:: Friday, April 30, 2004 ::

What a brankin idiot

How low can New Labour sink? Not only have they done nothing to help the nursery nurses in their dispute but now they are having striking nursery nurses thrown out of the Scottish parliament canteen. The imagery of starving them back to work is obviously lost on Rhona Brankin MSP, who seems to have a rather poor grasp of public relations or indeed, basic human decency and she clearly forgot about ideas like working class solidarity a long time ago.

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Following on from Labour list-topper David Martins alleged financial wrongdoings in Brussels, the Tories were embarrased yesterday as well. Tory Euro MEP Struan Stevenson was caught 'clocking in' to the European Parliament and promptly catching a flight home. His defence seems to be "but everyone does it". Doubly embarrasing for them on the occassion of a visit to Scotland by Tory leader Michael Howard.

Austrian MEP Hans Peter Martin has recorded more than 7000 cases of this practice in Brussels. His reward? Expulsion from the "socialist" group for bringing the parliament into disrepute. Irony, on a base level, but irony nonetheless.

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:: Wednesday, April 28, 2004 ::

On nationality

Scotsman.com News - UK - Famous faces have mixed feelings about their nationality: "The author Alasdair Gray said: 'I was born in the British Isles, therefore I am British. I was born in Scotland, therefore that is my national identity. But I learn from many cultures.

'Politically, I am a socialist, which is, by its nature, international. Emotions know no boundaries.' "

I can go along with that.

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:: Tuesday, April 27, 2004 ::

Remembering the Strike

miners strike photography exhibition

Last night saw the launch of Edinburgh's Mayday celebrations with the opening of an exhibition of photographs remembering the miners' strike. Included are photos of the strike itself as well as photos of some of the participants today including their memories of the event and the effect it had on their lives.

Edinburgh Mayday 2004

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:: Monday, April 26, 2004 ::

Scrap the Council Tax Demo

A couple of photos from Saturday's 'scrap the council tax' demo. Turnout was around 2000, which we were very pleased with.

scrap the council tax demo

The above pic see's Tommy commandeering the FBU's fire engine which led the demo. There were also speakers from the FBU, PCS and UNISON. The latter, a nursery nurse, spoke powerfully about the current situation concerning the strike. Union leaders threatened striking workers with expulsion from the union if they took part in a lobby of the union hq. The union leadership has decided to drop the demand for national pay which was central to the campaign.

scrap the council tax demo

And off to a rally in the Barras, which actually worked very well for a venue.

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:: Friday, April 23, 2004 ::

Inveresk Street Ingrate

Inveresk Street Ingrate Another new blog, this time from SPGB partisan and exiled Scot (and Celtic supporter) Mel. The Pars are gonnae spoil your season particularily if we can score another goal like we did against Livingstone. And we're going to Europe!

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Edinburgh Mayday 2004

The Edinburgh Mayday site has been updated with details of this years Mayday.

Speakers will be Arthur Scargill, Tommy Sheridan, Bill Spiers and Hilary Wainwright, plus music. In this, the 20th anniversary of the miners strike we are particularly happy to see Arthur on the demo.

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:: Thursday, April 22, 2004 ::

Red Planet

I thought it was important that I take a quiz to determine which Martian exploration vehicle I was.

How exciting, I'm Mars 3! -

Mars 3
You are Mars 3, the grandfather of all Mars probes.
You've been retired for a while, but you could
make a comeback any day now, for the glory of
the Soviet people!

Mars3's journal:

Which Martian exploration vehicle are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

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Mair Bloggers

Justic a well-written left-leaning blog from somewhere in Scotland. Excellent taste in music too (minor threat, auteurs...)
Ninety Minute Nationalist takes his/her title from Jim Sillars famous quote after he lost the Govan parliamentary seat, that the Scots were "90 minute nationalists", ie they were only patriotic when their football team was playing. NMN is "for socialism not nationalism" and critiques some of the debate on the Scottish national question I have been involved in. Seems to be of the AWL persuasion.
If There is Hope is a Canadian socialist blog, with some good analysis. Writer appears to be in the Canadian IS, I can't remember if they are still with the British SWP or if they went the way of the US organisation, the former I think.
World of Jack is a Scottish political blog of no particular persuasion, but seems not to have been updated for a couple of months.

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:: Wednesday, April 21, 2004 ::

ENHS - Sounds - Very Early Recorded Sound

ENHS - Sounds - Very Early Recorded Sound: "** Transcript of Arthur Sullivan's message to Edison upon introduction to the phonograph:
' . . . For myself, I can only say that I am astonished and somewhat terrified at the results of this evening's experiment -- astonished at the wonderful power you have developed, and terrified at the thought that so much hideous and bad music may be put on record forever. But all the same, I think it is the most wonderful thing that I have ever experienced, and I congratulate you with all my heart on this wonderful discovery.' "

Very prescient note from Mr Sullivan, recorded in 1888 and as such one of the earliest recordings in existence. This archive from the Edison National Historic Site is excellent.

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Rock Against Bush

rock against bush

Rock Against Bush is a new CD from punk label Fat Wreck Records. Featuring tracks from Ministry, Jello Biafra and DOA, Less Than Jake (with Billy Bragg), the *cough* Ataris, NOFX and many more.

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Help Diego Olivares

A few days ago I mentioned the organisation of the "mothers of the disappeared" in Argentina. Argentina saw one of the bloodiest military regimes in Latin America. Thousands were killed and tortured. One favoured technique was to throw live prisoners from airplanes over the sea or rivers. Some children of those "disappeared" by the military dictatorship in Argentina were fostered out for adoption.

Now via Clandestina's blog I hear about a story of an Argentinia searching for his brother who was one of those fostered out.

the parents of Diego, Juan Olivares and Julieta Alzugaray – respectively 25 and 23 years old the day of their disappearance - are some of the “desaparecidos”, as they are called, disappeared, assassinated, exiled by the Argentinean dictatorship at the end of the Seventies and the beginning of the Eighties. Today Diego researchs his brother, adopted following the disappearance of his parents. But, in spite of the assistance of several associations, he doesn’t find anything. It would seem that he was adopted by a French couple – from here the idea of Paterna to contact me – and would have the name of Alexis Frenette. The idea of Diego is to contact a maximum of people thanks to Internet to make known his history and that his brother or somebody knowing him, enter in contact with him, and that, finally, he knows his brother that he never see for all this years. So, it’s to us, now to help him by contacting the greatest number of persons by mails, by publishing this story in our Blogs or the medias if we have this possibility, by speaking about this story everywhere... and to help two brothers to enter in contact...

Hopefully someone will be googling for this name one day. You can help by mentioning this story in your blog.

The Original Appeal

Proyecto Desaparecidos

Asociación Madres de Plaza de Mayo

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:: Tuesday, April 20, 2004 ::

Mao's the time

Reg Birch biography

Leftist trainspotters will be flooding to Edinburgh for the Scottish launch of Will Podmore's biography of Reg Birch.

Who he?

"Engineer, trade unionist, communist, steeped in the industrial battleground of Park Royal, the largest concentration of engineering workers in the country - for a century Reg Birch led the struggles of the industrial working class and founded Britain's first genuine communist party.

This is a story to provoke reflection about the tactics and strategy of struggle, about working class morality, about the place of communism in a modern Britain and about the very future of our nation.

"..we do not believe in the British road to socialism or a peaceful transition. We are working for revolution and we do not believe in changing things through the ballot box or in the parliamentary way." Reg Birch"

The "first genuine communist party" was the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist), who were a maoist split from the CPGB. These days they seem more interested in pursuing a campaign against the EU which, to my eyes at least, appears rather 'little Englander'.

The event, organised by Word Power (Edinburgh's excellent lefty bookshop) is on at 2pm, Saturday 8th May, The Counting House (Opposite Word Power Books), West Nicolson Street, Edinburgh.

Maoism never really took off in Britain, largely I think, because of the relative weakness of the official stalinist party the CPGB. Apart from the CPB (ML), there is also the RCPB (ML), yes same name with 'revolutionary' stuck on the front, who are very close to the New Communist Party (NCP). I think there may also be some small groups of followers of the Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM) and a handful of ageing Hoxhaists.

rcpbml poster The RCPB (ML) do a neat line in posters.

I would definitely go, but unfortunately will be away on this date. Shame.

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Euro-frenzy, not.

Scottish Politics Page: European Parliament Elections 2003 has been updated with the SSP, Green and UKIP candidates. The top of the Green list turns out to be my neighbour! UKIP are claiming, rather wildly, that they will get 10 seats. None of them in Scotland folks. Still you can go to their website and get tickets for a St.George's Dinner, uhh is he the patron saint of the "UK" now? Will Tony Blair's announcement of a post-general election referendum on the European constitution whip up interest in the vote? Probably not, but it might encourage a few more people to find out what the EU constitution is all about: enshrining the market, enshrining the "nation state" and developing the EU as a rival global imperial superpower to the US.

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:: Thursday, April 15, 2004 ::

Face it lads, you're chumps

Face it lads, you're chumps - SpecialsScience - www.smh.com.au: "A study of wild chimpanzees has provided evidence that girls have been faster learners than boys for six million years.

Researchers discovered clear gender differences in the way that young male and female chimps learn skills from their mothers....

The male chimps in the study had shorter attention spans and spent more time wrestling with each other and swinging in trees, the scientists said."

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:: Wednesday, April 14, 2004 ::

Ni Un Paso Atras!

Some Latin American mp3's including tracks from albums produced by the MST (Brazilian landless movement) and the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo (the 'mothers of the disappeared' in Argentina). Plus another Victor Jara track.

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:: Tuesday, April 13, 2004 ::

Nursery Nurses, still fighting.

Supporting the Nursery Nurses Claim for a National Settlement If you support the nursery nurses go to this website set up by Dundee strikers, and leave a message of support.

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A belated Easter wish

late easter wish

A belated easter wish. As Bill Hicks once noted "I've looked all through the bible and can't find the word 'bunny' or 'chocolate' in there anywhere". No, don't worry I'm not turning religious. The above mural is once again from the St. Johns Church at the corner of Princes St. Edinburgh and is produced by Artists for Peace and Justice.

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:: Wednesday, April 07, 2004 ::

Punks not Dead


I just liked these old-skool style punk gig posters plastered all over Cockburn Street the other day. So here they are.

punkwall detail

Here are some links to sites with punk rock poster galleries:
US hardcore/straight edge fliers
Contemporary gig posters - some nice designs here.
Seattle gig posters
More punk stuff

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:: Tuesday, April 06, 2004 ::

Lived like a Shooting Star

victor jara album cover

Victor Jara rarities in MP3

A small selection of rare mp3's are on this site dedicated to the legendary Chilean musician Victor Jara. Victor's songs spoke of the life and struggles of the poor and the hope of a better world. He was murdered by the Pinochet fascist regime along with thousands of other socialists and trade-unionists in Chile.

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:: Monday, April 05, 2004 ::

"I keep thinking 'bout world war 3"*

Weird Science 1950

EC Science Fiction Comics cover gallery. Some fantastic stuff here. The above example is from a 1950 edition of Weird Science. EC of course fell victim to the moral Mcarthyism of the period, with it's horror comics being cited in Dr Frederic Wertham's 'Seduction of the Innocent' and subsequent senate hearings.

The nukes are still around though.

Via Tofu Hut

*The Minutemen, "paranoid rant"

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What's Up Doc?

Labour's bad news continued with Dr David Martin MEP's colleagues distancing themselves from him. Martin is currently facing a probe into alleged expenses irregularities. Dr Martin was previously involved in legal threats to suspend the Labour Party selection procedure for the Scottish list for Europe. He alleged that other candidates on the list had received extra publicity from the party. Although this problem was sorted out at the time, it seems that the bitterness caused by this dispute has lingered with the other candidates on the list not exactly leaping to Dr Martin's defence. Labour are likely to return fewer members to Europe due to the shrinking of Scottish representation. This is a result of EU expansion.

The Sunday Herald reports that the source of the allegations is Dr Martin's brother in law, upset at his upcoming divorce.

So what are the charges? The Scotsman explains:

The main accusation Mr Martin, a vice-president of the European Parliament, must answer is the charge he had created a situation which saw him personally benefit from almost £2,000 a month.

It is alleged he had transferred £1,400 a month from his Brussels office account to investment trusts and building-society accounts held in his name.

He received a further £400 a month from the European Parliament as a contribution to his pension. Labour Party rules say MEPs must repay this money via a standing order from their personal accounts and Mr Martin must explain why it appears that he failed to do so.

A newspaper yesterday reported the bulk of the money was paid every month to Mr Martin by the parliament to fund his employees’ salaries and pension entitlements.

A separate source confirmed this claim to The Scotsman last night and further confirmed the reported allegation that the MEP does not have any employees.

The source said: "Everyone who has been involved in this believes that David is in serious trouble, but there is now nothing that Labour can do and he must wait and see what the parliament’s investigation decides."

The whole incident is likely to damage not just Labour, but all parties in the elections. The portrayal of Brussels and Strasbourg as corrupt will increase voter apathy and drive turnout down.

Across Britain six council by-elections last week saw general swings against Labour. The main benefactors were liberal-democrats and the tories. Labour lost one safe seat to the Lib-Dems.
Disturbingly the fascist right gained 12% in one seat in Crewe whilst the little-Englanders of the UK Independence Party gained 19%. The results point to the worrying possibility of fascists winning a seat in the North-West of England at the European elections. Meanwhile the UKIP must be more confident about retaining their two seats.

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:: Thursday, April 01, 2004 ::

Ghost Town

Ghost Town

A girl, her bike and a trip through the Chernobyl area. Incredible.

who can count how many people died of radiation? no one, even approximately. Some tell that 400.000 dead, soyuzchernobyl report of 300.000 people that died since 1986 and this is not over, in 30 years people will still die...

from the first look ghosttown seems like a normal town, someone put their washing hungs on a balcony, some windows open, other clothed, here is taxi stop, there is grocery store... then, you read this slogan on building- "party of Lenin lead us to the triumph of a communism"- that helps to realise that clothes hung on balcony for 18 years and that town is empty..

via Neil Gaiman

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