Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Not such a nice day for a Greek picnic?

Well it seems my last post was my most popular yet,( a record of over 20 new hits and over 70 returning overall) from this a can reasonably draw three conclusions, one there are a few dozen people who actually like reading this quasi- intellectual rants, two there aren't but they do like watching the vids I embed here, and three the internet is filled with Anti-Semitism.

But moving on to another issue of importance. Greece, I'm sure your all no strangers to the news reports about all those street protests they seem to have one every year. There was that one back in 2008 where that poor young fellow (Alexandros Grigoropoulos) was shot then 2009 seemed to quiet down a bit if you ignore the numerous strikes and memorial protests for the aforementioned Alexandros like quite a lot of the media back in Blighty did.

Come 2010 and well it looks like its kicking off again this time though it isn't the police killing Greek citizens thats to blame its those International bankers who were killing the Greek economy thats got the Proletariat out on the streets. As the vid below makes clear its the old and usual suspects such as are good friends Goldman Sachs et all.

Now this isn't the first time the Greeks have had troubles with the EU, alot of the strikes in 08 and 09 where carried out by farmers and members of the Tourist industry who traditionally suffer from strong currency value like the EU had until recently as tourists are scared off by high exchange rates, and there are many places where you can buy agricultural stock much cheaper then what the Greek Farmers could afford. However things have taken a turn for the worse as it seems that the former Conservative government was well shall we say lax in the accounting department thus hiding the scale of debt and distorting the level of confidence that exists in the Greek financial system until like toxic debts the damn of lies and deceit overflowed and burst.

This is potentially a very serious problem due to the level of economic integration between all member states what effects one could easily effect the others. And to make matters worse several EU nations it now appears are guilty of the same or similar things including Spain, Portugal, and Italy which anyone familiar with Berlusconi's time as helms men can't really be surprised at.

Now I'm not an economist nor am I an expert on EU interstate affairs so I'm afraid I have no real solution, however one thing I am quite clear on is that to make the people of Greece pay for the crimes of there EX-government who opperated on the advice of multi-nationals and speculators behind close doors, who won't see anything close to a just censer or penalty for there recklessness. Punishing the poor for the crimes of the rich and the corrupt just never sits right with me.

Though I don't think these new waves of protests will sadly be enough to halt the "Austerity measures" especially how manipulated the footage of the protests will no doubt be on the 24 hour news services, they will hopefully be enough to force some much needed reforms within the EU. But I won't hold my breadth instead I'll just wish the people of Greece on the streets all the best and hope they stay safe.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Settling Down

Recently my posts have been decreasing in size and input. That is unfortunate for my ego, hopefully todays topic should be able to kick start my old writing technique of barely coherent rambling steeped in rage. I am of course speaking of the situation of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories of Palestinian land. Don't worry if you get bored I promise there will be a lot of pictures and video clips in this one I promise.

If your a bit confused as to how these little hamlets have become such a problem and a threat to the Palestinian life then check out this video below it explains the tactics of the settlers in an easy to understand way complete with diagrams.

You may be wondering why exactly I'm complaining about these illegal settlements now, while I thought that since the 20th anniversary of Mandela's release from prison and the ultimate collapse of Apartheid in South Africa it would be an opportune time to take a look at where Apartheid still stands. Incidentally I recently caught an interview by the Real News with with Michael Ratner of the centre for constitutional rights on a family road trip/hike in the West bank, surprisingly an American Jewish family had very little trouble there.
Here's part one,

Here's part Two,

If you'd like to know more then please head over to the Palestine Solidarity campaign.

Power 2010

This is coming abit late I know, but here comes another internet style campaign for reforms in the guise of the 2010 power movement. There are a number of very important constitutional issues such as proportional representation, a no to ID cards, or a Bill of Rights, and a Codified Constitution. If you haven't already I strongly suggest you cast your votes as theirs only one day left till the vote ends. In addition it also has a number of other pressure groups backing it as well including Republic (a campaign for an elected head of state) and the laboriously mentioned 38 degrees. It looks like this election will either end in a hung parliament or a narrow majority and with all three main... well all 2 and a half main parties are desperate to appear radical and Populist so there is a real opportunity for some radical reforms to make there way onto the political agenda if enough people complain about it. But I guess time will tell.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Rod Liddle vanquished?

Good news, It appears the pressure put on in the Indy has worked the vile spectre of Rod Liddle no longer haunts are news paper stands. It looks like this could be a milestone for an internet based (not to mention facebook based) pressure campaign not only has a vile man been kept out the editors seat of somewhat influential paper but some money was raised for a few good courses in the process. I am actually quite happy about this and hope does truly pan out.

Spending cuts

Looks like a was a little prematurely optimistic about the whole internet being all fine and dandy so this may have to be brief again.

Anyway I'm sure a lot of you are angry at the prospect of severe public service cuts that both parties Labour and Conservative seem intent on inflicting on us next year regardless who wins the next election. The impending cuts are especially maddening as they go against all that we’ve learned from our past experiences of recession and depressions (New deal, five year plans, four year plans etc.) but also the lessons weve been learning form this particular recession; every country that has come out of recession before us has done it via increased public spending and nationalisation. However there is a way we might be able to help stop the incoming cull at least from the Labour side.

38 Degrees
is running a petition to Alastair Darling to coincide with a letter signed by 58 economists to get the Chancellor to stop this madness before it can begin.

photo source

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Well the internet seems to have finally sorted itself out for now. I had hoped to write about the Islamic Revolutions 31st anniversary, but its abit to late now most of what's to say has already been said so Iran will have to be put on the back burner for now. But let me give you this link to Lenin's Tomb instead. Besides its not all bad I was trying to resist the urge to make a Mullah lite joke so maybe its better this way.

Anyway Adam Curtis (of the excellent The Trap, and The power of Nightmares) has produced a very interesting and thought provoking mini doc for Charlie Brooker's Newswipe.

Hmm interesting, especially about Murdoch and Thatcher, however I should point out the obvious that Murdoch's papers for the masses was and is motivated by nothing more then a quest for profit rather then as his sound bite implies an attempt to promote the spread of information and the raising of the political consciousness of the common man.

Well I've just had the virtual stuffing kicked out of me.

Monday, 15 February 2010

David Cameron's election pledges part Zwei

Internet is still a bit dodgy at the moment so just another quickie. It seems we are blast with an absolute deluge of Tory policy at the moment and not a day too soon with the election coming up. Again feel free to visit for more details

Rod Liddle update

Just received an email from the oust Rod Liddle facebook group concerning the adverts, the needed £500 was surpassed to a grand total of £704.10 hooray. Unfortunately the Indy won't run the ads so instead the money will go to Refuge, the refugee council , and campaign for climate change and the Guardian is apparently going to write up a story about are efforts which if it pans out will be a massive embarrassment to the Indy and further threaten Liddles chances. Anyway 38degrees is currently launching off some last minute emails to try and clinch it. Best of luck to it.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Morning Star

Sorry I've been a bit quiet recently, The internet has been absolutely atrocious lately, I was hoping to do a post or two on Iran and its 31st anniversary and its nuclear program but I'll have to wait a little while till the connection stabilises itself.

Anyway instead I'd like to talk to you all about a paper I very much enjoy and think is a splendid example of people power, the Morning Star newspaper. If you can remember all the way back at the bigging of this blog one of my very first posts (namely this one) was me grinding my axe about the lack of principles from the mainstream media especially the "Liberal papers" when it came to advertising money and the like. The Morning Star doesn't have these problems as it is actually boycotted by advertisers and is owned by its readers*.

Perhaps a little background information would be appreciated, The Morning star was originally the political party paper the Daily Worker and owned by the old Communist party of Great Britain (OCPGB) however the OCPGB saw that there was a need for a truly independent Left wing working man's newspaper and that that was more important then another party journal so took the -in my view at least- admirable step of turning it into an independent daily by setting up a cooperative to run it. It has had a rather rocky history but today still goes fairly strongly.

It is currently in the nominal editorial control of the Communist party of Britain (CPB) (the current CPGB runs the Weekly worker) but it often carries columns by many others on the left including Left Labour Mp's like Jeremy Corbyn, and former London mayor Ken Livingstone, and Respect Mp George Galloway or novelist and investigative journalist Solomon Hughes etc. This left wing pluralism is needed more then ever what with the British Lefts seeming need to reenact that joke from the Life of Brian (you know the one I mean). Just look at the shear number of Parties in Britain with the word Communist in them. Or just look at the bottom of this Friends of (North) Korea post for an example.

It also has a number of very generous offers and contact information on various labour movement materials and events, I found out about the RMT annually Cuban Solidarity Garden party last year and had a thoroughly excellent time, which I hope will be repeated this year.

However al is not well with the Star, you see due to the aforementioned advertising bans they have to sell each paper at a cost and have to make this up via a donation drive called the fighting fund,this fund more then anything I believe keeps it independent and a tool of the people while it owes its existence and growth to the Labour movement and the working class it can be relied upon to take there side (it simply can't afford to bite the hand that feeds).

* the paper is run by the Peoples press cooperative, shares cost a pound each. No matter how many shares you own though you each get one vote, though if you buy more you will get bragging rights and trust me that is sadly very important to some lefties I know. For the record I have five shares.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Progressive London

Being unable to attend the Progressive London conference I have instead been watching the video casts on the events Youtube Channel to get a feel for how it went. Johann Hari seen speaking above was for me the best of them being both informative insightful and really quite funny speaking of which if you don't know who Jacob Rees-Mogg is -I know I certainly didn't- thats his picture up there in the right where his no doubt most comfortable, sadly I couldn't find any pictures of his Nanny.

Anyway I have also found it strange how are media only reports Progressive measures as "class war" but don't slap on the same label to regressive measures such as tax cuts for the rich.

If you'd like to find out more about Progressive London (its turnout, its speeches etc.) then please allow me to direct to this post by Andy Newman who was one of the speakers at the event.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

The Painters Bible, or the Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

I've recently finally got round to reading the Ragged Trousered Philanthropist, and it is a phenomenal book. It might just top my chart of favourite novel currently dominated jointly by Nineteen Eighty Four and Animal Farm.

Don't worry although this is labelled under review thats just an excuse to fill out that ink list to the left, I'm not worthy of analysing this fully this more like some thoughts, or a love letter.

The Foreword alone is very illuminating, the original manuscript by Robert Tressell (Real name Robert Noonan) was cut down from 250,000 words to a mere 90'000 after his death by Jessie Pope most famed for here Patriotic poems during the slaughter of the First World War,editing in those days actually entailed physically cutting out whole pages and paragraphs and scribbling out other sections. It only exist today in complete form (or as close to it as possible some pages were sadly unrecoverable) do to the sterling efforts of one man and his wife Fred Ball, Mr Ball a great admirer of its cut down publication researched the book and discovered the old manuscript and purchased it for £63 and then spent a number of nights with his wife at the Kitchen table matching up cut marks on bits of paper and deciphering scribbles to restore it to its present form.

I'd just like to spare a few seconds to thank Mr Ball and his wife err... Mrs Ball for there hard work and for restoring this masterpiece to its rightful glory.

But anyway, other then its engaging plot and blueprint for the moral superiority of Socialism, it is also fascinating and somewhat depressing to find out how little has actually changed. In the first chapter alone not only are the Painters and other decorators arguing about the merits of free trade vs, protectionism, but there also lamenting the news in the tabloid "Daily Obscurer" about the flood of immigration and how there all taking British jobs,sound familiar to anyone? that one little chapter quite clearly debunks the current myths about immigration now as well as Owen's (are heroic Socialist) comments did back then. For if what rags like the Express and the Mail claim about the "coloured and slavic hordes" and how there teeming over the channel for over a hundred years non stop (barring the two world wars) then surely they'd have already over run us. Incidentally the targets for the papers Patriotic ire haven't really changed, today its mainly Poles and Muslims who are stigmatised but back in the early 20th century it was mostly Russians and Jews who got the stick. Stalin when he was a young Communist was once beaten up in a pub in London when here for a Marxist conference supposedly for flirting with a local girl.

Another quite clever sub plot of Tressells is his attacks on religion,they do involve the lack of empirical evidence argument at times, but many centres around the endemic corruption of those who preach it (the Reverend is fat and bloated, and all the vile Capitalists are active members of the congregation) and Marx's "Opiates of the masses" theory, which given that the manuscript was written up over 1910 genuinely surprised me how uncompromisingly atheistic this book is, Tressell uses Owen to deftly turn the logic of evangelical Christianity on its head, one particularly funny example is when one tee-totalling character warns them all about hell and explains how happy he is now he's accepted God into his heart, Owen simply responds that he thinks its appalling to be pleased about believing millions are being tortured in a great fiery pit. Which actually is quite true if you think about it, to get satisfaction from a serving a power that YOU know to employ a Hell dimension would certainly point to a quite severe sadistic streak.

Anyway the point of this little diatribe is essentially this, The ragged Trousered Philanthropists is an excellent book for you if your interested in any of the following, Socialism, British Working class life in the early 20th century, God or the lack thereof, Or painting and woodwork. If you don't have it you should get it and read it, and if you already have it you should memorise it and give it to someone else who hasn't.

Monday, 8 February 2010

David Cameron's election pledges

Well its getting nearer to election time so I thought it would be apt to remind myself and you what the promises the PM in waiting has made so far.

Would you like to know more? if so feel free to go to the Tory policy propaganda hub for more information.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Baba Yetu

Just another quick one from me, I think this song more then any other I've heard so far demonstrates what I was rambling about in my first post on music, the song for those interested is sung in Swahili and the lyrics are taken from the Lords prayer, I think that says something important, that two different cultures that viewed in the right way can combine into something beautiful.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Rod Liddle and the Independant

Some what more hopeful news on the front of popular activism this time, Rod looked set to become the new Editor of the Independent (yes you read right, Rod Liddle the man who once blamed the Afro-Caribbean community for most of Britains crime is a potential top dog for the Independent). However the vile Rod Liddle has run into a lot of opposition. There is a Facebook group and a campaign coordinated by LiberalConspiracy, LeftFootForward, and 38Degrees, This campaign does seem to be working as the new owner Lebedev who saw the contemptuous Liddle as a sure thing but is now reconsidering,but it is not over yet, the campaign is now moving onto a much bigger and my view ingenious tactic of running news paper ads condeming Liddle in the Independent itself. To do this however they need funds if you'd like to help you can donate here, and if the Indy doesn't run the ads they'll go to a number of charities.

Now I myself am only a casual reader of the Indy but I do fully support the marginalisation of Rod Liddle and think helping to stop him spouting his bile is worth £1-£10 of anyones money. And if your still not sure then feel free to take a llook at some Roddys journalistic views here.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Chilcot inquiry two, the return of the killer inquiry?

Just a quick one, looks like someone on the inquiry must have been asleep and only just woke up to realise that Blair story was a bit dodgy, especially on details,

"The panel are concerned in particular about his evidence relating to the legality of the invasion, the Guardian has learned. Blair's evidence seemingly contradicted that given by Lord Goldsmith, the attorney general at the time, about the number of discussions the pair had about issues of law between 7 March and 17 March 2003, three days before the attack on Iraq."

Also it appears Clare Short will be called to the panel,

"In most of the runup to the war Gordon and Tony were in one of their fallen-out phases and Gordon was marginalised, not included and not in the inner group.

"He was saying to me, 'They think they're going to have a quick and successful war and then they'll be very powerful and they'll have a reshuffle.'"

Short added: "He thought they wanted him out of the Treasury, because there was tension about how you spend the money of the government, and they were going to offer him the Foreign Office and he was saying, 'I won't accept it. I'll go and join you on the backbenches'."

This could be good news for Gordon depending on Clare's appearance and how Number 10 play it. take from that what you will.

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