Finders Keepers, Looters Weepers
An interesting view on press racism during the Katrina Hurricane, via dustin3000 on flickr.
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Venezuela's CITGO to Provide Cheap Gas for U.S. Hospitals, Nursing Homes and Schools
The Hurricane in Louisiana is hitting poor Americans above all. Looks like Venezuala's Bolivarian government under President Hugo Chavez are going to help the US poor in a way that the US oil multinationals never do.
“There is a lot of poverty in the U.S. and I don’t believe that reflects the American Way of Life. Many people die of cold in the winter. Many die of heat in the summer,” said Chavez on Sunday during his weekly TV show, explaining why Venezuela was interested in providing discounted heating oil to the U.S. poor.
“We could have an impact on seven to eight million persons,” Chavez added.
Venezuela’s ambassador to the U.S. Bernardo Alvarez, had told Chavez that the embassy in Washington DC has already received over 140 requests about the plan, even though it has not been formally announced yet.
Venezuela also plans to provide free surgery for certain eye conditions for U.S. poor."
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:: Monday, August 29, 2005 ::
Wave of Mudilation
The Pixies were great. I saw them 18 months ago in Brixton and they have improved through practice since then. They actually seemed to enjoy themselves and bantered between each other and the crowd this time. The obvious crowd pleasing monster tunes were played but, as in Brixton, odd additions of weak numbers like Into the White and their cover of Winterlong. Still it gave my feet a break from bouncing. Rainy day, but it didn't matter.
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Norman and the Boys
That's better. Things livened up in the Fannies set when the TFC massive arrived from the pub. Great version of Everything Flows frightened all the actual teenagers down the front waiting for Idlewild.
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Teenage fanclub at Meadowbank
Meadowbank stadium, Edinburgh 28/8/05. Supporting the Pixies. Cameraphone pic. More to follow from the digi unless they all turn out crap. Which is possible.
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:: Friday, August 26, 2005 ::
Robertson goes Caracas
Cartoon in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. More cartoons on this topic here.
A religious extremist calls for murder of a head of state. Sounds like a terrorist to me. But this one isn't in Finsbury Park Mosque. No he's on cable TV in the USA and is a major backer of Bush and the leader of the Christian Coalition. Pat Robertson's half-witted threats against Hugo Chavez certainly show him to be a buffoon, but the whole affair has a dark edge to it. It reminds us of the contempt for democracy and human rights the US right has. Latin Americans don't need lessons in this. Still, a good opportunity to take the piss.
Humour from The Borowitz Report.
Cuban Spies Set to Infiltrate Pat Robertson’s Production Staff, Audience
Cuban president Fidel Castro announced in Havana today that his government is backing a violent overthrow of “The 700 Club,” the long-running television program hosted by controversial preacher Pat Robertson.
Mr. Castro’s decision to attempt to topple Mr. Robertson was widely seen as a demonstration of solidarity with Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, whom the televangelist proposed assassinating during Monday’s broadcast of the show.
At a press conference in Havana, the Cuban president said that he was authorizing a flotilla of speedboats carrying Cuban spies to head for the United States to orchestrate the overthrow of “The 700 Club.”
While Mr. Castro was sketchy about the details of the plot, calling them “super-secret,” an insider familiar with the plan said that it involves Cuban spies infiltrating Mr. Robertson’s production staff and audience and then staging an armed revolt during a broadcast of the program.
“We’ll wait until Pat Robertson is distracted, probably when he’s getting all worked up about gay marriage or something, and then we’ll strike,” the insider said.
According to the insider, the Cuban president waited a few days before deciding to overthrow “The 700 Club” because he was not sure at first exactly what “The 700 Club” was.
“Fidel thought it was a club for people who weighed 700 pounds or more,” the insider said. “Then he was like, ‘No, that can’t be right.’”
I also recommend Jesse Jacksons comments on the affair which expose the corruption and racist, reactionary agenda of Robertson.
“During a State Department hearing Robertson declared, 'Maybe we need a very small nuke thrown off on Foggy Bottom (the State Department’s headquarters) to shake things up.' He has also made inflammatory remarks about Muslims and the Islamic religion, saying, 'It's clear from the teachings of the Quran and also from the history of Islam that it's anything but peaceful.' Yet, Robertson never raised his voice against racial segregation in the South. He did not join the chorus of witnesses to free Mandela. He instead became a mining trading partner with the tyrant Mobutu in the Congo,” Jackson continued.τ
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:: Thursday, August 25, 2005 ::
Gate Gourmet campaign
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Nice graf in Chile from flickr.
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:: Wednesday, August 24, 2005 ::
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:: Tuesday, August 23, 2005 ::
Saul Williams joined Micheal Franti and Spearhead for their gig on Sunday at the liquid rooms.
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:: Monday, August 22, 2005 ::
A spectre is haunting Europe...
The return of an old ghost, the new power of the left. How Der Spiegel sees the shifting political situation in Germany as a new coalition the Electoral Alternative for Jobs and Social Justice (WASG) picks up a head of steam. Bringing together forces from the left of the SPD plus the ex-communist PDS based in the East and various smaller trotskyist and communist groups, the WASG is a significant new development in European politics.
You can't keep a good old mole down.
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Michael Franti and Spearhead playing in the Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh 21st August 2005. Better quality pics to follow.
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:: Sunday, August 21, 2005 ::
Dave McKean's film Mirrormask had its UK premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival on Friday, having previously shown at Sundance. Dave introduced the film and did a Q&A afterwards.
The film is based on the graphic novel illustrated by McKean and written by Sandman author Neil Gaiman. Dave had previously provided covers for all of the Sandman comics.
(From the website) "MIRRORMASK tells the story of Helena, a fifteen-year-old girl who works for her family circus, juggling, selling popcorn, and cleaning up muck. While most kids long to run away and join the circus, Helena dreams of running away to the real world.
Until the day she wakes up to find herself in a strange new place populated by mysterious creatures -- a dreamworld where she is about to embark on a most amazing journey. "
It's not the first film he has made, having previously directed a handful of short films. Dave explained that it was his ambition to make some short films in his barn for no money.
The film is a mixture of animation and live acting. McKean himself provided the surface textures which gives the film his trademark look and feel. A team of talented young animators were then given a great deal of creative scope to work on their sections, with only rough sketches from McKean to work from.
Plot-wise the film is nothing new. A young girl escapes into a fantasy world and comes to terms with the trials of growing up. It has clear parralels with the likes of The Wizard of Oz, as Dave pointed out.
Visually Mirrormask is lush and imaginative. The audience are given the chance to explore a magical city whose bizarre architecture includes forests of cast-iron spiral staircases and bulbous floating giants. The acting is good although I wasn't quite convinced by the posh middle class accents of the dirt-poor circus performers.
There is something for everyone to enjoy in the film, but you will probably enjoy it most if you are a 14 year old goth girl.
The film is owned by Sony and will have a limited US cinema release in September. Dave McKeans next project is another collaboration with Neil Gaiman, Signal to Noise, and will be largely digital and hugely expanded from the original graphic novel. A DVD of his short films is also slated for release.
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:: Friday, August 19, 2005 ::
"Turning Rebellion Into Money"
I'll have to have a look at this. Not a bad idea actually.
Edinburgh Evening News - Top Stories - We had a riot on our hols: "THEY are scenes that many people living in the Capital would prefer to forget.
But one artist is ensuring people the world over will remember the violent G8 riots in Princes Street - by selling postcards of them to tourists.
Featuring some of Edinburgh's most famous landmarks, the postcards capture the key moments from the protests that locked down Princes Street in early July.
In one postcard, a wall of riot police outside Jenners is pictured under the tongue-in-cheek banner 'Welcome to Edinburgh'.
Another captures the tense stand-off between protesters and police at the bottom of The Mound during the so-called Carnival for Full Enjoyment, when anarchists took to the streets of the Capital to protest about the G8 summit.
The 'battle of Princes Street' was captured by Abbeyhill artist Liz Tainsh, 40, who said people want a reminder of one of the most dramatic days in the Capital's recent history.
And she said that she had sold dozens of the cards since they went on sale at the start of the Festival.
She said: 'I usually have a lot more tourist pictures of Edinburgh on my stall but they weren't selling so well this year so I thought I'd dig out my pictures from the G8 protests and give them a go. I've been totally surprised at the response, to be honest, they've been selling really well with locals and tourists alike."
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:: Thursday, August 18, 2005 ::
A new monthly series about the ultimate embedded war journalist trapped in a most unlikely war zone: the streets of New York City.
In the near future, America's worst nightmare has come true. With military adventurism overseas bogging down the Army and National Guard, the U.S. government mistakenly neglects the very real threat of anti-establishment militias scattered across the 50 states. Like a sleeping giant, Middle America rises up and violently pushes it way to the shining seas, coming to a standstill at the line in the sand -- Manhattan or, as the world now knows it, the DMZ.
Matty Roth, a naïve young man and aspiring photojournalist, lands a dream gig following a veteran war journalist into the heart of the DMZ. Things soon go terribly wrong and Matty finds himself lost and alone in a world he's only seen on television. There, he is faced with a choice: try to find a way off the island, or make his career with an assignment most journalists would kill for. But can he survive in a war zone long enough to report the truth?
Read Brian Wood! I particularly like his Channel Zero.
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:: Wednesday, August 17, 2005 ::
And speaking of the police state. Mugshots of American Communists from the 1930's on flickr.
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Police Execution in London
Martin nails it over at Wis[s]e Words: "What is clear from this (and see also the Channel 4 report (WMV file)) is that the Metropolitan Police have been lying about this killing from the start. None of the initial statements, apart from the bare fact of his killing, were true.
Menezes wasn't killed because he behaved in any way suspicious or even looked suspicious: none of the excuses made for the officers who shot him are valid. He wasn't wearing bulky clothing, he didn't run into the station, but used his travelcard and even picked up a free Metro, ran to catch his train than sat down. When an officer shouted 'police' he stood up and faced them, at which point he was pushed into his seat and murdered.
In other words, this wasn't a man chased by police, but a man whose first awareness that he is chased is with the bullet entering his head! He wasn't a criminal, did nothing wrong and still was killed. The moral? In the UK today, anyone of us can be killed without warning because some police officer gets jumpy and there's nothing you can do about it. Even if you comply with all police directions you can and will be shot: Menezes was."
The Met lied. They put out deliberately false information to make themselves look less bad. It worked in the short term, I was down South at the time and many people were prepared to give the cops the benefit of the doubt, rattled as they were by the bombings. Even Ken Livingstone went along with them 100%, not quite the line he took on the execution of IRA suspects in Gibraltar. But in the long term? Do tube passengers need to be scared of the police as well as bombs? Or only tube passengers with dark skins?
Now we need to know who lied, how high up did the decision to lie go? The 'shoot to kill' policy needs to be stopped. It's effect is to alienate ethnic minorities and spread more fear and alarm. It will serve as a recruiting agent for some sections of radical Islam. It serves no useful security purpose and can't possibly form part of a solution to suicide bombs.
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:: Tuesday, August 16, 2005 ::
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:: Monday, August 15, 2005 ::
Gate Gourmet Bosses are total bastards - official
Good stuff today from the Daily Mirror, the info below from the Simon Jones Memorial Campaign (whose good work I heartily recommend).
The Daily Mirror has reported on the real reason for the recent disruption at Heathrow Airport - a secret strategy to casualise British Airways catering in order to boost profits at the expense of the wages, working conditions and pensions.
In a secret internal briefing entitled "Mile Stones" and marked "Confidential", BA's caterer Gate Gourmet declared "Recruit, train and security check drivers. Announce intention to trade union, provoking unofficial industrial action from staff. Dismiss current workforce. Replace with new staff."
The shocking move was part of a 15-week timetable, first mooted a year ago, to provoke workers into striking so they could be replaced with cheap East European labour trained at secret bases. A steering committee cited the top risk as "potential for wider Heathrow based disruption".
But if the risks were high, so were the rewards. The dossier forecast the £2.5 million sacking plan would save up to £6.5 million a year. An industry expert estimated there could be annual pension savings of up to £7 million.
An insider claimed that action like that detailed in the leaked documents culminated in last week's crippling protests at Heathrow. Gate Gourmet sacked 670 workers following an unofficial stoppage over the employment of 130 casual staff. The move led to wildcat strikes by 1,000 other airport workers which stranded up to 100,000 BA passengers, some of them for several days.
An insider said: "This is all about pure greed. They deliberately made the workers lives absolute hell, then told them they were outsourcing their posts to spark a reaction. It's a shocking way to treat people."
TGWU shop steward, Sarijit Singh Sandu, declared: "We've always believed the actions were pre-planned. Now we are in no doubt."
The sacking plan was drawn up by a tight-knit team of hard-line businessmen from Gate Gourmet's US owners, the Texas Pacific Group. Once a month directors came over from America for updates. Towards the end they came every week. The timetable of action kicked in as soon as Gate Gourmet lost a Virgin contract a few months ago.
An insider source said a solicitor was consulted. The source said: "He said if staff could be provoked into unofficial action they could all be sacked and have no legal redress. It would also mean the company could seek damages from individuals."
Referring to the firm's drivers, the dossier details how staff could be told their working conditions were going to be dramatically worsened, so provoking fury. Among the threats listed were "No redundancy packages, no leaving early, no extra pay for extra work, random drug testing, no smoking, eating or drinking in cabs."
The plan also advises how to sack staff. It reads: "Immediate dismissal without legal protection. Collect ID cards, airside passes, locker keys. HR to issue dismissal letters, extra security presence. Security to escort dismissed staff from the premises."
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Spis de Rike: G8 documentary This Danish crew have a documentary on the Gleneagles G8 mobilisation in English on their website. Also other anarcho-themed vids on their website.
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:: Saturday, August 13, 2005 ::
Barbarism Begins At Home
Human rights are very important to politicians until they might be bad for their poll ratings. Witness the treatment of the suspects re-arrested for deportation last week. An example of a public relations exercise as they are sure to be released on appeal.
This from their solicitors:
"One was taken from the psychiatric hospital where he has been an inpatient since his release from Broadmoor Hospital under a Control Order on March 11th of this year. He is one of two men now rearrested who were moved from Belmarsh prison to Broadmoor Hospital in 2004 after three years of indefinite detention had destroyed their sanity. They are at serious risk; we are informed that all of those now detained at Long Lartin prison are on suicide watch. These include a third man who was released from Belmarsh to house arrest in 2004 because he too had been driven into madness by incarceration in prison. All of the detainees are refugees; so too are their families; most are victims of torture.
The Home Office is completely aware of the recent serious psychiatric history of each and the reasons for that history."
Talk about being deported to abusive regimes, sounds like they are already in one. And remember not one of these guys has been charged or tried in relation to any crime in this country. Kafka's got nothing on this.
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:: Friday, August 12, 2005 ::
Robin Cook's Funeral
The Royal Mile is cleared of festival fringe performers for the funeral of Labour politician Robin Cook at St.Giles Cathedral. I'm not sure what all the fuss about Tony Blair not being there is, why go to the funeral of someone who was your enemy and everyone knew it?
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Solidarity is Back
BBC NEWS Talks aim to end Heathrow crisis
There always seems to be something holding up the traffic in Edinburgh these days. Sometimes it's me on a march, sometimes it's the Festival Carnival (thanks for the 2 hour walk home), today it was Robin Cook's funeral at St. Giles. But a couple of weeks ago it was the bus drivers of Lothian Regional Transport on strike and taking additional effective wildcat action.
It seems to be spreading with the righteous struggle of the Gate Gourmet catering workers at Heathrow. Their absolutely disgraceful sacking by a 'hardball' management prompted, wait for it, sympathy action by other BA staff. When was the last time that happened in this country?
The loathsome US boss of Gate Gourmet was on the Today prog. this morning, yes he waited a full two hours before sacking his entire staff, including those who were off that day, sick etc. If anyone needs standing up to it's this guy. Unofficial action is the only way to run an effective strike these days.
So welcome back Solidarity, where have you been?
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:: Thursday, August 11, 2005 ::
Kick Out the Jams
With yet another bonfire of the blogroll taking place, I have been up to my neck in html carrion, with no fewer than 6 dead blogs being removed. A couple of old timers who couldn't take the pace, and a few young whippersnappers who got bored. If you've been removed but are planning a comeback please let me know. Clicking around the blogs I did find some interesting links such as this academic study of MC5 offshoot, the White Panther Party via Scott.
See, it's not hard to keep a blog going. Just steal someone else's material. Look and learn kids, look and learn.
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:: Wednesday, August 10, 2005 ::
Passing of Pierre Broué
Passing of Pierre Broué, International Contributing Editor of "Labor Standard" Tributes to a giant of international Trotskyism, Pierre Broué spent most of his life in the 'Lambertist' OCI.
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:: Tuesday, August 09, 2005 ::
The Edinburgh People's Festival is back for 2005. This year the festival has extended its tendrils to take in a number of shows that are run independently but embrace the ethos of the People's Festival. That means shows run in a way that is accessible to local folk in Edinburgh both in terms of price and location. It means getting local artists and young people involved. It means giving a stage to those who might otherwise not get one. Check out the line-up at the People's Festival website.
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:: Friday, August 05, 2005 ::
Direct Action Gets Satisfaction
BBC NEWS | Scotland | Deal reached in city bus strike Bus drivers in Edinburgh may not be the cheeriest group of workers but they know how to run a strike. They were outraged at Lothian Transport bosses (owned by the council) giving themselves 31% pay rises whilst quibbling over a few pence an hour for the drivers. They took on those bosses and, on occasion, their own union, the T&G to get a result. That meant striking during the Festival, when buses are indispensible and taking unofficial wildcat action. First the posties, now the bus drivers, dinnae mess with Embra workers!
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The BBC report on the fact that all of the nominees for the Hugo sci-fi awards (held in Glasgow this week) are British. You could also add that Scots and socialists are also well represented. In the piece Charlie Stross makes good points. : "Mr Stross says that what an author writes is a reflection of his society, and currently US genre writers are mirroring the 'deep trauma' that 9/11 wrought on America.
'What we write tends to reflect our perceptions of the world around us,' he says, 'and if it's an uncertain world full of shadows it's no surprise you get wish fulfilment or a bit downbeat.'
So super-hero movies divide the world into black and white moralities and authors try to write alternative histories of key US events, such as the Civil War."
I wonder if that had an impact on the cancellation of the Watchmen movie, a superhero movie that couldn't be less black and white and which ends in a catastrophic event in the heart of an American city...in the name of peace. And how will the forthcoming V for Vendetta film go down with its central character a terrorist exploding bombs in London? I would like to think that intelligent and thoughtful films would still have an audience regardless of these facts. Of course whether they will be/would have been any good is another question.
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:: Wednesday, August 03, 2005 ::
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:: Tuesday, August 02, 2005 ::
Funtime in the pub
EDIT, it's the next day and I have a hangover. This was a drunken demonstration of moblogging to a friend of mine. He had just watched his team (celtic) go out of Europe despite scoring 4 goals. Furthermore he was surrounded by less than sympathetic supporters of Hibs, Hearts and Dunfermline respectively. Nearly missed the bus home as I stopped over to watch rats playing in the rubbish sacks outside a nearby restaurant (hint, if in Edinburgh don't eat in Tollcross.)
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Dumbledore's death in the style of Irvine Welsh
Guardian Unlimited Books: "Doonin the Great Hall, some a they shitey wee Slytherins were hingin aboot.
- Square go, then, speccy cunt! C'moan ya crappin basturts! one ay thum shouted.
- Fuck oaf, ya plukey-faced wee pureblood! Ron snarled as we piled up the spiral staircase wi the wee Slytherin cunts flinging hexes eftir us.
Ah wisnae chuffed at Ron. - Fuckssake, ya fuckin radge. That wis wee Draco - he hings aboot wi they Death Eatin casuals frae Hogsmeade, ah sais
- Harry, the ginger fucker snaps, clenchin his wand tightly - ah want tae see the Professor n ah dinnae give a fuck aboot any cunt or anything else. Goat that?"
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:: Monday, August 01, 2005 ::
Quebec and Socialism
Interesting new documents at the Marxist Internet Archive looking at the debate in Quebec around independence.
Socialist History Project: The National Struggle in Quebec
- Vive le Quebec Libre (1968)
- For an Independent Socialist Quebec (1970)
- The Revolutionary Dynamic of the National Struggle in Quebec (1975)
- For an Independent and Socialist Quebec (1978)
Polemics and Debates on Quebec
- Response to Communist Party (1972)
- Critique of In Struggle (1978)
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