. He spoke passionately about his belief that peace is the only way that a settlement will be reached with Israel and within Gaza and the West Bank. He called for the lifting of the siege so that the economy can start working again.

You can read more here

28 Jul 2011

Jenny Jones: Boris Johnson misled Londoners during active police investigation

Jenny Jones: Boris Johnson misled Londoners during active police investigation
28 JULY 2011
After this morning's meeting of the Metropolitan Police Authority, Jenny Jones, Green member of the MPA said:

"Kit Malthouse says he did not tell London's Mayor about a police briefing last September over new claims on phone hacking.

"However, the Mayor said that he and Malthouse were in continuous discussion. Both cannot be right.

"The Mayor misled Londoners, unintentionally or not, during an active police investigation, and he has to confess publicly which of those it was.

"The Mayor has certainly shown how out of touch he was with events, in spite of his repeated claims that he had 'continuous conversations' with his Deputy Mayor for policing.


Tim DeChristopher get the man out of jail and make him President instead


Published on Wednesday, July 27, 2011 by CommonDreams.org
I Do Not Want Mercy, I Want You To Join Me
by Tim DeChristopher
Tim DeChristopher, who was sentenced Tuesday to two years in federal prison and a $10,000 fine for disrupting a Bureau of Land Management auction in 2008, had an opportunity to address the court and the judge immediately before his sentence was announced. This is his statement:

Thank you for the opportunity to speak before the court. When I first met Mr. Manross, the sentencing officer who prepared the presentence report, he explained that it was essentially his job to "get to know me." He said he had to get to know who I really was and why I did what I did in order to decide what kind of sentence was appropriate. I was struck by the fact that he was the first person in this courthouse to call me by my first name, or even really look me in the eye. I appreciate this opportunity to speak openly to you for the first time. I'm not here asking for your mercy, but I am here asking that you know me.

Mr. Huber has leveled a lot of character attacks at me, many of which are contrary to Mr. Manross's report. While reading Mr Huber's critiques of my character and my integrity, as well as his assumptions about my motivations, I was reminded that Mr Huber and I have never had a conversation. Over the two and half years of this prosecution, he has never asked my any of the questions that he makes assumptions about in the government's report. Apparently, Mr. Huber has never considered it his job to get to know me, and yet he is quite willing to disregard the opinions of the one person who does see that as his job.

There are alternating characterizations that Mr Huber would like you to believe about me. In one paragraph, the government claims I "played out the parts of accuser, jury, and judge as he determined the fate of the oil and gas lease auction and its intended participants that day." In the very next paragraph, they claim "It was not the defendant's crimes that effected such a change." Mr Huber would lead you to believe that I'm either a dangerous criminal who holds the oil and gas industry in the palm of my hand, or I'm just an incompetent child who didn't affect the outcome of anything. As evidenced by the continued back and forth of contradictory arguments in the government's memorandum, they're not quite sure which of those extreme caricatures I am, but they are certain that I am nothing in between. Rather than the job of getting to know me, it seems Mr Huber prefers the job of fitting me into whatever extreme characterization is most politically expedient at the moment.

In nearly every paragraph, the government's memorandum uses the words lie, lied, lying, liar. It makes me want to thank whatever clerk edited out the words "pants on fire." Their report doesn't mention the fact that at the auction in question, the first person who asked me what I was doing there was Agent Dan Love. And I told him very clearly that I was there to stand in the way of an illegitimate auction that threatened my future. I proceeded to answer all of his questions openly and honestly, and have done so to this day when speaking about that auction in any forum, including this courtroom. The entire basis for the false statements charge that I was convicted of was the fact that I wrote my real name and address on a form that included the words "bona fide bidder." When I sat there on the witness stand, Mr Romney asked me if I ever had any intention of being a bona fide bidder. I responded by asking Mr Romney to clarify what "bona fide bidder" meant in this context. Mr Romney then withdrew the question and moved on to the next subject. On that right there is the entire basis for the government's repeated attacks on my integrity. Ambition should be made of sterner stuff, your honor.

Mr Huber also makes grand assumptions about my level of respect for the rule of law. The government claims a long prison sentence is necessary to counteract the political statements I've made and promote a respect for the law. The only evidence provided for my lack of respect for the law is political statements that I've made in public forums. Again, the government doesn't mention my actions in regard to the drastic restrictions that were put upon my defense in this courtroom. My political disagreements with the court about the proper role of a jury in the legal system are probably well known. I've given several public speeches and interviews about how the jury system was established and how it has evolved to it's current state. Outside of this courtroom, I've made my views clear that I agree with the founding fathers that juries should be the conscience of the community and a defense against legislative tyranny. I even went so far as to organize a book study group that read about the history of jury nullification. Some of the participants in that book group later began passing out leaflets to the public about jury rights, as is their right. Mr Huber was apparently so outraged by this that he made the slanderous accusations that I tried to taint the jury. He didn't specify the extra number of months that I should spend in prison for the heinous activity of holding a book group at the Unitarian Church and quoting Thomas Jefferson in public, but he says you should have "little tolerance for this behavior."

But here is the important point that Mr Huber would rather ignore. Despite my strong disagreements with the court about the Constitutional basis for the limits on my defense, while I was in this courtroom I respected the authority of the court. Whether I agreed with them or not, I abided by the restrictions that you put on me and my legal team. I never attempted to "taint" the jury, as Mr Huber claimed, by sharing any of the relevant facts about the auction in question that the court had decided were off limits. I didn't burst out and tell the jury that I successfully raised the down payment and offered it to the BLM. I didn't let the jury know that the auction was later reversed because it was illegitimate in the first place. To this day I still think I should have had the right to do so, but disagreement with the law should not be confused with disrespect for the law.

My public statements about jury nullification were not the only political statements that Mr Huber thinks I should be punished for. As the government's memorandum points out, I have also made public statements about the value of civil disobedience in bringing the rule of law closer to our shared sense of justice. In fact, I have openly and explicitly called for nonviolent civil disobedience against mountaintop removal coal mining in my home state of West Virginia. Mountaintop removal is itself an illegal activity, which has always been in violation of the Clean Water Act, and it is an illegal activity that kills people. A West Virginia state investigation found that Massey Energy had been cited with 62,923 violations of the law in the ten years preceding the disaster that killed 29 people last year. The investigation also revealed that Massey paid for almost none of those violations because the company provided millions of dollars worth of campaign contributions that elected most of the appeals court judges in the state. When I was growing up in West Virginia, my mother was one of many who pursued every legal avenue for making the coal industry follow the law. She commented at hearings, wrote petitions and filed lawsuits, and many have continued to do ever since, to no avail. I actually have great respect for the rule of law, because I see what happens when it doesn't exist, as is the case with the fossil fuel industry. Those crimes committed by Massey Energy led not only to the deaths of their own workers, but to the deaths of countless local residents, such as Joshua McCormick, who died of kidney cancer at age 22 because he was unlucky enough to live downstream from a coal mine. When a corrupted government is no longer willing to uphold the rule of law, I advocate that citizens step up to that responsibility.

This is really the heart of what this case is about. The rule of law is dependent upon a government that is willing to abide by the law. Disrespect for the rule of law begins when the government believes itself and its corporate sponsors to be above the law.

Mr Huber claims that the seriousness of my offense was that I "obstructed lawful government proceedings." But the auction in question was not a lawful proceeding. I know you've heard another case about some of the irregularities for which the auction was overturned. But that case did not involve the BLM's blatant violation of Secretarial Order 3226, which was a law that went into effect in 2001 and required the BLM to weigh the impacts on climate change for all its major decisions, particularly resource development. A federal judge in Montana ruled last year that the BLM was in constant violation of this law throughout the Bush administration. In all the proceedings and debates about this auction, no apologist for the government or the BLM has ever even tried to claim that the BLM followed this law. In both the December 2008 auction and the creation of the Resource Management Plan on which this auction was based, the BLM did not even attempt to follow this law.

And this law is not a trivial regulation about crossing t's or dotting i's to make some government accountant's job easier. This law was put into effect to mitigate the impacts of catastrophic climate change and defend a livable future on this planet. This law was about protecting the survival of young generations. That's kind of a big deal. It's a very big deal to me. If the government is going to refuse to step up to that responsibility to defend a livable future, I believe that creates a moral imperative for me and other citizens. My future, and the future of everyone I care about, is being traded for short term profits. I take that very personally. Until our leaders take seriously their responsibility to pass on a healthy and just world to the next generation, I will continue this fight.

The government has made the claim that there were legal alternatives to standing in the way of this auction. Particularly, I could have filed a written protest against certain parcels. The government does not mention, however, that two months prior to this auction, in October 2008, a Congressional report was released that looked into those protests. The report, by the House committee on public lands, stated that it had become common practice for the BLM to take volunteers from the oil and gas industry to process those permits. The oil industry was paying people specifically to volunteer for the industry that was supposed to be regulating it, and it was to those industry staff that I would have been appealing. Moreover, this auction was just three months after the New York Times reported on a major scandal involving Department of the Interior regulators who were taking bribes of sex and drugs from the oil companies that they were supposed to be regulating. In 2008, this was the condition of the rule of law, for which Mr Huber says I lacked respect. Just as the legal avenues which people in West Virginia have been pursuing for 30 years, the legal avenues in this case were constructed precisely to protect the corporations who control the government.

The reality is not that I lack respect for the law; it's that I have greater respect for justice. Where there is a conflict between the law and the higher moral code that we all share, my loyalty is to that higher moral code. I know Mr Huber disagrees with me on this. He wrote that "The rule of law is the bedrock of our civilized society, not acts of `civil disobedience' committed in the name of the cause of the day." That's an especially ironic statement when he is representing the United States of America, a place where the rule of law was created through acts of civil disobedience. Since those bedrock acts of civil disobedience by our founding fathers, the rule of law in this country has continued to grow closer to our shared higher moral code through the civil disobedience that drew attention to legalized injustice. The authority of the government exists to the degree that the rule of law reflects the higher moral code of the citizens, and throughout American history, it has been civil disobedience that has bound them together.

This philosophical difference is serious enough that Mr Huber thinks I should be imprisoned to discourage the spread of this idea. Much of the government's memorandum focuses on the political statements that I've made in public. But it hasn't always been this way. When Mr Huber was arguing that my defense should be limited, he addressed my views this way: "The public square is the proper stage for the defendant's message, not criminal proceedings in federal court." But now that the jury is gone, Mr. Huber wants to take my message from the public square and make it a central part of these federal court proceedings. I have no problem with that. I'm just as willing to have those views on display as I've ever been.

The government's memorandum states, "As opposed to preventing this particular defendant from committing further crimes, the sentence should be crafted `to afford adequate deterrence to criminal conduct' by others." Their concern is not the danger that I present, but the danger presented by my ideas and words that might lead others to action. Perhaps Mr Huber is right to be concerned. He represents the United States Government. His job is to protect those currently in power, and by extension, their corporate sponsors. After months of no action after the auction, the way I found out about my indictment was the day before it happened, Pat Shea got a call from an Associated Press reporter who said, "I just wanted to let you know that tomorrow Tim is going to be indicted, and this is what the charges are going to be." That reporter had gotten that information two weeks earlier from an oil industry lobbyist. Our request for disclosure of what role that lobbyist played in the US Attorney's office was denied, but we know that she apparently holds sway and that the government feels the need to protect the industry's interests.

The things that I've been publicly saying may indeed be threatening to that power structure. There have been several references to the speech I gave after the conviction, but I've only ever seen half of one sentence of that speech quoted. In the government's report, they actually had to add their own words to that one sentence to make it sound more threatening. But the speech was about empowerment. It was about recognizing our interconnectedness rather than viewing ourselves as isolated individuals. The message of the speech was that when people stand together, they no longer have to be exploited by powerful corporations. Alienation is perhaps the most effective tool of control in America, and every reminder of our real connectedness weakens that tool.

But the sentencing guidelines don't mention the need to protect corporations or politicians from ideas that threaten their control. The guidelines say "protect the public." The question is whether the public is helped or harmed by my actions. The easiest way to answer that question is with the direct impacts of my action. As the oil executive stated in his testimony, the parcels I didn't bid on averaged $12 per acre, but the ones I did bid on averaged $125. Those are the prices paid for public property to the public trust. The industry admits very openly that they were getting those parcels for an order of magnitude less than what they were worth. Not only did those oil companies drive up the prices to $125 during the bidding, they were then given an opportunity to withdraw their bids once my actions were explained. They kept the parcels, presumably because they knew they were still a good deal at $125. The oil companies knew they were getting a steal from the American people, and now they're crying because they had to pay a little closer to what those parcels were actually worth. The government claims I should be held accountable for the steal the oil companies didn't get. The government's report demands $600,000 worth of financial impacts for the amount which the oil industry wasn't able to steal from the public.

That extra revenue for the public became almost irrelevant, though, once most of those parcels were revoked by Secretary Salazar. Most of the parcels I won were later deemed inappropriate for drilling. In other words, the highest and best value to the public for those particular lands was not for oil and gas drilling. Had the auction gone off without a hitch, it would have been a loss for the public. The fact that the auction was delayed, extra attention was brought to the process, and the parcels were ultimately revoked was a good thing for the public.

More generally, the question of whether civil disobedience is good for the public is a matter of perspective. Civil disobedience is inherently an attempt at change. Those in power, whom Mr Huber represents, are those for whom the status quo is working, so they always see civil disobedience as a bad thing. The decision you are making today, your honor, is what segment of the public you are meant to protect. Mr Huber clearly has cast his lot with that segment who wishes to preserve the status quo. But the majority of the public is exploited by the status quo far more than they are benefited by it. The young are the most obvious group who is exploited and condemned to an ugly future by letting the fossil fuel industry call the shots. There is an overwhelming amount of scientific research, some of which you received as part of our proffer on the necessity defense, that reveals the catastrophic consequences which the young will have to deal with over the coming decades.

But just as real is the exploitation of the communities where fossil fuels are extracted. As a native of West Virginia, I have seen from a young age that the exploitation of fossil fuels has always gone hand in hand with the exploitation of local people. In West Virginia, we've been extracting coal longer than anyone else. And after 150 years of making other people rich, West Virginia is almost dead last among the states in per capita income, education rates and life expectancy. And it's not an anomaly. The areas with the richest fossil fuel resources, whether coal in West Virginia and Kentucky, or oil in Louisiana and Mississippi, are the areas with the lowest standards of living. In part, this is a necessity of the industry. The only way to convince someone to blow up their backyard or poison their water is to make sure they are so desperate that they have no other option. But it is also the nature of the economic model. Since fossil fuels are a limited resources, whoever controls access to that resource in the beginning gets to set all the terms. They set the terms for their workers, for the local communities, and apparently even for the regulatory agencies. A renewable energy economy is a threat to that model. Since no one can control access to the sun or the wind, the wealth is more likely to flow to whoever does the work of harnessing that energy, and therefore to create a more distributed economic system, which leads to a more distributed political system. It threatens the profits of the handful of corporations for whom the current system works, but our question is which segment of the public are you tasked with protecting. I am here today because I have chosen to protect the people locked out of the system over the profits of the corporations running the system. I say this not because I want your mercy, but because I want you to join me.

After this difference of political philosophies, the rest of the sentencing debate has been based on the financial loss from my actions. The government has suggested a variety of numbers loosely associated with my actions, but as of yet has yet to establish any causality between my actions and any of those figures. The most commonly discussed figure is perhaps the most easily debunked. This is the figure of roughly $140,000, which is the amount the BLM originally spent to hold the December 2008 auction. By definition, this number is the amount of money the BLM spent before I ever got involved. The relevant question is what the BLM spent because of my actions, but apparently that question has yet to be asked. The only logic that relates the $140,000 figure to my actions is if I caused the entire auction to be null and void and the BLM had to start from scratch to redo the entire auction. But that of course is not the case. First is the prosecution's on-again-off-again argument that I didn't have any impact on the auction being overturned. More importantly, the BLM never did redo the auction because it was decided that many of those parcels should never have been auctioned in the first place. Rather than this arbitrary figure of $140,000, it would have been easy to ask the BLM how much money they spent or will spend on redoing the auction. But the government never asked this question, probably because they knew they wouldn't like the answer.

The other number suggested in the government's memorandum is the $166,000 that was the total price of the three parcels I won which were not invalidated. Strangely, the government wants me to pay for these parcels, but has never offered to actually give them to me. When I offered the BLM the money a couple weeks after the auction, they refused to take it. Aside from that history, this figure is still not a valid financial loss from my actions. When we wrote there was no loss from my actions, we actually meant that rather literally. Those three parcels were not evaporated or blasted into space because of my actions, not was the oil underneath them sucked dry by my bid card. They're still there, and in fact the BLM has already issued public notice of their intent to re-auction those parcels in February of 2012.

The final figure suggested as a financial loss is the $600,000 that the oil company wasn't able to steal from the public. That completely unsubstantiated number is supposedly the extra amount the BLM received because of my actions. This is when things get tricky. The government's report takes that $600,000 positive for the BLM and adds it to that roughly $300,000 negative for the BLM, and comes up with a $900,000 negative. With math like that, it's obvious that Mr Huber works for the federal government.

After most of those figures were disputed in the presentence report, the government claimed in their most recent objection that I should be punished according to the intended financial impact that I intended to cause. The government tries to assume my intentions and then claims, "This is consistent with the testimony that Mr. DeChristopher provided at trial, admitting that his intention was to cause financial harm to others with whom he disagreed." Now I didn't get to say a whole lot at the trial, so it was pretty easy to look back through the transcripts. The statement claimed by the government never happened. There was nothing even close enough to make their statement a paraphrase or artistic license. This statement in the government's objection is a complete fiction. Mr Huber's inability to judge my intent is revealed in this case by the degree to which he underestimates my ambition. The truth is that my intention, then as now, was to expose, embarrass and hold accountable the oil industry to the extent that it cuts into the $100 billion in annual profits that it makes through exploitation. I actually intended for my actions to play a role in the wide variety of actions that steer the country toward a clean energy economy where those $100 billion in oil profits are completely eliminated. When I read Mr Huber's new logic, I was terrified to consider that my slightly unrealistic intention to have a $100 billion impact will fetch me several consecutive life sentences. Luckily this reasoning is as unrealistic as it is silly.

A more serious look at my intentions is found in Mr Huber's attempt to find contradictions in my statements. Mr Huber points out that in public I acted proud of my actions and treated it like a success, while in our sentencing memorandum we claimed that my actions led to "no loss." On the one hand I think it was a success, and yet I claim it there was no loss. Success, but no loss. Mr Huber presents these ideas as mutually contradictory and obvious proof that I was either dishonest or backing down from my convictions. But for success to be contradictory to no loss, there has to be another assumption. One has to assume that my intent was to cause a loss. But the only loss that I intended to cause was the loss of secrecy by which the government gave away public property for private profit. As I actually stated in the trial, my intent was to shine a light on a corrupt process and get the government to take a second look at how this auction was conducted. The success of that intent is not dependent on any loss. I knew that if I was completely off base, and the government took that second look and decided that nothing was wrong with that auction, the cost of my action would be another day's salary for the auctioneer and some minor costs of re-auctioning the parcels. But if I was right about the irregularities of the auction, I knew that allowing the auction to proceed would mean the permanent loss of lands better suited for other purposes and the permanent loss of a safe climate. The intent was to prevent loss, but again that is a matter of perspective.

Mr Huber wants you to weigh the loss for the corporations that expected to get public property for pennies on the dollar, but I believe the important factor is the loss to the public which I helped prevent. Again, we come back to this philosophical difference. From any perspective, this is a case about the right of citizens to challenge the government. The US Attorney's office makes clear that their interest is not only to punish me for doing so, but to discourage others from challenging the government, even when the government is acting inappropriately. Their memorandum states, "To be sure, a federal prison term here will deter others from entering a path of criminal behavior." The certainty of this statement not only ignores the history of political prisoners, it ignores the severity of the present situation. Those who are inspired to follow my actions are those who understand that we are on a path toward catastrophic consequences of climate change. They know their future, and the future of their loved ones, is on the line. And they know were are running out of time to turn things around. The closer we get to that point where it's too late, the less people have to lose by fighting back. The power of the Justice Department is based on its ability to take things away from people. The more that people feel that they have nothing to lose, the more that power begins to shrivel. The people who are committed to fighting for a livable future will not be discouraged or intimidated by anything that happens here today. And neither will I. I will continue to confront the system that threatens our future. Given the destruction of our democratic institutions that once gave citizens access to power, my future will likely involve civil disobedience. Nothing that happens here today will change that. I don't mean that in any sort of disrespectful way at all, but you don't have that authority. You have authority over my life, but not my principles. Those are mine alone.

I'm not saying any of this to ask you for mercy, but to ask you to join me. If you side with Mr Huber and believe that your role is to discourage citizens from holding their government accountable, then you should follow his recommendations and lock me away. I certainly don't want that. I have no desire to go to prison, and any assertion that I want to be even a temporary martyr is false. I want you to join me in standing up for the right and responsibility of citizens to challenge their government. I want you to join me in valuing this country's rich history of nonviolent civil disobedience. If you share those values but think my tactics are mistaken, you have the power to redirect them. You can sentence me to a wide range of community service efforts that would point my commitment to a healthy and just world down a different path. You can have me work with troubled teens, as I spent most of my career doing. You can have me help disadvantaged communities or even just pull weeds for the BLM. You can steer that commitment if you agree with it, but you can't kill it. This is not going away. At this point of unimaginable threats on the horizon, this is what hope looks like. In these times of a morally bankrupt government that has sold out its principles, this is what patriotism looks like. With countless lives on the line, this is what love looks like, and it will only grow. The choice you are making today is what side are you on.

Tim DeChristopher is a climate activist and board member for the climate justice organization Peaceful Uprising.

27 Jul 2011

Odd Man Out (1947)

Just watching Odd Man Out (1947) Carol Reed about an IRA chief on the run in Belfast after a bank robbery gone wrong.

Classic film, the Irish accents are a little sporadic however.

James Mason is spot on, highly recommended film, not politics but art.

Having said that the bit with the artist is a bit shite but otherwise watch and enjoy.

Black and White so much better than colour (other than Godard)

Breivik's stole his manifesto from this man!

Wisewords from the Sandwich man, it all looks sub Francis Parker Yockey to me.

Generally Counter Punch is a very good source but this is a little disturbing.

Lind, who is mentioned below, butchers Western Marxism, I mean its a rubbish confused argument, I mean I know Marx and Engels spent most of their time discussing LGBT (alas not).....Cultural Marxism?

My overall impression is that the bulk of Breivik's "manifesto", with the exception of writings about himself, is lifted wholesale from sources. The one that is under-reported is the source for the introduction, alleging a "cultural Marxist" scheme, reaching back to the 1920s, to destroy Western civilization by imposing the tyrannical reign of "political correctness." This "analysis" is lifted virtually verbatim from an American "cultural conservative" William S. Lind. In turn, Lind's thesis appears to have been borrowed (somewhat more discretely, excising a few "digressions" that undermined credibility) from an article by a Lyndon Larouchite, Michael Minnicino. Minnicino's contribution was to take a fairly widespread neoconservative polemic against the left and "political correctness" and ramp it up into a full-fledged conspiracy theory.

Astonishing, Lind has also been a frequent contributor, writing in opposition to the Iraq war, to CounterPunch, a "muckraking leftist newsletter edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair." Lind may be a case where they've raked up more muck than they bargained for!

26 Jul 2011

Daily Mail inspired mass killing?


The Rise of the Nutters: This is Norway to Go..?

"The lunatic is all idee fixe, and whatever he comes across confirms his lunacy. You can tell him by the liberties he takes with common sense, by his flashes of inspiration, and by the fact that sooner or later he brings up the Templars." - Umberto ECO, Foucault's Pendulum

The Norway attacks have led to frenzied speculation around the nature of the crazed ideology that could lead to such horrific acts. Handily Andre Brievik (or Andrew Berwick) not only allowed himself to be captured but posted a 1500 page manifesto online - Grandly entitled 2083 - A European Declaration of Independence (www.slideshare.net/darkandgreen/...) , apart from a load of weird stuff about body-armour, the Knights Templar and the appropriate use of steroids, at the heart is a vision eerily familiar to readers of such fringe esoteric publications as say the Daily Express, Daily Mail or Sun.

The fact that before the smoke had cleared from the first detonation in Oslo the mainstream media immediately pointed the finger at Al-Qaeda or one of its offshoots shows that their underlying assumptions aren't so different from the self-proclaimed Knight Templar Justiciar with the 'piercing blue eyes' - (copyright all newspapers.).

Experts and pundits queued up to explain why peaceful, civilised Norway had been attacked by the jihadist hordes. The Sun called it Norway's 9/11 and even name-checked Al-Qaeda. Even when the Norwegian press revealed that the killer was an 'ethnic Norwegian' pundits quickly raised the prospect of a brainwashed convert to Islam. A spectacular amount of back-pedalling ensued when the actual facts surfaced (not that this of course stopped the very same pundits becoming sudden experts on the far-right)

The idea that we are at war with the entire Muslim World and that a 'politically correct' elite has manipulated immigration to the detriment of the ethnic majority is now a mainstream belief in Western Europe. There's no need to go trawling through SpearofOdin88s lunatic ramblings on Stormfront when you can go straight to the Daily Mail and read Melanie Philipps - author of Londonistan, the EDLs bible, who recently demanded to know if "Whooaa! Is Britain finally about to go over the cliff into official Islamisation?" ( Philipps has the honour of having her parts of her work reproduced in their entirety in Breivik's manifesto, but rather side-stepped the issue this week by focussing instead on the tragic but perhaps less significant demise of Amy Winehouse.

The Daily Mail has now denounced Breivik as neo-Nazi, despite his explicit rejection of Nazism - in fact politically he wasn't much more right-wing than them. There is now a concerted attempt to divorce Breivik's ideas from his actions - to suggest that he was just 'insane' or 'sick', even calls to not allow his monstrous actions to 'shut down the debate on immigration'. When jihadists commit an outrage there isn't usually such a rush to let their ideology off the hook.

It's the Desmond papers that lead the pack though - In any given week the Express is rarely without an anti-immigrant front-page splash and generally one that suggests EU compulsion. such as 'Eurocrats will force British families to have an asylum-seeker in spare bedroom'. OK, we made that one up but in fact the headline BRITAIN ‘MUST TAKE MORE MIGRANTS’ was last Friday's offering, claiming the EU bureaucrats are forcing the pace on migration The idea that the left is forcing 'political correctness' down the the throats of the 'silent majority' of the population is continually represented as a given. Of course it was the youth wing of the socialist (centre-left) party that Breivik attacked - not any immigrants.

A big part of this ideology is an old racist canard - the demographic time-bomb. The fear is that 'They' will outbreed us and force us to adapt to their culture. Of course the fact that all this was being said in the 70s about the Afro-Caribbean population and before that the Irish and the Jews doesn't stop the idea. "We have only a few decades to consolidate a sufficient level of resistance before our major cities are completely demographically overwhelmed by Muslims" - Breivik " Will the white British population be in a minority in 2066?" - headline Daily Mail December 2010

From the outside, it seems insane to fear that the U.K could become subject to anything like sharia law. Apart from a few headcases, many of them zealous converts, nobody Muslim wants there to be sharia law here either. Yet resistance to this is the main platform of the EDL, who at the same time have no idea about what the culture is that they are defending - is it British, English or white European? Breivik is sure that the foundation of Western Civilisation should be Catholicism -some of the EDL make vague noises about Christianity but don't really seem that sure who they're in league with or what they're defending.

In fact it's fair to say that a large part of the population exists in an echo-chamber, where these are received truths and amount to 'common sense' . The online world, rather than a gateway to a variety of points of view provides a fertile ground for reinforcement of ideas (something the left should be as wary of as the right). Backing up the overt statements in the mainstream press are a host of circular e-mails, with a racist agenda doing the rounds as well as blogs, facebook postings etc. The EDL are the physical manifestation of this belief system. It's because their beliefs are reinforced from all sides that they've been able to grow so quickly.

So in a sense - it doesn't matter whether Breivik was in direct contact with the EDL, whether he regarded them as 'naive' or an inspiration- their ideas spring from the same soil. However evidence is emerging that he admires them, did attend several of their demos and was active on their forums and Facebook. He is positive about their provocation/reaction strategy, baiting Muslim youth into a reaction. The EDL is very much an online phenomenon - they don't do public meetings or paper sales, their membership exists in the right wing 'echo-chamber'. Who or what else is going to bubble up from the EDL cauldron?

"It is highly advisable to structure any street protest organisation after the English Defence League (EDL) model as it is the only way to avoid paralyzing scrutiny and persecution" - Breivik.

The EDL are also part of a new-wave of European nationalism, one that claims to defend a 'pan-European' culture. The U.K is in a strange situation with the far-right. Despite a certain overlap in membership there is no degree of co-operation between the EDL and the BNP. The EDL articulate a modern racism, based on Englishness rather than Britishness. In fact attempts to set up Welsh and Scottish Defence leagues have proved a failure. The BNP are still too firmly tied to old-school 'It was the Elders of Zion wot dunnit' white supremacist fascism. The EDL has side-stepped these issues and by representing the conflict with Islam as cultural rather than racial, have out-boxed their flatter footed leftwing opposition

The EDL are closer to the likes of Geert Wilders, leader of the Netherlands third largest political party - the Freedom Party, whose main platform is anti-Islamic. He travelled to the UK in March 2010, after a ban on his presence was overturned. This event was greeted with great enthuisiam by the EDL who organised a rally for him. Other European politicians have latched onto the fear of Islam and they too are fascinated by the EDL as a potential model for a street army. The EDL leadership in turn have shown an interest in more electoral conventional politics.

In a time of economic crisis, ideas like these are dangerous. As Mark Twain put it "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme". If one good thing comes out of Breivik's murder spree it will be a re-examination of the anti-Islamic agenda. The worst thing to do in these circumstances would be to dismiss his actions as those of a lone nutter. The EDLs next major outing is September 3rd in Tower Hamlets - anti-fascists will be counter-mobilising.

25 Jul 2011

Indigenous rise against death squad democracy and FARC

yeah fuck you Rory Carroll! Sitting round the pool with the rich people I bet.

For more on Rory read here, if you want some Latin American news that matters read on.

The oldest and strongest grassroots indigenous organization in Colombia, The
Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC), has issued a call for a "Minga of
resistance" to restore autonomy and peace throughout Indigenous territories in
the Colombian state of Cauca.

The call for a "Minga"--a term that refers to a traditional gathering or
activity for the collective [...]

Continue Reading:

Elinor Ostrom in London for ecology conference

Fran: Do you have a message for the general public?

Elinor: We need to get people away from the notion that you have to have a fancy car and a huge house. Some of the homes that have been built in the last 10 years just appall me. Why do humans need huge homes? I was born poor and I didn’t know you bought clothes at anything but the Goodwill until I went to college. Some of our mentality about what it means to have a good life is, I think, not going to help us in the next 50 years. We have to think through how to choose a meaningful life where we’re helping one another in ways that really help the Earth.


The world's great living economist, famed for her work on commons, will be in London in March.


Well actually she is political economist because the sexist academic establishment in the 1950s didn't have a lot of time for women studying economics.

They even tried to talk her out of politics:

The graduate advisor in political science strongly discouraged me from thinking about a doctorate, given that I already had a very good “professional” position. He indicated that the “best” I could do with a Ph.D. was to teach at some city college with a very heavy teaching load. My earlier experience with finding a professional position in Cambridge led me to ignore this warning and apply for an assistantship so I could pursue a Ph.D. on a full-time basis. Fortunately, I was granted an assistantship.'

Conference details here.

These are some of my notes on her work:

She is a former President of the American Political Science Association, is a Professor at both Indiana and Universities. She has won numerous awards, for example, in 1999 she became the first women to win the Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science . In 2010, Utne Reader magazine included Ostrom as one of the "25 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World."[11]

Traditionally economists have argued that there are two forms of property, private and state. Economies are mixed i.e. some activities are such as policing are largely controlled by the state, while others are provided by the market. Ostrom argues that a third form of property, neither privately owned nor state controlled, by based on common ownership, is also significant. In turn, economic activity is not merely split between the alternatives of market and state but can be regulated by collective social activity.

Ostrom can be seen as the economist or political economist best placed to conceptualise the explosion in web based activity and social media. The acceleration growth of the World Wide Web, peer to peer production and Wikipedia has been investigated by economists but forcing them into the pre-existing categories of market and state is far from satisfactory. Ostrom uses the term Common Pool Resources (CPR) to categorise such forms of property.

Ostrom's practical research looks at how common pool property systems function or sometimes failed to work in maintaining key ecosystems including marine fisheries, forests and grazing land. Ostrom challenges the notion of the tragedy of the commons showing that while commons can fail, we should not assume that they will always do so. Neither is 'commons', Ostrom insists, an absence of property rights but often is based on carefully constructed rules for management of a resource.

Ostrom argues that people can construct rules that allow them to exploit the environment without destroying it. In a world where ecological realities increasingly threaten material prosperity her work provides a way of thinking about how humanity can create truly sustainable development, living within limits while meeting human needs. The implications of Ostrom's work are vast, conventional economists have rarely directly focussed on environmental issues, at best ignoring notions of environmental limits and arguing that ecological problems can simply be costed and such negative externalities internalised.

Intriguingly, despite coming from a Hayekian background based in the discipline of Public Choice Theory, Ostrom's key theoretical interest in 'commons' was also one of Karl Marx's enduring concerns. While she has never used the label she also can be understood as a feminist thinker. She is an enthusiastic advocate of the rights of indigenous people and respect for the environment. She is an advocate of policies for tackling climate change, however, she is critical of the very notion of policy if it is imposed from above. Equally she distances herself from socialism if it is statist but endorses collectivist solutions to economic problems in some circumstances. Ostrom who once described herself 'as a stubborn son of a gun' is a thinker who it is difficult to pigeonhole with existing categories in economics and political philosophy.

24 Jul 2011

Caroline Lucas 'What the Frack!'

Fracking is horrendous, Caroline Lucas is doing such a good job as our Green MP, great to see her put some of her scarce time into anti-frack.

23 Jul 2011

Special Briefing on Human Rights and the Law in Colombia

6.30pm Wednesday 3rd August
At Hodge Jones and Allen LLP (solicitors)
180 North Gower Street, London, NW1 2NB
(near Euston Square, Euston and Warrant Street tube stations)

Eduardo Carreño will give an in-depth briefing on:

· The Justice and Peace Process

· The ‘para-politica’ scandal

· DAS case (interception of phone messages by the state intelligence agency, lists of targets passed to contract killers)

Eduardo is a member of the leading Colombian law firm “José Alvear Restrepo” Lawyers’ Collective (the Colectivo de Abogados de José Alvear Restrepo – CCAJAR). CCAJAR has been involved in working for the victims of human rights abuses for the last 25 years, such as the ‘National Movement of Victims of State Crime’ in their fight to claim truth, justice and internal reparation.

Convened by Colombia Solidarity Campaign, other organisations invited.

Green administration announces living wage for Brighton & Hove

Green Council Leader Bill Randall yesterday (21 July) announced radical plans to introduce a Living Wage to the city of Brighton & Hove.

At a Full Council meeting, he confirmed that the council will be taking a number of steps to reduce inequality in the city through narrowing the gap between the highest and lowest paid workers.

Cllr Randall commented: "Reducing inequality is a key plank of our plan for the city. We will be consulting on a 60p-an-hour rise for the council’s lowest-paid workers, many of whom are women, and many also part-time workers.

"This, and other initiatives, mean we have narrowed the ratio between the highest and lowest paid to just above 11:1.

"We are also establishing a Living Wage Commission for Brighton & Hove, which will look at the benefits, risks and opportunities of establishing a Living Wage in the city’s public, private and third sectors.

"I’m pleased that we’ve received support for the initiative from trade unions, the Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce, Brighton University , the Hospitals Trust and the Sussex Police Authority.

"We will continue to work with other partners to achieve a fairer city."


21 Jul 2011

Caroline Lucas 'Don't blame the badgers'

Great to see this from Caroline.

Brighton Pavilion MP, Caroline Lucas, who is an honorary vice president of the RSPCA and a longtime campaigner on animal protection issues, said:

"The decision by Defra to give the go-ahead for a barbaric slaughter of badgers in our countryside shows a shocking disregard for animal welfare - and flies in the face of scientific evidence on the spread of bovine TB.

"The belief that badger culling represents an effective solution has already been disproven.

"After a nine year randomised cull trial which cost the UK taxpayer £50m and destroyed 10,000 badgers, the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB concluded that ‘badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain'.

"Even the Government adviser responsible for a 10-year experimental cull in the 1990s, Lord Krebs, has now rejected the method.

"Perhaps it is this lack of evidence to support the policy that has made Defra so reluctant to publish the results of its consultation."

Caroline continued: "Eighty per cent of bovine TB transmission is thought to be caused by cattle-to-cattle infection.

"Given that it is a respiratory disease, this high rate can be attributed to the trend towards intensive dairy farming, in which cattle are kept in crowded conditions.

"Rather than cruel and ineffective mass culling, restrictions on cattle movement and contact between badgers and cattle should be given high priority, in addition to greater efforts to introduce a vaccination programme.


Do you know... what the trees say when the axe comes into the forest?

some stuff I am thinking about, comment welcome! Not finished yet, pure process!

How do we fight the crab?

“Formerly, when animals were people, a giant crab, called Ugkaju, commanded an army composed of ants and fish that killed the strongest warriors, than were the tigers, vixens and birds as the paujil and the pava of the mount. Ugkaju struck the water with its clamp forming floods that drowned the people. The warriors could not defeat it. Finally, the weakest animal met to plan an attack. They were the armadillos and some small birds that make their nests in earth holes. According to the plan, they were digging tunnels that arrived at the house of Ugkaju. The next time that the giant crab struck the water, the little animals opened the tunnels and all the water ran by them and he was in dry. Then the paucar took its lance and killed him.”

The story of Ugkaju is used explicitly by the Awajun, a Peruvian indigenous group from the Amazon, to illustrate their fight for the commons. The Awajun defeated Inca and Spanish attempts to take their territory. Using non violent direct action, legal challenges and the world wide web, they are currently fighting the incursions of multinational companies and the central government of Peru. While much ink has been spilt on the viability of the commons, the elephant or one might say the giant crab crouched in the room is the violent destruction of the commons.

As we have seen time after time, commons has been enclosed with the threat of violence and commoners disposed. The key set of questions we need to ask of a sustainable future is not whether the commons works but how to defend, deepen and extend the commons in the face of violent attacks. Global capitalism is the crab, always seeking to expropriate the commons, to extend its reach in alliance with state violence.

Much work on commons assumes that commons are shaped largely by local factors and discuss the functionalism or otherwise of commons. Commons, however, is a question in history over whelming of assault and defence. The debates over functionalism play their part but must be seen as a part and not the key moment. For example, the enclosure of the commons has been legitimated by the 'tragedy of the commons' thesis; in turn Ostrom's work has been used to defend the commons. However the efficiency or otherwise of commons is not the key factor determining the likely survival of commons, commons are almost constantly under attack.

Marx studied this question, its a thread the runs through his entire life's work. One of his earliest pieces of journalism looked at the fight by peasants to continued to gather fallen wood in German forest commons,

Joe Craig citing Hal Draper notes:

Marx began to deal with social issues in an article on wood theft, which may appear a minor issue today but which accounted for a staggering 97 percent of thefts in the period 1830 to 1836 in and around Marx’s home town of Trier. The new law was designed assist landowners stop the traditional right of collection of dead wood on their land by peasants in severe economic distress.
In dealing with the issue he came up against the question of private property:
‘If every violation of property, without distinction or closer determination, is theft, then would not all private property be theft? By my private property, do I not exclude every other person from this property? Do I not therefore violate this right of property?’(Quoted in Hal Draper, Karl Marx’s Theory of Revolution Vol. 1)
Customary law which allowed the collection of wood or berry picking in the forest had been displaced by liberal law which sanctioned private property. For Marx, as a Hegelian, the state, which should ideally represent the common interest, had been ‘prostituted’ by the influence of purely private interests:
‘Everything that is particular, like landed property, is limited in itself. Therefore it must be dealt with as something limited, that is, by a general power standing above it, but it cannot deal with this general power in accordance with its own needs.’ Instead however:
’All organs of the state [have] become ears, eyes, arms, and legs with which the interests of the forest owners hear, evaluate, detect, protect, grab, and run.’
The significance of the issue of the wood theft law lay not just in its intrinsic contemporary importance. Marx’s close friend and comrade Frederick Engels later wrote
‘I heard Marx say again and again that it was precisely through concerning himself with the wood-theft law and with the situation of the Moselle peasants that he was shunted from pure politics over to economic conditions, and thus came to socialism.’ (Draper) http://www.socialistdemocracy.org/History/HistoryKarlMarxDemocratAndRepublican.htm

Marx obsessively worked on his ethnographic notes in the years before he died; commons was a central part of the quest to understand indigenous society http://www.socialistvoice.ca/?p=299. He toyed with the idea that in Russia the peasant Mir would allow for the recreation of commons. His must important work Capital has as we noted catalogues how the commons was enclosed to create the capitalist system.

Marx, to simplify, argued that commons was eroded by capitalism, capitalism creates via accumulation a raising of the productive forces and the birth of a political agency the working class who could restore common property democratically owned as the basis of a new society.

In a similar vein the philosophers Deleuze and Guttari have described the destruction of the commons as part of a process of deterritorialization. Deterritorialization occurs where a political territory is invaded, its rules and norms destroyed and replace by new rules and norms in a process of reterritorialization. Property rights can be seen as the codes or dna of society, deterritorialization involves removing them and replacing via reterritorialization with new rules. Or to be more exact removing codes from their context and re-articulating them. They explicitly cite this process in regard to the destruction of the European commons and the commons of empires like those of the Inca's and Aztec by the Spanish. The process of primitive accumulation identified by Marx is linked to these concepts of Deleuze and Guttari.

The coding point is illuminating. They have argued that a club is a deterritorialized branch.

For me, the concept was really driven home when, somewhere in A Thousand Plateaus, I came across Deleuze and Guattari’s remark that “a club is a deterritorialized branch.” The territory of a branch, is, of course, a tree. The branch serves the function of extending leaves across an area so as to capture sunlight. Perhaps the best definition of deterritorialization is the decontextualization of something or a theft of a bit of code that then resituates that thing elsewhere. Here “code” is to be understood as formed matter that serves a particular function. When code is stolen it is separated and isolated from its original milieu or territory, liberated from its original function, and then resituated in a new territory. When the branch is separated from the tree it becomes something else, it takes on different functions, such that it has been deterritorialized from its original territory (the function of gathering sunlight in the process of photosynthesis) and reterritorialized elsewhere (the function of warfare or violence). Deterritorialization thus proceeds through subtraction. As Deleuze and Guattari remark in their famous rhizome essay, deterritorialization “…begins by selecting or isolating…” (13). http://larvalsubjects.wordpress.com/2011/07/02/deterritorialization/

The novelist John Berger wrote 'Do you know... what the trees say when the axe comes into the forest? ... When the axe comes into the forest, the trees say: 'Look! The handle is one of us!' Berger Once in Europa 1983: 69 cited in Neeson 1983.

Can such theoretical approaches help us understand how commons can be defended, extended and deepened?


(Photo is of a Green Party speaker at a previous demo)

Saturday 13th August major regional demonstration against live exports,
organised by Thanet Against Live exports and Compassion in World Farming.

Saturday 13th August, bring your friends and family and help to show the
level of opposition to this inhumane trade. We will meet at Ellington Park,
Ellington Road, RAMSGATE, CT11 9SX from 11.00am, ready to march at 12.00 noon.

Updates at http://www.ciwf.org.uk/about_us/default.aspx and look for Thanet
Against Live Exports on FACEBOOK. The demonstration is called to oppose
live exports which have been newly instigated from Ramsgate, with unanimous
opposition from the local councillors and over 35,000 people already having
taken action to contact MPs and others about this activity.

20 Jul 2011

From crisis to commons

What apparently began
as a financial crisis that turned into an economic one is soon to be
called a “political crisis.” The abject destruction that capitalists have
created with their “management” of the two great commons of
labor and the planet’s eco-system will stop being considered a
“tragedy of the common” (where no one in particular is responsible)
and come to de-legitimate the capitalist class as a whole. These
crises have been predicated on the presumption that labor and the
planetary eco-system are common resources to be used and abused
for the profit of anyone who has (or successfully pretends to have)
the capital to appropriate them.

The capitalist class is unable to control the common pool of re-
sources that make up our means of production and subsistence with-
The Crisis has shown for all who have eyes to see that State
and Market have certainly failed in their claim to provide a secure
reproduction of our lives. Capitalists have conclusively shown (once
more) that they cannot be trusted to provide the minimal means of
security even in capital’s heartland. But they hold hostage the wealth
generations have produced. This pool of labor past and present is
our common. We need to liberate, to re-appropriate that wealth—
bringing together all those who were expropriated from it, starting
with the people of the First American Nations and the descendants
of the slaves, who are still waiting for their “forty acres and a mule”
or its equivalent. We also need to construct collective forms of life
and social cooperation, beyond the market and the profit system,
both in the area of production and reproduction. And we need to re-
gain the sense of the wholeness of our lives, the wholeness of what
we do, so that we stop living in the state of systematic irresponsibil-
ity towards the consequences of our actions that capitalism fosters:
throw away tons of garbage and then don’t think twice, even if you
suspect that it will end in some people’s food, as smoke in somebody
else’s lungs, or as carbon dioxide in everyone’s atmosphere.
This is the constitutional perspective we can bring to every
struggle. By “constitutional” we do not mean a document describ-
ing the design for a state, but a constitution of a commons, i.e., the
rules we use to decide how we share our common resources. As the
indigenous Americans put it, in order to collectively eat from a dish
with one spoon, we must decide on who gets the spoon and when.

This is so with every commons, for a commons without a con-
sciously constituted community is unthinkable.
This means we have to craft a set of objectives that articulate
a vision in any context of class struggle, turning the tables on capital
at every turn. First, we need to establish what violates our rules as
we are constituting the commons. What follows is a sample of such
immediate taboos.

We cannot live in a country:
* where 37 million people are hungry;
* where the cost of surgery kicks you out of your home;
* where going to school rots your mind and leaves you in debt
* where you freeze in the winter because you cannot pay the
heating bill;
* where you return to work in your 70s because you have been
cheated out of your pension;
* and where work that produces murder and murders its work-
ers is sold as a path to “full employment.”
These are very elementary taboos, but they have to be loudly
pronounced. Though the system has shown itself to be bankrupt,
many still listen to its siren songs.
The time has come for us in the anti-capitalist movement to pro-
pose a constitution of rules by which to share the commons of past
labor and present natural resources and then concentrate on building
political networks capable of realizing it.




A roundtable discussion with:

PROF ERNESTO LACLAU, Political theorist, Essex University and Universities around the world.

JEREMY CORBYN MP, Longstanding parliamentary friend of progress in Latin America and the world.

DR FRANCISCO DOMINGUEZ, Latin American Studies, Middlesex University. Secretary, Venezuela Solidarity Campaign.

BERNARD REGAN, Secretary, Cuba Solidarity Campaign.

DR FRANCISCO PANIZZA, Reader, Latin American politics, LSE.

PROF JENS ANDERMANN, Latin American Studies, Birkbeck College London.

RICHARD GOTT, Writer and journalist on Cuba, Venezuela and Latin America.

DR DIANA RABY, Latin American Studies, Liverpool University.

PROF DOREEN MASSEY, Geography, Open University.

DR SARAH MOTTA, Latin American Politics, Nottingham University

GEOFF SHEARS, Thompsons Solicitors.



After 30 years of relentless right wing policies most of Latin America seems to be coming out of the long and dark neo-liberal night.
Since the late 1990s a ‘pink wave’, from Ecuador and Venezuela to Bolivia, Brazil and Argentina, has spread across the continent and a crop of progressive governments of various shades and backgrounds has been swept into office.
As a result millions of people have been taken out of abject poverty and many more millions have been included into existing polities in a meaningful way for the first time in decades, and in some cases, centuries. Traditionally excluded groups (indigenous people, women, blacks, peasants, youth, sexual minorities, and the poor in general) are increasingly the protagonists of these positive developments.
Is this a dangerous anomaly brought about by misconceived, unwise and unsustainable populist policies? Or even worse is this the result of a bunch of dangerous populist demagogues taking advantage of the global rise in food, oil and gas prices and other commodities, aimed at tightening their grip on power through creeping authoritarianism? Has democracy been enhanced or is freedom of expression under threat?
This process involves economies as diverse as Brazil, Paraguay, Venezuela and Nicaragua, so how common are their commonalities in policies and crucial policy objectives? Is their intense integrationist activity a manifestation of a broad common aim? Is the pursuit of orthodox right wing economic policies increasingly becoming a thing of the past? Is there any possibility that the IMF reasserts its waning influence in Latin America ever again? Can the United States reassert its hegemony to what it was in the 20th century?
Furthermore, will it all end in catastrophic failure as most mainstream media pundits suggest? Or has most of Latin America discovered a broad set of policies that are beginning to shake off centuries of economic vassalage to the citadels of world economic power, particularly the United States?

19 Jul 2011

here's Jonnieeeeeeeeee!

His tweets before pieing Murdoch

JonnieMarbles Jonnie Marbles
It is a far better thing that I do now than I have ever done before #splat
4 hours ago Favorite Undo Retweet Reply

JonnieMarbles Jonnie Marbles
It might be quicker if Baby Murdoch simply listed all of the things that he does know #hackgate
5 hours ago

JonnieMarbles Jonnie Marbles
One gets the sense that they haven't really done the required reading ahead of their presentation. Think they may fail this module #hackgate
5 hours ago

JonnieMarbles Jonnie Marbles
I'm actually in this committee and can confirm: Murdoch is Mr. Burns.
6 hours ago

JonnieMarbles Jonnie Marbles
Rupert Murdoch appears to be going senile #hackgate
6 hours ago

JonnieMarbles Jonnie Marbles
Does anyone know what order the CMS select committee will be interviewing witnesses?
7 hours ago

RachelvsPublic Rachel
by JonnieMarbles
Have you ever wondered what a verbal sudoku would be like to solve? This is it. #Hackgate #Yates
7 hours ago

twodoctors James Mackenzie
by JonnieMarbles
Press officers cost less than police officers, Fedorcio says. Coppers get more than £1k per day? #hackgate
7 hours ago

TwopTwips Twop Twips
by JonnieMarbles
PARLIAMENT. Guarantee more probing questions from your Select Committees by having, say, Fearne Cotton on the panel. /via @pfon73
7 hours ago

mattleys Matt Leys
by JonnieMarbles
I think all this was the work of a single rogue Prime Minister.
8 hours ago

JonnieMarbles Jonnie Marbles
The SWP have arrived. Bloody protesters. #selectcommitteefest
8 hours ago

Rupert Murdoch attack video: Media mogul hit in face with 'foam pie'

just thought Jonnie Marbles was a rubbish local comedian.

Take it all back this was quite amusing.

Murdoch if found guilty is unlikely to go to prison so nice to see him getting his just dessert!

Fortnum Mason arrests showed face of political police

109 activists, arrested following a non-violent UK Uncut demonstration on the 26th of March 2011, have had their charges dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Over 150 activists were arrested on 26 March 2011. They were handcuffed and transported to police stations across London, where they were held in cells for up to 24 hours.

Jenny Jones, Green member of the Metropolitan Police Authority and Green mayoral candidate, said:

"At the 31st of March 2011 meeting of the Metropolitan Police Authority, I asked Tim Godwin, then, as now, the acting Commissioner, about footage of police officers telling people inside the store that they are free to go, then they all leave and they get arrested.

"I was directly told by Tim Godwin that none of his officers lied.

"Now, the Guardian reports that Chief Inspector Claire Clark was told by her fellow commanding officers that everyone inside the building would be arrested, and 10 minutes later ,she gave assurances to demonstrators that they would be allowed to leave unhindered.

Jenny Jones continued: "We have to know if senior officers knew that lies were going to be told.

"At a time when trust in police is approaching an all-time low, the policing of the Fortnum and Mason's UK Uncut protest has been revealed as truly political policing - the wasting of taxpayer time and money on punishment arrests.

Jones concluded: "A whole generation of campaigners will believe that the police do deliberately lie and unless action is taken urgently, that impression will stick.'


18 Jul 2011

'Rupert Murdoch, the controversial media mogul, has reportedly been found dead in his garden'

Rupert Murdoch, the controversial media mogul, has reportedly been found dead in his garden, police announce.
Murdoch, aged 80, has said to have ingested a large quantity of palladium before stumbling into his famous topiary garden late last night, passing out in the early hours of the morning.
"We found the chemicals sitting beside a kitchen table, recently cooked," one officer states. "From what we can gather, Murdoch melted and consumed large quantities of it before exiting into his garden."

Chemicals found in house

Authorities would not comment on whether this was a planned suicide, though the general consensus among locals and unnamed sources is that this is the case.
One detective elaborates. "Officers on the scene report a broken glass, a box of vintage wine, and what seems to be a family album strewn across the floor, containing images from days gone by; some containing handpainted portraits of Murdoch in his early days, donning a top hat and monocle."
Another officer reveals that Murdoch was found slumped over a particularly large garden hedge fashioned into a galloping horse. "His favourite", a butler, Davidson, reports.
Butler Davidson has since been taken into custody for additional questioning.


Dead NOTW journalist Sean Hoare video on why he hacked phones.

Sean Hoare is dead.

How convenient.

£100,000 bribes to cops, thousands of phones hacked.

An arrow in the indigenous struggle!

First Green council undertakes energy revolution

Work is underway to radically boost energy from renewable sources produced in Brighton & Hove, the local authority led by a minority Green Party administration.

In April, an independent scrutiny commission set up by the council called on the authority to help radically increase use of low-carbon power city-wide.

Now a report, discussed at last week's Brighton and Hove cabinet meeting, has outlined the council's response and highlighted progress towards the goal:

* The authority is pursuing is a major installation of large solar electricity panels on dozens of council buildings and schools, plus 1600 homes. Work is expected to start this year.

* Households are to be encouraged to take advantage of currently generous payments for domestic electricity generation under the Feed-in Tariff scheme.

* Some new or refurbished school buildings are being fitted with solar hot water and electricity panels plus air-and ground-source heat pumps which cut electricity use.

* The council has undertaken to work with developers of major schemes, such as Shoreham Port, to ensure as much renewable energy as possible is included.

* A Climate Change Action Plan will be published by the council in the autumn, addressing housing, transport, industry, commerce, and sustainable energy.

* A new online tool helping developers to plan low-energy buildings has been introduced this month by the council's planning service.


16 Jul 2011

Young Greens host 'Just Do It'

As part of its nationwide release, 'Just Do It' is coming to Stratford, and following the film's screening, the London Young Greens will be hosting a question and answer session and discussion about the film and the relationship between politics and activism alongside members of UK Uncut and the film's production team. The film is showing at Stratford Picturehouse (Gerry Raffles Square, Salway Road, London, E15 1BX) at 8.30pm, with the discussion following on afterwards.

For more information, including how to book tickets, see: http://justdoitfilm.com/stratford-picturehouse-london-stratford-east

And you can read some reviews of the film here: http://justdoitfilm.com/reviews

15 Jul 2011

Tell Vedanta to stop attack on Dongria Kondh

Why: In August 2010 India's Dongria Kondh tribe won a historic victory when Vedanta's plans to mine in the Niyamgiri Hills were stopped by the government. But that success is currently under threat from a challenge in India's Supreme Court. We will be at the AGM to tell Vedanta - and its shareholders and investors - that resistance to the mine is still strong, and that it's time to stop trying to mine in the Niyamgiri Hills, and to leave the Dongria Kondh to decide their own future.

Where: The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Broad Sanctuary, Westminster, London SW1P 3EE

When: 2pm Wednesday July 27th

Background here

14 Jul 2011

Saving the Earth = Mother Rights!

Saving the Earth will take more than merely adjusting our actions—polluting less here, conserving more there, moving toward sustainability within the confines of today’s prevailing worldview.

To really declare our commitment to protecting the rights of nature, we must change how we think about the world itself and our place within it. This means taking a fresh look at nature, learning from its amazing rhythms, patterns and interconnections. And it means opening our selves up to new possibilities for how humans work together to survive, thrive and ensure good lives for coming generations.

A shift of this importance will not happen easily. It requires a fundamental reorganizing of our industrial, hierarchical, technocratic, economic-centric culture. And it will be ferociously opposed by those who reap fat profits from the way things are.

Yet we must remember that modern existence—which is so deeply instilled in many people’s minds that they can’t imagine living any other way—actually serves only a tiny sliver of the planet’s inhabitants. Certainly not plants and animals, nor people living in the global south, nor the poor and most of the middle-class in the overdeveloped world, nor people who love nature, nor those seeking meaning in their lives beyond buying and selling.


13 Jul 2011

Gordon Brown rinses Murdoch.

Gordon Brown has gone up in my estimation quite astonishingly.

The Murdoch Empire may fall but we slaves all need to give it a little push if we are to be free.

Did you know that people are shoplifting the Sun such is the disgust at stealing Gordon Brown's sons medical records, the hacking of murder victim Milly Dowler's phone and that the protests are spreading to the USA and Australia.

The end of the Murdoch Empire is nigh, watch this space.

Anonymous targets RBS and Exxon

Anoymous have shifted from fighting Scientology to attacking the tar sands companies who threaten our collective future.

Please spread the word! The war against the crab continues

Anonymous statement here


Free-thinking citizens of the world:
Anonymous' Operation Green Rights calls your attention to an urgent situation in North America perpetuated by the boundless greed of the usual suspects: Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, Canadian Oil Sands Ltd., Imperial Oil, the Royal Bank of Scotland, and many others.
This week, activists are gathering along U.S. Highway 12 in Montana to protest the transformation of a serene wilderness into an industrial shipping route, bringing "megaloads" of refinery equipment to the Alberta Tar Sands in Canada (see Tar Sands FAQ Sheet below).
Anonymous now joins the struggle against "Big Oil" in the heartland of the US. We stand in solidarity with any citizen willing to protest corporate abuse. Anonymous will not stand by idly and let these environmental atrocities continue. This is not the clean energy of the future that we are being promised.

We will, over the course of the next few days, use the powers we posses to spread news about this scenario and the corporations involved. We are actively seeking leaks to expose the corruption that we all KNOW is beneath this. Anonymous will support the activists on July 13-14 when they initiate civil disobedience and direct action to confront this dire issue. We urge you to get involved. Montana and Idaho citizens, we ask you to join local protests and attend the Highway 12 rally if you are close enough! If you're not, join us in the IRC listed below for our own good times.
The continued development of the tar sands is a major step backward in the effort to curb global warming. Anonymous will not suffer this without a fight, and Operation Green Rights will always support the rights of the people to live in an unpolluted world, and aim to help safeguard it for the future. One way or another.

We are Anonymous.
We are Legion.
We do not forgive.
We do not forget.
Expect us.
IRC: irc.anonops.li channel #operationgreenrights
Location of Protest: http://tinyurl.com/5sy57bg
Sign up to protest! http://www.tarsandsaction.org/sign-up/

Our war against Ugkaju

“Formerly, when animals were people, a giant crab, called Ugkaju, commanded an army composed of ants and fish that killed the strongest warriors, than were the tigers, vixens and birds as the paujil and the pava of the mount.
Ugkaju struck the water with its clamp forming floods that drowned the people. The warriors could not defeat it.
Finally, the weakest animal met to plan an attack. They were the armadillos and some small birds that make their nests in earth holes.
According to the plan, they were digging tunnels that arrived at the house of Ugkaju. The next time that the giant crab struck the water, the little animals opened the tunnels and all the water ran by them and he was in dry.
Then the paucar took its lance and killed him.”

Our war is a defensive one. Peruvian Company Aphrodite and its owner Dorato Resources Inc., the Canadian corporation which desires to exploit our natural resources without respecting our rights and our lives, says to their shareholders and to the public that Dorato “has excellent relationships with the local community”. Not only good but “excellent”... But from our place, we the Awajun and Wampis peoples have a totally different view.

The Peruvian Government is allowing mining exploration works in our territory with the intention of authorising exploitation activities, despite the area is ecologically vulnerable and contains several basin headwaters situated in the high mountainous areas, from which water resources descend and on which our Awajún and Wampís communities depend for their survival and physical and cultural reproduction. The situation is urgent and extremely serious, which threaten seriously, imminently and irreversibly our rights to life, to health, to ethnic identity and to free self-determination.


12 Jul 2011

Debbie Fink news on returning Green Party activists from Israel

Just had this about the activists held in Israel from Debbie Fink, incidentally big shout out to all the Jewish Socialist Group comrades, etc from me!

Dear all,

I've been informed that all but three British activists will be deported tonight on the EasyJet flight EZY 2086, scheduled to land at Luton Airport at 23.55 tonight. The other three had refused to go. Pippa Bartolotti is among them, as I suspected! But this does mean that Anne Gray will be on the flight, and my J-BIG friend (who's actually American. I heard there will be 2 Americans so that may include him - not sure).

I will be there with my Green Party flag and J-BIG banner and I believe that Luton Green party will be there again to greet them.



Political statement of the Broad Front of People’s Resistance Frente Amplio de Resistencia Popular (FARP)

News from Honduras, workers, indigenous, farmers getting organised for socialism, democracy, ecology, human rights....

Political statement of the Broad Front of People’s Resistance
Frente Amplio de Resistencia Popular (FARP)

We want reconciliation but do not find any will; we demand freedom for political prisoners and an end to persecution.
We want JUSTICE; we are going to sue the material and intellectual authors of crimes against humanity.
July 11, 2011 -- http://www.resistenciahonduras.net --The violent rupture of constitutional order produced on June 28, 2009, by undemocratic and oligarchic sectors with external support, that opposed the legitimate request from the former Constitutional President of the Republic, José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, known as the "the fourth ballot", interrupted a healthy process of evolution and transformation of electoral democratic culture to a participatory and sovereign democracy.
The immediate creation of a National Front of Resistance Against the Military Coup and its pacific struggle over two years across the country, produced a new political identity involving grassroots, democratic, progressive and revolutionary movements who fought throughout this period for the establishment of true democracy.
That instrument of the people which began as a response to the outburst of the sectors that led the coup, became the National Front of People's Resistance (FNRP), that in addition to sustaining the political demands for the return of exiles, justice for those who were abused by the coup plotters, constituted the main trench of complaints against the constant violations of human rights and the rapid retreat of the workers victories during the last 50 years, mainly affecting the nation’s teachers, peasant farmers and the workers.
With the return of the 2006-2010 Constitutional President of the Republic and National Coordinator of the People's National Resistance Front, José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, which occurred thanks to the Agreement for National Reconciliation subscribed by President Porfirio Lobo Sosa as Head of State of Honduras, and the Presidents Manuel Santos of Colombia and Hugo Rafael Chaves Frias of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. These new developments in the country oblige us to reaffirm our demand for due compliance of the people’s demands; the establishment of a National Constituent Assembly and the punishing violators of Human Rights.
During its recent National Assembly the Front decided to create the Broad Front of People’s Resistance for political participation in all electoral processes in the country, precisely with the intention to continue to show signs of the will for national reconciliation in the framework of peaceful rule and democracy for which the people of Honduras have been struggling during the last two years, demanding justice in the polls.
However, this reconciliation process has had serious obstacles to be immediately overcome in order to enable us to continue along that path of reconciliation. The case of political persecution of Lawyer Enrique Flores Lanza, former Minister of the Presidency in the government of “Citizen’s Power” and member of the Political Commission of the National Front, Rebecca Santos, prisoner in her own home country, as well as death threats to Father Fausto Milla of Copan and his assistant Denia Mejia, members of the coordination of the National Front, as well as the sustained denial of Honduran nationality to Father Andres Tamayo member of the Political Commission, are illustrations of actions that the Front is facing in this process of dialogue . Political will should be expressed precisely in the realm of actions and not only in statements convenient in the face of the international community.
On Thursday July 7, “Truth and Reconciliation Commission”, created by the government of President Porfirio Lobo Sosa, acknowledged that the events of June 28 constituted a coup.
In an extensive document, the commission recommends to the state of Honduras:
1. In Honduras the constitutional reform faces the problem that, paradoxically, because of the wording of Articles 373 and 374 of current Constitution, it seems impossible to reform the constitution so that it supports a comprehensive review of the text through a national constituent assembly, as this could be understood as a modification of the "unchangeable articles".
To find a solution to this dilemma, the Commission proposes to follow the parameters set by modern constitutional doctrine that defends the meta-juridical and meta-constitutional of the original power of a constituent assembly.
Therefore, as it is established by the constitution, all acts of “de facto” government that replaced the legitimate government are null. Beyond that, the demand is made of the state's obligation to compensate the victims and to punish the murderers, and the obligation to convene a National Constituent Assembly that leads to the creation of a New Constitution to guarantee the constitutional order of the Republic . As well as it has been said by the “True Commission”, which for over a year has fought against impunity and indifference, and whose views deserve to be incorporated in the opinion of the Commission.
We are in complete disposition to contribute to the processes of national reconciliation in the republic and the convening of a Constituent National Assembly provided that is recognised and undertaken upon the need to fully implement the reconciliation agreement signed by the President Lobo as head of the state.
Tegucigalpa July 9, 2011, Tegucigalpa MDC.

Imperialism Is the Arsonist: Marxism’s Contribution to Ecological Literatures and Struggles

Derek Wall ’s article entitled  Imperialism Is the Arsonist: Marxism’s Contribution to Ecological Literatures and Struggles , argues that Ma...